Art thou pale for weariness of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth, wandering companionless among the stars that have a different birth, and ever changing, like a joyless eye that finds no object worth it's constancy? Thou chosen sister of the Spirit, that gazes on thee til in thee it pities. . . -Shelley (To The Moon)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Soul and Spirit: A Love System in Sympathy

Love for the self is usually tacit. Asking people whether or not or they love themselves is often a right reserved literally to therapists and/or rhetorically to spiritual advisors. Those who claim to love themselves can answer with varying degrees of compassion, honesty, irony and indignation. Those who cannot answer at all are often confronted by another question: How do I love myself more? In such a question we find the wisdom of love: It is truly in loving the self that we discover love is unlimited and that we are perpetually attracted to the idea of more love, rather than just love. Linguistically, then, 'love' is a semantic horror, a referent that shows itself to be a single enumerated item. From a psychological gaze, though, we might be able to get over this failure. Freud says that religion is the "feeling of eternity" (describing the feeling as "oceanic"). Love and eternity share the property of 'always more', an element instigating the process of self-propogation. We know that Love and Eternity are related. We swear a vows to love "forever" and we take rings to symbolize our comprehension, and (hopefully!) celebration, of their unity. Love, as a process, is more compelling and evolved than eternity, since it veritably requires eternity to run. The inverse can also perhaps be true. . .
How do I love myself always more? How do I love myself when I don't even think everything about me is "good"? It's not a question to be answered intellectually. I believe that the spirit must be loved before the "self". It is through love that our spirits reveal themselves, in full colou
r spectrum, to us and to all sympathetic things. Love causes relationships to happen and it is what relationships produce. This is a paradox, but it is not strange. Plotinus says, "whoever demands something from the universe is no stranger to it." If we do not already know that something exists we wouldn't be demanding it. In one sense we "know" it's there, but in another we demand it from the universe so that we know it's there. It is the same with Love; we exact it from relationships as proof that it was there all along. We hope to eventually progress to the point where every thought/action is instigated by and resulting in love. We use the spirit to progress because it is attracted to, guided by, and living for truth, therefore it's always "first" to get there. We must love our spirit, then, for the sake of love - entering into a true relationship with it. Without spirit, life is not led, but left in the shadows of things that aren't real, such as inertia, which is a symptom of lack of Truth, for Truth is a fast-moving target.
It is said that a person might "possess" a "great" spirit. "Great" in it's quantitative meaning is always an inaccurate description. There is one spirit divided equally among all sympathetic things, although at any time only a limited array of the spirit's colours could be revealed to an individual. I say the spirit has "colours" because of the relationship of spirit to light - light being Truth. How do I love my spirit more? So that it reveals itself to me in many or all of its colours? We must tend to it by alleviating it's burdens. Once the Truth the spirit seeks is acquired, it must be handed off because it's weight will hinder the spirit from it's purpose, which is to freely, perpetually seek the Truth that lies ahead. We must transfer the reward to the soul, where it will feed Love, for Love originates in the soul's dwelling. The soul is always "last" to get rewarded, but it is endless - a deep soul is no cause for a want to evacuate, but a place to celebrate all we have discovered. For this reason, the soul is associated with our past, and spirit with our future. It fits that since each of our pasts differ, so do the colour of our spirits, because the truths we have learned about Love in the past make us love in different ways from one another. This Love, though, must always be expressed, because the spirit cannot seek the light of Truth without it. Love without anywhere to go, without purpose, without an outlet for expression, is useless, rendering the soul at first heavy, then inert, and thus invalid.

The above painting is by Norman Rockwell entitled Triple-Self Portrait. The one on the right is Interior With Woman At Piano by Vilhelm Hammershoi.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Have you come to play with me today? Terrific! No matter my age I hope to always live by the rules of the playground: share, take turns, use my imagination, run, jump, dance, sing, get a little dirty, challenge my limits by learning new songs and games, participate, climb high, hide away alone if I want to, laugh and express myself loud and clear. Sounds a little hokey, maybe, but I really think these rules work, when I consider that if I applied even a few today more would be accomplished on all planes.
I hope you carry a playground in your heart, and that you will come and play with me again!
The above image is the cover of an old playground equipment catalogue. The painting on the right is by Edward Del Rosario. There is the most wonderful blog called Playscapes about everything playground here:

Flat slides, wide and shiny during daytime
cool down in the evening.

Noises of the nearby road
die down. At once

She hears wind scraping
chains against the crossbar

(Suggesting child phantoms
in the autumn dusk);

The undulating swingset
provides distraction from her upset.

Now that work is over
she's faced with such futility.

It was just a part-time job -
but her responsibility.

Why is life a cycle
wielding many oppositions?

She once came here to play,
now she comes to worry.

Cutting the streetlamp's beam
a long shadow appears.

followed by a boy,
who has been her friend for years.

Life now seems to balance
as she greets him happily;

Yes, the time has turned,
but not so differently.

Is the playground no more
a reflection on her changes,

than the same place it will always be
where friendship meets the ages?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Best Answer

The day is only truly "mine" when I share it with you. This poem is about a piece of the relationship between my partner and I. I play piano and sing, and record my own ideas in a studio where he works. He doesn't like to record his ideas, though. I wish he would, and this poem expresses that wish. The title of my poem refers to the last few lines where I answer a popular question as best as I possibly can.
The above painting is by Lichtenstein. It's supposed to be (a skinnier, blonde version of) "me", listening in my bedroom on the second floor while he plays guitar on the first floor, the sound drifting clearly upwards. The painting to the right is by Joni Mitchell, depicting an eagle and the phrase "Love is All Love".
I hope you return to share your day with me, again.

The Best Answer

There is a sound he makes

I can't have disappear.

He strums the chords from way down deep

I'm privileged to hear.

I think he is an angel

hiding what's divine

from everyone but me because

his home is also mine.

He doesn't like to play

when I'm listening with intent,

admiring the music

to which my heart is bent.

If I remain busy, though,

and avert my eyes,

he will play with ease to know

that I won't scandalize

his work or reputation,

or judge him bad or good,

or give him up to people

who would have a singer's blood.

So when I hear him ringing true

I fall to my knees

just begging space to keep it longer

than a passing breeze.

Music is made sacred, though,

because it always dies,

leaving more enlightened

than I dare surmise.

How ironic, then, that he won't save

the beauty he is hoarding -

when others want to become stars. . .

he makes their recordings!

He thinks if nature can't recall

why should he make concrete

the voices from his soul, play God

and undermine the fleet

of all that is worth saving

and fighting for in life.

It's knowing what we can't renew

that generates our strife.

His gentle strains remind me

of what I hate to lose,

the tempered and the chaos

the blessings and the blues.

Sometimes I'm so moved

my vision begins blearing

until it's only by his song

I find a way worth steering.

They ask, "if when a tree falls. . ."

and without being specious,

I can say it hardly matters

for it couldn't sound more precious.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Many writers, particularly Canadian ones, have been inspired by the paintings of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. I have seen her paintings many times at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. A Tom Thomson hung on the wall of my childhood home. I can't attempt to explain what these paintings mean to me in any other way than how I have explained it below, in my poem Frontier. Someday I will expand this poem or use pieces of it for another, more complex poem on this subject.
In the meantime, though, I can tell you a little about the lines: "On her shades of grey, from dappled plum to ocean/ I hang silver tears; their transverse waves/ augment and diminish." My "tears" are a not just a literal response to being moved by her work, but they are meant as the filters of perceptions through which we all respond to visual stimuli. We each perceive and "see" things, especially art, differently from one another. In this metaphorical way, my "tears" also connote the fantastical idea that I have touched or changed the work somehow by seeing it, so that the painting will carry with it something of each of its viewers throughout its life.
The above painting and the one to the right are by Emily Carr. I hope you will leave your tears on my poem and return again to see what's changed.


Materials that men have made
obscure what nature means to emphasize.

They decorate walls in synthetic shapes
nature did not make --------- their jades
will never match the gem -------------

To God, green
is the very substance
of the leaf itself.

To God, blue is chameleon
changing against desert sands --------------
mutation its very essence.

Most of what men make is grey:

endless slabs, great as lakes
sweeping continents, constituting castles. . .
warehouses. . . vast stadiums. . .

Inside earth, legacies

of craft and construct, of form and fashion
spur with wind their veiny waifs
to adjust the pressure, inciting newborn vines
to somnolently streak our stone-hewn homes

for inevitable weddings of spirit to mere substance.

Emily's paintings do not perform a function,
or try to fool me into thinking they are anything besides wild.

On her shades of grey, from dappled plum to ocean
I hang silver tears; their transverse waves

augment and diminish.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Flowers of Saint Francis (Inspired by Rossellini)

Beauty is rich in the realm of our senses, today. I left my house to walk two blocks to a coffee shop downtown because my attempt to reheat an old coffee on the stove was unsuccessful (it just tasted burnt). When the weather is cold, sometimes my neighbourhood streets are populated by a number of homeless people because there are four churches on my street (aptly named Church Street) sheltering them at night. I am often emotionally overwhelmed to see them. Today, though, three women were about to pass me as one greeted me with a boisterous and friendly, "hello there!" My reaction was immediate; I responded with hello and my best smile. Her greeting gave me strength and security. It made me feel like my presence as a home-leaser was not resented and like this neighbourhood is alive, not dying. These moments are "flowers" in my garden of time.
e above painting is by El Greco. I hope your path of flowers leads you to return.

The Flowers Of Saint Francis (Inspired by Rossellini's film of the same name)

I am a follower, a flower
in the merciful sun.
I was told by fire of miracles
won by faith and ardent,
desired suffering.

Miracles are each vignettes
extolling the whole, real miracle
revolving constantly through turquoise
in impermanent jade waves:
(Paradox ~ Memory ~ Truth's Parasol)~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If it happened once ---------- love -----------

does it exist forever,
if only witnessed internally,

experienced as nostalgia?

my memory of a perfect rose
into which I peered
is peaceful ~~~~~~~~~~~~ just as
peering in the first place
provoked such peace primarily

My heart is not my own
but a part of all I follow,
a flower in the merciful light.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"In Our First World, Shall We Follow The Deception of The Thrush?" - TS Eliot

Welcome - the sun and moon salute your breathing being, as do I! I use a quote from "Four Quartets" by TS Eliot as the title for this poem because of a coincidence. I don't remember the exact coincidence, but it had to do with the concept of eternity. When I was a little girl I used to imagine that there were infinite parallel universes before I went to sleep and I would stay up late trying to grasp the idea. This poem came from those nights.
The above painting is by Josef Albers. It reminds me a bit of parallel universes.
Fond farewell. I hope you return.

In Our First World, Shall We Follow The Deception of The Thrush?" - TS Eliot

The only place where time does not exist

is where past, present and future
present themselves a fixed point -----
a ball of time, forever
at the same time, a small

portion of now.

Some poets, like Shakespeare,
have seen the truth in mirrors
the truth being a dance

a dance of light across glass artifacts,
presenting change and only change
while it (truth) remains unscathed.

Truth, like spiders' legs
casting minute shadows on speckled fossils
attracts our eye toward the stone.

So why should I speak of what might have been?
Our memory will not be altered, and
I haven't enough of a grip on reality

to deploy the spotlight filters
so I will leave the dust
on the roses in the bowl
graciously or gracelessly - I don't know -

Age will tint them brown,
a shade already tanning pages
in my antique library, already
wearing through the grass. . .
the pressed path I pace at daily intervals. . .
over these crisp petals

I hold an immemorial mirror
reflecting reflections themselves
showing only to the soul:

Past happiness, fact-less and cracking,

bringing back a second joy -
still distant to the point of madness -

Gardens, like ceremonial bracelets
fringe my footsteps,

diamond-like in dew - birthwaters.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I am writing a story called Punch Drunk Love. It's about the perfect boyfriend I had who I didn't want. I don't mean that I gave up and ended the relationship only to realize it was perfect - I mean that I ended it because it was. He didn't want me either. Neither of us believe in destiny. We are both fierce lovers. We challenge the universe to work with us, to reveal to us what we desire. . .as our decisions lead us.

Its interesting, the phrase: to reveal to us what we desire. . . Does that mean the object of our desire is revealed to us, or that desire itself is revealed? Either way, I want to be the agent inciting the universe into action; not the other way around which is destiny. I do suppose that destiny may exist - only if it does I'm not settling for it, I'm going beyond it into what Buddhists call Karma, the place where all of our decisions affect everyone. I want to believe my love makes a difference in the world. . .

Punch Drunk Love is a story told in the second person, and the (semi-autobiographical) narrator discloses her memories of and feelings for her former lover, along with some of her life's secrets. We are permitted to see how her ideas of romantic love and partnership are connected to her greater ideas of the world. We eventually begin to realize that the relationship in this story is so important to her because it is the one that represents and composes most of her life's philosophy, in the sense that sometimes loving a boyfriend isn't just loving a boyfriend - it's also changing the world.

I began to write this story while I was supposed to be typing up a poetry manuscript to send to Tightrope Books. Unfortunately, it seems, as I have very little confidence right now, typing it is a chore. I enjoy writing my poetry, I feel very much alive and engaged when I do, but when it comes to the idea of sharing for some reason I feel pressure. How could I possibly be an important poet, or even one that anyone would enjoy reading? Does anyone even like to read poetry anymore? I know I'm psyching myself out. There is always a reason to share even if I can't it figure it out. I know that if I can release my poems into the realm of the public then I can release them altogether myself, thereby resisting the urge to continue editing, shaping, and judging them eternally. So I push on, push on with the typing, taking frequent breaks like this one to indulge anyone who might be looking for some insight into someone else's thoughts right now. These are mine; I hope you don't mind my sharing, because it seems that I am prone to doing so.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Flawed Concept of Humility

I'm not competitive. When people do things better than me if I am interested in why that is I may or may not try to find out. I am a teacher, though. I like to share information, lead by example, encourage, and inspire people. Just as I am not threatened by those who can do something better than me, I am equally no longer threatened to do something better than someone else.

I found, growing up, that the concept of humility was being taught in conflict over its meaning. I was shown that "humility" was to be attained by dumbing myself down so that I didn't make anyone else feel bad about themselves (for trying in vain to "do" something). Implicit in this flawed but institutionalized concept of humility was a threat. If I did something better they would consider me conceited. Here is an example: I was a good singer, but I was picked on with this question: "what makes you think you are so good?" I'm sure that someone reading this might now be thinking that I must have been conceited to provoke such a question, for it was a legitimate question, just as it was also a threat and a taunt.

In grade school I wanted to start a singing club at recess, but no one wanted to join. "We aren't good singers, you'll just show off," one girl said (one also said, "it's too much work"). What she meant was - you'll just show us up. Instead, though, she chose words that blamed me and tried to convince me that somehow I was going to sound better than them on purpose - like it was a decision I had made to hurt them. We were just nine years old.

We are believing that how or what people think about themselves determines the degree to which they are creative and talented. We believe that if someone doesn't think they are talented, they will no longer use their talent and it will cease to exist. It's not true, it's just what we believe. Even the talented themselves believe it, and that's why so many talented and creative people are suffering from blocks. The countless courses and therapeutic workshops devoted to "unblocking" these people can attest. Just as we believe, though, that people who believe they are not talented will stop creating, we also believe the opposite - that people who are not talented will become so if they believe themselves to be. We do not like to allow people to believe in themselves as talented and creative people, because it doesn't fit with our version of humility. A person's talent and aptitude for creativity is not negotiable. It doesn't go away or diminish. We are either psychologically able to access our talents or not.

Humility, to me, is simply being creative. When I'm being creative, I'm relinquishing my ego and submitting to the world, submitting to inspiration, to nature, ultimate being and nothingness. When creating music, I am humble. To try and suppress my creativity in the name of humility is to infect my humility with humiliation.

I know that I was one of the best singers in my grade school, but I also know that I was one of the most self-conscious, obliging, passive-aggressives there, too. Being able to sing has never changed, but I grew out of being passive-aggressive as the necessity to be graceful presented itself. By graceful I mean light. By light I mean illumination.