Of Skulls, Wild Blessings, Pain and Ink

I got out of bed counting skulls. I always find healing in the act of counting blessings. If you know me a bit, you aren’t wondering about my use of the words skulls and blessings in the same paragraph—I love skulls, and recalling the tales of how they got to me is quite soothing.

Take the skull in the photo below, as an example. It’s a gift from my friend Lynne, mistress of the Insomniac’s Attic. She gave it to me during her last visit to New York City… in which we delighted in old books, got lost looking for an antique shop that insisted on hiding behind a delivery truck, and witnessed a rather irresponsible New Age seller tell a customer that onyx stones would give her telepathic powers.
Weeks later, the outrage I felt towards the seller’s statement (and the amusement my reaction brought to Lynne’s face) makes me laugh like a maniac. Laughter heals. The same is true of rituals and symbols. That’s the idea behind the grouping in the image: a frog from Stacy, a skull from Lynne, rosemary from Gina, and a mini-book from Emma, every piece sitting on a stone and a shell that holds its own tale. Even the black ribbon has a story, and telling myself all those tales (and laughing) pushes the aches away. Yes, it’s magic.

After saying goodbye to the frog, skull, rosemary and book, I started breakfast and made my bed. The quilt filled me with warm grins. It’s a handfasting present from my Mother-in-Law. As my not-so-perfect picture shows, the squares make an M or a W (for Magaly & William). And yes, the stitching forms lovely hearts. How cool is that, my Wicked Luvs? How could pain and exhaustion ever compete against the love put into such thought-filled gift?

Some gifts are unexpected treasures. The memories of when I first saw them always rush through me like a wave of ecstatically surprised endorphins. Yep, I’m referring to the bee kissing crabapple blossoms in the photo below. I was gifted this glimpse into Nature’s crafty magic, right after having spent a couple of hours searching for mushrooms. The search was a total fiasco… So, I was justifiably disappointed. Then I saw the bee… and the blooms… and I was delighted. Oh yes, I’m grinning like a lunatic, just thinking about it.

I’m writing this post while my heat pad does its magic on the pain that kicks my back. And “Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!” I’m smiling, as I think of gifts… of friends… of spring… of skulls… of wild magic… of every experience life has inked into my blood… and of how lucky I am to have the strength to craft them into poems and stories to share with you.

Do you count personal blessings? If so, do tell me of a wee blessing that brings all sorts of gigantic smiles to your face. Yummy grows yummier when spread. Really. 😉

Real Magic Has Strong Emotions in It (and other real bits)

My grandmother sat at the foot of my bed. She wore her favorite black dress, and a bright red headscarf I had never seen. “That’s nice”, I said, pointing at the headscarf.” She never wore red while she was alive. “It suits you.”

She extended a hand towards me. There was something in it, but I couldn’t see what it was. I sat up in bed, to take a better look. It was a tiny bottle full of red petals. “You should wear it”, she said, smiling. “It suits you.”

I woke up sitting up in bed, looking for my grandmother. She wasn’t there. She has not been around in the flesh for many years. But I got out of bed and searched for the rose petals necklace I got from my friend Yvonne months ago. I wore it. It suits me.

Rose Petals, Lava Beads Pendant, and skull bracelet, by Melancholy and Menace

Emma, mistress of Groovy Gothic, sent me Birds of All Feathers, a children’s book that tells the tale of how a group of birds peacefully resist the “angry twittering twit of a villain [that] invades [their] peaceful apple tree”. She was going to get the book for herself, but since my sweet Emma knew that I was having a rather difficult time dealing with the Orange Infection spreading over the US, she thought the book would be perfect to cheer me up. It was.

Birds of All Feathers, written and illustrated by El Gato Gomez

Once upon a time there was a sheep that gobbled up a bunch of moon daisies that changed her forever. Her name is Mavis. And she has a wicked talkative friend named Stewie. They were crafted to life by my witchy sister, Gina Morley. As of a few days ago, they live with me. Yep, a sheep, a squirrel, and a witch in a New York City apartment. That sounds like a story, doesn’t it? Well, Mavis already has a story, which you can find on Gina’s blog. The package that brought Mavis and Stewie home carried other things—a sprig of rosemary, a perfect-for-me card, a wee spider, and a surprise that I won’t share with you. Some magics must be kept close to the heart.

Mavis and Stewie, by Gina Morley

I fell in love with the painting of a wild-haired warrior, enchanted by her fierce expression and by the fact that we both seem to go braless. When the artist, my friend Robin, learned of my love, she sent the warrior to me. I haven’t given her a proper home on my wall yet. I know where she belongs, but I want to place her there on the morning of the Vernal Equinox. It feels right, for I suspect she and I will start new things with the blooming of spring.

My fierce warrior, by Rasz Art Designs

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve already seen my Poem Bits—micro poetry and quotes handwritten on lined paper with the edges torn. Lately the tearing of edges has transferred to my blackout poems, too. The latter began as an accident. I was in a lot of pain… decided to blackout a poem to distract myself… the pain was making my hands shake so much that I ripped the previous blackout when I tried to turn the page. The accident saddened and angered me. But I did not allow it to ruin my day… or one of my favorite blackouts. So, I took a few breaths… made some tea… and proceeded to gently rip all the edges off. When I was done sipping and ripping, I took the teabags—emptied the used leaves—and used the paper to create a background for the blackout. I framed it. I love it.

“I am stories”, accidental mixed media yumminess, by Magaly Guerrero

Can you feel the magic in all of this? The power of believing in a dream? Or of giving to a friend something you love because you feel she needs it more? Or of giving fangs to daisies and a sheep because your friend’s little brother just died, and you want her to smile? Or of presenting a friend with a painted, fierce-faced, wild-haired, non-bra-wearing warrior who reminds you of her (and of you)? Or can you feel the magic that is born when a moment of sadness, anger and frustration is turned on its ugly head until the energy that feeds it becomes something positive you can use to feed yourself, a story you are happy to tell?

If you’ve felt any of the above, my Wicked Luvs, then you have felt magic—the kind of magic I believe in. Real magic feeds flesh and soul. It allows the body to move when pain says stop. It brews fierce smiles and tears. It reminds us we are not alone. It comes loaded with strong emotions, with friends, and other wonders. My real magic tells stories… Can you feel it?

Memories Afire

He brings the stack of letters to his nose. The words stink of gun oil, sweat and loss. For the third time, he lets his eyes linger over the emptiness overflowing her side of their closet. There is little of her left… only dry letters, confused memories, and a twisted hanger next to his service uniform.

“We’re ready for you,” his sister says from the door. “Rid your mind of rancid thoughts. True cleansing must start deep within.” She walks to where he stands, and touches his face—gun oil, sweat and loss are overtaken by frankincense, patchouli, and a smile. “You’ll be whole again.”

He watches the joy in her eyes reach for the sorrow in his heart, and he wonders if sisterly love can really be that strong or that blind. Can’t she see his dead bones under nearly decayed flesh?

They walk hand in hand towards the open door. And like with the womb, his sister steps out first. She guides him into a circle of women dressed in crimson and veiled in black, chanting around the dancing flames of a bonfire. Without speaking, she kisses his cheek before joining the chant.

He doesn’t know if he believes in magic, but his sister does. “And I believe in her,” he whispers, throwing the letters, one by one, into the fire. As his ex-wife’s words are unwritten into ashes, he visualizes unwanted feelings fading away with the smoke, and feels his bones breathe anew.

memories afire
consume tales lost to winter
and rebirth a heart

.
inspired by “Fear”,
winner of the tenth Expanding Bits of Fiction and Poetry into Haibun
and linked to dVerse (Open Link Night)

a wee note: the eleventh Expanding Bits of Fiction and Poetry into Haibun won’t be posted until the first week of May, after the conclusion of Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month, 2016.

Enfuego, by Timothy Richard Lavelle“Enfuego”, by Timothy Richard Lavelle
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