Songs combine the rhythm of musical instruments and the rhythm of words. Songs are a mix.
Poetry, on the other hand, and all writing really, is an a capella song. Poetry carries its music through only the instrument of words.
I think Leonard Cohen would understand this. He writes poems and sings them. Songwriting adds more instruments to the music of words.
Sometimes I sit on my favorite river rock and write. The river’s white noise cancels the restlessness of my mind, and in the rustling I find my inner river of thoughts. It is a clearer water I seek, a signal in the noise. I do not play a musical instrument well, and so the rhythm of the river comes to me in words.
Lately, to get away from my own rhythms, I have started listening to my music again. In my world of parenting young children, I rarely listen to the music of my choice, let alone hear the words. I’ve rediscovered the private oasis of the CD player in my car, an island that I control completely. I’ve found myself drawn to what I call “poets who sing”.
An an obvious choice, there is Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Her odd tunings and seemingly off-key singing adjusts my inner sense of melody and expands the possibilities. Joni and Richard Buckner remind me what it means to bleed through words. Leonard shows me that the space between the words is where all the wonderful meaning lives. The songs of Tom Waits and Vic Chesnutt birth an odd beauty out of the darkness.
I am rediscovering my music slowly. The songs that are most intriguing to me now stand on their own as poetry but add the voice of music to blend a new harmony. It is a collaboration to explore as I sing my own a capella songs.
Here is the latest poem added to the poetry page! Thanks for reading them.
braiding her hair
so wild like mine
we are women
present and future
published in Moonbathing 12 (2015)
Chuang Tzu said, “A man does not seek to see himself in running water, but in still water. For only what is itself still can instill stillness into others.”
This can be generalized, I think, to other virtues. I started to write about this, but realized it had already been written:
Martin Luther King, Jr said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
The light and the love are multi-faceted.
Kindness increases kindness; indifference cannot do that.
Peacefulness increases peace; belligerence cannot do that.
If you want to bring stillness and serenity, then you cannot be part of the cacophony.
It can be the most difficult thing to do, to avoid surfing the cresting wave that tries to carry everything along with it. Yet finding the internal calm when all else seems agitated is the most important time to do so. If intention falls apart with every excited moment, then how strong was the implementation?
Like a muscle, it takes practice. I practice, and I keep practicing. Every time the wave carries me along, I hope it took a little more force to budge me from whatever inner oasis I’ve cultivated. That’s really the best any of us can do.
Simplistically, it’s like math. When the Number 100 wants to divide itself, moving itself more and more into the negative, what does adding more negative values do? To counteract the trend, be a function for the positive, or at least try to stay neutral…
And if you slip, if you get the wrong answer (and sometimes you will), be open to a new equation, a reset. Stillness is patient, and ready to be found when the waters settle.
“I look at the stories. So many stories poring between my fingers. Each expressing its transient becoming and being and quiet dissolution, netted and knotted with others while time stops in the oneness, expanding and contracting with each connected breath.”
Excerpt from “The Language of Beauty” from Moon Full of Moons.
During these summer days at the beach, I think about these lines while the sand pours through my fingers.
The sand is stories.
I’ve been spread rather thin lately. Perhaps you could say the same. When I think about it, what I’m doing is bit ridiculous. In no particular order, I have been:
- trying my best as a mom and a wife
- running clinical trials to try to find new medicines for kidney patients
- editing my second book (prose this time)
- figuring out what it means to be an author of a book and how to let people know the book is awesome (it’s awesome!)
- doing freelance science editing
- growing a garden – to eat and so the children can understand more fully where food comes from
- submitting my writing to journals and keeping track of responses
- preparing Flowergirl (i.e., myself) for kindergarten, which she will start in September
- having a summer
- daydreaming, sleeping, over-thinking everything, and doing all those good things that keep me functional and feeling creative and satisfied (or at least trying to do these things when I can)
Even with all of these verbs, there are things I want to do that I have no time to do. Like pottery. And putting photos into albums. And painting a few rooms of the house (why aren’t they painted yet?)
In some ways, many of the items can feel like their own a career. Or they each feel like a delicate egg. I must somehow hold all the eggs so none of them crack. It can feel stressful, but the stress is based in abundance. Life is an overactive hen.
It can be easy to forget to be grateful for a life that is full to overflowing. There will be time for a quiet life again. For now, I will take this please, and try to focus on the gratitude rather than the stress. It’s one of the ways my over-thinking helps me. And when the eggs hatch and no longer need me quite as much, I know I will miss these days when so much was in a state of becoming.
…three of my tanka recently published in Atlas Poetica have been newly added to the Poems page!
outside this house
the erratic song of wind chimes
like Brownian motion
of beautiful moments