Light Like a Sunday

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I am experimenting with line breaks and punctuation in poetry.  Which do you prefer, A or B? This morning, looking at both with fresh eyes, I prefer the rhythm of the first, despite B being my revision. Funny how a good night’s rest changes things.

A.

Light Like a Sunday

Light like a Sunday

afternoon-late

but not close enough to nightfall

just the dead, glaring light

of the interrogation room

declaring your guilt

in a game poorly played

in a life poorly played.

 

B.

Light, Like a Sunday

Light, like a Sunday

afternoon-late, but not close enough

to nightfall

just the dead

glaring light of the interrogation room

declaring your guilt

in a game poorly played

in a life poorly played.

 

Writing from Dark Places

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Most of my writing is dark-themes of loneliness, isolation, mental illness and uncertainty weave their way throughout. At times I wonder if it is irresponsible, this putting more darkness into the world. But my writing is born from places shielded from the light-the space under the stairwell where I hide, the corner of the basement where the single sunbeam cannot reach. If I wrote from places other than where I sit, anything I produced would be dishonest.

Before I became a writer, I was a dancer. Dancing was my life from the moment I began my  formal training at three-years-old. I was good-technically-but didn’t possess any real artistry until I felt true and profound sufferance. I could hear the music, move to the music, but could not feel it. Only when I learned fear, loneliness and longing for things that no longer existed did I acquire an understanding that connected me to music and movement. It was that understanding that allowed me to merge the two through dance.

Not until I knew darkness could I understand the haunting ache of Arvo Part’s Tabula Rosa or the torment of his Fratres. Not until I understood fear could I  connect to the foreboding of Marin Marais Bells of St. Genevieve, or the terror of Mozart’s Requiem in D.

But, locked away in a studio listening to these pieces, working through them, I found an almost ecstatic beauty and pleasure in the movement born from them, a beauty that never could have been experienced without the painful feelings and memories the music evoked.

This is the paradox of darkness-with its sadness, comes a heightened joy.

As with dance, so too with writing. Darkness is the foundation upon which beauty and joy is built, at least for those of us fortunate enough to have experienced enough pain to fully embrace the light that emerges from the shadows.

As an artist, a writer, a lover of this wretchedly beautiful world, you must be honest; you must not ignore what exists- the darkness, the sorrow, the joy, the sublime. As Mary Oliver states in “Wild Geese,”

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Read and listen to full poem here.

So tell me writers, dancers, artists; tell me your despair, your fear, your pain; share with me your darkness so that I can tell you mine, and we can learn the truth and beauty of the world that goes on and on….

 

 

 

Existence

From last March

Quirk N Jive

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Like mist over a lake that lifts and dissipates

into the air, so I disappear.

Like spring snow that, once it has landed, melts

into the earth, so I disappear.

Mist, snow, myself- things that last for a moment and then are lost,

perhaps never having existed at all.

These things that skim the surface of this world and then fade into the dark and endless sea of nothingness

or eternity

require proof, a stake to claim that they were,

or that they are.

Sometimes a simple photograph suffices.

As for my shadow self, I need words,

words on a page to prove that I am here

somewhere in this vast place

over which I hover, longing for an anchor

to hold me steady.

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March Sunday

It is the first day of spring, but the weather, at least where I live, is still cold and the sunlight still has that peculiar winter glare.

Quirk N Jive

IMG_0411March Sunday

It’s still winter

nearing spring

buried under mounds of snow.

Not knowing what to do

we decide to have brunch

at an old New England tavern.

The drive there is long.

My husband’s soundtrack of Venditti,

Nada and Vasco playing

I feel a headache coming on.

Because the low winter sun reflects off the snow

and pierces my eyes

and my heart.

The drive is so very long and slow

reminding me of so many drives before

on Sundays in March

to visit old relatives

locked away in old New England institutions.

After brunch, I suggest that we visit

the charming bookstore down the street.

I hope we won’t run into her.

She lives in the same town.

What are the chances?

We go.

It is charming

until she walks in the door.

How is everything, she asks

Fine.  Everything is fine.

As fine as anything can be

On…

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Sway Me

arches architecture art baroque

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Congreve, Lucan, May.

All three knew

music

to soothe

and sway;

bend

and turn.

So sway me.

Bend me.

Turn me

to face you

and let’s see

if you can tame

that baser part of me.

And bend it to your will

And make it good

and quiet

and still.

Let’s see.

Come, sweet music.

Dance with me.

Dance Us Away, Love

night view of sky

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

This was originally posted in January 2015.

Yes, yes.

That’s the song.

Fix me a drink, love,

and let’s dance

like we did

in the vecchia’s apartment

when it was all

Paolo Conte

and wonderful

and awful;

limes

and vodka;

when New York grew

too small

and the world

scary

and marvelous.

Come, love.

I can’t breathe.

Dance us away.

That’s it.

It’s wonderful.

Yes, yes, yes.

I still dream of you.

The Chair at the Bottom of the Stairs

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The original version of this story was published under the title “The Chair Downstairs” in November 2017.

The chair was out of place. The design was early American, so it did not fit in with the rest of the room’s Ikea aesthetic. We used to keep it upstairs in our bedroom where we paid it little attention-probably because it was a catchall for our laundry and usually buried under mounds of clothing. But one evening, when we needed extra seating to accommodate guests, we brought it down to the living room and placed it near the bottom of the stairway. It remained there-a dignified outlier, small and stiff, like something an 18th century scholar would sit at as he pored over musty books by dim candlelight-amongst all our other cheap, assemble-yourself furnishings that young people purchase when they first move in together.

Rarely did anyone choose to sit in the chair. I assumed because it looked so uncomfortable. But there was something else about it-a quality of being already occupied. At night, when I’d turn off the lights, I’d dash upstairs, not wanting to be left alone in the dark room with whatever sat in that chair. I could feel it though, watching me take my leave, and when I’d wake during the witching hour, I’d think about the living space below and wonder.

Eventually we moved, but we did not bring the chair along with us. Whatever company it kept, I was finished entertaining.