The Universe…and Mama

Constance, I found this delightful quote:

“I am trying to see things in perspective. My dog wants a bite of my peanut butter chocolate chip bagel. I know she cannot have this, because chocolate makes dogs very sick. My dog does not understand this. She pouts and wraps herself around my leg like a scarf and purrs and tries to convince me to give her just a tiny bit. When I do not give in, she eventually gives up and lays in the corner, under the piano, drooping and sad. I hope the universe has my best interest in mind like I have my dog’s. When I want something with my whole being, and the universe withholds it from me, I hope the universe thinks to herself: “Silly girl. She thinks this is what she wants, but she does not understand how it will hurt.”
— THEORIES ABOUT THE UNIVERSE by Blythe Baird

Now…I don’t know if universe thinks this or not.  The universe has never talked to me, or even capered madly in front of me making silly faces (Mama has done this by the way…giggle!  She funny…She very funny).

I think a lot about the idea that is gaining prevalence in modern thought that the universe is sentient, and is benevolent as well.  My mind is strange and quirky…because I wonder:  why benevolent?  Why not malevolent?  Why not indifferent?

Here is my take:  I do believe that we as creatures are innately wired with a sense of justice, of “ought to be”.  Think about this…whether you attribute origins and causes to God or to a process or if you believe in “always was always will be”…we still all have it, the “ought to be”.

We are also wired with a sense that rationality and reason are good guiding principles and that our reality can be (partially) grasped and explained with such, and again, I will simply giggle when I am confronted with elaborate well reasoned arguments why everything is meaningless and absurd (and these beautiful lines of reasoning use reason and rationality in an exquisite way…giggles again and a nose chuckle simper).

We are also wired with a deep sense that our world around us speaks of something “Beyond”, and this sense is deeply stirred in majestic acts or displays in creation.  Creation is evocative of that Beyond, regardless of what or who we attribute “Beyond” to…we are wired to know we dwell in the heart of a Mystery, and that mysterium tremendum is our dwelling place…and we long for that mystery to be made known, fully.

Last, we have an innate wired sense of Beauty…and Truth (both with capitals intended).

Here is why I posted this, besides that I love the quote:  I am happy that Mama has messed with me and done these things for me that the quote refers to.  I am overjoyed that the Incarnation of God Themself, the One known as Jesus, undertook an act simultaneously creative and destructive all at once:  when He displayed Their passion for all (even the universe?) and made every single axis of being and existence intersect in that great and terrible offense and wonder known as the cross, rich with its attendant implications. (as an aside, even if you are not christian in faith, reading the implied actions and existential declarations that the cross entails is a matter of great interest.  you would most likely need to go to old time-y writers such as the early church fathers…but there are some fabulous modern theologians who in moments of philosophical bliss wax eloquent about it…Rissa says check it out…and gives a loving shrug and shoulder punch even if you don’t 🙂 )

I don’t know much about God, truthfully.  The more I find out, the less I know…but the even more honest truth?  I don’t know a dadburn thang about the universe.  It don’t say much.

In jovial irony, tongue just a lil in cheek…

Charissa

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Clues

Okay Constance…I am gonna confess a lil indulgence of ego:  I really like my new poem “Her Door, Her Red Door”, and frankly I am a little disappointed there have not been very many likes on it…but I am also not surprised for it is inference, symbol, veil, subtly blatant while blatantly subtle…

I actually and for real think it is one of my most skillful poems to date.

But I get that it is not necessarily appealing…but consider, if you would, the poem itself in the context of the work of the poet:  I once said “The poet is a desperater man than most. He must get it all down before the ages are up. Which, as any poet will tell you Is A BITCH!” (waaay back in 1982)…

…I was trying to say that there is a “job” in poetry, or perhaps a better word is quest?  No matter…if you consider yourself a poet (and I do) then you find this inability to see life as any other thing but a poem and events/circumstances/happenings are all snapshots into the heart of the poem.

Thus, when I write I try to emulate the layers, hidden and revealed, that comprise this Mystery we swim in.

In “Her Door, Her Red Door”, you find me operating on a few very intentional levels…I do not want to just lay it out there.  That is a bit too clinical, sort of like the difference between sex education class in Middle School Health class, and the wonder and poignant pain of Love’s First Kiss.  But I do want you to have some sense of the structure, the themes and the interplay of them.  I can be obtuse…lol.

First of all, consider that it is a poem written by a trans-gender woman who is in the midst of transition.  This overall context puts the other elements in perspective and frames the picture.

Secondly, it is a poem dedicated to a person whom I have openly spoken of and the role she has in my life.  That role has permutations and multiple facets when considered poetically.  What is her “business” with me?  What is mine with her?  What is our mutual end?  And more fundamentally, Constance, what is your position in all this as well?  Are you somehow about the same things, in the salient areas of becoming that you face?

Next comes the unfolding of my view of our essential business:  becoming.  She is a facilitator of mine, and as I participate in her provisions I aid hers as well…and each of you, as you become day to day, may perhaps find touchstones in this poem’s point of view and approach to that becoming.  You will, of course, have to make inference and feel your way under the sheet to the true bones of your own transitions in this life as a sentient, conscious being stuck between the macrocosm and the microcosm infinities, and with eyes…

I choose a physical aspect of her and invest that with meaning far other than the expected trope culturally in our pornography laced times…there are only three capital letters used in this poem.  That is on purpose.

There are obvious references to musicians…why specific ones?  Why them?  What are the specific characteristics of those humans?  (Remember to ask this inside the “frame” of the picture I mentioned earlier).  There are single words that link back to lyrics, and those lyrics in turn echo back the essential business of this magic woman, which echo back to my own quest of becoming.

There are many puns laced throughout, intentionally slanted in relation to the core…that way they can make the connection and then…like leaves in early autumn, gracefully drop away once their purpose for the tree is completed, and reveal the strong and vital branches of the tree beneath that leafy veil…

The door:  resist the temptation to skim over this, thinking it is obvious…no?  Perhaps, like usual with me, it is a sonar reading on a larger diamond lurking in the dark of unknown knowns…but if you will try, you may very well enjoy letting those things bubble up inside you…from your heart.

Lastly, and remember that I have said before that wine and the process of creating it is for me the central metaphor of the universe, think about the poem again, in entirety (which means you can reinterpret the words on the 4 layers of existential being: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual)…and once you have that palate built?  Start to pull elements from one read through, and combine them with elements of the other…sensual elements mixed with sacred elements…becoming and unbecoming mixed with living and dying…

…and always, always:  Communion.  Bread…Wine…in the presence of knowing knowers broken and shared.

We are given our birth…but we have to achieve our being, and enter in.

I will literally be grateful to Heather for eternity.  She is truly one of the best, and I beg Lady Grace that I am privileged to share space in paradise with her…Be blessed, dearest friend.

You too Constance…I hope these clues assist you into at least understanding why I am so proud of this one.  It was “easy hard” to write down and weave, and it tested my limits at this stage of my becoming…as a poetess, as a prophetess, as a woman, and as a lover of God.

In heartfelt passion,

Charissa Grace

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Companion Of The Wind

When you listen to the wind
you hear the tales she tells you
and feel her history…
fragments of long ago,
of forests vast and tangled
and so you will rest,
lulled by her ebb and flow,
her soft and steady rise
and fall.

Earth breathes in winds, in gales,
ruddy scirocco blood-breaths,
wracking chinook coughs,
and mistrals making ways
and sprouting wings arising,
and gliding over gulfs
to delve in yester-caves…
and always Breezy Boras
exploring mountain-faces,
and touching them with fumbly
longing frantic fingers
like a bleak blind beauty
touching her own face
in pining sad mute envy
of such solid certain
there-ness, standing jagged
and heartbreaking in relief
against the yawning sky
and in the eye of Beauty’s
glad and graceful smile.

Wind is tinged, and tainted
in trees and ocean billows,
transformed by desert passage
and fired in blasts blazing
unmerciful and hot,
cured in baking, still fat
wallowing inferno
so ruthless in the sun,

the sun,
the always hot unblinking eye…and

she is tattooed there, fated
to carry always, always
those marks within her soul
that her song seeks to hide.

But in the night, tentative,
she will give up her tales,
if you listen…just, listen…
and let her story blow,
be patient with her trembling,
her clumsy-fumbly fingers
so frantic to form signals
in suestado signing sighs.

If…if you tarry…
give up the tempting refuge
of the wind’s soft thereness,
If you listen deep…
and hold your divine breath,
and taste the territories
of time and tears and turf
without correcting her
or limiting her longings,
without defining stories
and diminishing her witness
with the gentle vapors
of your long accustomed
familiar exhalations…

You’ll hear what she has touched
and has been touched by too,
you’ll taste currents of history
in what her eyes have seen
and what she has endured
in not ever being seen.
Then you will rise, graceful
and humble on her song,
her symphony of sorrow
and swelling sure salvation,
to dance unfettered in her
shamals and silver sharavs
of resignation gentle…
to move in mercy with her
side by side, companion
amidst that mummer’s trudge
in tracks worn, set in stone
and you will tarry with her

there…

All know her, but few find her,
and those who taste her philters
fewer still, and rare…

(for to taste is sacred,
to take the cup of knowing
no harbour and no home)

…but walking with the wind
well, that’s a very different
pilgrimage of presence…to
become her moving tether,
her undaunted deliverer…
If with her you walk,
you will find her voice speaking
things shared ever only
in the wind within
the wind and breath behind
her birth, her wander here…

and you will feature flowers
cascading midst your hair,
and find your cozy locks
flicked and feathered there
and stroked, caressed so tender
in her whisper-wander sighs
as her sign, her settled sigil
to affirm your place and presence
in the bosom of her deepest
precious longing breath

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When The Longing Breeze Returns

T’was turning slowly in dawn’s breaking light
and shimm’ring whispers silky beyond sight,
the chimes sway beneath hinting soft caress
of yearning summer breeze in ebon dress.

The breeze blows, smelling of exotic birth
from secret womb, beyond far spicy hills
concealed ‘neath velvet star-pricked sable covers
Become substance and presence, become here.

Invisible, not seen, present only
in keening touches tentative, lonely
desiring to stir the sleeping chime,
awaken it to wonders beyond time.

Yet, unknowing chime resists, unhearing,
not smelling jasmine melodies crooned low
by cool voice breezy-breathy, underlayed
with warmth…and longing, sung forever so…

A last push of love, longing…then in sorrow
the breeze blows on by, trilling sad desire
while playing in the always trees of wonder
surrounded in the gleam of new dawn’s fire,

she’s running in her yearning paths again…
But after, when the day is still a rumour
and night is not yet knowing time is up
the chime jingles, clangs, hungry, it remembers

faint sleepy golden dreams of grace-delight
it dances, sways, it craves that feath’ry touch
and nuzzling spicy smell, and then resolves
that it will dance, with open arms and soul

when the longing breeze returns to make it whole.

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Bury My Head in the Sky

My wet red heart beats in time to music
flying in soaring skies and wonder-winds…
it is my womb, my temple and matrix,
at long last no more a stranger to myself.

Contractions, pangs, contraction, pang…
beating out my birthing, my being, my life,
long brownly-buried in dry dirt dusky,
deeper than an ostrich can see on its best blind day!

Strains, arpeggios, wildly dance and swirl
in bluey blasts and exultations and voices lift in high chorus
and wallow in jammy joy, crooning to me, babe in transit
from womb to shiny bearing-burst to tomb.

I, halfling of becoming, in and out of grave ground,
fidget fast and twiddle and twitch, touchy and unleashed
and free soon flying and yet bound, sommat
still in cloddy clutches of dust to dust.

But here…in this middle earth ethereal and having boundaries not yet charted…
I glance with gleaming glad eyes all round and see the ostriches burrowed down
and crammed, obliviate wings futile and folded and settled, serenaded
by secure and intentioned monotone unknowing.

I lift my voice and my words, and they drag dirty distressing fingers
from the tender white curve and arch of my throat
and my song squirms and heaves and lurches forth from fleshy grave
to live again in light and take its place in that Thundrous Sky Music Throng!

Words, familiar and yet never heard or said or sung spring
glad and fresh and ageless from my lips, and my yearning theme flashes brilliant
and dances on voices and notes, sings of birth and never wonders why
but simply shouts resounding “Bury my head in the Sky!”

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“Wadded with stupidity?”

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heartbeat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.”

George Eliot, Middlemarch, (London: Penguin, 1994),

Do you find this quote describing you at all?  Once in a while?  Frequently?  All the time?  Never?

I know that Mary Anne Evans, writing under a male pen name (a different post altogether!!!), describes a dilemma for us, and I think everyone knows, knows it deep down inside…feels it.

Here is the dilemma:  if you allow yourself to really see…if you are living so as to strengthen and establish eyes of the heart and soul that truly see, then all the wonder and glory and brokenness and tragedy and beauty swells in sound and presence so as to be a magnificent and overwhelming symphonic tide!  Standing on the beach of perception, and staring out at that vast and glorious sea, every living thing a player in the cosmic orchestra.  But, this life is costly, often lonely, and can be overwhelming, especially without companionship…and companionship worthy of the challenge, and not “crabs in the bucket” who will pull you back down into the miasma with them.

The alternative:  choose to not be overwhelmed by simply stuffing “cultural cotton” in your ears!  Music, video-oriented media, fashion, objects, hobbies, the list goes on…even friends and family can serve to “dull the roar”.

Sadly, you do indeed become spiritually blind, spiritually deaf, and thus inevitably spiritually dumb, …and then you walk, the living dead thru a wonder world, having eyes and not seeing, and ears and not hearing, and a tongue stilled from the soul’s truest longing to sing in gratitude and wonder at the living and vital home we have been given.

I think that Ms Evans was a bit cynical, and who could blame her given the sorts of barriers and prison walls she was thrust into as a woman in that time…I’m not so sure that we “wad ourselves with stupidity”…but I do think that she accurately describes the results, when we choose not to engage our world with living hearts and souls:  we become stupid in the older sense of the word, and stumble zombie-like thru our days, miserable and hungry and desperate to consume anything that looks living, only to infect that with our death, instead of being infused with its life.

No wonder zombie themes are so huge in our culture right now!

Here is an exhortation:  take a chance, and make a change…if you need to.  Set your heart on higher things, and actively seek to see, to hear, and then finally to speak!  Ask someone to work within you…She has many names, and will never turn away a true request made with humble heart.  And then practice some form of expression as your outlet.

Hey…why do you think I love poetry so much?  This whole thing is one Amazing and Wonderful Poem!

Blessings to you this day, and oodles of love, peace and joy as always shmeared with mounds of Grace!

Charissa

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Comments on Creation’s Communion

I rarely take the trouble to interpret my poems for you, Constance…I think it is part of your own pleasure as a reader to dig in and chew, or to imbibe deep and feel the intoxicating buzz later when it enters your blood and sings its song there…dare I even insinuate it is also your responsibility as a poetry lover to allow it to disturb you, or trouble you, or even flummox you until you suss it out?

My poems are hidden inside themselves very frequently.  They are one thing on one level, multitudinous other things on other levels, they are always the same unless one word is read with different meaning and all is transformed…

…hey I am a transgirl, so is it any wonder that my poems are like me, someone hidden inside something?  Giggles!

Anyway, I want to provide a bit of background to a few things:  First of all, I want to tell you what happened after I birthed the poem, and began to go back to clean up my baby, dry off the afterbirth, feed and nurture it to vitality.  I immediately began to adjust the women-seasons metaphor.  Everyone knows that Spring is the gay and skipping girl, flouncing boldly into Old Lady Winter’s mouldery austere house, throwing up the windows and letting the stale and leaden air out!

Right?  WRONG!!!!

The poem did not give that contented groan (like my doggie when I scratched her secret spot) as I attempted to edit!  No…it went Dustin Hoffman under Laurence Olivier’s drill in Marathon Man!  Screamed in horror, fear, and outrage, it did!!  So…I went with it, and actually I love the way it turns the expected and familiar on its head, and it challenges our ideas that each season is representative of a different stage of a woman’s growth (for to me, the seasons have always been feminine)…it poses the notion that each season has a complete cycle within itself, and in its usurpation of the fading queen, it dooms itself to the same overthrow!  That clash thus takes on a fascinating depth and the iterations of metaphor grow in multiplicity.

Secondly, the word haint is an old slang word for haunt found generally in southern and rural locations.  Consider the variety of meanings layered in haunt, and understand that application of haint.  It is also a funny contraction of “have not” and/or “has not” together with “ain’t”…haint.  So ponder the reference to places as that contraction, and the elevator begins to move rapidly in its own directions thru the poem.  Lastly, haint eventually took on the connotations of a scary-mean woman, or an evil bitch…and thus the poem circles around on itself (even as the seasons chase each other endlessly in a game of Tag) and references the women mentioned in the first stanza, and the whole understanding of who is the biddy and who is the bouncy flouncy Queen B gets tripped topsy turvy.  It plays back in to that cycle of usurpation.

When people see me, they “see” me…and then if they spend any time with me with open heart, they SEE me…that is how my poems are.

I invite you to reconsider this poem with these clues…perhaps it will help with this one.  I quite like it, but only time will tell us if it an unruly towhead that gains dignity, gravity and gusto as it grows…or if it is a juvenile delinquent that is hellbent to be the lovechild of Meatloaf and AC DC!!

 

Blessings, Charissa

 

and High Mountains. 

Always High Mountains beckon me…
years of riding their stringent intractable slopes,
dizzying switchbacks,
and punishingly friendly gradients….oh High Mountains!
Sweat and tears my offerings,
and fitness and expiation
the blessings They bestowed upon me. 

How I long to share with you these feasts,
deep and austere
On this Golden Gravid Spring Day

Creation’s Communion (without images, for flow visually as a poem)

and High Mountains. 

Always High Mountains beckon me…
years of riding their stringent intractable slopes,
dizzying switchbacks,
and punishingly friendly gradients….oh High Mountains!
Sweat and tears my offerings,
and fitness and expiation
the blessings They bestowed upon me. 

How I long to share with you these feasts,
deep and austere
On this Golden Gravid Spring Day

 

From Whirling to Spinning

She spins,
drawing down and deep
from her most secret treasure.
She carries with her silk,
gossamer strands and strategy
and patiently she makes
from who she is inside…
her one and only option.
And need.  Her One Desire.
She gets life, sustenance,
exists for transformation
and creation
of her web of life.tumblr_ldlhpe2nsW1qdnbr8o1_500And I watch, fascinated
by her patience,
her diligent patience,
her perseverance.
Mama, teach me
to take the traumas,
desires, longings,
emptinesses, hurts, wounds,
deposits and experiences,

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Teach me to yield
and let this whirling
confusion become spinning,
and spinning out of who I am,
that I might spin a web
to catch Your Sacred blessings
and life.

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The Appetite of Infancy (Reposting someone else’s great essay)

The Appetite of Infancy

I have never been so tired as I was when I stepped on that plane; neither have I been so happy for so many empty seats. I was dreaming of a two-hour nap before I even found my place. Of course, as is usually the case in situations like these, when one is intent on being anti-social and insistent on having earned the right to be so, I found myself not only with a companion, but with an animated, loquacious, first-time traveler.

The young woman beside me had been a child as she watched the events of September 11th unfold and had determined then never to travel by airplane; that is, until today, when events reared a need to break her own rule. She was terrified and excited and inquisitive all at once. She also noticed things I’m fairly certain I have never noticed in all my years of travel, commenting with elation, curiosity, or confusion on every single one of them. By the time we landed, I not only had a new friend, I was wide awake to the disheartening reality of all I fail to see around me.

It would seem that repetition has a way of lulling us to sleep; monotony a way of robbing us of sight, or else leaving us in the stupor of disinterest. Real life examples are readily available. How many news stories do we need to hear about violence or suffering, racial oppression or injustice, before we fail to hear them at all?

For that matter, how many stories about something small but positive do we really take in before we respond in boredom? How many times do we need to sit on an airplane or see the bird outside our window before the marvel of flight simply goes without notice? Like most adults, we learn to tolerate the repetitious by learning to operate on auto-pilot.

And yet, I am certain, even among the most skilled of auto-pilots, there was a time when we found ourselves, like every child, delighting in the monotonous, longing for another minute with grandpa, another page of the story, another trip down the slide. The incongruity is unmistakable.

How can our failure to see be blamed on monotony, unconscious living attributed to the repetitive, when at one point monotony and repetition were not only tolerated but invigorating? Blindness can easily be blamed on the world around us—and there is certainly reason to consider the daily effects of all that bombards our senses—but perhaps this is too easy an answer. Perhaps the scales on our eyes are multiplied not by the many repetitions in life, but by our failure to see life in the many repetitions around us.

Jesus spoke of the kingdom as belonging to the likes of little children, and many have speculated the child’s ability to see the world with wonder as one of the reasons for it. G.K. Chesterton saw the child’s ability to revel in the monotonous as another. The children’s cry for more, reasoned Chesterton, is a quality of the very God who created them.

“It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”(1)

For the child on the slide or the toddler with a story, “Do it again!” is far from a cry of boredom or routine, but a cry for more of life itself. This is likewise the joy of the psalmist, the cry of the prophets, and the call of Christ: “Consider the lilies, how they grow…if God so clothes the grass of the field…how much more will he clothe you?” (Luke 12:27-28).

Jesus asks the world to consider the kingdom around us like little children, and thus, something more like God—finding a presence in faithful recurrences, grace in repetition, an appetite for an incredible world in the ordinary one around us. Here, even those within the most taxing of life’s repetitions—the daily care of an aging parent, the constant burden on the shoulders of those who fight against injustice, the labor of hope in a difficult place—can find solace.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope,” said Jeremiah in the midst of deep lament. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning…’ The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’” (Lamentations 3:22-24, emphasis mine).

Morning by morning, the daily liturgy of new mercies comes with unapologetic repetition to all who will see it, the gift of a God who revels in the creation of yet another daisy, the encore of another sunset, the discovery of even one lost soul.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 65-66.