Thursday, January 27, 2011

I've moved

Thanks for reading this blog and for all of the encouragement and inspiration.  I hope you will join me over on -- the new site.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Living Inside Poetry Thanks to Hermes

 Moonday. Waning moon.  Rain.  Despite having meetings and things, I'm treating this day as a poem.  Its all poetry from my ink blueberry smoothie to the "garbage truck's baptismal drizzle" on the street outside. (That phrase is by Audre Lorde.)  I have no choice in the matter. 

Prose won't come.

I'm humming inside mystery.

In love with luck-bringing Hermes.

He's taken me through the underworld again. 

He's stolen Apollo's cattle again.

He's raced through my life on his badass sandals, beat the turtle drum, and cozened my tribe throughout the dark night.  Again.

His snakes wrap around the inside of my skin to heal a long pain, the kind you can almost forget until you look in the mirror he made to remind you.  

Oh Hermes, beloved son of the son of Time and the shy goddess Maia, I'm a muse or a fury running behind you.  I'm a child in your cave hiding in sight.   Catch me if you want to tonight.

For this Moonday, tell me something, anything-- in the form of a poem.  It doesn't have to make any sense and might be best if it does not.  If that's daunting, just give me three words that you like because of the way they sound.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dancing Naked Man Sent (potentially) from God

Almost fall Moonday.

It was a deep summer for me-- deep and low like a cello.  A summer of bass notes and beets-- red ones the color of blood.

I love beets.  I love all heavy, dark, underground things.  But you know, sometimes its a bit much.  The voice-over for the movie trailer of my mind can occasionally sound something like, "Step into Kate's mind if you dare.  Its lugubrious! Its somewhat maudlin!  It prefers multisyllabic words and its syncopated by the gnashing of teeth!"   

I've been trying to lighten up.  And its been hard.  A friend of mine said I should just ask for lightness, just put the call out.  So I did. (You know... to God, or whoever else was listening-- the angel of jokes maybe.)

And somehow I found myself at two burlesque shows this weekend.  Another friend suggested the first one, at Joe's Pub-- Johnny Cash Burlesque.  That seemed absurd.  I like absurd, and so four friends and I went, even though I'm not exactly into burlesque and could write a long boring post about my thoughts on its cultural significance, the pros and cons.  Luckily I won't.

When we got there two cheery hostesses told us that we would be given the best seats in the house-- the round raised mobster's booth in the front.  They seemed delighted to see us.  You've arrived!  The show can begin! That's my version of the proceedings anyway. 

The show was silly, stupid, funny, creepy, forced, hackneyed, spontaneous.  80% of the cast did a "full reveal" at the end while dancing to Folsom Prison Blues, which was worth the price of admission as far as I was concerned. 

Still, I left shrugging.  I didn't feel delighted, or particularly light.  I was proud of myself for ordering a soda water with lime.  I came home and went to bed.

The next day, Sunday, I walked my dogs to Tompkins Square Park humming Cash tunes in the drizzling rain, and smiling as I thought of the boobs and balls flapping to 'I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.'

The HOWL festival was going on in Tompkins all weekend, and there was something happening on the stage.  It turned out to be a burlesque review called Low Life.  Well how do you like that. 

There was a surprisingly large number of people huddled under umbrellas to watch in the rain (numbers that a poetry reading would not have drawn.  Ever.)  The dancing was impressive-- real dancing.   It put the Joe's Pub show to shame.  The theme this year was women in the beat scene, which happens to be a pet subject of mine.. happens to be the subject of my latest play, in fact.  Hm.

The second to last act was by the king of "boylesque", simply named Tigger.*    He started out with a hilarious monologue in the character of a female hipster living in Paris.  And then there was the dance.  Oh the dance.  It had that je ne sais quoi.  It was set to a French song about what Tigger said was her/his one true love, Harley Davidson, (the song originally made famous by Bridget Bardot.) His repeated kick-start leg move flashing red panties under a tight black skirt had me gasping for breath.

By the finale he was completely nude!  Performing jumping leg splits!  In the middle of the day in Tompkins Square!  It was truly a love song to the East Village, and warmed the cockles of my heart.  That doesn't sound quite right somehow.... 

The moral (if I may use that word) of the story as I see it, is... I sought lightness, asked for lightness, and then had lightness thrust-- near me.  I am changed.

For this Moonday, my questions are--  is inappropriateness a requisite for humor?  What's one thing that someone might consider 'wrong' that's made you laugh? Or tell me as story of lightness being thrust upon you.   Or as always, leave a poem, piece of writing, link to music, etc. that inspires you in any way at all.

*As it turns out, I'm not the only person who thinks Tigger is brilliant-- he's worked with Margaret Cho, Penny Arcade, and Karen Finley to name a few. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Formula for Everyday Miracles

Full moon in Pisces.  Here in NYC we’re getting a taste of fall with a series of cool grey rainy days, which makes this time super for dreaming and turning inward.  Last night I dreamt of a heart flame.  An elder put kindling on my heart.  Her soft fingers gently placed one tiny twig on top of another until the pyre was tall and firm.  The fire ignited on its own from underneath.  She blew over it gently until it became an illuminated pyramid.

I’ve just returned from the New England Women’s Herbal Conference in Vermont.  To say that the well has been refilled and is running over is an understatement.  The well has turned into a waterfall.  

Before I left, I wrote about the threat to local community gardens and how I was having a hard time rallying to defend them.  It felt painful to have to explain their value.  It’s crazy that we have to explain it.  It should be obvious.   But I went to the community meeting anyway. 

Despite being a scorching August weekday morning, there was a huge outpouring of support from all over the city.  Scores of people took turns at the podium giving heartfelt testimony on the importance of community gardens and their own deep personal connections. 

It wasn’t frustrating.  It wasn’t draining.  It was invigorating.   I left with more energy to work on our little garden, knowing viscerally and not just intellectually that I’m not alone.  Not at all.  That’s what happens, almost invariably, when people get together for something good—something worthy and life sustaining.  It nourishes us. 

The New England Women’s Herbal Conference was like that cubed.  I got to sleep on the earth under a canopy of pine, witch hazel, and birch trees.  I was in the presence of over five hundred earth loving women from all walks of life.  I dragged myself there on a bus that left at 3 AM with blind faith that my well would be refilled.  I had no idea about the waterfall.

I could probably write 10 different posts about the conference, but I have to tell you about the bath.  Curandera and ethno-botanist Rocio Alarcon initiated me and 31 other women into the art of spiritual bathing using the healing ceremonies of Ecuador. 

I’m always trying to get my herbal clients to take baths in the plants.  The skin is a huge organ.   Plant medicine can be easily absorbed through the skin through the medium of water.  That’s the basic bit.  Then there’s the nourishing-one’s-self consciously bit.  Hugely healing.  When you add in the spirit of the plants, the Divine, and make it a communal event… well.  Its completely fucking miraculous.

Before the bath I was experiencing what in Curanderismo (Native Latin American curing traditions) is called susto.  Heart sickness brought on by shock.  My soul was a little outside my body somewhere.   On top of that, after an almost sleepless night of travel, I’d spent Friday using all of my powers to stay engaged and alert for the classes.  I’d skipped the opening ceremony, opting for a 14-hour sleep under the trees on the open ground.  I still woke up tired the next day, still contracted, my heart still ill at ease. 

After the experience with the bath I became a skipping five year old.  Heart feather-light.  What I loved about Alarcon’s teaching was what I loved about the teaching of all of the elders at the conference.  They all said the same thing.  Its not about us.  You can do this.  You have to do this.  Its too late for masters and gurus to be the ones with all the wisdom.  Everyone needs to step into their own healing power.  This time requires it.  Everyone has to show up fully. 

Alarcon gave us very little direction with the bath.  She got us in touch with the nature around us and harmonized us as a group.    She showed us the plants, let us chose the ones we wanted for the group, adding some lovingly harvested and hand processed raw Ecuadorian rainforest chocolate, picked a week before, and told us to pray over the plants first and to massage each other with the water.  We could strain the plant material or not.  I can’t tell you about the experience exactly.  Only that it was profound.  Lots of singing.  Laughter.  Some tears.  Profanity.  Disappearing and reappearing pots.  Oak branches.   

When you put the healing power of nature and God (or whatever word you like to use for the Divine) together with the healing power of true community, miracles happen.  It’s a formula.  Simple. Hoping we all get it soon.  More and more.  The world is in susto.  We need some everyday miracles.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

word food

If I had not read this poem as a teenager, its fair to say I may not have made it.  It's by Alice Walker from her collection Revolutionary Petunias.

Additional info-- this was first published with only those 2 above sentences.  I was talking about survival of spirit-- not literal survival.  I have a problem with brevity.  Brevity plus hyperbole= melodrama.  Ah well.  I'm sure I would have made it-- literally-- without the below poem.  But I might have done something stupid (for me) like go to a good university with a real campus and become an English professor instead of coming to NYC to be a theater artist.

Be Nobody's Darling

for Julius Lester

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.

Watch the people succumb
To madness
With ample cheer;
Let them look askance at you
And you askance reply.

Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous

Make a merry gathering
On the bank
Where thousands perished
For brave words they said.

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.

Is there some poem or song lyric that absolutely saved your ass when you were young?  (Of course there is.)  Please share.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cake or Death?

 Image from Cake Wreaks.

Hot sultry Moonday.  Tropics in Manhattan.

I had it from good authority this morning that I need to lighten up.  As the song says, 'Its only life after all.'  We may as well laugh.  The problem is that I'm a gallows humor person.  The stuff I find funny isn't so light and fluffy.  No angelfood for me.  I prefer fruitcake that could double as a weapon.

Later today I was on Avenue A walking the dogs, looking for little clues to inspire my writing when a pigeon was hit by a passing car.  THUD.  I stopped in my tracks and covered my hand with my mouth in horror.  The pigeon wasn't dead.  It was intact.  Head on and everything.  Blinking.  Another car was coming and the pigeon wasn't moving.

A bearded man in dirty brown pants and a grime gray wife beater ran flailing at the pigeon.   It flapped its wings a bit and flew off the street into a plate glass shop window near my head.   THUNK.

 I stood motionless watching.   The pigeon peered back at me with something I took to be suspicion, and flew off again to muscle in on a finch who was pecking at a piece of bread in the road.  The bearded man grimaced and leaned against a building.

If I were writing the scene in a short film what would happen next is that the horrified, idiotically gaping passer-by (me) would be killed by a falling toilet bowl accidentally pushed off a windowsill by a crazy old lady who was using it as a bird bath for the pigeons.

Please don't be concerned gentle reader.  I'm leaving the city for a few days at the end of the week for some much needed time in the woods where my real-life crazy neighbor who has been trying to get me to bury her dead cat in the garden for two years can't find me.

For this Moonday, tell me what/who makes you laugh?  I'm craving laughter.  I'll take it from anywhere.  Even wholesome sources.

Here's a link to Eddie Izzard's 'cake or death' for those of you in my camp.

Friday, August 13, 2010

You can't do this and care if everyone loves you at the same time

When I was in college and listening to a lot of Tom Waits (I'm still listening to a lot of Tom Waits, btw) one of my roommate's many boyfriends commented that it sounded like a homeless person was singing out of a trash can.  There is no one who sounds like Tom Waits.  When he was young he wanted to sound like an angry old man, and now that he's getting up there he's sounding more like a cool old man.  I love that he's always wanted to be an old man.

Salmon Rushdie has pronounced him the best rock poet since Bob Dylan.  He's an actor, a raconteur, a composer, poet, musician, and pretty much seems to do what he wants to do artistically the way he wants to do it, and that changes often.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Have you ever found the perfect words?

When the perfect words come, they are, as my grandmother would say, a hushing miracle.  May they come to you, and may they come to me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I can't go on. I must go on. I go on. Dealing with Defeatism.

Moonday.  New Moon.  A good time to go inward and listen to what our deepest, wisest selves have to say.

As for me, I have no business posting today.  

I'm overheated and surrounded by waste.  I pick up garbage along the community garden fence as often as I can.  Other neighbors do it too.  More garbage blows by with every gust of wind.

When I throw away trash I feel it in my body.  The landfill is part of me.  This is true.  Its part of all of us.  We all have accumulated waste in our bodies that we can't metabolize, but that's another story.

I have chosen this.  Chosen to love and defend this little corner of earth.    I'm sure the garden is necessary for my survival too.

Tomorrow morning at 11 AM there will be a public hearing to help determine the fate of community gardens in the city, which are imperiled yet again.

Why are community gardens imperiled?  Why must people fight to save them?

I don't want to go to the hearing tomorrow.  I would like to spend the time working on my business, or plotting an escape to the ocean for a bit of sanity and perspective.  But I'm going to the hearing.  Dammit.   Be the change etc. etc. 

I'm reminding myself how grateful I am to all of the amazing people and organizations who work so hard for the earth, and therefore for us, the creatures who live here.  All I have to do is show up tomorrow.  How easy is that?  Fairly easy.

Don't know if this rant is of any use to anyone else, but I feel better.  So for this moonday.... RANT!  Or better yet, dream.  What is one collective change you would love to see in the world?  What small (or big) thing do you do to make it happen?

For those of you in NYC, info about the hearing and pep rally starting at 9 may be found on the New York City Community Garden Coalition's website.

Friday, August 6, 2010

What do Sartre, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, & T.S. Eliot have in common?

"Hell is other people."--Jean Paul Sartre
"Hell is empty and all the devils are here." --Shakespeare
"Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company." --Mark Twain
"Hell is oneself, Hell is alone, the other figures in it merely projections."--T.S. Eliot

Hell is an interesting place, and one I find myself contemplating frequently while standing on a New York City subway platform in August.

I've spent time in Hell, listening to poetry.

What do you imagine hell to be?

postscript:  My neighbor read this and asked if I was alright, with a tone of voice that seemed to ask, 'are you going off the deep end?'  I do not believe that I am.  Its simply that hell is a very interesting place to contemplate-- in all seriousness, tongue in cheek, eyes closed, eyes open.... it has been obsessing the collective unconscious for a goodly time now.  I was born in the late 1970's around the time of the birth of heavy metal.  When I was three my dad watched the Omen with me.  The Exorcist was a big movie in the early 1980's.... hell and the devil were big right about then, after the Vietmam war and into the Regan era.  Now its all about vampire love affairs, so maybe we are collectively trying to make friends with our demons.  Who knows?