Listening In

LISTENING IN ON EQUALITY

Any moment a ruling will be uttered or muttered, or shouted, or whispered. It will have to do with equality. Am I good enough to have the rights that all Americans should have? You be the judge. Well, actually, there are robed Justices doing the judging. Beyond that there are the American people.

LISTENING IN ON EQUALITY

I listen in on equality.
Superficial music blooms with an unrelenting promise.
Across the airways, love happens or it is being gutted.
Long ago forgotten, the subject plagues me.
As if it has become lightning’s jagged tongue, it blares.
I squint to see where decency might be.
I recognize the lyrics, for the song is titled Insta-Bully.
It talks trash.
The lead singer was just released from hatred’s lockdown.
Legislation is bait and switch.
As if words are souvenirs tossed into the barrenness,
musical notes wane.
Theoretical concepts have their own atmosphere.
Artificial emptiness has never impressed me.
Cascading volcanos of spewing intolerance burns.
Brains filled with ego do not entreat my sympathy.
Sludge brags as it paints injustice.
I overhear crud as it splats against clean walls.
Lucidity is sacred, and has flocked to the streets.
Bigotry sound exactly like cringe-worthy shouts.
Once impelled toward hatred, smarmy words fade.
Hearts locked in dark silence begin their histrionics.
Their authorship hides beneath shame.
The font of harm prints only litter.
If love is seeped in culture, I hope to soon hear its roar.
I wander the byways of eternity.
My shoulders sag, folding with age.
Ravaged, I march on.
For my torrent of energy hears the drums of equality.
An answer becomes my destiny – my ballad.
My choir garb is frayed by disappointment.
With rusty shovels, I excavate, and examine fate.
With tight-fisted heart, I search and hope.
Does a human heart have nerves?
Who owns eternity?

Copyright Kieran York

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Please check out my poetry in the best-selling poetry collection, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series: Roses Read, Volume 3; and Web Violets, Volume 2. Edited by Beth Mitchum. These books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out the 2013 Lambda Finalist in the Romance category, Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books Distribution for books or e-books. Books and e-books are also available through Amazon.

A Cautious Lover’s Mumblings

The following poem was written when I was in my mid-twenties. Although I’ve changed, many of my mumblings have not. It’s always interesting to return to early roads, and past beliefs. Crossroads. This is from an early volume of my published poetry and the copyright is 1974. A very long time ago.

A CAUTIOUS LOVER’S MUMBLINGS

Rushing up and out against reason, and no optimism is worth the slam you are aware is hiding, just waiting to leap out of the dark and tangle itself into your deepest secrets.

Spread out into a layered slip-cover, the moment that beckons you greets the un-understandable.

Ok, say it to life. Say it all. Reach into you and pull out a fistful of truth – your own brand of truth. Touch that finely tune, precision instrument of you, and try not to be impressed.

I’m going to grab a few blades of grass in my hand and pretend that the green represents my soul. No bull about plain old grass for grasses sake. I’ll run my hand over the grass, the uneven, unplanned, stretching grasses.

I feel the shade, a sleeping coolness of shade. How much of life crosses over us, how indifferent we are to the shade. And yet, we weave our meaning together.

When I smile, you know what I mean. We mash our thoughts, tears, and smiles and we watch the leaves drop and become pounded into cement and as we watch the streaming, palpitating stars hanging on and knitting together a universe.

Ok, try to comprehend a comet or a smile. But first, I’m asking you to empty yourself out and show me your underneath fears and doubts. Scrape off crust, exterior, and let me touch the deep you that is so well-hidden.

Collars and yokes are never shrugged off without a struggle. So show me the inside. I’ve seen the rest. Nestled between the pews of church, within the partitions of office talk, trickling sweat between lovers in seedy motel rooms – never deep enough.

I’ve heard the rest. The sounds you make over coffee, against a spray of gin, all designed to tell me what  I want to hear, what you want me to hear.

Stop impressing me a minute. Allow me to stop impressing you. Peel away the layer, the skin of the drum and tell me the beat, where it originates – its womb. Allow it to trickle out and into me. Don’t pull back. Let the noise of you spill out and capture me.

Let the touch we share agree with what ingredients we are made up of. Don’t give me the tree’s bark, I want the roots. The veins, sinew, marrow of the very heart. Carve away the part I view and allow me to feel the tickling truth that is you. And don’t be afraid, I’ll also be discarding my armor.

Allow the breathing that once pretended to be a windstorm blowing against my center core. Overcome me with you. Penetrate into me and allow me to penetrate you. Don’t button out your meaning. Please don’t zipper off your mind from me. Don’t reject my pleas as if they were lonely words emerging from tonight. Take them up and work them into a pliable communique. Barter with me, challenge me, threaten me, and finally allow us to submit to one another – both victorious. Seeking not to destroy nor to be destroyed.

Walk into me, allow me to walk into you, grabbing up all of what makes us whole and complete. Holding one another’s beliefs and values in both hands to be closely examined and held with care. And as I pass through and into you, remember how we are all one. How very one we all are.

Green lights shimmering and telling us that it’s alright to pass into one another await us. Swim into my current, fly freely into the brightness of my light. Hammer your confidence and your secret you into me. Allow me to shatter the bricks and mortar and gain entry into you.

Don’t polish your exterior, don’t paint your interior. Slot me straight into you. No detours, no bull. Just tell me where you are. Don’t leash me to you, but allow me to pull myself into you. Come not against me, but into me. Allow us to intertwine and become one another.

We touch the grasses together, we become the universe. And when we become ourselves within the universe, and within one another – we make love.
Copyright 1974 Kieran York

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Please check out my poetry in the best-selling poetry collection, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series: Roses Read, Volume 3; and Wet Violets, Volume 2. Edited by Beth Mitchum. These books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

If you’re interested in romantic fiction, Please check out the 2013 Lambda Finalist in the Romance category, Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order though Bella Book Distribution for Books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon 

Poems of Yesteryear

POEMS OF YESTERYEAR

On this layback Sunday morning, I chat and laugh with those I love. I survey the backyard, and my plans for intermingling herbs with sweet vegetables, and with ingenuity. And I rummage through my papers and books of yesteryear.

This morning I found two poems in a previously published book of my poetry. The year was 1976 – at least that was the report on my copyright. The poetry could have been written anywhere from the invention of earth’s stones – to 1976.

Although most of my poetry is now written on a computer – those poems were either handwritten or they were composed via a typewriter. They are both written from my heart as a youthful writer.

Heart as a writer! Hmmmmmm. Is that the heart that batters its way across a landmine- filled acreage of words? Punctured and mutilated, and sometimes exiled and scorned? Is it the heart that finds joy in a simple phrase? Or is placed upon an altar, or emulated, or loved?

Although at the time I primarily was writing journalistic feats about twenty-story buildings being tossed together, and a lost dog, and maybe a blurb about a fifteen-pound cabbage.

I took breathing time on Sundays to write poetry, stories, and other scribblings. “Mood Typer” and “A Writer” were two of my contributions – they explained the emotion and the longing I had and have for words.

MOOD TYPER

From the keyboard of existence, I sketch moods.
Exaggerated and underplayed, I twist events to manufacture poetry.
Jotting words that translate time.
Feisty and aware, counterpart to the zealot.
Downtrodden, lingering and shirking my duty to execute an exacting appraisal.
Argumentative and callous, when looking at the harshness of past events.
Sensitive, weighing carefully, I observe with compassion and love.
Objective and subjective, and seldom realizing the difference.
Trying to evaluate a never-ending series of emotion.
Slicing away at the words and editing out the milder moods, I am.
Penciling in the sideshows – developing a continuation of thought.
Meaning it, as I attempt to create mood portraits.
With quiet desperation – wanting to understand.
Feeling the vibs generated by a network of today.
A compulsive attempt to paint a social commentary – I pound a keyboard.
Going deeper and deeper into that commitment to capture an illusion.
Secret revelations of the interior have clutched me tightly.
Bypassing punctuation and carving away adjectives – I pour words.
Self is being exposed.
Painful, elevating, exhausting, and mostly meaning it.
Mostly attempting to mean it.

COPYRIGHT 1976 Kieran York

A WRITER

An interior flasher of sorts – a writer is.
Trying for the social commentary,
I’m tapped into the Muse.
Writing and tissue-papering a chronicle of today.
Peeling back and letting you witness my tranquility and my rage.
Me.
So why are you discussing punctuation and spelling –
when we could be taking about my meaning?
Insecurities are always a fun topic.
I can tell you what hurts me.
When I feel the pangs of war, I cringe as I jot them.
When I tell of hate’s terrible chain, my heart shrivels.
And I can pull back the flesh and let you peer in to see a happy beat.
The moment I experience an unfolding columbine.
A smile from a wayward stranger, who wants to see my smile.
Who needs to recognize my human hope.
A writer is an emotional stripper of sorts.
Because of financial gains and fame?
I’m told I must first die.
Why then?
A promissory note.
I know you understand.

COPYRIGHT 1976 Kieran York

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Please check out my love poetry in the best-selling poetry collection, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series: Roses Read, Volume 3; and Wet Violets, Volume 2. Edited by Beth Mitchum. These books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out the 2013 Lambda Finalist in the Romance category, Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books Distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

Etiquette and Elegy

ETIQUETTE OF MORNING

The etiquette of morning exists within tame hearts.
Luminosity’s candor is the fresh smell of daybreak.
We are inspired by the gentle waking of earth.
As each roll of our orb shrugs us to light, we begin.
From synthetic dreams, we languish with contentment.
Trees, grasses, and flowers have a debonair strut as they grow.
Midmorning’s hesitancy bring new exhilaration.
It isn’t over, the graciousness of morning.
Unfiltered sunbeams have time before midday’s arrival.
Rays cultivate, regenerating warmth.
Even clouds give a diaphanous glow.
Mosses and lichens are encrusted upon staunch granite.
We have neared them as we walk.
Sprouting sprigs of blooming twiggy plants brush our legs.
Feathery leaves, with gentle touches, protrude.
Tufted petals open to swallow down sunlight.
They fail to recognize that they are life’s inducements.
Other breathing species crouch, and sprawl.
Mornings make us venturesome.
Propriety allows kindness.
Etiquette requires concern for others.
Romance is our greatest reason.
It is so like the gentleness of daybreak.

ELEGY OF A DAY

What is our private elegy of a day?
Are we here to take the pulse of meteors and magic?
We are humanity, and believe ourselves life’s linchpin.
Existence idles its way to become Homo sapiens adrift.
Our minds empower us with capability.
Wisdom is our resource.
Nudged by kindred concern, we attempt to please one another.
Yet we require stop-signs and fences.
Trapped by earth’s gravity, be banish one another.
But also, we covet the humanness we share.
Our mission – could it be learning the world?
Understanding our bounty, as well as our hazards?
Or living with the vicious nature of an earth searching mischief?
Our planet’s divine and disheveled moments are everywhere.
There are magnificent plundering experiments – yet we remain.
Our inscription is a riddle of antique messages.
Time has welded many clues within earth’s crusty quarry.
Nature has been compressed by carved ditches, and sprawling waters.
Outside our periphery are whirling gigantic marbles.
Within our own is a strident exchange of arctic blasts and blistering lava.
There is a mystical research of nature long ago sealed away.
Life’s residue reminds us of our value.
Nudged from rock and soil, we migrate.
We learn our world and ourselves – if we are fortunate.
We come to know another heart – if we are blessed.
Our elegy is the day we spend here together.

COPYRIGHT: Kieran York

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Please check out my poetry in the best-selling poetry collection, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series: Roses Read, Volume 3; and Wet Violets, Volume 2. Edited by Beth Mitchum. These books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

If you are interested in romantic fiction, please check out the 2013 Lambda Finalist in the Romance category, Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books Distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

My latest book, Careful Flowers is scheduled for release mid-Summer.

Lace and Denim

LACE AND DENIM

Lace and denim – I wear them both.
As I’ve aged with the splendor of lace and the durability of denim,
I’ve inserted both inside my poetry and prose.
My youth has faded into after-hours times.
Tarnish may have built up, but patina is well-layered.
Yet my heart is never far from being center.
I’m in the middle of a tranquil and wondrous life.
I chuckle when admitting that my emotion
compares to a well-ridden horse.
Much of my life I’ve been a stray mustang.
I’ve galloped lighted paths enamored with all.
My mainstay has been interior peace.
I belong to a once-hidden sisterhood.
We are now in clear sight, and proudly so.
Our love is mostly a generous guardianship.
Shakespeare had written about black vesper’s pageants.
Okay, over the years I’ve had wounds,
but they became my heart’s foster care.
Sappho mentions her heart has been shaken by love.
My winter song is unshaken.
I wrap my skin with lace, and then slip into denim.
Perhaps we women exist within our own revolution.
We share healing psalms, and the embrace of reverence.
Sonnets are written when exuberance throws off sorrow.
Romance is an ego massage kneading another’s heartbeat.
Indoctrinated by homespun philosophy,
my epigram is nearly always visible.
Genet speaks of love’s worst traps;
Whitman asks if self can be given.
I know very little about the fabric of humanity,
other than the moments I love.
Youth recognizes odes to ovaries.
Age knows the edit by heart.
And I’ve learned the kiss of a sunrise is magnificent.
Just as the embrace of moonlight warms me.
So many patches cover my ancient soul.
I believe in words spoken by wisdom through letters.
Compositions speak to all ages, all through the ages.
My existence has been a song only time can best sing.
Romance and friendship are the handrails of living.
Lace and denim are my armor – I wear them both.

COPYRIGHT: Kieran York

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Please check out my poetry in the best-selling poetry collection, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series: Roses Read, Volume 3; and Wet Violets, Volume 2. Edited by Beth Mitchum. The books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out the 2013 Lambda Finalist in the romance category, Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available  through www.bluefetherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books Distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

Sapphic ABCs

This short story was titled, “Masquerading As Myself,” when it was first published. The collection of my short stories was Sugar With Spice, and copyrighted in 1989. For whatever reason, it became my signature story – the one I was asked to read during all reading and appearances. Everyone called it the ‘ABC’ story. So I’ve changed its name.

I’ve also changed a few things in the story – you might say sanitized it. Or tidied it.

SAPPHIC ABCs

However did I get to be the grand old dame of dykesdom? I had not intended on recruiting disciples. At least not until after my sixth birthday, I mused. Sighing, I narrowed my eyes. Bones were now fragile, and my arms and legs were now spindly. Ninety next week, I reflected. No more sweethearts and goddess festivals for me. But I could huddle in the confines of the nursing home room and relive those memories. I could pull up the blinds of years spent, and re-spend them through my reversed dreams. I did remember my Sapphic ABCs.

Abigail was memorable, even at six-years of age. Her coils of blonde curls caught the sunlight an if they were spun gold. At six, I had not learned the fine art of seduction. We’d gone into the huge, dim barn and bounced our frisky bodies on a hill of hay. Abby always enjoyed new games. My instructions for the latest games were easily and willingly followed. I would crawl on top of Abby and try to hold her down. In the end, I either tried too hard, or Abby didn’t try hard enough. At any rate, our game continued for the next couple of years. The barn never seemed the same after Abby’s family moved South.

Belle was one. She was an older woman. I was eight and she was nine. She was fetching when she took off her skirt and wade out into the lake. She taught me the joys of deep lake diving. A skill I would never forget. Belle became bored with me when she discovered boys were the acceptable commodity. Broke my little ten-year old heart. So much so, I gave up women until I was eleven.

Caroline brought me back to life. Fat little rosy face, freckles as large as liver spots on her face, and bright cinnamon hair that pleated down her back. She told me that it was fine if I played with her ‘down there’ whenever the spirit moved me. She talked like that because her father was a Baptist minister. I made certain that my spirit was gyrating plenty.

Desiree was an intellectual. When I was thirteen, her French family moved to town. She called the attic our maison de rendezvou. Desiree taught me all the French that I know while snuggled up together under two old bedspreads. My heart was given free-rein and our kisses were hot, deep, and damp. And everywhere. She was French.

Edith was my roommate at normal school. Prim and proper, her vow to never have a curling iron touch her hair was fine by me. Her long, silken bronze hair and sleepy copen eyes had captivated me. Masturbating, she told me, would put her in the devil’s camp and there she would be given her white cane. But I was not blind, I rebutted. She was won over after allowing me to show her my handiwork. It was nothing at all like her neatly stitched pillowcases. She married a dentist.

Frances was a runner. She entered races and taught me to swear. She was expelled for obnoxious behavior and drunkenness. As she packed her valise, she grumbled that it was just what the doctor ordered. Why hang around in a musty library when Flappers are taking over the world. Frances could move her hips in tune to anything. She would make a wonderful Flapper, I praised.

Gladys was also a teacher. It was my first position after my education was complete. Or at least I thought it was complete. Life in the small rural area would have been too boring for words had I not been rescued by Gladys and her ladies’ club. The first time I unfastened her long raven hair, and it tumbled over her ivory shoulders, I gasped. Her deep somber eyes smiled on me. And I became her mascot until her family insisted she marry. And hubby insisted that she quit work and raise a family. My ego was yanked around on that affair. But there were ice cream socials to attend.

Hortense scooped an extra large dip of strawberry ice cream and plunked it on top of my cone. She was a pious scamp with long, dexterous fingers and a cloud-white smile. She told me that she wasn’t certain if it was the heat, or if I was taking her breath away. I’d packed a picnic lunch for us the very next day. We trespassed onto some farm land, and I rested my head in her lap as we reclined under a tree near a brook. It was all very picturesque. I felt a gleam inside when we first rolled around playfully on the blanket. I picked her a bouquet of wildflowers, and they were smashed when our uncontrolled hips locked and pressed. I have always adored both ice cream and wildflowers.

Ida was a delightful trouble maker. The way most of the women back then whipped up a batter of yellow cake, she stirred trouble. I didn’t know until she had enticed me with her charm that she was that sort of woman. I only knew she had thick auburn hair and luminous hazel eyes. When she wore a frock that showed her breasts spilling and heaving, I was lost. She was witty, sarcastic, and poignant. She loved experimenting, and I loved being experimented with. But soon she turned on me, rather than turning me on. She wanted us to live together. I was extremely happy when the job I had applied for came through. I moved.

Jane was a lonely woman. There was a lusterless, introverted way about her. Her hair was ash blonde, and she wore it twisted into a saucer atop her head. She reminded me of my mother. I tried to teacher her the joy of filling one’s heart to the brim with love. She had never truly wanted to learn. Jane married a cruel man who as in the banking trade. He had very stale breath and betrayed her.

Ketti was one of the two great loves of my life. The moment I saw her flaxen tresses, and sparkling aqua eyes, her gleaming smile, and her taut breasts, I melted. She sold pastry in her father’s bakery. I was weak from the first time she slipped a sample of gingerbread between my lips. My world was dazzling when we made love. Ketti’s parents were killed during a robbery in their home. Ketti had found them and was certain that God was punishing her for her love of another woman. She vowed to give me up. My tears were nonstop for a very long time. The murderers were never apprehended.

Laura lifted my spirits. A ballroom dancing instructor, she had short, midnight-black hair that was slicked down against her oblong, thin head. Her skin was white, but she spared no rouge and no eye-makeup. Her cherry red lips were puckered into a rosebud when we met. Her gaiety touched me – aroused me. Her thin sorrel eyebrows were comically arched and she lustily moved her stick-thin body with ease and grace. I was quickly replaced and she later died of consumption.

Maureen was a very mannish woman. She enjoyed dressing the part. She was stocky, and dark. Her eyes were coal-black She knew her stuff when it came to women’s bodies. I soon tired of her objections to my reciprocating. She would rather be horse-whipped, she announced. I hated leaving her, for she had the most beautiful eyes I’d ever witnessed, but her conversation was much too tedious for me.

Norma was bright enough. She was also a teacher and she understood the value of intelligence and knowledge. She was rather a novice to the fold, but she was tender and savored love. We had a falling out over Radclyffe Hall’s belief that we are congenital inverts. One of us contended that we were made not born, the other believed we were indeed womb-dyked. I don’t recall which side I was on.

Olive and I met when the war was beginning. She worked in a factory and had never been with a woman, but she wanted to experience Lesbianism. She did everything but throw me on the floor. She had a lovely body.

Petrina was a strange duck. She had a frozen expression and was very beige. Beige skin, hair, eyes…she was the beigest person I’d ever seen. I was captivated by her dry, beige wit. Sex was lousy, mind you, and needed to be begged from her. I think she was delighted when I left, for she called me over-sexed behind my back.

Querida was my Latin lover. With pendulous Latin hips and pressing, great cantaloupe-sized breasts. My heart nearly stopped with passion for her. I had never been so warmed. She had assuredly never worn a training bra and told me she had blossomed by age ten. The flowering continued.

Ronalda was a tiny thing. Coy, she had been insatiable in bed. Her grinding pelvis and her shrieks were testimony to her joy. She was, she claimed, reincarnated from Sappho. Her spiritualist had irrefutable proof of it. Ronalda spent most of her sizable inheritance on astrology charts. When she found out our charts were mismatched, she broke off. I had provided her with Petrina’s birth date.

Sophie was my second and final great love. She was Jewish, with bronze skin that looked to be recently anointed. Her eyes were pewter gray and her beautifully coiffeured chestnut hair shined. When she first grinned teasingly in my direction, I would have followed her forever. I would have. We spend nearly sixteen years together. She died in my arms of cancer. But we had traveled Europe together on half a dozen summer vacations. And we had traveled together.

Trudy believed I was the messenger and repair person for broken wings. My mission was to make her laugh. She drove a delivery truck and drove everyone else crazy. Trudy quickly attached herself to me. She drank a six-pack of beer each night, and pretended she was Chita swinging from jungle branches. She was heavy into fantasy and I refused to wear a loin cloth. The relationship was over, almost the same time it began.

Ursula had a very bad habit of chasing every skirt she saw. She was an activist. She went dancing every night of the week, and sweat poured from her as she twirled on the dance floor. Clearly I bored the devil out of her. She filled her garage with placards for Lesbian Liberation. No More War. I couldn’t have agreed more. And I moved out.

Velma was a much younger woman. She was lovely with her lithe warm body and her glows of youth. She was insistent upon making love. I strongly suspected that she wanted to learn new tricks from an old dog. I could teach her nothing at all, but it was enchanting to try.

Wanda was a the other end of the scale. She was much too old for me. She was ready for the bone orchard and didn’t care who knew it. We got on well for attending concerts and plays and a bit of chat. She would not be called a hot number. Any sex drive that she may have had, was long ago set out with the trash. I wasn’t going through anyone’s coffee grinds to find passion.

Xaviera and I had just retired when we met. Someone to golf with, travel, and the catch-all -share companionship. After one golf game, a trip to Acapulco, and a session of talk, I’d had it. The golf greens were hideous, and Mexico was too hot, she complained. And complained. I wanted to be alone.

Yvonne was great fun. But she died.

And I became feeble. Frail, and I wondered how ever I became this Sapphic relic. Nearly ninety-years old, I mused, and wondered how the years had sped away so rapidly. Women must have worn me out, I guessed. I focused my eyes, for my daydreaming had trailed away. Another old soul was standing in the doorway of my room. I squinted. She was an attractive old bird. “Yes, dear?” I said, greeting her. “You’d like to see me?”

“I’m the new resident,” she explained. “I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself. The nurse said that you’re one of the spry old chickens and that I would like you. My name is Zoe….”

A leer replaced hesitation. “Won’t you come in, Zoe. Yes, dear old girl, please do come in.”

Copyright 1989 Kieran York

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If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

van Gogh’s Message

Over a year ago I visited the Denver Art Museum’s “Becoming van Gogh” exhibit.  Those of us in the area had awaited the exhibition for months, and years.

The career retrospective of Vincent van Gogh included seventy paintings, drawings, and prints. These masterpieces were borrowed from forty institutions and private collectors around the world. It required seven years, and twenty-two separate shipments.

Some wonder what is so important about seeing actual paintings. The answer is that in books and reproductions, so much flavor is missed. Lost in imitation of the original.

I have never been more impacted by artwork than seeing the van Gogh collection. I wanted to know his soul. I’d reached into the words of hundreds of letters he’d written during his lifetime. They were of his odyssey as a misfit and an artist. His exuberant art mirrored letters of elation. His depression was also captured in both word and paint.

But nothing prepared me for standing near his work – near enough to hold out a paintbrush and dab paint as he had. I witnessed it from his vantage point. It was like falling into the magic of the canvas.

Works were thematically selected to show van Gogh’s beginning. Early art, yet each seemed to forecast the explosive, unique, and emotional images. With his well-executed striation, he rearranged reality. From the density of paint evolved tremors of visual elasticity. Great tangles of brush strokes radiated energy. Bold nuances allowed exotic pictorial resonance to bloom.

How did Vincent van Gogh become the master of the Post-Impressionist period? Many critics consider him to be the greatest painter of all times.

From the amazingly different way the Dutch-born artist approached his art, we all came to look at art differently. Other artists were influenced by his thick, heavy colors. The public was impressed with his enthusiasm, and coloristic warmth. Across the surface of his canvases, and paper, we saw intensity, and felt his restlessness.

I’m not an art critic. I’m not an art expert. I’m someone who simply loves the creation that art is. So I shall not attempt to do anything other than give my own slant on what that marvelous day spent with Vincent meant to me.

Van Gogh wasn’t a perfect human being – he was admittedly flawed. But his search to give the world perfect art was not flawed. After reading his entire collection of letters numberous times, I found so much humanity – in both the man and his art.

From a letter written to his brother on July 26th, 1882: If you work with love and intelligence, you develop a kind of armor against people’s opinions, just because of the sincerity of your love for nature and art. Nature is also severe and, to put it in that way, hard, but never deceives and always helps move you to forward.  

His words and his works tell so much about his becoming his own artist. The essence of the man is difficult to know. But I know more since seeing the monumental exhibit of his works. Viewing the herculean collection was up near the top of my bucket list. Achieved!

To share with you what I felt when I was within the interior of this group of paintings seems an impossible task. What I can say is that his work displayed in books does not touch the surface of emotion. His soul seems to have bled onto each canvas – which is visible in person only.

The downtrodden, bedraggled, eccentric had the melody of genius tapping to the tune of his brush. Of that I was convinced as I moved toward the painting A Pair of Boots, I heard the click of the boots as they hit the cobblestones. Van Gogh had recorded the battered worker’s boots – giving them their own dignity.

His paintings Peasants Planting Potatoes  and The Potato Eaters are done with a combination of reality and reverence for their work ethics. In one of van Gogh’s letters he explained: I plow my canvases as the peasants do their fields.

He had painted and sketched those fields. He filled his brushes with paint and exacted elliptical, dynamic strokes, and repetitive linear structure. He worked quickly, producing a treasure trove of work in a short lifetime.

And when criticized for the rapid creation of his impressive oeuvre, he responded to his brother Theo: So if people say that my work is done too quickly, you can reply that they have looked at it too quickly.

Thankfully, he continued to rapidly thrust pigment in his unique curvilinear flow – creating surface rhythms. As I walked through the museum’s rooms, I was in no hurry. I wanted to memorize the magnificence of wheat fields, portraits, and still life.

Works such as Pollard Willows at Sunset, Basket with Oranges, and Head of Gordina de Goot, brought tears to my eyes. One of my very favorites, Cineraria, bound me to it for nearly twenty minutes. As did Peach Tree in Blossom and River Bank in Springtime. As if being embraced by the paintings, I did not look too quickly.

The exhibit’s exit was with one wall of three of van Gogh’s self-portraits. They had never been together before. I looked into the agitated eyes of Self-Portrait. I saw the dignity, and tenderness of Self-Portrait with Straw Hat. And the many expressions at once in the eyes of Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat. I saw in three sets of eyes that he was probably self-critical, intense, autodidactic, and acutely aware that his life would be one of struggling.

“Becoming van Gogh” had indeed shown the roots of his trademark style. The exhibit made my pulse rush, my mouth become dry, and all else in life paused to make way for the viewing experience.

If he were to have whispered to me, what words would the great artist have spoken? Perhaps he would have told me his style had made him an interventionist of modern art – without his having known about it. Or in secret, he might have mentioned that his paintings were devoid of props. Life was his only prop. More likely, he would have smiled, saying only one of his paintings sold during his lifetime.

Maybe his tears fell in tune with all other artists. His works were selfless gifts to humanity. For van Gogh, it was a canvas, a paper, and his image of the world’s metaphors.

For me, that would be like a poem unclasping itself and falling into the enormity of existence. All those who create seem to echo one another’s achievements.

In his final letter to Theo, he wrote: As for my own work, I risk my life for it and my sanity half shot anyway because of it – fine – but you’re not one of those dealers in men as far as I know, and you can chose the side you’re on, it seems to me, and act with genuine humanity, but what’s to be done?

His words seem not so insane. It might be a message to us all. We can select to act with genuine humanity. 

  

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If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

Please check out my poetry in a collection called Wet Violets, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2, edited by Beth Mitchum. Books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon. The latest volume, Roses Read, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 3, will be published in January, 2013.

When Evil Visits

After writing a poem years ago, I’d believed it to be completed in six pages. And it had provided me with a small national grant.

Years later when my community was impacted by the Columbine High School massacre I took the poem back out of its file. The school is less than a dozen blocks from where I’ve lived the last forty years of my life. I added a thousand words to the poem after the emotional addendum of reality that was Columbine. I believed the event had irrevocable changed our future – it had softened our hearts, and yet toughened our resolve to make certain it couldn’t happen again.

Yet our nation braced with pain as we endured 9-11. Again, we interviewed our souls, and I added another two thousand words – making my poem a volume. Each time, my own certitude was dimmed.

Now, another loss of innocent victims. This time equally unthinkable – small children. My heart breaks with the loss of these youngsters. My prayers and good thoughts go to their families.

In Columbine, we had signs, and bumper stickers inscribed: We are all Columbine. Today, in our hearts, we are all Newtown.

We inhale both rancor and vengeance. We exhale sympathy and regret. Our country endures, and hope is smudged. But perhaps it is time we examine what the violence is telling us. My poem, “We, An American” is now just under 4000 words. I can locate violance and evil. But I can’t describe it.

Years ago I’d gone on a quest to search out the soul of our country. Perhaps it is now complete, yet I feel the subject matter is still as unknown as it was before. For how does one ever understand a mind gone so far away from empathy. Here are excerpts from WE, AN AMERICAN:

WE, AN AMERICAN

We, an American
as written by a cynical jester,
as written by a melted stoic –
We, are the heart and soul of an American.

Printed in desperation,
hoping for a storybook ending,
yet we realize our conclusion
is a fragile and fated gift.
For we are published by accurate reason.
We are strung with beads of confidence.
We chain with an adhesive grasp
to a heritage believing in possibility –
thwarting impossibility,
often confusing the two.

We are a masterpiece community of Americans.
We interlock a continent with our wealth.
We often ignore poverty,
and we blend and believe together.

We are in concert with our own self-deception.
We are in unison with the brief reality
of our covert hearts.
And of our candid souls.

Spirituality ripens us;
false god concepts rip us.
There is the lonely rift that persists
when worship evolves.
And when crowds insist on perfection
of their belief.
There is the genetically charged armor
made of knitted humanistic love.
We are rocked by changes
brought by louvered rules

We recoil from dreams
that become a trap-door.
Sin inherits the caves of our minds.
Indiscretions are stationed within the limitlessness
with which crime allows itself.
For murder diseases humanity,
as corruption become intolerable.

Humanity, with transgression,
harkens as an instrument of its evidence.
A fine-tuned perception is in error too many times.
A tribe, we are, of selfless altruists.
A community, we are, of egotistical misers.
A citizen, we are, of autonomy and amazement.
Our cities are ransacked,
as our weakest are brutalized.
With contusions, we await praise.
With abrasions, we trace our ambushed pride.
Behind the guard rail hides silence.

Treasures are lost to looters, and lovers.
They become our religion, our residence, and our heart.
With a see-through soul, we wish to be located.
Yet our heart is cloistered.
We become disenfranchised from our own tranquility.
We do not understand the main ingredient of our fortune.
It is a simple blessing.

History prods new formats with which to grapple.
Youth grants permission.
For we, an American, are pious and pugilistic,
and self-loathing, and tyrannical.
And all is a primordial and authentic description.

Violence consumes us.
We bolt from the deep grief of it
but are transfixed by the mystery of it.
How can the wild musculature of hatred
and its expletives,
wander across our lives?

We advocate objectivity,
and philosophize about subjectivity.
Maximizing doctrines of isolationism,
we minimize program of selflessness.
We sample what is synonymous
with empty words in majestic speeches.

Above all, we, an American,
are members of a two-hundred year journey –
mapped in misery,
and highlighted in esteem.
We touch today’s disarray,
financial crisis,
secular and religious aspirations,
and we often exclude reason.

We are guided by hopes
that we execute in daily smiles of youth.
The homily of those with integrity is often lost.
We are obscured behind actuality,
as we view it and as it is.
Explosive, intimidated, prodding, and generous, we are.
Crowned, corrupt, well-staged, and clandestine, we explore and expand.
We insulate opinions, we polarize into sub-cults.
We act as conduits for humanity’s irresponsibility
as we fracture kindness.

Automatic public relations smiles that we wear,
and we believe, meet the world.
We are angered, and then we continue on.
We extend our hand in friendship.
We bribe and we are bribed.

We, an American, take up causes,
and we charter beliefs,
and we climb toward optimism.
We elevate humanity;
we enrich the arts.
We structured truth,
and through gaping holes,
we fall, and keep falling.
We remain arrogant, productive, portrayed as fools
and monsters and saviors and saints.

We, an American,
are sometimes involved in our red, white and blue wrappings.
We are sometimes uninvolved in our impassioned trust.
But always, we are fortunate in our own way.
Though that way be blurred and steaming and singed,
and stretching
as we are poured
out onto the red coals of existence.
We stand again and again.
With our ballads sung by a cynic jester.
With our anthems chanted by a melted stoic,
We, an American, are.

COPYRIGHT: Kieran York

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Please check out some of my other poetry in a collection called Wet Violets, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2, edited by Beth Mitchum. Books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or ordered through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

Eternal Beginnings – To Be Continued

Recently I was mentioned in Bev Prescott’s blog – I don’t like tofu-dogs, nor do I want to be one. I had posted a quote on Facebook and it was of some assistance to her. That pleased me immensely – I highly respect both her blogs, and her amazing classic, My Soldier Too. This novel addresses the treatment of gays and lesbians in the military.

Her blog was brilliant, and she explains so much of the writer’s soul in so few words. Bravo, Bev.

That spurred my own thoughts about my generation’s love affair with the printed page. Also our quest to find literature. Yes, it was a struggle to find information on lesbianism. It was a hushed, scorned, and suppressed topic.

Unfortunately, in many areas of the world, it remains so. Yet with each level of elevated education – and empathy, there is a breakdown of bigotry. We continue marching. One paragraph at a time and one book at a time continues our legacy.

Now, there are bookstores for lesbians and gays. There are online opportunities. The publishing world is expanding and flourishing. 

Sapphics are helping Sapphics – we are supporting one another. Many of us recall the days when we were coming out – with only limited support systems in place.

I want to take you back with me to my college days of exploration. In the mid-sixties, my friends and I went on a scavenger hunt to find lesbian literature. When we arrived at the small storefront, I was selected to go into the dive that sold the books we wanted. The other two women hung back. They thought I was the least contentious, so would be up to the task.

I sidled into this questionable retail shop. Being sold were items that might be seen in a petrol service station, a thrift shop, and a porn salon – if they had conjoined into one shabby store.

Trembling, I made my way to the counter. I whispered to the clerk, “Would you have any women’s….er, books about women? Women together?”

His eye gleam told me he planned on playing with my request. “Women together, hummmm.” He rubbed his chin for impact. I glared at his obvious enjoyment. Those rheumy eyes were alive with some weird, lewd, sexual fantasy. “What’s a nice girl like you want with girlie-girl trash? Get rid of the dykes. You can get yourself a guy.”

I’m thinking he should get rid of the bulge in his groin area. Also, I think he’s an absolute p-word, that rhymes with sick. “Do you want to make a sale, or not?” I questioned.

“You’ll buy the book. You can’t find your kind of books in the library.”

He reached under the counter to pull out a few shopworn books. With edges lifting, and with torn, stained covers, these books were my connection to who I am. We were all hidden away, with souls moldering. For literature keeps souls healthy. And ours literature was difficult to come by.

I selected Querlin’s Women Without Men; Bannon’s I Am A Woman; and Rule’s recently published Desert of the Heart. It was a treasure trove, to be sure.

I’ll forever remember that night, and other times we searched to find our tradition. When I read Bev’s words, I thought about the stream of energy that is today’s great sunburst of our culture.

And it’s nice to know that we contribute to one another’s magic – as it is happening. Thanks, Bev. And thanks to all my Sapphic sisters – the writers and readers that keep us inspired.

In an interview a few months ago, I mentioned that I believe we are in a splendid lesfic golden age. I’m proud to be a part of this era. We shall continue to expand freedom – our heart’s and our mind’s freedom. Not only for Sapphic women, but for all women.

Ending as I began – a quote for today:
But since everything is an eternal beginning, I think that in the future there will still be fine days ahead for both men and women. ~ Marise Querlin, Women Without Men, last line in her book, (1965)

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If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

The Win Column…

Life is remarkable!

Last night was no more or less remarkable than any other night.

I stood on my deck looking out at the constellations above. Through a wrap of tree branches, I spotted a thin curvature of the moon’s glimmer. Both moon and stars seemed to be punching out through the darkness.

I wondered, as I examined the heavens, if those great constellations ever gave themselves a self-exam. Probed around, checking celestial interlopers?

When it got too cool for shivers not to have arrived on my arms, I closed my eyes. For whatever reason – well, my mind scurries at times, I was thinking about life. Large screen, double-wide – well, my mind races at times – I was thinking about 2012’s win-loss column. A bittersweet spring, summer, and autumn, to be sure. Wanting now, to turn my thoughts back into happiness, I thought about my nine wonderful great-nieces and great-nephews.

For whatever reason, my mind sprinted to when my five and seven-year old great-nephews and I played kickball. One of our favorite events, for sure. Cooper, Brody, and I get plenty of exercise.

Brody, the seven-year old is, just as they all are, very special. He was diagnosed with celiac disease a couple of years ago. So he is on a rigid gluten-free diet. He has never complained when being served something different from everyone else. I’ve never heard him complain – period.

He’s a tough kid, and tough contender. When he’s on a field, a court, or in a conversation, he gives it his all. And when we play kickball, he is a champion. I am no such thing, but the exercise and enjoyment does me a world of good.

I recall one game when there was a lot of scoring. I’d lost track. I asked Brody what the score was. He replied, “I don’t keep score – but I know when I’m winning.” Although I smiled at the time, I hadn’t allowed the wisdom of his words to resonate.

Last night, on the deck, I allowed them to ricochet through my mind. My world is family, friends, and writing. I count my schnauzer, Clover, in both family and friend category. My world is rich, and wondrous with what I do have. I should never consider what or who I don’t have in my life.

For instance, I wrote most of the day, yesterday. Words flowed through my brain faster than they could be transcribed. My body performed in every way that I needed it to – including a couple hours of raking leaves. I love the melody of crunching leaves mingling with birds scolding me for intruding on their world. I love the fresh air and exercise.

So last night, as I looked up at the sky, I realized how truly splendid the world is. It probably is a good thing I don’t keep score. Yet as my little hero, Brody, would say, “I know when I’m winning.”

If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Appointment with a Smile is a 2013 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in the Romance Category.

Books are available through www.bluefeatherooks.com. Or order through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon. My latest fiction is called Careful Flowers, and will be released in the autumn of 2013.

Please check out some of my other poetry in collections called Wet Violets, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2,and Roses Read, Volume 3. Edited by award-winning poet Beth Mitchum. Books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.