weathered change

landscape images

Brisbane Art

  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for   today, and creates a vision for tomorrow – Melody   Beattie

  At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a   spark from another person. Each of us has cause to   think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted   the flame within us. – Albert Schweitzer

As we’ve continued to discuss the link between the personal and the political, our lives have also continued. We focused our writing attention on gratitude but also discussed the changes in all our lives and how writing and poetry helps us both mark and weather these changes, giving space for our identities to hold these changes and become them at the same time. It’s complicated. Most of the time, we say we’re freaking out. We can all handle more than we think. In pieces below communicate this both through their content and the overall strength of the writing.

ALIVE AGAIN
I who have died am alive again today

My life is two parts.
I am two people
with two faces,
two hearts,
two souls,
two meanings,
past and present,
before and after.
Then and now…however you like to call it,
good and evil.
It really and truly was, and still is, a spiritual battle.

The past, the before , the then, the evil; still
creeps up and takes the leading role.
The claws of this entity dig deep and direct
my into darkness. It’s defeating and I cry out,
making it known. This is the part of me
I am not fond of these days. At one time
I didn’t mind so much, but I know now there’s
a whole different realm to be a part of. I don’t
have to exist in the darkness.
The present, the after, the now, the good…
this is where I thrive and I am most alive.
You have to understand it was in the darkness
that I have died. That part is gone, for the most part.
With that vacancy, I have filled with light, the most illuminating,
beautiful light. It does not dim. I does not go out.
This will guide my path from here on.
This will show me the way to something greater.
Let my spirit shine.
Let me live.

AG

***
LIFE AND LOVE

This is the birthday of life and love

finally being free from this cage
starting fresh with my kids and family.

This is the birthday of life and love

leaving everything in the past
pushing for a brighter future
letting go of the old and looking towards the new.

This is the birthday of life

the feeling of change and triumph

and love.

Time to be the woman I was meant to be.

LB

***
EYE OF MY EYE

Dark, burning, lighted the flame within me.
   A canker, a searing, raw, weeping sore
   curled tight and stubborn, shadowed changeling.
Dark, burning, opening my eyes to the flame.
   An acid, burning, corroding, etching passion
   all-consuming and desirous, villainy, and revenge.
Dark, burning, candle to my mirror’s dark.
   Confiscating, glittering, starry-eyed dream of the end,
   perpetual, inescapable companion, twin, twined, mate.
Dark, burning, flaming eyes wide.
   Truth, crucifixion carried daily, shows at 6 and 11,
   rivers run, red and clotted, fish-choking, floating, stench.
Dark, burning, burn it all and watch with glee,
   dance to destruction, partners change,
   blood, wine, and sacrifice, journey never ending.
Dark, burning, blister and char my skin.
   Penalty, penalty, every step an agony, endless litany
   of sin burned into mind and heart and skin.
Dark, burning, ashes and sparks fly free.
   A mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,
   soundlessly screamed by a voice already long gone.
Dark, burning, dervishes spread inferno and children.
   Whispered venom, poison pen, a Google search,
   no starting over, no second chance.
Dark, burning, eyelids seared away.
   Secret places, a room of my own, solitude
   ripped away with peace by hands marked, “Justice.”
Dark, burning, bring me to the stake.
   Make a martyr of one in my own mind
   though you and yours will call it well-earned.
Dark, burning, the ropes will bite.
   Hold me up, display me, my cart through town.
   throw refuse, scream. Sharpen the Guillotine.
Dark, burning, light the flame that burns me.
   This. This is your motivation. Not that you
   should burn me, but that I should burn myself.
Dark, burning, ashes, ashes, cinders, and soot.
   Nothing left, no spirit, no fire, no merry,
   pyromaniacal light in eyes gone dead.
Dark, burning, wind scours runnels in sodden ash.
   Echoes, footsteps, and voices giving voice to long
   dead echoes, the light will burn my eyes.

MRo

 

 

getting home

Pinterest

It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

We learn, grow and become compassionate and generous as much through exile as homecoming, as much through loss as gain, as much through giving things away as in receiving what we believe to be our due.  – David Whyte

As we continue to explore closeness of the personal and political, we discussed the efforts to find home that is safe and loving to us. I focus this week’s post on our group’s writing. Below, you will read four different visions of home – those made, those lost, and those held in memory as each of us struggle to make a home in ourselves or return to the homes we love.

HOME

My mom once asked me, “Have you ever felt homesick even when you’re in your own home?” –Yes. “Home” is not where you live. It is not four walls that you pay taxes on and costs you a certain number of zeros. “Home” is that unique touch you add to your space no matter where yo go. “Home” is that familiar scent that clears your mind, that makes your eyes slide shut–the scent you don’t want to exhale because you might lose it. “Home” is that color the crayon experts don’t put in the box because there’s no word to describe it. It’s the place you see in your mind when you reminisce about the happy times in your childhood. Spring cleaning at mom’s; after dinner cookies with Grandma, cooking in the kitchen; Papa’s stale cigarette smoke from a long night up with the bills; the after-school snack with the kids as you listen – again – to how math sucks and recess is too short.

VB

***

WHAT IS HOME

Home, something remembers long ago, memories in time where mother tucked her babes into their beds, softly kiss their little heads. Seeming every night there innocence shines the brightest while they’re at their quietest. Home feels like memories so bold so warm and loving, the most true love and peace she has known. Home always longing for even though she feels like her reaching is never ending.
Home has become a vision now instead of reality. So sad to see a mother so strong and loving feel clipped of happiness. So little could ever replace their sweet admiring faces, forever frozen in memory’s traces. Home, something remembered long ago, darkness tries to fold her in and take control trying to win. She finds herself some days wanting the end. No more tears of lost time. No more loneliness that embarasses. No desperation for love. What is home when there is no home to go to. What is home when there’s no love to fill it. What is home when there’s too many reasons not to return.

What is home, she dreams and dreams, but wakes up in the same concrete walls, slamming doors, cold, lonely, floors. What is home is memories and dreams. Home is long ago before dreaming had to be her only comforting reality.

So off to her dream, mother slips eyes now closed. There her son’s asleep in their beds. She leans down and kisses their heads. She can almost smell that smell only mother/sons share. Always in every dream, she yearns to never wake up, just to finally be home again.

DC

***
WHAT IT SHOULD BE

I know what a home should be, what it could become. I would have to say that the picturesque, white picket fence, perfect pretty little yard just never existed in my world. It never will. The dark child never gets their dream. There was no fence that kept the bad guys out, instead there were bars that kept me in. No perfect family, just a tattered heart, and a beat up soul. No little yard to play…just one room. The room consumed anything good and spit it out the window. No home cooked meals to eat. Just a needle and spoon that fed my hunger. Survival became little baggies and pills that rocked me to sleep at night. There was no love lost and I never found love; the world shook with vengeance and I didn’t even care. No one noticed that I slipped away, no one noticed I was gone. I can’t say I blamed them. Time ticked and days passed. How many, I couldn’t say. My home is darkness. I prefer it here. I like the company I keep. They never say much and they haven’t left me…They tell me they won’t. If you toss me out, they’ll follow me down. That’s more than I can say for anything else. Home is 100 cc’s of magic. It’s a disappearing act, you see. The act of a century. Home is where you will never find me.

AG

***
HOME IS THE LOVE THAT LASTS

If they crave you
that doesn’t mean they love you.
Trust me, it’s lust.
They just want to get in bed with you.
Keep your walls up.
Don’t let that wall built up by betrayal, decayed like ashes.
Don’t me him in.
Be strong, give them what they want.
Not the emotional piece.
Break their hearts.
Walk all over them in high-heeled boots
until they walk away,
broken and betrayed.
You sure showed them how the game is played.
NO!
That ain’t me.
Been there, done that.
It brings nothing but pain and regret.
Not all men are responsible
for the one who betrayed you and broke your hearts.
Brokenness turns you bitter, even cold as stone!
Odds are there are good people in this world
waiting to meet you
so like a never-ending carousel,
I’ll forgive you and forget the past
so I can be happy and make it last.

KS

personal political

Pinterest

When you make a choice, you change the future.“–Deepak Chopra

“What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?“–Jim Butcher

In the next few weeks, we will examine the relationship, that is to say the direct link, between the political and the personal. This week, we used Jameson Fitzpatrick’s poem “I Woke Up” as an introduction. The poem guided through a method of walking  through both a day and a thought process that allowed us to be observant of our shared and individual experiences as well as reflect on how these experiences are political. That is to say that our every day lives are reflective of and inform the larger systems that guide our world. We used these ideas as a jumping off point to start our writing.

In our circle, we are very accustomed to sharing the personal. We even had a couple new members at the writing group who very quickly shared their personal experience. It is harder to recognize our lives as political and engage in that kind of thinking. We are walking towards it as we read and write together.

In the pieces below are the result of these reflections and discussions:

ASLEEP
It had been, this whole time I was asleep.

The scenes flashed by like those from a dream, but I wasn’t asleep. I say dream but we all called it a nightmare. Bittersweet memories is all they have become and there is nothing really more to say. I kept thinking that maybe I would wake up from the drug-induced stupor I put myself in. I mean it sounded good to say it but the reality was I never woke. I never slept. I never dreamed. I just faded, nodded and kept telling my heart that I was sorry. What do you even call that? Once again, no answers come to mind and even if they did, it would probably be another one of those really lame excuses that I am so good at concocting. You know you get so tired and exhausted from being in that kind of state. It becomes autopilot but sloppier and more off-kilter. People tend to know that something’s wrong and all I can manage to say is, “Oh sorry, I’ve been asleep. I’m just not awake yet.” Yeah, like I ever will be, but maybe nobody else knows yet. I don’t even trust myself enough to sleep it off, I might not wake up and if I don’t, how will I take these pills I have left? What if I can’t dream anymore? What will they say? I’m thinking too much, too hard and it takes the last bit of my strength. I have to lay down. I have to rest. I close my eyes to find that all of these nightmares are real. I want to wake up to get away from myself. I guess it just doesn’t work that way…somebody needs to wake me up when all of this is over.

AG

***

WHAT IS POLITICAL

I made coffee and the coffee was political. Isn’t everything, though? I suppose I find it most ridiculous that little things, little choices have become so politicized. If your new loveseat isn’t made from fair-trade, eco-friendly, compacted resin-coated bamboo from a country that pays living wages and organic, free-range naturally dyed hand-woven hemp, what kind of revolting, monstrous person are you? That’s leaving aside the politics of why you’re getting a loveseat! Are you too antisocial to buy seating for more than a guest or two? Are you, decadent American, hogging more square feet of living space than you really need? Worse, why are buying new and participating in a consumer-based and materialistic society? Did you at least buy it made in the U.S.A.? Did you pay your fair share of taxes on it? Why do you have disposable income to spend on new, fancy furniture when there are people who are homeless?? Did you check every part of the manufacturing process to make sure no child labor was used and no Trump profited? Exhausting, you say? Well, you just must not care very much about our planet if you don’t check these things! Don’t pretend any of that is even remotely ridiculous or unlikely to happen. It happens with everything. Try reading a book by Marion Zimmer Bradly and get treated to a lecture on how she was a child abuser. Try drinking a cup of Folgers coffee to the tune of rainforest deforestation and child labor. Wear a top you got at Goodwill and get a spiel on the sweatshops that brand of clothes uses and on where Goodwill’s profits “really” go. Buy a car – is it a hybrid? Don’t worry, you’ll get an earful either way. Does it ever occur to social justice warriors – or any of the rest of the modern moralists – that I do not care, don’t want to hear about it, and am completely disinterested in their free-range, fair trade, eco-friendly, sustainable, American-made, recycled, upcycled, organic, pesticide-free, GMO-free, gold-plated granola? I bet it hasn’t. Want to know a secret? I just want a cup of coffee that tastes good and doesn’t cost the earth – and I really don’t care about all the rest of it. Keep your politics out of my cup of coffee and off my loveset – it’s new…I’m not even letting the dog on it, and I like him.

MR

***

POLITICS/POETRY

I thought I was not a political poet and still my imagination was political.

Am I republican or a democrat? This is political.

Where do I begin to let go of my thoughts about Donald Trump? That is political.

Wonder if my opinion is and will political…

I must say, I’m not very political.

JR

patching ourselves up

deviant art

“A woman’s passionate and creative nature is at risk if she cannot hold onto her sources of growth and joy.”

“Once there was a poor motherless child who had no shoes. But the child saved cloth scraps wherever she found them and over time sewed herself a pair of red shoes. They were crude but she loved them. They made her feel rich even though her days were spent gathering food in the thorny woods until far past dark.” From “The Red Shoes” as told by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run with Wolves

Every summer, we bring a folktale in the group. We run programming halftime so we take the opportunity to delve deeply into a single story, explore its symbolism, and use our writing to find each of the characters in ourselves. This year, we’re focused on “The Red Shoes” – a story about a girl who, after being taken in by a wealthy older woman, losses track of who she is only to try and fail to find herself in a pair of dangerous red shoes. The story explores themes such as the loss of soul, temptation, restriction, and recovery. These themes are familiar to our poetry and our circle. Discussion flowed easily about the traps of other people’s opinions, the soul-losses we’ve suffered, and the desires we harbor that nourish us and those that don’t.

In the pieces below, you’ll see pleas for freedom and loving prayers. The dance they are doing is not easy or without grace.

WORLD TOO NARROW

I find it narrow-minded that, generally speaking, my family, as well as society as a whole, expects me to live my life a certain way.

I pretend that I no longer take part in certain activities – one’s that others consider reckless, dangerous, irresponsible. Yet, I find them exhilarating, entertaining, and fulfilling. I generally work 40-50 hours a week attempting to display that I am mature, dependable, and responsible, when really I desire to be at the lake or on a mountain top with my family with a care in the world.

Spontaneously, acting on my wants is what I hunger for. No rules. No boundaries. No limits. Freedom. Not having my medicine on account of my doctor saying it’s necessary. Paying my phone bill three days later than is dated on my bill. Lighting up another cigarette although the surgeon general advises I don’t. Going home when it gets dark because that is what most people do. I desire to do things my way, on my own time. Because I chose what is best for me, not others.

No rules. No boundaries. No limits. Freedom!

KCo

***
A FIRE BURNS WITHIN

My name is nobody.
I am queen of all fallen angels,
lover of all the forsaken souls.
Silent screams are buried beneath their smiles.
Don’t worry, you no longer have to hide in the shadows.
Come out, come out.
Be your true self.
Don’t be afraid of the monsters under your bed.
They’re really you friends.
Get along with the voices inside your head.
Don’t fight the demon within you.
It’s a part of you.
You no longer have to be alone
because I love you.
You no longer have to bleed alone –
two bodies, one soul.
I will take care of you.

A secret fire began to burn in their hearts
and the truth set them free,
free to be who they are,
who they want to be.

KS

safe harbor

Leonid Afremov

Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls heart strings. It acts as medicine. – Macklemore

Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it. – Stevie Wonder

Would you harbor me?

Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew
a heretic, convict or spy?
Would you harbor a run away woman, or child,
a poet, a prophet, a king?
Would you harbor an exile, or a refugee,
a person living with AIDS?
Would you harbor a Tubman, a Garrett, a Truth
a fugitive or a slave?
Would you harbor a Haitian Korean or Czech,
a lesbian or a gay?
Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
– 
song and lyrics by Ysaye Barnwell
Sung by Sweet Honey and the Rock on their album “Sacred Ground”

This week, we came together again to write songs. The song we studied is called, “Would you harbor me?” written by Ysaye Barnwell to be sung by gospel group Sweet Honey and the Rock. When I put the lyrics on the board, someone asked, “What is a harbor?” The group worked together to define harbor. We all gave our explanations and looked it up in a dictionary but ultimately, we said it was place that, in our culture, harbor has come to mean something more significant than its earliest definitions. A harbor is safe place to land in a storm. It is important remember that not all harbors are prepared to take us safely. We learn, over time, the signals that indicate that a harbor is safe and welcome.

There a sentiment shared by those in the group – that it is easy to answer the quetion, “Would I harbor you?” One writer said that as long as she had a couch and a cupboard, they are open to those in need. The harder question for our circle was, “Would you harbor me?” While most of us trust we would take in those in need, we do not believe we will be harbored with equal care and readiness by others. It is a practice in our circle to become fluent in the signals that indicate safety for others; that by listening and keeping each other’s stories Continue reading