Poetry & Art Issue 3

On the Cover

"virus" by Stacy Poirier, inspired by the poem of the same name by Rick Belden

Special thanks to Staci Poirier for the cover art, “virus” -acrylic mixed media which incorporates a branch from a tree, plastic worms and fish, worry dolls, mirrors, wire mesh, and a photo transfer. The piece is 20 x 26 inches and was inspired by the 2008 poem “virus” by Rick Belden.

According to Staci, the artwork is about ending the cycle of child abuse and preventing it from becoming a generational issue. If you read the painting from left to right, it goes from death, shame, destruction,shattered self to a story filled with potential hope and wholeness which reflects the movement of the poem. Staci completed the piece in June 2012. Fragments of “virus” appear next to the titles for each essay in this issue

Staci Poirier was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is a self-taught artist. Proud of her rich, Métis heritage which informs much of her art work, she has focused primarily on acrylic painting and working with mixed media since 2002. Recently, she has begun incorporating her dreams, and giving them conscious expression. Stacl holds a B.A. from the University of Alberta in History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture. Staci’s art works can be viewed at www.facebook.com/stacipoirier71

 

virus
By Rick Belden

a liquid black cloud spreads its fingers
across the family sky
like ink from a squid
filling an aquarium tank
blotting out the sun
turning everyone and everything
the color of a funeral
shadow blue.

a virus infects the family tree
twisting the future
obscuring the past
spreading from generation to generation
feeding on the children
turning the adults into monsters
or rendering them
mute.

a parasite enters the family bloodstream
burrowing into hearts and minds
anchoring in tender bodies
protecting and propagating itself with a trance
forget
forget
forget.

I will not forget
and I will not pass these nightmares on to anyone else.

I’ll pull those black fingers down out of my sky
I’ll dig this virus out of my roots
I’ll burn this parasite out of my blood.

I’ll hunt down every last trace of this psychic infection
this evil rot that was injected into me when I was a child
and I’ll haul it out into the daylight
where it can’t survive.

I’ll scream it out
I’ll vomit it out
I’ll drag it out of me
any way I can
tooth and claw
root and branch
blood and bone
until I’ve purged it from my life
and cleansed myself completely.

I reject the conspiracy of amnesia and silence
that allows this systemic scourge
to thrive unchallenged
in secret
in dark and helpless places
I reject the family commandments
thou shalt not remember
thou shalt not feel
thou shalt not tell
I will remember
I will feel
I will tell
I’ll take back my life from this shadow blue plague
and if that makes me an outcast
a traitor in the eyes of the family
then so be it.
Copyright © 2008 by Rick Belden. Excerpted from Scapegoat’s Cross: Poems about Finding and Reclaiming the Lost Man Within.

Rick Belden is the author of Iron Man Family Outing: Poems about Transition into a More Conscious Manhood, widely used by therapists, counselors, and men’s groups as an aid in the exploration of masculine psychology and men’s issues. His second book, Scapegoat’s Cross: Poems about Finding and Reclaiming the Lost Man Within, is currently awaiting publication. He lives in Austin, Texas. Excerpts from Rick’s books, poetry, essays, and video are available at www.rickbelden.com

 

A Mandala for Richmond
by William Fraker

While constructing a sand mandala,
A Tibetan monk smiled in a moment
Across the room and mountains
Of meditation. Calm delicacy
Floated in patterns of brightly
Colored grains of sand as the
Great circle took form. Crimson
Pillows cradled bended knees
And patient transcendence.
Elbows and hands outstretched
To remember and re-create
An ancient reflection of holiness.

Held in memory and the prayer
Of expression, each monk
Contributed to the mandala
That took over a week to complete.
Palettes of inner detail fell into
A brilliant spectrum of temporality;
Reverence in creative process
Captured on the floor of a museum.

The monks swept the art into an urn.
A procession led on-lookers across
A footbridge to an island already
Sanctified by Union soldiers who
Suffered imprisonment, exposure,
And frequent death in the winter
Before Lee’s surrender. Leaning
Over rapids from jutting rocks, the
Monks offered a varicolored invocation;
Grains of time cascaded into the water.

Deconception
by Susanne M. Dutton

“Si lasci pure cadere il concetto di ‘Limbo se e necessario.”  
 (“Let also drop the concept of Limbo if necessary.”) 
~ Benedict XVI as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 1985
                             
After a hundred
                            hundred generations 
                            the middle place
                            -Limbo
                            -it’s a mess
                             swaddling, cotton or muslin
                             wraps, rabbit-deer-bear skin, softened grass bundles, silken-edged cozies
                             heaped up to cornices
                             along pink and blue walls
                             dolls, leather or paper or cornhusk
                             gourd-headed or glass-faced mounded in cupboards
                             safe clowns with flat eyes toppled
                             safe monkeys with sock hats crammed
                             cribs and cradles and woven-rush baskets
                             jostle and rock in wrist-warm rooms
                            row upon row and pearled into the hallways
                            both sides, down the center
                           all cooing and whining, ready forever for nothing.

One more
                            miss-marked 
                            shudders outside,
                            womb-red and wrinkled, fist-faced and neckless
                            shoulder to doorjamb, knee-keen to loll
                            fallow for eons, side-lined and shiny cosseted keepsake
                           of mourning and pouty reason and dread.
 
After a thousand  
                              thousand and one beyond
                              the one way to nowhere
                              full-to-bust burst
                              petal-peeled daisy-splayed open and back
                              in powder drift hillsides, sheen on sheen
                             sifted dust layers over far tickling valleys 
                             where slow roaming rivers grassy and thick
                             caught them in mercy, the millions who dropped,
                             fat elbows flailing, spitty fingers, bud toes
                             their dough brows and bellies, bobbing like fruit
                             as the damp haunch of a white cow stirred the earth
                             and she groaned.

 

Dolphins
By Silvio Machado

Their bodies
are slim instruments of contentment.
I realized this once while taking the ferry
from Pico to Sao Jorge at sunset.
In the open expanse between islands,
a pod of what I could only guess
numbered in the hundreds,
hunted unsuspecting fish
before taking to deeper waters for the night.
With repeated and effortless coherence,
they breached from the water
alongside the boat,
weaving together–their bodies,
moon-shaped needles–sky and sea
with what I dare say were knowing smiles
on elongated faces.
The arcs of their bodies
harmonized in the air
as they leapt with enjoyment,
one after the other and sometimes,
two at a time,
in celebration of something
I hope to know well:
the ordinary pleasure of the body
doing what it is intended to do–
in this case,
moving through the salty brine,
eating raw fish.
I fumbled for my camera,
hoping to capture the moment,
but there was no taking my eyes
off their sleek, muscular forms.
How could I?
Clumsily, I snapped a couple of photos that,
when it was all done,
showed nothing but fractured shards
of sun meeting water,
light meeting dark,
of animal, purpose,
and amazement at the place
where they came together.

 

 

Summer Fields
By R. L. Boyer

There was a time when meadow, grove and stream
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
-Wordsworth

I.
Sweet memories of youth, echoes in the Mind’s
Eye: the face of a girl, golden hair blowing

Wild in the breeze; glittering sunlight on a 
Deep forest stream, swimming with trout; a

Calm hidden lake in the blue sunrise; sweet
Innocence of a boy, at play in summer fields that

Sing to him like dreams.

II.
Then the change came, a darkening of the
Moon: a child lost, Nietzche’s orphaned

Shrieks, a festering, wounded soul; knowledge of
Good, and evil-of life, of loss and death. Dark

Side of the god that dies, the wounded thigh, the
Rib torn out; an invisible stain that won’t wash

Clean; innocence betrayed, grown proud, and 
Sad, an eagle devouring its liver; flesh enclosing
Vision, like a heavy eyelid or a shroud, like
Melancholy-heavy with tears that fall like

Rain on the lost gardens of Paradise. 

III.
O child of sorrows, twice-born, wounded
Healer, shaman, initiate, hero, poet-the one who

Walks with a limp: Orchards grow fruitful in
Springtime; a serpent sheds its skin, and grows

Another. Swallows return to their nests each
Season. Sunset, sunrise. To the ebb, flow; to

Death, regeneration. To the dark of the Moon, Her
Fullness; to the journey of descent, Return.

The Way of Return is difficult, cry the poets, 
No one returns unmarked. But for that one, the

Golden wheat ripens in summer fields that
Sing to him like dreams.

Note: This work first appeared several years ago in Mythic Passages: The Magazine of the Imagination, a publication of the Mythic Institute

Sacred Art
By Laurie Corbett

Wee one, brought bare into cacophony,
this emergent pantheon.
This is your place
of smell, touch, blaring light.
This is how we show our face
annoyed with your lack of social grace.
Immersed, made into a person, a defined moving space,
bound in time, mesmerized roughly, softly,
whirling colors, voices, hands demanding
Outcast from warm womb, safe discipline, of
tribal faith
to create beyond common form,
the pain of separation, bravery called,
life’s instinctual desire,
tricks of the trade.
Within this sad parade —
the human will to cure, kill, carry on
courageous —
if the art is true, burnt pure in sacrificial
flame, aimed impeccably —
— cathedrals of
awe and inspiration, hallmark of salvation
Taste!  Be made aware
of sensation — touch this instant a place
beyond who you’ve ever been.
Beyond glory,
graceful soul-wrought energy
pours through these
sacrificial clowns
poisoned by immortality.
It is for you we bleed,
we cry,
imbued with such weight — to hold
that spark you know could set you free.

 

Sacred Calling
By Laurie Corzett 

Cloistered for warmth in this area between.
I’ve learned its scenery, like lattice worked into my eyes.
Slowly turning toward a wise relief, pausing at this
portal to awesome wonderment,
pure radiant bliss
dispelling knots of pain and betrayal.
Magnetic, archetype of mystic dreams carried through
into the world of Man — psyche searing brand,
I come to the promised land,
potent stream of prophecy.
Commanded, I lay down my burden, weight against my back
of gathered assets I was certain to require.
Freed to meet my mission, to accept desire,
immortal pleasure, the opportunity to sketch,
to draw out beauty, to paint leisurely upon prism glass.
Have I reached the bridge upon the crossroads, the glimmering?
Magick’s sea through which I now may travel, native soul
returned, having earned my keep, my long journeyman’s
wage.  I have looked at age, a deep reflective pond.
A wild road calls, beyond this threshold, sculpted by
oceanic power, drifts and meteors.  I feel self-created destiny
shudder slowly, seismically, as I prepare

 

BLUE WOMAN LONGING:
Thoughts on a self-portrait
By Judith Harte

There are lovers content with longing. I’m not one of them. 
—Rumi1
Blue, here is a song for you …
You’ve got to keep thinking
You can make it through these waves….
—Joni Mitchell2
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.
—Mary Oliver3
3/31/11
What does one say to a blue woman longing?
Will only the words of others suffice?
Poem after poem
Thought after thought
A splash of tear
Here, there.
A cape of clay cushions sorrow’s face
Then … falls away.
I encounter the Self, as portrait
And I am on my knees.
Tricked, bound,
Naked revelations,
My own ugliness revealed.
Inner vision still unseen outside.
Me as toad, where no princess can exist.
4/6/11
Grandma Lena wrapped in babushka.
Ah,
Witchery at its finest!
Grandpa Sam left for another woman.
Lena boiled his hat to cast a spell,
Hoping it would bring him back.
Psychogenetic wounds
Seed the generations
And bring on the longing.
The first is sweet.
The other burning,
Wretched.
Worst, when you’re in it alone.
I’m ancient inside,
Not as sad today.
Ancient equals eons of time,
Billions of people.
It’s hard to be sad
And ancient at the same time.
I place my sadness there,
In antiquity’s container.
C’mon Mick,
Gimme some shelter.
It’s just a kiss away.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”
4/20/11
Might it be that the Blue Woman isn’t really blue after all?
At least not only blue,
But the kind of black that turns slowly,
Alchemically,
Into blue?
And urges me to leave that sad woman,
Who fights for her life,
Behind.
Tonight the blue woman refuses to be sad.
Perhaps the clay wants happiness?
4/27/11
Longing fills the room.
What does the longing want?
Existence?
Happiness?
Union?
Warmth?
5/5/11
Mirror as self,
A captured reflection?
Or mirror as Self?
An image begins
And slowly evolves into a recognized subject.
Is that me?
And … yes!
It’s true,
“No one does Blue like Margot.”4
Especially her “Dream Anima(l)s.”
She knows Anima is Soul,
And that dream souls are dream animals, 
And that soul animals are blue animals.
5/15/11
Weary after class. Unhappy with the work tonight. I curse that Blue Woman and her longing. I arrive home, open my car door, drop my keys on the half-lit ground. As I bend down to pick them up I notice a tiny, dark, shape on the gravel driveway near my feet. A closer look reveals a slightly curled, fragile, heart-shaped brown leaf whose veined patterns anatomically mirror the arteries and veins of the human heart. I pick it up, expecting it to crumble upon contact. Strong, sturdy, daring me to destroy it, the leaf will have none of it.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”
5/21/11
Photos taken for a self-portrait.
An exercise in narcissism?
A reparation of same?
Or my attempt to capture
A glimpse of Self?
6/2/11
I dream I visit someone at a retirement hotel/assisted living building. I walk down the hall and into her room. I don’t find her. In the bathroom I find her lying in the tub partially immersed in water, dead. Her hair is brownish gray, her face angular. I can tell she’s been there awhile. I go for help.
I awake with lyrics from “I Should Care,” a jazz standard from the early fifties, echoing in my head:
“I should care
I should let it upset me.
I should care
But it just doesn’t get me.”5
Over half a year ago,
While on my way to one of those final decades
That mark the beginning
Of the end, of a life,
Just as I was about to turn the page
On the way to another year,
It happened:
“SOMEONE I LOVED GAVE ME A BOX FULL OF DARKNESS.”
I knew then
Firsthand
That it may take years to understand:
“This too was a gift.”
I embraced that knowing,
Kicked off the countdown to those last days
And crawled my way to the surface of my life.
Overnight the sky had turned to a robin’s egg blue
And I heard
The sounds
The moans
The words
Of a blue woman longing. 
I understood then what Rilke meant
When he wrote:
“God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like a flame
And make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you:
Beauty and terror.
Just keep going.
No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.”6

References
[1] Rumi, Mawlana Jalal-al-Din, The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing, translated by Coleman Barks.
[2] Mitchell, Joni, “Blue,” from the album Blue.
[3] Oliver, Mary, “The Uses of Sorrow,” from Thirst.
4] Conversation with artist Margot McLean, co-author with James Hillman of Dream Animals, during the Image and Psyche Conference in San Francisco, California, March, 2006
[5] “I Should Care,” words and music by Sammy Cahn, Axel Stordahl and Paul Weston.
[6] Rilke, Ranier Maria, “God Speaks to Each of Us,” from Book of Hours: Love
A trained therapist, with an M.A. in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, Judith Harte has been an astrologer since 1975.  She began to sculpt about six years ago. Judith has a particular fondness for Depth Psychology and Mythic Astrology as well as the incorporation of a soul-centered approach in her astrological consulting work: www.imagesofsoul.com

 

Let the Feast Begin
   By Bonnie Scot

At the healing table
welcome every starved
rag-tag   
life-beaten
aspect of the self

Open your door

Embrace the goblins
the murderers
the thieves of joy

With intimate scrutiny 
bring to light every sweet
dark longing of the soul

Bless curses with truth
Mold blessings with wisdom
Lay them all on the table

Then
temper your old 
harsh hunger
with robust offerings
of earth and stars

It’s time love

Let the feast begin

 

Nightbirds
by Bonnie Scot

Nightbirds are singing
with the silvered
fingernail moon

Inviting me to
a celebration
of the night

If the enchantment
of their song
should come to you
say yes
oh yes 
say

yes

 

Surrender
By Jean Morin

Dusk falls
As earth devours the last red rays of dying sun 
Silence wraps me in midnight
Suffocating me with the whisper of dark wings
Brushing my cheek with a shiver

I sigh, 
descending into darkness I feel in my bones
Sinking into the sounds of earth’s magic
Tasting blood on the tip of my tongue 
Where yesterday’s lie is still on my lips.

Shadows glide
Into the deepest parts of me– I surrender.
And I emerge into the place where moonlight
Licks the water like bees wings
Lapping at the edges as they die

Dark heart
Dances like a somber raven in autumn
Scattering leaves that shimmer like starlight
Softens the song of Saturn in my soul
I wake in twilight

There! The charcoal sky 
thins with the faintest light
The skeletal slice of crescent moon impales itself
On a jagged crystal peak to the north
Foreshadowing daylight and life

ART

"Fissure II" by Staci Poirier

From Staci: “I created this painting after I had a dream about my mom and I falling through ice, into deep water, and how I tried to keep her and I afloat. As I couldn’t push her up out of the water, suddenly an old hag rushed over and pulled us both up to safety. We felt deep gratitude. In some ways it’s also about thawing out and using my creative abilities. There is fire, opportunities, and access deep below. The key is to keep moving, start something, anything, and not stay frozen.”

 

PHOTO ART

"In a Wood of You" by Scott Potter
"Endurance" by Scott Potter
"The Curved and the Varied" by Scott Potter

One comment

  1. Bonnie and crew: this ezine is remarkable for the range and quality of what you have here. I am reading pieces and enjoying the images immensely.
    Last year I began painting in acrylics, first time since 5th. grade. I would love to submit two of the paintings I have completed. Richly satisfying, very different medium than words.
    Let me know and I can send them along.
    Keep up the fabulous work.
    Dennis

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