Tuesday, May 29, 2012
"We are such stuff as dreams are made on," Prospero observes in Shakespeare's The Tempest, "and our little life is rounded with a sleep." Perhaps these words were echoing somewhere in the back of my mind when I wrote the following prose poem.
is this the dream of a dream of a dream or am I awake? maybe I'm more awake when I dream bit by bit I peel the Infinite Onion each peeling fascinates yet its only the tiniest shred of a Reality that's boundless and inexhaustible I feel the sunlight on my back but I know the night's deepening inside me if you're dreaming me dreaming this please wake up or sink further into your dream to where I keep watch for you
perhaps there are countless universes cupped within each other like nesting dolls each is the dreamworld of the next every word every touch matters yet differently each time our altered heartbeats echo strangely down scintillating corridors of mirrors from dimension to dimension we're intergalactic time travelers half asleep half awake a million light years divide us but we grow so much faster than light!
when people no longer drink thirstily from roots webbing out like subterranean antennae through the loamy sediments of their dreams they begin to sicken and die or else go crazy programless cyborgs crashing helplessly against the sterile walls of cyberspace I carry my dreams in a wind-colored knapsack and take one out to wear whenever cold calculation threatens to freeze my soul here I brought an extra dream-coat for you
I never wrote a poem to my toes before. But now I wonder how I could have lyrically ignored them for so long. Viva my toes!
thank you little piggies for hanging in there all these years forgive me if I've ever taken you for granted as I know I have you line up so alertly by size places flex so eagerly as if trying to grip the earth wherever I go you thrust right out in front even willing to be stubbed just to get there first remember that warehouse job when both big toenails were crushed? they turned black and finally fell off you guys are my heroes!
I think of all the times I stepped on a land mine blundered into a quicksand bog or recklessly waltzed where Angels fear to tread yet you never complained never cringed in abject surrender never begged to be let off the hook no matter how rough the going or how long the march you always showed up and did your best with ten more friends like you I'd be king of the world!
not only that you were my earliest playmates: this little piggy went to market this little piggy stayed home this little piggy had roast beef this little piggy had none and this little piggy...went "wee wee wee" all the way home! look you can still wriggle and splay and I realize that's how you laugh one thing's for sure -- whenever my toes curl I'm in heaven! we've been loyal buddies for a lifetime and even death won't part us
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Here are two more prose poems from a series of 30 I'm currently writing. Each turns out to be another discovery. Beyond the title, I never know how one will start or how it will end. Even simple words like "stone" and "breath" have multiple meanings, connotations, associations, interconnections. All these in turn converge with what's going on in my heart and mind and life at that moment of creative expression. Finally, there's an inspiring Spirit, or Muse, which I hope will infuse and transform my efforts. But this visitation can never be assumed, only supplicated. As T.S. Eliot wrote: "Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,/Every poem an epitaph."
a stone is a point we can start from return to is there someone home inside? the space there could be huger than a universe! many stones arrive as messengers small smooth polished others are almost heavy as boulders I've sought solace in their shadows if I give you a stone I offer the part of me living within it if you give me one I'll keep it for those times I can't be alone
here's a small heart-shaped amber-colored stone translucent when held to the light you can see faint striations embedded this is the only stone I'll never part with this is the stone containing five deaths and five rebirths while hidden deep is a hologram of the Milky Way if everyone cherished a stone like this the killing would stop the companionship of stones is greater than the violence of nations
find the stone you won't part with and the Furies can never abduct you find the stone that nestles in your hand like a tiny beating heart it will grant safe passage through all nine circles of hell a sacred stone trails an invisible thread connecting to a secret star all the news we need to know hums back and forth between them! the whispers of stones and stars we've never imagined crisscross at the crux of our souls...
breath after breath I'm paying out my life many more have come and gone already than remain what the sum total will mean I can't say nothing at all if I go just by the numbers less than the barest whisper of a whisper among the infinite worlds yet there are no other breaths sweeter than these I'm absurdly attached to them! although every one I draw must inescapably be given away
I want each breath to count for something but thousands go by while I'm off on a comet clueless or possessed by all-too familiar demons what could be richer rarer than each individual breath? how do I make each one matter taken and returned with impeccable attention? when I can do that my own breath unites with the breathing of oceans and mountains it's only then my soul comes home
when you and I meet and our breaths mingle who can calculate the consequences? the rhythm of the births and deaths of stars transforms us! one day this truth will be known everywhere and lived full out each breath will be treasured--a gift more precious than bushels of diamonds! when I breathe my last breath I want to breathe it with total conviction to know I'm connected unconditionally to All-That-Is
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
In my previous post I concluded with the first in a series of new prose poems, along with its companion drawing--a vision of an Angel holding a lamp illuminating the good green path of life. This is my Spirit Guide and Creative Muse. These prose poems represent the next evolution of my writing, but only as that literary change corresponds to the further evolution of my soul. With these earliest prose poems I was still tentatively feeling my way into new territory--which is why "A Branch", although already in the three stanza form which characterizes each poem of the entire series, is so brief. But in the second prose poem presented here--"Facing It"--I began to expand the size to nearly what it would be for the rest of these pieces.
This commitment to continuously "make it new" is the only way I know to prevent burning out and drying up as a writer--keep growing, keep changing, keep reinventing my creative self, keep starting afresh with Beginner's Mind.
forking this way but not that it's my life both green and dried out fruitful and barren once the buds crowded and jostled for room now I carefully tend each never knowing if there'll be more
certain olive branches were extended but I refused them others I offered were spurned I craved peace but feared touching the branch of my being angled farther and farther from the rest
but still a branch still connected to something immense unknowable with roots that plunge deep beyond sight or hearing when the wind takes me I dance not needing to understand why
face it that's what we say about death truth facts the music even as our face itself breaks apart sags down splits up into creases and fissures I try willing my words to crackle with the fire of twenty years ago! but something's missing and won't come back a billion brain cells or maybe just the delusion that what they thought actually matters
little by little like it or not my face turns slowly away from this world my attachments here my craving for another body to hold and be held by another heart to break with my going faces that once were fixed stars gradually disappear long forgotten names stare blindly from an old address book I release them all they fall through my hands
turning slowly away from this world what is it we face into? what new world compels our attention requires our gaze? I can't see it clearly yet but certain contours are forming certain shapes emerging their meaning seems to be this: what we call "love" is only a fraction of the Reality we must be emptied out and cracked wide open to receive it!
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Last December I was going through a tough stretch. I felt strung out, anxious, depressed. So I took some creative time off and started a drawing. What came forth was a colorful, balanced, luminous mandala--the very antithesis of all the difficult issues and emotions with which I'd been struggling! Working on it was the perfect mental, emotional and spiritual therapy. As I pondered the mandala I'd just created however, I realized my artwork needed a chaotic, Dionysian Yang to counterbalance the mandala's harmonious, Apollonian Yin. The completed drawing below is the result. A few days later I wrote "Genesis" its companion poem. This poem articulates my own interpretation of the meaning, relationship and dynamic involving these two contrasting elements in the artwork. But that doesn't exclude the validity of other interpretations as well. What does the interplay of these two contrasting energies mean to you?
I stake my soul on a Light I cannot see using just
everyday eyes I gamble my bones on a Birth
that's impossible yet keeps happening anyway
these are harsh times to be playing the Holy Fool
nevertheless I bet the farm no going back now
which doesn't mean I don't stare into the abyss
don't hear there a howling that craves to destroy
horror's in me so deep it sucks ecstasy from death
but having a choice I choose the serene Shining
a voice in my heart unclenches shouting "Yes!"
then a wild universe of green worlds bursts free
each spawning life abundant life infinite life!
everything dark and raging inside's only a womb
its fierce emptiness aches to be filled so I fill it
I nourish it with the radiant manna of the Divine
A few months ago I hit a creative wall with my writing. This has happened before. I realize whenever it does it means I must change, must once again reinvent myself as a poet. This is the only way I know to keep my creative spirit green and growing. The direction of change this time pointed toward the prose poem--a tricky, ambiguous, unfamiliar form occupying a shifting borderland somewhere between the airy flight of poetry and the earthy stride of prose. So one day I spontaneously jotted down a list of 30 short, basic, commonly used words, such as "lamp", "branch", "face", "stone", etc. These words each provided both a title and a theme for one or another of the prose poems. And since the first word which came to me was "lamp," that word became the title for the series as a whole. A few days later the poem "The Lamp" inspired the drawing which concludes this blog entry. As has happened at other key turning points in my life, a guiding Angel appeared in a vision to show me the good green path of the way.
it's held aloft in the right hand of an Archangel one who stands silently expectantly I don't know what this Messenger wants but those unblinking eyes never leave my face the enormous distance between us! the impossible closeness between us! the beams from that Lamp penetrate like an x-ray every thought feeling desire mercilessly revealed
I can turn away walk away run away at any time but I can no longer not realize I'm doing this no longer not know that each step farther from that Lamp from the Sentinel holding it means more cracks splinter my heart more phantoms poison my soul my freedom to choose is devastating and unconditional
so I endure the staggering intimacy though this nakedness leaves me exposed defenseless I know I am seen encompassed transcended to the innermost core! it's almost beyond what I can bear but what I cannot bear is worse if an Archangel no longer stood at the crossroads of my being holding out a Lamp to drive back the dark
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Usually my companion poems and drawings are created very close to each other in time, whichever comes first. In the following instance however, the poem "Nectar" (which appears in my book BLACK BUTTERFLY: Poems For A Muse) dates from over three and a half years earlier than its companion drawing, "The Music From On High." I can't explain why in this case it took so long for the drawing to join its companion poem.
To hear the music falling from on high,
you must climb alone, without a lifeline,
to the highest place. There is no other way.
And this ascent will cost you everything.
To sip the nectar of the gods, you can't
still be what once you were--self-obsessed,
walled up behind the ego's armor, terrified.
Only nakedness and emptiness will serve.
At first, there's silence--serene, immense,
profound. Listen. Every wind has stopped.
Breathless beneath that dome of solitude,
you no longer doubt. Finally, you know.
Words cannot describe this music. Even
thought is pointless now. You've become
the melody--it inspires every part of you.
Soaring free, nothing remains but praise!
"The Music From On High"
Last year I did a series of eight co-created collages with a friend, four of which we then supplemented with co-created companion poems. It was one of the most amazing creative experiences of my life! Sadly however, shortly after this we had a falling out and she chose to make that estrangement permanent, abruptly severing all contact between us. This left me stuck in grieving and struggling for closure. Thankfully, another friend suggested I create one final collage by myself as way of finding both personal and artistic closure to this intense collaborative communion of souls. This I did with the collage "Finding The Final Frontier" below, then quickly followed it up with a companion poem with the same title. The poem is dedicated to my friend Cara, who understood what I needed to do to heal.
"Finding The Final Frontier"
FINDING THE FINAL FRONTIER
when the pain suddenly erupts and you're splashed
with its fiery lava you stand stunned for a while in shock
disoriented not even realizing your soul's on fire
till your own shadow points to the blaze of the wound
then you grieve so hard your face feels like it's cracking
as your hands grope helplessly among the wreckage
but they don't really look like your hands anymore
just occult symbols splayed on some prehistoric wall
eventually though a kind of hushed formal dance begins
cooling your cindered brain spreading its healing balm
soothing the still-scorched synapses out of nowhere
a face-painted shaman chants a prayer and casts a spell
now a violet anemone blooms from drowned ashes
that exotic bird with bright blue beak squawks its news
surely there's welcoming haven somehwere in the world
a primal hearth waiting its dooryard swept clean
when a woman presses her cheek against a pony's neck
she's saying "I love you" in language deeper than words
when a panda smiles with a stalk of bamboo in his mouth
he's saying "everything that lives is born from joy!"