Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


My photo
Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gary Snyder: Finding the Space in the Heart

                                                                                                               both photographs©Michael S Moore 2014
from Michael Moore, in Nevada, referring to the AL post on Gary Snyder & Wendell Berry
"Gary, writing about [almost exactly] where we are in the Great Basin...the elephant in the room here being the Black Rock Desert, our next door neighbor, now famous for techno-hell despoilation of Burningman, but, once upon a time...
"Anyway, to think that he and Ginsberg wandered through Vya the same year as I first did...
"I gotta get those letters [the Berry ones; already have the Ginsberg ones];  thanks for yet another great post."--MSM

Finding The Space In The Heart 
I first saw it in the sixties,
driving a Volkswagen camper
with a fierce gay poet and a
lovely but dangerous girl with a husky voice,

we came down from Canada
on the dry east side of the ranges. Grand Coulee, Blue
Mountains, lava flow caves,
the Alvord desert—pronghorn ranges—
and the glittering obsidian-paved
dirt track toward Vya,
seldom-seen roads late September and
thick frost at dawn; then
follow a canyon and suddenly open to
         silvery flats that curved over the edge

         O, ah! The
         awareness of emptiness
         brings forth a heart of compassion!

We followed the rim of the playa
to a bar where the roads end
and over a pass into Pyramid Lake
from the Smoke Creek side,
by the ranches of wizards
who follow the tipi path.
The next day we reached San Francisco
in a time when it seemed
the world might head a new way.

And again, in the seventies, back from
Montana, I recklessly pulled off the highway
took a dirt track onto the flats,
got stuck—scared the kids—slept the night,
and the next day sucked free and went on.

Fifteen years passed. In the eighties
With my lover I went where the roads end.
Walked the hills for a day,
looked out where it all drops away,
discovered a path
of carved stone inscriptions tucked into the sagebrush

         “Stomp out greed”
         “The best things in life are not things”

words placed by an old desert sage.

Faint shorelines seen high on these slopes,
long gone Lake Lahontan,
cutthroat trout spirit in silt—
Columbian Mammoth bones
four hundred feet up on the wave-etched
         beach ledge; curly-horned
                   desert sheep outlines pecked into the rock,

and turned the truck onto the playa
heading for know-not,
bone-gray dust boiling and billowing,
mile after mile, trackless and featureless,
let the car coast to a halt
on the crazed cracked
flat hard face where
winter snow spirals, and
summer sun bakes like a kiln.
Off nowhere, to be or not be,

         all equal, far reaches, no bounds.
         Sound swallowed away       
         no waters, no mountains, no
         bush no grass and
                   because no grass
         no shade but your shadow.
         No flatness because no not-flatness.
         No loss, no gain. So—
         nothing in the way!
         —the ground is the sky
         the sky is the ground,
         no place between, just

         wind-whip breeze,
         tent-mouth leeward,
         time being here.
         We meet heart to heart,
         leg hard-twined to leg,
                   with a kiss that goes to the bone.
         Dawn sun comes straight in the eye. The tooth
         of a far peak called King Lear.

Now in the nineties desert night
         —my lover’s my wife—
old friends, old trucks, drawn around;
great arcs of kids on bikes out there in darkness
         no lights—just planet Venus glinting
by the calyx crescent moon,
and tasting grasshoppers roasted in a pan.

         They all somehow swarm down here—
         sons and daughters in the circle
         eating grasshoppers grimacing,

singing sūtras for the insects in the wilderness,

—the wideness, the
foolish loving spaces

full of heart.

         Walking on walking,
                   under foot   earth turns

         Streams and mountains never stay the same.

                             The space goes on.
                             But the wet black brush
                             tip drawn to a point,
                                      lifts away.

                                                           Marin-an 1956—Kitkitdizze 1996

- Gary Snyder

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