This is where the world bleeds through

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Sometimes Rain by Mark A. Harrison

this is where
the world bleeds through
soaking into
the parched vellum
its thirst unquenchable
it will bleed you dry
until black ink
drips from your veins

there is a crack in the wall
where the light seeps through
like liquid oxygen
or raw maple sap
gold shot honey
culled from clover bees
people keep secrets there
tuck them in at night
when no one is watching

– T.H. (2010)

Listen

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Silhouette by Mark A. Harrison

I.

listen
the books are singing
dead leaves humming
chords struck from sunset’s last light
follow the sound
you’ll find me
transcribing lines in the sand
transposing the ocean’s waves
fingers plucking strings of air
listen
the dead leaves whisper
sighs plucked from secret fountains
the rain’s heart thumping
in time with the pheasant’s feet
drumming against the deadwood fence

II.

she places eggshells
in the bowl like
flower petals
interpreting
the jagged edges
with bitter fingers
it is snowing outside
the crocuses scream
purple against white
she cannot hear them
in her mind there is only
an endless beach, curving
into the morning fog
footprints leading
to the ocean’s fickle edge
licked clean by the water’s
greedy tongue
she’d cut its jealous heart out
if she could

III.

after the overture
(a sampling of themes
once tasted, you must
spit them out lest they
make you tipsy)
he finds her
in the interim
strumming absently
the admiration of
the talentless
he wonders where
she went, the girl
that he once knew
who blew across
empty bottles,
blades of grass
the girl who
played spring
like every note
was a surprise

– T.H. (2009)

Outsiders

Ever had One of Those Days, where the physical universe simply refuses to cooperate? Where you have the distinct sense that the rest of the world is some kind of universal one-size-fits-all, except that it’s made for someone of a very different size – possibly even a different species – than you? We’ve all been there, although for some of us, that’s the definition of our ‘normal’. On average, I feel like that at least once a day.

It sometimes helps to be reminded that, despite the loneliness inherent in feeling like an outsider, it is, ironically enough, a remarkably common phenomenon.

A quick search of any kind of media (be it song, poetry, film, books, graphic novels) reveals a veritable profusion of artistic works rooting for the outsider brave enough to defy the status quo – like The Blue and the Beyond, a beautifully animated short where The Man, aka the State (aka the ever-ephemeral “Them”) is portrayed as downright sinister, rather than simply dull and homogeneous. Or the Oscar-winning Paperman, with its celebration of perseverance.

I picked this one, though, for its heartfelt assurance that the love and support you need might be a lot closer than you think, if we could just learn how to communicate with each other better, to listen to what those closest to us are really trying to say. The sweetness at its core may strike the more cynical among us as bordering on (or downright inhabiting) cheezy sentiment, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need when the darkness of the world is threatening to suck us in. This one is for all the parents and children out there, of which we have all been at least one or the other, at some point in our lives.

Inspiration

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Twin Exit by Mark A. Harrison

Coming back from a supply run this morning, energy reserves near empty and mood scraped raw despite the mere five minute journey each way, gave me plenty of time to ponder on what constitutes necessity (vacuum bags, in a household of cats and rugs and impossibly prolific dust bunnies, surely falls into that category, doesn’t it?). It didn’t help that ‘Your Town Now’ by Greg Brown was playing on the radio, an anti-consumerist anthem if there ever was one. (Don’t worry – this has a happy ending. It’s about inspiration, after all.)

There are plenty of things out there that drain energy without giving back, cycles of materialism and greed that people take part in without even realizing it. So much easier to coast with our brains in neutral, to avoid questions about what is necessary, when the current unspoken agreement of ‘normal’ embraces the most convenient, fastest, easiest, cheapest. Never mind that it’s an illusion, that all these things lining our shelves and filling our cars and keeping our roads drivable require a ridiculous amount of effort, resources, labour, and energy. Somehow, some of us – the lucky few – just happen to have been born into a time and place where the building blocks and costs of privilege are cleverly hidden – not invisible, or unknowable, not even all that hard to find, but shoved just out of sight, so we have to look and think, directly and with purpose, to bring them into the light.

Which brings me to the one thing that those of us cursed with optimism (almost all humans, really) desperately seek out whenever possible: Inspiration, that spark of wonder and delight that pulls you out of the morass of cynicism and propels you to act, create, speak honestly, give generously. I was thinking about what inspires me, what reminds me that there is beauty all around us, no matter where or who you are, providing a constant counterpoint to the relentless forces of destruction and denial. Things like seemingly random acts of kindness and compassion, music and art, children laughing, rescue dogs finding a proper home for the first time in their lives, sparks of colour against the grey expanse.

Thankfully for the rest of us, there are plenty of smart people out there laying bare the glaring problems of our modern world, people with far more skill, knowledge, and stamina than I have in my meager supplies. So I’ve made a decision. This blog-journal-thingie-whatsit, whatever it ends up evolving into, is going to be about hope and inspiration, wonder and creativity, in all their myriad beautiful, crazy, unpredictable forms.

As the late great Kurt Vonnegut once said (paraphrasing John Greenleaf Whittier), “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘It might have been’.” Let’s live our lives like they’re the only ones we’ve got, and leave space for others to do the same.

Fifteen degrees of March

Stretching poetry muscles stiff from months of hibernation.

emerging-spring

When the first breath of spring
catches you up, teases your
heart with false promises,
blushing green peeking from
fresh damp earth, emerging
islands amidst the fast
melting snow; when even
discarded skins of chocolate
bars and dollar store bags
seem to herald new beginnings:
life from destruction, devouring
the old bones, bleeding
ice from the river’s edge.

Even the birds are deceived,
filling the air with distracted chatter,
while free roaming dogs and
preschool children run madly through
the squelching mud, feeling the shift;
and yet, the cynical voice reminds
you that it’s far too soon, winter
won’t let us go that easily.

To hell, you say, with rationality,
and walk faster, as if by
sheer defiance you can escape
the warning howl of the cold
grey clouds, wind pushing you
back into the inevitable grip
of winter.

T.H.