to touch… the speechless

The soft rain in the window speaks volumes

milk gathers above in the clouds, like rain

waiting…, like green leaves to dance

mornings make you save small frames

a moment, until soon, finds you, like a lost friend calling

the blue flower garden in your heart opens without care

cadence flows under the skin

to touch… the speechless.

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“Self Interview” by Jim Morrison

I think the interview is the new art form. I think the self-interview is the essence of creativity. Asking yourself questions and trying to find answers. The writer is just answering a series of unuttered questions.

It’s similar to answering questions on a witness stand. It’s that strange area where you try and pin down something that happened in the past and try honestly to remember what you were trying to do. It’s a crucial mental exercise. An interview will often give you a chance to confront your mind with questions, which to me is what art is all about. An interview also gives you the chance to try and eliminate all of those space fillers…you should try to be explicit, accurate, to the point…no bullshit. The interview form has antecedents in the confession box, debating and cross-examination. Once you say something, you can’t really retract it. It’s too late. It’s a very existential moment.

I’m kind of hooked to the game of art and literature; my heroes are artists and writers.

I always wanted to write, but I always figured it’d be no good unless somehow the hand just took the pen and started moving without me really having anything to do with it. Like automatic writing. But it just never happened.

I wrote a few poems, of course. I think around the fifth of sixth grade I wrote a poem called “The Pony Express.” That was the first I can remember. It was one of those ballad-type poems. I never could get it together though.

“Horse Latitudes” I wrote when I was in high school. I kept a lot of notebooks through high school and college, and then when I left school, for some dumb reason–maybe it was wise–I threw them all away….I wrote in those notebooks night after night. But maybe if I’d never thrown them away, I’d never have written anything original–because they were mainly accumulations of things that I’d read or heard, like quotes from books. I think if I’d never gotten rid of them I’d never been free.

Listen, real poetry doesn’t say anything, it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through any one that suits you.

…and that’s why poetry appeals to me so much–because it’s so eternal. As long as there are people, they can remember words and combinations of words. Nothing else can survive a holocaust but poetry and songs. No one can remember an entire novel. No one can describe a film, a piece of sculpture, a painting, but so long as there are human beings, songs and poetry can continue.

If my poetry aims to achieve, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.

Jim Morrison —- Los Angeles, 1969-71 “The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison – Wilderness Volume 1”

Dance in the Fire

From the West, my red tip swirls

around your soft turns.

We meet the mount.

Dance in the fire.

Your rose heat peels. Hardness

penetrates the skin of twilight,

between the salts

of your inner

sanctum, and the horizon of my flesh.

Louder! we cry from inside our caves:

we crave the rush.

As one, unleashing our wilds

under the celestial canopy, we dance around

the flames – flashes lick and destroy yesterday’s future

with naked abandon.

Deep…a new deep

beat pulses: ‘no mercy’

in the black night of our eyes.

I die in you, and your soft kiss tenders the East. The clarion sun

slowly rises

and painfully plays the golden note

of our rapture.

My Hole for You

I’m diggin’ my hole.

I can hear Your voice, sing.

My arms ache, and my shovel shakes.

I can’t see nothin’ ‘cept my shadow.

The Sun shines down on my head, and I can feel my back.

Oh Lord, when will I be there?

I’m breathin’ my own air,

and can’t get out of my way.

My child prays, and my other plays.

Where You take me only my hole knows.

Sweat & soil sit in my feet.

I gotta keep goin’ on.

I’m searchin’ for my Hope, don’t ya know.

Money ain’t my savior, anymore.

Please forgive me, I’m diggin’ my hole for You.

Blood, Love & the Man curse me, across.

My hands grip like my stained face.

‘Forget ’em,’ I say. ‘Ain’t nothin, but a weight.’

Like rain, Your honey-voice cools–,

and I dig–harder and deeper.

There ain’t nothin’ I’d rather do, ‘cept die.

the bedrock

awake in a dream…we found something, like a smooth sea-stone, on the shore. there was more to the shape and wetness between our fingers when we looked into each other’s eyes knowing we found “it”. a spring of joy flooded our hearts, and i was aroused, and kissed you as the waves spilled on the sand around our feet. when we breathed, holding the stone, i noticed that neither of us knew what the shape meant, but we could feel mounting swells inside our bodies. the darkness of the rock became no more than the color of the deep sea. you held my hand closer until we became the same. you looked out beyond. your quiet eyes of the rolling ocean and reflecting sun told me all.

waves tumbled and caressed as if i was falling underwater; then, you saved me with your kiss. you came out of the wave with your legs and arms taking me into a wash of passion. my mind raced to find the shore — some kind of grounding. but, your strength around me, beside me and on me gave me solace. love with you. your hair brushed my lips and chest and i was forever underwater with your desires — breathing your breath. alive…
your curves and pearl-skin ached my tongue to taste your sea-salt. but there was more…i couldn’t touch with my fingertips and hot mouth…your soul inside your skin. i felt distant like the man i am to your womanhood. i listened to the moon-tide. a new force pulled me closer anyway. i had no choice. your flares burned me to enter and i kept digging to touch your inner realm of life, mystery and the horizon. we rolled penetrating the invisible time to a new sun. a place we knew: a place where only the wild death of living gave us free pleasure.
dreams upon colors and colors upon desires, we rolled and never felt tired. your love came without thinking. my love held yours like the stone. our breathing spilled-out: our currents turning as one stream. our rock fell. it burned under our hearts. the bedrock.

Getting a “bit o’ luck” reading Irish poetry

Hanafins - Public House New London, CT

Preface: I’ve just downloaded pictures from last night’s poetry reading. Those are from my second  reading ‘edventure!’ (Stay tuned) But, let’s start from the beginning.

Once upon a …Sunday…last month

… at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Mystic, CT, I sat, curbside, with my two kids screamin’ and getting overly-excited from all of the “green” Irishness “floating” around us. ( I was in the spirit with a few beers and a shot of Irish vodka. (Yeah, Irish vodka… I didn’t know there was such a thing.) The parade marched-on by our feet.  All of the kids got excited, to chase candy and to wave at everyone, as if we were all in the parade. Then, I was drunken-struck: “Why don’t I go down to Hanafins and read Irish poetry?”

The thought wouldn’t slip from my mind, even though I was a bit slippery during the parade. By Monday morning, I convinced myself to go to the Irish pub, after work, and ask. All day I had the jitters. I was confident to ask, but terrified at the prospect of them saying “yes.” At 5:30, after work, I took the New London exit, off 95 North, and went downtown New London. I parked on State Street, in front of the pub, and walked in with my poems.

I saw Diarmuid, or “D”, the owner, at the far end of the bar, as he was talking to some of his cronies. I quickly glanced at him and he asked, “Hey, brotha…what’s going on?”

“Do you have any poetry-readings here?”

“Poetry?”

“Irish poetry. You’re the only Irish pub in town, and I would like to read some great poets like: (Dylan)Thomas, (William Butler)Yeats, (Robert)Burns, (Robert Louis)Stevenson and (Eugene)O’Neill.”

“Yeah, sure. Go ask Jimmy over there by the door and see.” Immediately, I grinned and nodded, in thanks, and walked in stride over to Jimmy.  We talked for about five minutes with Catherine, the manager and D’s wife; and, we agreed I would come back the following Sunday, from four to six, and read with their Irish jam-band. When I walked-out the front door, I let out: “I did it!”  Back in my truck, I screamed and whooped all the way home, across the Thames River, to my apartment in Groton.

I rushed home, got the dogs and went up to Groton Heights. I let them run wild in the park, as my elation soared with the wind and open night. I stood on top overlooking New London, high above, in the old revolutionary Fort Griswold, as the American flag flied, vigilantly, above, next to me. I prayed. The clear, eternal, strength of my Scotch/Irish heritage, and these writers, steeled my confidence in the cutting wind: “I believe!” This was, now, my moment to soldier-on and make this dream real. I trusted my intuition 100%. This acknowledgment was very humbling.  I kept thinking, “All I’m doing is reading their poetry, not my own; but, I must learn ‘from the masters’ and feel their spirits burn within my spirit when I read them.” I was an apprentice. I took the responsibility and commitment, head-on.

On the following Sunday, I was ready.  I walked in the bar. I could’ve had a bracer, but I decided to stand sober and feel my own vulnerability. Up to then, I read every night: poems, poems and poems. Every single one I read out loud. I had to find the essence, and know the poem working in me. If it didn’t, I would pass on it. I didn’t count how many. I timed each one.  And, I timed the whole set: I had over an hour’s worth. The best feeling was when I read them all together — I became lost and slipped-away to another time. That’s when I knew I had connected, in my soul, within my treasure-cavity, to these timeless writers.

Sunday 3:35pm: I walked inside Hanafins and ordered a hot water with a slice of lemon. I wanted to make sure my throat was ready, and to naturally calm my adrenalin. I asked the bartender when the owner was going to arrive, and when the band would be setting-up to play.

“What band?” the bartender questioned. I was trying to hold back my stupefied reaction.

“I spoke to D, Catherine and Jimmy last week and they said I could…I could read today.”

“Okay. I’ll text and call.” I waited patiently, at the bar, trying to register my destiny. A few minutes later the bartender said “I left them a message, but the band isn’t going to play because the guitarist is out of town.” I was alone, undecided and dejected.

Sunday 6:00pm: Until then, I got acquainted with the patrons and the other associates of the bar. I felt easier and more daring. “So why leave? I’ll stick around and see what becomes of the night.” I played three games of darts, and won two. A “bit ‘o ‘luck’” was coming on.

Sunday 6:35pm: My time came. D arrived with Catherine, and he smiled and said, “Go for it!” He went up to the stage, turned on the stage lights and gave me the thumbs-up. I had no microphone and no band.

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The crowd was thick. The chattering and conversations were a cacophony of voices and laughter. I stood on stage and faced my audience. Time began to slow-down and shift, as I spoke. “Hello. I’m Ed Patterson… and I going to read some Irish poetry.“ I needed to deliver my first poem with a punch, and give it top-billing at the same time. “My first poem is ‘John Barleycorn: A Ballad,’ by Robert Burns.” As I pulled up the poem to read, the house began to grow silent. After the first few quatrains, the tone dropped, only a few voices from the back were heard, as I kept reading and falling into the poem with my steady voice. By the end, on the last quatrain, I raised my glass, as it says in the poem:

Then let us toast John Barlyecorn

Each man a glass in hand;

And may his great posterity

Ne’re fail in old Scotland.

Like Celtic lore, I felt thunder and flashes of lightning coursing through my veins. The applause broke my reverie…I lifted my head: I had arrived. I was welcome. I was home.

I read all of the poems without a break. Once, or twice, a couple of ladies came by and said it was nice to hear poetry again. A calm sense of stewardship came over me, as if an Irish flag waved above my head, next to my family’s “Patterson” coat-of-arms. Mostly, I had introduced these great, immortal, spirits, here, at Hanafins. New London is Eugene O’Neill’s home (Irish)town, and this is the only Irish pub in New London. Up to now, there hadn’t been poetry read to express his writings at Hanafins, nor these other passionate thoughts of: William Butler Yeats, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns and Dylan Thomas. The timing was right. I was invited back!

Epilogue: As I walked off the stage, I was congratulated with handshakes, “good job” and applause. Was this my initiation? My intuition led me on this rites-of-passage, and I survived. Like stepping out of dream, I said ‘good by ’til next time’ to everyone. When I walked outside, I felt the sky opening-up with spring rain. The storm had passed through me, and now I was being cleansed by the heavens.

Disclaimer: For the record, I do not compare, as an equal, to these writers. I serve their art as a means to learn my own. I’m very grateful to be enlightened by them. I feel blessed to know I can bring their words justice to the ears and minds of others. This journey will never be forgotten. I’m Scotch/Irish, and I’m proud of my heritage.