CS2 Stock

Saturday, March 31, 2007

It's Today!




My daughter will be arriving today at 2:30 - it's only 10:00 a.m. and I am ready to go to the airport! It's a beautiful Southern California day with just the right touch of a cool breeze. I'm breathing in this blue sky and thinking about wrapping my arms around her.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

All This Murmuring

Image from "New Orleans Vodoun Tarot"
Poetry Thursday

New Orleans wraps itself in the mystery of Vodoun. The religion is misunderstood as the Hollywood caricature of evil and the dreaded zombie. In reality, it's a complex and often beautiful belief system - but admittedly not for the weak of heart. The poem is written from the point of view of someone only familiar with Voudoun, not part of its inner circle. The piece describes the dance of the Mambos, but I think Baron Samedi needs a bit of an introduction. He's one of Vodoun's Guedes that is said to guard the crossroads where the spirit of the dead can cross in and out of this world and act as intercessor between the living and the dead. He also presides over love and resurrection. Baron Samedi wears a top hat, black coat tails, and sunglasses. He loves ambrosia cigars and has a propensity for rum.

All This Murmuring

I run into myself
crawling out of a manhole
on a street in New Orleans.
I tell myself,
"The old man's dead,"
but really - I think
he conjured a convenient senility
to disguise his secrets.
I ask, "Do I know where the children are?"
And, "Did I bake the sweet potato pie for after the funeral?"
And, "By the way, what was I doing down there anyway?"

For ten days I've hung this Gris-Gris
bag around my neck -
still I don't leave myself in peace.
I won't answer myself-
just remark that the stench
top side isn't much different,
then I remember the old man's
handkerchief still covers my face.

I complain
to stone angels -
"Don't I ever answer my questions?"
And, "Don't I have any respect for the dead?"
And, "Didn't I know Momma's bad nerves
were on account of my moods?"

I leave myself
to track the scent of Ambrosia,
go where the Mambos swirl
in their white dresses
inside a circle of Fire Lilies -
scattering cornmeal
so the Guedes will come to dance.

I sway on the brim of the wheel,
whisper in trickles of rum
while I hope for the tip of a hat-
even though we're strangers,
Baron Samedi might dance
with me - stop all this murmuring.









Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Morning Kitchen Thoughts

Sunday Sribblings

I’m alone in the kitchen, the morning still in half-light. I sit at the table cradling my coffee mug for warmth and hear the wind rattle the windows- there’s a cold front coming in. Cold days or rainy days turn out to be my favorite here where the sun shines so diligently day in and day out. The refrigerator hums, the faucet drips, and Chiron (our cat) is beginning his morning serenade for food. It's good to have the reassurance of morning routine. After feeding the cat I look up to see the food blessing hanging above the kitchen table and remember there will be a new pair of hands to hold before every meal. My youngest daughter, Melissa, is coming for a visit from Biloxi, Ms. It has been a few years since she sat around my kitchen table – we usually go visit them. But this time Melissa wanted to come so she could have me all too herself with no other relatives around to crowd in on her time. So we will sit around the kitchen table and talk about our lives and make plans for our day. Maybe we will even get an art project going at the kitchen table like we did when she was a girl. We can update from finger paints and popsicle sticks. At the sink I rinse out my coffee cup and think how proud I am of her. She teaches High School English and in addition to her regular classes, she teaches what they call “Ramp-Up to Literacy” for children that aren’t quite ready for freshman English. Her students are excited about reading and their reading levels are rising all the time. The Gulf Coast Area project manager for the program and the Director of Curriculum for the school district came to sit in on her class and will be using her classroom as the model for the rest of the school district. She’s the kind of teacher I wish for every child – she doesn’t believe there is any such thing as a student not worth her time and effort regardless of what negative history follows them into her classroom. I don't mind bragging. As I finish up in the kitchen I remember that when Melissa was in kindergarten she used to love to help me make New York Cheesecake – she called herself the “official stuff putter inner”. I would have everything all measured out and it was her job to pour the ingredients into the mixing bowl. I can still remember her saying, “and pour the sugar in sloooooooooow” – her face full of serious concentration. Maybe we’ll make Cheesecake this weekend.



More Sunday Scribblings here

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Image Inspired


I bought this print (by Pahuncvo) when I lived in Spain. I was fourteen years old and had a difficult home situation. This print gave me a sense of moving into the future with hope and freedom. It also gave me a feeling that there were going to be long stretches of becoming, that I wasn't stuck in the here and now of who I thought I was. I'm fifty now and it appears I was right!

I've struggled writing the poem, it is still very rough. If any one has constructive criticism please feel free to let me know.

White Horse

She bolts into the storm
to taste the night
on her tongue,
becomes the lantern
in the blue-black midnight.
A twin to the moon
that pulls us up
through the ground of ourselves
into perpetual becoming.

Photo Thursday


LORAKEET
I am a wanna be photographer just learning to use my new Digital Nikon Single Reflex Camera. I welcome constructive criticism from photogrpahers.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I Gotta Say This Too

It's been a few hours since my last post. I've had time to think and want to apologize for the sarcastic tone (though I do not apologize for the the opinion I expressed). I have learned to take care of my side of the street - my street looked a little messy. There are so many bloggers I have come to appreciate and I don't want to alienate anyone because I was in the mood to be a smart ass. If you don't agree with my position on "positive thinking", I hope you will feel free to have a dialogue with me. I do believe in hope. I guess I have just been stung by the extremists (I guess you could call them the fundamentalists) of the positive thinking camp.

I Gotta Say It

I agree with this statement from this article; I came across it when I visited Marilyn’s blog this morning. As I responded to her question I realized how much the “positivity movement” bothers me. I think there are some well-intentioned people getting caught up in this – I urge them to rethink what they are supporting.

The “blame the victim” mentality is abhorrent to me. Is the rape victim responsible for the horror she experienced because she’s been too negative lately? Are the terminally and chronically ill sick because they failed to be positive enough? I have Menier’s Disease; according to a certain church near my home I have it because I have not been positive enough – and if I could just be positive enough I could cure myself. Am I supposed to thank them now for giving me the message that I am a failed human being if I cannot manage to change my condition or, as the article so eloquently put, “make friends” with my disease? This reeks of elitist thinking: If one has money, health etc. then one is a successful positive human being not at all like those awful negative people living in the inner city who are poor and sick so much of the time.

Do I advocate pissing and moaning all the time? No, BUT I sure don’t advocate asphalting over all those supposedly negative feelings with positive affirmations. That does give me a hell of a headache. I need my crying days, time to curl up somewhere and lick my wounds, healthy ways of ranting (and raving) at injustice, and I even might need to call a friend to listen to my “negativity” and offer me support and empathy. Now I realize this last statement is one of the mortal sins of positivity: Never burden your friends with your “negativity”, never hang out with anyone who feels they need to give voice to their “negative” feelings.

Now here is where I want to clarify a statement I made in a recent post. I don’t think dwelling obsessively on trouble is particularly good for me, BUT I also believe that if I am caught up in obsessive thinking it’s because I have not allowed myself to express my anger, sorrow (and yes, even hatred) in some way that doesn’t harm anyone else. Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, I don’t mean go knock on your neighbor’s door and let them know how much you despise them and their dog. But if I find myself despising my neighbor (and their very snarky dog) I will do myself more damage if I try to deny I feel that way in the name of positivity. My husband is a really good listener, he’s not afraid my “negativity” will damage his self-esteem. We’re both firm believers in getting things off your chest.

Do I deny that there’s a body mind connection? No – asphalting over my feelings will give my stomach fits every time.

Do I deny that focusing on goals can bring about positive results? No – if I focus on something I am more likely to take action BUT it’s still not a guarantee of success.

Do I deny the wonder and “magic” of this confounding Universe? No – there are things beyond my understanding. I just don’t believe that thinking positively is sufficient to bring about anyone’s health, wealth or happiness. Sure, we can all create our own misery with bad choices and refusal to take responsibility for them – but that is a whole other cauldron of fish.

There’s so much more I want to say – I don’t think I have it all out of my system yet. I think I’ll call someone.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Passionate Fire



I wanted my first appearance at Poetry Thrusday to be with a poem that followed the prompt (brilliantly, of course!) but . . . the muse kept handing me balls of fire.

Burn

He could have cracked
through the island of his mind -
he finally understood:

it's not just that everything

she touches burns,
but she burns to touch -

to let her fingers hunt
past his lust

to find his thirst.

But his skin is pale
from sensible fluorescent light-
his feet stalled over

all his points of departure -

his eyes sensitive to flare.


So he hunkers down

under the cover of indifference -

avoids the sparks of her hands-

slams the door of his psyche

against the back draft.

He could have cracked

through the island of his mind-

but he didn't understand
the fertility of ash.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Dream

CS2 Stock Photo altered in Photo Shop CS2


At eighteen I struggled with the effects of an abusive childhood, catapulted myself into marriage and motherhood, and felt totally disconnected from everyone except my child. Along with fear and regret, delight and small triumphs have carried me into today. Back then, I had one of the most unusual and vivid dreams of my life, one that began as a nightmare and ended in awe. I tucked the dream away safely in my journal and since have molded it into a kind of prose poem.

In a uniform of uncertain loyalty, I struggle barefoot through mire - marsh grasses crackle in my ears as they part. Stubborn, my muscles squirm out of mud's grip until I slide like a snake on solid ground. Terror stalks my scent, warps the air - miles of chase turn into suffocating desert. Somehow, desert drops away and the uniform strips from my skin to whirl like leaves in damp breezes. I sleep warm and naked - covered in sheets of shadows. I wake to hear the rush and drum of pounding surf and walk the murky passageway between two cliffs. On the other side, my senses are consumed with an ocean cast in the colors of living fire - a red sun in mid heaven - a lavender moon with its belly resting on the horizon. I know I will learn to exist in the poetry of this sky and the mystery of these fluid flames.

I think now, even with the struggles I face, I am finally learning.

More dreams at Sunday Scribblings

Friday, March 9, 2007

Insomnia


First, I want to thank everyone who has commented on my posts. It means a great deal to me to be welcomed here. And your kind words about my writing made me blush.

Outside my window I hear crows and watch them hop from branch to branch, notice my neighbor has painted all his wire plant baskets sky blue and stuffed them with red geraniums. A part of me nudges to take a walk, but I stay put cradling my tea cup in the palms of my hands. I haven't been sleeping more than three hours a night and I'm starting to feel edgy- like all the days of this week have been jammed into one long never ending day. I suppose it's stress and disappointment. The move to the Eco Village has fallen through and I'm feeling the implications of being diagnosed with Menier's Disease. I can't drive and there is always the potential for a vertigo attack to manifest unannounced. It's like having Epilepsy except there is no medication to control it. The only thing I can take is after the fact to control the inevitable nausea. Most of the time I am ok (except for the persistent ringing in my ears), but I have to be sharply conscious of my surroundings in case I fall. I don't like to dwell on it and the vertigo episodes are getting farther and farther apart. According to my doctor, there is a possibility the Menier's could disappear as quickly as it came. When I am feeling extra confident, I ride the bus to some of my favorite places or I would go loony cooped up in this apartment. Added to that, my daughter is having some of her own struggles and all I can do is accept the situation and love her. And of course, I could go into my litany of how I feel like such a misfit living in Orange County - I just don't fit the ultra conservative profile. But so much for lamenting. It's good to get it out, even have a good cry if I need to. But lingering there too long is like batting my eye lashes at depression and giving it a "come hither" look-- and it just makes for a lousy date.

I wanted to participate in Poetry Thursday this week, but lack of sleep and writing are apparently incompatible in my world. I have been reading poetry in the wee hours and came across one of my favorite Pablo Neruda poems - I think it is my credo for now.

If each day falls
inside each night,
there is a well where
clarity is imprisoned.
We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.

The Sun Magazine came today. I always feel a flush of pleasure when I realize it's in the mail box. It's just a luscious read (and photos) from cover to cover without a single ad. I think I will settle into a warm bath and read.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Superstition

(For Sunday Scribblings)

The lines between superstition,
myth and religion have always blurred into one another for me. Their literal meanings don’t hold the magic; I find the magic in what their symbols and language conjure up. It’s why I collect tarot cards – not to foretell the future, but to use my reactions to their images as a way to dig up what is going on beneath my surface. It’s like the way we can discover the multiple layers of meaning in a poem by paying close attention to its language. But it’s not the cards I want to write about. New Orleans has always been the most delicious concoction of superstition, myth and religion. A place that, even when I didn’t ask, has pressed her breath close to my ear and murmured her offerings. Sometimes I was thrilled with her gifts; other times it took me a while to warm up to them. She’s not always easy to fathom. Here’s a piece for her:

A moon hangs low and yellow while the bayou sits hourless. The white orchid tree offers up new blossoms to the night, one red drop pauses at the edge of a petal. A Screech owl’s stunned eyes search for its hunger. I sit behind the dragging branches of a Cypress, the echo of the city in my eyes and the heat over my mouth like a heavy hand. The Gris-Gris bag hangs damp between my breasts. Everything is waiting.