What’s NOT the best choice for a bedtime story? Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.

There sat my mother
   With the harp against her shoulder
Looking nineteen
   And not a day older,
A smile about her lips,
   And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
   Frozen dead.

 

Since I was lucky enough to become a grandma (thank you DIL!) I’m always searching for new and interesting books to tempt Angel Boy 2.0 and his voracious appetite for words and pictures and language. One of my favorite photos was of AB 2.0 at around two months looking intently at AB 1.0 while he read a story. We swear he was paying attention. Maybe/maybe not, but we like to think so.

I went to our local library where they have a store staffed by volunteers and always find great books-sadly some never even cracked open-and grabbed an armful.

I parked myself in a little child-sized chair and briefly skimmed through my treasures. I found a book by one of my son’s favorite authors, James Herriot, who wrote All Creatures Great and Small and Moses the Kitten, along with about a dozen other really good stories, mostly about animals (my personal interests shining through).

Somehow, though, this book slipped by…

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay, illustrated by Beth Peek.

Visually stunning, I anticipated a lovely illustrated poem that Theo would enjoy, but waited until I had already driven home to fully read this one.

UH OH, thank goodness I read it first and I’m even more grateful that Theo can’t read at all.

I know I initially read it in high school, because as soon as I saw this page, the horror I had initially felt–returned.

A bedtime story? I think not. Not unless you want to seed some traumatic nightmares! I can’t imagine what kind of positive life lesson there could be here, can you?

I didn’t remember that it ended with the mom dying, having sacrificed her life for her son, and it’s not even that I DISAGREE with that concept because I believe a good parent should place her/his needs beneath those of the innocents we bring into this universe, BUT the guilt trip that little guy will most likely endure isn’t an equivalent value for having his loving mother ALIVE.

No wonder it appeared that this book looked as if it had never been touched.

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

“Son,” said my mother,
   When I was knee-high,
“You’ve need of clothes to cover you,
   And not a rag have I.
“There’s nothing in the house
   To make a boy breeches,
Nor shears to cut a cloth with
   Nor thread to take stitches.
“There’s nothing in the house
   But a loaf-end of rye,
And a harp with a woman’s head
   Nobody will buy,”
   And she began to cry.
That was in the early fall.
   When came the late fall,
“Son,” she said, “the sight of you
   Makes your mother’s blood crawl,—
“Little skinny shoulder-blades
   Sticking through your clothes!
And where you’ll get a jacket from
   God above knows.
“It’s lucky for me, lad,
   Your daddy’s in the ground,
And can’t see the way I let
   His son go around!”
   And she made a queer sound.
That was in the late fall.
   When the winter came,
I’d not a pair of breeches
   Nor a shirt to my name.
I couldn’t go to school,
   Or out of doors to play.
And all the other little boys
   Passed our way.
“Son,” said my mother,
   “Come, climb into my lap,
And I’ll chafe your little bones
   While you take a nap.”
And, oh, but we were silly
   For half an hour or more,
Me with my long legs
   Dragging on the floor,
A-rock-rock-rocking
   To a mother-goose rhyme!
Oh, but we were happy
   For half an hour’s time!
But there was I, a great boy,
   And what would folks say
To hear my mother singing me
   To sleep all day,
   In such a daft way?
Men say the winter
   Was bad that year;
Fuel was scarce,
   And food was dear.
A wind with a wolf’s head
   Howled about our door,
And we burned up the chairs
   And sat on the floor.
All that was left us
   Was a chair we couldn’t break,
And the harp with a woman’s head
   Nobody would take,
   For song or pity’s sake.
The night before Christmas
   I cried with the cold,
I cried myself to sleep
   Like a two-year-old.
And in the deep night
   I felt my mother rise,
And stare down upon me
   With love in her eyes.
I saw my mother sitting
   On the one good chair,
A light falling on her
   From I couldn’t tell where,
Looking nineteen,
   And not a day older,
And the harp with a woman’s head
   Leaned against her shoulder.
Her thin fingers, moving
   In the thin, tall strings,
Were weav-weav-weaving
   Wonderful things.
Many bright threads,
   From where I couldn’t see,
Were running through the harp-strings
  Rapidly,
And gold threads whistling
   Through my mother’s hand.
I saw the web grow,
   And the pattern expand.
She wove a child’s jacket,
   And when it was done
She laid it on the floor
   And wove another one.
She wove a red cloak
   So regal to see,
“She’s made it for a king’s son,”
   I said, “and not for me.”
   But I knew it was for me.
She wove a pair of breeches
   Quicker than that!
She wove a pair of boots
   And a little cocked hat.
She wove a pair of mittens,
   She wove a little blouse,
She wove all night
   In the still, cold house.
She sang as she worked,
   And the harp-strings spoke;
Her voice never faltered,
   And the thread never broke.
   And when I awoke,—
There sat my mother
   With the harp against her shoulder
Looking nineteen
   And not a day older,
A smile about her lips,
   And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
   Frozen dead.
And piled up beside her
   And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king’s son,
   Just my size.

5-7-5

There was a hauntingly beautiful sunset last night on the southern California coastline.

I was inspired to haiku whilst standing on a slight rise above our lagoon and my phone captured this strangely intense halo effect.

FullSizeRender (4).jpg

My poetry chops are a little rusty…but writing a haiku is like creating a post on Twitter; that 140 character limit causes drastic slash and burn style editing and revision to convey only the essence of intention. No word salad here!

sunset haiku.png

*rockstoneboulder

IMG_3012

dig deep

stones and rocks and boulders

minerals

warm from the sun

bathed by the sea

salty, solid, and strong

transgressions might indurate the heart

but impenetrable, impervious

trustworthy

honorable

constant

*rockstoneboulders

nonetheless endure

IMG_3013.jpg

 

 

 

I stole a book and I liked it.

Sing it to the tune of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”

 

Of COURSE I didn’t really STEAL it; well, I kinda did. While I was visiting Angel Boy 2.0, I found an intriguing book that belonged to my son and it sorta made its way into my carryon.

By CAConrad, Ecodeviance (Soma)tics for the Future Wildnerness is a book of poetry and essays that demands attention. This is not a quicky beach read.

There’s humor, pathos, despair; references to Reiki and crystals. There is love and death.This is a polar shift diversion from my usual reading fare of romance novels and vegan cookbooks. It’s like this…it’s as if you’re driving down the highway on your regular commute and all of a sudden you slam on the brakes, and while they’re squealing and smoking, you completely turn around and speed 100mph in the opposite direction.

Not only is that an apt description of me and this book; it’s a metaphor for my life right about now.

Conrad has become known for his “(Soma)tic” poetry — works that are part map of his process, part writing exercises, part final product, and that emphasize doing and living in a body. In an interview in the film, Conrad calls the (Soma)tics “ritualized structures where being anything but present was next to impossible.” [From http://www.notey.com/@hyperallergic_unofficial/external/8647290/the-ritualized-anger-of-a-queer-poet.html]

“What would you wear for camouflage if you were hiding in a gingerbread house?
I’m NOT hiding, I WANT the witch to eat me!”

From the Poetry Foundation website:

Poet CAConrad grew up in Pennsylvania, where he helped to support his single mother during his difficult youth. Influenced by Eileen Myles,Audre Lorde, Alice Notley, and Emily Dickinson, he writes poems in which stark images of sex, violence, and defiance build a bridge between fable and confession. In a 2010 interview with Luke Degnan for BOMB Magazine’s BOMBlog, Conrad discussed his approach to poetry, which focuses on process and on engaging the permeability of the border between self and other. “Ultimately, I want my (Soma)tic poetry and poetics to help us realize at least two things. That everything around us has a creative viability with the potential to spur new thinking and imaginative output and that the most necessary ingredient to bringing the sustainable, humane changes we need and want for our world requires creativity in all lives, every single day.” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/c-a-conrad

CAConrad’s childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift.  He is the author of eight books of poetry and essays. A Pew Fellow , he has also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Headlands Center for the Arts, Banff, and Ucross.

For his books and details on the documentary The Book of Conrad (Delinquent Films, 2016), visit http://CAConrad.blogspot.com

Two of my favorites:

PRETERNATURAL CONVERSATIONS

for Dana Ward

Every once in awhile I think something about a stranger on the sidewalk and they dart a glance at me and I get it—I GET IT—we are one! Allow seven consecutive days for this exercise. DAY ONE, think about a woman you know, think about experiences you have had with her. Think about conversations you have had, think about the things she wears, eats, her way of walking, her laugh. Think about every detail you can imagine. See if she calls you or emails you. Take notes about this attempt at psychic connection.

DAY TWO, do everything you did in DAY ONE, but for a man you know. DAY THREE, go out to the streets and follow someone walking a dog. Look closely at the dog, study the dog’s movements. Whistle in your head, bark in your head. Imagine throwing a stick, yelling “GOOD DOG! GOOD DOG! YOU ARE A VERY GOOD DOG!” Does the dog respond to this? If so, how? Take notes.

DAYS FOUR, FIVE, SIX, and SEVEN are for strangers. In cafes or restaurants, or followed briefly on the sidewalk. Try to connect with two women and two men, complete strangers out in the world. Study them in cafes, museums, going up escalators, or maybe standing in line at the bank. Aim your attention at the clothing they wear, or the way they chew food. Envision saying HELLO, and tugging their sleeve. TUG IT with your mind, punctuated with putting an imaginary hand on their shoulder and saying, “Don’t I know you?” Imagine clapping and shouting “HEY! HEY! HEY YOU!” Did they look at you WHILE you were walking behind them? Communicating beyond the auditory is our goal. What are their reactions? How do you feel about it? Take these seven days of notes and form your poem(s).

 

SEVEN

if i had been
there when they
invented the word
chair
things would
be different would sound better
look at this amazing
structure holding
our bodies in place
to write
to quarrel with ourselves and others
to eat and sing
to launch forth new ideas
to comfort the sphincter
chair is a ridiculous word
monosyllabic NONSENSE
i love chairs but remain
annoyed by their name
living in this post vocabulary
chosen without
imagination
chair chair chair CHAIR
nothing less than
seven syllables will do

CAConrad reads “Preternatural Conversations”

Haiku: Moon Owl

Every so often I need to dust off my mostly unused poetry brain cells (Creative Writing Minor) and I’m reminded of how much I loved writing haikus.

moonowlhaikuMoon Owl

Midnight sky, stars float
Inky black trees, silhouette
Owl hoots announce: moon

by me, Princess Rosebud
Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife
October 2015

Photo taken along California’s Central Coast

The Falling Leaves

In SoCal, we don’t really many trees that change color and lose their leaves, so that’s about one of the only things I miss about the east coast.

But we have year-round beach weather, so it’s not a huge disappointment!

Plus, I can look at this and not have to rake up the leaves, right?

e4591b0af6e3649db2d474d977873d66

The Falling Leaves

Today, as I rode by,
I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree
In a still afternoon,
When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky,
But thickly, silently,
They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon;
And wandered slowly thence
For thinking of a gallant multitude
Which now all withering lay,
Slain by no wind of age or pestilence,
But in their beauty strewed
Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.
Margaret Postgate-Cole (1893–1980)

[Lavender Haiku] #Poetry #Photo #Wordless Wednesday

garden lavender

Photo credit: Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

Late afternoon sun
Perfuming a slight warm breeze
Lavender grows here

 By Princess Rosebud

HellFire…Haiku For You

 HellFire

Scorching smoldering
Hot dry smoky swirly winds
SoCal inferno

carlsbad fire Photos taken yesterday from our upstairs window.carlsbadfire2Poem and photos…
Copyright 2014 Princess Rosebud, Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

 

 

Obsession Confession: Paper Parasol Passion

umbrellapoem

I’ve always loved paper cocktail umbrellas.

Exotic and topical in vibrant pink and lime green and turquoise and orange, serving no real purpose other than adorning a beverage, but they make everything seem a little more glamorous, a little more special.

Edit: A huge thank you to Sunshine and Celadines sunshineandcelandines.wordpress.com for the use of the word tropical to describe these little twirly parasols; my brain failed me!

Umbrella Collage

When I was a little girl, my mom would always bring home the colorful little parasols whenever she and my dad went out in the evening.

They shaded Barbie from the summer sun or became part of a beach scene in my dollhouse.

I saved them all until the paper tore or the toothpicks broke.

I have fond memories of my first pretend cocktail, the delicious Shirley Temple, adorned with an alluring paper parasol and a maraschino cherry.

Twenty years ago, I was my own wedding coordinator.

I bought a package of five hundred paper cocktail umbrellas that’ll probably last forever.

You can be sure that if you visit Casa de Enchanted Seashells, your cocktail will be embellished with one!

Mermaids and a clown…

Some of my crazy scenes captured by a camera.

I confess that I spent way too much of the day arranging these umbrellas in all kinds of poses for a photo shoot.

WAY too much time but SO much fun.

Mermaid holding parasol

mermaidumbrella

Shy mermaid

Umbrellashy

Umbrelladisplay

Crazy hallucinogenic clown shaded by an umbrella
‘cos the sun hurts his eyes ‘cos his pupils are all dilated and stuff…
umbrellaclown

Lady with a parasolumbellalady

History of the cocktail umbrella:
The cocktail umbrella is believed to have arrived on the bar scene as early as 1932 courtesy of Victor Bergeron of Trader Vic‘s in San Francisco although it is, by Vic’s own admission, a presentation picked up from Don the Beachcomber (now closed). Upon introduction, umbrellas were considered very exotic as were most things from the Pacific Rim. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia