Letter Box -- Newsletter #26
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Nov 6: I'm going through this difficult yet potent time of my mother's passing. I've written several poems during the process and wanted to share them with you. It's as though I'm able to climb into my "observer" self and carefully chronicle my emotions through writing. Yesterday my tears finally broke down my carefully constructed dam and they haven't stopped flowing since.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
Heavy body that cannot turn.
"It hurts! It hurts!"
You grip the side-rail
of the hospital bed
until your next morphine shot.
Years of leaning on your advice.
Now I must choose--
a tube to keep you alive
or painful mini-swallows.
And for what?
I want you to feel good again.
Keep the cookie jar full,
plants blooming in your garden.
I want the rock wall back
that I grew against
finding my shape
in your strength.
Nothing to push against now.
Only the sound of your voice,
"It hurts!" rattling into my ears,
bouncing off my heart.
And restless limbs
thrashing for relief.
I feel like my heart
is about to break
watching my daughter
walk to the plane.
I'm alone again.
No one to catch my grief,
woman to woman
in the blood line
of my grandmother.
As old ones have died out
and new ones have flowered,
I've been in the middle,
sandwiched between Molly and Mom.
Now I'll be at the top
of the chain.
This is the hour
to pull the tubes.
Sugar in her veins
will not pump Mom
back into full life
only leave her trapped
inside a body
unable to raise her head,
eating through plastic
stuffed down her nose.
This is the death vigil.
for a good woman,
a junkie on morphine
feces soiling her legs.
I awoke this morning
not knowing if
she was still alive.
I planted a garden
in her honor
filled with red tulips,
not knowing if
she was still alive.
I ate my lunch.
Talked to a friend
on the phone
about my mother,
not knowing if she
was still alive.
Then the call came!
Details will follow
I have slipped
into "oldest woman"
of my family
with the slipping away
of my mother's breath.
Nov 24: I just received a call from my brother that my mother finally did pass away. A strange phrase, pass away. For the body remains, still and frozen in time and the decaying process. What is it that passes away? Their living, breathing, moving presence for us passes away, no longer available. But as I sat holding Mom's hand yesterday and looked into her eyes that could recognize
me, what remained of her living, breathing, moving self? All that moved was her breath, and that was so labored that it puffed out her neck such that it came even with her chin. Her hand was no longer able to squeeze mine. Her lips could no longer move to form words. The most they could do was hang onto the damp sponge we put in her mouth to give her moisture. Her vocal cords could not form
words either, only little grunting sounds, mono sounds of trying to communicate. Once when I told her I was leaving to go home now, her mono sounds came out rapidly in a pair... sounding like uh...uh. So I sat with her a little longer, stroked her, kissed her, cried a little and told her it was ok to let go. That we were all fine. That she lived and would always live in my heart. And other words that
came pouring out of my mouth that could still form words.
Daytona Beach, FL
I was rummaging through my locker and ran across this poem I wrote for a multi-cultural event here.
THE BURNING WITHIN
The word became light and the light became consciousness.
Some lived in a small, mean world,
And their perceptions were also small and mean.
While others lived in a competitive, large and generous world,
Therefore their perceptions became large and generous.
And after truth before all intendings,
Now was forever and here was farther than space.
Man loved his neighbor and his love was light...
And that burning light within became a flame for all to see,
That lives forever in our hearts without dreaming.
That flame became dynamic, olympic, eternal.
Positive self-direction; an ultimate goal of the contender,
Disdain and solemn heartache; for the loneliest of pretender.
In our struggles to be real, an individual who is seeking,
Through challenges in life may we achieve unity and God's keeping.
And in the light, that couldn't be held, nor seen in one's hand,
A volition to be one... whatever they can.
T'was a light to behold -- in the seed of one's soul,
For without that yearning flame there is only darkness,
And in darkness... are we???
Bruce C. Jonas 913928-0-119S
Tomoka Work Camp
3950 Tiger Bay Rd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32124
Donald, I just played our taped interview of "Discovery" for the third time. I was somewhat critical of my long rambling "growing up and family," but I realize now that you let me go on for good reason -- To emphasize how each artist or any person's life can slowly channel into a sustaining adult creativity, with help from those who recognize that creativity. It is so important in this, the "Information Age."
I'm quite honored to be selected with the others that you interviewed and very happy to have contributed to the "Creative Edge."
Virginia Conroy Dedini
A misty binder
Is blown open
And swept away
Before a fresh wind.
The pages sail everywhere!
Downers Grove, IL
It is quite a labor of love for you and the other folks who participate in workshops and for those who share the content of mind and heart through the publication of their works in the newsletter and elsewhere. For my part, the creativity I have been able to share thus far is in appreciating those works which move and inspire me. Thank you all for what you share.
An area I've been dabbling into is Yoga. Specifically the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. Meditation has led me to an inner peace which allows
me to see the world from a new perspective.
I no longer find time for wasted emotions of anger, revenge or depression. I feel them at times, but do my best to recognize and discard them. Life is too short to wallow in the pools of apathy.
I've come to acknowledge to myself the only true freedom lies within -- incarceration no longer is a punishment. I've ruined their game -- I've learned
to control the variables in which I can.
I have simplified my life. Aside from my box of colored pencils and a small collection of books which continually changes, my personal possessions are few. To "Shake down" my quarters is a 10 minute ordeal. There is nothing to search, and less to find. Yet, I am content. I honestly do not desire more.
It's been a long road to become the man that I am. I perceive challenges ahead,
yet none so great I cannot persevere. I've come to realize the greatest assets a person can have are friendships. The time that I've spent in letters to you, and a multitude of others has allowed me to detoxify my mind of the demons of drugs and alcohol.
While I no longer have any desire for drugs, in times of boredom and depression addicts tend to search them out. In my opinion more for social acceptance than for the actual psychotropic effect. Instead of reaching out to them to find it, I reached out and picked up my pen. Thank you for being there with encouraging words of wisdom and your ear at the ready.
Jeffrey (Levi) Ford #901024, 20-B-3C
DOC/ISP PO Box 601
Pendleton, IN 46064
Here are poems from my collection Wild Eyes and other poems.
ANGELS WATCHIN' OVER ME
Gulls soared over
the temperature just above freezing,
She waded knee deep
into virgin snow,
and moved her legs and arms
in old remembered ways...
made a snow angel.
soaking up the fierce noonday sun,
she was torn between delight
that some neighbor would see her,
that crazy old dame,
in the middle
of the Lafayette School playground
and call 911.
SOME THOUGHTS ON
THE END OF DAYLIGHT SAVING
This year, I had hoped to be more prepared.
I accompanied my grandson to a museum,
I thought I understood.
But the onset of darkness
like a personal affront.
On these dark mornings,
with waking up,
a trapped bird,
beating wild wings
against the glass.
Salt Lake City, UT
I value your dedication to art
and hope that perhaps
you might find these which I send
to somehow be worthy
for what you do
and that you may use them
Blue is knowing
that grey won't last forever
that there is so much more
beyond the silence
that we live
Blue can be black
on a night
when nothing else makes sense
except the clear view
we just can't reach
from where we are
It is a quiet comfort
a final peace
and resting place
when all else is done
and nothing is left
out of the chaos from
which life seemed created
Blue does not ask
for any more than it is
and reminds us too
only to be who we are
even if that's just
From: all the emotions
Ingrid Maria Middleton
After -- how many years is it now? -- your transformative workshops and retreats, I thought I'd be better prepared for my usual withdrawal symptoms. It's never been easy to say good-by to the beautiful souls I've encountered there after having shared, up-close-and-personal, landmarks from our private spiritual journeys. But last weekend's story telling intensive with Jay O'Callahan still has me in its grip, experiencing a blissful kind of raptures-of-the-deep. And I just can't climb back onto the old conveyor belt of self inflicted commitments without offering up some kind of ritual object...
In an effort to decompress, I've been redirecting some of my painter-energies into lengthy (for me) journaling. What follows is a fragment of the March 17th. entry.
This ancient Magdalene, who last night dreamed again of Love
------on the face of her Messiah, reawakens within an empty citadel.
So hard to retrieve the skeins, recall the patterns, regain the rhythms
------and the glint of purposes,
For the veil was rent from top to bottom when His lightning glance
Unstrung from even wanting to want those former threads which lacked
------His grand design, she lashed the old weaving from the loom.
With strangled lamentations, shorn tresses, and still borne babes
------pressed blindly 'gainst dry breasts,
Her bared soul seeks softly now, midst cooling embers
------of yesterday's burning bush,
And weeps in remembrance of the Flame which did not consume the rose.
Thank you for creating the space for honing our creative edges. And, most
of all, for being there in the midst of it for all of us.
I would like to share my first poem.
Sometimes grace bounds into your life
like a lost dog returning home.
Sometimes grace eases into your consciousness
like pancake batter seeking the edge of the skillet.
Sometimes it take a grateful note to smell it.
It takes welcoming skin to feel it.
It takes a surprised tongue to taste it.
Grace can come unnoticed,
Grace can come, be noticed,
and fill you life forever.
Grace will receive your tears
and bless them.
Grace will fill you home
Your grace-filled heart will soften.
Your grace-filled mind will open.
Your grace-touched hand will reach out.
Newbury Park, CA
I was looking at early memories and this came.
What was it like being born?
lots of pushing
no more big warm water ball
to float around in
bright movement in the brightness
I am all sensations
words come later
to do's; not to do's
Instead of being planned, predestined -- perhaps it is all random. This is Creation after all not Recreation... Wiping her lips with her napkin (tuna burgers can be
SO messy) Beverly said: I believe life, the universe -- all of this -- all of
history -- everything -- is random -- no plan... it just happened... and after we die, that's it!
For some reason, as she spoke, I saw a swarm of sperm and realized out of them
all only one would fertilize the egg to make a baby -- me!
What a relief that would be -- what freedom... No more worrying if I am
doing "God's Will" or "my soul's work" -- I can just be me and make my choices and take my responsibility for those choices.
So the law is cause and effect... choose and take the consequences... or be adventurous and see where it will lead me. So 1 am here NOW... NEAT... SCARY!
Pacific Grove, CA
Some thoughts and an image I am working with: (An excerpt out of Giacometti, a biography by James Lord)
"Alberto never liked to be told that he had done well, and his dislike of praise had deeper roots than knowledge that satisfaction is the Artist's enemy. Without false modesty, he told Pierre Matisse (Art dealer) not to pay him compliments."
This statement revealed a truth to me. I have found on numerous occasions, when I get compliments on my work in progress... instead of feeling good, I feel powerless... like my creative energy was cut off. I believe what it is, must be the interruption of a neuron. When one is painting a painting which comes from your moral truths, you reach far within yourself and tap all that is stored from feelings, seeing, hearing and reading. You never see a clear picture, yet somehow it gets on the canvas. If you are lucky and the right neurons work togethergiving the right messages to the neurons that tap the stored infothings fall in to place. All of that is very hard to explain, since it is mostly subconscious. You rely on and
trust your intuition. It's like having an inner eye! Or, like an inner detective seeking for the hidden clues. Therefore, compliments prior to finished work interrupts that delicate network.
Justine V. Weber
When I am silent too many moons
Words leave me
Like birds scattered in the wind
They disperse where I cannot find them.
Trusting has been a wall for me
Too high to climb, a Berlin Wall
Beckoning, threatening destruction
My persona rests on sand.
From time to time
It reaches out
With promises of open skies
But fear erupts
Until subdued I turn again
To gaze upon its outstretched arms:
The wall... that feels so tall
To contemplate its prize.
As days turn into years
I cannot turn away
I feel the urge to leap
To learn to risk without regret
I cannot turn away
My gaze is constant prayer
As finally the wall grows less
And 1, at last, grow tall.
In a dark garden I awake
To touch the barren branch
And that unblossomed part of me.
So sure am I the bloom is past,
I cry, releasing tears at last.
But in the dawns renewed light,
I see the buds have yet to burst.
And my heart swells to think I might
Still satisfy my childhood thirst.
Though it is late to blossom thus,
I feel an inner, ancient trust.
This tree of life, in cycles quite unknown,
Is giving wing to me before all hope is flown.
As I awoke at 4 a.m. one morn, this thought was on my mind.
For the sky
Is all around.
To the ground.
If you want
Have to reach
As much sky
As you please.
San Francisco, CA
RENAISSANCE HAL, MAN OF STEEL
Picture this: With his delicate arrow
Cupid carefully performs a triple bypass
-------on the modern heart of an overworked lass,
-------long atrophied for want of romantic exercise.
This major surgery naturally opens her again to the splendors of love--
Along comes Hal, surfer extraordinaire and
-------modem renaissance man of steel,
Well-versed in the sciences, in building, & the art of the deal
Clanging along in his armor on his way to market,
-------making million-dollar enterprise -- surprise!
He, too, is entirely captured,
By love's delights he's totally enraptured.
Ardent though he be, in the courtly arts he's poorly versed.
For him, romance has always been casual, its status Little League.
Besides, he's plagued by debts, business worries & fatigue,
And more inclined to study the Web, the Market & the arts of War
-------than engage in the gentle arts & knock at heaven's door.
Before long he carelessly bludgeons her heart with his clumsy spear
-------and decides he needs to disappear,
-------proclaiming love's demands too arduous, overwhelming &
What does this modern man know of love? the soul? the inner life? Really!?
As if the hours of timeless intimacy could be cast away by casual disregard,
------- as if the transcendence of their rapture could be erased from time & place,
-------as if they were different from Dante's Paolo & Francesca, and could be separated
--------------in spirit or in space.
Stay tuned to see, "How will this story end?"
Will mighty Hal see the light and hurry to mend
------- the heart he carelessly did rend?
Will the modern Cinderella take him back
-------and mend his socks and mind the hearth?
Will they invent a fabulous universe entirely their own
-------living happily ever after -- until old they have grown?
Though scorned, I'll not be bitter or dismayed.
Instead I will my muse obey
And take the time to ply my ancient craft
And weave the splinters of my heart into a mystic play,
-------this light-hearted song of Cupid's naughty little shaft.
Carmel Valley, CA
THE CHASM OF DAYBREAK
after the long hours of night
have gazed into the galaxies
and the destiny of a few exhausted stars
has been decided
the earth wakes
nocturnal prowlers return
to dark sanctuaries tugging
pagan shadows into daydreams
whatever torch you carry
whatever form you adopt
still dragging yesterday's gravity
rotates into dawn
drawing you out
to taste the sweetbrier wind
jasmine hurls its white incense
wherever the wild boar tramples
the purple lupine
there is still a new day
to be met
light rises like cream
to feed time being
and youattentive or not
leap into the yawning canyon
Thank you for your creative offerings!
I invite readers to share their own creative works with a few words about the context of their work for either the new Letter Box On-line or regular hard copy version. I look for work and comments I feel support understanding and encouragement of the creative process, and hence, the process of life.
Submit your name, city and state with your works to Donald@creative-edge.org for publication. I also encourage you to approve adding your E-mail address. Submit images in 72dpi GIF or TIFF format.
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