Sparked by Words

Archive for the ‘Just a Thought’ Category

What Do I Do Now?

Speak even when you are speechless.

Bellow when you are crying.

Whisper when you are lost.

Open your palms when words fail.

Pray when you are harrowed.

If nothing grows, plant weeds.

 

Reach out when there’s nothing left to do.

Hold others tight during a quake.

Take the hands of those who stand apart.

Give when your account is empty.

Share everything when nothing remains.

If fish die, water the oceans.

 

Imagine while you dream.

Rock while the baby sleeps.

Cradle when the aged weep.

Plan the future on the last page of the calendar.

Climb atop the barricades.

If you waver, stand on quicksand.

 

Awaken on the cusp of the new day.

Cross over as the piers collapse.

March on two broken feet.

Dance on your knees and elbows.

Crawl on the flesh around your ribs.

If you wear rags, scour the mud.

 

Avoid flight when evil approaches.

Listen to those who will not hear.

Sign for those who are made silent.

Thump your chest when your breath catches.

Pierce your heart when you shiver.

If the bees depart, bring honey.

 

Translate pain into self portraits.

Wail when words are not enough.

Write when words are all you have.

Etch in blood when your pencil breaks.

There’s always something you can do.

If not for you, for someone else.

 

 

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Painting: Mother and Child, 1914, by Julius Paulsen

 

 

 

 

 

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I Will Tell

 

An old barn is a bane to a farmer but a boon to an artist

A dilapidated shack an eyesore for neighbors but refuge for the poor

A ruined mortal a quarry for accusers but forage for the poet

No matter the cunning snake that wallows in his deceit,

no matter the smirking ghoul who destroys a career,

the gossip who barters a confidence like cheap candy,

or the trusted friend for whom betrayal is a conquest

Even the repentant face in my mirror seeks amends

 

We hold a dance in the old barn for the lovelorn,

pretending we are not the target of the fiddle’s song

We thrust our hand into the poor box, denying our hunger

for the taste of human comfort, of slaking the thirst for touch

We witness the breaking of bonds, the loss of redemption

No matter the ink dripping red and thick as blood,

beating a drum’s dirge so close to the heart

The heat of fever spreads across the dampened cloth

 

Here in the shack lit by the flame within my marrow,

nerve endings steal my breath, fright scores my flesh

All the sorrows of life and demise, of hope and regret

Just this side of one being’s view of all’s fair,

another’s sight of conflict shrieking grievance,

each begging for sympathy and a sacred verse

To me, the ash heap of sorrow and confession,

Remains the mewling rasp of story, and I will tell it

 

 

Just a thought 43

 

 

Old barn photo courtesy Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom

 

Happy 4th of July, Americans.

However you celebrate, remember that freedom is a lifestyle people worldwide struggle to achieve.

Freedom marches on sore feet. Freedom cries on an empty belly. Freedom learns in all colors. Freedom prays in many languages. Freedom hurts. Freedom heals.

We all have a stake in making the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution an ongoing force. An evolving reality that began with dissension over wordage and power. And changed. And changes still.

Be civil. Be fair. We are stronger united but many voices demand an ear. Listen. Read.

We are the face of humanity for the rest of the world.

We are the standard of liberty for all people.

Be civil. Be seen. Be loud. Be present.

March. Write. Speak. Think. Vote.

Assure rights to all Americans. Every day. Every year. Every place.

Life. Liberty. Pursuit of happiness.

Happy 4th of July.

 

Just a thought 42

 

Image: United States of America Declaration of Independence

Power of Words

Spewed in anger, hatred and ignorance stomping by one’s side, words are curses that strafe the listener.

Written thoughtfully with justice guiding one hand, empathy the other, words are sacred and hallow the reader.

Sometimes it’s the same person raising both flags – and both fists. Think Mohandas Gandhi. Think Susan B. Anthony. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hannah Arendt. Nelson Mandela. Mulala Yousafzai. Ai Weiwei. Oprah Winfrey. Abraham Lincoln. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Winston Churchill. Marie Curie. Steve Biko. Aung San Suu Kyi. Edward R. Murrow. Ava DuVernay. Bill Gates. Emma Lazarus. Larry Burrows. Mother Teresa. Jacques Cousteau. Christiane Amanpour. Rudolph Nureyev. Judith Leyster. Wang WeiLin (the Tiananmen Square Tank Man.) Kate Leone and Rosaria Maltese (the youngest girls who perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.)

Artists, politicians, speakers, writers, thinkers, doers, scientists, rebels, observers, victims and heroes all. They remember history, they stand tall, they broadcast wide, they consider the future. They honor those who went before and think of children yet to come. They plant themselves before tanks, pull down statues, write treaties, document injustice, create art, tend the poor, test frontiers, and forge pathways through flames.

The observers howl. They whisper. They incite. They model. They fail. They confess.

They get folks riled up. They calm them down. They make them feel. They demand response.

They shout in their silence and choke on their tears.

Fiction is flexible. It encourages all ends of the spectrum. Writers agitate as much as rabble rousing firebrands and salve as gently as a nurse dressing wounds.

To follow in such footsteps – I hope my words one day lead you someplace worth the vision.

There is always a reason to write.

 

Just a thought 41

 

Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819)

Francisco Goya’s Third of May (1814)

Selfie Mode

Everyone has the ability to be their own reality show. The pose, the clothes. A smirk, a flirt. Hands on hips, pooched lips. Not attached to the shadows in the corners or the nerves on the floor. Always in the limelight, shiny, sparkling, ready for the camera.

This is the big problem with the selfie generation – a flashy blip on a screen but no touching. A kiss blown in the air but no shoulder to lean on. A false sense of creativity but no genuine imagination.

Put down your phone and make real life contact with another person. That takes time but no need for makeup, effort but no public stance, sharing without showing off, listening as well as talking, and a sense for what is real and therefore really important.

Quick, before you lose yourself to the changeling in the glass and slip in the rue beneath your feet.

 

Just a Thought 40

 

Echo and Narcissus, 1903, John William Waterhouse

 

 

 

Muse

If you don’t stop agitating me, I’ll start writing a new book, and you will be in it, but you might not like the way I portray you.

If you console me and press a sharpened new pencil into my hand, you will be in the book even if you don’t recognize yourself. Still you will be there.

Know you must stand by my side and make me write. Your destiny and mine.

Such is the casualty once my trembling has stopped.

 

 

Just a thought 39

 

Photo of sculpture of two people in prayer by Cape Town, South Africa artist, courtesy CCO Creative Commons

Blowing Up the Market

J.K. Rowling blew up the book market. The Harry Potter series has been read by gazillions of people in a million languages all over the world and on Mars.

She knew her genre – fantasy – and she knew who she was writing for – middle grade readers. In other words, elaborate fairy tales for children. She worked damned hard and was incredibly lucky, lucky, lucky.*

*If you don’t believe Rowling was lucky, talk to Vincent Van Gogh who sold one painting in his life, lived in poverty, and suffered from mental illness as well as disdain from just about everyone. Today his paintings sell for millions, but he benefits not one bit.

Do not count on becoming the next J.K. Rowling. You’re a guaranteed failure if you do. Write the best book you can. Know your genre and your intended audience. Even if you self publish, you need to know those two aspects of your story or you have no chance of marketing.

And if you have no chance of marketing, you might just as well write on napkins in a coffee shop and give Mom the whole packet when you’re done. At least she’ll be able to sop up your tears.

Be as inventive as your imagination and skill will allow you when writing. When marketing, you must trek the potholed path because you can’t count on being J.K. Rowling. Even she couldn’t count on success. She queried twelve publishers before being accepted by Bloomsbury.

Work damn hard, write well, know your genre, identify your intended readers, query till your computer bleeds, and you might get incredibly lucky, become published, and sell a few dozen books.

Now you can autograph a real book for Mom.

Dear Mom,

Thanks for believing in me.

Love,

Your kid the writer.

 

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Painting Spirit of the Night, 1879, by John Atkinson Grimshaw, courtesy Wikimedia Commons