Category Archives: Poetry

Dragon Year

2012 Black Water Dragon

Song for the Black Water Dragon

Swift stealthy
circling the ship
unpredictable
lift to damage
carry the goods
water dragon
evens the flow

might listens to humble voice
forms the alliance
bringing light to the dark
overturning the tyrant
showering the meek
with good fortune

divine serpent
wash away diseased land
allow new growth
to begin

Ghosts of October

Looks like I completely missed blogging in October. Just to slip something in I’m writing from my phone while on the go. Sometimes life moves too fast to process & write about it all. Often at these times it is stranger than fiction.

In the past month I’ve juggled more jobs than ever to keep afloat and found more joyful surprises to cheer my soul. Ghosts of Halloweens past brought tears of sorrow and joy along with a glimpse of brighter tomorrows.

At the same time the Occupy Wall Street movement has swept the nation and continued to whisper ideas to change the world.

I’ve occupied a few hotels in towns recently touring with Poetry Alive! where I arrived a stranger and immediately found a community to share resources and make our stay more joyful. It’s amazing how when we all share what we have, we all have what we need. It’s easy to sit back, point the finger at someone else, and complain that life is unfair. However, when you honestly step forward and share your skills and talents there’s really very little to complain about. As we enter the giving season please consider this and avoid wasting time at the malls and super box stores full of “cheap stuff.” Consider what you have to offer your friends and family as gifts and when spending your hard earned dollars check out local handmade goods and services from local crafters, musicians, and merchants whose taxes pay for your local community services as well. Invest in your community and find ways for your local community to share it’s bounty with nearby communities in need. Occupy your community this holiday season and watch it flourish.

On that note, there’s some live jazz in front of me stealing my attention and calling me to participate in the real world once again. May you find such cozy company where ever you occupy.

Where I’m From

One of the writing prompts Cheryl Bromley Jones introduced to the Poetry Alive! teacher institute is a little exercise called “Where I’m From.” I’ve written many of these and they keep changing as time moves on and I find myself “from” more places than before. This is what came out of the in-service we taught at C.W. Post Long Island University last week still in rough form:

I am from exploding mountains
& calm inter-coastal salt sea
From hidden driveways
& cedar trees

A garden box of love
Though the main geranium died
two others took root
& are better than one to have by my side

Autoslaloming home built race cars
Smokey bowling alleys & sunny amusement parks
Girl Scout camp, horse racing
dance, sing, dance, play

Rocky Mountain escapes
& choreographing lawn gymnastics
Collecting river rocks
to rattle in pockets like grandma’s Yahtzee dice

I’ve heard “if you love some one set them free”
& we’ve never meant to be for each other
the miles stretch further
from one generation to another

I am from raging garage band grunge
& flapper jazz
Give me that back beat boogie
cause it’s all rock & roll to me

I am from cool mountain air
& honeysuckle tickles my nose
while puppies & kitties tickle my toes
Ride my bike cause I don’t own a car

I hear good old mountain music
teaching my ear to understand rather than fear
Though bluegrass wasn’t ever my style
I’ve learned to appreciate it after a while

I’ve collected scars & bruises
& dirt under my nails
City girl in the country
Country girl in the city

I’ve been stargazing
ever since I was born
& seek out light
to help it shine bright.

Raw songs in rehearsal

Last fall I applied for the NC Arts Council’s Songwriter’s grant. Hopeful that I’d win the luck of the draw I’ve been working on getting ten songs ready to record my first solo album of original music. Unfortunately, I found out Friday that I will not be one of the two grant recipients this year.

However, below in raw form is song number nine given to me by journalist and songwriter Dave Shiflett who I met at the Mt. Airy Fiddler’s Convention and song number ten that I’ve been fussing with the words for until today.

Without the grant I do not currently have any funds to pay for instruments, studio time, other musicians, album artwork, and copies of the CD. I might be able to do it though with a little help from my friends. If somebody better with dollars wants to help me run a kickstarter campaign that would be great. Otherwise, know that I’ll bake you cookies, clean your house, weed your yard, watch your kids, or help you in whatever way I can if you have money, time, or talent to throw at this project.

Recycling the tales

I went back to a journal from 2000 to find a song I’d never finished. Out of curiosity I flipped the page to find a story that might have been or is yet to be.

From August 2000:

This is the story…

It begins somewhere & someplace else
writing itself out of time.
A boy and a girl,
like most stories have,
are the center of the tale.
But what is the magic in this particular combination?
A difference of opinion or the development of trust?

A lucky break under a lucky star,
with just enough difficulty for romance.
A meeting of strangers
mistaken about meeting before.
The blind meeting the blind
finally realizing they can see.
A heartbreak,
a rebound,
ten thousand songs whirling the night till dawn.

Chances are this never happened,
but that’s what tales are made of,
a circumstance that could never be believed.
They say that truth is stranger than fiction.
So who can say?

He was going to kiss her,
but he left the chance untaken,
left her pouting to herself.
There are plenty of other things they could have done,
but this is what they chose.
An opportunity missed
or disaster side-stepped?

But that is not what the story is about.
This is a chance taken and a flame ignited
because that’s what stories are made of…

She liked to be alone in public.
He liked to be in public alone.
Both were happy with their arrangement.
A butterfly’s moment of conversation between notebooks & games.
One day she told him he was beautiful.
Without hesitation he replied that she was too.
That’s how it started or ended or was about to begin.
He could play music that would make her dance.
She could write songs that would open his soul.
A tentative exchange begun balancing on the edge of a knife.
This left her alone in public not wanting to be alone.
He held a phone number in his hand that burned with a fire
he wasn’t sure he wanted to play with.

And that’s where the story ends
or begins again.

Seeking feedback on a couple of little ditties

I’ve been working on my uke skills with some unexpected free time. On a whim I’m headed to the studio to record one song for a songwriter’s contest this evening. But which song should I enter?

Below are the two newest songs that I recorded experimenting with my new camera before the batteries went dead (hence the blurry image, but you don’t need to see me to hear the song). You can find my other original songs under the “music” tab on this page that were recorded last year.

It’s free to listen to all my music on the internet. So, if you have a few minutes, let me know which of the seven tunes I’ve created on uke that you like the best or hate the least to help me figure out which song I should enter in the contest. Thanks!

Finding inspiration for National Poetry Month

Last year I failed the 30/30 challenge of writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month by starting late and only getting through about 15 poems. I don’t do well writing in the car and that’s where I seem to spend most of my time in April as we bring Poetry Alive! to schools in a frenzy for the month.

This year I started at Doo-Nanny in my little nook above the main stage until the typewriter was rained out while helping save Resistance Force and the other electronic equipment and instruments on stage from the storm. I gave away the few poems I managed to type before the storm without mass producing them for all on the interwebs. Some sayings are too powerful to simply drop them into the general pool of thought anyway.

I didn’t have much time to be sad about the typewriter malfunction anyway since the Screaming Js joined me on the upper deck to dance the night away and sing the sun up instead. When I got the typewriter home, my roommate gave it some TLC and it’s back in working order again, but it’s a bit awkward to carry everywhere I go.

However, I found time last weekend to sneak in a poem the old fashioned way with pen and ink. In fact, I reminded myself that my favorite place to write really is sitting at the bar while conversation is bubbling and the band is setting up. This past Saturday I discovered that strange pocket of calm while the storm danced on the horizon right before it all began.

Here are the couple of “doo-dads” (as Dorothy Parker liked to call them) from the book so far this month:

Note to self

Many hands to lift you
Will you continue to soar
touching down so lightly
so as to barely make a sound?
There is nothing you can’t do now,
but what will you choose?

*****

Flow

Spinning circles
Dropping into now
Among many other nows
All the rapid fire river
Splashing over rough spots
Washing it all away.
What was it that snagged the movement?
Eddying stagnant pools
Eventually wash on past the sediment
Sentimentally left behind
Rushing on to merge as one
Until the heat of a star
Calls the individual molecules
Skyward.

Giving it all away

If October was Rocktober, then November must have been Noremember because it simply flew by too darn fast. Without time to look back, we’re on a crash course with the turn of the tide at the winter solstice and the end of another year.  It’s also the time of year where expectations and traditions start boxing with the cycles of change and transformation the season brings. As we head into the longest, darkest night tempers flare and tears are shed by many torn apart by the demands placed upon them by friends, family, and mostly themselves to do and give more with less.

Last year I watched my house slide into foreclosure after giving away most of my possessions to friends and neighbors. I finally surrendered the rest to be disposed of by whoever ended up in there once I was gone.  I can tell you this for certain, in the year since then I have never once felt I needed any of those things. Even my beloved dog Isis has grown into her destined job as pack leader of the mountain dogs caring and cheering the “old man of the mountain” who was the best neighbor I could have asked for in the six years I lived there. She’s also my excuse to go check on him–, I mean visit.

While this year has still not been financially bountiful, I have found plenty of blessings to lift me along the road toward the next place. Mostly I have regained a freedom that I didn’t even know I was missing under the burden of “too much stuff.”

Needless to say, I will not be going to the mall this year with a list of purchases of “stuff” for family, friends, and neighbors. I believe that only by shedding last year’s baggage can we open our hands to accept what the new year has to offer. So, though tears may fall over what I can’t afford, I continue the practice of gifting away what I have to those who need it. Sometimes that may only be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on for a friend who is blue. But, what is more precious than your time? This year consider spending your gift of presence on the people present in your life.

Before you go, here’s a little prayer for the blues in you:

Singing through a rain of tears
Sad songbird too tired of worldly woes
Weak from all that’s been withdrawn
Barely holding on to melody
Pouring out all that remains
Longing to be left alone
May you find honey
To sweeten your song
Filling you with hope again.