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Today’s guest poet: e.e. cummings

dive for dreams

dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at the wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for good likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neating each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.

silently if, out of not knowable

silently if, out of not knowable
night’s utmost nothing,wanders a little guess
(only which is this world)more my life does
not leap than with the mystery your smile
sings or if(spiralling as luminous
they climb oblivion)voices who are dreams,
less into heaven certainly earth swims
than each my deeper death becomes your kiss
losing through you what seemed myself,i find
selves unimaginably mine;beyond
sorrow’s own joys and hoping’s very fears
yours is the light by which my spirit’s born:
yours is the darkness of my soul’s return
-you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars

Tattered In The Wind

In this realm of chessboards
and fresh books
smelling of coffee and minds
and neweness

Manythings can happen
And yet go unnoticed.

The man with the suede Irish cap
carefully packs away his metal ruler.
He moves quickly to ensure
that no one wonders what he has been measuring.

The homeless man shuffles out.
His panhandling this morning
ensured him a good cup
and a soft chair until noon
when the influx of people
begin to stare.

The well-dressed woman wearing sunglasses indoors
wavers,
leaning against a wall.

Wind rattles the old windows in their frames,
The ghosts of
dead unpublished authors
determined to break in.

My cold tea
grows warm.
The phone rings
and is never answered.

Time
Slips
Seductively
Past.

The voices come and go,
Timbre high,
Timbre low.

The windows squeak and bang
Author spirits wanting coffee
with a touch of fame.

A painter chews
on a sandwich and a book,
His split-kneed, splattered pants
Belying intellectual pursuits.

Flip-flops contradict pea coats.

An elderly man loses himself
in a magazine.

A woman has second thoughts
on a book about
Machu Picchu.

The painter gets the hiccups.

A bottle of Coke makes a break for it,
Rolling across the broad planks of the floor
Towards the old loading dock doors,
But is thwarted,
Captured,
And replaced upon the shelf
For some unsuspecting future customer.

Someone whistles the theme to ‘Gilligan’s Island’,
off-key and distractedly.

A black-leather clad woman
Sports a Starry Night water bottle.

The man in the pork-pie hat
and well-trimmed beard
casts suspicious glances
over his shoulders.

New people arrive
burbling about the wind
As departees
Bundle up
Chins down
Before exiting.

It goes on and on.
In and out.
Come and go.

Always with the wind,
Moaning, sighing,
In the background.

Dark Inside

The dark of a man can show.
That nightness inside a soul
Only hinted at
in the visage of
the one leaning against the wall of the bus station
wearing a touch of Rasputin

in the slit-eyed glance
of one in dirty sweats and matted hair
and busy, empty hands

in the flicker-licked lips
of the one who appears
beyond suspicion
and who acts
oh-so-friendly.

Yes, it shows, but only in a certain

dark light.

Close-up of a hand.

Today’s guest poet: Mary Oliver

Where Does The Dance Begin, Where Does It End?

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a  theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.
But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?
Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.
When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking
to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,
as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

Note: I dedicate today’s poem to a blog friend Mary Julia Oliver, who was diagnosed with cancer in March. She expected to have 1-2 years of life left, but passed away after only three months. She was a teacher, mother, poet, and beautiful soul, and I’m sorry we didn’t have more time to come to know one another. I hope we do in the next go-round.

Today’s guest poet: Tyler J. Yoder

(This is a stanza of a much longer work by this gifted poet/writer. He currently aspires to publish his first volume of work, so please share your thoughts and comments about this piece. I’m sure he’d appreciate any and all encouragement, and I truly think his work deserves a broad audience.  I’m thrilled that he’s joining the list of luminous poets whose works have been featured on The Weekly Wednesday Poem.)

V.  Prophets

Tell me how the prophets were
When they were young men –
Did they lust, and drink, and fight,
Get dirty, now and then?
Did they jump to join the brawl
To settle brother’s score?
Did loyalty, fidelity,
Surge from every pore?
Did honour grow like cock’s comb
As on sons of gods of war?

Tell me what the Prophets did
When they were young men –
Were they brash and bold and brave
And cocky, now and then?
Were barefoot runs up craggy trails
A commonplace event?
Were evenings spent in shady bars?
Were their youths misspent?
Were brothers pushed to dare and dream
And let the blood ferment?

Tell me how the Prophets lived
When they were young men –
How could later holy work
Compete with youthful sin?
How to fold in animal,
Whose influence was banned?
How faces flick with scars and smiles
When caged in Promised Land!
How did they hide from history
All that made them Man?

Today’s guest poet – Rainer Maria Rilke

Exposed On The Cliffs of the Heart

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Look, how tiny down there,
look: the last village of words and, higher,
(but how tiny) still one last
farmhouse of feeling. Can you see it?
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stoneground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff-edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.
But the one who knows? Ah, he began to know
and is quiet now, exposed on the cliffs of the heart.
While, with their full awareness,
many sure-footed mountain animals pass
or linger. And the great sheltered birds flies, slowly
circling, around the peak’s pure denial. – But
without a shelter, here on the cliffs of the heart…

I must say that I was totally thrilled to find myself Freshly Pressed yesterday!  That honor happened once before about a year ago, and I was equally thrilled then.  A couple of friends have asked how such a thing could have happened.  I’m not quite sure myself, but it is truly a boost to a budding author and photographer to receive such encouraging comments, and I just want to give a quick and humble “thank you” (and an angel baby alpaca kiss) to all who took the time to visit and to leave comments.

The downside of at least this latest Freshly Pressed posting is that I’ve received about 700 of the same Spam comments that haven’t made their way into Spam.  I can’t tell exactly what tag or keyword triggered such a barrage of “Pingbacks”.  I think it might have been the word “auction”.  At any rate, if you need to find Boy Auctions, Ab Exercise Auctions, the Latest Make-up Auctions, Free Fitness Tips Auctions, Snoreplasty Auctions, Paintball Auctions, Dog Obedience Auctions, or just about anything else you can think of at Auction, I can probably give you a link. It’s tempting to check on the link for “Boy Auctions” but I think I’d probably find myself on some FBI watch list.  Needless to say, I’ve been diligently marking all of these comments as Spam, but it takes forever.   I still REALLY want your legitimate comments though!!

I guess it’s like having blog paparazzi – the unexpected price of unexpected fame (she proclaims as she steps into her waiting limo, blowing air kisses to all.)

No, actually, I’m putting on my duck pajamas and crawling into bed.  Good-night, all!

They look a lot like this, but not quite...

Every writer is on a quest for the perfect pen.

It doesn’t matter if I use a keyboard for 95% of my writing.  I’m still seeking that one instrument that will add magic to my words, that will be a direct conduit to the muse.  Anyone who writes has been through this, I think.  Even as a child, I was particular.  My crayons had to have some kind of point.  I mean, we all know that AMAZING feeling when you open a brand-new box of crayons, right?  It’s like a world of perfect, pristine rainbows with endless possibilities.  (If only we could view every day that way – except it’s a little over-the-top bedazzled unicorn-y.) 

Graduating to pencils, I was still particular.  #2 Eberhard Fabers or Ticonderogas were the standard.  Remember how we always had to fill in the little circles (completely) on our standardized tests using a #2 pencil?  The computerized reader would be unable to read a #1 or #3.  I hated #3 pencils.  Far too light.  As if you weren’t committed to your words.  I loved #1 pencils – dark, firm, strong, but we could almost never find them in the stores, and when we did, well, they weren’t the requisite #2’s, so we didn’t buy them.  And I was enchanted by those pens that had about a dozen little points that you could push through from top-to-bottom – but they were expensive, and so not in the family budget.  I was truly envious of the girls in fourth grade who had them.

Pens are generally kept far away from children.  I could be the poster child for why this is the case.  At the tender age of about 3, I accessed one of my Dad’s ubiquitous Flair Pens – a red one – and wrote my numbers, 1 through 10, on the pale green living room wall right above the couch early one morning before anyone else was up.  I did my three backwards but I was so proud.  I went to wake up my Mom to show her.  She was great – she could see how thrilled I was to have achieved this accomplishment.  I vaguely remember her shock, and some very slight praise.  I do not remember being scolded or punished, though knowing my Mom, I’m sure she explained the error of my ways to me.  After that, the pens then were eternally out of reach.  I guess everyone learned a lesson that morning.  And the numbers stayed there on the wall for perhaps seven years, until the living room was repainted.

Back in the 1960s, pens were experiencing an evolution.  They were moving from the fountain pen era to the ball point pen era, with Flair pens being the latest and greatest.  Of course, now we have gel pens, rollerballs, stick pens, click pens.  And that’s where the writer’s dilemma occurs.  What is the pen for my hand, and mine alone?

I’ve found some that I like.  Unfortunately, the ones that I like the most have been displaying a tendency to leak.  While having ink stains on my fingers makes me feel more like a writer, I don’t like it.  They take forever to come off and having ink leakages in purses and backpacks is a true pain.  They’ve certainly given my backpack some character, but if I get caught in a rainstorm, I find that the ink stains get wet and leap onto my hips where my backpack rests, like a shipwreck victim straining  for dry land.

Pens seem to have a mind of their own, which means that have the ability to independently decide where they want to go – which means they mysteriously vanish.  When I was gainfully employed, I would buy nice pens for myself for work.  If they made it home, I know that Pat was the vehicle for their disappearance, even though he rarely wrote anything down. 

I was the proud owner of a Mont Blanc pen for a short while.  It was a gift, and I’d had it about a month, when my boss asked me about it, because she had lost an identical Mont Blanc pen.  She didn’t come out and say it, but she clearly thought I had stolen hers.  And sure enough, it vanished about a week later.  Ah, well.  It was a lovely pen, but a little fat for my fingers.

I am still searching for the perfect pen for me.  Since pens continue to evolve, when I find one I like, I have to buy in bulk because it will morph into something different sooner rather than later.  I have five pen pots in the house, and they get emptier and emptier daily (I was noticing this yesterday) as the pens emigrate to who-knows-where. 

And I will continue my quest, which may take me from quill pen to astronaut pen, until I find the one, the one that is so connected to me that the ink is just my own cerebral fluid flowing from the nib.

(And FYI, this last photo is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.)

Colors Running

Red flows through my veins.

Blood, wine, anger,
All tinted with a shade of
Passion, lips, tongue
The echoing color of fire
and the coals that I now walk through
Barefoot.

White mocks me.

Winter skin, soft sheets, morning light
Burning with a cold
Unknown and unforgotten
Ice, silk, stars
All soft and sleek,
sharpening a killing edge.

Green hides in memory.

Spring leaves, geckos, newborn grass
Disguised now by skeletal fingers
And broken hearts
Slick with envy, slime, rot
My eyes filled with a
new color of pain.

Blue futilely attempts to soothe.

Caribbean water, woven blankets, summer sky
Promises composed of words
and nothing more
Sorrow, forget-me-nots, infinity
Wrapped and tangled in
my lengthening hair.

Yellow laughs with many faces.

Imagined rooms, sunrise, warm tequila
Changing from remembered hope
to mocking madman
Delicate, putrid, joyful
Always slipping, sliding its way
through the ribbons of my spirit

Black lies boldly silent.

Night, fear, velvet
Carrying its carnage like a
warrior’s banner
Unyielding, alone, dead
Proclaiming victory in my battle
that is far from over.

 

Having finished Natalie Goldberg’s first book, Writing Down the Bones, I am looking at her second book.  I say looking because that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Thumbing through, reading snippets and trying to re-mobilize my writing self.

One of the things that struck me last night that I read was an exercise she suggested about writing down what you would miss when you died.  Last night, I was thinking about the big things, like Kelsea.  I suppose in some ways I don’t think I will miss anything because once I die, I sense that I will have access to everything, just in a different way.  Though will I still be ME thinking, knowing, feeling, sensing it all?  That I of course cannot say.

So what will be missed?  Instead of thinking about my own memories, I started thinking about how the world has changed in the last fifty years.

Then I got to thinking about how people used to dress up for air travel.  I admit that I started flying very shortly after this era ended.  But back then, flying was an event, an occasion, something special, and they treated you as if it was.  Men wore suits.  Women wore suits and gloves and hats and stockings and heels.  Stewardesses wore little hats and were solicitous, giving you pillows, blankets, food, drink, whatever they could do for your comfort.  Now the message is literally stated on the PA, “Our flight attendants are here for your comfort but are PRIMARILY here for your safety.”  Meaning comfort can go down those little metal toilets as far as the flight attendants are (instructed to be) concerned.  And people show up looking like they’re ready for bed.  Literally. 

On my last flight, I was reaching for a pillow in the overhead bin next to my seat, when the flight attendant reached ahead of me and snatched it out.  “That’s not supposed to be here,” she said.  “Well, can I use it?” I asked her nicely as she held it pinioned to her chest.  “No,” she replied, “People in coach aren’t allowed to get pillows.”  I didn’t bother to reply to this, and I’m sure the pillow sat unused for the duration of the flight.  Coach.  Doesn’t it sound like a rich thing?  Royalty ride in coaches.  They should call it cattle class or steerage or peon class or mass class.  Something else.  I’ll work on it.  And then of course, there’s business class.  Excuse me?  5 inches of legroom for the business man or woman.  And that implies that the rest of us are just bums.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to rant about the airlines here – although it is a good idea for a post and will likely emerge from my fingertips someday.

What I was thinking about is how the past dies.  Think about the bombing of London by the Nazis in World War II.  Few remember it.  There are books and movies but you could literally count them.  People Kelsea’s age will never hear someone tell a story about it.  But there are those few who do remember it, who can recall the blackout drapes, the sound of the sirens or the planes, their fear, their parents responses, the smell after a bombing.

To take a less dramatic example, no one remembers what the air smelled like before cars and other pollutants started contaminating the atmosphere.  When you could drink from a stream without having to purify the water.  What the plains looked like when there were millions of buffalo roaming.  What it felt like to wear 20 pounds of dresses during a hot Georgia summer – and how you didn’t complain.

When Kelsea and I took the EAR and she wanted me to give her a tour of my life in Durham, I told her stories about school, work, growing up.  Things I might not have remembered had we not been right there.  I’m glad I did this.  Someone knows some of my stories now.  (Not that I am ever shy about telling her anything.)  She, like E-Bro (and like me, once upon a time) has the memory of an elephant, and I know she will remember.  Maybe she’ll tell her daughter my stories someday, as I have told her some of my Mother’s.  Writing them down in a way that evokes a sense of place, of time, of feeling, is a great start – and sometimes the only option.  But the verbal telling of a tale holds so much more power than the written word – your voice as you share your story imbues it with an emotion that is richer than any printed page could ever convey.

There are so many stories we have that we do not recall except in flashes and that we never share, perhaps because they would really mean nothing to someone else.  They are memories more than stories, snippets of our lives.  I think we remember everything that has ever happened to us, we just don’t have access to all those thoughts, images and memories with the x% of our brain that we actually use.  But that y% of our brain must be doing something back in there.  I choose to believe that storing all our lives (and perhaps beyond) is what it’s doing.

But no one will remember the things I do in the ways I do, even if someone else was present at the time.  That person will remember it through their own eyes.  So I suppose what I will miss when I am gone is the ability to share those memories.  Or perhaps I will miss the memories themselves.

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