Saturday, November 15, 2014

Published online at Silver Birch Press Nov. 2014

In Memory of Bessie, Kathleen, Addie, Cora

Farmwoman's Initiation (after the style of Sappho)

When you were young, Bessie,
with golden hair tumbling to your knees
you caught rain in a magic bowl
and washed your hair there.
The goddess knew what you were about.
Then rain and mystery you gave my mother,
she, the sweet one, of silvery laughter’s darling,
and then to me, the uninitiated.

I was brought to rain’s softness
and you called me to be brave
go out and walk barefoot in the dew
with nothing on but my nightgown
made of pale moonlight
now diaphanous in the morning sun.

Is there no relief or understanding
of the pain in my womb, mothers?
These nymphs have dug up
the sacred sassafras root
boiled it and blessed it
given it to me to drink.
A potion from mothers to daughters
from that sacred thicket
and all is well—only good has come of these things
since Aphrodite blew her kisses.

Featured Poem on June 2014

Curious and Rich

When I walk past
the fragrant forest
after heavy rain,
which smells like
the freshest salad
you ever ate,
some vegetation
from Otherworld
that when eaten
makes you feel alive,

then I listen, listen
and there is
nothing, nothing but.

When it is almost dusk
and the horizon is tinged
with the most delicate
hint of lavender,
against it dark
silhouettes of tiny
fruit-tree branches,

I listen, listen
there is nothing, nothing but.

When I pass the small mountain
rising like a god
impressing the night
and the still liquid sky,

I listen, listen
and there is nothing, nothing.

But nothing is something
curious and rich,
and I have heard it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Texas Myth

I’m Gonne’ Whup Your Ass
(Deep in the Heart of Texas)

In mid of night
storm speaks
insisting on fierce:
“I am wind
great with conflict
north cold and south warm
here I meet
to whup your ass
yeah, try to light little candles
stick your toe in the bath
that smells of rose
your incantations
only make clash
as I rattle the blinds
on the windows lowered.”
A whistle of blast
pushes through as if
through clenched teeth.
One waits and listens
for in the land of sky
messages come from
deliberate wind.
John Wayne
gallops through
alone in the night
on his black horse.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Instructions on How to Be Introverted

Instructions on How to Be Introverted

Emily was right*

this is not my world

don’t trust anyone

without scars

there is reason

to fear

and art is detectable

in this introspection

from this struggle

a child is born

spend your life

trying to name it

and if while at dream

in the garden

on a red blanket

(make sure it is red)

someone should approach

and want to speak

without a word

gather your blanket

and go inside.

*Emily Dickinson was known to sit on a red blanket in her yard. When people approached her intending to speak, she would gather up her blanket and go inside.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Abstract for MA thesis: Mystical Tension: The Grail Legend as Analogue of the Creative Process

Mystical tension: The Grail legend as analogue of the creative process
Master Thesis The University of Texas at Dallas 117 (1995)
The Grail legend as it occurs in Parzival , by Wolfram von Eschenbach, serves as an analogue of the creative process as I have experienced it in my paintings and poems exhibited at the University of Texas at Dallas in the spring of 1994. The paintings are a series of images of vessels that illustrate my various conceptions--which change over time--of the Grail. The poems parallel steps along the journey taken by Parzival in his progress to selfhood. The thesis is divided into chapters that demarcate the stages of Parzival's maturation, culminating in his "attainment" of the Grail. The works of anthropologist Victor Turner and of Carl and Emma Jung not only shed light on Parzival but also offer parallels to my creative work. The structure of the initiation rituals described by Turner is similar to the process through which Parzival arrives at maturity and the identity confirmed by his new name and status. The symbolic nature of Parzival's initiation is paralleled in the symbolic nature of my experience of the creative process. My creative work arises from a need to define myself through the symbolic media of painting and poetry. The process of "individuation" and "transformation" through which the creative artist and poet works toward this goal has been described by Carl Jung. The most powerful model for this integration of the "Self" is found in the alchemical model elaborated by Emma Jung and Marie von Franz in The Grail Legend . The alchemical metaphor of a cosmos created in a glass vessel--which alchemists often called a "uterus"--is exactly the theme of my paintings. At the center of this creation, as Jung put it, there is a "hidden treasure." This hidden treasure is the soul. The language that Turner and the Jungs use in their own fields has enabled me to identify meanings that are hidden in my own work as a result of the intuitive method I use. The hidden meanings inherent in the Grail are thus parallel to meanings hidden in my work. Both the poetry and painting attempt to define the Grail, which defies definition. The problem creates branches to some of the deepest questions, such as what it is to be contained in mortality itself and to grapple with the unknown. Such questions imply that through vital experience, such as confronting death, a transformation takes place that vitalizes the creative work as well. The work thus attains the status of the Grail (gift) as an outcome of the initiatory hell-trip and rebirth. The assumption is that the search for meaning, or "spirit" as Carl Jung called it, is the main driving force in human beings. In this way I emphasize that the terms "art" and "meaning" are synonymous. For me the most direct road to this goal is the intuitive process--a finely tuned mechanism that incorporates these issues unconsciously by tapping into archetypes and providing a link with myth and ritual.