The Descent of An Angel

Angels Descent

A radiant and gentle angel, from the heavens high,
Descended kindly to our world and hovered in the sky.
She let her beauty shine for man – alight with wisdom’s gleams;
But men were blind as deaf as dumb to the wonders of the scene.

She clipped her wings and lost her glow; descended to the sands.
Her bare feet touched the wave-worn beach – her book still in her hands.
She preached the holy scriptures though some meanings she forgot.
Her white robes still a bit too bright for men t’accept the thoughts.

She donned their robes; encased her feet. Her hair she let disheveled.
She dulled her seething intellect to meet them at their level.
She ‘scribed that book to parchments plain, but what a heavy cost –
Pretentious were their writing forms that much the depth was lost.

She walked towards the nearest town to share the final creeds.
Men were, before they glanced a word, suspicious of her deeds.
They felt perplexed; thus, it was wrong – dismissed unless explained.
She tried to wake that well of depth – soon knew it was in vain.

She’d left her glory in the sky; now lost upon the land.
Enlightened revelations she could no longer understand.
Now cursed is she, like fallen stars to starfish on the sand,
To walk the earth, amongst these fools, as just another man.

Why We Need WordPress

WordPress

Every week seems to bring unwelcome news from a new corner of the globe. Death in Syria, a massacre of innocents in Newtown, hurricanes in New York, gridlock in Washington, and the list is endless. You can try to unplug from all of this, but only if you unplug from life itself. Perhaps it all seems so much more pervasive because we have so many more media outlets inundating our lives.

But if that’s true, where then are the uplifting stories? Where are the tales of human heroism that lift us beyond our everyday blues and reveals the true range of human experience? Why aren’t these stories profiled more?

Much like the gluttony of Wall Street, main stream media is obsessed with the belief that the only thing that sells is grief and despair. Don’t get me wrong; to overcome evil, we must be vigilant about the abuses we humans bestow upon one another. We cannot stick our head in a bucket of flowers and hope that things get better. But to get better, we need inspiration. We need stories of triumph and victory. We need to be able to imagine and create.

How, then, do we tap into that inspiration if it is so miserably doled out? How might we convince the media that there’s money to be found in hope?

WordPress is so much more than a place to deposit our mental meanderings and provide snapshots of our lives. I spend my fair share of time on WordPress, a preeminent social interactive outlet of our day. To be sure, I do so because it is a source of inspiration, albeit a vicarious one. On its pages I read story after story of shared love, creativity, hope, and shared promise. Most of it from contributors I really don’t know, but the threads of our lives are imperceptibly bound, and so I delight in the photos, the wealth of talent of emerging writers, and watching a new generation move out into and experience their worlds. I revel in the creative outpouring of strangers, reminding us that the true nature of humanity is to seek higher ground and to give voice to our inner genius. I am inspired by the artistic, the storytellers, and the spirituality.

It just makes me feel good, if only for a moment.

Curiously, I don’t see a lot of call for sharing misery; that seems to be because WordPress’s design is at its core inspirational. On its pages we get to live the vicarious joys and triumphs of our fellow man, awash in creative genius and altruism.

I don’t think WordPress intentionally designed a utopian community bulletin board seeking to share love and joy and hope, but there you have it.

Perhaps one day, our media will be redesigned so that the stories that diminish us will be supplanted by those that lift us up. At its best, WordPress can increase our capacity to love, overcome, and persevere. We already know where to go to get our unfortunate daily fill of grief.

And now we also know where to go to recharge our souls and learn to rebuild our sense of what it truly means to be actualized humans.

The Corner Bar

I love telling stories of my  favorite corner bar.( My poem “Corner Bar” follows below)  And I love listening to others tell theirs.  On the Morning Media Menu today, author and New York Times Magazine ”Drink” columnist Rosie Schaap talked about her new memoir, Drinking With Men. The book shows how bars have helped shape her personal and creative life. She also shared tips for pitching This American Life.

Here’s an excerpt: ”What I love about bars is that they are places where people talk to one another and tell people stories. There is a kind of openness and exchange of stories in bars. Everyone is relaxed. You go to a bar not to get dressed up, not to have a really fancy night out on the town. You go to the bar to be relaxed and to be yourself. I think that really facilitates great storytelling among regulars. That’s really what we do at bars, we tell each other our stories.”

She concluded: “But you can tell (whether you are writing a story or telling your friends in the bar a story), whether the story is working or not. Sometimes the story you tell in a is going to fall flat. I think in a way, bars are a great place to hone your storytelling skills. Is this making my fellow bar-goers interested in hearing the rest of the story? Am I going into too much detail? Am I not giving enough detail? Bars are great laboratories for storytelling.”

Here’s my bar story.  Hope you can barely relate…for your sake.  Enjoy!

CORNER BAR

dive bar

It always felt familiar and safe;
not like home, but filled with that same tragic scent
of failure, futility, and confusion.
In this darkened chapel, night after night,
we feigned brotherhood, but watched our backs.
We found religion in tall tales
and twisted notes floating softly from the jukebox.
The enormity of the lies exchanged was staggering,
yet not once was truth demanded.

Here, we worshiped and blessed ourselves
at the mahogany and brass altar of amber absolution,
our sins washed in a flood of cheap whiskey and stale beer.
Our bottles filled the night with dead words, hungry ashtrays,
and all these incessant “maybes”
while shameless calls for “another!” filled the tepid air.

We licked the back of our teeth
and bought rounds for the prostitute sitting there all alone,
hunched over to entice our drunken libidos.
We adored her, this faded Madonna,
with her chipped teeth and sagging breasts,
reeking of a stale alcohol and tragic perfume.
Where once there had been beauty and life
some bastard had beaten it out of her;
taking everything that made a woman good and reduced her to this.
Our prayers were answered
in the way this whore swallowed you whole
in the back room’s secret confessional
where you keep her words tightly knit
in the dark corners of your heart.

This was the flip-side of our saintly home-lives;
our souls consumed in the repetition of it all.
We whispered our hallelujahs as the clock struck two;
last call and a slow retreat into the shameless shadows of wretched existence,
as God soundly closed the doors behind us.

 

Is There Pain After Death: Reflections on the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Image

Pain that is not relieved in a person’s life continues after they are gone, held as a sordid memory by loved ones.  Just as we retain treasured thoughts of innocence, joy, wisdom and warmth, we preserve images of pain.  We draw a modicum of comfort from the Newtown coroner who reassured us the precious victims of the Sandy Hook massacre did not “suffer long”, but the idea that they suffered at all contaminates memory, preventing healing, healthy grieving and closure. This pain in turn flows across our communities, touching many who may never have met these children and their heroic protectors.

This does not have to be physic discomfort to be treated with pain medication.  The horror of the Sandy Hook shootings, the fear, the fight for survival, the wounds and bleeding, and eventually death, cast intense images that will last more than one lifetime.  Uncontrolled anxiety or fear may contaminate the surviving families, and the community, and corrupt its fiber, as can loss of spiritual path, loneliness, or guilt.  Failure to come to terms with the enormity of this senseless event results in a loss of opportunity, a psychic wound that may never heal.

The death of these children, and the staff of Sandy Hook Elementary, will transform families for generations.  I remember the 1989 story of a young man who was shot and killed in a random drive-by in the city of Oakland, CA.  The victim had no relation to his attackers.  No reason could be given by the authorities as to why this random act of violence brought this young man’s life to such a tragic close. But it resulted in his wife becoming chronically depressed and isolated from her family.   She committed suicide, leaving their son a life as an alcoholic and drug addict.  The ripples from that one event spread out and, through the network of that family, caused pain for many more.

When we think of Newtown, we cannot help but focus on those immediate moments for the victims and their family, as well we should.  The opportunity to live one’s life to its fullest, and to its natural end should not be denied, and must be the first goal in treating the survivors.  However, we cannot overstate the need and potential to protect and even nourish future generations by treating pain of all types in the Sandy Hook families sharing that passage and in the community of Newton.

Yes, unfortunately, there is pain after death, and I suspect it is the cause of much waste, anger and tragedy in our society. We must strive to prevent that suffering.  Good things are possible, loved ones can be together, memories shared, and solid foundations laid. Survivors, families, doctors and caregivers must protect and treasure even this difficult time of a person’s life, because as one life ends, others are beginning.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

A Writer’s Resolutions

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New Year’s Resolutions – we hear about them every year. It’s always a good idea to write out your life goals, but have you put down your writing goals?

Some writer goals may include daily word counts, monthly submission ambitions, markets to tackle or even research to complete. No matter what level you consider yourself (beginner or professional) here are four matters to attend to this year.

1) Talent – the size of your writing gift doesn’t matter. You can always learn or improve. If you’re a beginner, you are probably overwhelmed about where to begin. Whether this is true or you’re a more advanced author, I suggest reading or revisiting both Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. These two books are as much biographical and philosophical as they are lessons for the writer.

2) Agent – Make this the year you get an agent. Research which ones represent your favorite authors – this can usually be found in the acknowledgments sections of the book, but you can also find out on the internet. Use search sites such as http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ , http://www.writersmarket.com/ , and http://absolutewrite.com/ to read reviews of agents in your genre. PLEASE be sure to examine an agents personal website and submission guidelines before you contact them.

3) Publisher – Whether you have chosen the self-publishing route or not, it’s always a good idea to attempt traditional publishers. More and more authors and agents are suggesting you publish both routes.

4) Platform – An agent or publisher wants to see you can market and sell yourself before they put any of their own work and money into you. It’s about visibility and requires a focus on developing an unobstructed back and forth between authors and their readers, with the authors — not the publishers — controlling the flow. So get on facebook, twitter, pinterest, LinkedIn, get a blog or a website or do a combination.

As with everything else in life, you’ll need to find a balance for your time. And remember, even the best writers have days when their resolutions flounder. Each day is a new beginning – make them count. Happy New Year!