This is a sample of my recently published book of poetry, Shine a Splendid Light: Poems and pieces from a restored life. It is Volume One.
From the Artist the Universe Demands
Art and image, subject and artist are bound together forever. Something beckons to the artist’s eye causing his head to turn and notice a beguiling characteristic and the desire to preserve, duplicate or emulate becomes an obsession. The very nature of the artist is one of obsession. The mind cannot rationalize the need of the artist to create at the expense of the body in the face of society’s condemnation of the self-possessed creative spirit wandering about amongst the citizenry. What is the demarcation line between madness and creation? The mind once possessed by the mania of creation cannot simply lay down the instruments. The human mind must create or stagnate. The expression of this most intangible of urges finds itself exposed to scrutiny and derision, sneers and dismissal but nonetheless at the secret hour, the artist-creator will steal away once the urge has risen too high to suppress; the need to create deadens the inner misgivings about public appearances and judgmental acquaintances.
There will always be the critical eyes staring at the artist offering only words of derision and criticism, trying to lay dreary, clammy hands upon the wondrous artifact of creative expression. Always the herd is willing to stamp on the bloomed flower of the artist. Always the faceless mass will shift its crushing weight in effort to crowd out the shining expression; but the artist is sustained by returning again and again to the source of inspiration. The shivering chills and gnawing ache are soothed within the sheltering bosom of creation. Creation, renewal and re-invention these are the skills that advance the human species and not complacent acceptance of the status quo.
Ardent flames of passion – that was what the Universe demanded of the artist
Make love to it with the abandon of a hungry suitor
The Universe, the sacred center from which flows the energy of creation itself
Shining golden fire hearth of eternity
Spark within the heart and soul that summons up courage
Stand against unnatural forces and brush them away as easily as a cobweb.
The force that moves all without moving
Glory of all glories does not respond to gentle entreaties
It is not a shy girl trying to be coaxed into giving you a peck on the cheek
The universal force of creation is a passionate lover
With which artists re-unite each time they touch their medium – canvas, stone, and paper or digital screen
The universal wellspring of creation does not want dispassionate pleas
It demands nothing more than an ecstatic abandonment
Within a single heartbeat that force that drives mountains from the bottom of the sea
Sends a pulse through the ether
Granting inspired elation
The Nature of the Artist
Artists are essential to society. The artist is the critical link between the commonplace and the eternal. Without artists, such as writers, painters, sculptures, designers and musicians what would remain of a society? The artist grasps inspiration from the living fiber of a culture and reshapes and molds it into a unique representation that transcends the time and geographic space to carry forward into the future a remnant expression of the cultural ethos. Without the artist, society flounders awash in a graying complacency. Artistic expression is mocked and degraded until the “proper” voices mutter their acceptance that this or that artist is tolerable. The artist’s works are then no longer shoved onto the back shelf or hidden in closets, but instead are displayed openly and collected, admired and valued. This, this is the conundrum of success. The artist will ask, is not the creation the success? Isn’t it sufficient that human hands have crafted a unique artifact: poem, painting, song or dress?
Poor silly artist, who cannot recognize the value of his own creation says the critic now turned expert and collector. Allow me to offer you a tempting price for your work so that you can sustain yourself to create further. Therein lays the deal – the selling point. This vital relationship between artist and patron has endured through millennia. The artist’s sojourns within the realm of the unknowable sustain him and grant access to the subtle creative force through which art is born. This blending ground of intangible vigor forms the landscape of expression, and from this non-corporeal place, the artist carries a newly minted corporeal article. This thing is not the goal of the artist, this thing is not the object of desire; the object is just an expression of that journey, the entrance into the artist’s shrine to that which is untouchable and always remains illusive for perfect expression can never be — as imperfection is the true nature of art. The flawed and scarred delight while that which can be duplicated repeatedly bore. Non-creative people will always speak of perfection and achieving mastery while the artist finds the hidden flaw and wishes to take up the brush for a few more strokes; edit the printed book; change a note here or there; or weave the cloth with different threads. The artist is never satisfied throughout life, always returning to the wellspring of inspiration to create anew. The artist, once they have cut their course to the inspired spot within, returns as often as allowed and that is also the turning point between the apprentice and the expert. While the apprentice struggles to carve a path each time, the expert – the master – understands that a portion of his self remains within the universe forever calling to him.
The universe and the artist join together as lovers merge with one another. Both receptive and active forces unite the artist with the universe. There is a blending of the spirit and the universe. The touch can never be forgotten. The master makes his peace with this and anchors his soul to that divine spot. The inspiration becomes life. Just as Zhuangzi pondered, was he the butterfly dreaming he was a man or the man dreaming he was a butterfly? Therein lays the transformation of things. This transformation takes place naturally. There can be no vigor mighty enough, no meditation focused enough to force open the portal without destroying the passageway. The opening must be allowed to flower of its own wish in its own innate way. The seeker must become the found. The moment arises when the stillness thrills and the featureless enthralls and the threshold is unblocked and enlightenment awaits discovery.
Initiation slithers from fingertips
From blankness comes the reflection
Transforms the emptiness
Through an unnamed devotional
Channel the flow
Across raw flesh and bone
Until a portion of yourself
Lies frozen forever
Captured within the medium
Of its creation