Belated

On Sunday my daughter came over with her two wee ones and we ordered Swiss Chalet. It was my choice, not cheap but consistent, and kind of a Mother’s Day tradition. The driver came, I said, “hold on I have a tip for you.” He thanked me and I told me, “happy mother’s day”, I said, “and to all the mother’s in your life!” and he said:

“MOTHER IS GOD!”

I did not argue.

 

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Shame

I don’t want to think about it,
manage mostly to forget and,
besides,
nobody else knows.
I look good enough, I smile and I’m fine.
You know I always prefer clothes with pockets and
when i get nervous, well,
I hide my hands.
And there it is,
my fingers slip around it
dried to a hard stone
and soon I’m dissolving in shame
enough to rehydrate a desert.
But you say
that’s just me being dramatic.
You’re fine too.
This was never your heart.

Aberration, a poem

Winter, the air was as dry as unbuttered toast.
Ice formed from any moisture and hung onto any thread.
Children were bundled so if they fell
it would be face up
so they wouldn’t suffocate,
their identities unknowable behind scarves and hats pulled low.
Until a Chinook
when they threw off their stiff winter clothes
and ran in their socks and shirt sleeves
in yards of mud,
no, not ran, but hopped
like new little toads with tails abandoned,
this way and that,
with the randomness of joy.
And when it was over
they came home dressed in other children’s clothes.

I joined the Rusty Cast-Iron April Poetry Club, a closed club on Facebook for the month of April. I tried to write a poem every day. Some days I pulled old poems out of the moth balls and re-worked them. Honestly, it was really hard and time consuming. Whole mornings were taken up with my punching and kneading the raw dough! But it was an honest effort. I am going to post some of the ones I am happy with. NOT ONE A DAY, but maybe one once in a while. Thank you dear reader for you indulgence.

This was Day Five, I think the prompt was to write about a micro climate, which this is not, but it is about a climate aberration… We did experience something like this the first winter in Ottawa.

 

What a Wonderful Waste of Time!

I joined a closed group on Facebook for A Poem A Day this month!

I got SO OBSESSED with checking to see if I got a like I had to leave my phone at home, (crazy really, what if I had another fall?) but how could I complain about young people on their phones constantly if I was doing the same?
I spent a morning
writing a poem, good or bad,
it was wonderful.
I know so many people in pain. Angry, and old and watching everything change and fighting with their grown-up children–if they are lucky–many never hearing from them any more, telling me how all their work for love has come to this. And I can’t do anything but nod and drink my Tim Horton’s coffee. I can’t tell them how I spent my morning, ashamed to be so happy. I can’t tell them:
“when you were young,
before you could write a poem,
you were a poem”.

About Oliver Schroer and Music as Inspiration

I started trying to write a poem previously called “Coasting” after watching a science program that showed the link between mankind’s developmental leaps and areas of great tectonic instability, (what would become lakes and coasts) the whole science of metallurgy literally bubbling out of the ground. The soil was often richer too as a result and so agriculture thrived and then communities formed. Trade and commerce followed as we pursed the ingredients needed to make metals and so requiring the development of new skills, boat building and new ways of living developed.

So the idea of LIFE being a coastline came to mind; Shorelines become places of departure and change but also our homes. Venturing out into the unknown was terrifying and exciting, the things of legends and ballads; Fear of Death at the heart of all our stories about the sea.

In Oliver’s own words:

“At the moment we pass through that portal, things rearrange themselves so thoroughly it cannot make any sense to us now. I have the feeling that, at the moment that I slip across, it will make ultimate sense. And I’m not going to look back.”

Listening to Field of Stars everything fell into place.

The greatest departure we can ever make is from life itself. But as we are of the earth, we still see the stars as we once saw the ocean, our next unknown, our next destination. Listening to him play “Field of Stars” I realized this was really what the poem was leading to, and how I would finish it with the tone I had wanted to convey. I never felt it was about the futility of life even though, “eccentric and wild-eyed” myself I have cried about it.  When I read more about him it felt like finding this piece of music was one of those events that sound like a clique, but nonetheless, was profound.

This is written by someone who saw his last concert:

““The first week I moved to Toronto I went alone to a random benefit concert for Oliver Schroer, a fiddler I had never heard of. He was dying of leukemia and needed money for an experimental treatment. His former students had flown in from the corners of Canada and put together an amazing impromptu show in a desperate effort to save his life. The place was packed.

Oliver was supposed to be at the hospital that night, but he snuck in toward the end of the eve, a frail sallow man in vibrant striped pjs, with a powerful frame, cheerful hands, and hulking Mongolian boots, such a striking visual contradiction. He was in the building for all of 15 minutes attended by a wild interweave of medical equipment and one very concerned-looking doctor, yet he managed to play a single song and see his friends before being rushed back. The doctor insisted that no one touch him. I remember thinking that must be hard.

This piece was played 3 feet in front of me by a man who had dedicated his whole life to music and knew it was likely he would never play another song; yet he had the fortune to play for his most desired and intimate audience. I felt so incredibly lucky to be witness to that. It was undoubtedly one of the most profoundly beautiful experiences of my life.

He died a few days later.

I bought the album, Camino and learned that the music had been composed during his 1,000 km walk along the Camino de Santiago, an ancient trail between France and Spain. With a portable recording studio, violin, and sleeping bag in his backpack he stopped in the churches to record what you hear.”

And finally, though it seems a bit of a conceit, the poem, AGAIN. It’s just that I don’t think I am the author as much as the cobbler, and maybe it’s not very good but it says something I thought I couldn’t say and now I’m just excited to say it. (Thank you for your indulgence). You can accuse me of defaulting to a sort of religious or spiritual delusion to answer the unknown. My punk youth would argue it is  a cop-out, but my old lady blues would admit she just doesn’t know and that makes room for everything we can imagine.

A Field of Stars to Light Your Way
There were the beaches of your youth
where you marked impossible feats in the cool
sand
that you tossed up in cartwheels,
piled up in castles
and burrowed under.
You built and destroyed and built again.
You shone with the dust of eons on your skin.
You
collected tales of seafaring folk,
like polished stones
that you shifted
in your pockets and carried home
Older, you watched the sky for storms.
You got a dog that barked at sea foam.
You never stayed long
then older still,
eccentric and wild-eyed
you climbed to the top of the cliffs,
and you cried:
“I lost everything here. Life was so hard.”
THE COAST with its cliffs jagged and worn
and rivers that spilled and mixed with the brine,
forests old before prophets were born,
all your kin, all your life, all your time,
all those who would have called you back
are gone and you’re
adrift
like a tiny raft lost in the ocean’s sway
alone beneath
a field of stars
a field of stars to light your way.

Poetry inspired by music

A Field of Stars to Light Your Way
There were the beaches of your youth
where you marked impossible feats in the cool
sand
that you tossed up in cartwheels,
piled up in castles
and burrowed under.
You built and destroyed and built again.
You shone with the dust of eons on your skin.

You collected tales of seafaring folk,
like polished stones
that you shifted
in your pockets and carried home.

Older, you watched the sky for storms.
You got a dog that barked at sea foam.
You never stayed long.

Then older still,
eccentric and wild-eyed
you climbed to the top of the cliffs,
and you cried:
“I lost everything here. Life was so hard.”

THE COAST with its cliffs jagged and worn
and rivers that spilled and mixed with the brine,
forests old before prophets were born,
all your kin, all your life, all your time,
all those who would have called you back
are gone and you’re
adrift
like a tiny raft lost in the ocean’s sway
alone beneath
a field of stars
a field of stars to light your way.

Thanks to you Charlie and John Cale and Oliver Schroer who plays in this video.

 

April is a poem a day month.

I also posted this at my other blog, Quilting is my Obsession. I have been writing a poem a day with a closed group. It has been a great exercise. Some of them are better than others. This was poem was written on day seven.

Day Seven

Quilts become stories
independent of dynasties or holy empires.
With heads bowed over needles
stitching hopes and secrets that survived in fibers,
there was no permanence for women and slaves who by law owned
not even what was thrown away so
in anonymity they threaded their lives and economy into art.
Surviving because they borrowed from every incarnation each cherished scrap
While threading a different history, a history that included them;
Undaunted by fashion,
And reaching for joy.
Because empires fall and art becomes fatuous
but quilts become stories.

This is a link to Gee Bend Quiltmakers. Check it out. They are the true artists.

I love old quilts. Those that survive show actual hand stitches and reference all that went into each stitch, not just the thread, the fabric and the time required to do the work and there was always so much work they had to do; quilts that survive also reference true artistic genius.