Turn the Dark on its Head & Shake

After eighteen months of antisocial isolation, masked interactions, and all-round negativity, I found myself always looking for the dark, eschewing the light. This vicious circle isn’t good in any possible way. Personal relationships become strained, micro and macro outlooks tainted, and not of least import, writing suffers. Yes I contributed to a COVID Anthology (poem was successful); yes I was lucky enough to have a few darker pieces published (not that I am overly ‘light’ at the best of times); but I started feeling some dark repetitions creeping in everywhere. This darkness veiled how I looked at everything. So, this morning, I decided to try some positivity exercise. Immediately I noticed that this activity played directly into my writing.

A pickup truck was tailgating me (tailgating should be a cardinal sin), eventually passed on the wrong side, drifted back into my lane without a signal. Easy to get upset, but I tried to look at the scene from the ‘light’ side instead of the dark. Here’s how that went:

He is in a hurry.
Maybe he is a doctor, called for an emergency.
He can’t use his signal.
Maybe he is left-handed and resting his hand after a close call.
I wonder what kind of close call. Maybe it was…

And a story started blooming right then and there. So instead of brooding in the usual anger, I turned the situation on its head, shook it, and — lo and behold — little bits of story fell out. Not bad…

Will I be able to do this all the time? Highly doubtful. But, once in a while, I can a) keep the blood pressure down, and b) get a few ideas or images I can eventually use. Win / Win.

Within

pitch dark
where stars whiten
at the death —albeit short-lived— 
of the streetlamp
cycle-timed for conservation 
frogs creak and croak

he hears them 
   echoed
      reflected 
         deflected
from neighbouring
houses with windows
open to the calm evening air 
that carries the din

there are no thieves conspiring 
or ne’er-do-wells whispering plans 
for mischief

only frogs
those night-sounds that bounce
against constructions and preconceptions


From “Half Myths & Quarter Legends”
R L Raymond

Everything old is new again

Using vintage lenses makes photography fun – and you get to (re)learn the basics. Manipulation through aperture, shutter speed and ISO, along with manual focus, forces you to concentrate on the subject and the desired outcome. Search those old lenses out. Yard sales, parents’ or grandparents’ closets, online, second hand shops, all can yield cool glass that will guarantee hours of enjoyment and that polishing of your “artistic” skills. Don’t just focus on the internet darlings; any old lens will yield something different, often for a few dollars, or even for free. The flaws or imperfections will give your shots that character that breathes life into the images. No need for apps or filters.

Below: images shot with Fuji XT3, inexpensive Fotasy adapter, Minolta Rokkor 45mm f2 (free, from someone clearing out his basement).

Almost alien

Make your writing unusual

Seasonal Blue Moon © R L Raymond (Aug 21, 2021)

One of the best aspects of creative writing is the ability to manipulate, transform, mystify. Taking the everyday and making it sublime, ridiculous, awe-inspiring is a skill any writer should hone.

Anyone can describe. It takes a special talent to change what one sees in order to make in interesting, provocative, evocative for a reader. The “stuff” is the same, that original inspiration, but the execution is what counts. Without the ability to engage and entertain, we would all be but scribes, recording the everyday.

When you are writing, exercising the voice and vibe that makes the writing yours, remember that you must run everything through the filter of you. Failure to make the world around you yours, presented in such a way as to bring your world to others, will only result in boring retelling or rewording.

Always ask yourself:
● Is it presented in a new way?
● Is it exciting?
● Will people care?

Always answer:
● Yes
● Yes
● Yes

A dirty bowl

the dry well echoes
hollow
every sunday afternoon
with a coin secretly
palmed from the
collection plate
the tinny reverb plinked
stone-bounced
all the way down
to the dirt
in the empty bucket
inside

eyes closed
the child mutters
amid cicada shells
twice-dead and desiccated
picked from nearby trees
spiraling castanet
on the backs of
dust witches
dancing at his feet

the old man
startles him
fingering ash
from the bowl of his pipe
looking at his boots
speckled whitish-grey –

kid they all look for water
before they die
you’re just wasting
your time
and that money
wishing her back
she won’t come –
you may as well’ve been
praying for rain


From Sonofabitch Poems, R L Raymond, 2011