Friday, December 30, 2005

Anne Waldman

Realm Which Includes an Eclipse,
a Cave & Some Amulets

-for Helen Adam

This poem was written as an experiment for a class I was teaching at The Jack Kerouac School of
Disembodied Poetics in 1976 when Helen Adam was visiting the school. We were working with magical
objects students had brought to class, which carried with them a story or a dream. Some of this information
was juxtaposed with the memory of a solar eclipse. Helen was a wizard, a poet, a balladeer. Born in 1909
in Scotland she came to the United States in 1939, and was active in the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance.
She was a close friend to Robert Duncan, who wrote of her, speaking of her as a teacher & companion
"who opened the door to the full heritage of the forbidden romantics. Her ballads were the missing link to
the tradition... In grasping the inspiration of Helen Adam, in admitting her genius, I was able to shake off
at last the modern proprieties - originality, style, currency of language, sensibility and integrity... Helen
Adam was right, passions may ve a voice in ballads and orders appear in fairy tales that were otherwise
muted or garbled."

Helen was very ebullient about visiting The Naropa Institute with its tantric Buddhist underpinning, and
about standing on the high rocky spine of the Continental Divide. We drove to Brainard Lake in the
mountains outside Boulder up near Ward. She jumped in the Lake's icy water, never flinching. She
taught students much about her own Scots ballad tradition, about alchemy & magic.

[Helen Adam died in New York City in 1993.]

There once was a woman, a balladeer
who mirrored the crag, the singing har
Who mirrored the song of a haunting dream
She rocked & rocked til the knots fell off
& she went to bed in a stream

May this landscape be covered lovingly for

of its splendor,
its wheels

Heart jumps for mastery, heart in it for
her mastery

heart pumps it up & out

for Helen

It starts 9,000 ft. above the sea,
jet stream touches down, fierce winds blow

coyotes yip at perfect moon. Watch

eclipse this morning not to be viewed by naked eye
(see fragile crescent though pin hole projected
onto white sheet)
dog yaps nervously then
everything's silent,

tinted ominous burnt gold as shadows lengthen


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