what it feels like . . .

I was trying to explain poetry to someone who is trying to understand . . .

THIS . . . THIS . . .

I wanted to see where beauty comes from

without you in the world, hauling my heart

across sixty acres of northeast meadow,

my pockets filling with flowers.

Then I remembered,

it’s you I miss in the brightness

and body of every living name:

rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.

You are the green wonder of June,

root and quasar, the thirst for salt.

When I finally understand that people fail

at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,

the paper wings of the dragonfly

aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?

If I get the story right, desire is continuous,

equatorial. There is still so much

I want to know: what you believe

can never be removed from us,

what you dreamed on Walnut Street

in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,

learning pleasure on your own.

Tell me our story: are we impetuous,

are we kind to each other, do we surrender

to what the mind cannot think past?

Where is the evidence I will learn

to be good at loving?

The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond

for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.

There are violet hills,

there is the covenant of duskbirds.

The moon comes over the mountain

like a big peach, and I want to tell you

what I couldn’t say the night we rushed

North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers

and the way you go into yourself,

calling my half-name like a secret.

I stand between taproot and treespire.

Here is the compass rose

to help me live through this.

Here are twelve ways of knowing

what blooms even in the blindness

of such longing. Yellow oxeye,

viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms

pleading do not forget me.

We hunger for eloquence.

We measure the isopleths.

I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.

The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.

Fireflies turn on their electric wills:

an effulgence. Let me come back

whole, let me remember how to touch you

before it is too late.

– Stacie Cassarino, SUMMER SOLSTICE

how my garden grows

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The leeks I planted have gone to seed.

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This pleases me to no end because that’s when they’re most photogenic.

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That’s how my garden grows, and that’s also how writing goes. A thing gets planted . . . but it often produces a different yet related outcome . . . like somewhere along the way, the question I was asking changed because of the answer that appeared.

the great dream

When I was about 19, I had this remarkable dream that I would have a son one day who would be a seer. I wouldn’t know what that meant until almost ten years later when an audiologist confirmed our baby boy was deaf.baby dane by paul adamsFor the most part, I put off the grief about that news for almost 25 years. Instead, I thought of that dream and dove into its goodness . . . this was going to be about seeing, not about not hearing.

How that boy could see . . . always different than everyone else . . . inside the soul and outside the lines. One morning when he was maybe four or five, he woke up earlier and happier than usual. I came into the kitchen to find him already at the table with crayons and paper drawing something with the kind of intensity that pushes tongue out over lip. IMG_1285He beamed up at me . . . held up his drawing of this scene:
“Last night I dreamt you a raccoon.”grillermanThe years have been full of such gifts . . . deafness has given me much more than it ever cost me. But it cost a lot–frustration, raging at the world that wasn’t kind, patient or just; my guilt and vulnerability and trust and doubt and confusion and exasperation. 57939750759__6A759E99-7933-4451-9669-9D7A815FD90D
But not with my son, at least no more than usual when your kid sasses back, whacks his brother, launders his hearing aids, skips school, keeps dating a bad girlfriend, and trades his sensible car in for a super-jacked ATV.me and DaneNow we are writing a book together, and more gifts come at me a myriad of ways. Things I wondered about in the days before he had enough language to tell me what he felt have come pouring forth. We are waking and dreaming together.IMG_4746We laugh, we cry, we find each other in new ways and discover we were never lost, not even once. Even now when he lives a thousand miles away and days pass without a word, I can feel him in the darkness of every kind of distance. For me, this hasn’t been about seeing or hearing, but about feeling.

 

the write stuff

I write every day for a living, and as a hobby, I also write (and take photos).

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If I could do this any other way, I’m sure I would. But perhaps you can relate–knowing what you are here to do brings a kind of peace along with torment . . . the poison and the antidote . . . the creative imperative . . . the sleeping and waking. Elaine Pagels quoted it best here:

“If you bring forth that which is in you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is in you, what is in you will destroy you.”
– Elaine Pagels quoting from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

Becoming

Before it titled Michelle Obama’s book, it was the title that perfectly described the subject of BECOMING MARJORIE, the story of one of America’s unsung heroines of the feminist movement, so that’s what I used! I wrote that biography and launched it in 2017. And today (for the first time), I saw one of the TV interviews done at that time:

character study

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The grove of pecan trees had been planted generations earlier, long before Hodge was born in the shelling shed to Esperanza, who left him there when it was time to move on with the crew to pick the next farm. His mother gave him his first name, although he never used it. Also, the umber cast to his skin that set him apart in Missouri in 1927.

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From Grigg Hamblin, Hodge would inherit the land where the trees had been set out in orderly rows along the floodplain.

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From the trees, he got both a living and an identity. As if he’d been bred for it, and perhaps he was, Hodge was the special kind of being that is a pecan farmer. Atop sturdy, straight legs, he was mostly trunk supporting a thick V of shoulders, muscles knotting his arms down to long fingers. A head of nut-brown curls went uncut during the harvest season when he didn’t even bother to return to the house at night.

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Arizona Hodges Hamblin belonged only to the trees, and that’s how it went until he was almost 30.

© 10/18

selfy-promotion

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I’m storytelling in Cromarty Courthouse Garden, June 23, 2018.

Last month I was invited to read from my own work at the Cromarty Courthouse Museum Garden during Garden Opening Weekend (see photo) in this beautiful village on the Black Isle of Scotland. I’ve written a lot about Cromarty–a search of this blog will reveal that. But I am rarely paid to write in my own voice for my own reasons. Instead, my clients commission me to write, ghostwrite, edit, develop and doctor their books. It’s incredibly satisfying work, especially when my clients are as amenable as David Bland whose book (working titled provided below) is going to change the world. What a privilege to participate in his story.

I felt the same with about ghosting Dr. William Reed’s memoirs, The Pulse of Hope, and every other client I’ve had (see http://www.seavercreative.com).

Vivien, Leeanne and WAR at launchVivien Jennings of Rainy Day Books with William Reed and me, November 2014.

Promoting myself professionally is always awkward for me, so I just avoid it. Every client I’ve had has come to me word of mouth, which is good because I wouldn’t have the first inclination to get out there and find them. But if I did, it would probably be wise to post something like a client testimonial, so here goes:

Leeanne is, to me, much like a sculptor. Underneath the rough layers of my long-winded prose was a much better writer. Leeanne carefully and gently chipped away at that outer layer to reveal the story-teller below. My writing became crisper, clearer, and more purposeful. And I never felt berated, belittled or embarrassed. Try as I might, I could never find fault with her criticism and her suggestions were always on the mark, which is maddening, of course. Every time I sat upon my high horse Leeanne exposed the puny pony I was atop. In a very nice way. It is a rarity to find someone who can both find fault and suggest remedies. We all know the critic who offers nothing better. Leeanne supplies thoughtful criticism and insightful suggestions.

She took care with my work. She honored the time and energy I had spent, and she never diminished the pride I had in my writing. But she showed me where it could be better. That is a powerful talent.

~ David Bland, Author
Smudge: The Narrative Economics of Indian Country
Washington DC, 10 July 2018