MAMO: Rome

RavenKingPainting

Good news! Just got word that my presentation ‘A Chieftain Unchosen: Examining the Raven King through Medieval Prophecy’ has been approved for MAMO: The Middle Ages in the Modern World conference, which will take place in Rome in November. Yay! One of my ulterior motives for saying no to other things is to make sure I can afford to go to this one as I hope to see not only the fabulous Alessandra Bava but also pal Dan Curley (and ROME!).

Yes! This is another paper on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Yes! I am trying to finish up another essay on the novel this very day (or maybe tomorrow — always take another day to look at it). Yes! This pretty much seals the deal that I am actually writing a whole book about this novel. Heh. This is how things sneak up on you.

Perhaps I am just part of the prophecy, too…

childermass eyeroll

Ione’s Dream Festival: Dream Poem for Sunday

Ione Dream FestThe SpeakEasy dames are hosting Ione’s Dream Festival this week: check it out on Facebook. Here’s our Sunday poetry offering by Wendy Goldberg; I think it’s got just the right touch of melancholy for an ending.

We’ve had a wonderful time sharing our writing, music and art. Keep dreaming, remember refill the well, and as the dames would surely tell you, make sure someone’s got your back while you dream. 

Dreaming

Perhaps it would be like no poem would ever be forgotten,
if we remembered every dream we ever had.

The day would be as surreal as the night,
populated with a memory that does not exist,
a narrative running counter to the light.
Would people say in the café, wiping sugar off the table
I am a flyer or I dream of water?
Would lovers whisper sexual non-sequitors
about images that abandon all sense of plot?

Perhaps those taboos would go silently unshared,
and if nightmares could not be broken with the day,
we might keep those secret yet.

But, we would remember all —
from an angel in the deep midnight womb
telling us the mind of God
to our last twilight vision in sickbeds
where dreams glide away like a grey sky
sliding its palms on an endless, still sea.
As we breathe at night, we breathe in day
like the way we dream
about the dead in that first year of grief.

Instead, mornings have merciful hands,
wiping a fogged-up mirror, and we see
the same story we keep telling ourselves.

Ione’s Dream Festival: Dream Music

Ione Dream FestThe SpeakEasy dames are hosting Ione’s Dream Festival this week: check it out on Facebook. Here’s tonight’s entry by singer-songwriter Julie Beman:

“Memory This” is a song about two dreams, but it also sounds dreamlike due to various production choices made during development and engineering.

The song opens with a mellotron, moody and wonky; its sound is a staple of both science fiction and prog rock and its “out-of-tune-y-ness” serves to destabilize. The piano brings in a feeling of being grounded, but only until the vocal, awash in reverb and delay, introduces a dream. After four lines the vocal splits into elaborate harmonies. As all of the parts are sung by the same person, there is a hall-of-mirrors quality to them; one person has multiplied into many. Strings are typical dream-fare. Panning moves the sound in space, denying it an opportunity to “land.” The song ends with an improvisation, an act of creation that will happen only once, much like a dream.

Ione’s Dream Festival: Dream Poem

Ione Dream FestThe SpeakEasy dames are hosting Ione’s Dream Festival this week: check it out on Facebook. Here’s today’s entry by Karen Ponzio in poetic form: find her as @kptheword on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook.

Ode to Dreaming

What do you do when you cease to dream?
Do you walk the streets endlessly,
Drink large quantities of wine, whiskey,
Or some other magic potion sweet
Search for a wild woman, make her your queen,
Feed her sugar fresh from your lips
As she lies back upon the green grass
Of your mountain bed,
Stir her guts up with promises
Of passion in pink and red
Comfort her when she breaks instead?

Is there comfort in anything if it isn’t taken
To its end?
Is death the only comfort left?
Must you pretend that life is the better choice
Knowing it is not a choice at all?
Must you fall over and over into the same hole
Hidden in plain sight
Or is the hole one of your own making
Where other worlds awaited you,
Jewels, gold, a dragon’s lair,
A sorcerer’s stone
A hiding place for an alien force
Though no escape from the torture of knowing
You were mostly alone?

Would you then try once again
To close your eyes at night
And see what transpires
Without judgement of what is
Wrong or right,
Without begging her to tell you something
Anything to keep you from hearing
The stories of your own plight
Buried deep within your troubled mind?

Would you let your queen get her beauty sleep,
or do you feel the need to wake her
And ask if she had claimed your love as well as
Your dreams?

How much do you expect her to take?
Do you even know what love is?
Do you have anything left to say?

Let what you love break if it has to
And love it anyway.

Hudson Valley Writers Showcase 26 Jan 2018

My guests were Faith Green and Nancy Klepsch.

Low tech stream available at the WGXC archives (downloadable)

See Emily Play

2017-10-27 11.27.31The last event for me in October was NEPCA at UMass-Amherst where I gave a presentation on Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall; at PCA National this spring I’ll be talking about the film adaptations, too. I also finally visited Emily Dickinson’s house. Despite living in New England for many years, I had not managed to get there.

2017-10-28 12.02.42

It was magic, as you might imagine. I didn’t know this enigmatic middle child had auburn hair. It was odd to see furniture that was like the vintage stuff Robert has bought for our house which is about the same age as the Dickinson house. Her actual bed is there, reproductions of some of her letters and the many scraps of odd paper on which she wrote in flashes of imagination before revising over and over.


Down a well-worn path next door her brother and sister-in-law lived in The Evergreens with a mad swirl of activity. Unlike the increasingly retiring poet, they hosted soirees and had a bowl full of visiting cards. They also stuffed the house with art, many from the Hudson River Valley school as well as landscapes and ‘orientalist’ works. Our lively guide Keeley not only filled in the history about various objects and rooms but quoted from the poems often. The words rang vividly in the places the poet had lived and loved. Make the time to visit. I plan to go back when I can do so more leisurely.

2017-10-28 12.03.00

 

Devil’s Night (2007)

satans-sorority-promo-image-sljDevil’s Night
It was called Devil’s Night in the town where I lived
That veiled night before Halloween,
When goblins came out and devils ran wild
And some said that witches were seen.
We kids stayed inside, safe in our beds
And whispered of what there might be—
But one year we intended to see for ourselves,
My sister, my black cat and me.

The sun had long set and the darkness had come
To wrap all the houses in black,
When we crawled out the window and crept ‘cross the lawn
And none of us even looked back.
Though the wind tapped our shoulders and played with our hair
And ran through the leaves with mad glee,
We were stalwart and true like the heroes we knew,
My sister, my black cat and me.

We had never quite said, but each knew in our heads
The goal of our late night foray;
There was only one house whose black shutters and spires
Cast long inky shadows by day.
The house of nightmares was the subject of dares
For children much older than we,
But we knew we must try to sneak in and spy,
My sister, my black cat and me.

As we walked on our own down the mist-shrouded lane
The goblin cries rang through the night.
My sister told me, with an air of disdain,
That I should not take any fright.
‘It’s only some kids wrapped in sheets that they hid,
That they took from their mothers laundry.’
And we continued along with much knocking of knees
By my sister, my black cat and me.

The house loomed ahead with its turrets like spikes
Aimed at a portentous sky
The old shutters rattled and the chimney howled doom
But the wind smelled like pumpkin pie.
‘An old witch lives here and she eats little kids,’
My sister heard from Katie Lee
And we were likely to die if we drew too near by
My sister, my black cat and me.

‘I’ll go up on the porch and ring her doorbell
then run—like the wind—quick away.
You go ‘round the back and give a sharp rat-a-tat,
Before she can come out this way.’
Her plans carefully laid, my sister then stayed
As I walked toward the back door slowly,
I’ll admit I was scared and I felt ill- prepared,
No sister, just black cat and me.

As I prowled through the gloom I saw a bright room
And an old woman dressed all in black.
‘It must be the witch,’ I said to my cat
And shivered and shook in my tracks.
I wanted to run but I heard the doorbell
And I knew that my sister’s safety
Was all in my hands, so we gathered our breaths,
Poor little black cat and me.

I made a small fist and raised up my arm
To deliver the thunderous tap
But I froze to the spot when I saw a dark shape
That opened the door with a snap.
‘I know what you want!’ I heard the witch say
But my feet would not move to flee
And she swept us inside the warm kitchen’s light,
Poor little black cat and me.

My tears trickled down and I begged for my life
And the life of my little kitty.
The old witch just smiled and patted my head
And said to me, ‘Don’t be silly.
I’ve got oodles of pie and candy and fudge
And a gingerbread house so pretty,
And I wish you would share all the food I’ve prepared—
It’s too much for my big cat and me!’

I looked all around and my fear dissipated
The kitchen was cheerful and clean
And the huge oaken table was filled ‘til it groaned
With more treats than I’d ever seen—
Pies of all kinds and cookies with chips
And a big steaming pot of green tea,
And in front of the fire a great big cat yawned
At my ravenous black cat and me.

I said, ‘Thank you ma’am!’ and plopped down in a chair
And she set a blue plate before me
And I piled it up high with some warm pumpkin pie
And a big taste of each sweet dainty.
I was feeding my face and telling the witch of our chase
When my sister’s gaze fell upon me.
But it took little time before we brought her inside
To eat with my black cat and me.

So when you see a witch and your knees start to shake
And you’re tempted to run to the hills,
Just remember the night that we wandered quite late
Seeking out Devil’s Night thrills.
Some witches are good, and some witches are bad
But they all make amazing candy!
If you’re sweet and not rude, they might share their food
With your sister, your black cat and thee.

[Listen to the audio version]

Happy Halloween! Samhain maith! Wear iron and don’t talk to pookahs. Let us remember those who have gone whom we miss and share the bright memories with those near us now. Be well.

[Thanks Stephanie for the coolness of the alternate Satan’s Sorority image]