1. Undisclosed

undisclosed-
my need to belong
our need
when I was born I did not know that I was separate
did not know that I was a boy or a girl
such is the way of a fool
I was taught this, and more
I am contrary, and
seek to unravel so many teachings

I have heard, ‘once you have been to the mountain, you can never go back’
like so many cliches, there is truth in this
yet, a thing not penetrated will gather carbuncles of opposition
fuel for the fires of hierarchy
those with higher vistas disdain those in the valley
a practiced fool, I have been up and down, up and down, many times
I am contrary, and
wish to dissolve metaphors that are divisive

now, I ponder this-
once you have been to the ocean
you will always carry your heart with you
whether in the mountains, the valley
or on the winding roads that we build every day to quickly reach some future destination
and blind ourselves to the here and now places

at times I feel that I am running the gauntlet
soldiers on the left and right
striking to be correct, rather than helpful
their cudgels of platitudes and complaint at once barely scratch the surface
and so pierce my delicate nature
my need to go deep
our need

a being is always described by her circumstance and the garments she wears
I will admit I have cloaked myself in dullness in pursuit of some concept of safety
while my fool’s presence has grown cabochons of gems
I can no longer hide
a fool must don her crown of many colors
I knew this day would come
It comes for us all

undisclosed-
my unique flame lights some darkly place
our flames each light a void
I am contrary, and
wish to stand for my inviolable self
ourselves

…more of this anon

A weary traveler
I sought an out of the way place
on the edge of insignificance-

late summer’s lyre strokes swirls of sand
into a canon of wordless whispers
scratching my skin
boxing my ears
urging my bones to curve
toward a stair

cool granite slides under me
ushers me to the remains of a portico
a baffle to the wind
a place with holes
dais above broken tiles
roots have woven through

tones of gold, mauve, burnt umber
moans of steamy warmth
rise from hidden droplets of water
vestiges of an ancient tragedy
inhumed in crevices of earth and soot
while rock and scrub hiss black and white
beyond these motes

drawn by empyreal’s downward rays
an imploring scream
long ago cut down
murmurs its lament
crusty appendages scratching once gentle carvings
barely touch the surface
yet its garbled aria portends a tale replete with secrets

a promontory or barren trunk
whose youthful quest for light
gobbled up its predecessor
cracking marble and alabaster
stands testament to penetrating breath of wind
culling eyes of sun

these travel strained ears
burn in the proposition wafting here
what happened?

it is nothing
merely a ruin

against instinct
my weathered feet approach the dais
give way to weariness
in the cool slant of shadow

“we welcome you traveler”

uneasy shift of spine and knees
not ready or equipped for adventure
yet the little breeze on my neck a laudanum…

“rest a while, and listen to the tune”

hair follicles urge a warning…

childhood stories tell of the fate of those who listen to the songs of dead trees…

my form melts into the contours of its mighty back
and all manner of aromas
dance in my cheeks…

“let go your defenses, we mean you no harm,
we sing to soothe you”

I cannot move
the scents worm their way into
the blood and air of me
a thousand ropes knotting me to my self
supply a path for this song to softly walk upon…

“rest upon this fertile empty ground
let the breeze caress
turn your sorrows pleasures gently round
into this deep crevasse

let us warm you
calm you
and softly stroke you thus
float you
rock you
and evoke you
bring you home
Tiresius

our tune lies not outside this gate
has ne’re been sung
nor has it been of late composed
it germinates from tumbled time
inconstant states
and by your presence timely grows
again you must put down your robes
and let your body darkly doze

audience and cantor be
as we attend your earthly labors
drink of the endless season
as we flood your humors with flavors
of the five and legion
worry not for loss or treason
all is well
drink until empty beyond reason
tumbling down through dross and draught
then sound your knell
and sing until your thirst is quelled
we will be at the helm
fear not

the air that will enhance Thebe’s fate
must first be sung by you
now dainty cross the river Styx
as you know it is your due…”

-and so it was I found myself again in the place of the dead

Ladies and Gentelmen-
Welcome to the world wide web… the stuff that dreams are made of…and everything you could want for your viewing pleasure, your mental leisure, your prurient malfeasance, your intellectual impedance, your idle bandwidth, your active forthwith, your spiritual conundrum, your secular humdrum… Want to dance in step with the malingering masquerades gamboling round the airwaves? Look no further! Here they are chewed into bytes of sound and light. Want to swing with those artful yet curious quips of equiponderance? Look no further! Here they are stamped into images of universal admittance. No further look… for your vocal obsession, your bouts of depression, successions of cessations of suasions of successful promulgations–s-s-s, watchful, wakeful, wrathful, wasteful, tasteful and distasteful… and everything in between… all according to what is seen… all according to the season (no need to worry about rhyme or reason)… according all to our very best source, our first hand accounts, our grand inquisitors’ finest, tantamount to glorious you-know-who his highness, ‘in Excelsis Deo’, the everlasting ever ready watchful eye of our omnipresent effervescent omnivorous omniscient precision instrument, the way and mean, (projector and screen) weighing in at a mere kilobyte (derived by the golden section), in accordance with natural selection… we accord our beliefs and our vision to a virtual world, a binary code, a perpetual web of spin, we circle, we whirl ad infinitum (much to our chagrin)… and yet, the hour is late and one must soothe one’s weariness with sweet repast, light entertainment,  gaming, perhaps a gamble, a tumble a ramble de voyeur. Nothing that could hurt a fly…”come into my parlor…” And welcome… please include at least one uppercase letter and one number to insure that your password is secure.

Maya has gone

The heart of my desire is in my tongue, it has been pulled out, stuffed into my throat, burned at the stake and washed out with soap

Maya has left us, an empress of speaking truth with beauty, bravery, compassion

How will I find the strength to keep the flame alive, that beacon in the dark night of the soul, that gives hope to a weary traveler (whose journeys have left more scars and confusion than entertainment and hospitality), that eternal flame that says, “I hear your cries,” as it alights o’er the rocks of ages, like moisture giving clouds that sashay over mountains, sea spray, firefly dance, mourning dove, the eagle’s piping-

“I see what you have done, been, felt, I see the wonder and pains, the many refrains of pains and its beauty”

For beauty is in everything, in pains and tears, struggles and defamations, as it is in the smiles of a summer night, the embraces and salvations.

She knew this, our poet sage. She faced us and sung the caged bird’s song, a bell, a knell, a black women’s book of Kells, weaving our pains and dreams illuminate, our silent observations into delicately bold, elaborately simple melodies of vision- the poet, the bard, griot, jongleur. Her words have soothed, inspired, opened wings with the magic of poetry. Deep within we know there is nothing more powerful than this. It was known long ago on the Emerald Isle, at the Alhambra and in certain pockets of destiny. The poet has free reign to the very quick of us and when she holds that space with beauty and grace, then we feel our own greatness, no matter how green in its infancy-

Yesterday, such a one left our earthly road and hearth, to join life’s wisdom in the river and sea. Her words, of course, remain and will continue to touch many a traveler.

On this day, the day after, what will I do about my heart’s desire? Will I ignite my tongue into a little candle? Bring it with me into shadows? Will I dare to speak my truth(s) with beauty and grace as I walk?

It is said that we may find happiness in gratitude. As I pay homage to our sister mother poet teacher, I stand in an endless well of thanks. It is a swelling tide, and yes, I am filled.

Thank you Maya Angelou

Something pushed me up out of sleep at 3:11 am. I thought it was the full moon, but according to those who record such details, that came the next evening, along with a penumbral equinox.

 

For a while I lay upon the bed, suspended between worlds. I knew where I was and where I had just been in the sleeping dream. As I stared at moonlit items in the room, I noticed that my thoughts were parting, making a space between themselves and this strange sleepless moment, while I observed. Although I cannot catalogue them now, the thoughts were quite clear, and I even remembered when I had born them, and/or received them. I saw how they bored deep into me and informed most of my choices. I felt emotions when I noticed how they had prevented me from moving in certain directions in my life, and how they had blinded me. Yet, even these emotions were suspended in ‘another light’. They did not feel fully physically formed, and I did not resist further exploration.

 

In as much as I could perceive what was happening, I experienced these thoughts as sifting down into some other place, more distanced from my present being and circumstance. And as they did, a new presence entered this liminal space. It was the future. It was much like a well-traveled fertile dirt road cut into a curvy expanse of land. No distinguishable locale, but all of natural life was there. And as I felt myself enter it, a feeling of joy and freedom arrived. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I have a future.”

 

More than that, I knew that I was showing myself that I could walk into my future, because I had learned how to put my thoughts ‘in their place’, so to speak. I felt a deep significance in this moment of sleeplessness. Without words, or even strongly sharp visual images, I understood that I was integrating much of my research, many experiences and travels into a heightened awareness, maybe even wisdom. In this strange silver light, I stepped into a quiet state of euphoria. Quiet, because this was a phenomenon, perhaps incited by the pull of the moon, which reflected a cumulative result of decades of practice. Who knows, maybe even the partial eclipse on its way, revealed such a mysterious space.

 

Beyond this, I am not sure if I can transmit the power of this experience. It seems that thoughts need to be eliminated, just as the by products of food need to be eliminated. If we hold onto the same thoughts year after year, we experience a sort of psychic constipation, and at the very least, there will be discomfort. Because I have entered so many challenges in the past few years, I have had to look at my thoughts, my choices, over the entirety of my life. At times this has not been easy or even possible, but with diligence and a strong faith in what I call ‘the mystery’, I am able to come to moments of peace. It is here that I find the most valuable insights and release.

 

I guess it is time for me to start writing again-

Easter Poem

Empyreal rays from within go out and up, out and down, lighting spheres with spirals…a moon beam lies in the shadows…milk to this strong cuppa, tongue to this hearty drinking tune.

Evolution, you have played well, our game of hide and seek. So long you’ve kept quiet in your shallow breath. We forgot you.

What must you have heard from your hiding place, above our clouds, suspended beneath creator? If I could make you my child, I’d bundle you up and gently rock you for ten thousand years. I know, with a mother’s nose, that my child will never forget the fear that came to visit, and then made its home in each cell of her, in each droplet of blood, my child, powerless witness to atrocity.

A mother knows and though she may weep in the silent hours, when even the winged warblers who sing the world awake and asleep stand perched in dreams, she hopes to dilute her baby’s pain with her own river of tears. She knows the cut has gone too deep, yet there is some comfort in blood letting.

Meanwhile we fill our nostrils with elixirs, invisible unctions made from unfulfilled promises. It was the barren uncle who invented these aromas. He was jealous of his sister, whose rough and crippled fingers could still soothe a warrior to sleep. Even when they both grew old and she no longer knew the turbulent wonder of birthing the young, all the children came to her for a song, a story, love baked in her unleavened bread and to see their own brilliance cast back to them in her gemstone eyes, her liquid silver bones.

Uncle could not name the emptiness he felt. Words had not yet come to describe the loneliness of one who cannot connect, cannot carry water while walking a spiral path, who cannot see the tenderness of death, the blundering folly of ambition, the holy power of running full force in darkness. His emptiness cried out for a name.

So he occupied himself with answers. These had not yet been born. He created them, by stopping up the flow of our underground spring. As pressure grew below, and could not make its way to the surface, uncle grew dizzy with his new power. He took the mourning songs and turned them into anthems of war. He taught young boys to beat their chests to its rhythm. He taught them to build shields from the liquid bones of the dead. The male children loved the games that uncle made, and as long as they could return to the women for food and tenderness they enjoyed uncle’s ‘training’ (This was an answer he invented) and took it in good fun.

But the pressure kept building underground. Trees, grasses and small beings could not drink and the birthing pains of mater, deep below the surface increased, her growing undulations had no release.

For years we had to adapt to the stoppage. Boys needed training. Questions needed answers. Sister saw only girls at the hearth fires…and then the girls stopped coming (They wanted to be like the boys), except to take her bread, that she swaddled in finest linens, and carry it away. Everyone forgot the underground stream, its undulations trapped deep within.

Bella is here.

From her whispers come the misty mourning songs, the touch of death’s tender embrace, sung in a newborn’s coos and cries. “I’ve carried you across the river, and brought you here again, my love.”

We are fish, all. Fish within fish, seven and a multitude…

It seems there was some confusion as evolution hid on the other side of billowy clouds and was forgotten. Upon our sleek scales we grew rulers, in our bellies grew fingers and thumbs. We cannot quench our thirst.

Remember when we ran in the dark? Remember when our questions stood confidently beside us (They did not need answers to hold them up)? Remember when the grasses and ancient trees drank from the sweet silver liquid of mother’s birthing pains unstopped up and stretching out toward empyreal rays?

The empress parts her lips and sings to the stones.

There are days in each long cycle, when a portal opens. One breath releases long and even, and we may drink. We may remember. Today is such a day. The empress casts our brilliance into blue robin’s egg, through her gemstone eyes, her silvery marrow, and as we swim in a dream of walking…

…we may see ourselves in a million tiny fleshy, salty mirrors. We may feel ourselves swaddled by the cloak of darkness and carried over the river to begin again.

“Welcome home, my loves,” the empress murmurs, for in truth she loves us all.

It is her nature.

It has been weeks since I presented the next draft of “Before the End.” As with many creative projects, the production enriched my understanding of the story, as it also revealed more questions.

As I said in my previous post, the character lives in a post-apocalyptic world, alone. Many propositions present themselves in this premise. What does she do with her time? How/what does she eat? Where does she live? What items does she draw near to her? What tools does she use? It goes on. In a way, the story could elicit a popular question, “If you could have or do anything, no limits, what would you choose?”

Yet, this character does not have anything she wants. She has many limits. Also, she is full aware of the interconnectedness of people, of living beings, and of the interdependence of beings and the planet. Even if she never sees another human, she is keenly aware of others’ impact on her life.

As I enter this ‘made up world’ each day, it becomes clear that there are few lines of distinction between the world I am creating and the present one I inhabit, here in the United States, twenty-first century. I allow myself to see through the character’s eyes while traveling about my day, and I allow the character to see through my eyes in her world. This, I begin to realize, is a practice of peace building. What’s more, having chosen to create this world and this play has transformed me. (Well…the transformation continues.)

I must admit. Inviting such a dual view of the world creates tension. I cannot share with my friends the views of a character from the future, and really does not ‘exist’. Likewise, I cannot fully believe what I observe when I view from the point of view of my character. Lucky for me, I am a trained professional. I can inhabit multiple worlds simultaneously, while seeing my own hand type on the keyboard, and wondering what I will eat for lunch. Yet, it occurs to me to share some of my journey with my ‘audience,’ because peace building is important to me.

Allow me to attempt an analogy. The other day I was invited to dinner at a friend’s house. As happens most of the time, these days, the conversation found its way to a talk about the ‘economy’ and our serious situation, national debt, no taxes for the rich, times are tough, it is impossible, what to do…?” Also as happens most of the time, these days, there is a general sense of despair, even of oppression, and a concomitant resignation. “That’s the way it is.” So, I’m listening to very interesting, smart and educated people tell me that money and economy is this and this…a finite entity…. I listen. I ask questions. What are some solutions? What can we do now? One guest cannot get past my statement, “I do not agree that wealth is finite. So, can we move on from this point? Can we continue to discuss the situation, talk about solutions?”

Meanwhile, I am thinking about my character. She must travel two days to walk to a contraption she has singlehandedly built to catch rainwater, boil it, purify it, and carry it back to her dwelling. I am thinking about her tenacity, her daily problems and how she plows through them. Also, I am holding the space for this conversation, genuinely wanting to get to the plowing-through part. My character cannot fathom this information: “Wealth is finite.” This is not her truth. This is not my truth.

“How can we talk if you disagree with me about something that is a fact and you do not understand?”

I search my mind for peaceful navigation tools, feeling that familiar tension which presents itself when people come to a point of conflict. I am afraid, dear reader, I came up short.

“There is a difference between being right and being helpful.”

In my experience, people are often committed to being right, rather than sharing their ideas, listening to one another, and entering into a dialogue about that which has not yet been created. I often feel frustrated when conversations reach this sort of impasse. I wonder how change can happen, how solutions can be found and implemented.

I realize that I am making a big assumption- People want to change, find solutions and implement them. Okay, I am humbled as I imagine that my assumption may be naive.

I offer it as an inquiry. I do not suppose I know other people’s truths. I also blocked that conversation, because I wanted something. I wanted discourse. I wanted suggestions. I wanted insight. I was not willing to listen to finality and complaint. Harsh words, I suppose, and I fully admit my culpability in another thwarted attempt at peaceful communication. You, see, what I have come to understand, what my character knows somewhat more deeply than I, is that none of us is ‘right.’ We all hold a piece of wisdom and many pieces of group agreement, of resignation. She knows first hand what the cumulative effect of non-peaceful actions has created in the future.

So, I share this story as a gesture of peace, and as a way to building discourse.

On another note, I am happy to announce that I am collaborating with New Mexico actor Tom Schuch on a production of Connor MacPherson’s “St. Nicholas.” This is a one character play, about the somewhat strange comings and goings of an Irish art critic. More about the story later…. Mr. Schuch and I have worked together previously as actors and teachers. Tom is a company member of Albuquerque’s Mother Road Theatre and also tours the country as an actor, in one-character shows.

With this production we are going to document our creative process and offer workshops around skills and themes inspired by the show. Hopefully our first videocast will be up online soon.

Thanks for checking in.

Karen

Welcome to Bellasong’s blog. If you are here for the first time, I thank you for your visit. I hope to offer sweet and savory tidbits, both to stir your psychic juices and to share ingredients and recipes from my larder. When I began this blog several years ago, I was not at all sure what sort of relationship I was willing to enter, let alone maintain and nurture. Yet, time and travel have a way of distilling strangeness…. Knowing what I now know, I wield this tool as a communique across realms, even as I learn how to use the tool, how to master it, be one with it. That can be interpreted however you wish. Perhaps over time I will learn to transmit some of what I gained in my years of traveling. For now, I wish to introduce my current ‘project’.

“Before the End: A Post-Apocalyptic Dance Opera”

The story came to me a few years after the World Trade Towers in New York City were attacked, we (Americans) had started down the path of “what do we do when the tower falls?” I found myself inhabiting a deep future, so deep that it resembled many pasts. In this time space I walked upon the earth alone, seeking companionship, gathering remnants of myriad civilizations, seeking clues. In the studio I followed impulses that came from my marrow, and found myself replicating ancient gestures of war, ritual, manual labor, celebration, confusion and primal desire. In my journal I recorded songs, pujas and myths, while researching their contemporary counterparts.

As with many intimate relationships, I feel that I have only scratched the surface of this piece. It has been performed and reworked several times. Next month I will present a version in a festival of one-person shows. SOLOFEST 2011 is hosted by The Filling Station, a garage-turned-theatre in Albuquerque, NM. http://www.fillingstationabq.com/

When I composed my application for the festival producers, I found myself writing, ” This piece resonates for me as a kind of love letter to the world.” I wasn’t at all sure what I meant by that. So, I see this blog as an opportunity to discover how to make something with this tool (the WWW) I often take for granted.

That being said, today I’d like to share with you some back story about the title. “Before the End”, or “Before Completion” is the common translation of the 64th and last hexagram in the IChing, Book of Changes. For those of you who I’ve not met, I’d like to say that the work I  eventually present to the public grows out of my bush-wacking through dark and murky, esoteric and/or otherworldly realms. Again, you can interpret this however you wish. Basically, the last hexagram describes a time when there is preparation needed to shift from chaos to order. Energies are poised to affect this important and natural progression. However, as with all movements of sentient beings, our actions may or may not aid to attain the goal. I’d like to invite you to do a little  web research, and read a few lovely interpretations of the hexagram. One of my favorites comes from a site called, The Abysmal. Check in out:   http://theabysmal.wordpress.com/2006/10/27/i-ching-hexagram-64/.  You can google- “IChing Hexagram 64”.

I love to read many people’s interpretations of fables, myths and the IChing. It is fascinating to see which images and qualities of ancient stories resonate with different people Also, it helps me to chew and taste qualities of realities that we currently agree to  believe.

The character in “Before the End” may well be the last human. Although she lived with a small tribe of people as a child, she has solely inhabited a barren and fetid earth for many years. I won’t go into detail about the plot today, except to say that her journey and destiny is to find peace and order in the chaos that is her inheritance. She must discover this proposition. Then, she must accept it and prepare for a new cycle in the eternal dance of death and rebirth.

Shall I say more or shall I patiently allow our relationship to develop with heartfelt gestures of friendship and communication? After over 30 years working in the performing arts, I cannot say that I fully understand the nature of my relationship to the audience or my milieu. Ironically, the inciting incident which sparked my desire for intimacy and commitment in this primary relationship was my response to our shared national ‘tragedy’, to enter a mythical future and discover what is important when what we all held so dear was long ago destroyed.

Thanks for checking in. I have lots to do to build this version for the festival, as it is less than 3 weeks away. I cannot promise that I will write many posts before opening. Yet, if it comes to pass that many of you read this and add comments or questions, I will do my best to respond. It is my intention to create an ongoing alliance, sharing ideas and process, toward the aim of enriching the theatrical experience of shared time and space, via this vehicle of instant messaging.

Ciao,

Karen

Excerpt from-

Before the End, by Karen Fox, © 2006

Summary:

Akirame is the last person in the world in this post-apocalyptic musical poetry play. In this segment, she explains to the audience why she is burning books-

AKIRAME

Fire books do not burn so well. They provide warm embers through the night, good for sleeping indoors. The people decided that reading was not necessary, and voted to stop teaching it to the young. There were so many to be found and the trees were gone. It was a practical choice. (pause) Some of the elders said that books were used as opiates, shackles, locks. I didn’t know what they were talking about.

Akirame goes inside. Puts books into pit, lights them. She lies on her bed roll, restless. She cannot sleep. She goes to the door, peeks. Goes back to bed. Can’t rest. She gets up and opens the door.

AKIRAME

Amal taught me. He brought me with him when it was his turn to gather fire books. He was old and I helped him carry them. When he opened their spines, fire rose in his eyes. He spoke wonderful, terrible words. So many pictures came into my head. Sensations heated my body. I asked him to teach me. It was our secret. Before he died, he shared another.  He had laid words into fire books. ‘Poetry,’ he called them. A black hole lodged in his throat when the people voted to stop reading. His silence was heavy. Years later, when there was food to cook, we made a special outdoor fire. Amal drew pictures with a stick in the sand, delighting the children. The people thought he was losing his mind strength. He was making poetry.

She runs back into the house. Gets books from hiding place. Comes back out with books.

AKIRAME

This one I keep. (It is the collected works of Shakespeare.) I’ve read some passages so many times that the black ink has joined the ancestors. I remember them even so. It is my job. In this are many ways of people. And the words are put easily to song.

She sings.

“Full fathom five thy father lies

Of his bones are coral made

Those are pearls that were his eyes

Nothing of him doth fade.

But doth suffer a sea change

Into something rich and strange.” Akirame closes Shakespeare and opens another book.

This one holds special content. She takes out a perfectly preserved oak leaf.

Ketli sunder legache!

Harika! Vacker! Piekny!

Zuri! Frumos! Mool! Migoto!

Beaux! Bella! Belo! Bellissimo!

She carefully replaces the leaf.

I had almost forgotten about Amal. Wonders never cease! Good night.


Oh, as the sun reaches down to meet the sea

fingers lusty and bright, blood so deep

seeps into my winter fleece

like a vine I wind around all

who bring me closer to his yellow cheek

and they to me, as we seek our brawn

in each curling step of constant dawn.

Ah, as the moon softly cloaks my eyes

I glisten bend embrace, with wonder and delight

her milky hips roam so lithe

as she skinny dips in her own sultry dance

each wave an unguent that insinuates into airy night

her ivory arms tenderly caress the foam

the humus and me, her once and future home.

Ooh la la, I sing each passing

each rhythm of tides I drink

to the sweet memory of strangers and allies

who tread the briny brink,

walked the desert dry

tunneled through caverns, alighted

and joined in flight.

Twinkly eyes spread out upon the evening’s robes

beckon taunt and wink, to all who open

even for a blink.

Rays of promise hearken, intent to find

creepers, born of wanting and giving back in kind.

Now,  I pledge my love for you dear friend

and penned this song

to be sung when next we meet

(you know I will extemporize)

May we always share our hearts

our lives and visions.

I am happy to come to you

or you to me or perhaps,

there is a compromise,

some other provision?

© 2010 by Karen Fox


This is the blog of Bella Deluxe, a.k.a. Karen Fox.

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