Sunday, August 25

Hot summery nights in the Christmas holidays
When Nana came to stay
She was a moody woman too
And we were all insensed when she called our city
A village, just to be superior
But the cards would always come out
And we three, two sisters and one brother together
Had all learned the various arts
Euchre, 500, gin rummy, and the mother of them all
Nana loved this one and we never worked out why
But looking back, she had the upper hand
She would simply cheat and then claim that she didn't
Many nights were spent in tears with Dad called in
How he managed to adjudicate such a thing is hard to say
I remember the shock of realisation
Your Nana was not supposed to lie and cheat
Only children did that and then got caught
Now I just laugh, that was her and people are complex
And now I am reminded of our last meeting
Nana in intensive care, she couldn't speak
But we wrote notes to each other and she liked
The deep crimson camelias I had brought from my garden
I promised to take her there when she was better
But I think she knew, she wouldn't be coming out again
That was the last time
Nana with camelias
by Pauline Nolan

Pickup Sticks

Gathering firewood, a delightful chore,
An ancient right of passage,
A wholesome occupation.
It connects us to those who’ve gone before,
Who’ve gathered, too, the sticks and twigs
Fire contained within the hearth is one thing,
But fire inside a ring
Of stones,
Beneath the stars,
Awakens the primitive
From deep within the ancient soul.
We are reminded
Of where we’ve been,
And from whence we came.
Not all believe that we have lived before,
And yet,
We have, in one form or another.
I live within the flames
And the smoke that rises …
I live in every leaf and blade of grass.
I hear myself in the Night Bird call,
I breathe as the Earth breathes beneath me.

It is then,
After we’ve gathered all the sticks
And stacked the logs in a pile,
That the warming flames reach out
To comfort,
To heat our bodies and our stew,
But, most of all
They set the Muse in motion.
What better feeling is there,
Of a job well done?

©February 2002

Sibling Games:

This isn’t going to work
I can’t go back again
I cannot think the way she did
I’ve lost her somewhere along the way
She was always afraid of opening the door.
She is still afraid of a dark room.
She was always afraid of the cellar,
The cellar that smelled of potatoes about to rot.
The rustlings that might mean mouse, or worse, a rat.
The dark corner under the steps, where something old
and spoiling lurked.
She hated carrying the kerosene lamp.
she knew she might stumble and the globe shatter
and leave the open flame.
She hated the cupboard with the scent of cheese and souring cream.
She could see herself falling with the pitcher full of milk.
Still, she knew she must and opened the screen, grasped the jug turned down the
burner and climbed toward the open door above.
Her brother
the door.
If he comes by, he always shuts the door.
Why do brothers who are not afraid
by Fran Sbrocchi

Sunday, August 18

Try the following exercise that is based on the premise that within the garden of Dinoysus, deep within our psyche, lies a sensuous world, filled with a profusion of nature's fruits. It is just a matter of finding your way into this walled garden.

Play some pan flute music like Medwyn Goodall's Medicine Woman and sit quietly in front of your journal, holding a simple seashell in your left hand and your pen in the right hand. (Assuming your right hand is the dominant hand. You can reverse this) Caress the shell with your fingers. Let your eyes travel over its surface. Let the music that Pan used to attract the nymphettes waft into the house within. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes and quietly wander into the corridors of your shell using your senses. Look around. What do you see, hear, smell, touch with your naked feet. Wander through the multi levels of the shell compound. Peer through unopened doorways and windows. Notice your surroundings. Feel the surfaces. Move to the compound where Dionysus and Pan have retreated. Find the doorway to their space. Note what the door is made of. Let the door come alive. Is the door prepared to open itself? Do voices call out? What do you hear? Allow the pen to write whatever is entering your mind. Consider writing the dialogue you have with Dionysus and Pan. Ask them how you can honour them respectfully and unify them with your everyday self. Ask them how to write.

Responses from Lemurians

As I held the precious shell in my hands my mind escalated into another gear and I found myself sliding at break necked speed into the abyss of the shell. Colors and smells swirled through me and then just as dramatically I crashed, feet first, into a solid inlayed wall. I laid there, in silence, attempting to comprehend where I was and what I was seeing.

When I finally regained my equilibrium I realized that somehow I had slipped into the interior of the shell and was now staring at a smooth marble like wall made up of millions of inlayed pieces of abalone that reflected beautiful paste colors with no obvious light source. I stood up and ran my hand over the wall. It was beautiful.

As I stood, running my hand over the surface of the wall. It seemed to be responding to my touch. As I moved my hand to the right the wall seemed to move to the right. The wall actually consisted of moving panels and as they slowly separated I could hear the magical notes of a pan flute and a deep voice welcoming me into the private chambers of Dinoysus.

I expected to find a magnificent interior within but to my surprise I faced the backs of three large overstuffed chairs and foot stools in front of a roaring fireplace. A handsome man got up and welcomed me with his hand extended and a genuine smile on his handsome face. He introduced himself as Dinoysus, and the man in the other chair was his friend Pan. Pan made no attempt to rise or to lower his feet which were stretched out in front of him on the footstool. I had the distinct feeling that he was not happy to welcome me. I tried to respond naturally as my eyes darted nervously from his hoof feet and his mixed appearance of half man half animal. I failed miserably.

"We were hoping someone would find our chamber and add their opinions to our conversation." Dinoysus said as he poured me a glass of wine and motioned me to sit down in the third chair.

"We are discussing a recent theory we heard that said ,’We are not creatures with minds that have emotions, but creatures that have emotions that can think’, and we seem to be deadlocked." Pam thinks we are thinking machines first and that thought generates the emotions and I tend to believe the theory is correct." " We would really appreciate your opinion."

(to be continued) Jane Tilton

Sipping my wine in front of the roaring fire in this comfortable overstuffed chair I slowly started to relax. I was aware that the two men were talking but I could not focus my mind on their words. I kept churning the topic over in my head. The topic immediately send feelings of inadequacy through my mind. I know very little on the workings of the function of thinking and emotions of the mind and dreaded revealing this.

I was suddenly jolted to the present by the robust laughter from Dionysus as he shouted loudly at Pan, "See, that is proof that I am right". I jerked around and looked into the very irritated eyes of Pan and the very amused eyes of Dionysus.

"Oh forgive us my friend." he said to me. "I should have warned you". With us there is no need for speaking out loud. We know every thought you think and you have just helped me prove that my friend here is incorrect."

I was instantly angry. "You did not forget, you set me up", I said. As I started to get out of my chair I said, "I find this situation very uncomfortable and I am going to go".

Dionysus immediately jumped up and with all the charm I have heard he possessed he persuaded me to stay just a while longer. "At least finish your glass of wine"’

I reluctantly sat back down and was determined to hurriedly finish my wine and leave, but first I was curious on how I had proved that the body is an emotional machine first.

"I do not understand how I proved this".

Pan replied, "My free thinking friend here thinks you entered the room feeling uncomfortable emotions first, which were further frustrated by my appearance, and then in your emotional inadequacy you fumbled through the topic." "Anyway that is his opinion."

"And yours?" I asked.

"I think, (think, mind you) , I think that as a human you entered our chamber with some preconcieved ideas of what and who we are and as misinformed as these ideas are they affected every emotion that you felt"

I stood up and replaced my glass of wine on the table and looking directly at Pan I said, "I do not know the answer to your topic, I only know that I do not feel comfortable and I am going to leave." " Much that both of you think is true so this leaves this whole situation unsolveable in my mind." " I am sorry, It seems that I am not the one to add to your conversation."

"Oh you did, my dear, you did" Pan laughed.

Dionysos followed me back to the doorway, apologizing all the way, as I thanked him for the wine. His over patronizing ways were also beginning to annoy me and that thought was definitely planted there by emotions.

As I left the shell I thought, "Perhaps the theory is not wrong, but simply incomplete."

" Just perhaps we are both a thinking mind that generates emotions, and an emotional machine that generates thoughts, and as humans it is our job to balance these two elements."

Jane Tilton

The sand was cool and gray and wet--a gritty mush under my bare feet; but, as I step onto the shell surface, I feel smooth ridges, and the curved shape of the shell presses into my sole. I feel it's solidity against my soft flesh. I feel the give of my sole against the cool surface, and I spend some time walking about on the outer surface. My hand reaches up to grab unicorned peaks, as I use them to balance, and to pull myself up hills, as of a mountain ridge, to climb to the utmost peak. It is morning, and still a slight chill in the air. I hear gulls and think of them scavenging for bits of fish-smelling flesh. They are not unlike the gulls that scavenge parking lots and garbage dumps; and such things, the clutter of the world, seems always to be intruding themselves upon my mind. I can't let go of it. But I find myself, sweaty but happy, standing on the highest point of the shell. The topmost peak is cracked. There's a small hole in its pinnacle. I reach up to it. The walls of the crevice are smooth, it doesn't cut. It has been washed with salt for many months or decades? I don't know--how long does it take? I peer down into the corridor. There is a chiaroscuro effect--camera obscuro... in the brownness, I see a flicker of white, an image, something, someone, slightly dodge and then disappear--very fleeting. I am curious. Enough of the surface. I slide back down to the sand, and peer, somewhat cautiously, inside. There's a hollow smell. How can I describe it, except hollow? I can't say exactly, it's both ashy and acid; some mineral. Salt, I suppose. It's dank, but not unpleasant. I go in.

The smoothness of the shell emphasizes the grittiness of my feet, and that is not pleasant. The sand on them is starting to dry. But there is a little shell bowl, and it is filled with fresh water and floating petals. I wash my feet--very nice, pleasant. There is a light fragrance of petals. The water is tepid, perfect. I feel refreshed, and I proceed down the corridor.

The feeling of the inner shell surface is not quite what I expected--it is both smooth and rough. It is the smoothness of salt-washed shell, but non-slippery; rough in the way that a smooth pebble is rough. But, oh, the color. The palest of pink and white, translucent. I walk on. The roughness gives up to a smoother, more luxurious shell floor. It becomes more pure, untouched by salt. There are spots of dappled warmth and a peace-giving light overhead. The sun must be out now, but in here, I am protected from its harsh light, as if I am under a silky curtain.

The place is labyrinthine. Surprising. It didn't look so complex from outside. I see that that maze of passages must exist on a separate plane, as in some parallel existence... it seems to go on and on, just out of reach. I am reminded of clouds and bits of blue sky that float at the most heavenly depth in a shallow mud puddle, and I am like a child again, wading; or of the world inside the looking glass, that seems so deep and strange and inviting--the same, yet oddly different, and always elusive. I hear fresh water falling--how can that be? Like the babble of a clearwater stream. And there are distant flutes! Pan! He must be near! But now, what's this? a mosaic curtain, silk strings, tied with bits of blue-bottle glass and shells and twigs... and leaves! Some real, but some gold-and-silver, the most delicate of metal sculptures. I am reminded of the enchanted forest, in "The Princesses Who Danced Their Shoes To Pieces." And forest-like, it is deep. I can see that it goes well down into the passage, which darkens, and curves around until I can no longer see what's there. But I must follow the music, and I part the strings, which click and tinkle with the most lovely of sounds. Oh, it feels very nice, very sensual, as the curtain taps against my skin. It scrapes slightly, but in a pleasant way. And what is this? I hear a little frog, and the shade of the corridor becomes more pronounced. The flute seems closer. I walk and walk. Clearly this is no ordinary shell. It is infinite. I have discovered some magic door, and I am entering my own "Narnia." I never thought to discover such a thing for ME; and truly, I didn't think one even existed.

I have found the inner chamber. At last, I am there. I am in a woods and there is a clear stream! The water is so pure and the banks are mossy. The little demon-sprite laughs, and he really is just a boy! Pan. The music is lovely now, and he takes such a child-like delight in playing it. Innocent! How could I have said demon? But mischievous, and he darts away now, before I can speak. I can still hear the flute though, and it is sumptuous.

Where is Dionysus? I must find him, it is he that I must ask. Notwithstanding Frost's sardonic opinion, I believe that the demiurge will speak to me. I follow the stream.

Here, the ground is shell again, but it is the purest, cool-silk shell, like pink Mother-of-Pearl. Surely, I have reached the source. He is there. I see him. A being, very real, certainly human-like, yet supernatural. His skin is alabaster, and his brow is wreathed in laurel--real laurel, I do believe. Can it be? His hands are cupped, and in them is a light. Not a lamp, not a lantern, but pure light, like a micro-sun, cupped in his hands.

My mouth opens, and I stutter. My speech is halting, my mind is blank. I want to ask of death and life, and creative thought, and intellect, and love and war and suffering. Every image and scrap of an idea that lurks in every hidden archive of my brain shoves and jostles itself to the surface, like some rude, elbowing crowd, unruly and scuffling. And I am mute.

Dionysus says nothing. He just looks knowing and pleased. Not smug, but pleased, and this irritates me to no end. Is this what the journey comes to?

The music still plays. I see a little figure, all tiny and quick and smooth-skinned, with dark curls and goat legs, darting among the trees, well away. And that beautiful flute. It calls to me. My anger fades.

Now it is woods again, and brittle brown leaves and twigs crunch under my feet. I brush away vines and branches and the occasional sticky briar. I walk slow. I keep my own pace. No use trying to keep up with that mischievous flirt of a boy. A walk in the woods is always nice. There are fresh smells, and woody smells, and sweet smells, and leafy smells. Moss is underfoot and tiny lichen, each its own microcosm of pale, cabbagy, stiff leaves, and minute woody flutes pointed skyward, and the tiniest of toadstools. I can get lost in them, for hours. The flute helps.

Now it comes to me! It's Pan, after all. Not Dionysus. Oh, the god does his share, all right. He is the source, the essence of it, I won't dispute. He and the Muse, they are the source. But I was wrong to force the intercourse of words. It can't be specified, it can't be diagnosed and formulated and standardized. It must remain an essence, unstated.

Pan and his flute do the work. I can only follow where they lead. It might be a path, but I don't think it can be planned. No, the mischief-maker is creativity itself. It darts and zigzags and plays like a child. The Mother Muse and the Father Dionysus are the source only. They gave it life, and now it goes its merry way.

Now how did I learn that? From a shell?

Now I am on a sandy beach. Oh, this one is different. The sand is white, dazzling. Diamond-like, it sparkles. The sea is turquoise, bluer and more pure than anything that I've ever seen. It is brilliant. No doubt, I can look down and see fish of gold and red and blue and yellow, brilliant with shining scales. But I save that treat for later. For now, I'll lie on the beach and let the sun warm my skin. This is nice. I won't think at all.

Walking through the seashell door, I can't see where I'm going, because the entrance curves gently all the way around to the hidden interior, but the mother-of-pearl surface is smooth and sensuous to walk on.

It cools my sand-baked feet, and tempts me to join the merry company of dancers already twirling and pirouetting to a lively tune on the shell's curled rim.
There is no question of refusal. Dance I must.

Blue, turquoise and green sea-colours of the transparent, luminous shell-floor shimmer and change subtly with every step the dancers take, whirling madly like a kaleidoscope when the music is fast and demanding, softening to a mere glimmer when the tempo becomes slow, moody and deep with romance, and the dancers gaze into each others eyes to see what magic they can find there.

I drift in the arms of a dream-dancer, floating on a wash of sea-colours. We dance down through the shell, our faces barely touching.

Deep inside the shell, sea-sounds echo softly off delicate pearl-hued walls, translucent like fine bone china.
When the dancing is over, the sea-music sings me to sleep, curled in the apex of the shell in my sea-lover's arms.
Jenny Aarts

I watch your sinuous dance
and envy you
below the silvery surface
O creature of the sea
Here on the shore we sirens
and wait
and listen in a shell
for messages
to know
that you will come again
and sing
for us.

sea-nymphs rise in sea-spray mist
pale as foam on white crests
whisper enchantments through thin sea-shell walls
into sleeping sea-dancers' dreams

while siren-song haunts a moon-shined sea
the shell floats
taken by the tide
to where seahorses wait beyond the waves
with straight backs and curled-under tails
to carry the precious load
and deft nymph-hands harness the shell
with seaweed reins

they descend
through black night-waves
to Neptune's throne
on the sea-floor
Jenny Aarts

Thursday, August 1

Lemurian Rain

The wind picks up
As the sun is hidden
Behind the grey threatening sky.
The lightening cracks
The thunder roars
The relentless heat is blown away.

Droplets fall
Slowly at first
That unmistakable smell
Of raindrops on scorched earth
Fills our senses with
a renewed vigour.

We rush to the washing line
to bring in the clothes,
The raindrops feel so good, so fresh,
We want to forget the clothes and become a sponge
Soaking up the fresh, cool water.

Then we realise, it's pouring!
The plants struggle to stay erect,
under the pelting rain.
As they struggled under the scorching sun,
Yet they seem to know that if they can
survive this test,
They will raise their heads high and sing
with glee!

The water seeps into the earth and
the thirsty soil drinks heartily.
Too much, too soon will expose roots
to the elements again.

We've longed for the rain
as have the plants.
We hope for gentle, consistent rain but
most showers are never enough and can be rough!
Plants damaged, soil eroded.
Some of us complain.

Negative ions fill the air!
Invigorating people and plants.
The damp,earthy scents linger,
the earth is cleansed and renewed.
The birds come out to bathe and sing,
To celebrate the gift of rain.
Let us celebrate it too.

(c)T.Seed 2002.

The fragrance of rain
Is like the touch of a lover.
It consumes,
Holds us spellbound
As an aria
In a dark auditorium.
It rises to meet us
When we open the door,
Then, it teases,
And invites us to play.

The Fragrance of rain
After a dry spell
Is magic.
I capture its essence,
Embrace it,
Hold it forever.
What better perfume
for milady’s heart
than the fragrance
of rain after a dry spell.

(c)January 2002

Rain pelting hard
Upon the windows
Upon the doors
Upon the roof
Driving in sheets
Lashing the trees
Running in rivulets
Down the green stems
Down the brown bark
Down onto the grass
Pelting, driving, pounding
It comes in waves
Loud and insistent
Softly pausing, the silence of expectation
Fresh aromas waft now
Through the open window
Pungent and cool, mixed with grass
Mixed with lemon
Mixed with life
Pauline Nolan

The verse written by Vi was the first thing I read. The words she uses touches me deeply. They stir familiar joyous emotions within me, but still they touch some deep sadness that I do not understand. I heard recently that , "We are not brains with emotions but emotions with a brains." Rain seems to touch a deep emotional level;

As thunder rumbles in the distance:

I am a women
filled with fear
huddled around a fire
in a cave in prehistoric France

As the thunder rumbles in the distance

I am a woman
in a hot tent in Mongolia
trying to grab some sleep
before breaking camp and moving on

As the thunder rumbles in the distance

I am a woman in Ethiopia
holding her parched lip child
in her lap without
a moist tear to flow

As the thunder rumbles

I am my friend in Australia
strolling in her garden
scanning the sky above
for any sign of rain

What twist of fate
placed me in this western world
enjoying the emotions
of a rumble of thunder above.
Jane Tilton

More Rain
In Saskatchewan,this morning a child will walk to school over the high snow, a jack rabbit watching will hasten away leaving his long tracks for her to measure with her mittens. She will lie down on a new drift and make herself an angel, swinging her arms wide enough to carry her onto a drifting cloud. She will dream that she can ride the wind to Africa, or to England, where a queen lives. She’ll nod to the lady, sitting on the tall throne and visit a hobbit in his lovely cave. The wings let her drift, a chill breeze brings her back. She pops up from the bank and hurries, lunch kit bumping in the red haversack. Runs down the hallway, makes it in time.
Some day, as springtime melts the pack, the shadow of an angel, smiles.