GLITTER IN MY WOUNDS in Poetry THIS LINK and in Greek at THIS LINK
AUGURIES CAST ASIDE in Poetry THIS LINK
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT in Cordite THIS LINK
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Thursday, October 11, 2018
This ritual is part of a forthcoming anthology titled SPELLS,
edited by Sarah Shin and Rebecca Tamas
__________________ ✪ __________________
"Bioluminescence is the most common form of communication on planet Earth."
edited by Sarah Shin and Rebecca Tamas
__________________ ✪ __________________
"Bioluminescence is the most common form of communication on planet Earth."
-- Dr. Sylvia Earle, her talk at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
Fear of the dark motivated prehistoric human beings to discover and invent ways of holding onto light throughout the night. We take light bulbs and electricity for granted, but for centuries we have found many means to harness different materials to make light: wood, animal fat, beeswax, paraffin, gas, electricity, etc. I wrote a list of the various ways I have used or witnessed human-made light so far in my lifetime: electric ceiling lights, floodlights, emergency exit lights, streetlights, headlights, flashlights, lighthouses, oil lamps, wood stoves, campfires, torches, candles, twinkling Christmas lights, etc. I took notes for the poem.
Then by candlelight, I meditated on fear of the dark. What were the reasons for our ancestors to be afraid of the dark? How have those fears transferred through the centuries to us and where do I feel it in my own body and life? Are horror movies a conduit we employ for restimulating those fears? I took notes for the poem.
Then I taped small flashlights to my shoulders and wore a thin, colored shirt over top, glowing in the dark while meditating on photos from the deepest parts of the oceans, where most life on Earth lives. With their bodies these creatures create light to say Hello, to find a mate, to hunt prey, to detract from predators. Their language of light is beyond anything we can convey or experience on the surface of the planet. I took notes for the poem.
Then I half-filled a large bucket with sand. After securing a flashlight inside the sand, turned on and pointing up, I filled the bucket, plunging the flashlight into darkness. Outside in the dark of the New Moon, I slowly removed thin layers of sand from the surface, one, layer, at, a, time, until the faintest translucent glow appeared. I took notes for the poem.
Posted by poet CAConrad at 8:17 PM
Saturday, September 29, 2018
When I became vegan and macrobiotic in 1988 it was when scores of friends were dying of AIDS and I was constantly urging them to join me for the health benefits. This is to say I did not begin being vegan for animal rights, but becoming vegan changes our bodies and cleanses our formally inconsiderate perspective on other creatures. I remained vegan for the lives and rights of animals, but as a child, I grew up hunting deer, rabbits, pheasants, and squirrels.
Whisper was the name of my hunting dog. After receiving my first rifle at 9 she and I loved to explore the forest and meadows together. When I shot a squirrel she would retrieve it and hover eagerly, waiting for me to toss her the heart as I skinned and cleaned it in the running brook, then secured its little body onto sticks to hold over a fire for lunch. I now refer to Whisper as my Lord of the Flies companion and she would be very sad if she were alive today to find that I no longer kill and eat squirrels in the forest.
I drew a rough sketch of Whisper and filled in the drawing with black ink. Then I made a kite out of sticks and paper, gluing Whisper's silhouette on the front. I made secret notes on another piece of paper with words she knew for hunting and running through the forest, then glued it to the back of the kite, or rather the side that takes the wind.
Sending it up, her rough portrait facing the sky above me, the wind pushing my secret messages through the kite and into her image. Because we lived in the country she never knew the tug of a leash, so it felt odd having the pull against my wrist, but at the same time I liked it, that tension, getting to feel the weight of the wind upon her drawing. I took notes for the poem while flying my old friend above me.
In the evening I cut her silhouette from the kite and placed it under my pillow. The dreams were beguiling, being led into a realm of moss on tall trees, lily of the valley, and many pieces of light dancing on everything. Whisper was not there as I knew her but somehow all around me. It was a place where I felt myself relax in the dream. Then I realized that I was resting in the spot where I had buried her when I was a young teenager. I was, in fact, visiting my old friend all along in luxuriant consolation! After waking I took more notes for the poem.
Posted by poet CAConrad at 3:41 AM
Thursday, September 20, 2018
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
US-American Crystal Grid is an ingredient to a larger ritual, Resurrect Extinct Vibration. The crystal grid was designed and constructed in the early spring of 2018, the first poems resulting from writing inside the grid came in May.
The grid's ingredients: Four solid copper 16-ounce water bottles, each containing 9 crystals of 3 pieces of amethyst, 3 pieces of carnelian, and 3 pieces of rose quartz. Each bottle was then filled with crystal-infused water and sealed.
The grid is a triangle connecting Minneapolis, Memphis, and Cheyenne. The copper bottles of crystals are buried at each location. The fourth bottle is buried inside the triangle in Omaha, which is the seat of the grid. (See the map at the bottom of this post.)
How the grid works: I sit on top of the buried copper container of crystals in Omaha. With a compass, I align myself with Minneapolis. Once I have aligned myself I eat a small amount of dirt from the Minneapolis location and listen to ambient recordings of the site. After meditating and tuning into Minneapolis from my seat in Omaha, I begin taking the raw notes which are later shaped into poems. I then face Memphis and repeat with eating dirt and listening to sounds from Memphis, then after that, I do the same for Cheyenne. I repeat the whole process a second time, then again a third time. It is almost exclusively from the third round where most of the harvested notes become poems. The grid winds clockwise, winds tighter with each turn, the first round making the base of a pyramid. The second round is the midsection, then finally the third round brings the peak of the pyramid, and the feelings of writing are a most extreme euphoria during the third and final round.
The grid crosses and touches eleven different states: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming. The Mississippi River touches the triangle three different times, charging the eastern wall of the triangle as the water and the grid's energy pushes from Minneapolis to Memphis.
Minneapolis gets its name from the Lakota word for water, "Minne," fused with the Greek word for city, "polis," Water City. Memphis is named after the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, a dozen miles from the Sphinx and pyramids of Giza. Memphis, Egypt sits at the mouth of the Nile, while Memphis, Tennessee sits at the jawbone of the Mississippi. Both Cheyenne, Wyoming and Omaha, Nebraska were named after Native American tribes and named so at the time when all migration of native peoples and the seasonal routes of the many herds and flocks came to an abrupt end by the white colonial genocide and theft. The footfalls of millions replaced soon enough with barbed wire, motorways, giant shopping plazas and many miles of genetically modified monocrops grown by mega-corporations with pesticides and fertilizers poisoning the air, water, and soil.
My sleep after performing the ritual and writing inside the crystal grid has been a deeper state of relaxation than normal for me where I wake revitalized and feel happy. My dreams these nights have centered on life inside the triangular frame of the grid, especially on my birth city of Topeka, Kansas. I was born on the Forbes Air Force Base where my biological father Dennis McNeil was stationed. The base was built in response to the start of WWII, then later became the home of the 90th Bombardment Wing during the Korean War. When I was born during the Vietnam War the Titan missiles had been decommissioned and the base was being used as a Tactical Air Command facility. These mornings waking the day after time spent with the grid are filled with meditation and writing focused on how the grid crosses the direct path of Manifest Destiny: that 19th-century belief of the white supremacist power structure that they did not need to share the North American continent with native people. My birthplace later became a home for the military industrial complex to take the premise of Manifest Destiny and spread it beyond our borders to kill and thieve in other nations of people of color. I may wake relaxed and happy, but I insist I keep a close focus on the crimes that made my life possible.
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Posted by poet CAConrad at 1:13 PM
Monday, August 27, 2018
Saturday, August 18, 2018
1: Create Your Ritual
(Soma)tic Poetry Rituals are a different kind of investment in the everyday. If you hate your job, for instance, you can build a ritual to be inside this space that can reveal the unexpected and make a poem through the previously unexplored aspects of the work environment. If you have a job you dislike, that is entirely too many hours of your short life to waste. Hours you are never going to get back. For over a decade I have been building personalized rituals with people who hate their jobs and, so far there is no job where a ritual is not possible.
If you have an unpleasant job, or if there is anything boring or annoying in your life that you have to do but hate to do, please consider building a ritual inside that space. If you can get yourself to create in such an area, then you are free to create anywhere, any time. There is no place and no time where the poems are not possible. 95% of poets eventually stop writing, and I believe it is due to the stresses of our culture of work and the many forms of normalized compliance we deal with. Each new responsibility tries to shave off more of our jagged edges. I believe in your creativity and your ability to find the strength in it and to live more fully, to not be yet another person who says that they used to write poems, used to be creative. Let us always talk about creativity in the present tense in our lives.
Keep it as simple as possible at the start. The simpler the first ritual, the more likely you are going to be willing to do it every day. It could be as simple as writing for five minutes before work, five minutes in the middle of the workday in the toilet, and five minutes after work.
Once you begin writing poems inside these rituals many new ideas for writing will reveal themselves. We take many of our daily movements for granted: going to the refrigerator for instance. The possibilities of the fridge and freezer are endless. You could hold an empty drinking glass against the side of it and study the sound of its motor. Use a magnifying glass to examine the exterior and interior in ways you had never done before. Use binoculars to sit across the room to look at it very carefully while far away. Close your eyes and smell the inside. With your eyes closed feel the contents, taste them. Take notes throughout the process of a daily exploration of the refrigerator.
Allow poetry to become an integral and necessary part of your life. I have created rituals tracking the garbage I produce in a week, another involving homemade star constellations, or experiencing what the impact of hearing the word "drone" has on the human body, and many others from talking with trees, ghosts, or translating Shakespeare's sonnets with crystals. My boyfriend Earth was brutally tortured, raped and murdered, and I created a ritual to overcome my depression, while other rituals became political actions on the streets. As far as I know, there are no limits to what is possible.
2: Taking the Notes
One thing I like to suggest is writing in notebooks with lined paper, then completely disrespecting those lines. Write wildly, like a child, for whatever we can do to strip away the various structures built to corral our attention is vital to this particular process of note-taking where we hope to find ourselves wholly present and not troubled over lines on paper and other concerns we have been trained to obey.
Our internal editor is one we have built upon since we first learned to communicate, reaching for the milk, the shiny earring, the hovering gull, eventually acquiring the tools for constructing proper syntax, the uses of punctuation, etc. Our internal editors are invaluable for shaping our poems, but they do get in the way of these raw notes we write inside the ritual. When taking notes, as soon as the mind forms full sentences, or follows a thread of an idea, write faster. We can outrun the internal editor, to fully trust ourselves in the middle of the ritual, and to arrive at that moment where all rebuke over words and their customs falls away. It is here where we can cruise into the previously unimagined magical writing we had concealed from ourselves.
Sometimes when attempting to write ahead of our editor we get caught in mind loops, thought and language patterns that keep circling on themselves. Here are three tools for breaking out of mind loops:
1) Inhale coffee beans or grounds. This tool recalibrates the olfactory and can jolt us out of a mind loop we find ourselves caught inside while writing.
2) If the coffee does not work stare straight ahead at an immobile object, then flick the tip of your nose with your finger. Do it just hard enough that it disrupts your visual pattern. This tool often helps release us to go back to writing.
3) If your mind loop is pernicious and not wanting to let go of you, then stand up and wildly thrash-dance, especially kicking your legs in the air as high as you can. This tool always works.
3: Shaping the Poem
NOTE: It is essential to do this next phase in one sitting.
Take your handwritten notes to a computer and open a writing document, Word or whatever software you use for writing. Click on the page to make sure it is ready to be used, then shut the screen light all the way off; this is to preclude our need to be watchful for typos. Position your fingers on the keys, have your feet flat, then close your eyes and type as fast as you can for five minutes, and same rules apply as with the handwritten notes: as soon as the mind forms full sentences, or follows a thread of an idea, type faster.
At the end of the five minutes of blind speed-typing, turn the screen light back on, then begin transferring the handwritten notes where you left off with the speed-typing. In other words, this ultimately works better when it is one unbroken document. When you reach the midway point of the handwritten notes, shut the screen light back off, and repeat the steps for blind speed-typing. I usually earmark the midway page ahead of time, make an X or checkmark. When the blind speed-typing is complete, turn the light back on and transfer the remaining half of your handwritten notes. When this is finally finished turn the screen light off and repeat the speed-typing once again.
The blind speed-typing will expand the notes for the poem. The first bout of it unleashes whatever language we have stored in us at the moment. The second and especially the third times are after we have been rereading and transferring our handwritten notes, our memories tripped over and over with images of the experience of doing the ritual. These bouts of the blind speed-typing tend to enrich and compound the notes in ways that often hold unexpected, crucial language for the poem.
Print out two copies of this chaotic looking document. Hide one from yourself for a month. Carry the other with you wherever we go with a highlighter pen, marking favorite nuggets of writing for the poem. These pieces can then be culled by copying and pasting them into a new document to begin shaping the poem. It all starts to come together on its own at this stage, awakening the internal editor to help build the poem. The second copy you hid from yourself for a month can be taken out of hiding and read backward: the last word typed is the first word read and the first word typed is the last word read. Reading the document backward often uncovers entirely new ways into the poem we would not have seen otherwise.
NOTE: Below is a sample poem from a new ritual I did called Flora Voyeur. The poem is the result of mining 9 full pages of single-spaced printer paper. I share this because I only used about 2% of all the notes taken to find the poem. It feels important to make clear that most of the notes are discarded. Here is the poem:
Posted by poet CAConrad at 8:07 AM
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
For this ritual, I used several different crystals as mediums between plants. One was exclusively for indoor plants, another for wild plants, and another to talk between the other two crystals.
Indoors: The crystal was placed for several hours on the soil of a potted plant, very near the base of the stem or trunk. I would then hold the crystal in my left hand while taking notes for the poem. Then I would whisper to the crystal to please relay the message to another plant, and I would place the crystal in the next pot. When writing with the crystal I could feel a conversation that was calm, concentrated on drifting through the seasons. Their vocabulary for moving through time is something I feel drawn to remembering in my body while I swing my arms and walk with my reveries for the possibilities of this world. I also watched Kenneth Anger's INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME with the indoor plants.
Outdoors: This crystal moved between wild plants, meaning only plants whose seeds were transported by birds, wind or some other natural force. The guardedness I was feeling at one point while writing with the crystal after it had been sitting with a plant did not make sense until I realized that the meadow within a few feet of it had been mowed. How had I not realized this straight away? There I was in my human body not thinking that -- literally -- THOUSANDS of other plants had been freshly chopped to their knees, their bodies were strewn everywhere, their strong odor of chlorophyll pouring from their wounds in the hot sun.
In the past, I have used crystals to speak between trees and other plants and animals, but with this one, I found a new relationship to received languages for the poems. What I can glean from listening to them in these writing sessions, the plants are telling me that their ability to change carbon dioxide into oxygen is what is also transforming my words I write. Maybe, in fact, a better word is translate, meaning the leaves are a kind of translation device. It feels like a sentence in the conversation comes back with one word changed, giving a completely new interpretation to both the ritual and the resulting poem. The leaves are telling me they are a mirror, but nothing like the kind we humans have any real experience with. Most of this information came to me when I was holding the third crystal, the one that I occasionally placed between the indoor and wild plant crystals. While the outdoor, wild plant crystal had more life-threatening circumstances, there was beneath that a similar vibration as the indoor plant crystal's language for the movement of time, though more urgent, a pulsing pressure running through my body. I placed the crystal under my pillow for that song of time to enter my sleeping body and my sleeping travel of dreams. Vegetables, sisters, brothers, unfurl a bit more with me in the poem.
Posted by poet CAConrad at 8:12 PM