Memory

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Memory

By the time I remembered your name, I had forgotten your face. Then I couldn’t recall why I wanted to talk to you. I trace dark landmarks on the back of scarred hands: blood maps, unremembered, encounters with door knobs and unseen furniture, dust covered photographs, grey, grim, anonymous, hanging on the walls, not belonging in any family album. At night I cruise among islands, emerald green against sapphire seas. Why didn’t I visit these places when I was able to? Golden sand trickles through night’s fingers and time’s hour glass trickles out as stars sparkle and planets dance in Platonic skies. My memory is gradually fading into the distance, like a sailing ship leaving harbour. Each day, I wave another couple of memories good-bye. Each morning I wake unaware of where I have been the night before. It’s not that I sleep walk, just that things pass me by in the blink of a blurred eye. I still track the sails of drifting ships. I think of them as white moths, caught in overnight traps, chloroformed into oblivion, their bodies sometimes soaked in formaldehyde. Occasionally they come to life in the morning, batter their wings briefly against my fingers, leaving them covered with the finest moth-dust, before fluttering away into dawn’s forgiving light. I give chase with pen and paper, the worst of butterfly nets for wild thoughts waiting to be caught, then tamed. I stare at the mesh of the snow-white page and strive to grasp something just beyond my fingertips, trying to decipher it and deliver its message, but I can’t quite remember what it is.

Face to Face

 

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Face to Face

Such a lovely phrase and so suggestive of so many things.  “I turned a corner and there was my wife [daughter, cousin, mother, mother-in-law, very best friend, fiancée, all with so much potential] face to face with a complete stranger.” “The bull loomed out of the early morning mist, and they we were, face to face, the bull between me and the gate, and me with a broken stick in my hand.” [Actually happened. Mushrooming with my grandmother. I was about 8 years old.]  “They lay there, face to face.” [I do like the possibilities inherent in that one.] “If I have something to tell you, I’ll say it to you, face to face. If you have something bad to say about me, tell me now, face to face, and stop spreading rumors behind my back.” [Loads of potential here, too.]

If the longest journey begins with that first step, how many stories begin with that first sentence, and how many works can we write when once we have made that first verbal foot-print. “In a place in New Brunswick, whose name I have no wish to recall …” [Don Quixote, slightly adapted.] “She was the worst of friends, she was the best of friends …” [Charles Dickens, after his emigration to Toronto … hey, it could have been a man … he … he … or should that be hee, hee!]

Such potential in words. So much potential in a cliché turned upside down and inside out. Language waiting to make friends with us, needing our company, and us, alone in the world when we lose or forget our relationships with words. I looked up and found myself face to face with HOW and WHY?

Face to Face.  Go on, click on the link. You know you want to. Whatever could be just a click away, waiting to meet you, face to face.

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Dreamer

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Dreamer
Maindy Road
Cardiff

Dressed in clothes spun from the thinnest of air
I gave my dreams to any who would listen.
“A gift,” they called it, “for words.”

Yet, when the winds blew wrong
my words changed to smoke that stained
or flames that blistered and scarred.

My tongue twisted and forked until lies
lay heavy in my mouth and my words
were weighed down with hooks, and sinkers.

My life became a night-mare ridden full‑tilt
at a windmill with a great wooden sail.
On certain nights, when the sky was sprinkled

with seeds of living gold, I rose upwards
to the moon and my words become stars;
on lesser nights, I lay broken in the gutter.

Duende

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Duende
Federico García Lorca

It starts in the soles of your feet, moves up
to your stomach, sends butterflies stamping
through your guts. Heart trapped by chattering teeth,
you stand there, silent, wondering … can you?
will you?what if you can’t? … then a voice breaks
the silence, but it’s no longer your voice.

The Duende holds you in its grip as you
hold the room, eyes wide, mouths open, possessed,
taken over like you by earth’s dark power,
volcanic within you, spewing forth its
lava of live words. The room is alive
with soul magic, with this dark, glorious
spark that devours the audience, heart
by heart. The magic ends. The maelstrom calms.

Abandoned, you stand empty, a hollow
shell. The Duende has left you. God is dead,
deepening your soul’s black night. Exhausted,
you sink through deepest depths searching for that
one last drop at the wine bottle’s bottom
that will save your soul and permit you peace.

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Vision

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Vision

Vision
appears from nowhere
holds you in its hands
molds you like putty
play dough or plasticine
till you bend to its will

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is it a conundrum
like chicken or egg
the final product
laid out in all its details
or is it a process
step by step along the way
sometimes even the artist
cannot really say
yet shaping happens

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maybe it happens each day
in a different way
a power descending
an angel entering
a vacant mind as if it were
an empty room
Lorca’s duende
alive and well
and living in St. Andrews

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Comment: The above verses express, in part, a conversation on the origins of inspiration and vision held around the dinner table at the KIRA residence in St. Andrews on 9 June 2019. Those who participated in the dinner discussion … de sobremesa, as they say in Spain, over the table top … included (clockwise round the table) Chuck, Masha, Heather, Susan, Geoff, Andrea, Roger, Evelyn, Perri, Faye, and Mel. If I have forgotten anyone, or placed them in the wrong seating order, please forgive me. I am growing old and my memory is not what it was. However, the arrival of inspiration, how we greet the artistic vision, what it means to each of us, whether it arrives in totality or in fragments, glimpses or a full vision, this varies for each one of us. More on this tomorrow when I write about Lorca’s duende, the dark earth power that takes over performance artists when they perform, filling them with fire and fury, then leaving them empty, drained of all essence, ripe for the old rag-and-bone man and his cart. The paintings, incidentally, are by my line-painting friend, Geoff Slater, who is also a muralist, indoor and out, and the photos are courtesy of Mary Jones, the much-beloved former Executive Secretary at KIRA.