Danger on peaks
Gary Snyder
Shoemaker Hoard
Washington DC (USA), 2004
112 pages (including notes & acknowledgments)

Only a few quotes here.

A Dent in a Bucket

Hammering a dent out of a bucket
    a woodpecker
          answers from the woods

(Gary Snyder: Danger on peaks, p. 26)

Cool Clay

In a swarm of yellowjackets
a squirrel drinks water
feet in the cool clay, head way down

(Gary Snyder: Danger on peaks, p. 28)

Winter Almond

Tree over and down
its root-rot clear to the air, dirt tilted
trunk limbs and twiglets crashed
on my mother's driveway —her car's barricaded
up by the house— she called last night
"I can't get out"

I left at dawn —freezing and clear,
a scatter of light snow from last week still
little Stihl arborist's chainsaw (a thrasher)
canvas knapsack of saw gear
and head for town    fishtailing ice slicks

She's in the yard in a mustard knit hat and a shawl cerise
from her prize heap of woolens
from the world's Goodwills
The tree's rotten limbs and whippy sprouts both
in a damn near dead old frame

my mother eighty-seven (still drives)
worries the danger,
the snarl of the saw chases her into the house
in the fresh clear air I move with the limbs and the trunk
crash in a sequence and piled as it goes, so,
firewood rounds here, and the brushpile there.
rake down the drive for the car —in three hours.

Inside where it's all too hot
drink chocolate and eat black bread with smoked oysters,
Lois goes over her memory of my jobs as a youth
that made me do this sort of work
when I'm really "So intellectual. But you always worked hard as a kid."

She tells me a story: herself, seventeen, part-time cleark in a store
in Seattle, the boss called her in for a scolding.
"how come you shopped there?" —a competitor's place.
—her sister worked there (my Aunt Helen)
who could get her a discount as good
as what they had here.
The boss said "o.k. That's o.k. then," and Lois said "also
it's time for a raise." I asked did you get it?
          "I did."
So many hours at this chair
hearing tales of the years.
"I was skinny. So thin."
With her great weight now.

"Thank you son for the tree.
You did it quick too.
The neighbors will say
He came right away."

Well I needed a change.
A few rounds of sound almond wood —
maybe my craft friend Holly will want them
you won't be just firewood— a bowl or a salad fork
old down
almond tree

(Gary Snyder: Danger on peaks, p. 53)

Doctor Coyote When He Had a Problem

Doctor Coyote when he had a problem
took a dump. On the grass, asked his turds where they lay
what to do? They gave him good advice.

He'd say "that's just what I thought too"
And do it.      And go his way.

(Gary Snyder: Danger on peaks, p. 59)

She Knew All About Art

She knew all about art —she was fragrant, soft,
I rode to her fine stone apartment, hid the bike in the hedge.
—We met at an opening, her lover was brilliant and rich,
first we would talk, then drift into long gentle love.
We always made love in the dark. Thirty years older than me.

(Gary Snyder: Danger on peaks, p. 65)

For Carole

I first saw her in the zendo
at meal time     unwrapping bowls
head forward folding back the cloth
       as server I was kneeling
to fill three sets of bowls each time
up the line
                  Her lithe leg
                  proud, skeptical,
                  passionate, trained
                  by the 
                  heights   by the
                  danger on peaks

(Gary Snyder: Danger on peaks, p. 74)

After Bamiyan

March 2001

The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Hsüan Tsang described the giant,
gleaming, painted carved-out Buddhas standing in their stone cave-
niches at the edge of the Bamiyan Valley as he passed through there
on foot, on his way to India in the sevent century CE. Last week
they were blown up by the Taliban. Not just by the taliban, but by 
woman-and-nature-denying authoritarian worldviews that go back
much farther than Abraham. Dennis Dutton sent this poem around:

                  Not even 
                  under mortar fire
                  do they flinch.
                  The Buddhas of Bamiyan
                  Take Refuge in the dust.

May we keep our minds clear and calm and in the present moment,
and honor the dust.

(Gary Snyder: Danger on peaks, p. 101)

Loose on Earth

A tiny spark, or
the slow-moving glow on the fuse
creeping toward where
ergs held close

in petrol, saltpeter, mine gas,
buzzing minerals in the ground,
are waiting.

Held tight in a few hard words
in a dark mood,
in an old shame.

      said Jeffers, is like a quick

explosion on the planet
we're loose on earth
half a million years
our weird blast spreading —

and after,
rubble— millennia to weather,
soften, fragment,
sprout, and green again

(Gary Snyder: Danger on peaks, p. 103)

Entertainment: 6/10