night

Gold Mine, These Are the Words I Managed to Save

During the fall months of 2008 and on into 2009, and on for a while, reality slipped away from me. Amid the avalanche of dissipating solidity descending into complete confusion and chaos of thought, I threw more than twenty years of writing, of work, into a cauldron of flames. Two file boxes of poems, stories, notes, one completed novel, and two poetry manuscripts, went into the fire. One of those manuscripts was for a book of poems titled “Winsome Vein”, that I thought was darker than anything I’d ever written, so much so that I was afraid of the direction my writing seemed to be taking. The truth is that I’ve always written darker words, as much as I’ve written hopeful ones. However, having filed that copyright on “Winsome Vein”, saved that work as I had set fire to all other copies. ( Some might say that was the right thing to do.)

Within days of having burned so much of my work, I experienced a moment of clarity, and panic. I became terrified that I might destroy more of my own work. I gathered the bits and pieces of what remained, jamming them together one after another in whatever way they seemed to make sense to me, along with other fragments that my mind had latched onto in the unraveling. Those salvaged bits became this book, “Gold Mine”. I filed my copyright on it as soon as it was finished, thinking that I was filing a copyright on a pile of scraps, of bits and pieces of salvage. I was trying to protect my work from my own want to destroy it. I later found an old notebook with many pages missing that I remembered rifling through one night in a fit of what I was thinking of as “editing”, as though all sentimentality and heart had taken leave of me along with my senses. The poems still intact in that notebook remain something of a godsend to me. I destroyed twenty years of work, of scraps, of notes, of stories, early rejection letters received when I was in my teens and twenties, journals, it all went, as I tried to deny myself, to say, “I am not this.” I looked at what remained and thought, These are the words I managed to save.

Coming out of that time I didn’t know if I would ever write anything again. For nearly two years, I didn’t. It is the only time in the last thirty-three years that I’ve ever ceased writing.

All my words are not always the best words, they are, however, the encapsulation of the moment in which they were written. The merit of a thing is sometimes the moment. I’ve learned as much from the bad poems and stories that I’ve written as I have from the good ones. Whether they are all worth publishing isn’t the point, they are all worth keeping and learning from.

I hadn’t looked at, read, much of this work since that time. In writing and editing this now, I’ve realized that I was leaving a message for myself for the future, for whenever I would get back to this. A message to not give up, not to quit. I found my guts again with this book.

I am a writer. ~  Teri Skultety, September 12, 2017, from “Gold Mine”.

Available on Amazon Kindle!

Paperback coming soon!

A Sampling from the seventy-eight pieces of poetry and prose that make-up, “Gold Mine”, now available on Amazon.

Map Maker

Night

Indian Summer

Let Them Eat Cake

Wolf

Beauty

Thrift

Fairy Wails

Longing for Autumn

Let It Ride

Dream Girl

This True Heart

Psalm

Unlimited

Time Machine

The Harvest

 

 

I hope you buy this collection of my salvaged scribbles, I hope you read it and enjoy it. I hope it rocks your socks.  Thank you so much for stopping by. Sincerely, Teri Skultety

It Is Still Beautiful. Chris Cornell.

Grunge is the music that my generation created, whether the label of “grunge” is one that was met with approval or acceptance or not. Passionately philosophically divested in many ways from the heavy metal and “pretty” hair bands and glam bands of the heyday of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” of previous generations, the “heavy” in “Grunge” was born not only of a complete love of music, but of an emotional intensity extracted from a dissatisfied, sometimes bored, sometimes angry, raw, emotion, that infested not only the musical content itself, but the lyrics, which range from the poignantly poetic, the depressed and angry, to the sarcastic and sardonic, to the socially aware. Drawing on influences from both the punk sound and the likes of Black Sabbath, Grunge was music that was, and is, awake. Grunge said that whatever propaganda it was that the world was selling, they weren’t buying it, because it “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

“People were wearing flannel here long before grunge came out. It’s cold here. It’s a cheap and effective clothing apparatus for living in the Northwest. I don’t even associate it with a fashion statement or lack thereof. Eddie Vedder did more for flannel than anybody.” ~ Tad Doyle, from Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yam

“I think it’s come to mean alternative (grunge) in a way. I saw a grunge compilation album with a picture of a flannel shirt on the cover, and only half the bands were from Seattle. Now it seems like that word embraces anything that’s popular. You can watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and most of the people in there are wearing their version of grunge fashion. They look like they’re from Seattle, yet it’s an R&B song. So grunge has become an easy marketing reference, a handle for people who aren’t particularly interested in listening to music or what the bands do.” ~ Chris Cornell, Interview Magazine, 1994

What I remember about the beginnings of the stirrings of grunge, as it filtered down from the Pacific Northwest, was that it was only being played on alternative radio, or college stations. I remember hearing something about “grunge” having some claim on flannel shirt wearing and thermals and thinking, “We wear those here too (when it’s cold), well, some of us.” And no one quite being tuned into the fact that what was happening was a huge shift in our culture, this was music that was counter-culture. This was music that cared so much that it couldn’t care anymore what anyone thought of it.  It was a generation rejecting a post 1980’s pretension that it couldn’t sink its teeth into as any kind of a viable reality, certainly not an affordable one, and what’s more, it didn’t want to. “Grunge” didn’t want to be labeled as anything other than music. It took the garage band to the warehouse and then on to the stadium. It wasn’t stoner-hippie music, it was “damn the man” music coming from my generation, a generation that wasn’t sure it was ready for that when only moments before we’d been tuned into Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., and Family Ties. Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” broke in 1991, and so did Soundgarden’s “Badmotofinger,” and the tribute album, “Temple of the Dog.” While Nirvana and Pearl Jam stormed the airways into the mainstream with big hits there was something different about the voice of Chris Cornell, from the very beginning. This wasn’t music that was just willing to be dark, this was music that had jumped headlong into the primordial muck to mosh and try to body-surf through the ages. Balls to the wall, Grunge was the ultimate trust-fall. The song that stuck with me, that still stays with me from that time, that I’ve many a night before dinner said/sung, “Well, it’s on the table…” is Temple of the Dog’s, “Hunger Strike.” Then there was “Outshined,” with heavy lines that sound like a dirge and then it melodically takes flight, “it gives me the butterflies…” and traverses the depths again just as quickly.

The soulful anguish, the raw ache, the depth of emotion of Chris Cornell’s voice is at the beginnings of a musical revolution. If Kurt Cobain burned out, and Eddie Vedder became, to some, something of a musical statesman, if Dave Grohl became the embodiment of no-nonsense getting up and getting on with it while still having a good time, Chris Cornell became the poet laureate of grunge. To say now that some of his lyrics are haunting is obvious and redundant, his lyrics and vocals were always haunting.

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“I’m not a lyric writer to make statements. What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colorful images. I think that’s more what music and entertainment should be.” ~ Chris Cornell

Is fifty-two years old, young? Is fifty-two years old, old?

Fifty-two years old is a person in my peer group, completely my generation. Chris Cornell had gotten sober. I’ve noticed lately that’s kind of a thing with my generation, if you’re of my generation and you partied as a teenager, or in your twenties, drank your way through your thirties, at some point in your forties, you run up against sobriety. In the 80’s we used to sometimes jokingly say, for one reason or another, “It was all the drugs I did in the 60’s.” even though, or because, that’s when we were born. Now, as middle-aged adults, we can say, “Well, it was the 80’s” and that passes as a cultural definition of excess. Grunge was the antidote for the 80’s, a coming of age emotional release, that for many of my generation has ultimately given way to sobriety becoming its own kind of rebellion. I think my generation fluctuates between, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and “This World Is Hard, Don’t Bullshit Me.” Does it ever turn out the way that any generation thinks that it will? I’m finding my peace through the acceptance of this world is hard, but it is still beautiful.

I’m upset about the death of Chris Cornell in a way that I can’t quite explain. I think that I’ve listened to “I am the Highway” about I don’t even know how many times now, I love that song. I’m looking at the world starkly, that’s what works for me, I’m not a puppies and kittens and rainbows kind of gal, I’m the other side of that coin, even though I am certainly a romantic. The world needs both, balance. But I’m thinking about that too, the world, and what are any of us doing here. Earlier today, I saw a news story about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is flattered by those who think he really should run for president, how “popular” an idea that is to some, and that he, The Rock, told GQ magazine that a bid for the White House is “A real possibility.” I don’t think that’s even the least bit funny or amusing. I thought it was deep down sad that that is where the mindset of anyone in this country is at, not that former actors haven’t taken up political office before, and not that I don’t like The Rock, as an actor, and hey, he might even be great at being president if that were to happen, but it’s this idea that celebrity, that “popularity,” rules the day. It’s boneheaded. I was thinking about how, in the same interview from 1994 where Chris Cornell talked about how you could watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and see a grunge fashion statement, Kim Thayil said that they had taken to avoiding wearing flannel in order to try to help distance themselves from what had become cliché, because it had become popular in the mainstream. What was the very antithesis of fashion, became fashion, and then the people for whom it was a usual mode of dress, they abandoned it, I was thinking how messed up that is. I was thinking that it’s awful that not even six months into the current administration the fighting between political parties has reached epic proportions and it is beyond pathetic to the point of being ludicrous. Everyone has an opinion, including me, and I thought, that’s it, this is it, the exact moment when I ceased to engage in political discourse, the moment when I heard that The Rock was seriously considering a run at the White House. I thought of the movie “Idiocracy” and of Flint, Michigan, and Brawndo, it’s popular, it’s what plants crave. Everyone seems to be feeling instead of THINKING. Has the world always been this crazy? Has the world always been this dumb? I think, it’s important to remember to find healthy ways to keep from feeling overwhelmed and to disengage from the din.

The last thing that I read about the death of Chris Cornell was that he may have taken an extra Ativan or two. ( Rolling Stone.) Ativan is used to treat anxiety. You never know what someone else is going through. Addiction is a big demon. You think, the guy had everything. But there’s no judging that, for anyone, what is everything? I think, am of a mind, to say, stick around, fight, see what happens, to hell with ’em! But there’s no judging that for anyone either. I don’t want to descend into a discourse on battling dark times, just, there’s no judging what it’s like for any other human who isn’t feeling great or well or thinking clearly. Reports of his last show in Detroit have been that something wasn’t quite right with him. I haven’t watched the concert footage and don’t know if I will. I thought about, wondered about, how far away do those guys get from where they started? How far away does anyone get from who they began as, if they get where they think they wanted to go? It seemed to me that Chris Cornell stayed pretty true.

I made up my mind not to watch anymore news today, I don’t know if I’ll watch any tomorrow either. Am I obligated to? Am I obligated to pay attention to the mess or to be a voice for anything? I straightened up my house, did laundry, made some food. I looked at a catalog, thought about ways to decorate, about how much I like flannel shirts and don’t give a flying fig if they’re fashionable or not, ever. I thought about the irony of the fact that the renaissance of coffee-house culture was spawned at the birth of grunge, the Seattle Sound, and how that gave way to the very corporate Starbucks, something that is the antithesis of everything grunge was about. Grunge, though, outgrew the label, the terminology, and grew into itself from those roots, the bands and musicians that emerged from that era, are the creators of the musical landscape of my generation. I gathered up some cd’s, made a plate of chicken and rice and sat down to write something about it all.

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Chris Cornell’s music has seen me through many a long night writing, and, providing that I have anything to say about it, it will see me through many more seasons to come. An important artistic voice of my generation, a musician, a poet, a soulful singing prince with an intense Jesus gaze and flowing locks, an originator and innovator, of not only musical change but of a cultural shift in awareness, Chris Cornell left us with many gifts, he will be missed. The world is a hard place, but it is still beautiful.

Carry on, my friends. Get up. Go on.

Teri

The Promise Lyrics

If I had nothing to my name
But photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
That is all I would ever need
As long as I can read
What’s written on your face
The strength that shines
Behind your eyes
The hope and light
That will never die

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As we’ve always done

And you said
“The poison in a kiss
Is the lie upon the lips”
Truer words were never shared
When I feel
Like lies are all I hear
I pull my memories near
The one thing they can’t take

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As you’ve always done

The books still open
on the table
The bells still ringing
in the air
The dreams still clinging
to the pillow
The songs still singing
in a prayer

Now my soul
Is stretching through the roots
To memories of you
Back through time and space
To carry home
the faces and the names
And these photographs of you
Rescued from the flames

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And dare to rise once more
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And fill the world with life
As we’ve always done

Quotes from Chris Cornell.

Real Myths

Real Myths.

Tall, dark, long and lean,
Arrows in the slipstream.
Super sonic, sub atomic,
Wet dream,
Cross that man and taste the mean.
Step outside,
You ain’t comin’ back in,
And you don’t mess around with Jim.

Sharp blade. Well-played.
The only reason that I stayed,
Until they rolled the credits.
Read between the edits.
Every kind of pie imagined,
Four and twenty birds gone in,
One Stark Raven came out again.
Black wings, red feathered underbelly,
And you don’t Mary Shelley.

Golden Goddess, record player,
Tried so hard but couldn’t slay her.
Pictogram and after math,
Meet you baby, after class.
Walking down the avenue,
I know who you wanna do,
Penthesilea, of Troy Donahue.
Dream with Scarlet,
Take the win,
And we never go hungry again.

7/9/2012

TS

This poem from 2012 is loaded with references to a Jim Croce song,  a nursery rhyme, the author of Frankenstein, a play on words and rhythm that is a reference to the movie “Grease” ( Troy Donahue, I know what you want to do), a reference to “Gone With the Wind.” I don’t always write poems like this, but when I do, I think they’re cool. Penthesilea is an Amazonian Queen.

I’m super busy at the moment, but I wanted to say this, as a writer, it is really important to know when to cut bait on something that your heart isn’t in, or that just isn’t going anywhere. I’ll have more to say about that at some point. ~ TS


 

I Couldn’t Resist.

I couldn’t resist. It had been too long without seeing him. Too many nights of pacing, wondering. And so there I was again, sitting in our booth, waiting, hoping.

Tempted by the twinkling neon as it beckoned and blinked, Always Open…Always Open…

The Starlight Deluxe…because it had been the only thing open that first night when we’d both been looking and longing, leaving the theater alone together at the same time, bumping into one another, “Oh, I’m sorry. Excuse me.” Dancing around one another trying to get around one another on the sidewalk. Walking in the same direction, laughing at that. Something then, exchanged in a look, recognized, known. “Do you want to get a cup of coffee? Tea? A milkshake? Pie?”

Laughing, anything other than a drink because a drink said something else, too much for just yet but, yes…

I never go to the movies this late at night alone, only, I’d really wanted to see that film and it was the last night.

“So, you like monster movies too?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call Renkatta Orishi’s films just monster movies. They’re classic horror with a distinctive neo-noir vibe.”

“Yeah, highly stylized. And the action sequences are so precise, so technically perfect.”

“The Grey Alabaster Sartainians was my favorite. I was so excited to see that one because what were Sartainians? They kept it such a secret. What were they going to turn out to be and then you think…”

“…Aliens, or ghosts, or subterraneans. That one was a great love story though.” He said.

“A romance.” I said.

We touched hands reaching for the ketchup at the same time, french fries, deluxe burgers.

It was ridiculous.

It was three a.m. before we knew it. It was six a.m. after that, in a room…not far.

It was an agonizing week of waiting to see if he would show up at the double feature, even though he’d called me at work in between like he said that he would. You never know, do you? I learned that. To take it as it happens and if it’s good, hope that it never ends. But you don’t know if they’ll call or call again or keep showing up, or if it will stay good. I used to wonder if that was why people got married, to end the wondering. If it was good for long enough then people would put all of their stuff in the same place together and at least you could be relatively certain that they’d come back for something, a favorite shirt, the ticket stubs they’d kept hidden away in an envelope from every concert they’d ever been too, something. I’m not being serious about that part, about love only being coming back for material possessions. But I’ve wondered if  some of it isn’t to end the wondering, to have that settled, and I guess I never realized how much that I don’t like uncertainty. Or perhaps how afraid I was of being hurt again. Though if you have that figured out, who you want to keep going back to, well then you’ve found your person, and people do come back for things, the intangible pieces of themselves that they share and invest.

He was there, again and again.

So was I.

And now…I was there again, sitting in our booth, watching the rain, having let go of the life that I’d known before him, and seemingly detached from any particular future because how could I plan?

He had asked me to keep something for him. By then I trusted him and had stopped wondering whether or not he would show up, or call. Two weeks later I was screaming and crying and laughing at myself at the same time. I’d fallen for it. I’d believed it all and let myself fall in love and, “Would you keep this package for me? You can’t ever open it. You have to promise me.”

I promised. When I didn’t hear from him I kept my promise because I didn’t want to be like him. I still didn’t want to be like him after a month, or after two, or now after five months without one word from him.

Now it was midnight at the Starlight Deluxe and I couldn’t think about anything other than him. I was pretty sure that I was being followed, a plain clothes detective, I think. I laughed at that too. Then I began to drift along with it, as though I were only a character in a story, my days and nights slipping away from me like the water sliding down the window, because that was easier than giving up on the hope that he had really loved me. That he really still did. Or that I’d see him at least once more, if only because he had to come back for that package.

 

Unlimited

Unlimited

You know what a woman wants? A badass son of a bitch who can make the trip and still treat her like the most precious being on the planet. A man who’s really a gentleman, even if sometimes she doesn’t act like much of a lady. She wants a proper rescue. She wants gallantry and chivalry and decency, chemistry and, understanding.

She wants a knowing look exchanged before you take her hand and jump together. She wants thunder storms and sunny weather. She wants you to remember her birthday with an obscure book mentioned once in passing. She wants you to give her a wild flower. She wants you to carry her if she cannot walk. She wants you to be there every time she falls and understand what it means every time she gets up. She wants you to grab hold of her hips, pull her up against you, look her in the eye and not lie, when you tell her she is everything. She wants a fortress in your arms. She wants a connection with you so strong that people take a step back when you exchange a glance, and gasp, when they see the two of you slow dancing together. She wants you to read her mind and respect her privacy, or at least, her illusion of it. She wants to be able to be quiet with you, and know, and believe. She wants fireworks. She wants sunsets and sunrises. She wants happy, naked, joyful dancing, and to feel like she is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. She wants you to push her on the swings and carry her into the waves and fall with her on the beach and kiss her until she can barely breathe, your hands moving over her rib cage, across her belly and down between her thighs. She wants to take your breath away with her smile. She wants you to notice the subtle change in her expression that escapes every other eye but tells you that she needs the reassuring squeeze of your hand, or that it’s time to leave the party. She wants to know that you know who she is so that when you touch her it becomes an expression of your appreciation of her. She wants you to make love to her. She wants you to fuck her. She wants your admiration and your awe. She wants you to look at her and say, “No one can hold a candle to that woman.”

She wants your praise, your encouragement, your faith and your belief, because if you believe in her, she can do great things. She wants you to know when she can’t make it on her own and she wants you to give her some help without making her feel like she’s a failure. She wants you to know how hard it is for her to ask for anything. She wants her name tattooed on your heart. When you say her name, she wants you to say it with a sense of possession and knowing and belonging. She wants you to put her first and she wants to never doubt it. She doesn’t want anyone else to ever doubt it either. She wants you to be able to fix the car, the sink, and hammer a nail straight like a real man, without complaint. She wants you to love her cooking and take her out to dinner. She wants you to be the one who measures up, never wants to let her down even if you sometimes do. She wants to inspire that want in you, because you inspire it in her.

She wants to be cherished. She wants a man who knows how fragile she is, and how strong. She wants a man who understands that “I love you” should never be used as a band-aid or an apology or an excuse or a manipulation or a last resort. She wants to know it her bones that your love for her is true. She wants you to forgive her. She wants you to be her salvation. She wants to be enough.

She wants something legendary, even if no one else ever knows the story.


From “Gold Mine”, now  available on Amazon!