Monday, January 29, 2018

Special Double Feature: "Measure, Ghost Ranch, NM" & "Skyward, Ghost Ranch" by Howard Stein, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to introduce to the readership Howard Stein, another new Frequent Contributor.  Howard will be this week's Poet of the Week.  His bio may be found on the "Our Staff" page.

Measure, Ghost Ranch, NM
Howard Stein      

Mesas, mountains,
canyons, valleys, sky –
transmute unimaginable
into imaginable
sense of place,
but preserve
the scale and miracle
of unfathomable space.

Poet's Notes:  Each year for at least twenty years, I attend the annual fall retreat of the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology held at Ghost Ranch (pictured) in northern New Mexico. The sense of place inspires poetry in me every time I go. This little poem is from late September 2017 and strives to do the impossible: to fathom the unfathomable and to bear witness to my awe whenever I am there.

Editor’s Note:  I enjoy Howard’s use of rhyme here as well as the magical moment when the imagined becomes reality.  What an inspiring place Ghost Ranch must be!

* * * * * * * * * *


Skyward, Ghost Ranch
Howard Stein     

The earth
begins as geography
and ends as sky.

Above the Piedra Lumbre basin
and the Chama River Valley;
above the Cliffs of Shining Stone;
above the high desert that spans forever,
dwells a more immense forever
where the Milky Way nearly blinds you by night,
where you can follow the sun’s long arc by day,
where you can see fierce storms in their far approach –

the realm of sky,
more than an eye can hold,
more than arms can wrap around,
more than imagination can grasp –
spawning wave upon wave
of terror and reassurance,
desolation and comfort,
exposure and enclosure;
where we give names to stars
and group them into familiars
so we don’t leak out into infinity –
constellations, our celestial mesas and buttes,
to give bounds to the badlands of our minds,
as if the sky could at last have a skin,
and we could fall asleep under the stars
and not be afraid.

Poet's Notes:  This poem also comes from the annual fall retreat in late September 2017 at Ghost Ranch.  As awe-inspiring as the geology of the place in northern New Mexico is, the sky (pictured) ultimately dominates the landscape and the imagination. This poem comes from my walk at night beyond the incandescent lights of Convocation Hall.  

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