THE DIAMOND OTHER
One into another mountains lift and lean, chime with glassy radiance. Among them, one stands out: the Diamond Other. A massive thrust of energy, a quietly-potent thought realm. Breath momentum, visible echo of time. The mountain travels on ripples of heat, on seismographic waves of ice and magma. My flesh shares its warp and weft, wrinkles and veins, crystal fractures, shifting ravines. Dark subsoil, humus of thought. Old lifetimes pulverized by the glacier’s blade. Mountain walks on mist, a bright star in the brain. Under a sky so immense I am a penciled snowflake, a sound increment in perfect rapport with all that surrounds. Dash, dot—a walking assemblage of atoms who holds out a walking stick, puts one foot in front of the other, and thinks he is going somewhere. A lone boom of lightning, though, and somewhere becomes nowhere. Slap of wind, blur of rain, everything erased. Then, in a blink, put back together. Every breath I breathe into the universe creates a ripple in what the eye sees. Sit, brew some tea, run my eye along a wind-polished spur, run my hands over elbows and knees. A rosy afterglow leaks through sheaves of cloud.
The highest peaks
no longer the highest
FIGURES ON A SLOPE
SEEN FROM NUBAMA DANG
Monks and horsemen
move through wind-churned ice crystals
scaling vertical circles of sound.
A march of souls
parading up a wind-sheared saddle
lightly penciled, as if in a sketch
by Kahlil Gibran—
No more scrambling over rockslides
Nothing of fog or stinging hail—
Only radiant-edged phantoms
dissolving into the Bardo Realm,
rinsed of the world below.
John Brandi grew up in California where he avidly hiked the Sierra Nevada range and explored the Big Sur Coast. He is a graduate of Cal State Northridge with a BA in art and anthropology. As a Peace Corps Volunteer he worked with Quechua-speaking farmers in the Andes. Returning to North America, he held odd jobs in Mexico, drove a truck in Alaska, pruned vineyards north of San Francisco, and lived in a miner’s cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. In 1971 he moved to New Mexico, built a cabin in the northern mountains, founded Tooth of Time Books, and began teaching as a poet in the schools. A recipient of an NEA Poetry Fellowship, he has published over 30 books of prose, travel essays, haiku, and haibun. As a visual artist his mixed-media paintings, collages, and haiga have been exhibited widely. John lives with his wife, poet Renée Gregorio, near Abiquiu, New Mexico.