Float

 

Sliding down burning rope
into darkened depths
of glimmering hope…
each level descended,


I shatter in scope

— breaking layers
one by one —
leaving the past

dis
in
te
grat
ed


behind in my wake

of tormented times.

Freer and freer,
deeper and deeper
I dive,
growing fins
where wings were.

I do not fear
the landing
because

I float.

 

~ Emily C.

5.31.17

******

Hello friends. Just a quick note to check in. I continue in my recovery and healing from my own challenging year, and then the grief of Chris Cornell’s death. I needed to detach from obligations and expectations this last little while to really truly shed layers of stress built up. I am finally…fingers crossed/knock on wood…seeing glimpses of my happier self shining through (prior to Chris’ death). It’s been a daily consciousness kind of thing, and really listening to my needs, making them known, saying no, and living in the moment.

On that note, while I have been writing some, I’ve had to breathe from the reading here a bit. Today, I have spent all day trying to visit and catch up on as many blogs as I can.  I am also working on not apologizing for things that don’t need apologizing for, so I won’t say I’m sorry for not being around, because my health needed the break. (Being a people pleaser is part of what has caused so much stress to begin with.) But, I will say thank you for your continued support and love. Especially to those who have reached out during my grieving.

I think after a year of constant daily writing, my brain needed space. And honestly, I think that it will mean that I have a wellspring built up to produce more words when they are ready.  I need(ed) to allow myself the time.

Love to all. I’m always in awe of your talent, passion, beauty and friendship. And while we all need time away, I doubt I could ever stay away for long.

Thank you!

Love, Em

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Spun

you spun
with a fire that blinded the sun
words flew like daggers glinting with hints of love
landing in soft tissue, piercing shrill notes
twisting three-hundred-sixty
degrees

you weaved
like a master of musical tapestry
take that minor and slip into a major key
dancing on ladders of scales, out of our reach
we gape-mouthed,
breathe

you teased
with low baritone growl seducing slow
take it up high with a silky string of flow
soul-shuddering soulful croon
there was no where to go, but
other worlds

far beyond,
we flew with you, never looking down
lighting our own lamp, into black expanse,
face-to-face in the dark we embraced
spoken in songs we counted on you
to sing

~ Emily C.

5.26.17

Seasons

 

 

“Seasons” ~ Chris Cornell      (Singles Soundtrack)

Summer nights and long warm days
Are stolen as the old moon falls
My mirror shows another face
Another place to hide it all
Another place to hide it all

And I’m lost, behind
The words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by

Sleeping with a full moon blanket
Sand and feathers for my head
Dreams have never been the answer
And dreams have never made my bed
Dreams have never made my bed

And I’m lost, behind
The words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by

Now I want to fly above the storm
But you can’t grow feathers in the rain
And the naked floor is cold as hell
This naked floor reminds me
Oh the naked floor reminds me

And I’m lost, behind
Words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by

If I should be short on words
And long on things to say
Could you crawl into my world
And take me worlds away
Should I be beside myself
And not even stay

And I’m lost, behind
Words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by

No Dream


Late last night, as I struggled to decide if I could write a poem…an anything, I decided to fold down the sun umbrella on the back porch. It had been an 80 degree day and the night sky was clear. Somehow, we went from having the worst winter in Seattle on the history books (4 feet of rain. Yes, you read that right.), to seemingly skipping Spring altogether, and going straight into Summer.

As the umbrella came down, the sky was revealed, and along with it, an array of constellations looming overhead straight out of a movie. I brought my laptop out, sat on my Mexican falsa blanket, and soon I was joined by my cat who curled up on my lap. She has been needing extra TLC since her surgery last week to remove a mast cell tumor the size of a silver dollar. She has to wear a cone for two weeks as she has an impressive set of stitches…18 to be exact. She’s beat my record of 13 staples. She’s only managed to pull out one stitch…so far.

As she fell asleep into kitty dreamland, I couldn’t move my arm. Well, I could, I just didn’t have the heart. So, I stopped trying to force myself to write and just sat there with her and stargazed. In the distant background, a chirping sound that at first sounded like crickets. “But…we don’t have crickets in this part of Washington. Do we? Could a five minute move north have made that much of a difference?” I thought to myself. The longer I sat, the more clear it became that they were frogs chirping their spring mating call at 11pm at night.  I guess that’s a popular time for them, too.

Above me, Ursa Major, the bear constellation from which the Big Dipper comes. Behind me, Cassiopeia. To my left: Jupiter as bright as a small sun, on an upward trajectory passing through a neighbors pine tree, shining still, like a spotlight.  As I watched a plane come from over the Puget Sound and pass by, I spotted a satellite. You can always tell by their predictable and steady line and velocity. I wondered what data might it be transmitting and receiving. Could it see me?

In my eyes, a huge shooting star fell from the sky.  In my ear, I was listening to Chris Cornell’s album “Songbook” from 2011, a compilation put together of live acoustic versions of his music spanning his career. I only just bought it yesterday. I kick myself for not catching up with more of his recent work in these last several years. This particular album is a work of art. What people may not know is that not only did he have “that voice,” but he could play one mean guitar. The two of them alone together is pure magic.

Do yourself a favor and give a listen to this album sometime. I promise you, you will be transported in its transcendency. If you only remember “Black Hole Sun,” whether by generational gap, distance, location, musical taste, then expectedly, you can not fully know the level, the depth of this man’s musical brilliance and talent and poetic beauty.  Hell, I’m still discovering him in new ways, at age 40, having grown up with him in Seattle.

Right now…I live five minutes north of Chris’s elementary school, and five minutes south of his high school.  This is within my very personal sphere of existence. I can feel him here. I routinely pass areas they were known to be inspired by, to write about, to sing and to film videos:

In Magnolia, Discovery Park is the site of the Temple of the Dog video “Hunger Strike.” At Magnuson Park, the sculpture they named themselves after, “A Sound Garden,” features tall pipes that turn in the wind and make sound. I was just there last summer.  At Volunteer Park, the sculpture “Black Sun” inspired their “Black Hole Sun.” The list goes on.

When I was in high school, I recorded my high school jazz band album at Bad Animals Studio in Belltown two months before Soundgarden recorded their Grammy-winning album Superunknown in the same studio. Crazy, right?

Seattle is one large neighborhood, as one speaker — at the packed and incredibly moving impromptu KEXP memorial — noted in his speech. At least…it used to feel that way back in those days.  With the overtake of tech workers eating up the city, we struggle to recognize the soul of Seattle now.  That is why being a local here is something uncommonly special.  It is why it was hard to be at the fountain with my flowers and only see a dozen or so others who trickled by over the course of the day show up with theirs.  With Kurt’s death, we had hundreds. Those who were not here during Chris’s time cannot have the emotional connection we do. It’s not a sleight, it’s just the truth.

This is why this is personal to me, to this city, to the people who have lived here with his music in their blood, his lyrics in their bones, who shared the view of a gray sky and ocean waves with him, who watched him explode into the spotlight.  He should be known, we want(ed) to share him, his voice is both alternately angelic and dark, whatever he needed to be, whatever we needed — he was.

On the day the news broke of his death, I went to my favorite record store and bought the vinyl for Superunknown and Temple of the Dog, two albums that have been on my must-buy list since recently coming back to owning a turntable.  Somewhere, in a packed box, I have my tapes and CDs of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Mudhoney;  all of which had been in heavy rotation in my bedroom of my childhood home.

While the world and time I grew up in had its struggles, trauma, pain, fear…I could count on the big 4 (or 5, if you want to included Alice in Chains) Seattle grunge pioneers, for respite in their lyrics, relief in their screams, tears in their ballads, to do what I couldn’t always do on my own: express my emotions to the people in my life.  When others were blind, would not hear, could not feel how I felt…Chris, Kurt, Layne, Eddie…could.

Chris’s impact on music cannot be overestimated. If it weren’t for him, Eddie would not have gotten his start here in Seattle. He nurtured him after Eddie moved here from San Diego, and brought him on to the Temple of the Dog album, his first time recording. And Eddie is not the only one. Chris had a way of inspiring musicians that he knew and those he didn’t. Just as his music has inspired millions of fans on a global scale.

Recently, I read an article with a video link to someone commenting on his passing.  In his segment, he mentioned that when artists are at the height of creating, it is usually after a period of time that had emotional significance, not during; that it is in the moments of clarity and reflection where the art is made.

This struck me. I look at my own writing. And while there are moments of venting in the heat of the moment, a majority of the writing I do to process things is after the fact (sometimes years), when there has been silence, down time, deep reflection.

Chris wrote about many dark things. He also wrote about light, fight, and survival. Even the darkness he wrote about had elements of light.  People will naturally look for signs in his songs, and of course connections will be made. He struggled and fought depression and addiction. He had been sober for many years. He most likely should not have been allowed to be on something with nasty side effects like Ativan (Dr. Drew also said as much). I am inclined to believe his wife’s statement that he told her he may have taken “an extra Ativan or two,” and was “just tired,” as he slurred to her in his last call.

Ativan can cause severe side effects such as hallucinations and suicide ideation/attempts.  I had to take it temporarily in high school during the years my brother’s bipolar episodes were causing emotional trauma. On a low and normal dose, I felt like I couldn’t form words. I hated it. It numbed me out.  I can’t imagine what adding two or three times the prescribed dose would do to someone, especially a recovered addict.  (Never stop Ativan cold turkey without seeing your doctor for supervision. It must be tapered off gradually with doctor’s permission.) I have no doubt he was not of lucid mind and would never have consciously left his three beautiful children and his wife, whom he loved dearly.

In the week prior to Chris’s death, my own writing was quiet. I have been writing virtually daily for over a year here with barely more than a day of quiet here or there. But, this last week, the brain stalled. Perhaps I sensed something subconsciously.

And then something that cannot be explained, or perhaps it can:  on Wednesday night, I had a lengthy, vivid, visceral dream of sobbing uncontrollably for someone who had died. I did not know who this someone was, but while in the dream, I clearly knew. I was reading their words and bawling incessantly.

I woke up disturbed, exhausted in body, in lungs; the kind of dream where you can feel you’ve been acting it out in your sleep.  The first thing I did was look at my phone where the notification had popped up overnight of his death.  Taken aback, shocked, in disbelief.

I have cried almost every day since. No dream. But life.

And I am merely one example of the kind of reach he had into hearts. Multiply stories like this a million fold, and this is why this man’s departure is so achingly felt.

But, nothing compares to his family’s pain. And if this is what we feel, one cannot presume to know the depths of grief they feel.

His beautiful daughter Toni has been gifted with a voice as well. You can see the love in both of their eyes in this heart melting duet:

Goodbye, Chris.

Grief is an interesting beast; sharp and spiny, with a very soft tender center. Sitting at my favorite place, the gathering space and cafe inside KEXP radio at Seattle Center, just across the field from the Space Needle and the International Fountain; my mind struggles to process exactly where to start.

The city of Seattle is a beautiful place. It is growing rapidly, mostly due to the takeover of Amazon and other tech companies drawing the thousands of new people here for their workforces. I know the city is changing. I know that people like me, native-born Seattleites that are still living here, are getting increasingly harder to find, a rare breed, if you will.

I was a young pre-teen and teen when this city was giving birth to grunge through the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Green River, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains.  I was just young enough that it was an act of rebellion to go out to some of these concerts. My mother, a somewhat conservative Christian (while liberal in politics), didn’t always understand why I was rebelling into punk and grunge. I was the good little church-going girl (Although that changed as well. Being forced into religion turned me off to it once I grew into my own.) But, my room increasingly morphed from pink to black, sporting posters of my favorites.  And Soundgarden was a big one.

I believe it was 1990 when I was 13 turning 14 years-old that my brother and I were allowed to go see Soundgarden live at what was then the Coliseum, now Key Arena. This was a HUGE deal. My mom just didn’t ever “let” me do this kind of thing. I once even had to lie to her about going to an Alice Cooper concert in Oregon, somewhere about this time.

She probably felt better that I was going with my brother who swore to take care of me. Although, she wasn’t a fan of my outfit, saying I “looked like a sex pot.”  In 1990, concert going gear consisted of tube skirts and jean jackets with a tank.  I wore it anyway. Because. And no, I didn’t look like a sex pot. I looked like every other young teen concert goer.

My brother and I sat back in the seats, not far up, but not in the pit where the moshing was.  He worked hard to keep an eye on me, but I was doing fine. I think it was The Posies who opened and they were grumpy that we weren’t listening to them because we were so excited about Soundgarden. They swore at us. So punk, so grunge.

At one point in the set, Soundgarden, who at this time was still a few years away from their Superunknown album, played a song called, “Big Dumb Sex”, which repeated the phrase:

“Hey, I know what I’m gonna do // I’m gonna fuck fuck fuck fuck you //“

over and over and over.  Well, this kind of horrified my brother and he tried to plug my ears. But, to no avail. Besides, I heard the song dozens of times before. This is the freedom I came here for after all.

This will be one of the best memories I have of my brother who struggles with severe bipolar disorder to this day, the onset of which would not come until another 4 years from this concert.

Chris Cornell’s passing late Wednesday night is like losing a family member. His music spoke to the generation X youth in Seattle and the world with its dark, brooding, melodic moods, and yet…ultimately positive and strong in its message of fighting through and overcoming personal demons.  It’s no secret that Chris himself struggled deeply with addiction and depression that could have taken his life countless times.

The news this morning is that his wife is disputing the suicide claims. It seems that he talked to her after his performance with Soundgarden in Detroit saying that he “may have taken a two or three extra Ativan.” She immediately called hotel security and asked them to check on him. They did, and found his lifeless body in the bathroom. The coroner states he committed suicide via hanging.  His wife says he was slurring his words and not himself. It makes more sense that the extra Ativan could have put him in an altered state that led to him not being of clear mind, perhaps leading him to such a sad ending.  Drugs, even prescription, can be dangerous in their side effects. And from the sound of it, he was a loving family man, planning upcoming Memorial Day holidays and summer trips to Greece. It just doesn’t make sense without the Ativan playing some part.

The sadness of his fans, while deep, cannot matched the grief of his wife, his young children, his bandmates. But, having come to “know” him, and essentially grow up with him in this city, we feel this goes deep in our blood, too.

The thing is…music was different back then. The culture was different. Pre-digital abundance, we were forced to discover music the hard ways: listening to the live radio, DJs, through friends, through local paper blurbs and listings, underground night clubs…it was all active work. Now, music is highly available and accessible; people don’t have to do the footwork.  Of course, there are positives to evolution, but it is an entirely different experience for today’s youth. Back then…well, it was something that made you who you were, your identity.

Chris Cornell’s astounding 4-octave voice, could go from a smooth baritone to a soulful-scream, seemingly endless air supply, power, tender vulnerability and a love of the art of melody, a true craftsman. Not to mention his lyrics, a kind of poetry that he put into notes, striking at the heart of his fans who could identify with his struggles, his relation to the city, and ultimately, his success. The man was beautiful…seriously striking beauty, with piercing blue eyes and curly brown hair, a ripped bare chest, those camo shorts and combat boots.  The girls dreamed of him. The guys wanted to be him. He was the epitome of rockstardom, but he was grace and humility and comfort in who he was…all in one.

Born in Seattle, he is truly the voice of Seattle. Eddie Vedder is a local boy, but not born here. Yes, he defines Seattle in another way. And Kurt, local but born in Aberdeen.  Chris? Born here, went to school here.  This man was gifted with a voice that could not be denied. We were blessed to hear it, more blessed to share his city.

I spent all day yesterday downtown at the fountain under the Space Needle, and at KEXP radio station where people were gathering to grieve. I was photographed by Getty and interviewed by our local paper. My swollen ugly cry puffy face is plastered over the internet in pictures on the news today.  I want to write about that next. For now, this is the start.

And you may have noticed I haven’t written much poetry this week. My brain has said it needed some quiet, to gather thoughts, allow new words to form. And then the news of Chris has set me back a bit, obviously. But, I expect that I will find a poem escape here in the next few days or sooner. Lot of processing going on.

Thank you for your love and support.

Em


All pictures mine.

Came

spent shotgun shells and condoms
litter the stained motel floor

shades parted in morning darkness,
so much for blue sky views

maid came with the cart,
dangling doorknob sign refused

entry reserved for travelers,
come back another day or two

she cleans herself off from him,
face leers in cracked mirror

mascara smeared, she scans;
her current situation clear:

she may have let him in,
but he bust through her door,

took his share and then some,
forced his way into her more

when no was not an answer…
when screams went unheard,

her only hope that shotgun,
his silent body drapes the bed

knows no one will believe her,
options A through Z will fail

system stacked against her,
she stifles tears that fall

for when a girl likes sex,
she must “deserve what she gets”

— fuck that, the truth speaks more
the line was drawn,
the line was crossed

he came
and shortly thereafter

his time.

 

~ Emily C.

 

Ask Me How

fog lifts
sun now out
ten degrees warmer

than thermometer
lies

smell of electricity
in the air

only shade from wings
a pair

as solo plane passes overhead

light and ground
a stroll between
a storm brewing

lightning
will come

in its time
will strike

if you ask me how I know…
I’ll tell you

I felt this

right
before your
kiss

~ Emily C.

5.4.17