Growing Light – Mantra Part III

In the secret garden of my heart I am growing. . . light. I intend to distribute it wherever I may, so that others may cultivate their own gardens of luminosity, and the light in us will scatter the darkness wherever we go. . . joyfully we shall rage against the night. . . and we shall prevail!! I am a warrior of light! I was born to rise and to shine light into the darkness. And I will feed the mouths I was born to feed.

Light glows under sod. . .
My flowers gleam like the stars
Luminous garden.               [This poem was published in Three Line Poetry, Issue #50]

 

 

Paradise Inside – Mantra Part II

According to Garrison Keillor bad things never happen to writers. Everything is material. Man I have some good stuff stored up. Ever re-learning, joy does not come from the state of your circumstances, but the state of your mind.

I am still learning this and it is exciting: Paradise is inside me, not outside me. I can walk in paradise now if I establish that paradise inside me, in my mind and in the spiritual realm, not in my circumstances. But if I don’t cultivate a paradise inside me, it doesn’t matter how rich or how beautiful my circumstances are around me—I can still manage to be miserable, in my paradise on earth by thinking my happiness is something that ‘happens’ to me—something caused by the world outside me. I am the only person in the universe who can decide what I focus on! Even God doesn’t force me to focus on something I don’t want to!! I AM THE CAUSE. My LIFE IS THE EFFECT.

When I choose to focus on the light and not on the darkness, I’ve made my life a kind of paradise from the inside out. There is ALWAYS something beautiful around me, even in the darkest and most agonizing situations. Even when I was watching my sweet Diane die, there was always something beautiful inside of us and even around us. And we focused on it. My eyes are the vehicle of light for my whole internal world. . . as Christ said, if my eyes are full of light, my whole body will be full of light! Before I can walk in the light, I have to Find it and Focus on it. She who has eyes to see. . . let her see.

 

So Shall I Love My Thoughts – Mantra Part I

I am full of light, full of love, full of joy and full of God! The light in me scatters the darkness wherever I go.

In my quest for being the joyful master of my own mind, I am thinking about the metaphor of taking every thought captive, but instead of a violent image of war, I am envisioning taking a child who is wildly upset into a loving and firm, restraining embrace and holding her until her inner state is transformed. . . it is the mysterious paradoxical nature of love that its captives are set free. So shall I love my thoughts like unruly children until they are transformed and free to live in joy and hope and exultation.

Fear of Making Mistakes – Quote – Ellen Langer

Our fear of making mistakes, our belief that we have no talent, and our comparisons with others all keep us from engaging any creative activity, and they do so without our realizing that the terms of engagement are ours to impose. We need not passively wait for something to propel our motivation to engage…
On Becoming an Artist, p. 210

Nabokov – The Poet’s Plight – Lines of the Day

“And speaking of this wonderful machine
I am puzzled by the difference between
Two methods of composing: A, the kind
Which goes on solely in the poet’s mind,
A testing of performing words, while he
Is soaping a third time one leg, and B,
The other kind, much more decorous, when
He’s in the study writing with a pen.

In method B the hand supports the thought
The abstract battle is concretely fought.
The pen stops in mid air, then swoops to bar
A canceled sunset or restore a star,
And thus it physically guides the phrase
Towards faint daylight through the inky maze.

But method A is agony! The brain
Is soon enclosed in a steep cap of pain.
A muse in overalls directs the drill
Which grinds and which no effort of the will
Can interrupt, while the automaton
Is taking off what he has just put on
Or walking briskly to the store
To buy the paper he has read before.

Why is it so? Is it, perhaps, because
In penless work there is no pen-poised pause
And one must use three hands at the same time,
Having to choose the necessary rhyme,
Hold the completed line before one’s eyes,
And keep in mind all the preceding tries?
Or is the process deeper with no desk
To prop the false and hoist the poetesque?
For there are those mysterious moments when
Too weary to delete, I drop my pen;
I ambulate–and by some mute command
The right word flutes and perches on my hand.

. . .

Now I shall speak . . . Better than any soap
Is the sensation for which poets hope
When inspiration and its icy blaze,
The sudden image, the immediate phrase
Over the skin a ripple send
Making the little hairs stand on end

. . .

Dressing in all the rooms, I rhyme and roam
Throughout the house with, in my fist, a comb
Or a shoehorn, which turns into the spoon
I eat my egg with. In the afternoon
You drive me to the library. We dine
At half past six. And that odd muse of mine,
My versipel, is with me everywhere,
In carrel and in car, and in my chair.
. . .

Gently the day has passed in a sustained
Low hum of harmony. The brain is drained
And a brown ament, and the noun I meant
To use but did not, dry on the cement.
Maybe my sensual love for the consonne
D’appui, Echo’s fey child, is based upon
A feeling of fantastically planned,
Richly rhymed life.
I feel I understand
Existence, or at least a minute part
Of my existence, only through my art,
In terms of combinational delight;
And if my private universe scans right,
So does the verse of galaxies divine
Which I suspect is an iambic line

Vladmir Nabokov, Pale Fire, Canto Four

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing a Muse – Lines of the Day

“And some of the muses are only in it for the energy.
Have you ever felt drained after writing a poem?
Oh sure, there’s that post poem high,
But something has gone out of you
Into the world.
Muses are paid with energy.

Surprisingly, you want to find a lazy muse
One who goes after the high intensity poem,
So he can slack off for awhile. . . ”

Excerpted from A Muse Met Parks by Mike Crowley in Poets Anonymous 25 and Beyond, ed. Nick Hale, pp 37-39.

Poetry That Bores the Shit Out of Me – Lines of the Day

“. . . so much contemporary poetry
that just bores the shit out of me.

At any rate, I really enjoy a salad
with plenty of chunky iceberg lettuce,
the more the merrier,
drenched in Italian or roquefort dressing.
and the poems I enjoy are those I don’t have
to pretend that I am enjoying.”

Gerald Locklin in “The Iceberg Theory”

 

The Woman Who Wanted to Paint the Town Red – Humorous Speech

Anybody else have a grandma who wore cowboy boots?
My Grandma Gladys wore cowboy boots with
bright red polyester pantsuits.
She wore thick black mascara, gaudy jewelry,
And dyed her hair coal black till the day she died.

She smoked like a chimney,
cussed like a sailor,
and told wonderful tall tales.

Once, when I was a little girl, I said
Grandma, you exaggerate.
She said, Elisa I don’t exaggerate, I just lie.
Both perfectly illustrating my point,
And showing herself to be a marvelous role model for little girls.

Pantsuits, nail polish and jewelry were not the only things
Grandma preferred in red.
She had thick red shag carpet throughout her house
and almost every year she would re-paint
the outside of her house in some combination of red and black
or red and white, as long as there was red.

In fact, she would have painted the whole town red
if she could have— and she nearly did.
One day she decided that all the dumpsters
in her town of 278 people should also be red.
She managed to convince most of the town
to paint their own dumpsters.
But there was one lady, this diehard holdout
who simply refused to have her dumpster painted.
And so my grandmother snuck over to her house
In the middle of the night and painted it anyway!
She was always doing crazy things like that
to make people laugh all over town.

Like many of my family members,
Grandma was a bit crusty on the outside,
but a big marshmallow on the inside.
So you might imagine her ambivalence in
Raising a child who was going blind.
She seemed to hold my mother to the same standard
As her sighted children
Sometimes she would get so frustrated she would say,
If you would just open your damned eyes, you could see!
<pause>
This might seem a little brutal,
But keep in mind, we’re talking about a family in Kansas
Who survived the Great Dust Bowl.
And who, unlike their wussier neighbors,
Did not migrate out to California when times got tough,
but stubbornly stayed on their land.
And do you know what they ate to survive?
Boiled racoon and fried squirrel!
But by God they kept their land!
And it was exactly this tenacity of spirit and tough love
That made my mom into the incredibly
independent blind woman that she is.
<pause>

On the other hand,
Every time they went to the eye doctor
And he told Grandma that her little girl
would be completely blind by the time she was thirty,
Grandma would cry and cry and cry.
<pause>
And then she would let my mom
eat an entire box of pastries on the ride home.

You could also see Grandma’s softer side
In her love for animals.
She had her own business grooming and breeding little dogs,
mostly Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Malteses.
She would paint their little toenails bright red
brush perfumed powder into their fur so they wouldn’t smell,
and then add a little bow even if they were boys.

She also kept birds and lots of fish.
And she even had a great big iguana for years.
As for the fish, they were usually very well taken care of
and she would get up in the middle of the night
to add water to their tank.

She also happened to love
to bleach everything that got in her way
(she was so famous for that bleaching
that everyone thought it very fitting
that when she died
she actually died right in front of the wash machine
with a jug of bleach in her hand.)

So of course one night,
she accidentally grabbed the bleach
instead of the water and to her horror,
all the poor little fish turned white and floated to the top.

As for her birds, several of them were talkers.
My grandpa’s name was Roy and
One of them liked to say, Roy is a dummy, Roy is a dummy.
Another one liked to say, Let me out dammit, let me out!
So grandma had a slightly twisted sense of humor.

In addition to raising perfumed dogs,
and teaching birds to deliver insults and obscenities,
Grandma was a successful Avon lady for years.
She used to bring me little demi stick perfumes
and perfume in cute little animal shaped bottles.

So I was not surprised when, one April,
for my sixth birthday, she handed me a little Avon bag.

Now you need to know that only 18 months earlier
my 3-year-old brother who could have passed for my twin
was killed in an accident,
so it was just me and Eric
and our parents left,
And the whole family was still choking from grief,
and now my mother was pregnant with my little sister.

So it was against this backdrop
that I was handed the little Avon bag.
<pause>
And when she put it in my hands,
to my very great surprise,
<pause> it moved!!

When I opened the bag
To my delight
I found the most adorable tiny
little brown peka-pom puppy
named Little Bee
who lived well into my college years.
It was many years later when I realized that was
Grandma’s very loving way of helping us with our grief.
And it was a good one.
Little Bee was a bundle of joy.

So Grandma was a good soul and in spite of her antics,
And maybe partly because of them,
She was loved far and wide.
So much so that even though her funeral was a graveside service
on an extremely cold weekday in January,
over 200 people came out from miles around to honor her.

I could tell so many stories about her other antics,
but the last story I want to share with you
is about her scandalous romance with my Grandpa. <pause>
My biological grandfather was a violent alcoholic
whom she divorced before I was born.
So the only grandpa I really knew was Grandpa Roy,
Who was . . . only one . or . two years older . . . than my mother!
That’s right, my grandma was a cougar.
<pause>
This was in the 60’s and you can imagine
it was the gossip of the town for over thirty years—
everyone was always trying to guess
exactly how many years older my grandma was.

She kept this such a secret that when she died,
my aunt found her driver’s license sewn into
a secret compartment in her purse!

Having given this a great deal of thought
She once proposed to my grandpa
That they put the year of her death on the gravestone,
but not the year of her birth.
So that’s exactly what they did.

And she took that secret with her to the grave
And went out painting the town red with frustration,
And making sure it was she who got the last laugh.

Savoring Moments and the Glorious Gift of Wordsmithery – Meditation

Someone has said
we don’t remember days,
only moments,
but need this be so,
especially
for the wordsmith!?
How many moments
in a single day
might we immortalize
by merely clothing
them in the splendor
of language?

This is the glory of writing!
That you may take the
ephemeral and give to it
an inky substance
that, applied to the concrete
and blissfully tangible,
touchable, smell-able, page,
endures beyond
the power of one’s otherwise
relatively feeble mental
repository.

It occurs to me that
there are hundreds,
if not thousands, of days
I don’t remember.
It grieves me to count
my losses.
Surely each of them
had tens if not hundreds
of moments worthy
of reflection in the
years that would follow.
And I let them slip away,
never to be retrieved.

I wish someone had
made this truth known to
me in my youth.
I would have done
three things.

First, I would have savored
moments like expensive
chocolates, like rare perfumes.
I would have become a
collector and a connoisseur
of moments!

Second, I would have carefully
curated my memories
such that the ecstasies and
the everyday joys might at least
balance, if not outweigh, the heavy
emotional burden of the moments
of agony and malaise that seem
so often to eclipse our happier
memories.

Third, where the beautiful memories
were shared, I would have striven
to help the other souls
capture those memories for their
own private collections.
I would have brought them often
to their minds that these
thoughts might remain alive.

I am thinking of Oliver Wendell
Holmes, Jr. referring to words
as the skins of living thoughts,
and I am thinking of thoughts
as the translations of moments.

And I am also thinking that I have
perhaps as much life ahead of me
as I have behind me
and, as there is no time like
the present (and, according to
Eckhart Tolle, no time but the present),
I hereby resolve to pursue
these three lofty goals
of savoring, curating, and
sharing the lovely moments
that comprise this beautiful
life I am living — through the
magnificent gift of
language!

 

 

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