Sunday, December 2, 2012

yours, anywhere in the world

My dear,

            I apologize for the long delay since my last letter. I have no excuse besides my own idiocy in allowing my wallet to be stolen. I have been working odd jobs around the village in order to earn my keep, and will soon have gathered enough to be able to leave said town and continue my travels.
            Before moving on I feel I must present to you an account of my adventures since my last letter. Presently I am lodging in a small room on the outskirts of what passes for a large city out here. The woman who owns this place was kind enough to allow me room and board in exchange only for my help with some chores – gathering firewood, repairing household fixtures, and such. She has a grandson – well, I know that they are not related, and that she adopted him after he was abandoned as a baby. They have been very good to me since the beginning. I feel greatly indebted to their generosity. The house is not in the best condition, but I have promised to send them more materials for repairs and the like after I have returned home.
            You see, most of the people were somewhat hostile to having a foreigner, a stranger from faraway lands, in their own little hometown. I can’t blame them for their coldness. I don’t believe most of them have seen a white man like myself before. The locals shunned me, except for one bold child who approached me with the curiosity and naivety that disguise themselves as bravery in children. I hardly knew his language, and he not at all mine, but he must have somehow known and understood my weariness. He took me to his grandmother, and they took me into their home. Eventually the others came to accept me as well, but I cannot prey off their generosity forever. Soon I must move on.
There must be some sense bestowed upon children – they, who have always been affected by and affected others the most, are able to see something that we cannot in the faces and gestures of others. And they, those little ones who open their hearts most generously, they are the ones most often hurt by the coarseness of mankind…
            I do hope that child will keep his gentleness beyond his boyhood. It is a rare man who does – men are too frightened to understand each other – but it is a rare gift to those who do. I wonder, have I…?
            Enclosed is a photo of the village; you see what conditions these people live in! I could not bear to have known them and not have eased their burdens at least a bit. And they tell me that there are much worse places to be found – will I find them?
            I will leave here in a few days to make my way home. We shall see each other soon, I promise. Until then.

Yours, anywhere in the world.

(The actual photo on the card is by Barbara Hanson)

Monday, November 26, 2012

we wait

sky is dark and damp
clouds hang pregnantly, shadows
hiding underfoot

cold feet on sidewalks
of water, leftover rain
in puddles seeping

summer poppies dead
our long-gone days are wasted
winter is heavy

water, water, but
still with the promise of snow
we wait for winter

articles with voice

I actually wrote this way back in September and just forgot about it after that. Now that I think about it, is was a lot of fun to write this one.

     Last night I had a horrible dream. It must have been because of the terrible stories the younger daughter told when she came back from school yesterday. I have decided that the older one, who owns me and often plays on me, is mature enough to be trusted. Since dreaming that terrifying dream though, I know I will be wary of the little one.
     In my dream it was the early afternoon. I knew that right way, although I'm not sure how, as I was completely wrapped in a dusty fabric case - hot, suffocating fake velvet. I could see nothing. I only felt the hard plastic weight of my neighbours pressing against me through each of their thin fabric coverings. We helplessly jostled each other as someone far stronger and larger entered the room and moved towards us with great shuddering steps. We swayed and were pushed against gravity as we were lifted up and up, and I could hear the faint muffled chinking of my poor comrades as they collided with each other, with the cardboard prison walls, with me.
     We were breathless, voiceless, helpless.
     The human bumped us up a set of stairs and into another room. We all slid sideways as she shifted her weight to shoulder open a door. Immediately we were assaulted by the noise - what unbearable infernal noise! Shouting and screaming and high-pitched wailing. But it was nothing to what was still to come.
      The human set us down now and addressed her audience. "Boys and girls, welcome to your first music class of the year!" she shrilled in the slightly freakish, over-enunciated voice that all elementary teachers develop.
     The children screamed happily.
     "Now, when I call your name please come up to the front. Jessica... Timmy... Natalie..."
     I waited as the bodies above me were removed one by one, and the sunlight streamed in more clearly and harshly through my thin fabric case. With each moment, as the light grew brighter, the noise outside grew shriller and more diabolical. I trembled and tried to bury myself deeper in the cardboard box which now seemed my last sanctuary, but I could not move. I could only feel the shapes of those beneath me still. The light grew brighter still, and as my fellows above me were removed they screamed like the devil... the light was blinding...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

bearing spring

This was a hard one to write. The idea is that each line (except the last one) is 3 words long, and each word can be used either as a verb or a noun. I like the end result though. 

snow drifts covering
leaf, plant, sun
icing branch, root

wind whistles... cries

love dreams float
     like water ripples
     like wave kisses

lick rain drops --
drink rain tears.
drip drop       -------whisper

rain, scattering troubles,

will voice wishes
will voice spring
bear spring

lark sings in ephemeral may of meadow rose

 This is a project called the "Humement" that we did. It's basically taking a page out of a book and altering it, leaving some words behind that make a coherent phrase or story. Mine says "lark sings in ephemeral May of meadow rose". I wanted to do something really dark to contrast with the pretty flowery images. First I chose the words and letters that I wanted, then I coloured over the the path of the phrase with a white crayon. I coloured the rest of the page with different coloured crayons - mostly blues, yellows, pinks in the top half, blending into earthier reds and greens. Then I went over everything with ink and a sponge, and sort of scratched out a few bits to make some patterns.

 Here on the bottom right I did a scratched-out rose. Obviously I'm not an art major but I tried.

 The wavy lines are meant to evoke the wind. 

 Here's a closer-up photo of the path of my phrase.


And here, because it relates to ripped-up books as well, I have a lovely illustration and definition of an oboe from the same old dictionary that my humement came from.I mounted it on some cardstock, put a clothespin on it and taped it on the door to my room.
The definition says: "a wooden musical instrument in which a thin, poignant tone is produced by a double reed."

a november poem

leaves plastered heavy
above bus shelter sunroof
soaked in rain puddles

passerby on bus,
warm, well-rested: november
is wet and lovely

Monday, November 5, 2012

autumn viewfinder

 The grim sun hides and the shadows are black as dirt, yet in the soil something is growing still. A prickly green arm stretches out, half-smothered by fiery leaves, the burning effigies of a dead spring. It is a weed, a plant most hated by humans who delude themselves into taming nature, but fragile and feeble as it is I cannot help wishing it well. With an effort of small struggling perseverance it reaches out its awkward spiny leaves to embrace the sky; it reaches past the corpses of past seasons, past the clouds, to beg the sky for life… 

A leaf lies naked, still on the ground like a street child, its arms streaked with mud. Veins glow white upon the blood-coloured skin. Without a home, it shelters in the dirt day and night, huddled in the company of others that are blown its way. Though it has little strength left the stem, which still holds itself stubbornly straight. Washed halfway under the shelter of a small, more alive plant, it lies motionless, waiting for another gust of wind or water to carry it away again. 


I watch the drowned leaf, though it is motionless now. The veins fan out from the central stem, which juts up towards the clouds. Rain gathers in small bubbles on the plasticky skin, clear water intruded upon by specks of soil which muddy its purity. Some dirt has been washed into the crevices of the pale veins, wedged into place like beach sand that dries onto sun-warmed toes. Though leaves and light are muddied and fading, the scent of wet autumn is still warm and clings in the air, rich as chocolate drunk outside in the cold.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

october rain

One year it hardly rained at all in September - but of course the leaves fell nevertheless, and when the rain finally did come the leaves were washed into gutters, though their dark bleeding ghosts remained behind, imprinted on the sidewalks.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

where the world began

modeled after a Margaret Lawrence piece

Our rehearsal room was a large wood-panelled hall in a community square. It doubled as a church hall when needed, several times weekly. Though brightly-lit with small, scattered lamps, it smelled worn and old and comforting like a grandmother’s embrace. The air was always thick with warmth, from the heaters or from the skins of many gathered people.
The first time I entered that hall I was already 14 years of age. The room was a net full of sound, shimmering rainbow notes and ugly deep-sea noises all jumbled together. Put any group of children together with a bunch of instruments and the resulting noise is never quite musical, at least not at first. Of course some did not care and only showed up because their parents felt it would “be good for them”. But I showed up that week, and every week after, because I hoped for more. I wanted to recreate the music of the old Viennese schools and the Baroque German masters, as best I could at the time, which was not very well.
But those were my first steps into real music.
My section was not good. We were loud, we were insensitive, we were abrasive. The notes that came out of our bells could never get along. We would never be able to recreate the creamy, sweet sound that I had imagined. The dissonant sounds were too thin to be heard clearly, and as loudly as the notes screamed and argued, they would never come to a conclusion, never be able to agree. At times the rehearsals were unbearable, when I had been stuck in that chair listening to the strings scratching tortuously away, hardly as musical as a cat clawing the scratching post. But I persevered, and the year passed like a sloth, and the next year came… I advanced to the higher level orchestra. At first I was awed by the level of this ensemble - was I even good enough to play with these people? But eventually I improved and I grew and now I am growing out of this group too.
I am 17 now, and one of the oldest of the students. Over the years I have progressed further, and now I find even the highest level of youth orchestra rehearsal tedious at times – as I got better, the group got worse. But strange, I still stay. Because who knows where I will be in a year, five years, ten; so these rehearsals, they must be savoured while I still have time. Because this is the place where my ideas began to be shaped and it is the place where my thoughts are still being perfected, chipped away here and there and remoulded in spots, not yet ready for the kiln. They never will be quite ready. So it is the place where I began, and where I am still beginning over and over again.