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Ecopoetry ruminations from the Great Smokies

Ecopoetry ruminations from the Great Smokies

“We must unhumanize our view a little, and become confident / As the rock, and ocean that we were made from.” — Robinson Jeffers

In the spirit of my ongoing interest in reviewing books by our regional authors, there’s a new face that has come to my attention of late from over in Macon County. Loss Pequeno Glazier is the author of several books of poetry and poetics and has recently moved to Western North Carolina after growing up as a toddler in west Texas and in Japan and then living and traveling in places such as San Francsico, Paris, England, India and Cuba and teaching literature at SUNY Buffalo. 

A place-based writer, his newly released book is titled “Transparent Mountain” (Night Horn Books, San Francisco, 2022). This book is, at once, autobiographical, observational, (place lists, panoramas, etc.) musical and mystical covering a landscape from Watauga Mound in Macon County to Mt. Tamalpias and the Berkeley Hills in northern California; from Walden Pond to ancient Chinese peaks. It includes references to everyone from Thoreau to Han Shan. Glazier gives us a poetic appendix of almost anything one would want to know about the Smoky Mountains and beyond. In his stream-of-consciousness style that reads like a list of dreams, he takes us on his flight over the landscape of his life, birdlike, from above. “... river cane palisades, lush water meadows, saturated sanguine soil, serrated glass ridge ... forest that once filled this land ... ocean waves of mountains, cascading rivers.” 

“I invent worlds, align rocks as alien alphabets and using words as pebbles on ponds of mind. Stones of Han Shan! Words, wounds, woods — realm of the raging, inspired, spiritually aroused place of seers and poets,” Glazier says by way of brief self-description. “We are all a single intertwined thought,” he goes on to muse, echoing ancient and modern-day mystics and physicists such as Albert Einstein. There are also other references to Shakespeare, Shelley, Chaucer and Emerson and the many others who have mentored Glazier over the course of his lifetime. Not to mention the myriad places on the planet that have inspired and educated him. 

Using the Great Smokies as ground zero, I think that the best and maybe the only way to do credit to this book is to take a bit of a journey through its chapters, poetically describing and elucidating the subjects of Knob, River, Light, Rock, Island, Cove, Ocean, Ridge and Stars as seen and felt by its author. So, using Smokies as our train station, climb on board this trans-regional train of perception and join the journey with someone who has “been there and done that.” 

Nested in the curls of the southern Appalachians, the confluence of the Uwharrie, Nantahala, Pisgah, Cherokee, and Smokies forests, mind fluxes poetic ... At Watauga, you revel in river’s astral sand. Stars, planets, galaxies graze Earth’s flesh ... Millions of nano-organisms, fungi, bacteria, kaleidoscopic stelliforms of life, all teeming intellegences ... There is no ‘where’ to get to. In fact, if there were, you are already here ... The natural world suddenly scoops you up into its colossal waiting arms ... Everything is alive! ... We all inhabit the natural world — the body of which we are each one part, our real body ... You are embraced by ridges climbing to far heights of the imagination. This is reality one can see and feel ... Now aging, your condition likened to a 1952 Chevy in Cuba, pieces fall off, tires thin, oil light flickers like a percolator. No tune-up is possible. All you can do is change oil to lessen piston wear, go easy on the valves ... In the Smokies, tourism, traffic, development, coal-fired power  plants ... There is no masking it, expressive as vivid Cherokee script ... Workers come to install solar panels. You offer them a drink of mountain well-water. They thank you for a sip of the stars ... The oldest mountains on the planet. Or as I like to say, ‘Old mountains for old poets’ ... All sentient beings on the mountain murmur. Mountain gossip gone viral ... Humans take land, leaving less habitat for bears ... Great numbers of wide-spreading chestnuts. Gone ... Need to discover heart essence, Heart Sutra. Not heart suture ... Garcia Lorca duende full volume, words resounding crisp tree-to-tree echoes across ice forest ... Whiteside Mountain, among the highest cliffs in all Eastern North America ... Eastern Continental Divide ... peregrine falcon below ... to Mount Le Conte, its 6,600 foot flowering Precambrian peak ... Being here vibrates as scintillating celestial mountain vista-wilderness vibrancy. The material archive of what passed here — slabs of rock — stone libraries, the sole archives surviving human kind ... It’s illogical for one species to rapaciously scorch tierra madre ... It’s why those Buddhist Chinese poets retreated into caves to withdraw from the obstinate irritations of daily life. In that place of refuge the real work  begins ... Rimbaud, not having seen the ocean, read his 100-line Vernian undersea poem in a central Paris cafe; a poem navigated by imagination and where he stood on limestone covering the Paris basin 45 million years before ... like Emerson’s Over-Soul  where ‘The act of seeing and the thing seen, the subject and the object, are one’ ... an exilarating practice of Appalachian Zen ... On Wayah Bald, a meditation bell’s steady tone .. .We are in this together, remnants of astral collisions ... In kinship ... Poetry allows human minds to reach across time ... Once you see that all is heart, you are here ... in the Unaka Mountains ... on the millennial Watauga Mound ... on Cold Mountain ... Mountains outside, mountains inside ... Nature is not a place to visit, it is home. It is who we are. We can come home.” 

(Thomas Crowe is a regular contributor to The Smoky Mountain News and author of the multi-award-winning non-fiction nature memoir “Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods.”)

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