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tall compass of the dawn
lifting beauty heavenward
rooted in the Mother
looking to the Father
image of the Creator.
John Amor Gowan Sept. 1997
John A. Gowan
On February 25 2004, the following severe weather alert was issued for central and northern sections of the California coast:
LARGE WESTERLY SWELL FROM A STRONG EASTERN PACIFIC STORM IS EXPECTED TO SPREAD ACROSS THE COASTAL WATERS TONIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY... AND CONTINUE THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT. SWELL HEIGHTS ARE EXPECTED TO BUILD TO 20 TO 25 FEET ACROSS THE OUTER COASTAL WATERS BY LATE TONIGHT OR EARLY THURSDAY... AND TO BETWEEN 10 AND 18 FEET ACROSS THE INNER WATERS AND SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL. THIS POWERFUL LONG PERIOD SWELL WILL HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO CAUSE DAMAGE TO PIERS AND OTHER COASTAL STRUCTURES. THIS VERY LARGE SWELL WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT... THEN BEGIN TO SLOWLY DIMINISH ON FRIDAY.
Thursday we went down to Montana de Oro State Park ("Mountain of Gold" - named for the abundant golden wild flowers there) to see the big waves. This is our favorite ocean park: desolate scrubby mountains, which still harbor mountain lions, end in a long low piedmont plateau which runs out to the sea in deeply eroded fingers. Trails wind around these fingers of land which perch about 30 feet above a rocky shore in vertical and often undercut cliffs. The waves pound right up to and beneath your feet; usually there is no beach below these cliffs, just exposed bedrock. Many sea birds nest here and it is a due western exposure, with nothing between you and Japan, so it is a great place for waves on any day. But this was a day of really huge breakers.
As I ran down the trail toward the headlands where the cliffs square off straight west over the ocean, it was one of those rare moments between you and Nature where your eyes are bugging out and you are repeating out loud to your self, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, OHMYGOD!!! I've experienced it at Niagara, the Grand Canyon, and a few of the other great National Parks, but never before to such an extent with the surf, stunningly beautiful as it always is. I don't know how big these waves were, but they were damn big and furious, and they were legion. It's very hard to judge how tall a wave really is, but you could see these were mega waves, and you were happy to watch them from a safe distance on the shore. I saw no surfers that day but I suppose somewhere they were riding these waves. I traded jokes with other spectators about having forgotten my surfboard, and rats, mine broke just yesterday, etc.
The bigger a wave is the further out it breaks, so the really big ones are breaking so far out you can't tell how big they are, just that they MUST be huge to break so far out. These are storm waves, generated far out at sea, and have nothing do with the local winds of the day; they are called swells and they have local wind waves on top of them like dogs have fleas. These local wind waves are a nuisance to surfers since they make surfing the swells more difficult, sort of like rough snow makes skiing more difficult. But they give the swells a nice texture, almost like hammered brass when the light is right. Anyway, these swells come in various sizes, since the storm doesn't just generate swells of one size, and when it makes huge swells, it makes a lot of intermediate and smaller sizes too. The point is, all these swells of different size break at different depths as they approach the shore, the huge ones beginning far out, the medium ones closer, and the small ones well in.
This day the small waves were probably around 8 feet, going in increments of maybe 4 feet right up to probably 24 feet, so you had swells of five different sizes, all breaking simultaneously at different depths and distances from the shore. Now each of these swells can be hundreds of feet long, and they all send a tide of foaming white water in a distinct raised tier churning toward the beach or rocks, so in the near water, which is entirely foaming white, you have tier upon tier of rolling churning foam, each distinctly the remnant of a swell, while the lines of the actual breakers extend far out to sea, one after another, with wall after wall of water rearing up and crashing, and all moving in slow motion as all huge things do, even the cascade of the breaking waterfalls appearing to be slowed down because it is so large and far away that all perspective is lost, except for the apparent violation of the gravitational rules which gives the size away. The breakers are cruising forward rapidly enough, however, that the spray as they break is blown back seaward like a wedding veil over the top of the curl, as one after another they roll majestically onward in their assault upon the cliffs.
From our vantage on the cliff we could see for miles North and South, where rank on rank of the great breakers, foaming forward, marched steadily to the beach like a mighty invasion force, stately and unhurried in their thousands. Directly in front of us, you would see far out, beyond the rows of breakers, a lacy white line dancing along the cresting top of a huge roller, so big it was breaking even before it began to feel the bottom, then the slow progress of its spilling cascade, spreading out to both sides as the monster nears, rearing up and beginning to break and spill at several points along its front, then the general collapse of the great wall as the billowing cascades meet from several points and join together in a massive foaming confusion, sending up geysers and fountains of vertical jets caused by explosions of trapped air as the curls collapse and overwhelm each other. Meanwhile, the same thing is happening to four or five other waves closer in, and when you look up, having been fascinated too long by the spectacle of one destroying itself in chaos, another and another and another are rearing up behind it, and far out you see another lacy white line dancing along the edge of a distant comber.
On one of the few beaches we occasionally see a curious lesson in physics, as the receding wash from one spent wave meets the incoming surge of the next. The momentum of the colliding lines cancels out, but the kinetic energy they carry does not, and with the air trapped in the foam, the water explodes vertically upward in a narrow, swiftly running fountain that traces the meeting point of the opposing flows, which close upon each other like the blades of white, hissing scissors.
The visual violence and excitement is matched by the auditory phenomenon; there is a tremendous, continuous, deep thunderous roar that I have only heard elsewhere at Niagara, that deepest bass note we seem to be able to both hear and feel; this is unbroken and you cannot distinguish the breaking of individual waves, no matter how large, there are just too many waves breaking at the same time, and you are getting it from miles away up and down the beach, not just from in front of you. This roar is audible inland for a mile or more; we used to hear it at night in our apartment at Los Osos. The total weight of falling water must be absolutely immense. On top of this deep thunder is the higher, lighter threshing of the foaming white water, rushing in tiers toward the beach, like so much sparkling water bursting and crackling with bubbles; I can only compare it to the rushing sound of wind through the forest; this is a more local sound, and does not carry far. Finally there is, in some places where conditions are right, the musical percussion of rolling rocks and pebbles as the backwash rakes the shingle. In one narrow canyon between vertical rock ledges, the slippery foam is so thick and soapy and creamy from the pounded kelp and macerated algae that it slops and surges noiselessly like a river of whipped cream. Added to this is the misty fog the breakers send up, extending over the beach and far inland like smoke over a battle field, the plaintive cries of the sea birds, the sharp smell of the salt and kelp.
We sit to eat our sandwiches, and are finally exhausted by the relentless assault of the marching swells, which is tireless, wild, chaotic, and yet earnestly methodical, a grand conspiracy of the sea against the land. We go home, with the distinct feeling that the sea is winning this battle, and knowing it will be a long time, if ever, that we see the ocean this wild and beautiful and angry again.
There's a break point
where the trumpet sounds retreat
and I go reeling into the conceivable distance
that hasn't been thought up yet,
a space where I grope to find out
what "space is the conservation domain of light"
is really all about--I feel I understand that
a bit, and think, "Noether's Theorem,
"wherever there's a symmetry, there's a conservation law"
will help--but it's hard to get a handle on those
if you're only a poet, not a nuclear physicist
for whom "asymptotic freedom" is an operational concept
along with leptons and proton decay where the gluon
field is summed to zero...what the hey,
anybody can say howdy to a leptoquark
as a step along the way; and unified field theory
may imply that whatever gonfalons we fly
we're all descendants of decadent leptoquarks
while Pauli's Exclusion Principle, "two objects
cannot occupy the same space at the same time"
may apply to buddying up to someone in bed
where, hey hey, a quantum implosion of radiance
becomes our anti-matter meteor of undivided light
everywhere--which may not make sense
until you specify where light is: "everywhere at once."
Implacable Fractal, meet The Incredible Vegetable;
from an ineluctable miracle of wavy gravy
and articulate particles comes The One,
the indivisible Individual.
Hunter Ingalls 1998
Soul - how do we get into it
intuit intuit intuit the bird sang out
charges of matter are debts of light
matter began when love became light
traveling as it is, were, and evermore shall be
at the speed of God, which is out of sight
and symmetry is Noether's this'n'that
so the unified field simply falls in your lap--
laptops notwithstanding, we simply strip
time from understanding the tree which drops
apples or pears--Noether being exact
about symmetry everywhere is regard to light
getting intuit, intuit, intuit - the universal
two-step, Adam & Eve, on your mark etc.
and man and woman have been pairing ever since
the beginning of time which only exists
as a kind of recompense for the splendid gift
of love - bang BANG! - there goes another universe
into the distance which is just a bit misty in physics,
but the physics of delight still gropes in the dark
(how about that?) - the lepton, the quark, the particular
mystiques freaking us out with the simplified beat
of symmetry, Symmetry, SYMMETRY! BEAUTY
beyond doubt, the universal field
where The Elemental Athlete works out.
CPSI 2000, June 16-23
Ithaca plethora, ho!
There's watercress in the bar ditch
when into town we go!
and natural theometry to grow
living the mystery
of love within the rainbow.
No hierarchy ignoring democracy,
hierarchy pressing down low,
but a lifting of light to the spiraling height
where beauty is all that we know.
Ithaca plethora, ho!
There's watercress in the bar ditch
when into town we go!
When I look into your eyes
I see a song beyond my fable,
and I know that all my hearing
comes in colors from the stars;
for there isn't any reason
and there isn't any knowing
why the light of life comes pouring
through the sculpture of your smile.
So I know I'll go on searching
through your flowers for the meaning
of the rainbow's quiet arching
through the stories of the years.
For the goal of all my seeking
is the gift that I'm receiving
where the deepest dream of meaning
is just knowing that you are.
Hunter Ingalls 1999
Marilyn Ferguson, meet Wallace Stevens;
Wallace Stevens, meet Marilyn Ferguson
--that the linchpin on the launch pad may be withdrawn, and Ezekiel's wheels take off like zeppelins,
and the Superintendant go sonic, and Jacob become angelic, and all the wrestling become poetic,
and NoOne dance with Siva in Chidambaram, to eager audiences provided by Kuan Yin,
and everyone suspend reckoning in terms of time, and radiance provide a guide to the Divine,
for if Social Architecture is the Game of the Name, then all may enjoin in the building,
and Friedrich Frobel may release the bible from huckleberry buckle-up beltdown
and again engage children in learning from a basis of primary form, in which "original sin"
is acknowledged as a crime that's served its time, and may be renaissanced on its own recognizance,
where holiness extends from the roly-poly, and love turns in, and on, now and anon, like the torus of the universe,
and The Enormous Chorus becomes one with the chanting of "Kuan Yin, Chidambaram, NoOne,"
that our innermost ear may truly hear the channeling: "You are gravity's children, come again
in these prophetic times to ask the simple question, now, when asking is the question NoOne knew,"
and we all understand exactly what this means, in joining and greeting and singing
the Song of Songs, that Love abounds in the identity which Beauty keeps bringing.
Hunter Ingalls CPSI 1997
in the beginning was the word
the word came first
the word and the bird and the surd
and the fist-- the opposable thumb
of the tongue of the universe,
wriggling sounds to invite or incense,
to blast or to bless-- and the invisible bliss
of the mystical physicist-- all, all
arrive in time for consequence
the tooler, the tiler, the teller, the tailor
the tiller, the miller, the melodist & moderator
the millimeter of The Immaculate Emptiness
of retrograde time, renegade space-- the operator
of "to the rear, march!" and "about face!"
commands of emphatic emphasis;
the fabulator of collective effervescence, yes
and the apostles of abdominal prurience--
all of us progressing somewhere, some place
there's a more, or less adventitious inference
to everything defined by time and space
and if space wasn't there, into what
did light burst?--it's more, or less
than the meanderings of human consciousness
can comprehend, or address-- so I resort to verse
to sort out what I sort of possess, and release
back into the mind of the Divine, in which
either an image, or a word, came first
Zwish, zigga zigga zigga kaPOP!
Hunter Ingalls July 2000
The Flaring Forth
Scientists say the universe flared forth
From a single particle,
That popped out of the nothingness
And exploded into the everything,
Like a good idea whose time had come.
And each of us comes forth
From a single cell,
Made from stuff left over from
That first particle from nowhere.
We too flare from there,
That primordial blast,
To see and celebrate our own creation story,
Each of us a good idea whose time has come.
Chuck McVinney 1997
Selected Poems By Liza McVinney
(copyright 2001 Liza McVinney)
(Lisa, Chuck's daughter, is seven; she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.)
The Sky's Soul
When the stars set it gets dark;
When the moon sets it gets dark;
When the sun rises it gets light;
We call that day, evening, and night.
by Liza 2002
Cool blue ripples
glide through the sparkling
blue puddles of heaven.
Tall green grass sprouts
up from the steaming hot
The yellow sun peeks
behind the blue blanket
of the sky's body.
The black shadows
creep behind the
green bushes of nature's nose.
Three black ravens with
feathers as black as night perch
on an old oak tree
staring at the sky.
The bell rings,
I wake up.
My dream has just begun.
It's Christmas day, it's Christmas day.
I run to the tree,
Everyone is waiting.
I open my presents.
I don't get what I want.
There is one more present left.
I don't bother to touch it,
so, my mom opens it.
I hear a squeak, a squeak that opens a whole
new world for me.
I look behind me;
Something yellow and furry
moves toward me.
I feel a wet cold nose touch my cheek.
And I feel a wet, cold, red thing lap up
against my warm forehead.
And I open my eyes
and I see a little, little puppy
that's a beginning of
a whole new world for us.
I look at her with her red ribbon
and her delicate little eyes,
and I name her Fruit Cup.
Planets Floating in the Sky
Crescent, crescent, moon I bow;
Softly, softly I say wow.
When I see your face
I know you are from outer space.
But, when I see the planets glow,
I bounce, I bounce, I do not throw.
I jump on moons, I jump on stars,
I jump everywhere
even on Mars.
Time flies in outer space,
this little creature and I
must see each others' face;
Goodbye, I love you,
that's what you are worth;
I must go back to my planet Earth.
By the Pond
I see the light echo off
the water's edge.
It's like a clear mirror
attached to nature's soul.
The Path of Love
The path of love leads us many places
If you follow the directions,
You can see your love's faces.
I take fast steps along the path;
You take small steps along the path.
If we put them together,
We will get there at the same time,
And we can turn our last name into a rhyme.
So come to me to a world of excitement,
And maybe we can make a cute couple.
Love's A Powerful Thing
Love's a powerful thing
That cannot be explained;
It makes people feel good,
It makes people feel bad.
Sometimes it feels like butterflies
Flying around in my stomach,
And sometimes it feels like bats
Biting my heart.
An example of love is Oliver.
When You Have Arthritis
When you have arthritis
It feels like a wounded wolf
and a wolf that's awfully tired
from its journey, put together.
A hot bath helps,
Like cold water sliding into the cut
And washing the illness away -
And sometimes medicine helps,
just like cherries to cheer up the wolf.
Running, running in the snow,
Faster, faster they run down,
Flapping tongues, fury ears,
Flying legs and icy tails.
That's a sled dog's life;
Running down hills,
Flying through the snowy forests,
Carrying heavy packages across lands.
Jumping over snow balls,
Running through the sunset,
And flying through the air.
Star, star in the night
Shining like a wolf's eye
in the light.
What a beautiful sight -
Going on a journey or a flight,
Not wrong, not right.
Peace is like a cushion,
It catches you when you fall.
If the cushion is moved,
You will get hurt.
War is risking moving the cushion,
But once it's moved....it's over.
This war has moved the cushion,
Let's fight to move it back.
The rising of the sun shattered by the
weakness of the rain.
My heart broke out in tears as I sat there in pain.
The darkness of the sky covered the darkness of the sun.
When will this phase be over and done?
My dreams were spinning 'round as I sat there -
Face toward the ground.
I closed my eyes and dreamed of your face,
And then I stared at the window.
But not even a trace.
The sun beamed hot and red,
Then I closed my eyes and said.....
The wind whispered, whispered to me;
It said, it said - I am free!
Wild dogs' paws crunch through the crisp
As men hunt in the woods down below.
The wild dogs trot across the rocks on the riverside,
Careful not to fall in the tide.
The sun bows its head letting them pass,
Finally, the men are there, here at last.
The men take aim at the biggest one….
The little one jumps out to block.
Now she lay dead like an old sock.
A tear spreads the crowd,
The other wild dogs don't feel the least bit proud.
Rolly, Polly, Like A Stalk
Rolly polly, like a stalk
One time I met a frock
It roasted and it toasted
It smelled really good
It smelled like a little frozen foot
He smelled like a stalk
He felt like a duck
He trampled on the kitchen floor
He made lots of stamps and more
He tumbled and rumbled
He couldn't get home
He digged and trembled
When he stumbled
He was a kangaroo
I loved him so much,
I took care of him.
Gravity is at the center
of all things,
Speed, time, and light all obey.
It conserves and maintains,
Yet stillness is at its core.
A creative man centers himself,
Staying in balance,
No matter how fast the day.
There is call for action,
Yet the master within
Keeps a calm head,
Sets a pace rooted in gravity,
Transforming the chaos into
Andre de Zanger 1998
Sleepy trees in December sun,
Luminous blue porcelain behind -
I hear you settling in....
Did I only dream you bore
Gold and green softly sighing?
The taste of sun in the air?
Wet bank, wet mud, wet leaves
Fill the air without ever leaving the ground.
Close in, I see your tops fall away to the sky
Only suntastedreams left behind.
Win Wenger Dec. 2001
COMING OF THE SNOW
Aimless wind, talking to lonely sky
formless and void in the night above,
No longer steel-arched and high...
You huddle closer to Earth's tired frown
For warmth, and shiver frost from your cloak.
The first flakes come sighing softly down.
Rough gray boards
Over Slap of Water,
You are an underfoot thing.
A poem by any other rows
Would say the same.
There are so many of you
I think you interchangeable
And miss your special curl and grain.
When you've served your use,
I can let you go - which,
Of course, sooner or later you will.
Imprisoned thricely by the walls
Of time, space, and personage,
When shall we heed the voice that calls
To tell us of our lineage?
It rises silent as a spring
Within the quiet of the mind;
It is a different sort of thing;
It bids us leave the world behind.
In time's cocoon we swing asleep -
Perchance a lucid dream tonight
To will begone the pupal deep
And wing the butterfly aflight.
Arise my soul and seek thee now
The glory of the noumenon;
For thou art That, and That art thou;
So from thy fetters hence begone.
Man is not dust; he comes afar
And recognizes not his home.
Our sun is but the morning star
To that celestial dawn to come.
Oh, Spirit, that has made us bold
To think such thoughts in lieu of Thee,
Make manifest in men untold
This avenue to liberty.
John Curtis Gowan 1975
(from his book: Trance, Art, Creativity)
Two Poems Read at the Memorial Service for my Father, John Curtis Gowan (May 21, 1912 - Dec. 2, 1986):
CRY OF THE TEN THOUSAND
I stand upon the summit of my years;
Behind, the toil, the camp, the march, the strife,
The wandering and the desert; vast, afar,
Beyond this weary way, behold! the Sea!
The sea o'erswept by clouds and winds and wings,
By thoughts and wishes manifold, whose breath
Is freshness and whose mighty pulse is peace.
Palter no question of the dim Beyond;
Cut loose the bark; such voyage itself is rest,
Majestic motion, unimpeded scope,
A widening heaven, a current without care.
Eternity!--Deliverance, Promise, Course!
Time-tired souls salute thee from the shore.
Joseph Brownlee Brown (1824-1888)
JOY! SHIPMATE, JOY!
Joy, Shipmate, joy!
(Pleased to my soul at death I cry,)
Our life is closed, our life begins,
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last, she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore,
Joy, shipmate, joy!
Walt Whitman 1871
Even while we acknowledge the inexorable march of time and change, let us recognize the grander reality of life and conservation. Now is the time to let our emotions flow, and not just our tears but also our anger: it is time to stand up and deny the victory of death!
Poor, little death! Mighty Life has vanquished you! Karen lives on in the hearts and minds of all who knew and loved her, and we, her living friends and family, will not let her go. No one dies who remains in living memory, and we will hold Karen until we too are only memories. Karen lives on in her children, her students, and the thousands of people her books have touched. She lives intact, with all of us, in history. She lives in the future by the karmic law of cause and effect through every thing her life has set in motion.
Death is but a simple biological necessity, required by evolution to make room for more and better life. But it is life, not death, that is a cosmic force, mandate, and evolutionary goal; life, not death, is the triumphant, overwhelming single miracle of the Universe. Life is the information pathway by which the Universe is enabled to know and experience itself, to hear, see, smell, taste, and touch itself; to love itself and to explore new modes of creativity and new domains of beauty. Karen was very much a part of this universal curiosity, exploration, and evolving creativity. The Cosmos will only continue this introspection and evolution as the eons unfold; and so Karen, always in the forefront of any enterprise, in new lives and manifestations untold and unknowable, will continue to serve the highest purposes of the Cosmos. How we came to this life is a transcendent mystery; but even as this greatest of miracles is nevertheless the most obvious fact of our experience, so by this token we believe it cannot be an isolated or finite event. In this Universe, the miraculous happens all the time.
We are part and parcel of the Universe - to our last atom; we always have been and we always will be. Hence while the Universe lives, we live. We are part, moreover, of that special biological community whereby the Cosmos experiences itself and explores new evolutionary pathways and new modes of creativity. In the celebration of that function and of the diversity of its expressions, we here today remember and embrace our dear Karen, who accomplished that Cosmic purpose with a unique enthusiasm, creativity, and expertise that remains an example to us all.
We love you Karen, and we will remember.
John A. Gowan
Every biography, like every day, begins and ends the same way - it's what happens between times that distinguishes them. Dick was one of those rare people who actually made a difference in the world - moved it along the path to a brighter future, leaving the world better than he found it.
While we do not understand the true nature of immortality, we see in Dick's legacy some of its characteristics: Dick's spirit is alive in the scientific literature of his field, and literally so in the students he touched, especially those who themselves became teachers and mentors, carrying the torch of knowledge and Dick's special insights and skills to new generations of ecologists. Dick lives in our hearts and minds, and in his children and grandchildren. We are all immortal in history, and in the grand reservoir of living information from which we spring - the Life Force of our Earth and Cosmos.
Alas I knew him well, and so I bleed the more. But in our sorrow we must always remember that when the sun sets, the stars come out - a greater and more general dimension of reality is revealed. In the words of Thomas Wolfe: "...To lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth..." And so we may well believe that somewhere in the depths of the Universe, in the mysterious cycles of cosmological and evolutionary time, a great biologist is again being born, who will once more explain Nature to Herself.
In deep appreciation,
John A. Gowan Jan. 2013
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