After Mary Oliver’s “The Journey”

As you strode deeper and deeper into the world,

you kept tugging at the strings dangling from the old wounds

on your heart,

felt it seize at the whisper of the knife slashing down again, and again, saw pale fingers gripping the dark handle.

You stumbled down the littered path,

stared into the dark until you trick out its wiliest secret:

the hand is yours.  The knife too.

And only you may choose to put it down for good.

Dear Universe, I offer my whole heart to you.

It is no sacrifice.

It is an offering.

I receive

All

in the

giving.

the present is gratitude

I worried myself to the edge.  The coil at my heart wound so tight it would not loosen a fraction of an inch.
The being that calls itself me feared not being me anymore.
The cessation of thought meant the end of existence.
I believed my worry held up the universe.

Inside became too thick with thought,
so I took my fear outside, and
realized I was outside,
with the cool breeze carrying cool rain through the trees, onto my arms and face.

In the moment I realized that I am always provided for,
the lightning answered first.  Then the thunder

(finally, she gets it, they seemed to say).

Since feeling is first

I’m using old NaPoWriMo posts to keep things fresh and to stay sane while I’m away at “document review camp”. This prompt is: use as your first line the first line of a famous poem. I also put in another little bit of the e.e. cummings poem I borrowed from.

Poem:

Since feeling is first,
let us meet the storms with open arms.
Thoughts will race, charged,
through nerve and brain, but
let the lightning be reflected in our eyes.
Let the blood surge and the heart leap,
and let the tears run their course.
The order of the modern world has
impressed itself upon us,
and we have been trained to observe
every angle.
But the life of the mind has kept us
in time and out of our animal bodies.
Can you learn to love kisses more than wisdom?
Or are they the same thing?

The Tapestry (NaPoWriMo Day 30)

Ummmm…let’s just call this Day 30 of NaPoWriMo…now that it’s almost June.  :-)

The Tapestry

I never doubt the reason in what I see, anymore.
I’ve picked up the pattern and studied its weaving.
In everything there is meaning.

Years I spent observing that the threads were too loose, or the colors all wrong,
when all along, I was missing my role.
The goal is clear seeing, not attaching feeling.
My thoughts were judgments:  restrictive.

I was meant to be a witness, admire the hues for their richness.
I found the pattern pointless, till I stepped back and looked up.

This tapestry was made by a much larger hand than mine, with an infinitely larger eye to behold it.
Each turn of the needle has drawn my eye to the place where I was meant to look.

I am no weaver.  I am a reader. A seeker.

These Shining Faces On the Road

My friend Sonia asked me to participate in a “blog tour” in which I answer some questions about my writing process.  Sonia received the prompt from a friend, wrote her own response here:  http://dream2write.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/color-my-palate-on-the-road/, and passed it on to me.  I am supposed to pass it on as well, but I can’t think of any blogger friends, so if you see this and wanna write a blog, let me know. ;-)

My Writing Process…

What am I working on?

I’m working exclusively on poetry.  I have never been much of a fiction writer, and don’t really try my hand at short stories or novels.  I feel like my brain isn’t necessarily wired to produce fiction.  I’m not great at fleshing out characters and writing dialogue.  Maybe I like to keep it vague and esoteric.  :-)  If I were to write something other than poetry, I think it might be essays.  I wouldn’t mind working with humor more.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure whether it does or not.  I am very inspired by nature poets like Mary Oliver, and that theme shows up in my poetry a lot, but there are definitely more intellectual influences that refuse to be ignored.  :-)  I end up writing very introspective things about my own emotional journey, usually.  NaPoWriMo has been awesome.  It really forced me to branch out, learn new ways of writing, and pull writing out of my brain that I probably would not have, otherwise.

Why do I write what I do?

Hmmmm.  Good question.  The simplest answer is that I write what I do based on the things I have absorbed in the world, meaning the writing of others, and also my own experiences and everything else I have observed and processed.  As to a specific goal with what I write, I think each poem allows me to resolve a particular emotional/psychological/spiritual issue, to some degree.  I also hope, like any writer, that it will resonate with other people.

How does my writing process work?

Lately I have been starting with prompts and going from there.  When that’s not the case, usually, an idea for something I want to work on will more or less come to me out of the ether. Often, it comes with a few words or lines.  I start fleshing the idea out from there.  I like to mix it up in terms of how I get the writing down.  I tried carrying a tiny notebook, but more often than not, I start writing little scraps of poem on post-it notes.  Hot-pink ones.  :-) Sometimes long walks help me work out poetry ideas, as well as whatever else I have going on in my head.  Sonia mentioned that she likes to watch well-made shows to get inspired, and I do the same with music.  Really great music reminds me why I want to be spending more of my time creating, and feeling like I’m doing something worthwhile with my life.

NaPoWriMo, Day 29

“The prompt is called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. And here are the twenty little projects themselves — the challenge is to use them all in one poem:

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.”

I’m way behind on finishing NaPoWriMo, but I liked this prompt.  I didn’t quite use all 20 “projects”.  Maybe you can tell which ones?

Poem:

Katie, life will be a carnival.

In Somewhere, America,
as if in a Ray Bradbury novel,
you will be greeted at its gates by dark and light.
Step right up, they’ll say.

Scent of summer, hint of fall.
Humid touch on your skin followed by the cool breeze.
Every fantastical thing before your eyes, man-made, against the backdrop of tree and sky.
Salt and sugar both lingering on your tongue.
The wild music blending with the sound of birds.

You’ll forget your troubles among the happy crowd.
You’ll buy a trucker hat with your name airbrushed on it, and a shiny caramel apple, that will smile at you brilliantly when you bite through its shell to reveal bright green skin and white flesh.

A fortune teller will read your fate from the lines upon your hand.
A weight-guesser will guess your weight, accurately.
You will win absolutely nothing.
The funhouse will have no power to frighten you.
You’ve learned by now that every distortion of reality makes it more clear.

In fact, everything in this place presents a choice.
Will you be afraid, or will you embrace life with gusto, and take a chance?

A carnival ride, that’s what life will really be.

You know the one.  Some tilt-a-whirl bit of madness, the hilarious precariousness of a machine meant to fling you through the air, de- and re-constructed in different places, for adventure-seekers to take chances of their own.

It will say to you, let it go.

Climb on, throw caution to the wind, stop planning every second, and breathe the colors of this existence.  Embrace the joie de vivre that is hidden under layers of good behavior.

A fortune teller will tell you your future, and she will be absolutely wrong.

You are the author of your fate, and no one may pre-make your choices.

Board the ride of your life.  Throw your arms up, and fly.  You’ve always been able to.

 

NaPoWriMo, Day 28

No prompt, just a bit o’ silliness. I tried my usual weighty themes and got nothin’, so I decided to stop taking myself so seriously for a minute-here is what I came up with.

Poem:

The life of the clumsy
is ever fraught with worry.
Something’s in my eye!
Now my vision’s blurry.

Walking without looking,
I fail to see a stone.
My ankle bends beneath my foot,
muscle pulls on bone.

Standing at the sink,
hand by the cabinet,
I knock my finger hard,
and that is what I get!

There’s a message somewhere in here
but I’m sure I don’t know what-
oh, I am so careless!
Now my knee is cut.

I know that I ought
To pay attention to the Now.
And though it can be taught,
I have as yet to master:  how?

I’ll surely keep on trying
not only for the sake
of my peace of mind, but to
spare other bones a break.