Category Archives: Poetry

Return to Tulum.

This poem was written while visiting the Mayan ruins at Tulum, Yucatan, Mexico. I was last there some 30 years ago and wrote a number of poems while sitting on the “Castillo” overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

  1. Return to Tulum 

Like tall reeds moving with unison in a jungle pool

the selfie sticks clump together in swarms

before the ancient monuments of Tulum.

Plastic smiles consume their posterity

 

Right where I had sat alone with reverence – thirty years ago.

 

Can sacredness penetrate unbridled progeny,

of opulence, entitlement, noise and distraction?

Vacant minds of pasted smiles.

 

Thirty years since I visited the walled city of Tulum.

Now finding it sequestered behind ropes and security,

the price of graffiti, looting and volley ball.

The ancients could still be heard,

presence emerging with stillness and respect,

though Silent to oiled sunbathers.

Whistle blowing security guards usher hooligans

from forbidden coastal bays and ceremonial locations,

march them out of where they cannot be.

 

Years ago I occupied similar space,

but was bound with reverence.

No security guards to police my silent awe.

 

A whispered wish for moderns to register with Mayan intelligence.

The Gods still Face All Ways,

provide a beacon of memory and history.

Perhaps the selfies art will find matter in time

  • to comply with reverence and respect
  • to replace benumbed fate in a global civilization

intent on destruction.

 

Then other swarms at last appeared.

Legions of people carrying the banner of languages.

Serious, bolder, organized, marching in order

like legionnaires, phalanx by phalanx.

From Japan, schools, Europe, Mexico, Everywhere –

tutored by multilingual guides, interpreters and sages

carrying knowledge of Maya intelligence.

These legions dwarfed the selfies and hooligans

and the Gods That Face All Ways

were recognized, not mocked.

 

With relief, Venus, the evening star of the Maya

appeared in the night sky,

as the walled city of Tulum emptied.

 

A murmur of Halach Uimic dynasty vibrated

through the five openings of the walled city

into the ceremonial center,

then East to the Castillo.

Misnamed by Juan de Grijalva in 1518,

this majestic monument never a castle.

It was a great palace, crowned by a temple

commanding the cliff top,

sloping steeply to the Caribbean Sea.

Complete with blood stained sacrificial stone,

 

Decades ago, before brazen tourism and tight security

I sat by this Upper Temple.

Alert to frightening corner-stones facing West.

Emulated masks with mouths wide open and teeth bared.

I stayed for hours – a healthy distance from the sacrificial stone.

Thirty years on I found a similar stone at the foot of the monument,

on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Outside the security rope I sat quietly upon the stone.

Silently tuning-out the hundreds of passers-by.

And there it was…

the mesmerizing energy from time before.

Then, I could not put pen to paper.

 

Now, I can.

2015 Poetry Prize at OIW

At the Ottawa Independent Writers 2015 Poetry competition my “Ancient Tree in Winter” won first prize. This poem was inspired one recent winter by a river walk at Carleton University. An oak tree had been swept over Hogs Back Falls and ended up stuck at the stretch of the Rideau River rapids at Carleton University. Throughout the winter on my daily walks from the bus stop to my office – I would stop and observe this beautiful tree trapped in the rapids. Until one day it was gone, The spring floods released it for the next phase of its journey.

 

Ancient Tree in Winter                                                                                                                                            

 Ancient Tree in Winter,

where did you come from?

Now trapped,

cleft by rocks at river’s edge.

Water eddies carve your shape.

 

Ice mires your branches,

snow creeps fingers across the river

as your body disappears under deep laden snow.

Decaying sculpture of existence.

 

Death and birth are there.

Yet your journey carries you through,

While ducks stand on your broken limbs

Preening their feathers.

 

Did you once stand tall and majestic

in a soft Rideau River valley?

host to birds, small animals,

insects and whispering breeze?

 

Were you alone on a high bluff

shading thundering rapids

that pulled you to their embrace?

 

What felled you,

so that you now lie here

Trapped?

Cleft by rocks.

Exquisite beauty of my winter river walk.

 

Waiting for spring’s flood

To set you free.

 

 

 

 

 

The Australia Times Interview: Part Two

Interview with The Australia Times: Part Two

  1. You have a deep spiritual connection with Zen. How is your spiritual practice reflected in your poetry?

The focus on daily mindfulness from my Zen practice enables me to be still and clear. From this energy the poems and chapters emerge. I do my best not to write from a space of frustration or of wanting to get the writing finished. I wait until the energy of mindfulness is tangible – then creating the words and text becomes easy.

Brand Jpeg

2. What do you hope the reader will take away from your poetry?

The courage to believe that they can take steps to transform internally and then make a difference externally. The stories I tell in my poetry and books are offered as a gift to our planet. My purpose in life is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth. I shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. We can and must transform. The key to change this deep freeze is Awakening, a spiritual relationship with self and Mother Earth.  My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. I’d like to consider Trailing Sky Six Feathers as the real life version of James Redfield’s best-selling fictional book The Celestine Prophecy. I have nine chapters – loaded with Insights and adventure, plus shamanic training over a period of three decades. Trailing Sky Six Feathers and Redemption are super unique, as they are drawn from my actual lived experience.  Reality based information is in high demand in today’s society, which provides the potential for my project to become a fresh, new icon for today’s hungry culture. Hungry, that is, for authentic transformation.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

3. In what ways has your writing changed you?

In a word – authenticity. I am not good at sitting down and writing four pages a day. I wait until the spiritual energy is present within me, then I write. Sometimes this is frustrating, as I want to get on with it, but when I do not stay still and wait – I simply write garbage! So I use the in between times to do research, edit and look for spelling mistakes and typos. When the energy is sparkling, the writing flows effortlessly.  I do not consider this as a necessary template for others. It is just what works for me to connect to the Muse within.  I trust that far more than any impatience.

Redemption front cover

4. As a peace activist, what do you consider the greatest challenge?

Organization and outreach. Here is an example:

Friends for Peace Canada started on a bitterly cold winter evening, as the Iraq war loomed. I received notice that a Peace Song Circle was happening on Parliament Hill. So I went, accompanied by my wife Carolyn and our dog. No-one else turned up. I remarked to Carolyn, “This is a good idea – it just needs to be organized.” She replied, “Let’s do it.” And so we did and created the nucleus for Friends for Peace Canada.  It quickly grew to a loose coalition of fifty organizations and we asked them to begin the peace process first of all within themselves, then to the community and the world.  Our mandate evolved so that we gave annual Peace Grants to local and international organizations making a real difference, as well as working in concert with other coalitions in the city for environmental and social justice issues.  I also decided at that time to concentrate my energy and efforts locally, feeling that these efforts could infuse global networks from the epicentre created here. I had received many invitations to be a global speaker and teacher, yet felt that a concentration on my home city of Ottawa was the primary focus. I responded to the many international invitations with a gracious decline. I was inspired to devote my time and energy to moving things just a little bit in my city, so that more good things could begin to happen spontaneously. As I soon discovered, there were many good friends across the city more than happy to make this possible.

We organized 5,000 participants at the Peace Song Circle on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, held on a miserably wet, cold spring day in 2003. A sea of multi-coloured umbrellas on a rain swept morning welcomed all those gathered. As other peace protests joined us and sang “All Within Me Peaceful,” the crowd covered the grounds of Canada’s seat of government, all meditating at the end in total silence as the rain poured down on our heads.  The pouring rain was strangely welcome, for it symbolized the tears of Iraqi children, my tears, your tears – transformed into hope through singing for peace with one another and experiencing deep peace.  There was a transformation of anger, anguish and violence into a determined clarity to be peace and to oppose war.  From there we know the wise actions to take.  Those who are waging war would do better if they knew better; but they don’t know better.

Every year since the relentless rain on Parliament Hill, the annual Friends for Peace Days have been memorable. We got rained and snowed on for several years on Parliament Hill, thunder and lightning at Alumni Park of Carleton University – before we moved inside to Jean Pigott Place in Ottawa City Hall. The response to this community activism has blown everyone away, as it went beyond any of our expectations!! The annual Friends for Peace Day is an awesome, diverse, unique Ottawa experience.  It is made possible by the generosity of volunteers and supporters and the diversity of Ottawa who show up to have a good time, be educated and inspired. The Friends for Peace Day creates an epicentre of intent and action – intense at times as people are moved to both tears and laughter. It is fun, poignant and direct. The intensity and joy ripples through the diversity – all generations, faiths and cultures in our northern city. The force of the epicentre roars through the community and activist tables, Muslim families, Asian groups, elders, young folk and the volunteers. The diversity of Ottawa gathers, listens, dances, laughs, cries – and takes home an unforgettable experience of hope and confidence. The family grows bigger each year. All Nations, All Traditions – A Circle of Friendship www.friendsforpeace.ca

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  1. What is your favourite quote?

Rumi’s wise words are most cogent: “Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.”

Books Available at www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com  

Autographed Book – Order Through: http://www.ianprattis.com

Four Poems.

Four Poems: The Australia Times Interview with Ian Prattis

Short Bio

Dr. Ian Prattis is an award winning author of fourteen books. Recent awards include Gold for fiction at the 2015 Florida Book Festival, 2015 Quill Award from Focus on Women magazine and Silver for Environment from the 2014 Living Now Literary Awards. Julia Ann Charpentier says his: “admirable command of language brings to every scene a striking visual clarity.” Of his Gold for Redemption Anita Rizvi calls it “a riveting novel chronicling one man’s journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation.” She goes on to say, “What is so exquisite is the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition . . . he refuses to ‘sanitize’ experience.” He depicts the stations of a personal Calvary that ultimately leads to Redemption. His poetry, memoirs, fiction, articles, blogs and podcasts appear in a wide range of venues.

Full Profile at http://www.ianprattis.com

Dancing Trees                                                               

Silver birches silhouette the sky

Gather in numbers,

Silently,

Elegantly, grace “en pointe.”

Sway and breathe

Bend and whisper

Leaves shimmer.

They dance to gathering wind.

Murmur Creation’s tones

In synchrony with stellar rhythms,

Their sound carries waves

Rolling into shoreline rocks.

Silver birches silhouette the sky

Silver beauties

dance for us.

Dancing trees

Dancing Trees

       Lament For a Mariner                                                        

The sea is very thin this day

that Archie Ruag has gone.

Master mariner, graceful navigator,

wise teacher of ocean mystery.

No more to grace the ocean’s ships

returned to whence he came.

My sons at eleven years and ten

children in men’s mourning

saw him laid to rest

in my place.

Storms and hail swept the cemetery

and their small frames

grew in maturing

of Archie’s dying.

And I sit here in Canada

writing, grieving,

Knowing the sea is very thin this day

that Archie Ruag has gone.

I saw him last, pale and weary

with calm before his death.

His spirit surrounded by antiseptic ward,

but not beleaguered.

He knows I was not equal

to his dying.

So he spoke gently to me

of ships

and men at sea.

And moorings

safe to guard our boats

from winter’s cruelty.

And so, in this way

did he gently rebuke

my lack of courage

in his dying.

So that I may have strength

in my own time

of death.

Yet I miss him.

An anchor gone from my seasons

of the sea.

The sea is very thin this day.

     Vietnam War Memorial                                                                   

 

Gaunt with grief:

Motionless:

Stilled, Silenced:

Cold December day:

Grey and bleak.

I could not move:

Stunned: Frozen in Time:

Unbelieving:

Damn it all!

Damn!

It!

All!

It was not my war

don’t you know?

They were not my people

don’t you see?

Do I protest too much?

Name engraved black marble slabs

rising from the earth sear into my soul.

Burning deep to feel the pain, of so many deaths, such futility.

Ball of fire flames my chest,

chills the marrow of my bones.

Subterranean edifice hurts me awake,

transforms deep memories

for my own kind.

Fellow Humans.

Americans,

Vietnamese,

All peoples

caught in the sinister web

of dark and deadly shadows

that lurk in all of us:

Hate, Greed and Power.

I circle the profanity of war,

nerve center of our world.

Grimly aware thought:

Our world must be transformed:

Our world must be changed:

And we must do it. Transforming ourselves

then others in swift urgency.

Else the memoirs

of our civilization

are no more than

Monuments To The Dead.

Our Dead:

Yours

And

Mine.

      Weaving

Let me share it –

This symphony of autumn color,

cascading melody from a sky

pastel grey and fiery red.

Descant to the dancing tones of

a painted forest

cooled by lush evergreens.

Sensual beauty,

rhapsody of forest and sunset sky

fused as a golden sheen.

Caught in a still lake

waiting with patience

Beyond time and space,

Waiting

to reflect this moment of

splendor –

Weaving.

Let me share it.

Autumn Sunset

 

Death from “The Prophet” Kahlil Gibran

 The poem on Death has a last line added from a dharma talk presented by Bhante Kovida at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community on September 12, 2015

Then Almitra spoke, saying, we should ask now of Death.

And he said: “You know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light. If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond. And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is laid upon him in honor. Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Bhante Kovida and Ian at Pine Gate

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you  indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

For life and death are one as the oceans and rivers are one.

National Poetry Month

Celebrating National Poetry Month – here is a short one about the craft and just maybe who is writing who!

The Poet

 

 Behind a plough of words

the poet drives a furrow,

– never straight.

Phrases spiral upwards,

as an eagle soars in a sky

with no horizon or meter.

Universal alphabet mimics dancing clouds

to touch Creation’s syntax.

Cascading into passages that hover,

tracing cosmic runes

at the edge of knowing.

Words drift by on the morning mist.

A whisper of wind,

That haunts every thought

I breathe.

The Muse –

waiting wondrous so long,

for cracks in façade’s order to crumble.

Then she grants life to a poem.

Essential Spiral