Archive for March, 2018

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Logophilic rumination

March 9, 2018

What is it to be wordsmith?
To use symbols to try and make sense?
Or dwell in the absurd, if one can find the right word
The task can sometimes seem immense.

And writing in rhyme can sometimes consume
Leaving oneself without much space or room
To explore beyond parameters set in their way
Though I could do couplets all goddamn day

But it’s more about expansion, growth and the new
Learning things daily is important too
Stuck in the same ruts
Can make one a bit nuts
It’s a good thing to eschew

Okay, enough of that for now. Here’s the thing about words. They are universal as math and music, though the language, the dialect shifts from place to place. Sometimes they take the form of pictures, gestures, body language, scent, a gaze, but these are all symbols used to communicate.

I read someone say once that they don’t believe in synonyms, which is a notion that appeals greatly to me. I love the idea of each word having its own perfect application. It’s the reason why I have my clock device set to 24 hour time, I like the idea that every hour gets its own number, rather than having to share. I know that not everyone shares my love of the written word (more than spoken, though a well spoken word can certainly have an affect…) and that’s okay. I don’t share an affection for some stuff other people might like. But the thing that words do, the place that they occupy in my world is so intrinsic. I love being in bookstores, in libraries, because I am surrounded by them. I feel sane, and safe.

The best way to get me is with words.
To find a word and present it, as a gift for my consumption.
You can be the best looking dude on the beach, but if you can’t speak like Shakespeare, it’s only going to get you so far. And I’m not talking thine and forsooth, it’s not about the era, the age of the language, even the poetry of it. It’s how they’re used, their depth and breadth. Their girth, if you will.

I want to be filled up by the words,
to feel stretched as my body,
my being,
my mind expands,
reconfigures itself to encompass the meaning,
the weight those words bring to me.

I want to feel the characters, those black etched indicators of intent.
I want to feel the loops and swirls
of words like loops and swirls
curl around my shoulders like a cape,
to feel twine wind itself around strands of hair
and braid itself there.
To know that anchor is keeping my feet steady
While feather is keeping them light.
That fire finds home in my smile
And laughter makes my eyes bright.
I want to encompass language
and become good friends with truth,
feel consternation in the furrow of brows
And yea, occasionally use even forsooth.

Whether words inspire revelation
Or struggle to describe the banal,
they’re imprinted within me, every last syllable.
I’m madly in love with them all.

 

 

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Accepting what is.

March 6, 2018

I have always envied those who knew exactly what they want from life. And take the steps to get there. Who see the trajectory clearly, with regard to marriage, family, travel, career, what to have for dinner, whatever.

I’ve always wanted to write. I think.
I have a pretty good memory, but I know that there is much about memory that blurs over time. Remembering how something actually happened can be difficult at times, unless there are touchstones that can expand that memory into truth. Conversations with my grandmother while we were standing in her front yard, smelling the yellow roses that grew there are perfectly clear to me because I have more than one piece of information to draw from. I remember the too hot to touch in summer black gloss of the thin railing going up the stairs, the spindly stems of the rosebush that seemed to have grown there forever, the chipped red paint of the cement stairs.
I remember the way June felt, the lackadaisical nature of it, how it felt separate from the school year because it was too close to summer to be included. I remember the bittersweet flavour of the heat in August, because September followed fast on it’s heels.
I remember how the weave of the library carpet felt, how I’d idly pick at the tiny loops while curled up on the floor surrounded by the books I would be taking home this week, how satisfying it was to stack them according to size, to pile them in the order I planned to read them in. How I would pore through the table of contents in the short story collections and determine what was the shortest story to the longest because that was sequence I preferred to read them in.
These are sensations, smells, pockets of time captured and recalled when triggered by both external and internal stimuli.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer seemed to change daily. Along with my name some days. I was constantly shifting, considering and reconsidering my options. I’ve tried on many hats, will try on plenty more I’m sure. But the writing, the stories, they stayed. Though I never really did anything with them because somewhere along the way I’d been told (not by my mum, she would never discourage me, which is amazing and I’m grateful to her for it) that writing wasn’t a practical endeavour. It could make a good hobby, but a career as a writer? Impractical, unfeasible, a waste of time. My grade 8, 9 and 10 english teachers (that’s only 2 different people) both suggested it might work out for me, but I was quite cynical at that point and didn’t put much stock in anything adults said. At least, not the ones I knew. It took me years to even admit that there might be talent here. I guess I’m just a late bloomer.

Whenever I read Patti Smith, it makes me want to write. And not just, ‘geez she’s a good writer, I should practice more so I can get as good as her.’ No, I mean, I’ll be reading her and suddenly put the book down, pick up my pen and get lost in the sudden flow of my own thoughts. It’s absolutely glorious. Any time I’ve ever written a fairy godmother/guardian/sage aunt who doesn’t say much but spits truth with more grace than a ballerina on top of her game, it’s her I’m thinking of. I owe much of my artistic development of late to her.
There is a passage in Just Kids, a book she wrote about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, where she recounts the moment both she and he (well before they’d ever met) decide they they are artists. And that is how it is.

I’ve never really had that level of clarity before. But I’m starting to get it. I tend to get lost in what the thing should/could be. As though, if I choose one medium, one genre, one format, then I’m trapped there. I’ve only recently started answering that perennial question, “What do you do?” with the response “I’m a writer”. That’s not my “job” necessarily, it’s not how I earn my living, which I know is what most people are asking. But it’s the most accurate response. What do I do? I write. Incessantly. Constantly. Even when there is no pen in my hand, no laptop within reach, I am writing.
When I found two hair pins outside a locked storage room at the end of the hall, my mind automatically started concocting a bluebeard type scenario, trying to imagine who’d been using those bobby pins to pick the lock and see if there were dead bodies behind that door, and what had happened when they’d been discovered doing so, the only evidence being the pins they’d left behind as a clue.
Perhaps everyone does that every moment of the day. I don’t know, I can only speak for me.

The hardest part about coming to this place, accepting myself as artist, as writer, as exploration expressionist, metaphorical meanderer, dark place poet, shadowdreamer, wordsmith sensualist, is that there is no end to it. I’ve so long dwelt within the when I have.. then I can.. narrative that stepping away from it is daunting at best, terrifying at second best and so many adjectives to describe the ever incrementally scary horror show that is doing the thing that makes you happiest because you’ve finally accepted that you deserve such things.
If one goes to school to learn a skill, there is a syllabus, which is a far less interesting thing than I think that word should describe. There is a set course to follow, by the end of which you will be certified to call yourself a such and such. But anyone who has ever done a thing knows that there is rarely a moment when one can say, yes! I am a skilled professional who has learned everything there is to learn here and I am done. I have arrived at the place where the thing I set out to do has been completed.

If I know that’s true, why should I find the tenuousness of art so much more disconcerting than any other passion? I have so many friends who aren’t afraid to admit they are artists, musicians, writers, poets, painters. I honestly don’t know why it’s so difficult for me. Accountability? If I admit to it, do I then have a responsibility to imbue the world with creations that improve the quality of existence? That sounds like a silly notion, and yet another argument my brain has crafted for not doing the thing.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to let my brain continue on it’s quest to find ways to keep me from accepting what is, and while it’s all crazy busy and occupied with that, I’ll just quietly sit over here and write some stories or something.

Because it’s just what I do.

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March 4, 2018

So, I did the thing I do,
With my tendency to get intoxicated,
I got so drunk on you.
Until my vision blurs and all those traits that should make me crosseyed
get a pass.
I overlook, and then I overstep,
having lost my ability to think critically
And intrinsically know where my feet should go.
I forget to breathe,
breath held in anticipation of anything you might need,
hopeful that at some point the thing you need
will be me.
As though I’d like to be a place your pendulum can come to rest
Some kind of happy medium
Away from the frantic swing
Of push and pull.
A middle distance,
somewhere you might stare into,
A spot on the horizon, a future you might end up in
Without the consideration that it’s a place many look at
But not everyone sees.

And so I rally, I rail
I expose myself readily.
I want you to see me,
really see me,
But is that really possible?

I appear to the world as fragments,
lines of poetry tied with ribbons of red hair
and laughter
looping long legs that love to dance,
though sometimes they trip.
There is plenty of stumble and grumble in these pieces of me.
Much furrowed brow and what the fuck is happening now,
Mixed with general confusion and malaise for days.

And so which of me, do I desire you see?
Brave face facsimile presented in snapshots and single line status updates?
Broken bits of metaphor wrapped in an evolutionary fabric of time that’s softened my sharp edges to a dull roar?

A dreamer,
A schemer of plans to be better
Be,
If not more,
Certainly not less.
A girl who finds a way to fit comfortably in all of her places,
her nooks and crannies,
tumultuous spaces,
With a summer storm smile sincere without guile
Poetry that spills
from the curve of her lips
From the light in her eyes,
In the sway of her hips.
A wordsmith who knows sometimes,
just what to say
But forgets to get out
of her own way.

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