Oh, Hello Again!

Yes, it’s been that long. Yes, I’ve been seemingly quiet, but no such thing in real life. Soon to follow is my latest report, but first I want to share a significant part of the soundtrack to the work I’ve been composing, including last night’s (as I prepare to work again). My main teacher is still Dorothy Love Coates, but this song, and performance, carry me almost too high for words:

Madame Emily Bram

3 February 2015

3

Say To You Your Name

You read your roommate an old solemn testament’s power of oath right out loud, till they cried
for the most holy angels to signal their presence, and then shadow over the sea so long skied,
the lorn and lone source of true words came well over the both of us. Then we lay down and fell still.
Music, so like a religion, will play itself forwards and back, but if ever ill-will

should take notice of why it’s a frail lonely pallor away from the graveyard, whilst still seeking rain?
Then it’s a weird sort of presence; a dear lovely human who’s reading a mirror of pain,
resolving their own beyond-wholly-unholy recordings of one human shadow cast real
out of sad, lonely, poured-out-of-misery readings of poems I don’t know how to measure. The wheel,

the great flapping masses of huge dove-grey visions play, over and over, in sight of my tears;
their wheel sees the fulness and turn of the Moon meet a river’s low watershed many wild years
have driven toward a low, half-settled place, a haven of ancient reminders of your—
sacred littoral, living alive in a place we were born to behold, but far more—to adore—

for there, in that sad small salt pocket of skin that was where we once carried our far-inland food—
I shall stand tall on a mountain that must have been clam-shells and deerbones. A lover once wooed
the woman who ran with a foal by her side. Her vision was strong, and it carried out far,
but she will lie always alone in the night till the stars shine aright and he questions her star.

If she wakes up in the darkest dark night with her heart in her throat, and her skin slick with sweat,
won’t the most terrible ghost of the half-woken Earth knows she’s dying, but cannot die yet?
Read to me, sharer of rooms in the places where silent Earth shadows bear eaves that cast light.
Woe-holy angels, I need you to know me. Need we turn aside at first shadow-cast sight?

Reel like a wild band of wings in a spiral of gladder than glad uphill motion. Please be
the reason I woke up too early. I fed you; and maybe a little too much, but—we’ll see
long scrolling lines flying fast over a page in which so much true song turns to beauty more true—
and then in the close of an eye, till it opens again—If Love ends here, its last word was You.

I’m still officially Spiritual-But-Not-Religious, whilst growing more and more spiritual every day.

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Happy New Year

Of course, I saw the new year in in my customary way: alone, and singing.

Here is what I heard, as live as may be, and unedited:

1 January 2015

1

Begin as You Mean to Go On

Most candles guttered out slowly; the few that remained past the midnight’s cold tolling sank low.
Only a frail sense of presence reminded my flesh of the reason love’s song loves you so.
Maybe the Moon comes too frozen tonight, the sky clear as ice in a still windless place,
but instantly I can’t recall how I died of remorse, shame, and bad magic. Show a glad face,
the ghost in the shadows that lurk past the door at the back of my mind tells me: Let your love shine.
Nothing’s the matter with you or with me, and that’s why it’s difficult. Maybe I pine
for something that casts its high shadow, so gentle and fragrant, across my strange, long-casting own,
but till I can know it forever, it just wants to lie in a cold place and dream all alone
of the gathering breath that will soon force its moment. Wakening has to continue, once sleep
has fled with its pale apparitions. Oh woeful astonishment, here’s where we cannot help keep
our secrets inside an embroidered enclosure so delicate, aye the first love-breath will rend
its lightly-plied feathers apart as if they meant to fail. What will next you, dear unweaver, send?
Ghost of a breath as it lightly draws forward, tangled threads lay themselves lightly and long
across the most beautiful bed carved of hardwood and warped only once, by the eeriest song
that now plies your hearing with echoes of where we came first to the knowing that this is the fine
ceremonial blanket about to be woven between us at last, with god’s oldest design
the winding that overlays every cast answer, each small little crossing of vision and nerve.
Meet me awake in the morning, much changed between now and the moment all love songs deserve,
much strengthened by madness allayed, and by dread sorrow changed out of all recognition: You knew
the portent fast-rushing toward you; you knew you would rise amid song amid new morning’s dew;
you knew who I was, and the instant you felt me, the weather beyond the first ocean grew wild.
Aye, we are terrible seers ourselves, yet the tides of our eyes have borne song a new child.
Far, far apart, rise the waves of first hearing. Nearer they come, yet we feel more alone
than ever before. Pain so woeful, yet healing, tell me we’re come to where flesh rejoins bone.

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Still At It

Work goes on, regardless of all else. Here is an intermediary report:

23 December 2014

22

Will You? Will You Not?

Close as air, when it’s inside, is all the voice I hear. You cry
across the very narrow valley you and I still have to lie
on either side of just a little longer. Whilst your wails ring true,
the words of them, the way you chant—that visits me in nightmares. You
are death’s most dear, embodied outline, ghostly in a right loud way.
If I want to fall asleep alone again—I can’t. You stay
within an elbow’s ribcage—Who’s the bedmate who steals all the sheets?
On and on, a poet dons her mourning dress, a red sheep bleats,
a pair of braidless hands won’t cease to shake, and someone leans too low.
When she rises, taken from her rightful place to love’s wild glow
as if in such a wild man’s eyes he stared her back from heaven’s verge,
and she fell staggered back again, and rose, and then—as souls emerge
from fearful superstition into clear, benignant, streaming light,
she wakes within his arms again, and welcomes double—triple—sight.
Close as very air within the lungs that burst in this deep sea,
won’t you be the one to lay me down and let me die and be?

More updates probably coming soon!

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Bessie’s Testimony

Bessie’s Testimony

The title of this post is a near-mystery, and for that reason I wish to honor and publish it. It came up when I tried to copy and paste the verse text to follow into my Word file for this blog. That is to say, I started to compose a new entry, but the page opened up with the title already on it, without my putting it there. I know the Bessie in question, or at least I hope I do, but I haven’t yet written about her here. Or have I lost track? It’s possible! I’m a poet; I live with this every day: I opened my poetry text file for December, and the page I left dated but otherwise empty for tonight showed me the title line, never, I swear, typed by me: Bessie’s Testimony. It makes no sense, and yet it makes all sense. Even if someone comes forward to offer a logical explanation, that still won’t explain why these machines were reading poetry in the first place.

Regarding tonight’s poem, before all this: I had brownish, but slightly reddish, hair when I was young. It was thick enough, and would grow to seemingly endless lengths. I wanted to look like a classical nymph or goddess, Burne-Jones style, but it also bothered me, it felt itchy on my skin, and my nervous disposition finally deteremined all on its own that hair-pulling was the least destructive release of otherwise unbearable excessive energy.

After growing it, cutting it, growing it, cutting it, and fighting for and against it always, I now cut my hair off every two or three weeks, velvet-close, and it honestly makes me happy for the first time since I was a child. It feels so lovely to touch, and it never turns into dust-serpents (we can hardly call them bunnies). Cast-off human hair is a serious hazard to birds, and birds are among my best friends, so I am also happy to know that doing something for my own well-being is also so good for them.

Bessie is Bessie Griffin, and this is my favorite place to hear her testimony:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQWJgOElpgg

4 December 2014

3

The Hair She Plaits by Night

The fine, silken hair that took acres of legends of dreams out of time out of mind to grow long
just lies like a sad waste of everything mindful, one half in her hand, and one half in the wrong
sort of mirror. Its lovelessness showed her the nothing that wanted to rise from within her and feed.
Small little ocean of tears I command, steal down from me swift as the tide. Full Moons bleed
on and on through a sheet frail as magic, and thin as a tissue of lies where a virgin once lay.
Let their red witness just play through your mind, then come back and tell me the things you will say.
Sing them, if brushing the mane that’s so silky will help the mare run at past ghost-speed this night;
sigh them, if that will feel safer. We’re still going to number the shed-count. We won’t get it right
altogether, but we’ll get it all each and severally real as the cast of your eyes when you read
the lines I had sent you—dawn, yesterday—and the soft words that amazed you, and all that you said—
when you first met my meanings, and we knew we’d always arranged for this meeting. It’s come, plaited hair
such as mine used to be—but I pulled it out, all of it. Now it’s a velvety layer I wear
because once was a burden I sang and I tried hard to love like its cultivar, song made of lines.
Birds come to me with their feet all bound up with long fine human hair and it hurts them. Such signs
wing toward me, wheel round me, encircle me, shiningly, happily know me, and seek me, and feed.
All my old brush-hair just had to be fed to a furnace to keep my friends safe, as birdseed
is food most of all to the god of high song as he knows me and sends his reminders I’m loved.
I have no more hair to plait, nor will ever, but I am a woman impossibly doved.

By night, in her dreams, sometimes she is an angel who’s dear streaming draft is a long silver wake.
That’s where the hair of me shines. That’s where wearing wild non-sense is real. Waves, you never there break.

We all struggle with the way we want to see ourselves, and the way we feel we are. None of this is particularly real, and absolutely none of it is permanent. Time is the sickness we need to see through. Then, we will see each other and ourselves as we have always been and will be.

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Please Don’t Try to Know Too Much

New tonight, after many old loving thoughts and memories:

15 November 2014

15

Please Don’t Try to Know What Love Means Here

All night, I walked out too far and too long, and somewhere along the cold way, I went wrong.
Small little creatures the width of my palm or much smaller went scurrying. I sang our song.
Warmth was the pledge at the heart of it; warmth round a hearth, or a bonfire outside, on the beach.
All the old branches of sad garden deadness just gathered and fed to the flames the near reach
of pure magic has called to embolden our senses: Children, these flames reach high year after year.
You’ll never know why your seeking has sought out and found the high reaches that songs will call near;
such subtle calling well back of the mind you’ve been taught to acknowledge—that calling’s our own,
ours, as we run round the ditch and the beach, each alike, where old ghosts give new morningside moan.
Oh I’m a lass made of angels right up to my eyelids, yet I dance with eyes cast right low.
Someone’s my own, yet my moaning won’t own him or me the least sight of the seas that must flow
before we can cast our eyes back and be wed with the magic that sang us awake, and will sing
before the strange shivering silence’s lowness arrests what can die if that’s all we can bring.
Maybe I’m going to walk on, for a small little long ancient way, far past columns that glow
in sight of ideals turned to holidays. All night. Just let us walk on. Don’t let on what we know.

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Tell It All

Things are going to get weirder before they get normal again.

28 October 2014

24

Tell It. Tell It All

Far and alone and so lonely I wandered, and when my soul left as I lay half-adream,
I knew I was seen by an ocean of eyes high above as new leaves lay above me, a stream
of living astonishment green as the magic of waves meeting land as the land greens with awe.
I just don’t know where I stand unless you hold my hand and that greenness receives our souls raw.
Magic just quivers with living new light each moment we meet, mind or eyes or real words.
Lights are the wings of the rising huge palace of where we have been, as we turn into birds,
wheel round and so tenderly, beautifully circle as waltzes were played in the days we loved best.
I am a soul whose best effort at ghost just keeps reeling out musics that interrupt rest,
but remember the way you kept twining your hands round a fixture, a focus—and now, I can’t sleep.
These are just ranges of waves, all arrayed like far mountain-tops. Picture it: Oceans so deep,
they penetrate land like a flock of flown arrows from boats that just don’t know how far out they all are.
When I come out of false sleep and lie woken, I’ll know I live by the light of one star,
Oceans are gentle and deep as the forests I’ve lived in and wandered through, loved, and hold dear
forever, but oceans still hold what I want and cannot ever have while I hold to one fear:
Death holds dominion—oh no, he does not. He never has, ever. Death holds all the reins.
Child, I am willing to die, and I have been since ever. Death’s my solemn father. The pains
that hurt me so much I kept wanting to halt them? His hand lay easy behind them; as light
as serial Moons through a woman whose beauty was utterly bloody and left her bled white—
though he never saw it; the woman above her kept all of this terrible poisoned blood hid.
Far and alone, I will not keep you waiting. You know you—we all saw what all of us did.
I am alive past the way I am used to. Waves keep on breaking on land, salt and all.
Just you please still hold my hand. I’m nigh useless, but fearlessness still tells my soul to tell all.

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For You

27 October

In Memoriam

for Jay, most luminous of corvids

If you will, please go back to the very first post of this blog, and note the date on the poem there. Here’s a link:

3 June 2014

RAIN HARP

I told just a bit about the story at the heart of this blog a few days later:

6 June 6 2014

Sotry Here

Now I am come to the sad place of telling how the story I alluded to ended, at least for the time being. In the summer of 2012, I read a blog post by a poet I had recently discovered and found interesting for the depth of his work. He had had a vision, and the words in which he described it were almost the same as mine, describing a vision of my own that came a decade or more earlier. I found my old text file recording the experience, and sent it to him. He wrote back, It’s tempting to think it’s the same place, yes. A little over a year later, when I was pressing for a face-to-face meeting (we lived continents apart), he was diagnosed with brain cancer. I learned this during a visit with my family. Immediately after going home, my mother died; during my return visit for her funeral service, I was told that my friend had been given a terminal diagnosis, and might be expected to last 15-22 months. After a few weeks’ discussion with him and his son, I traveled to my friend’s home country to be with him. He was so ill. So ill, after eight days his family decided he should not have visitors. They maintained that position afterwards, so I never saw him again.

We were and are both very intuitive and very highly trained to work with our intuition. We had had out-of-body meetings before, so these continued. One night, last April, I woke up with such a strong sense of his presence—stronger than ever before. I thought, that’s it, he’s passed over. I reached for the notebook I keep by my bed, and noted his name and the date. And yet, it was too soon. His doctors told him to expect as much as another year. I was confused, so I wrote it down, but did not trust it. An obituary online would prove it, so I searched, but found nothing. I must have misunderstood. We were so close that I really could not tell which side he might be on.

Just a few days ago I searched again, and there it was, a memorial page his family posted. My beloved friend died half a year ago, only nine months after his diagnosis. Immediately, so many things fell into place. This is distressing, and yet I want to share it, because it turns out that we have lived a very good and hopeful story in the face of so much pain. I have to tell you, it is rainy autumn where I am, and I have had no flowers in the place for ages, but this room is now suddenly filled with the fragrance of lilies. Anyway, this is from the letter I sent to a friend night before last:

”Before I left to see him, I found a silk scarf in a thrift store in NC that was printed with white dogflower on a background of green, gold, and purple–Easter imagery, and colors. I took it with me to Ireland. While I was there, one time he was very distraught, so I gave him the scarf, telling him, Remember, Easter will come. Your mind will lie to you and tell you pain is all there’s ever been, but time is still moving, and Easter will come, I swear.

I knew he held more or less Christian beliefs, although very much more mystical than most. When I said Easter, I meant spring, renewal, and joy. I wasn’t thinking about it. Last spring, one night I woke up with the strongest sense that he was present, and I told myself, that’s it, he’s passed. I always keep a notebook and pen by my bed. I wrote his name and the date in it, knowing I’d want a record. After that, I searched online for an obituary or any news, but there was never anything. Not until yesterday. I searched again, and found a memorial page his family left up online.

Easter this year was April 20th. He died on April 23rd. His visit to me came on April 27th. His funeral was April 28th.

When I was with him in the hospital and he was so distressed, he kept trying to ask me something, and I knew it was to pray for his deliverance. He was suffering so, and was ready to be quit of this world. I couldn’t do it, but I did pray for–you know, thy will, and for it to come easy. I can’t help but think that by naming Easter, I was showing him a landmark, a goal. Please hold out until then, perhaps. Neither of us wanted him to suffer, but he also did not want to have to leave his children sooner than need be.”

Now, if you will, please note again the date of the first poem I published in this blog. This came for him as soon as I knew:

25 October 2014

21

My Love, at Love’s Last Door

Jay Landar, 1955-2014

The far and slightly broken other window lay ajar all night,
and when I woke, the floor was wet, the bed was wet, I looked a fright;
I sought out then a kinder mirror, and it showed me ghostly signs.
When I lie alone and go to sleep again, I shan’t; the lines
are drawn between your present world and mine, and yet they’re lines so thin,
I scarcely move my eyes and all dissolves away. My sighings spin
a web of subtle dancing on which such fine tender touches light,
I dare not close my inner eyes one moment lest I lose the sight
your precious high and holy spirit seeks to show me, Lord my own.
Then was spring and now is autumn, falling time, and I’ve but sown
my own last season. I’ve no future; I’ve lived all this time to sing
the musics that have given me your gaze, your voice, your hand, your—wing—
and now I’ll have to walk and sing alone, and fly—or maybe not.
Love who’s only laid aside a weak false sense of time, one thought
from you for me will turn the tangled lines that spin me inside-out,
and then I’ll have arisen, ghostly, one huge soul my own—no doubt.
You’ll have gone before me and alongside every breath; the air
we live and breathe is music, and it has been since the dawn’s one fair
and gentle premonition we were granted, and allowed to breed.
Even past the last door, where the window’s broken, love sets seed.

lightonthepage.com

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