Tag Archives: Writing

This Is Who I Am


To be a writer

is like being two atoms that dance with one

Hydrogen playing with Oxygen

moving with scintillating, procreating fluidity

a disciplined yet unchained pattern

until the quadrille

slows down

and stands

with hardly a breath

transforming into crystals,

each one a unique expression

of water being frost

rock being mountain

or wind being ripples on river’s skin

like human being body, emotion and thought

like me, turning molecules of mind into words

dancing the rounds and rhythms,

pulling sounds and meanings like taffy;

stretching, tempting, and loving the sweetness

of post-rain petrichor, poetry and story-being-born.

Discipline is all it takes;

it’s only a matter of focused attention.

All the while my faucet drips

a metronome playing Chopin’s Funeral March.

It echoes against the cold hard tub: Dum Dum da Dum,

Dum da Dum da Dum da Dum…

A suitable march for somber scenes

or penned phrases that smirk.

Do you remember Mommy’s funeral?

When we weren’t supposed to laugh?

Suddenly, simple things such as a lady’s hat

black and wide

a saucer-shaped ride for snow,

turned resignation and sorrow into nonsense,

amplified our sighs into unstoppable giggles,

and hoots escaped from our throats

bouncing off gravestones

and falling like stars of grief-relief.

We stood there, two children hugging themselves

trying to appear with socially-acceptable sadness

behavior more suited to the tragic event.

We failed.

Laughter, glorious laughter

like a toad released in a classroom of nuns

shocked the mourners and freed us.

Mourners shifted in confusion

at our emancipation.

Surely we weren’t glad that Mommy died?

No more bed pans

No more sheets and laundry

Not one more morning of waking up wondering

if she’s dead

or still dying…

Is that faucet still dripping?

It is.

Handel’s Water Suite No 2

now skipping like tigger in my tub

bouncy, boisterous and… happy.

In the yellow pages under Plumbers, I find Scotty.

I call and ask him for a quote.

He knows my rented cottage

I forgot that this is an island,

a community of small and intimate

where no sparrow falls without everyone knowing

just as no bath leaks

nor pipes crack

nor drain becomes clogged

without Scottie fixing it

I need more than a washer, he says,

to stop this rhythmic dripping that disturbs my work.

Receiving his quote, I discover that words come cheap

but plumbing doesn’t.

His repair will cost me a whole chapter

including the edits.

Handel’s happy notes begin to grow on me.

Staying in the moment, I hear another pattern

an attitude – a practice of choice – an epiphany.

A drip or a sound need not be my nemesis

instead it is a setting; fire and fuel for my work.

I listen to the rhythms, inhale them, accept them into my being

Words commune and bond with water

dancing the dance of intention

while I, in glorious birth,

exist again and again and again

bonder of sights, sounds, heart and soul

in crystal-forming discipline

becoming what I already am

and so

I write

~

Submitted to Poetry Palace’s Thursday Rally:

http://promisingpoetsparkinglot.blogspot.com/2012/01/agreement-for-poets-rally-week-60.html

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Discussion of author Annie Dillard, Nature and The Writing Life


Annie Dillard walked by my side when I lived on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island in 1975. My isolation was no less than hers, although I was surrounded by people: loggers, fishermen, trappers, hunters, chefs, waiters and a bar full of whiskey that I was in charge of. During my hours off-work, I hid in a cove down by the harbor, or I went to the dump to be entertained by the bears. Always, Annie came with me. “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” gave me everything a solitary girl needed. Her words were my refuge, my delight, my confusion, my comfort. When I think of the six months in Port Hardy, I think of Annie.

“The Writing Life” is full of her parables: a man who rowed against the current until the current changed and brought him home; chopping at alder logs like a crazed woman until she learned to chop through the wood and the logs relented; watching Rahm roll his stunt plane through the air, making beautiful patterns like the precise blue-green swallow, and learning that it was all about sticking with the rhythm and paying attention to the lighting. All her stories trap the reader’s attention and pull them in until they realize she’s teaching about writing.  It makes me wonder if Annie has ever written about anything else. Aren’t all her books, when you get down to her basic message, about the writer’s life?

Annie secludes herself. She goes where she cannot be distracted by the usual daily din, finds a small, often cold and somewhat dark, shack of a room to write in. She tells me to “spend it all; play it, lose it, all, right away, every time.” She warns me not to hoard a good phrase for a later time, for in the hoarding act, it will be lost. It must be freely given, she says, reminding me of what my Dad used to tell me, “Nothing is yours until you give it away.”  She bids me to “examine all things intensely and relentlessly. Probe and search each object in a piece of art.”  She describes watching parallel rows of ocean waves breaking up, as if they were “reproducing the sensation of reading, but without reading’s sense.” (Brilliant, Annie – just brilliant observation!)

Annie wrote a whole chapter in one and a half pages. She warns that the writer’s life is wrought with danger – especially when the writer leaves the work. She uses an erupting typewriter and her struggle to prevent the room from catching fire as the only scene/event in the chapter. Her final statement, instead of giving explanation, assured the reader that though she’s had no trouble with it since, she knows it can happen. She never says if it ever really did happen, (she might have dreamt it), or whether she invented the whole scene as a metaphor for the labor a writer goes through, only to face complete destruction.  It doesn’t even matter that we don’t know. She pulls off another parable, so powerful, that it took less than 2 pages to leave me contemplating the scene for half an hour, playing with her words and wondering what gave her the courage or even the idea, to write a whole chapter in five short paragraphs and teach a lesson about sticking with it no matter what.

I love you, Annie.  Show me that trick again.

I want to tell Annie my parables; about the bears I watched, and how I learned that you have to respect the mother. I want to show her how the rescued bird looked out for his brother and saved him from starving. I want to show her how the English robin’s hunger, keen sense of hearing, and his successful hunt convinced me that I could return to America and make a new life out of nothing. I wonder, when Annie ponders the world she secludes herself in, does she have a question in mind that nature answers? Or does she gaze and observe until nature teaches her the question? Perhaps the result of every writer’s work is in reality nature’s own act of learning.

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Enlightenment by Haiku


 

Ancient journey towards inner peace:

Study life with curiosity, humor and compassion

Share observation in seventeen words.

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Twenty Words – Poetry Workshop with Quinton Duval


 

Take a moment to listen between the missing lines

Hear your heart as the beats count down

pulsing under scars that whisper

I’m still here.

Are you really, deeply listening?

Through cracked pane of window glass

the clang, clang of train rumbles past

in competition and your mind chases iron tracks.

Scratching pens on poets’ pads,

a cough, a sigh, a noisy worry,

a tall red drum rests in the corner silent

Yet even that – the lack of drumming, distracts

Take a moment and relax.

Can you hear those ten words or better, twenty?

The ones that if you had to choose

you could not live without?

Now – Focus

Jot them down quickly

Don’t judge them, let them fall

like scattered cells of finished skin:

children, laughter, thunder, rain, mountain, feathers, silver bark, lovers, sunlight,

autumn, meadows, spring, elk, green, home, blue, horse, gold, stream

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Naming


Choosing a title for my blog was like naming my child. Having some familiarity with her development inside my body, I thought it would be easy to name her. It was, at first.

Thinking she was a boy, my husband and I quickly settled on a boy’s name that rolled off the tongue, had no negative connotations for either of us, contained an attractive nickname possibility, and the initials promised an auspicious future, according to my numerology friend. When our ‘son’ was born, however, he turned out to be a girl, so another name had to be sought. A new list formed and grew; names were researched, discussed, considered and tossed. Finally, agreement was reached and our last creative act in the forming of our daughter’s fate (if you believe in such things being attached to names) was complete. The name felt right, as if she had always existed, and after the first few hours of knowing her, neither of us could imagine life without her and her name in it. It seemed as if she had always been there between us, waiting for us to make her happen.

This morning when I got over the initial stage fright of joining a public forum for my first blog, I faced once again, the same feelings about naming my child. The thoughts I write have been formed inside me; words made of bone, flesh, muscle and nerve. While I want to release them and give them an opportunity to express creatively that which they need to say in order to live, I’m also aware of my desire that they be accepted, respected and perhaps even loved by those who look upon them.

I see other bloggers with the eyes of a new parent who suddenly understands how other parents feel, and how precious their child is. Like taking my infant to pre-school and watching other parents’ worried faces as they drop off their toddlers. I catch their eyes and smile, hoping their child won’t eat mine, but become her first playschool friend. I let go of her hand, feel her excitement as she runs towards the playground, and the pen in my pocket – the one that I used to hold and control – breaks under the pressure of my worrying thumb. I finger the pieces unconscious of the freed ink spreading into cloth, while my daughter, freed into the world of her cohorts, runs to explore, challenge and enjoy.

As I labour these thoughts, nurturing the words, encouraging their growth, I reach the point where it’s time to let them go.  I release them in the hope that they will be accepted, respected and perhaps even, loved, by some. This broken pen writer has just given birth.

Photo courtesy of James Bruce, Timberscombe, Somerset, UK

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