Good Morning Glory

Good morning glory…
blinding white sun,
vines entwined round flowers
choking life undone

by nyctinastic summer blooms 
…you rise despite our hands
that yank and tug and pull,
removing you, none can.

But something must die
for you to grow.
Something must suffocate
for you to show.

Spread your slithering tentacles,
grabbing at anything;
all disappears
beneath beauty’s smothering —

A smile for you
is a smile for death,
for kill or be killed…
summer’s Coliseum contest.

 

~ Emily C.

6.24.17

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No Answer

darkness rumbles in distant realms.

inner ear hears mountains moans.

taking steps on trampoline floor,

shaking when the wind shifts core.

thrown to the abyss against my wish…

…these walls have been carved before

their messages clear and clearly old,

alone I fall amongst long lost,

my screams only heard by sediment;

it crumbles in my turbulent wake,

but all I feel is my own cold breath,

exhaling gales in earth-scoring notes,

writing my story read by none,

except the stars when entropy wins,

when all returns to nothingness.

why does life matter?

I ask whom exactly?

no answer comes back.

all is black.

~ Emily C.

6.22.17

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

Walk With Me

Walk with me
in the letting go
where wild dogs roam
and banshees howl

walk with me
until the moon finally sleeps
under the raging canopy
of a night
a life gone awry
awash in fiery regrets
we can’t possibly correct

now

walk with me
as we cry knowing you are gone
but our hands still grasp
holding on, holding on

walk with me while the song
says goodbye in your silent voice
that sung its final show
screamed its final note

a solo guitar strums in the wind
your eyes as dark as time
still see one last sun
my heart as good as gone

walk with me
in our letting go
letting go

let go

gone

~ Emily C.

5.25.17

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:

Lands of Time

Jupiter drifted behind swaying pines
while Ursa Major’s bear lines
told me stories of my past

I let my mind, my love, drift to you

…somewhere there in deep dark blue

while meteors burned a trillion tears
in the fragile firmament
on this moonless night

— luna stolen when you died,

so all stars
would be brighter
in your absence:

their gain

our loss…no shame
in this kind of pain
that speaks of the impact

the black hole crater

your superhuman soul left

in shifting lands of time

~ Emily C.

5.23.17

You

you
seduced sun into oblivion

we
were okay with that

you
made lying in darkness okay

we
joined you in black

you
gave life to our emotions

we
sang along

you
lit stars with your voice

we
the blessed audience

you
were us

we
will now be you

~ Emily C.

5.21.17

***

I’m so tapped out from this week. The grief is real. And I am merely one of millions of people feeling this way. I can only think in short bits. It’s all I have right now.