Sunday, October 31, 2010

Instructions by Neil Gaiman

from:  Deviant Art - 'Dragonfly' by Akaeya-Lovely

By Neil Gaiman

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before.
Say "please" before you open the latch,
go through,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the
green-painted front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.
Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat nothing.
if any creature tells you that it hungers,
feed it.
If it tells you that it is dirty,
clean it.
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can, ease its pain.

From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to Winter's realm;
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you turn around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

Once through the garden you will be in the wood.
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the undergrowth.
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman.
She may ask for something;
give it to her. She
will point the way to the castle. Inside it
are three princesses.
Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.
In the clearing beyond the castle the
twelve months sit about a fire, warming their feet, exchanging tales.
They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may pick strawberries in December's frost.

Trust the wolves, but do not tell them
where you are going.
The river can be crossed by the ferry.
The ferryman will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger, he
will be free to leave the boat.
Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.

Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble
from one's lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.

Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have
helped to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.

When you come back, return the way you came.
Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not look back.
Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).
Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).

There is a worm at the heart of the tower;
that is why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house, the
place your journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden
gate you never saw before but once.
And then go home. Or make a home.


Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers of all time.  If you haven't read his Sandman graphic novels, then you must put them on your reading list.  I posted this once before, but today, on Halloween, it seemed to want to be here.  And so it is.




At first cock-crow the ghosts must go
Back to their quiet graves below.  ~Theodosia Garrison


'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.  ~William Shakespeare


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mules of Love - Poems by Ellen Bass

Buy Poetry!!  Support poets!!

The Thing Is
By Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

from "Mules of Love"

And What if I Spoke of Despair
By Ellen Bass
And what if I spoke of despair—who doesn’t
feel it? Who doesn’t know the way it seizes,
leaving us limp, deafened by the slosh
of our own blood, rushing
through the narrow, personal
channels of grief. It’s beauty
that brings it on, calls it out from the wings
for one more song. Rain
pooled on a fallen oak leaf, reflecting
the pale cloudy sky, dark canopy
of foliage not yet fallen. Or the red moon
in September, so large you have to pull over
at the top of Bayona and stare, like a photo
of a lover in his uniform, not yet gone;
or your own self, as a child,
on that day your family stayed
at the sea, watching the sun drift down,
lazy as a beach ball, and you fell asleep with sand
in the crack of your smooth behind.
That’s when you can’t deny it. Water. Air.
They’re still here, like a mother’s palms,
sweeping hair off our brow, her scent
swirling around us. But now your own
car is pumping poison, delivering its fair
share of destruction. We’ve created a salmon
with the red, white, and blue shining on one side.
Frog genes spliced into tomatoes—as if
the tomato hasn’t been humiliated enough.
I heard a man argue that genetic
engineering was more dangerous
than a nuclear bomb. Should I be thankful
he was alarmed by one threat, or worried
he’d gotten used to the other? Maybe I can’t
offer you any more than you can offer me—
but what if I stopped on the trail, with shreds
of manzanita bark lying in russet scrolls
and yellow bay leaves, little lanterns
in the dim afternoon, and cradled despair
in my arms, the way I held my own babies
after they’d fallen asleep, when there was no
reason to hold them, only
I didn’t want to put them down.

From:  "Mules of Love"


See that large green plant to the left?  It's a tomato plant that's well over ten feet long.  It's also in the pink bowl, climbing the purple Wandering Jew, still blooming it's yellow blooms and making tiny tomatoes.  Yes, it's almost November and I have a monster Tomato plant that greets me with it's unique perfume every morning as I walk out my door.  It's in the same quart-sized plastic pot I bought it in.  Why is is still alive and climbing toward the sun? 
Why does it give me such joy?


Everything on the Menu
By Ellen Bass

In a poem it doesn't matter
if the house is dirty.  Dust
that claims the photographs like a smothering
love.  Sand spilled from a boy's sneaker,
the faceted grains scattered on the emerald rug
like the stars and planets of a tiny
solar system.  Monopoly
butted up against Dostoyevsky.
El techo, a shiny sticker, labeling the ceiling
from the summer a nephew studied Spanish.

Mold on bread in the refrigerator
is as interesting as lichen on an Oak---
its miniscule hairs like the fuzz
on an infant's head, its delicate
blues and spring greens, its plethora of spores,
whole continents of creatures, dazzling our palms.

In a poem, life and death are equals.
We receive the child, crushed
like gravel under a tire.
And the grandfather at the open grave
holding her small blue sweatshirt to his face.
And we welcome the baby born
at daybreak, the mother naked, squatting
and pushing in front of the picture window
just as the garbage truck roars up
and men jump out, clanking
metal cans into its maw.

In a poem, we don't care if you got hired
or fired, lost or found love,
recovered or kept drinking.
You don't have to exercise
or forgive.  We're hungry.
We'll take everything on the menu.

In a poem, joy and sorrow are mates.
They lie down together, their hands
all over each other, fingers
swollen in mouths,
nipples chafed to flame, their sexes
fitting seamlessly as day and night.
They arch over us, glistening and bucking,
the portals through which we enter our lives.

From:  "Mules of Love"


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Dragon-fly by Alfred Lord Tennyson and The Dragonfly By Louise Bogan

Green dragonfly on the spout of my little pink watering can this summer.


The Dragon-fly

By Alfred Lord Tennyson

Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro' crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.


Blue dragonfly in August

The Dragonfly
By Louise Bogan

You are made of almost nothing
But of enough
To be great eyes
And diaphanous double vans;
To be ceaseless movement,
Unending hunger
Grappling love.

Link between water and air,
Earth repels you.
Light touches you only to shift into iridescence
Upon your body and wings.

Twice-born, predator,
You split into the heat.
Swift beyond calculation or capture
You dart into the shadow
Which consumes you.

You rocket into the day.
But at last, when the wind flattens the grasses,
For you, the design and purpose stop.

And you fall
With the other husks of summer.

A dragonfly-inspired mixed-media collage I did last year.


Monday, October 25, 2010

October by Robert Frost & Charlotte the House Spider

Charlotte, still in her web early last week.  I had her dead and gone and she's still hard at work!

My front yard.  Charlotte lives in front of the carport.  We have to be careful not to bump into her web.

Charlotte, full of eggs, still.  She looks pretty scary here, but she's a garden orb-weaving spider and is harmless to humans....unless you run into the web at night and she walks across your face and gives you a heart attack.  LOL!  I warn people who come over to duck under her web.  I ran into it one night, but luckily she was up high.  It still creeped me out.  I love spiders, just not to touch!!  Garden spiders usually live about one year.

An early evening shot of Charlotte, defying gravity.

First foggy morning last week.  Looking up my street.

Morning Glory in the fog.

by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

Are you scared of spiders or do you let them live around your house?
Happy Monday!  I hope you all enjoy this last week of October! 
~*~ Marion ~*~
Synchronistically, my neighbor has a Halloween display full of giant spiders.  Tee-Hee.  Very spooky!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Things fall apart...the centre cannot hold...."

As often happens to me,  I was reading a novel ("The Owl and Moon Cafe" by the amazingly talented Jo-Ann Mapson) that mentions this line from a poem. . . "things fall apart; the centre cannot hold..." which lead me to find the poem from which it was quoted.  I've been fascinated by spirals and fractals in nature for years and this poem spiraled itself right into my blog.  I'm not sure I fully understand it (even after reading the commentary from Sparknotes and a few other sites), but I love the language and the overall feeling of the poem.  I firmly believe we don't have to understand another person's poetry to appreciate and enjoy it.   The beauty of poetry is that it can mean different things to each person who reads it. 

I haven't read much Yeats, but I try to be open to the classics.  I love mythology and he draws heavily from it.  Check out this awesome quote from his story, "The Celtic Twilight" written in 1893:

"Paddy Flynn is dead;....He was a great teller of tales, and unlike our common romancers, knew how to empty heaven, hell, and purgatory, faeryland and earth, to people his stories. He did not live in a shrunken world, but knew of no less ample circumstance than did Homer himself. Perhaps the Gaelic people shall by his like bring back again the ancient simplicity and amplitude of imagination.....Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.—ch. 1, “A Teller of Tales"

Kind of makes you feel your own mortality, no?

Blessings & Happy Reading,


By William Butler Yeats

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Commentary on this poem from:

"Because of its stunning, violent imagery and terrifying ritualistic language, “The Second Coming” is one of Yeats’s most famous and most anthologized poems; it is also one of the most thematically obscure and difficult to understand. (It is safe to say that very few people who love this poem could paraphrase its meaning to satisfaction.) Structurally, the poem is quite simple—the first stanza describes the conditions present in the world (things falling apart, anarchy, etc.), and the second surmises from those conditions that a monstrous Second Coming is about to take place, not of the Jesus we first knew, but of a new messiah, a “rough beast,” the slouching sphinx rousing itself in the desert and lumbering toward Bethlehem. This brief exposition, though intriguingly blasphemous, is not terribly complicated; but the question of what it should signify to a reader is another story entirely.

Yeats spent years crafting an elaborate, mystical theory of the universe that he described in his book A Vision. This theory issued in part from Yeats’s lifelong fascination with the occult and mystical, and in part from the sense of responsibility Yeats felt to order his experience within a structured belief system. The system is extremely complicated and not of any lasting importance—except for the effect that it had on his poetry, which is of extraordinary lasting importance. The theory of history Yeats articulated in A Vision centers on a diagram made of two conical spirals, one inside the other, so that the widest part of one of the spirals rings around the narrowest part of the other spiral, and vice versa. Yeats believed that this image (he called the spirals “gyres”) captured the contrary motions inherent within the historical process, and he divided each gyre into specific regions that represented particular kinds of historical periods (and could also represent the psychological phases of an individual’s development)...."


Have you read much of Yeats' work and, if so, what are some of your favorite poems of his?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Panic of Birds by Olena Kalytiak Davis

Olena K. Davis

"And Her Soul Out of Nothing" by Olena K. Davis

^   ^   ^   ^   ^


By Olena Kalytiak Davis

The moon is sick
of pulling at the river, and the river
fed up with swallowing the rain,
So, in my lukewarm coffee, in the bathroom
mirror, there's a restlessness
as black as a raven.
Landing heavily on the quiet lines of this house.
Again, the sun takes cover
and the morning is dead
tired of itself, already, it's pelting and windy
as I lean into the pane
that proves this world is a cold smooth place.

Wind against window---let the words fight it out---
as I try to remember: What is it
that's so late in coming? What was it
I understood so well last night, so well it kissed me,
sweetly on the forehead?

Wind against window and my late flowering brain,
heavy, gone to seed. Pacing
from room to room and in each window
a different version of a framed woman
unable to rest, set against a sky
full of beating wings and abandoned
directions. Her five chambered heart
filling with the panic of birds, asking: What?

What if not this?


My thoughts exactly.  There's a poem for every feeling on earth.  Always.

Love & Blessings,

~*~ Marion ~*~


"Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be." ~Don Quixote


"No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness." ~Aristotle


"Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life." ~Simone Weil


Friday, October 15, 2010

A Prayer to the God of Ebb and Flow

Catfish, amazed to be in a tree.  His first successful attempt last week. 

Another luscious October Morning Glory

+     +     +     +     +

A Prayer to the God of Ebb and Flow

by Henri Nouween, (1932-1996), a Dutch Catholic Priest who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Dear Lord, today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh: “It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.”

You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover.

Out of your love I came to life; by your love I am sustained; and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love.

My only real temptation is to doubt in your love, to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, to remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.

O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow but that the sea remains the sea. Amen.

October speaks yellow fluently.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Only a Poet Can Interpret a Man and a Woman

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt, painted 1907 - 1908

A Man and a Woman
By Alan Feldman

Between a man and a woman
the anger is greater, for each man would like to sleep
in the arms of each woman who would like to sleep
in the arms of each man, if she trusted him not to be
schizophrenic, if he trusted her not to be
a hypochondriac, if she trusted him not to leave her
too soon, if he trusted her not to hold him
too long, and often women stare at the word men
as it lives in the word women, as if each woman
carried a man inside her and a woe, and has
crying fits that last for days, not like the crying
of a man, which lasts a few seconds, and rips the throat
like a claw---but because the pain differs
much as the shape of the body, the woman takes
the suffering of the man for selfishness, the man
the woman's pain for helpnessness, the woman's lack of it
for hardness, the man's tenderness for deception,
the woman's lack of acceptance, an act of contempt
which is really fear, the man's fear for fickleness,
yet cars come off the bridge in rivers of light
each holding a man and a woman.

From:  "The Best American Erotic Poems from 1800 to the Present", page 135

Kept Burning and Distant
By Linda Gregg

You return when you feel like it,
like rain.  And like rain you are tender,
with the rain's inept tenderness.
A passion so general I could be anywhere.
You carry me out into the wet air.
You lay me down on the leaves
and the strong thing is not the sex
but waking up alone under the trees after.

From:  "The Best American Erotic Poems from 1800 to the Present", page 128

Monday, October 4, 2010

Anne Sexton - The Black Art & The Addict

Anne Sexton at her typewriter with her cup of coffee, cigarette in hand.

The Black Art
by Anne Sexton

A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I am that girl.

A man who writes knows too much,
such spells and fetiches!
As if erections and congresses and products
weren't enough; as if machines and galleons
and wars were never enough.
With used furniture he makes a tree.
A writer is essentially a crook.
Dear love, you are that man.

Never loving ourselves,
hating even our shoes and our hats,
we love each other, precious , precious .
Our hands are light blue and gentle.
Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.
But when we marry,
the children leave in disgust.
There is too much food and no one left over
to eat up all the weird abundance.


Anne Sexton

The Addict
by Anne Sexton

with capsules in my palms each night,
eight at a time from sweet pharmaceutical bottles
I make arrangements for a pint-sized journey.
I'm the queen of this condition.
I'm an expert on making the trip
and now they say I'm an addict.
Now they ask why.

Don't they know that I promised to die!
I'm keeping in practice.
I'm merely staying in shape.
The pills are a mother, but better,
every color and as good as sour balls.
I'm on a diet from death.

Yes, I admit
it has gotten to be a bit of a habit-
blows eight at a time, socked in the eye,
hauled away by the pink, the orange,
the green and the white goodnights.
I'm becoming something of a chemical
that's it!

My supply
of tablets
has got to last for years and years.
I like them more than I like me.
It's a kind of marriage.
It's a kind of war where I plant bombs inside
of myself.

I try
to kill myself in small amounts,
an innocuous occupation.

Actually I'm hung up on it.
But remember I don't make too much noise.
And frankly no one has to lug me out
and I don't stand there in my winding sheet.
I'm a little buttercup in my yellow nightie
eating my eight loaves in a row
and in a certain order as in
the laying on of hands
or the black sacrament.

It's a ceremony
but like any other sport
it's full of rules.

It's like a musical tennis match where
my mouth keeps catching the ball.
Then I lie on; my altar
elevated by the eight chemical kisses.
What a lay me down this is
with two pink, two orange,
two green, two white goodnights.
Now I'm borrowed.
Now I'm numb.


If you're interested in a good online biography of Ms. Sexton, check it out here:

I also highly recommend the book, "Anne Sexton, A Biography" by Diane Middlebrook.  It's an enlightening book about Ms. Sexton, one of my favorite poets of all time.  I've read it many times.  Also, "Searching For Mercy Street:  My Journey Back to My Mother" by Linda Gray Sexton, Anne's daughter, is a fabulous read. 

It's a cold (!), totally stoned, humidless morning here in the swamp:  magical and rare.  The light....O, the perfectly crystalline, translucent October morning light!!  Would that I could bottle it and save it...

We're in the midst of a drought, though.  No rain going on 2 months so I'm praying for some sky tears. 

Love & Blessings,



"A poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music... and then people crowd about the poet and say to him: "Sing for us soon again;" that is as much as to say, "May new sufferings torment your soul." ~Soren Kierkegaard