Saturday, April 25, 2020

TRILOGY for Woodland Pattern

I designed this (Soma)tic ritual for Woodland Pattern, and I enjoyed every minute of it! If you have not yet visited Woodland Pattern, it is one of my favorite homes for poetry! I look forward to visiting in person again one day!

I suggest taking three days for this poetry ritual experience.

I chose Carrington, a marvelous biopic about artist Dora Carrington, played by Emma Thompson.

BRING BINOCULARS, a magnifying glass, as well as your notebook and pen.

For three days, watch the same movie with the sound off. Each day will have a different focus of study:

Day One: Art
Day Two: Nature
Day Three: Windows

If we study one film three entirely different ways, is it not a trilogy?
Is it not the ongoing saga through three views in three days?
Do we not make it three different stories from the original one?

Day One: Please watch the film, looking for any signs of art, which could be paintings, sculpture, or a vase that catches your eye. Pause the movie whenever you see art, then study it with binoculars to get a fresh, close view of your interest. I stopped Carrington so many times, and this is a film still from a favorite scene with a beautiful iron wood stove, Art Nouveau shelf, oil lamp, and of course, postcards and drawings on the wall. It felt essential to begin this (Soma)tic poetry ritual by studying the things human beings had to reach through their creative powers to give us. Look for the gifts of art, pause the screen, examine it through binoculars, or get close to the screen with a magnifying glass. Then take notes.

Day Two: Spend time looking for any signs of living plants or animals. The natural world has begun to flourish in our absence from the world. Less human traffic, less pollution, it is as though nature has been waiting for us to give them all a break. Freeze the frame and study a leaf, its branches, then look carefully into the tree. I found the faint outline of a bird sitting on its nest, a silent, secret cameo. I enjoyed ignoring every human activity, looking instead at flowers, moss, and birds, imagining life before real estate, deeds, barbed wire, highways to risk your life crossing for water, food, or love. Last spring, I was driving across the United States and counted 27 dead raccoons in one day, little hands frozen reaching above their bloody fur. It was the time of year they were all looking for one another to mate. How much more relaxed the spring of 2020 will be for them. Look at the natural world on your screen, then take notes.

Day Three: Windows and all that they frame and reveal is the third day's focus. There were many windows in the movie Carrington; film footage shot from both indoors and from outside. What is it we take for granted about windows? What do I know about making glass, making wood and metal frames? Very little is the answer. The less we know about a thing, the more likely we are to dismiss it or never notice it. Windows fascinate me, thinking of the first humans who poked a hole in their mud and straw hut. Windows let light in, let us look outside, allow us to see who is approaching. Use your binoculars and look through the windows of the film; see what the actors were seeing. Windows, like most things in the human manipulated world, can be strictly utilitarian, or pleasurable, even beautifully crafted. It made me happy to watch the film one more time with a completely different focus. Let your mind go into theories you did not know you had about windows, then take notes.

Day Four, you can take your handwritten notes to the computer and begin making the document to then mine for your poem(s). Click HERE for tips.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

(COM)BAT STIGMA: A Pandemic (Soma)tic Ritual

I designed this (Soma)tic poetry ritual with David Greenspan, Marcella Haddad, Juleen Johnson, Jayson Keery, J.L. Lapinel, Laura S. Marshall, Michael Medeiros, Jamie Thomson, S.Coates

Bats have excellent eyesight, contrary to popular belief. They also have the extraordinary ability to echolocate, which is a form of seeing in the dark with ears. Bats can make the hidden world reveal itself, and this ritual honors their extraordinary abilities in a world filled with fear and ignorance for these flying mammals. Humans might want to blame bats for COVID-19, but we should be aware that our own human actions are the cause -- the coronavirus is not the bats’ fault.

Listen to a recording of bat sounds. This one includes echolocation and screeches at THIS LINK. Think about what bats are doing with their sounds. Think about how sounds can travel through air and bounce off of objects, echoing back at you. This is their way of seeing! 

Sit in a closet or a darkened room. Close your eyes, and begin to listen, even if you believe there is little to hear. Allowing the deeper listening, locate layers of sound, and look for what you might ordinarily hear. Take notes for the poem. Make clicking sounds and listen for an echo. In a world where we are now told to pay attention to the microscopic levels on which we are all interacting, think about how sounds also connect us, how sound is physical, how sound can be our guide. How sound is something we can sit in.

Wear a bedsheet as wings and fly around the house, flapping your wings, then suddenly pull the sheets around you and squeeze yourself, holding tight. Hold tight like a mother bat to her baby. Hold tight like someone who may feel lonely, longing for the other, but who is also resting in aloneness, feeling the deep presence and company of themselves. Take more notes. Lie on the bed with your head over the edge to look at the room upside-down. Take notes from the upside-down world.

In the evening, say, "Good morning, bats!" In the morning, say, "Good evening, bats!" If you find yourself waking up suddenly in the middle of the night you can say, “Good afternoon, bats!” until you fall asleep again.

Bats pollinate hundreds of plants that we use for food and medicine, including cocoa. Strange how echolocate and chocolate have a similar ring to them! Draw bat wings with chocolate on your arm or on bread. Lick the chocolate off your arm, or eat the bread. Take notes. A cherry or other fruit can represent the coronavirus. Cover the cherry in chocolate and tell the bats, "It is not your fault," and then slowly eat it. Take notes. Be still, then fly around the house again. Take notes.

PHOTO CREDIT Michael Medeiros


We hope you found the ritual to be fruitful. To further support bats please: 

Don’t use pesticides in your garden! 

If a bat flies into your home, choose the humane way of releasing it by turning on the lights (turn off ceiling fans!) and opening a door or window, OR, wait for it to land, gently cover it with a box, slip some cardboard between the wall and box in order to transport and release it outdoors. Take notes for the poem.  If you prefer professional assistance, ask that they be humane!

Plant a moon garden! Night-scented flowers attract bugs, such as moths, that bats love to eat. White jasmine, evening primrose, mint, lemon balm, datura, moonflower, four-o’clock, yucca, night-blooming water lily, night-blooming jessamine, cleome, barrel cactus, nicotiana. 

Build a bat house! Finds instructions at THIS LINK

Become a member of the Bat Conservation Group at THIS LINK

PHOTO CREDIT Michael Medeiros

Friday, April 10, 2020

Mary Gemini's "Rhythm"

APRIL 10TH, 2020 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

SIN BUG: AIDS, Poetry & Queer Resilience in Philadelphia

THESE DAYS of healing herbs and studying
the human body through macrobiotics and
encouraging many friends and lovers to
thrive at the darkest time of our lives
helped me cultivate this practice
of (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals

Read the essay at THIS LINK

MANY THANKS to the Poetry Foundation
PS I used The Wizard of Oz Portal to contact my dead