Sunday, April 20, 2014

Jesus and Mo: eggs2

Jesus and Mo, eggs2

See The Empty Day for my personal take on Jesus' passion.
He is just there. A historical person, demonstrating in the flesh, through the stories about him, all that a human being is capable of doing when in full relationship with God.

What, then, was so powerful for Jesus’ disciples—after their flight and betrayal and denial of him—that they could know him to be alive for them again?

It was the simple, bone-deep realization that they still experienced the kinship with God which Jesus had enabled them to know before his death.

That kinship was not broken, cannot be broken.

“Jesus knows, God knows. Just wake up and follow him again. That’s all we can do.”

And so it is.

Blessèd Be,

Friday, March 07, 2014

The intimate register

Crippled Wolf and Hubby Jim are sitting at Tenbucks on a Saturday afternoon, waiting for the dryers at their favorite "aging hippie" run laundromat to finish their cycles.

Field hockey, by Mike ShellAs they watch the people on the plaza outside, a toddler runs away from his dad, laughing gleefully.

“Escaped cultivation,” Crippled Wolf intones.

JimJim laughs.

“Huh?”  A friend sitting with them looks from one to another in puzzlement.

“It’s a long story,” Crippled Wolf explains.

Cytisus scoparius kz1A couple decades ago when they were hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Crippled Wolf and Jim had stumbled on the phrase in the Audubon Field Guide to North American Wildflowers.

They were trying to identify what turned out to be Scotch Broom and discovered that it had been brought to America by gardeners and then…escaped cultivation.

Now, almost anything which manages to get “out of place” might find itself so labeled in their private banter.

Sociolinguists use the term intimate register to refer to the informal language used among family members and close friends.

Technically, the intimate register is the private vocabulary and nonverbal cues exclusive to a pair or group.  However, it can be said to include the whole private lore of those people—whatever allusions, punch lines, etc., have historical reference within their tiny circle.

Crippled Wolf can be grasping for a word, and Jim will say, “…thing.”

Or Jim can start to murmur, "No, I can't forget the evening...," and Crippled Wolf will run away screaming.

Ever single person shares intimate registers with someone: a lover, a co-worker, a group of friends.  It's part of what connects us a social animals, the ability to evoke a whole shared memory—and attendant emotions—with a trivial cue no one outside the intimacy would recognize.

It's not all that different from people privately wincing in their pews when the preacher calls for "Almost Persuaded."

[Haha! Got you, Jim, if you're reading this.]

So why has Crippled Wolf become so fixated on the intimate register recently?

Anticipatory grief.

Another day, a different evening.

Crippled Wolf and Jim are at their favorite sushi cafe, sharing a moment of "baby madness" as a couple sit down next to them with their eleven-week-old infant and the daddy gets all mushy—as new daddies tend to do.

In the midst of enjoying the moment, watching Jim grin and googoo at the kid, Crippled Wolf feels a spike in his heart.

"This won't always be here," he thinks.  "He won't always be here...or I won't."

And then what will happen to the intimate register?

It will be like the death of a sun, a solar system, a galaxy.

Such cold and emptiness.

It takes a moment for Crippled Wolf to get back into the present moment.

He's getting better at this. So much practice from escorting first his mother and then his father to their deaths.

But how does one practice losing the other half of one's heart?  

And so it is.

Blessèd Be,
Michael Bright Crow

Baby madness is that momentary "Awwww....I wanna baaabie" feeling one getsjust before the kid bawls and cures you of it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crippled Wolf's inspiration

Over the past year, Crippled Wolf has been reclaiming Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan in AmericaBack when he was a wannabe hippie back in the late 60s and early 70s, Crippled Wolf thought of Dylan as the radical leader of "the Revolution"—mainly because that's what the media kept saying.

However, from Sean Wilentz's excellent recent book, Bob Dylan in America, he has learned that Dylan himself hated and rejected that role.  In fact, until the mid-1980s, Dylan went to great lengths to "destroy" his own career.

So that the media and the fans would stop following him. So that they would stop asking him "What do the young generation want?"  So that he could get back to what he had always considered his true role: not as a minstrel for "the Revolution" by as a lover and re-inventor of the great traditions of American folk and blues.

Here's what Dylan wrote himself in his beautiful 2004 memoir, Chronicles, Volume One,  describing his youthful years in Minneapolis:
The Gregory Corso poem "Bomb" was more to the point and touched the spirit of the times better—a wasted world and totally mechanized—a lot of hustle and bustle—a lot of shelves to clean, boxes to stack. I wasn't going to pin my hopes on that. Creatively you couldn't do much with it.
I had already landed in a parallel universe, anyway, with more archaic principles and values; one where actions and virtues were old style and judgmental things came falling out on their heads. A culture of outlaw women, super thugs, demon lovers and gospel truths...streets and valleys, rich peaty swamps, with landowners and oilmen, Stagger Lee, Pretty Pollys and John Henrys—an invisible world that towered overhead with walls of gleaming corridors. It was all there and it was clear—ideal and God-fearing—but you had to go  find it....
Folk music was a reality of a more brilliant dimension. It exceeded all human understanding, and if it called out to you, you could disappear and be be sucked into it. I felt right at home in this mythical realm made up not with individuals so much as archetypes,...each rugged soul filled with natural knowing and inner wisdom. Each demanding a degree of respect.... Folk music was all I needed to exist.
Trouble was, there wasn't enough of it. It was out of date, had no proper connection to the actualities, the trends of the time. it was a huge story but hard to come across. (235-36)
  Earlier in Chronicles, Dylan explained how he went about re-inventing folk music:
What I usually did was start out with something, some kind of line written in stone and turn it with another line—make it add up to something else than it originally did. (228)
Currently, Crippled Wolf is listening to one album over and over, Oh, Mercy, Dylan's brilliant "come back" album from1989.

Here's Crippled Wolf's current favorite, a musically gorgeous song with shades of the late Lou Reed in its sound and delivery, yet with all the wryly ironic twists of Dylan's masterful poetry.

Oh Mercy, by Bob Dylan
Most of the Time

Most of the time
I’m clear focused all around
Most of the time
I can keep both feet on the ground
I can follow the path, I can read the signs
Stay right with it when the road unwinds
I can handle whatever I stumble upon
I don’t even notice she’s gone
Most of the time

Most of the time
It’s well understood
Most of the time
I wouldn’t change it if I could
I can make it all match up, I can hold my own
I can deal with the situation right down to the bone
I can survive, I can endure
And I don’t even think about her
Most of the time

Most of the time
My head is on straight
Most of the time
I’m strong enough not to hate
I don’t build up illusion ’til it makes me sick
I ain’t afraid of confusion no matter how thick
I can smile in the face of mankind
Don’t even remember what her lips felt like on mine
Most of the time

Most of the time
She ain’t even in my mind
I wouldn’t know her if I saw her
She’s that far behind
Most of the time
I can’t even be sure
If she was ever with me
Or if I was with her

Most of the time
I’m halfway content
Most of the time
I know exactly where it went
I don’t cheat on myself, I don’t run and hide
Hide from the feelings that are buried inside
I don’t compromise and I don’t pretend
I don’t even care if I ever see her again
Most of the time


And so it is.

Blessèd Be,
Michael Bright Crow 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dearest Dark and Bright Ones,

In September of 2006, I entered the blogosphere using the tragicomic voice of a character I call my “curmudgeonly alter-ego,” Walhydra. As is the case for all egos, Walhydra is convinced that she is the real me, the important me, in this case inconveniently reincarnated as a “sixty-something, gay, would-be writer.”

Walhydra came into being as a storytelling device in the mid-1990s, when I was invited to join the Crone Thread, a private listserv of mostly pagan, mostly women elders, folk who understand, revere and emulate the Crone.

In the latter years of the blog, as I shepherded my own mother toward her death, it became more difficult to write with Walhydra’s voice.

As she herself said at one point, “How can I writing nothing but sarcastic humor when real life is shutting me down with grief and depression? It isn’t funny!”

I’ve made several attempts to revisit Walhydra’s Porch since Mom’s death in January 2011—and the death of my father this January. I love that grouchy old lady.

So far, though, silence.

For the sake of continuity, therefore, I’m copying the archival links from the Mileposts page of this blog onto a page of another blog, The Empty Path.

Please wander over to this other "porch" if you want to follow my meandering explorations.

The Empty Path

I don't know when I will return to Walhydra's Porch. I certainly don't want to lay it down, and I'm going to leave all the posts live.

As my dear friend and sometime mentor Cat wrote me recently,
[This] is about not being able to keep up even a beloved facade when there are too many hard truths to tell in that tender, sincere voice that is also yours.

It's not that death isn't funny, or that Walhydra is gone. It's that the voice you use these days is the voice Walhydra uses in the middle of the night, talking with someone she loves and trusts about the really, really hard stuff... Or the voice she uses with a very sick child.
We shall see.

In darkness and in flame,
Blessèd Be.

Michael Bright Crow

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

"Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen"

"Hell's vengeance boils in my heart."

Three takes on the coluratura's worst nightmare from Mozart's Magic Flute.

First, here is Diana Damrau.


And, in case that isn't impressive enough, here is fourteen-year-old Robin Schlotz.


And finally, the (in)famous Florence Foster Jenkins, from her album Murder on the High Cs.