River Medicine

The first time we went out on the water, BF spent more time looking back and stopping for me than he did enjoying the adventure. For the inconvenience, on this time around, I assured him he could enjoy the trip without worrying about me, now that I knew the course of the river from launch to landing. Besides, with his shirtless back facing me, his sculpted shoulders busy at work, I had someone quite pleasant to focus on.

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New River, NC

We planned for one more day on the New River; the cool, clear water beckoning us to enter and clear our souls. My soul was a bit heavy, having to bear the uncomfortable feeling of entering a home in distress. We didn’t know anything about our host family’s marital split prior to our arrival, and even more so, I didn’t know I had to be on the defense as the only woman among related men. For me the water was liberation from the snarls and scowls of a wounded male, a free moment to tune to nature and scale off the superficiality of man.

A meandering was in order.

Depending on which data you reference, the New River in the Appalachian Range is one of the oldest rivers in the world. To ask the locals you would be certain to believe it is the oldest. I’m not here to contest any of that data, but I will say this: from water to stone to tree to sand, the entire universe of that river felt primordial.

Pushed off and well into our course, I smiled, looking through clear water at the mica-flecked stones along the bottom. BF wondered if they were flecks of actual gold. I told him how mica is used in cosmetics to offer that under skin “glow.” In the moment of that interaction, I felt the goddess Isis widening her giving wings over the both of us. As much as I wanted to share, “Isis is here!” I remember the unfortunance of the double meaning, and hold back.

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Mountain river water – clear, cool and fresh!

Our small barques wound their way over pure water, hugged by rocky shores with faces almost a billion years old, deciduous trees lording over us as the sky laced between their green fingers. The sun loved us enough to warm our shoulders bronze. A breeze, like a subtle tongued kiss to the neck, won over my frazzled spirit, and finally, I could relax. My stroke through the water intensified, my shoulders winding fluidly as I searched out the deep pockets. In the shallows, I dug with might and determination, “No! I won’t get out of this boat!” BF was far forward. I sensed he’s on his own journey, and let him be.

At the thought to allow my love to float along and be with the river, I came upon the most curious sight. Bear in mind the north-flowing current was constant but not strong that day. The water itself was cold, but not unbearable. As I paddled to the right of a patch of moss, I saw a yellow and black snake completely erect, protruding from the center of the moss. I slowed to admire this behavior. I don’t know of a snake that would sun in the center of a river, let alone do it standing up! Then I noticed he started to wave, along with the current, but I took it as a “Hello!” A glow of yellow-gold light, filled with good, fortifying medicine, swaddled me. Oh Snake, I prayed, thank you for your gift. I kept looking back at that vertical creature until the river pulled me from view. The entire time, Snake stayed in that tall position in the moss. Imbued with blessing, I hurried towards my love.

The New River curled towards our landing. We came across a black and white border collie, feverishly digging a hole along the shore. As there was a makeshift swing nearby, we figured he was a member of that riverfront household. The collie, more preoccupied with his find than us, leaped from his post then climbed up the hill ostensibly towards his home.

But he didn’t go home.

This collie followed us the remaining few miles of our trip, swimming between the kayaks, landing on either shore, taking off into the woods; yet he’d always return. I heard the words, “Wolf Medicine” echo between my ears, then, experienced an unavoidable snag in the river. My kayak landed on rocks. I watched as the collie and BF continued, then realized, Spirit wants me to hang back. From my landing it was abundantly clear, this wolf descendant and this mountain-spirited man were meant to meet. Side by side, Wolf and Man paddling, quietly as to not disturb the existing serenity. It was overwhelming to behold. To the mountain I prayed, “thank you for his Wolf medicine” before returning the barque to a deeper pool of water and paddling on.

The topless silo signaling our stop, our wolf company disappeared into the nearby tree farm. On our landing, BF found a perfectly flat, round stone which he pocketed. I helped myself to a larger stone, the width of my hand, so that I could enjoy ancient river medicine anytime.

When Man weighs you down, let Nature lift you up.

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Bobby also loves the river!

 

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Coming Down The Mountain

Gilded tendrils

through wooden slats

summon a new

Appalachian day.

I tumble, tumble

giddy under feathery darkness

my morning dreams

launch me into flight…

So begins one of the poems I created in that beautiful cabin nestled under ancient wood. The experience of connecting with nature at a primordial level is a powerful thing. My body – how best to describe this? – absorbed unfamiliar yet friendly energies. Vibrations were exceptionally high in the hills, and my connectivity to animals seemed heightened. To explore it neurologically, I would say my pineal gland received a profound tuning.

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Goddess Mode (c2013)

My sweet would nourish sleeping in as I would roam the deck of the cabin with my morning coffee. Then I’d go to the dining room, my designated office, and churn whatever creative forces into a precious morsel of art. Silence was a gift as well as a motivator. I needed the time between sips to really think what I wanted out of life. I’m ready to approach 40, but what am I to invest in as a human being for the next 40 years?

The answers seem to pop off Chappie the laptop’s screen, as if a big DUH! Time to showcase what you can do for others, Ivonne. Time to grow into the artistic community as a director, not just a contributor. 

While in the cabin, I started to lay down the plans for a project I’m calling The Living Goddess Exhibit. Of course I’m going to represent Inanna (who could do better?) but exactly how are we going to praise her? What existing poems do I have that evoke her? What poems can I write in tribute to her? Suddenly in study mode again, I feel that excitement surge in me again, the excitement to share. I’m invested in my inner child, I’m letting her play! Gosh it feels good.

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2015 on the New River. This year, The New River encourages me to grow.

Even when we moved to the Cousin’s place, I was still in composition mode. Three large dogs make it difficult to keep expensive equipment out, but I did capture some creativity on my mobile devices. Here’s one that insisted on being written mid-sleep:

Columbia
Great leader
her torch knows no master
Balance is her charge
the Law as her guide
Love her as I do
Her power is needed
now more than ever.

So interesting that I’d reference the Law Goddess in my sleep state. This’ll be a poem worth developing, especially during election season!

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Ready to hit the stage! c2014

Look forward to two productions from me, one in November and one possibly January. If you can’t make the shows, there’s always my performances with The Second Time Arounders Marching Band during the 2017 season.

 

Morning River Walk

Mountain Dog

In a day’s time, Roberto Tiberius has gone from puppylike couch dog to doe-startling Rotweiljäger. It’s the mountain air, I tell ya, it has filled his canine lungs with the remembrance of his natural abilities, the truest call of the wild.

Bobby kayaked with us up the New River, tussled with a HUGE year old Griffon-Labrador mix, chased a birthday girl and her friends all over the lawn…who is this guy? We’ve been together since June 2012 and I feel I’m still learning about him.

This morning, we meandered up the road by our cabin for a Sunday morning constitutional. It was a sweaty climb to the top and a relieving bounce back down to the cabin. Bobby led the way back.

Suddenly, a fury of barks and growls emanated from the cabin area. A scared-shitless wide-eyed white-tailed doe bounded from the trees onto the road where I stood. I quickly entered into a “don’t trample me” mantra while sharing Bob’s barks to warn her to stay away from me.

Bobby clipped at her like a gambler chasing a sure bet, delicately curbing her down below. He took off into the treeline. I knew he was alright because he was still barking. By the time I had changed clothes, Bobby was back in the cabin.

I ♥ my dog.

 

View From My Coffee Cup

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Todd, Watauga County, North Carolina

Nothing more refreshing

than a cool kiss on the neck

from the mild mountain breeze

welcoming us back

to where we call Escape

to what they know as

Treasure.

-Von Simeon 07.16.16

 

Mountain Song

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(NOTE: This occurred in May 2015…)

Once at Murphy’s I am consumed with the idea of a beer. In one day I embraced mortality twice; surely, my libation limitations can be excused this evening!* Besides, the two male cousins before me, busy with setting up our pool table, have earned my trust, now and forever. I sip an ale and cherish the simple act of drinking.

A pool cue placed in my hand, and it’s my break. As I line the chalked tip between the 1st and 2nd balls to my right, the green felt bubbles. I blink to correct my contact lenses, then line up again. The smooth wood rod punches through my left grip, a sure shot, but instead, I scratch. I offer a self-deprecating comment to my company and giggle, then return the cue ball to start position. I attempt again. I fail again. The pool table is a tide moving quickly towards shore.

No one else sees this but me.

I look to my love and consider for a moment telling him, but his response will be a logical one: you’re coming down from the adrenaline rush, dear. This makes sense, except, I’m as calm and steady as I can physically be.

Perhaps more beer…

The cousins take to the table and I’m benched, nursing my ale, when I feel a wave of energy push against my right side. Moving only my eyes, I witness a furry, bearded man wearing a brown plaid shirt, hands clasped to his chest, eyes squinted inebriatedly. He smiles warmly then takes my hand as Jerry introduces us. “Ed, my name is Ed, I don’t know if I said it already…Ed.”

I find Ed to be comforting.

Jerry suggests we visit Ed’s studio. A break in the action? Sure. Brews are grouped aside and pool cues are chevroned to indicate, “We’ll be back.” A right turn from the cloaked billiards room over to the smoke haze of the outer patio, down the slicked side stairs and into the rain, the same murderous rain from our descent earlier. The audacity, I curse, as I bunny hop over puddles towards the adjacent building.

One key opens one door, another key unlocks another, then we’re in the presence of track lights and shiny instruments. Is this the universe interfering, or am I just plumb lucky? On the floor lies a six-string bass. Along the wall, a banjo, an acoustic and electric guitar, and a framed photograph. Jerry points and Ed blushes momentarily. BF doesn’t know who’s in the picture, but I’m well acquainted from my Kentucky days: the greatest picker in all of Appalachia, Mr. Doc Watson. To Doc’s right is our studio host, smiling and squinty-eyed.

Jerry goads him to play, which I know as an artist, we don’t need much cajoling to do what we love to do. Ed eases down onto a stool as I lower to the floor before him, cross my legs and cradle my hands, rocking into a cozy sit. “This is a song about a girl…” Ed starts as he fits his pick against the 3rd string and fingers his chords. The acoustics, so well tuned in the room, send me a fit of chills. He strums and sings with reverence as he shares his pained story, about the girl who moved on. My spine follows the melody and my shoulders meter the down beat. Where the cousins are I don’t know, all I know is this irresistible urge to sway. Side to side, side to side, as the notes play in the white light surrounding us. His words mute and I hear, “There, there. You’re all right. Everyone’s all right,” in a soft, wise, feminine voice. I’m cradled in a maternal embrace, a baby swaddled in a tight blanket of light. “There, there,” she sings. The terror of the last hour simultaneously manifests, actualizes then dissipates.

I feel, in a word, remarkable.

My snake dance to the charmer slows to an erect sit. Ed has finished playing. I awkwardly clap, hoping it’s not ill-timed. The cousins are ready to head back to Murphy’s but not before I take a few pulls of healing smoke. We leave, without Ed, from the glow of the studio back into the steady rain.

*: minutes before this interaction, the male cousins and I were near-death, sliding down the face of the mountain during an impromptu storm. This is the recovery from said event. Hence the beer.

Friends In Warm Places

Even into the darker blue, the Gulf waters felt too hot. Surely there’s a cold spot somewhere, I thought. I wanted to swim out further to find that magic place, but I needed a spotter. I came with three of my favorite fellas, but they were gathered around our table for the day, too far to yell, “Get in here!”

Spinning slowly as I tread the water, I spy a guy with diving goggles on. I paddle up to him, “Hey, I was just coming to get you…”

“Me??”

“Yeah, I saw you were diving. Wanna go out further?”

“But I can’t touch the ground…”

“That’s okay. Me neither.”

He makes like he wants to leave, but my one-minded state won’t let him. I tell him, “Just 10 more meters, nothing scary…”

“30 more feet?”

“Sure.”

We both dive to the bottom. I can see his white long-sleeved top to my right. Below us are lovely, wavy patterns drawn onto pale beige sand. I surface. So does he.

“I’m Von,” I finally introduce.

“Jordan. Are we close to the sandbar?”

I laugh, “Hardly.”

“Let’s look for starfish.”

“Alright.”

We continue diving and surfacing to no avail. It feels as if the water’s getting hotter. My new pal complains of the heat. I could use a non-salty drink anyways. Jordan and I reach his floating commune, which turned out to be local relatives; he is visiting from South Florida.

“Yeah it sucks down there,” Jordan laments.

I float onto my back as I pull Speedo suction cups from my eyes, while singing,

“The West Coast is the Best Coast…”

Pride 2016: Art For All

I had an absolutely wonderful weekend! The City of St Petersburg, Florida hosted its annual Pride Parade last Saturday evening. Once again I gave my time to the fine folks with NOMADStudio…you remember them from last year? Well this year they got renowned artist John Gascot to paint the Art Bus with messages of Love, Hope, Peace and Action. What am I proud of? Being alive! Being able to live my life free! Being able to love exactly who I want!

What are you proud of?

For You, Lady Graduate (a poem)

Niece #2 graduated yesterday, with much relief and gratitude. She’s my namesake and shares my spirit. For her graduation package, I added an impromptu poem. It literally roused me from deep sleep days before mailing her gifts, the words, “Go on little princess, put on your crown…”

Attached is the modified version. The original you’ll have to pry from my niece’s hands. 🙂 And remember, be polite and cite!

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