“Marsh Song I”

marsh-song-1“Marsh Song I*” Mixed media, Clare L. Martin ©2016
Inspiration—

We drive westward along the Louisiana coast on a crumbling highway with my parents. The sky purples with becoming light. Our bellies are full of boudin and cracklins. Hot coffee is handed carefully from the front seat to my husband and I seated in the back.

We sing “J’ai Passe Devant Ta Porte” or “Bon Vieux Mari,” called by my mother and responded to by my father. Always my father embellishes his responses. My mother rolls down her window and points to the Roseate Spoonbills lifting from their roosts. My father stops singing and praises God.

A prayer is said for loved ones, wherever they are. More of the morning sky erupts over the marsh. I think of painters, how I wish to be one, how I have tried with my words. This day we are traveling to see Sandhill Cranes that have been spotted in Creole, a few miles from here. We always take the scenic route and happily travel from dawn to dusk.

How many times have we come to this slipping away land and been blessed by our forgetfulness of the world’s problems and our own? Countless. How much do I miss these two people who gave and saved my life? My longing cannot be measured.

To treasure the dead is our inheritance.

*I dedicate this artwork and these words to my beloved family, especially to my deceased loved ones, wherever they are.

 

Clare L. Martin

Embryonic Self

embryonic-self-mixed-media
“Embryonic Self*,” mixed media, by Clare L. Martin

 

 

A tree held in its branches
a womb that carried me.
My strong heart
beat brilliant red
through fluid translucence.
A thick cord
connected me to roots
of the tree
into the blood
of the earth.

Who knew I would experience
such sorrow, such joy
once born into the world?

 

 

 

*Dedicated to Bessie Senette.

Clare L. Martin ©2016

 

 

Poem after Angel Bath series by Dennis Paul Williams

Angel Bath

after a mixed media art piece in the Angel Bath series by Dennis Paul Williams

 

The fetal heart stops
in a globe of light
bones work
their way through flesh
flesh-in-water
her cheek depressed
a doctor’s thumbprint
bruises aorta
gray washes into amber
soft, blooded veins—
her mother bears
the crown of thorns.

Desiccation we know
is truth
because the artist
layers each dream
upon the other
the artist dreams
these dreams for us
to show us
what happens
when waters rise
when rains fall.

When mothers suffer
up to their necks
reach for the ceiling
pray for lightning bolt holes
through the roof: a delivery
of a different kind
the ever-ghost children
quickly go to ground—

Beloved, loved,
still-hearted and all.

 

©2016 Clare L. Martin

Divination Writings

DIVINATIONS*

 

1temperance 

Temperance

The angel with two chalices draws water to water. Its wings seem bloodied. Its feet are bare, placed in water and on land. A brilliant light shines between two peaks far behind the angel. Irises bloom near the cool, clear pool. The angel has a radiance in the position of the third eye. How this card speaks to me! Temperance: I have yet to find it in my circumstances now, perhaps ever. I am always flowing up a swollen river, or down in fast currents, gasping for breath. I want to be of the nature of water. I want to flow between two chalices in an angel’s hands. I want to give refreshment and seep through mountains. I want to flow from and to a greater Source. Temperance for a sick mind means the realization of humanness, the discarding of perilous fantasies. I am not a winged being of God’s favor. But holy, all the same.

 

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Ten of Swords (Love)

My heart is big. It pumps hard. Sometimes it drains and there is no blood left. It beats like a fish-out-of-water. I get mixed up. I put trust in the man with ten swords in his back, silver coins dropping from his tongue. But I know Truth, and with It I cut through the thickest night. How does a person not be themselves? I was born this way. I was born to put everything on the table with only a pair of deuces in my hand.

       

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The Star

The Star holds two vessels.

Her companion crow, teacher, stills the picture with its black eye. The Star pours liquid essence. (I am pouring essence). The lights of heavens surround us. She returns water-to-water. She is in her purest form. An Eve, woman essential, near a body of water.

We will replenish
and be replenished.

 

 

 

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Queen of Wands

She bears a flame crown upon her head and her scepter is a bough blooming with fire flowers. A cat curls in her lap. Her feet are bare. Her feet rest upon the head of a lion. It’s hide, a carpet. It’s teeth and claws preserved and prominent. Her armies are like the lion she rules. Defenders and fierce attackers. She is at the helm. I am a helmswoman. I carry a sword. I sit on a gilded throne. You would not recognize these trappings as such but I dare you to look into my eyes and doubt my authority.

 

 

 

 

69

Eight of Coins, Knight of Coins, Six of Coins, all drawn. Coins in our soup enrich nothing. Coins in our pockets carry us only as far as imagination does. We are gathering our coins, pulling them from all corners. We empty out pockets. Dig the mason jars from the garden buried beneath the sweet olive. All the coins pocketed after buying laundry detergent, cat food, toilet paper. Holy coins; tangible as bread. We hold these coins in fists to be their worth. Will they last? What do they impart to us? What transformative magic? If we had rooms full of coins, gold, silver, would we be holy? Would we ascend to Heaven? Would we walk the earth desolate and tormented too fat to fit through the eye of the needle?

 

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Two of Wands
I assess the room; eliminate three perceived threats before you enter. I know your fatal weakness before you speak. It is in your gait and your shoulders. I know this because I see the burden you carry. My exit’s plotted. Everything’s set, Two of Wands. Two times you have entered my life at critical junctures. This is the last. You tell me you have fifty thousand dollars to your name and that you are going to spend it on a sailboat. Goodbye is why we are meeting tonight. I know better than to try to change your mind.  You are going to that metaphor we will name “the Atlantic.”

 

 

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The Pope
They carry her to the inner chamber and place her high upon the bed. They tie her hair to the frame, braid by braid. Through the window, she sees the fires of the city, a full moon. She sees the stars constellate. The room is dark and scented with Frankincense. The man enters wearing a silk dressing-gown. He breathes with difficulty as he approaches her. He carries a platter of sweetmeats and a chalice of fresh wine. She begins to cry out. The man places a soft cloth in her mouth. Her eyes skitter like spiders held to a burning match.

 

 

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Four of Swords
I’d like to think your seclusion is temporary. Our time here is temporary. You told me you are going to sail to Istanbul.  I will never know if you made it to Turkey. There is dire political unrest there now. I don’t know if you were aware. Too much grief in your heart to read the news? It wasn’t hard to put the pieces together: You probably would leave your ID behind. No way to track your purchases before you leave to indicate what you are planning to do. You said you only told me. Why did you burden me? Of all people. Maybe this was a blessing? I’m trying to figure it out.

I pulled the Four of Swords.
Respite. Rest. Repose. Replenishment. Solitude. Exile. Retreat. Abandonment.
These divinations are mine this time.

 

©2016 Clare L. Martin

 

*These writings originated from J.K. McDowell’s WRITING PROMPT: Texas Hold’em Tarot Divination Writing Prompt using The Medieval Scapini Tarot by Luigi Scapini dealt to group in a Texas Hold’em pattern and “played” as a writing game. As I am devling further I am adding pieces to the series.

Prompts for Poets and Writers

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Here is the workshop outline I offered yesterday to our local group of Renegade Writers. We meet every other Saturday to write new. We share the responsibility of leading the workshops on a voluntary basis. There is no requirement of attendance. We have an online presence on Facebook where we share ideas germane to writing and creative thought.  Renegade Writers

RENEGADE WRITERS
July 23, 2016
Workshop Presenter
Clare L. Martin

Music/Language


Listen to Ambient music (try Pandora’s Ambient station) without words. Let your eye zigzag around these words or your own wordlist of random words. Write down the words that resonate with you.

sin receive fabric cold heavy slice tender banal gift span taint dismal fountain bashful blend breath blue groan six fever bloom panic hallow veil frost become trill boast float grease tin capsule din air host seek whisper cannon lyrical walls toll patient aid oil hold pallor desperate temperament fecund virtual tantalize crease grind aspirate glean diamond dissonance heavens wicked stars oceans gallop crust obsidian curve rock mist colored tall river hope wood animal bell hunted believe final aspire delicious scare canopy  stairs burst kind liar shunt plastic cantor carrion shine ghost saint skin terrible flash grave fire rust fear rose brunt dire burden gloss perpetrate scandal viscerate denial vibe eat ball

Framework– Here are suggested prompts for you to get your writing started. You can go in your own direction, of course. 
Write the spell to undo a curse.

Write words of forgiveness to a person who wronged you.

Write the earliest memory of a childhood fear.

Write a dreamed nightmare.

Write details of a normal morning or evening, only imagined as extraordinary and not dull in any way.


MORE PROMPTS

Think of a gift you’ve received—It could be intangible; a propensity toward something, a talent, a sensibility. Would you give it away? Why or why not?

Choose an animal. Think of its form, its musculature, its skeleton, its hide, its eyes. Think of its habitat and its habits. Think of its place in mythology and literature. How can you incorporate this animal into a working piece of prose or poetry so that it becomes a metaphor?

Music and language are so intertwined. When we listened to music, did you have images in your mind? Visual images that popped in the visionary sight of your mind? Did you write them down? Try to remember things that you might have missed writing down. List them or check your notes and keep writing.

Discussion

What are your writing habits? How can you improve them by adapting others’ ideas as your own?    

6-11-16 Renegade Writers

Here is one piece of writing generated from exercises that we did at yesterday’s Renegade Writers. Renegade Writers is a twice-a-month writing group in the Lafayette, LA area that meets to write new. It is free and open to anyone willing to rise to the challenge and be respectful.

I led the exercises yesterday. Below the poem, I have posted my handouts for the workshop, in case you want to play along. My poem came from a free-write following the reading of Mark Doty’s poem, “A Green Crab’s Shell.” I think the word green triggered the flow for me.

 

 

The Queen Runs Away
She sits
all bow to her
rain falls
a handmaid
wipes her face
her arms cold
she shivers
all bow
she rises
dress soaked
skin shows through
her feet bare
her breasts apparent
through white chemise
red rushes to her face
the boy holds an umbrella
daring, she dares to listen
to the voice, to follow
her impulse
to the blue house
red paint on walls, slate floor
a cold bath
“I will not bleed again.”
But she does, once more
and all goes to ruin
she tells no one
food, paper and pen
she stays unclothed
blinds drawn
rain tinny on the roof
she dances she sleeps she prays she cries
jam on a biscuit
sun behind the trees
wine from a rough bowl
she talks to lovers
who are not there
makes peace
with the deranged side of herself
forgives
her own insolence
she changes colors:
green, to blue, to red—
she settles on marigold

she invents a name so holy
it cannot be spoken
she calls upon it
when she wants to remember
this place, when she wants

to be free.

 

 

©2016 Clare L. Martin

 

 

 

 

 

Renegade Writers
June 11, 2016
Clare L. Martin

PROMPT: Unpredictable Language

After reading “Blackberrying,” consider a vivid, clear, and simple memory of a summer activity. It could be blackberry-picking, seashell-collecting, swinging in a park, etc. Use unpredictable language to show the reader the experience. Is there emotion in your experience? What is the emotional impetus that led you to choose this memory? Is it necessary in the writing? Can you show it in the language without telling us explicitly what it is?

Blackberrying

BY SYLVIA PLATH

 

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,

Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,

A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea

Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries

Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes

Ebon in the hedges, fat

With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.

I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.

They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

 

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—

Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.

Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.

I do not think the sea will appear at all.

The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.

I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,

Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.

The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.

One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

 

The only thing to come now is the sea.

From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,

Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.

These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.

I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me

To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock

That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space

Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths

Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

 

 

PROMPT: Miracles

After reading Whitman’s poem, answer his question, “What stranger miracles are there?” in a list. List as many miracles, natural or man-made, that you can think of. Draw from your list the impetus for your writing. It could be just one or several of the items from your list, or an idea sparked from a line or lines from Whitman’s poem itself.

Miracles

Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the
water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the
same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

 

 

PROMPT: Man vs. Nature

Consider why the poem is titled “Summer Holiday.” What are the natural elements in the poem? What is left of unspoiled nature that strains to stand amidst all of our constructions? What do you have to say about that? Is there an ultimate price we will pay? If so, what is that price to our very own psyches? Write that.

Summer Holiday

Robinson Jeffers, 1887 – 1962

When the sun shouts and people abound

One thinks there were the ages of stone and the age of

bronze

And the iron age; iron the unstable metal;

Steel made of iron, unstable as his mother; the tow-

ered-up cities

Will be stains of rust on mounds of plaster.

Roots will not pierce the heaps for a time, kind rains

will cure them,

Then nothing will remain of the iron age

And all these people but a thigh-bone or so, a poem

Stuck in the world’s thought, splinters of glass

In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far off in the

mountain…

 

 

A Green Crab’s Shell

Mark Doty, 1953

 

Not, exactly, green:

closer to bronze

preserved in kind brine,

 

something retrieved

from a Greco-Roman wreck,

patinated and oddly

 

muscular. We cannot

know what his fantastic

legs were like—

 

though evidence

suggests eight

complexly folded

 

scuttling works

of armament, crowned

by the foreclaws’

 

gesture of menace

and power. A gull’s

gobbled the center,

 

leaving this chamber

—size of a demitasse—

open to reveal

 

a shocking, Giotto blue.

Though it smells

of seaweed and ruin,

 

this little traveling case

comes with such lavish lining!

Imagine breathing

 

surrounded by

the brilliant rinse

of summer’s firmament.

 

What color is

the underside of skin?

Not so bad, to die,

 

if we could be opened

into this

if the smallest chambers

 

of ourselves,

similarly,

revealed some sky.