Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Poems and Poetry

I opened a Pandora's Box yesterday. No evil spirits emerged to haunt the world. Nothing so exciting. One of the drawer's in my roll top desk was stuck when I tried to open it. When I freed it, I was faced with "stuff." A collection of purchased birthday cards, not used. Cute little note pads. Two small tiles from Israel, a memento of my visit in 1979. And then I found various poems I had cut out and saved. Because I love them, I am sharing with you.

Larceny by Ray Mizer. "I have been put upon by thieves! I have been swindled of a song!
Who stole the fairy from the glen? What huckster sold her gleaming wings? What rustler roped the unicorn, To make powder of his horn? Who trapped the trolls from out the fen? What miserable wretched spawn, Has poisoned every leprechaun? Who bludgeoned Ariel and Puck, And trampled Venus in the muck?
The fact is king, the lute lies low: I have been cheated of a dream."

Isn't that beautiful? We have lost so much in our gadget crazed world.

Roses. And this from a child, Jason Ducharme, age 6. "One day I woke up, And looked out of my window, And there were roses all around, Pink ones and red ones, I went out and feeled them and feeled them, And they were nice and soft, Like my sister's velvet dress, And they smelled like a birthday cake, And like I would be in the woods, When I am walking."

A dear friend of mine, Maurice, who was a long ago friend of the Dali Lama, gave me this poem. Anonymous, 15th century poet. "Thou shalt knew Him when He comes, Not by any din of drums, Not the vantage of His airs, Nor by anything He wears. Neither by His crown, Nor His gowns; For His presence known shall be, By the holy harmony, That His coming makes in thee."

The trees in time have something else to do besides their treeing. What is it? I'm a starving to death man myself, and thirsty, thirsty by their fountains but I cannot drink their mud and sunlight to be whole. I do not understand these presences that drink for months in the dirt, eat light, and then fast dry in the cold. They stand it out somehow, and how, the Botanists will tell me. It is the "something else" that bothers me, so I often go back to the forests."

And last from a Calvin and Hobbes, cartoon, April 16, 1991. Calvin and Hobbes are standing on a sidewalk looking at the squares and Calvin says in the first panel. "Let's say life is this square of the sidewalk. We're born at this crack and we die at that crack." Next panel. "Now, we find ourselves somewhere inside the square, and in the process of walking out of it, suddenly we realize our time in here is fleeting." Next panel. "Is our experience here pointless? Does anything we say or do in here really matter? Have we done anything important? Have we been happy? Have we made the most of these precious few footsteps?" In the last panel, it's dark with a new moon in the night sky. Calvin and Hobbes are staring at the sidewalk.

I have saved these bits and pieces for years and years. I wanted to share my love of them with whoever reads my blog. They do not belong to me. They belong to the writers who penned them.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Creative Mind at Play

THE CREATIVE MIND AT PLAY - copyright Anita Birt.

I printed the portrait of The Lady in a Blue Dress on my blog in late July. I spotted the picture in a magazine and was so entranced by the lady, I had to write about her. Following that, I asked for interested blog viewers to write a short paragraph, 250 words or less about her. A short scene to kick off a story. I have seven entries. All are fascinating and there is no way I can pick a winner. So – I will drop the names into a hat. The winner will receive a copy of my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man, when it is released in print this fall. Below is the lady herself and the entries. I have used initials for the writers. One is from a young man. NOTE: Three entries are from published authors..

Entries for: The Portrait of a Lady in a Blue Dress. (Artist Konstantin Somov)

From: CL

A safety pin. That was all she needed. The wedding was about to begin and her bridesmaid's dress was coming apart. She had hoped to read a little bit more of the romance novel she brought with her before the ceremony. Now she wouldn't be able to. She had to repair her dress. She looked at her book then at the lovely bride. If only she could find a love like her friend.

She sighed.

Love seemed to escape her. She had dated, but not one man had made her feel special. She wanted the fireworks to go off in her head, her heart and her body the way the romance novels talked about. Her friends said she was silly, that she should take what she could get and be happy. After all she was not getting any younger.

She stamped her foot, which was not easy in the awful heels the bride insisted they wear. Why did brides always make the bridesmaids wear such horrible dresses? She was wearing something right out of the regency novel she was reading. And she needed a safety pin.

She started for the bar. The bartender surely would have a stash of pins in his domain. She stepped from behind the bush only to find herself not in the posh hotel where the wedding was to take place, but in the hanging gardens the French court was famous for.

Somehow she had been transported to King Louie XIV's royal court!

From: KG

My mother was 22 when she left her native Russia. She hadn’t planned on leaving but the circumstances developed rather quickly and radically taking the decision away from her, so that soon she found herself on a boat sailing for Germany bringing with her few of her beautiful possessions. In Germany she would find a place to hide, protection and a place where her true identity could be kept secret. Sofia’s lustrous black hair crowned her ivory flawless skin and her golden brown eyes that danced mischievously when she was amused or pierced through you when she was not. She was a natural beauty and always had the admiration of men and the jealousy of women as steady companions no matter where she went. This would prove to be a problem that would continue to plague her as she tried to keep her identity and whereabouts from reaching her enemies in Russia. A game of chess she would learn to play as well as any chess master. She contemplated her future as she gazed out upon the rolling sea. Would she ever find peace and love, she wondered.

From: JM

She never liked playing in the garden, but she did it anyway. She preferred to observe the town as it pulsed on the threshold of something beautiful. “Too many roses… not enough weeds,” she thought quietly. She always found the weeds so much more interesting. She had been hurt by roses before, pricked until she bled crimson. This was the escape she needed, he would be here soon. She felt a rush of heat; anticipation. She found a spot directly opposite a rose bush but seemed to take no notice of it at all, for her attention had already been caught by another gentle late summer breeze. There was something unique about this breeze, as it gently leafed through the pages of her journal, exposing her darkest secrets for the entire world to see. She felt alive, and naked, and she loved it. The air caressed her bare shoulder discreetly, a silent messenger, no words spoken… none needed. She closed her eyes to the world around her, drinking in each new sensation and surrendering herself to the moment, frozen in time. She felt as if she could touch everyone and everything at once. The garden seemed to heave beneath her, wrap her in a warm embrace. A hand cupped her chin delicately, gently, with a sense of familiarity that she had come to depend upon. “Open your eyes,” she thought, but dare she? This moment was too perfect.

From: TB

She wore blue today, since it would be the last time. Tomorrow it would be back to black. For today’s occasion she decided to choose her prettiest dress, one that had been given to her to wear to bring out the sunshine. She chose the one with the prettiest lace, the nicest ruffles and the fullest skirt. Marianna Karpov was attending her husband’s funeral today. She didn’t much care how he had died - someone had told her it was from a fall at the home of a mistress – all that was on Marianna’s mind was that Viktor was gone. A brutish man since the day they met, and his temper only worsened with marriage. More affairs then she cared to count, outnumbered only by the bruises he had left on her fair skin. Marianna knew few people would mourn Viktor today, so she thought ‘why not?’.Today she was free. Today she was Marianna again. Today she was whole. Tomorrow she could be the poor widow, alone and pitied, but so long as she wore the blue dress today she was happy. Marianna watched from the hill as a few people trickled in. They were mostly men who had worked with her husband, or knew him from the pub. Some men had brought their wives, women who unbeknownst to the poor co workers, had intimate knowledge of the deceased. Marianna watched as the priest arrived and took his place on the grass. Viktor would have never approved, but with him gone, Marianna could finally restore her faith.

From: MM

The story was nothing to speak of. It was in a tattered old leather bound book that she found in the library that afternoon, in a desperate attempt for something to read that would take her away from the business at hand. She had wandered into the garden to escape the crowd of guests, only to find that they had coincidentally followed her there. The book provided a ready excuse from their small talk, and she moved away as quickly as decorum would allow, finding a bench near the maze.

It was when the paper fell out from one of the pages that her concern for solitude was overwhelmed with curiosity. She hurried to pick it up, in case some sudden breeze took it away from her, and unfolded it. A letter! It was old and yellowing; she was surprised the pages of the book had not been damaged, for she could not find where it had fallen from. And it had been folded and unfolded several times to the point where it was almost tearing in half.

In an unassuming hand were written the opening two lines: “He’s dead. And my coat is ruined.” There followed an illegible section of the letter, where a piece had been torn away and could not be found anywhere – the top corner that would have included the address where it had been written and, possibly, a date. What on earth was this? As she scrambled to think of options, Jack came thundering around the corner and interrupted her.

From: JR

It was a good thing mother was dead. If she could see her daughter now, trussed up in this corset with her goods displayed and face rouged, it would surely make her cry. But Aunt Josephine said it was necessary and father trusted his sister to know more about the raising and wedding of a girl child than he did. Swallowing hard, Millie reminded herself of her mother’s words and example in the matters of courtesy and patience. A gentle nature was soothing to one’s self and others, her mama used to say. But if her aunt introduced her to one more eligible New York society bachelor as “Millicent” in that affected pseudo French way she was going to scream in a very non-soothing, ungentle sort of way.

From: AGB

Lady Margaret, Countess of Derwent, stood at the top of the staircase, viewed the brightly lit ballroom below and waited for the buzz of conversation to cease. Heads turned as she knew they would. Dancers paused. Eyes gazed upward.

Margaret breathed deeply, raised her chin, nodded pleasantly at the crowd and slowly made her way down the staircase enjoying the moment. Her entrance, if not triumphant, had engaged the attention of the guests. They stepped aside politely as she passed by but no one greeted her. In the silence whispers floated towards her. Ignoring the muted voices, she reached Lady Clementine, Dowager Duchess of Seymour-Abbeyford sitting with a group of elderly ladies at the side of the ballroom.

"Your grace." Margaret bent her knee in a slight curtsy and raised her eyes. The duchess frowned and her rouged lips tightened.

"I did not expect you."

"Did I not respond to your kindly invitation?" Margaret suppressed a smile. The invitation had arrived late, deliberately so. "I do hope I am not unwelcome."

The duchess's thin lips cracked into a reluctant smile. "Of course, you are welcome." A flick of her fan and she turned to speak to a stout matron at her left.

"It has been a long time since we last met."

Margaret clutched the leather bound volume in her hand. Trapped by his voice, she slowly turned to face him. "A very long time, Lord Ashton. Please excuse me. I am greatly in need of fresh air."

(The winner in the lucky draw was Jacqueline Roth)

Thank all of you who entered.