Resilience and The Modern Woman

Mrs. Parker

I’ve Planted Roses

I’ve planted roses in my bones,
and left the ashes of those years,
in an urn mixed with tears,
lit on fire with my fears,
disintegrated, gone away,
I couldn’t live with them any longer,
I don’t know if it made me stronger,
holding on and out for hope,
I’ve planted roses in a kaleidoscope.
Revealed a thing I didn’t want to see,
I couldn’t escape it and now I’m free,
it’s what they say the truth will do,
not the kind they thought they knew,
a rainbow through the looking-glass,
in every color, shade, and hue,
I’ve planted roses for me, and you.
I’ve let my hip bones turn to wings,
I’ve let my heart remember things,
I thought would break my soul in two,
I’ve planted roses and now I’m through,
With the thorns she gave to me,
I’ve closed the window. Shut the door.
I can’t hear her anymore.
I found a love that lets me be,
I’ve planted roses in my bones,
in among the sticks and stones,
in the tall grass, among the weeds,
I’ve planted roses, I’ve planted seeds.

 

Teri Skultety, 7/1/18

Taking a Moment…

Carole Lombard, from the film “True Confession”, 1937, Paramount Pictures

I’m going to take a moment to enjoy the summer, reset my brain, take a look at what all I have in the hopper, consider and contemplate and dream…

Have wonderful days.

TS

Days in Dreams

I’ve spent these days in dreams of you
these Knights in search of what is true
let all the world forgive me this
I’ve spent lifetimes searching
for your kiss.

 

I’ve had a very strange afternoon, in the most welcome way. Someone, something, unexpected “woke” me up, reminded me… of me, of an idea and an ideal. Then I saw this quote on tumblr, attributed to anonymous, “The right love will strengthen you, scare you, and give you the courage to share what your heart has survived.” And I thought, conversely, the wrong love will scare you, weaken you, and make you want to shrink and hide. And that’s very true. There are a lot of incredibly lousy people in the world who really only live to try to control others in some way. The people who don’t want you to be yourself, or for you to even find out for yourself who you are, well, they, those people, don’t want you. Those who only want you to be what they want you to be, to be who they think you should be or remember you as, they don’t want you either. Those who seek to control you, because they don’t trust you or your love for them, or because they’re afraid or insecure about what you might become if you were allowed to grow into yourself, well that isn’t love either. Those who mock you, who seek to turn everything you do, or everything you are, into a joke or something to make light of, well, guess what, that isn’t love, or even friendship, either.( That also says something about who they are as people, about how they feel about themselves. But don’t pity them too much, they think that’s funny too, because they’re so cool. Which isn’t to say I don’t have a sense of humor, I’m not talking about people whom I actually consider to be friends joking around, though there aren’t many of those.) On that note I’ll say that real love, and real friendship, for that matter, I think, have to be built on a foundation of respect for one another, and treating each other accordingly. (Make no mistake, there are those who will take until there is nothing left for you, or of you.) Every now and then, we get this great blessing of a person who, somehow, is able to restore us to ourselves, to bring us back to square. Sometimes without even trying to, sometimes just by being themselves or doing what they’re doing regardless of us, sometimes such individuals know us better than we know ourselves. However it works is beside the point, such people are rare. The ones who seem to know exactly the right thing to say at exactly the right time, in the right way, when everyone else is getting everything wrong…all it takes is that one person to save the day sometimes, to get it right. So someone/something kind of did that for me today, whether that was the intention or not, and I’ll take it. I’m thankful and grateful for it.

TS

The Edges of the Rain

Some thoughts on current events in the world, I don’t know how other people deal with trauma, cope with reality, with being in the world. The doors to madness are too much reality, and not enough of it. The doors into madness are laced with too much philosophical contemplation about existence, not enough letting one’s self be. What that means is, each of us is finding our own way. I hope we can all do that with as much decency and kindness as possible.

Work continues on the sequel to The Slick Furies. It’s slower going than previous writes as I am plucking all the good bits from other beginnings of this novel. This book has a different tone, historical, a different degree of seriousness. Certainly there will be humor. I’m not in a rush with this write, it’s important to me to get my vision of this book, this story, onto the page as I’ve imagined it. As with any sequel, building on the first book’s history, characters, some of the emotional bonds are deeper. I feel like, think, The Slick Furies really had a sense of connection between the main characters. It’s important to me to make sure that carries on, that I capture that with this second book as well, though some of the dynamics have changed, and that’s what keeps stories like this interesting. These characters aren’t stagnate, they’ve been affected by the events of the story of their lives.

I’m about to begin proofreading, making corrections to, “The Edges of the Rain.” This is one of the novellas I wrote in 2011, rewrote earlier this year. It was easy to write, I wrote the original draft in two weeks. It was tougher after the fact when I read it and realized what I’d written. I’m hoping to release it this fall. This book is a psychological thriller, a nightmare of greed, a horror story of human nature, and all the ways we compartmentalize ourselves. I’m ready to get to publishing it, to be moving on to other things. So, there will be updates on this book as things progress.

 

Those two books should keep me busy for the remainder of the year. I haven’t been able to really write for a few days after crashing my bicycle, one of my better spills, jammed both wrists/hands, one side of my body is dinged up. It hurts to ride. It’s always something. I get up limping every day as is. But, if I give in to all the hurts and park it on the sofa indefinitely, then I’m done. So I do what I feel like I can, as I can. Living with the arthritis for as long as I have, it’s a balancing act of rest and motion, when possible. The last few days, not so much doing. I say that not in complaint, but as statement of fact and appreciation for those things I can do when I can do them. Something I’ve learned from this, is that in all our commonalities, the things we can empathize with another about, there’s very rarely any actual comparison one human to the next, what is the same about each of us is that we are individuals. Part of why I don’t ever compare what I can do ( or be) on any given day, or ever, to anyone else. ( At least, I try not to.)

Rest in peace, Margot Kidder, Ms. Lois Lane. A story about her from someone who knew her for a time was making the rounds, said she loved the wolves inhabiting the area around her Montana home and would regularly leave meat out for them. According to this chap, she said she hoped that when she died, her friends would find her, tell no one, put her on a bed-sheet and drag her up the mountain so she could be the last meal she gave to the wolves she loved. I don’t know if I’ll ever be quite that at peace with myself in this world, but that’s one of the coolest stories I’ve ever heard.

TS

Baudelaire, Metamorphosis of the Vampire

 

Metamorphosis of the Vampire, 1857
Charles Baudelaire
Translated by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Meanwhile from her red mouth the woman, in husky tones,
Twisting her body like a serpent upon hot stones
And straining her white breasts from their imprisonment,
Let fall these words, as potent as a heavy scent:
“My lips are moist and yielding, and I know the way
To keep the antique demon of remorse at bay.
All sorrows die upon my bosom. I can make
Old men laugh happily as children for make.
For him who sees me naked in my tresses, I
Replace the sun, the moon, and all the stars of the sky!
Believe me, learned sir, I am so deeply skilled
That when I wind a lover in my soft arms, and yield
My breasts like two ripe fruits for his devouring — both
Shy and voluptuous, insatiable and loath —
Upon this bed that groans and sighs luxuriously
Even the impotent angels would be damned for me!”

When she had drained me of my very marrow, and cold
And weak, I turned to give her one more kiss — behold,
There at my side was nothing but a hideous
Putrescent thing, ail faceless and exuding pus.
I closed my eyes and mercifully swooned till day:

And when I looked at morning for that beast of prey
Who seemed to have replenished her arteries from my own,
The wan, disjointed fragments of a skeleton
Wagged up and down in a lewd posture where she had lain,
Rattling with each convulsion like a weathervane
Or an old sign that creaks upon its bracket, right
Mournfully in the wind upon a winter’s night.

 

Le Vampire, 1857
Charles Baudelaire
Translated by Atti Viragh

You who, keen as a carving blade,
Into my plaintive heart has plunged,
You who, strong as a wild array
Of crazed and costumed cacodaemons,

Storming into my helpless soul
To make your bed and your domain;
— Tainted jade to whom I’m joined
Like a convict to his chain,

Like a gambler to his game,
Like a drunkard to his bottle,
Like maggot-worms to their cadaver,
Damn you, oh damn you I say!

I pleaded with the speedy sword
To win me back my liberty;
And finally, a desperate coward,
I turned to poison’s perfidy.

Alas, but poison and the sword
Had only scorn to offer me:
“You’re not worthy to be free
Of your wretched slavery,

You imbecile! — For if our means
Should release you from her reign,
You with your kisses would only breathe
New life into the vampire slain!”

 

You may read other translations of Baudelaire’s poems here, Les Fleurs du Mal.

 

Les Fleus du Mal, 1857, Charles Baudelaire, is the book of poetry I am secretly always looking for a vastly under priced first edition/early edition copy of, one with a beautifully embossed cover, in every scouring of every thrift or antique shop I enter. I have a paperback copy, Penguin Classics, containing the original verses in French, in addition to the English translations. I don’t know quite what it is about these verses that fascinates me so, as their lines do not seem to stay with me long after reading them, at least, not that I’m aware of. They are beautiful, horrible, poems. Influenced by the work of Edgar Allen Poe, Baudelaire was convicted on obscenity charges, for which he, the printer, and the publisher, were fined. Quite the interesting literary character, credited with coining the term “modernity,” about whom I am still educating myself. Interesting to me in this moment, however, as I am writing about vampires, are these two poems composed by Baudelaire about a vampire, that I’d read before however had not realized were written forty years prior to the publication of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” in 1897. Forty years is a lifetime when you consider that Baudelaire himself did not live beyond age forty-six… that we know of.

This has led me to a poem by Lord Byron, The Giaour, 1813, these lines are known as “The Vampire Passage”, said to be the first reference to vampire lore in English literature ( I’m learning some things) according to that site/link. ( I found a pdf copy of the complete poem, it’s fifty-one pages long. Later for that, eventually.)

“But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corse:
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.”

 

Quite frankly, I’m reminded of my own first scribbled poem (along with several other of my poems and not at all to compare myself to Lord Byron other than talking subject matter) when I’d no idea whatsoever who Lord Byron was, or knew anything at all about writing poems. I thought poems had to rhyme and when pressed to produce one for a school assignment, I figured all poems were depressing or had to be “lofty” somehow. (Yes, this is well covered territory.)

“A flower starts out very small,
Then it will grow to be very tall,
then it will reach down and die,
Upon the ground, there it lies.”

It wasn’t fifty-one pages, but it got the job done, got an “A” for that in 1977. I had no emotion about that poem whatsoever other than wanting to be finished with the thing and being glad that I was. Looking at it now, that third line is strange to me, as though a flower were not wilting, as though it were tired of all that stretching upward toward the light. It rhymed. However, in some way, perhaps everything was right there in that first poem, these recurring themes in my own work. Perhaps it was always going this way, writing about vampires, and such.

I used a quote from Lord Byron’s poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”, in The Slick Furies to begin Part Two of the book, “Among them, not of them, in a shroud.” Not because I was, or am, terribly familiar with that poem, but because I remembered that line, that quote as being something somewhat paraphrased or nearly so, from a scripture, “In the world, but not of it.”

I think, perhaps, what is of interest to me is the willingness of these writers to write such dark things at all. What is the light without the contrast? I feel at home with these discoveries, new to me.  I am fascinated. The work continues.

TS

 

 

Les Metomorphoses du Vampire
Charles Baudelaire

La femme cependant de sa bouche de fraise,
En se tordant ainsi qu’un serpent sur la braise,
Et pétrissant ses seins sur le fer de son buse,
Laissait couler ces mots tout imprégnés de musc:
— “Moi, j’ai la lèvre humide, et je sais la science
De perdre au fond d’un lit l’antique conscience.
Je sèche tous les pleurs sur mes seins triomphants
Et fais rire les vieux du rire des enfants.
Je remplace, pour qui me voit nue et sans voiles,
Le lune, le soleil, le ciel et les étoiles!
Je suis, mon cher savant, si docte aux voluptés,
Lorsque j’étouffe un homme en mes bras veloutés,
Ou lorsque j’abandonne aux morsures mon buste,
Timide et libertine, et fragile et robuste,
Que sur ces matelas qui se pâment d’émoi
Les Anges impuissants se damneraient pour moi!”

Quand elle eut de mes os sucé toute la moelle,
Et que languissamrnent je me tournai vers elle
Pour lui rendre un baiser d’amour, je ne vis plus
Qu’une outre aux flancs gluants, toute pleine de pus.’

Je fermai les deux yeux dans ma. froide épouvante,
Et, quand que les rouvris à la clarté vivante,
A mes côtés, au lieu du mannequin puissant
Qui semblait avoir fait provision de sang,
Tremblaient confusément des débris de squelette,
Qui d’eux-mmes rendaient le cri d’une girouette
Ou d’une enseiga’, au bout d’une tringle de fer,
Que balance le vent pendant les nuits d’hiver.

 

The New Covers

 

 

The new covers are completed. It will be a few days before all of these titles are once again available. I am still editing some of the stories in “GRAIN.” “The Slick Furies” is at the beginnings of an overhaul, and I’ve no idea when those edits will be completed. I’ve come down with a cold, am tired, and finishing the last two covers, for “Thelxiepeia” and “Red Line Wine,” brought me to tears. The original covers never met my expectations. I resolved myself to the thinking that it is the words that matter, and it is, but of course, honestly, I wanted the covers to look better. They were as good as the tools available to me, that I knew of, and what I had time for. I shall compare it to the early writers of hieroglyphics, to those crafting early cave drawings, discovering (creating) a paintbrush. The cover of “Thelxiepeia” took about four hours of meticulously layering elements, messing with filters, spacing, and colors. I have a copy of beautiful edition of “The Rubaiyat” by Omar Khayyam that I love the overall look of that served as the inspiration for the cover design of “Thelxiepeia.” I love beautiful, antique, books. I wanted the cover of “Thelxiepeia” to have a vintage feel. The cover of “Red Line Wine” is an old drawing I did when I finished writing that book in 1996. Obviously I’m not an artist, and yet the drawing, filled with so much symbolism from my youth, is a perfect cover for that book as it contains my beginnings as a writer. Really, I didn’t think it would work but sometimes things are just “right” and you know it. To be able to finally put “Red Line Wine” together this way, well, I’m still fighting the tears. It’s been a lot of years from those beginnings to now. I’m equally happy with the new back covers. My take away from this is don’t quit. I’ve done the best I could. I’ll keep doing the best I can at any given moment. I hope to keep learning, and to keep getting better at all this. I’m also inspired to get to work on the next book(s) and editing updates now knowing that I have these other creative tools available to me. Right now though, I think it’s time for some steaks, some movie watching, some tending to my aches. I can honestly say that I like these book covers that I’ve created, and  couple of them, I love.

Teri Skultety

 

The Zombies, She’s Not There

If you’re looking for me on facebook, I am not there.

I took my leave of it a couple of days ago. I will say this, it’s a kind of odd… feeling? I was a participant on facebook for seven years, that’s quite a chunk of time to be engaged in such timesuckage. I won’t discuss precisely what my habit was in terms of my social media usage, however, as with any habit, when you give it up “cold turkey” there’s something of an empty space where the habit was. There was a little bit of a feeling of free-falling for half a day, however, it passed quickly enough. Suffice it to say, it was the right decision for me. I do not regret deleting my facebook page. It is highly unlikely I will return to that particular social network. I will also say that if you use facebook and you are enjoying your use of it, well then good for you. I mean that sincerely. I figure we’re all finding our own way around in this here world, to each their own.

In other happenings, the editing/correcting of previous work continues. Let that be a lesson to me to proofread better. (It isn’t terribly exciting as a topic of conversation either but, there again, let that be a lesson to me to proofread better.) I’ve decided I will no longer publish poetry collections on Kindle. The formatting of poetry is different from novels/stories. I don’t like the way it looks on Kindle no matter how I’ve adjusted it. Editing poetry is particularly tedious as is. I gave it the old college try, as they say. I prefer to publish the poetry in paperback form. So shall it be. I will continue to publish my fiction, novels, novellas, stories, etc., in both paperback and on Kindle.

Something has changed. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I don’t know that I’d explain it if I could. I find myself wanting to say something about the things that make us happy, the ways in which we all find our ways of being in the world, but it seems to me in this moment, better not to break the spell of any such thing with too much deciphering. Perhaps that is some of it, that with eyes wide open, or “woke,” if you prefer, one realizes that awareness is a personal matter of which there may be no such thing as “fully aware” in that isn’t there always something somewhere one doesn’t know or isn’t aware of? Certainly. So it seems to the open eyes that the demystification of the world, is, in some regard, overrated. On the contrary, however, one may then engage in the making of at least marginally informed choices. One might make the comparison between drinking ( intoxicants) because one doesn’t know any better, and drinking because one does. ( I remain sober.) Or, if one were to wear “rose-colored glasses” as a matter of choice, rather than unaware oblivion, or naiveté, or frivolity. (Not that I just woke up, not hardly.) As I said, I can’t quite put my finger on it.

So pleased, excited, to have so many stories, books, to write, so much to do. On I go.

TS

Be In Love With Your Life

I took about a two-week break from working on anything at all writing wise and that was about as much of a break from writing as I could manage. As for what I’m working on, the thing about that is that it doesn’t matter, until the work is completed. There are many things that I want to write, hope to write, and some of those things are more difficult to write or will be, than others. If you’ve ever actually completed the writing of a book, then you know first hand that it’s easier said than done. I think, I hope, I’ve finally learned to stop spouting about what the next project is because the truth about that is, there are some things that I want to write that I don’t know if I can write them. I don’t know if I have the skills to write what I want to write to the fulfillment of my ambitions about whatever it is. There are some things I want to write that now, having written a few books, I understand exactly how much work is involved. I don’t want to talk those things into the ground, and be all hat, no cattle.

Taking a break, for a minute, gave me a moment to think about what it is that I want to be doing. For me, there’s always a moment of, “I wonder if I can write this _______.” And then challenging myself to. In that, there are also moments when I’ve looked at something I’ve written and realized what it could have been, what it could be, the potential beyond what it was at the moment of creation and that’s always a pull to get back into something, to try to meet the challenge of one’s own vision. I find myself less interested in talking about the process of it all, or that, perhaps, the process is less interesting to me. I think, I hope, I’ve finally learned to let go of self-judgement with regard to my writing. There are some who never struggle with that, with accepting themselves as writers and what that ultimately means for them. Would you write if no one in the world cared anything about it other than you? I would. And I would write without placing any limits on my writing other than those dictated by what it is that I find to be interesting, what it is that I want to do. I don’t know if I will release another book this year.

I’m always writing poetry. I wrote this one today…I don’t know what the title of it is yet It might be “Falling In Love With My Mid-Life Crisis” or “The Last Time I Fell In Love When My Hair Was Turning Grey” or “I Remember the Last Time I Fell In Love When My Hair Was Turning Grey”… I think that’s the one.

 

I Remember the Last Time I Fell In Love, When My Hair Was Turning Grey

I am too old to have been this naïve.
But then, I’ll always remember this time.
Some days, I have the most beautiful heart,
and the most brilliant mind.

 

I love the complexity in the simplicity of this poem, it’s the old adage of “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” ( Alfred Lord Tennyson), bittersweet, coupled with the implication of “Some days” implying that “other days” I’ve been neither beautiful nor brilliant, some days I’ve been perfectly foolish, to say the least. I’ve fallen in love with writing again, and I’d just about fallen out of it! I’ve been thinking about that a lot, love, in general. They used to say that before a person could, or can, really understand and accept love from someone, they’ve got to learn to love themselves. I think a person has to learn to like themselves first, to know that it’s good and fine and okay to like yourself, and go from there. That means learning to appreciate one’s own imperfections, one’s flaws, and folly. Perspective, and other ten-dollar words.

“Be in love with your life, every minute of it.” ~ Jack Kerouac

 

Teri