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

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Transcendence

The Toni Morrison bio-documentary/interview A Life In Pieces is amazing. One reviewer was quoted as saying something like ‘she has transcended race in this latest book’ – the implication being that this is a good thing that makes her an even better writer. You know I’ve never read a review of novel/books by authors such as Joyce Carol Oates or Stephen King that says that they transcended race, or gender.

One of the things that Morrison said was that she decided not to explain issues in her characters lives but to merely present them because she felt her black readers would already understand & she felt no need to tell them the why of what they already knew. This resonated with me as I often felt need to give my queer characters backstories that explained their coming out – something I still find in movies & novels about the queer experience – explaining things for the heterosexual gaze. There is more to my life than my coming-out experience.

As my poetry became less concerned with explanations or making emotions universal I did get some negative feed back for being too insular – very similar to critical response to some of Morrison’s work that was too race oriented to be ‘quality’ literature. That is until she transcended race. Which I don’t think she really did, or had to do, it’s just that the culture around her became more educated & caught up to her.

I have a few of her novel on my shelf that I may reread. I did download her book of essays ‘The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations’ & have bumped it up to the front of the read next on my Kindle. I’m in the middle of two other books on it now & can’t start yet another one until one of them is finished. Emile Zola’s “La joie de vivre” & Koji Suzuki’s Edge – both amazing & highly recommended.

(from July 2007)

Racking Up Bonus Miles

more never leads to enough 

satisfaction is a sigh of defeat

too much stuff is a nice beginning

the constant scratch seeking struggle 

doesn’t matter if it fulfills a need

or even a want

it’s just stuff

lots and lots of stuff

fill every nook & cranny

empty is a sign of defeat

bare space isn’t spare simplicity

it is need poverty

only the rich can afford empty space

which they fill with their satisfaction

satisfaction is defeat

more is better than equality

<>

life is a pointless staring glazed at TVs

that aren’t big enough

too much empty space

between the neutrons 

making up picture 

it’s too easy to fall between the cracks

in the waiting glazed fumble

give me stuff or give me breath mints

<>

bursting at the seams is a start

time to look for bigger seams

to get more stuff in

stuff the up the cracks

stuff up your ass

stuff stuff stuff

<>

how good it feels

to bring home bags of unopened books

the smell of the paper

the space between letters

waiting to be filled

new cds flash in the sunset

as I peel plastic skin off them

new shoes not laced yet

new helicopters new tanks

to keep our boys safe in war

war that never gets enough

there is no such thing as enough death

no quenching that hunger

<>

that smokey smell

is life burning away the past 

to make space for the future

why learn lessons

there are new mistakes to be made

mistakes like forgetting 

that more never leads to enough

satisfaction is a sigh of defeat

too much is surrender

will that be cash or visa

you get more bonus miles with visa

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee
sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet