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Letter Box — Newsletter #37

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Vancouver, British Columbia

This is something I wrote after reading some of the contributions on your site. I write a lot but never anything vaguely resembling poetry—have never tried and didn't really here either, this just sort of "happened" and I didn't feel I should mess with it, didn't know what to change it into. I'm rambling though...and it feels odd to send this off to you but here I go.

    UNTITLED

    Some small thing you wrote
    was to me
    a lifting and a clearing,
    much more than an inkling
    of striking translucence, perhaps.

    I was me but now I am
    me plus what you wrote,
    a me with an altered or modified view
    because
    when I read your words I
    shared your eyes.

    That small thing with
    its silent sudden all-knowing
    command
    did not know of my boundaries and limitations and
    flattened them in turn.
    And so I grew.

    For that small thing you wrote,
    maybe long ago and not here,
    there was no wall and so I
    stepped through
    or stumbled
    or fell,
    looked up,
    and went further.

Carolyn Verduzco

Birmingham, AL

    IS IT JUST FOR ME

    The words come pouring in
    To land upon the earth
    Via paper and pen—
    Or once written on the page
    Do they sprout wings
    And fly away
    To live on far-off
    Magic shores
    And abide there
    In rare creatures
    Hearts and souls.

    If this is true
    Take care
    These words of mine,
    And be only words
    That bring joy and love to all
    On whatever or where ever
    You may befall.

Jean Callahan Crowe

Carmel Valley, CA

Here are the Journal Entries I promised to send.

Journal Entry—7/10/02

"Times like this everything in the world becomes personal."
Elizabeth Berg—Open House, pg. 13

I write these lines, these scraps of thought plucked from the minds of authors whose books I consume, my appetite for reading insatiable. For a great portion of life I responded as if everything was personal, as if each injustice and injury were my province, my obligation to remedy. Lately I've been better able to choose my times, my empathies and elixirs, offerings of advice relegated to the rag-bin of restraint.

I feel myself becoming insular, less affected by emotional storms brewing around me. The wind stirs. I take note and reach for my raincoat even before the first drops fall. My convictions reside under my ribs, in my veins, in embers banked at my core, but not spilling from my tongue. I disagree silently, snatch back the quick retort, the unguarded reply. I am used to not being heard, to having radical perspectives. It matters less whether or not I add to the commotion.

Still, the time arrives when I throw all discretion to the scavengers and toss a verbal bomb into the debate. I brace myself for the inevitable ricochet, polish my armor for the next rash moment. This is a mystery I go home and live with, this screening and measuring, concealing and revealing, each word torn loose from my flesh a double-edged sword.

Journal Entry—10/2/02

Why do I write in a journal?

I write because people don't listen. In the journal, on the lines and pages I speak without care how I will be heard, or if I will be heard. I see their faces, watch their expressions change when I say something that doesn't fit in their box, their book of rules. I hear the absurd questions they ask because they have not understood.

Here I can say there is no "father" god, no Allah, no deity managing the details of the world. I can also say I retain a sense of wonder at the mystery of life, its dichotomy of complexity and randomness, how I don't know the why and the meaning—and it is more than anyone can classify and cram into some comfort zone of absolute answers. It is here I can rant against the cruelties and injustices perpetrated by those who hold power over other human beings or animals. It is here I can say that men continue to commit acts of aggression rather than negotiate for the health of all people and the planet, believing they are justified by whatever ideology they claim.

Here no one labels me "feminist" or "lost soul" or "wrong," or tries to alter my view. The page does not offer the ever-negating opposing opinion, the positive rebuttal to what is perceived as negative simply because it differs. In the journal I am neither right nor scandalous, neither unreasonable nor rational. No one looks at me with a blank stare, as if I have spoken a foreign language, one without translation. In the journal I am not outside looking in upon an exclusive club. Here I am inside the unlimited world of writing, of listening for whatever needs to be spoken without appraisal of its merit, without comparison to the a statistical majority.

Laura Bayless

Colorado Springs, CO

I received a very interesting e-mail this morning concerning my poem, Until Now. [See below. Reprinted from LBOL#14 (Section C—March 15, 2002)] It was a thank you and the person told me it made them cry. They quoted two of the stanzas and told me they read and reread this poem. The surprise of this e-mail was that I rose this morning wondering why I keep writing, does it have meaning, is it touching anyone. And like a message from the heavens...in comes this e-mail. I have no idea who sent it, I know their e-mail address, but they didn't sign a name. Well, what is life without risk...so, I answered the e-mail. Such a message deserves a response.

The last time I received a response to one of my poems, New Horizons, it prompted a reply from a young man in prison. He wrote to tell me how much that poem meant to him. Poets, this poet, can travel a thousand miles with a single response. So, I continue this journey.

    UNTIL NOW

    Late in the blooming
    of my life am I—
    not realizing, until now,
    that the imperfections that
    proceeded this moment
    was the preparation of the
    soil and the seeding of my
    very soul. A place where
    weeds and flowers and even
    rancid wheat might grow. None
    needing to be pulled up or plucked out.

    Not realizing, until now, that the
    tears I shed was my own soul
    watering the very things I rejected
    in myself. The union and communion
    of all things without judgement.

    Not seeing, until now, the
    endless possibilities of such
    a garden where all things
    and all parts of self may co-exist.

    Not capable, until now,
    to appreciate the sweet stench
    of compost that nurtured my blooming.

    Not trusting, until now, that
    what came before—makes
    this moment possible NOW.

Patricia Ann Doneson

DOC, Bunker Hill, IN

Well the time has come, parole is upon my doorstep. On July 11th my freedom will be provisionally returned. It's been a long road, yet I'm no worse for the wear. In fact I'm better for it.

I've accomplished a little, a vocational certificate in music theory, a high school diploma, an Associate degree from Indiana University and a pretty good hand at doing art work. Granted, none of which are going to make me a living, but will allow me self respect and esteem which will.

Over the years I have had many conversations with you via our correspondence. I enjoyed the Creative Edge immensely, and the never ending creative processes which I have hence been encouraged to pursue. Donald, tapping into my own creative ability squeezed all the anger and vileness from my being and filled me with peace and contentment, kind of like a jelly doughnut. (What a metaphor, eh?)

How do I thank you enough? Thank you for listening, taking your time to share, for your words of encouragement. Thank you for making me feel valuable by printing my words/cartoons. But most of all, thank you for your friendship. In your infinite wisdom you've taught me what that really is. Quite a different thing to empower than to enable. You believing in me, it allowed me to believe in myself.

What now? I plan to work through the fall if possible in a factory, then in the winter I will decide upon furthering my education full-time or continuing by correspondence. Part of me wonders why school is important at this stage of life. I mean, with so many years inside I cannot imagine anyone wanting to hire me. More over, with (just a) Bachelors degree they won't be opening doors that are already bolted shut by the prison time. But, for personal satisfaction I want to finish that which I've started, as expensive as it might be.

It's weird, years ago when I started corresponding, I was a psychological mess. A product of years of chronic drug use and horrific self-image. I needed to be incarcerated! Today I've got friendships that have lasted for years.

I've rattled on enough. Soon you'll get an E-mail from me, from the free world. I hope we can continue our friendship outside. Again, my sincere gratitude.

Jeffrey Ford

Big Sur, CA

    THE DRAGON SINGS;
    THE DRAGON DIES

    Last evening,
    with the black trees towering
    and the stars falling behind you,
    you sang the nomad's lament
    into the moonless night

    Spanish gypsy music rode the tides
    And lost, vanishing worlds echoed you

    Today you reappear,
    but the stars are gone
    from your shoulders
    The heavens have sunk
    into your pain-soaked earth;
    you've become the murky smoke
    of a suffering reptile

    I leave with unseeing eyes,
    a numb senselessness,
    a questioning soul

    The dragon sings; the dragon dies—
    in One breath, I muse

    OF THE LIZARD'S BREATH

    We bathe in a shower
    of golden beams

    Garlands of flaming roses,
    scarlet as your passion,
    cascade upon my shoulders

    Flaxen tresses
    adorn the voluptuous hills
    We imbibe summer's
    warming breath,
    renewed in God's heat

    And in this
    approaching summer,
    we grow hair of gold,
    green and red,
    our wildflowers
    again lost to seed

    We know not
    what will burgeon
    in this scorch of sun,
    in the dryness
    of the lizard's breath

Carolyn Mary Kleefeld

Fair Oaks, CA

    RICHARD

    Heat rising from
    sleep washed skin,
    his eyes slowly open
    blue portals
    overflowing with love.

    Pooled sunshine
    strokes our limbs,
    reminder of passing time,
    but we remain
    entwined
    secure
    together.

    Gentle touch
    soft kiss
    warm breath,
    these are gifts
    from one who
    danced into my heart
    and taught me to play.

    Gazing, now, into shining blue,
    thankfulness rises, swells,
    moves me to
    nestle closer,
    closer,
    catching the rhythm
    of pounding heart
    and steadfast devotion.

    In his arms,
    there is no pain
    there is no sorrow.
    In his heart,
    there is only comfort
    there is only love
    we remain
    entwined
    secure
    together.

Carol Lynn Mathew-Rogers

Big Sur, CA

    UNTITLED

    humbled again.
    humbled by the wind
    that thrashes my door.
    humbled by loneliness,
    by selfish destructiveness—
    wondering what is more,
    what is less: safe comfort
    or naked homelessness.

    humbled again.
    burned like a fire by desire,
    by the liars that within me lived...
    wishing i could give one more song
    to lovers who have gone.

    humbled by change,
    by pain that erects walls.
    humbled by cold rain that falls.

    humbled by death, by life, by beauty
    that cuts like a knife.
    humbled by the dregs of the wine
    that at first tasted so sweet.
    —by strangers that i meet.
    —by women who pass me by
    oblivious that i for them would die.

    humbled by delicate flowers.
    humbled by the mind's delusional tower.
    humbled by memories, humbled by mountains—
    by nature's views.
    humbled by the six o'clock news.

    humbled by grace, and all that i've been given.
    humbled by trees and humbled when you pack
    your bags to leave.

    humbled by what is, humbled by what never was,
    or ever will be.
    humbled by dreams, and by this poem's fragile
    soft scream...

David Dunn
© 2002

Tucson, AZ

    BALLAD OF THE HOOCH

    He claimed to have made major rank
    With battlefield promotions in Vietnam
    Including 18 months in a Laotian POW camp
    Just the place, no doubt, for R&R

    So he goes by Gizmo
    That's what we all call him
    And Ray-Ray who claimed to be an ex-marine
    And an ex-con
    Lived in the hooch

    That is when I first met them,
    The day before it snowed in Tucson

    Ray was big.
    6'-4" lean and strong
    Gizmo called him Monster
    But he actually does that to a lot of people

    I stole four oak pallets
    From behind the supermarket
    And drove out to the open desert near the hooch

    Ray and Gizmo helped haul
    The pallets back to the hooch
    And it was a good thing
    Cause that night it was cold

    I had been fired from my job that day

    The next day it was cold
    The sky was overcast
    The open desert not oppressed by heat

    I remembered the words Ray had spoken
    By the fire: "Join the Circle of Life"

    So I walked back through the desert
    To the hooch by the Palo Verde tree
    Where Benjamin and John
    Had come to sit by the fire
    It got nasty
    So we all crowded into the hooch

    Ray and I had a game of chess
    The best of my life
    And then it began to snow
    As we could see through the open blanket cover
    That is the door of the hooch

    It didn't stay on the ground
    But the ground wasn't warm, either

    Ray got a fire going
    By breaking up the pallets with an iron bar
    We all got outside in the rain
    It finally began to hail
    After I had brought some hot coffee from home
    I said good-bye for the day

    Ray moved on, but Gizmo is still there
    And I remember
    The Circle of Life
    Contains us all

(Snowstorm of January 30, 2002)

Chris Lovette

DOC, Huntsville, TX

Please find my poem you can print in the Newsletter.

    THERE'S NONE BETTER
    FOR YOU THAN YOU

    If you plan to go
    somewhere special during the journey,
    regardless of all the suffering,
    you've been given Life force and
    there's none better for you than
    you
    because you can be whatever you
    want to be.

    When people stop up and try
    to get too personal
    looking for the chance to know
    what's hidden deep inside
    there's none better for you than
    you
    because you can be whatever you
    want to be.

    And if your memory serves
    you well,
    the best place in the world
    to dwell is where you're at now,
    there's none better for you than
    you
    because you can be whatever you
    want to be...
    and make no mistake—

    dreams are what make life
    worth living.

Chester Vinton HAAS III, #327322
"CHOKYI LODRO" (Knowledge Of Dharma)
PO Box 32
Huntsville, TX 77348

Carmel Valley, CA

    FLOW

    Aging is my favorite time
    Though I'm no longer in my prime.
    My eyes have lost their perfect sight
    And yet each day brings in more light.
    I see what I still need to earn
    The insights that I need to learn.
    My guard no longer keeps me blind
    To all the flaws I need to find.
    I see the growth that still remains
    The need for heart instead of brains.
    I feel the gift of second chance
    Each day brings in a sweeter dance.

Illia Thompson

Monterey, CA

    QUESTIONS

    Is silence a canvas
    On which to paint thoughts?
    Are letters ideas made
    With circles, lines, dots?

    If you put them together
    In just the right way,
    Can sentences tea
    What a heart wants to say?

    Is truth always true
    Or can it be wrong
    Like a melody written
    for a different song?

    Does the earth touch the sky?
    Does every thought fly?
    Does the redwood tree feel
    When the wind passes by?

    When I breathe am I helping
    The plants as they sway?
    Is a garden a party
    Where fairies can play?

    Whatever I ask
    And whatever I say
    Is somebody listening?
    Please, don't go away!

    EXORCISM OF NICE

    Without Nice
    I would be wild
    I'd be a nonconforming child
    I'd not complain
    If you thought me a pain
    There's fire not ice
    Inside my veins.

    Nice is empty
    Nice is weak
    I enjoy my wicked streak.
    Nice is quiet
    Meek and mild.
    As I said,
    I fancy wild.

    Look out, friend.
    I'm learning how
    To exorcise
    That niceness now.
    I won't wait another day
    Nice, it's time to go away.

    Says Nice, Okay.

    WHERE I'M GOING

    I have been ill
    Against my will.
    I thought at last
    That I had passed
    Some point advanced
    Of where I'd danced
    Before.

    It disappoints me
    Out of joints me
    To mistakenly
    Believe I've reached
    A height not breached
    Before.

    Alas, I find
    A certain blind
    Spot in my thinking
    Was I blinking
    When the light of truth
    So brightly poured out?

    A little voice inside
    Quite lovingly confides
    That I will not arrive
    But keep on going.

    The journey never ends
    Like a river
    Weaves and bends
    Be willing to endure
    The Illness and the cure,
    And trust in your own deep
    Tendency to keep
    On growing.

Shirley Tofte

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 Letter Box On-line. 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, JPEG or TIFF format.

The Editor

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