Poetry: About the Artist (NaPoWriMo) Day Twenty-two

Today, I’ve been challenged to write a poem that engages with another art form that I have experienced. My prompter declared anything to be in bounds, but I must use the poem to express something about another form of art.

My wife once said to me,
“you’ve always fancied yourself an artist.”
I wouldn’t have said that,
But she was right. I have and I do.
I like saying the word fancied,
Quality notwithstanding any measure.

I ask you now, but what is art?
Is a child’s first drawing art,
and is he or she not the artist?
Will my last dance be art?
What (I ask you now) is not art?
And of all, who is not an artist?

Is it art to color outside the line,
to sing off key, to skip a note,
and must creativity be voted upon?
Do art teachers grade the art,
or the artist? And what is an
artiste? Do you do art?

Is cooking or baking or brewing art?
May every and anything be artful?
Do you deny being an artist?
If so, why? Do you hide your art
in shame that you are an imposter
artist, an unskilled fraud or a fake?

Sane or crazy as a loon, drunk or sober,
from the first try to the final straw,
done well or poorly, what we do is our art.
Show me your art, sing me your song,
play me a tune and read me your verse,
but do not tell me you’re no artist.

I fancy you, as you should too,
to see yourself (an artist),
to be human, as artistic, as
artisan, as creative, as anyone. Now,
shall we dance? You lead!
I promise not to sing.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/22/2019

Look both ways,
from your first cry to the final whimper.
It’s art.
Mind the gaps, but just do it. Do IT! Do it.
It’s been there waiting for you.
Now go do it.

Poetry: Our Place in Line (NaPoWriMo) Day Eighteen

Today, the NaPo lady challenged me to write an elegy of my own. One in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail.

As far back into childhood I recall,
they say my day, my time, will come.
One day, perhaps quietly
or in some fitful mental agony
it will be my time to die.
But the bell has not
yet tolled for me—
soon enough—
it will.

Every pet, dog or cat,
lightning bug in a jar, turtle
or Easter chick; every snake, worm, or
ant; butterfly or bird, fish
or tarantula , things that flew,
crawled, walked or ran,
or just a sighting in the wild—
they’re all dead now—
I don’t know
what that is—
but they’re gone.

Every childhood friend is dead,
my mother died long after dad,
sisters both gone,
(estranged brother
I don’t know about,
he may outlive me,
if so, let it be).
I won’t know.

Uncles and aunts, one cousin (sort of) all
gone and others I don’t know about,
but they (ones I knew) are dead.
There may be some still doing,
but people of my memories
are past life. And this,
my friend,
is normal.

Some things don’t die, all people do.
Poets die (some never replaced)
but poems don’t.
The two most important
breaths we take,
the first and the last—
all the others
we call living.
That’s life,
Frank.

My sister would telephone,
“Billy” she’d say, “guess who died?”
she said, and then
she’d tell me.

When everyone and everything
I know of has died,
how do I know
who is next in line?
Is it I?
Or is it you?
Not if,
but when!

© Bill Reynolds, 2/18/2019

Know why you look both ways, otherwise, it is simply a meaningless turn of the head.
There will always be gaps but mind them anyway.

Poetry: Evil Darkness Denied (NaPoWriMo) Day Thirteen

Today, I wrote a poem about something “mysterious and spooky!” (As the prompt challenge defined it.) I mused the denied duality of human nature as set forth in the classic Jekyll and Hyde, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [1886] by Robert Louis Stevenson. My review of the book is here.

***

Not evil I but you
Live with a darkness
of truth denied with
not to Hide mind
what must be true.

Wretched are you
to ask me to see
a truth as part of I.
Created by god
no evil must I be.

False belief is
the sinless soul
of self-righteous evil,
within you disguised
as good and pure.

As Lanyon needed
Jekyll’s truth to see
from Hyde’s reveal,
to accept the two,
both part of you.

There is no light without darkness,
no good without evil,
no truth without lies,
no life without death,
no two without one.

Seek out truth in you,
of more than half,
balance reality or die
from the only good truth
is really a lie.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/13/2019

Look both ways to find evil and good in you. It is your one and only truth.
Mind the gaps of fear and self-deceit, they hide your Hyde.

“O God!” I screamed, and “O God!” again and again; for there before my eyes—pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death—there stood Henry Jekyll!” Dr. Lanyon’s words and recollection serve as the climax of the story. The question of Dr. Jekyll’s relationship to Mr. Hyde is resolved.

 

Poetry: Time Will Allow (NaPoWriMo) Day Five

Today’s challenge: write a poem incorporating the villanelle form, lines taken from another text (poem), and/or phrases that oppose each other in some way.

I selected two lines from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (trans. Richard Le Gallienne). I think I wrote sufficiently opposing lines. I tried to do all three.

Time Will Allow

Heed not tomorrow, heed not yesterday
Our life is our blood, flowing here and now
O fools, that after some tomorrow stray!

Darkness does not age, even in the day
Drink and love much as our time will allow
Heed not tomorrow, heed not yesterday

Yesterday was here, but now goes away
Let us drink our love, ‘neath a shady bough
O fools, that after some tomorrow stray!

We kissed our wine, but now it’s gone away
Love is our wilderness, paradise is now
Heed not tomorrow, heed not yesterday

We are the fruit of gods, sent here to stay
Return again here to me tomorrow
O fools, that after some tomorrow stray!

Love us forever, together we pray
Wine and we between, let me show you how
O fools, that after some tomorrow stray!
Heed not tomorrow, heed not yesterday.

©Bill Reynolds, 4/5/2019

Look both ways but live for today. Mind the gaps between the gator’s teeth.

Essay: Rocks Can Speak

When I was a very young lad, one day as I was walking along a well-worn path, I noticed a stone of interesting size and shape. The stone briefly entered my short span of attention, as did many things lying about my undiscovered world at that age. I don’t recall many other details about my surroundings that day, but they no longer matter.

That was the first time a stone was not just another rock lying among other random bits of littered scree. Certainly, similar discoveries have occurred thousands of times throughout my life while walking, running, hiking, exploring, or just hanging out (thinking or not). This was a simple event that works as my metaphor for many other life events involving discovery, reason, and doing.

The rock was just lying there among others, perhaps for a thousand years or more. I wasn’t yet thinking in geological or historical terms. Stones have served many purposes after they were formed millions, perhaps billions, of years ago. There it was on the ground with others just where my eye located it. It had probably been moved around in one fashion or another over the centuries. I had no way of knowing, nor did I care. Even before approaching it, I was mentally making my I saw it first claim.

Living organic things come and go. Almost all life forms have appeared for a time and then were gone. Over 99 percent of life is extinct. Some rocks may contain fossilized records of past lives, but most are just inorganic minerals. I was not the only child who saw rocks, sticks, or other items as things naturally intended to be thrown about. Getting the right rock and throwing it brings a feeling of success. Skipping rocks on water is a universal rite of passage.

Looking around at the organic things today, I realize that most are less than 100 years old, and less than 50 in current forms. The complexities of the laws of thermodynamics (physics) change things, but we only see the now.

Neither I nor the stone said anything, Rocks don’t talk or hear in the animal sense. But nature can speak to us through both organic living things and through inanimate objects, such as rocks and fossils.

As I moved, the rock played its role as a lifeless stone like billions of similar objects covering the surface of the Earth. Rocks are infinitely expert at going with the flow. River rocks spend so much time tumbling in the roll of water they lose their edge and become rounded. The rock I saw did not sparkle, twinkle, or do anything spectacular. But I saw it. I squatted and half bent over so I could pick it up with my hand. That was many years ago.

More recently, I picked up another rock – my first in years. I carefully examined it, top, bottom, and all sides. One learns that by picking things up, especially rocks, one must carefully examine the item to ensure it is a lone stone, and not one littered with objectionable attachments. It must be just the boy, or now the man, an old man, and the rock with no another surprises.

While I didn’t bother to analyze it, the rock was local Austin limestone, or chalk rock, which is said to have formed in the window of 100 to 200-million years ago. It didn’t matter, and at the time, what I was looking at was just an old rock. Or was it?

Ideas are like stones. Once you pick one up, you must examine it, and only then decide what to do with it. As with stones, I have dropped ideas, put them in my pocket for later pondering, or threw them. When throwing ideas or stones, one must distinguish between discarding, sharing, or targeting. The first is simply throwing it away or back to where it came from. The second is communing by tossing it to someone else. But the third is capturing the idea or stone for our own creative purposes. Like rocks, ideas can speak to us. We just need to listen.

Look both ways for material and ideas. That’s what creativity is all about.
Toss some back to the gods, share some with others, or use them within your own art.
Mind the gaps. Look there for those hidden gems.

Like rocks, ideas may be too big.

Poetry: Cat Tight Transforms

 

With a stretch of transition,
I transform night into day
body and soul awaken so slow,
to the bitter sweetness of life
which is so heavenly sensed.

Time means nothing to me.
Cats care and have not, you see,
clocks or alarms or times to be
places like here or there,
or anywhere.

We lions have no closets to open,
no purpose but life, but to hunt and to live.
No worries outside my litter box,
which, by the way, clean it, slave!

To awaken tight sleepers
A king must be fed,
before he hunts and stalks
to eat a fresh breakfast
prepared by my slaves.
And maybe a spot of milk,
but not too cold, and my milk must never
be given too old.

Then off to my stalking, to warm up the day.
After a check on the birds I see in the yard,
a brief hiss aimed at the dog
so he knows his place, as least of my slaves,
then onto my perch, high above my kingdom.
You’re lucky to have me, that’s what they say.

On to the work of annoying the human
who is trying to write without
my permission, cajole her I will,
surely, she knows the importance of kill.
King cat is awake, all bow down so humbly
in homage to him. I’m sure that you will.

©Bill Reynolds 3/18/2019

Look both ways. The king wears fur. Mind the gaps and claws.

Poetry: How it was

 

we were wine drunk in a sad state
rain fell softly, our feet bare in tall grass
we discovered and devoured everything
it was a time, I wish we could go back to

a place that no longer exists
nothing is the same
we are not the same
like rain runs off an old tin roof

we did our best
we were all winging it
without a book of instructions
we loved and tried and cried

sickness taught us about mortality
and of time
of right and of wrong
of a balance of life based on mystery

life gave us as much as we took
we were brittle, we were broken
we looked deep to encompass pain
to draw a circle around it and around us

the circle around us, that was grace,
I, just a boy, you, a girl, we
to each other, every boy and girl
we had ever had and lost

we wanted to leave, to not exist,
to go leaving no tracks or marks
to be forgotten and not followed,
we yearned only for us to be

we wondered how to live
for ourselves and for life and
because we believed
in each other as one spirit

we wanted to see the sky,
to go home, but how ?
we did not think past us
over our shipwrecked lives

everything was falling and not falling
the next toehold in life was
sore tired hearts and bodies
of the children we were, we are

we lost, unsure of what was real
we didn’t know what to do or to write
or to say or to ask, to only feel a sad
liberating acceptance of a deeper sadness

we were stripped of a dignity in life
of all things tried and failed
all the love we’re ever given
can be invoked long after it’s gone

I’m here
we are here
in this moment, this place, a time
when once there was this: us.

©Bill Reynolds 1/21/2019

Look both ways, but love the past we’ve lost to the cosmos.
Those gaps are gone, sadly.