Teasers From the ACB Canon (In A World Run By Twitter)

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Hello book lovers!  Below are a few random snippets from my various literary releases.   And if you’ve a mind to help spread the love, please click on the tweets below, connected to each excerpt, and share it with your tweet peeps.   You can also help in the old-fashioned way — falling in love with these books so much (or at least willing to lend your support for indie writers) that you just can’t stop talking about them to your friends.   And then they tell two friends.   And they tell two friends.  You get where I’m going with this.  Though honestly, I am humbled and blessed just to have you tune in, at all, and give my words some of your valuable time.

One of my favorite recent quotations comes from a tweet by author Teju Cole:  Writing as writing.  Writing as rioting.  Writing as righting.  On the best days, all three.   That just hits me in the sweet spot.  And if you haven’t yet picked up The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, Trading Fours, or The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, I encourage you to do so, for yourself or as a holiday gift.   Happy reading, my friends!

 

 

From The Assassination of Gabriel Champion

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Goddamn, he was drunk.  And when he got drunk he got slightly Baroque.  He wanted to get mugged.  He wanted to be carried away to some chamber of horrors and have them beat it out of him.  It?  Whatever IT was that he couldn’t seem to get out whenever he stood in front of a canvas.  Maybe it was the ghosts of all the brilliant madmen who painted with a bloody gust, and who jeered at him that he would never be as great as they were.

Oh, he might become rich and famous, though.  The critics loved him.  He was their little darling.  This week.

All you need’s a gimmick and a hook, and you too can get a big, fat grant and a Vanity Fair cover.

It had become a culture so desensitized, so lacking in the keen recognition of nuance, that what was required any longer to stir someone’s soul was movement, noise, clangs and bangs, where news outlets were consigned to showing actual video footage of head-on collisions in order for the viewer to be impacted by the pronouncement of tragedy.  And where art had to stun (stir just wasn’t good enough anymore) by feats and stunts and concussion in order to be considered the legitimate New Art.  Bob Flanagan hammering a nail into his penis before a live audience at a “happening” was considered art by those for whom the criteria was, singularly, that the deed be undared by anyone else.

Flanagan had been a performance artist battling cystic fibrosis and exploring themes of pain threshold, and there was certainly validity in the idea of a coping mechanism being raised to an art by the very involvement of an audience, a reaction, an impact, and a relationship.  But the bottom line for Daniel was:  How do you sell that?

He suddenly realized that in this drunken instant he was thinking more like an art dealer than an artist, and he surprised himself that he had, in one swift indictment, reduced his entire impetus to paint to his ability to make a living from it. Never mind the idea of art that was authentically experiential, completely stripped of the possibility of the repeat generation of dollars dealt from one collector’s hands to another’s.  Commerce had always been the farthest down on Daniel’s list of reasons to create, yet today it seemed to be the first, instinctive weapon he drew in this invisible battle with an invisible foe, for his (a mere painter’s) rightful place.

The art world had been stricken with a bad case of the emperor’s new clothes, and the rest of the world was guileless and gullible, including Daniel, who had started to believe the buzz about his own work.  Maybe being just a painter was the gimmick assigned to Daniel by the critical circle.  And maybe in the end, he actually was starting to feel unworthy of the attention because, after all –– all he did was paint.

 

 

 

From The Assassination of Gabriel Champion

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Her head rang with the Yeats.  The one her college professor had turned her onto just before he attempted his seduction.  For the purpose, she supposed, of giving it all a poetic credence just in case she resisted.  It turns out she didn’t resist.  She could always be counted on to fall for the brooding intellectuals, and so proceeded to carry on an affair with him throughout the entirety of her junior year.  But she also remembered being vaguely disconcerted by his psycho-sexual instincts to manipulate her with words as breathtaking as ––  The great wings beating still Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill…How can those terrified vague fingers push The feathered glory from her loosening thighs? –– just to buttress any potential case.

How was it that this theme would repeat itself so insidiously throughout her life?  Or maybe the epiphany was that all of life rang with themes of rape.  That it was, in the larger, symbolic context, the very definition.  A reprehensible negation of everything she’d ever believed in, it did nonetheless seem that the most basic modality of life was far more Darwinian than Chopraesque.

It was not one of those epiphanies that parted the gates of Heaven.  It was the other kind.

 

 

 

From Trading Fours

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He sits at the bar of the downtown Orchid Club on Eighth Street near San Pedro, nursing his fifth (sixth?) scotch rocks, and weeping over the singer on stage. He weeps a lot when he drinks. Not the kind of weeping that slobbers kisses and expressions of drooly love your way. But angry, achy weeping. Every wound is exposed when Nick Brandt drinks, and this day is no exception. Except that there is no singer on the stage at 2:30 this afternoon. The place has a few diehard regulars, but is otherwise quiet. He stares at the stage, the grand piano that is covered with a tarp, the microphone on its stand. And the empty space behind it.

He managed to finish his gig at the Ritz Huntington without getting fired for the four scotches he had sneaked in on his breaks, and was on his way into Hollywood for Hayes’ benefit (he’ll still make it in time), when he suddenly had an overwhelming urge.

“Where’s Dorothy?” he slurs to bartender Otto. “I came to hear a great singer, cuz they are just a rare fucking breed in this town.”

“Dorothy doesn’t come in till later. It’s two in the afternoon, mate. There’s no music till tonight. And you know you’re not supposed to be here, anyway.”

“Man, jus’ wait, jus’ hold on. I’m not here to make trouble.”

“Nick––“

“Naw, really, Nick…I mean, Otto––” he starts laughing.  “I’m Nick.  You’re Otto.”

“Want me to call you a cab, Nick?”

“Naw, man, I’m fine. I got a thing later. I jus’, I’m just stoppin’ in. I won’t be here when she shows up. I promise. I never am, am I?”

“Nick––“

“Naw, man, I’m serious. I got this thing I gotta be at. Benefit for an old friend.”

“Well, you’re gonna sober up before I let you drive out o’ here.”

“Tha’s fair. I’m jus’ gonna sit for a minute.”

But Nick can see her up there. His imagination can conjure just about any old needed vision if he’s drunk enough. There she is, singing her Ellington, for which she was always signature.

Nick wishes he could be in her piano player’s shoes, instead of the ones he is presently wearing. Not because the guy on stage (who looks an awful lot like him) isn’t doing her justice. The guy fucking is!  In the best sense of the word. But because it would be so much less painful backing this amazing singer, who would be, with him and the rest of the trio, traveling to heaven; instead of hanging, in a stupor, off the bar rail, with an overwhelming need to purge gut and sins. Maybe. Maybe not.

Too many singers, in this day and age, are about bullshit. Too many of them about shouting the roof off, about showing everything they’ve got in a single cadence, which is usually some gaudy circus of vocally acrobatic, over-wrought, elaborate, melismatic crap. Usually a case of being too afraid to sustain a single, exposed, beautiful note, because someone may just discover there’s no actual voice there, just this thin, reedy gimmick. Nick can spot a fraud at twenty paces. But it is even more achesome to spot the real thing.

“Goddamn, she’s good,” he mutters.

Otto looks in the direction of Nick’s stares, the empty stage, and shakes his head.

“Yeah, she’s good, mate.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver


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We drive through the dark hours of morning, which always gives me a feeling of being slightly hypnotized.  The 405 South is sparse, a smattering of red brake lights ahead of and around us.  I wonder where they’re all going.  Is anyone else on this stretch of highway on their way to something really large?

As a singer, I’ve done a bit of world travel in my life.  And like war medals and Purple Hearts and old faded newspaper clippings, I hold mine as trophies, hoard the memories, and revisit them often.  Yes, I will be THAT old lady.  I think about them now, as we drive: Meditating at a Buddhist temple in Tokyo.  Skinny-dipping in the Mediterranean.  Being chased out of a strip joint in Montmartre’s Red Light District by a couple of bouncer goons.  Witnessing clandestine barters for snake’s blood take place in Tapei’s Snake Alley.  I cherish every one of those wild and marvelous adventures.  Huge by anyone’s account.  Yet none will live in a league with today’s.  And this adventure is only about twenty miles from my one-bedroom San Fernando Valley apartment.

I find myself shaking, but not from nervousness.  Well, yes, nervousness, but not about surgery.  Not about whether we’ll be turned away at the eleventh hour because of the last battery of blood tests telling them something new.  And not even about whether there will be rejection.  Somehow I feel snug (and, I guess, smug) in the notion that we can’t possibly have come this far for fate to screw us at this point.  I guess the nervousness, which won’t let my hands stand still, or stop my mouth from running (poor Irma), is at the notion of this thing that is too large for me to attach to myself.  I just don’t do large things.  And I don’t do things that aren’t inherently about advancing myself in some way.  Yet here I am.  What will this all mean in that greater meaning-of-life kind of way?  Will it make me walk taller?  Will it compel me to move just ever so subtly out of my self and into the world of service?  Even as we drive, I can only reel with thoughts of how this might change me.  Either I already feel secure in what it will do for Hans … or I am even more self-absorbed than originally assessed.

And so the big question really is: Am I doing this magnanimous thing for Hans … or for me?  And if it is for me, that somehow I am begging God, Karma, the Universe, whomever, to save my life, but it also just happens to save Hans’ life too, is it okay then?  These have been my God questions in the months, weeks, days, and now hours leading up to the deed.  I am about to do something that can not be taken back.  That might actually affect my health from now on.  That will certainly be a badge of courage (careful not to wear that badge 24/7).  It will make me an instrument in extending someone’s life and quality of life.  A someone whom I will get to watch grow, and live, and be happy, and get his heart broken, and become this creative being, and laugh, and end up feeling so comfortable around me, so familial, that he will feel no qualms about ribbing me the way he would a sister.  Am I looking for a family?

I have a family.  A wonderful oddball of a family.  But it still doesn’t stop a person from looking for more, when there’s a hole somewhere.  So, do I have a hole?  In my family?  In my heart?  In my life?  I have certainly, at times, felt outside of my family, looking in.  I’m the odd one.  Not the Black Sheep, in that I didn’t disobey the rules or run rogue.  I’m more the Clowny Rainbow Sheep, who is just too loopy to be cool.  My family loves that about me most times.  At other times, though, I think it’s made them wonder if they’d been given the wrong baby at the hospital, not seeming to share DNA.  Makes me wonder, too, sometimes.

So, maybe this gesture is that?

I over-think things.  I’ve been told that a lot.  Sometimes to my detriment, and to others’ great exhaustion.  And sometimes to my greatest insights, which is everything I’ve ever truly searched for.  In this case, it is being allowed to run rampant, because this is large.

I don’t throw these thoughts at Irma.  She’s much too tired from having had to awaken at 3am to get up, get dressed, pack her minivan, and come pick me up for a very, very long day.  Instead, I burden her ears with checklists.

An overnight bag for a two-night stay at Cedars-Sinai, filled with a good book, my purse, my phone, my toiletries.  I’ll wear the same thing that I’m wearing to the hospital to leave in, which is just a pair of sweatpants, a tank top, a sweatshirt over it, and my slip-on leather sandals.  Then there’s the extra luggage, filled with all the little jersey, stretchy sun dresses I recently purchased for recuperating in, and which will take me through ten days at Irma’s house, after release from the hospital.

I’ve prepared for general anesthesia before.  I know the drill. No food or water past midnight.  But I haven’t been hospitalized since childhood.  A tonsillectomy at nine years old, a hernia operation at five, and a few out-patient procedures in adulthood that required general anesthesia.  I’ve certainly never been hospitalized at such a prestigious hospital as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  Hospital to the stars!  And I’ve, for sure, never prepared for having a major organ removed from my body.  I feel incredibly special.  As in, how many people can claim this?  Until I realize that a uterus counts as a major organ, and women have those removed all the time, my own sister being one of them.  Appendixes.  Gallbladders.  But then, still trying to grab some kind of “special” tag, I think, well, but how many people can claim that they’re having an organ removed in order for someone else to use it?  It seems to be crucial that I assign importance to this, as if it isn’t already important without any mental processing from me at all.

And therein lays the key to where I am in life, and probably the primary engine behind this day happening at all.  The need to assign importance.  The need to be important.  It isn’t a proud moment.  Oh, yes, indeed, this day will be filled with many proud moments.  Probably the proudest of my life.  But this moment, this thought, this reality, is not one of them.

 

 

 

Scribo Ergo Sum

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, is a recipient of the Heritage/Soulword Magazine Award in poetry, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.

A Glimpse of Grace

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Last year at Thanksgiving I published an article about the song Amazing Grace, which seemed fitting for a holiday meant to honor gratitude.   This year, as we prepare our tables, I offer you a remembrance from one of my own Thanksgivings past.   A consummate illustration of grace.  And which, in whatever form, is always amazing.

Autumn, 1978.  The Jonestown massacre had just splashed across the nation’s newspapers, and my mother protectively drew her family into her bosom in an almost hysterical way.  She was due to be the keynote speaker at a conference in Atlanta just a few days after the coming Thanksgiving.  She often traveled for business, leaving us to hold down the fort, but this time decided that the whole family would go with her, take off early, and make a little vacation out of it.  On Thanksgiving morning, we piled into a roomy, rented twenty-six-footer RV mobile home, and headed east on Interstate 10.  I had just gotten my driver’s license, and my stepfather promised that I could have a try behind the wheel of the behemoth, probably somewhere out in the desert, where there would be fewer other cars for me to endanger.

My mother and her best friend Dolores (whose kids were with their father for the holiday, so she was joining) had packed the RV with all that would be needed to prepare a turkey feast, and with Dad at the wheel the women immediately commenced to cooking in the small kitchenette of the RV.  The plan was that wherever we were by the time dinner was ready was where we’d stop and have our Thanksgiving dinner.  The two of them took up the whole middle section, which included the kitchenette on one side of the RV and a large table for eating on the other, against a huge picture window, and which immediately got covered with all the food preparation.  My sister Pam, brother Mike, and I were mainly relegated to the back, an area that was much like a large restaurant booth and table, around which we sat with our many board games, and stared out of the large back window onto the vista of road behind us.  Above us were pull-out bunks for sleeping.  Mike ran back and forth between the stern to riding shotgun with Dad.  The women kept begging him find a spot and sit still.  Yeah, good luck with that.

The whole way across California, and by the time we hit the Colorado River, Mike and I had just about exhausted the adults with our impressions of bits from our favorite TV shows and hit songs, and I even shared some of my teen-angst poetry with Dolores, who seemed genuinely interested in it, though I’m pretty sure none of it was very good.  She was just great that way.  Pam had her head buried in a book, a constant place for my bookworm sister.

My stepdad was a bit of a video recording fanatic, so from the moment he invested in his new camera our family wasn’t given much peace or privacy.  On this trip Mike was in charge of the camera whenever Dad was doing the driving.  And while Dolores would shy away any time Mike aimed the camera her way, my mother was in her Norma Desmond element, always ready for her close-up.  Pam and I hammed it up whenever Mike aimed the lens our way, and Dad couldn’t help micro-managing Mike’s shooting technique from the driver’s seat.

“You’re not doing it right. Here, let me show you.”

Mike ended up being responsible for lots of accidental vérité-like shots, but then, frankly, so did my stepfather, who often forgot that the camera was still on when he’d lay it on its side to go do something else.  The shot would be a thrilling twenty-minute study of an ant crawling across the sideways table.  Andy Warhol would’ve been proud.

And all the while, the women cooked.

Cooking was a calling for my mother.  If she was in the kitchen, we knew an old-fashioned jubilee was about to happen.  At home I had often watched her when she’d make her monkey bread.  And sometimes she’d even try to teach me a few things.  It would be an all-day affair.  Learning to scald milk, which is a delicate procedure that requires precise timing and a hands-on skill.  Feeling the yeast between my fingers and dipping it in the lukewarm water.  Adding just a pinch of sugar to the softened paste, then watching it dissolve.  Separating the egg whites from their yokes, and adding them to the yeast paste.  Watching the miraculous alchemy of flour and milk and yeast and eggs become dough, dusted then kneaded.  The sensual nature of my mother’s hands to the sticky white mixture, and the way she’d dip her fingers into the velvety flour in order to handle the doughy mound, was artful.  She never rushed it.

The soft mound was then left in a glass bowl to rise.  She would always declare the watched pot never boils edict to me whenever I wanted to stare at it while it rose, but all I wanted to do was stare at it while it rose.  And once it was ready to be brought back out to the wooden block, perhaps an hour later, she would knead it some more.  A rolling pin would lay it out large and flat, and the flick of her wrist was something to see.

Next would come that part of the ritual in which the whole family was encouraged to participate.  We’d each take a diamond-shaped cookie cutter, several of which she’d collected over the years, and carve out squares that we would then dip individually into a pot of melted butter, and place in a Bundt pan.

Layer upon layer of little buttered squares would fill up the pan, which would then be placed in the oven, until some forty-five minutes later the bubbling brown masterpiece, with the molten jigsaw puzzle resemblance, would be a most aromatic table centerpiece quickly devoured.

This age-old Southern-tradition side dish is called monkey bread because when it’s turned over and released from the Bundt pan onto a bread platter it merely needs to be pulled apart with one’s fingers, not cut with a knife, and that was an especially enticing notion for us kids.  My mother made a pretty spectacular monkey bread.

I loved watching her stand back and enjoy satisfying her family’s bellies, and I knew that this, for her, was a kind of sacred meditation.

So, though we were all having a ball driving through town after town, on this holiday mobile-home odyssey, singing songs, telling jokes, and either ducking or mugging for the video camera, my mother never lost her stride or focus in preparing our food.  Dolores was equal to the task with her revered soul-food pigs feet and hot-water cornbread, but it was my mother whom I’d watched and studied for more years than I’d ever put into homework, so her talent was palpable for me.

Before long, the RV cabin started to fill up with the aroma of turkey and oyster stuffing, and yams laden with marshmallows and brown sugar, and sweet potato pie, and collard greens and cabbage, and macaroni and cheese, and lima bean casserole, and the famous monkey bread (which was actually prepared at home, and brought with).  It was insane and inexplicable how Martha and Dolores had managed to accomplish all of this culinary breadth in the tiny kitchen of this moving tin-can.  And that fact was only a testament to their cooking prowess.

It was still daylight but inching toward dusk by the time dinner was called, and we were in the middle of the desert somewhere in Arizona.  I’d finally been given my turn to do the driving.  I hadn’t killed us, or anyone else, but I had made a few precarious lane changes that had my mother and Dolores yelling at me, for almost losing a bowl or a dish to the ground.

“Sorry!” I would yell, while secretly giggling and feeling my oats.

Dad filmed the whole thing, laughing at my cowgirl driving and Martha and Dolores trying to hold onto the pots and pans.

I continued to drive only until we spotted a rest stop with a cluster of picnic tables off the highway.  I parked.  We all stepped outside.  The air was cold and crisp.  Colder than we Angelenos were accustomed to.  We bundled up in our various parkas.   There was no one in sight.   Because who plans picnics at the threshold of winter?  In the middle of the desert?  On Thanksgiving?

We all unloaded the many suitcases that my mother had packed into the undercarriage of the RV, and dragged the heavy things out to one of the picnic tables.  While Mike and I immediately commenced to chasing jackrabbits, and while my stepfather found his challenge in keeping up with a camera perpetually glued to his eye, my mother, with Pam’s and Dolores’ assistance, began to unearth from the suitcases her prized Dutch linen table cloth, the eight matching napkins, her silk Damask table runner, crystal water goblets that had been carefully bubble-wrapped, silver place-settings and napkin rings, china, candles, and an ornate candelabrum.  I mean, this thing could rival anything that ever sat on Liberace’s grand piano.  It was like watching a magician pull the kitchen sink out of his top hat.  And she proceeded to transform the prickly, cactus-surrounded dust bowl of rough and tumble nature that we’d claimed as ours for the afternoon into a dining experience for kings.  And thought nothing of the peculiarity in the whole affair.

My stepfather managed to capture all of her nutty splendor on tape (though it is fairly heartbreaking that some nearly 40 years later that cherished video footage has been lost).

She then yelled for Mike and me to stop chasing rabbits unless we intended on capturing one to go with dinner, which had us screaming in mock horror, and she bade us help her unload the RV of the many hot platters and fragrant casserole dishes and steaming pots and containers, and we took them, in several trips, over to the finely dressed table.

And right there in the middle of endless Arizona horizon and desert stillness, save for the periodic lizard or tumbleweed that might scamper by, and as the sun began to set, leaving us with only a dusted dusk and my mother’s candlelight, we bundled up in our coats, we sat to a king’s spread, we bowed our heads, and we held hands as Martha prayed, “Thank you for blessing this food that we are about to receive, for the nourishment of our bodies, and for the love and communing of family.  Amen.”  We raised our glasses to toast the feast, dug in to ridiculously mouthwatering fare, and absolutely loved the crazy novelty of it all.

Grace was not a word often associated with my audacious mother.  But like catching a shooting star in one’s periphery, I would see, just here and there in my growing up, brilliant evidence of it.  Sometimes in only tiny, fleeting swatches.  At other times still, as with our never-to-be-forgotten wilderness Thanksgiving, it would scream out in bold strokes of wild color, like a magnificent comet.

 

 

From the upcoming “Fiercely Sweetly”
© 2014 angela carole brown

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, is a recipient of the Heritage/Soulword Magazine Award in poetry, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.

The Book of She

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The air is moist and hot.  Dark too, and the fleshy ground on which She walks is pliant and giving.  She traverses slowly, peacefully; doing Her rounds for the day, making certain all is well in the Motherhouse, and preparing Her armor for the challenges that lie ahead.

A peaceful valley spreads out before Her, no longer the inconstant gulf of its youth, but the firm terra of years and wisdom.  She inspects the wall of the Motherhouse, analyzing the crust that has been built upon it over years, trophies from its many hard-won triumphs.  Every day the crust grows denser, and begins to crystallize and gleam like a brilliant, shimmering, blinding crystal mine.  And with each new battle the outside forces have heaped up the Motherhouse, it has become a mighty fortress, and She, the mightiest of all warriors.

She walks about, making certain every bit of armor is ready for the pouncing of the Enemy.  And Her soldiers are readied.  Roll call.

The Heart is a vessel of love, vibrantly red and pumping.  Alive and unravaged, despite its many struggles to be broken.

The Stomach is a cavity of steely strength and power, fueling itself against weakness and the menace of ulcerated stress.

Millions of Blood Cells divide and multiply, to double and triple and quadruple the power of the army, so great is the number.

The Lungs are a lusty pair, who expand and constrict greedily, to stock up on vigorous oxygen, which gives them brawn and vitality and sway.  And too much is never enough for the omnivorous duo.

The Brain is a pulsating, gyrating, exploding, imploding, dazzle of a soldier, whose most potent vitamin is the threat of harm by outside forces.  It welcomes harm, for through its sagacity does it twist and bend and break harm and send it back to the Enemy in a ribboned box.

Even the Muscles, Fibers, Sinews, and Ligaments offer their humble share to ward off the enemy, and are hailed at the Mount along with their mightier counterparts.

And the soldiers are ready for battle, led by their Illustrious Leader, the Infinite Soul, Who readies Her own Self for the coming crusade.

Thus, war begins.  As war always will.

The Enemy approaches, and strikes tremendous blows.  It strikes again and again, stronger and stronger.  Its force is colossal, and It, of course, and artlessly, has tradition on Its side.  Its objective is to take command of the Motherhouse, and to usurp the crown.  Power.  Always.

Damage is being done to the outside wall, though it fights back with the help of Muscle and Mind.  Still, it begins to crumble, as the soldiers inside strap on their best weapons and prepare for tactical maneuvers.

She runs throughout the Motherhouse, shouting orders to the troops to brace themselves, and they all shake from their foundation under the weight of the Enemy’s battering ram, violently wielded against the Motherhouse doors, but regain their footing quickly, so remarkably prepared are they for the invasion.

Might is the Enemy’s.  And might usually wins the battle outside.  And to give a sign to the soldiers inside that the wall is crumbling, that the battle is being lost, the mouth of the Motherhouse opens wide, like an all-engulfing tidal wave, and screams and curses and warns.

And She, the Commander, the Soul of the Motherhouse, straps on Her own weapon, which is spirit, and stands at the door that is being violently done in by the Enemy’s battering ram.  And as it breaks forth and tries to enter the House, She speaks in great volume, directing Her promise as much to the Motherhouse, itself, as to the Enemy.

“Fear not for us, but fear us.  We are unmoved.”

And all who stand behind the Soul of the Motherhouse, who are Her devoted battalion, bring forth their own weapons and echo in support:

“Fear not for us, but fear us.  We are unmoved.”

Might may be the Enemy’s, but will is the Soul’s.  And though the Enemy has violated the army’s blessed temple, though the Motherhouse has suffered injury to its fortress wall, the battering ram, which is the Enemy’s only weapon, can get no farther than merely beyond the doorstep.  It cannot enter the House, cannot traverse its ground any deeper than the gateway.  For She stands in its path, magnificent warrior that She is, and stands it down, dares it to come closer, farther inside.  But it only recoils, as its operatives, in fear, abandon it and let it crash to the ground, running back to their Leader, claiming defeat.

She looks upon the shattered ram, and with Her great breath, blows its dust to the winds.

And she turns to the Motherhouse, which has been sorely bested and crushed from the battle, and gently soothes its crown with Her touch.  Calms its ear with Her offering.

“Walls can be rebuilt.  Bricks, mortar, wood, and stone are easy to come by.  But within, you have a strong army.  We will always keep you standing and vigilant.”

She carefully examines the wall, and though it has been bested, She smiles, for its ramparts have indeed grown denser and stronger with the shimmering crust, which has already begun to multiply itself, as it does after every battle.

So, the Soul remains unbudged, and ultimately triumphant.  And the Heart and Mind are Her greatest allies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, is a recipient of the Heritage/Soulword Magazine Award in poetry, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.

 

Van Gogh’s Ear

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he stared at his blank canvas for hours.

frustrated.

couldn’t get a thing done.

finally he just doused his naked body with flat green house paint

and in a magic-mushroomed fog

threw himself against the elevator lift.

he picked himself up off the floor.

stepped back.  stared.  hmmm.

it was this perfectly contoured jade silhouette of his body

divided in sublime harmony and symmetry

right between two testicles by the parting of the

double steel doors.

from that day forth every time he yanked on the ropes and opened that thing to leave

he’d flash on the excruciating image of his

right nut soaring one way and his

left nut soaring the other.

was there a symbolic message somewhere in that image, he wondered?

that maybe castration was the true doorway to freedom?

as many women as there were who had messed with his head and therefore his art

he had to at least consider the possibility.

he got the hell outta there for the night and went to a neighborhood bar.

walked in and saw the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

kinda like an angel.

reminded him o’ that old joke :

 

man walks into a bar.  sees the beautiful woman.

tells her he wants to make sweet love to her.

Sorry i can’t, she quips, i’m on my blue period!

 

he downed a couple of quick shots of Old Forester.

slapped his money on the bar like a cowboy.

decided against approaching his beautiful woman.

and sulked on back home.

thought to himself :

 

why’d that damned Vincent have to go and cut his ear off,

and raise the bar of brilliant suffering for all the rest of us?

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

Wake Up Ophelia (The Song Series)

WakeUpOpheliaSongSeriesBanner

I jokingly call this the greatest love story I’ve ever written.   I say it with tongue in cheek because it’s the only love story I’ve ever written.   But also because it’s a seedy, salty, nasty little story, with pain, hurt, desperation, heartbreak, rage, violence, and passion as its main ingredients.   But make no mistake, a love story it is.   The story of Arthur and Ophelia is one that originated in my novel The Assassination of Gabriel Champion.  The book is a modern fable and a meditation on violence and redemption.   And Arthur’s and Ophelia’s story is only a small part of the overall landscape of the book, yet it’s a pivotal one.   In writing the story, creating these characters, and then living with them over the years of refining and rewriting the book, I fell in love with them.  They are the most imperfect people you could possibly conceive of, they are rich in pathos and pain, they are complicated, infuriating, and they are forever sewn to my heart.

Somewhere along the line, during the years of nursing this book into its rightful being, I was inspired to write a song about Arthur and Ophelia (not even the main characters).  And of course, considering the source, the song HAD to be blues.

Wake Up Ophelia would end up debuting on my first album of original songs, Resting On the Rock, a few years later, although many years before the book itself would be published.

I thought the writing of the lyrics would be easy, because their story was already there.  But in taking it on, I discovered that there were actually quite a few challenges ahead.  First off, I needed to decide which angle would be the focus of the song, because Arthur and Ophelia are sort of epic within the scope of the novel, yet suddenly we’ve got 3 verses and a chorus in which to tell their story, not the luxury of an entire book.  And that proved tricky.  I eventually came to the conclusion that Ophelia’s death was the moment that merited a song written (yes, it’s a bit of a spoiler; but if you haven’t read the book yet, believe me nothing’s ruined . . . now, go read the book!).   And so, the song would become Arthur’s plea to Ophelia after snuffing out her life.  I needed to find a way to express the arc of their love, their substance addiction, their desperation for and violence upon each other, and finally the deed, all within the confines of five 4-line stanzas, two of which are a repeated chorus.

I knew that what would aid me would be to approach the whole thing as poetry.  There’s a different palate for poetry than for prose.  Prose begs linear detail and chronology (not always, but as a matter of standard), whereas poetry can, through the artful twist of a word or phrase, illuminate everything.   For example, I think “he made his arms erupt”  is all that’s really needed to capture the entire nature and scope of a man’s addiction.  And I had an entire story to re-work in this way.   To get it all in, within the space of few words.  Poetry.

Once I was able to figure out the basic prosody of the verse, the words began to fall into place, and so next came the music.   Now, like I said, it couldn’t possibly be anything other than blues.  And so inevitably the thought is:  What’s there to write?  The blues is the blues.  The form is universal.  Well, the lesson I would come to learn in the years that this song came into being, grew its legs, and was eventually recorded, is that the blues ain’t jes’ one thang.  And as hardheaded as I have been known to be, it took some years for that to really sink in, but we’ll get to that.

At the time I was first conceiving of Ophelia’s story as a song, I had been listening nonstop to Tito & Tarantula, the stoner rock band out of East L.A.   There’s a song of theirs called The Strange Face of Love that is this enigmatic, engine-revving shuffle that cannot be stopped!   And I instantly thought, “Well, that’s it!   That’s what I need for my song.”  But it wasn’t only the feel that struck me.  It was that their song was a minor blues.  That’s certainly not unheard of.  It’s just not the more common dominant seventh environment that’s so familiar to our ears.  Wake Up Ophelia in a minor key would lend an even further dankness to the proceedings.  Done.  Decision made.  Song written.

I sang it around town for a few years.  It never even had a chart.  I would just say, “blues in A minor,”  tell the musicians it’s a shuffle, count it off, and go.  And while it worked perfectly alright, I can’t say I felt especially connected to the story in the song, nor did I feel that it had the emotional heft of an opus, when in truth that IS how I felt about Arthur and Ophelia’s story in book form.  And honestly I don’t even think I was aware of just how unsatisfying the song was for me.   I just chalked it up to being “not one of my best,” and didn’t really feel any need to do anything about it.   Or so I thought.

Fast forward to the year 2000, and it was, at last, time to start writing songs for Resting On the Rock, which I had conceptualized as a project that would take its inspiration from the folk vocabulary of other cultures, including America’s roots and blues movement.  Wake Up Ophelia  fit that bill, so I took it into the studio with some musicians to record, with the hope that it would jump start the rest of the canon for me.  And I did exactly as I had done every time I’d ever sung it on a gig.  I just called the key, said it was a shuffle blues, counted it off, and sang.   We did a few takes.  I got quick mixes.  And I took all the takes home to study, and to determine which I liked best.  It was sort of ZZ Top meets saloon music.  And as I listened back, there was something unsatisfying about all of it.  Every take.   It wasn’t the playing.   Let me be very clear about that.  These guys, Ken Rosser, Ross Wright, David Arana, and Chris Wabich, are some of the best I know.   They played their asses off.   And had the subject matter of the lyrics been anything else (my baby done left me, blah, blah, blah . . . ) perhaps I would’ve dug it as I dig everything these guys play.

But in this case, I heard my song’s meaning and power just get lost in what sounded like nothing more than a romping bar blues, the kind you get up and dance to, not the kind you shudder to hear and to witness, and are forever changed.

Forgive my hyperbole.  I do have visions of wanting to change the world in whatever tiny ways my talents can achieve.   So, yes, I wanted shuddering.

I lived with the recording, and listened to it a hundred times, a thousand times, realizing that I’d been singing this song, played just this way, or close enough, for years, but not until locking it into recorded history, and actually having the luxury to study it did I realize how unrepresentative it actually was of Arthur and Ophelia’s dark tale.   And then to try and figure out what exactly wasn’t working.   And whatever that was, this much I knew, was my fault.  Because I hadn’t bothered to take the time to actually compose.  That’s the tricky thing about blues.  You can dismiss it without even realizing you’ve done so.

The first thought that struck me, after so many listens that I’ve lost count, was that the driving shuffle was not right.  Not exactly.   It was precisely what was needed on the chorus, because the chorus is the plea.   The begging, imploring plea.   That energy is required.  But the verses are expository.  The verses describe their world.  And their world is a place of sadness and despair, and begs sobriety.   So, I decided that the verses should be played with a half time feel, and at a tempo of about 64.   Very sparse, not note-y, not chops-y, but vibe-y.  And that vibe needed to be messy, crunchy, grungy, but with texture, not with busy-ness.  When I thought back to the Tito & Tarantula tune, I realized that that’s exactly what they do.  I’d been so hypnotized by that burning shuffle of theirs that I hadn’t really noticed what they were doing on their verses.  This would give the song some actual shape and dynamics.  Places to go TO, places to come FROM.   A meditation, to a full-on assault, back to a meditation, back again to the assault, and so forth.

Next were the chord changes.   Something about what had been played didn’t sit right.  I realized that clashes were actually occurring between chords and melody, because the melody I’d written didn’t resolve to the tonic by the end of a phrase, the way blues traditionally does, but instead to the dominant, and only resolved to the tonic once we were into the next verse, as opposed to the dominant merely being used as a passing chord.   So, I dropped everything, and I just listened to a LOT of blues for awhile.   Now, you can never go wrong with the brilliance of a Son House, or a Big Mama Thornton, or a Howlin’ Wolf.   Those singers are special stars in the firmaments.  Or even contemporary folks like Chris Whitley and Jack White.  Yes, I was listening to everyone I could possibly consume from every walk of blues life.  But the changes, the changes, were still driving me crazy.  Of course, I was able to make sure a chart would resolve the verses to the dominant; I just wasn’t especially crazy about the traditional changes.  I plucked around on the piano for weeks, trying to discover something different, when I just happened to find my answer in the most unlikely yard.  I ran across a Daniel Lanois track called Blue Waltz, and my mind was blown by an absolutely simple set of chord changes on what was ostensibly the blues, and which were so left of the middle that I was stopped in my tracks, and knew that this chord progression was what my song was screaming for.   What’s so funny to me is that it’s only the last four bars of a 12-bar blues that he does anything even remotely twisted with.  So simple, and yet so profoundly odd.

Now, I have improved somewhat over the years, but at the time my ear was pretty poor for hearing changes and being able to transcribe them; what’s called a “take down.”   So I asked Ross Wright, the bass player on this song, if he would listen to the Lanois track and help me jot down the changes, because, yes, he’d already been informed that we were going to redo this song.  Those four bars are a set of changes that actually yank the Lanois track right out of the blues palate altogether for just an instant, to something more squared, if that makes any sense.  No real blue notes.  And yet there was still the issue of how to take the establishment of those changes, whatever modal construct they came from, and resolve them to the dominant.  And this was where Ross was incredibly helpful.

So, finally I was starting to have a structure that was specific and fixed, and not just a case of calling blues, describing it as a shuffle, and having everyone play what they’ve played a thousand times on a thousand gigs.

I had called up Ken Rosser shortly after our session, in the midst of my song’s identity crisis.  I confessed I wasn’t happy with how we’d done the song, and that a lot of it was in the structure . . . that there was none!  Because I had not fine-tuned a specific set of mechanics.  But that a good deal of it, as well, maybe even more crucially, had to do with concept and interpretation, which I hadn’t bothered to relay.  I guess I thought the emotion could all come from me.  That I wouldn’t need to communicate it to the musicians playing it.   But that is so wrong.  We talked very intimately about color and mood and shade and dramatic arc.  He was SO on my wave length with this!  We each discovered in that conversation how much a fan we both were of ambient tone and atmospherics, texture more than notes, manipulation of sound, all in the service of emotional connection.  And as much as I like to talk  (and have done so several times already in this song series) about Ken and me being musical soul mates, let me say here that this moment of discussing Wake Up Ophelia was truly the breakthrough moment for us, and would firmly establish the musical relationship we’ve now had for nearly 15 years.

As far as my own part in this, I had originally, and for years, sung the song in A minor, which is a perfectly comfortable key for this old alto.  But as everything in the song was being revisited and re-envisioned, I decided to lower the key to where the first notes out of my mouth (which are the lowest notes in the melody) would be at my lowest possible register.  It’s not the most attractive part of my register, and with not a lot of physical power there, but it does lend a quality of something intimate and fragile, almost struggling.  Plenty of room to move up to the shouting chorus, but at least in the new key of F minor it would start off with a vulnerable simmer.

One of the final things I decided on, before we went back in to re-record, was to eliminate the keyboard.  David Arana is a wonderful player; I’ve done countless gigs with him, the most prevalent of those being with The Orchestre Surreal for the past 18 years.   But the presence of piano on this blues most definitely gave it its saloon vibe, which I realized only afterwards that I did not want.  I wanted something sonically dense, where a piano really pierces sharply through any kind of texture.  Plus I didn’t feel I needed two chordal instruments.  The guitar was plenty on that front.   And we’re talking Ken Rosser here!  Known for texture and aural layers of richness, even within one single pass.   He was all I needed.  In fact, it was that decision about instrumentation that would set the tone for the rest of the songs I would eventually compose for Resting On the Rock.

On the day we were scheduled to re-record, Chris Wabich wasn’t available (he, the working-est drummer in town), and so our recording engineer, who also just happens to be a drummer, offered to step in and do double-duty.   Michael Kramer has been my mixing engineer on every record I’ve ever helmed, but this song goes down as the only song of mine he’s ever played on.  And he was great!   Running back and forth from control booth to drum booth had to take a toll on his concentration, and yet both drumming and engineering that day were stellar.

We assembled at the same studio for round two.  We’re talking months later, after all the soul searching I’d had to do.  I had Ross bring in his F-Bass fretless instead of the Alembic fretted bass he’d used on the prior recording.  I thought the new approach, the new texture, the new mood, really called for that quality.  And my only instruction to him, a man known for very note-y, virtuosic playing, was to just simplify, leave space, yet without sacrificing pulse.  And I handed everyone the chart of my (finally!) structured composition.

Here’s where I’d like to mention that Ken Rosser walked into the session with a fever of 102, and was, understandably, not in the best of moods.  Oh boy!  But what a trooper to still show up instead of asking if we could reschedule.  He set up his gear in a corner, far away from everyone else, and had little tolerance for the chatting and laughing and all the things we do in the studio between takes.  I think it’s safe to say we were all kind of afraid of Ken that day :).  He used the house guitar amp, which was a beat-to-shit small vintage tweed Fender combo amp with a Deluxe Reverb, and he’d brought in a cheap Danelectro guitar, where one of the switches was intermittent and it wouldn’t stay in tune, which Ken confessed was a purposeful choice that, based on our talk, he felt would be perfect for the raw, urgent vibe.  That conceptual idea, for Ken, translated into cranking up the amp until it was rattling and shaking, or as he has said, “It’s Hendrix at the Fillmore West, or Neil Young in full meltdown mode . . . there’s no way to get that sound and not endanger something or someone,”  and with the plan to use reverse delay effects during the verses, and three fuzz boxes chained together at the same time during the choruses and solo.   I just needed one last whispered caucus with the fevered lion before we did a take, to reiterate the concept, and at this point I simply said that since it was about a woman dying I wanted the guitar to sound like a man on his last manic leg in this life, and that I wanted the solo to sound like a woman wailing, like the cries of the damned.

Well, folks, I don’t know what Ken Rosser was channeling that day, but I suspect all credit is owed to that 102° fever, and I, for one, thank God for it.  It was some of the dankest, darkest, most connected, plugged in, tapping something ancestral, killer music I’ve ever heard created.

Which brings us to the ending of the song.  The ending on this recording is such a far cry from that of our original.  That one resolved with the typical blues tag ― the classic 12/8, triplet-y, descending, Robert Johnson turnaround sequence, that almost begs an “ohhhh yeahhhhh” on the ending fermata, with jazz hands!  I know.  I’m being facetious.  And I truly do love Robert Johnson.  It just was not the call for my song.  Though in all fairness, because there are traditions, it’s what you’re likely to get when all you do is call some blues, and you haven’t bothered to architect it.   The new ending was designed to be a vamp on the tonic, still in the full shuffle, and for everyone to play out in their momentum, which we would gradually fade in the mix, the dramatic metaphor being that life goes on even in the midst of death, even after “The End.”   I liked the idea of a song about death having no ending.

And, on how we ended up doing it, a special note of credit needs to go out to Ross Wright.

We were recording live.  No isolation booths (except for the vocals).  No punching.  No cutting & pasting.  Yes, I did later overdub some harmonies on the chorus, and Ross did grab a Gretsch guitar off the wall after the session was officially wrapped (and Ken went home to sleep off his fever) and added a few wobbly chords at the beginning for mood.  But otherwise this was live, so if we screwed up we started over.   We were 98% through our first take, which was clearly a winner.  And as we landed on the tonic for the ending cadence, there we were, just sizzling on the F minor, and on bar 5 of this vamp Ross suddenly went from the tonic to the sub-dominant, as if we were going back through the form changes (those wonderful Lanois-inspired changes).  I had eye contact with everyone from my booth, and I shot a look at Ross, as in “No!  Oh shit!  You weren’t supposed to go there.”  And he shot a look back at me that said, “Sorry!  But now we’re here.  It’s a great take.  Let’s just keep going.”  We all shot a look at each other ― all except for Ken, who was in this world of his own, curing the freaking common cold and uncovering the secret to eternal youth ― and we all agreed to just keep going.  Well, progressing to that chord change, which Ken hadn’t expected, only propelled him into an even deeper, danker level of depth and depravity and marvel and wonder and amplifier overdrive.  Even Ross had this crazy instant during that cadence of slowly sliding his fingers across the neck of his bass for this pedal-to-the-metal grunge moment that just exploded everything.  And so, what had been instructed to be just this simple vamp-out became a whole second solo for Ken, with a second life, and which flung open the doors of Heaven and Hell both.  MY GOD was it stunning.  More hyperbole, yes.  But this is how I think of Ken.  He’s a transporter of souls, a deliverer.  We eventually did settle on that tonic, which would be faded later in the mix, but the world was on fire by that point.  And I smiled at Ross, shaking my head, who, instead of yelling “cut!” or “my bad!” had managed to remain calm and turn his little mistake into a stunning afterlife moment for all involved, and for the song.  I defy you to tell me that you don’t hear Ophelia’s cries in that outro solo.

When the take was done, the general consensus was that it was a great take, “now let’s do a few more.”  And my only response was “why?”

Quarter note = 64.   The tempo of big, bad, tragic, Shakespearean pathos.

 

 

Click here to listen on Bandcamp

 

 

Wake up Ophelia.  Don’t lay so still.

The sun’s goin’ down, and it’s time for a meal.

I’ve got the whiskey if you’ll bring the buzz,

and together, like in a story, we can fall in love.

 

With a tremble and a whisper he cried, I know you’re there.

I can see you hidin’ deep inside those dark eyes somewhere.

Where’s my feisty woman?  Where’s my sweet honey bee?

Please, please, Ophelia, don’t leave me!

 

Wake up Ophelia.  Don’t you dim your bright eyes.

Wake up Ophelia.  Never listen to my lies.

Better get yourself away from danger, girl.

Please wake up and rise.

 

That man, oh how he begged.  Pleadin’ hands around her throat.

“Wake up Ophelia” were the desperate words he spoke.

And he leaned into his whiskey, and he made his arms erupt,

as he begged his sweet Ophelia to please wake up.

 

Wake up Ophelia.  Don’t you dim your bright eyes.

Wake up Ophelia.  Never listen to my lies.

Better get yourself away from danger, girl.

Please wake up and rise.

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, is a recipient of the Heritage/Soulword Magazine Award in poetry, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.

Morning-glory: A Reluctant Aubade

Morning Glory

 

That day one autumn long ago when snatched a glimpse did I

the break of morning and watched her from my window,

when through the nocturnal blinds I peeked, a dazzling hue arrested my eyes.

I saw her.

She crept upon the slumbering earth,

roving in quiet majesty beneath a starry heaven.

That day in autumn did I catch her blush and hold her secrets in my silence.

She danced before me in a grassland clearance and smiled.

And whereupon that smile stole my spirit, she looked on her offspring,

the vineyards and wheat beds,

and pondered the aftermath of the twilight storm.

Then quite in her glory morning knelt before her soil to spread forth

her caress.

Onward she crept like a feline thief as I watched her that day in autumn,

her tide almost in.

And conducted she the meeting of rays to rain on rooftops.

Morning bowed when she caught sight of the ground below

on which rested a wet leaf and a chilly worm.

Victim to the biting crisp was he, that worm, changing tempos of his journey,

slowing to decipher a warmer place.

And in her maternal clemency morning scooped him up in her palm and blew

a warming breath;

the tiniest of treasures for a journeyed worm.

And I wept for her gentleness and called her god.

I clung to sweet morning as the young cock crew, already bereft of her inevitable passing.

Would that she could live ever to keep me warm.

And morning sobbed.

Anointed she the soil on which I have walked a fair many seasons.

Loved her did I that day in autumn, but understood her not.

Only that madness would take me if not relieved of my pining,

and I gripped fast the hem of her garment lest she leave me

lost in the terrors of night.

Swallowed her I tried,

poured her over me to lose myself within her bosom and linger in her

diurnal greatness.

Yet morning spoke, and bade me fear not the illusory monsters of dark.

“They are but reflections of your fear.”

And morning called herself not god.

“Merely a tilling limb, night being the humble other.”

I would not listen.  Could not.

She passed across my heart, perched me on a high ridge that I might

watch her move through the trees and provoke them to dance.

Morning sprinkled her sun over the sea bed and me.

And out of her sun-drenched gourd drank I, and became like a drunkard.

Never quenching.  Never satisfied.  Always thirsting.

‘Til distorted she became and disappeared.

 

 

A vigiled quiet hung from airy ropes,

as I mourned my mistress’ demise,

and all on earth bowed in reverence,

falling to dreaming as was their custom.

The yellow river ceased its merrymaking and stilled itself to drowse,

where not far from its bank the whippoorwill sang, calling out to the dusky mystery.

Her sun was no more.

How like a tumor my heart did rupture,

for all that once did hide me from black gloom now

sold me like a bawd to night’s fondle.

And I felt morning’s treason and sat helpless.

So night stalked.

Beneath an eerie crescent I hovered and cursed morning’s betrayal,

seeking refuge amid frosted primrose and sleeping cypress.

Thus from the breathless clouds sauntered an infamous moon,

a hunter’s moon,

that rendered ghost stories for an audience perturbed.

And my fear alighted in anticipation of phantoms that walk the earth.

Of dragons and fallen angels that haunt the body and unrest the spirit.

Of skies so black as would harrow up the soul of Proserpine herself,

and make her a blind worshipper of the light.

And night strutted before me in exalted fervor,

as from the pores of earth bled an accompanying symphony of vainglory,

parading before me in a strange and frightening beauty.

Night caught me, a tangled fly.

While set ablaze the sky did he with trinkets of opal and ice.

And dazzled were my unbelieving eyes.

I watched night work in his regal splendor,

sucking up the fugue of day, to spit forth the grand suite of nightfall.

Glorious was the music of this eclipse.

A presence seeped within my flesh,

replacing fear with awe.

And heaven chanted.

Compelled was I to join the firmaments.

Before me night creatures frolicked and showed me his masterpiece.

Dancing fireflies who gave me the tease of light ornamented hickory and oak,

silhouetted against an indigo sky,

whose visions reminisced of Christmas pines.

Whereas the thunderous rumble of nature rang across the celestial roof,

night wrapped me in his lithe black cloak and caused me to fall in deep love.

There I indulged in the dark enigma of night,

drowned myself in his inky nectar to wear him on me,

and thought no more on her majesty the morning.

‘Til while in my reverie night’s tide began to fold,

and before my witness faded from his eminent power to a rueful grey.

My spirit caved as I prophesied a second betrayal.

When all at once the splinter of her dawn dashed out night’s heart and left him to falter.

(So left she my wrecked heart as well.)

And night closed his labored eyes, and nobly fell to his cycled quietus.

 

The fickle two!    Ahhhh, my heart.

 

Serenely did sigh a hummingbird sweet.

Softly did burst into the bloom the magnificent morning-glory.

And whereupon the inconstant night yielded to morning’s inconstant orb,

and I forced to endure the insufferable inconstancy,

once more did I weep.

For loved them both did I that day and night in autumn long ago,

and for the days and nights to come,

of every season.

And sorrowed yet surrendered

that seize them each my prisoner in selfish grip

I could not,

and call them my very own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

The Mad Go-Round

cliffs

She was the sort for whom the witness was everything.

The lens.

The eye.

She captured a cliff, a right jutted thing indeed.

Little did she know that she was being captured.

His lens caught within it a figure, photographing cliffs.

This figure, a right jutted thing indeed, filled his frame from port to starboard.

So purposeful was her focus, this frame-filled enigma, that he wondered about her cliff.

Swore he’d conquer it for her.

She ate up everything.

He could see it, and so he wanted to eat up everything too.

See the world as she saw it.

Not a hue out of place.

Not a shape unwieldy.

No sound out of concert with wind and gulls.

Every inch of every breath consumed with wonder so vast that disorientation was the promise.

She would disorient him.  Cliffs would disorient her.  Who would he disorient?

And who, then, that one?

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.