a hard remembering

Hampton III Gallery

 Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with  us. – Oscar Wilde

 Memory is the fourth dimension to any landscape. – Janet Fitch

November is a time for memories. Some are   easy and some are not. We gather around tables   or feel the tug of past meals in our guts. We repeat what we are grateful for and hear the faint echo of what we are not grateful for, that we would let fall away from us like leaves.

In this week’s group, we examined all of it. Some writers wrote about who they missed most or who they missed least. We talked through the scents and smells of our memories, how they all have the power to pull us back in time.

In the pieces below, you will read all these perspectives.

RAIN

The rain, the start before the storm,
the high before the low,
the blue sky to the dark cries.

The nights you could not see my cries inside,
missing the nights we held each other tight,

the nights the drops fell from my face,
thinking about our last embrace,

the rain from the bright blue skies,
no longer is their hurt in my eyes.

No longer do I need your embrace.
The rain has done, erased.
LB Continue reading

our november

theviennasecession.com

There is October in every November and there is November in every December! All seasons melted in each other’s life! ― Mehmet Murat ildan

I have come to regard November as the older, harder man’s October. I appreciate the early darkness and cooler temperatures. It puts my mind in a different place than October. It is a month for a quieter, slightly more subdued celebration of summer’s death as winter tightens its grip. – Henry Rollins

After a long conversation this fall concerning the personal and political, we have returned to more seasonal subjects, sharpening our writing skills by staying in the present moment, acutely describing what we see, and letting our minds flood with names and memories.

We read, “November for Beginners” by the indomitable and brilliant Rita Dove though, when it comes to November, no one in our circle this week is a beginner. We explored what we let the world call us and what we call this time. We discussed traditions and weather patterns and we taught each other new words for ice and whisper (rime, susurration).

In the pieces below, you will read true and personal accounts of names and seasons, each more personal than the next. Read all the way to the end and you will be rewarded by this week’s found poem – all our words woven together to leave our impression behind, a mirrored impression of what November has done for us.

WEEZY

My mother’s name is Dawn.
My father’s name is Larry.
My sister Megan was born in 1990.
I was born October 1991.
My father named me Katelyn
after his oldest brother Clayton.
My middle name Louise after my great grandma.
My daddy called me Weezy.
He would pick me up in his arms
and say, “Pop goes my Weezy.”
The smile was on his face
was the highlight of all my days,
‘til one day mom took me away.
I was so broken,
so much self-loathing,
a confused 7-year-old,
going through the emotions:
betrayal, abandonment, fear, loneliness.
What can I say? Daddy was my king
and I his princess.
Lord knows I loved him so very much.
He tried to be there for me.
Mom made things so difficult,
always putting me in the middle,
as my father faded from my life.
No one called me Weezy anymore.
And as I grew into my teenage self,
people took to calling me Katie in its place.
No one in high school really liked me.
I was angry all the time,
would be a bitch to guys.
I didn’t want to be bothered.
I just wanted to left alone to the sorrow inside
to drown in the pool of anger surrounding me.
I started cutting at age 16.
By 18 I was dating a guy who beat me
and cheated on me!
He called me Kate.
In now 26,
my father died when I was 19.
Suicide, my mother and I don’t really talk
and my sister and I grew apart.
My brother lives at home still at age 21.
Wow,
I had a kid at 21,
didn’t want to be a mom.
The father of my kid was extremely boring,
so I left him for my ex
who I never got over to begin with.
He calls me Katelynn,
treats me like a woman.
I tied my soul to this man
when I was 24 years old.
He makes me better,
but here I am in trouble,
incarcerated for letting this anger control me.
I wonder if I’ll ever fully recover,
probably not.
All I can do is go on with life,
try to be better,
for my husband and child!

KS Continue reading

the thinning veil

Kate Forsyth

The holy day of Samhain is, in the Celtic tradition, the first day of winter: a time of sacrifice, divination for the New Year, communion with the dead, of endings and rest. On this single night (Oct. 31), the world of spirits, ancestors and mortals might meet. Within the mythic cycle of the Goddess as Crone, she deepens into herself and enters the dreamtime, the place between the worlds where past, present, and future exist simultaneously. The season invites you to enter a place of stillness and simply be where you are: not moving forward or backward but utterly present, suspended in the space between past and future. It is here that you may hear her voice in the crackling fire, rain and wind…Review the year that has passed with introspection and retrospection. Commune with your ancestors and honor your beloved dead…What do you leave behind in the year that has passed, and what do you wish to take with you? How will you prepare to listen to the Old Wise One within? –Ruth Barrett, Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries

During this season, the veil is said to thin between this world and the next. As we came together to discuss and write about the traditions of Samhain, Halloween, and Dia de Los Muertos, the veil between all of us thinned. We wrote verbal altars to those who have passed and it struck a chord in all of us. The intensity of what rose in our feelings was reflected in the written work and strengthened our circle.

In the writings below, you will see the power  in what was written and join the circle with us.

THE VEIL

I’m not ready for an altar. You twitched the veil and let me glimpse the other side. A resurrection of smoke, a liquid pooling of silk, they sway in this impossible breeze, flutter, billow…what emerges? Is that your hand, or the hand of an incomprehensibly foreign stranger to these shores, a Neverwas, a Neverborn? Should death lie between us forever, a charm too mighty to cross with any leap, too far for you to come back to me, or does a bridge exist on this one day, a spider’s thread, just strong enough to bear your thistledown soul? Is that you – can I feel you with me? Is that hand yours, a beacon in my long darkness, or is that clutching grasp meant to steal what little is left of my soul, to drag me down to the hell others have long since wished me to? What lies beyond? Those who picture blessing and angels offer none to me, not even mine. The veil sways, beckoning me closer. Can I hear your voice if I press just my ear against it? Dare I chance it?

I sit back, away, and I sigh. I’ll let the endless days pass. I’ll wait. I’ll sit through all the nights. I’ll wait. I’ll watch the cycle of the seasons and age writing its tale across my skin. I’ll wait. I’ll wait to see you, touch you, hear you. You’re safe where you are and I have many dangerous roads to walk and I must never shirk my duty. Watch me, watch me, remember what you see. I expect to hear all about it when next we meet. I’ll hear your merry laugh, you’ll pat my cheek and say, “You sure were silly, but you made it through that day.”

MR

***
THE LOVE OF HONOR

Flowers, feast, love, and skulls,
all of which come alive
to honor all who have been taken from our lives.
How the flowers and gifts lie upon the graves,
the rituals and spells which bring all
back to our lives for these few special days.
Parties, parades, flowers, and graves: this
is how we honor these special days.

LB Continue reading

indigo to infinity

This was read-around week inside. In place of our weekly  group, six of our core writers shared pieces they have written over the past several months. Their listeners included a handful of sister inmates plus over two dozen community guests. Funders, friends, potential new writing inside VT team members, advocates and other interested parties came to witness powerful words telling of life, dreams and hard work.

It is the magic of this work that each reading is utterly unique; each listener deeply moved; each evening seamless in its blending of depth and presence. Dialogue between readers and audience revealed the value of the writing program to the well-being of participants; and clearly, the witnessing evoked as strong a response from the outside guests as from the readers themselves.

What it comes down to is the words, powerful emotions captured in short bursts of writing that came back to our ears in new combinations. To honor that sense of weaving, I share the poem constructed from lines spoken at the reading. See for yourself what stories unfold line by line, imagining the individual threads that have come together to create this new whole.

INDIGO TO INFINITY – found poem from 10.26. read-around

My name is nobody.
They’ve taken my true meaning –
decommissioned as a mother,
the light that lives in me
eclipsed by ugly rhetoric –
and no one there to see the hurt.
That pain needs to be fed, locked away all those years –
those bitter twisted lies
the tangled untruths
such strange poison of my own
growing like a fruit, too ripe.

My brain is too heavy to hold.
I sit, I burn, I crumble;
my shadow’s gone and I want to go home
from these soulless halls,
unwinder of edges
drunk on the dismissal of my words.

I think it’s time to tell you you were wrong.
I am lover of all forsaken souls,
the demon inside.
I wanted to run but it’s never helped before,
the dance fierce and exhausting.
Tell your babies to survive –
you gave them your last breath –
and keep your politics out of my coffee.
It wasn’t as fun as it looked.
I’m not the only one who ties myself in knots;
maybe I’ll get it right next time.

Still, like dust, I rise.
I rise to be a better me,
live for the little something inside.
I will continue to rise ‘til the day I die.

swb

still i rise

Moonlit Inspirations – blogger

Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see a shadow. – Helen Keller

Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

This week we read Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” It continues to be a powerful poem within our writing circle. Every time we read it, the power of the writing increases. We all get  bolder. That is the power of great poetry. In a single page, one listening, we are all just a little stronger than we were before. You will see in the pieces below.

HOPE RISES

In me, rises hope, happiness, and peace – to live long, laugh often, and love strong.

That what gives me the power to rise is Jesus, God, and Holy Spirit, my older daughter, granddaughter as well as music of any kind that moves my heart, soul, and body to point I cannot be brought down by anyone or anything.

We all have the power inside us to rise, we just have to tap into it.

[side note: Life is a herd of purple tunafish running through a field of green grass Naked.]

AP

***
SORROW INSIDE

Sweet, fallen angel,
just like me, a fallen angel with no wings.
We live in a pain that cuts and burns deeper than
the cracks of Hades.
I thought together we would rise
from a past rooted in pain,
just like moons and suns.
Who cares if we’re fallen?
As long as we had each other
nothing seemed to matter.
With your bitter, twisted lies,
did you want to leave me broken?
Clawing out my eyes,
waterfalls of blood streaking down my face
like never-ending tears,
I fall to my knees to let out a scream,
but there is nothing left to feel.
Silence is all I hear,
so I stitch my lips up.
Now when I see you through these veils of blindness,
you cut me with those eyes,
kill me with your hatefulness.
As if it matters, there’s nothing left to me—
A soulless, empty zombie,
I’m nothing but a black ocean,
leaving behind nights of terrors and fears
buried within myself,
protected with an armor shield against you.
I’m a ghost!
Nothing, but a memory.

KS Continue reading