Daily Dose: Alabaster DePlume, “Is it Enough”

Friday finds me asking for the same thing every week: “Give me a career in the arts and a latte!”

And also, “Give me one more day on this earth.”

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See & Read: I Am Here For It






I Am Here For It

You are not what you see, but what you say and do
As I am not what made me, but what I make happen - now and next time
We are lips and tendons and tastes
And I am yours to wreck and rebuild
If we choose to stitch this life together in sinew and scotch tape

This is temporary
This is everything
         I am here for it

I want you to absorb me in my wetness
Drink me and drain me and dry me off
As I love you from a distance, up here
Words coming out wrong, wanting to sound strong 
But only managing to graft grammatical particles
In place of the automatic poetry that moves me

Transitions are not temporary
They are everything
         I am here for it

So move with it, move on:
One step forward and two paces back
Into this blurred nightscape extending beyond us all
My heart fouled by thoughts, 
My brain fueled by feelings;
I am all mixed up

This is temporary
This is everything
        I am here for it

Because tomorrow is a mindset we allow
It’s a mechanism used to understand unknowable things
Like God and grace and luck and liminality
Pressed against the panels of a room vented by music
Where people have been before
And here I am, WAITING

Transitions are everything 
They are not temporary
         I am here for it


Image credit: 
Robert E. Lee 
(Richmond Artistic Photographer / Courtesy of a Private Collector)
OpenSFHistory.org, wnp28.3354 

See & Read: 11/4/2015

(C) Nicole Meldahl, 2015
(C) Nicole Meldahl, 2015

“I adore you as much as the vault of night, / O vessel of sorrow, O deeply silent one, / And I love you even more, my lovely, because you flee me / And because you seem, ornament of my nights, / More ironically, to multiply the miles / That separate my arms from blue immensities.” — Charles Baudelaire

See & Read: 4/23/2015

red balloon

As I turned the corner to get my morning java fix, I saw a well dressed man of a certain age heading in my direction. Pressed jeans, collared shirt, and a clean pair of brown leather shoes–no scuffs. He and I both slowed seeing our shared destination, and I deferred to him as he led us through the door. He scooped up the last remaining table for two, and I strode straight into the small but substantial line, he to follow up behind me in a few.

I ordered my latte strong (to go), and he ordered his with small talk (to stay). It mattered not that the barista was in no mood; This Man of a certain age was here to talk, and talk he would. I stood aside and quietly waited for my morning salvation. He stood square in front of the sullen barista, and continued on with his talk.

“Pretty busy today, huh?”

“No, not really.”

“Oh,” says the man, with a gentle look down at the shuffle of his feet. “I guess I”m later than usual.”

[clears throat] “Did you walk here?”

“Yep. I sure did,” The Man said with eagerness. “I sure did walk here.”

“You on your way to work?”

“Me? Oh, no no. I don’t work. I’m just a caretaker for one cat. Just one cat and a garden. And a car. I take care of a cat, a garden, and a car.”

“Oh, ok.”

Silence and another look to the ground to see what his feet would do, and there was nothing more. The Man took his latte for here and sat by himself over there. No paper, no book. Nothing to distract him from the company that hadn’t come. Just another man who takes care of a cat, a car, and a garden sitting in a coffee shop in San Francisco.

Just one person waiting at a table for two.

Album Review: Villagers

Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Villagers is the critically acclaimed brainchild of thirty-something Conor J. O’Brien. Although the outfit has  been around since 2008, it’s REALLY been around since the 2010 album Becoming A Jackal became bonkers popular and jettisoned the band onto an exhaustive tour that lasted for two years.

In a 2013 interview with Neil McCormick of The Telegraph, frontman O’Brien discussed tour fatigue and his struggles as a songwriter, criticizing his post-tour work as lacking in depth. He ruminated, “I felt, in a very childish way, I had romanticized sadness, and I was using the music to wallow.” This is understandable given the fact that he was coping with a family tragedy, but it’s also a common occurrence; how often have we penned a poem or sought a song for immersion, to validate our feelings but also give them authenticity in a time of crisis? Particularly with the loss of a loved one, it’s sometimes hard to let the pain go because, in doing so, it feels as though you’re that much further from the one you lost.

His newest work, however, shows a remarkable amount of maturity–one that uses loss as an underpinning instead of as a focal point. While the overarching tenor of Darling Arithmetic is pensive and bends toward sadness, it never actually breaks under the weight. True, the album has its melancholic valleys (“No One To Blame”), but it also peaks frequently with optimism as the lyrics offer measured notes of hope. Not the kind of hope that grows blindly in a vacuum of naiveté, but one that is fought for and found, one that pays homage to and draws strength from the paths we forge together and sometimes alone. In “Courage”, the album’s opening track, O’Brien sings:

Do you really want to know about these lines on my face? Well each and every one is testament to all the mistakes I’ve had to make to find…Courage, it’s a feeling like no other, let me tell you, yeah. Courage, in harmony with something other than your ego. Courage, the sweet relief of knowing nothing comes for free.

In that same Telegraph interview, O’Brien relates how he came out of his writing slump by using synthetic instruments and experimenting with “ambient soundscapes.” Most poignantly, he notes his inspiration from Carl Sagan “to put the story of the evolution of human intelligence into a personal perspective.” This, perhaps more than any other sentence, describes his effort on Darling Arithmetic for meWhether describing a hot scary summer or chameleon dreams, the full breadth of the human experience can be found somewhere on this album if you’re receptive to looking because, in a very intimate and personal way, this album is about being part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Throughout listening I could not help but to recall the words of a favorite poet, W.H. Auden, in his poem The More Loving One, which I’ll leave you with here to chew on:

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well

That, for all they care, I can go to hell,

But on earth indifference is the least

We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn

With a passion for us we could not return?

If equal affection cannot be,

Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am

Of stars that do not give a damn,

I cannot, now I see them, say

I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,

I should learn to look at an empty sky

And feel its total dark sublime,

Though this might take me a little time.

See & Read: 1/21/2015

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So love-starved that a look is all it takes for lust to leap up from its lair and be a presence once again–the dust falling in sheets from its dormancy.

A glance falling from that face, with eyes inspecting downward: eyelashes to lips, clavicle to shoulder tip, and down into desire.

One touch, that taste, these memories to keep through our hibernation–through the times when the No One and the Nothing are near, not even the outline of a thought.