What Am I Made Of The ghosts of hearts unfairly broken haunt me relentlessly my own among their wreckage and the ones still alive they kick down, through the floorboards of my brain and reverberate in the pit of my stomach Ghosts of lovers who loved me too much those I rolled eyes at, and turned away from, to crawl for miles on bloodied knees and claw at the departing feet of those who did not love me enough. Ghosts of the friends I picked apart like the vulture's beak to carrion and become angry when they no longer fed me Ghosts of friends who disappeared into the ether of life and forgot they were my solid ground I think I'm made up of ghosts all vapor and energy nothingness roaming empty of touch devoid of breath but heavy, oh so heavy in soul.
In the Dark and Light
So, last week, I hit a rough patch, and I appreciate all of the kind comments and voices of concern that were raised for my well being and in defense of the human. I wanted to take a moment, before I launch into today’s poetry (brought to you by the amazing NCW Writing Retreat I was able to attend) to reach out and say a few words.
I know all humans aren’t assholes. I also know it’s our job (each human) to try and do our best not to be assholes. To not raise assholes. To forgive those who are being assholes. I know these things. But just like holding a weight constantly can fatigue a muscle and cause injury, holding on to this dark while trying to be light can be draining, so it behooves us all to drop the weight once in a while and call out the asshole-ness when we see it. After all, our job as humans is to try to make it a better world and that sometimes means calling on others to do better by one another.
And now: Poetry:
Breakdown When we break apart to find the core of iron-will within or the soft underbelly of a soul too long denied air Then we will understand the driving nature of our force Lies not in what covers us but what centers us When we give in to the churning burn of a life outside our control the masticating masses of teeth bared in anger and fear Then we will understand that we only control the product of our own mind And we are the owners of sanctuaries or hells within our own creation When we let go of the idea that its our job to dictate the perfections of others to drive their engines to direct the film of their lives and focus instead on what beauty we can leave behind Then we will find the only fragile, and faltering peace a human can own.
Ladies and Gentleman, I give you an older work of mine for this week, refurbished and reworked. The process of poetry is one of constant motion. If you’re bored (as my children often claim they are in the hot months of summer) I encourage you to find an old work of your own and give it a refresh.
I will only be accepting submissions for a couple more months for The Beautiful Stuff’s 2021 Poetry Anthology. Send me your stuff and we’ll have an awesome little email chat.
Enjoy this little trip up a trail with a broken heart.
Exhale Who knew? (breathe in) This sickening depth of damage you’d leave? (blow it out slow) The hole so deep and wide an ache so subtly gnawing (don’t forget to breathe again…) Good riddance, I’d said (force air in) Don’t let the fucking door hit you (fake bravado exhale) I’m better off. I don’t (Gasp) Need (Pant) You I don’t need you… Air bounces around frantically looks for an exit, erupts from the empty cavern of my chest bursting its way out of my lungs. I don’t need…you (ragged breath) Hold still now. Listen. To the sound of hollowness inside, Was it like this before? Was my heart always a black hole? it beats with the scrape of metal on glass, leaves dry water rings in the bottom of a heat-baked pot. Where is the air? Dizzy Trees whirl The rumble of thunder but no relief of rain The one shoe drop. Your end of the phone dead, weighted silence. Good (shiver) Finally, you’re gone! (breathe, damn it) Finally… Tears trace down dusty length of my neck you’re (Gasp, Gulp, Cough) Gone. Darkness drops and nothing but space grows in the garden of a heart once so carefully tended. I don’t need you. (exhale)
Guest Poet: Bethany Beeler
Good morning, Beautiful Readers! Today’s blog and poem come to us from the incredibly talented Bethany Beeler. https://www.bethanybeeler.com/. Please enjoy an in-depth look at why poetry offers us intense and true experience, in an angel’s breath of time and, as Beeler so eloquently says, “poems are your and my experience of a unique and intimate moment that can’t be replicated“
I would love to see some discussion on this blog so shoot me your comments and questions. Also, look forward to enjoying some of Bethany’s poetry in The Beautiful Stuff’s new anthology “Wilderness of Soul“, out next Fall.
Here’s a little more about Bethany and where you can find her work:
Author of North Street Book Prize Finalist, How to NOT Know You’re Trans., and artist, Bethany A. Beeler was born and raised in the Pittsburgh, PA area. After college, she settled in Texas for the next 37 years with her wife Pamalyn, raising three children, and mayoring the city of Krum, TX. She’s been a professor, teacher, and tech writer. Her work has been published in The Twinbill.
Website – https://www.bethanybeeler.com/
Amazon Author Page – http://amazon.com/author/bethanybeeler
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BeautifulBuddhaBethanyBeeler/
Medium – https://medium.com/@beautifulbuddha
Twitter – https://twitter.com/bethany_beeler
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/beautiful_buddha_bethany_b/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/
Goddess fingernail moon over pines,
Crepe myrtle early
Belt, chaste and fair, Hekate
Gift and swoon. Thrush song’s
Grips my soul. Walk apace,
Brittle face, I
Take her lavender
Kiss, lips trembling. I
Sing silent, sibilant, unsated heart, hand in
Nest, breast aflame, this
Touch too wet,
Hush, her hand awash in
Me, greet, guide, hold, caress, I
Star and comet, quasar and
Dust, fecund harvest,
Birdsong lush in night of
Morn and noon. She takes
Me home too soon to sleep in
Parted lips, hastening another
In The Alphabet Versus the Goddess , Leonard Shlain says that “written words and images are
entirely different ‘creatures.’ Each calls forth a complementary but opposing perceptual
strategy.” He’s wrong in two ways—words and images are not merely complementary but are
abstractions of a deeper reality, which, of course, also means they aren’t in opposition at all.
That deeper reality is experience, which is neither an abstraction nor a material thing but an
event that is life itself. Nowhere do we better see the wholeness of which image and word are but
facets than in poetry. Poems are liminal moments of experience. If novels can be likened to
movies and short stories to snapshots, poems are not even the camera flicking on; they’re the
threshold between “on” and “off,” an event that can’t be filmed or recorded but experienced only.
We don’t observe poems. We live them.
In poetry, words cease to be signifiers but image things themselves, and images cease to be
“like” anything but word experience itself. When I write a poem, I’m both aware of and
oblivious to being watched. The absorber of a poem is eavesdrops on the speaker’s
liminal/threshold experience. I am not the speaker of my poems, but we couldn’t eavesdrop on
that speaker without me as the poet and you the voyeur. I hope you feel the same about poems
you write and ones you take in. Whether composed or received, poems are your and my
experience of a unique and intimate moment that can’t be replicated. The quality of your and my
experience and the event you and I consummate is more unique than you and I are individually.
Here, in this moment, at this doorway, we meet in a way we’ll never meet again, even upon
repeat couplings. Ours forever, it can’t be taken away.
So what is “ours” about “Another Kiss”? I love words sounding to me without my thinking about
them. I want their thud, slither, or hiss to knell me and you without their having to “mean
something.” Simply put, I try to make words “image” experience for you and me.
That being said, consciously or not, I don’t choose just any words to thud, slither, or hiss us.
Those chosen words image a river of cultural and personal significance for you and me. In a
poem, we step into a river that was there before us, caresses us right now, and will tug us after.
But you and I change its course. For the better. In a way no one alone, nor any other pairing of
persons can recreate.
But I want us to recreate, too. And “Another Kiss” is as sensual a poem as they come. I
swallowed this night, wooed by plants, scents, breezes, stars. I invite you to seduce the event, as
the event. For you and I are the event. Enjoy.
Gentle reminder that I’m still accepting submissions for “Wilderness of Soul: The Beautiful Stuff Poetry Anthology 2021”. Check out the website for details and contact me with any questions.
And now… this.
The Poet Write me a poem about love that doesn’t end in the breaking of hearts the rending of souls once sewn together in trust. Write me a sonnet where all affection is requited a balanced scale love gained and returned. Write me an ending not wrought with cages and dungeons of guilt and sharp glass and bloodlines on wrists. Write me a poem about love, that doesn’t end. Where every morning breaks in brilliant hues of hope, patience, passion divine. I cannot, I will not replies the poet For I only write in truths.
2021: The Master Plan (Also Known As: “Isn’t she cute when she gets all ambitious?”)
First and foremost, I’m rarely, if never, cute.
Secondly, I’m often falsely and overwhelmingly ambitious. Like my brain fails to conceptualize how much time 24 hours actually is, or that I’m a fallible human, or that I don’t live in a vacuum where I can do everything I only want to do every day. Still, consider this my “feeling cute, started as ambitious, I’ll probably delete it later” selfie.
(Thirdly: I hate selfies and actually, most pictures of myself. They’re too–static and flat–I prefer the reality of curves).
So, without further mumbling on my part, here’s the *tentative* plan for The Beautiful Stuff this year.
- I will be opening up calls for submissions at the end of this month (January 21st to be exact) for the next Poetry Anthology, tentatively titled “Wilderness of The Soul”. Last time it was pretty much all willy-nilly and I broke book up by ‘like’ poems. This year, I picked a theme–well, because I’m all grown up and shit.
- This year’s Anthology theme focuses on the aspects of Nature, Self-Discovery, Internal Conversations, Growth, Change, and Resilience through Hardship. I’ll be offering the exact details (length, format, bio information and all the fun legal small print) later this month so stay tuned for that.
- Also beginning this year (also on the 21st–Jesus did I not realize there were twenty nine other days in this month?) I’ll be running a fun little slice of a novella I’ve written on every third Thursday, sort of like the serial stories one would follow in the ancient days of magazine subscriptions. I labeled it Dime Store Novel because the features are campy, light, fun and adventurous. If you are interested in contributing to this experiment, reach out and lets taco about it. Yep. I meant taco.
- I am entertaining the idea of having guests bloggers (I have a limited number of posts available for those interested and with something Beautiful-Stuff-esq to contribute). More on that to come in February.
- Lastly, I will be running a poem or two every month and I encourage your feedback, sharing, and comments on those. Other than that, I’m still reserving one slot a week for a writer-writing-about-writing essay to offer advice, tips, and tricks that have helped me.
And that’s my Blog Plan–I won’t bore you with the other list plastered to my wall at my desk about finishing three novels, earning my 2nd degree black belt, continuing to learn two languages, revisiting piano, and 6 to 8 14ers I’d like to climb. Like I said, ambitious to a goddamn fault.
Take care out there kiddies, start dusting off some of your poetry so we can get it published.
Comment, email questions, or contact me anytime through this site. I look forward to a not-too-cute-but-hella-ambitious-year ahead.
The Beautiful Writers Workshop #24: The Basics of Poetry
First, apologies for missing last week. I started my Thursday morning at 2 am, driving to the trailhead of my first 14er. It was a beautiful cool day up on the mountain and I was pretty tired upon returning home.
In addition to that, and on the same day, we welcomed a new family member into our home.
So I’ve literally been climbing mountains and raising babies for the last few days and am now safely locked in my office for an hour of dedicated writing time.
Without wasting any time, let’s get into the basics of poetry.
Some of us are born with the inclination towards alliteration, symbolism, personification and all the intrinsic elements of powerful poetry. For the rest of us, becoming a better poet (progress not perfection) can be accomplished by learning the dynamics of poetry form and function.
Now, I’ve heard a lot of degrading comments on poetry that rhymes. First of all, Poetry is Poetry. It doesn’t have to fit into some MFA or Beatnik/Hipster trend to be worthwhile.
“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heavy to gaudy day denies”
Or one of my other favorites:
“When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress-tree;
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember
And if thou wilt, forget.”
Christina G. Rossetti
“There’s too many kids in this tub
There’s too many bodies to scrub
I scrubbed a behind
And it sure wasn’t mine.
There’s too many kids in this tub.”
Many a talented writer use rhyming and alliteration to build a beautiful rhythm that lends well to spoken recitation, which is one the most important foundation of Poetry. We’ll get into that a little later.
Do you need to rhyme your lines for it to be “poetic” or presentable? Of course not, as I mentioned last week, Poetry’s main function is to tell a story in the thickest, boiled down way. I do think it’s important to play with the concept of rhyming poetry, even if it’s only as a practice. It will not only help you to build your vocabulary, but it teaches you the essential dynamics of beat, and syllabic flow.
When considering how to help other writer’s have a good starting point for their experimentation into poetry I thought of the things that have helped me to grow and thrive in my poetry.
And I even put it into a bullet list because…bitches love bulleted lists.
- Read a lot of poetry : The same as in any writing, if you want to know what works, read a variety of poetry. From the classics to the more modern and experimental forms. You can subscribe to the Poetry Foundations daily poem ( poem a day ) or, invest in some independent poetry journals and magazines (http://32poems.com/ is great and there are many others). Support local poets and writers by buying anthologies (ahem: https://www.amazon.com/Small-Things-Beautiful-Anthology-2019-2020/dp/1692331558)
- Attend Poetry Readings (as social distancing permits–you can find online forum as well): The beauty of poetry, as I mentioned above, the ability for it to translate into the spoken art. Performance poetry will move you in ways that simply reading it cannot. By listening to poets read their poetry, you can catch a lot about word use, syllabic stress, alliteration, rhythm, tempo, and personification. Plus, the emotion of poetry is so much more present when someone is telling it to you.
- Start Small: You don’t have to write The Iliad. Start with a haiku (5-7-5) or even put a 25 word limit on your poem.
- There is Poetry in Every Thing: You can write a poem about a ball of yarn, a flower, the death of a loved one. Every object, feeling, action, or person can be inspiration. I once wrote a poem about a katydid I found being eaten by a wasp. I’ve written a poem about tripping. There is a poem in every thing. Find it.
- Don’t Obsess Over First Lines or Titles: Just like pausing to edit your novel or story can interrupt the flow of creativity, worrying about creating the ‘perfect’ first line will staunch the ideas. Just start from somewhere. Like any writing, poems will undergo different rounds of changes and editing. Sometimes I don’t have a title until the final edit. Sometimes I don’t ever have a title. Don’t let that stop you from trying.
- Tell a Story/ Express Big Ideas: One of my favorite things about poetry is that in a single stanza we can learn a world. Poets that are magnificent at this are: Maya Angelou, E.E. Cummings, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sylvia Plath, Chuck Bukowski, Pablo Neruda, and Mary Oliver.
- Use Tools: It probably sounds silly to remember your thesaurus but when we are working with an economy of words the difference between the right word and the almost right word is, as Twain said, the difference between lightening and a lightening bug. My favorite function in Word might be the “synonym” checker. Just make sure that it still conveys the flavor and tone you are aiming for.
- Connect With Other Poets: Your local writing groups or if you follow social media, will have groups that can help you learn more, have safe places to share, and provide opportunities to submit.
Well, that was a lot of information. On Thursday I will be featuring some poems that came in last week (one from my absolute favorite fellow Wyomingites, sid sibo, is among them) There’s still plenty of time to contribute so send your experiments my way.
Until then, good luck. Delve into reading some new poetry and exploring your own abilities in the field.
The Beautiful Stuff Writers Workshop #14: Poetry: The Quarrel with Ourselves
“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.” –William Butler Yeats
I cannot believe it’s taken me nearly all month to remember that it is, in fact, National Poetry Month. I think I may have skimmed over something in the deluge of news clips and overthought, under-edited articles that pervade my cyber space, but in a world where days blend together, I nearly missed it.
You know what coming next, don’t you?
Oh,I’m not being lazy! It’s good practice!
And its more a matter of economy–I’ve got end-of-school projects due and a Black Belt Progress check this week, and therefore, my plate is a little full. So this week your exercise is simple. Go outside, mask it up if you find yourself in a bustling park, of course, but if it’s a deserted early morn, breathe the un fettered air, allow a scrap of paper and pen to tag along with you.
Take ten minutes of just being aware of the moment. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell? Use these observations and notice how they filter and affect the thoughts already on your mind. Have a quarrel with yourself and see what arguments emerge. What solutions? What epiphanies?
Then go find yourself a favorite place to sit and write me a poem.
I was going to give you some restrictions but I think we’ve all had enough of those. Any length, any form, rhyming or blatantly against, iambic pentameter–why the f%*k not? Limerick or Odyssey, dark or light, whatever is on the tip of your brain, no matter how sharp or dull.
Send them along, and let me know if you want me to include them in the weeks to come.
I’ll craft one as well.