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Poseidon in Pasadena + Lucidity: A poem for Earth Month

April 20, 2014

PoseidonPasadenaP1Over April 11, 12, and 13, my family headed north to the rolling oak dotted  hills behind Santa Barbara to attend the Lucidity Festival.

We had helped with production and it was fun to find projects that we had worked on scattered about the festival (more on that in a later post).

We were also involved with the Big TV Set which served as the Alive TV Stage at Lucidity.  I helped on there on Friday and Saturday but on Sunday I was on the stage more often than not.

One performance that I did was of the complete 5+ minute poem that I wrote about water and power in Pasadena as a commission (pictured is part of it). In it, I talk about the Greek God Poseidon–who was actually at Lucidity with his Queen and a court of mermaids!


I told Poseidon about the poem that I had written that honored him and asked if he would be willing to change from his God form with his tail into his human form and join me on TV. And he agreed!

Pictured also is the first part of the poem that I read (you can also read about it here) and which I will read again on Tuesday Earth Day at Ventura College again on the Big TV Set. It will be about 645pm; hope you ca join us! For more about Ventura College Earth Day, please visit out facebook event page.

Here’s the rest of the poem:

Without water
            we cannot smell:
the membranes in our nostrils must be moist.
Feel the glisten on a dog’s nose.
Dampen your philtrum. Sniff.

Without water
            we cannot speak:
our tongues must be wet to work.

Without water,
            we do not hear:
air carries sound through water.

Without water
            we cannot see:
we must blink blink blink
keep our eyes constantly rinsed.

Our brains too must be bathed:
without water
                        we explode in pain.

Our constant companion carries us:
through in above with about.

So embedded are we in water
we must look for it to see it:
water is both mirror and window.

No wonder Poseidon was pleased to be crowned King of Water
when baby brother Zeus chose the heavens
and brother Hades, holding the short straw, got the keys to the underworld.

            Headline Pasadena:
Poseidon King of Water Dammed
by key holding Hades at Devil’s Gate!

In a Dionysian rush
to join the sea:
water races roars down
precipitous San Gabriel Mountains
steep sharp rocky rugged
ravaged by fires from Hades
prone to Poseidon’s floods
the intense racket rises
disturbing the sky home of Zeus.

From 32 square miles of
upper Arroyo Seco
rolling stones gravel sand stop
land creating an alluvial plain:
“Hashamongna” the native Tongva named it —
“land of flowing rivers, fruitful valley”–
geologists call it “the Raymond Basin”
the Spanish proclaimed it “the key of the valley”
the Indiana Colony decreed it “crown of the valley”
or, in Ojibway: Pasadena.

From Devils Gate
Arroyo Seco emerges
steep descent slows
cuts through water soaked bajada
dyked at the south by one of Poseidon’s faults.

Undaunted by near desert conditions
only 21 inches of rain yet ferocious flash floods
elfin forests flourish: gray green coastal chaparral
fragrant purple and white sages, feathery chamise
palm leafed lupine cups droplets of water and blooms indigo spikes.

Hundreds of artesian springs and streams
flowed from an underground aquifer
fed by immense beds of gravel:
cool delicious water leaping out of rocks in little cascades
enough to allow Dionysus to make wine in the 1880s
from grapes grown without irrigation.

Exporting water from Devil’s Gate for agriculture and urbanism
first in zanjas, then tunnels, a three mile long pipe, plus many wells
these graves sank the water table down down down all the way to Hades
who now delivers our liquid refreshment in             plastic.

No longer do we drink from the same well in public fountains.
No longer is water the peace that integrates.

Time for communion of Poseidon and Hades.
Time to walk in water.
Time to know the living intelligent force that is in us all.

Aqua. Agua. Apa. Ama. Awa.
Vada. Vasser. Wasser. Water.

Gwendolyn Alley, 358 Chrisman Ave Ventura CA 93001


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