Thursday, October 1

the re-telling of stories...

As I move through each day of this pandemic, this political crisis, and the devastation of climate change all around me, I look for ways to spark creativity, even if it's painting or writing for just 30 minutes. But my brain is so often in shut down mode, frozen, unable to move. What I find most helpful, is looking through projects I haven't finished, or looking through my art books and papers, and sometimes I am moved to work on these little bits of forgotten art. And that feels good, to squeeze fresh paint on my palette and just play. As for my poetry, writing prompts don't always work for me, or trying out a new poetry form just feels claustrophobic and constrained. That said, I want to share a prompt I stumbled upon a couple years ago, that goes like this:

Tell the story about something interesting that happened to you, or in my case, re-write a poem and tell it in the form of an instruction manual.

Now this I could do. I simply took a poem, and re-wrote it in the form of an instruction manual. I didn't have to create something new, I just re-structured an existing piece. The original poem was about rescuing a dead Redtail hawk that was crisping on the freeway. First, is the original poem, followed by the new version.

Shaman's Toolbox

Nocturnal victim of russet and ivory
fuses to the asphalt
as cars rush past in a parallel universe.

Sacred tools at my side,
gloves, newspaper and a garden trowel,
I kneel on the blistering gravel.
Squeezing the sun from my eyes,
the fisted talons come into focus.
Carnivorous beak, still.
Eyes fixed in a death stare.

With prayer and intention
I wrap the fallen raptor
in a shroud of Sunday funnies.
Flesh beetles drop from the frayed edges.

Hidden in the safety
of a Steve Madden shoebox
cornmeal and tobacco dust
the decay, the beauty, the silence.

A balanced pyramid 
of precambrian rocks
holds the spirit deep in the arms
of a dry California hillside.

Beneath the unforgiving shade
of yarrow and sagebrush,
heat blows across my face,
and I wipe the grieving sweat
that stings my eyes.

How to stop on the freeway to scrape up roadkill...

  1.  gather these items for your toolbox: newspaper, latex gloves, garden trowel, cornmeal and tobacco, sage, matches. carefully place items in a Steve Madden shoe box. 
  2.  put Steve Madden shoe box containing items in the car, the trunk is fine. If you don't have a trunk, on the floor in the back is good.
  3.  get in car, merge onto freeway. this is the most common place to spot the fallen messengers, usually found fused to the asphalt.
  4.  when you see the rust-striped wing flapping like a fancy-dancers headress, you will need to safely pull over on the side of the freeway.
  5.  get your toolbox, and carefully get out of car and walk slowly toward the body.
  6.  while kneeling next to the body, open the shoe box, put on latex gloves, lay out the newspaper, trowel, cornmeal and tobacco.
  7.  carefully lift the body from the asphalt and put on the newspaper. you might have to do some scraping with the shovel. allow the flesh beetles to drop from the frayed edges. 
  8.  dust the decaying raptor with cornmeal and tobacco and wrap with the newspaper like a shroud, then rest inside the shoe box.
  9.  drive to the country, away from traffic, people, negative energy. you're looking for a quiet peaceful final resting place on a dry California hillside.
  10.  once you have a spot picked out, get your shoebox, and don't forget the sage and matches this time. ceremony is key here.
  11.  dig a hole deep enough to bury the shoe box. With pure intention of the heart, offer prayer, song, gentle words.
  12.  fill hole with the red dirt, stack rocks, add greenery, and erase any signs of footprints, or humanity.
  13.  beneath the unforgiving shade of yarrow and sagebrush, wipe the grieving sweat from your eyes, and light your sage.
  14.  embrace the beauty, the silence and let the spirit finish the journey.


SmoothSkater said...

You're a wonderful person with a big loving heart💕😥

deborah said...

thank you cuz!!!