Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Saturday, November 30, 2013
We invent nothing, truly. We borrow and re-create. We uncover and discover. All has been given, as the mystics say. We have only to open our eyes and hearts, to become one with that which is.
— Henry Miller
Friday, November 29, 2013
Turn back, o death
Turn back, o death,
husband your reward
while I dream of refuge.
This is my variant on Dave Bonta's "erasure" poems. Dave has set himself the task of creating a poem a day, derived from Samuel Pepys' diary through a variant on the cut-up method.
I wondered if I could do something similar. As this idea was percolating, a group at church was studying the Book of Ruth. Most Bibles are printed in twin columns, and I wondered what would happen if my cut-up drew words and phrases from across the chasm dividing the columns. The above is the result of the first experiment — with one or two words added.
Breaking the rules? How can I break the rules when I'm the one making them?
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Finding the Healing Path
They met when the blush was on the rose.
Sam's voice was strong; his hands soft as stone;
he was gentle; he was kind. His heart was fire.
Sara was laughter generous as water.
When the bottom fell out, it fell hard,
hard as hands on bluing flesh.
Miriam lived in the delight of flesh
and honored the passion of the rose.
John loved the feel of wood, hard
yet warm. Who knew when stone
consumed his heart, when she became water
who could not quench his fire?
Barry lived for the honest fire,
Mara wore the brands on her flesh.
Her dark wounds flowed like water.
His dark hand fell on the rose;
his dark face became a stone.
Her body, once so soft, became hard.
The night Julie fled was hard:
when she left, his bed was on fire;
but she had set her face to stone.
She brought her daughter, flesh of her flesh:
her light, her guide, her rose,
whose face reflected hers like water.
Janet left, then returned, like water:
returned, where love was daemon hard,
where petals were stripped from the rose.
She returned, but left again — fire
in her feet, in her hands, in her flesh,
and in her eyes. But her heart — stone.
It's been years since the bruising stone
fell upon her face of water.
Sam was the dagger to her flesh.
Sara ran, though it was hard;
she ran through the night, like fire,
to the healing path, the path to the rose:
The compass rose is the central stone;
the border is hidden fire, the path like water:
flowing hard, healing spirit and the flesh.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Fifty years ago today, I was turning eight years old. I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade, at James Madison Elementary. It's unlikely our class – or school – was given the news that the president had been shot at 12:30 p.m. in Dallas, TX. It's probable I got the news from Uncle Walter, along with the rest of the nation.
From my point of view, there's been a lot of Kennedy talk the past couple of weeks. The media is mining all the gold it can out of this anniversary, with documentaries, made for TV movies, books, and radio specials by the score. I'm mature enough now to recognize an unfortunate coincidence. Just like the death of that other “Jack”, C.S. Lewis, or the fact that I share my birthday with several other luminaries (e.g., Hoagy Carmichael). Just an unfortunate coincidence.
But I was already a sensitive kid. I was an abused child, and I now believe that led to an anxious and fearful nature. My parents divorced when I was about five; my mother (the abuser) won custody for a time. My first six years are mostly lost to my memory, which is likely a blessing.
So I took the coincidental connection rather hard. There were at least a couple of years I chose not to celebrate my birthday. Though I've gained perspective, maturity, and a thicker skin through the years, some old emotions are stirred by the media's frequent reminders.
I am celebrating my birthday this year. I am making the choice to focus on the love and well-wishes shared by friends and loved ones. Still, I think it's a good thing I've taken the day off — if I descend into a “dark mood”, only my cat and I need endure it.
Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
— John F. Kennedy
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The gift you offer another person is just your being.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
One is for the compass rose
two is for the stone
three is for the innocent
longing for a home.
Four is a family;
five in anger rages;
six keeps the peace;
seven is for the sages.
Eight contains infinity.
Nine has left the room
Ten is the eternal dance
between the earth & the moon.
One is for the compass rose
one is for the home
two is for the doorway
two is for the stone
Three becomes a family
four contains a fire
five counts the nightingale
with a song sweet as a lyre.
Six is rolling rivers
seven stars mark the sky
Eight describes eternity
which nine then multiplies
Ten is another number
another secret sign
Ten is the keyhole
whose meaning is left to find
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.
— Claude Monet
Friday, November 15, 2013
Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.
— Marianne Moore
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all.
— Michelangelo Buonarroti
Sunday, November 03, 2013
Poetry should please by a fine excess and not by singularity. It should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost as a remembrance.
— John Keats
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Awareness can be best achieved and honed through working outside.
— Lionel Aggett
Sunday, October 27, 2013
I had some unplanned excitement yesterday.
I decided to visit the American Banjo Museum in downtown OKC, as a research trip (I'll soon be reviewing a chapbook of poetry centering on the banjo and it's history). It's a charming two floor affair in the Bricktown area — immediately east of Lincoln Blvd and the railroad tracks — and covers the history of the instrument from Africa to the present.
I returned home for lunch, then resumed my journeys with more traditional Saturday errands — the Belle Isle Library to pick up a copy of Jeff Buckley's Grace; a visit to OKC Music and Sound; a jaunt to Akin's, a local health food store; and, finally, the grocery store.
I reached into the deep pocket of my mackinaw to pull the shopping list out of my checkbook. My pocket was empty.
Of course, I panicked. I had the shopping list fairly well memorized, so I went on shopping and paid with my debit card.
I took the groceries home, all the time hoping I had taken the checkbook out when I had eaten lunch. No such luck.
I called the Banjo Museum, and the nice lady at the front desk looked in the vicinity of the desk. Wasn't there. The obvious answer was to retrace my steps.
I had parked about three blocks away that morning, so I parked as close to that spot as possible on my return. No checkbook.
I walked through the whole museum, even the men's room. No checkbook. There was a little movie theater where movie clips which used banjo prominently on the sound track were displayed. The front desk lady suggested it had fallen out there. I hadn't sat down in there, but I was desperate. No checkbook.
Next stop was the library, which was 38 blocks south and about a half mile west. As I was driving, the penny dropped. The front desk lady's suggestion had a whole new application.
My checkbook had fallen out of that deep pocket of my red mackinaw into the rear passenger floorboard behind the driver's seat.
Hallelujah, with Ukulele
I recently read a biography of Leonard Cohen (I'm Your Man, Sylvie Simmons) which mentioned — off-handedly — that he plays uke. So it seemed a charming match.
I'm currently reading The Holy or the Broken by Alan Light, which is an exhaustive study of the growing popularity of this song. Aside from a discussion of record sales — a necessary evil — he talks about how each singer's interpretation brings something new to the song.
My interpretation, as is often the case, is a syncretic blend of other interpretations that have spoken to me. My aim is mix moments of innocence (an element of the Buckley interpretation, according to Light) with moments experience (Cohen's original and John Cage's cover).
Friday, October 04, 2013
The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.
— J. Robert Oppenheimer
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