A new start

photo credit-  https://scvincent.com/2019/02/14/thursday-photo-prompt-new-writephoto/

As the sun rose over the rooftops like a searing ball of flame another day of excessive heat was born.

The couple out for an early morning fitness walk stopped in their tracks and viewed the spectacle.

“I feel so impotent,” said the man.

The woman glanced sharply at him wondering if her long term partner and father of her children was about to reveal some emergent sexual problem.

The man, oblivious to how his words had been misconstrued,  continued on:   “I mean, what can I do?   Out there across the country bushfires are burning out of control while record breaking floods swamp the north east.   Millions of fish have died in the extreme weather affecting the inland river systems.   Across the world beneficial insects and bees are dying.”

The woman shifted uncomfortably.   These thoughts had been on her mind too.  “And still governments refuse to act on climate change,” she muttered.

“I could volunteer for the emergency services,” the man reflected, “but I doubt I’d be much use.   I’m a scrawny artist guy not a macho fire fighter.”

“And I’m a writer and poet,” said the woman.

“Make art then,” said a lilting voice beside them.  “Write stories.   Sing.  Dance.   Take photos.    Create, create, create.”

The couple looked around in confusion.   They had thought they were alone.   Both gaped as their eyes fell upon a small ethereal being dancing in the sun beams.

“Oh good, you can see and hear me,” the being sang/spoke.    “I’ve been working at making myself visible to you.   I have a message for you.”

“A message?” the man queried.   His tone hovered between aggression and disbelief.   Seeing fairies was not something he was accustomed to.

“Yes, yes.   Don’t argue.   Just listen.   I don’t know how long I can hold this form.”   The being appeared to flicker in and out of manifestation in the bright sunlight.  “This isn’t my natural state you know.”

“Well who’s the message from,” the man demanded in a practical, no nonsense tone.

“Oh the fairies and all the elementals,” the being said impatiently.   “We’re worried.   The Earth’s in trouble.   We’re trying to contact all the artists, musicians, writers and creatives who are open to new inspiration.   It’s time for you all to get busy.”

“I know,” the woman murmured, “but I’ve been feeling so blocked lately.   My last book sunk like a stone and I haven’t felt like trying again.    I seem to have run out of stories.”

“Put all that aside,” the being advised.   Its voice was more kindly now.  “There’s no time for all that creative angst any more.   After all those creative blocks are really just personal personal obstacles.   They are negative by-products of the wounded ego so many of you creatives are afflicted with.   Now is the time to heal your wounds and see the bigger picture.   Your creative talents are a gift you can use to help heal the world.    You can take whatever raw materials you choose to work with – paint, words, musical notation, wood, stone – even food or garden plants – whatever motivates you to create.    Take those base materials and transform them into new forms that offer, healing and beauty to you as the creators and to those your work reaches.”

The being dancing in front of the couple blazed in the light like a beacon.   “Creativity expressed with intention can make the invisible realms of the imagination visible to others.   It can operate as a portal to worlds of expanded consciousness.   Shifting hearts and minds in this way allows room for healing.”

The man and woman nodded slowly.   The words echoed heart callings they both felt deep down but hardly dared express even to each other.

“The creatives amongst you all are the voice of the time you live in.   Creativity is a gift that moves through you.   It’s not something you own.   It’s greater than you.”   The being’s voice rang like a bell in the morning air.   “Sure it can bring you undone.   It can consume you if you let it.   But, if you use the energy in a trans-personal way, it can uplift you and the world around you.   It’s time now to heal yourselves and step into your greater role as creative healers.”

As the sun climbed higher in the sky the temperature rose further.   The elemental being seemed to dissipate and become part of the white light that beat down upon the dry ground.   At the same time the memory of the encounter shifted into the mythic and neither the man nor the woman was entirely what sure what had just occurred.

“Ooh, it’s so hot,” said the woman.   “I’ve got to get out the sun.   I want to go to my study.   I’ve got a feeling those notes I made a while ago might form the basis of new story after all.”

“Yes,” the man mused.   “I feel like painting today.   I have an urge to express all this.”   He flung his arms out wide as if to embrace the world.   A faraway expression graced his face.   The woman left him to it.   She knew him well enough to know some new creative impulse was brewing within him.  Talking now would only dilute it.   Besides, she had to get home.   She had work to do.

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Imbolc and Lughnasadh

Hot night
not quite sleeping
not quite waking
the ocean roaring
a ringtail possum
laughing/growling maniacally
outside my window

It’s imbolc I hear
– an old celtic festival midway
between solstice and equinox –
a cross quarter day.

What does that mean
down under
where the Wheel of the Year inverts

They say
that makes it
Lughnasadh

Imbolc is feminine – yin
Lughnasadh is male – yang

Australia in summer
is
yang, yang, yang
Everything is bright, hot, light,
outward looking

Where does that leave us
of celtic descent
and introverted inclinations
living here in Oz?

Instinctively
we seek to go within
yet the sun calls us out

In and out – all at once
Imbolc and Lughnasadh
rolled into one

The masculine and feminine
within
seeking some way to come together
-to act and to reflect
all at once
together

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Returning to Now

Chevrefeuille of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai titled his weekend meditation “Winter”.    It’s summer over here in Australia but I was inspired by the title of the music prompt- a tune  by Karunesh “Returning to Now”.   The prompt stipulates poetic responses are to be in form of a troika.  I’ve never written one before so I hope I’ve got the format correct.

They’re going –
all the January hordes
departing today.

They’re going –
summer holidays are over,
school term begins.

All the January hordes
intent on hedonism,
driving too fast –

Departing today.
Returning to now
the surf rolls in

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inspired by:  Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation – returning to now

Climate Change at the Beach

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A turquoise sea
stretching out
calm beneath a cobalt sky.

Looking to access the beach
we find the way is barred.

Cliffs have appeared,
metres high,
where once
– just last summer –
we rambled down a gentle slope.

A new fence has been made
and signs proclaiming hazard.
The winter storms
ate the shore
here, there and everywhere
along this southern coast.

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prompt:    http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2019/01/poets-united-midweek-motif-climate.html
So many global statements have been made about climate change ~ both learned and popular ~ that I implore myself and you to do something different in our poetry: Make it personal and specific.  Amplify an aspect of the world so that others can see it too.  Whatever your politics and moral positions are when it comes to climate change ~ let us seedetails, the evidence of your senses, your time and your spirit.  Make us hear, see, touch your world.”

 

An Imaginative Connection

I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader when I came across Sue Vincent’s latest #writephotoimage.

When I saw it I did a double take for I spent hours yesterday making this collage – 001.jpg

What a strange imaginative connection links Sue’s photo and my collage.  I have no idea what motivated Sue to post that particular image but the inspiration for my collage came from thinking about the life and work of the 11th century Christian nun, Hildegarde of Bingen.

I find Hildegarde inspirational for she was an accomplished writer, herbalist, mystic, composer, artist and environmentalist back in an age where women were too often voiceless and powerless.

The brilliant colours of her manuscript art inspired my own collage –

Image result for hildegard of bingen manuscript illumination https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scivias

Her music is hauntingly beautiful.

One of Hildegarde’s most enduring ideas is the concept of Viriditas, a Latin word which loosely translates as vitality, freshness, lushness,greening, or growth.    In Hildegarde’s philosophical writings the word is used as a metaphor for spiritual and physical health.  She celebrates the sacred energetic force that animates all life and actively sought to connect with the natural world for she saw it as a source of creative and healing power.

“O most honored Greening Force,
You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.”

–  Hildegard von Bingen, Viriditas

Hildegarde experienced visions from an early age but it wasn’t until she was 42 that she felt compelled to share her visions with the world despite the disapproval of patriarchal church authorities.  Later on in life she undertook four preaching tours where she told her male superiors that they would fall from grace if they didn’t change their attitudes.     Huffington Post – why Hildegarde matters  Her words have relevance today as the male clergy that control many Christian churches are being held to account for their role in covering up child sexual abuses.

There is so much to learn from Hildegarde’s life and work.   What came through for me yesterday while I was working on my collage was an understanding of the energy and inspiration found in having a sense of purpose that is greater than personal self interest.

Hildegarde’s voice speaks loud and clear down through the centuries.   I hear it in the calm pure notes of her music and in her writings.  I see its imprint in her art.  “Take your time,” she says to me.  “Celebrate life.   Create with clear intention.  Discipline the will and seek to serve the greater good. Speak your truth.”

Towards the new year

So much of my creative energy during this past year has been spent reworking old ideas and finishing up old projects.  I haven’t been able to fully move on from them even though they have ceased to nourish my creative spirit.

Although events in my outer life have shifted I’ve been feeling stuck between the old and new.   Mid year I moved to a cottage in a part of the State I haven’t lived in before.  Although I’ve been out and about seeing new sights I haven’t really engaged with this new environment.  In private moments I find myself wishing I could go to the empty beaches and bush tracks I walked for so long and which are now so far away.

On lonely beaches
drumming in the solstice
– windswept prayers

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Such a strange contrary urge for the old area had gone stale for me and doors were closing in my face left, right and centre.   I was totally ready to move on…

yet here I am – still not fully embracing the new.

Yesterday I got utterly sick of doing the same old same old.   During a break in the rain I jumped in my car and drove out to a nearby seaside town.   It is a town rich in history.  The streets are lined with beautiful old Victorian mansions and there is an atmosphere of grace and elegance to the place that is missing in many Australian towns.

Several galleries are dotted along the main street.   I visited one after the other.   In one I saw exquisite prints local artists had created in the printmaking studio behind the gallery.    In another I saw very commercial art that didn’t appeal to me yet was inspiring in its competence.   In the third I came across an exhibition of contemporary landscape painting.  Very small oil paintings in one uniform size lined a long wall of the gallery. The rest of the space contained one large painting, the gallery owner’s desk and a large storage area.

Walking the length of the gallery I stopped in front of each painting.   Because of their small size each little painting invited intimate inspection – a slowing down and taking the longer look.    By the time I retraced my footsteps and left the gallery I felt I’d had a meaningful and soulful conversation with a sensitive, creative soul.

In a reflective mood I returned to my car.   Rain was approaching and the first drops splattered across my windscreen as I drove to a lookout.    There I pulled out the new Smart Phone I got last week.   It was time I figured out how to take photos with it.

IMG_20181215_161456_278  The colours of the rain soaked landscape and unusual shapes of the old buildings captured my imagination.

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The visual art I’d just seen had loosened something in my mind and the veil of the old that had been clouding my perception began to lift.   For the first time since moving here I began to get glimpses of how I can live and create in this new environment.

Moonlit solstice
lighting the way forward
– the old year ends

 

prompt:    https://frankjtassone.com/2018/12/15/haikai-challenge-65-12-15-18-solstice-ii-haiku-senryu-haibun-tanka-haiga-renga/

 

Snow on the Heartbreak Hills

Only two or three times in my life have I seen snow falling.   The last time was when I lived at the base of the Heartbreak Hills – so called for the heartbreak the early settlers experienced when they attempted to farm the barren slopes.

One cold winter’s morning  snow floated down whimsically as I drove up the hill to the university where I was doing the final year of a Visual Arts degree.  Outside my studio it had collected in tiny drifts in the gutters.  The studio was freezing so I went and stood in the rotunda to watch the spectacle instead of working.  The enigmatic man who was either the love of my life or a case of mistaken identity joined me. Snow fell in delicate flurries and landed on the pines that marked the perimeter of the campus.  Beyond them the Heartbreak Hills were transformed into a fantasy of tiered white mounds and indistinct dark shapes.

The art faculty was a weird place at the best of times – dreamers, fantasists and moody malcontents mused and brooded in its shadowy recesses.   In the snow we drifted into the silent voids and white spaces of our own interior landscapes.   Pretty girls danced past disguised as alpine damsels.  The boys beside them were indistinct cyphers in their heavy hooded jackets.   My grumpy supervisor appeared in a WW1 leather flying hat and thick fur lined gloves.   ‘Living in a winter wonderland’ he sang as he skipped into his office.   The enigmatic man beside me assumed a gallant, noble air as he escorted me to lunch in the cafeteria.

The day and the mood suited my purposes perfectly.   The theme of the art I was making was hybridity and the way we in the West think our cultural roots go straight back to ancient Greek when, really, they can be traced to many sources.   My theory work was going well but I was struggling to produce art that reflected this idea.   In the transformation of the physical environment people around me slipped out of context and revealed hidden aspects of their personality.  Soon after lunch the snow stopped falling and I went to my studio to paint.

The snow melted overnight.  The next day everyone reverted back to form and we all got on with our final semester’s work.   By the end of the year I had a body of work that supported my ideas and the enigmatic man had proved himself to be a case of mistaken identity.

Winter mountains –
swirling snow drifts  

– certainties shift


Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

promt:    https://frankjtassone.com/2018/12/08/haikai-challenge-64-12-8-18-winter-mountains-fuyu-no-yama-haiku-senryu-haibun-tanka-haiga-renga