I grew up in Wonderland. I can say this now, after having lived and died a little in some of the ugliest cities. Brevard, NC is an impossible town, and it should have died like it did every night at 9 PM when the traffic lights down town went off duty and reverted to four-way flashers. It should have hemorrhaged to death when so many of us left it, bleeding.
Life after Brevard consisted of marrying your high school sweetie, snagging a second shift job at Du Pont or Olin with the right influence, and hopefully, getting a double wide so say, in ten years and with a lot of overtime, you’d get a real home one day. Or you could get out, go to college, find a decent job never once thinking of the wounds or how inane it was, back then.
Exactly an hour later almost as an addendum, the one TV channel with consistent reception reminded our parents it was 11 o’ clock, and somehow, as if it were possible, not knowing where we were was the last thing they heard, the constant back question: Do you know where your children are?
Yes, we were cuturally deprived. The population inside city limits strained to top 5500. You knew everyone and everyone knew you, and even if you did not comprehend it, there was security in this, and a little resentment at not being able to live so unanonymously. The lone radio station was AM, and on week nights, the melodious voice of John Anderson brought us serenely to “the close of another broadcast day”, promptly at 10 PM and the strains of his voice were the last heard of the day for many of us.
You waited on everything in Brevard, and you waited for Brevard to catch up to the rest of the world, but it could not, and you knew it.
Mustangs, Barracudas, Chevelles, Impalas- all those horses and nowhere to run- the dichotomy of excess speed in a town that prided itself, almost to the point of codification, on operating at the pace of thickening molasses.
Go ahead and laugh at this, but on Friday nights in summer, the parking lot which now comprises Princess Plaza was cordoned off for square dancing. Do-se do, I kid you not. The whole town turned out. You slapped your face with Canoe or English Leather, slick in your favorite jeans, leaning against -something-until you found the courage or waited for the competition to die down so you could sidle up to Anne or Beth or Cindy or Marsha and ask for this next round?
You could not help but worry just a little because what if the Hokey Pokey really IS what its all about? How would you know? Left foot in, do-se-do.
Maybe you’d get lucky. Maybe a friend shared a can of beer with you, fresh from a “run” to Hendersonville. Not enough so you could feel it, but enough to leave a taste in your mouth for more, and enough to taint your breath and enhance your image. Image was all we had at times.
The bowling alley was the hottest place in town, except of course for Hardee’s. Before everything and after everything, there was Hardee’s. The simplicity of it was its appeal: you want to be found, go to Hardee’s. There you’d catch a glimpse of a wild Mustang perhaps, or split an order of fries. Even the cops had names like “Elvis” and “Tinker” and most of the time, they’d be hanging too, only parked conspicuously in the center of the lot with the window down.
Paegentry and dances were relegated to the American Legion, and we cut up, showed off, smoked an joked under the ancient machinery of a WWII anti aircraft gun whose trajectory would have placed a round about three feet over the court house and made impact say, close to Wal Mart, windage and elevation being considered.
To the students at Brevard College we were “townies”; to the tourists we were “hicks”. Always, there was this battle for our own town. Some of us fought it while others hung back considering Brevard not worth an ass kicking. But we shared a common perplexity, and try as we might, could never grasp the concept of driving 100 or maybe 150 miles just to look at LEAVES. White squirrels were common as mud, and any kid who had his driver’s license over 60 days knew every waterfall within 30 miles by rote. . As inevitable as daffodils in spring were the well-intended young women who arrived from UNC-Asheville. I never asked, but there had to be some deep spiritual power that propelled them onto the capstone of the court house retaining wall to save our dying town.
This was done usually at the top of their rather expanded lungs and usually, when mixed with the background of traffic, was for the most part unintelligble. But you learned to read their faces and even if you missed your appointed hour, you knew something serious was going on, and that there would surely be a next time.
“The City On The Hill” has been euphemised since the time of the ancients. In the Bible, it signifys both strength and depravity. Nostradamus saw it over and over and over. Those few of us fortunate enough to have lived there knew its pinnacle conjoined at the corner of Main and Jail House Hill, precisely where the wisewomen from Asheville stood.
They call Rome the Eternal City. I argue with history from time to time. If you lived this Brevard, you know it like you knew your first kiss, you know it now with your eyes closed, it has always been. It resides on tongue- tip like the good news ready to spring forth across the land, it is deeper than skin, a fabric of which a part of you is indelibly woven.
My best years. Wonderland and “The Last Picture Show” with a Buck Owens twist. Red pill or blue, it is waiting for you.
This poem is dedicated to all members and artists of The Rock of Ages Consortium, for your love and support of fellow artists everywhere who we honor on this site by exhibiting their incredible works of “colour” online.
“I am a Rock! and yield to none!”
The swelling words of a tiny smooth stone,
“Neither time nor season can alter me;
I am abiding, while the ages flee.
The pelting hail and the drizzling rain
Have tried to soften me, long, in vain;
And the tender dew has sought to melt,
Or touch my heart; but it was not felt.
There’s none that can tell about my birth,
For I’m as old as the spinning earth.
Generations of man arise and pass
Out of the world, like the blades of grass;
And many a foot on me has trod,
That’s gone from sight, and under the sod!
I am a Rock! but who art thou,
Painting beneath the restless bough?”
The painter was shocked at this rude salute,
And lay for a moment abashed and mute;
She never before had been so near to here
A rock that spoke, this mundane sphere;
And she felt for a time at a loss to know
How to answer a thing so coarse and low.
But to give reproof of a nobler sort
Than the angry look, or the keen retort,
At length she said, in a gentle tone,
“Since it has happened that you were thrown
Into this river that’s become your home
From beneath this tree, as a child I grew,
Now listening to a stone, so hard and new.”
And so it shall be, this Rock that speaks to me,
I will cover it with paint, and then we’ll see,
And quickly adorn with the stroke of my brush
It’s time, it’s season, it’s storm, it’s touch,
Not the gentle dew, nor the grinding heel
Shall ever subdue, or make it feel
Abandoned, unloved, unwanted, alone
For I’ll paint this rock and take it home.
But soon, from this Rock, she sunk away
From the comfortless spot where the pebbles lay.
But it was not long before the soil broke
The artist sat once more ‘neath mighty oak!
And, as she painted and painted; the colors spread,
The Rock looked up, and wondering said,
“Modest artist! Please, I shall never to tell
If you covered me in paint, this granite shell;
See the pride of the river has swallowed me.
Won’t you pick me up? Won’t you set me free?
Am I to meekly sink in the darksome earth,
Never to attain my potential, my worth!
And oh! how many more will tread on me,
While you sit and paint beneath this beautiful tree?
Your artistic vision towering towards the sky,
Can transform such a Rock as worthless as I!
Useless you release me, for centuries here,
I’ll be sitting in this riverbed from year to year.
But never, from this, shall a complaining word
From the painted Rock again be heard,
For the artist transformed it, without and within,
Gave it new purpose, and love again.
The Rock its vow she could never forget,
It lies brilliantly painted in painted silence yet.
I see a lot of things I disagree with on social media. And, to be honest, I’ve probably posted more than my share of things that are disagreeable. It’s hard to keep our personal beliefs to ourselves when we see things online that we take issue with. Let’s take the subject of politics on Facebook.
For me personally, I have many friends and family members on Facebook who are on both sides of the fence politically. From time to time I have posted something politically charged, only to go back a little bit later and remove it after I’ve thought about the possible repercussions. I am now fully committed to never doing it again.
So, I’ve come up with some reasons why none of us should post about politics on Facebook. Nothing that I’ve written is intended to silence anyone. My sole motivation is to keep relationships on Facebook intact, and invite the reader to look toward more appropriate forums for political debate. Here you go….
You could alienate family and lose your friends.There is no reason friends and family can’t discuss political issues calmly and respectfully…but for heaven’s sake, do so in person! If you don’t feel comfortable expressing opinions at the dinner table, why would you feel so comfortable doing so online? Don’t be a coward! Most people feel righteous and powerful when they are safe behind their computers and post things they would never say face to face. Being an online political bully is no different than being a bully in person. Remember, even if you are right doesn’t make it right! And what does it say about you as a friend that you are willing to hurt the ones you love just to express your political leanings?
You could lose your job. Posting your strong political beliefs on Facebook is personal, and it’s not business…correct? Bullshit! If your employer feels strongly about a political issue and you go on Facebook and post totally derogatory rants counter to what they believe, they might take your post personally and professionally. You want your employer to like you and factor you into the culture of the business they built. And while you have every right to hold opposite beliefs, you don’t need to invite career disaster just to put your opinion online. Employers hire people they know, like and trust. Period. If you are willing to accept the consequence, by all means, post away. But after the election is over, and you sit there unemployed, not sure what happened, don’t blame others for your indiscretion.
You are wasting your time. “Your clever meme changed my political beliefs” said no one ever! You’re not going to change someone’s political beliefs on Facebook. You may think you have the most compelling argument, but guess what? You don’t, and neither do they. You can debate and debate, but you’re just wasting your time. People are different and believe different things. If you truly love and care for your online friends and family , quietly accept it, agree to disagree and move on. Life’s too short. Let your vote be your voice.
Facebook is the wrong platform. If you’re bound and determined to spend time arguing over political issues online, perhaps you should go to a political blog or a news site and do so. Don’t ruin everyone else’s experience on Facebook with your political rants, no matter how passionately you think others NEED to hear your point of view. No one wants to limit your freedom to fight for what you believe, but ask yourself, is Facebook the right forum? Last week you were posting photos of your precious niece at a ballet recital. This week your niece’s parents don’t give a shit about you because you called them stupid on political issues. If you are willing to damage your close relationships to express an opinion that evaporates in the next political cycle, by all means, do so. Perhaps you should go into politics yourself where you can sacrifice your loved ones as long as you get your soap-box to stand upon. Fair exchange, right?
There’s enough politics in the media. One of the reasons I use Facebook is to laugh, have fun and converse with my friends and family. I don’t use it to get worked up or stressed out over something I see that I disagree with. There’s enough political coverage in the mainstream media. More than enough. Keep it there and leave the politics to the pundits. As much as you believe you are the end-all in political debate…you are not. Get over yourself. When all is said and done in this election, you Mom will still be your Mom; your maid-of-honor will still be your best friend. Your aunt and uncle will still be part of the fabric of your life. (Well, maybe.)
You might lose 50% of your clients. If you’re marketing your business on Facebook, you absolutely NEVER want to go down this road on your Facebook business page. When you post your political beliefs on your business Facebook page, I guarantee you just lost up to 50% of your potential client base. And for what? The right to feel right? I have a lot of strong opinions, but none of them are valued over $1.00. But hey, it’s your business. If you feel everything you’ve worked hard for and sacrificed for is easily given up for the right to be King of the Mountain of Facebook, by all means go for it. I’m sure your candidate will mail you a check to cover your loss. What, nothing in the mailbox. I’m sorry. Keep posting…maybe it will be in the mail next week.
You’re just feeding the troll. I’m sorry for name-calling in a post that despises name-calling, but let’s face it: you’re just making yourself another Internet troll. And Facebook is infested with trolls. It’s too easy and you are not nearly as clever as you think you are. Half-truths and shallow talking points are what the internet are made of. The troll diet consists of apples and oranges as they attempt to equate things like the rainbow flag to the confederate flag. These people don’t deserve your attention; they’re just antagonists. They don’t want rules. They just want to fight and prefer it to be unmediated. That is exactly the platform Facebook provides. It’s a place where people feel comfortable making huge rhetorical leaps, without facing the challenge or consequences of having to back it up. Do yourself a favor and just stay out of it.
Keep your political posts to facts and figures and funny (not mean) things. Don’t pretend you know what you are talking about. Are you an expert on foreign policy, or do you just have a personal opinion? Can you talk with expertise on the nuances of global economics, or are you just pissed because your paycheck is shrinking, rather than growing? Keep it to the facts as it applies to you
When you comment on a friend’s post, don’t make it personal – ever. If a friend’s Facebook posts are offensive to you, “un-follow” them until Election Day 2016. That way their posts and cheap memes won’t be visible to you. Or, if they really go too far, “unfriend” or “block” them. But please, don’t do this for family members with whom you may be breaking bread or sharing turkey in a few weeks’ time.
Join a closed Facebook group dedicated to your political point of view .Rant all you want with those like-minded individuals. But don’t think that just because it’s closed, your posts will be private; they won’t be. Join Twitter and leave Facebook behind for now. You can “follow” those who believe what you do and they can reciprocate. In that way, Twitter is very incestuous, but keeping it all in the family can sometimes be a good thing.
Agree or disagree with my advice? Instead of beating up on others, go ahead a beat up on me at email@example.com. Trust me, I have nothing to lose. I promise, I won’t be offended and perhaps your family and friends will still love and accept you after election day.
“God talks in the trees.” — Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas
It is the season of sleeping late
while dreaming of red-orange trees
shuddering in the evening breeze.
These are the short days
when the thirst for warmth suborns desire
and Eros kisses summer love goodnight.
It is the season of crimson sunsets
pouring slowly, like thick molasses,
over church steeples and frozen riverbeds.
When snow-pregnant clouds float lazily
across flower-less meadows
and lovers seek shelter beneath heavy quilts.
It is the season of naked trees,
with branches like fingers extending
toward the setting sun, tracing delicate arches
across the rose autumn sky.
Those days when the blackbird flies southward
into the night beneath crystal constellations.
It is the season of surrender,
when burdens, like the yellowing leaves,
fall silently to the frozen earth
and tired bones warm themselves before tended fires..
It is the season of dying in the palm of God’s hand;
comforted in the knowledge of spring’s resurrection.
The ground beneath my feet rumbles.
Softly at first, and then with each step
increasing in its timbre.
The air is damp and mossy with a gray light
filtering through the canopy of spruce and pine.
Wet thunder rises; my ears are muted
by the intensity of a river plummeting
over slick rock lips;
a roiling, massive death spiral.
Half the volume swan dives elegantly
hundreds of feet into a pounding foaming white pool,
while my pounding heart matches the outpouring,
beat for beat.
The other hangs mistily in the frigid air,
gently nourishing the brown-green algae with its spit.
I cannot help but marvel at the sheer anger of it all,
wondering how many open-mouthed bass
thrust forth into open space, gargoyle-eyed as
the river disappears beneath them,
recognize this as the end of their swim?
Death, anger, power…and yet
so serenely beautiful
Rage on, Snoqualmie,
before the winter’s freeze deprives you
of your liquid dance!
Consider for a moment that we are all jugglers. It is, afterall, what life demands of us; constant juggling – of time, relationships, our attention, responsibilities. We feel ourselves continually caught up in the demanding task of keeping many things up in the air simultaneously, smoothly rotating, round and round.
Suppose then, in our quest to be the best juggler possible, we see that we are juggling three balls: one rubber, one wooden, and one crystal.
In the course of our juggling, we slip and drop one ball. Let’s say it’s the rubber ball. What happens to it? No real damage done, right? It bounces. It comes back to you. This rubber ball might represent your education, your job, your contributions to the community in which you live. It is the decisions you make everyday that defines not the depth, but the breadth of living. In the course of your life you may drop this ball several times…you may change jobs, you advance, you are laid off, you make new friends, old ones slip away, you go back to school…it is constantly moving in new directions.
Do not overly concern yourself when this rubber ball slips and falls to the ground; it will retain its resiliency, bounce back, and everything will be fine.
Suppose now you lose your focus for a second, perhaps a day or two. You drop the wooden ball. What becomes of it? Well, it’s a bit noisier, true, but in all likelihood it will become scratched, perhaps chipped. In time, after a few falls, it may even take on a new shine, a new patina.
This wooden ball represents your health and your spirituality. It changes…constantly. It evolves. It will not look the same today as it will tomorrow. That is its nature. Be mindful of keeping this one aloft, but do not distress if from time to time it slips your grasp. It, too, is resilient and in the long run, it endures.
But what then of the third ball? The crystal ball? What happens if you take your eye from it for a moment and it hits the floor? What becomes of it?
It shatters! It will not return to you for it is utterly destroyed.
This crystal ball represents your close, intimate relationships. Your husband, your wife. Your Mother and Father and sisters and brothers. It represents your children and their children, et. cetera, et. cetera. It represents family and all close and cherished relationships. It represents the giving and the receiving of love.
If you drop this ball, no amount of effort will repair it. It is lost forever. For this reason alone, you must be acutely and forever focused on keeping this ball in the air at all costs.
As you juggle life, keep this lesson in mind, and keep your priorities likewise aligned. Allow for mistakes in life (the rubber and the wooden balls), but never accept your life as the mistake (the crystal ball!)
Past the tick-tick-tocking of the midnight hour,
Wrapped in sweat-stained cotton sheets,
Robbed of sleep and feeling sour
Like a muffled drum sounding nothing beats –
In the dying petals of the poet’s flower.
This syrup sleep removes the pain,
While dreams remain beyond my reach.
A whiskey slumber subdues the brain
While my toss-n-turn reveals a breach,
As time grinds on just the same.
I rise to write the poet’s dribble
And gorge upon liters of stale red wine.
Behold, my words, a bastard’s scribble!
Writ upon the passage of borrowed time.
Each tick, each tock, from my life is nibbled
I cannot rest while my muse is clanging
Inside my head a poor man’s verse,
Nor can I stop the incessant banging
As my thirst for libations meets an empty purse!
These words are ripe for a morning hanging.
Upon the tick-tick-tocking of the morning hour,
Sweet sleep descends upon my brow.
Within my bed I hide and cower;
An ink-less pen is a horseless plough –
In the dying petals of the poet’s flower.
Emotionally exhausted and viscerally spent, I have just completed my readings of those I have affectionately nicknamed the “Suicide Sisters” – Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath.
I had hoped to glean some understanding of how incredible writing is influenced by depression, personal anguish and mental illness. Had I known how jagged this footpath was, I might have thought twice before beginning such a journey.
I literally fell in love with all three of these Spirits. I cried without shame. I physically felt pain at times. At times, especially with Virgina Woolf, I would swear I heard their whispers in my inner ear.
This has been the most difficult, hopeless literary undertaking of my life. Hope had a way of getting misplaced, if not lost outright, when reading these women.
At times, I had to remind myself to breath. In truth, at times I didn’t want to.
Would that I could deeply reach
beneath the dark-moist earth
pulling upward closely to my breast
fistfuls of your white-bleached bones –
to feel the jagged edges pressed
against my selfish living flesh;
to smell the late hours of your suffering,
to taste your tortured final verse
upon my dusty tongue.
Oh, my Suicide Sisters!
You each found in Death’s cold embrace
the peace and warmth Life long denied.
Virginia…did you pack stones enough
to carry you as wetly deep as needed
to sleep through the ages?
Have the midnight screams,
the anguished dreams
settled softly with you on the murky riverbed?
Sylvia…your babies lay warmly sleeping
drawing their first breaths where you surrendered your last..as then you entered eternal night –
did you fight against the dying light,
or was your savagely betrayed soul
carried softly heavenward
upon the rising cloud of your final breath.
Anne, surrendered child of the asylum
dancing in sync to the symphony of the insane, voiceless visionary virgin,
revving the engine, inhaling “no more!”
The world kissed your haunting cheek,
chewing your words with callous spit
Dear Anne, whose words burn brightly still
have you fled this mortal coil and all its ills?
My sweet, courageous Suicide Sisters!
Did the screaming stop, the incessant hum,
as your mortal clocks
struck the hour of “none”?
I did not need your fevered poems
to navigate my way back home…
for here upon your graves I rest
hearing your echoes within my chest!
Where then is my courage?
Are you not even now pulling me to you?
Have I no further verse to write
to guide me over into the comforting silence of our shared eternal night?
The bitter truth that is mine to drink
is not that I write, but that I think!
Your tortured lives are my dying treasure
For what is death but absent pleasure?
the world spins on a tilted shaky spindle
and we hold on tightly with our hopes and dreams
(there is no space for anything but dreaming!)
we defy gravity with our capacity to love and cherish
we are gods treading boldly on a blue-green marble
beneath a sea of stars tossed upon a blue-black canvas
the universe painted in brilliant colors in random rotation
stoking the fires of our imagination with worlds beyond our reach
the non-dreamers toil in despair, and soon to dust return
while we float through infinity and blow kisses to the sun
dream, dream, dream…close your eyes and open your mind
(there is no space for anything but dreaming!)
Happy Birthday to one of my greatest inspirations: T.S. Eliot (he is the reason I write as D.L. McHale)
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is perhaps one of the most introspective and transforming pieces of modern poetry ever written. It resonates, for me, on a substratum of my inner being, to which I rarely penetrate; for my life has been mostly a constant evasion of myself. My losses stack up accordingly.
In honor of his birthday, and his priceless contributions to both modern literature and to my own creative metal, “let us go then, you and I” to:
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse A persona che mai tornasse al monda, Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero, Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.
Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes, Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the windowpanes; There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair–
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin– (They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have know them all already, known them all–Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all– The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all– Arms that are braceleted and white and bare (But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!) Is it perfume from a dress That makes me so digress? Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume? And how should I begin? . . . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets.And watched the smoke that rises from the pipesof lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .
I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. . . . . . .
And the afternoons, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! Smoothed by long fingers, Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers, Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet–and here’s no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And, in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all, After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while, To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”–
If one, setting a pillow by her head, Should say: “That is not what I meant at all; That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all, Would it have been worth while, After the sunsets and the dooryards and sprinkled streets, After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor–
And this, and so much more?–
It is impossible to say just what I mean! But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while If one, setting a pillow or throwing off a shawl, And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all, That is not what I meant at all.”. . . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous– Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old . . . I grow old . . .I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind?
Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back. When the wind blows the water white and black. We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown. Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
MY HUMBLE ANALYSIS:
Meet Prufrock. (Hi, Prufrock!). He wants you to come take a walk with him through the winding, dirty streets of a big, foggy city that looks a lot like London. He’s going to show you all the best sights, including the “one-night cheap hotels” and “sawdust restaurants.” What a gentleman, he is! Also, he has a huge, life-altering question to ask you. He’ll get to that later, though.
Cut to a bunch of women entering and leaving a room. The women are talking about the famous Renaissance painter Michelangelo. I don’t know why they’re talking about Michelangelo, and I never learn. Welcome to Prufrock’s world, where no one does anything interesting.
Did we mention that it’s foggy. Like really, really foggy. The fog has a delightful yellow color, and it acts a lot like a cat.
Yawn. What a day. i’ve accomplished so much already with Prufrock. There’s still a lot of stuff he still wants to get done before “toast and tea.” People to see, decisions to make, life-altering questions to ask. But not yet…There’s still plenty of time for all that later.
Where did the women go? Oh, yes, they’re still talking about Michelangelo.
Yup. Pleeeen-ty of time for Prufrock to do all that really important stuff. Except that he doesn’t know if he should. He’s kind of nervous. You see, he was about to tell someone something really important, but then he didn’t. Too nervous. Oops! At least he’s a sharp-looking guy. Well, his clothes are sharp-looking. The rest of him is kind of not-so-sharp-looking. People say he’s bald and has thin arms.
But he still has pleeen-ty of time. And he’s accomplished so much already! For example, he has drank a lot of coffee, and he’s lived through a lot of mornings and afternoons. Those are pretty big accomplishments, right? Plus, he’s known a lot of women. Or at least he’s looked at their hairy arms, and that’s almost as good.
Prufrock says something about how he wishes he were a crab. Oh, Prufrock! Always the joker. Wait, you were serious? That’s kind of sad, my friend. Don’t you have important things to do?
Oops! It looks like he didn’t do that really important thing he meant to do. He was going to tell someone something life-altering, but he was afraid of being rejected. So he didn’t. Oh well.
Meanwhile, Prufrock keeps getting older. He doesn’t worry about that really important thing anymore. Instead, he worries about other important things, such as whether to roll his pant-legs or eat a peach.
Ah yes…the peach! This is no ordinary question about fruit. This is perhaps the raciest line ever written…given the time in which it was written. Again, ” Do I dare to eat the peach?” Im not going to spell this out for you. I think you now know to what the “peach” refers.
It turns out that Prufrock really likes the ocean. He says he has heard mermaids singing – but they won’t sing to him. Boy, you sure do talk a lot about yourself, Prufrock.
Finally, he brings us back into the conversation. He talks about how we lived at the bottom of the sea with him (geez, we don’t remember that one!). It turns out we were asleep in the ocean, but all of a sudden, we get woken up by “human voices.” Unfortunately, as soon as we wake up, we drown in the salty ocean. Boy, what a day. We thought we were talking a walk, and now we’re dead.
And we die…we drown. And in that moment we understand, finally, the message of his love song….
Does any of it really matter…life, love, indulgences, hope, fear? For we age, and in aging become, not someone, but something to laugh and point at. And then we die.
Your softness courses through my fingertips
a single kiss pressed upon my parted lips
sweet soft words spoken in the dead of night
as you pull me closer, as you hold me tight
…fragments of a waking dream
nothing in the rising is as it seems
a whisper in the timeline of memory
perfected in the forgetting of you and me
You were never the one for me
and I was never the one for you
There are empty roads enough to walk
No feet at which to lay the final fault
I will find my way in the absence of you
Forgotten love is like morning dew
It melts away as the day grows longer
As pain subsides, as the heart grows stronger
You were never the one for me
and I was never the one for you
To have loved and lost is all we have done
We wagered so much, so little was won
A temporaray madness, a soft siren’s call
The best we could do was cushion the fall
Neither breathless desire or passionate embrace
Love was the wisdom to let go with grace
You were never the one for me
and I was never the one for you
There is light to cut through the darkest night
I may wander for awhile but I will be alright
Thoughts wander now to a bright new horizon
The weight of our failing has finally lightened
Each memory lost, false love then betrayed us
A thousand miles stretch forever between us
I wish you joy and the fulfillment of dreams
….perfected in the forgetting of you and me
You were never the one for me
and I was never the one for you
Death in Syria and Libya, financial collapse in Greece, fires in California, ISIS atrocities in Chattanooga, famine in the Sudan, murder by cop everywhere!
The list is endless.
Where are the uplifting stories?
Where are the tales of human heroism
that lift us beyond our everyday blues ,
the stories that reveal the true range
of human experience?
Are we shackled prisoners of a media
obsessed with the belief that the only thing that sells is grief and despair?
To overcome evil, we must be vigilant
about the abuses we humans bestow upon one another, stalwart against the evil forces of our inner demons.
We cannot stick our head in a bucket of wilted flowers and hope that things get better.
We need inspiration.
We need stories of triumph and victory.
We need to imagine and create.
Our imagination is a book of inspiration;
On its pages are found the stories of shared love,creativity, hope, and universal promise.
Ours is the story of lives imperceptibly bound, threads weaving a rich and colorful tapestry of humankind, of hope.
Where can we find hope?
It is found in our children, our future,
a new generation moving out into
and experiencing their worlds.
It is found in the creative outpouring of strangers ever reminding us that the true nature of humanity is to seek higher ground and to share with one another the voice of our inner genius.
It is found in the artists, the dancers, the poets and writers…the storytellers, the musicians, the singer’s, the community activists, the revolutionaries, the preachers, the atheletes, the lovers, and the loved.
It is found in the spiritual and collective vision of each of us.
The stories that diminish us will one day
be supplanted by those that lift us up!
Ours is a story of the capacity to love,
to overcome, to perservere.
There is much power and beauty in her world, yet her soul is divided into two houses:
One is sparce and darkly decadent, surrounded by high windowless walls; there is very little color to break the monotony, and its gate is usually locked.
This house is full of decaying art – the crudely painted memories left by people who felt their life had been changed by divine intervention, offering eternal love for her with promises that were falsely laid.
The other house is rich in colour, its thick outside walls washed in strong blues and reds.
In this house, the gate is flung wide open, and on the patio outside there are clay pots and plates all decorated in a kaleidoscope of vibrant, living colours.
Inside is a tiny virginal bed with a mirror above it reflecting back the inconsistent themes of her life.
She wears her silken hair in ebony rivulets cascading in loose waterfalls down her gently curving back; she takes great pride in the delicate scar across her upper lip, a reminder of the evil that dwells in the angry guts of jealous men.
Her clothing echoes her hair – she dresses in embroidered shirts and wide floor-length flowing skirts, swirling in the warm summer winds of her womanhood.
All of this colour and dynamism reflect her conflicted character; the turbulent and contradictory life she lives. Her own story is both tragic and uplifting; the essence of her more provocative, daring and strange spirit.
Indeed, in some ways the dichotomy of her life are chapters in a long autobiography, paralleled and matched by her inner angels and demons.
This internal schism is refracted through the broken shards of a glass imagination, a constant yearning to fill the void within her. And in that complex yearning, another looming presence which was impossible to escape.
Her secret love, her one true love, is a huge man who looks even more enormous beside her diminutive body. He is a constant (but not faithful) companion. She both loves and loathes him, in constant and equal measure.
The relationship between the two is fraught with conflict and anger. So it might be strange to see the two lace cloths embroidered with their names lying across the pillows of her bed.
There is in her life a curious blend of love, betrayal, hope, and long-suffering sentimentality coupled with a harsh frankness about herself – a combination that seduces many people – not only him.
Each night, she gently and quietly untangles herself from his sleeping embrace and makes her way by moonlight to her gray, colorless house with the locked gate.
She indulges in intense relationships with faceless women and men, offering her backside to conventional morality. But in the cool grey light of morning, she folds herself once more into the warmth and safety of his arms.
This constant terrible pain is a permanent feature of her life, yet it does not restrain her. In some ways it makes her wilder and more uninhibited. For much of what compels her life is about pain, and the terrible fragility of her body compared with the resolution of her mind.
Each day she deals most explicitly with the paradox of excruciating joy and exquisite pain.
Her alter egos are attached by fragile vessels which are not easily cut – hence the bloodstained scissors resting on her white dress. The lush landscape of her dreams seem inaccessible because of the thorny brambles around her neck.
While she might appear, with her beautiful traditional dresses and her tiny broken body, like the ‘perfect doll’ that all men and certain women desire, she is nonetheless fulfilled in her own right, and pursues sexual fulfilment and monogamous peace with equal fervor.
A ribbon around a bombshell.
She is inexplicably wrapped in endless layers of the full spectrum of human experience and the unbidden possibilities in human understanding.
She senses affirmation in the enormous potentiality of both houses and the unique power of being a woman once freed from constraint.
She is fighting a revolution within herself.
Hers is a life of two-way narratives. Of unimaginable passions and failed restraint. An existence made all the worse by sadness, distress and a brutal sense of betrayal. Made all the better by the wanton surrender to the possibilities and potential of a woman’s body.
This is the permanent consequence of her life. Yet the often violent and disturbing intersection of her two houses within her soul provide ironic affirmations of life; there is beauty in both, not only in the qualities of conventionality, but in the power and strength of the life itself.
She is full of curses and imprecations interwoven with lyrical images and fragments of poetry. Her dualism defies fatalism with their colours, their endlessly surprising meetings of image and meaning, their powerful assertions of her womanhood.
She is both madonna and whore, and she is perfect in her imperfection.
Full of hurt and pain and yet equally bursting with life, defiance, and rebellion.
She is an ever-evolving act of defiance, a challenge, a continuing affirmation of life itself.
It’s easy to say goodbye – to meet again is hard.
Love gone like rose petals fallen on flowing waters
My thoughts of her are like these flowing waters,
Meandering toward the open sea on their hopeless journey.
In time, washed away over a burnt orange horizon.
My hope, too!
The north wind blows; here on the ocean it’s cold.
My home is at the bend of a crumbling, salt-soaked pier.
I watch a lone white sail at heavens’ end;
Like a waking dream, quickly gone – who can I ask where?
Darkness falls beside the endless sea.
We had often walked upon warmer, infinite sands
Pressing our bare heels into the foaming wetness.
But one set of footprints are swept away too quickly
Swallowed by the receding tides of love.
This cold empty beach was never what I wished;
These scattered empty shells speak of inevitable ends.
The beauty of the ocean’s edge declines more year by year.
As the sun goes down, a chilling wind appears
Whipping the sands, stinging my face…a reminder
That with beauty comes inevitable pain –
To hear seagulls cry, or see pelicans on the fly
Makes me sorrow even more.
I lack the courage for this day.
Wrapping solitude around me like a mother’s arms
I turn for home – or what I now call home –
An empty room, a quiet room, an empty bed, a quiet bed;
My refuge from the darkness and the light.
Myself, I think I’ve found a place that suits me..
I have made my home amidst this mighty shore,
Yet I can no longer hear the crashing of the ocean swells.
Outside my window, all the butterflies are white,
A pair flitter over the dying garden’s grass.
They are damaging my heart!
Two tears trace two lines down my face,
I send them to the ocean’s beaten coast.
One full year now separates the loving and the unloving;
I have not often thought of her, but neither can I forget.
We would not recognize each other even if we met again,
My face is covered with sand, my temples glazed with ocean foam.
In deepest night, a sudden dream returns me to her arms,
We look at each other without a word, a thousand tears now flow.
I know that this must have some deeper meaning.
My muse lifts me from my sickly state,
And smiling, asks me to write a poem
I try to write the pain away, but cannot find the words.
Tonight, the ocean’s wind enters through the window,
The torn gauze curtain starts to flutter and fly.
I turn slowly in my bed, looking up at the bright moon,
And send my prayers a thousand miles in its light.
In the bitter waves of loss,
Thrashed and tossed about,
By the sullen winds of life that blow,
From the desolate shores of doubt,
Where the anchors of love once cast
In search of eternal purchase
Now dragging useless in sorrow’s gale.
I am quietly holding fast, holding alone
To the things that cannot fail.
That’s what I seek (although my heart knows full well)
The truth is, I may never be able to know for sure why.
But I do know that there is no single
“Should have done” or “could have done”
Or “did” or “didn’t do”
That would have changed that why.
All that love could do was left undone.
This shipwreck, my castaway life,
This endless frothing of cold, death-capped waves
Was due to my taking my eyes off the horizon
Where our dreams were setting with the dying sun.
Letting go of regrets is not some passive undertaking.
Regret is a weight that anchors us in the past, rendering the future as unobtainable.
Letting go takes courage and lots of sweat. It takes a willingness to allow pain to run its course. We are forever changed by the failures of yesterday. Who we are today barely resembles who we were yesterday.
The heartaches and the pervasive sense of loss can either pull us down into the morass of self-pity, or it can catapult us from the depths of relentless sorrow to the heights of new joy.
It all depends on upon a readiness to face the sun as it rises upon a new day. Upon how hungry we are to feed the possibility that something more, something better awaits us in the infinite possibilities of tomorrow.
Memories are like a cracked mirror; they can only serve to offer us a distorted reflection of our true selves. Memories seduce us with useless thoughts and images of what was, of what might have been. But memories are a poor substitute for imagination and hope. If we are ever to break free from the shackles of our past, we must first wean ourselves from our addiction to memories. Our addictive behavior is the root of all suffering.
But much like the heroin addict who struggles and writhes in agonizing pain as he kicks his deadly habit, we, too, must find within ourselves the strength and courage to kick our dependence on self-recrimination and useless reflection.
The soul is a restless being; it is constantly expanding and demanding room to grow and to breathe. Let’s be honest – the air has been sucked from yesterday, and when we exist with our hearts and our feet planted in the past, we deny our souls the essential life force needed to carry us further toward our fullest potential.
In the very moment that we let go, we invite a rapture that can feed and satisfy the soul.
Be brave. Face the emptiness. Wrap yourself in self-love.