Monday, March 25, 2013

Famous and Not So Famous Last Words

This, wonder.
-Charlotte Joko Beck, Zen teacher, d.2011

Am I dying...or is this my birthday? (when she woke briefly and looked at everyone standing 'round her bed)
-Lady Nancy Astor, d. 1964        

(reply to her husband
who asked how she felt)
-Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, writer, d. 1861

I must go in, the fog
is rising.
-Emily Dickinson, poet,
d. 1886

I see black light.
-Victor Hugo, writer, d. 1885

Does anybody understand?
-James Joyce, writer, d. 1941     

Nothing matters. Nothing matters.
-Louis Mayer, film producer, 
d. 1957

-Henry David Thoreau, writer/naturalist, d. 1862

Either that wallpaper goes, 
or I do.
-Oscar Wilde, writer, d. 1900

Go away, I'm alright.
-H.G. Wells, novelist, d. 1946

Now comes the mystery.
-Henry Ward Beecher, clergyman
d. 1887

Doctor, do you think it could have been the sausage?
-Paul Claudel, poet, d. 1955

That was a great game of golf, fellers.
-Bing Crosby, singer/actor, d. 1977

God, I'm bored.
-St. John Philby, writer, d. 1960

God bless...God damn.
-James Thurber, author,

I wish I'd drunk
more champagne.
-John Maynard Keynes,
economist, d. 1946

So little done, so much 
to do.
-Cecil John Rhodes,
businessman, d. 1902

Love one another.
-George Harrison,
musician, d. 2001

There is...another...Sky Walker.
-Yoda (status unknown)

*copyrighted photos 

Monday, March 18, 2013

To Cast

I need no more

than a boat

and an oar.

Painting: "Warrior Canoe", 30" x 60", by Holly Friesen. Holly's painting was published on the blog: tweetspeak...the best in poetry and poetic things; and the suggestion to the reader is to view the painting and then write a poem in reaction to the experience. I was first introduced to this type of exercise at a writing workshop in Santa Fe, where we viewed paintings at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, and wrote our spontaneous reactions to a favorite piece. As writers, I firmly adhere to an eclectic approach to craft; we benefit from the experiences we savor in dance, theatre, photography, painting...virtually all the visual arts. In this case, Holly's image led to a spontaneous thought, Zen-like and sparse in tone, but upon close reading of just a few words, other associations presented themselves.

The title, To Cast, may mean throwing out or getting rid of that which is no longer needed, be it mental constructs, or old ideas and ways of being that no longer serve in a nourishing way, leaving you more unfettered and alive. Or casting off to sea in the physical sense of getting away from a harried, complicated life and rowing into new avenues of exploration in the clean sea air, feeling refreshed and open to receiving the next experience that rolls in at your feet. Or accepting what you are given in life, be it clear skies or stormy seas.

On a practical level, the poem distinguishes between wants and needs. In reality we don't need most of the things we want. Our basic needs are just that...basic, and happiness is not accrued by having more "stuff". It's the liberating feeling that comes with spring-cleaning; casting out all the clutter collected over the years and letting go of things that tie you down (feeling moored?). It feels duly good to simplify, to get rid of unwanted stuff and to stop over-scheduling meetings and events, taking the time to bask in the experience of simple moments...akin to gently rocking in your tiny boat on a sea of calm.

Now scroll up and read the poem one more time.

Oh, how endless the metaphors! Please share your thoughts, dear ones. 

(Thank you, Maureen Doallas for your lead-in to this exercise). 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Southern Babies~Northern Babies

Southern Babies

Miranda is Mama’s lap baby
She chortles and coos while sittin’ on Mama’s lap      
arms flappin’, she pats Mama’s hands when 
Mama peels potatoes
and does her stitchin’
listnin’ to the radio, she molds into Mama's lap
rockin’ and singin' through the sticky August night.

Jezzie is Mama’s porch baby
She crawls around Mama’s legs and 
pulls down her stockins’, scrapin' knees 
on porch boards, she scrambles and creeps
here, there, and under Mama’s chair.
She pulls withered marigolds out of a pot
and tips over Mama’s glass, 
squealin’ and laughin’ &
pattin’ iced lemonade in a puddle.

Belle is Mama’s yard baby
She shares the dust with other kids, 
and dogs, she stomps her feet 
in the powdery dirt while
copper ants crawl over her toes.
Toddlin’ in a patch of grass, she stoops 
and pulls up slender weeds, 
flies dive 'round her head as she 
wraps her fingers 'round the wire fence
and watches sissy, Ezra

playin’ in the street.  

-(M. Devine)

Northern Babies - Eskimo Lullaby

It's my fat baby
I feel in my hood
Oh, how heavy she is!

When I turn my head
she smiles at me, my baby,
Hidden in my hood
Oh, how heavy she is!

How pretty she is when she smiles
With her two teeth, like a little walrus!
Oh I like my baby heavy
      And my hood full!           


Monday, March 4, 2013

March River Walk

I walk the river discovering a new direction where                                

cutbanks have sloughed off and bending

trees lean with a weary creak

meltwater seeps up, whirlpools suck down and

everything is on the verge of 

falling in, falling off, falling apart

like that time on the Kusko

when we had to race around open leads,

roaring on the sagging ice

me holding tight your waist & leaning into

hairpin turns 

we weaved around downed timber

just on the edge of ice, oh

the water is deep there; 

the taste of air and the smell of cold, sucked

my breath away. words .

more words collected to describe

 these northern myths with clarity & precision

my river walking is 

re-writing the story, again

opening me like a new motherhood, showing clearly      

where my lines break/into/

a hopeful and cavernous space to breathe.

*photos: k. devine