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poetry

Deserving of Comment

thousandeyethousandeye, or Alf to his friends, wins this week’s Comment of the Week Award—an all expenses paid link to and mention of his own site—the once semi-flippant and whimsical but fast becoming deep and poetic thousandeye—check out his heart-on-sleeve and words-on-leaves poetry (you’ll understand if you visit) before he becomes famous and haughty (or would that be "one-eyed?") A regular kind purveyor of comments, Alf went well beyond the call of readership, not only providing the following serendipitous link, Dog gets Purple Heart for saving kids, letting me know that George the Hero Terrier that deserved a medal actually got one (a heart-warming story in its own right as postscript to one already so), but was kind enough to leave one of his worthy poems for us all to read:
I have never been a cat person but dogs are definitely special. Reminds me of a poem I once wrote about my dog: Faith, my friend, You always come to me With new eyes. Will I one day be an old man whose major conversational gambit is,“…reminds me of a poem I once wrote…”? PS The dog was called Katie, not Faith!
Also deserving of a mention as regular commentators and—I hope this isn't an assumption too far—readers of A Sensitivity to Things are:
  • Shardul of KiwiCelt, who would have won the prize last week for some recollections of the 1970s—a time I can write about but not substantively remember—prompted by an eccentric walk down memory lane masquerading as a tour of patriotism, if I had but remembered that a weekly award needs to be awarded weekly;
  • Larry of Mental Blog, who claims to be“better on paper than in person,” and judging by the quality of his blog and comments here who am I to dispute him;
  • Camille of Now, who has been posting comments since before comments were deserving;
  • Tejvan of RichardPettinger.com, whose commenting style is faster than the cycling individual pursuit;
  • and finally, Sumangali of In the Spirit of Serendipity, whose comments are to be appreciated almost as much as her serendipitous blog.
No doubt I am missing a few worthy mentions, but in the spirit of reverse psychology, a glaring omission may just encourage your continued submission... Postscript: I installed the DoFollow WordPress plugin today on the semi-recommendation of NetWriting, which should further encourage those interested in search engine standing, if not good karma and authorial appreciation, to comment here at A Sensitivity to Things.

Comment of the Week

Larry Keiler of Mental Blog has just won my inaugural comment of the week competition. Apologies for the lack of warning but, seeing as this blog is dedicated to—and occasionally written in—the spirit of meditation, if you weren't on the same wave length, well... better luck next time. Larry’s prize? A mention—in fact a word-for-word quotation—and a link back to his well worth the read and I'm not just saying that because he was nice to me blog.
I think the main flaw of all of our youthful writings is that it tends towards the purple. The fact that it’s self-absorbed and angst-ridden is just the way it is and probably always will be. It takes a special sort of genius to be a young genius. But it also takes a special sort of genius to even attempt writing (anything) in one’s youth. I wrote similar stuff to yours when I was young. And now I think I’m blessed that I had the courage to do it, and the outlet it provided. (Because I was angst-ridden and hormone-hyped and drug-addled and generally confused…) Many of my friends did not have this. They became 100 yard hurdlers and racewalkers. We’re all writers, else we wouldn’t be blogging would we? But even now, most often I write ME. Even when I’m thinking through other characters, I’m still writing ME. And in a certain sense, I wouldn’t have it any other way. For a while I wrote Jack Kerouac. Or Kafka. Or any other writer whose name starts with K. Now I get to write Keiler, for better or worse. ...In my first year of university, I wrote a short story with a rather“Book of Revelations” ending involving snow. My professor said it reminded her of the themes raised in Margaret Atwood’s“Survival”, a particularly Canadian book. I’m not sure I still have a copy of that story, but looking back on it now, I remember it as being simply over-wrought.
Outstanding comment Larry. Which leads me on to, or more accurately, back to, my favourite topic of all. You guessed it—me. Funnily enough, as Larry relates, I also wrote Jack Kerouac for a while, and am grateful to ‘Ti Jean’ for his“first thought best thought” approach to writing. Experimenting with just pouring the words out upon the page, never looking back like Lot of The Book of Genesis—just write, write, write and don't worry what you write—all of this helped inestimably in the thousand-page journey to find my writer’s voice, and to my blessed relief, liberated me from the quagmire of over-analysis and hesitation. About the time I was writing purple-hued, post-adolescent poetry, I landed a weekly column in a university newspaper—a particularly daring move considering I had all of two completed articles to my name. With twenty-six, due by 12pm Monday at the latest ahead of me, I was soon writing come agonising over-wrought, over-thought think-pieces on topics as diverse as Walt Whitman, Martin Luther King and myself. I think you can guess which topic was the odd one out. The column—This Side of the (TV) Screen, collapsed after only twelve editions, crushed under weight of over-expectation and a nagging self-doubt. The task of six hundred worthy words a week seemed a mountain too high, and, despite knowing better, I couldn't help but compare myself—unfavourably—to a fellow columnist, who wrote the most eloquent, lyrical pieces I had then ever seen. Despite my self-perceived flaws, the editor—son of a famous New Zealand poet and an emerging playwright—was more than encouraging, and looking back now—beyond the tears of frustration and sense of failure—it was a good learning experience—a commendable first start. As an aside, I never met my columnist colleague that year—he was a secretive, mysterious scribe, and seldom ever seen. Several years later however I did, by which time I had graduated to Production Manager—he still a columnist. Would you believe it—despite his paper-eloquence and pen-in-hand wit he was in person nervous, neurotic and to the extreme meek, virtually apologising for his contributions before he even submitted them. Who would have thought...
No Failure No failure, no failure. Failure is the shadow Of success. No failure, no failure. Failure is the changing body Of success. No failure, no failure. Failure is the fast approaching train Of the greatest success. Sri Chinmoy, The Dance Of Life, Part 13, 1973
As someone once said, failure (upon failure) paves the road to success. And while I’m composing my victory speech, I should say that I couldn’t have done it without meditation.

Back from holiday

Elizabeth BrowningNot a few of my readers come to me from Sumangali.org, and so, in the spirit of serendipity, and just a little charity, let me return the favour and announce a return to blogging form: Truly... Nothing's Small. Which gives me a convenient excuse to mention poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whose poem forms the title of the afore-mentioned, prodigal post. Just when you think you know something about poetry (I don't), you go and discover a new poet, and have to start all over again... Here is a little Browning sample, from ‘Book 1’ of Aurora Leigh:
I, alas, A wild bird scarcely fledged, was brought to her cage, And she was there to meet me. Very kind. Bring the clean water, give out the fresh seed. She stood upon the steps to welcome me, Calm, in black garb. I clung about her neck, -- Young babes, who catch at every shred of wool To draw the new light closer, catch and cling Less blindly. In my ears, my father's word Hummed ignorantly, as the sea in shells, `Love, love, my child.' She, black there with my grief, Might feel my love -- she was his sister once, I clung to her. A moment, she seemed moved, Kissed me with cold lips, suffered me to cling, And drew me feebly through the hall into The room she sate in. There, with some strange spasm Of pain and passion, she wrung loose my hands Imperiously, and held me at arm's length, And with two grey-steel naked-bladed eyes Searched through my face, -- ay, stabbed it through and through, Through brows and cheeks and chin, as if to find A wicked murderer in my innocent face, If not here, there perhaps. Then, drawing breath, She struggled for her ordinary calm And missed it rather, -- told me not to shrink, As if she had told me not to lie or swear, -- `She loved my father, and would love me too As long as I deserved it.' Very kind.

Bad, bad, so very bad…

WritingI've been avoiding doing this for a while. Almost ten years in fact. It has been a decade since I first discovered poetry—probably a little later than most in truth. No longer an angst ridden teenager but still angst ridden, I was in my early twenties and the right side of a university arts degree—not the usual or most direct route to a love of verse and crafted, written word, but then any route will do. As William S. Burroughs once said, and very much after the fact: every writer fears the amount of bad writing he will have to do before he does any good. And I really did some bad writing. Long hidden at the bottom of a box and I long hiding from it—notebook after notebook of poetry and wild-eyed, stream of consciousness writing. Best forgotten but compelling like a car-wreck, they are the rubber-neck memoirs of a tortured youth—page after anguished page of over-wrought, over-thought poems, almost poems in truth. With the benefit much bad writing written I can discern a semblance of a poetry in the output of this younger self—a single sentence or stanza attempting to take flight, but that is all. The seed or germinating idea for a poem is present, discernible just, and the formative experiences certainly are or were—the messy, moving stuff of life clamouring for poetic expression, but the ideas and emotions are never fully grown, written down in full. Aim, concentration and focus are all wanting badly in these poems, scattered in the winds of distraction, perhaps personal dis-function as well; lost before the wisps of substance and meaning could bind together and form. If my poems had been written consciously they would be great art—if the compelling, true to life back story, clearly discernible now with the benefit of time was actually present on page—but alas such is not the case. Instead they are the reflection of the artist as a young, very young man, but not a true or worthy portrait—words writ blurred and myopic, pen tripping over clumsy mind, spilled out without thought as page over page of stumbles, heart scribbled in the margins, wanting to be found. I really can't believe how bad they are—how bad I was. Melodramatic emotionalism without restraint, turgid, vapid—subtly but a dream, the shores of sensibility—and just plain sense—a long way off. Exhibits of an obsession with fruitless self-analysis, and a futile search for meaning in the mud of mental and emotional obscurity. Thank God I got over myself. Thank God I stopped writing poems about myself.
If I was perhaps different Then what would I be? Would the life I have lived Then mean nothing to me? What road would I travel And where abouts would I go My journey now falls behind me Ahead nothing I know
And another...
Whatever you know I know something better bigger, vaster, Eternal. Whatever you are, I am something more— something Infinite. You torment me, torture me rage on within me But your torrent of noise is your weakness not mine O cornered ego O delusion and distraction Your angry shouts and wounded howls invoke a death from which you can not hide. You, not I.
Update: From one brain to another, although hopefully not so tortured, check out the Monday Poetry Train at From My Brain to Yours.

When I heard the learn’d astronomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer, When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars. Walt Whitman astronomer.jpg

Follow the rainbow

rainbowman.jpgI'm having a great time at the moment following the site stats for A Sensitivity to Things. Which is not to say that I am statistically inclined, not particularly any way, not like one of my webmaster friends, who writes articles on economics in his part and full time; rather, I am enjoying discovering the where and how in the world people are beating a path to my door. Near the very end of the visitor origin stats, and right at the bottom of the list of search key-phrases, were a handful of surfers who visited by following a rainbow, more literally than figuratively, their Google searches for the meaning of rainbows leading them to a recent posting of Sri Chinmoy’s beautiful explanation of their spiritual significance. I certainly hope they found their pot of gold. One search key-phrase however stood out from the rest, like a multi-hued rainbow across a sky of dull grey if you will:
“Seeing a rainbow in your living room means what?”
Er, what?! I think a rainbow just appeared in my mind... I told you I was having a great time—a seemingly simple phrase, a possible statistical anomaly and among all the visitors recorded a one in a thousand rarity had me more than intrigued. Rainbows are special, certainly, but a rainbow in your living room? Now that is something I would like to see! And find too. Long since through the rabbit hole, I am compelled to follow this rainbow further... A quick search of Google (0.22 seconds for the statistically minded) revealed 1,190,000 potential answers. Curious to see where an in-the-spirit-of-serendipity search would lead me, and mildly interested to know how high my only-several-weeks-old website was ranking, I followed a rainbow to the following sites, listed in rough order of search ranking and ability to catch my fickle eye:
Harmonic Concordance “Creation began with a tone, and so it shall end as all is about harmonics.”
Forgetting for a moment my just created philosophy of colour-dazed search, I stopped for a moment to read, reminded of a conversation overheard in childhood about how you could destroy the entire world with the right harmonic frequency (!), although ‘wrong frequency’ it seems to me would be a more apt description. Several paragraphs in though I draw back the reins of my eyes—it is time to press on and follow the hand of serendipity rather than the heels of distraction. Moving down the list and then to the next page, my eye is caught by the name of the following site, and upon further investigation, its writers’ disturbingly positive outlook:
A mommy going crazy “I see the rainbow! This afternoon I am feeling much better, I still have my wrist in a splint, but that is my only obstacle I am faced with today, YEAH!”
I have often wondered how to live with psychic gifts. The next site tells you how:
Living with your Psychic Gifts “As for your psychic abilities, it seems to me you are both a healer and an empath. Different abilities can combine like this, it isn't uncommon. The heat you feel is the movement of the healing force through you. Let it happen! Set an intention that you will heal them, see positive white or rainbow energy flowing from you into them. Read Hands of Light and other healing books. The world needs more healers!”
rainbow_storm.jpgHmm, I read that book once. Kind of made me feel bad for not being able to enter into other dimensions as easily as described by its author. Luckily I discovered in time, and not without bruising my forehead somewhat from repeated trying, that there is more than enough in the right here and now to fascinate and amaze, let alone any other plane of existence. It just requires a certain attention to detail, an open heart, and the ability to see the world as a child once again. But what about rainbows? Aren't we supposed to be following a rainbow? Back to the search...
Living the dream—A Rainbow Start “Saw this rainbow while I was preparing to bathe, really happy to see it on a New Year’s Day (: Not being auspcious or superstitous here but it just bores well for a New Year.”
A rainbow on New Year’s Day? A fellow fan of syncronicity it seems. Glad to have made their acquaintance. I suppose I’d better stop ignoring all of the ‘New Age’ search results. Yes, nobody has a monopoly on wisdom and insight (especially not myself), so I really shouldn't be so dismissive of crystal gazing, well-meaning wearers of rainbow coloured sweat-pants...
the meditation room, your window to the world of life after death “The Fifth Chakra: This is the throat chakra and deals with communication, expression and judgment. It has the color of blue, the crystal stone is blue lace agate and it has the musical note of "G". The blue lace agate crystal stone will help with expressing how you feel. In other words to help clear and clarify the way you wish to communicate. This chakra controls the vocal chords, the thyroid gland and the bronchial system. This chakra can sometimes be the most important of all the chakras. Because it controls the thyroid gland, and it is this particular gland that has complete jurisdiction over the entire body. If the gland is not operating properly then it can create all sorts of very bad sickness. When in an activating mode, this particular chakra, through your meditations, will then be dealing with the frustration’s within your communications that you will have to resolve. It is with this chakra that you will question the wisdom of your self expression when it is concerned with your judgment of others. When you meditate on this chakra, your throat chakra, you will find that your voice will become a lot clearer and more fuller in depth, with the sincerity of life itself..”
Interesting stuff. And there is more. Much, much more...

Found poetry

10-things-cover.jpg I read a touching film review today, a“found conversation” on a movie site discovered in much the same way one overhears a piece of conversation, insight gained even though—and probably because—it is completely out of context; the same words heard but quite the opposite meaning to that the original author intended. In reviewing 10 Items or Less, louisecardinal from Canada accidentally wrote a poem... I wish this film was realistic I wish this type of story happened more often I wish we didn't have to go to the movies to realize that we can indeed connect with each other even if we come from vastly different backgrounds The film's message is based in the open heart makes us wonder about the possibility of another world where we meet each other from there a world where peace could be a possibility To be completely accurate, louisecardinal wrote this as a film review rather than a poem; these are exactly her words, but I removed the punctuation and broke some sentences to format them as a poem. I may have to watch this film now, for I don't mind admitting that films with heart are my most favourite films of all. I can fault louisecardinal's English, but on this point I can't fault her sentiments. Yes, I also wish that we didn't have to go to the movies, read a beautiful poem or hear a haunting song to realise that we can connect with each other. Furthermore, I wish that connecting with another didn't need the sanction or binding structure of romantic love—that we could connect with every other. 10-things.jpg I guess that's why I first got into meditation—I've known intuitively since an early age that only loving a single person, a single family or a single country was somehow incomplete. I'm a child of mixed nationalities and two countries, of Canada and New Zealand, an only child of a solo mother, yet because of this I grew up almost a part of a multitude of other families, spending time in households, with non-siblings and their parents I often wished were my own; not exactly regretting my own circumstances, but always wondering why the seemingly impossible couldn't be possible—“Why is my Mother my Mother when I also love my friend’s Mother?” There's something of a koan, or Japanese Zen riddle, to insights gained in this accidental manner. When you put aside the ordinary way of seeing the world, as such riddles ask us to do, quite extraordinary meanings can be found in the most unlikely of places. I'm not terribly concerned with the reality or not of these experiences. Yes, an argument could be made that my experience of reality bears no relation to“actual reality,” that I have abandoned objectivity for a quite delusional subjectivity. So what? It is my opinion that the sooner people realise that life is always subjective the better—our obsession with objectivity is synonymous with the loss of heart and pre-eminence of mind in today’s world. Only you have to find a true subjectivity, a notion of and experience of self based on an underlying spiritual reality. I would call this“Poetic Reality.”