Whitman, Kerouac and the Open Road

stocksnap_r5eh9h9f9h_optAfoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, Continue reading Whitman, Kerouac and the Open Road

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Living Life on River Time

BCB56D60A5Many summers ago I was sitting on the levee watching the Mississippi, that venerable old man of rivers, as sacred as the Ganges and the Nile, proud and steady with a thousand tales screaming silently to be told. Though I had seen the river hundreds of times, it was during this one particular visit that I perceived it on its own terms. I felt as though I was seeing something observed before but only now fully realized in its own complexion and varied temperament for the first time. Continue reading Living Life on River Time

A Blue Ocean

1A05NM0NZKLetters travel across a blue ocean
Ascending toward the zenith   
Fluidity gives meaning between words
A continuous song from the misty sea
In between the meaning is heaven’s gate
Where Andromeda keeps her watch
I hear a blackbird sing upon arrival
A hawk glides overhead, it knows your name
Words have a way of telling more than we know
The ocean doesn’t seem so wide tonight.

For Little Bird

©jc2016-9  

 

Of The River and the City- Part 1

In the heart of the night In the cool falling rain, There’s a full moon in sight Shining down on the Ponchartrain And the river she rises Just like she use to do She’s so full of surprises She reminds me of you In the heart of the night Down in New Orleans.  -Paul Cotton

I was born in the city of New Orléans or maybe the proper wording is, ‘the city was born in me.’ For biology and geography do not always equate to the affections one may have with this city by the Mississippi River. However, this is the only hypothesis that offers any explanation to why a person born far from this storied land experiences an acute scene of being ‘one’ with the area while others born into it leave; never to return.

There is a love, hate relationship with the city and its environment and the rest of the world. If ask my place of birth, eyes will light up with enthusiasm or withdraw in contempt.  Both the interest and scorn associated with the amount of decadence and corruption New Orléans is infamous for. But this is only part of the story, as there exist a multitude of reasons to love or hate this place I call home and the clues lie within the cadence of the various personalities and the history that makes up this hallowed ground and how they unite into one symphony.

To get the full gist of my birth city, one needs to understand the character of the populace influenced by the geography of the area. How the passing of time from one generation to the next along with the constant ebbing and surging issuing forth from the Mississippi River through the centuries have affected the ethos of the culture, a culture rich in the hardships and miracles of life and the ability to say yes to living and to dying. The city is synonymous with the river and in many ways one born or moved to the environs of southeast Louisiana is forever influenced by the river and its lore. Hardly a day goes by that its force is not felt in one situation or another.

There exist a tug of war within my heart when I moved away years ago that never quite subsides. To stay can leave a person without direction wandering aimlessly in a desolate wasteland of his or her own making. To leave can haunt your soul, for a part of you is gone, never to return the same. Whether you stay or leave, a balance is required and the ability to pay homage to the mighty river and its city is of necessity. When I moved away I soon came to appreciate and love my place of birth all the while knowing I could never have stayed or could I ever move back. We each needed distance from each other, so in time we’d learn to love and respect one another.

There are many gods and demons in this land, and each one must be dealt a hand and given its due. They intersect, sometimes in harmony, other times in hostility. They come from every direction; from the Catholic Church to Voodoo rituals passed on from Haitian immigrants and influenced by each subsequent nationality that has come to call this land home; Spanish, French, English, Irish, Creole, Cajun, Native American, African, German and so on. So we light our candles, make the sign of the cross in front of every church, and buy our voodoo dolls… we dress up for Mardi Gras, go to confession on Ash Wednesday, fast for the 40 days of Lent and do it all over again after Easter, all to live in an uneasy peace with ourselves.

The French explorer, La Salle claimed the river and the land drained by its waters for France in 1682. The land named Louisiana after King Louis XIV while the river retained the French pronunciation of the Native American word, Misi sipi meaning “big water”, a dialect of the Algonquin language group comprising such tribes as the Ojibwa, Fox, Cheyenne, Cree and the Algonquin. The Lakota referred to the river as the “Grandfather of all Rivers”.

For La Salle, the Native Americans, and all who have seen the river and sense its greatness as it meanders down from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, some 2,340 miles, one is easily humbled by its grandeur. In numeric terms, it is staggering. If you judge the distance to the headwaters of its longest tributary, the Missouri River, the distance is 5,970 miles. At its birth, the river is twelve feet in width and only one and a half feet deep, a mere child; and as it gathers age on its long trek south the river is 3000 to 5000 feet wide with a depth of nine to twelve feet; a venerable respected elder.

About 593,000 cubic feet of water discharged every second, the sixth largest expulsion of water in the world. With its numerous tributaries, comprising other predominate rivers as the Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and the Arkansas rivers, about 1,150,000 square miles of land drained, the largest in North America as far as land mass concerned and the third largest in the world.

This consensus of water is a spiritual one, the godhead of waters. Orthodox, secular, and metaphysical, it knows no prejudice to any creed or dogma.  Hence the nicknames, Father of Waters or Old Man River…..

When I was younger, many nights I sat by the levee staring out at the expanse of water down from the crescent in the river across from Jackson Square. Sometimes I would ride the Algiers ferry over to the west bank. In my imagination, I saw the entanglement of river, land and city reminding me of the big and little dipper and the North Star. The river is Ursa Major, the Missouri and Ohio Rivers are Alfa and Beta, the Gulf of Mexico is Ursa Minor and the shining jewel of New Orléans, Polaris. It became a constellation, always there to guide me wherever I lay my hat.

©jc2015

Please read- Of The River and the City- Part 2

Please read- Of the River and the City-Pt.3-A Love Song for New Orleans

 

Every Picture Tells a Story

All things must pass” -George HarrisonIMG_1350

This is Levi, who belongs to a good friend of  mine. This picture, taken July 1st, 2015 was the last face I saw as I left Raleigh, North Carolina to move to St. Augustine, Fla. I will miss Levi as well as the many friends I’ve known for the past 15 years in which Raleigh has been my home.                                       -JC

 

Faith in Letting Go

perceval-300x300Our pilgrim, Sir Perceval rides his trusted mare to the Grail Castle that as of yet, he knows nothing of. He lets go of the reins and the horse leads the way. This is the way of faith… a feeling of deep-seated intuition and wonder. Certainly there is fear present, the kind that can whither the soul but would the journey be worth it if there wasn’t any trepidation? Our hero knows that to handle any sense of dread, one must embrace it, turn it around to do one’s bidding on the road to the inner adventure. Continue reading Faith in Letting Go

The Road

  The untold want by life and land ne’er granted.     FZQOV2XR3W                                                            Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find. –Walt Whitman- Untold Want

And what of the road, the open road, the path I walk; its sweet song that I fail to hear at times, I fail to appreciate out of bowing to my fear. To let go of fear, bid it adieu is to “live the life imagined”, as Thoreau so simply but effectively stated. Walk from this day forward and believe that it is so… right now standing in these shoes on this good earth. Continue reading The Road

A Heart for ‘Salt’

Mother, Mother Ocean, I have heard you call… Jimmy Buffett

A6926B7641One day I happened upon a Native American art gallery. The owner, a member of the Navajo, and I got into a conversation about his artwork. I was in the process of moving to another state at the time. He told me I was moving to a spiritual place where I would live for a number of years. But as with all spiritual places, I could not stay indefinitely; one day I would know when it was time for me to move and where I would travel to.  Continue reading A Heart for ‘Salt’

Quote6

7477420104_fa8ac899f4_h“I spent my entire youth writing slowly with revisions and endless rehashing speculation and deleting and got so I was writing one sentence a day and the sentence had no feeling…FEELING is what I like in art, not CRAFTINESS and the hiding of feelings.”
-Jack Kerouac

Words in Flight

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Digital CaptureIt is time my children, you must leave this fortress; the battlements turned down. As Perceval left the forest in search of the Grail he knew nothing about, there are new adventures at hand for you and for me that we can’t at this time perceive… new words to write and old ones to reprimand. But it is all for naught if you never enter the world.

Continue reading Words in Flight