To the Community of Poets

To the Community of Poets

“For every atom belonging to me as good
belongs to you…”

The Barbaric Yawp Open Mic Reading Series is a monthly event, curated and hosted by Christopher Title, and held in St. Paul, the twin sister of Minneapolis.

Tonight was the 10th Anniversary of the series, and I gotta say – we all did it up right tonight. What a blast! Energy levels were high, the poetry and stories were fresh and edgy and fun. We had a *great time.

All the performers read their own work, and then each took one of the stanzas of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”

“I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
How you settled your head athwart my hips
and gently turn’d over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and
plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart…”

I took my place at the mic tonight, and I had verse 19 from Whitman’s “Song.”

19
This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited,
The heavy-lipp’d slave is invited, the venerealee is invited;

There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of hair,

This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning,
This the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face,

This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.

Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?

Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has.

Do you take it I would astonish?

Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering through the woods?

Do I astonish more than they?

This hour I tell things in confidence,

I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.

But first I read a piece that I wrote in Wendy Brown-Baez’s most recent poetry workshop. Wendy’s a really good teacher – I’ve learned so much from her. So, I’ll share here the unexpurgated version of the poem I read tonight at the celebration.

To the Community of Poets

Praise to the community of poets!
The writers, toiling away,
creating pictures in words,
crafted from the weavings and leavings of the Muse.
They are like lyrical ants,
antennae pressing into each letter,
every word a grain of wheat
gathered and arranged
and offered up.
Plopping ladles of alphabet soup into each bowl,
the reader tastes,
and like unfolding clouds of incense,
wonder rises like steam from the plate.

Praise to the community of poets!

On social media, in meeting rooms –
a gathering storm of wordsmiths
sits around restaurant tables,
sprawls on couches and pillows and chairs,
writing and laughter rising and falling,
and tears in turn.

Praise to the community of poets!
Praise to them
and these hearths of faces and keyboards too,
crackling with villanelles,
and sonnets rising up like charmed snakes from the midst of them.
Shoulder to shoulder they seek for the perfect word
to hymn of love gained and lost,
of new cars skimming along streets,
of rusty cars left behind,
of weevils teeming in bags of spilled grain
of mountains thundering with trees,
of children birthed, grown and gone.

Praise to the community of poets!
Praise to the giddy company of poets
Who learnt the trick of breaking into the places where fire is stored.
Like wild monks, they guzzle the wine there,
and then bring some back to spike the punch
with words that slip through the barricades
around the souls of the sleepers,
bringing hearts to heal
and beat and throb with the perfection of the world
as it is –
only better.

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What I Call a Miracle

What I Call a Miracle

What I Call A Miracle

Bent over, hobbling,
each step a new kind of pain
dark and bone-deep,
like the scraping metal of a spoon in an empty bowl,
like the crush of the crowd
stumbling over the homeless body in the street.

This world will steal the purple joy from my heart, if I let it.

But then I feel the sun warm on my face.
This will break the spell,
and the bad dream recedes.
The landscape rolling,
a healing flowing
from rivers,
known and unknown –
St. Croix, Mississippi,
and the swimming pool of my childhood home.

Despair blown away with delight,
remembering the way I felt,
eager and free
wind blowing in my hair
eyes streaming in sun and happiness,
gazing over the cottonwoods
laid out in endless sighing green.

This is what I call a miracle.

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Door photo by Michele Montserrat, 2016.

Rolling Forest – stock photo image from Pexels.

Reed and Robeson Podcast

Reed and Robeson Podcast

Spent some time today listening to a really interesting Guardian podcast on Black History.

Paul Robeson was one of my father’s greatest heroes. He represented my dad’s ideal of well-rounded excellence – athlete, scholar, and activist. Australian writer Jeff Sparrow has a new biography out on Robeson’s life.

Ishmael Reed is an author who’s been on my radar for awhile, but I have not yet read any of his writing. Penguin Classics has just released his 1973 release Mumbo Jumbo.

Listen to the podcast here.

Avant Garde Magazine letter

Avant Garde Magazine letter

From the Avant Garde Magazine, Letters to the Editor, November 1969.

“Friends,

I’ve recently returned after two years in Vietnam, where I was a G.I. helping to tear the country down. I am determined to return, as a civilian, to help build the country up. I know a fair amount about building construction (and, alas, destruction), and I would welcome assistance, if only in the form of encouragement, from any of your readers. – Wayne L. Seth, 15609 S. Chadron, Gardena, Calif.”

 

slim bomb

Site Update

Site Update

Greetings all! As one of my goals going forward, I want to more fully inhabit this blogspace I’ve created. So, I’ve re-committed to regular posting and taking more risks in putting my words and images out there in the world.

Out of this desire came the name change for this space – an identity in keeping with a more lyrical and hermetic focus, devoted to walking toward the revelation that humans are more creative than they imagine.

The world is made of stories. This space will be one way of putting forth a contribution to that weaving.

 

 

Now that Saturn is in Sagittarius…

So, I was going through my journal, and I came across this wonderful prose I had copied from Deborah Castellano’s blog post of October 14, 2012 on Charmed Finishing School. There were good things about Saturn’s travel through Libra that I remember, but were put on a back burner/buried under a pile of feelings that were churned up while mourning the death of family members. The last two years, I have been undergoing a ruthless personal confrontation with the ideal of family and the abject reality of my own family of origin while he made his trip through Scorpio.

If you’re a desperate wanting thing full of dreams and aspirations, you have to stop caring about what others want you to care about.     If you’re full of art.  If you’re full of love.   If you’re full of desire.  If you’re full of faith.  If you’re full of magic.   You have to be willing to lose everything, to be stripped bare.  To pit yourself against Zeus for your daughter, letting the world burn around you.  You have to be charming, brave and fierce against demons.  Now is the time, now is the hour.  Ours is the magic, ours is the power.

Isn’t that beautiful? I love that, especially the invocation at the end…

I’m trying to get back to making real the inspiration of that time, when I did so much photography, and began really looking at how to do some art, to leave a body of work behind.

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Do everything.

Fall backwards.

Let your Muse light your soul on fire.

Be true to your art.

Thanks Deborah. This is so powerful. Wish me luck.