Poetry: Riprap by Gary Snyder

The coyotes woke me up tonight and right now I cannot get back to sleep. It is cold in the house and I made tea. Sometimes I get frightened for no rational reason and cannot get back to sleep so I am distracting myself reading poetry. One of my favorite poets of all time is Gary Snyder. He is considered a Beat poet and he writes poems that include Buddhist elements and environmental thought. I have been enraptured by his poetry since first encountering it as a child. I have a dog eared copy of Turtle Island that has traveled with me everywhere. I have heard him read his poetry a few times and he has the same soothing presence that lulls me to sleep as the high Buddhist lamas. Here is a poem that I discovered this evening. BTW, riprap is rock or other material used to armor shorelines, streambeds, bridge abutments, pilings and other shoreline structures against scour, water or ice erosion. It is made from a variety of rock types, commonly granite, limestone or occasionally concrete rubble from building and paving demolition. It is used to protect coastlines and structures from erosion by the sea, rivers, or streams. It is used on any waterways or water containment where there is potential for water erosion.

‘Riprap’ by Gary Snyder

Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf or wall
riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way,
straying planets,
These poems, people,
lost ponies with
Dragging saddles —
and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
four-dimensional
Game of Go.
ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
a creek-washed stone
Granite: ingrained
with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.