Seed Stitches

I thread
the needle and
spirit passes into
matter returning to
the center of
the (w)hole

I twine
the floss around
the needle—one two three–
casting strands into knots
spelling rhythmic
patterns

I pause
to connect what
lies hidden below the
coiled surface—roots binding
up and down to
between

The Kick-About prompt this time was The Ashley Book of Knots, below. It’s been a long time since I did any macrame, but I love to embroider, entranced by everything about it–the floss itself, the color and texture, the rhythmic and repetitive motions that are so like meditation, the gradual revelation of something new.

I’ve done a lot of embroidery on paper, but I couldn’t remember ever trying French Knots, also called Seed Stitch. My mandala papers are fairly sturdy, so I painted one, inspired by Monet, and searched through my embroidery floss boxes for similar colors.

Besides their practical and decorative uses, knots can symbolize many things, from the vows of marriage, to a puzzle to be solved. They are connected to threads of all kinds, and thus the interweavings that form and support all of life.

The French Knot is a simple stitch–wind the floss 3 times around the needle and reinsert it into the hole made by bringing the thread to the surface–but like many simple things, it’s easy to become tangled up if you aren’t paying attention. Something that applies to all creative endeavors involving fibers.

I’ve used the Badger’s Hexastitch form for my poem.

Veterans Day NYC 2020

salutes spaced
between vehicles–
ghostboots march
silently
in formation—echos caught
in mind’s eye–the tears

As with seemingly every celebration in 2020, the Veteran’s Day parade today here in NYC was largely symbolic–“a caravan of 100 vehicles with no spectators”–a shadow of the usual ceremony of 20-30,000 participants.

For Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday where the words are imagine and gratitude, and Peter Frankis’ prompt at dVerse, where the task is to write about something from the local news (https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-york/articles/2020-11-11/car-caravan-replaces-parade-at-nyc-veterans-day-observance)

passing

In the mirror I
am only a face–
a fleeting facade,
disembodied,
always incomplete.

I recognize it, but I
do not feel attached–
I dislike the lines,
the dark circles,
the sagging jowls.

Our interactions are
conditional, brief.
My face is
interesting in the way
of all faces,

but not memorable or
distinct—brown hair
brown eyes behind glasses–
averagely past its prime–
I could be anyone.

I see the years in
my hands and I
celebrate them.
Why is my aging
face a source of shame?

Our bodies are merely
ephemera—transitory,
waiting to be
discarded—waiting to release
our spirits to the wind.

This is some more old work I never posted because I was moving. It was inspired by two prompts: The Kick-About prompt of Joseph Cornell’s “Romantic Museum”, which was part of an exhibition dedicated to portraits of women, and the dVerse prompt from Sarah asking for self-portraits. As I said to Phil when I submitted my response to the Kick-About: what woman do I know better than myself?

The hand holding a needle in Cornell’s work, above immediately attracted my attention. I wanted to do something on newspaper, but I couldn’t collage (my first choice) as my glue was packed.  My needles and floss were not, however, and this also seemed appropriate to Cornell’s work.

I was pleased to find a newspaper page with a photo of hands.  I drew my own, and also my face, and stitched and wrote my reflections based on the drawings.  It’s not quite finished, but maybe that’s the correct response too.

linking to dVerse Open Link Night, hosted by Grace

mercy 4 (after M.L. Smoker)

one morning you wake up and
the reasons for everything
are gone

the sky has already fallen
and the wind changes direction
continuously—the trees
wave wildly as they try
to keep their roots
grounded, hold tight to their
branches and seeds and leaves

the birds have long ago
disappeared into
the expanse of nowhere
that used to be a horizon
not even a line anymore
but bottomed out
down and far beyond away

you appeal to all spirits
any spirit listening
asking for some small
sign that things will return
to a state of understanding

slow down at least and give
you time to adjust—to what?
what is left of any
configuration? will it be
improved by changing
the velocity?

nothing is sensible or even
nonsensical

you yourself appear
only dimly in the mirror–
perhaps even your bones
have taken leave and only
your thoughts remain

invisible
mad
beside themselves
alone

In July and August I wrote a series of poems inspired by M.L. Smoker’s poem “Mercy”. As I’ve been having trouble writing anything new, I decided to revisit them, and I’ve been worrying this one, #4, all week. I’m not exactly sure it fits the Earthweal challenge this week of a haunted wilderness, but it’s in the spirit.

“Everybody’s crying mercy when they don’t know the meaning of the word.”
–Mose Allison

“Mercy” is not available online, but you can read about M.L. Smoker, and read some of her other works, here.

sustenance

drawing-constellations-s

sustenance magnetic s

For Colleen’s #tanka tuesday, using a quote supplied by Merril Smith, below, as inspiration.

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

crazy quilt

I’ve been in a creative funk the past few days, so I consulted the Oracle for some help with my shadorma sequence. And once again, I’m recycling some old art.

what lingers
within the workings
of a life
time    dancing
home by remembering the
rhythms of the stars

roots seeding
trees that grow between
deep earthlight
beholding
to the cycles stitched full through
what shines from the heart

 

 

 

the circle game part 2

circle game 2bs

Times Square is empty, like the weather—grey now, the colors drained like the empty subway cars, residing hidden in tenements, written in the isolation of morning coffee.  The Sunday newspaper remains undelivered (again) as even that thread of connection frays into feral cats in dark corners and the shadows of crows haunting the hometown I never knew.

All of this is imaginary, of course—flora and fauna are absent from this enclosed space, except as chimera, impoverished by the boredom of my own company, the same jeans and shirt waiting to be worn like the trackless days.  No Significant Other to keep me in, and an invisible barrier blocking me from leaving.  Outside my window a graffiti of exclamation points greets me each day behind the passing cars and on clear evenings I say “Goodnight Moon”, remembering bedtimes with small bodies close and sleepy and warm.

But the lines have been drawn, and as Joni reminds me, the seasons still go round and round.  We’re always captive on the carousel of time.

tomorrow
blue skies
growing new wings

circle game 2 close up s

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was “to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.”  You can see the questionnaire here.

 

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Murmuration Ghazal (After “Murmuration” by Sarah Kotchian)

murmuration a

Each script pulses as air on thousand wings–
again seen and written in sky cloud wings

Waves of dark starlings shape great turns,
exhale in wonder as distance disappears on wings

We say “scientists”, but we too fly in awe and delight–
can we track and keep our shape without wings?

But others catch the shifts in murmuration as dark–
we watch as neighbors turn so each can safeguard against wings

Flock of bird script maintains starling shape,
appears as never before in waves, then turns on wings

Sometimes the sky keeps one thin light track–
it is written on pulses–seven shifts seen again again again again again again again—wings

murmuration s

Cave Canem posted a prompt in their Week Four Literary Balms that I’ve been thinking about for awhile:

Prompt #11
Take your favorite poem and use it as a word bank to create a new work. It can be a response to the poem, it can be a remix of the poem, it can be made into a prose poem or have couplets, as long as ALL the words are used.
–Contributed by Cave Canem fellow Teri Ellen Cross Davis.

murmuration close up a

This morning I read a poem by Sarah Kotchian in Persimmon Tree that resonated, and I made a list of all the words it contained and then started to write.  The ghazal form seemed to work best–I used some of the words more than once, but all and only the words in a poem.  Just making the list was a revelation, to see the kinds of words she didn’t use, as well as the ones she did.  I highly recommend this as an exercise with a poem or poet you like.

painted starling close up s

Some new and old art, with a poem off prompt for NaPoWriMo Day 24.

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