I’m way overdue blogging due to the roller coaster ride of travel, emotions, moving and such the past few months. Here’s the photo montage from last month with a new recording just to give you a taste of what I haven’t found words to describe yet…
When the words won’t come to my fingers under the keyboard, I go back to putting pen to paper. Sometimes when all the world’s words are spinning by so fast, the pen in hand helps slow down and distill the essence.
Here are a few barely edited blurbs fresh from the page:
Tracing the lines
Tied to the $ signs
2 sides of a coin
Anything done to excess
will kill you
Riding the rapids
Through the deafening babble
Dog sits stoic at the bow
As a lone fly buzzes
Neither money nor fame
are core human values
so why are so many humans
caught up in the struggle?
Why spend time attacking those who dare approach
rather than building a bond of love so strong
as to weather every storm?
Driving the highway river
finding the center of flow
no longer in a hurry
with just a few hours to go
rolling into the Blue Ridge
as the sun sets at our backs
white red yellow lights
wink on to light the track
like a backwards river
flowing up the hill
dancing through the rain drops
whispering “peace be still”
His heart was bigger than this world.
Now he has the wings
to see it all
& sing his songs into the wind.
Already into May
the winter bites back again
reluctant to let summer
reach the northern village
Barefoot Beltane in Southern Spring
this northern ground chills through shoes
shifting green for gray
Springing back to Summer
through the city that never sleeps
Happy holidays, or holy daze as I’ve been calling them this year.
Once again we’ve completed another circle of the sun and reached the point where the days gather light again propelling us forward into a new year. I had the opportunity to fly back to the northwest this year and visit with family and friends between the Thanksgiving and Christmas travel rush. What this meant is that while everyone else was rushing around preparing for a “big day” I was rushing around visiting with old friends and family trying grab at least a few hours of conversation in the real world and as many hugs as possible. It also meant that I time warped to a place where sunrise and sunset fell closer together a few hours skewed from what my body was used to at that point. So, when I returned the days already seemed longer even though they were still getting shorter and my internal clock wanted to stay up later into the dark. Being born during the longest night of the year a few decades ago has often been my excuse for being a true night owl. It also may be why I’ve always been a star gazer looking for things that light up in the dark. I thought I’d share a few photos of things that lit up in the dark for me this season as we celebrate the return of light.
This time of year is also the point when I often find myself reflecting on the year that has passed and making wishes and plans for the year to come. Rather than ask Santa or Baby Jesus for toys, I found myself having real discussions with family about the tools needed to progress in the coming year.
During the dark this year rather than seeking out malls, I found joy gathering with all my different “families” to share food and stories around the table.
I also found warmth around the fire sharing tunes with some of my musical “families.” We even hooted with a real night owl in the woods gazing at the three wise guy stars in Orion’s belt pointing to where the sun would return on the horizon a full minute earlier in the morning.
As the year turns, I now seek to build my own fire in my heart to fuel a new year of adventure and travel guided by love. I wish you & your kin peace and prosperity as well as a big bundle of joy in 2012. May it be brighter for us all.
While waiting up for the lunar eclipse (despite the clouds that hid it from view in the wee wee hours between midnight and day) I wrote a little prayer that helped me focus on this period of transition as we start the cycle of the new year. I offer it to you to whisper to the wind as well or take as inspiration to create your own.
Walk naked through the dark
Let go of doubt & fear
Step bravely into this moment
Trust that there will be
a hand to hold
food to eat
shelter from the storm
Waste no energy worrying whether what your hands create
is beautiful enough
or will last long enough
Rather do and continue to do the best able
Welcome all to the feast at the table
Before you go, here’s another fledgling poem which emerged from the dark as the days finally gathered another few moments of light.
Healing a broken bird
Requires strong articulate gentle hands
That tell the story of a quick mind
Which can flip a clever trick
With a voice that whispers serenity
To light tired eyes
Relax the constricted larynx to song
Breathing new flight into wings longing to soar
Below you’ll find a quick tour of some of the things I’ve seen since September started moving along with the music of the Rhythm Rascals Hank Bones & Mike Gray who I recorded Johnny Mercer’s Ac-Cen-Tchu-Ate the Positive with back in January. You’ll just have to imagine the gorgeous day Red Hot Sugar Babies had Saturday playing the bandstand at Antler Village on the Biltmore Estate with special guest Hank Bones since I didn’t take pictures that day. Most of the photos are from the view at the Magnetic Poetry Van yesterday at the Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival. Thanks to everyone for playing this weekend! I’ll be back out to play again with the Red Hot Sugar Babies on Wednesday evening at the Wedge.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Daryl Ryce recently for the Tryon Daily Bulletin. I used to repost the articles on my blog as well, but times being what they are I recommend picking up a copy of the paper yourself or checking them out online. I can tell you that the conversation we had led to a very interesting article that brings to light tidbits of information you won’t find by typing her name into google.
If you happen to be in Tryon on a Saturday night there’s a chance you can catch Daryl live at the Lilac Wine Bar.
I’m told the article was to run last Friday, March 5 with photos taken by Sam Lovelace at the Nina Simone Statue Dedication Concert.
What is a message is a bottle like those in the album above worth?
What I didn’t know when I wrote the blog “Fire” was that roughly 16.5 hours later Gabrielle would leave her body to rest on this earth and the fire she shared in the hearts of the many people she touched in her time on this planet. It’s been over a week now and I still haven’t found the words to express how that felt or what it meant to have a friend like her in my life, but I’m going to make an attempt.
What I did know that night was that we had exchanged text messages about 8 hours earlier and she insisted I wait to send her tracks from the demo she challenged me to create until I had the final polished CD to mail her. I knew I was up against a deadline when I’d left her in Austin at the ER at midnight January 9. However, she said with a ;), she knew I was excited, but it would be worth the wait. I wonder if she knew she would be gone, but had already heard the melodies drifting into her dreams the same way I felt her fire that day spinning my world through a barrage of phone calls into a new direction.
I met Gabrielle in the swirl of the Seattle Poetry scene. Before she was multimediagrl she was the mothership on my email and chat lists. When I left Seattle to tour with Poetry Alive! Gabrielle jumped on board the Slam committee with Allison Durazzi and Paula Friedrich to make my dream of a National Poetry Slam in Seattle become a reality. She was always the one with the fire to get things done.
Unlike my older relatives who have left this world, Gabrielle was someone I actually lived with in the crazy condo on First Hill lovingly referred to as the Purple Palace. I don’t share space well with other people, as anyone who has lived with me can tell you, but we had a lot of fun together. The summer of 1998 we went out nearly every night I was in town. Always dressed in something that sparkled, we’d find our way to the OK Hotel first to finish painting our nails with glitter over one of Raymond Kempe’s Bloody Marys and watch who came in before it was too crowded to see anything but the performers lit up on stage. We shared a passion for cheering on our favorite musicians and poets. We also shared scars from loving those who knew how to use, but not how to feed, a muse. Cat O’Sullivan and Ciro Viamontes joined us in the healing process that summer which culminated in spending an entire day building a sweat lodge in order to cleanse ourselves of baggage. That’s powerful medicine that can only be explained through experience.
Even after I sold the Purple Palace to move to Asheville, NC we kept in contact regularly. I kept up to date with the National Slam community vicariously through her. She would brainstorm career moves with me as she left Seattle to return to Buffalo and eventually relocated to the heart of her Slam Family in Austin.
Where ever my wounded heart feared to tread she would boldly go to make things right. We shared the heartache of flying across the country to make real a long distance relationship only to discover the girlfriend at home. We also shared the belief that the creative work was more important than the failed attempt at true love and at least one of us could salvage that at times. She was better at doing that even to the end with the most recent musician/roommate to turn my world upside down. When everything stopped working, Gabrielle was there encouraging each of us back on our feet toward success rather than self destruction. Conveniently, she only had to deal with one of us in town visiting her at a time.
Most importantly, she had a great sense of the big picture. My last days visiting with her included being the sounding board. She was mapping out a master plan for providing a thriving framework for the tribes of artists she so dearly loved. It leaves me feeling that she didn’t so much leave us behind. She simply needed to escape the body worn down by living enough for three people each day so that her spirit could stretch to reach us all.
Known for hosting the Erotica Slam at Nationals in her sequined dress with bunny ears, Bunny Up became Gabrielle’s code when the pain was bad. In her last days, the widespread love of her extended family became obvious in the bunnification of facebook profile pictures. When she left us, the network of all that love suddenly felt like a fragile spider’s web in a wind storm. She laid out the road map though and gave us the code. Bunny Up. Love something, even if you have to start with learning to love yourself.
See the flames alight in my hands
radiating out from my heart
holding Gabrielle’s words
singing the song of creation?
Hop to it,
lift up your head
open your mouth
I love you,
p.s. In the mid 1990’s I was fortunate to spend a few years singing with Shades of Praise. I’ve had a version of “Fire (shut up in my bones)” that our director Cora Jackson taught us in my head this evening. I couldn’t find that for you to hear, but I can recommend her first album to you here: Original Praise.
Here are a few other things I found along the way to share:
Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 29:10-11, “This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Diving into darkest days
wind whistles cold songs
footing becomes treacherous
slowing the wanderer.
Smoke is all that remains
of dead wood warmth
clinging like memory
to scarred skin.
In the hollow of the heart
find embers that still glow
to kindle inner fire
until sun returns.