Friday, March 30, 2012

Visions for Hemingway

Hemingway once wrote: "I want to write one true sentence." And "If I can write one sentence, simple and true, everyday, I'll be satisfied".

I read this recently in a new-ish book about Hemingway’s first wife. These words grabbed me, pierced me straight through to the core.  I find myself thinking about them frequently.  What is a true sentence anyway?  Who is the arbiter of truth?  I am often aware as I tell little white lies for social convenience or glaring lies of omission to avoid social conflicts, etc.  How often do we tell the truth?  And to whom?   Maybe the reason we have to write the truth, in sentences, is that it is simply too hard to speak.  

As an actor, I am a keen observer of human behavior and much of the human interaction around me. I watch the millions of strangers in New York City as they lie with their eyes or fidget their way out of answering a question truthfully.  We speak in polite idioms and socialized systems with the excellent manners we were taught as children, but often, a whole other world of truth rages underneath.  It intrigues me, our human struggles with this concept of truth. And how often do we lie to ourselves or convince ourselves of truths that are altogether un-true.  I wonder… whose truth is the one that counts?

As a poet, I find that images speak more truthfully than words ever hoped to.  I am keenly aware of the power of symbolism and the way it envelops me in multi-layered truths. The world is full of them – literal signs on the street, the nagging recurrence of certain song lyrics, or images in nature that make us stop and reflect, sensing a higher truth which always comes just when we need it most. 

Once in my late twenties, I was grappling with the concept of man-made religion verses a more personal style or level of spirituality.  I woke up from a nap in the middle of a Saturday afternoon to find my very Catholic crucifix split apart and just barely hanging from the wall; my rosary wrapped around it and dangling just inches above my face.  I laughed aloud. This image was a perfect and very true picture of exactly what I was feeling on that particular day.  The image stayed with me, as they often do, following me like a shadow, crowding the corners of my mind.  Finally I took out a pen and sat down to write. I don’t know if there is “one true sentence here” (let the arbiters of truth decide, whomever they turn out to be), but never a truer or more literal image has come to me…

My crucifix is torn.
Hanging lopsided
like an autumn leaf
yet to fall from my bedroom walls,
distorting the perfect oval
of the rosary that rings around it.
An illusion
as the weight of those glass prayers
splits Christ from His cross
partially.
The nail pierced through His feet
the only thing
that binds Him
to that dogwood tree.
Tilted toward my eyes
poised to dive
down-to-earth
and share this plane with me.
Sure to walk upon my welcome mat
and turn my water into wine
sans Halo
sans Shrine.
Naked with knowingness
embracing the Divine within my ribs
swelling with breath of tears.
Beauty ejecting shame
and all the metaphors of ritual
force-fed in high chairs
potty trains
elementary grades
imposed nick-names.
Powerfully pulling me beyond.
A roto-rooter
for the clogged plumbing in my soul.
Cleansing like a slimy mud bath

the Genesis of letting go.

©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Easy Addiction

I confess that I have an addiction. Starbucks matcha green tea latte with soy milk has some kind of happiness drug inside it. It is a VERY green beverage that always draws raised eyebrows when people see me sipping it. I eagerly justify this addiction by praising the power of green tea to purify my pores and rid me of the free radicals that life in an urban environment readily bring.  And I go out of my way to hold meetings or social occasions near or better yet IN a Starbucks, so that I can get my ‘fix’ and continue my happiness trip.  Of all things to be addicted to, surely green tea is one of the best, yes?

With my craving in mind, I recently scheduled an appointment with a client at a Starbucks near his hotel.  I arrived a bit early to carve out a space for us and gather the necessary chairs from random spots or single sippers with no need for that second seat.  Another gentleman arrived in close proximity and began eyeing me frequently. I worried that he was “hovering” – the famous New York City trick that allows ones to pounce the instant a seat becomes available.  I kept feeling his eyes upon me and started to feel a bit nervous. Luckily, my client arrived and we sat with our respective beverages.  After a fairly intense and even emotional meeting which ended in a hug (always a good sign), he ran off to another appointment while I tidied up and began the layering process – scarf, hat, coat, gloves…  The slightly suspicious gentleman remained in his seat nearby and feeling no threat to my now unnecessary seats, I looked up and made awkward eye contact, even offered a feeble smile. To which this portly stranger gently replied, “Man! You really know how to rock a dress!” 

Ha!

It was so unexpected and delightful that I catapulted, with the help of the happy drug in my green tea latte, straight up to Cloud 9.  I laughed and beamed at him, thanking him kindly for his surprising compliment.  I sauntered out the door with a spring in my step, grinning like a goofy Cheshire cat. I know how to rock a dress?  Really?  What a wonderful thing to say to a lady, especially following an intense and emotional meeting with “the boss”.  I thought to myself how easy it would be to get used to that – the feeling of heartfelt glee that bubbles up spontaneously when unsolicited flattery comes my way.  This fellow caffeine addict had just made my day.  I sang a song of gratitude and decided this was an addiction worthy of cultivation. Where is the man who will sing my praises, especially on difficult days?  Who will lift my spirits with one quick lash of wit, with one well placed nod of acclimation?  I aim to manifest more of that feeling, and in fact, once wrote a poem that emanated from such a tender and incessant need. After writing the poem, I couldn’t decide what to call it.  Eventually the lone word “wish” found its way to the top of the page and somehow … it fits.  Isn’t every addiction kindled or ignited by the passionate presence of a wish, somewhere deep inside?  ??? What do you wish today?  I pray that you will “rock your wish” each and every day and that together, we will manifest a more beautiful world…


Wish

Your pupils make museums
of each masterpiece
you un-earth
in this excavation of me 

mined and searched
my pit falls open
as you shovel with your wanting
every beloved inch of me
restoring cracked mosaics
placing the pristine sculpture of my sides
on a worthy stand for your lingering memory


tickling treasures from my torso
till laugh out loud beauty
comes leaping from me

(and later, the poem ends with)…


my lips curl, tender
a mirror for your ecstasy.



©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Foggy Feelings

Foggy Feelings


I always get lucky when I travel.  While I was visiting friends in Orvieto recently, their friends called to invite us to Sunday lunch.  The hosts had been gifted a whole thigh of wild boar (Cinghiale) and wanted to share it with some friends.  Luckily, I happened to be in town, so they also invited some other American friends who now live in Orvieto, to balance the native English vs Italian speakers.  We loaded up and drove down to the countryside in Umbria.  The hosts live in a marvelous, beautifully restored little villa with scrumptious views of the rolling hill sides of Umbria, complete with vineyards, Medieval towers, the ubiquitous Cypress trees that line the driveway – everything BUT a view of Orvieto.  Two large trees block the view of the lovely Etruscan town of Orvieto, and its gorgeous cathedral (or duomo) with a post Renaissance fa├žade.  Much of the greeting, the grand tour and the get-to-know-you chit chat centered around lamenting the lack of Orvieto in the view. I, however, was delighted with the view just exactly as it appeared.  The dining room is located along a long glass wall, so that we all had the immense pleasure of the “bella vista” while we dined.

 The meal was wonderful, the company exceptional.  Despite the fast flying Italian dialects all around me, I managed to keep up and understood much more than I anticipated.  After the meal, it was show-time as the hosts had just returned from a vacation abroad to India and the Maldives Islands.  We ooohed and aaahhed and laughed on cue at charming photos and listened to their remarkable travel tales.  All the while, an evening fog slowly crept into the valleys of Umbria.  By the time we finished our five hour pranzo (lunch), the view was misty with multi-color grays mixed among the greens, and evening lamps began to appear throughout the charming country side.  I found myself enchanted.  Full of fabulous food, heart-warming connections and locally made red wine, I fell in love with fog. Its creeping, its mysterious shaping of our human eye, as visions appear and roll like clouds, as dusk pervades the very roots of my soul.  The farm houses, the villas, the vineyards – all took on a romantic quality like love scenes in the rain at the movies.  It made me long for a handsome man to hold my hand, a sister to tell my secrets to, a lover to steam up the windows even more…  I found myself nostalgic for things that had never been.  How can it be that we miss what we have never had?  Perhaps the idea of former lives is not so foreign, not so incredulous.  I remember writing a poem entitled Nostalgia once, while sitting in Central Park soaking up the muted colors of the Fall.

NOSTALGIA

As the first frost fades
My Indian Summer dawns
I relish the rays of sun
that speak to me
as I journey toward my second home
in Central Park.


Kaleidoscopes of autumn leaves
swirl in funnels of sprinkles
wind-dropped atop the "Imagine" shrine
reflected in my eyes
blowing out the candle of Lennon's dreams
and doing him homage
all the same
with their diversity of hues.

 Creation thinks its spring.

The wildflower bursts of hope
swell the teardrops in my eyes
as the crinkling death of summer
neath my feet
crunches me toward winter
and the absence of my Solar friend.


This brief return of June
cruelly beams you into me.
I cannot help but lose my breath
and briefly sink into the quicksand
of our memories.


©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.