The Horse Who Swallowed A Wolf

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Sometimes I get up very early, say 4 or 5 in the morning and I read poetry on my computer. The internet is a wonderful resource for poetry. I have found poems that have reached into my gut and pulled me inside out and twisted up my soul and then spat me out again, just for sport. Good poetry will do that to you. Small dream-like sentences that ring like a psychic tuning fork in your head.

Also the quotes of philosophers and thinkers move me. This morning I was up at 4.15am because my brain turned on when I heard my dog scratching so here we are. I read this.

There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man standing alongside the road, shouts, “Where are you going?” and the first man replies, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!” This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don’t know where we are going, and we can’t stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves…We have to learn the art of stopping – stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us.

~ Thích Nhât Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation (Broadway Books; New edition, June 8, 1999)

Oh I know that horse. I am that horse. The horse has had free rein of late. Time to recentre, time to pop that nag in the stable. The stable nag. That’s me!

Then I read another quote.

Swallowing the wolf
1. Swallowing the wolf means claiming your personal power by following your own guidance and standards, not those of the external world.
2. Two fears keep us from claiming this power: fear that we have no internal guidance or standards, and fear that we have them but they will mislead us.
3. Noticing the impact of acting authentically can help lessen these fears.
4. At the point you realize that you use your internal guides more often than external ones, you have swallowed your wolf.
5. Ignore these rules and discover your own.
- Julia Mossbridge

I am a horse who needs to swallow the wolf to return to myself. I get it. I mean it won’t be easy but Christ, I turned into a fucking horse, so how hard can it be to swallow a wolf.

Anyway, just early morning food for thought, so to speak.

xoxoxo

Illustration: https://norapotwora.tumblr.com/

HOROSCOPES FOR THE DEAD

Horoscopes For the Dead

Every morning since you fell down on the face of the earth,
I read about you in the newspaper
along with the box scores, the weather, and all the bad news.

Sometimes I am reminded that today
will not be a wildly romantic time for you,
nor will you be challenged by educational goals
nor will you need to be circumspect at the workplace.

Another day, I learn that you will miss
an opportunity to travel and make new friends
though you never cared much about either.

I can’t imagine you ever facing a new problem
with a positive attitude, but you will definitely not
be doing that or anything like that on this weekday in March.
And the same goes for the fun
you might have gotten from group activities,
a likelihood attributed to everyone under your sign.

A dramatic rise in income may be a reason
to treat yourself, but that would apply
more to all the Pisces who are still alive today,
still swimming up and down the stream of life
or suspended in a pool in the shade of an overhanging tree.

But it will come as a relief to learn
that you don’t need to reflect carefully before acting
nor do you have to think more of others,
and never again will creative work take a back seat
to the business responsibilities that you never really had.

And don’t worry today or any other day
about unwanted problems caused by your failure
to interact rationally with your many associates.
No more goals for you, no more pressing matters,
no more money or children, jobs or important tasks,
but then again, you were never thus encumbered.

Horoscopes For the Dead 2

So leave it to me now
to plan carefully for success and the wealth it brings,
to counsel the dear ones close to my heart
and to welcome any intellectual stimulation that comes my way
though that sounds like a lot to get done on a Tuesday.

I am better off closing the newspaper,
putting on the clothes I wore yesterday
(when I read that your financial prospects were looking up)
then pushing off on my copper-colored bicycle
and pedaling along the road by the shore of the bay.

And you go on being perfect just where you are,
lying there in your beautiful blue suit,
your hands crossed upon your chest
like the wings of a bird who has flown
in its strange migration straight up from earth
and pierced the enormous circle of the zodiac.

By: Billy Collins

April 19, 2010

Stop romanticising trauma and writing

I read an article today about a poet who plagiarised another person’s work and managed to get a book deal out of it until someone recognised a poem written by another and a whole shit storm happened.

Yes, that’s terrible and rude and lazy and more but this post isn’t about the plagiarising of the words but the plagiarism of the experience.

One of the phrases in question was:

Ramshackle girl

spitting teeth

in the sink. I trace the

foreign topography of

my body, find God

in my skin.

Which was “inspired” by a poem, written by Rachel McKibbens, who wrote about childhood trauma and her memories. Her words are below.

Hell-spangled girl

spitting teeth into the sink,

I’d trace the broken

landscape of my body

& find God

within myself

Her poem was a response to the awful trauma that involved mental illness in those she loved including her mother and son.

A poem is a reaction. It is a raw and real response to what is happening to you physically and mentally and is always deeply personal. It can make you feel less alone, contented, fearful, and the good ones can make you cry and learn them by heart, because you feel understood.

What I found troubling about this poet’s decision to plagiarise the poem, besides the obvious, is her taking on the other experience of the writer. She is dismissing the pain of a childhood of abuse the author suffered and she has invalidated the experience of the author exploring her life with a mother and her son having schizophrenia.

I read poetry on most days. It is my touchstone and it is a powerful tool to help me become a better writer. It is also something I like to read. Little dream like moments that swirl through my brain. I always have more evocative dreams if I read poetry before I sleep.

I have read a lot of the new what I call “Tumblr” poets. Few are amazing, many aren’t so amazing. What I enjoy is the real and the raw, and those that reflect the authentic voice and experience.

To steal Sylvia Path or Anne Sexton’s words, is to wear their coat of depression for a while but then having the privilege of taking it off when it gets too heavy. It is entitled and dismissive of the poets experience.

What this poet was really saying when she stole the other person’s work is “Can I borrow your trauma to get a book deal?”

It’s appalling and it’s happening more often. Do people romanticise trauma and writing so much they will plagiarise to succeed? It seems so.

Drawing On Creative Inspiration

There is a time of the day when I am filled with creative possibility.  It's usually at night, after dinner, having the last cup of tea for the day. I have so many ideas and worry I am running out of time and I am low on talent to create them all. But inspiration is a wonderful thing and I love mooching about the internet finding new things that people have created.

Of course, I wish to do things that are beyond my skill set, such a create notebooks like José Naranja, whose work is exquisite.

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Or I wish to draw like Lily Mae Martin, who can pretty much draw anything. Her work is both pensive and optimistic, as though she sees the world as it really is but pushes on anyway.

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Or create a home filled with the scent of coffee and copal, fairy lights, plants and magic, where you can borrow books and take a spell for something that's troubling you.

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Perhaps I could create collages like this one by Rocio Montonya.

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Maybe write a poem like Mary Oliver.

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Amidst the pain and sorrow in the world, there is also so much brilliance in the world. While I doubt I will ever draw or create like Lily Mae Martin or Jose Naranja, or write poetry as well as Mary Oliver, I can appreciate their talent and in the meantime, I can create a beautiful home, a magical garden and write a novel, so that's a good thing. We all have something beautifil to share inside us.

Happy weekend to all the creative bugs out there. xx

 

 

When She Comes

When luck comes your way

You must not waste her company.

You must serve her tea and butterfly cakes,

Sprinkle her with bon mots, and sing the songs of her childhood.

You must take care but carry on as you always did. 

An honest day of being you.

 

Do not fritter it away like a frittery frit, for fritters are for quitters.

Never presume luck is your wife now, beholden and obeying.

Wives and luck don’t play those games.

But she will not stay for long

And she will not wait for you to be ready.

 

So scoop up the sky trails of spots and place in them in the fishpond for safekeeping.

Bury the coins under the carrots in the garden, where they will keep for leaner days.

Capture the whisper of her wings in the old scent bottle, in case you ever need to fly away.

Once she’s been, she won’t be back this way for a while 

But don’t imagine you are more worthy than others to have her magic.

 

You are no more blessed than the man who lives under the bridge.

Why him and not you?

The bridge is not particular who crosses it and who lives under it

Lucky him to have a bridge at all.

Lucky you, to have this day.