Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Chris Harden: Four Poems (and Two Spoken Word Pieces)

Ineffable Bond

Praises be to my beautiful Goddess of Love and Light,
This thing we have, this thing we do, feels so good, it feels so right.
I am blessed by your gaze and to stand in your Light.
This ineffable bond we share that draws us in,
Its name we may never know,
it must be nurtured, it must be fed,
with Water and Sunshine, we will watch it grow.
Our union leaves a shimmering trail of golden dust.
Our Lust shone bare and carefully laid before the feet of the All.
By the All, for the All, and in the All we dance a timeless motion.
Chaotic donkey rhythms ripple the fabric of our world,
creating sounds which deliver the sermons of forever.
We chant as the universe harmonizes with us.
Our symphony of Life springs forth in the Joy of our rapture.
Down below, the Ruach will know,
how to capture these sentiments we seek.
Until we arrive we both shall strive to hover above the think.
For as soon as we think, we surely will sink,
bathed in the matter of Malkuthian lather,
birthed in a place filled with Joy.
Our adventurous stories are written for glory,
in the tombs of wise men of old.
And if once again, you would take my hand,
the dance shall start anew.
Through mystic Love we shall rise above,
while the universe is birthed and renewed.

© 2018 Chris Harden

The Face of My Goddess

The Gold of her hair, the Blue of her eyes,
shine forth like the face of my Goddess divine.
Inside we find a lambent flame of Blue.
Her curves like the continuity of existence,
convergent and smooth.
I accepted the dance with an unending expanse,
the omnipresence of her body did arch for me.
Her hands rained down like kisses to the ground,
the dew of her Light flows free.
Infinite Space and the Infinite Stars thereof
embrace me with sweetness and Love.
Division for its sake provides but the chance,
for our union birthed the world up above.
Her kisses transport me to another dimension,
a space which is timeless and vast.
Peacefully I rest, nestled in breasts,
of my Star Goddess whose face I caress.
Our timeless embrace creates just the space,
for hopes and dreams to manifest.
The bliss of our union and the dew of our Lust,
creates a gravity pulling us in.
The All is upon us devouring our bliss,’
there is no beginning or end.
Whirling and stirring we knew from the start,
that the Devil and Death make Art.
Abide with me, my sweetest Love,
always more, never the less.
As you bend down the Joy wells up,
another opportunity for Yes!

© 2018 Chris Harden

Love Conquers, Even in Filth,
or The Quarter Star Motel

Late night stop, O' Lucky U,
no vacancy here.
A shit hole by any other name should smell as bad.
Dried bubblegum on the ceiling,
a mess on the floor was much worse.
A tub filled with shit stains, and a fridge too gross to touch.
Sheets stained with piss, blood, and cum
had never been washed.
What a place for Stars to crash land.
How does one profess the Love of their Star Goddess
amidst the scum, garbage, and shit?
Her halo, brightly shone as I lay her gently on the bed.
Her eyes burning like Twin Suns.
Love conquers even in filth.
Curling up to place my head upon her breast.
A feeling of sand on our feet, under the sheets,
but someone had dumped out their whole bag of meth!
We pushed through to arrive at the Dawn.
The morning light only grossing us out even more.
We embraced through the night but left in great haste.
Love conquers, even in filth, and cuddles are never a waste.

© 2018 Chris Harden

The Mountain don't lie.
It's something you can trust.
Three J's lined up,
but a Master is only slain once.
The illusive power of the almighty Us,
but only a fool would think
they could kill a pile of dust.

© 2019 Chris Harden

Spoken Word


"The legend of Chris Harden is a long and winding tale. He lives in his
pirate-ship shaped house on the side of a glacier in the continental
divide of the Rocky Mountains. Here he is known as The Wizard
of Alice Mountain. He is a philosopher, magician, mathematician,
poet, musician, teacher, wizard, and a great devotee of Love. As an
avatar of Slack the Wizard of Alice spends much of his days working
to be an exemplar through the demonstration of Fun. He begets the
Art of Pushing Through. He daily strives to help others with pushing
through fear, doubt, confusions, etc ... He wields the weapons of the
Adept, Love and Light, striving to be a beacon of hope and to ignite
the fires of Love throughout the world."

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Karen J McDonnell: Two Poems: "An Invitation to the Late Mr. Yeats" and "Corridor Assessment"

An Invitation to the Late Mr Yeats

Return. Regenerate
like Coole's flooded gardens.

This birthday, renew
your initials on the copper beech.

Stay awhile. Listen to swan
wings whack October's lake.

Look for light: svelte,
slivering into the seven woods.

© 2019 Karen J McDonnell

Corridor Assessment

He is in the Assessment Unit.
We are in the corridor.

Later, I fetch coffee.

Plenty of time for small
talk. For memories of the aunt
who insisted on sea

dipping, in her nineties.
Shells and her swimming togs
in the coffin. She sent us

post-decimalisation envelopes
heavy with fifty-pence coins
she sellotaped to birthday cards.

Diagnosis is around the corner.

We might make ninety.
There's laughter in the corridor.

© 2019 Karen J McDonnell

Karen J McDonnell is published most recently in Irish Times New
Irish Writing, spontaneity.org, and special Irish editions of The
North and CoastToCoastToCoast. She has won several awards and
been listed in competitions, including 2018’s Anthony Cronin, and
Bangor poetry competitions and the 2017 Robert Monteith, Poems
for Patience, and Dermot Healy Poetry prizes. She has read at festivals
and spoken word venues around Ireland, and on RTÉ Radio's Sunday
Miscellany and The Poetry Programme. Awarded Tyrone Guthrie and
Birr writers’ residencies, her debut poetry collection is This Little World  
(Doire Press). She lives in the Burren, beside the Atlantic.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Brendan Constantine's "Bouncy Bounce"

Say this aloud: the sky is not a river
                        It won’t deepen if you fall in. - from Bouncy Bounce

    For those of you who’re not familiar with the poet Brendan Constantine,
or have always wanted to read his work, and have yet to do so, a good place
to start would be his new chapbook, Bouncy Bounce (© 2018 Blue Horse
Press), or his back catalogue of excellent work.
    More than Constantine’s other works, Bouncy Bounce, as the title suggest,
is a buoyant volume of poetry; highly enjoyable, and quick to breeze through,
until you find yourself mesmerized, and then, like a wayward ball on the
playground, it smacks square you in the face. There’s a trick built into
Bouncy Bounce, like that infamous scene from Lawrence of Arabia,
where Lawrence imparts to Potter, his British comrade, “The trick,
William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.”     

    Poetry should hurt, otherwise, what’s the point in writing it. The more
painful, the more memorable, and this is where, Constantine, like
W. S. Merwin, succeeds beautifully. There’s an intimacy in Constantine’s
poems, which make the reader feel like they are being given the privilege
of being taken into his confidence, to share his upside-down view of the
universe, in regards to family (“Open Heart Perjury” and “Crib”),
anthropomorphism as a means of accessing empathy, and recognition
of ourselves (“Field Trip” and “At a Stumble”), and who we are, in
relation to, as well in our relationships to each other (“Out in the Air”),
and what the most powerful poem to illustrate this, “The Arrival of
the Sleepers”:

The sleepers came like curtains in the blown in the wind.
The sleepers came here
The came and blew softly into the firelight
And they were sleeping
And they were sleeping where they stood
And more sleepers came
And they lay their bodies down
And they lay their long bodies over each other
And they did not stir
And they did not stir
The sleepers slept like stones in a bog
They slept like a bog
They were a bog of sleeping sleepers
And if you had been here
If you had walked over them
You would have sunk down into them
Until just your head and arms could be seen
And you would have waved and struggled
You would have struggled
Like I struggled
Until at last you slept beside me

© 2018 Brendan Constantine
     If, for no other reason, you wish to grow, as a person, through
poetry, then Bouncy Bounce is the perfect choice to initiate that
process. As with all of Constantine’s work, it deserves a permanent
place on your bookshelf.

Bouncy Bounce, © 2018 Blue Horse Press, Brendan Constantine,
ISBN-10: 069282096, ISBN-13: 978-0692820964, 33 pages,
$10 (US)

© 2019 marie c lecrivain

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Women's History Month: Hattie Quinn's "Radical Empathy"

    I am no stranger to spiritual states. I have sought them since my youth. I have used prayer, reading, writing, masturbation, drugs of varied types and strengths, sex, danger, meditation, magick, pain, Shibari, erotic asphyxiation, and finally love and motherhood in my pursuit of grokking the Universe/God/god/one-ness. But, I didn’t see my latest epiphany coming—at a science fiction and fantasy symposium—in Provo, UT—listening to author Kelly Barnhill’s keynote speech.
    I have always been a voracious reader and was, in my youth, a prolific writer. I would tap into my tween angst and summon forth words detailing dramatic feelings and experiences I had never known. I felt them deeply, profoundly. I couldn’t sleep at night for worry of other people’s problems or ones I imagined out of thin air. I couldn’t control when they came or how deeply I was affected. I was fully unprepared to deal with these feelings, and ultimately sought escape.  
   I don’t know which came first: cutting myself or setting things on fire, but I do know that destruction was my solution to the rampant craziness running through my head, impeding my focus, inspiring my words, impelling my disastrous choices. I carved invocations in my flesh and released desires in flame and ash. I turned to drugs and, shortly thereafter, sex. I left school, full of ennui.
   I didn’t have to feel all those hard emotions and that societal judgment, I could escape into a state of bliss, uniting with my opposite and equal, or chemically exciting every cell in my being and uplifting mind and spirit.   
   A funny thing happens when you serve up select and limited emotions on a platter. You don’t gain experience with the emotions you have rejected. You stunt your own emotional growth. I assume this is why they say drug use inhibits emotional maturity, though it doesn’t take anything as strong as controlled substances, only stubborn indifference.
   I ultimately pulled myself out of this downward spiral—somehow—and it wasn’t until recently, while I listened to that unparalleled storyteller, that I glimpsed that subtle influence that had served as my lifeline, that could in fact be the answer to fixing those out of whack within our own orbits. When I realized the implications, I had a transcendent moment. I had come to the conclusion that as it had kept my brain sharp between testing out of school at 16 and attending college at 24, reading more than regularly as I did, had also enabled me to retain the knowledge of the experience of emotions and how to put myself in the shoes of others.
   Before I settled into a mildly numbing decade of sex and marijuana, putting behind the amphetamines I had loved so well, they had given me my out—a near death experience on the heels of a traumatic opportunity to rediscover empathy. I had stopped writing around the time I began stabbing myself for intense moments of pleasure. I was no longer capable of entering into the melancholy of my muse, knowing only ecstatic bliss and hallucinogenic blackouts.  
   Sometimes the people around me took on different forms or identities until a lull in my state.  So, perhaps I can understand how it wasn’t until one summer morning of my 23rd year after a multi day meth binge that I realized that I was partying hard with a young woman who was barely twenty-one and eight months pregnant with the second child she might or raise. Having experienced the heights and depths back then, I can bring myself to understand how this could occur, but I do not expect anyone else to understand. Know only that it lead to a more intense bout with my demon, and after an insane ride I stopped breathing and beating lying still on the floor, and came-to to the slaps and pounding of a boyfriend I would never see again after that night, to then run away to a new city with a stripper who wanted a different scenes well, where I vomited myself clean and learned to love marijuana and suffer “normal guys.” I also learned to hold down a job.
   Why couldn’t I be normal? Just because I never had been before, or couldn’t remember a time I was, didn’t mean I couldn’t accomplish such a feat. It just meant I didn’t yet know how.  So, I just kept reading and watching the suburbanites around me, and kept score at my boyfriend’s softball games and pretended I was normal until I had an abortion and an identity crisis, and went on a tear with an 8-ball and my boyfriend’s (not) best friend from high school.  The former me almost came back right then: the queen of bad decisions came to the threshold of my secret door, and she rode that convenient diversion through jack shacks and the bathroom stall at Madison Square Garden, with no regard for the guy at home (also cheating, it turned out, not that that matters). But, I knew her game, and kicked her to the curb, along with the whole suburban life and upstate WASP community.  Neither were who I wanted to be.
    I longed to realize my new and improved identity, but it was still in formation. I experimented with euphorics and decided to move to Massachusetts and continue college adding philosophers, classic literature, and magick to my library. I extracted dextromethorphan from cough syrup and took LSD to metaprogram myself. I chanted my new mantra over and over: “Fake it, until you make it.” One particularly poignant night, on the eve of the new millennium, December 31, 2000, I took several hits of acid and sought through serendipity to find the solution to my inability to emotionally deal with whatever life threw me. I opened “The Portable Nietzsche” seeking the answer to my spoken question, and found the parable of the diamond and the rock. I decide to be the diamond. To harden my heart to others so they could no longer affect me.  I shake my head in disbelief today.
    I met, fell in love with, and joined Ordo Templi Orientis, an organization devoted to joy and beauty and truth and transformation to your ideal self, yet I had hardened my heart to the experiences before me, to the people around me.  But initiation brings internal awareness and I began to see what I had done. Better that I be content in my soft and malleable nature, rather than present this bright and shiny crystalline wall to the world. Again, I read and read and worked to be my better self, and learned some coping skills, and left school to work and thrive, and undertook rituals to learn to love and trust and to discipline myself, to know love under will, lest I be so horribly used or use others so hardly again.  
    Whether through my initiatory and ritual work, deep self reflection, or through a decade and more without hard drugs in my system, I suddenly became a cryer.  I mean I was a wreck. Every sentimental movie made me cry, books made me bawl, a tender cat food commercial touched my heart and brought the tears. To this day, I have deeper emotional relationships to characters from “Deep Space Nine” than I do some friends and family after watching the entire series both before and then again after my transformation. One peer suggested I had finally matured emotionally and just had a lot of emotion for which to make up. A decade or more later I am still a cryer. You know what else came back? My writing.
    Kelly Barnhill spoke of the circuitous routes we take to come to our craft and how inspiration comes from the strangeness of life and accepting it in ourselves and those around us. That when we combined these strange practices with the flame of inspiration we would tell unforgettable stories. Stories with characters with whom readers live and love and bleed. That this level of storytelling requires the arts of paying attention and experiencing radical empathy.
    A good writer needs to be a good reader, they say, and I had been, and that I believe was why I could become a worthwhile person after everything. After all the bad decisions and broken hearts. Because when the capacity for experiencing emotions came flooding back, I was primed to empathize with others. The neural paths hd been lain in the years intervening. The only thing I had been with any regularity was a reader.
    But radical empathy can give us so much more than good writers. It can give us worthwhile humans. If a self-destructive, self absorbed disaster could learn to love those outside of her self induced nightmare, and could find the power to share those experiences for the empowerment of others, then every xenophobic bigot and misogynistic hater we are hiding in the dark canopy of our family trees can be redeemed through the power of reading and envisioning themselves in the story of the Other.
    We are all storytellers. Every memory we share is part of the narrative.  Memory is nothing but cold storage, we have to remember it to share it and that is storytelling first to ourselves and then others. By sharing of ourselves and our experiences, the lessons we have learned and the mistakes we have made…or caused. By reading about the lives of others, real or fictional, we burn into ourselves an increased capacity for understanding. By sharing this skill for radical empathy with our friends and family and coworkers and acquaintances, we could uplift humanity, and that is why I had a spiritual experience listening to an author tell her circuitous route to radical empathy through tales of ghosts, carbon monoxide poisoning and inspired taxidermy.

    Thank you, Kelly Barnhill, for answering my whys and inspiring me to greater heights. May I pay it forward.

(c) 2019 Hattie Quinn

    Hattie Quinn is an author of short stories, poetry, and one small being of light. She lives in Texas with her husband Satyr in a small menagerie called the Wildwood. She was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology 2017 for her story, “Good Works, After Bad”, published by poeticdiversity.org, and has devoted her life to uplifting humanity, beginning with herself and her family.