Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Exploring Eternity, In Tandem with Paul and Sherry

Greetings, friends! It is Paul Scribbles and Sherry Blue Sky here, presenting our poem in tandem. When our names were first paired, I was intrigued. Paul and I didn’t know each other well, and our styles are very different. I expected our exercise would be interesting, but I think we were both somewhat astonished at how easily it came together, and the direction it took. We plunged deep.

The tandem idea was always interesting to me and Sherry sent an email that landed when I was delivering a training program in Kuala Lumpur. Sherry and I had not had much contact other than poem comments and so this was a blind date of sorts. There followed a short email conversation and finally after some gentle nudging I sat down to write when I landed back in the UK. I was jet lagged and unsure about how to proceed so I began where I was. In the dark.

The beginning was open enough that it left me a lot of scope for a reply. And then the poem just took off.

We enjoyed this exercise so much that, once we reached what we thought was the end of the poem, we continued the conversation a bit further in Part II.  We offer the result to you in hopes you enjoy it.


Into the dark I move.
Arms out, eyes blind for now.
Feeling for the way ahead
with feet and with hands.

Use caution, wayfarer.
This way, there be dragons.
Who sent you journeying?
What is it that you seek?
Do you have a question for
Wild Woman of the woods?

My senses are my caution
and dragons I have met and slayed.
I answered my own call
and so seek only truth.
This question I ask of you.
What is it makes you wild?

It is the song of the sea,
the howl of a wolf, the way a tree
tells herself to me.
It's the beat of the drum, 
my heart's answering thrum.
It's the ancestors speaking
inside of me.
How does the land speak to you,
fellow pilgrim?
What secrets whisper to you
on the wind?

This land speaks to me with a voice
older than time itself.
An elemental whisper of the aes sidhe
carries itself within my soul
and sings to me of the temporal nature
of things.
I walk here now in the green.
I will also be gone
and only an echo remain.
What lies beyond oh wild woman?

I have peeked up and over
the brow of the hill
on the way to Eternity.
The ancients, ululating
a welcome song,
beckoned me with gnarled fingers.
I tried not to see.
There was a barren desert beyond,
and a river.
I heard the ferryman paddling
around the bend,
singing as he came for me.
Then I came back into my body.
Not time yet. Not yet.

Then it comes clear, my task
and the source of my beckoning.
I am to walk beyond the veil
into the land of my ancestors.
Into the ferryman's boat must I go
and across the great river,
and you, wild woman of the woods,
you must guide me there.

Death is that river, turbulent,
catching us up and
roaring us through rock-walled chasms,
green with weeping.
It plunges us into the maelstrom,
dashing us onto the rocks
so eagles may feed.

It swirls us 'round, then settles us,
lighter, and relieved of our earthly burden,
in peaceful ponds along the shore,
where coyote and wolf
may find us.

I will meet you there at twilight
on the last day.

Well met it is then and will be on that last day.
I am all swept up in that turbulence now.
Those eddies spin me beyond any idea of retreat.
So it is then that I must loosen this blanket of life,
so that in death I may come to the answer I seek,
that final truth which calls me across the waters,
and it is the knowing that I must die and relinquish all
which bears me forward to face my own face, born and dead.

Part II

I am dead. It is done.
I have crossed over the water’s threshold.
Life exists only on a distant shore now
and here a dark unknown surrounds me.
My faith was strong enough to leap but
now my heart crumbles and I am alone
with this void, this fear and an echo of my life.
Silent tears call out in vain. Where now?

Traveler, when there is no path,
the Way is the path.
Turn your face towards the void;
seek a glimmer of light.
In trust, we walked our earthly shore,
and now our quest is to discover
something More.
These words torment my mind.
Zen circles that spin me endlessly.
The void is all there is.
How can I face all ways at once?
My faith is lost and with it all trust.
Damned I am to dwell in darkness.
If the way is the path then my path
is to nowhere. I am lost.

Traveler, you are All Soul now.
Spirit sees in all directions
and will find its way.
Listen into the Wind.
Somewhere, there is an opening.
When you find it, you must enter,
for there is no going back.

Then darkness is my opening
and in that I now see the light.
I am made of nothing and of everything.
I am the wind and the space
into which it must blow.
I am the question and the answer.
I am life and death.
That one face, born and dead.

Paul: I was happy to begin the tandem poem as I tend to work very often from a place of ‘not knowing’ what is going to come when I write. Beginning felt natural. Then it was really just a statement of where I was in the process. In the Dark.

Sherry: When I received your first stanza, it left me wide open to respond and, instantly, the words began to flow. My Wild Woman persona showed up right on time, and began to speak. I just stepped out of the way.

Paul: Here the door opens to the poem. Now I’m on a journey and am quizzed about my motivation. In response I have to learn more about this Wild Woman. Who she is and what she is made of? Her answers evoke myth in me and ancestral voices. I mention the ‘aes sidhe’ who I have encountered in Irish mythology (my own heritage). This ancient race and our connection to the Earth are interwoven into my own story and so the idea brews now in my head of the ‘otherside,' the land beneath the sidhe, the otherworld. So I ask that question at the end of the stanza.

Sherry: I am of Irish heritage as well. Your reference to the “ancestral voices” spoke to me. That question was a great hook for me, as I have contemplated death and eternity many times in my work these recent years, when time is ever more finite. It was a pivotal question in the direction the poem took. Wild Woman was in full roar now, and I waited with anticipation to see what your character would say, and how she would respond. For it was clearly Wild Woman at the keyboard, and not me. Smiles.

Paul: It gets interesting here because the response lines up with the feeling that had been evoked in me earlier, and I now see that a threshold is present and must be crossed.

Sherry: Paul, I am curious about your closing line in Part I, the “facing your own face, born and dead”. Can you explain a bit about that?

Paul: Sometimes when I write a line I have no idea what it fully means. It just sounds or feels right. Later meaning may come. With this line that was very much the same. I remember thinking 'what do I really mean here?' Then you actually asked me!

After some thought and a little exploration of a few myths that were brought into a more conscious view, I think that this line for me is looking at the idea of Katabasis.

Born is where I am at this the threshold....Dead is where I must go to find 'that other', be it a person or, as it turns out, an ‘awareness’.

Sherry: It reminds me of the Buddhist teachings about our “original face”, the one we had before we were born. I assume this is the face we reclaim after death, the Soul-face or Being that is our eternal essence, in life and in death, throughout our many lives.

It was with astonishment that I watched this poem become a journey into death and beyond. It was quite magical. It soon seemed necessary to both of us to continue with a Part II. One cannot leave a journey incomplete.

Paul: I agree with Sherry. Part II wrote itself out of need. The whole process of exploring the unknown only to discover we were looking at life and death was incredible. The writing of the poem mirrored the journey we wrote about. For me, in the context of the final piece, death was a liberation, complete and total, and whilst we talked about a possible part III, a return of some kind, I felt that the final stanza was final and Sherry concurred. There was nowhere to return from...or to.

Paul, this has been a most awesome and amazing journey. Thank you!

I am in complete agreement, Sherry. This has been a most enjoyable experience. I’m very happy with what we have created.

We hope you enjoyed this exploration of Eternity’s Face, Toad friends. We certainly enjoyed putting it together for you. 


Old Egg said...

This is really wonderful. How easy it was to visualize this and be one of the travellers on the other side. In your conversation I can see how much you got out of it too. Whata great adventure this was especially the solving of what to do when you get there!

Anonymous said...

Darkness is indeed your opening Paul and suitably acknowledged only at the end. You went looking for a wild woman in the dark and finding Sherry as a guiding advising voice: "Spirit sees in all directions
and will find its way."

Calmness vs turmoil as dramatic contrast in this saga. All the better perhaps for you two being(superficially )a mismatch - hence the poem worked so well

Fireblossom said...

Sherry and Paul seem like a natural combination to me. :-)

Gillena Cox said...

Wow!! you two just rock, luv the conversation, the far reaching sight of both poets, the dare of the date in the far beyond, the dream come true of the meeting. I must say this is very avant garde, not necessarily in form but in inspiration and delivery. Oh and before reading 'Wild Woman' I knew it was Sherry's voice and reading Paul, I kew it was Paul. You meld yet your individual lights sparkle.

much love...

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is such an amazing journey, Sherry and Paul. So much to remark on in this fine collaboration. I love the whole question and answer repartee in the first part, and how one voice acts as guide in the second part. We should all be so lucky to have the passage through life and death laid beneath our feet, and a guiding hand.

brudberg said...

I really love that you have turned this into a dialogue where each of you have kept your own voice... a totally different style from some of the other collabs which are more like singing in a choir.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is absolutely stunning!💖 Its as though one voice clear and crisp rushing forth like indomitable wind. I love how you have discussed your writing and journey through the collaborative effort. A hearty congratulations to both, Sherry and Paul for an unforgettable poem.💖

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I am smiling. Thank you, all, for your generous comments. This was pure pleasure for me. I love how our differing styles worked well in the collaboration. I am not writing much, or well, this summer, so I was especially pleased this one poem worked out as it did.

Our excitement built as we sent our responses back and forth. Truly, this poem wrote itself, the questions that led us being those of two people who dont know each other, finding our way. Paul was a dream to collaborate with. I so enjoyed this collaboration. Am happy that you enjoyed it too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for the wonderful feedback. Sherry was a delight to write with.

Kim M. Russell said...

I loved the poem, a kind of questions and answer or call and response, as well as the explanation of how you worked together ('a blind date of sorts' is a great description) and your conversation at the end. The characters of the wayfarer and the Wild Woman of the woods are clear and pulsing with ancient mythology and I'm a sucker for dragons, sea, wolves, trees - your poem has it all, including Gaelic phrases.

Susie Clevenger said...

Such an amazing poem. It is a wonderful comfort in the place I find myself with so many going through the trauma of a world gone made with wind and water. "I am dead. It is done.I have crossed over the water’s threshold." Goodness that line speaks to me. My family has been miraculously blessed to have weathered the hell named Harvey, but we will never be the same.

I am so glad I had a chance to come here today, to read the beauty of your words, your conversation. It moved me to tears. I needed to cry for the beauty of something and not the horror. Thank you

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Yes indeed, as others have said already, an amazing and wonderful poem. I think it is some of your very best work from each of you, to produce a whole which gloriously transcends the parts. I too love the mythic elements, as well as (it seems to me) Pauls' statement of the human condition answered by the great, eternal wisdom of Sherry's Wild Woman persona. Just brilliant altogether, and a fabulous, powerful, moving, and somehow essential read.

Anonymous said...

Sherry and Paul, thank you both so much for this.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

PS The process notes were almost as good to read as the poem!

Susan said...

WOW. I'm going to have to go back and read the end comments----I'm still reeling from the 2 parts of the poem. To handle that border crossing, to reach down and learn how spirit and wild would speak to mortal and scared? Brilliant. Thank you both. Sherry, thank you for sharing this piece.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! there was definitely some magic happening here.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Thank you, my friends. Susie, I am especially moved by your comment. You are on the edge of the abyss right now, and I cant imagine how horrifying it must be to be right there in the maelstrom of Harvey's devastation. May you and yours stay safe, for there are hard days ahead.

Thank you to each of you for your lovely comments. I am happy you found this of interest. Rosemary, I added the process notes as thought they might be of interest. Happy you found them interesting.

Anonymous said...

Dear Susie,I too am deeply moved by your words and appreciate your sharing them in such difficult circumstances.I cannot begin to imagine the horror you, your family and those in the region have endured.The juxtaposition of that line and your experience has moved me to tears too, for those who found safety and those who sadly did not.My thoughts are with you all.

Once more many thanks to you all for your comments on this piece.

Marian said...

Wow, this is... wow. Stellar. I feel comforted having read this. And love, love the interview-sharing style end notes... really perfect. Somehow this has helped me to center a bit going into my day, so thank you both wild-writers for that.

Maude Lynn said...

This is really splendid work. The conversation feels so natural, so right. I really enjoyed this.

tonispencer said...

This is an incredible read with which to start my morning. A wonderful collabaration. I really like the question and answer format all the meaning it draws from both of you. Splendid !

grapeling said...

resonance - which to me means space and rhythm. wonderful collaboration ~

Angie said...

wow. what a deep look into the face of life and death. quite the saga, full of beautifully crafted lilts and turns.

Jim said...

Sherry and Paul ~~ This made for a 'nice read,' one with a lot of anticipation.
I felt I needed more of a resolution of the 'relinquishing' of "all which bears me forward to face my own face, born and dead." That did not come, so thanks for the epilog of your backstage negations.
Still this was not resolved as not found in the poem which disappointed me to no extent. That said, I could ignore this quandary and proceed to a satisfying but questioning end.
Again, "Very nice, Guys." I promise to not lose any sleep.

Rommy said...

There is something of the shaman's trial in this, where one must symbolically die, see themselves become part of the void and find their way back. The voices in this really blended quite well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again everyone for keeping the comments coming in.
Jim...what can I say? There is a duality narrated in the close which attempts to marry the two faces.Glad it hasn't kept you awake at night ;)

Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

It is this style of 'rope jumping' like when we were little ones playing in the playground that parables and myths are incepted. It is the style that my lineage, Aztec/Toltec Indian, speak when wanting to try to understand 'the Way' of things. We know, farewell, that there are no answers that are sufficient to questions asked yet it is a means of traversing this journey we're on. Truth is everywhere, much like Love, the intrinsic nature of everything. Enlightenment comes in this road traveled but only if cognizant of its presence and with the exercise of utilizing all of one's sensorium.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I hadn't considered that this piece would bring together the muses of a Wild Woman and a Drummer. And now that I read it, I laugh with delight, thinking, I can't believe I didn't see this coming. This is pure magic, Sherry and Paul. A dance movement and sound are one. Perfect.

Margaret said...

" have peeked up and over
the brow of the hill
on the way to Eternity."

"Into the ferryman's boat must I go
and across the great river,"

Loved both of those lines and the whole poem is a wonderful blend of pondering and seeking answers...