poems, etc.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: inspiring movies

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise: (from Karla) pick a movie that has influenced or inspired you in some way, and use that as a starting point in some fashion...I ended up with more of a short essay than a poem, but hey, the point of these exercises is that if you have words on the page, you win.

I was seven years old, in third grade, the year Star Wars came out. I can remember my father taking me taking me to see it at the Patterson one fall evening, joking not to tell my teacher that he'd kept me out late.

For the rest of my childhood, the question I asked myself in various situations was, "What would Luke Skywalker do?" It was the ur-myth of my boyhood, the pattern to countless inner monologues. Playing at being the heroes of Star Wars was our ritual, one more meaningful to us than the bit with the wine and the wafer on Sunday.

I was thirteen, about to enter high school, on the verge of manhood of a sort, when Return of the Jedi came out. I remember waiting in line with my best friend to see it, and as we filed in to the theater, we passed my middle school music teacher just coming out. We chatted for a few seconds about the film -- perhaps one of the first times I spoke with an adult as an equal.

We watched the film, and I saw my childhood hero come to within a hair's breadth of falling over into his anger in an attempt to protect someone he loves, and my childhood ultimate villain redeem himself at the last minute: a morality play more meaningful than anything teachers or priests had offered me.

And this is why sometimes when people ask me about why I practice karate, I want to say that it's the closest thing I've found to Jedi training.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: indulging the angst

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise: a wordlist poem, from a wordlist generated around the theme guilt:

parents crime sex oogie secrets regret taboo Jesus anger lies judgment conscience condemn fear indulgence prohibition vices expectation shame compulsion

indulging the angst:

"regrets, I've had a few"
looking back in fear and judgment
and wondering if it's too late
if it's all been wasted
expectations of where I should be by now
the occasional shame of loneliness
and anger at the universe,
the eternal cry of Jesus, "why have you abandoned me?"

and so breathe
and return to this moment
and allow the light to shine through
and let go the compulsion to think, "it would all be better if only..."
and let go of condemnation
and come back to the small still point of ease
where all is holy and luminous

autumn leaves are falling

autumn leaves are falling
but this is not death
for the tree blooms again

instead each
red orange gold burst
a spectacular "farewell until we meet again"

"I must go now, for a while" says the life in each tree,
"go inside and sit, that I may burst forth in the spring,
and so I leave you this salute as a token of parting
and a promise of return"

Zelda's Inferno exercise: "I am a prime number"

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise: use a metaphor that likens the self to an inanimate object, and consider what this means to aspects of your personality.

I am a prime number
unfactorable -- breakable, to be sure, but not cleanly

you will not understand me
as a product of others

the only factors that make me
are the One and myself

there are infinitely many of me
scattered throughout space

but no clear pattern links us
only predictable statistically

simply defined, yet
still mysterious after years of study

Zelda's inferno exerise: "my brain is devoid of profound phrases"

Zelda's Inferno writing exercise: supported freewrite on a phrase provided by another workshop participant. I was given "my brain is devoid of profound phrases" -- which of course is something of a commentary on the nature of the exercise! -- and kind of entrained on the rhythm of it. As for the content, I'll just say it's non-fictional, a reflection of my thoughts about the next time I talk with someone very special.

there's much I want to say to you:
I wish I had poetic language, but
my brain is void of profound phrases

for weeks I've planned this conversation
I've tried to crystallize my feelings
my hopes and dreams and fears and worries
the way my heart leaps up inside my chest
the moment that you walk into the room

Zelda's Inferno exercise: fictional index

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise was a little more experimental: write an index or table of contents for a fictional book.

aggression 5, 9, 20, 98
ansible 121, 23
asinine 22, 56-65, 103-123

baker's dozen, origin of 74
breathlessness 54, 98, 167, 193
breathing, proper 9, 54, 99-112

creativity 2-9, 28-36, 74, 89

dark, fear of 2, 9, 24, 106
demons 6, 66, 99

enlightenment 5, 12, 17, 23, 32, 64-72, 200
Eris 114, 168-175, 223-230

fear 6, 8, 15, 92, 105
fire 6, 56, 133-148

god 19
gods 56, 87, 102-107
goddesses 58, 114, 145-157

Jung on writing and the soul

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

The New York Times Magazine covers the forthcoming publication of Carl Jung's "Red Book", a personal journal of visions and dreams that became the root of much of his work.

The quotation from Jung above called to mind Whitman:

Camerado! This is no book,
Who touches this, touches a man,
(Is it night? Are we here alone?)
It is I you hold, and who holds you,

Zelda's Inferno exercise: manifestations of emotions

Today's Zelda's Inferno writing exercise (this one from Jodi): we made a list of emotions (jealousy, apprehension, relaxation, exhilaration,frustration, anger, irritation, peaceful, resignation, enlivened, confusion, relaxation, relief, ambivalence, auaudacity, shame, lust, abject terror) and then each picked several to write physical manifestations, metaphoric or otherwise, to describe that emotion.

amibvalence: You have to reach into center of the fire. Which hand will you use?

shame: if I look away from you, you can't see me, right?

audacity: I'm only 5'7" on the outside. Inside I'm 6'4".

frustration: 1) There's only one left, and it's on the top shelf, an inch above where you can reach. 2) It's illegal to smack people for being idiots.

peaceful: warm sun, sitting on a stone in the cool stream, just sitting

confusion: the big grassy hillside out in back of my elementary school, we'd roll and tumble down until when we came to rest at the bottom the world spun around us.

resignation: letting go of one breath and, after a pause, deciding to take another.

exhilaration: his heart grew three sizes that day, stretched out by being filled with joy

writing exercise: is not going away

Karla's bachelorette party this weekend seems to have put the kibosh on Zelda's Inferno meeting this weekend. But no reason I can't do a little writing exercise. Let's start with a phrase extracted semi-randomly from the latest Urbanite: "is not going away"

is not going away
it is not going away
it is coming closer
whatever it is
gravity is drawing it in
the essential longing of all things to be together
expressed as a force proportional to the product of the masses and inversely pro
proportional to the square of the distance between them

(more or less, that is, leaving Einstein to nap for the moment)
it is not going away
it is staying in place
staying by your side
will not abandon you

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