Sunday, May 10, 2020


Rainbow Obsidian, Lassen Region, California


I am dreaming of
Armenian obsidian -
Satan's Nails, on the
road to Mount Arteni.
Of Yerevan, and that view,
Ararat, across borders -
stone cut thin almost
transparent, like water -

We come singing from the river
we come singing from the sky

I am dreaming of
Modoc obsidian
Mount Lassen - they say
obsidian spirits speak just once
they say
obsidian came walking,
out of the river, singing -

We come singing from the river
we come singing from the sky

Gary Lawless

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Fortuny: marble to cloth

(short velvet cape, printed in silver and gold - Mariano Fortuny)

Woven into the fabric
of islands
beads for stars
dark water dark sky

deep in
Fortuny blue
night lagoon

In Venice, the Gesuiti Church of Santa Maria Assunta has a wall of detailed marble work designed to resemble draped fabric. The Fortuny designers have created a new line of fabric patterns based on the Church's marbles, called "Sectile 1729". (the Church was completed in 1729). The three patterns are called Altare, Marmorino, and Navata. Here are links to the designs:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

stone vibration

Faraglioni these
sea stacks, off Capri three
rocks rising, out of the

On the island of Capri, the Bay of Naples. We were walking a coastline path, to see the Faraglioni, the sea stacks rising from the sea. For Homer, they were boulders thrown by Polyphemus. For Virgil, they were the meeting place of the Sirens, from which their songs would enchant the sailors of passing ships. Looking at this lovely rock, I have a thought, a feeling, an intuition, that if I could somehow reach the same vibrational level as the Faraglioni, I could experience the world as they do - outside of human time, outside of human history - a longer, slower story, connected to everything.

A few years later, again in Italy, in Ravenna, I am looking at a very old painting of the Virgin, remembered now as painted directly onto the wall, simple colors, faded, but she calls to me - again the feeling that if I could reach the vibrational level of the painting, the world could change.

These two moments stay with me, live inside me. Recently , while reading "Sacred Instructions", a new book by Penobscot author/activist/attorney Sherri Mitchell, I came to this passage: "Our challenge is to remember all of who we are. We begin this process by expanding our awareness to include the entire creation...(to) alter my awareness by shifting my vibrational level to match the vibrational level of the world around me. This awareness created a kinship between me, the ant, the grass, the field, the birds, and the trees. I was able to experience a glimpse of the fullness of our inter-relatedness. These simple moments in time changed the way that I saw the world, completely. A full layer of illusion faded away and a new view of reality appeared before my eyes. This did not happen because I am special or unique. Everyone possesses the same ability to shed their illusion and see the world as a unified whole, simply by expanding their awareness and shifting their vibration. Once we have mastered these vibrational shifts, we begin to shift the reality that we live in to one that is more harmonious and balanced with our divine source."

Sometimes the stones speak to us. Sometimes they are the best teachers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

marble, granite, and anarchy

Carrara, Italy

"In Carrara", the Italian anarchist Galileo Palla said, "even the stones are anarchist." "A Carrara anche le pietre sono anarchiche."
Carrara - the white mountain - Michelangelo's mountain - Carrara has produced more marble than any other place on earth.
By the late 1800s Carrara had become a "cradle of anarchy", especially among the quarry workers. The first organized anarchist group in Italy was founded there - with the New York Times remarking, in January of 1894, that Carrara was "the original hotbed of anarchism in Italy".

Barre, Vermont

In Barre, the local granite was dreaming - "Let's bring over some Italian anarchists and stir things up" - and they came.

Italian stoneworkers came to America to work the quarries in Barre and a number of other towns. In Barre, by 1899, 90 % of the quarry workers were union members. By 1914, one quarter of Barre's population was Italian. One of these Italians was Luigi Galleani - at the time called " the most dangerous man in America" or the most important anarchist in early 20th century America. Galleani had previously been deported from both France and Switzerland, and had escaped from internal exile on the Italian island of Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily.
Coming to the United States, Galleani was arrested for inciting a riot (one fellow anarchist said "You heard Galleani speak, and you were ready to shoot the first policeman you saw." Galleani fled to Canada, but was expelled back into the United States, arriving in Barre.
Galleani was befriended in Barre by anarchist and artist Carlo Abate. The two of them created what would become the leading Italian language anarchist periodical in America -Cronaca Sovversiva (Chronicle of Subversion). The first issue was published in Barre on June 6, 1903.The periodical continued for 15 years (its first office in Barre mysteriously burned to the ground) at its highest point claiming over 5000 subscribers. It was closed down by the US government under the Sedition Act of 1918. Galleani was deported back to Italy, eventually dying there.
Galleani and others brought a number of speakers to Barre, including Mother Jones, Eugene V. Debs, and Big Bill Haywood. Emma Goldman came to town, speaking to a crowd of over 900, and was later arrested and run out of town.
Galleani also published a widely circulated pamphlet called "La Salute e in voi" - roughly "The health is within you". This pamphlet was actually a manual for the manufacture of explosives and weapons.
Carlo Abate established a drawing school in Barre to enable young men to earn a living without working in the dust of the quarries ( because of silicosis, explosives, and rough conditions, the average lifespan of a quarry worker at the time was 42 years -)
One worker, Innocent Belli, has one word on his tombstone - "Anarchist" - He was arrested in 1900 after a "nearly successful" assassination attempt on Barre's chief of police. Another worker, a leading anarchist stone sculptor Elia Corti, was shot and killed when a fight broke out between anarchists and socialists at Barre's Socialist Hall. Corti's brother carved Elia's tombstone from a single piece of granite.
Due to the skills of the Italian stonecarvers, Barre's Hope Cemetery has become a sculpture garden, with the workers carving stones for their families and themselves.
We rest in the rock. Stone tells our stories, carries us into the future. What would the stories of these places be, without the stone...

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Granite: Ekphrastic poem

An ekphrastic poem in collaboration with two sculptures by Andreas von Huene at the Centre Street Art Gallery, Bath, Maine


(Jay white granite)

Before language, there was granite.
In granite, the echo of all things -
rock wraps around, re-sounds,
echo of sunlight
echo of starlight
echoes of all
the rock has heard -
a larger sound than we can know,
found below -
granite wraps around me I
rest in the rock my
grandfather worked in the quarries -
Mosquito Mountain, Mount Waldo -
granite time is slow, slow time -
in granite time, my grandfather
is just leaving.
I can almost hear his voice

(Freeport stone)

Granite was once liquid, and moving.
You can see the flowlines, currents
in the moving rock.
wave and flow, the
grain within,
Everything rises from rock,
granite in waves, flowing -
I find myself touching
granite, asking who are you,
where are you from -
Frankfort, Prospect,
Stonington, Vinalhaven,
Freeport, Jay -
I'm saying hello to
whole mountains moving -
I'm waving back
into the rock.

Poem by Gary Lawless
Sculpture by Andreas von Huene

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

origin stories

postcard from Gary Snyder to Gary Lawless

in 1973 I hitch-hiked from Maine to California to live with Gary Snyder at Kitkitdizze. My home was a red tent under a large madrone tree with tatami and books. It didn't rain for six months.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Birds Fly Through

Tintoretto - The Creation - Accademia - Venice

Birds in a line what
language do they
speak - lagoon talk -
who flew through and
who are you
(your song, like smoke,
on wind over water)
the saints heard you singing -
birds fly through the sacred,
every day