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 I’ve changed the name of my blog to jesse s. hanson Words.

jesse

growin old for krsna


 The Link seems to have remained the same.

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jessephotocopyAll best wishes for the New Year to my Dear Readers.

New Year’s Eve─2016─and I’m sick with  stomach flue, or some approximation of that ailment. But I’m feeling good enough, for now, to want to post another lyric on my lyrics page. I’ll put it here as a blog first as my little contribution and acknowledgement of the New Year. Hope you won’t mind a bit longer than usual introduction to the lyric; I think it will aid in the reading of it.

Lilasuka is out grocery shopping with her son, Narottama, and his wife Lyndsey (visiting from Portland). Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating Christmas at our house with them as well as my three, and their five, collective children. They’re all doing mostly wellrelatively (pun intended and both meanings implied) speaking.

My Dad’s gone several years now. Mom’s doing mostly well and is cheerful, for the most part, and even jolly frequently though she has, in the last couple of years, had to relinquish her house and car and move into an assisted living facility. It’s a good one, as those places go and it’s in her home town so she knows all the others there.

I’ve been married to Lilasuka now for fifteen or sixteen yearsI’m not at all good with dates. They’ve been, in many ways, the best of my years. We’ve lived just outside of the Krsna community for the last few of these; it was a returning home for her. Myself, I have very few long time friends. I’m sad about that. Apparently, things in common have fallen away with absence. My most dear rescuer/benefactor/spiritual Master has never left me, has tirelessly followed me around, even when I neglected to follow Him or His behests.

But so much sadness and pain over the years from broken marriages and separated family and friends. I’ve written so many songs and poems in dealing with these things, in attempt to make them “larger that life”. Because life can so easily become small and weak. So I’ve made anthems to the tragic. I know I’m not alone in that endeavor.

Once, Master Kirpal Singh was sitting with some disciples and one of them said to Him: “Master, thank You for everything.” and Master looked at the disciple and said, “for Everything?” The disciple had to reflect for a moment, but then replied in the affirmative.

So that is the spirit of my song here, A Grateful Man (Yes, for everything). The word vichorde, in the lyrics, is a form of the Punjabi term for separation.

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A Grateful Man

          Jesse S. Hanson

Vichorde, vichorde; I’ve been in love for so long
My colorful life has gone grey; I know there’s things I’m doin’ wrong
But… someday my ship come in; my confidence is not misplaced
This is the song of a grateful man, for every trial that I’ve faced

 As I look out on these misty hills; so many things they call to mind
A man goes where his Maker wills, and then he leaves it all behind
A wisp of smoke in a lonesome dream, though it seems quite strange and real
I sing this You this song, a grateful man, for every sorrow I’ve been made to feel

              Once again I’m gone to pieces
              In the face of everything that I can see
              My mind has always done just as it pleases
              Unfaithful mind, I don’t know how you can be
             
              Once again I’m gone to pieces
              In the face of everything that I believe
              My mind has always gone just where it pleases
              Unfaithful mind, I don’t know how you can be

Vichorde, vichorde; He separates the night and day
I feel that I’ve been cast away, so long ago but who can say
In the market place or on a desert island, if by chance our paths should cross
I’ll sing you this song of a grateful man for everything that I’ve lost

Vichorde, vichorde; I’ve been in love for so long
My colorful life has gone grey; I know there’s things I’m doin’ wrong
But… someday my ship come in; my confidence is not misplaced
This is the song of a grateful man, for every trial that I’ve faced

 

 

 

 

 

Lilasuka and Jesse at the Festival in Scenery Hill, PAJust got back from a 3 day meditation retreat in Lexington, Virginia―a place in the forest called Sat Guru Dham. The photo here is not from that trip, but in a similar way, I played some of my songs for the other satsangis at the outdoor langar (free kitchen). It was very nice to have even the most cryptic of my lyrics understood and appreciated.

I told a few about how I had traveled to Bangalore last winter and met Baba Ram Singh Ji―spent two weeks meditating and attending His satsangs―how jolly and beautiful and how full of authority He was. How to tell people about Him without proselytizing? haven’t quite figured it out. But here it is, almost a year later and I’m still under His charm.

Under the Charm

 I can see my desires rising up so clearly
I can feel my loss; falling down so dearly
the gift of love, again, missed so nearly
It seems that life is a game that no one can win
It’s all arranged so cleverly and queerly

Are we born to live?
Or are we born to die?
Some say we can choose our view
yet both the young and the old
still wonder why
and neither know what to do.
Whether we look at the earth
or look beyond the sky
none of it, real or true

Then You come with Your revealing story
with Your mystic love and Your graceful glory
into the world for some time
of all things forgotten, You remind

Then all our weary old hearts are breaking
with Your every familiar glance
Then the very earth begins shaking
just like our trembling hands
Then the pains of all the ages aching
pour forth at such a chance
All relatives and dreams of relatives we are forsaking
as You walk upon these ancient and bitter lands
Then, no more plans are we making
under the charm of this romance

But, what of our failures; what of our crimes
Every moment our guilt is exposed in these hard times
You say, “Judge not!” but all we do is judge
We wipe the mirror, but we only make a smudge
My friends say, “Jesse, don’t take it so seriously, man!”
My answer is that we all do what we can.

Then You come and Sweet Justice falters
goes out the back door with his chains and his altars
with his curse of impending doom
and now, at last, we can breathe in this room

Now the timid day dreamers are free to make friends
Now the desperate self-defeaters can make our amends
We lowly floor cleaners will stand as women and men
Even these of ghostly poor demeanor may come forth again.

           

Jesse and friends on couch

Wow, I published this without a title. If forgetfulness was the goal, I’d probably be quite successful.

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As stated in a previous post, my upcoming memoir and my upcoming collection of song lyrics and poetry is now an upcoming work of the two as one.
So, in this post I’ve included both a song lyric and a poem:

The lyric is full of the gloom of winter. It has a pretty and melancholy little finger picking melody which carries it along I think. I hope readers will be able to appreciate it standing alone here.
Yet it doesn’t entirely stand alone, as the poem is a hopeful one of a spiritual Springtime.

As always, I really appreciate your coming by to read. Please leave a comment if your so inclined.     Namaste, jesse

p.s. The photo is from Seattle in my street musician days, back in the 70’s.

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Winter
(a song lyric)

Every day I have to come back
Every day I have to bring myself back
from this love or some other
from my cold-hearted brother
the untrue friend

We spend these years together
We search for God and then He finds us
Yet now you write and call me never
You fill the empty miles on this crowded bus
with all this nothing to discuss
fair weather, fair weather

Every day I have to wake up
Every day I have to shake myself up
from this love or the last
from all daydreams of the past
      the faithless lover

With the innocence of the intimate
in the spring we planted a child
In expectation of the benefit
we believe that nature has smiled
but your heart is never reconciled
and that will mean the end of it.

Every day I have to come clean
Every day I must admit what I’ve seen
of this love and all the rest
No love can pass the test
     the false God

creates the hope that lasts so long
as we dance by the midnight oil
as we sing the traveler’s song
where in the garden of  love we toil
where we grow like dreams in the fertile soil
until the winter comes along

Every day I have to write a verse
Every day I have to fight the curse
of this lie and every one
for the truth that must begun
      for the only one

Only the hopeless have reason to hope
Only the lost can be found
When finally we come to the end of our rope
at the end of the world there is a sound
something to stand on when feet leave the ground
some light in the darkest… where we grope.

Love Like the Spring
(a poem)

208

Baba Ram Singh Ji of Bangalore giving darshan to a four-legged friend

Maybe now Spring will come, now that news of You has preceded
Winter has been left with all the burden
he was given no choice
he could give but little comfort, yet he gave what was needed

We’ve dreamt of you in colors white and true and pure
We’ve imagined You—we didn’t know who You were
when we would go to bed crying from the cold
when we’d wake up, still dying from growing old

Are these the days of old, or is the world yet young?
For all we know, we’re in the dark
just primitives around the fire
all simulation, full of wow and flutter
ending lonely, homeless, reduced to mutter
while the world races along on fuel and spark

When my Master left, I had not yet begun
I stood alone on the hot sand beneath the burning sun
I turned stupidly, confused, and in all directions
not another living soul to understand my objections

When Winter came, it was good to be buried
under the snow so deep, under the frozen grass
until the longing could stir again
But as a seeker I have no skills
I go this way and that; so vulnerable against strong wills
But could my weakness prove to be Your strength at last?

You begged Him to accept that man on the end
who had consumed alcohol and meat, so then
Maybe, for me too, You could put such a request
that could soften His heart—since I can’t pass the test
since I’ve never become strong like the rest
since all my failures, I’ve confessed

Maybe You will appear like the Spring
bringing the sun and the rain in contrast
over the windswept hills of this time
Maybe love will have no choice
but to sing of my pain and loss with Your voice
but to answer with the future and to leave behind the past

 

           

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Stepping out on a limb with this one. Hope you will appreciate it. Had to get it out; it was weighing me down. As always, I am very grateful to my readers. Please comment if you feel so inclined. I’m glad tomatoes are out of season. (:<)>

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Spirituality

It seems like the closer we get to people on the outside
the farther away they are on the inside
I would gather my friends about me
but I can’t bear to feel that lonely

I heard my friend crying out
in the mournful way of the forlorn
and I ran to bring some comfort
but when I arrived, that voice was dying out
and I was greeted with such scorn

Spirituality is a lonesome battle
don’t kid yourself, old son
Spirituality is a bitter pill
don’t look at anyone
Spirituality is a chain gang, man
the worst is yet to come
Spirituality comes as a hypocrite, saying
This is the way it’s done
Spirituality is a blind eye turned
to the dying embers of the sun
Spirituality is an empty park
where the children used to run

Spirituality is a well of impatience
where we drink our leaders’ poison
Spirituality is a pecking order
where the strongest beast is the one enjoying
Spirituality is a parade of masks
in which, all secrets are revealed
Spirituality is a fairy tale
where the hearts of fools are sealed
Spirituality is the sport of the pompous
of the gurus and the pundits
Spirituality is for the hairy apes
My god, I’ve been there, done it

Aren’t you tired of what spirituality is?
of what it has become?
Aren’t you tired of, even religion being more pure
I thought maybe you were
Aren’t you tired of dying in false promise?
of your brother being your enemy?
I’m tired of spirituality, I tell you
I’m a spring wound tight to breaking for spirituality
I’m a lunatic with hands a’shaking

Get me out of this god dammed spirituality asylum
where no one has a clue!

Think all you have to do
is say God, God, God
Well… I’ll hide it from you
If you want them to think you’re crazy
just tell them one thing that’s true

Spirituality is a firm and stern correction
for reaching out to anyone
Spirituality is the distant echo
of a graveyard full of fun
Spirituality is the common thread
of the burned out bitter ones
Spirituality is perpetual movement
toward nothing ever getting done
Spirituality is at the gates of fear
where the pitiful wailing songs are sung

All I wanted was to love and be loved
How did I get involved with this spirituality?

I heard my friend crying out
in a voice so lost and real
and I ran to bring some comfort
but when I arrived, that voice was dying out
as if, after all, it was no big deal

 

 

Dear Readers,      This is a re-post from The BlueHome Blog (the blog I write for bluehomeartworks.com). If you follow that link you can read about BlueHome Artworks, which is—in a nutshell—a consignment outlet in support of the artists and craftspersons in the New Vrindavan, West Virginia community and surrounding area.

I just wanted to share the post here also, as it relates and is important to me personally, as a songwriter, musician, and poet. I hope you’ll enjoy the read, and if you’re local, come out and join us. As always, thanks for visiting my blog, and please leave a comment if so inclined.   Namaste, jesse

The BlueHome Artworks Tea House Project

The following is a blog in two parts:
The first part serves as an announcement of an event that will be held bi-monthly in New Vrindavan.
The second part is Lilasuka’s article (Lilasuka—as the Communications Director for New Vrindavan—writes most of the NV news articles) in the Brijabasi Spirit Blog. I’ve simply re-posted that blog article.

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Jaya Rishi & Devananda Pundit

Thakur, Sadaruci, and Jason

Dearest Friends and Devotees,

Jesse and Lilasuka Hanson would like to invite you to be part of a new bi-monthly    coffee     Tea House Project, hosted by the   BlueHome  Artworks Gift Shop:  

Essentially, it will be a Songwriters, Musicians, and Poetry Circle. This will be a very unique and informal group, plus the public will be invited to attend—no charge—come and go as you please. New Vrindavan’s own remarkably talented cast of songwriters, musicians, storytellers, and poets will be taking turns, sharing their work and their talents in an informal setting. The event will be easy on the ears—acoustic (meaning without amplification or drums, other than a microphone for the vocalists or readers, when necessary, and the possibility of low volume bass/lead guitar or other instruments requiring electricity, played at low volumes). Hand percussion, such as mrdanga, tabla, djembe, etc. will of course be welcome.

Musicians, don’t worry if you’re not a songwriter. When it’s your turn, play whatever tasteful music you like. Our intention is just that this project is open to creativity, and kirtan will not be the focus, but neither will it be excluded.

The Teahouse Project was inspired by an informal gathering held at the gift shop last Sunday, when Jaya Rishi gathered a few musicians together.

The next event will be held in the music room of the school on Thursday evening, February 14 (happens to be Valentines Day), at 5:30 pm. Subsequent events will be held on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month.

We wanted to get the word out, asap, but we will, of course, send another reminder before the first Tea House event.

Jesse and Anandavidya

Anandavidya, Jesse, and Jaya Rishi

A Delightful Impromptu Song Swapping Circle

  • Posted by
  • January 28, 2013

by Lilasuka dasi

The other day,  after the Sunday feast, some of New Vrindavan’s finest musical talents dropped by the BlueHome Artworks Gift Shop. They went there to share their music and to jam along with each other’s songs.

The night before, Jaya Rishi had approached Jesse, “I’ve invited some musicians to my room in the temple after the Sunday feast to get together for some music. Would you and Lila like to come?”

“Sure, thank you. But, hey, why not have it at Bluehome Artworks Gift Shop, where it might be more roomy and comfortable? And besides, since your room’s in the men’s asrama,  then Lila will actually be able to come.”

And so it was.   Everyone sat in a circle in the Gift Shop, and one at a time, each musician led a song of their choice.  Most of the musicians there sang songs that they themselves had written.

After they’d gone around the circle about 3 times, everyone seemed very satisfied. Some were pleasantly surprised hearing their godsiblings’ music for the first time.

Jason, a new devotee at New Vrindavan who has been a drummer for some time, said, “I’ve been very interested in getting involved somehow in music in New Vrindavan, so this gathering has been especially nice for me.”

Jesse explains, “This music event tonight really inspired me toward a project in which I’ve been interested for some time. Lila and I have wanted to host gatherings of musicians, songwriters, poets and writers, since N.V. is a community full of talent. Tonight turned out to be a great start!”

Jesse added, “I especially liked the way everyone took turns and paid attention to each other’s offerings.”

Look for an invitation to be sent out soon, inviting everyone, including listeners, to future gatherings of this type.

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Well… the invitation is, of course, in the first part of this post.

Setting My Sights

Setting My Sights

Yes, I’ve been conspicuously absent. I’ve been working night and day to establish our  BlueHome Artworks consignment shop within the New Vrindaban Community.  I started a blog there as part of the online store/website: The BlueHome Blog, where I talk about the value of thinking small, in terms of supporting small and local businesses, artisans making hand crafted products, agriculture, etc. Village economy, really.

So you can check that sight and blog out if you’re inclined to. Here, I intend to maintain my personal stuff, including my writing, my spiritual quest and ponderings, etc. I know; it’s a summer picture I’ve posted, but the current view from our home is a little bleak right now, since we don’t have snow yet—at least not any that’s stuck. But as you can see, it is snowing on the picture anyway.

So here’s my new poem. It does, in fact, contain some of those ponderings. I hope you enjoy it. As always, I invite you to comment if you feel like it.

Setting my Sights

Jesse S. Hanson

My Father is dead but my real Father lives
My real Father is dead but my even more real Father lives
Jesse is gone but then he never was
I never could find him
Just some vague familiarity with someone who always disappointed

Where is my family, my kin?
I wait for them on the shore where the boats come and go
But not them, no
Where are my dogs and my horses?

I don’t see them run and bark and whinny
Over the hills, willy-nilly
Where are my girls, where are my boys?

My songs are dead but my real song sings
My dreams are dead but my real dream waits
For me to wake up
From dead and dying dreams

I have to set out
I have to go on a fearsome adventure
I have to set out across the wilderness with only faith
Since I lack courage
Since I lack vision
Since I lack identity

I’ve always had to cry as the years have gone by
Where are my rolling prairies?
Well, those men have plowed them
Where are my towering hills and splendid valleys?
Those men cut them down, dug them out, they were sold out for baubles
And a plastic future
Where is my beach, my little house on the ocean?
All washed up, built up, soiled, overgrown, weeds and litter

My land is dead but my real land lives
My Father is buried but my real Father lives
My real Father is cremated but my more real Father lives
Jesse is gone but then he never was
I have to go to another land
I will grow weary of this childish tantrum
These sentimental tears

I will become forgetful of all things behind me
Become tired of mourning a life that did not care for me
A home that was not there for me
I’ll set my sights on the unknown distance
Across the ocean of this lost existence

My Father is dead but he’ll be forgotten
My real Father has gone on ahead
My even more real Father is here waiting.

The following is my review of  a new book, Being and Homelessness: Notes from an Underground Artist, by Chicago artist, John H. Sibley.  It is a work that covers a lot of ground, touches on many social issues—issues that concern both artists and the homeless. These two concerns have formed a type of personal collage in John’s world.

Although my roots (in this particular physical manifestation) are small town Upper Midwest America and John’s are inner city, Chicago, interestingly enough, I can relate. I have little in common with John’s upbringing, but my artistic longings and aspirations drew me to the city also—in my case it was Seattle, where I spent a period of my life as a street musician, immersed in the “culture” of the Pike Place Market and other local haunts, in the company of other musicians, artists, poets, crafts persons, vendors, entrepreneurs of  questionable pursuits, alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless persons, and derelicts of great variety. I can relate, and I can confirm: the subjects of artists and homelessness are easily intertwined. John has, in fact, done this successfully and has become a type of spokesman for the underground artist, in doing so.

As always, I hope you’ll enjoy my review and that you’ll leave a comment if so inclined. Thanks for coming by,  Jesse S. Hanson

 

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A Multi-faceted Look at the Life of an Underground Artist

John H. Sibley’s new literary work, Being and Homelessness: Notes from an Underground Artist, is an important and welcome contribution, arriving as it does, at a time when the scene of the art world is mostly cordoned off to all but the privileged elect. From my nosebleed seat in the bloody colosseum of the arts—being an underground artist myself—I often found myself cheering along as John attacked the giants, demons and all fierce bastions of that world with eloquence and candor.

 “I was relegated to selling my art on the street level not because I lacked talent but because I was shunned, ostracized and treated like a pariah by both Chicago’s white and black art establishments.”

Taken out of context, as I have done here, I realize it sounds like sour grapes, like the complaint of an artist who has likely not put in the required effort, not stayed the course, or does, in fact, lack the talent to succeed. Not so: Not only has John been practicing and honing his unique artistic crafts since he was a young boy, but he is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. His knowledge of the academics and history of art is formidable and that is only enhanced by the practical knowledge of a man of the streets.

However, there is much more to Being and Homelessness than a diatribe against the art establishment. I particularly enjoyed Chapter 8, The Lost Culture of Maxwell Street. This chapter deals with the multicultural open-air market atmosphere, highlighted by the legendary Chicago Blues culture that manifested for a period of some forty plus years. I had previously read this chapter, when it was posted on goodreads.com, and found it fascinating. The following is taken from the comment that I wrote, regarding the post, at that time: “This is very gritty and intense. It seems to be written just like someone is talking; telling about, reveling in their experience of life—stream of consciousness. There’s just so much in there, almost more than the senses can deal with. Life experienced as a perpetual street fairexhausting and thrilling at once.”

Another aspect of John’s book that I appreciated was his exploration of Black history in America. Here again, Sibley pulls no punches in presenting his facts and opinions:

–example of facts:

“The first slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 to establish 244 years of slavery.

Contemporary African Americans have only been free 139 years, using 1863 as a benchmark, which means that blacks were slaves 105 years longer than we have been free.”

 –example of opinion:

“The salient fact is that black Americans are still reeling from the dehumanizing effects of the former slave trading nations of England, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the US.”

I certainly am not a fan of John H. Sibley’s every opinion. I don’t personally agree with his outspoken political criticism of Barack Obama, and especially with his endorsement of Herman Cain —I at first thought it was a huge literary blunder for him to include such opinions in his book. But after ruminating on it for a while, I think I can see a reason for the inclusion. His main point seems to be that Obama, although a black man, is not an “African American”. “Obama’s world is not the one of American slaves like my ancestors.” Sibley is exploring the experience of the American descendants of the slaves. Fact is—and I can’t deny it—Obama is not one of them—Cain is. It’s a pure issue of identification.

For those of you who may have read Sibley’s novel, Bodyslick, this work is, in my opinion, much more palatable. It is, in fact, as has been mentioned in another review, a fast and easy read. For the most part it takes me back to my earlier reading of Chapter 8, The Lost Culture of Maxwell Street. The editing is questionable—I hope you won’t let that bother you. If you have an interest, even a curiosity about the life of art, outside of the mainstream, spoon-fed versions, this book will be of interest to you. If you have an interest in the causes and experience of the homeless, this book will interest you also, though it is not its main theme, despite the title. Recommended: by a fellow underground artist.

Dear readers, I’m currently in the process of compiling a selection of my songs and poems, with the intention of creating a volume that will include both. However, the songs to choose from vastly outnumber the poems—I’ve been involved with the songwriting much longer. Consequently, I’m in the process of writing poetry, to help the balance. Happily, I’m in a poetry writing mood.

So I wanted to share my newest poem here, for the words, which is about my spiritual practice and is in memory of my great Friend and spiritual Master, Ajaib Singh.

Thanks, as always, for coming by to read my blog. I welcome your comments.
                                     Namaste,   jesse s. hanson

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the author's spiritual Master, Sant Ajaib Sing (Sant Ji)

 

 

for the words
         
–jesse s. hanson

How can I go forward
how can I be quiet
with a mind that will not
I close my eyes but the words fall from my ears
and will not stay inside
I’m so afraid of my imminent destruction
the awful risk of spiritual failure
I’m afraid of being driven from Your love
onto the featureless plain, alone
where no conversation with a friend of God remains
where no one sings and all songs are in vain
A most insistent, utterly silent voice is calling out in mourning
in anxious petition
In such uncertainty I scrabble about
unable to focus
on trembling hands and knees
grasping
for the words
that could catch Your ear
bring Your attention to me here 

I can’t speak for fear of losing something
I can’t be still for the hope of seeing someone
I’ve lost all fascinations
but too late
too late, too late, too late…
Don’t let it be too late
Ajaib,  strangely wonderful, mystical lion
I’ve no recourse but Your good graces
I’ve haunted this place behind a million faces
and still, no one recognizes me
though I’ve appeared again and again with my relentless longing
although I’ve married their sons and daughters
fought beside them in their wars and died with them
filled their skies with my crazy raucous laughter
and then filled their bellies with my fetus
looked into their eyes, playing the infant
I’ve learned their ways, holding their faith
lost my way on their bitter streets
fell beneath their heavy feet
to return without their sympathy
I’ve lost all fascinations
but now my back is old and weak
and will not stand for dedication
to Your purpose
to Your perfect words of love

so… You repeat them in me
until I’m stronger
Having said it
having asked it
I lie down in exasperation
and dream a dream of realization

Across the glamorous sky in perfect silence
the moon in pallid dream reveals the course
the stars in all their brilliance cannot match her subtle bloom
flower of the night
keeper of the secrets
long held by the lovers and those inspired
to seek the distant truth within
O gentle light, so wan and thin
under which to weep for boys and men
whose character is never spent in vain
by whose delicate form my heart is soothed again
Ignite a pale spark of my resolve
a reminder, after all
What else is there to do
out on this trail of incarnations
I’m going to leave, for now, ambitions
concerns and dangerous missions
release them to the earth below
forget the things that I remember
and remember that I’ve come here searching
for words that tell no story
words that speak the truth
in the stillness of silence
in the music of unborn conscious spirit
no clinging now
no owning
no question how
no thinking
collecting words in mental silence

 

 

 

I’ve just finished two wonderful and remarkable books: My Father’s Blood by Amy Krout-Horn (the new) and Ali and Nino by Kurban Said (the old) . In all sincerity, I think both would be appreciated by a great many readers. Excellent material to kick off a new year of reading. I would have to say that both are examples of Spiritual Fiction, as they explore the realities of beliefs and practices as they relate to the practice of a spiritual life in the face of so-called “real life”. Below are my reviews, as posted on goodreads.com.

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog. Please comment if so inclined–even if only mildly inclined–no problem.      jesse s. hanson

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jesse hanson‘s review

Jan 04, 12  · 
 
5 of 5 stars
Recommended for: anyone
Read in January, 2012

Relations
A review of Amy Krout-Horn’s autobiographical novel, My Father’s Blood

It’s difficult to sufficiently express the connection I felt reading Amy Krout-Horn’s autobiographical novel. As her self-portrait style character of both European and Native American descent comes to identify more strongly with her Lakota ancestry, I am reminded of the phrase—the prayer—All My Relations. I am aware that those words have a particular significance in this story. Finding her way is, in fact, a gradual process, since her father’s Lakota blood is not the primary heritage she learns about as a young girl. Rather, she is raised in mainstream, small-town, upper Midwest America, with the religion, history, and values that come with that territory. To that, I can most certainly relate, just like Amy, but ultimately, cannot truly identify with it.

The young girl’s American dream is challenged at a young age. Her trials are deeply emotional as are the trials of all young girls. Yet the comparison with most other young girls stops there. Forced to make her own way in a world that relentlessly removes her from security, she recovers again and again from the dark nature of despair. Krout-Horn allows the reader to experience both the brutality and the poetry of life right along with her. And, I think, therein lies the depth of this early memoir. She writes with a flourish that is not flowery, with a poignancy that is not contrived. I did find the omniscience of the narrator slightly disconcerting, in the case of a memoir, yet the book is presented as a novel, so of course, it’s obviously a matter of style.

Yes, I feel more deeply connected, having read My Father’s Blood, even as I feel more deeply the great chasms of separateness, culture to culture—as I mourn the separation of individuals from one another, created by our all-consuming culture of consumerism. This is one of those fine books that speak to us in a profound way about our relations. To those of us who have, to whatever extent, left behind our small towns or our old neighborhoods, we often feel a need to recognize our relationship with all as brothers and sisters. Yet there is also great relevance in the preservation of a people, in the reverence for and devotion to a way of life. “Are we Indians, Grandpa?” the little girl asks. “I suppose some places we would be,” he said…

There are so many levels of interest in this little novel; we are intimately exposed to and educated about the familiy’s debilitating and life-threatening illness and we become witness to the intuitive strengths that are sometimes granted to the handicapped. Another one of the very interesting aspects to me was the author’s personal question: who is an Indian? I certainly appreciated the expressed vulnerability in a brief but openhearted examination of this subject. From Chapter Six, Spring of Bleeding Hearts: “My grandfather’s eyes met mine and I saw the tiniest pinpoint of light flickering in the shiny black pupils, like the gleam of a star, its brilliance diminished only by the unfathomable space and time that exists between itself and Earth.”

I recommend My Fathers Blood. It is a remarkably tasteful and yet artistic work for so young a writer. I suspect she is young, only in years, as we know them.

 
 
 
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jesse hanson‘s review

Jan 04, 12  · 
 
5 of 5 stars
Read from November 20 to December 23, 2011
 
A Great, and I Think, Little Known Classic
A review of Kurban Said’s novel, Ali and Nino 

I’d never even heard of this story, but my circles don’t run that wide. I stumbled across it: a love story, extraordinare–a love story in more ways than one. Where Asia meets Russia meets Europe. An Islamic boy and a Georgian girl. A Russian revolution and a World War. All of this lovingly and elegantly captured in classic novel format by an unknown author with the ghost name, Kurban Said.

Just click on the edition here (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46284…) and read the great synopsis by Alix Wilbur. If you’d rather just read it cold without the synopsis, then just read it. It may be even more relevant today than in the time of its inception. It is such a lovingly rendered view of fundamental Islamic culture that the non-Islamist reader is irresistably drawn in. Simultaneously sincere and lighthearted.

Please read it… You won’t forget it.

 
 
 

Jesse S. Hanson’s spiritual fiction novel

Jesse S. Hanson's spiritual fiction novel

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