Philip W. Sarsons ≈ The Shorelines of Johnson’s Landing



I just had an article come out in our Star - – so having a spot in the Elephant Mtn network is rather timely. If there were room for a preliminary blurb to the poem, perhaps something like:

Poetry brings closer the things which are challenging to express. Especially the esoteric which by its nature is inherently elusive. In sixty-four poems, ‘The Book of Gardens: A Lover’s Manual for Planet Earth,’ reveal the study of mindfulness meditation as given to us in the I-Ching, the Chinese classic ‘book of changes.’ These poems become the bridge, something ever-at-the-ready to cross, travelling into a landscape which otherwise remains foreign. Below is an excerpt from the long-poem at the back of the book “The Shorelines of Johnson’s Landing” which points toward that territory of a pure reverie, a common and unceasing longing, seemingly unique to each of us. Proceeds from this book will be donated to the Johnson’s Landing Community to aid in the recovery and transition from the largest landslide to hit the area in 12,000 years. Copies can be purchased at at Otter Books, Shanti Yoga, and BookSymth. Best – Phil





held by rain and cloud upon this hill

the wind blows, the house creaks, the jays

descend, and the woodpecker and mice fall

into their slow invasion: the owl by night

hawks and eagles by day, even in this rain

the chipmunk keeping ridiculous company


up from the lakeside, the wish to be down

by the shore, rising so full. for there, returns

all dreams of Otherness: the secrets of a surface

the whole bird flocking, its song backward in its throat

its wishing guided no less by insane fancy; for the wish to be

beside the sea is far within, under the sediments of fear fusing

with the flux of fascination how the deciduous worry

of wind beside the conifers embrace of it


. there is a driftwood at the waters edge knowing of a slow river

a slow river which has made its nest inside a mountain

letting hard tides fall slowly, their bodies into footprints

and footfalls and fossils guiding them onward

and downward – though all be onward

down to where the lake slipped

and keeps falling upon itself

. and unto every day
: the turn of zodiac

the impetus of Flood

each life by each life

this damning economy two lips of flame

cupping an always invincible shadow, moving

as a lake textured by but a patch of wind


yet let not these shadows rule

but simply be that a shadow be known

for the sweet do all too often conceal

their sweetness even from themselves

to pursue a malnourished light

deep unto some darkness

again and
again – but not these trees :

blind and bright chorus

who knew of music before the clouds of early day

crawling up this mountain of late fall

and day

operatic inevitable and loving it


for the tree itself is too but a shadow


and let not

the below waves down this hill

be of too great interest either : but after

where one can still hear in the wave

the vacationing stream the knowledge of mountainside

past the million temples – trees or stone – all of the single alter joyously

unignorant of sacrifice


: unto this beach the sunken and broken

are made whole in sand ; warmed and warming

the oceans anterior to these mountains

the Atlantis to the Atlanteans

Pangaea not sunk but risen aching erect, yet crippled, aging in the stretching sun
crumbling . . .


so these ashes too will be of use

where every creek cuts itself into tributaries reaching until reached

for there is nothing unless for these trees forevergiving the breath of their

round excellence

nothing except the longing of nothing

except     night crammed with night

night sky in a prisoners robe

alternating lament with wonder

eroticized only by gods into day

and the certain beauty of the daisy feigning innocence

disguising the sorrow germinated – cultured – on the passions

on clamour while unfathomably silence is

bathing in the sun with no one watching



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