sage wilton ≈ treasure your treasures

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Treasure is that of the Treasurer

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I have a tendency, or rather, an obsession with collecting rocks. For the longest time I never fully understood why, nor can I recall when it began, yet it remains a habit. Whenever I’m at a beach, a park, or travelling afar, I catch myself probing; sneaking a peak of the ground below, searching for the perfect few to add to the collection. This habit puzzled my family, and frankly, it puzzled me for a while too; you probably think it weird as well and I honestly don’t blame you. “What is that shirtless girl doing down by the shore?” Well, that was me when I was four. I hadn’t a bag so, improvising, I carefully carried my bundle of rocks in my blouse. My siblings looked upon in utter bewilderment, one even daring to disengage my grip from those treasures. My hands tightened. They dissed my rocks as dirt, not delighting in them as I did, not sharing the same desire. It was then that I realized why. Not everyone looked upon little pebbles and stones with the same eyes; with the same mind. To me they were not just little gatherings of dust, nor did I only appreciate their splash of colour as they lay beneath the waves; no, they meant much more. They signified the place and time from which they were found, the experience I so happened to enjoy and wanted to remember. They were tokens and little time-banks of my thoughts and feelings, my sights and senses of particular places and times in my life. I thought they were beautiful, those little stones, because of how I beheld them. Because beauty itself simply is subjective. It was now clear why, what in my eyes was regarded purely as treasure, could also be considered trash to another. Treasure is that of the treasurer.

The art lover in awe of a painting. She admires it from all angles, standing afar to appreciate the work as a whole, and then observing at arm’s length the skill and precision of each stroke. The deep hues of blue and crimson, layer upon layer of rich colour engulfing her. She can submerge herself in the abstractionism and lose herself entirely, forgetting about her prior place and the problems of that now distant person. This piece speaks to her, it brings her peace. It provokes a personal connection and relates her back to former memories, each with their own emotion. A flood of feelings wash over her and she is deluged, drenched by the sea of imagery. To her, a picture really is worth a thousand words. A thousand strokes, a thousand colours, a thousand thoughts. She observes these each as their own treasure, painting herself as an art treasurer.

The advocate for the preservation, restoration, and improvement of our natural world, the environmentalist. One of many whom share these same ideals, who has hopes for a cleaner, healthier, and more peaceful planet. She surrounds herself in the natural surroundings. The forest, lakes, and fields bring her the most joy, the sunsets a more spectacular sight than even the greatest CG film. The wilderness is where she is most content, most at home. Not only is she fascinated and in admiration by the sheer beauty of it all, but she feels somehow also spiritually connected; To and as a mighty oak, her soul branches out and takes flight in the sky, while the soles of her feet, rooted in the soil and to the heritage of the land, travel deep within the surface, interconnecting her with everything. It is her will, her self-connection and thus self motivation, her mission to protect these resources, these treasures.

Like the environmentalist and forest fanatic, another is also in awe of the shade of green; the businessman. He too views the forest as growth, not ecological, but as economical. Two people looking upon through different eyes. To him money, quite literally, does grow on trees. He loves the green for everything it gives him, everything it gets him. The fine dining, luxurious mansion, and fancy automobile make him strive for money. It forms his social ranking and provides for better standards of life, ultimately buying his happiness. He thrives in the materialistic world, the fast paced industrialized life, loving every moment of it. He is a pirate of the planet treasuring treasure.

The one to whom beauty is seen through everything but the eyes; the blind man. He has never physically looked upon the earth, the sun, or a pretty girl, though his treasure chest outweighs that of any other. His appreciation for life and view of beauty overflows and resonates in everything around him. It is in the morning sun, streaming through the tattered, moth eaten curtains, tickling his skin and warming his blood. It is in the sounds of summer, the bird`s melody and the buzzing bees. He sees beauty everywhere and in everything, eyelids closed, but mind wide awake. His senses tingle, treasuring the euphoria in the little things. From the vibrations of a beat to the scents of spring, the smell of violets blowing in the breeze. Water, cool to the touch and fresh to the taste, a rushing river and falling rain. These are the things he sees beauty in, what makes his mind flutter and his heart happy. The beauty of a woman, not measured by makeup or vanity, but by her inner qualities, by the sound of her voice and flow of her speech; the substance of a person outweighing their ever changing appearance. The blind man sees. He polishes the treasures we left covered in dust beneath our feet.

Beauty, by its very definition, is that which makes one happy; which gives pleasure to the senses and exalts euphoria of the mind or spirit. Since this varies from person to person, from an environmentalist to a businessman, from an art lover to a blind man absent to colour, and from me to you, beauty merely is in the eye of the beholder. It is simply subjective. What one may regard as dirt or trash, another may treasure as a sparkling stone. Treasure your treasures.

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January 2014 ≈ Number 28 ≈ New Year Issue

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This issue of Elephant Mountain Online features Stuart Ross, Doug Wilton, Daen Davidson, Mark Mealing, Pippa Bowley and Joel Guay.

Many of these writers appeared in the recent trade paperback edition of Elephant Mountain, our annual selection from this online magazine. Now available in local bookstores: Lots of photos to remind you of winter’s hidden secret (Summer!)

JOIN THE PROMENADE: Send your poetry, short fiction and art to doug@elephantmountain.org

We’ll publish it here (if it meets our lofty editorial standards) and if it makes the cut you will see it in our next fine paperback edition.

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Booksmyth Open Mic launches a new project: Page To Stage To Page.

Page To Stage is taking a poem that works on a page and helping it work in a performance setting.

Stage To Page is taking a poem that works on the stage and helping it read better on a page of Elephant Mountain or any publication.

The ideal I think would be to make poems that work well on both pages (paper and digital) and in performance settings/videos.

I’ve always liked writing that enables me to hear the writer’s voice in my head and am bored when writers read their stuff as if they were just computers with a text to speech program.  

Booksmyth Open Mic is a venue for both page and performance poets. Page poets can learn more about the value of sound/performance and anyone can use it as a stage to rehearse a piece for the next Slam. 

BOM is also a way to try out stuff you’re thinking of publishing. Elephant Mountain gives  Slam and other writers a venue for pieces that work better on the page and enables them to get public print exposure.

Next Booksmyth Open Mic will transpire on Friday Jan 31.
Doors open: 7:30, Readings/Performances start at 8. 

We welcome both new or experienced writers and spoken word poets. 

Ω

Doug Wilton

Editor
www.elephantmountain.org

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Doug Wilton ≈ the great uprising

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The concept of universal mind was inherited by Buddhists from Hinduism which divided reality between spirit and matter (as does much Western philosophy) 
and sees mind as the work of spirit within the physical body.

The problem with that dualism is explaining how spirit/mind manipulates matter/body since surgeons had never found anything but boring goo in the human skull. That problem was comically addressed by Descartes in the 1600’s but didn’t start to find a real solution until the brilliant anatomical dissections of his contemporary Thomas Willis. See SOUL MADE FLESH The Discovery of the Brain — and How It Changed the World. By Carl Zimmer.
Darwin takes care of the rest. Since mind is no more than an accident of evolution reality is no more a mind than it is a pumpkin.

You could argue that none of this disproves the existence of a Universal Mind. It just makes it unnecessary.
It’s also possible that there’s a giant pumpkin (named Alfred, tho believers will debate that) in the centre of the moon.

The notion of universal mind is a distraction from the essential point—that the suffering, confused and seeking mind is already an integral part of universal reality. Thus the most immediate gate to reality is the mind itself. To me that is the great discovery of the first Zen people but the insight needs to be slightly refined, by discarding the notion of a universal mind.

My scanty reading of Lao Tzu et al has left me with the impression that they, like all mentally wakeful people, were aware that they were part of an incomprehensibly large and mysterious reality and that the trouble with humans is our tendency to regard that as merely a painted backdrop for the little drama of egos we call career, politics, history. They understood that the fundamental work of meditation is to return to our original, organic and wakeful attunement with That. They also understood that any attempt to weave doctrine or dogma out of that flow of attunement would only distract from it.
Better to let the seeker feel the flow by living, working and sometimes gabbing with people who are already awake to it.

As some sage once bluntly said, the philosopher who has not embodied his philosophy is an ass bearing a load of books. Probably it was contact between bookish Buddhists and such fundamentally wakeful persons that led to the kind of zen that rises from the clutter of words and letters, like an old (or young) ass dumping the books from his back.

I look forward to any opportunity to be part of that uprising, whether in life or art.

I write for the fun of it of course, but also because I know that this great uprising could happen
at any moment
even in the writing or the hearing of these words.

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Pippa Bowley ≈ It happens, just like that

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it happens, just like that.

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trust gone like sun behind a cloud

grey stone face

sphinx, not giving out any answers

as if stone could outlast love

and fear feast like

ravens on exposed flesh

anger will put on the armour of forgetfulness

the cloak of righteousness

so heavy, unyielding

and difficult, once put on,

to remove.

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it happens, just like that.

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Daen Davidson ≈ Small Birds Follow The Night

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small birds follow the night

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to sweep, the amber sun
get up, for the day, the prayer

you left in the dark veil
of becoming, arrives to quench

your beauty, the trust you came
to find, I know, I was there in the

circle, the cathedral spoons, ringing

weeping with my mother’s tongue, now
quiet, i yell with owls, i howl with
wolves

one day, she will take me again into
the human sphere, for now i dwell outside

the wall, walking with turtles

we huddle in the vacant beaches

cold to touch, yet still enjoying
the swim, with seals; they saw my

fin, they saw my wing

we travel, a day, at a time
as we wait for you

in the delivery room of sand and bells

it is the mystic’s food
the charms of the absolute

the well, where life dwells

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07/28/2012

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Joel Guay ≈ I Miss My Dad

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Roy and his mom are sleeping over tonight. There are no story books suitable for a four-year-old here where I am house sitting. And so, Roy asks me to tell him a story from my childhood, since he is studying ‘history’ these days.

And so, I tell the story of me at eight, going to work on a Saturday morning with my dad. Amazingly, I can remember every detail of that day fifty years ago.

I remember him saying the night before:
“You might want to get to bed early tonight, son. Morning comes early.”

And in my excitement I’m in bed right after dinner. It’s still light out and I’m already in bed, closing my eyes real tight and trying real hard to go to sleep. I’m trying so hard that I make myself need to go pee. And so, I have to get up and go and then I’m back in bed, trying even harder.

By this time, everyone has gone to bed and I’m lying there awake in the dark. And I can hear my dad’s regular breathing in the next room and I listen really hard to it and the next thing I know, it’s morning.

Well, I don’t really know it’s morning but I can feel my dad pulling gently on my big toe, like this. And when I open my eyes and look up he is smiling down at me, with a finger to his lips as a sign for me to be quiet so I don’t wake up my sisters.

And so, I hop out of bed silently and jump quickly into my clothes. My dad, by this time, has turned and headed for the kitchen. I’m so excited that I beat him there. And here we are, just the two of us.

Here we are in the half-lit kitchen. Everything is real quiet and kind of magical. We have breakfast—toast with peanut butter and bananas. Just the two of us. And I watch my father prepare lunch for two men, him and me.

I remember going outside and climbing into the front basket of his balloon- tire bike (my father never drove a car) and riding down the street in the almost-dark of 6 AM.

And so, I sit in the massive metal basket as he pedals us silently down the street past the homes of my sleeping friends. Not even the milkman is stirring yet. I remember the sound of the gravel on the tires and the cool morning breeze on my face. And the smell of my dad.

I remember working all morning, pulling nails out of used lumber, and lunching on fried port chop sandwiches, my dad eating slowly to make sure I had enough and me mostly leaving him only the bread as I devoured the meat.

I remember a big, husky man ambling by me and winking at me. I remember another walking by and ruffling my hair. All morning men are walking by me and smiling in my direction and making comments to my dad like:

“Are you sure that’s your son, Camil? He’s a good looking fellow…”

And my dad chuckling as I get more and more puffed up with pride. I remember his boss walking by and saying, loud enough for me to hear:

“That’s a hard working lad you got there, Camil.”

And my dad just smiling quietly, like me.

And I remember riding home in the basket at the end of the day, slumped over my dad’s shoulder, half asleep from exhaustion, as he walked the bike home so as not waken me. I remember the sound of the wheels on the gravel, the smell of him against my face, the feel of his hard and soft chest against my back. I remember the feel of his muscles moving under my face and his powerful arm around me, cradling me like a baby.

And I remember him carrying me into the house gently in his massive arms and slipping off my shoes and carrying me into bed because I was too tired to stay up and eat dinner. I remember him slipping me under the blankets and covering me up, stroking my hair and smiling down at me as I closed my eyes. I remember that day, the day I needed no food to feel full.

I remember all of this today, telling the story, a little chokingly, to Roy and his mom, enjoying Roy’s laughter at the little boy who could eat six pork chops for lunch.

And Roy, noticing my tears, explains to me that sometimes, the mist that separates us from those who have gone on is very thin. And anytime you want, you can see those who have left and they can see you.

“Now is the time for you to wave to Camil,” he screeches excitedly, “And he may even wave back at you if you smile.”

And so, almost beside myself, I hold Roy in my arms and hug him, stroking his cheek and smiling at him, as my father would do to me.

I miss my dad.

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Stuart Ross ≈ New Year Poem

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LESSONS FROM 2013

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For your information, when
you eat things they go into you.
I learned this last year.
This year, however,
I cannot write a poem. I just
can’t do it. My dog skids
around on the ice outside,
I’m bleeding the radiator
with fifty leeches, seismologists
curl at the foot of my bed,
episodes of F Troop are shot
in my living room, guppies
do tricks in the depths
of my teacup, plus:

confusion is the basic unit
of all living organisms. It has
been dubbed the building block
of life. A single confusion
divides to produce two daughter
confusions. Let’s pack a lunch,
pile into the station wagon
and sit in the driveway.

In closing, then:
Blank sheets of paper
scribble poems on me.
A lamp throws a shadow
into the wastebasket.
The radiance of the night
is just about endless.

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December 2013 ≈ Number 27 * Winter Solstice Issue

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This issue of Elephant Mountain Online features Paula Hudson Lunn, Leannah Fidler, Doug Wilton, Helen Blum, Geordi Campos, Deanna Reed and Daen Davidson.

Most of these writers appeared in the recent trade paperback edition of Elephant Mountain, our annual selection from this online magazine.

Now available in local bookstores:

JUST IN TIME FOR A CHRISTMAS

GIFT OF FINE WRITING.


JOIN THE CAVALCADE: Send your poetry, short fiction and art. We’ll publish it here (if it meets our lofty editorial standards) and if it makes the cut you will see it in next year’s fine paperback edition.

And, above all,

Stay peachy.

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Paula Hudson Lunn

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lakeside bench winter

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I saw you

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You were making that face in the mirror – the one where you pucker your lips and see if it’s cute

Waiting to cross at the light – did you know your shoes were too big for your feet

I saw you down the street – you had the most beautiful hair

I saw your eyes dart around while your dog shat on the lawn

I saw the back of your head – it was warm and inviting in the afternoon sun

 

I saw you

Empty the cream at the coffee shop and not bother to tell the barrista

because you emptied it into a water bottle in your coat’s deep pocket

I saw you rake leaves and watch from around the corner as kids jumped in

I saw you walk your evening laps around the block tapping your cane on aging cracks –

we say hello if the dark hasn’t blinded us

 

I saw you

Reach for his hand, look up into his eyes over the rim of your coffee

I saw you sitting in the back of the library reading Macleans

I saw you jaywalk nonchalantly, giving the driver the finger as if he owed you some right

 

I saw you

The younger you, the child you were. He shows up in your face when the light comes into your eyes.

I’m always amazed at how I can see that.

I saw you peaking up over the books and from the tins of vegetables, suspicious and watching

I saw you in clothes that melted to you like you were born to wear them

I saw you walking – I liked the way your body moved

 

I saw you shake your finger, pick your nose, hike your pants,

I saw you walk into me while you were clicking out important part-words – I saw you from a block away and I just let you do it. I wanted to think it might make a difference.

 

In case you ever thought nobody noticed…

I’m not the only one.

I saw you.

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