Chapter 52: thou shalt not be shafty

Another one I’ve deleted many times. This whole affair really, really affected me. I wrote it in the moment and it probably comes across a bit too muchy… but seems more than relevant especially in this current climate.

This will be included in my upcoming book So You Are… An Anxious Avocado.

Here is an excerpt of a half day course I paid to attend in the hopes of learning from industry peers. It was anything but.


This thing was odd from the get go and your newfound self publishing knowledge probably worked against you in this sphere. You naively thought this truly would be about the craft and should have seen it coming. You kind of did on entry. That synthetic, intoxicating feeling when there are too many products and banners and promo crap in a room. It’s stifling and reeks of plastic and deception.

You wanted to believe and therefore subconsciously ignored the obvious truth. The answers you and presumably many others were seeking, were cleverly and strategically packaged up into a program – the real ‘product’. The lure of getting punters in the door and ‘bums on seats’ was the guise of teaching those skills in an elaborate retreat that cost tens of thousands of dollars. You presumed you weren’t the only one who didn’t come to buy or be sold something you were not remotely interested in. It was both genius and brutally shameful.

The room felt sticky from the icky ilk of ‘schemy’ sales tactics and the energy coming off the presenters was nervous, tense, defensive and aggressive, like they were waiting to be sprung. Shoddy looks and shady fidgeting were as telling as deep water neon.

You could feel the pennies dropping at different moments as attendees put two and two together, but hated that you’d figured it out almost immediately. It felt like an agonisingly slow, silent, smoky wave of disappointment, betrayal and irritation. It felt like the nineties – except the women who would have been the wives of the men who were having their moment in the synthetic sun – were now here – in their sixties falling for the exact platforms they had helped create and benefitted from. Despite that, you immediately felt a surge to protect them.

To be continued…

Chapter 51: Poetry Now & Then

Writers Group Session – Poetry.

Writers group is great for my mental health, not so much for my ever expanding arse – the nibbles are first rate. Tonight we were treated to a delightful host, delightful poetry, classical, beautiful words in intricate covers and pages.

We also had our poetry critiqued as well as reading personal favourite’s. I’ve got some cliched classics I enjoyed as a child and a teen as well as some new discoveries.

I read the Jabberwocky word for word – exactly how my third grade teacher had brain washed our class all those decades ago.

The writing exercise was

Choose a topic and a style

…from the hat of funness. I chose Boiling Bunnies which I painstakingly wrote an epitaph and limerick about. The limerick was bloody hard – much harder than I remember when I used to write them as a kid. The topic made it both tricky and hilarious. 15 minutes writing time for each.

Here lies our darling departed

Whose dear lives had barely started

Wee hares courageous and bold

Forever remain, buried and cold

Stark contrast to sweet cotton tails

Cutesy twitches

Once hippity hopped over meadows

and frollicked yonder in ditches

‘Tis a ditch they met a tragic fate

Hungry traveller came calling quite late

There was no waning moon

Nor was it sunny

Just a drooling oaf with a giant pot

and a penchant for boiling bunnies

Ashes to ashes

Dust to dust

Add salt and gravy to the rabbit stew you must.

and the really woeful limerick…

There once was a lass from York

Whose head was the shape of a fork

Folk thought it was funny

When she boiled a batch of bunnies

and skewered them with BBQ pork

Enheduanna

 The world’s first known author/poet is widely considered to be Enheduanna, a woman who lived in the 23rd century BCE in ancient Mesopotamia (approximately 2285 – 2250 BCE) and the first person in human history to sign their name to a work of literature. An ancient “triple threat,” she was a princess and a priestess as well as a writer and poet. As Leick notes “to some extent the descriptive epithets of Mesopotamian goddesses reveal the cultural perception of women and their role in ancient society”.[26]

The Exaltation of Inanna

Without you no destiny is determined… To run, to escape, to quiet and to pacify are yours, Inanna. To open up roads and paths, a place of peace for the journey, a companion for the weak, are yours, Inanna. To keep paths and ways in good order, to shatter earth and to make it firm are yours, Inanna. To destroy, to build up, to tear out and to settle are yours, Inanna. To turn a man into a woman and a woman into a man are yours, Inanna.–

Sappho

Sappho was an ancient Greek female poet who wrote lyrical poetry famous for its intense passion and description of love. Being born on the Isle of Lesbos she is also referred to as the first Lesbian poet. Little is known of her actual life, though she was born around 620BC, and died approximately 50 years later.

Charaxos and Larichos

Say what you like about Charaxos,
that’s a fellow with a fat-bellied ship
always in some port or other.
What does Zeus care, or the rest of his gang?

Now you’d like me on my knees,
crying out to Hera, “Blah, blah, blah,
bring him home safe and free of warts,”
or blubbering, “Wah, wah, wah, thank you,

thank you, for curing my liver condition.”
Good grief, gods do what they like.
They call down hurricanes with a whisper
or send off a tsunami the way you would a love letter.

If they have a whim, they make some henchmen
fix it up, like those idiots in the Iliad.
A puff of smoke, a little fog, away goes the hero,
it’s happily ever after. As for Larichos,

that lay-a-bed lives for the pillow. If for once
he’d get off his ass, he might make something of himself.
Then from that reeking sewer of my life
I might haul up a bucket of spring water.

Emily Dickenson

I’m Nobody! Who are you?

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

"A woman's psyche may have found its way to the desert out of resonance, or because of past cruelties or because she was not allowed a larger life above ground. So often a woman feels then that she lives in an empty place where there is maybe just one cactus with one brilliant red flower on it, and then in every direction, 500 miles of nothing. But for the woamn who will go 501 miles, there is something more. A small brave house. An old one. She has been waiting for you."
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

How To Silence A Woman: Retrieving Her Voice

When someone says, “We’re saying the same thing.”
Say, “We are not saying the same thing.”

When someone says, “Don’t question, just have faith”
Say, “I am questioning vato, and I have supreme faith in what I think.”

When someone says, “Don’t defy my authority.”
Say, “There is a higher authority that I follow.”

When someone says, “Your ideas are seductive.”
Say, “No, my ideas are not seductive, they are substantial.”

When someone says, “Your ideas are dangerous”
Say, Yes, my ideas are dangerous, and why are you
so afraid hombre o mujer ?

When it is said, “It’s just not done.”
Say. “It will be done.”

When it is said, “It is immature”
Say, “All life begins small and must be allowed to grow.”

When it is said, “It’s not well thought out.”
Say, “It is well thought out.”

When they say, “You’re over-reacting.”
Say, “You’re under-reacting vato.”

When they say, “You’re being emotional.”
Say, “Of course I have well placed emotions, and by the way, what happened to yours?”

When they say, “You’re not making any sense.”
Say, “I don’t make sense, I am the sense.”

When they say, “I can’t understand you when you’re crying.”
Say. “Make no mistake, I can weep and be fierce at the same time.”

When they say, “I cant understand you when you’re being so angry.”
Say. “You couldn’t hear me when I was being nice, sweet or silent, either.”

When someone says, “You’re missing the point.”
Say, “I’m not missing the point, but you seem to be missing my point—
What are you so afraid of?”

When someone says, “You are breaking the rules.”
Say, “Yes, I am breaking the rules.”

When someone says, “That’s not practical.”
Say, “It’s practically a done deal, thank you very much.”

When it is said, “No one will do it, believe you, follow it.”
Say, “I will do it, I will believe in it, and in time, the world may well follow it.”

When it is said, “No one wants to listen to that.”
Say, “I know you have a hard time listening to that.”

When it is said, “It’s a closed system, you cant change it.”
Say, “I’m going to knock twice and if there is no answer,
then I am going to blow the doors off that system and it will change.

When it is said, “They’ll ignore you.”
Say, “They won’t ignore me and the 100s of thousands who stand with me.

When they say, “It’s already been done.”
Say, “It’s not been done well enough.”

When they say, “It’s not time yet.”
Say “It’s way past time.”

When they say, “It’s not the right day, right month, right year.”
Tell them, “The right year was last year,
and the right month was last month,
and the right day was yesterday,
and you’re running behind schedule vato,
and what in the name of God and all that is holy
are you going to do about it?”

When they say, “Who do you think you are?”—
tell them who you are, and don’t hold back.

When they say, “I put up with it, you’ll have to put up with it too.”
Say, “No, no,no,no.”

When they say, “I’ve suffered a long time and you’ll have to suffer too.”
Say, “No, no, no,no.”

When they say, “You’re an incorrigible,
defiant, hard to get along with,
unreasonable woman,
Say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes,

and I have worse news for you yet—

We are teaching our daughters,
our mothers,
and our sisters…

We are teaching our sons
our fathers,
and our brothers

to be
just
like
us.


Favourites from long ago…

The Jabberwocky was drilled into me by my third grade teacher who read the poem every. single. day. for months! I remember every pause, every dramatic breath, every roll of her tongue. Whenever I hear other people read it I am quickly irritated because it sounds completely wrong. I can hear the ghost of her very impatient voice screeching unapologetically how poorly the interpretation is.

She was a tiny, very masculine looking warrior woman of the eighties. She scared the shit out of me and the entire school, but ironically her and I developed a great respect and adoration, one I still recall fondly. She not only introduced me to what would become a love of literature – but also the world of dystopian sci-fi. I devoured the tiny primary school library of the genre. She also read I am David by Anne Holm to a year 2/3 split class! It was only very recently did I discover it was an historical fiction based on WWII concentration camps – it sounded so foreign and unreal. It was an intense book for adults, let alone 7 & 8 year olds and it had the entire class horrified, but enraptured. Even the shit heads of the class would shut up and listen for the hour she would read.

She passed away years ago. I wish I could have told her how much I appreciated her influence in my life and my love of the written word.

Lewis Carroll

The Jabberwocky 

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

When I was 11 I went to stay with my Aunty and Uncle in Kalgoorlie. I was introduced to their neighbour’s daughter who was a few years older than me and she introduced me to – The Outsiders By S E Hinton. I think most gen x’s probably would never have become fans of Robert Frost had it not been for that book and later the brat pack film.

It was such a delicious gem at a sweet and poignant time in my life. I cherished her dog eared and footnoted copy, reading it so many times the pages started to fall out. Regardless of the 80’s teen cliches – I will always picture the golden sky across Ralph Macchio… I mean Johnny’s beautiful face as he sat listening to Pony Boy recite Nothing Gold Can Stay. His gut-wrenching death played out just as tragically on screen with Stevie Wonders haunting tones really bringing the whole depressing shit show home. No wonder I went down a dark path. Still – beautiful, classic poem.

Robert Frost

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

William Butler Yeats

This was the dawn of my research in the early 2000’s when I wanted to recreate that feeling of not being alone at my grandparents home in Fremantle. Because I was there so frequently I never allowed myself to imagine a reality where ghosts could exist, hence discouraging an eerie truth I constantly felt as a child growing up in a century old house. So fairies were something I gravitated to and happily worked with so as not scare the be-jesus out of myself – particularly at night when that place literally became a haunted bloody house with all its old baroquey Victorian era architectural decorative shit and freaky, fricken shadows casting every which way waiting to murder me.


The Fairy Pendant

Scene: A circle of Druidic stones

First Fairy: Afar from our lawn and our levee,
O sister of sorrowful gaze!
Where the roses in scarlet are heavy
And dream of the end of their days,
You move in another dominion
And hang o'er the historied stone:
Unpruned in your beautiful pinion
Who wander and whisper alone.
All: Come away while the moon's in the woodland,
We'll dance and then feast in a dairy.
Though youngest of all in our good band,
You are wasting away, little fairy.
Second Fairy: Ah! cruel ones, leave me alone now
While I murmur a little and ponder
The history here in the stone now;
Then away and away I will wander,
And measure the minds of the flowers,
And gaze on the meadow-mice wary,
And number their days and their hours—
All: You're wasting away, little fairy.
Second Fairy: O shining ones, lightly with song pass,
Ah! leave me, I pray you and beg.
My mother drew forth from the long grass
A piece of a nightingle's egg,
And cradled me here where are sung,
Of birds even, longings for aery
Wild wisdoms of spirit and tongue.
All: You're wasting away, little fairy.
First Fairy [turning away]: Though the tenderest roses were round you,
The soul of this pitiless place
With pitiless magic has bound you—
Ah! woe for the loss of your face,
And the loss of your laugh with its lightness—
Ah! woe for your wings and your head—
Ah! woe for your eyes and their brightness—
Ah! woe for your slippers of red.
We'll dance and then feast in a dairy.
Though youngest of all in our good band,
She's wasting away, little fairy.

The next is the most unoriginal teenage obsession – old Will, but in my defense I did have to study him. For years he was my escape, but as deeply as I immersed myself into his worlds I withdrew just as rapidly and have no clue what my favourite’s were, nor can I recite any of his work that I once knew off by heart. Me thinks my trip down hallucinogenic mid 90s lane may have something to do with that.

Fairy Land I is another more recent poem I’ve been influenced by with Warders Cottage.

William Shakespeare

Fairy Land I

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moone's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.

Chapter 50: Dear Alanis

This starts off cutting, but I promise it gets kinder.

Dear Alanis,

The first time I heard you was in my Mum’s Carona with a custom fitted bonnet to rival any street car – we were quite the envy of my peers. No we were not. The bonnet was white, the car – cream biscuit beige. Thankfully it was an era where even rich people had bungers, though my Dad’s bright green Kingswood was a mortifying exception and the bane of my teenage existence. Nothing dents a developing confidence like being dropped off to parties in an apple on wheels.

Of the two crap choices Mum’s shitty multicoloured meep-meep and her four dollar radio was the less crapper mode of transportation. And your music was less scratchy out of her wireless. They both listened to the same hits-for-the-oldies station and it was in the creamy Carona where I heard You Oughta Know and that was your first strike with me.

The second was when I saw you on Rage and things just got weird. Everything about you – was me to the point it felt like you’d stolen my identity and I sure as shit did not want to be associated with some frantic, Top 40 doppelganger being thrashed on commercial radio so often – even baby-boomers knew the words to your songs. I couldn’t align with someone that my mother would sing along too! It was all way too much for an anti-everything-too-cool-for-school-triple-J teen!

My refusal to jump on your bandwagon was not an isolated sentiment. Australians are a fairly skeptical bunch. And in an uber skeptical, all-knowing-know-all-youthy climate, it seemed like you were attempting to represent and profit off a generation of pissed off gen x girls of which I was very much a proud advocate.

The war-cry of the self-centred 90’s girl:

Who the hell asked you to speak for me?

What I didn’t realise of course was you were echoing things that hadn’t happened to me yet, and by the time they did your musical penny dropped like a bong… I mean bomb.

But I was a confusing little contradiction. At that stage I was Sub Pop driven and wanted to be left alone and write shitty poetry and you seemed like a suspicious shade of mainstream. I didn’t need you, or your catty music to shine a light on the unchecked madness of my sex when betrayed by the opposite sex – a real and devastatingly regular reality for insecure, unlucky-in-anything-resembling-“normal”-love me.

People began comparing me to you almost instantly at a time I was desperate to disappear, find my way, find my people and fit in. I wanted to go under the radar, underground and wanted no association to someone I’d begun to seriously resent. Which looking back as an adult – makes stuff-all sense – you were gorgeous, brighter, prettier, smarter, thinner and way more majestic than any of my lummoxy akwardness.

But what began innocently as occasional comments of,

“Oh wow, you look like Alanis Morisette”

began to morph into a weird form of harassment. A celebrity status I didn’t earn, nor want. It was great when your fans would approach with compliments and on closer inspection realise – besides the hair & the mouth we really didn’t look much alike. Not so lucky with your haters, particularly those who would accost me in nightclubs, flick my hair and slur abuse like they were actually speaking to you! I even went to a tribute show and the singer who mimicked you brilliantly – couldn’t stop staring and seemed irritated I was there. It was seriously a weird time.

We were around the same age, with same hair, same smile, same false aloofness and same self-loathsome creed. An identity I had worked hard to achieve and one I could deliver confidently. Problem was everyone thought I had stolen it from you and even worse – was trying to be you.

It took me yonks to understand how cool you really were. Just a shorter, more articulately ventier, Canadian version of myself – a closet hippy, looking for real experiences, respectful relationships, questioning the hypocrisy of the world and letting everyone hear about it. Loudly.

The difference was you had way more life experience, actual talent and the platform of fame to share those protests. I, on the other hand – had late night ramblings from a pine podium of misty carpark balustrades, in between sucking on can bongs and mowing down filet-o-fishes. The only fame I knew was at the Maccas drive-through. First. Name. Basis. 

Two random things switched my dislike to adoration.

First – in a morning-after coma – one of your songs came on Video-bloody-hits and on closer inspection it felt like I knew you. Other than encyclopedias – I have no idea how I researched anything as a kid, and it’s not like I googled you – but somehow I found out you were one of my favourite’s on You Can’t do that on television. It took that randomly bizarre connection for me to reassess my loathe fest. Yes. Weird.

Second – The Greek I was in love with said I reminded him of you and that he liked you because you reminded him of me. So I begged my parents for a birthday guitar, took out a vendetta on hairdressers, grew my locks to my arse, bought a polyester beanie from Kmart, a pair of Doc Martin boots and upped my grunge game. I memorised every song you wrote, hit every notey, screechy quiver and sung my lungs out to the dust packed stadium of my folks living room.

I never learned how to play that guitar. I did teach myself the beginning of Given to Fly by Pearl Jam and that is literally all she wrote musically. It sits in my kids playroom. I hear it twanging out of tune every now and then and hope one of them will pick it up, because quite frankly I can neither afford or be arsed taxi-ing them to another extracurricular activity – so a heavy reliance on natural talent is their only hope.

I remember counting down the months until your second album was released. I was such a scattered mung bean during that period and our mindset of escaping the wankery of the day seemed similar. You pissed off to India – I buggered off to Cairns. You found enlightenment. I found the same bullshit I tried to run away from – just a tropical version of it.

When your album finally did come out I couldn’t afford to buy it! I was so broke and skinny, my girlfriend and I would scab mangoes from the council trees just so we could eat! We’d hang out in the shopping centre because we stupidly rented a unit in northern Queensland with no air conditioning. I’d loiter outside Sanity reading the song list and obsessing over owning the CD. By the time I returned home, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie was played and scratched until it was stolen from my car many moons and many me’s later.

After that I forgot all about it. About you. About the massive influence and affect you had on me in that minuscule, but pivotal point in life when I was oozing confidence, was fearless and clueless about my place in the world.

I recently started researching and delving into the worship of Goddess’s in ancient civilizations and bizarrely “Heart of the House” took up residency in my brain – on repeat. That was the first song I fell in love with and the first I had to etch from my mind because it fed my depression. It tapped into that dream state of life as a kid in the 70s and 80s. Orange hues, hazy days as a little girl, family picnics, sucking sour grass, threading daisy chains and worshipping my own real life Goddess – my Mum.

I was so in-love with everything about Heart of the House I wanted to share its strength and the love and joy it conjured of those beautiful yester-year memories to anyone who would listen. That song was so ridiculously powerful – when I played it for my friend she made me turn it off half way through.

…You saw me, run from the house, in the snow, melodramatically…

Her mother had died when she was a child and all she wanted at that point in her life was a Mum to watch over all of her dramatic tendencies – and she had loads.

My undying love for YouTube rekindled the obsession of your song and I play it to my daughter on the school run. It’s now in her favourites playlist along with Jolene and Working 9-5. Sweet little Merida in the making.

I never realised the impact you, your songwriting, your music had on me and I feel like I abandoned and betrayed you – like those little goddess statues tucked into the walls of ancient ruins. Hidden away so that no one knew they were being worshipped.

So, modern day goddess of the feminine arts – thank you. Thank you truly for your delicate influence on who I am today and the mother I fail constantly at trying to be. My long ago doppelganger. You, me and our very…

…gypsy, garage sale ways.

Courtesy: Jasmin Campoya

Chapter 49: When God was Femme

Fangirl poetry inspired by real life heroine – Dr Bettany Hughes. Her documentary – When God was a Girl is inspirational. A fascinating and in-depth flip of history and how the past has shaped who we are and why many of the issues we live today stem from our removal from the history books.

It’s AMAZING.

Please follow this link and watch all three. They really are fascinating for all genders.

Finding these documentaries as well as the brilliant The Ascent of Woman on Netflix (now on YouTube) by Dr Amanda Foreman, have helped me find my way with my own historical fiction – The Warder’s Cottage. You know when you get that niggling feeling you’re onto something,  but are not yet at the stage to see it clearly? Not quite ready for the answers to be revealed? That was my moment at the beginning of last year when I quit drinking and all these fantastic doco’s, books, podcasts etc came pouring our of nowhere onto my radar. The most recent was Witches: A Century of Murder.

One led to the other and suddenly everything I’ve ever found interesting in history all made sense! Epiphany galore! Threads I’ve been looking for – for yonks had me totally geeking out over women in history.

So I wrote a poem – When We Walked As One, and entered it into a few competitions and predictably it bombed. Wayyyy to wordy and far too emotional and probably less a poem than a creatively worded rant ensemble. It read as it sounded – like it was written by teenage me. It’s a worthy topic for a long winded poem – based on the Goddesses and attempted removal of women and feminine deities across history.

I read the poem out to my Writers Group peers with positive feedback. The first comment was – “Whoa. That’s heavy,” and I must admit I felt deflated. But these are women and writers I trust, so every bit of critique is valuable.

The greatest thing about this group is after a year of attending the feedback is still brilliant. I’ve been told nothing I haven’t learned and grown from. This fellow writer also said because the first 2 poems (I read out) were light and fun – When We Walked As One was… well, heavy.

It is damned heavy and also a reflection on the way I approach things – full fricken force or nothing. I questioned my overdoing-everything habit and the self-doubt flood gates opened. Thankfully they quickly shut back up.

This poem was unique. Like tripping without the drugs. It felt like I wasn’t the one writing things, like the words were someone else’s thoughts. It felt more like an obligation than art.

The problem is there is no way for this particular topic not be heavy – especially when you condense nearly 12000 years, 2 documentary series and a life time of reflection on being female – into a 50 lined poem. It’s going to be a head fCk.

Probably could have used some help from the Horrible Histories writers.

Ra, ra, Cleopatra!

Famous beauty coming at ya!

Ra ra, patra Cleo!

Guys all go gaga for me-o!

I am a leader
And a lady and a queen
I’m Cleopatra
Such a queen never been seen
I am a pharaoh
Yet they’re-o meant to be guys
But I don’t care-o
I just wear-o beard disguise…

Maybe not in patra-Cleo’s case, however in this circumstance – heavy – is necessary and it comes back to the flaw of critiquing people you are acquainted with. There is a bias towards the writer and even the bias is usually biased. These fellow writers are people I admire, respect and enjoy – but what is heavy for some, may resonate with a thousand others, so I’m running with the latter.

I look forward to more feedback, but stand by the intensity I filtered into this particular piece of work – a subject we should all investigate a bit deeper.

As for the poem – a lot of tweaking, chopping and brutal fine tuning is still needed. But it does sport a new, super subtle title. Voila – 

Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük and Co

Little Lady lump of rock
Deliciously plump and ripe.
Buried forbidden
Birther of panic
Seeder of spite
Abundant flesh and form.
Mother.
Feminine scorn
Neolithic deity
Abandoned clay all-grainy.
Egalitarian crown.
Fertile mound
pondering our loving return.
Finally found her
Thousands of years later
and she found us
Foreign, wanting, vainly disappointing.
Lo how they tried to rid you.
Cast away you.
Stamp tramp dust you.
Will you to rust.
Desecrated your pages.
Great houses relished, hypnotized the ages…

“To the hills we traipsed Triumphant. On high once she reigned. Crushed. Slain.
From cauldron. From broom. Tricksy heights of their womb. Blood lusted idols lapped sacrificial alters. In fields all were mixing, dancing, bleeding. Nakedly singing to the stars conjuring oceans afar. Shipwrecking royalty. Wretched femininity. Hail Daemonologie! Stamped it! Burned them out! Parchment and quill. Ravings to the ill. Nonsensical comforts. Wicked whisperings. Eradicated hearings extracted historically – deafened false prophecy. Howled at the crescent moon lest they claimed our sun! Yang seed, epigenetic creed, collectively aloof – New Global Truth. A thousand years prevailed shrouded and veiled. Backed ’em to the ground. Returned to earth. Buried prowess-powers-progress. Buried maiden-mother-crone nonsense. Buried midwifery-sorcery-healing. Fanciful inner-within-ness waning. Tore at it, tore it away. Deep rips ’til they surrendered. Submitted to submission. Dutiful handmaiden. Virtuous virgin turned from ambition to suspicion of own fruition. Wounds so deep, rotten. Who, why, what’s forgotten. No memory of the hour when she wielded power. When God was a Girl and they ruled the world.”

Oh, sorrowful betrayal! Our reflection.
’Twas you summonsed Cybele!
Magna Mater. Floating statue through the city.
Worshipping Her almighty to aid unquenchable warring.
Forged a million identical promises to funnel feminine glory.
Restore the balanced story – to all! With our aid!
But you buried her. You buried them all.
Buried Us ’til we forgot sacred divinity evermore.
Gaslit and smeared, snuffed, sneered.
Removed. Erased.
Wiped truth and trace
Feminine race.
Human Foundations
Formed on mountains.
Love. Petals. Grace.
Clear hearts overflowing, sharing
All knowing. When Earth was a Woman.
When we thrived as One. More than a rib, or a putrid pun.
Magdalene a confidante? a twin soul! Woman more than vessel, whore, hole.
Barbaric little statues etched from forgotten scrolls. Manhandled by Victorian trolls.
Boxed deep. Cave bowels. Musty museums. Smothered. Silenced. Keeper of keys never was. Never were. Birthless. Hear now DNA churning. Lioness awakening. Recalling
Views from sandled soles, chains and choke holds. Publically leased, privately leashed. Fragmented. Broken. Warped. Awoken. Rising humbled, healing. Leading. Forgiving.
Breathing solution. Living revolution. Life and death giving. Little lady lump.
Ripe fertile rump. Porous prowess. Healing magnanimous. Nurturing.
Glory and form. Re-setter. New dawn… if you let her. Remember?
Before control and rule. Before concrete and fuel.
Before ignorance and ridicule
We. Your whole
womb. man
the mother
the father
daughter
and son
Remember?
Please.
Remember
when we walked as one

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Cybele Source/Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

 

Chapter 48: Dream Poetry

Writers Group Exercise: 

Dreamy, steamy, Jakey

Appearing very suddenly
I saw you at the bar
Smiling back at me
Gorgeously from afar
We kiss
We caress
Every time we meet
Long forgotten puppy love
Deliciously sweet
Hand holding
Neck nuzzles
We warmly embrace
Paranoid thoughts
As you stroke my face
Did I pluck my bits?
Did I get that wax?
Did I put deodorant on?
Why can’t I just relax?
Here I am on a spaceship
Inside the honeymoon suite
Jake Gyllenhaal is with me
Tenderly kissing my feet
It’s then the penny drops
All too good to be true
I hate my feet being touched
Brain takes the body’s cue
Overheating in my bed
Jake tells me something’s wrong
Don’t want to leave, but stifling
The electric blanket is on

people-2597454_1920

It’s funny how the brain works. I used to have a little crush on JG and have dreamt of him before. The dreams are never erotic, just sweet and so lovely I wake up sad. Not because of him, but that beautiful sensation of that young puppy love bubble and the realisation it’s actually not real and your twenty years older with a husband, kids, dog, mortgage, grey hair and wrinkles.

 

 

Chapter 47: Confucius

Writing Exercise: Fortune Cookies

This was a cool one. I love food writing prompts. They’re the best. I got:

Be most affectionate tonight.

The alarm blared.

“It’s okay. You only need to leave when you hear ‘evacuate’,” the staff called jovially, and patrons returned to the library like luggage on a carousel.

“EVACUATE… EVACUATE…”

“For shit sakes,” Gloria moaned.

“Oh, that’s funny,” Eloise laughed as staff began ushering them toward the exit doors.

“I guess that’s it then. What a waste of bloody time,” said Gloria.

“The night is young! How about a cafe? Not all alarms are ringing.”

“Yet.”

“C’mon. Hot chocolate’s on me,” Eloise grinned charmingly and rustled her bag. “Still got the chockie stash too.”

Gloria smiled.

“Oh, alright. Let’s go then.”

For an hour the two women, practically strangers – shared their stories, their past, their highs and woes of being poets in a world crazed and beautiful. The cafe played fifties songs and they would pause from their camaraderie to sing along and sip the luke warm drinks.

“Thank you Eloise. Sincerely. I haven’t laughed, or thought that deeply on anything for such a long time.”

Gloria rested her hand on Eloise’s coat. It was warm and furry, much like the night. They hugged like family do and walked back to their cold cars. Not even the late night inhabitants of the shady shopping centre could dampen this fleeting loveliness and with keys in stabbing grip they floated. This was the type of car park where serial killers dared not loiter. It felt like they were walking on air. 

Protected: CHAPTER 47: ROLLERSKATING JESUS

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Chapter 46: Copyright Confusion – what the hell can I write?

As previously mentioned in this moan-a-thon, commas have done my head in throughout the writing process sending me down a rabbit hole of even more confusing masses of internet articles, posts and fiery debates from ranty academics who don’t get how we all don’t get it – to seven year olds executing writing law like literati.

Alas, me no computie the proofreadie and I look forward to the day when I can afford to hire someone else to worry about the time tinkering – why-can’t-you-leave-well-alone-&-just-let-me-write pain in the arse rules of grammar and punctuation.

Cue its aggravating, vaguer than fCk cousin – copyright.

Just a general disclaimer on the purpose of this post – it’s not a Twilight toss. I was never a Twi-Mom (though I loved both books & films), and initially resisted the hype until I told my friend I needed to find a book to read while breastfeeding my son in the early hours of the morn. For a more in-depth reflection on how the series affected me and the reading Mum’s of the world during that period – click this – We Should Give Stephenie Meyer a Break.

This post explains the impact a few poignant scenes had while writing my tale of that time. I was so immersed in referencing the resemblance that until very recently I overlooked my ode to Twilight could be considered copyright.

This was a period when I felt grossly foreign within my own skin & a stranger to my new Mumming life. I recognised myself in Bella & it was comforting at a time I was anything but comfortable. I related to many of the nineties nods Stephenie Meyer gave her characters – particularly Bella’s grungy, depressing, big booted, plaid shirted, stretched cuffs, anti-everything attitude – which was relative to me and clearly half the worlds women that fell for the series. Meyer reminded us all who we once were & Stewart channelled it like a true gen X.

This excerpt was from So You Are… Pregnant! The scene is a hugely powerful one that even now takes me back to the exact emotional soul sucking shitfest I was feeling at the time.

In a very famous scene, from a very famous book, made into a very famous movie, a very famous character sits emotionally broken as the changing seasons shift around her. The entire time she remains stagnant, gripped with an overwhelming sorrow she is powerless to overcome. This is you right now.

In the book, New Moon, where Bella is a munged out mess after Edward abandons her – I remember reading and thinking – wow, this is really powerful.

I hoped that I was fainting, but, to my disappointment, I didn’t lose consciousness. The waves of pain that had only lapped at me before now reared high up and washed over my head, pulling me under.

I did not resurface. 

Stephenie Meyer, New Moon, Chapter 3, Page 84

The blank pages that followed with only the month written on them – was like looking into my mind. With such a simple effect she had reached beyond the page and extracted the exact emptiness and nothingness I was feeling.

The film version was even more so. Kristen Stewart’s dishevelled performance; Lykke Li’s haunting song Possibility; and the cinematic effects of that one scene, I believe, were the best of the entire series.

Credit: TheVincenzoblue

It was a mainstream view of mental health and a very familiar state of depression for me both visually and mentally. It really was an important moment. From a female perspective of an unconventional female, one I had been at the characters age via suppressed grief, heartbreak and youthy drama (oh the brutal tragedy of rejection) – and later on as an adult mirroring that level of sorrow and loss a few days after giving birth.

So, when I started to write about my babyless homecoming the imagery of Kristen Stewart like a shadowy little potato – was the first thing I thought of. It was not out of laziness that I wanted to reference that particular scene, more a nod of respect to Meyers and the films creators who took her bang on description and upgraded it into something that so many could relate to. A powerful piece of well known fiction that resonated to the powerlessness of my own experience.

We had returned from the hospital without our infant who had been misdiagnosed and forced to remain behind until tests results came. I was hormonally imbalanced, emotionally mutated and flat out fCking exhausted. In this dark, dark state it felt like my baby had died. I sat in our black Ikea rocking chair next to our Christmas tree, staring out the window, silent, still and oblivious to everything going on around me.

It was Christmas, so the house was bustling and magically manic. My husband kissed me goodbye, went to work. Mum was in and out, checking on me, cranking out festive preparations, cousins came and went, the sun rose and set, my husband came back, kissed me again, meals were left uneaten, cups of tea barely touched and the only time I left the chair was to empty my boobs, reluctantly go for a wee and deal with my wounds that never seemed to stop bleeding. I barely spoke, though said enough so they wouldn’t worry – but both my body and my mind were screaming in pain. Hence the reference to the second scene.

In another equally powerful scene the character makes a dramatic transition where her poor body suffers excruciating pain, yet appears normal. This is also you.

When my Mum read this her reaction was strong. She too was oblivious to any of it. We had a lovely chat, but my literary mind couldn’t help but think how effective the scene must have been from a writing perspective. This was nothing to do with the imagery I borrowed from the Twilight saga, nor my re-wording to relate it to my experience in order to drive the trauma home. This was a Mum hearing the voice – albeit in descriptive detail – of her child in pain. She has never read, nor seen Twilight. I had kind of done my job. Right? Evoked emotion?

(Cue overthinking mentally taxing ghost-voice of Christmas past…)

But, did that happen because she remembered me sitting by the window dressed in black, a motionless stringy haired and hopeless vision? Or did my reinterpretation of Bella Swan really deserve the credit?

Who knows. I really need to shut that crazy-ass ghost whisperer down though.

So, why not just write my own version? My own story? (I did btw.) Because I really wanted people to relate so strongly and that was a visual I knew my audience would immediately get.

Here lies the moral conundrum. I view referencing other creative’s work as a compliment as long as it is set and executed with good intentions and elevation. Like making a taco – got your meat, got your guac, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, chilli, tomatoes – you build that taco author up for tasty results that benefits the creative, the reader, the message. 

But, I also see how it could be distorted into a negative and no matter how endearing – some creative’s may simply want others guacamole laden fingers off their hard earned taco’s… I mean work.

Is it simply re-formatting someone else’s creation to suit your own an agenda?
Probably.
Is it wrong even if it comes from a good and well meaning space with all credit given?
Dunno.
Is it copyright?
Fck knows. Probably yes and even more likely yes to all.

This blog and this one (and about 5000 others I looked up) were both helpful and confusing AF and sadly as with so many beautiful references I had littered throughout my first draft – I concluded it’s easier to just give it up than take unnecessary risks, no matter how innocent my intentions. Because trying to find black and white answers on this rather vague subject, riddled with so many variables – is as exhausting as this post. 

Such a sad squirmy little stunter of cool creativity.

Throw a rather hypocritical spanner into the already confusing works in the form of  Fifty Shades of Grey (which bizarrely I’ve never read, nor seen the films) or rather –Master of the Universe – the fanfiction Twilight rip based on Bella & Edward’s kinky sex life. Other than change the characters names the author apparently did little to change the heavy borrow, made millions from her efforts and came out clean as a whistle on the other side. Stephenie Meyer has not sued!

While I don’t remotely put myself in that category and I really don’t understand the whole fan-fiction thing at all, am I much different to E L James if I’m trying to evoke the audience that was so taken by Stephenie Meyer’s work? Or like most things with me – am I wayyyyyy overthinking it and really, really wrong and typically thick. Very likely yes, still – best to err on the side of caution.

I am paranoid of breaching any laws or plagiarising anyone’s work. I am not a thief, nor do I need to bludge other peoples stuff because I’ve got enough of my own madness to draw from for the next 500 years. As a writer the most exciting thing is original creation. This was not a fan-fiction lift, nor a re-invention, nor an elevation. It highlighted much more than name dropping.

I see my tiny Twilight snippet as more of a comparison of similarities and a shout out of that common thread all women (men too) go through – suffering. The character suffered a heartbreak that looked identical to mine – though the circumstances were very different – the reaction and effect was the same. For anyone who has seen the movie they get the vibe immediately. The visual is clear, powerful and would smack the reader – predominantly female – immediately with all the sorrow and bullshit we endure in general, and in this situation I was describing after the birth of my child.

This was also a reference to my prologue which explains how the book came about – when I was reading Twilight while breast feeding my son in the spare room at the back of our house at 2:30 in the morning, I thought it would be cool to write a book about my mad pregnancy journey (see below).

But, opinions differ and currently run wild and interpretation is a tricky minx. Seeings as I most definitely hope to receive payment for my efforts, I honour the IP of others,  and have since scrapped it. Even if I wanted to ask for permission there is no contact to be found for Meyer anyway. So I chop again and continue on – still clueless with commas and the grey areas of copyright and my ever expanding pile of confusions flourish. I probably need a manager.

Regardless… onward.

The final copy in my So You Are… Pregnant! intro:

Dear Reader,

One early morning as the world slept, my son and I were tucked up in the spare room feeding and reading. In between the trials and angst of vampire love – I reflected on my own time of being a baby maker. Nobody would believe such a bizarre story, but with any luck the tale would give people a laugh and reassurance that they are not alone. A book I wish I had to read during all that joyful craziness, but also confusion, isolation and sadness. Of course it would be a roaring success, get picked up by a streaming channel and a hottie cast as my husband. I would reluctantly play myself (*note: insert multiple snogging scenes).

This is the original:

Dear Reader,

One early morning as the world slept, I was feeding my son and reading Twilight (hate/potate – that’s just where I was at). In between the trials and angst of vampire love I thought how cool it would be to read about the joy and madness of the last 10 months. Nobody would believe it was true, but boy would it make people laugh. Of course it would be a roaring success, get picked up by Netflix with Robert Pattinson cast as my husband, leaving me to reluctantly play myself (*Note to self: insert multiple snogging scenes).

Chapter 45: Enheduanna

Enheduanna – the earliest known poet recorded. High Priestess of the goddess Inanna and the moon god Nanna. All round bad-ass legend. I won’t butcher what is essentially other peoples hard work and research by trying to reword what has already been re-worded, no doubt, hundreds of times.

I would never have come across this amazing woman had I not seen the documentary: The Ascent of Woman by Dr Amanda Foreman OR Divine Women by Dr Bettany Hughes. I know it’s becoming a feminist cliché but I don’t really care – they truly switched some buried, epigenetic shit buried deep inside awakening my favourite historical past time – Why in the fuck were women wiped from history?

I have included The Hyper Texts version of Enheduanna below.

The HyperTexts

The Temple Hymns of Enheduanna
with modern English translations by Michael R. Burch

Enheduanna, the daughter of the famous King Saragon the Great of Akkad, is the first ancient writer whose name remains known today. She appears to be the first named poet in human history and the first known author of prayers and hymns. Enheduanna, who lived circa 2285-2250 BCE, is also one of the first women we know by name. She was the entu (high priestess) of the goddess Inanna (Ishtar/Astarte/Aphrodite) and the moon god Nanna (Sin) in the Sumerian city-state of Ur. Enheduanna's composition Nin-me-šara ("The Exaltation of Inanna") details her expulsion from Ur, located in southern Iraq, along with her prayerful request to the goddess for reinstatement. Enheduanna also composed 42 liturgical hymns addressed to temples across Sumer and Akkad. And she was the first editor of a poetry anthology, hymnal or songbook. Now known as the Sumerian Temple Hymns, this was the first collection of its kind; indeed, Enheduanna so claimed at the end of the final hymn: "My king, something has been created that no one had created before." And poems and songs are still being assembled today via the model she established over 4,000 years ago! Enheduanna may also have been the first feminist, as I explain in the notes that follow my translations of her poems.—MRB

Ancient Akkadian Cylindrical Seal Depicting Inanna and Ninshubur Public Domain

By Molly Meary ©

Ode to Enheduanna

Enheduanna
soul tune
love legacy
first of all firsts
yet where is our memory
collectively
of you
Enheduanna?
where are the footnotes
lectures and exams
questionless
mentionless
of enheduanna-not-a-man?
first named woman
Enheduanna
first name signed
Enheduanna
first writer
Enheduanna
first poet
Enheduanna
first author of prayer and hymn
Enheduanna
first feminist
Enheduanna
first not a “him”
Enheduanna
oh, but the fuck-you thrill
to have Inanna kill 
An
and
voila
She – ruler supreme 
over all gods
opportune leaven
promotes Queen of Heaven
first holy entrepreneur of all that is good
despite our inevitable odds
How you tried Enheduanna
Banished Moon Goddess
High Priestess
Almighty conqueror in fiery crossroad
Where you, unbeknownst
recalled shadows recent past
women stepping alongside male counterparts
For all your loving persistence
amidst sinister transition…
eye for an eye derailed
tooth for a tooth prevailed
Or did you?
Enheduanna.
perhaps…
you – of a knowing
Oracled dark corners to pass
Fire and sword
eradicate 
maraud
Us. 
you etched your name
Enheduanna 
true
etched it deep
etched it first
never to remove
Knowing they…
blackest of cones
phallic and thick
Knowing they…
“If a woman speaks out of turn then her teeth shall be smashed by a brick”
Enheduanna 
you
deity
uniter of kingdoms
peace speaker
turner of men’s minds
from warring and power
you did
turn them within
to the divine
in your precious hour
Signed your name
foreseeing future betrayal
time of yearning
unquenchable
thirst
awakening
unlearning
Immortal signature
Enheduanna
flipped humankind’s first bird
ensuring it would be your words
we hungered
and
heard

Chapter 44: 500 Words or Less (always more)

Writing Exercise – Fiction: 500 words or less

Offred tilts her bonnet to the sky. The shade is almost unbelievable. A blue that makes the earth seem alien. She speaks of patience. A patience she’s been forced to embrace via the rape of her rights. You relate. Not to the psychotic dystopian oppression, rather an acceptance of a patience that comes with age, or probably just aging. A long awaited sigh. Welcome defeat. Surrendering an era of constantly chasing reason and time. It’s refreshing. Things are simpler when you don’t give a shit. The air has less current, it’s more soft, sweet.

You have never been patient. Always rushing, always late. Frenzied, frazzled. Frustrated when others don’t keep up. You feel it lessening. Releasing you in minute droplets, ever so slowly. You feel it each afternoon with each passing year. The crone whispers. Not long ago you would have shunned it, but lately you welcome her offerings. If you had known the benefits of brushing everything off with age you would have stopped skulling collagen years ago. Longer pauses to blankly stare at trees. Abrupt outbursts of truth no one asks for, nor expects from your typically happy go-lucky-mouth. A newfound love of anything non-human – like fairy wrens dancing amongst the wattle, and the song of storm winds whistling within air vents. It shifts you from your phone more than most lined up here. The screens light up like the arrival of Christmas and their reflections can be seen through tinted windows, consuming every car on the school run. Park up, light up, pick up, repeat. Wire birds in a row, so close to one another without speaking, seeing, touching, acknowledging. Scrolling obliviously.

You used to fight it, but these blips of conformity are irrelevant now. Just the way it is. Just part of the wheel. Just accept it or you’ll go mad. Seekless and silent is more manageable in this climate of adulting.

Streaming services help.

Offred shakes. It leaks from her now. A mad oozing, a slow shadow trickling from her pores. She looks manic. Again.

Fuck Elizabeth Moss is good. Too good.

You skipped last season. It was too much. The line between fiction and reality – blurry. The two worlds running parallel with their undertones and histories so similar you struggled to watch without scowling at your husband every few minutes – the weight of a gender plonked unfairly on his shoulders.

Healing of the world starts in the home – they say. Reads optimistically enough. Reality is messier. Grit without a toothpick.

He shakes his head often at your gloomy tangents. No need for words. No point being drawn into your paranoid ravings. In the soft safety of the late night bedroom – it’s all just tired jabber. Topics far, far away from the quiet suburban existence. Happily. Normal. Secure.

You stopped watching the news. The show seemed to play out with every passing day and your Gilead predictions fell on deaf ears. These conversations make most people squirm. Always did. The sand is easier to wade through if you scroll to the good stuff.

Abortion bans. Handles flooded with coat hangers and red bloodtags. Surveillance shiny, bold and white. Billionairess’s throwing fangirl parties and women echoing your fears.

“…When all we need are a few more crazy people in power and that story on tv could very easily be our reality…This show, especially to anyone who is a mother, should scare the shit out of you.” @notjaedahyde

“…tasteless considering she would never be a handmaiden because of her wealth. It’s super cool and fun to glorify slavery that is becoming more and more of a real possibility every day…” @andersonala45

“It’s happening!” you cried. “This is the beginning!”

“You’re paranoid,” he muttered reaching for the remote.

“No. This is the problem with people who don’t give a shit about history. They miss the lessons. This doesn’t end well – especially not for us.”

“What are you talking about? If you think your face hasn’t been logged into a hundred data bases you’re naive. And what’s going on a million miles away won’t effect things here.”

“Not for you!”

“Not every issue is about women!”

“It is for women.”

“What’s up with you?”

“I used to… have a voice, but people thought I was mad. So I stopped. I silenced myself.”

“They may have had a point,” he joked, trying to make light of it.

He switched over to the lifestyle channel. You switched it back.

Offred’s got the crazy eye again. You loathe how familiar she feels. It’s intense.

Your phone flashes.

Get red flowers for Nan.

She’s joined the Red Hat Ladies. They run about town blinged up like they’re in their twenties, forcing society to notice them. You love it. You love her.

She tells you not to worry on the state of the world. She tells you not to get into such a fluff about things you can’t control. There’s more pressing issues, like her broken remote.

“Don’t fight things all the time love, there’s no point. Just get on with it and enjoy life. You’ll see how nicer things can be. Now, make sure you watch Today Tonight, they’ve got a thing on vaccination. I hope you got your flu shot.”

“No, Nan. I haven’t for years.”

“Ay? Well, why not? You got your babies vaccinated though, right?”

“Yep. All up to date.”

You want to scream. You never do.

Offred stares at the brilliant blue sky, shifting her eyes suspiciously to the handmaid approaching.

A random stranger kicks his dog near your passenger door. You go to yell but he beats you too it, hitting the windscreen and screaming threats. You lock the doors. He calls you a cunt and takes off, abusing any in his path. The dog pauses, staring at you for a moment before his chain is yanked. He is gone as is his warm gaze.

The siren blares and high pitched squeals and giggles trickle from every vein of the school. They chatter loudly oblivious to the violence now evaporated like it never was.

You look down at your phone. Offred lies in the dirt as the planeload of children soars high above her.

You feign a smile as your kids approach and switch off the phone.

Close down.

Shove it down.

Turn off.

Mask on.

In his damned eye indeed.


657 WORDS.

You just can’t do it, especially not on this topic.

Credit Reference: Margaret Atwood’s Hand Maid’s Tale; Bruce Miller