Sunday, February 14, 2016

HISTORY OF LOVE: Looking to the Origin

First, let me wish everyone a belated Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you enjoyed a relaxing day, a fantastic meal with your favorite beverage (mine is still diet cola!) and a good movie. If you are far more active than me, you may have gone surfing, jogging, hiking, climbing, or golfing. More like me, back to the movie thing or reading or writing. Whatever your pleasure, passion, or mystery, I hope you found time to indulge.

While Valentine's Day has evolved into a celebration of love, the story of Valentine himself tells of learning to believe in something strongly enough to risk your life for that belief. One version of the story (there are always many, aren't there?) is here:

70 Poems for 70 Days

Poems #18 and #19

Today I am posting two poems from Another New Beginning. Poem #19, REVEALING A SOUL, seemed more uplifting than #18, RIVER OF MUD. Maybe the diverse emotions reflect the original and the evolved perceptions of St. Valentine's Day. To keep my posts of the poems in order, I am including both.

Neither poem appears to reflect the purpose of Valentine's Day. With photographs of pink hearts and red roses floating around on Twitter and Facebook and Google, there seems little room for thoughts of "Rivers of Mud" or even the more lighthearted "Revealing A Soul".


Walls fall
Houses crumble
Cars float downstream.
Winds howl
Skies blacken
Children cling to worried mothers’ skirts. 

Men nail boards
Across window panes
While roofs detach and concrete cracks.
Pack and drive to safety
Leave mementos
Bring water. 

She comes with fierce determination
Taking homes and claiming lives.
Anguished cries of man and nature
Die away
Revealing only tortured souls. 

While my thoughts were on Katrina’s destruction of New Orleans, these words can easily cover the devastation of many areas of life. 

Walls fall Houses crumble” when a family is ripped apart by divorce or lingering illness. 

Winds howl Skies blacken” during many dangerous weather conditions. This can also describe the inner turmoil of a person during a rape and the unending pain in years to follow. 

Men nail boards” could refer to Christ’s crucifixion or even the slamming of a prison gate, figuratively being nailed shut behind a prisoner. 

Words can be interpreted in many ways. In the movie, I’M NOT HERE, a reporter says to a character representing Bob Dylan, “…some have questioned … whether or not you still care about people …”
The Bob Dylan character replies, “… we all have our own definitions of all those words. ‘Care…’ and ‘People…’”
“Well,” the reporter says, “I think we all know the definition of ‘people.’”
To which the Bob Dylan character says, “Yeah. Do we?” 

Is endless war the answer to the misunderstandings between nations? Between one nation? Is our world a true tower of babel with purpose misinterpreted for all? When ‘she - the river of mud - comes with fierce determination,’ will our answers - anguished cries - appease or anger before they die away? The river of mud, detached roofs, cracked concrete: What destruction will be revealed in the souls of man?

The effort leaves her spent
filled with joy

She leans back
takes inventory, reveals

Dreamless, she sleeps,
gaining strength

Preparing for what comes next
Already knowing, this child also
Will not give her rest.
The process of using the wording at the end of one poem to create the title of the next meant poems often took an unusual turn. As with many others, I had no idea where I was headed with this poem until most of the words had flowed onto the page. In this case, the effort exerted led to joy and satisfaction, and finally to a touch of humor.

This is for those who have given birth to a number of children. You know babies don’t give a mother much time to relax. Of course, she has already prepared herself for what lay ahead. She isn’t concerned about breast feeding and diaper changes. Or worrying needlessly about skinned knees or school detentions. She nervously looks ahead to the first weeks of dating, the temporary driver’s license, cigarettes hidden in the desk drawer (and other stuff, too!); everything that comes with adolescents developing into teenagers; on-and-on.

If that were the end of a mother’s worries, this would remain a simple, humorous poem. But the ambiguous on-and-on includes releasing your babies to the outside world without further hands-on influence over their daily thoughts, or their actions.

For now though, accept this poem’s originally intended tongue-in-cheek message. The reality of this newly-born child, sleeping so peacefully in its hospital bassinette, is that he or she will soon be capable of creating headaches with endless unanswerable questions; generating colorful drawings on the newly painted white kitchen wall; and displaying a stubborn streak you know with absolute certainty comes from your mother-in-law’s side of the family.


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