Earth quotes: Gary Synder

This poem by Gary Snyder is from his book “Mountains and Rivers without end.” To me, it epitomizes the feeling I get everytime I’m on the river, fishing or not. See you on the river, Jim Burns

Water words: The poet Gary Snyder. (courtesy University of Illinois)

Night Song of the Los Angeles Basin



pollen dust blows,

Swirl of light strokes rising

knot-tying light paths,

calligraphy of cars

Los Angeles basin and hill slopes

Checkered with street freeways. Floral loops

Of the freeway express and exchange.

Dragons of light in the dark

sweep going both ways

in the night city belly.

The passage of light end to end and rebound ,

— ride drivers all heading somewhere —

etch in their trances to night’s eye mind

calligraphy of cars.

Vole paths. Mouse trails worn in

on meadow grass;

Winding pocket gopher tunnels,

Marmot lookout rocks.

Houses with green-watered gardens

slip under the ghost of the dry chaparral,


shrine to the L.A. River.

The jinja that never was there

is there.

Where the river debouches

the place of the moment

of trembling and giving and gathering

so that lizards clap hands there

— just lizards

come pray, saying

“please give us health and long life.”

A hawk,

a mouse

Slash of calligraphy of freeways and cars

Into the pools of the channelized river

the Goddess in tall rain dress

tossess a handful of meal.

Gold bellies roil

mouth-bubbles, frenzy of feeding

the common ones, the bright-colored rare ones

show up, they tangle and tumble,

godlings ride by in Rolls Royce

wide-eyed in broker’s halls

lifted in hotels

being presented to, platters

of tidbits and wine,

snatch of fame,

churn and roil,

meal gone, the water subsides.

A mouse,

a hawk.

The calligraphy of lights on the night

freeways of Los Angeles

will long be remembered.



late-rising moon.

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