Magpie, My Keeper, Is Flying - Upon Freeing the Gift of Creativity Turned Inward
for Elaine Bellezza, Beloved Anima-as-Fate
'There is only one real deprivation, I decided this morning, and that is not to be able to give one's gift to those one loves most...The gift turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of poison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up.' - May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
This afternoon while still somewhat hungover from last night's rich meal and several glasses of strong red wine, I stumbled as one does when hungover, only today without feet but with eyes, upon the above quote by May Sarton. I had awakened this morning with fragments of a dream, repetitive of other dreams the past few months, where I am carrying something precious and just cannot put it down in any old place or upon just any available surface. I cannot put it down until I find the right surface and location.
These dreams are full of torrential flood waters, or backed up, stagnant water, toilets full of filth and pungent bright orange dark urine days old and fermenting. I cannot unhand the burden even though the urge to pee or flee or drive a car away or into flood waters is strong. I must not put down the burden odd as it is; it is my laptop carrying case made of canvas. It is large enough to carry not only my laptop but also many books with which I cannot, will not be parted from as they are the must-have-with-me-always 'bread', my staple and stability in a given to me world out of balance.
I have understood the dreams only a little - something within the psyche is flooding up, over-spilling or has already, has not been adequately canalized, channeled, streamed and guided, shaped and formed. Or flushed. I knew that eventually, as dreams do when one sits consciously, patiently, persistently with them, they would yield their messages to me, and upon revelation these must be obeyed, brought out into the world, Carl Jung having said that one has a moral responsibility to dreams once they are kenned and must be conscientiously acted upon in the outer world. Just dreaming is not enough. Everyone dreams but not very many know to dream them out into the world, to let their messages unfurl, flood and flow to bring forth new consciousness, to reshape old forms no longer adequate to self, place and time into symbol and their sense, usually not literal.
And thus, only just now, upon opening up haphazardly in a book about Dostoevsky and his struggle with addictions which mirror the profound compulsion to create at any cost perhaps beyond one's capacities to renew oneself, I find May Sarton's quote and suddenly the dreams clarify and sharpen into focus; I understand them as the burden of creativity too long turned inward, the burden of writing, the burden of poetry which I have carried heavily for most of my life since middle school when I was 11 or 12 years old when books became my lifeline, my link to existence that I could live on in spite of not wanting to do so. Written words, books, kept me from disappearing though I was and remain a mostly invisible word.
And thus the floods. One cannot ignore them. Alphabets tumble and roil. One dare not ignore them. One must see them without a choice to not see them. In them I am suddenly made visible, bright orange p*ss pots and all. I am both appalled and pleased. My burden is upon my knees.
The backed up water, the urine, is creativity. A somewhat odd symbol of creativity, there is more than enough evidence that urination is symbolic of self expression which is creativity. In ancient Rome the highly valued dirt from the urinals of boys' schools was collected to be used as a cosmetic in order to restore youthful energy and looks. A young boy, or puer in Latin, is an archetypal symbol of ongoing creativity and inspiration, the puer aeternas, the eternal youth, well springs of ongoing creativity still imaged in solid fountains of the world where eternal waters flow from the peni of cherubic youth.
I have struggled my entire life with a strong urge to create, to write, to express in words that creative daemon within which torments no matter the completion of a poem or essay, a lecture, a psalm. And now my dreams have had me consciously, urgently seeking a place to put the burden down, to perhaps come to it anew. I imagine that landing the burden means bringing it down to earth, manifesting creativity all the more by bringing my efforts to others for the strongest part of the compulsive urge in my creativity has been to contribute one good thing, one good poem or piece of writing which in some way might further the culture even if only by a flea's leg length.
The dreams urge me to let the urine flow, to let the flood waters indeed flood over, to be less self conscious of what I write and say but to have at it all and to say my say. And to let whatever waves there are crest and break upon ever receptive banks and shores whose duty it is to allow what may come from motion without complaint, the more compliant toward as yet to be fully formed purposes as yet to be scored.
Synchronistically, a few days ago I listened to a lecture by poet Allen Ginsberg about Walt Whitman and his imitators, those who were goodly influenced by his effulgent, self indulgent style, his garrulous poems which presumed to express the very expansiveness of the North American continent over-flooded by a plague of itinerant, persistent poachers and prophets from Europe to Eastern disembarkation and then inland and Westward, compelled to overtake land and native peoples in their possessed, pushed wake. Ginsberg imagined himself to be a timely extension of this unruly school, as savage as the projected upon land and justly-resistant, resident humanity stretched beyond known bounds and sounds. Blood drowned and pounded the god-hounded land even now is flooded by unleashed mighty rivers seeking, if rivers seek at all, to undo and renew in horse shoe and other shapes the crimes of consciousness compelled to overtake while leaving it up to human souls to repent and repair, to prepare for more powerful insurgencies of land and Self ever seeking new and nower expressions of dirt and deity. There's enough history beneath layers to support the scarp and scrape of momentary yet monumental motions finally given mouths to utter what lies both beneath and within the heaping huzzahs of here here here full and deep. As in my dream, it is hard to steer in such surpassing tides and currents. Still, I am searching for holy campground that I may lay my burden down.
I have no wish to imitate Whitman nor Ginsberg - though both are easily imitated since they did so themselves, an occupational hazard for writers - but only to be obedient to the daemon, that urgent, emergent, creative force within. It rushes within and against me. No matter whether derived of the grandiose American continent and the even more grandiose sky or not, I have all too successfully braced against it in fear of failure, reprisal or, worse, complete indifference from others. My dreams now urge floods and resultant coagulations, they bring creative splurges to ground from hand to the hard world. And Nature, too, is indifferent but begs none the less and all the more to be given utterance and response.
Respondeo ergo sum. I respond, therefore I am. I respond, therefore the other, earth, all her ants, is as long as there are eyes, ears, and scanning minds to acknowledge and touch, wrestle, caress, shape - some in scansions - outer from inner, inner from outer, landscapes to be all too quickly discarded in time for what is sung just ahead. And seen. Or hoped, all praise to telescopes. We would be they, so addicted to horizons, to bring them close.
Something there is needs completion via coagulation, forming, shaping, and sharing with whomever may be open to clods delivered. If not, rivers will, as they will without reason, continue to overrun their banks and insist upon covering designated previous cultivations. Let then excess of creativity have its say, play out, and leave the critical post-considerations to others. I will surely sit and ponder spent what spills forth, to shape, to edit, to discard. And watch my little yard sink beneath needed and needy floods.
I will have done with deprivation and bring myself, what I have shaped and misshapen, to the world. These things, this burden, have I most loved and felt responsible for, have born the shame of. I have fought and have failed utterly again and again though my attempts have been, and still are, sincere though not blameless. Fear has been my encampment, a longing beneath knowing feet in secret cellars just beyond reach of contracted hands forever spelling hunger. I know open bastion doors and windows to now fling beyond embankments what has been wrung out of my floes and woes though hands wither from too much turning against and inward. What a relief to burst beyond boundaries too long successfully restraining.
I recently wrote a poem about much too too solid bastions of self, of forceful puer energy ramming through and over and into long buried storms and petrified forms, of passion mangling the delusion of 'norms' ignoring too sensitive alarms. Given May Sarton's May revelation this morning I now understand that the poem is about more than eros, it is about that powerful creative/destructive force, the daemon/tyro that ever urges outward intent on making and staking Self in new land and at least one aging man wrenched and rendered from dried and calcified encrustations. I am, to borrow from the insistent dream image, beginning to leak. And to break open.
Archeology - What The Stele Says 'Upon Taking A Much Younger Lover'
That this old ground yields to plow stuns.
What begins to be, earth swell, breaks
root-room open to blood means.
Old skeins tear upon what is new terrain,
hunger worn, long appended. There is
no blame for pain is the blessing.
All hurt now stings twilight quaked into being.
Your breath falls upon me now, taut, sinew,
bruising hand, purple inside flares warrior nerves
to unknotting surprise.
I am uncovered, thin, bared upon thinner sheets the man-
ripped to many images, torn into, landscaped to former curves.
No longer do I grieve enclosure, touching only myself,
delivered from layers.
Lines, veins, strung between Pole Star
and First River Mouth, an embedded ruin uncovered in milk floods.
Touch gently first what has been too long concealed.
Hard touch congeals once was telling mud remolded into
'Not again. Not yet the bleeding Centurion.'
Wield roughly then through gates too long shut.
When I cry out, do not mind. Blindly ram. Do not stop.
Magpie, my keeper, is flying.
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