Bad Things Happen: an erasure

A number of years ago, I put together a book-length work of erasure poetry, BAD THINGS HAPPEN I constructed it as a form of catharsis during a time of difficult and heart-breaking events in my personal life. But now with the world situation as it is, I suspect it might speak new and fresh words into current events. I haven’t reread the book in light of the pandemic, but I may take a few minutes later to see what new connotations emerge.

An erasure is a “found” poem in which the poet works with text from an original work to create something new. An erasure is often created in response to, or in conversation with, the original source text. Through purposeful decision-making, the erasure poet will subvert, challenge, question, or build upon the meaning and themes in the source text. Unlike a blackout poem (which presents the original redacted text with the new poem as a visual art form), an erasure constructs the new work into lines/stanzas, thus creating something separate from the original source text.

BAD THINGS HAPPEN is a book-length collection of erasure poems constructed in response to the book, Lord, Where Are You When Bad Things Happen? by Kay Arthur. Arthur’s book is a daily Bible study examining questions about the role of God in difficult life events.

While creating the works in BAD THINGS HAPPEN, the author sought to take the viewpoint of someone who doesn’t claim the infallibility of the Bible or even necessarily believe in any sort of god. The view is that the reality in life is bad things happen. Truly bad things happen. Even evil things.

The erasure poetry in BAD THINGS HAPPEN doesn’t necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of the poet, but are offered as food for thought. This work is mainly an exercise in self-expression and creative experimental writing.

Changes

“In the middle of my life, I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost.” ~ Dante

What happens when we awaken in Dante’s dark wood and find ourselves lost and confused in the middle of our life? How do we find the light again? The path? The way? Where do we go when we can no longer go home?

Although it feels as if we’re surrounded by darkness with no way to turn, we’re standing at the frontier of who we were and who we will become. The past always inhabits the now. Who we were, what we’ve done, who we’ve been in community with throughout our lives, goes into making the person we are now. But even that is fleeting. Who we are now is a fleeting moment which moves ahead into the future and backward into the past, simultaneously. Much like a rapidly flowing river viewed from the shore. Rivers drink from a deep and distant source, and as we find our way to that deep source in our own lives, we’ll find our life’s river gives generously to the landscape around us.

Ask yourself, what is “now” inviting you to do? Where is the current of the now asking you to go? Be impatient with trite explanations. We want the answers and the questions that bubble up from our river’s deep, undying, undrying source.

Perhaps this season of life is calling you to a time of silence. Of hibernation. A time of hiding. Time alone is a natural process. A bear hibernating through the winter. An injured animal taking time alone to heal. The stillness and quiet of a time of seclusion can bring greater self-knowledge. And self-knowledge can help lead us into – and through – the next frontier of our lives. Savor the aloneness.

Stop your life’s current conversation and listen. Is it superficial? Caught up in daily-ness and busyness? Be still. Quiet yourself. What is the big question of your life? The beautiful question? The essential or serious question? Find your question. What gives your life meaning? What lights your soul’s passion? Your essential question can be different at various times in your life. Don’t resurrect older questions, although your new question may be a variation on a theme.

Ask your own question, not someone else’s. When you find the question that’s hibernating in your heart, allow it to help you find your new voice. Let it welcome you into the new conversation of your life. Give it opportunity to lead you to your new identity.

Along with a new question and a new identity, you may find your entire life reorganized, including the community around you. This may be unnerving and a bit frightening. But do the brave thing.

Put your head down and make your way through the dark woods into the light of the next phase of your life. You’ll come to a place you don’t know, but in the process, you’ll come back to yourself.

 

DL Taylor

Poem: immortal sea

the immortal sea
spread like snow
white caps of salt
and seaweed
walking the carpet
of a white beach
dreaming of flying
imagine the white
endlessness
the clean swatch
of infinity
waves of salt
returning the white
water to the white
sands, the ocean’s
immortality

 

DL Taylor

Self-Care Ideas

There was a short discussion about self-care in a Facebook group I’m in. I decided to make up a list of easy things I can do to take care of myself and bring myself joy. I reread the list and realized many of these things can be done while in isolation/quarantine.

I’m sure there are many more things, but this is just what I came up with from one quick brainstorming session:

  • breathe consciously
  • lie down and close eyes for two minutes
  • stretch
  • pick flowers
  • water flowers
  • play a game
  • check Facebook
  • have a big glass of ice water
  • coffee, tea, iced tea
  • collage
  • pet the cat/dog
  • read a book/magazine
  • eat a small tasty snack
  • take a moment to observe surroundings
  • imagine a favorite location
  • listen to a favorite song
  • meditate
  • dance
  • sing
  • look at beautiful photos
  • take a photograph
  • draw
  • paint
  • write
  • take a shower or bath
  • do yoga
  • get active
  • get out of bed
  • start a new hobby
  • change posture
  • use lotion or favorite perfume
  • get exercise
  • lie in the sun
  • doodle
  • pray
  • take a drive
  • play musical instrument
  • cook
  • make a gift for someone
  • go hiking
  • crafts
  • sightseeing
  • give self a mani/pedi
  • watch a video of a play or concert
  • watch TV
  • playing with animals
  • text a friend
  • put on makeup
  • crossword puzzle
  • shooting baskets
  • jigsaw puzzle
  • playing cards
  • take a nap
  • make a card for someone
  • play a board game
  • wear favorite clothing
  • give self a haircut
  • watch stand-up comedy online
  • work in garden
  • blogging
  • nature walk
  • birdwatching
  • playing in the sand
  • reading cartoons or comics
  • read sacred texts
  • memorize poetry
  • listen to favorite podcasts

Poem: Free Fall


free fall night sky


free fall

lying on the lawn
gazing up
at the endless night sky
hanging on tight
to the damp grass
a strange illusion
in the mountains
where the sky is free
from city light

lying side by side
we both sense it
this overwhelming need
to hang onto the Earth

what would happen
if I let go
a free fall
into the eternal night
would the stars
catch me
would the moon
cradle me
would the blackness
comfort me
would I die
would I live
would I fly

that night
I hung onto the grass
beside you
I’ll never know
falling up
into the night sky
but I’ll never forget
that exquisite
strange feeling
of almost falling up
at your side

 

DL Taylor

Strawberry Angel Food Cake

There was an on-going argument in our family as to who first introduced this recipe to our family. My mom, Joan, baked it for me on my birthday one year, and that same year my Great-Grandmother Myrtle baked it for a Fourth of July family gathering. Some people in the family called it Joan’s cake. Other’s called it Myrtle’s cake. I just thought of it as our traditional family birthday cake.

So in honor of both of the lovely ladies who introduced this cake to our family, I’m naming it after both of them. But to confuse matters a little bit more, I found this recipe just now in my Grandma Madeline’s recipe box, written out in her handwriting. The plot thickens.

If you like strawberries and whip cream served on Angel food cake, you’re going to LOVE this cake.  It’s my all-time favorite.

Myrtle and Joan’s Strawberry Angel Food Cake

  • Bake (or buy) 1 10-inch angel food cake
  • 1 package (10-oz) frozen strawberries
  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Thaw berries and drain off juice into a bowl.

Sprinkle gelatin over juice and allow to stand until gelatin is softened. Set dish in larger bowl of hot water until gelatin dissolves.

Combine gelatin mixture with strawberries. Do not allow to congeal.

Whip cream until stiff and sweeten to taste with sugar.

Fold berries and juice into cream carefully.

Cut cake into 2 layers. Spread half of whipped cream frosting on bottom layer and around sides, then top with second layer and use remaining whipped cream to finish frosting the entire cake.

Refrigerate several hours or overnight.