One Toe in the Headwaters

Sioux dream brewed
in great-great-grandmother’s refining teapot

north arrow
wise from the cup
stained-glass butterfly
lit on the petrified clock

east arrow                                                                                                                  west arrow
farsighted generations weep–                                                    vision dons a grass sweater
abrasive lotion, secretive shredder of totems–                                      embossing shadow
descendant faucet, dripping pebbles                                            on tortoise soul tea leaves

south arrow
innocent where earth and four winds meet
delicate soul-proboscis
sips an extinct chocolate carnation

Thunder gasp lingering
in my waking mind, there is a path that is true


THUNDERBIRD AMERICAN INDIAN DANCERS 2013 – Theater for The New City, Manhattan NYC – 01/26/2013 (Photo credit: asterix611)

Written for naming constellations —  Recursion One: headwaters

More poetry at dVerse: Open Link Night

One of my visitors (and friends) pointed out that the usual positioning of directions would be 


          W                           E


He had to ask about it twice before I realized my mistake (If you’re curious, the conversation is in the comments below).

I decided to revise the structure.  What do you think?  Does it make a difference?  Any kind of difference?  Opinions and observations quite welcome.


Sioux dream brewed
in great-great-grandmother’s refining teapot

north arrow
wise from the cup
stained-glass butterfly
lit on the petrified clock

west arrow                                                                                                                         east arrow
vision dons a grass sweater                                                           farsighted generations weep–
embossing shadow                                             abrasive lotion, secretive shredder of totems–
on tortoise soul tea leaves                                                   descendant faucet, dripping pebbles

south arrow
innocent where earth and four winds meet
delicate soul-proboscis
sips an extinct chocolate carnation

Thunder gasp lingering
in my waking mind, there is a path that is true

About T A Smith

Just one of the literacy scholars on this site who wants to explore writing in all its complexities.
This entry was posted in Free Verse, Interesting Blogs, Poetry, Prompts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to One Toe in the Headwaters

  1. I do not find the correction disturbs the flow or appearance of the poem. I enjoyed it very much.

  2. claudia says:

    love the whole idea of this…the sioux dream brewing in granny’s teapot.. cool that you designed it according to the cardinal directions as well

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome back. We all have symbols that speak to us and images that are dear to us. I really like Native American symbols. Working them into this poem was a pleasure and adventure. Thank you for sharing with me.

  3. I found the juxtaposition extremely interested and whatever the position on paper, arrows can fly in all four directions~ magnificent ambience !

  4. ladynyo says:

    I was reading it across….lol! Interesting positioning, and cultural aspects.

    Lady Nyo

    • Yousei Hime says:

      If it works reading across (and I think it can), then be my guest. I’ve read other structural poems that way. I’ve also the first words down every line to see if that says anything (or the end words). Thanks for stopping in and commenting. 😀

  5. aloha Poetic Rabbit. yes. beautiful visually as well as in word and concept. outstanding.

    the four corners layout is excellent. I wondered about the east and west arrow positions, whether like wind they move in that direction toward the center (east moving toward right and west moving toward left as north and south are not positioned like this) . east and west move inward perhaps as north and south move outward has a sense to it. I wonder if those positionings are traditional perhaps?? the nature of wind? so that it is not a compass layout but a wind layout? is this something relative to the researching you’ve explored on this?

    I like this. you have caught the spirit with both the words and the visual. yeah again. outstanding.

    more again, please. aloha.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you for surfing over to read. I was hoping you would. Did you Google the medicine wheel? It is so fascinating visually and symbollically. The myth/imagery possibilities in these Native American concepts are irresistible. There is no doubt they’ll weave into my writing. In the meantime, below is a link to the symbol framework for this poem (be sure and read the “Four Medicine Arrows” section). Thanks for the encouragement and motivating questions. (scroll down on the website to find the pertinent info).

      • ah. yes. i see. no, i hadnt looked up the medicine wheel—altho i’ve looked into a number of these cultural insights doing my own explorations for various reasons at various times. i’ve been fascinated by these cultures since i was much littler. more recently it’s often with sand paintings but other connections as well. yeah, these and all cultures have a lot to offer (imo).

        way cool that these will weave into your work.

        here is what i was wondering then as all arrows point inward, which makes sense in this case: the north and south placements in the poem hold to the compass positions as we note them on a map, so i wondered why the east and west positions seemed switched or reversed—visually.


        that (if it shows up right) would be how we see these positions on a map for instance.

        i know some people like the positioning as it is reading across. what i’m saying is minor. it was just a thought that occurred to me as i read and noted it visually. and of course you may have your own intuitive reasons for the placement as it is too (or i may have missed something too, which is often the case). cool on that.

        you know i get very curious about these things. and the poem works beautifully as is. i like the direction you are taking with this. very cool. aloha.

        • Yousei Hime says:

          I’d like explain the structure choices in way that looks good, but the simple truth is I didn’t realize I’d switched them until you pointed it out for the second time (wow, not even the first **shaking head in beet red shame**). Still happy accidents make for interesting discussion and sometimes pleasant surprises. I’m going to include a corrected version so readers can decide if it makes some kind of difference. That will also be interesting. Btw, I really love the sand paintings as well, and I’d be shocked if they didn’t draw you, Mr. Visual Art, in for an embrace. Thank you for your persistence. It keeps me on my thinking toes.

          • to respond to your question I think there is a difference, and because there is a difference, the way you decide to do it can then be based on which way you want it to be.

            I am interested in the difference because I can see reasons to do it both ways, depending on what is wanted or intended.

            the second version now isn’t questioned in the same way for me. that is, my thought of why the switched directions, wouldn’t come up.

            on the other hand when that kind of questioning is intended then the first way achieves that. or to push it further, switching North and South as well, so that all 4 directions were reversed, might clarify that intent. it might seem more intended is what i mean. that might be a very interesting way to explore or create a (what?) a blip?? in the mind of a reader, something that gives a pause, or pops up on a readers radar??—in the sense of, “Hey, what’s going on here??” I like that as a possible intended use and would tuck it away for the future or if that is the intent now, I’d use it now too.

            I enjoy this kind of thinking and exploration. I don’t think either way as you have displayed the work is incorrect. I think both work, each with a slightly different effect. and the question is which way do you want it to be, or intuit that you’d prefer it to be.

            either way I see what you are doing here as good stuff, a great exploration into the visual arrangement of words and the effect that can have on a reader. way cool. aloha

            • Yousei Hime says:

              I’m nodding along as I read your comment. The second version does not read the same for me either, and I’m not sure why. I like the first better, and I’ll have to explore that. I know it’s something in how the lines are read, the connections I make coming from that direction as opposed to the second. Like I said earlier, happy accidents, this stumbling onto fruitful thinking. Thank you. 🙂

            • yes, I think the bottom line is to do it the way you want it, or feel it, should be. I think there is something I prefer in the first way too. maybe it is exactly that the reversed placement does shake the reader’s attention up a bit, makes me examine it more closely. yes I too discover interesting devices sometimes when I do something as it wants to come out of me. even when it is not what I might think of as the logical way to do it. we are such interesting creatures. I suspect what we are talking about in some ways might be considered as something along the lines of an intuitive leap path. . . . . way fun on that. aloha.

  6. Geoff says:

    Deceptively dense and convoluted … beautiful too.
    Thank you…

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you for the visit and comment. I’m hoping it is only slightly, intriguingly convoluted. 😉 Writing outside my head so that others can follow at least one of the threads is my goal for the year. Thank you for finding beauty in it.

  7. Hello Yousei. As I read your fine poem I recalled the book, “Seven Arrows” by H. Storm. Are you familar with it?

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I’m not. I’ll definitely have to look for it. If you think of anything else, please let me know. So glad you liked the poem. I was really hoping you would. If you have any suggestions on it I’d love to hear them.

  8. aqua dragon fruit says:

    Good golly, Woman. That is exquisite, divine poetry. I am so impressed! Excellent presentation. You clearly spent hours working on this, and it was well worth it. Savor this piece, my dear. You’ve earned it.

    I love that the midsection can be read straight across, not just vertically. In fact, I might well say the reverse. I think you wrote it to be read across, jumping from east to west, back and forth, as if in the midst of muddled emotion or confused decision-making.

    These are my favorites:
    “stained-glass butterfly / lit on the petrified clock”
    “innocent where earth and four winds meet”
    “sips an extinct chocolate carnation”
    “in my waking mind, there is a path that is true”

    This is about finding your Zen spot. Stopping the whirlwind, standing in the center of the storm to achieve calm, blocking out everything around you, past, future, present, identity, confusion, task, decision. The only thing that matters is your breathing, your reclaimed innocence, and your natural truth. Communing with nature will do this every time.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I’d like to claim intent to all the things you found, but I think they were present in spirit, not in intellect. Still, they have been floating around in my heart and mind for some time. I’ve long loved my distant Native American roots, and this was such a lovely chance to write to that. So happy to see you too. Finding my Zen spot, that is my primary focus these days. Write you soon.

  9. this is so beautifully full of imagery, and i really like your formatting, perfect fit! (and yes, as per your reply to slpmartin above, working wordpress for formatting is a distinct challenge, you did a great visual job of it!)

    gems all among the four quadrants, but esp liked,

    “vision dons a grass sweater”


    “delicate soul-proboscis
    sips an extinct chocolate carnation”

  10. Kim or Lisa says:

    Interesting way of displaying your poem

  11. ManicDdaily says:

    Far-sighted generations weep is an especially telling line. K.

  12. Eric Alagan says:

    Beautiful presentation – of words and design.

  13. Pamela says:

    Nice layout, Yousei. Also, a very poignant message.


  14. That’s awesome right there.

    And as said above, excellent structure.

  15. This is truly superb!

  16. slpmartin says:

    Oh…just love the design and content of the poem.

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