I read this line recently from the poem Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror by Kelli Russell Agodon:
“and we’re replacing our cabinet knobs because we can’t change the world, but we can change our hardware.”
And I was quite taken with this breath of wisdom. Kelli is speaking about “America” here, but since we are America, she is also speaking about us and our own brokenness that requires change/growth. Changing cabinet knobs or discarding unused keepsakes or any such movement makes a lot of sense. It’s that traditional time of year for fresh starts. I myself am discarding old poetry books that meant a lot to me in the past but now are ghosts of a past life. My hope is to make room for new poetry—not even for new poetry books, but simply new poetry. It’s my way of changing the hardware for a new age.
I would highly recommend reading Kellie Russell Agodon’s poem. It’s not easy on our hearts, but it hits the mark on where we are at in this country and personally on whatever side of the aisle you reside.
news of an old friend’s passing—
I switch Pandora
to a blues station
I scour grief and grease
news of a new friend’s passing
the gift of her smile
through it all
the piercing presence of thistle
in the garden
I use the pencil sharpener
grandpa’s dad’s mine
jewel weed emerges in the garden I return home
back to basics
the osteopath pushes and pulls
TMJ: my body’s trash talk
how much easier would it be born fluent in body language?
once a river wild
muscling bedrock now a stream
waddles in rain
once a youth trim
muscle weight now an elder
pounds on a scale
like a rock in a river splitting its stream water interrupted returns to its flow
I had two pieces selected for a juried mixed media show, and I’m delighted and proud to announce that one of them received “The Bethlehem House Contemporary Art Gallery’s Directors’ Choice Award.” I was amazed, humbled, and honored trying to process it all. I am a self-taught artist coming from a loving but hard-working, practical and uninterested-in-art family. I had to slowly and with great pain and loneliness at times find my own way and voice. The real artistry/creativity and reward, is about finding one’s whole self and transformation truly from a larva-grub to a moth through to a butterfly-metamorphosis. Lots of angst and breaking through that “I’m not good enough” and perfectionism mentality/training. It’s all part of the process, but for me—as a late bloomer–all the more satisfying and all the more grateful!
One month ago, I wrote about depression. Now, I am writing about success–the pendulum forever swings. The real breakthrough here is not the award itself, however sweet, but the interruption–like the rock in the river, that changes our flow forever however momentarily and seemingly insignificant, in the big watercourse of life. I can now fully appreciate and gratefully wear the mantle of heroine in my own story and forgive and tender the goat when she stumbles.
heroine or goat always rocks in the river’s flow
I woke up this morning in a full-mode depression after weeks/months of a low-grade turn. I felt so low that I could not think of a single thing to write about today, and far worse, I cared less. The loss of hope, caring and spirit is the gut-sucker here while inspiration or lack ideas, words or images is secondary and merely a symptom. I had thought that the remedy needed was a get-away artist retreat or residency for a few weeks or even a short day-trip, otherwise tagged as an artist’s date (by the wise Julia Cameron), or simple break in routine. All of which are luxuries that do indeed help, but in the long run–luxuries do not fully replace daily nourishment or modest natural joy.
So I sat at the edge of my bed and uncorked the valve of tears and let them flow, and in doing so, I also decided that I cannot ignore or cleanly push Depression off to the side. I need to address and walk with her, Depression, and just let her be for what she is, despite the fact that I don’t even know what she is or why she visits. She simply takes up some of my time, space and energy. With that surrender and the tears came enough release and the recognition that we have to walk side-by-side sometimes, I was able to reset and begin a functioning and even noteworthy day. I noticed the underside of the half moon and its very real roundness, and began to note other small graces. I emerged from this darker side, and while driving, started to thank my team of Angels and Guides. I asked for a sign–calling it a gift for the first time to show me a bit of the magic in my life. Just as I was finishing the thought, a car turned quickly into my lane in front of me, and its license plate held My INITIALS ALL IN CAPS (yes as license plates are want to do). I smiled broadly and took this trivial delight as the sign/gift I asked for. I have not seen my initials on a car plate in decades, and since it’s all about timing–I felt blessed and gifted. I also began to tap into Inspiration, another of many walking archetype partners that I engage with. I had lost sight of her, Inspiration, this morning and now she is back. And though Inspiration is far more companionable than Depression or Grief, we all walk together taking turns to share and navigate the trail that is life and the artist’s way.
mubblefubble–walking depression into poetry
when every wrinkle
runs a river
one elder nurse to a younger one–
I always drank
out of hoses,
and I still look good
pre surgery therapy:
light massage touch
soothing nature scenes on the monitor lower blood pressure readings
crescent necklace under the surgeon’s scrubs her bare hands
post surgery pain relief:
homemade chocolate chip cookies
instead of Percocet
No sounds of silence in this old house
when just past midnight—the patter of a mouse
sounds more like the boots of a lumberjack
tracing through the woods with a heavy backpack.
The clock tick tocks very self-aware
as if stationed robustly in a town square.
That is nothing but a slow drumroll
to the radiators’ hiss–bang–rock and roll.
For when the aging furnace kicks on
the cacophony is a conclusion foregone.
Nighttime timbers stretch and whine much as
seniors who crowd an all-you-can-eat food line.
Peaceful in its own rhythmic sway
this hullabaloo of farmhouse play.
For there is safe keeping in its song
of unquiet between midnight and dawn.
The forecast calls for just a dusting in the northern region of our state, and roughly about six inches through the southern counties especially along the coast. WHEW! Another one bites the dust–snowstorms that is. So far through mid January 2019, enough rain has inundated our area as to cause some severe flooding, however no weather of consequence to cause “let’s clear out the bread, milk and chips in the supermarket aisles” type of forecast. Potential for snow measuring in the double digits has metered into dull winter rain. And for the first time in over six decades–I am relieved. Normally, I look forward to the swirling snow, its softening of the landscape’s edges and the quiet beauty and stillness a snow affords. Also, the adult in me enjoys the change of pace/let’s not go to work today/let’s bake cookies or make soup instead, knowing that for the duration of the storm–there’s no going out anyway. It has always been okay that shoveling snow (my car is not garaged) follows the day off. Recently however, the reality of lifting/pushing/scraping heavy wet snow off and around the car, porch and driveway is in fact very tiring. I am lucky to have machinery at the helm for the big push and cleaning, but there is still much hand-shoveling the tighter areas.
Which brings me to the point here–the wondrous child in me misses the excitement and forecasts of nature blowing and bending the atmosphere and the mind’s eye. I miss the big-kid who always enjoyed the day-after white-outs and slow return of “normal” traffic and daily schedules including bird life. I love the look of snow-covered evergreens and winter tree branches holding and shedding snow and hearing it softly fall. And I know that snow is important to the ecosystem and water supplies–a fact that is too often lost in the current meteorologists lingo until conditions reach critical proportions.
Perhaps it’s about the extreme precipitation and other weather lately that diminishes my desire for a storm or two. My memory still holds the view of one recent winter of shoveling a long path for my large dog to get to get to her relief area over and over. When you have pets that are used to the outdoors–there’s very little wiggle room or time for changing the routine. Still in all, falling snow is magical, represents a change of pace and creates lovely scenery. I never feel cold when shoveling or moving around. Frankly, the cold bothers me more on damp and windy snowless days. Who knows what the rest of the winter will bring here. In my mind though, a few inches of swirling snow now and again in January and February is a welcome friend.
a new pair of boots with cleats in the closet my younger self waits for snow