Poets For Peace, tour no. 8: day 1 – recap

POETS FOR PEACE

Tour no. 8

Day 1 – Richmond, VA: recap

on the road with Marian McLaughlin (@marianmclaughlin) and Erin White (@movedtomove)

An ease of being settles upon the car as we leave the congestion of DC and enter the South. We write haikus into the car register, noticing the redbud tree blooms and the state mantra, Virginia Is For Lovers. Romance is on the horizon with the fabric of nature waking interweaving with the road.

Richmond is a green city with trees growing out of ruined mills and the James River flowing through providing relief for the 80 degree temperatures. Our host for the evening @earthfolkrva is a giant farm in the middle of a residential area of Southside. The residents are out working the land and already the land is rich with herbs and produce. We have several stages to choose from between an old farmhouse built in the late 1700s or the backdrop of a vintage camper. We decide to use the white facade of the garage for projections as the sun goes down.

Fellow Earth Folk arrive, and soon the night kicks off with a special charm. The White family is there and Erin’s father has brought his bluegrass band to set the mood for the get together. Appalachian lilts that set the spark to light the bonfire, as golden light reaches the trees from the sunset and all the birds above cry out from their roost sharing an excitement towards the evening’s warmth.

Erin and I perform haikus with accompanying movements and behind us a pack of Coydogs start to howl and wail their approval. This little patch of forest. Maintained by noble stewards. There is talk of the land and its original inhabitants. Meeting grounds between the Powhatan and Algonquin. The exchange is scored by Marian McLaughlin’s odes to the change we are seeing to the planet in our lifetime. Receding wilderness and extinction of species.

The open mic begins and in the voices I hear how synchronous it is the folks who have gathered here. True Earth Folk. Fellow Earth Lovers. Truth Seekers and Fairy Kin. Their words describe the experience to be one with nature. Wild Folk fearless before Late Stage Capitalism. The spirit they offer to the land is enough to save it for future generations.

Poets For Peace, tour no. 8: day 1 – recap

Updates for the forthcoming novel

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Become a patron: https://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh

New moon, next chapter. What goes up, must come down. These chapters about Yosemite are expansive, and yet I still don’t think I’m able to capture everything in my prose about that sacred place tucked away in the Sierra Nevadas. Still, I don’t think that’s the point, though. I think the point is to capture the Deerfield character of wild-eyed awe seeing for the first time such impossible beauty. It’s later in his legend that he becomes an expert in a place of such extremes.

Become a patron by following the link above and gain access to the chapters of my novel as I write them. Different tiers with different rewards. Excerpt below to encourage you to want to read more.

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There, there, I pat my wounded ego reflecting on how I’m not one for small talk in front of something so holy anyway, so I give a little wave to the falls and continue my journey, smiling a sad-happy joy to have been spared a few minutes alone with the madness of all there is in the world that’ll outlast us. Another apple and few handfuls of trail mix and I’m up and over that life stream again keeping my eye on the sun’s passage between cloud and mountain, feeling light in my stride, though conscious there’s a rush to beat out night setting in.

Following cairn after cairn in this bare boulder back of a giant, I’m given preview to what true wilderness is, one wrong step and I’m food for the roaming mountain lion, but then I begin again to descend, and with every footfall I understand how those faces going down while I was going up looked so jolly and meditated. It doesn’t take much to bring back down, from the heights above, one’s own personal heaven. All you got to do is climb until there is no more climbing to do and from there take the time to take it all in, both heart and soul nourished upon its glory.

Updates for the forthcoming novel

New Chapters About Yosemite Falls

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https://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh

One challenge I find myself encountering while I attempt to write these chapters about Marshall Deerfield’s first trek into Yosemite National Park is balancing layered poetic soliloquies declaring existential intangibilities with descriptions of the necessary action to take this wild-eyed protagonist through such sheer expansiveness of wilderness. The steps he takes to climb each boulder are in essence just as important as the infinite sound of his destination, the peak of a three thousand foot tall waterfall. The poetry of Yosemite is endless, and yet I’m trying to be a modern beatnik or zen lunatic as I write it and really capture its essence with as few words as possible narrowing in on the uncertain truths that make it such an unparalleled natural wonder.

I just uploaded two chapters that I think do a good job at taking on this balance between action and setting. Below is an excerpt from one of the chapters. You can read the rest of it by subscribing at the link above. Any support is greatly appreciated while I continue to trek deeper into this novel. For small amounts a month you’ll be able to preview it as I work on it, as well as read my other published works. Please take a look and thanks!

It’s a sound I hear long before I have completed the trek, a dull roar that replaces the sound of the raindrops giving stillness to the mind with all its immense power of movement so that I am lured closer by the way it cuts away at the air with all that potential.

A group of Japanese tourists stand at its base holding up binoculars to admire its grace and some of them pose for photographs while laughing wildly along to all its ripples. The falls sleek like a needle sewing two faces of rock into one and scattering a cloud of perspiration while the work is done. The tops of those peaks lost to the fog so that the illusion is set that maybe their heights are infinite and that waterfall comes straight from an overturned chalice of mother’s milk exposed to us temperate heathens.

There’s a bench perfectly placed and I have a seat while I try to take in the entire scene, a totally awesome one, tourists dancing by in red and yellow rain jackets like little swans, giggling when some increase in volume causes the whole waterfall to pause and then rupture sending a splash of condensation out into the crowds looking into it. Something strange about the experience even calls for the clown within to do something truly foolish and go swimming beneath that endless power as if a thousand foot drop of water wouldn’t be enough to paralyze even the most graceful of swimmers, but then again maybe that’s the point. This waterfall’s song is so much more than that of its smaller siblings, with each breath of renewed force it causes paralysis freezing the nerves and subduing the mind from thinking. A powerful nothing as big as anything could possibly be.

New Chapters About Yosemite Falls

Updates for the forthcoming novel

Writing a novel has been really good for all of my other chores. I find a million and one excuses to keep me from actually sitting down and writing it. Today it was folding my laundry, fixing my bike, shoveling snow, taking a shower, and oh wow! now it’s already time for dinner. Yesterday and the day before I rearranged my room and set up my bookshelf. I even went to a Walt Whitman-inspired open mic and ended up winning runner up in a competition for $100 to see who had the best Whitman-inspired piece of poetry.

That piece was written on the same road trip that this novel is about. We started the trip reciting passages from Leaves Of Grass in the voices that Kerouac and Cassady must have used when they were traveling on the road together back in the days when the Beats were still learning how to rhyme. Eventually we were writing pieces in the same style and one of them that I read last night was judged as second best in a room of Whitman scholars.

The piece is a list of all the cows I saw on the road from here in Philadelphia all the way to San Francisco and back again. A play on the pastoral, set in every type of landscape both urban and otherworldly you can see in this country. Using this nation’s top industry to describe the beauty that these bovine often cause environmental havoc upon.

I guess for me, what stuck out about Walt Whitman is the sense that he’s always making lists. Listing the tiniest details about an odd assortment of working class people and their environment to create a collage of the industrial revolution he witnessed in his lifetime in America. He talked about both the positives and the negatives but let them speak for themselves. And in a sense there was romance in all of the things that he saw, even if some of them were terrible.

The cow piece was a fun piece to write. I had fun having a chance to let it be heard out loud. Didn’t expect much in the way of competition so was happily surprised with its reception.

Anyway, back to the novel…I think it’s a good one. I want to share it with you before it’s published. Open it up to a dialogue. Let you read the pages I’m really proud of.

Like the chapter I wrote last week about Yosemite Valley. I just read it again this afternoon. About ten or fifteen times. That’s another thing I do while writing this novel. Get hung up on chapters that I’m really proud of and then second guess myself that I’ll ever be able to write something as good again. Forget that there’s been plenty of bad novels published that have still been enjoyed by someone. The trick is to just finish them.

So yeah, I’m still writing. Today I’m starting a little later than I would’ve liked to and that’s okay because it’s a miserable winter day outside and I took care of all my other errands that were bogging me down. I’ll keep sharing my progress as it comes.

If you’d like to read the poetry about cows or that chapter about Yosemite Valley go take a look at my Patreon. You can throw me some doll hairs and read my writing. The support will motivate me to keep going on it. Maybe I can even finish it by the end of next month and get started on the next one. There are two novels in my head that have been sitting patiently while I finish writing this one. Anyway, I’d love you to see its pieces and to hear what y’all think. I have a feeling the campaign will be constantly evolving as well, so expect more announcements and other rewards to develop.

Thanks for everyone who’s taken a peek over there. I know there’s plenty of other things to support right now. Travel made me more humble and I’m content with however it all turns out, but think it’s fun to share the process.

Become a patron: http://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh

Updates for the forthcoming novel

Haiku #1021


Over the last few weeks, I’ve been playing around with old haikus. Here is a haiku I wrote while hiking in the redwoods last January.

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You can subscribe to access more content like this, as well as see snippets of my forthcoming novel.
Only $1 a month and you too can #TravelByHaiku! Any support will really help me out this winter.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Feel free to SHARE with other haiku lovers if you think they’d dig.

Haiku #1021

Help me finish writing my first novel!

Do you want to help your favorite Dream Poet get through the coldest months of the new year? BECOME A PATRON! I’ve expanded a campaign for you to support my writing and get back for what you give.

Click here: https://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh

For any amount you’ll get access to my collections past and future of Travel By Haiku, as well as a behind the scenes look at a novel I’ve been writing for four years now. Give a little more and you’ll be able to read the rough drafts of this novel as well as other collections I’ve published in the past.

The novel I’m working on is about the first road trip I took across the country in 2014. A lot of you have already heard excerpts from it, but for those who haven’t, it takes place mostly in a month-long stretch between San Francisco, Big Sur, and LA featuring a style of borderline fiction and beatnik reflection leaving the reader breathless, caught between dream worlds, seeking the meaning of the American Dream in general. This will be the opening saga of the Marshall Deerfield legend and I am restless to get it to its completion.

I really appreciate any support this winter, since I won’t have as many opportunities to type on the streets and as a result I’ll be living pretty frugally. If you’ve enjoyed my writing in the past, this would be a great chance to support me while engaging in the process.

If monthly fees ain’t your thing and you’re looking for another way to offer support: I’m always open to one-time tips or commissions to write poems for loved ones. Anything and everything goes a long way for this simple poet / zen lunatic. Thanks again for all of the support of my community in the past. I hope to have this novel in a place ready to be published by the end of the year, so y’all can read it from cover to cover.

Help me finish writing my first novel!

Travel By Haiku

Just received another stack of Travel By Haiku in the mail. If you have enjoyed following my journeys on here, y’all should be sure to grab this piece of the road for your personal collection. In there you’ll find little glimpses of the natural beauty found across the continent. And some of the wild rides I’ve taken to get there. They make great gifts and are sure to inspire the beat within us all to pursue their dreams on the road.

Get one from my website, http://bit.ly/TravelByHaiku

Travel By Haiku: Volume 1-5, Still Trippin’ Across The States is a collection of poetry written during travels across the United States in 2014 and 2015. Each haiku brings the reader along on the road across the country taking brief pauses to admire the air, the sunsets, the beaten earth, the tall trees on high mountains, and the breath of the ocean surf. Readers will find themselves transported to a humble place with a still mind and a new found admiration for their natural surroundings.

Travel By Haiku

Poets For Peace in Boulder

POETS FOR PEACE
Tour no. 4
Day 3 – Boulder: recap
on the road with Julia Daye and Anthony Carson

The night in Boulder ends at a pizza place. The table filled with poets old and new. Poets For Pizza. It’s the history of the town that puts this in context. Here we are, the Allen Ginsberg’s, Jack Kerouac’s, Neal Cassidy’s of our generation hovering around our slices of pizza like coffee mugs, discussing the politics of the day.

I look around at my peers and am in awe of the power of these individuals around me. Journeyers and dreamers. Wordsmiths and musicians. Voicing the concerns of the oppressed. Creating a more intersectional reality. Serving their community inwards and outwards.

Earlier there was a poetry reading at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe, one of the only poetry-specific bookstores in the country. Full of beatnik and meta-beatnik flare, as well as so many other incredibly powerful voices.

The reading begins with the words of Jona Fine. Taking us back to the shooting at a night club in Orlando last year. The outcry of the LGBTQ+ community. The fear that beckons at our door again. The strength of those who have been through it before, coming together and raising each other up to face another day.

Matt Clifford follows. Honoring the inner clown. Espousing through satire, 2nd amendment laws and the way government polices us all. His truths that we all die, most of us relatively soon, are met with bursts of laughter. Jaws dropping. Turning over this bleak reality. And yet the joy inside a moment so fleeting.

More and more students and vagabonds begin marching in. Fellow peaceniks and curious townsfolk. Carrying signs and songs of the rêvelution. The room swells for the Poets For Peace.

It creates the space for two clowns and the voice of the mother earth to take to the microphone and shed applause and laughter on the atmosphere. The room evolving from poetry to vaudeville. The clowns laughing so hard, they’re not sure if others laugh with them, at them, or maybe are all silent, their own laughter being so loud it serves to seem like it’s everyone’s. The voice of the mother earth giving soothing, healing vibes with her groundedness.

A round robin of poetry from each one of them. Haikus that sing. Prayers to Mother Earth. Songs of enlightenment.

The one clown with a guitar makes faces that cause some clowns in the audience to burst out laughing. He says, “Oh, you like that? You like my face?” and continues with more eccentricity in his expressions and voice acting.

The voice of the mother earth blows wind into the two clowns’ fires. She speaks eloquently and passionately about the plague of toxic masculinity on her surface. On her terrestial body. It causes the clowns to settle down with their horseplay and focus on how they too are a part of the problem, but can also be part of the solution.

The other clown reads of the Hayukka. The Sacred Clowns of Lakota legend. He talks of direct action and nonviolent protest. Something of a skit like The Three Stooges that took place at Standing Rock, involving clowns in a canoe and police following along the shore in a professional golf cart.

The night almost lasts too long. But it’s just perfect. Short enough to be a dream. Long enough to leave everyone feeling complete.

To finish it off, one of the clowns pulls out a kaleidoscope and shares his psychedelic visions with the peaceniks who have amassed around him. One of them drops it and it shatters into a million pieces. Confetti for the breeze to take away into the infinite star dust above. When the clown picks it up and looks back through this kaleidoscope monacle, the vision is even more twisted and satisfying.

Everything in rainbows and ecstatic multi-colored light.

Poets For Peace in Boulder

Rocky Mountain High

(Written on 9/11/2016)

I’m familiar with Crow on every fence post, but it’s been a while since I’ve flown along his path. Soaring across the highway when we pass. The way the sky changes at sun down when it has more room to express itself. How Rocky Mountains are actually quite rocky when they begin to populate the horizon. Passing towns have signs like “historic” and “preserving the west” with pictures of cowboys and yet they’re only 100 years old. I begin to see sunsets followed by sunrises. Having completely fulfilling days.

Fox greets us at the first campsite. He stares nonplussed into the headlights waiting for us to make our move first. When we remain stunned he moves back to his lean-to stores. A pile of packaged meat, left by some wayward wanderer. Fox carries off ham, ribs, turkey wing, one at a time. His bushy tail sailing behind him especially pompous.

We decide on a campsite less occupied, a little further down the road. There’s a feeling of darkness in the night but we seem pretty much untouched by it. In the morning, Fox transformed back into his human form, comes and collects money for the campsite from us. He has a bit of a Southern drawl and is generally well-humored.

We see Coyote in the road. Several times. He’s snooping after Wild Turkey. Later on the trail, Wild Turkey leaves behind his tail feathers for us to gather. I find Hawk’s feather as well.

The trail to the pictoglyphs is still one of wonder. We drift through ruins, along canyons hundreds of feet deep, with bird faces and elder faces set in the stone.

Mule Deer comes and visits our camp in the morning. She realizes we’re friendly and invites her newborn fawn. And then her sister too. Turkey Vulture circles above. We wonder if she found Turkey for a meal.

The ancients visit our dreams. They visit our conscious conversations. We talk of existence and the story we all tell. We envision the effect of humanity on the ecosystem. We express intelligence is probably not humanoid, but rather a much larger system. Aren’t moons intelligent? Aren’t whole planets? If intelligence were to grow to its full potential, wouldn’t it want to go some place it couldn’t be found?

The landscape is serene. It is the definition of serenity. There’s some days where it’s even more pretty. But every day the sun sets and the sun rises in the most dazzling of colors.

Rocky Mountain High

Working on the Novel

(photo by Ras Jiro)

I’ve been writing poetry for 3-12 hours a day for the last week and a half. Sometimes working on a novel. Sometimes just working. Not always for myself. Sometimes behind a typewriter in the plaza and getting paid. Other times at home and in the backyard at my writer’s desk and drinking tea.

When I’m in the middle of writing the novel, I fill with envy for my future self who can say he is almost done and has less to write than he has written. Sometimes my head spins with how much I have left to write. Other times my head spins with all of the other novels I have left to start writing.

When I’m in the street, my mind taps into something outside of myself and I see the words typed in front of me come out cleaner and clearer each day, giving me this sense of pride for the poems people walk away with.

When I’m at home, I’m filled with this desire to share with someone what I’m writing. To just have it done and published already.

Sometimes I wonder how Kerouac did it. I wonder how Miller did it. I wonder how Thompson did it. No one ever taught me how to do any of this. I feel like I’m past the point of making it up for myself, and almost at the point of finding the things that actually work.

Today I bought 4 poems worth of groceries. It’s enough for the week. I’ve been thinking about upping the rate I suggest. People really value spontaneous poetry. I see the romance it inspires. I see the hope it gives. I feel first hand the connections to the earth it creates. I’ve written birthday poems to people’s grandmothers. I’ve written love poems to people’s wives. I’ve written surrealist poems to old beatniks who tell me about the time they saw Gary Snyder walking a purple poodle. One guy asked me to write a poem to his enemy and I wrote an apology. None of this can be translated to dollar signs.

Someone has been leaving pennies underneath the rosebush where I write in downtown Taos. The first time I thought it was odd enough. The penny was old and dirty. It looked like it had been sitting there for a while. But I’m there 3 to 4 days a week, so I would’ve noticed it before. Oddly, this was the first or second penny I’ve found in months.

The second and third time, the pennies were even older and dirtier, as if they had sprouted from the ground and were young seedlings. And there were more of them. 

They weren’t there when I first sat down.

I found the pennies after writing a poem that really struck a chord. A poem about heart consciousness. A poem about spreading abundance.

Perhaps the rosebush has been tipping me. 

I believe in magnetism. I believe in abundance. I feel absolute gratitude. I wish there was more time in the day. I wish I had more energy. I wish my focus was stronger. I wish I had the words to describe everything I dream.

Some days I realize this is the life I lead. I realize it is leading to something greater. I realize if this is all I have at the end of it, I’m okay with that.

My words continue to give smiles. These smiles continue to give me what I need to continue. 

My dream is to finish writing these stories I’ve lived, so that I can again be an open slate and experience new ones. Until then, I write endlessly.

Working on the Novel