Dancing in Llano Park

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The Zumba class in Llano infatuates the whole park. Who can resist the joyful music and movement? The way they sway those hips!
Even this construction worker joins in. He’s  on an eight-foot ladder, readying a structure for a canopy, when he suddenly, rapt by the music, breaks into dancing.  How gracefully he maneuvers the ladder, as if he’s on stilts, as if this is just something one does.
That’s the secret to this city. I know better than to question the magic. I just need to let myself be swept up in the music.
  • Umberto Ak’Abal writes, in “The Dance,”

    All of us dance/ on a cent’s edge

    (https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/dance)

    Upon what edge are you or your characters dancing? And, what happens? And, what do those watching fear will happen?

Art

painter.jpg

Though my first instinct is to label the artist in the park a con artist, I admit there are far worse ways to trick or swindle the public. And, I wonder, what’s the real harm?

I am not a naturally cynical creature, but I spied him affably permitting a young boy to add strokes to this same portrait.

Maybe I just don’t understand his art.  Maybe what he is doing is more like collage. Or sampling. Perhaps it is teaching. Or sales.

In the poem below, Elizabeth Bishop uses her art, poetry, to address the art of losing. Still trying to figure out what his art form is exactly, I try to imagine what he might be thinking: When they ask whether I painted her, if she’s my greatest muse, if I still love her, I whisper yes, yes. (This is largely true.) She is mine—for now, but she might be yours, could deliver you the radiant joy I discovered as I encountered her (at a yard sale).

When you first inquire how much I might want for her, I listen for how desperate your voice becomes as I confess fear of being without her, of giving her up—without a fight.

His art is embellishment.

One Art

–Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

  • Bishop’s poem is a villanelle. Whether you enjoy using form, the advantages to experimenting with form are worth the effort, particularly in the invention stages of the writing process. Form is not only for poets. You can set limits: word, syllable, etc. Make up some rules and make something from them. Here’s more about the villanelle: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/villanelle-poetic-form

Taco Friday

You finally resign yourself to the evidence that Fridays are irretrievably (and, don’t deny it, splendidly) dedicated to the ritual of eating carne asada tacos in the park, of huddling with the locals under crowded canopies at folding tables covered in bright stretches of oilcloth.

You now distinctly expect the aromatherapy of the meat barbecuing and the bustle of the surrounding market to ambush you into abandoning any other prospects for the rest of the day. You surrender and bask in the warmth of the grill and the showy noise of dilettante entertainers that busk and hustle around you.

You think about how the word busk is related to buscar (to look for), and you realize you, too, are searching for something to fill you. But what manifests as hunger is the urgency of a panacea for the loneliness broiling inside you.

from A Physics of Desire
–Annah Sobelman
at  first  she  thinks  the  attraction  does not
fill  her  with  enough  blood ,  but
with  a  thing  like  the  dove —    White and coloured
feathers   —   Bones  unlike  her  own
bones  that  gravity  can’t  pull  down  ,  a milky  thing
unlike   the  seas .           Fills
           her  with    a                      wind —    Starch  rustle  of the quick
passing  of    things  ,  then    silence   afterwards
  • Develop an extended metaphor of hunger. What is your or a character’s literal hunger a metaphor for? How can you/she be satisfied?

 

 

Four calling birds, three French hens, a clutch of fairies, a swarm of mimes, a wreck of penguins, and one lost deer

It is not Halloween. No, Llano Park has not been overrun by fairies and deer. Mini Marcel Marceau here would speak Spanish should he need to speak.

Every stretch of the park is brimming with fantastic Lilliputian beasts. Perhaps it is the season, but I am certain I have interacted with the majority of the cast of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” but the pear tree is more mango.

I cannot help singing the whole inventory of presents for the five circles I complete. It is as if I am stuck on repeat. My whole life I have unabashedly belted out Christmas songs from my seat in the back of the pickup truck, to the horses as I waited for their troughs to fill, to an audience of cats and chickens, in my own little car, in the grocery store for an entire season. I would only karaoke Christmas tunes or Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer.” I do a mean “Private Dancer.”

Twelve Days of Christmas

–Frederic Austen

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings,
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a laying,
Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves
And a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming,
Six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens,
Two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a milking,
Seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds,
Three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings,
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords a leaping,
Nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying,
Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves
And a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a leaping nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming,
Six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens,
Two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping, ten lords a leaping nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking,
Seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds,
Three French hens, two turtle doves and a Partridge in a pear tree.

https://play.google.com/music/preview/T4xcsoiy7wqyrlvghtebxleixq4?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics

See the Muppets and John Denver sing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDBMzGq1vhs

  • What “Private Dancer” (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/tinaturner/privatedancer.html) and “Twelve Days of Christmas” have in common is of course the dancing )as the children were preparing to do); they also have fantastic lists. Consider the various “forms” of the list: the listicle; the list or sequential poem; the shopping, to-do, check, and wish lists; there are opportunities for (another list): brainstorming as well as character, conflict, and point of view development.

 

Searching for Magic Words in Llano

bird

Walking laps in Llano Park, I suddenly understand where the term squeaky clean comes from. It is the noise the shoeshiners strive for as they are tending to the shoes of (mostly) men they only know from the belt down as their trunks are buried in the newspaper.

The park is all noise and commotion; even the people practicing Tai Chi add their peso’s worth to the hullabaloo.

There is a trio of awful trumpet players who improve with the arrival of half a dozen drummers.

There is a tamale vendor on a bicycle with a microphone! There are blenders at the juice stand.

There are children marching in formation and others posing at the fountain for pictures; they are synonymous with cacophony. The pigeons, too, pick boisterous fights amongst themselves, cooing throatily into each others faces.

Even this pigeon perched atop the Llano lion has plenty of babble to add.

It seems we are all vainly attempting  to reclaim our magic words.

“Magic Words,” after Nalunginq, in News of the Universe, poems of twofold consciousness, chosen and introduced by Robert Bly.

Magic Words

In the very earliest time,

when both people and animals lived on earth,

a person could become an animal if he wanted to

and an animal could become a human being.

Sometimes they were people

and sometimes animals

and there was no difference.

All spoke the same language.

That was the time when words were like magic.

The human mind had mysterious powers.

A word spoken by chance

might have strange consequences.

It would suddenly come alive

and what people wanted to happen could happen–

all you had to do was say it.

Nobody can explain this:

That’s the way it was.

  • “A word spoken by chance might have strange consequences.”

 

 

Ants

I walk the park for an hour with my eyes peeled for the story, the photo opp., the news of the world, and sometimes the hot gossip. This morning, trucks delivered the materials for a mini city, and I watched as seven industrious ant men carried pieces of metal the length of a truck bed. 

Uncomfortable with my analogy to wingless insects, I decided these were apprentice cross-bearers, practicing Jesuses, tirelessly carrying these burdens for us. 

My bewildering blending of parable and fable demands consideration of the fabulous poem, “The Three Ants,” by Kahil Gibran:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/58708

The Three Ants

Kahlil Gibran

Three ants met on the nose of a man who was asleep in the sun. And

after they had saluted one another, each according to the custom

of his tribe, they stood there conversing.

 

The first ant said, “These hills and plains are the most barren I

have known. I have searched all day for a grain of some sort, and

there is none to be found.”

 

Said the second ant, “I too have found nothing, though I have

visited every nook and glade. This is, I believe, what my people

call the soft, moving land where nothing grows.”

 

Then the third ant raised his head and said, “My friends, we are

standing now on the nose of the Supreme Ant, the mighty and infinite

Ant, whose body is so great that we cannot see it, whose shadow

is so vast that we cannot trace it, whose voice is so loud that we

cannot hear it; and He is omnipresent.”

 

When the third ant spoke thus the other ants looked at each other

and laughed.

 

At that moment the man moved and in his sleep raised his hand and

scratched his nose, and the three ants were crushed.

  • Make your own fable. 

I Worry for Flaco

flaco.jpgI greet this skinny dog every morning (with the exception of Fridays), and I watch as he moves, like a sunflower, to bask his face in the warm morning rays.  On my fifth lap he has grown lazier (as I have), and often rests his head on the sidewalk and can barely keep his eyes open.

He is full from lolling in light and tries to ignore my pursed lips calling his attention. (Though his ears betray his feigned apathy.)

I try to warn him that it is July and they are cleaning up the park and they have little tolerance for loiterers, even those with sweet, tanned faces. The tourists will be pouring into the city in fewer than two weeks; he needs most urgently to find a place to hide, a place far from those who want to sweep up all of the strays.

Perhaps the shoeshiner he prefers to be near has a refulgent yard in which to harbor my little skinny dog.

Speaking of having the “saucer of my heart [filled] with milky adoration…”

From Dharma

–Billy Collins

The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—

  • Play with personification; give an animal powers to do business or complete chores or head off into the world. Worry about him as if he were a son or a father.