“Make it new!”

That was the rallying cry of Ezra Pound harkened to by young artists of the early twentieth century. This period would later be coined “modern” due to the rapid advancement in industry, technology, science, and women’s liberation among other things. Western civilization was pulsating with electricity. Read More

Window.

Window pane.

Window glass.

Window to the outside for my child’s eyes belonging to my little child’s body whose bottom is firmly planted on the hard, metal chair. Forever planted among lectures on the ABC’s of languid language that has been far surpassed by my fresh imagination feeding off The Dark Crystal, The Never Ending Story, the wild pursuits of a mouse in a plane soaring far above the ground, a mouse in the clouds, and a boxcar filled with children and chipped china.

Firmly planted on the hard, metal chair among posters reading, Today is a Good Day to Learn Something New, and I Can Wait My Turn, and Classroom Rules.

Firmly planted among the old and tired equations of 2+2=4, but oh what a world if 2+2= a secret door to a secret world contained in the chalkboard and all that was needed was a piece of chalk to unlock it.

Oh Aslan! Oh Aslan! I hear you roar!

Oh what a world when all that is standing between me and my firmly planted and ever increasingly numb bottom is the teacher clasping the key in her hand.

Rise up young soul! Conquer the beast! A tiny but brave voice shouts from out of the depths between spelling bees and geography where See My Horse Eat Oats is code for Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario hurrah!!

But the hand on the clock is ticking the seconds away, ticking the seconds away to the outside, the sunshine, the air and the birds. To kickball and tag and childish pursuits.

The bell rings, feet shuffle, the window is closing.

Tomorrow then.

Tomorrow.

 

 

A purple beast came from the East

and didn’t care a bit

for what he found all around

the West seemed quite unfit

to lead the world with morals furled

its hilltop light unlit

so the beast did pray and went on his way

in search of the Spirit.

 

I accept the day is light.

I accept the dark is night.

I accept wrong is not right.

I accept right can feel tight.

 

I accept tight can be good.

I accept good is misunderstood.

I accept good often hides in a could.

I accept a could would be better a should.

 

I accept my days are numbered.

I accept too soon I will slumber.

I accept it will be unencumbered.

I accept my Lord will remember.

 

Acceptance

 

Minimal is an animal

something quite sustainable

a bird which flies

a pig in a sty

Minimal is hospitable.

Minimal is an animal

something quite attainable

remove your shirt

bathe in the dirt

Minimal is affable.

Minimal is an animal

something quite reasonable

it takes what it needs

does not  over feed

Minimal is admirable.

Daily Post

 

 

 

Silence. It was what she sought out purposefully with all of the intention of a jackhammer breaking apart concrete. It was elusive, however, just like Santa or the Tooth Fairy. She could not remember when this quest for silence began. When she was ten she thought to take a vow of silence, but of course her mother pointed out the impracticality of that idea. How would she be able to answer questions directed to her by her teacher? She would surely be singled out a disrespectful, or even worse, a weird child. And God forbid she fall into a raging river, what then? She would most certainly have to yell for help. Never mind the fact that the nearest river was 62.8 miles away from her house, arguing with her mother was about as futile as hitting a piñata with a pussy willow. After giving it some thought, she was able to resign herself to the death of her vow of silence knowing that it would make very little difference if she still had to listen to the chit and the chatter of everyone else.

All of the chatter and noise that surrounded her was like a hive of bees in her head, a hive that had been knocked down from a tree by a little boy wielding a very big stick. The bees were angry. The bees were loud. And the bees were always buzzing. They chased her thoughts with their stingers ready to strike, dripping not with honey, but with hostility. And so in an attempt to escape the belligerent buzzing of the bees and their eager stingers, she jumped into a lake deep within her mind. She retreated so far within herself that she became lost to those who knew her.

The water was frigid at first, until her muscles relaxed into it. She imagined this was what death was like, a complete and total surrender of flesh, but more importantly, a complete and total surrender of mind. So she adapted ways to remain anchored in this self-made lake. Rocking back and forth, whether sitting at her desk in school or riding in the backseat of her mother’s VW station wagon, the rhythmical rocking was hypnotic and helped to keep her mind still, so still in fact, that the bees could not see her. She was tethered to the bottom of the lake, fixedly floating like an aquatic field of Hydrilla. She could see the tiny specks buzzing above the surface of her lake, like some creation on an etch-a-sketch, searching futilely for her, but she was safe in her underwater sanctuary.

And so the hours turned into days, turning into weeks and months, and as it always happens years began to pass by. So many attempts were made to place a label upon her. Strange, shy, stupid, boring, freak…but the labels never made it to her. They stuck to the surface of her lake, floating like delicate white water Lilies, until the words bled from the paper and the ink turned into beautiful, colored swirls. They became her Aurora Borealis.

I’ve conquered the dark and

the grey in between

the dark and the light

and what is unseen.

I’ve conquered the seen

and all that I know

the fears which seek

to flourish and  grow.

I’ve conquered the heights

and I’ve conquered the depths

I’ve conquered love

in all of its breadth.

But when the day comes

and I draw my last breath

the only thing to conquer

will be my own death.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/conquer/

via Daily Prompt: Echo

Sometimes I hear an echo, only it is not quite a sound but rather a memory. Or perhaps a memory of a feeling. Like yesterday, when I saw him standing there and I felt a giddy sensation of possibility. The new and exciting feeling of “love” that I only remember feeling too many years ago. And it is though I have never felt that feeling before and it is all new and wonderful and filled with a mysterious magic. But I am no longer young and I have felt that feeling before with devastating results. The echo was lovely but now it’s gone and I am finding I am ok with that.

Sometimes I will watch a married couple and I will smile. I will remember the days when I too was married and how, even though there was so much unspoken misery, there was also times of unity. And an echo of that memory when I was not alone but a part of a team, however incomplete that team may have been, will swallow me up and for just one moment I will sigh with relief. But then I remember that I am alone and the only unity I can speak of now is the unity of all of the fractured parts of myself. Yes, the echo was lovely but now it’s gone and I am finding I am ok with that.

Sometimes I will see a commercial, like the Amazon one with the Dad who drops his son off at preschool and peeks through the window to see his son sitting desolate and alone while the other children play. And I will feel the echo of the days my oldest son, who is now nearly fourteen, was in Kindergarten and he was terrified of the boys bathroom and how it sounded as if the whole world would disappear whenever the toilette was flushed. Or I will see a mother in front of my children’s school with a baby and the chubby, fleshy thighs will stir an echo of a memory of my own children when they were just babes, and oh how my heart will swell. And an ache will accompany the memory because those days are gone forever. The echo was lovely but now it’s gone and I am finding I am ok with that.

There are constant echoes of past that sound at different times: days of playing kickball in the old neighborhood covered in dirt and grime and all the signs of childhood happiness, the first kiss that released the bevy of butterflies aching to be free, the roundness of my belly that swelled with life, the long walks with those babies through changing seasons…And the feelings reverberate within my heart as if I am standing on the edge of some great cliff overlooking the world and I am shouting out as loud as I can to the universe, to God,

Thank You.

Flannery O’Connor lived only thirty-nine short years before dying from lupus in 1964, but in those thirty-nine years she left a legacy through her writing. Although she completed two novels, it was her short story collection that left an indelible mark on the literary world. One of her most noteworthy stories, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” was published in 1953 on the horrific heels of World War II and the devastating act of opening Pandora’s box releasing the atomic bomb, following the Korean War, and during the throes of McCarthyism and witch hunts that defined the Cold War. Considering the violence that permeated the world during her time, it is not a wonder that her writing was also permeated by violence.

As Gretlund and Westarp note in Flannery O’Conner’s Radical Reality, “O’Connor’s fictional world is so full of mental and physical deformities that her fate among readers is often to be placed among the writers off southern gothic whose horrifying characters and plots are seen as decidedly “grotesque” (4). It is from her Southern background and her religious background, Catholicism, which Flannery O’Conner writes with such a unique and disquieting voice.  It is also the conflict between her religious faith and the intellectual, existential, growing mindset of a country bombarded by conflict and death that O’Conner writes: “I dread, Oh Lord, losing my faith. My mind is not strong. It is a prey to all sorts of intellectual quackery. I do not want it to be fear which keeps me in the church” (3).

From a reader response critic’s view point, Bertens explains this kind of critic “mostly starts from the phenomenological position that since we cannot with absolute certainty know that we know the outside world, we must focus on how that world appears to our senses and is constituted by our consciousness” (96). In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” many readers will struggle with the very same conflict that O’Conner writes about: religious faith versus hopeless despair and even worse, an intellectual apathy. Whether the audience lived through the angst and confusion of Vietnam or whether the audience suffers from the post 9/11 terror and the seemingly uncertain beginnings of the 21st century, the reader will most likely be able to recognize the fear through the character of the Grandmother and the apathy which unfolds through the Misfit.

Other themes like the collective feeling of disconnect which comes through the actions of the family (children with their comics, mother with baby, father with his paper, and grandmother…well, grandmother with herself) is also a theme that is relevant today and felt by many people. With the ever growing isolation that social media perpetuates, divorce, and two income families in which infants are sent away to daycare among other social issues, O’Conner’s story will resonate painfully with many readers today.

From a deconstructionist viewpoint, “the words we say or read never achieve stability, not only because they are related to, and take part of their meaning from, the words that have just preceded them, but because their meaning is always modified by whatever follows” (Bertens, 108). It can most certainly be argued that O’Connor’s story is unstable up to the very end and leaves the reader with a continuing sense of instability to take away.

Bertens mentions that the deconstructionist critic believes “…there is a category of literary texts that confess to their own impotence, their inability to establish closure,” which makes them, “far more interesting than texts that try to hide their impotence, such as philosophical texts or realistic novels that claim to offer true representations of the world” (120). O’Conner’s story fills the criteria for a “more interesting” text in that while there is a conclusion (ultimately the death of the entire family) to the story, there is no resolution. The final act of the grandmother of reaching out to the Misfit can be interpreted in more than one way but regardless of the interpretation, there is no closure.

 

Works Cited

Parker, Robert. How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies. New York: Oxford, 2015. Print.

Rivken, Julie, and Michael Ryan. Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd edition. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 1998. Print.

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User Friendly Guide. New York: Routledge, 2015. Print.

Bertens, Hans. Literary Theory: The Basics. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.

O’Conner, Flannery. Prayer Journal. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2013. Print

 

We have played together underneath the sky so big, so wide. Underneath sunshine we have played in the surf, foamy delight, white surf. I take their little hands – one, two, and three – and we walk through waves. We are pushed and pulled and their laughter floats up to the seagulls. A song fills my head – children’s laughter and screeching seagulls, the crashing surf, the salt-scented wind. We build half-dilapidated sand castles framed by broken sea shells and dried out seaweed. I touch her sun-kissed, freckled cheek with the back of my hand – a mother’s caress.

I am getting tired. Life unfolding, expanding and contracting at the same time. They grow as I shrink. I lay on my back in the hot sand and close my eyes to the warm sun. A rest. A moment. Just one rest for just one moment. Though I do not see them I know they are there. One, two, and three. They are close, ever so close and I fall into bliss with the knowledge.

Time tick tocks by and when I open my eyes the sun is still high in the sky. Seagulls still screech their joy and the wind still blows a salty smell. But they are no longer near. Bliss falling away. My eyes scan the beach until at last they find them. They are walking through the waves hand in hand. They are pushed and pulled and their laughter floats up and is delivered to me on the current of the wind. Gracious wind.

A moment of panic seizes my tired heart. They are going out too far. I am not there; their hands are not in mine. What will happen to them? Just as the thoughts begin to overwhelm me to tears they disappear into the ocean. There is an explosion within my heart, my mind, my soul. They are gone.

As I let out the breath, which has been waiting ever so patiently to be released, I see them. Three smooth, grey-rounded backs and crescent tails. They leap out of the water and disappear again. I stand up and make my way to the crashing surf – foamy delight. But I know I cannot go where they go anymore. The three grey heads turn to look at me and though they are no longer my one, two, and three…they are still my one, two, and three.

They throw their heads back and release a sound, a clicking, a high-pitched noise. They are laughing. Still. I smile to them and lift my hand. Good-bye. I return to my place on the sandy beach amidst half-dilapidated sand castles framed by broken sea shells and dried out sea weed. I am tired. Life unfolding, expanding and contracting at the same time. I lay on my back in the hot sand and close my eyes to the warm sun. A rest. A moment. Just one rest for just one moment. Though I do not see them, I know they are there. One, two, and three. They are close, ever so close and I fall into bliss with the knowledge.