Lifelines: The next best thing to Stone Circle

If I had a dollar for every person who's told me they’ve always wanted to visit Stone Circle, but it starts too late or they live too far away, I could retire. As if poets can retire.

Now’s your chance for the next best thing. “The Stone Circle” documentary premieres in Traverse City at the State Theatre on April 27 at 12:30 p.m. It will also screen four times — June 7-8 at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. — at the Elk Rapids Cinema, as part of a two-week "Experience Art Rapids! 2019: FILM" event.

For the last two years it’s been traveling the film festival circuit around the U.S. and Europe. Last August the film screened twice at the International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra, Crete, the southern-most city in Europe.

There were 135 films screened from all over the world, and “The Stone Circle” won The Snake Goddess Award. The figurine is sort of a Minoan, divine feminine Oscar. The serpent is symbolic of renewal and life.

During the last week of August, “The Stone Circle” was shown at the Goddess on the Throne Film Festival in Prishtina, Kosovo. A week earlier it screened in Alpena, Michigan.

“The Stone Circle” was directed and produced by an old friend, Patrick Pfister, and shot by a film crew from Barcelona, Spain. The editing was done in Barcelona and the surround sound was mixed and mastered by Tom Weir, a Grammy Award-winner at Studio City Sound in Los Angles. It’s an international work of art.

I built the triple ring of boulders over a four-year period before the movie “Field of Dreams” came out. The first time my wife and I saw that film we were stunned. The theme was almost autobiographical, except our passion was poetry.

Over the years the boulders that now comprise Stone Circle had been dragged and bulldozed out of tilled fields. By the time I came upon them they were resting along old fence rows and in small forests waiting for the next glacier. I had a better idea. Using my in-laws' orchard tractors, I started gently and slowly carrying the boulders to the meadow behind our house.

In the middle of the three circles there’s a mound of ashes from Saturday night bonfires that have blazed for 35 years. Every two or three years I shovel a foot or more and spread them around the outer rings. It’s good for the grass.

Stone Circle is a gathering place for poets, storytellers and musicians, and for the curious people to come and listen. It’s a family event that takes poetry back to its roots.

We never know for sure who will show up from week to week. It’s a living work of art, crescented by a small woods, creating good acoustics.

This month’s poem captures one of the lighter moments late at night at Stone Circle. In the flickering shadows a poet-friend saw two old faces in the fire’s reflection off an inner stone. Our son, who was a little boy staying up late, bent down for a closer look and said, “Yes, and there’s a Chinese cook in there, too.”

So, if you’ve ever wanted to experience the Stone Circle at a more convenient time, now’s your chance. You’ll even have an illusion of Michigan’s night sky with the two theaters’ ceilings.

Two Immortals and a Chinese Cook

Since midnight

the fire and voices of Stone Circle

have been humbled by the Northern Lights.

Poems are wiser than most people,

they know when to be quiet.

We lie around

in the shadows of the stones,

and whisper and watch:

crystals hanging from the sky,

white spears piercing

across the constellations,

liquid light pouring up and out

a giant funnel way over our heads

and the 45th parallel.

After the last car fades

down the road,

two immortals and a Chinese cook

appear out of a boulder

in the firelight.

It’s been an unusual night

attendance-wise at Stone Circle

between the Cherry Festival fireworks

and Bliss Folk Fest,

but we’re doing all right.

Though I still can’t figure out

where the Chinese cook came from.

The guest book is empty.