Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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She’s Not Glinda and She’s Stalking Me

“Wake up. “

I rolled towards the wall and buried my face in a pillow. 

“Wake up!”

I flung the comforter off and sat up in bed.   

“What!?  Leave me alone!”

I switched on the lamp next to my bed.  There was no one in the room. The big blue numbers on my nightstand clock glowed 4:37 am.

I tried to go back to sleep, but after several minutes, I knew it was pointless so I reached for my phone and started thumbing through my social media feeds.  I must have dozed off because the next thing I felt was a vibration on my chest and heard the muffled sound of my cell phone’s alarm.

I  was certain that I had disabled the alarm before I went to bed last night. My plan had been to sleep in for once on a Saturday morning.  I was not surprised though.  This could only mean one thing. She was back.

“Stop messing with my electronics!”  I muttered.  “I hate it when she does that.” I sighed and rolled out of bed.  After making a quick pit stop in the bathroom, I stumbled into the kitchen.

She was standing there with her head inside my refrigerator.  “Don’t tell me you were planning on having cold pizza for breakfast.”  

“Arvilla, what do you want?” And shoved  a K cup into the machine and jabbed the button.  I could not deal with her without a big cup of Columbia first.

Arvilla shut the refrigerator and plopped down in a chair.  “I think you know. “

Her voice made me wince. Most of my creative friends had muses who were lovely ethereal beings who sprinkled inspiration like magic dust— someone like Glinda, the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz.  My muse, Arvilla, is a middle-aged brassy redhead with a nasally whine and the personality of the Wicked Witch of the West.  She also did double-duty as my inner critic.  And: my other friends’ muses don’t stalk them.

She read my mind. Literally. “I am not into sprinkling fairy dust and I do not stalk. You have got to do the work,” she pronounced.  “You’ve read enough self-help books for creatives so you know what you need to do. “

I reached for a box of organic granola and shook it at her. She shrugged her shoulders. “You need to get out of the house,” she said, “and do some fieldwork. “

I perked up.  I thought she was going to nag me to sit down and write.

“I thought you might like that. You, my dear, are a little constipated.”  She nodded her head at the box of cereal. “And that isn’t going to help you get unblocked.”  

I glanced out the kitchen window at my yard and the two large magnolia trees in it.   “I’ve got so many chores to do. I need to rake leaves for one thing. “

“What leaves?”   I looked again. There were no leaves under the trees.   “And don’t even mention your laundry. You have enough underwear and towels for one more day. Good grief,  you sure do know how to procrastinate.“

I opened the refrigerator and pulled out a box of almond milk. As I poured it over my cereal I said, “So what’s the plan? “

“Bring your camera, a notebook and pen, and your inventory list of colored pencils.”   I arched an eyebrow at her. 

“Trust me.  I’ll meet you at Blick’s in at 9. Don’t be late. “

*****

Right on time, I entered the art supply store.  I found her on the drawing aisle.  I consulted my list and reached for a pencil in the open stock bin.  “No, no. You don’t need any more burnt umber or yellow ocher. Ghastly colors.  How boring. Get the spring green. Oh, better yet, the lime green. “

“Lime green? When am I ever going to use a lime green pencil?’

“Trust me.”  Going shopping with Arvilla is always an interesting experience.

A few minutes later we were in my car.  “Home?”

“Not yet.  The art store was the appetizer.  We still have the main course coming.”

Arvilla directed me and soon we were speeding south on the freeway.

“Get off at the next exit. “   I immediately knew where we were going.

“The botanical gardens?”   Arvilla just smiled.

I have always liked the botanical gardens, a place where I could get away and unplugged for a few hours. I have never been there in May, but I knew the colors would be glorious.

The garden did not disappoint me. Every conceivable flower that could grow in this area was in full bloom.  The rose garden was particularly vibrant. Trees, leaves and other foliage were thick and lush from all the recent winter rain.  They displayed every possible shade of green, including, yes, lime green.

I toured the vegetable patch, the succulents and cacti, the herb garden and the indigenous plant section, enthusiastically snapping pictures and getting a feel for my new camera’s features.  I started down a path towards the large pond in the center of the park and the banyan grove.

“No, we’re done. Time to go.”  Arvilla was suddenly at my side. I jumped.

“Stop doing that!”  I glared at her.  “And why are we done?  We haven’t been here a full hour.”

“Because I know you.  You’ll hike all over this place and snap a few hundred pictures.  Then you’ll be too tired when you get home to download your pictures and they’ll just sit on your camera for three months which will make me have to come back and kick you in the butt again.”

She had me pegged.

“Fine.”  I started hiking up the hill towards the exit.

“We’re going to stop for a few minutes at the gift shop.”

“Why?”

“Just do it.”

A few minutes later I arrived at the garden’s gift shop.  Arvilla was already there, seated on a bench and filing her nails as she waited.  I settled down next to her.

Arvilla pointed her nail file towards a rack of succulents on sale.  Next to them was terracotta bust that looked just like Arvilla.    “I know the sculptor. That one turned out pretty good, if I do say so. She really captured my essence.”

“You know the sculptor?”

“Well, of course.  You don’t think you’re my only client, do you?”

“Um, I guess I never really thought about it…. um, well, now what?

Arvilla sighed and put down her file.  “Good grief, do I have to do everything?  Get out your notebook and start brainstorming.”

“But…”

“But what?  This is why I brought you here– so your pump can get primed.”   Arvilla stood up and looked into the distance.  “Uh-oh.  I gotta go.  There’s a poet having a meltdown in the Walmart parking lot.  I need to do some consoling.  See you later.”  Arvilla vanished.

“You never ‘console’ me,” I grumbled as I pulled out my notebook from my backpack.

As my pen started moving through the journal, ideas started pouring faster than I could write them down.  I considered the images.   I could use many of the photos I shot simply as they were— as photographic compositions. I definitely could use most of them for reference in creating drawings, watercolor paintings, and elements in digital compositions.  Then poetic phrases started forming in the back of my mind as well as themes for essays on creativity, spirituality and environmental activism. History, theology, philosophy, and ideas for funny short stories all presented themselves in momentary glimpses across my mind’s eye.  I scribbled notes in the book until I finally slowed down and stopped.  I felt light and refreshed.

I clicked my pen shut and shoved it and the notebook into my bag.

“Now…” Arvilla’s voice seemed to be coming from the terracotta bust. “…go home, take one of these ideas and create something”. I nodded.

“And if I find you screwing around on the internet, I will knock out your WiFi for a week.”

“You know I hate it when you do that!”

Arvilla chuckled.

 

ljg 2019   Today’s Ragtag prompt is “stalk“.


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Urban Garden Log #4: A New Venture

Red Pepper Bug Deterrent

A former rector of my church, many years ago, had a vision of ripping up the manicured lawn on the church campus and planting a garden to provide fresh produce for a local food pantry that serves the poor of our community.  This garden came to be and has been an on-going venture for many years.  The rector went on to other endeavors and left the garden in the hands of the congregation.

This morning I joined the group that tends the garden.  I am an amateur:   I know nothing more about gardening except that you need good light, healthy soil, the right amount of water and a lot of energy. The garden manager, who (in her own words) has “a passion for the earth”, is patient and eager to teach individuals like me.  What I learn, I plan to implement in my own garden.

So I had my first lesson today: using a natural homemade concoction made of habanero peppers to keep unwanted critters away from the baby plants.  For nearly two hours I spritzed and sprayed all manner of vegetable seedlings with red pepper pest deterrent.  Other volunteers were working on harvesting seeds for future planting while others were spreading compost, weeding and watering. It was truly a community effort. Another marvel was the diversity of the group.  Women, men, and children of all shades and hues were working together in harmony to heal the planet and help the poor.

You can’t do church any better than that in my opinion.

ljg 2019


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Why I Write Poetry When I’m Not Very Good at It…..

Why do I write poetry when I’m not very good at it?   Primarily, I create poems as a prose-writing exercise.  By writing  poetry I practice being precise in my word choices in order to create vivid images in as few words as possible– striking and colorful nouns, lively and intense verbs, fewer adjectives and adverbs.     I create poems to improve the lyrical flow of my prose-writing.

So that’s one reason.

I discovered a second reason I write poetry:  it is therapeutic.  I certainly do not set out to write poems about my inner well-being (or lack thereof on certain days).  While engaging in the April NaPoWriMo Challenge (writing a poem a day for 30 days),  I found that some of the poems I wrote “took over” and out came some of my issues.  So obvious this was to me that I am now researching the use of poetry for emotional healing and resolution.   Poetry writing could become a daily meditative practice and inner work.  I’ll see where that leads me.

Here are a couple of media resources I came across that you may find of interest:

A podcast episode of Poetry Spoken Here devoted to Poetry Therapy

And these Tedx Talks on the same subject:

It has been a long April so I am off to rest now.

ljg 2019


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Breathe In, Breathe Out

This feels by far the lamest poem I’ve written this month.  But I am one day to the end so I am not going to stop now.   So the prompt, which has a lot to do with the difficulty in writing this poem, is to write “a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully.”   Huh?   Tranquility and passion are polar opposites in my mind so it stands to reason that the rhythm, meter and rhyme of this poem might fight with each other too.   I took the instructions literally and focused the poem on the act of meditation in conquering pain.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

“Find a place to lie or sit.”
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…
I can’t, it hurts, I want to quit!
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…

“Make that monkey take a nap.”
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…
But he’s swinging in trees and flinging his crap!
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…

“Inhale that golden light from above.”
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…
Oh let me be filled with heaven’s bright love!
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…

“Exhale that dark and searing pain.”
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…
But I feel this battle is all in vain.
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…

“We’re done for now, open your eyes.
You’ve been cured for sure, now dance about.”
It’s all been for nothing, it’s been a great lie.
“Keep breathing in and keep breathing out.”

ljg 2019


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Ars Poetica

Today’s prompt poem about poetry:

ARS POETICA: How to Write a Poem

Poems, like gangs, take over the beach at dark.
It’s not safe, I’m told, to go down there.
But to learn to write a poem, I am going this morning,
in Spring when clouds, thick like pudding, hug
chilled, wet sand and the quiet feels like padding on a wall.

I sprawl on the sand, feet pointing towards the surf,
lacy green foam washing poem-matter over me,
coaxing words whispered in a hesitant ear,
each wave’s fondle hiding a fatal undertow.
Then I realize: I am not safe here.

Lori Gloyd (c) 1997, recast 2019


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You Are the Summer Sun

Today we get to play around with the Bard himself.  The prompt is “to challenge you to ‘remix’ a Shakespearean sonnet.”  I am selecting for my inspiration the first line of one of his most famous sonnets:  “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” from sonnet 18. (No this is not a sonnet   Just some rhyming quatrains).

You Are the Summer Sun

You came over my horizon
Like a scorching summer sun
flooding my life with light and heat
leaving no place where I could run.

You warmed me like a beach fire
after a long hot surfing day
You blistered my innocent skin
when too long in you I lay.

You found a fertile soil in me
but did you love what you had at all?
I think not because that land is bare.
A sudden frost heralds an early Fall.

ljg 2019


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Gold Light

I’m sorry, but I simply do not have the time today to write.  However, just so I don’t break my rhythm and in keeping with today’s prompt to “to write a poem that is specific to a season,”  I offer this poem I wrote way back in 1996.

Gold Light

In my mother’s chair I bask at ease
in a square of orange light and hear
magnolias applaud with breeze blown leaves
their farewell dance to Persephone.

Caught in rods of amber light,
dust specks float above the door
refracting sparks of diamond white,
gold squares stretch across the floor.

No hoary frost garlands the jack.
No maples burn with autumn fire.
Just golden light to break the back
of scathing summer’s brazen ire,
While I recline in deceptive ease
to mourn the death of Persephone.

ljg (c) 1996, 2019