Sense of Faith

Week Twelve of The Artist’s Way talks about faith – a sense of spiritual connection that isn’t tied to any particular region or dogma.

‘spirit of the universe

guide me

infuse me

with your dynamic productive energy

as you create through me

works

writing

emotions

that helps open others to

spiritual hope

direction fulfillment

thank you for all’

I wrote the above as one of the Artist’s Way tasks – to write a prayer/affirmation as part of the process of making thought into an action. I recently had a conversation with a friend about prayer. He was concerned that as he held no organized religious beliefs, was his use of prayer hypocritical. Was he  agnostic atheist heretic blasphemer? I told him those terms were based in a Christian construct. As I said that I thought about what Toni Morrison said about the nature of the white gaze which dominates so much of our thinking without us realizing it.

The past few weeks I have been realizing how much of my spiritual ideology is still seen though a Christian gaze, even though I don’t consider myself Christian. The prayer about was written with that gaze over my shoulder, an invisible editor that bargains with the universe in this trade off – like the Biblical trade off in which if you’re good you go to Heaven – we have to be bribed. Why can’t one be good for the sake of being good.

Why can’t I have ‘dynamic productive energy’ without bargaining for it by being of good to others as a result? Can I develop a sense of faith that steps out of the Christian gaze? Even though I say ‘spirit of the universe’ I see that I am engaging with it so as not to appear selfish, or self-serving. That my creativity is only of value if it feeds into the needs of others. Not that I expect faith to exist in a vacuum isolated from culture but I’d like one that doesn’t depend on a culture to approve or validate it. I have faith that that faith is possible 🙂

from Aug 2013

Five Calls

<>

the phone rings

what is it this time

time after time the same

never enough to last a week

if only hanging up could break a jaw

<>

the phones rings

how soon

see you in an hour

the heart dances

faster that the clock ticks

<>

the phone rings

how did you get this number

I don’t want to talk to you

there’s nothing left to say

that’s the price you have to pay

<>

the phone rings

stirring me from dreams

into the charms arms hold

everything to anticipate

nothing to resist

<>

the phone rings

have you heard

didn’t expect to be the one

left here dial tone dangling

cold receiver of sobs

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Autonomy

In Week Eleven of The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron says: ‘The idea that money validates my credibility is very hard to shake.’ I’d take this even further but substituting ‘money’ with ‘suffering’ or ‘childhood sexual abuse’ or ‘conformity’ or ‘pick your own.’ There are so many sets of standards to measure validation that one can always find one that deems them not deserving. Maybe its the nature of ‘credibility’ that needs to be examined. Perhaps validation & credibility a manifestations of co-dependency – the need for a sense of self defined by outside forces.

I know we are ultimately defined by our culture’s standards but that is no reason not to question or even resist those perimeters. Sure, making money as a creator is a good thing, I’d love to get paid for blogging 🙂 Very few poets I know earn enough $ from their actual poetry to made a decent living – they struggle for grants, teach creative writing, edit for other writers. But that’s a rant for another post 🙂

Watched an amazing interview/biography of Toni Morrison. One of the things she talks about is writing for the white-gaze & when she stopped doing that her writing took on a a different sense, she was freed of needing to satisfy that gaze. This resonated with me as an issue of autonomy. In looking over my archive & greater depth than ever I see how much of what I wrote was written for the heterosexual-gaze.

Work that I pushed to make universal so the emotions were human, as opposed to being specific to me & my sexuality. Not that there isn’t an intersection of those emotions but I was suppressing direct gay sexuality to be more accessible, acceptable?

When I stopped suppressing my gay-gaze my poetry became more personal, more honest & so direct that my performance opportunities declined. I was a bit disappointed but who cares, right? My writing is what it is. I once had an agent tell me my sex scenes were too explicit. I guess was not writing for the heterosexual-gaze anymore 🙂 Autonomy 🙂

One of the tasks is another list of dreams but dreams in different categories – health, possessions, leisure, relationships, creativity, career & spirituality. Wishes with no thought as to practicality. This was a challenge in the light of the covid pandemic – every list included covid resistance, vaccine in first spot. It’s hard to dream of a future with this sort of threat – much like the 60s fear of nuclear holocaust that coloured our lives. But I survived that holocaust & I’ll survive this one.

 

Beyond Instinct

1 – ode to didgeridoo

<>

we are invited to travel

along a river of breath

chatter fades after the first vibrations

as we immerse in the deep C

notes below the harmonic of hearing

dark trilling the mud mind

the ear canal overfills gently

no room to hear anything more

a wordless dialogue in sound

digs us deep from the moment

into pre-animal instincts

the music before birth

beyond notes seeking a sharp landing

<>

2

<>

someone asked me

where did these words 

‘dark trilling the mud mind’

come from

<>

I wasn’t sure what to say

I’ve spent to many years

deconstructing the dictionary

there was nothing left to say

there is no where

there is no way to take you there

I’m lost in this horizon

setting you straight is beyond me

can’t tell where I’m coming from

not quite sure where I am going

but I know I’m here

caught in a fulminating flux

by a power greater than myself

something I’ll never understand

as long as I open the the experience

there is no logic to capture

the freedom of the flow

the where words come from

isn’t up to me

anything I say will only disappoint

or turn into my weaving

some self-indulgent web

a wordless dialogue in sound

to lead you to my bed

in an attempt to humanize myself

so you see the me beyond the dictionary

July 2007

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The Deadlies Way

Week Ten of The Artist’s Way has proved to be the most interesting so far. A sense of self-protection wasn’t that difficult for me, I think, partly due to growing up queer – one learns to protect, hide certain parts of the self rather than surrender them, or even to question them. In looking back I see how I was questioning masculine values to a degree – it was some years before I question the culture that created & perpetuated those values.

There is some talk about the drug of fame, the drain of competition. I’m not sure if I ever wanted fame, notoriety maybe, but fame – no thanks. I had a rather-well-known friend & very frequently we would stopped in the street when someone recognized them. Often the praise was for something they’d rather forget 🙂

The issue with competitiveness is often winning becomes more important than creativity. I’ve met slam poets who ‘sculpt’ pieces for points, or who question their talents if they don’t get enough points. I know one doesn’t write in a vacuum but audiences are fickle, unpredictable & unreliable narrators of anyone’s talents.

 

I enjoyed the tasks in this chapter. The Deadlies was fun though I didn’t do it quite as suggested – as each was dealt with I put it in another envelope to make sure I looked at all of them at least once. Some of them needed to be tweaked to make them applicable to today: i.e. it’s been over 40 years since I’ve used alcohol or drug to cope so I had to find something in my life today that has a ‘similar’ addictive resonance in my life. Blogging?

Doing a lovely thing for myself every day was interesting too – with food as one of the Deadlies is having a Klondike ice-cream bar a lovely thing or giving in to the spiral of ‘I eat badly because I’m self-destructive’? But I only have one ice-cream bar a day – so maybe it isn’t so deadly 🙂

Blowing Shit Up

kill them 

kill them all

bomb the shit out of them

teach them 

to be good world citizens

let them die of hiv 

malnutrition

then bomb the shit of what is left

<>

they don’t know any better

they are lost little children

stumbling through the shopping mall

of our needs and wants 

if they can’t satisfy those needs and wants 

then kill them 

kill them all

<>

bomb the shit out of them

bomb their contaminated water supply

their understaffed hospitals 

over-flowing orphanages

bomb their rubble to rubble

kill them 

kill them all

<>

liberate the enslaved of all nations

from the despotic heels of dictators

religious fanatics

bring them into our refined gilded fold

of credit cards smart phones

that’s all we want to do or

we’ll bomb the shit out of them

kill them 

kill them all

those blasphemers 

who don’t have a seat at the world bank

we have to assimilate them 

into the stream of human kindness

if they can’t be assimilated

bomb the shit out of them

smash destroy replace repatriate

then we’ll stick around

help rebuild those economies

brick by byte

because what is good for them

is even better for our capital gains

<>

we’ll bomb the shit out of them 

till they admit we are right

to kill them 

kill them all

bomb their rubble to rubble

because

after all

who doesn’t like to see 

shit blow up

right

(2007)

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Strength

Week Eight of The Artist’s Way supposedly is about sense of strength but I found it to be more about rationalizations not to be productive: things like: I’m too old or young or too lazy, too busy with important things etc. The tasks involved goals around unfulfilled dreams – where you you like to be in 5 years – what action can you take today to get there. I’d like to be alive in five years 🙂 My action today is to take supplements that strengthen my immune system & wearing a face mask as necessary in public.

More explorations of the past (what might you have been if you has perfect nurturing?). As I get older I see that I had ‘perfect nurturing’ – I wasn’t deprived emotionally, financially – there was no physical, sexual etc. abuse in my home. I had to stretch this to the ‘imperfect’ nurturing I experienced thanks to the cultural attitudes I grew up with – but perhaps without those attitudes I would not have the strengths I have today.

I fid  one cultural attitude remains unquestioned – the one that says productivity equal value, that productivity equals self-worth. Creativity for its own sake is self-indulgence, creativity for profit is real creativity not pointless daydreams. Consumer appeal is the ultimate sign of artistic accomplishment & authenticity. 

There is a look at ‘filling in the form’ – taking things step-by-step as opposed to looking at the finished project & thinking ‘that’s too much to do all at once.’ It’s easy to get caught up in instant gratification which is one reason take-out food is so popular – you ask for & get it usually right way. The Way recommends starting in practical ways – if you don’t start you never finish. 

If you don’t start you can fantasize about how great it’ll be when you do start 🙂 In my recent covid cleaning frenzy I set time limits for each day’s housework, rather than setting the area that had to be done. It was much more productive to do parts of room rather than look & think I have to do all this today. Doing as much as I did in ninety minutes was reasonable. No rush & more time to make purge decisions. 

My writing is done the same way – timed writing rather than I have to get this whole chapter/scene done today. With NaNo I pushed hard though to see if I could keep up that pace – 100,000 words in 30 days – doing that two years in a row was enough for me 🙂

 performed at Renaissance Conspiracy Jun13.07

Street Sale

selling off the old records

will buyers get infected 

with my recollections

will they hear 

what I heard on those lps

the youthful striving to grow up

that tore my heart out

as I poured over the album covers

seeking clues in grainy photos

of what rested in those too tight jeans

will they see the album covers 

as promises of a bold future

or as comic reflections 

of what was once considered hip

far out man

too groovy for words

when people see the array of my past

do they try to figure me out 

from the jumble of books

music movies a few bowls

some engage in conversation

others prim & dismissive

my old crap not good enough 

not inviting enough 

my past too paltry

for even the fifty cents I ask

not much for you a stranger 

to merge a bit into what was once me

that is if it was even mine

I resist the urge to leave my yard 

to see what you may have

old photo albums

wedding photos

now that would be a score

to confuse people with next year

oh yes my sister’s wedding pictures

the plane went down on the honeymoon

I didn’t need those memories

what fun

give them something for their interest

a whole new past for me

when not enough of what I don’t need

isn’t sold 

I drag the tired crap into the house

to a dark corner where it shudders

some year all that isn’t sold

will stay at the curb

never to return 

good bye past 

hello emptiness

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

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Way To Go Week One

Finished the introductions to both the book & the workbook. They echo each other. I find a few things to contradict but for the most part I choose not to argue & push on. I dislike the ‘informercial’ brag – so-so did this & now has two best-sellers, has a movie, an exhibition – the implication being that if you don’t get these results you are doing something wrong.

I appreciated the reinforcing of my thought that we mistake negative thinking for being realistic & positive thinking as delusional. This came up in the discussion round the use of affirmations – to think ‘I am never going to get anywhere’ is clearly factual, whereas ‘I am a productive writer’ is an egotistical brag not a fact.

Starting doing the week one tasks, as suggested, in long hand!! So I am following at least one of the suggestions, as I do my morning pages on my desktop. I do most of my writing via keyboard. The ‘Way’ theory is longhand slows the brain down to sort things out carefully – my theory is the faster I write the less my editor steps in & the more I am open to the flow.

My artist date last week was part of my morning walk – a stop at, I kid you not, Glory Hole Donuts – Gerrard E/Coxwell. These are not your average donuts. Not exactly out of my comfort zone either so future might take me more out of my routines. In winter I’m less inclined to go places where I’m trapped in my winter wear but I have been eye a few sort of trade shows that could be diverting. The ultimate artist date will be DC this June 🙂


The poems I’m currently posting on Mondays are thing I wrote in 2008 & am finally going back to take a look at – raw dough some of which needs carefully unravelling to translate from my typo or spell-check typo to English. This is sort of an an artist date with my past self.

F-Bombs Away

is there an emoticon to say 

what one doesn’t want to put into words

some cute little animated gif

that’ll take the sting out of the unspeakable

out of the unprintable

to remove any real pain

but says it all anyway

 

the vulgarity that curdles the bold

the sacrilege that shakes one’s belief system

reduced to a shruggy face

so that no one is offended

except those offended

by the sweet correctness of our times

where we dare not overstep

boundaries of taste

drop the f-bomb too much

or the deadly c-word

 

this fear of having people realize 

that we are as crass and boorish

as we are afraid we are

better to keep that self out of the public eye

off the printed page

unless that unguarded text moment

gets retweeted

shows up on You Tube

 

there has to be a way

of being offensive

without being offensive

without swearing 

making idle hand gestures

caught on cell phone videos

 

we are always on our toes

being as daring as we dare

pushing enough to let people know 

we can push

and that they should be grateful

we aren’t going as far as we’d like

that we could make them really uncomfortable

but aren’t out of politeness

yes politeness 

not out of fear of reprisal or judgement

without shooting them or ourselves 

in our pretty little heads

we want respect not dismay

for saying just the right unkind insult

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March 13 –

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

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at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

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