Posts tagged ‘Arts’

Letting Go – poem by Joe Pfeffer

An adult seagull (Larus michahellis)

Image via Wikipedia

I’d like to introduce you to the poetry of Joe Pfeffer, a new friend I made at a poetry reading at Hartford Coffee Company in Saint Louis, MO.  I will be featuring more of Joe’s work in the days ahead while I continue on a break.

. . .

Letting Go

When it was
Over, she told him not to care
Because he’d seen it all before.

He’d heard her voice,
He’d seen her cry when she was sure
No one would look.

He said they all can
See the way you take that flute and
Make it into fire,

The way you hold the moon
In both your hands then
Let it float away as though

You never knew the terror in the
Seagull’s yawp of triumph.
Go now, she said, and do not

Think of me, but of your
Heart no longer empty,
And your soul no longer free.

                     ~ Joseph Pfeffer (copyright 2011)

Dealing with Fear: Walk; Don’t Run! – illustrated reflection

The painting illustrating this article is an original painting created by using a computer simulated oil brush and pen which were manipulated on the screen by moving my finger on a 1 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch touchpad.

Throughout our lives, we face times where our primitive urge to fly, fight or freeze kicks in. We are terrified. Sometimes we don’t know of what. Sometimes the fear is buried so deep, we don’t even realize we are afraid. Many, gasping for breath and reaching blindly into the dark, don’t even realize they’re running. Most often, when I’ve been afraid, I’ve tended toward flight. We think we are in danger and when we truly are in the bodily sense, these responses serve a purpose to protect us. And even when our bodies can’t escape danger, we have inborn ways of escaping mentally. However, whatever the reason, when we take flight in fear, we run full force toward nowhere and often in circles. Mentally, we escape to the desert of our soul where we slowly wither under the glaring sun of Truth. Some never find their way back.

I spent many years running away. I tried to self-medicate with alcohol and sniffing. I hid in a flurry of white lies, ashamed of minor mistakes. I ran to the arms of flattery, not believing in my own self-worth. I mumbled feeble complaints, assuming any request for help would be answered only with judgement. I got caught in a cycle of binging and starving to gain a false sense of control. I absorbed knowledge to avoid opinion. I had break-downs, collapsing into hospital care to avoid taking responsibility for helping myself. I tried over and over to drug myself into oblivion, an ultimate escape. Some roads I have barred myself from, but some are paths that I race down out of habit.

I have overextended myself to the point of serious illness, hoping beyond hope to prove that the walls of my personal limitations would somehow crumble under the force of sheer will. I have tried to save others because I felt powerless to save myself. I have sought perfection in rituals, unconvinced within my depths of my inherent adequacy. I have intellectualized to avoid feeling my emotions, certain they had the power to destroy me. Yet I’ve claimed ignorance when faced with the possibility of being wrong, or of making a “wrong” decision. While ready to collapse, having nearly exhausted my ability to cope, I’ve teased smiles and laughter from stoic professionals. These are my demons. Over-committing, rescuing, perfectionism, intellectualizing, fence-sitting and misplaced humor are still tendencies difficult to resist when panic sets my feet in motion.

Repeatedly, I’ve managed to find my way back, but I must be aware of those patterns of flight if I wish to chart my course toward more fertile ground. I must not only resist these tendencies, but counter them. I must proactively apply strategies which reduce the likelihood of the need to run. When anxiety inches into my heart, I soothe it with a side road jaunt. Instead of getting ready to run, I slow my pace. I talk to family, friends, my treatment team, and my Higher Power. I lose myself in the magic of music. I feel the beat, rewrite the words, sing at the top of my lungs. I read what uplifts me, inspires me. I write, sometimes for release or distraction, sometimes to increase my mindfulness of the present moment. And sometimes, sometimes I write to remind myself of what I’ve learned – where I’ve been and where I want to go. Today, I’d rather walk, walk the path that will get me somewhere. I know that, even if I’m not sure exactly where I want to go, if I want to arrive in a better place, I must heed the command “Walk; don’t run!”

I Listened to a Book Today – poem

Cover of "A Wind in the Door"

Cover of A Wind in the Door

I want to tell you that this poem is a true testimony to perseverance and friendship. I rewrote the poem 11 times with the help of generous and constructive feedback – not just on this poem, but my writing in general – from my forum friends at Poetry Here And Now As may be already apparent, I write much of my poetry under the pseudonym Callisse J. DeTerre. Besides, those special friends I’ve mentioned above, I’d like to dedicate this poem to all the people who helped instill in me a love of reading and those like my good friend and youth services regional librarian, Krista Rakers of Saint Louis Public Libraries, who aim to do the same with the young of today. Reading redefines reality! Read, read, read and use your library to save a few trees!

I Listened to a Book Today

From a volume my mother
bought for me, More Tell Me Why,
I learned, at eight, my cat
could be frozen by a centipede.
By ten, The Narnia collection complete,
I traveled through A Wind In the Door
to lose myself in the Tao Te Ching.
Then Again Maybe I Won’t
unlocked the mysteries of men
but it was just the seed.

Filled with my search for connection –
Scripture, Jung and Chemistry –
my prep school book bag weighed in at
thirty pounds, with texts alone.
At twenty, reality struck –
people kill trees to answer me!
Now, at forty, I can hardly breathe.
So, today, as if to atone,
I listened to a book,
but it didn’t speak to me.

~Callisse J. Land, copyright 25 April 2011, revised 27 June 2011

No Reason, Brave Cravens – poem

Vietnam War Memorial

Image by TTVo via Flickr

As my brother readies to deploy for a 3rd time to Iraq, war has been on my mind. I saw a movie about the Vietnam War in a small private cinema at a writers’ conference when I was 16 years old. It deeply impacted me; I couldn’t speak, so I wrote. Someday, someday when my brother is safely here on US soil to stay, the horrid photos he shared with us from his first tour will likely become a poem just as this scene from the movie did. Below is the original version written when I was 16, as well as version created following comments made by fellow poets at the poetry forum, Poetry Here And Now. I would love readers to share which they like best or any other comments.

Original version:

Brave Cravens

Gathering scattered bits of brain
some red with intensity
some milk white with no meaning
some blue with the night

Crusted brown blood
on his shattered skull
maps their traveled terrain
his matted hair, their losses

His eye – fixed in a dusty stare –
gazes on a blazing wall,
one eye will not open
the other will not close

Brave craven wipe
muddied hands on thighs
staring here
then blankly there

They turn one by one
a few glancing back
as they tramp away
for no reason
no reason

~Callisse J. DeTerre, copyright October 1987

Fifth version:

No Reason

Crusted brown blood on the scalp
of their buddy’s shattered skull
maps their traveled terrain
his matted hair, their losses

They gather scattered bits of brain
some bloody intense red,
some white with no meaning,
some endless night mosquito blue

His eye – fixed in a dusty stare
gazes on the wall set ablaze,
his other will not open
this one will not close

Done, the brave cravens wipe
blood-muddied hands on thighs
staring here then blankly there
past the dead, enemies still

And now turning one by one,
as they tramp away,
a few glance back for no
reason, no reason at all

~Callisse J. DeTerre, copyright October 1987, last revised 5/02/11

Read more poetry or get feedback on your own by joining at:Poetry Here And Now

What’s in a Name? – history

Detail of painting The Muses Urania and Callio...

Image via Wikipedia

(A different version of this article was originally published 12/23/10.)

Some parents invest a great amount of time in researching names for their baby while others pass on a family name or just pick what sounds right. Have you ever wondered about the meaning or origin of your name? I don’t mean how you particularly came about your name, but how the name itself came to be used. Have you ever been curious if your name’s history has any significance for you? Callisse was a name developed from Cale, Callie, and Calliope combined with Denise. So who are these people? Cale is a nickname for Caleb from a Hebrew word meaning “faithful”. Callie is short for Calista, a Greek name meaning “most beautiful”.

Calliope was the name of the eldest of the nine Muses. Always pictured with stylus and tablets or paper or book, she is known as the Muse of Eloquence or the Muse of Poetry. She is most famously known as inspiring Homer’s epic poetry of the Odyssey and the Iliad. Also known as the wisest and most assertive of the Muses, she’s also recognized for settling Persephone and Aphrodite’s argument over Adonis. Her name means “beautiful-voiced” and an instrument is named after her. One story tells that Apollo gave Orpheus, her son (possibly his as well) a golden lyre and taught him to play, while she taught Orpheus verses to sing. Later, it is said that Orpheus with his music could move rocks, make trees march and change a river’s course.

Denise is a name which means female follower of the Greek god, Dionysos (also possibly known earlier as Diwonisojo in Homer’s Iliad). Zeus fathered him while fooling around on his wife Hera but varied accounts would have us surmise that Persephone was first his mother, but some nastiness ended up causing him to be mothered by Semele also and eventually enwombed in Zeus’s thigh. One story of the god suggests that when sailors who promised him safe passage not only betrayed, but tried to rape him, he entangled the oars and called beasts upon the ship to scare them off. He then turned them to dolphins and set one as a constellation to warn other sailors to behave.

I find it interesting and inspiring that my name is associated with faith and writing, since both are very important to me. Care to share a bit about your name? What do you know about it? Want to learn more? Are you pregnant and considering baby names? Does the history of the name matter to you?