The Oracle Answers Another Question

The Oracle has an answer to every question. This one made me smile.

Art is once again from the archives. It turns out I’ve done lots of art related to this theme.

How to make joy?

Embrace the rhythm of opening.
Explore the dances of trees.

Bring the ocean home–
listen to all the starsongs
that reveal what you desire.

Rhetoric

The Kick-About prompt this time around is “The Five Canons of Rhetoric”. My mind glazed over as I read through these rigid and formal ways of organizing communication. Of course the word rhetoric has multiple meanings, the first of which, according to dictionary.com, is “(in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast”. Something we all been oversubjected to of late.

What is true of all the definitions is that rhetoric involves the use of language. One synonym given particularly caught my eye: ” balderdash–senseless, stupid, or exaggerated talk or writing; nonsense”. The word nonsense immediately made me think of the surrealists.

The surrealists felt that letting go of the need to control your creation would reveal deeper truths. This was true of both visual and written art. They rejected logic and reason.

I often use surrealistic techniques for both my art and my writing. I’ve been doing rorschach images for awhile–these little cards are done by dripping the leftover paint from my watercolors onto the card and folding it in half. Usually the layers are done in several sessions.

I also compose comments for my images using words and phrases I’ve cut out of magazines and advertisements. I limit myself to what’s contained in one envelope for each card, and often spend quite a long time choosing and arranging them. I call it the collage box oracle, as it’s similar to using magnetic poetry. I was originally inspired by Claudia McGill, who is a master at this technique.

I’m usually surprised by what appears. It always makes me think.

I first scanned in just the images, and then worked on the words. When I went to scan them in, I realized I had changed the orientation of the image in half of them. Another unexpected surprise.

Surrealistic Rhetoric has no pretense to being anything but a random arrangement of words. But somehow it manages to incorporate at least 4 of the classical canons–invention, arrangement, style, and delivery. As to memory–well, canon #7 deals with that.

The Eight Canons of Surrealist Rhetoric

Is there anything more archetypal than nothing?

Space is just energy deconstructing.

You expected evolving to be more complex.

Adventure awaits beyond the details of yourself.

Fools rush into the shadow of the projected image.

I was invented from the earth’s fertile surfaces–
otherwise my unlimited nakedness would be alarming.

My plans are to forget to remember.

There was a window from the start—simple and mysterious–
imagine looking through it to what is hidden between.

Castle in the Sky/the earth sings

Too much and too little of everything,
this disembodied crowd of kings and fools–
the culmination of faith is a leap into the unknown–
the spaces between are all that remains.

The details of life become blurred and distorted,
fragments scattered into ghosts
reflecting the collision of bottomless dreams and desires–
too much and too little of everything.

Plans go astray, linger unrealized.
The path is long and winding and there is no map —
what makes us think we have finally found the truth?
(this disembodied crowd of kings and fools)

Does only night reveal the secret of the star?
The past follows us no matter where we go–
how little is really necessary!
The culmination of faith is a leap into the unknown.

The earth embraces us, teeming with life–
what are we looking for?  where do we belong?
Will we recognize it when we reach our destination?–
the spaces between are all that remains.

memories are
woven into tales–
time and space
expanded
and compressed—fragments scattered
like ghosts of what is

no longer
there—we know why we
seek this thing–
Divine Light–
but there is no star, only an
endless procession

escaping
from its past—still we
always come
back again,
repeating the well trodden
paths of Holy fools–

and when our
destination finds
us what will
we see?  grace
reflecting the gift of life?
or the gold of kings?

I wrote these two poems (a cascade, and a shadorma chain) in response to a painting of the daylight travels of the Magi followed by multitudes of richly garbed men which was part of the Ekphrastic Review Holiday Challenge. These did not make the cut. But when I saw the Earthweal Challenge for the change we are, I thought they fit.

I know my prompt responses often seem to veer off course, and maybe this one is also in that category. Perhaps it stems from my sense of things not fitting properly in the world–myself included–which gives me a general inability to feel I am accurately responding to anything. But I also feel that’s where “we” are at this Solstice 2020. Changes are all around us, but it’s hard to find the proper light in which to tell exactly what they are.

with more art from the archives

Traveling in the Wilderness

Mid the woods,
snowdusk shadows are
spare–lovely
but cold, dark,
clinging like shaded brume and
wandering silent and deep.

Drawn here but
not belonging, I
do not have
promises
of morning or an end to
this vigil I keep

of if and
beyond—all those miles
now lost to
me.  I go
in circles of before–I
beg the night for sleep.

The Kick-About prompt this week was the last 4 lines of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. I was struggling with my poem, a shovel poem (using the words of Frost’s lines as the last words in the lines of my poem) in the shadorma form, when Sarah at dVerse posted her prompt suggesting titles taken from “Surfacing” by Kathleen Jamie. The idea of traveling in the wilderness helped me find a focus.

I had already spent a long time fooling around with the art. The diorama I planned didn’t work out as I expected, but I liked the background paintings I did more than I thought I would.

Done on very wet rice paper, with black ink and silver and pearl metallic watercolor, they had much more of the feeling of Frost’s words than I expected. The diorama on the other hand, failed to match my vision, and I took 50 photos to come up with just a few that I liked.

Still I learned from the experience, including how natural light is much more blue than that from my drawing table lamp which has a yellow cast.

And I got a surprise in the monoprint that emerged from under one of the wet rice paper paintings which also seemed to capture well the feeling of my poem.

who are you

bat

who
are you
and who are

you
not—is
there a point

where
each merges
into the other

where
you meet
the both/and

neither–
where it
doesn’t really matter?

The Kick-About #15 features lithography illustrations by Eric Ravilious from the book High Street. I was immediately drawn to the shop full of masks, above. I’ve drawn, painted, stitched and collaged many masks over the years, and I also have quite a few that I’ve collected, stored and waiting for a place to be displayed.

horse

For the prompt, I decided to focus on Mexican animal masks, since the animal masks in the shop illustration seemed to be the most prominent element.

dog

Masking has a long history in the indigenous culture of the Americas, and animals are commonly used in dances, ritual, and ceremonies, often combined with Christian stories and characters.

fox

Masks are vessels in which a powerful energy is stored, an energy than can help cross the boundaries between human and animal, creating a co-existence of spirits in the same body.

bull/lizard

I confess that once I got started with these it was hard to stop.

hummingbird

The technique I used was the Rorschach monoprint–I painted one side and folded the paper in the center and pressed down to create a mirror image.

jaguar
owl

and if they take me
to heart, if they pull me through
their own openings

will I flow, float dreaming in
side their abiding presence–

no, not dead, but yet
not of the living—unbound
by movement or time,

reconnected, emerged as
an ancestor to myself

pig
horned creature

what came out
was not the same as
what went in

eagle
goat

I liked the bat so much I did it twice, once on red paper and once on white.

bat 2

animals
do not need our gods
to exist

on all sides (after Neruda)

thus
each day begins again
and wanders to its end

in the deep darkness
I follow and am pushed
through sequences
that turn me inside out

hours pass
as they bypass me–
we seem to be in different stories

the pages open to places
I have seen before
while the landscape becomes
a backdrop
to somewhere else

crow flies
over the fields
between worlds
carrying
the ears of wheat
to be planted in both places
at once

tolling in concert
with the continuous chaos
I wonder at the expanse of tangled
entrances and exits
in the mouth
of the threshold

which side am I on?
my voice carries nowhere
as I reach out to catch the wings
of the wind

This was done for a dVerse prompt from August, where Rosemarie Gonzales offered wheat as a poetic inspiration. I took 2 lines from one of the Neruda poems she provided, Ah Vastness of Pines, and incorporated it in pieces to make my own verse:
Thus in the deep hours I have seen, over the fields,
the ears of wheat tolling in the mouth of the wind.

I’m linking it to dVerse Open Link Night.

The art is from the archives.

The Flames Burn Cold

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.

crossing

Last night I had a vivid dream about bridges. Consulting the Oracle this morning, I was able to form the word bridge in both the Poet and Geek kits, giving me two sides of the coin–a question and an answer.

1
which star
streams the galactic code
to open
this bridge
through light
into completion?

2
blue bridge sails
ghoststars of skybreath–
opening holes
in the haunted ocean
of remembering–
a fool’s magic
embrace of time

Hozier’s version of this often-covered song captures most closely the atmosphere of my dream.