a prisoner of gravity, it remains forever outside of dreams
unfit for the spiritship, a vessel of startled complexity– open, unbounded, secret, extreme
I wrote the original version (much revised) of the above 42 poem at the same time I wrote my haibun, Unattached, which is published on The Ekphrastic Review today, along with Jane’s lyrical poem, Bronze Dreams, and other varied responses to Frida Kahlo’s painting, The Dream.
My collage is once again based on a tarot card, this the the Four of Swords. Kahlo’s paining reminded me very much of the iconic Rider-Waite card, but my own interpretation drifts in between the card and the painting. I could not find out if Kahlo ever studied tarot, but she was friends with many of the Surrealists, who certainly played with its symbolism. The Four of Swords is a card of restoration and healing, just like Frida’s Dream.
I placed a photo of the interior of an Egyptian sarcophagus in the sky. The figure painted there is the sky goddess Nut, who “spreads out her arms protectively to receive the deceased. (s)He is sheltered by her, is adsorbed into her body, and emerges reborn” (Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen, “Egypt”).
You can read my poem (and Jane’s) here. My thanks once again to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for supporting my work and the interaction between the visual and written arts.
You meet me only on your own terms, describe me and put me into categories based on the systems created by the human mind. You expect me to respond like you do, refusing to grant intelligence or even sentience to my interactions with others of my species, with the world I know, inhabit, understand. You deny me even the dignity of knowing who I am.
The sea calls to you—it is where you came from, what you carry in the cells that form your body. Before history begin, we were all one. You believe in your own superiority, the pinnacle of a tree with many branches that was seeded in the ocean. But the branches are subtle, complex. Our paths are so divergent they intersect only on completely different layers of reality.
You consider the possibilities; I am all potential. You struggle to reconcile body and mind; my brain is everywhere in my body, fully integrated into my entire being. We have no physical equivalence. What makes you think your dreams are better, or more real?
what is a thought? can words capture it? images, colors, patterns—this
is music—transformations into chords of utter joy
It took me awhile to figure out what animal to give a voice to for the earthweal challenge this week from Sherry, when animals speak. But I kept going back in my mind to a book I read last year by Peter Godfrey Smith, Other Minds, about the octopus but also about how life came to be. Cephalopods are truly alien forms of life.
They are their own canvas, their own clay, with malleable bodies that can change their skin both in color and pattern. Their mind is located throughout their body and arms, and they seem to both learn and play. Is it possible to ever truly understand their consciousness?
She did not seek this role. She contemplated her pose, the way her body was placed rigidly on the dais inside the carefully staged script. Why had they shaved her head, bleached her skin until it reflected like the porcelain doll they placed on the stiff folds of her heavy cape? Who had created this idea of an infant, disproportionate and so unlike any real child?
The crown, heavy and ill-suited to her countenance, threatened to tumble from its uneasy perch. As did her entire being from the painted backdrop, so eerie and haunted—the flattened throne, the red demon angels who lacked either substance or joy. The wall behind it all, painted blue to match her skimpy dress, conjured no images of either nature or heavenly dream.
And why expose a breast that could neither give sustenance or be received by an artists’ idea of a child? Real children were indeed holy, scared even, alive in all their chaotic glory. Real angels were full of light, kin to birds, to the cosmos that shone in the actual sky. A real mother would be full of the earth, flesh blood and breath.
She thought of seeds being planted, how the light returns each year to bring the world to life. She longed to be standing, unadorned, down there, amidst the cacophony of this crowded orb.
circle dance a child comes to be and welcome
Jean Fouquet’s Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels was the Ekphrastic Review prompt challenge this week. My haibun was not chosen, but even among the ones published on the website today, there was some ambivalence about this representation of mother and child. I obviously had more than some. You can read the selections on the website here, and Jane Dougherty’s responses to the painting, here.
Lost among the layers of words, my needs slip through the cracks that keep opening into assaults on the ways that have always belonged to me. I don’t want to be reoriented towards a future I can’t imagine, or pushed through a portal into a world I don’t understand. A world that does not recognize me and has no relationship to the one that has always sheltered me from unwelcome change.
All those strident sentences you spit out—they mock my choices, erasing any value in what I call a good life. The scale on which you judge me makes my wishes weigh nothing. You discard everything that makes me happy.
The tasks of survival are not so easily sorted into black and white, good and evil. What seems to work for the time being is all we can attain sometimes, worth more than the promises of a future that we can’t see.
It’s impossible to know God’s plans or to understand them—despite your fancy degrees and charts, there are realms beyond the facts, beyond what you call science, that we can’t anticipate or control.
Instead you put yourself above me. But you appear in my mirror as one-dimensional, rejecting me and the grieving that belongs to me, the losses I have experienced and feel. You insist they are worthless, I am worthless. But what do you offer to me that will replace them?
You list all my beliefs and shame them, shame me, shame my culture, my family, my friends. And you call it compassion.
I am not asking for your false understanding. I do not want what you want, what you think I need.
I want to be worth something. I want to matter to someone, something. I want a world that holds out a hand and tells me I belong. Where has it gone?
look at me listen to my life make me real
Jim Feeney at Earthweal gave us quite a challenge this week: to write a poem from the point of view of someone who is a climate change denier or a climate solution denier or someone who just doesn’t care because they won’t be around when it happens. It’s not easy to put yourself sympathetically in someone else’s shoes. I chose to repeat some of the words and ideas I heard in interviews with Trump supporters, figuring no environmentalist would ever vote for Trump. I have to admit I resent the fact that the media always tells us we need to try to “understand” people who support Trump, and yet Trump supporters never have to return the favor and try to understand those of us who don’t. We are not all wealthy Ivy League educated “elites”.
And the thing is…in the end our desires are not so different. I don’t reject science and I would not talk of God, but I have spiritual beliefs too that involve feelings and ideas that can’t really be quantified. I also often feel unacknowledged, dismissed, invisible. I have lost parts of my life that will never return and cannot be replaced. We all want to matter, to belong somewhere.
Why can’t we make that somewhere a place of mutual respect that honors our interdependence with the natural world? So we have a world where everyone’s children and grandchildren have a fighting chance at survival?
The voice of the wind is harsh, unending, bringing news of winter. Under dusky grey I watch the heavens close in as tree bones rattle with last leaves. Night is everywhere, penetrating with howling visions the sanctity of sleep.
Solitude is impossible. Chanting surrounds me, invisible hands, the edge of a nightmare hovering on the threshold. Ghostlike it travels through the streets, knocking on each door, finding the cracks in each soul, rearranging the molecules of each defense. No prayer or good luck charm repels the chosen path of this bleak pilgrim. Its faceless form looms like a black hole.
A cacophony of silence tunnels into the center of my mind. It asks me no questions, desires no answers–an insatiable voice in a vortex ancient, eternal, lost.
forsaken, stars hide– sky fallen into stillness swallowing the moon
For the Earthweal Weekly Challenge, A Hallowed Moondance.
My poem, Our Lady of Scarlet, based on a painting of Marchesa di Casati, by Augustus John, is posted today on The Ekphrastic Review, along with Jane Dougherty and other writers. I did not look up the Marchesa until after I had written my poem, but I think the artist captured the essence of her life in his portrait. What I saw without knowing the facts seems very close to the truth.
My thanks once again to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for supporting my work and the interaction between the visual and written arts.
I was told by several people I could post the old way by going to WP Admin–and it works. I will still be absent for awhile as I am entering the final stages of moving–I’m packing up my computer today. But I’ll be back before the end of September.
In my childhood, even our suburban house was only half a block from woods and meadows and creeks to explore. We had no devices to keep us indoors, and we went outside at every chance. There were still open spaces, for butterflies dragonflies tadpoles bees creeks meadows woods trees rocks sky prickers blackberries colors and clouds and wind—we ran wild, my mother just told us to be home for dinner, who does that now? They would take your children away from you.
I had the companionship of trees plants wild things animals and such clouds to contemplate–I used to lie on my back in the grass and just look at the sky, what was I thinking? Maybe thoughts beyond thought before thought. Now my mind is so busy it never stops to just be and let the world run through like a river like the wind.
child-self lying in
a bed of
sky—everything is opened
up, shining—the world
to a forever,
they ebb and flow—cascading
landscapes shouting yes!
Sarah at earthweal asked us to think how we connected with nature in childhood. I took sentences and lines from 5 previous posts–especially I remembered writing about this subject in a collaboration I did with Claudia McGill, and the bulk of the text is from there.
The art was done as a homage to artist Thornton Dial–I took his title, Stars of Everything, and made my own collage and accompanying words. He knew about the power of art.
“Art is like a bright star up ahead in the darkness of the world. It can lead peoples through the darkness and help them from being afraid of the darkness….Art is a guide for every person who is looking for something.” –Thornton Dial