LUMINOUS sapphire skies
Woolgathering in glee
Bubbles of fantasy…
IN amber fairy dust
Blooms n’ buzzing bees
Racing to the horizon
The rolling emerald fields
THIS wanderlust I love
Nothing more I seek
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me…
Road Trip. 2016. To Mackinac Island. Some iPhone pictures of the road, taken on the road. No filter or enhancing was needed for the stunning blues and greens.
On reaching the Mackinaw City, we took a ferry to the Mackinac Island all bikes no motor vehicles.
Ever since I read it the first time in high school, R.L. Stevenson’s The Vagabond stayed with as a beautiful memory appealing my ‘wanderer self’. I LOVE this poem. I cant help but reproduce it here and see if you feel it speak to your soul as it did to mine.
This book gave me a lot of trouble because I was quite moved by it and so, very much wanted to talk about it, but feared just might spoil it (you will know why*). None of the approaches I took felt right, yet I could not abandon it. Ergo, this is a simple account of a few themes that ran through the compelling memoir of the poet, singer-songwriter and rock ‘n roll artist, Patti Smith.
Nostalgia. Barely twenty, penniless and unsure, but not without an intense desire to become an artist, Smith steps into New York City, then a petri dish for the counterculture of the 1960’s, with widespread use of recreational drugs, free sexual expression & exploration, psychedelic music, and the Beat generation giving way to the hippie culture. Once past my initial shock over their avant-garde lifestyle (credited entirely to the author’s honest and sober narration), I pictured those times in curious wonderment: the nobodies with the potential to be trailblazers; the weirdos, the drug addicts, the experimentalist; the searchers, the idealists, the artists… Those must have been interesting times!
The Chelsea Hotel, where, in a peculiar turn of events, Smith and her friend Robert start living. Known to be a haven for writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers and colorful personalities, famous and yet to be famous, one could trade art could for the room-rent. “The Chelsea was like a doll’s house in The Twilight Zone, with a hundred rooms, each a small universe“, she writes. At this point in the book there are several names mentioned, some known to me, others unknown: Andy Warhol, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Allen Ginsberg and the other Beats, and a multitude of others that I googled as I encountered, only to get woefully intrigued by their life-stories. Some made it, the rest succumbed to drugs or AIDS, and never lived to see the times they were ahead of.
Patti and Robert. What will stay with me is the tender friendship Patti Smith shared with her lover for a while, and best friend forever, Robert Mapplethorpe. It is a beautiful thing to see how they really understood one another, not only as friends but also as artists. “Nobody sees as we do, Patti” Robert would say, and “whenever he said things like that, for a magical space of time, it was if we were the only two people in the world.“
Their relationship went through various definitions, but belonged to none. “We were evolving with different needs. I needed to explore beyond myself and Robert needed to search within himself.” With time Robert would discover and accept his homosexuality, and go on to become a famous (albeit controversial) photographer. Smith, a sketch artist and a poet, would finally find her niche and become a musician and the leader of her band ‘The Patti Smith Group’, and start a new life with her husband, Fred. Notwithstanding that, both of them would remain as close friends as they always were.
The last part was heart wrenching and yet there was a sense of innate beauty in its naked truth. Robert gets diagnosed with AIDS. For Patti (and for the reader who is now so invested in their lives), the idea of losing him is extremely unsettling. On his deathbed he wishes that she write their story.
Just Kids is Patti’s a fascinating and poignant tribute to their friendship. *There was something quietly private she tore apart and put out there for the world to read, and it feels like sacrilege to “review” it; one can just relate and respect and carry it in one’s heart. Of course, there is more to the book: Patti’s love for poetry and for poets like Rimbaud and Baudelaire, their times of struggle, their friends and their interesting journey in interesting times. It deserved 5 stars on my Goodreads.
I loved this excerpt from the epilogue ‘A note to the reader’ by the author:
“…There could be many stories I could yet write about Robert, about us. But his is the story I have told you. It is the one he wished me to tell and I have kept my promise. We were Hansel and Gretel and we ventured out into the black forest of the world. There were temptations and witches and demons we never dreamed of and there was the splendor we only partially imagined. No one could speak for these two young people nor tell with any truth of their days and nights together. only Robert and I could tell it. Our story, as he called it. And having gone he left the task to me to tell it to you.“
Poem by Smith for Robert- who had the greenest of eyes- for his Memorial:
Little emerald bird Wants to fly away If I cup my hand Could I make him stay?
Little emerald soul Little emerald eye Little emerald soul Must you say goodbye?
All the things that we pursue All that we dream Are composed as nature knew In a feather green
Little emerald bird As you light afar It is true I heard God is where you are
The poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou doesn’t really need any foreword or introduction. It does the work for itself- to ruffle something within you and your heart takes a leap! I write this nevertheless, as I can’t contain it.
In her eulogy to Angelou, the First Lady Michelle Obama referred to this poem saying the former ‘…celebrated black woman’s beauty like no one else‘. But I think it doesn’t just confine itself to women of color; its for any woman who thinks she’s too short, too tall, too pale, too dark, too underweight, too over weight… Beauty is all about that Spirit within that shines forth transcending everything without. The poem encompasses all women: our grace, our power, our love.
The admiring mans eyes can make a woman feel she is the most beautiful woman there is, regardless of the fact that she meets the established beauty standards or not. Interestingly, Angelou does something similar: she describes herself through the poem, but she makes you feel she’s actually describing you to the world (replace the I/ me with ‘you‘, ‘my‘ with “your“, and ‘you‘ with “they“). It feels like she knows who you are deep down-that is the greatness in her love as a human being,
A lovely video that Maya Angelou talks of Love that liberates:
As regards the poem Phenomenal Woman, call me overemotional, but the first time as I read it, I choked halfway through as I heard in my mind Maya reciting the poem: that spark in her eyes, the music in the verses, the power in her charm.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
With the rising spirit, I become the spirited With the ebbing sigh, I am the distressed With each scorn, I bleed deep While those loving eyes are my healers sublime! The apathy around, finds me lost In Thy presence, finally, I become Thine! Who is This, that see-eth it all, The constant One amidst the rise and fall ? The ever-changing images, is all I see But who am I, Lord, will you tell me?
Life according to one of life’s truly gifted naturally born wafflers… an open diary of a Saffer in a different land... life in the greater Dublin & Leinster area. (Blogging since 2011) My quests fuel my dreams… my dreams fuel my quests!!