Synchronicity: Spaces Between

I’ve collected synchronicities this week again for the Synchronicity Project I’m doing with Lauren Paredes in Portland, OR.

A synchronicity of importance was the recurring theme of the phrase “The Space Between”. I was so moved by a quote by F. David Peat in Pathways of Chance that I wrote it down in my journal: “The space between. It was an idea that could be applied in many areas, particularly to describe what happens when you look at art or read a work of literature. It is the space that lies between the observer and the observed; it is the space of the creative act that brings a poem or painting to life.” In Trish and Rob MacGregor’s book The 7 Secrets of Synchronicity, they added “And it’s the space where synchronicities are born.” I started to think about this concept quite a bit. I think it’s a very spiritual philosophy. They say there has to be stillness before one can begin to hear the important messages of life. There needs to be observance before there is change.

My friend posted a picture he admired called “The Space Between.” It’s a photograph of a woman looking at a moving train. The exposure is long enough for us to see the farm house beyond the train cars, in the gap between each. If we stand still, let there be space while everything else moves, we can see past the distractions to the view beyond.

I read these words by Deborah Wood in Hotel Amerika. “It took some time, but we filled the empty space with badinage and sensed the compression within each moment.” It seems like sometimes there is an ocean of space between us and others. Is that our fault? Can we fill it?

Even the advertisement for the Black Label Lincoln MKX car on the back of a New Yorker magazine seemed to add some direction to my thoughts on this topic: “Ah yes, The Zone. You remember that place where you relax your body and mind just enough to shape those random little notions into something useful. You know: ideas.” Well, then I knew I was on a roll. I can only have creative ideas when I give myself space, and time.

I’ve written about this concept before—the liminality between word and art, the boundary lines that intersect and create new places of transition, portals into paradox and magical logic. I like to call it the sweet spot, the visual center of the Venn Diagram. For me, the Telepoem Booth is an intermediary space between word and art, touch and hearing, the present and the past.

Spiritually, I imagine this concept simultaneously as cosmic space and the inner womb. It infinitesimally expands and eternally internalizes. It’s the labyrinth maze, the eye of the storm, a vestibule, elevator, confessional booth and canyon. It’s meditation and prayer, channeling unworldly beings, speaking in tongues. It’s the body that listens to the clay to tell it which way to pull. It’s the finger and the thumb rubbing away the dust from the words. It’s the empty space between loved ones when one needs to find where the heart stands. It’s the cushion of love-filled air, and stillness needed to see the real picture beyond the obstructions.

The space between is time, love, non-attachment and threshold. The space between is not definable but it shimmers out of the corner of my eye. I try not to look too hard, but I know it is there and I let it be there. It’s not hollow, but a bursting space.

We filled the space with silent love.

We laid down our bodies as a bridge

for the other to clamber across the chasm.

We filled the space between us

And it was full                        —        it was bursting.

 

 

Truth and Honey

Dear Higher Self,

My family disagrees with my politics and my religion, and talk about their views but don’t let me talk about mine. My friends suggests engaging with them “won’t change anything, and will just upset them.” I don’t want to upset anyone, but I’m tired of not having a voice. I’m also tired of having to assert myself every time to be heard. What should I do?

Sincerely,

Just Wants to Show Love

 

Dear Gentle Soul,

It’s not that you “aren’t allowed” to talk about things, it’s that they prefer you would keep silent about it because it brings up unpleasant feelings in them. You can say “I know you don’t want to talk about this, but I’m going to.” This is how you bring persistence and love into speaking the truth. This is how you break their unspoken rules without flaunting them.

If you want to show love, then you will speak your heart with kindness but firmness. No need to tell them what to do, judge them, call them names or use harsh language. Keep it firm but center around your experience. Everyone has the right to speak about their own perspective! If you have been kind and they still get upset, then it is their path that they have blocked, it is their fear and judgment that arise. No one should be exempt from gentle honesty because of their specific fears.

Imagine that your voice is like honey. When not used for a long time, it crystallizes and won’t flow. When fresh or reheated, it spreads easier. The more honesty you spread, the more it softens, becoming gentle and easy. When you first start, it will be stiff and hard and you need to work with it, warm it. Use it often, keep it soft and it will go farther. But the good thing about honey is that it never goes bad—it is always edible and delicious.

Honeybees are the tears of the Egyptian sun god Ra. Those sacred tears were made up of holiness—all the emotions of the world are contained in tears like that, and so there is not only sadness, but happiness, joy and release. They contain all humanity, and because of that they taste sweet. Imagine your honesty and your voice as those tears—as sweet as honey. Both the Atharvaveda (ancient Hindu scripture) and the ancient Greeks associated lips anointed with honey with the gift of eloquence. If you consciously cover your lips now with honey, you’ll notice it has filled the cracks, the place of pain and blood, and makes your lips feel plump and full. The words become sweet.

The Jewish historian Josephus noted that the name of the poet and prophet Deborah meant “bee”. The same root, dbr, gives us “word”, indicating the bee’s mission to give the Divine Word, or Truth. Truthful word is like honey, essential and sweet. It never spoils, it has healing qualities and gives us insight into the Divine meaning of life. Like a bee, you are tasked to ingest the individual grains of truth, the small seeds, digest them, and transform them into the sweetest, highest truth. Then share that sweetness.

Bees are endangered, and their hives are threatened by the advance of “progress”. If you don’t practice your voice, it will go extinct. It will die, and no one will be able to enjoy its nectar. Bees are also highly social insects that operate within a teamwork-based community. If you don’t speak up, you will isolate yourself and will stop interacting with the people that you say you love. Instead, contribute as a member of the hive and the family!

You want to speak out because you need to practice your voice. Your closest relationships require that you be your most authentic self; in your relationships with your beloved, with your child, with your friends and with your family. To have a voice means that you can go deeper into those relationships, grow closer to truth and be your best. The bee pollinates other flowers as it creates its honey, and you too fertilize other minds when you discover your truth through your life journey. Don’t limit the spread of it.

If you really “just want to show love” then you will stop protecting people from the truth, stop shielding them and not upsetting them. They are fearful of some of the things you will say because they have long ago stopped speaking their own voice. They have tried to stop it in others as well. But those are not your rules and that is not your game. You have your own life that you get to choose how to live. You have your own heart that governs you and you are not required to live up to their expectations. You are not required to please them, but to have a loving family you are required to have open communication.

Practice your voice in difficult situations, and it will become stronger and heard more clearly. You will find that your words have more depth and more conviction and those that are ready to hear you will find their way to you. It will be effective and will be heard, if not to the family who disagrees, but to others outside the family.

Yes, it is valuable for you to speak your voice and to be heard. It may be hard work, but it’s as precious as the gold of the honey.

Self-Dove

I’ve been so focused on external goals lately—I finished my MFA in creative writing in December—that care for my body has been neglected. And so now it’s January, and I have a winter fluff about me. I don’t mind the extra weight so much as the stiffness of my joints, the slug of my movements, and the overall heavy feel I have with all my thoughts and actions. I operate better 10 pounds lighter, and my heart is lighter too.

This is the best time to practice self-love, though. I know that I will soon have lost the unneeded layers of mass, but in the meantime, I wiggle and bless them up. I prefer to see it as a transition time—a moment for me to reexamine the things I carry, and a chance to empty my load of unnecessary items.

I have a few burdens that I need to set down, things that are not meant for me, emotions I choose not to pack in my suitcase. The extra weight is patterns, rules and expectations that I did not consciously know I allowed into my knapsack on this life journey.

But I prefer to pack light both emotionally and physically, both metaphorically and literally, as for an airplane trip. That way, I don’t have to wait for other people to deliver (or carry) all my baggage, I don’t have to ask other people to do the lifting, moving and sorting—I can do it all myself. It requires me to live a simple life. Carrying little to no baggage keeps me independent, and the experience flexible. When I carry little, it makes me fly higher, longer and further. It doesn’t take as much energy.

I have seen so many doves lately; on a piano, in nature, on a poster across the street, and even Dove Valley Rd. was on a road sign we went under last night, that I have had to explore what that means to me. Doves are symbols of peace and serenity, signaling transitions in existing relationships that have rough spots in them, which is all appropriate for me right now. I like to think that the closer I get to internal peace, the lighter my body and heart will become, and the higher I will be able to fly. I’ll become whiter, purer, and more in line with the spirituality I seek. I can rise above the sullenness of a reluctant body.

Open Road Heart

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there’s nothing like the open road to get my creative juices flowing! My heart just swells with the freedom, the adventure, the possibility as I travel. I call it Open Road Heart. Journeys bring insight and connections to my world that my productive daily routine does not.

That’s why I applied yesterday for the Amtrak train writing residency. Imagine—five days riding the train from Flagstaff to Chicago on the Southwest Chief. I rest in the sleeper car, dine in the dining carriage, and write all day long. I’ll be alone, yet stimulated. I’ll be moving forward yet suspended. *When* I get the AmtrakResidency, I will get to experience Open Rail Heart. I can’t wait!

For today, though, Owen and I are on our way to Mesa, AZ to meet with members of the Mesa Arts Center. Owen has a sculpture project he’s facilitating with their Creative Catalyst group of young professionals under 40. I’m renting out the Telepoem Booth to them for Spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity. (If you haven’t heard about the Telepoem Booth project– to “dial-a-poem”–see more information here: TelepoemBooth.com.)

I’m very excited about this meeting, as it is one of the first successful steps in my new career as a writer and creator. The Telepoem Booth project combines two of my favorite worlds—word and art, and combines it with my favorite sense, touch. The sweet spot in the middle is the portal to magic, at least for me.

I love words. But words won’t just stay on the page for me; they jump off and become 3-dimensional. They become objects in and of themselves and have angles, become characters and stories. For instance, I have a collection of words and names that have popped up in my world more than three times each in the last few weeks; numinous, milieu, lacrima, Nimue, clavicle. They have synchronistically similar sounds, don’t they? I want to invite them to a dinner party of a poem, introduce them to each other and see what conversations they make amongst themselves.

I really love the sense of touch and I think we often overlook it in our daily lives. I wish there were a collection of word sculptures, so I really could fondle each and every noun, verb and adjective. Some would be rough granite. Others polished white marble with gold fleck. Some would flow in cursive script, others would be wooden grain, patinaed with a constant run of fingers over the years. Until a sculpture lexicon comes into being, I will have to be content with the imagined words between my forefinger and thumb and rub them together, searching the print for meaning.

As for the feel of travel, in a way a journey is a constant source of new contact zones for our kinesthetic pleasure. The wheels, the rails—they always run over new surfaces. The tread of a tire grooves the way; the rhythm of the rails glide and smooth the way. Travel is a kinesthetic sense, a sense our bodies have of perpetual forward motion. When I travel the Southwest Chief, I’ll sit still, find my internal mind, and come into contact with all the new textures and words that my fingers feel I should know. I guess I could say I am as excited to touch these new sensations as I am to see the new sights.

 

Synchronicities: Trickster Version

This is the first installment of a synchronicity project that Lauren Paredes from Portland, OR and I are undertaking. Lauren read my post “The Reason I Read: Or Seven Synchronicities I’ve Had With Books Recently”, tracked me down online and wrote a completely charming introductory email. “I completely agree with you about feeling like those moments are pieces of evidence that you’re on the right track – I truly believe that,” she said.

We decided to do some research on the phenomena, pay attention to it happening in our own lives and share the pieces of synchronicities and magic with each other and then a broader audience. I am so grateful for this person who landed in my life to push me into a more aware and deeper-seeking lifestyle! I haven’t had any trouble spotting synchronicities; the biggest problem I’ve had is interpreting them.

Last weekend, my partner Owen and I traveled to Taos and Santa Fe, NM. At the beginning of the trip, I asked for synchronicities along the way that would help us decide if we should move to either place, as we want to eventually move somewhere outside of Flagstaff, AZ. We search for someplace with new opportunities for professional growth (I’m a writer and Owen’s a sculptor.) I was reading “The 7 Secrets of Synchronicity” by Trish MacGregor and Rob MacGregor and realized that I had to ask for synchronicities to answer my questions–and be ready for them when they came.

In Taos, we checked into our Airbnb, owned by Joni who looked like a lot of other in-shape older yogis from Flagstaff. In fact, her parents lived in Flagstaff. After dinner we went to the Alley Cantina. I struck up a conversation with Tony, an Australian hotelier who had traveled to New Mexico for a few days. Owen discovered that he and Tony both knew two different businessmen from the days when Owen worked as a consultant and designer. Both were named John, one from New Zealand and the other from Bali. Then I looked at the dance floor and saw a friend from Flagstaff. She was an English instructor for the university I used to work for. I passed her in the hallways many times as I finished my MFA degree and I had boogied next to her many nights in my hometown—and here she was, seven hours away in Taos, to visit her mom and dad.

We thought for sure we were supposed to move to Taos that night. But in the morning, the town wasn’t as appealing. We listened to a few different shopkeepers, and they all inferred similar themes; choosing the artist lifestyle meant being poor and Taos is not as chi-chi as Santa Fe (and proud of it.) After we left each store, we joked about how everyone “talked long…and listened short.” People seemed frustrated with the local economy. Some shopkeepers even followed me around and watched me so close that I felt like I couldn’t touch anything–or that I was a potential shoplifter! Still, we had a great time and saw Big Horn Sheep, ducks and hawks when we went to BlackRock Hot Springs.

The animals had a lot to say this trip. As we left town, a coyote crossed in front of us. The trickster archetype! I had read “Synchronicities are the jokers in nature’s pack of cards for they refuse to play by the rules and offer a hint that, in our quest for certainty about the universe, we have ignored some vital clues,” (F. David Peat, Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matter and Mind.) I realized the Taos synchronicities were a bit of a cosmic joke. We had felt at home in Taos because it was similar to our current life, the place that has served well, but that we are looking to expand our horizons beyond. In fact, we had both received synchronicities from our old careers—the very ones that we had left behind because of their creative limits!

When we went to Santa Fe, we also saw someone from Flagstaff, one of my son’s high school teachers. Then we went to Allan Houser’s sculpture studio, as he has influenced Owen on a current marble sculpture project. By chance, Allan’s number one assistant, Tony Lee, who worked with Houser from 1989 til his death in 1994, showed up at the studio. Another Tony! Owen had a great time talking with him about sculpture. This was a synchronicity that pointed positively towards Owen’s new career potential in Santa Fe, but I’m not sure what it meant for me.

Paul Kammerer was an Austrian biologist who came up with the theory of “the law of seriality.” He stated that the phenomenon was an objective but undiscovered principle of nature. He used to study random-chance events to see how many people were using umbrellas or wearing the same hat and classified his synchronicities into first, second, third, and high-order series. All of Kammerer’s research influenced Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity. I’m not sure what all the synchronicities in Santa Fe meant, but I’m collecting them and others to keep track.

Here is a list of other things I’ve noticed this week:

Lost Items

  • My turquoise horse fetish that represented healing and strength
  • Owen’s Ipad
  • Taos guide books

Found Items

  • Owen’s Ipad! (lost in the menus at El Gamal, Taos)
  • 1 pink plastic bead
  • 4 pennies (in the Hot Springs in Taos)
  • 1 quarter and 1 dime (near the Earthships in Taos)
  • $12 in bills (in the snow, near the fabulous waterfall in Flagstaff)

Animals

  • horses
  • big horn sheep
  • ducks
  • hawks
  • quail
  • coyote

Words/Names

  • clavicle (x3)
  • lacrima (x3)
  • milieu (x2)
  • Tony (x2—one from Santa Fe, one from Australia)
  • Nimue (x2—in novel and Fairy Cards)

Numbers

  • 11:11 and 1:11 (too many times to count)
  • 12
    • found $12 in snow
    • dreamt I received a $1200 rent check

Dream Images

  • phonebooths and coins
  • buying eggs and milk from the grocery store
  • a scooter
  • the badhakonasana yoga pose (needed for female cycle)
  • Crystal Bridges (the museum in Arkansas that I’ve never been to)
  • cupcakes
  • cell phones and voicemail messages 10 minutes long
  • oil and vinegar
  • Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac

 

Some of the synchronicities are just surface level coincidences that tickle my fancy, but there are those synchronicities that hint at a deeper order in the universe. I found out that physicist David Bohm called this the implicate or “enfolded order”, that births everything in the universe, even time. External reality is the explicate order. Synchronicity is where the implicate and the explicate, the inner and the outer, coincide. This is also called psychoid, where it shares both psychic and material aspects and acts as well on a psychic or material plane. (A synchronicity here; I found David Bohm’s book at a bookstore after I had read this about him. It was so scientific it went completely above my head, but it was fun to find it.)

This hunt for deeper meaning is making me feel more alive. It gives me daily motivation to wake up, feeling like life is a treasure hunt and I’m the only one that can understand its clues. I feel a bit younger too, as if life is more playful and fun.

Motherlove

"Mother and Child" by Mary Cassatt

“Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt

My dad texted last night to say that Mom was in the Emergency Room. It was her gall bladder, the doctors didn’t know why it hurt, but “they’ll be home soon.” This is typical of my parents. Every piece of bad news is glossed over with something meant to be comforting.

This is the fourth time in four months that my 74-year-old mom has been in the ER. Gall Bladder Sludge, Urinary Tract Infection, Ovarian Cysts…the tally of her ailments runs like an extra-long receipt at the grocery store—and the price is even higher.

My sister and I pay attention to the sum total of these transactions and try to see what the larger bill might become. “Something’s wrong” my sister constantly says. What’s wrong is that my mother is getting old. She may die soon, she may rally and die later, but what’s certain is that—like all humans—she will certainly die someday. And to fathom the meaning of a mother’s death seems to me a Great Mystery of human existence, a paradox of importance.

Mothers are life-givers. Mothers are the source. While my father obviously contributed to my conception, my mother was the carrier, the womb, the chalice. She was the fertile cave that sheltered my first fragile life. She nurtured me within the innermost reaches of her body and I was privy to all her secret recesses. I fed at the deepest, most important spring of life that she could offer. I exist because of my mother.

And now my mother’s poor health teases death into my consciousness. The possibility of death, however slight, makes me want to have full presence and cognizance of her life now, while it’s available.

That sounds like a great plan. And then I remember that my mum and I haven’t been on the best of terms lately. My mother is upset with me for not believing the way she does, and I have been speaking more openly about my own belief system. I don’t want to sweep our differences under the rug; I want to be heard and loved despite our differences.

I love my mother unequivocally and that love is returned. But still, there is an estrangement of the heart. The one thing my mom wants is the one thing that I cannot give her. For me to say “I believe” in her God and her religion would be my mother’s ultimate wish. Until then, I sense she holds me at arm’s length, using her religion as a barrier to true connection and true sharing. It seems like my mother can’t let me into her innermost chambers of her heart until I agree that her belief system is correct, that she has dedicated her whole life rightly, and that I recommit to it.

But I can’t do this, even for her. If I were allowed to talk freely, without harsh words or tears from her in return, I would tell her that I don’t believe there is only one way; I believe that there are many paths to the same goal. I learned individuality, independence, self-reflection and all sorts of inner secrets from her and her life force. I learned to be a strong woman. I learned to think for myself and to be true to myself.

The gestures that resonate most from the total experience of my childhood are a head held high above my shoulders and a hair flip of my horse-like mane. Physical expressions that were indifferent to public opinion and valued personal freedom were what she taught me. These are the ways my body remembers my mother’s example. I am a proud woman with a beautiful, sexual and rich life force, things she wanted for me that perhaps she couldn’t find for herself.

If there is any mystery equal to my mother’s God, it is the mystery of a mother’s Love. My mother has been responsible for creation of life, for the three of her children. This is the closest we humans can come to pure miracle. Perhaps the God Wall between my mom and I has no priority over the bond our bodies have already forged in the crucible of her womb. Perhaps I’ve always had and always will have access to her and her heart—it’s the privilege that comes from being born of her.

I test this theory out in yoga today. I close my eyes and set an intention to send my mother healing thoughts throughout my practice. In my inner world, it is easy to find her and her heart immediately, recognizable by the same feeling I get when she hugs me and calls me “Lizzy.” She’s not even very far; she is inside my own heart, beats in the same rhythm, courses the same bloodlines. To love my mother is to love myself. There is no wall between us after all; only the heart valve that opens and shuts to prevent us from flowing backwards.

 

Tasty like Tears

Tasty Tears

“You write because you turn sadness into funny,” said the dream gods last night.

Thank you. Thank you for that. I had gotten so PMS-y that I had turned into the worst kind of negative blockage—the blasé blockage. “I just don’t want to do anything, I don’t care about anything,” says the voice of apathy. That voice is the most dreadful creeper of slime I’ve yet encountered. If I’m furious and mad, I can rebel. If I’m distraught and in pain, I can rally from the passion of it all. But anytime I feel as though “I don’t care,” I know that I’ve put too much distance between me and my source; I’ve swaddled myself in too many layers of cotton to be able to thrash about freely. Apathy is when I’ve anesthesized myself, but looked away from all of the needles.

I would rather swoon from the sight of my deadening. Or perhaps not become numb in the first place: Isn’t it better to hydrate on one’s tears than to be dry…and thirsty? To take it further, isn’t it better to have an open heart that could occasionally get hurt than a closed one that grows smaller through disuse?

They say that like attracts like. If we are able to feel the depths of despair or sadness, then we are also building in ourselves the capacity for light and love—and the two measures are alike in their closeness to the heart. When I wall off those feelings of inadequacy, or don’t look at them and deal with them directly, I am also cultivating indifference to joy. When I was pregnant, in Lamaze class, we practiced dealing with pain by holding an ice cube. I was told to ignore the bite of that pain, become uninterested and unresponsive to that freezing burn. To me, this was impossible. Instead, I much preferred to dive down deep into the experience, to welcome the pain and let it wash over me. During labor, I rode the waves of my contractions, breathed down into their very core and found the bottom. Then I pushed up off the sandy floor and rose through to emerge on the other side.

Pain has depth. Pain has numinosity—it arouses spiritual emotion and is awe-inspiring. Pain and terror often overwhelm “those who have come, too suddenly, face to face with some manifestation of the mysterium tremendum. In theological language, this fear is due to the incompatibility between man’s egotism and the divine purity, between man’s self-aggravated separateness and the infinity of God.” (Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception.) We feel pain because we are human, because we are always wondering and longing for the deeper meaning. Being human means we can change our position.

But apathy, apathy is a shallow pond. There’s not much to see with apathy, no places to go. It’s a one-horse town, an organism-breeding puddle. If I don’t care, I don’t have to feel. My plane will neither take off nor land, and the scenery remains the same because I have stopped seeing it for lack of concern, interest and enthusiasm. Me—I need a little needle of pain to get me motivated. I look to the injection site and pull back the skin. Because my apathy is just the surface; the real feeling is in the blood that pumps underneath. Everyone knows that blood brings healing. If I give it air, clean it, care for it, I’ll never have to reopen the wound.

They say that life fills a void. If I feel empty after I clean up my apathy, after I cry and flush it out, it’s because I have excavated the infection. If I have done my job, it will be a flushed, clean cache, ready to secretly store new valuables that I have yet to find. I know that out of dark places can come the greatest jewels. As a metaphor for that realization, I once dreamt my best friend and I were forcibly thrown down into a cave. I was unable to rescue us until I simply grew big and lifted her out. When she was safe, I cleaned and inventoried the crannies of my cache, finding a purplish green pearl in the corner. I found a treasure in the deepest corner of my prison.

If you are what you eat, then you are who you hang around with. I am only as good as my social milieu, and so I enjoy people who can be honest, kind and perceptive with me. I enjoy those who remember the simple pleasures (because of course, too much materialism and extravagance brings a blasé perspective.) I enjoy people who catch snowflakes on the tip of their tongue, make metaphors in their casual conversation, and are start new, exciting endeavors with courage and persistence.

This morning brings the third rejection letter in the last 24 hours. I feel disappointed, and I am a woman under the pressure of hormones… so I cry. I also watch the snowflakes fall outside my window—they are so lovely and beautiful. They land where they will, they fall because it is their fate and the earth is of no consequence to them. Following their lead, I must only write for myself, it does not matter where I land. Every word is a snowflake, a cold unique object that forms differently every birth. I catch each on my tongue and savor; they melt over my taste buds and sense like my tears. And then I laugh. Like the wind it blows the teary snowflakes into a different place. At least I care, at least there is breath for movement and momentum for journey. The snowflakes and the tears stop simultaneously and things are still and quiet.

I want my snowflakes to be thick, heavy with moisture and to fall lazily, with intention but slow. I want them to make an effect when they land, tasty like tears. I want the snowflakes to blur the reading to an internal sight, to fall onto the page and make an indelible impression on the warp of the paper, and the psyche.

The BoilerRoom

BoilerRoom3

South of the tracks, tucked back off Phoenix Ave., is a building with two 15 ft. tall sheet steel-sheathed doors. You’ve never noticed it though you’ve walked by it 100 times. Or if you have observed it, you’ve wondered about it.

It’s known as the BoilerRoom because that’s what it once was. A first layer of igneous rock was laid to build the original Southwest corner in the 1920s. Vintage cinder block was added to it in the 50s and then the most modern building was placed upon that like layers in a sedimentary rock formation. The 1800 sq. ft. rectangular warehouse once housed steam-generating equipment for the laundromat on San Francisco St. American Laundry was owned by an immigrant family, built by Grandfather Wong with winnings from the Chinese lottery. It is now replaced by a dive bar and Thai restaurant.

The BoilerRoom has grease on the back wall where the boiler once exchanged oil for hot water vapor. Random pipes, dead wires, abandoned electrical outlets and boarded-up doors provide a visual history of the now-defunct business. The ceilings are high and the lofty windows near them tempt the tenants below with their unavailability. It smells of earth. Hand-hewn nails, broken hoe blades, ceramic tiles and pinning needles have been found as the place is excavated from layers of dirt.

After the laundromat, the BoilerRoom was used for many decades as storage, holding old roll-top desks, rocking horses, dollhouses and Christmas lawn decorations after divorces and many moves rendered the possessions inconvenient to the extended family of the owner.

The BoilerRoom is now a sculpture studio, creative-collaborative working space and raw gallery. While the artists conceptualize their 12 ft. high wooden nest sculptures, graffiti-style paintings, sewing projects, and tinker with old telephone booths, the branches from the Siberian elm trees grow through the warehouse windows up above. The steel doors slide open to let in the necessary studio ingredient of north light. Cinder blocks have cracked in right-angle tracks, allowing access to slanted beams of day that illuminate the dust motes.

Everything wants to get in to this space, where imagination is incubated.

 

 

Ekphrastic Poetry

 

image

“Ourobouros” by Chance Roberts

We are Prima Materia 

displayed concurrently with “Ourobouros” at the Firefly Gathering Emergence Gallery, June 11-14, 2015

The Tail Devourer says

“The All is One”

so a man halts traffic to help someone’s

Granny safely cross

 

The Ouroboros says

“You are what you eat”

so a woman sips on her tears like wine

enjoys her tender flesh for nosh

 

The Serpent says

“Life out of Death”

the man takes a leap off the cliff; he’s wanted to

fly since his first dream aloft

 

The Lemniscate says

“Transcend Duality”

the woman releases judgment and allows love

she walks the same earth but follows her heart

 

The Universe says

It is “Infinite”

“The Soul of the World”

and “Immortal”

and the humans slay themselves to be born again

embrace the coiled Kundalini

assimilate their shadows

 

The prima materia of art is man herself.

 

Ekphrastic Flash Fiction 2

 

"The Blind Leading the Blind" by Rebecca Slater

“The Blind Leading the Blind” by Rebecca Slater

 

Pure Science

He says it’s science at its most beautiful, with definitive results every time. It’s beautiful science he says, while wearing his white lab coat. His glasses hold eyes that turn surprised quite easily, and porcupine hair sticks out his head.

But is it comfortable in that…balloon?

The surprised eyes flash at my gaucheness. Wedo not use that word, he says. He says, we prefer the term elium-encased latex womb. The embryo will develop externally, floating above you, and connected to you by this fiberglass cable.

My husband says Darling Dear, look how easy you’ll have it. He licks his wolf-like teeth. You’ve always wanted this! His piercing eyes stab through my reluctance.

Lab Coat and Husband Dear and I tour the breeding grounds. It looks like a county fair
celebration with all the baby balloons floating in the sky. In the cafeteria, there are bloody steak specials, and gleaming knives to cut them. For the celebrants.

In the garden, the pink latex-encased beings bob like bubble-gum balls, or cotton-candy clouds beneath branches that have broken in a recent storm. I worry about the branches. Where is their gardener? Who is weeding and trimming and coaxing new growth?

Nine months go by. I have vicarious food cravings for hard sugar treats. I pull on my candy cane until it’s a Christmas dagger. At night, I dream about wolf-like teeth, biting my foot down to a keen little cuspate. All while my fragile dirigible navigates blowfish fruits, cat’s claws, and
freshly sharpened pencils.

I cradle even my words in pillows.

In the morning, Husband Dear tears his grapefruit from its membrane with the teeth of his spoon.

It is time, he says.

We rap sharply on Porcupine Hair’s door. He blinks in surprise. Oh, you’ve made it this far! He points his finger at my fragile little blimp.

Now what? My Husband Dear asks pointedly.

It’s pure science, he says, with consistent results. Unfortunately, there’s a 100% mortality rate every time we pierce the latex womb. But it’s that purity, that consistency, that makes it
beautiful. Pure Science, he says.