Another Year Another Dollar

Beginning again has been hard. I went through a period when I could not talk about mental illness anymore. To reflect on a subject that is difficult and still remain positive as well as continue looking for what is good about something, rather than negative, requires grit and objectivity.  This year since I last posted on any topic was year of change. We moved our son to Tulsa County where there are more facilities and services available to him rather than there were in Creek County. Money for people with mental health problems has been shrinking in the last several years and has never been in abundance for small Oklahoma towns.  In Tulsa, they have impact teams who visit clients, form relationships with them, check to see if they are taking their medications.  Even so, our family continues to support him and do much of what other people like him do not have available to them (we are told frequently that our son is lucky since most families give up or don’t want to deal with his particular disability).

Two weeks ago, our son was arrested for leaning against a wall talking to himself and shouting. His medications have caused him to have a form of Tourettes syndrome, so even though his meds help him in some ways, they also hurt him.  Of course, so called normal people do not get arrested for this kind of offense, but as the policeman told me ( I went over to his police station and asked him what made him arrest our son), and got this reply: “he looked suspicious and he was leaning up against the wall of a “Drug Warehouse” store, plus he (the policeman) didn’t know him.”  Sean has only been living in this suburb for a couple of months.   It turned out the policeman could justify his arrest because almost 13 years prior to this arrest our son was arrested for a misdemeanor similar to this one–common to people with schizoaffective disorders. The lawyer we had at that time did not do his job. He charged us 3000.00 and according to court records spent 1 minute in court, the rest of the court time listed was done by a public defender. We thought his fines were paid and they were not. So his arrest today in 2013 was for failure to pay his fines or do his community service–something none of us knew about and something this lawyer should have told us. Even so, our son wasn’t capable then or now of doing anything that requires focus due to the nature of his disease.  In the meantime,  he is put in jail by a system with blinders about mental illness who lump everyone with severe personality disorders into one bag. Sean is a shy guy, isolates mostly, very gentle, and is terrified of policemen, especially policemen who are not educated about mental illness and who make assumptions about people like him. Of course, we got him out as soon as they would let us, which was 48 hours, but I cannot help thinking what other kind of damage being arrested does to you, if you are different (in the general public’s eyes).

I am learning over and over again to be calm, to walk through the steps or actions to take to be one of his advocates. I am lucky to have a group of support people that includes his father, his step-mother and step-brother, as well as my large group of friends who listen when I rant about what mental illness does to people who suffer from it.   Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, I have been writing a lot of poetry this week and also engaged Sean in writing a couple of lines. He likes to paint and write and even though some of it is hard to understand, it is one way he expresses himself  (I make up it does the same thing for him, it does for me).  I am posting our two poems we wrote this week.  I like his best even though it made me cry.

That Other You

Today–me– then we,
sailed through psychic oceans,
as needy birds pecking at the crumbs.
We pace up and down, speak in loud voices,
demand to be heard.
I explore the raw timbres throbbing at your throat,
listen for the way you give away love.

I tell you, write this
burn for comfort, easy for you.
I imitate being human,

shift my mechanical gears
as I walk beside you.

The other me is an observer–
a Frankenstein, who filters

my transactions;

he’sa chain mail protection service.

We need something, but don’t know what.
when we hear, write this, we talk about our past.
Or Write This, the shape of words come from
a beleaguered source.
They slant–
look like a basket of fear.

There’s a great humping bag on our backs;
we say, softly, Let them both go.

Then we say: that other you is you, always been you.
A body of words, in an ocean of words
lap at these rocky shores,

grip the shale on the edge or the driftwood near the bottom.

S. E. Black

Sean’s Poem

Give my no-nonsense 4 credit bag of suburban home overview

and my bag of car-key alliances while you say yes;

I am a card-carrying member in my physically emotional keyless entry

with a domino effect of a pyramids lovely hour.

Don’t hold my folder of failure full of oven waste.

I am wonderfully hopeless.

Sean

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I’m A Screamer

Cultural Blanket in a Dynasty of Wonder Blog space

I’m a screamer, a birth process , no nonsense, screaming meemy of a screamer; a whiner, a whaler, a heel bangin,  foot stompin, head beatin, rollin around squirming and shoutin screamin meemy of a screamer whenever I have to change from one way of being, thinking, moving to another

way.

Does that make me wrong? Or human? Does that make me a failure because my feelings are more important than the ideas that seem to elevate most people; does that way have any more weight than it  did in the so-called simpler times (of our youth).  Even so, I have a justification for this screaming sensibility.   Most people seem to be losing their ability to really feel anything anyway—which I say soto vocce—because I am afraid the other screamers will be offended!  So many people cite sources, statistics, their parties, their documents, he said so , she said so, because I say so, because MY reasons trump your reasons, because MY story is better, has more drama, elicits more sympathy/ empathy than your story. Because Because Because.  I am a screamer and I am afraid I will lose this ability one day and I will slip away (the I of I…the me of me –the observer) and  I will no longer care about these things I like to scream about. The changes that happen whether we want them to or not, whether we were the catalysts or not, whether we were victimized by them or whether we bullied someone into buying into our story or not begins to deteriorate in the face of so much screaming,

We think or someone else thinks anyway–there is so much rhetoric out there now that the experts have experts –their go-to guys—and those experts have their experts like a three- fold mirror that gives us back our image through eternity, a smiling eternity of faces in the same pose.

The point or the head of the pin is lost in that myriad of faces and in that roar of sound. (Because I am not the ONLY screamer ), not the only tip of the iceberg existence cat, not the only rolling line of dusty running animals—bulls or extinct buffalos; I don’t know, you choose. They’re still runnin’  I think we’re going faster now, too.

 

The Head of the Pin

The head of the pin steals the limelight, a short stop man;

each time the round-topped post appears,

the point already disappears into a seersucker suit

a transparent blue linen shift, the hem of a raw silk scarf,

or a nun’s headdress: cornette and wimple*.

Two frayed collars lay waiting beside the iron,

prickly cotton tendrils shy away from the heat,

finally introducing us to their symbolic gestures.

Their ordinary positions hold them still,

their actions practiced over and over with careful precision.

A seamstress weaves them into a starched white dress shirt;
light years away, a star soon to be discovered connects

And the head of the pin, the point of the pin

goes in and out, up and down. Yards of cloth extend

their elongated fingers toward their pointy death,

a knife fight of pin-pricks eventually drains

their wraith-like bodies, their essential fabrics;

an empty space is left, unexplained,

embarrassed about the silent theft of the emptiness within.

 

Oh, you thought something was in there?

When a pin makes a hole, it’s hollow, a void.

Everyone knows that.

Think how long it would take to patch

thousands of tiny holes in a million yards of fabric;

oh, you say the weave closes over the hole;

hot water shrinks the holes  in one of the preparation stages.

I say the holes are still there ashamed of their emptiness,

desperately wanting to be filled or fulfilled.

The clothing industry hasn’t been clothing us all these years;

they’ve been infiltrating our souls, stealing our identities.

We are the clothes wear the man not the man wears the clothes.

We are their creation, made of whole cloth, not flesh or bone.

A flock of birds head west, the last frontier for a long time now; so long that the west coast became the east coast and the Midwestern plains became their own kind of coast where writers liked to gather because it cleared up any misconceptions they previously had and because when they look out over the Tall Grass prairies something breaks inside and their vision clears as well. Something about waving golden grasses and translucent flitting insects, I think.

S.E. Black

*A nun’s total outfit is called a habit. The head covering is a veil or a cornette. A wimple is the piece of cloth that covers her neck, and goes over her head under the veil or cornette. The various orders of nuns have adopted many different and characteristic styles of veils or cornettes as part of their habits.

 

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Tantamount to What?

Today, I am examining words–especially the ones I want to use freely, which is tantamount to the exploration of diction, mine particularly and yours as a side effect.  Asking me why before I can get this posted (tantamount to being redundant until I complete this post),  will slow me down a little, but will not stop me. I think about words all the time, especially ones that combine with others to make visual images or words that make you respond or react or just throw up.  Tantamount to my delivery of said words is their order, shape, form, and impact. What makes me want to look at that today is my recent awareness that I was missing a few words, occasionally, not always. Words that usually end or start the sentence. I say “uh” a lot lately where the real subject of the sentence should be something like this: “Because  Walt Whitman spent time during the Civil War observing (sometimes helping) the many catastrophically wounded soldiers, often comforting them, he “uh” wrote many poems about “uh” dead soldiers and the brotherhood that occurs between and amongst men at arms.”  Clearly, I gathered that information based on reading many of his poems, his life story, and my interpretation of all of that.  But  I am  not satisfied with expressing these well-known facts nor giving a shallow representation of a famous poet like Walt when I know (according to his many poems) he was a deeply layered personality, thoughtful and sensitive, worldly while at the same  time contemplative in the most ascetic sense. I am reading some of his poems again because  I believe they are inspirational and at the heart of American culture. Even as old-fashioned as they are, even with their use of archaic yet  moving language, they still maintain a freshness that continues to apply to American popular culture today (hence the reason why they are classified as literature–works of art, etc.).  What I am looking for is the origins of free verse, improvisational writing, experimentalisms.  No doubt, any researcher could find evidence of experimentalist writing in any number of our more famous  poetic forefathers and mothers. Emerson, Blake, Dickinson, Stein. The list goes on ad infinitum depending on the scholar.  But what characterizes an experimentalist bent?  What drives a poet/writer who wants to go against the grain of established form.  What does it mean to be avant garde when the last time someone called themself that, the bohemian police threw them in jail. Well, not real jail, more like put them in a class on poetics and said take that!

Yes, Rules–any number of cliches apply to rules. My favorite: You have to know the  rules to break them. Hogwash! You have to break the rules to know them, I say.

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Courtney’s View–March 12, 2012

I recently watched the 2006 movie Paris Je T’Aime, a gift given to me years ago that I had yet to watch. It is made of 18 different short vignettes about Paris directed by a variety of filmmakers. After the film, there is a documentary about the making of the movie. It interviews the directors and inquires about their process and thoughts about Paris. Regarding “Porte de Choisy,” director Christopher Doyle explains that he was trying to chose contradictions about Paris and show common ground between different cultures—that of China and France. Regarding his process he claims, “I think the point is that your materials or your words or your script or your actors take you in a certain direction and you should follow that direction. As opposed to saying let’s make a film noir or let’s make a film like this. No. No. We have these people; we’re going this direction. Let’s make this film as opposed to another film. I think that’s really important to me. That we do make the film that we can make; not necessarily the film we want to make.”
This comment struck me because I figured a director was in charge of all elements of his or her creation—having even more control than a writer might have in constructing the correct vision and image of the story in mind, instead of, say, being at the mercy of an ill-formed idea or one-dimensional characters, hallmarks of my writing experience.
“Let’s make this film,” keeps echoing in my head. “That we do make the film that we can make,” is a phrase I’m applying to my life choices and to my creative projects. Instead of pining for the perfect writer’s life or for any number of life events to align and render me able to express poems and stories in a way that lyrically explores language and connects to my audience, I’m starting to accept constraints and put together what can be put together.
A friend recently told me that she used to clean house for a nice, rich woman who once requested a vanilla bean from a high-end grocery store. My friend says that implementing expensive or rare ingredients does not, in itself, make one a good cook; rather, a good cook assesses the available ingredients and moves forward from there.
I’ve heard other people say that what makes a person creative isn’t her ability to write, paint, sing, etc. Instead, creativity is a tool at work in all aspects of a life. It’s the ability to respond to any number of factors–emotions, physicality, people, environments—and do something about those factors. It’s a gift that we all have. We all can make the film that we have, using the tools that we have. Whether, of course, that turns out to be a film at all is part of the mystery and excitement that comes with creativity.

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Un-Objective Correlative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start with a fish,

a tuna. No an anchovy.  

A small, herringlike marine fish

of the family Engraulidae,

a European fish (Engraulis encrasicholus),

widely used in appetizers and various dishes.

As in pizza, hold the anchovies.

It doesn’t matter. Start with an anchovy

as your objective correlative,

already an oxymoron. Add

the ocean, once its residence,

now a mere background,

only to be used to ask questions

like is it possible to see the water

we’re swimming in when we are

swimming in it? Then, correlative to what?

Does anyone keep the anchovies

when ordering a pizza with everything on it?

Usually geeks or nerds, maybe.  I mean,

how do anchovies complement

the other ingredients on the cheese?

You’re looking very fine tonight, Olive?

Add a story to the fish, the anchovy,

the vast ocean, a woman sitting

at the typewriter, the pizza,

maybe a handsome delivery boy

on a bicycle whistling up at an open

window by the backyard gate, maybe

a mysterious telegram. Explain then

how they are all connected; detach

yourself from the more comic elements

and slide over into the deeper

ocean of feeling that seems

to hover over the woman at the desk .

Is she sad? Why do her eyes

keep straying to the window?

Add a daughter upstairs.

Is she looking out the window as well?

Now the telegram crinkled up in her fist

is on the floor, only a few black letters

still showing—ied, ednes ght at 3 m.

Come soon. Of course, that explains

the boy outside, not his curiosity.

The girl upstairs is not looking

out the window, but staring in the mirror

one hand holding a brush, frozen fingers

curled around the handle, talking to herself

in a low voice. Downstairs, the woman

at the typewriter listens carefully, tries

to interpret some of the words,

waits for inspiration or a reason.

It was not what she first thought:

that day twenty years ago near

the ocean, Biloxi, Miss., walking

on the beach, seeing the boy

for the first time.

His hair and smile, eyes the same

color of the sea in front of them,

their first date at the Pizza parlor,

his love of anchovies, her idea that

that he was like a fish whose ocean

she could swim in all day and all night.

Maybe it should have been a tuna,

not an anchovy. Maybe the mercy

of the blander tuna, though highly edible,

and without remorse, made a more objective

correlative than an un-interesting and

unwanted anchovy. Maybe, it was

the missing ocean or its depth that made

everything seem open, unfinished.

Add one ending, plus a strange,

new character.

S.E. Black

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Since I Been Gone

Holidays over now and that vacation dream world reverses back to every day life–useful, sometimes exciting movement in writing anything and renewed enthusiasm for the pile of books by the desk, overflowing to the floor by the bed.  Found a poem by Marge Piercy that reminded me  of who I have been and who I have become as a result of following the wisdom of this poem, plus how much writing poetry feeds me,  my personal growth, so many other things about me as a human being living on the planet WITH other human beings as opposed to apart from them.  Piercy speaks to those times when our separation with self first, then with others only provides the facade of strength, not real strength.

 For Strong Women

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

Poem by Marge Piercy  

For a Woman

I’m afraid but not afraid like a coward, afraid to become the pillar of salt or the empty vessel. Not the empty vessel that buddhist’s go on about but the vessel that never lets anything stay in it for long, a thing that yearns for   a state of no-thing, no – think, one of those states that appear  carefree but is shallow, instead, restless often.  And the bitch, ugly girl, nag, shrill, witch, ballbuster leaves me pale and wondering.  An afternoon of staring, stunned as a fly swatted for the first time, missing the killing swat, and by the moments lived just to pass the time,  is enough. Like an orphan standing at the window waiting, the quiet day fills  up as time always does.  Clouds lower in the sky blocking the light, and the moody rim of a chalk white roof rises to meet the clouds pushing back the muted glare.

I’m afraid to move forward or to stay still. Afraid to expand my experience of the world, and afraid to misinterpret the experiences I’ve had, paralyzing both perception and future exploration. Even so, I give in at last, letting go of the images of restraint that seem real but never are. It only requires that I take the step forward, rely on the community I made, and let myself be afraid as I face down the imagined foes.

Strong women have been around for centuries.  We are fashioned from whole cloth, our wounds weaved in as the gaudy scars and imperfections that made us. These intricate patterns reflect our revealing shapes, our numerous voices. I went to a women’s group recently and listened to them talking about themselves, each with her unique take on a related topic like Piercy’s.  What I saw over and over again in their sharing was their beauty; it was never the physical that really shined (as I had been taught growing up).

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A Review and Commentary of Joseph Harrington’s book, Things Come On

Recently, I experienced a shift in consciousness while reading poetry in a musty university library that seemed like one of those ah-ha moments.  I was sitting in a comfy wing-backed chair in a library I can only describe as illustrious in its accoutrements, and as discussed that night, badly in need of artifacts that didn’t remind us of dust and aging.  Even so, we writers, poets, students were gathered in a warm circle where the enlighenment of language made everything else disappear.  I read first and for the first time felt comfortable in my own skin reading the words that I still believe come from enlightened sources so therefore are given away to the audience in the moment they are expressed. Yes, I know to some degree I own them; however, I don’t own how they land and what they may cause in the way someone listens to them.   So this is the crux of the matter.  Is it enough for me to have the passion to write, to say I am creating art; therefore, as art,  the words stand  alone in value.  Or should I consider audience at any time in this process?   Is my creative process already connected to the audience I want to hear my words? An example of my experience of myself as audience has shown me that I am a interactive audience. They speak and something occurs in my thinking/brain that wants to respond immediately. In fact, I am not a very good audience. I daydream, write lines while they are saying theirs, sometimes borrow a couple of their words, but mostly I write the images conjured as they express their various renditions of life viewed through their eyes and their poetic vision.  Some call that inspiration, but I am not sure about that. Seeing images through words and applying your own interpretation of those images may only be the perspective you were born with, the way you view life and the way the power of language makes/creates your ongoing life.

The  following is an example of my response and reaction as audience to yet another aspect of poetry–the blending of historical context (public) with a traditionally private domain.  Dr. Joseph Harrington writes in, Things Come On, an amneoir (a phrase he coined) that may not have been intended as a strictly political text, but does lend itself to numerous political contexts.   The thing that struck me about Harrington’s book is his attention on women, their bodies and the way they view their bodies (realized through the dialogue in the text)–subjects that speak loudly as a subtext, completely compatible with today’s audiences, making the disease that attacks women’s bodies  even more important to discuss and to view openly, not as the taboo subject matter they once were.  Even though the main topic centers around the grief of a young boy whose observations mirror a highly politicized event worldwide, the real issue for me, one I still find in my face every day characterized by the consistently negative, sometimes demeaning visual imagery of women/women’s  bodies used in the media just begins to scratch the surface of what makes the Harrington text a much more complex treatment of women as well as a much more viable political subject,  serving to not only historically give us a trajectory of how far we’ve come, but also, a reminder of how far we have to go.

When  Joseph Harrington began to read, I was poised to drink in the words as I usually do, and was pleasantly surprised that not only was his technique and delivery interesting but the theatricality of it highlighted a specific historical period that he used as background for a deeper more emotional subject, the death of his mother from breast cancer.  In his book, Things Come On,  poetic prose he describes as mostly found text re-interpreted, also enlivens a period (the seventies) bringing an intensity to subjects that we still struggle with today.  It reminded me  that not only does historical context inform our most personal relationships as well as our behavior (i.e. 2001’s terrorism and its aftermath), it also represents the language of the time it reflects. Harrington’s effective use of found texts interspersed with the very personal matter of losing a mother when you are only ten or eleven years old could have been a maudlin, deadly affair, filled with the heaviness and significance of that period’s inability and powerlessness over curing breast cancer, combined with the heaviness of the more personal loss.  Instead, Harrington let the language of the period tell the story bringing to the forefront the devastating effects of America’s confrontation for the first time with a flawed Presidency, while using the power of those more public moments to describe the more private instance of a young boy coming to grips with a major loss.

The combination of these two, the fractured dialogues and use of disjunctive ideas that normally would not mix, and the way the voices in Things Come On seem to blend with the thoughts in the boy’s head and his interpretations of his family conversations all contribute to making this book a moving read; however, Harrington’s performance of the words was even better.  On the surface, he looks like the distinguished Professor he probably is, but his imitation of Nixon along with the other key characters of the Watergate scandal really made a difference in my understanding of the book as a found text. The voices in this book speak loudly and can be heard as eerie forewarnings of the future of American  politics, at least the ethical aspects of political skullduggery.  Although Harrington’s unspoken reminders that our individual connections to cultural and societal behaviors often become enmeshed, this does not lessen how they shape our character as individuals and as a nation.

This excerpt from Harrington’s book reflect a few moments  of a conversation in a dialogue titled, “ORDERED TO LIE ON THE TABLE AND TO BE PRINTED”  that strikes at the heart of the matter without saying it directly.

Mrs. G –: Well, the cancer didn’t kill her,  the chemo killed her.

Mr. Friedman: I’m sorry, ma’am, but the President being impeached for war crimes? Aren’t lives more important than tapes?

Mr. Harrington (Kan.): Yes, but the squirrels in the yard didn’t seem to care what went on in the House.  I hold that against them, though we didn’t care about them either, I’m sure.  But did I watch them, too? Things go on without you, whether you watch them or not, nuts hid, eggs planted. 

Mr. Hess:  I must admit, I haven’t liked wallowing in this filth. I feel unclean even listening…as I leave you, I’m distressed and I’m burned out and I salute you for performing a useful though distressing service,  and I wish you fortitude and a strong stomach. 

Mr. Harrington (Tenn.):  But there toward the end …incontinence …[grimaces and shakes head]

Mr. Downie: …We felt small …Most of us were dysfunctional the night …It was hard…at the time it was dirty. People weren’t sleeping, people weren’t showering… it was difficult to figure out what was going on. ..

Mr. Harrington (Kan.): …Yet we didn’t camp out in the lounge like other animals.  We only dropped in for our nightly visit after dinner at Morrison’s Cafeteria.

Mr. Harington (Tenn.): Well, I had to work–I had to support you.

A VOICE FROM THE AUDIENCE:  How you must have felt!

Mr. Harrinton (Kan.):  I often had fried haddock with a side of black-eyed peas. Or perhaps carrot-and-raisin salad.  I had ceased drinking chocolate milk at this point in time.

A SECOND VOICE:  –Verily, a blunt instrument!

Mr. Nixon (sighs audibly): Its all such a bunch of Goddamn dirty shit! 

This dialogue reveals so much about  the personal and public views of that time in the way it juxtaposes Mrs. Harrington’s husband with the shifty political characters who could just as well be symbolic representations of anything cancerous, anything related to cancer–a growth, a conspiracy, the effects of chemotherapy, the dying cells, the silent and unspoken presence of something “dirty” going on underneath seemingly innocuous conversations, or underneath the ordinary analogy Mr. Harrington makes about the squirrels in the yard all contribute to the rich layers of meaning throughout the text.

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Thoraxic Grids and My Voice

I went to two  poetry readings recently  and read some of my new work. It was satisfying because for the first time I felt that the poems were complete, done, didn’t need revisions–So I read them with conviction. I committed to their worth and I felt relief after they popped out of my mouth.  I smiled when someone told me an anecdote about B. F. Skinner and his mentor poet, Robert  Duncan or maybe it was Robert Creeley– I don’t know.  All I heard was yes that part of me that is still vulnerable still shows. That part of me that was wounded a long time ago is still unconcealed.  It doesn’t hurt anymore; it just feels  like a part of me, the part that is compelled to write and write –to empty it all out–to expunge memories that flatten out in disjunctive images, their ancient feelings too tired to be re-gurgitated yet again.  Yes, I meant like vomit.  I am a self-actualized person who once revealed all my secrets (because that is what we did then) and the result was you can’t touch me now. I say, yeah, so what to all intrusions, now.  The proverbial open book produced through all that falls out of a series of Gestalt  explosions-and a smidgeon of primal screaming is done–completed. The “hysterical historical”  approach doesn’t work in the new model American; instead, just living really works. Doing what is in front of you–never asking why–always present–if that’s possible –that is the goal in the new model–always present to the life you’re in.    I did revise one poem that I posted earlier a week ago. It is a better poem but it was fine before also. Here it is–I am thinking about going out in the country or to Lake Keystone to stand on the dam and read- shout it out to the fishes.  That is just the way I feel right now. I may or may not do that but that is the way I feel.  Fish have always looked sympathetic to me.  They have those eyes of which many interpretations could be made.  I like their apologetic demeanor (seen through the eyes); its comforting. It makes me understand the term–“she sleeps with the fishes now.” They must be very easy to sleep with, a little like being held in a large rocking chair.

Turn Inside Again

These are the days of solitude and falling leaves.

Crush all nomadic fearfulness. Settle down

into a cut glass crystal bowl: pressed leaf, wing and feather,

a picture of serene. The thorny gate breathes open,

hemming and hawing

through the cracks of a creaking door.

These are the days of Fall and Open

Sprung on the unsuspecting,

in garbled & frothy emotional appeal.

Faded tapestries hang rather than choke

their companion windows waving their

fringed hands as signals

that everything’s fine.

We’re fine, we’re all fine,

everyone      is         ok.

The streets of powdered pleasure                                          leave snaky trails undulating

through the columns,                                                                                     reaching out to us.

They throw silk threads like lassos                                            that quickly tighten around our necks.

They speak in obscene whispers                                                         in languages we’ve never heard.

In the meantime, nations still wait persisting in their denials and fear unable to decipher the message.

Fingers flat –oblique musing aside—                  we barely listen to their intended reflections.

We watch this like a play falling slowly from a sparrow’s mouth,

the furniture of mannequins,

each element placed carefully for the best effect.

The root of all instinct and turmoil                      cannons into my heart

causing me to breathe more quickly,                        carving my senses into a fine ice sculpture,

still gleaming.                                                     The wilderness left behind

makes me softer, suppler,                                          more willing.

S. e. Black

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A Continuation of Ships that Carry the Dead

A Continuation of Ships that Carry the Dead.

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A Continuation of Ships that Carry the Dead

It’s not right. We hear that a lot lately in cultural conversations from every walk of life and every indoctrinated belief system.   Seemingly, these voices come from a random sampling or the latest poll of all the voices in our increasingly complex, multi-faceted and multi-opinioned society.   My voice feels the weight of it pressing down on me until I too feel compelled to maybe start shouting as well –or at least writing  my emails and this blog in capital letters! maybe use an occasional exclamation point.   I include the ambivalent “maybe” because I’m not sure what IS an appropriate tone anymore; these societal voices are so LOUD!  It feels like a big playpen of screaming tantrum prone babies is invading my quiet time–my nap time if you will—babies who need a little extra attention over here, please. Pick me! Pick me! they say,  as they bounce their rattles off their fellow babies. The saddest part —we are enamored with finger-pointing about all our “issues.” The old communal idea of working together to find a solution to any problem is being suppressed to use the more popular methods prevalent today–polarizing everyone related to the “problem,”  finding the most likely scapegoat or most vulnerable and then whaling away on them until even if they had at one time the wherewithal to express their views, they are now too intimidated to speak softly, reasonably, logically about it anymore.  I am speaking about the beleaguered education system and its most recent shame. (Don’t get me wrong–I am not ashamed of teachers or their efforts to turn around the enormous obstacles their faced with in the present education system’s atmosphere). But I am mad about what is happening in public schools today and about the way rigid guidelines first presented in NCLB (No Child Left Behind–Bush) and now tweaked minimum-ly in RTTT (Race to The Top–Obama) that are actually undermining the system they proposed to fix (Three exclamation points).

On top of the multi-layered evidence that the world is indeed coming to an end (according to the overworked soothsayers) as we are supplied with more and more reasons to believe there is something wrong with us (here in pitiful America); as we are confronted by what looks like a deterioration of everything we used to hold as sacred; e.g. banking/economy, religion and rebellion, education and  the emotional distancing occurring between different classes, races, and cultures in our society as well as the continuing corruption of government, we surely must expect a breakthrough to end all breakthroughs, thus end this empasse as well?   I am not sure. The cliche that the only thing constant in life is change robs me of my right to suffer and struggle about the state of things.  I mean, what if these seemingly “horrible” federal government solutions/policies seen in No Child Left Behind and in Race to the Top that many teachers perceive as attacks on their integrity and their rights turn out to cause a revolution (i.e. French style) in the educational system. (Exclamation points across the page).  Not to be dramatic or anything, but will the screaming finally get toned down enough that the people involved  actually listen to one another?  Is that a possibility? Would just adding in listening occurring as the final result of a devastating revolution that destroyed not only big government but also the educational system in America? Would that do the trick?   What we have at stake –the children–is pretty high.  After reading two poems by two young people I know about their vision of the future–one 16 and one 18–I got the feeling they were already there.

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