Solitude

An Essay About Being and Becoming a Poetess

Late last night I finished work on another collection of poems, “Thelxiepeia.” This group of poems started out with a different title. When I began editing I knew that many of the poems would not make the final cut. They seemed parts of two books jammed together in a way that didn’t fit and so I opted for a cohesive finished selection and a new title. Thelxiepeia, in Greek mythology, is one of the Sirens, creatures whose seductive songs and music lured sailors to crash their ships. Sirens were often represented as being part woman and part bird. How I happened upon this story of Thelxiepeia was that I was watching an old movie called “Xanadu”, in which a muse, Kira, whose real name is Terpsichore, the muse of the dance, emerges from a mural, and falls in love with a mortal. There are fantastic musical numbers, Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, with music by Cliff Richard, The Tubes, and ELO. I’ve mentioned this movie before as it has most everything in it that an adolescent girl in 1981, one seeking some escape from excruciating pain, could require of a movie. I still think it’s a beautiful film, though from a completely different point of view this many years gone now. In watching it again I thought to look up the names of the Nine Muses of Olympus, one of whom is portrayed, though it isn’t a speaking part, by Sandahl Bergman, who is better known for her roles in “Conan the Barbarian”, “All That Jazz”, and “Red Sonja.” This led to looking up the names of the Sirens, and the writing of the poem, “Thelxiepeia.” Thematically overall, the collection has to do with the subject of muses and myths, with the stories we tell ourselves so that we can find a way to tell our stories, and those things that help us along the way in that.

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The Muses, “Xanadu”, 1980

 

In writing these poems, in watching “Xanadu” whenever it was, these poems were written several years ago, and remembering again that time of my life, I understood again how it is that I became a poetess, a writer, and how much of that, for me, relates to, or has or is entrenched in, films and music in someway. In 1981 I turned thirteen years old. Over the course of exactly one months time, I went from being a normal, healthy kid, to being emaciated and barely able to get out of bed. Five foot eight, at that time, my weight dropped to ninety-six pounds at one point. I couldn’t go to school, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t not sleep, and after months of weeks of grueling visits to doctors, specialists, hospitals, they couldn’t find anything specifically wrong with me that they could diagnose as anything other than Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, since re-diagnosed as an adult as Still’s Disease, which is similar to Lupus. That’s back story, it took a year to recover enough, to be well enough again, to really return to school. Point being that I really couldn’t do much of anything other than watch television during most of that time. I didn’t have the ability to concentrate or focus enough to read books during that time as I was in too much pain, though I’d been an avid reader up to then. Being as I couldn’t really do much of anything else during that time other than watch television, many of the usual restrictions on what I was allowed to watch, were lifted. Nineteen-eighty and eighty-one weren’t bad years for film, though my viewing was limited to whatever cable movie channel it was that we had or whatever was making its “Network Television Premier” and that was usually about a year behind whatever was in the theaters. I’ve spoken before about watching the film “Altered States” and feeling a strange understanding of the transformation of the main character while wondering why in the world anyone would willing put themselves through what he does. ( It’s like “Jaws” in that you find yourself just wanting him to get out of the water.) Along those lines I also watched the other werewolf movies of the day, “An American Werewolf in London” and “Wolfen” and the like. The feeling that I had sometimes was very much that I didn’t want to be that, and that I was nonetheless turning into some inexplicable creature and the world was turning into a strange place that didn’t understand me, anymore than I could understand it.

Most of the time, I couldn’t hold a pen or a pencil, couldn’t do schoolwork, wore Ace bandages and wrist braces and homemade splints. I was in so much pain so constantly, the world slips away when it’s like that, for anyone experiencing anything like that I would guess. The way that everyone else keeps time is meaningless and useless and of no importance. On the better days, I’d wish I was at school, I’d think about all I was missing out on, dances, friends, boyfriends, classes I liked. I couldn’t ride my bicycle or play sports anymore and I’d always been the kid that was outside from sunup until dark, though really it was beyond wallowing. Whatever the future was going to hold for me was forever changed. My mother said, “You know, you could still write. You could try writing poems again.” I’d written poems in grade school, and for school, though I hadn’t considered “writer” or “poetess” as a job option outside of possibly being a journalist, a newswoman. And I thought, “I can’t even hold a pencil.” But she got a couple of small notebooks for me and I remember writing what I still consider to be my first serious poem, titled simply, “Alone”, while I was sitting in bed watching the film, “Private Benjamin.” That movie is a comedy, containing one of my all time favorite movie line exchanges.

“Aunt Kissy: I hope my coat’s gonna be good enough. I had no idea it was gonna be so chilly.

Harriet Benjamin: It’s November here, Kissy.

Teddy Benjamin: It’s November everywhere, genius.”

But the film is ultimately about Judy Benjamin finding her sense of self, and the strength to be her own person, there was something in that that spoke to me beyond the ribald, raunchy, comedy, because in that place, the funniest thing in the world, isn’t quite so funny. In that place of so much pain, the funniest thing in the world seems illogical, senseless, and idiotic, I guess one way to put it would be like how the food fight in the film “Animal House” (1978), might not make you laugh if you’re not from a first world country where even waste is taken for granted, and what I was looking for were things that were hopeful in some way, or strong, resilient. It also may be that it was during that time that any remaining sense of humor I had, took a sardonic, somewhat self-deprecating, turn. I looked at the poem that I’d scribbled in the little notebook and that was the beginning, and I hope I never forget that moment. Additionally, it’s become evident to me that my brain might be hardwired for rhyme to some degree, and some of that comes from listening to music and song lyrics all my life. ( My father was a musician, both my parents could sing, there was live music in the house for much of my youth.) Eventually I was allowed to use my mother’s electric typewriter sometimes, when my hands were very swollen, as I could often still move my fingers on the keys for a while even if I couldn’t move my wrists or my hands, however much it hurt. I was a writer before that, but after that, I knew that I was, whether I’d claimed it or it had claimed me, and that was that. I’ve since tried not to be a writer a couple of times and that doesn’t ever work out. I used to say that my writing was my “human’s compensation,” like … yeah there’s all of whatever else there is, but then there’s my writing. God willing I’ll be able to keep writing and writing and writing. Human beings are resilient, and strong, courageous.

Finishing this collection of poems, and it isn’t quite as long as some of the others at only fifty-four pages, I could go right into editing another collection of poems but I found that I didn’t want to, I found myself wanting to work on some kind of story again, some fiction. Though really I am taking some time to organize and edit and clear the decks for the end of the year, hopefully do some fun things, spend some time with family. 2017 has gone quickly, hasn’t it? The last several years for me, I’ve realized, have been about finding myself as a writer again, finding my groove with it all, finding balance and self acceptance, allowing myself to be this and to honor it and the gift of it, to appreciate, and accept, and let be, my own muses. “Thelxiepeia”, I think, speaks very much to all of that. I hope to release it sometime next year, in early spring. I’m so grateful for this gift of being able to write, and I do consider it to be a gift. We all find inspiration or ideas in a lot of different things, people, places, it’s important to honor your muse(s), one of mine led me to Thelxiepeia. I’m uncertain in this moment if these poems were a farewell to the girl that I was or an homage, I feel like I can write about her, but I can’t ever again be her. I’m not sad about that, only grateful for having had the chance to be that girl, and to be looking now to the future as this woman. Becoming is ever ongoing.

 

Teri

 

Thelxiepeia

 

great song from the film “Xanadu.”

In The Lingering of November

Almost December,
I wonder what it will bring with it,
however much I try not to.
I think about the things we think
we always wanted,
the ones we got,
and the ones that got away,
in the middle of the day,
in the glaring light of dawn,
in the fading twilight,
in the moonlight
in the dark night,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
starlight, star bright, oh…
it’s alright, alright.
I think about the graceless wandering
of insomnia that sticks,
that catches,
that tugs at the mind or the soul or the heart,
to walk it around turning on lights,
drinking water, making chamomile tea,
looking for something on tv, trying to read,
seeking comfort when the quiet is too loud,
wound up like a knot that no one can undo, only me,
only you, only time will release it, only letting go,
until the first yawn,
until the tension is gone,
for a moment long enough for sleep to slip
back in,
that we might dream again,
and find therein
whatever longing has eluded our waking,
in the lingering
of November.

TS   11/29/17

Can You Hear the Quiet?

source

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about the world lately.

Can you hear the quiet?

This serious thinking isn’t a new thing for me. This bout of thinking began with the drug induced suicide of a rock star. I’m referring to it as drug induced because we’ll never really know and the fact is that those kinds of drugs can cause those kinds of thoughts, so, I think, in this case, give it the benefit of the doubt. Still though, I couldn’t figure out what it was about it that bothered me so much, I mean, I didn’t know Chris Cornell personally. I realized that it was that it felt like something of a betrayal, not that he owed any of us anything. But it felt like he was fifty-two years old and he had everything, he’d made it through when many of his contemporaries hadn’t, and, how dare he bail out, this icon of my generation. But then, remembering, it was probably the drugs. Then Powers Boothe died, but, he died in his sleep at sixty-eight years old and the general consensus seemed to be, “Good show!” Then a bomb went off at a concert, where kids where watching a former Nickelodeon star turned pop-princess perform, the bomb killed twenty-two people, the youngest victim of the Manchester Attack was eight years old. Then Greg Allman died. Then it was June. This week the President of the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and everyone lost their nut over it. If you’ve not read the agreement or anything about it and you’re interested in having an informed opinion, you should read it, and try to understand what it says and means, that’s my advice on having an opinion, take the time to educate yourself to figure what you actually think about whatever it is. At this point in the proceedings the internet became incredibly noisy.

Can you hear the quiet?

I got to thinking about some things, I’d been thinking about some things anyway.

Everyone is talking. No one is listening. Everyone has an opinion. Despite that, the first thing that I saw when I logged onto facebook was a post that read, “FUCK NO. Not again.” I haven’t read all the details of the latest incident in London. I’d gone out, to get some air, to get some quiet. To think. Despite my having gone out, and despite my sharing my thoughts on any number of things in the last day or so, this latest attack in London still occurred. Despite the multitude of opinions and thoughts offered up by everyone about everything, these things still happened, and they still happen.

tornado gif

Can you hear the quiet?

I know that venting and opinionating and ranting and all of that, can be a great stress reliever. You read this stuff, you hear about it, you’ve got something to say because it’s getting to you or everyone, you’ve been sitting in traffic for too long, or dealing with rude people or you feel helpless and powerless and it seems like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and enough already! ENOUGH! The internet gets very loud with people saying, in their own ways, “Enough.” I understand that. I do. I’ve been sucked into that storm many times. It can make it tough to hear yourself think.

Are you free?

Are you a free person, a person who enjoys freedom? Is your mind free, have you freed your mind?

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i before e except after c. i didn’t make this one. but, still…

What does that even mean?

I was thinking about the Terracotta Warriors, also known as The Terracotta Army. Qin Shi Huang ascended the throne at the age of thirteen and would become the first Emperor of China. The Terracotta Warriors are life-size sculptures depicting his army, his whole army. Each one is different, they were not cast from a single mold. They were buried with him, along with many treasures, in order to protect him in the afterlife. Qin Shi Huang believed that “Yes, you can take it with you” and he believed it, they believed it, so completely that he replicated his entire army in these terracotta statues, more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses, cavalry horses, as well as many other figures and statues. The scope of it is truly stunning, completely breathtaking, to contemplate.

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stock photo, internet

Here’s a link. And on Wikipedia.

My fascination with this subject isn’t new. I happen to have a Terracotta Warrior of my very own. I should name him. I’ll think about that.

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What I got to thinking was about how Qin Shi Huang had the full conviction of his beliefs, or, did he have his army replicated you know, just in case? What about Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, all the treasures sealed in their tombs?

Different people, peoples, believe all different sorts of things.

This got me thinking about the Ganges River. Do you know about the Ganges River? The Ganges River is sacred to Hindus, present day. Hindus believe that having at least their ashes thrown in the Ganges will end the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, allowing them to attain eternal liberation of the soul. Many unburned remains find their way into the Ganges, that is, the recently deceased are regularly, ritually, thrown into the Ganges. It is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. You can read about this, and you would look at it, and you would think that the solution, to begin with, seems simple. But, they believe what they believe, completely. The Most Polluted Rivers In the World.

Don’t litter.

Some believe that there is probably life on other planets.

This is where I’m not saying what I think about “science” that goes tripping off to Mars while we’ve got all kinds of problems right here on Earth.

Does me knowing about any of this, Does me getting stressed out about any of these things, does it do any good? Does one more voice added to the din do anything other than raise the level of noise pollution? The other day I took one of those just for fun quizzes about “What’s your purpose in life?” and it said that my purpose is to achieve world peace. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, probably, that isn’t “really” my gig in life, and that the quiz came up with that answer based on information gleaned from my having shared a picture of Sandra Bullock as “Miss Congeniality” with the caption “And world peace.” Isn’t it enough to just take care of our own families, our own jobs, houses, cars, lives? ( Don’t litter.)

Can you hear the quiet?

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So there’s this story about this woman, about her whole family, and how they went into the Siberian Wilderness during Stalin’s reign, and how at 71 years old, she has lived in the wilderness all of her life. The world has gone on, but, her lack of knowledge about what has gone on in the world hasn’t prevented her from living, that’s her reality. You can read that here.

Well, you’ve got to be informed. You’ve got to know what’s going on in the world! You’ve got to CARE! How can you can not care!

Are you free? There are a lot of people in the world who don’t pay any attention to any of the societal uproars and they’re just fine, people who never watch the news, they look outside if they want to know what the weather’s like, live their lives disengaged from the din. I think, in some ways, the internet is a kind of a modern Tower of Babel, and certainly, babble. You’ve got all these people from everywhere in the world able to connect and translate, using their computers, everything into one language, whatever their language is, that makes it all one language, able to read about and know, instantaneously in real-time, right now, if there is a high-speed car chase happening on the other coast, three thousand miles away. News of something that affects them not one bit, something that they can do nothing about, but that the knowledge of adds to, perhaps, depending on how they’re wired, their overall stress and anxiety level. The internet takes us out of the reality of where we are in our own actual present, and takes us into the reality of the world, the internet can make it feel like something that happened on the other side of the world, happened across the street. What that does is, as it affects people, it changes the way that people then go out into the world wherever they are. People are taking that stress from those faraway events into their own lives and then regurgitating it back out into the world, perpetuating stress and discord.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s all the bullshit about the Paris Agreement! And some ass-hat celebrity decided to voice another opinion that I don’t agree with!” She said, as she threw her aluminum can into the trash.

Can you hear the quiet?

I’ve made a decision not to watch the news anymore. I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid the infighting that’s going on, whether it’s the Right calling the Left “snowflakes” or the other way around, or just the seemingly endless reposting of “he said this and then…she said this!” it is all fueling the fire, adding to the noise, raising the overall stress level, and exacerbating the strife, except for those who thrive on it and those releasing their own stress ranting, but really, it isn’t doing much of anything else. Is it fake news? On which channel? I’ve made a decision to disengage from the divide and conquer propaganda permeating the world these days. I’m sure I can find something better to do, and be happier doing it.

Also, for anyone who thinks that a person can’t create viable, relevant work or art if they are “out of touch”, disengaged from the noise, and/or so on, I’m just going to say google up famous recluses and you’ll find many a list of some folks who did all right going their own way and thinking for themselves. I’m not saying I’m a recluse, just not interested in the bullshit, nor in the misconception that it is necessary to the creation of viable art.

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Many, many, years ago, I lived in the desert. Now, this isn’t about the desert itself, and that is very much part of the point, though the desert, at that time, was the conduit for this experience and learning. The population where I was at, at that time, was about 1,200 people, spread out over a pretty wide area. There was no cable t.v. A few people had satellite dishes and this was back when that meant the huge satellite dish installed at ground level next to the house. You could get bad reception on one or two channels if you had a decent antenna, generally speaking, it wasn’t worth the trouble. During that eighteen months, the only television that I watched was, when it was airing, during the season, a weekly half-hour comedy show, at someone else’s house, and their reception was equally bad. Never watched the news, I don’t recall the television ever really being on. Trying to get a radio station to tune was an equally sketchy endeavor, though sometimes, late at night, I could get KLOS out of Los Angeles to tune in for a couple of hours. I used to borrow my brother’s cassette player, at length, to listen to tapes. We, I, had no idea what was going on in the rest of the world, no idea at all. If they’d dropped the bomb, we would have seen the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else everywhere else who had watched the news every night and spent every day all stressed out about something that they would have ultimately as much control over and foreknowledge of, as someone who hadn’t been paying attention at all.

What I was thinking was how quiet and peaceful that time was, in general. I thought, well, yeah, but there weren’t a lot of people out there in the desert. While that’s some of it, that isn’t the kind of quiet I’m talking about. There was an absence of external influence from the media, from popular culture, from society. What you find, also, is that you still manage to hear about the bigger things that go on in the world, through the periphery. It creates a peaceful mind, and a feeling of being very present in one’s surroundings. Is that “out of touch” with reality? Whose reality? I’m free not to watch the news. I’m free to disengage. You, ostensibly, can turn off the television anywhere, disengage from the “noise” wherever you are. I think that’s part of the problem with the world right now, we’re not, as individuals, obligated to take all that in. We’re not obligated to participate in the noise, especially if it does not serve us well. Some people thrive on it all. There’s that aphorism that says to take care of yourself, to nurture and feed your own soul, because what can you give if you haven’t taken care of you? How much more peaceful would the world be, if each person were at peace with themselves? I was thinking about that, at some point isn’t all the… social commentary, just someone else telling me how they think I should live MY life? (How many average people have it together enough that they should be telling anyone else – unasked- what to do or be or how to live?)(Personally, I’ve no use for the continuous spewing and promoting of the vitriol. In fact, I’ve had it with it. I’m going to quietly choose not to engage in it, whilst also dissociating myself from it and those who chose to engage in it because it is a choice. I’m not going to bother telling anyone how to behave, not my job. I’m saying this is what I’m doing. Each of us gets emotional on occasion, we all get defensive from time to time, making a habit of it makes that who you are. What’s that old saying? You never look good trying to make someone else look bad.)

I don’t know, but I can begin with me. If someone drops the bomb, I’m sure I’ll still see the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else. In the meantime, I’ll be happier, and that’s at least one person that I can improve the quality of life for. ( Really, don’t fucking litter.)

Teri

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i before e except after c.

Internet User Stats.

About 4 billion people in the world are NOT online and do not have internet access. Current world population estimated at 7.5 billion people. Between 600 million and 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water.

Man mows his lawn as a tornado looms in the background, really. Because you can’t control the weather, but you can mow your lawn.

Quotes from Joan Didion.

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live. To see enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some day when I am only going through the motions and doing what I am supposed to do which is write, on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there.” ~ Joan Didion, from The White Album

“Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”  ~ Joan Didion, from The Year of Magical Thinking

From Slouching Toward Bethlehem

“The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others — who are, after all, deceived easily enough; has nothing to do with reputation, which, as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara, is something people with courage can do without.
To do without self-respect, on the other hand, is to be an unwilling audience of one to an interminable documentary that deals with one’s failings, both real and imagined, with fresh footage spliced in for every screening. There’s the glass you broke in anger, there’s the hurt on X’s face; watch now, this next scene, the night Y came back from Houston, see how you muff this one. To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, the Phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commissions and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice, or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.
[…]
[C]haracter — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs.
Self-respect is something that our grandparents, whether or not they had it, knew all about. They had instilled in them, young, a certain discipline, the sense that one lives by doing things one does not particularly want to do, by putting fears and doubts to one side, by weighing immediate comforts against the possibility of larger, even intangible, comforts.
[…]
[S]elf-respect is a discipline, a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained, coaxed forth. It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one’s head in a Food Fair bag. There is a similar case for all the small disciplines, unimportant in themselves; imagine maintaining any kind of swoon, commiserative or carnal, in a cold shower.
[…]
To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us, so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses. On the other, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out — since our self-image is untenable — their false notion of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give. Of course I will play Francesca to your Paolo, Helen Keller to anyone’s Annie Sullivan; no expectation is too misplaced, no role too ludicrous. At the mercy of those we cannot but hold in contempt, we play roles doomed to failure before they are begun, each defeat generating fresh despair at the urgency of divining and meting the next demand made upon us.
It is the phenomenon sometimes called ‘alienation from self.’ In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.”  ~ Joan Didion

Finding My Niche in the Beautiful World.

 

A question of direction.

Lately I’ve realized that the last few years the main focus of my writing has been something of an untoward wrestling match trying to come to some kind of terms with it. There have many discussions about “voice.” I’ve bristled at the idea of being “pigeon-holed” and in that have tried repeatedly to find something thematically that would cover all of the bases, so to speak, so that if you arrived here there would be sort of something for everyone ideologically and I would feel the wonderful limitlessness of…everything.

However, as things have progressed and continued on there have been recurrent questions and “situations” that have continued to reveal themselves to me and finally, I thought, I need to take a look at those things and that, address it for myself once and for all. There is no judgment of anyone or anything else in this as what we are talking about are matters of personal taste and preference and that is all.

A couple of things, a few things, kept happening in the natural course of things and those things were that my feelings kept getting hurt or I found that I often times was offended by or didn’t appreciate certain social situations. It took a while to realize that there were certain situations that kept revealing themselves, very often in that was the idea of “ladies” and “gentlemen.” Reading the things that I had written about my own personal preferences in life, I became aware of how often I expressed a distaste for crudeness. Going out of my way at one point to make the point that my opinion, and knowing that it is only that, my opinion, is that anyone can easily master those four letter words and express things in that way. It isn’t that there is anything wrong with that, not at all, it is simply that it is not to my taste for matters of public conversation, particularly in mixed company. I realized that while I’m certainly no stranger to profanity, not at all, smiling here, I prefer to save those words within my work and the worlds of public expression for where they will have an impact, are congruous to the story and not gratuitous, believing in a sense of decorum, a time and a place. My feeling being that if a woman, a person, says the f-word all the time then it loses its meaning and impact. The same can be said for the use of it in one’s work. However, there are pieces of writing, and pieces or work, for which such crudeness is most certainly necessary, though one must keep in mind that writers of fiction are not necessarily what they write. I would urge the reader to familiarize themselves with the definitions of the words “fiction” and “imagination.” I began to realize that I prefer, that is that my personal preference is, a more subtle, nuanced, and perhaps genteel, palette.

I had thought, for a time, that, well, there are of these areas of my life that I could “mine” so to speak, and this is true of every writer in some regard, though inspiration isn’t the finished product. So perhaps you got the idea for a story from the time you went skateboarding in a neighbors empty pool when you were in junior high, but the story then takes off from there until it has nothing to do with the reality it sprang from at all. This word “authenticity” kept coming up, a word that I’ve decided is largely the tool of those who have some need to find a way into manipulating others into wasting a lot of time “proving” themselves about whatever all it is. You know, like someone trying to goad you by calling you “chicken” or “fake.” But in that I realized, well what difference does any of that make if what we are talking about is fiction? Fantasy, imagination, and making up stories? And who is it that is so worthy that I need bare all with regard to…anything? That’s kind of presumptuous, isn’t it? I know who I am, and writing about my so-called “past” or my ancestry or whatever else all day long isn’t going to alter what I already know and it isn’t going to prove anything to those who want to doubt. Am I legit? Have I got cred? Can I prove it? Frankly, that simply makes me feel as though I need some soap. But then if we read that Anne Rice was born in Louisiana and lived in San Francisco does it add something to her writing of vampire fiction, does it read slightly more believable to us, Gothicly speaking? Somehow, does it have more of an air of authenticity? Perhaps. Perhaps it is a harder sell if you’re writing stories about the South or the West or wherever, if you’ve never been there and so on. But, no one has ever set foot on Mars, and there are plenty of stories about that. The conclusion that I’ve ultimately arrived at with regards to that, is that the proof is in the pudding. In other words, the work itself should convey that believability and what is the point of writing fiction if you think that you’ve got to have some kind of real world authenticity to back it up? A writer can either write a particular thing or they can’t.

Lately I’ve heard myself uttering the phrase “finding my niche” with regard to my work. As I’ve ventured here and there I’ve taken a look at what I’ve found myself attracted to and what I’ve found myself shrinking away from. Again within that there’s been much talk about “comfort zones,” something else that I have come to realize is sometimes a manipulation of those who want to get something from you or get you to go somewhere that you either aren’t ready to go or simply have no interest in going. Owing to the fact that I’m hardly a little girl, suffice it to say that in my time I’ve been around the proverbial block. I’ve been not a little upset with myself a time or two for “falling” for certain things however that too has ultimately increased my learning and understanding. These are matters of personal preference and taste and that is all.

So the back and forth between not wanting to be or feel as though I had been pigeon-holed, and not wanting to pigeon-hole myself, and finding my niche has been nothing less than an epic interpersonal wrangling that I’d just as soon not repeat. I didn’t want to let go of anything, as it were, I wanted all of the goodies on my plate. However, there were certain things that anytime I got near them I found over and over again that they just weren’t for me and in some cases it seems a subtle thing and perhaps difficult for some to understand. I’m of the firm belief personally that discretion is the better part of valor, in most cases, and erring on the side of caution, a good idea. Cinematically, my taste runs more toward Skeleton Key or the likes of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil than say Sin City. I prefer a sense of the macabre as opposed to more graphic expression, something with more of a sense of mystery and romance to it, or a different element of romance, if you will. Again, matters of personal preference and taste. I prefer Dashiell Hammet and James Ellroy to Quentin Tarantino, in most cases, when it comes to noir,  if that makes any kind of sense to anyone. That doesn’t mean that I don’t ever watch or read anything more graphic, not at all. It is a matter of how well something is done and appreciating it for what it is.

I thought, finally, what am I writing? Really? What do I want to write and what it my natural inclination, because I believe that that will always be one’s strong suit, and within in that, who is my primary audience?  I’m writing poetry and prose, stories that have meaning to me. I’m writing about relationships. I’m writing about love. Sometimes, I’m writing about monsters. I’m writing about watching the day fade and slip and glide below the horizon each evening on the whisper of a breeze and the promise of night. I’m my main audience, an intelligent, mature woman with a sense of humor, not interested in being disgusted or offended simply for the sake of it, gratuitously, and generally not finding that to be in the least bit entertaining, truly preferring ladies and gentlemen to broads and brutes, not that both don’t have their merits or place, or usefulness, within the telling of a story and/or life. There’s no judgment in that, some folks live gravy on their mashed potatoes, some like butter, and some don’t like mashed potatoes at all. It is only a matter of finding one’s own place and way. I  am a romantic, however well schooled in the areas of logic and reason, I’m looking for that sense of escape in what I read. I’m writing fiction. I’m writing whatever I want to write.

Teri Skultety

It isn’t easy you know, being a writer, it isn’t ditch digging either but it isn’t easy.

 

“We Create Culture.”

“Create your own roadshow.” ~ Terrence McKenna

Psalm of The Beautiful Dream.

I am being quiet because there is a voice that I need to hear, it is my own.
I am choosing simplicity because I can.
I remind myself to claim each day with intention.
I am choosing calm over chaos.
I am believing for restoration.
Knowing and having felt a need so great that I have no words for it,
I will find the strength to be giving toward other human beings.
Are we beautiful people?
I closed my eyes, once upon a time, and I had the most beautiful dream.
I woke crying and wondering why was I shown so great a dream as to make the world seem a shadow of itself,
so great as to make me long for sleep.
I lived another life in that dream.
I woke and remembered the fairy tale of my waking life,
how good it was, and knowing then again what could be,
and sought the hand of my beloved to steady me in my trembling at a world changed and unrecognizable to me in those first moments,
and the words to ease the ache,
and the strength that would give me strength.
I dreamed the most beautiful dream.
Are we beautiful people?
I wanted to be.
I want to be.
I am being quiet because there is a voice that I need to hear,
it is my own.

2/18/13

Longing For Autumn.

Longing for Autumn

Summer has arrived and I am longing for the Autumn season. Each day grows longer in its’ strange, lazy heat, making me wistful. Thinking of cooler evenings, of colors faded from the over exposure of prolonged direct light. I miss the cool shadows, the early drawing of night.

I realize now it has been the Summer Season that has watched me grow older each year. The Summers that rushed to peak each Fourth of July then swooned, only for a moment, before they began their wane. Summers that were, in the days of my youth, too short. How I dreaded the coming of Autumn then and itchy, constricting school clothes, homework. Seemingly endless cold weather and rain that kept me confined inside, bored to distraction. I longed for Summer, for games of hide n’ seek until ten o’clock at night, water fights and running to catch the ice cream truck. Barefoot, sunburned, swimming anywhere we could all day long, no worries. Suspended in the air the smell of warm, bleached plastic wading pools, lawn chairs, and squirt guns. Summer, once synonymous with freedom, has come to drag on to remind me that I am not in my own Summer anymore. Summer now only serves to make me nostalgic for the Summer days of years past. Nostalgic for the Summers of six packs, dirt roads, fast cars and first loves, when I was still immortal.

The arrival of these long days, sometimes I think I wish I could run away down a time tunnel, fly out the end on the rope of a tire swing over a swimming hole. Let go with a Tarzan yell. Summer now is tending the tomato plants, trying to reclaim the yard from the torrent of Spring after the grip of Winter. Summer now…still goes by too fast. Summer, is marking time. Summer now is more powerful than it ever was in my youth, leaving me yearning for life. Summer now means, is it June already? The start of Summer and I, am longing for Autumn, the Season that is mine.

Autumn yellow turning, burning gold, then crimson. Not fresh and green but glorious in her fire, fantastic in her fade. Autumn, the season of a woman full-grown, matured, experienced, bringing to bear her bounty to share from her full gardens and fields, from the seeds of all her Summers, setting a table for the Feast of All Saints. Arms open wide, her sky illuminated with her glowing eye Moon. Now, I think I sometimes wish my Autumn’s would last forever, still able to manage a graceful waltz at a Harvest Dance, gently smiling. Her light not as flashy as Summer but the smolder of steady warmth, retaining all the memories, of a life well lived.

 

from, Gold Mine

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!