Free Me ~ Haiku


 

Choking hazy smoke

Another red sun looming

Free me on sailed sea

 

~ Emily C.

7.6.17

 

***

Day 6:  Smoke is still here. I can smell it in the house when I opened the bedroom door this morning to the hall where it’s an obvious contrast. But, then sitting in the house, one acclimates to it.

I have been running HEPA air purifiers with brand new filters round the clock, and have only opened the doors briefly in morning or night to let the cool air in for a bit. And even THAT has been enough to make it smell smokey in here. Check out my filter picture, the one on the left was new on Thursday. The one on the right is unused. Look at all that dirt caught in only 3 days. Crazy! Glad its in there and not my lungs, but I do feel it a bit anyway.

The first two pics are from Sigma Shreedharan again. Yucky air makes for great art!

The third pic is mine off my back deck at sunset. We are still dealing with heat, but it’s only in the high 80s instead of high 90s now. After the 4 feet of rain we had this winter, I didn’t think I’d be desperate for a raincloud, but here we are. 🙂

Side note: my Mac’s trackpad has been causing issues and making my cursor go berserk in a scary way. So, I haven’t been able to use it and all my poetry bookmarks are on that one. I will be delayed even more in catching up on your awesome words. But, in time will be trying my best to catch up.

Also back to my vestibular therapist tomorrow. Still working my way through that, but definitely not as acute as I was. The new exercises have been a challenge for my brain on top of the environmental triggers lately with the heat and smoke. Looking forward to clean air and improved health.

Miss you all and thank you for your steadfast support.

 

Wildfire Moon

Wildfire moon, orange in night sky
witness to the burn, reflector of fire

night is a hot oven, skin melts puddles
not a fresh breath, nor window open

smoke on tongues, 
numb tingles ripple
lethargy death grip, otherworldly rogue


escape, no option, water, only hope
bunker in basement, hiding to cope


horizon designed, devoid of detail
mountains hide, water invisible

red sun sets, ruby in dead sky
hell on earth, no end in sight


~ Emily C.

8.3.17

***

Things are not good in Seattle and Vancouver and much of the northwest. Hundreds of wildfires in British Columbia have been sending smoke all over including smothering Seattle. We are also having a heat wave in the 90s to near 100 this week with no signs of letting up this coming week. This is day 3 of suffocating haze and smoke smell. It looks like a foggy Christmas Eve around here. Can’t see the city skyline, the mountains have disappeared and the streetlights look out of a dark London alley. We do not have clouds so everything in these pics are smoke. Can’t open windows because of the unhealthy air quality which means the house is ridiculously hot and muggy. Some respite in basement but it’s got moldy smell like basements do…so the choices aren’t pleasant either way. Hoping al are safe in BC. Sounds like at least a few fires have been determined arson. Terrible. The sun has been otherworldly in its redness, and he moon in its orangeness…makes for eerie pictures.

Not looking forward to the next several days.

(All pictures are mine except the red sun and ferry picture by Sigma Shreedharan.)

The haze around the Space Needle is smoke, with orange moon above


Red sun through the trees

(There is supposed to be an ocean and a huge mountain range there…)

Finale

Standing on Emerald city’s edge
rainbow curtain above my head
taking long breaths in…
I lose my balance
I have forgotten my ground
my toes grip granite in vain

your voice my invisible net
saves me from inevitable death
— your voice, oh, that voice
heard now in the call of the gull
the whisper of a sail
echoing on the wings of wind
that tickles my skin deep to spirit

swaying, I flail
failing to trust in life, in love
but there you are again
catching me at sunset
rocking me still
singing me filled

there you are one more time
catching me in song
until the stars light the sky
like clockwork revealing
your diamond soul etched high

the night won’t say goodbye
even if you are only
as tangible as rolling tide
as graspable as fleeting air
as permanent as a passing cloud
flirting at the firmament

Saved by your song,
I’ll be here all night
to witness your flight
your last soundcheck
your final finale:
behind the rainbow
you bow

the city will applaud
in the wake of the bay

forever

~ Emily C.

6.30.17

 

*Friday’s sunset in Seattle. Photography by Sigma Sreedharan Photography.

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

Help Save Seattle’s Pearl Jam and Soundgarden Music History!

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During this week of mourning for Chris, more sad news has developed. Yesterday the news reported that the building that houses the basement where Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains all practiced as young bands in the ’90s is going to be put up for sale on the market.

It is under the Black Dog Forge ironworks company.  For decades fans have flocked from all over the world to visit the space.  It is still being used as a practice space for bands to this day. In a city that is on development steroids, it will no doubt be purchased and destroyed unless the Forge can come up with enough money to buy the building itself.

There is a Go Fund Me page where donations are being collected. Any amount is appreciated and even if they can’t reach the necessary target, the money will still go to a good cause in helping Black Dog Forge relocate.

I am going to try and find a way to share this link on some Pearl Jam fan pages in hopes that it will spread like wildfire.  I hope Eddie is aware, too, but not sure how to bring it to his attention.

If you feel you can donate anything, please do. And even just sharing the link would be a help because others may want to contribute.  You can share the Go Fund Me link, the news articles, and you can reblog this post here on WP to reach even more.

Thank you for your support with this, and for your understanding as I work through my time of sadness. I hope to be back to normal programming in the near future. Love, Em.

Save Seattle Music History!! ~ Go Fund Me fundraiser page

Help Save Grunge Landmark Black Dog Forge ~ a longstanding practice space for icons like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam  ~ The Stranger, Seattle

Black Dog Forge Building to be Sold ~ MyNorthwest.com

Long Live Rock ‘N Roll Campaign to Save Iconic Seattle Music Space ~ KIRO TV

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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: