Month: April 2014

poems that heal me (episode 4)

nightsmagicNo excuses remain.

The traumas,
insults,
tragedies –
all the pain and suffering
of life –
have been digested.

Processing has been completed
to the point i can pretend
my decisions are fully my own.

The heartbreak he caused
has been fully healed,
even if the contours of my heart
changed shape.

All of the grief
moved through me
until even the echoes
no longer ached.

My life is my own –
for good or for ill –
and i feel the deep need
to celebrate!

poems that heal me (episode 2)

I read this a few times this winter… I have to keep reading this poem, to remind myself that I don’t have to struggle.  All I have to do is put my burdens down.

 

Quietly, secretly,
a longing has crept over me.
It’s strange.
Surreal.
i rarely find myself
yearning in this way.
Most of my dreams
come out grand
and unlikely.
But, this time
all i want
is some joy –
a sliver of happiness
at a moment in time
when i have been imprisoned
by my loneliness
to a terrifying degree.
This secret desire
doesn’t even include
great hopes for my future.
All of it –
the sum total of the dream –
is to have a good night,
a happy series of moments
when i forget my fears,
the demands and the stress,
and throw myself into happiness.
Finally, i have a fantasy
i can fulfill
without any massive efforts
or fervent planning.
All it requires
is for me to put my burdens down,
secure i can pick them back up again
in due time.

poems that heal me (episode 1)

From what I hope will be a collection released in the near future.  Whenever I read this poem I am reminded by how deep connections go, even when we are at our most lonely.  All moods and situations pass.

Originally written during the spring of 2012.

false isolation

Poems about loneliness
poured fourth from me
like diarrhea
all winter long.
It was a repetitive orgy
of lament.
Looking back i see
how i moved mountains
in the solitude.
i hunkered down
over my wheel,
my desk,
my easel,
and lost myself
within focus
and heart-warming labor.
Indeed, without this work
i would have perished
from my longing.
Time has moved on,
changing my circumstances.
New obligations have overtaken me,
and i struggle to change gears.
Now i am frustrated
by my inability to create.
i could vent
line after line
whining piteously
about how conversation,
questions, markets and events
and endless appointments
keep me from my true calling.
Yet, even as i sit, pen in hand,
a poem derailed
by another intrusion,
i remember the isolation
that nearly broke me.
Like the memories of snow, ice and cold
that keeps this summer heat
firmly within the realm
of blessings,
no matter how badly i sweat,
these humans
who have re-entered my life
can only make me scowl
for a few moments,
no matter the transgression.
Even when i am overloaded,
frustrated,
or confronted
by my own oddities,
i am still so grateful
that i am not alone.

a sliced up thumb

I really need to throw.  This cannot be overstated.  I have a lot of galleries and stores that need to be filled, commissions patiently waiting, and I feel like I am running very far behind indeed.  Things keep getting in the way of things.  The work that needs to be done to support the art winds up taking enough time away from the art that I start to feel deprived.  It’s a vicious cycle. I think I could create enough work for three of me, but even if I managed to clone myself, we all would want to make art so badly that each of us would be complaining about not having enough time.  We would still have things getting in the way of things – times three.

At any rate, night before last, I sliced open my thumb working in the kitchen and it kept reopening as I threw yesterday. There was much blood on the pottery – thank heavens, I was working with almost black clay so no one will know (and it will go up to 2232 degrees, so the pots will be safe.) Still, it gave me pause as I thought about throwing today.  Once the studio quieted down and I was faced with a decision about what to do, I wound up surprising myself.  Choosing to keep my thumb from reopening, and not wanting to get the cut infected (or even more gobbed up with clay than it was yesterday), I turned on my computer and have been working with words.

nowordsIt feels like I have come home during the past two hours.  The drive to write has not been as acute or overwhelming of late. Indeed, the push to submit has been pestering me more than the urge to create (I keep hearing a southern voice from my past say: “Shit or get off the pot.”)

I always tend to have more poems rush out of me when I am in despair or drowning in anxiety, and for months I have been enjoying a shocking amount of contentment even when the assorted problems and worries (many of which have made it into the blog) sprang into being.  Granted, stories have been shoving their way out of me, but even those have not always been as determined as they used to be (with the exception of one character demanding to know if he was alive or dead).  Poems, though, had hushed themselves significantly.  Fewer have been coming but the ones that have poured from my fingertips made me happier.

For the past two hours I have been going through poems – editing, pouring through a collection trying to figure out if it’s ready to be released into the wild, staring at dozens of hand-written drafts that I’ve scribbled out this year.  I have felt like myself on a deep and joyous level – aligned with the universe and content in my life.  I am a poet.  It’s almost as though I had forgotten, and my own poems reminded me.

 

Wonderful students

I love my students.  Today, one of my most successful (former) students came to visit and I was simply awash in pride.  She has a huge commission coming up, which would leave me quite intimidated, but she is rising to the challenge as she has so many others.  She deals with incredible health issues and still manages her business much better than I could ever dream of negotiating mine.

Every single time I teach, I learn something from those sitting before me.  Sometimes it is just a tiny lesson about compassion.  Other times, I get to see the clay or the paint in a new way.  Last week, one of my students said that when she is within these walls and I am working with her granddaughter, she feels like all is right with the world.  She left me beaming with happiness.

Two days ago (although nearly a week ago in writing time) I blogged about one of my newest students making her first jars.  The opportunity to transmit a skill to another person – to know in a way I midwifed that first pot into being – makes me giddy.  The world has become a prettier place because I was here – because that piece came into being.

Alright, I should stop gushing, but I do love teaching. On a day that I had to myself – when I wrote and enjoyed the quiet – I looked about at the creations of others here in my studio and felt the intense need to express my gratitude for my wonderful students.

smiling

When I was sullen and depressed as a preteen and teenager, no doubt dripping with hormonal melodrama, my mother used to tell me stories about when I was a baby. In the hospital after I was born, I spent a lot of my time in the nursery with the other babies.  In the tale, every time the nurses brought me to my mother, they were full of praises.  “All the other babies in the nursery were howling, impatient and crying, but she was so quiet and kept smiling at us.”  Then my mother would follow up with a story about the son of her friend, probably about seven years older than I am, who crept in to my room when I was supposed to be sleeping – I was about six months old – to find me awake.  When he looked over into the crib, apparently I burbled and cooed, and he ran back to our mothers saying, “She smiled! She was so happy! And for a moment I was in the world of a baby!”

“You were always smiling when you were a baby.”  She would dismiss whatever sorrow had come over me, “You were always so happy.  So how can you claim to be miserable now!”  She seemed convinced that being happy once mean that you were immune to any sorrow.

All these years removed, I remember that I was indeed miserable as a teenager and I stayed that way for a long time.  It has only been in the past few years that I’ve really been able to make progress against long-standing depression.  I’ve already posted about this miracle, but today became something special.

af_easter2014_0043This afternoon, I took my dog hiking through the woods.  As I filled up on sunshine and delight, I kept remembering the happy baby in those stories. For a little while – within the forest filled with broken trees, those coming back to life, newborn saplings, and a lot of mud, I could not stop smiling.  With each step I thought about the things going on in my life, good and bad, and none of it could unseat my joy. This was not a high-energy, effervescent mood, but a strong, blissful peace that felt natural and deep.  It washed over me as welcome and bright as the sunshine.  For a little while, I wondered if I was returning to the baseline state that smiling baby enjoyed.

Then I came home from the hike (and the wonderful Easter dinner afterward at a friend’s house), and realized I had run out of fuel oil, I exhausted myself loading a kiln, tried to balance my checkbook to have the numbers laugh in my face, and washed what seemed like an endless series of dishes in no fewer than three different sessions at the sink.  As I write, stress and worry coexist with this deep happiness – which sounds surreal, but it is the reality of this moment.  The joy remains.  The sense of powerlessness remains.  Gratitude and the worry dance with each other.  Even now, as I put things up on Craig’s list to sell, realizing how tight my finances really are and could continue to be, I am a smiling fool.  I am awash in thanksgivings.

After all, I got to hike through the woods today with my dog – I had a wonderful dinner with friends – I an finding it easy to smile – and there is always the chance that things will change.

Jars with lids

IMG_0074 (I began this on April 15th, but was interrupted by asthma and wretchedness.  Here I am posting it five days later…)

This morning, I gave one of my most talented students her first lesson on making jars with lids (examples made by my hands, freshly out of the glaze kiln, are to the left.)

As I predicted this morning while I was preparing to come out to the studio, she did a fantastic job.  After watching my two demos, she threw two lovely little jars with matching lids all on her own.

As I made the jars under her watchful eye, I kept realizing how amazing it is that this is even possible.  Blame Cosmos,  but I’ve been thinking a lot about atoms and particles and how wildly cool this world we live in is. The magnificence of existence cannot be overstated. How fantastic is it that we can make something so solid and stable out of mud?  Just add the pressure of my hands, the speed of the wheel, the heat of the kiln, and voila.  The sensual movement of the clay within my fingers feels like a miracle – I am continually amazed that we humans can do such marvels.IMG_0072 Even more, that I can make such loveliness.

Lately, I have been doing some whining.  Those within earshot have heard too much about woes and worries.  Not to mention my vexations.  What I am certain I never get across to anyone with enough clarity – most of all to myself – is that this life is so blessedly fantastic. I rejoice at being born so that I can live through these times. We enjoy a world full of wonders. Realizing that no matter how desperate or vulnerable I feel, or how terrible any situation seems to the individual or the world at large, everything can change in the blink of an eye. We can make loveliness out of mud.  Love – sometimes just as simple the love for what we are doing – can transform any moment.

It all brings me such hope and happiness. As that clay spins between my palms, nothing else matters.  The future and the past both cease to exist, there is just the clay becoming something new, something fantastic that it never expected it could be.

Feeling that clay take form between my hands and then witnessing those skills manifest themselves in my student left me joyous.  In the face of that, what chance did my worry and fear have?