April 22, 2006

Sean McCann's "Stay"

For a much better example of poetry than anything I can provide, check out "Stay" by Great Big Sea's Séan McCann. I understand McCann to be a Newfoundland nationalist, with fierce pride in a province that joined Canada on a narrow vote some 50 years ago. This is a powerful statement.

Poem: Downtown Asheville

This came out of an hour's inspiration, and only about that much time's perspiration. I may come back to this and actually polish it into a proper poem -- I generally feel like you ought to take lots more time with poetry than this. It may be hack-work, but I kind of like it.


Piercings, dreadlocks and earth tones
Earth tones on clothing, light earth tones on skin
With a sprinkling of darker tones
Walking the streets of the square
Dusk has come, and I hear deep tones,
Booming tones, booming beats
From the djembes and wood blocks
Nine men, two women
Led by the sandaled maestro
A dancer turns and sways
A hoop spins around her waist, her shoulders
At once performing for others
And lost to herself

A girl with a bodhran perched on the edge
Halfheartedly joins the beat,
Retreating after a few measures
She offers her drum to a tiny girl
Who pats it once with a tiny palm
Then whirls to her mother
Raising her arms in triumph

A crowd is answering the summons
A disheveled man slumps on a bench near the square
He doesn't hear the drums
No one offers him an invitation

We take a meal in a Moroccan restaurant
Seated on cushions, legs twisted beneath
A belly dancer punctuates conversation
There's laughter in Shannon's eyes

We emerge to find the crowd has sprouted
The drummers have doubled
And there's a confident beat from the bodhran
Children, lovers, the young and not so young
Follow the hoop dancer's lead
Stomping, stepping, swaying, circling
I wish I had the nerve to join them

Across the street, in the shadows of commerce
The old and broken sit blankly
Their numbers have grown as well
Canes, grubby coats, an oxygen tank on a cart
They are scattered and solitary
Showing no sign of sensing the drum circle
And the dancers dance on without them

My world is smaller too, tonight.
Celebrating ten years of a holy vow
Twelve years of passion and perseverance
A choice early made and daily renewed

Draw a circle around me and my bride
I look outside briefly, but return to the circle
With magnified focus and narrowed field
Even our child is outside our range
In the company of loved ones
Who have given us the time
To make for ourselves an island

Perhaps the dancers need an island too

Draw a circle around the community
Let trust and freedom and confidence grow
Music as shared soul
Dance as uplift
Conversation as bond
It is true, and real, and necessary and good

But in the shadows there are men
Who do not see the dance
Who do not hear the djembe
That's the mark of a community's honor
To gaze deeply and lovingly within the circle
Then go outside
Offer the invitation
Do the work
Be the love

August 24, 2004

It's That Twist at the End

Good blog entries are kind of like sudden fiction. This is one of the best I've read. Hat tip, again, to Lex.

April 10, 2003

Words to Live By: On Writing

From an interview with Babylon 5's J. Michael Straczynski:

Write. Write tenaciously. Write neverendingly. Write fearlessly. Never give up your dreams. Never compromise your soul for a buck. And be willing to take risks. Don't listen to the people who will tell you, with every desire to be helpful, that you should play it safe and leave such foolish dreams to others, because they don't want to see you get hurt. Hitting age 50 and realizing that you've never pursued your dreams is one of the great horrors of the human condition. And totally inexcusable. Not following your passions is the greatest sin you can commit, it means surrendering the fire of your ambitions to the fears of other people. It's psychological treason.

I hear people talk about how they don't like where they live, they don't like the work they do. I tell them, "Then move. Then quit and look for something you DO like." They always have a thousand reasons for remaining frozen, a list of yeah-buts that they recite year in and year out until the day they realize they're out of time. If there's anything more terrifying than that moment of realization, the heart-stopping recognition of a life unlived, prospects unpursued and passions unrealized, I can't think of it.

As the poet said, "we are born astride the grave," here for the barest flicker, a quick glimpse of light, and then the darkness comes. How awful, how monumentally unfair, to waste that brief moment of brilliant hope and endless possibilities doing something you don't like, when it can be changed by simply deciding to change it.

Follow your passions. Everything else is window-dressing and coffin-cloth.

"A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age." Meat Loaf

February 16, 2003

Celtic music project

My last entry on an unnaturally prolific day: As life gets a little less hectic (hopefully), I'm planning on creating a webzine about bands touching the "modern Celtic" genre. On the left hand, you'd have alt-rock bands with Celtic influences such as Brother and Seven Nations, in the middle you'd have the Glengarry Bhoys, Neil Anderson and Slainte Mhath, and at the far end bands which are far more traditional such as the Tannahill Weavers. Plus some artists that defy description, such as the Peatbog Faeries.

I think I'd be able to give it a reasonable effort, but what I'm desperate for now is a publishing platform (PHP-Nuke apparently being too insecure, and I'm not sure Movable Type is really suited to this kind of project) and a name.