Monday, February 29, 2016

Look Before You Leap

Look Before You Leap

I'm not sure who invented Leap Years, but here we are again, enjoying an extra day in February.

Did you know that February 29 is known as "leap day?"

Did you know that a person born on February 29 may be called a "leapling" or a "leaper?"

Did you know that February 29 has a long tradition in which a lady may ask a gentleman for his hand in marriage?

That tradition started sometime ago in England and Ireland, and in North America, it has become known as Sadie Hawkins Day.

Sadies Hawkins Day actually originated in a Andy Capp's comic strip, L'il Abner, which was published in newspapers from 1934 until 1978.

In Li'l Abner, Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of one of Dogpatch's earliest settlers, Hekzebiah Hawkins. The "homeliest gal in all them hills", she grew frantic waiting for suitors to come a-courtin'. When she reached the age of 35, still a spinster, her father was even more frantic — about Sadie living at home for the rest of her life. In desperation, he called together all the unmarried men of Dogpatch and declared it "Sadie Hawkins Day."

A foot race was decreed, with Sadie in hot pursuit of the town's eligible bachelors. She specifically had her eye on a boy who was already in a courtship with the cute farmers daughter, Theresa. She was the daughter of the area's largest potato farmer, Bill Richmand, and, unlike Sadie, had a lot of courtship offers. Stud-muffin Adam Olis was her target, and because the engagement of Miss Theresa and Adam wasn't official he was included in the race. With matrimony as the consequence of losing the foot race, the men of the town were running for their freedom. Turned out Adam Olis was in 4th place out of 10th leaving John Jonston Sadies' catch of the day.

Click to enlarge.

The town spinsters decided that this was such a good idea, they made Sadie Hawkins Day a mandatory yearly event, much to the chagrin of Dogpatch bachelors. In the satirical spirit that drove the strip, many sequences revolved around the dreaded Sadie Hawkins Day race. If a woman caught a bachelor and dragged him, kicking and screaming, across the finish line before sundown — by law he had to marry her. (Source: Wikipedia)

When I was much younger, we used to have Sadie Hawkins Dances in school. Sure enough, the girls would chase the boys around the gymnasium, and those young men who were "captured" would have to dance with the girl who caught him.

I was never a quick runner. I didn't mind dancing with any of the girls, but I must say that Maggie Boreham, who had more than an ample pubescent rack and a reputation to go with it, was always a welcome partner.

I'm not sure if Sadie Hawkins dances still exist. We do, however, have "reality" TV shows like "The Bachelor," in which 26 or more lovely young ladies chase a arguably handsome bachelor around the world to become his intended bride. The counterpart is "The Bachelorette" — same insanity but with a gang of men chasing one woman.

"The Bachelor" has been a very popular show over 20 seasons. Since very few of the somewhat contrived engagements have actually led to marriage, the show is clearly designed more as entertainment than as a real-life process.

Other "reality" shows, such as "Married At First Sight" or "Married By Mom And Dad," are indicative of just how much today's television audience are fascinated with some kind of unsuspecting and sudden rush into marriage. The guiding principle seems to be that romance is bunk and that those wedding nuptials conquer all.

Arranged marriages are nothing new to many cultures around the world. These cultures insist that an arranged marriage works. What they don't tell you is that, if one of the partners steps out from the marriage, there are dire consequences. Usually, the wife ends up dead, very often shot on her way to her divorce proceedings. So it goes ... without the romance, there is only contempt.

Sadie Hawkins was no romantic. She was more a pragmatic and, dare I say, desperate woman, who saw marriage as a social convention as much as she might have equated getting married with finding an everlasting love. Love and marriage do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

In the same way, "The Bachelor/Bachelorette," "Married At First Sight" or "Married By Mom And Dad" rely on the same misguided premise. Marriage might be a logical outcome of two people falling in love, but simply marrying someone is no assurance that there ever will be love between the two participants.

Marriage involves a great deal of what I call "dirty work." Living with someone in a legally binding relationship has become more of a contractual business arrangement than a romantic communion of two souls. In marriage, there is always a certain amount of division, and unless each participant is willing and able to make compromises, it's a sure bet the marriage will fail.

Marriages do fail. Good grief, the divorce rate has soared in the last thirty years. Over 50% of marriages now end in divorce.

Perhaps it is time to teach our children what marriage truly involves and sluff off these idealistic notions of love and marriage going together "like a horse and carriage." These days, there are no horses or carriages travelling along life's highways and byways. There are, however, a great many car wrecks.

It's time to put Sadie Hawkins Day to rest. It's time to temper the idea that marriage is somehow the be-all and end-all of life's experiences.

My advice to young people would be to learn how to be a much better runner than I ever was.

Friday, February 26, 2016

the constant heart ...

the constant heart ...

the constant heart
refuses to measure distance
refuses to divide time into days or months
and lets love linger in the darkest rooms
without ever knowing darkness
without ever conceding to hopelessness
and waits with patience and certainty
waits with the devotion of open arms
ignores the lonely nights
and rebukes the restless dreams
because the pulse of love
beats clear and loud
and drowns out every whisper of doubt
until at last
the yesterdays apart
drop off the calendar
and every tomorrow
dissolves into a
cherished sensation
of being one together
and knowing only
the joys of


Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Way To Metaphor

The Way To Metaphor


No, not that usual thing you do, when you drift into some kind of fantasy world.

Imagine something so different that the world cracks apart, and all the rules of perception break into fragments.

Let go, let go ...
"I used to think that writing was something like the ocean, an ebb and flow of emotions, drifting in and out of my consciousness. Only later did I realise it was more the crooked, sharp rocks and coral underfoot."
When the heart slips, you're almost there. When your breath catches in your throat and you feel like you're drowning in the dry air, you're almost there.
"Some days, it's a little like dying, I think. The words that crash from my fingers seem almost alien, as if it's not me writing at all."
Everything comes to a sudden stop. The sensation is brutal. Suddenly, your life becomes so brittle that you feel that even a sudden turn of the head would shatter everything about you.
"So often it's like being swallowed by a black void. There is no light, no hustle and bustle of everyday life. Nothing, nothing at all, except for what I can create. Yes, I create the light, the colours, the people, the ongoing fabric of life. And I do it because I can't allow the utter darkness to continue. Where the world ends is no place at all, so I fill in the void, all the way to the margins."
The emptiness is the monster that you must defeat. Anything less, and you'll slip back into conformity, the easy world you understand, the world of common occurrence, so simple and so placidly familiar.
"The temptation to retreat from the unknown is always there. That is why so much writing fails. Without the deepest bravery, no one finds that unexpected miracle of discovering how to fill the void of empty space. It's Genesis revisited, and it's that discovery that matters most. What was dark and blank just moments before suddenly becomes an uncontrollable flood of images — landscapes, characters, emotions, and most importantly lies. Yes, lies, fabrications. So many writers believe that they are on some kind of quest for truth, but there is no mysterious truth for which to search. The imaginative world is a world of one's own making, a facade of illusions, sometimes beautiful and sometimes absolutely horrifying. Every imagined piece of the puzzle is neither true or false until someone reads the words and uncovers the lie. Once the reader sees the lie, he or she knows the truth. It's this subtle reversal that becomes an epiphany and changes everything."
There is something dangerous in emptiness. A world of nothingness is fearful beyond any other atrocity known to humankind. It is like torture without pain, because you can feel only the anticipation of what may come or may not come. You wait. You wait.
"When fear overcomes the creative hope, then the writer retreats to convention. The writing becomes mimicry of things one has read, seen or experienced before. The black hole, the utter blankness, fills with plagiarised constructs, familiar words practiced over and over again. The truth is that the imagination has failed to create, and memory overruns the moment. The writer begins reconstructing old tales, prior joys and wounds, all the while filling the void with maudlin sentimentality."
If the moment allows, you will find inspiration. So much depends on your willingness to remain open, like a conduit through which passes unknown sensations, sometimes too vague to comprehend, sometimes almost so absurd that you doubt whether what you are writing makes any sense at all.
"No sooner does the air fill with the fresh scent of something new and unexpected, than the moment is over. The power of creation passes as quickly as it begins. I have often felt cheated by the collapsing finality of writing. The garden, which was mine to tend, blooms into a kind of rapture, before spiraling into nothingness again. I am so often left spent and exhausted, almost saddened by the last word, the ending that casts me out from the garden and closes the gate behind me. I realise, then, that there is no assurance I will ever find the way to metaphor again."


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

An Idiom's Guide To Poetry ...

An Idiom's Guide To Poetry ...

i got a bee in my bonnet
      a burr in my saddle
          some days it seems
      i'm up the creek without a paddle

for some people life is just a shot in the dark
      for others it's a blessing in disguise i think
          and even though i'm sure every cloud has a silver lining
      i guess you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink

some days i'm just par for the course
      some days i can't see the writing on the wall
          some days i say stuff right out of the blue
      i guess what i mean is anyone's call

lovers know it takes two to tango and three's a crowd
      infidelity is always the straw that breaks the camel's back
          still to err is human, to forgive divine
      so try not to be the pot calling the kettle black

i don't play the blame game, i let bygones be bygones
      no sense crying over spilt milk, no sense preaching to the choir
          i mean what's the point to getting one's nose out of joint
      no sense jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire

hey, i'm no flash in the pan, no wolf in sheep's clothing
      i'm cool as a cucumber, and i let sleeping dogs lie
          but if all you can be is a fair weather friend
      i'll be the apple of your eye when pigs learn to fly

some people shake a leg, some shake skeletons in the closet
      some wear their heart on their sleeve and some say blood is thicker than water
          i may be beating around the bush, may be barking up the wrong tree
      i guess fools who trust idioms are like lambs led to slaughter


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

i'm dancing ...

i'm dancing ...

i'm dancing
dancing as fast as i can
dancing with jazz hands
dancing out of my fancy pants
dancing the boogaloo
and slipping in a quick moon walk somewhere
or a sulky Mick Jagger shimmy here and there

i'm dancing
dancing this way and that
dancing forward
dancing backward
dancing up and dancing down
and spinning out an intricate hand jive
to the beat of the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive

i'm dancing
dancing round and round
dancing in my sleek new Sunday clothes
dancing in absolutely nuthin' at all
dancing fast and dancing slow
and just when you think i'm about to stop
i'm b-boy bopping the bunny hop

i'm dancing
dancing the monkey and the dirty dawg
dancing in an ever expanding circle of hope
dancing across the slippery floor of faith
dancing furiously for your midnight love
and wondering if you knew from the very start
that i was hip thrusting my way into your heart



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