Another Night with the Muse (poem)

The muse sits in the corner

of my room; eyes like

vacant saucers.

I sit at my writing desk,

grasping for an image, a concept,

a sentence. Anything.

Nothing comes.

My mind is like this room,

empty, with an occasional draft.

 

“It’s up to you,” says the Muse,

heckling me from the corner.

“Oh, really?” I ask. “Because,

I’m sitting here at my writing desk

and you’re sitting there

and I’m looking at a blank page

and you’re gazing into the creative abyss

and nothing is happening.

So, who’s fault is this, dear muse?”

 

She smiles.

Like how one does at a foolish child.

She smiles.

 

Back to the blank page.

Oh, Christ.

Back to the blank page.

 

The muse taps my shoudler

I look up at her.

She says, still smiling,

“I can’t guarantee you

magic everyday. Don’t you

think it’s a bit presumptuous

to think I can, or

will?”

 

Then she all but vaporizes into

thin air,

except for that knowing smile.

It lingers in the middle of the room,

suspended. Teeth and lips sway

like a cobweb in the breeze.

Soon it is gone, too.

 

I get back to work.

With the muse out of my hair,

I can finally write this poem.

As Artists…

The following is a piece written specifically for my column, The Artist’s Corner, featured in the New Richmond News.

As Artists…

As artists, we must always have ‘yes’ in our hearts. That is the only way we may behold the world with a sufficient depth of vision. It is this vision of the world which translates best onto paper, canvas, film, or stage. If our eyes are shut and we are blind to the world, then our creative work, too, will be blind. An artist is most productive when she views life with an attitude of receptivity and openness.

This isn’t to say an artist must say ‘yes’ all the time to everything. Artists must also be capable of saying a firm ‘no’ a lot of the time, too. We must say no to close-mindedness, no to destruction, and no to convention. These things – close mindedness, destruction and convention – are not the elements which make an artist. They are the elements which make monsters. As artists, we must champion open mindedness, creation, and beauty.

All creative works are composites of form. Form is synonymous with beauty. Out of the chaos of our minds, we construct forms of beauty. As artists, we must accept chaos as an essential ingredient for all true, creative work. It is chaos which makes us human and not machines. It is chaos which makes art possible. We must accept chaos whether or not chaos accepts us.

As artists, we must practice acceptance. We must accept that it is okay to be afraid of not creating something wonderful or powerful. It is okay to be afraid of writers or painter’s block. It is okay to be afraid of not being productive or inspired. We must accept our fears and get down to work regardless!

If you are a writer, try accepting the idea of not coming up with any interesting stories. Give yourself permission to write complete junk. Then apply pen to paper and simply write. You may write about anything, so long as you are writing. That the practice is continued is the most important thing. If you are a painter, accept the idea that this painting might not be your masterpiece. Give yourself permission to play, to goof around. Sever all expectations about your work and don’t quit. You might be surprised when your playing around turns into something fantastic. Even if it doesn’t turn into something fantastic, you will have had no expectation that it should.

As artists, we must find our own place. A painter must have a place for his easel, a writer must have place to sit, and a musician must have a place to practice. Quiet solitude suits many artists just fine while they are working. Other artists like to work in noisy, crowded environments because they find it stimulating. As artists, it is of necessity that we find out what works best for us.

As artists, we must never quit. We must always continue on with our art. The health and livelihood of our very being depends upon it. As artists, we should never pretend not to be artists. We were born to create and we have to respect that. As artists, we should give ourselves time and permission to do what we were born to do…

Dear reader, I want to thank you for reading this week’s column! I will now sign off with our creative quotation for the week, this one from the writer, Mary Oliver: “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

Your Cracked Writer Returns: A Pre-Curious Occupation, An ode of Voluntary Schizophrenia, and A Matter of Prejudice.

As per usual, here are

A Few Aphorisms of Divine Intoxication…

People are apt to say it is unbecoming of a man to keep a stash of two or three single Oreo’s in his left side shorts pocket. But what care have I for these puerile bores of convention? In any case, a small bit of lint in the double-stuffing never hurt anyone, and, in fact, adds to overall flavor. Wiser words rarely (if ever) spoken.

To find one’s way out of a wet paper bag is an ability which continues only to elude me.

One need only pop the lid on his ID to watch the blood begin to flow.

A writer or an artist is one whom is blessed with being a schizophrenic by choice.

The most awful, deplorable pun you’ve ever heard, courtesy of your ever-cracked author: What does an Ancient Egyptian say when she begins undergoing menstrual cramps? Answer: “Oh no, I’m getting my pyramid!”

***

A Matter of Prejudice

Human beings, by and large, seem to have a great prejudice against matter itself. People not only deny that they alone are composed of matter, but also believe themselves to be “something greater beyond just being STUFF”. And for why? If everything in this whole wide universe is composed of atoms, matter, (STUFF), including the sun, any galaxy you can hang your hat on, your mammalian brain, the planet Earth, an adorable newborn baby fawn, and on into ad infinitude, what is so wrong about ourselves, too, being composed of material stuff? Must something be immaterial in order to be great or beautiful? This seems like little more than superstitious folly to me. “But what about our souls!?” they are ravenous to ask. Well, what of them?

The soul, if we are to use that word, need not be immaterial either, in my view. By and large, the soul is either a poetic device or a myth — like God, like angels, like the mischievous leprechauns and daring centaurs of old. Regardless of souls (or leprechauns for that matter), the stars will continue exploding their enriched star-stuff guts out into the universe for an infinity, only to collect themselves once more under the law of gravity, reassembling all those chemical constituents into new stars, with new planets, with new moons, and perhaps with new intelligent mammals whom may one day grow up out of their planetary abundance of stuff just to ask those cold, shimmering ancient stars above, “Aren’t we greater than just being STUFF?

 ***

Sex:              Date of Birth               Preoccupation:               

I like to think of myself as a man endlessly consumed in the avalanche of constant discovery. My preoccupation is consistently and faithfully, with curiosity. My persistent spirit, as a result of this preoccupation, is of awe and wonder. I am rather proud of these facts, and only wish there were an available space upon every drab application form I find myself filling out for such information. Yet the cold machinery of our working society is lamentably indifferent to such wistful proclamations, no?

To hell with those bastard writers, poets, and visionaries!” the bald-headed managerial halfwits are apt to say. “What we want is obedient workers! We want men and women whom clock in on time, commit their heart to their work (and do it with a smile!) and work the overtime when asked! Good boys and girls need only apply.

Well. I say to hell with your obedient workers! To hell with all the “good” boys and girls!

I say, for the sake of ultimate preservation of the soul and all that is sane, bring on those bastard writers, poets, and visionaries, please!

And thank you.

“If You’re an Artist, Life Will Make you Sick!” & Thoughts on Creative Limitations

Life Will Make You Sick

Has your head ever been so full, so overflowing with ideas and sensations, that you feel it is completely necessary that you vomit it all out onto the page or canvas? If you are an artist, you will understand this inclination to release that full creative mind which ails us creative types so. If you are a true artist, life will make you sick. Sick in the guts and sick in the head. Our only method for maintaining our health, our only means of psychological cleansing, of emotional and spiritual catharsis, is done through working on our art. To write, paint, sculpt, film, sing, etc. is the only way an artist may breathe and continue to live.

If we do not set aside time and place for commitment to our work, we will suffer, we will suffocate, we will slowly wither up and disappear all together — in a word, we will die. If you are an artist, you will make the time and place for your art, whether that time and place be ideal or not. You will create no matter what the circumstances are. Whether you are poor, blind or maimed, does not matter. Your life depends on your commitment to your art.

It is only the artist, the visionary, the man or woman whom is truly alive, that life becomes an ailment to which there is no cure. The necessary medicine is a steady employment of creation. As for the living dead, the non-creative, the mediocre consumer, life does not bother or sicken him in the least. The artist suffers because he feels, he is receptive to his environment and corresponding states of mind, he is sensitive. The man without curiosity or wonder, without intellect, without a creative heart, is a zombie of futile society, and is as close to being dead as ever, and thus is insensitive. This somnambulist, semi-conscious man experiences less of the suffering, sickening life. However, he also experiences less of the beauty, less love, less art, less perspective, less fulfillment, and ultimately less life. To put this shortly, his ignorance is not bliss. It is merely a suffering of a much less refined sort that we artists experience on a regular basis.

Remember, dear artists, that if you are suffering, if you are being sickened by this life, it means you are alive. Revel in your consciousness! Be grateful for your billions of years of evolutionary heritage, be grateful for the complex electro-chemical neurological organ located within your cranium, for your bi-pedalism and your erect spinal column! Be grateful that you conscious of these facts, that you are conscious at all, that you are not a mere zombie of mediocrity, that you are not among the living dead in this life. Be grateful, throw caution to the wind, love your lovers, be god and master of your work, and never cease being a truly sickened individual. Breathe, be still and know. Create!

***

Creative Limitations

You can remain below middle-class existence, below the poverty line and still maintain a very rich creative life. One must only learn to do more with less. Sincerity is the most important quality an artist must possess in order to accomplish genuine works of art. Sincerity is at the very root of the artist’s heart. Sincerity, and the guts to do it.

It is true your artistic vision may suffer due to lack of funds and resources, but it does not mean your work altogether be abolished. If you are a perfectionist, and feel that you will not pursue any project without every possible material and thing your idealistic heart desires — then you will inevitably be living a very drab, non-creative, and unfulfilling existence indeed. If you are an artist, you will overcome these material obstacles, whatever they may be. You may create blind and maimed, ravaged and poor, but nonetheless, you will create.

Despite all limitations, you will defy them through your art! Consider your limitations a benefactor, even. These obstacles will narrow down your choices, thus making your job to create all the easier. As Orson Welles once observed, “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.”