When Reality Forces Our Hands

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2017.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s a heady day of reflection and mourning the innocent and the heroes who ran to instead of away from.

Friends and writers (friends who are writers? writing friends? oh hell, people who mean a great deal to me) have shared some thoughts with me today.  One sent me the lyrics to a Phil Ochs song. Another shared the story of the antichrist written by a man who “switched faiths” from Anglican to Catholic.  The deeper I delve into who these people are, seeking context, discovering who they might have been at the time they wrote what no one could ever stop from coming into being, creative hands that needed to sing their worldviews to the rooftops, the more tired I become.

Passion requires energy from those who create it and those who are drawn to the light. Tired dreamers are not comatose, they arise, awake, and continue to splatter pages with the truth as they see it, and with hope that someone will hear their hearts shouting and make a change.

The deeper I delve into context I am rewarded with new thoughts and more places to go, stimulated, but I also feel another stone in my pocket. Sorrow for their pain. Wonder. Hope for my own flagging pen, life, and world. I, like them, will write this world into a world that makes sense, one that is loving, brimming with hope and love and fullness!

It all leads me back to William Blake. I will imbibe him for the remainder of the day.  He was an artist and prophet, and I believe his traumas and empathy was stretched to breaking. It is part of what brought him to design and create a personal mythology, one that he had to share, could not not share, as one whose oxygen mask is on goes running into the crowd asking everyone, “Come! Partake!”

We are forced to write, to create, when the world is not behaving the way we see fit. It’s the only way we can make sense of it. We cannot remain silent. It goes against the creative nature.  Long may it remain so.

Committing The Rare Feel-Good To The World

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Writing, committing thought and wonder, questions and desire, hope, longing, confession and manifesto leaves one naked. You are naked when you write, and if you’re afraid to let the world see every lovely ugly, then the “enter” key should not be allowed. Hold fast your pen, keep your files hidden. Wait until you’re ready to slam it all down, unlock your door, let the stranger in to see you emerge from your bath, wet, bloody, home, and real.

I’m not writing so the stranger can rate me on some fixed scale like exhausted figure skaters or boxers who throw their fights walking away with millions.  I’m not writing for your approval or to raise eyebrows or cause trouble or to make history.  I am writing because, as a wise man said what seems so long ago, I can’t not write. It’s a driven and it’s a given that I will have pen juice on my fingers, that I stare long and lovingly at journals in the bookstore and have a hard time not buying binders and loose-leaf like some kind of kid going back to school. I love the smell of pen and ink and this laptop hardly creates the same kind of vibe, but that’s all right.

September has come and somebody turned the cicada’s song switch off: their voices are gone. The north wind brings a scent of flowers which I cannot explain. A hurricane comes and I am tired of figuring out which way to run. I colored my hair and bathed late, very late last night, and I wonder if my neighbors heard the water running.  My hair is clean and smooth and fragrant. I woke smelling its scent on my pillow feeling more content, happy, and pleased than I have in a long time. The moon is full and bright in my bedroom window again, which tells me what season we are in. I slept with the windows open beneath piles of covers so I can be warm and still hear the wind in the trees. I think your name and I can smile and write it in the sand, I can even allow you in my bed as I coax sleep once more, instead of fighting, fighting, fighting you, waking feeling like every little thing’s gonna be all right.

This morning’s beach is scoured clean by north/northeast winds, maybe 10 knots. Small, round rocks perfect for skimming peek out from the sand and I see no crab burrows.  A large, dead fish. It looks like something began to devour him and spat him back out, leaving his body on shore. Why?  A dead turtle, a kind I do not recognize, his small clawed limbs point southwest. I am sorry he died and hope it wasn’t because of plastic.  A black dog running wild on the beach that for some reason, no reason, for lack of anything I can explain, I do not trust him. Sea glass seems extinct since the beach restoration, but I found a little bit of blue and white ceramic that I put in my pocket.  On the final few feet back to my trail, I found a piece of shell the size of two fingers. She is deep blush-colored on the outside, and mother-of-pearl within, and she looks like how I feel when I hear his name.

I feel alive and well and ready to write. I feel grateful for everything that brought me here, what good, bad, strange, and otherwise. Time to commit the rest to paper and ink.

Who Are You

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doula, catching newborns in your hands after trudging miles in the snow collecting data of an earth so very old

husband who drove so many roads, tired of Christian books on tape they sell in the truck stops

officer whose pale son is skraeling, but you love him all the same, watching him cough and wheeze while he vapes in the shade

son who sports the sigil of darkness, too lost, too tired, too lazy to find goodness in the blessing of his hands

body in the sand, shot at close range and dumped because he couldn’t pay for his own bad news

father, born late, naked and gnarled because he gave all his shirts away

lady who wears a black vinyl cape, sandals, nothing more, watching us behind her secret door

woman who writes by candlelight, looking for truth and finds reckoning

Cicada, For The Record

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Cicada serenade crickets high above wet dawning grass

Morning plant watering, windows open,  twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder where you are as your magical vibrations call to the other

Buzzsaw driven by season, scaring northerners who never heardasuchathing.

Cicada crashed into me last morning two feet from my door, then crashed into another door then flew away muttering cicada curses having lost foothold on branch and song, weakening in season and song.

I open my door again, barefeet cold, morning no-wind. I see your black, bug-eyed body prone on the gray balcony, and I wonder if you are alive. Something tells me you are alive.

I remember baby food jars that held your carmel shells, the scent of your moultings strong in my nose, magicked by the Lampyridae flittering away in Aunt Betty’s yard, two and four horsepower–

three sisters sitting in broken-webbed lounge chairs talking women things, shooing us away, cigarette tips glowing in the dark–

Black cicada mumbled on my gray balcony. He crept his way towards the edge and fell down to the grass below, silent, Juliet unknown.

A Prayer For The Little Mothers

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Little cauldron Three Legs, metal of earth shaped by human hands, symbol of maiden, mother, and crone filled with smoky, deep incense:  I come to you imperfect, willing but unwise and always seeking. My hands are tied to yours, fingers burning. I ask you into my heart and my home, though my corners are dusty. No secret is unknown to you.

I pray for all the Little Mothers. My heart aches for one today, and I seek your counsel. Some Little Mothers suffer more than the others, it seems their constant charity, compassion, and kindness when they themselves have so little is repaid with more suffering. Perhaps I have much to learn from them, and should not question the choices they make, offering everything they have to everyone in need, saving nothing for themselves, still finding strength to go on.

Perhaps you are already with the Little Mothers, though they do not recognize you. Perhaps it is you that breathes courage and happiness into their ears while they sleep. It is you I see in their shy smiles. Perhaps it is we who need to examine our “suffering,” ask our hearts to empty so they may fill, open arms to all, not just the deserving.

Help me to remember these things always, long after the incense fades.

Post-storm thoughts

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Good morning.

I wonder what was the first beautiful thing you saw this morning? Did you see it? Catch it in the act of being itself? Did you share it with someone you love, or tuck it in your pocket to save for later?

Something beautiful is seeing another day with hands to give and receive. Your baby’s smile. Your silky dog waiting patiently by her bowl for supper. Your engagement diamond that flashed in the sun as you walked to your car heading out for work. That song on the radio that makes you smile. (You do still smile, don’t you?)  Was it a breakfast sandwich your co-worker gave you, unasked for? Was it that first sip of coffee so hot and full of olfactory glory? What was the first beautiful thing you received this morning, took note of, and said thank you for? I hope you will share it aloud with someone.

I want to ask you that question the next time we meet. I hope you have the answer on the tip of your tongue, something to help me get to know the rest of your heart. I hope your response will loosen and blow away the mocking parts you’ve shown that I don’t want to remember.

It’s no wonder I prefer to remain unpopulated (reserved introverted anniesocial hermit-like don’t call me I’ll call you.) Sometimes it’s hard to shake off the griping and sniping and complaining, the fear that no one out there has anything kind to say to the ones they love, their friends, their neighbors. If I crawl inside any tighter I shall implode. But then I remember I saw something beautiful this morning, and that’s what I’d rather share: the beach is still there. Flat and clean. I watched solitary crabs digging from their burrows, thrusting and flinging damp sand behind. Nature is good. The earth is good. The people are good, too. We just need to dig out of our holes.

A.S.M.

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I am writing

I have written

I wear cathedrals of stained glass in my eyes and heart

chiseled stone from rock that comes hundreds of miles away

made of hands none of us know.

I wear those stains on my skin and plan to wear more.

I sit beside ghosts, waiting for the word

I am waiting for the word.

Someday, I will be my own cornerstone.

27 August Morning

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4:30. The sun is coming. Crickets are loud. I lean on my balcony in a t-shirt, listening.

5:30. The sun is coming. Crickets are loud. My neighbor breaks open a soda can. Her cat inspects the windowsill. Time to make tracks.

5:45  The sun is present, though its magenta globe has not broken the horizon. Crickets do fade. Bladders and udders need care, reptilian sleep begins to break, active glands send erotic messages to fingertips.  The world is astir.

The wind is 12 knots. Gulls work hard to wing into northeast wind. The wind drives the sand across itself. If I turn out of the wind, my dull ears barely perceive the sound of sand upon sand and it sounds like sleet on a windshield, so very faint and magical.

Middling clouds make canvas for a star we have not seen yet to become rose, magenta, blue and slate. Some believe this is an unremarkable sunrise because we could not see the chariot’s wheel rise behind the CBBT.

No crab boats motoring. Crab two-packs are rare at the deli the year, and we have the ignorant fishers to thank, oh but plenty of shrimp.

No dolphins. Or secret dolphins. Only they know.

Mr. Corgi man hasn’t come out yet. Cell-phone sunrise takers are here, gooseflesh hinders their portraiting. Will they return tomorrow in layers?

Tiny whelk blows onto my finger. She never made it to teenager, mother, or crone. She sits in a place of honor, a shield of mother-of-pearl, stunted, benign, but not without a story.

Notes on Daring Blindness on Eclipse Day

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It doesn’t happen often but when it does it takes my breath away, when an incredibly large container ship, hauling ass, overtakes a smaller vessel in the channel on approach to a port in Norfolk. Because I’m standing flat and not so far away, it looks like the container is tailgating the smaller vessel and its maneuver an act of road rage. I have read the nautical rules of the road, I know who is supposed to give way, and sometimes, in busy lanes, giving way occurs with inches to spare. I also know there is a speed limit in these waters, and that container ship pulled out all the stops. It’s not like a hurrican was on her stern. I will never know why.

Last night I watched a large boat creep through the channel from my balcony. Her light was large and bright, and I could tell it was a vessel and not a person walking the beach with a flashlight because her light dipped and bobbed gently, a plaything on the waves. Ships do pass in the night, and unless we are on the shore listening for their dieseling or watching for their lights, we never know they were there.

Today the sun and moon will rise as they always do and ever shall, at least as long as we are here to record it, but the moon goddess (whatever name you bestow on her) shall pass before Helios, just for a little while. She comes between us middling creatures and the power of the sun. We will stand in wonder of the moon overtaking the sun, just for a little while, brave, informed humans protecting their eyes and brave, informed humans who throw caution to the wind because who could go blind when the sun is dark?

There is chatter about productivity being lost because everyone will be distracted and removed from their desk duties to watch the moon come before the sun and darken the day. It is my hope that employers, people of “expectation” will loosen their shirts and ties or unknot their panties and let the people flood the street to see something wondrous. Who could punish someone for being curious and excited to see the universe in action? Shame on you, I say.

And for the flat-earthers, I can only feel sorrow.  I hope you have a nice day, and I hope you have your life-jackets on when the truth of the world overtakes and overturns you.

Rhetoric from a drowning heart

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…. and I think we should take down all the Confederate monuments and put them in museums or some type of memorialized area, out of public view.  This way the monuments will be safe and protected, people can still go visit them whenever they want, and they will still be an important part of our history.

Right? Just like we put Indians on reservations, safe and protected, and part of our history. It’s not like we only remember them when they’re protesting pipelines or whatever.

We are not a stupid people, and we will not rewrite or forget history.  Right?

I’m a yankee living in the south, a few hours south of the heart of the Confederacy. What I think and feel and believe about southern heritage means very little to people who have lived here all their lives. My neighbors and friends are heartbroken that Confederate monuments are being removed because they see value in its history. As an outsider why should I have a say about southern heritage? Well, for one because we all live here in these United States. I am forced to examine the words. What is southern heritage? How about northern heritage? Is there such a thing, and what does that look like? Money? Liberalism? Industry? Politics? The arts?  What is western heritage, and what does that look like? Do we have a tex-mex heritage, or a far-northwestern heritage, those folks in Seattle or Idaho? What does mid-western heritage look like, what kind of flag do they fly to represent their mid-western ways?   What does heritage mean by definition, and to me personally, and to each person in our country, and have we relinquished the word in favor of stereotype?  I don’t know.

My paternal family came from England and Ireland. My maternal family have English and Dutch backgrounds. I was so proud of my Irish “heritage,” something that I could only touch by way of poetry and song. I burnished that pride based on the heroics of Cormac but didn’t trouble myself too much to understand the Troubles, and they certainly weren’t Troubles I lived through and can recall firsthand.  I have a Heinz 57 bloodline, as do most of us, so I no longer fly anyone’s flag in pride. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out how to preserve history, to heal wounds, to discover what fellowship and unity and taking care of each other means and what we have to do to get there.