Color of Creation

Color of Creation. Acrylic on canvas. 24″X 36″ Lex Leonard Artist.

Black of moonless night
We meet ourselves
Our grace, our wisdom

Red of blood
Poured upon the land
Giving life, feeding Earth

Yellow of morning sun
Rising new
Warmth and clarity

White of blinding light
Eyes adjust to acknowledge
Accept, transform

Green of Mother Earth
Tree of life
Sustaining all

We are colors of Creation
Weaving a web of intersection, 
connection

We are Sacred

We are One

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Author’s Note:

This painting and poem was inspired by my work with From Allies to Abolitionists and Emancipation Theater in Denver, CO.

Unintended Opus

My grandfather kept bees.

When he was old and done with shoe repair,
a farmer gave him a piece of land
on which to keep his bees
in exchange for his bees’s workin the farmer’s fields.

And when my grandfather came home
from a day with his bees,
it is the scent I remember.

It’s not the same
as opening a jar of store bought
refined honey.

It is a deep rich smell of honeycomb,
filled and emptied,
sweet,
intoxicating.

I close my eyes and I feel my grandfather’s joy.
And know my Polish ancestors’ approval.
I taste his golden elixir.

Nothing
like
store bought.

And that scent,
oh, that scent,
drills deeply into my soul.


I once visited an art gallery in Denver.
I walked into the door and
was transported into that soul space
where bees create
and my grandfather stewards.

An artist birthed an unintended opus in beeswax.

I stood for a very long time
as close as I would be allowed
just breathing.

Breathing in my grandfather’s memory,
being the beekeeper’s granddaughter
honoring him and the bees,
and the artist who would never know this ritual.

Today,
I unwrapped the packages
containing waxed cloth.
Bees waxed cloth, not vegan,
but kinder to the earth than plastic.

These will wrap our homemade bread
to keep them fresh.
With a hint of my grandpa.
And I breathed in that scent,
rich and soul pleasing.

And I sneezed.

And continue sneezing
as I sit and smile
at my grandfather
as he smiles back.

.

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Author’s Note.

Another opus to my grandfather and his bees as it appears in journal issue #12 at Wormwood Press Media.

Globeville

Globeville.

Born and raised

Next to the corner of 45th and Washington Street

In the back of my father’s TV repair storefront
Once the storefront to my grandfather’s shoe and
Radio repair shop

Grandparents from Poland and Yugoslavia
Building Holy Rosary Catholic Church
My father in the first 1st grade of Holy Rosary School
Me in the last 7th grade before the Bishop shut us down

Across the street from the Platte River and the Slovenian Home
Where wedding celebrations lasted days
And Santa came to give us plastic net stockings
Filled with stale candy and hopes of toys under our tree

Across the street where the woman, who left her son
With my father’s mother to care for because she couldn’t
Any longer,
That woman who stepped into the freezing Platte River
to lay down for the last time,
Her son safely held in a family of nine,
One more welcomed without question
Because my grandmother understood 

Across the street from the bus stop
Number 16
That would take me on Saturday mornings
To the Paramount for a cartoon and movie
And candy from the candy shop next door
And a walk through Woolworths
Dreaming of adding another ceramic horse
To my collection
Dreaming of the Stockshow and cowgirls

Across the street, then across the river
The Coliseum where I would ice skate
Watch the Rodeo
See the Circus
And the Monkees, my first concert

Along side of I70
Exit ramp feet from my front door
On the other side and through the underpass 
Tunnel
To school, my friends, the pool, and ball field

Across the street from the river 
That would overflow its banks
Days before Father’s Day 1965
Filling our basement with muck and water
To the top
And ruining my mother’s wedding gown
One once destined for me
Dreams drowned

In the dirt and gravel in my father’s
Parking lot were stones
Glittery and pink and gold and beautiful 
My hands picking the perfect ones
And, eventually, the EPA digging
Up the dirt in the yards of the homes 
Because of contamination 
But not ours because we were a “business”
Even though we lived thereAnd in my forties the
retro peritoneal liposarcoma
That would grow in my body
Because of the industrial poison
Floating down on me and my friends
And family

And angels surround us, 
We, the ones from Globeville,
A place forgotten long before
People now who are forgotten, too
It is just the way
Of the people of Globeville
The immigrants who came

To forget their homeland
To make a new one and then
Move away again
To forget
To leave behind their
Sweet little homes
Groomed yards and white fences
With candytuft and violas 
Planted in their lawns
Left to the industrial waste
Leaving it to those who have even less
And are now forgotten even further 

And the dreams of Globeville
Eaten away by the consumption 
Of progress
Forgetting the eyes and hearts
Of those who loved
Tended bees
Made potica
Prayed and played ball
And cradled the son
Of a woman who took
Her last breath
Filling her lungs with
The Platte River
Filling her skirts with
Ice water dragging her below and
Taking her away
From her beloved Globeville.

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Author’s Note:

Photo collage, Globeville, by Lex Leonard.

Poem and imaged appeard in journal issue #12 in Wormwood Press Media.

Finally, It Snowed

Finally, It Snowed

There is a certain light 
that comes with snow,

               an illumination.

Not sharply outlining individual design,

                                           minute detail, but

a larger realization of shapes and planes,

                          long winding paths,

                                      rectangles of roofs.

In snow there is a luxury of the roar now muted,

that bows and dampens

                           as chinks and chasms fill.

There is required stillness,

                                               at least for a while,

to realize the vast beyond, 

           the vanishing point…

…even if it’s just illusion, 

                                      snow piles,

gently bestowing time to rest.

In snow, fires lay down,

                 at least for a while,

to pause voracious appetites.

In balance of the opposite,

            there is room for another lens, point of view.

If only for a moment…

                                       …in snow,

we realize the other side of grand intention,

and know, in balance, 

         we evolve.

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Author’s Note:

From Journal Issue #11 at Wormwood Press Media.

The Reluctant Baker

 

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The Reluctant Baker

But you don’t eat bread.

I do now. Thin. Whole wheat. Dave’s.

Do they have it?

I don’t know.

I’ll get some yeast and start making bread again.
I’ve been wanting to do that.

Yay.

.
.
.
.

No toilet paper. No popcorn. No yeast.

You’re kidding?

.
.
.
.

I’m going to make sourdough.

Really?

We need to make a starter.
I can use a bowl but we will need some jars.

I cleaned out the shelves
and the recycling just came.
I got rid of the jars.
I think I have a pickle jar that’s almost empty.

.
.
.
.

I don’t think it’s working. 

It’s cold in the house.
Beer bread is good, too.

I’m going to keep going.

.
.
.
.

It smells sour.

I don’t smell anything.

You can’t smell this?

No.

Can you taste food?

I think so.

Let’s take your temperature just to be sure.

Okay,
but the starter doesn’t look
 like the pictures I’ve seen online.

It’s good. I can smell it.

Okay.

.
.
.
.

It’s not working. 

Do you want me to try?

Sure.

Then you can bake the bread.

Okay.

.
.
.
.

I emptied the pickle jar.
I put the starter in the jar
in the cabinet
near the stove.
It might be warmer up there. 

Okay.

.
.
.
.

It smells sour.

That’s how it’s supposed to smell.

But it smells like pickles.

It’ll be fine.

.
.
.
.

Ooooooooo….looooook.

What?

It has a few bubbles!!!!!

Uh. Huh.

It’s working.
Do you want to see?

When I come downstairs.

Okay.

.
.
.
.
It’s time to make bread!!!
I’m so excited.
When do you want to take over?

How about if you make the bread?

Okay.

.
.
.
.

Benny grunts.

Okay, here is a recipe that calls for lots of stuff.
How did people use to make this without all this stuff?
I just know they didn’t have all these fancy tools
to make bread a long time ago….

Benny sighs.

OMG.
Look at the number of steps.
A loaf of sourdough is going to take days to make.
Well, at least I’m home with little else to do.

Benny whines.

Okay, go chase the squirrel.
I’m going to find something easier.
There has to be something that is more sensible.
I know there must be.
I’m not a baker.
This is Colorado and a high altitude.
My mother always said you must adjust the recipe.
How do I do that?
Days.
It’s going to take days. 

Benny barks.

I’m coming.
Let’s go for a walk.
I need to make a plan.
We’re going for a walk!

Okay.

I’ll work on the bread when we get back.

Great.

“I’m going to make sourdough bread.”
What’s wrong with beer bread?
But noooooo,
it had to be sourdough.

What?

Nothing.
We’ll be back

Okay.

.
.
.
.

Awww, look how fluffy the starter is.
I think it grew!!!!

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.
.
.

It’s really sticky.  

.
.
.
.

Pull and turn.
Pull and turn.
Pull and turn.
Pull and turn.
Set the timer for 30 minutes.
Repeat for FOUR hours?

.
.
.
.

It’s soooo pretty.
You are such a pretty mound of flour and organisms.
Keep on going.
You can do this.
I know you can!

.
.
.
.

Let rest 6-18 hours.
Place in fridge for at least 12 hours.
Then bake.
You silly little round of nourishment. 

.
.
.
.

Yes.
Release. Patience. Trust.
In the time of virus.

Author’s Note:

The challenge in our writing group was to write dialogue. I tried to keep exclusively dialogue to see what I could bring about in a minimum of words. When it came to Benny my dog I had to rely on stage directions. No too sure how to write his sounds. I’ll work on it.

Winter Violets

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Winter Violets – acrylic and pen n watercolor paper – 18′ X 24″ – Lex Loenard

 

I didn’t know they are called winter violets
I know them as johnny jump ups, violas
They don’t bloom here in winter’s bite
They wait for spring to introduce themselves
They tuck in wherever they please
I cannot design their path
A surprise, a nod to independence, survival

                                                         winter violet
                                                         she carries
                                                         a tiny fire
                                                                   – Ami Tanaka

My grandmother grew them in her lawn
Candytuft their partner
Honeyed liquor for bees
Judicious steps for bare feet
A summer’s expedition 

                                                       violets here and there
                                                       in the ruins
                                                       of my burnt house
                                                                      – Chiyo-ni

It is snowing, again
Another kept quarantine
Amid no-contact solitude
Amid numbers piling up
Like snow
Like leaden slats of blighted ruins
Waiting for Phoenix to rise again
Or little purple yellow faces
Peeking out from beneath
A kept quarantine

                                                       no limit to kindness
                                                       winter violets
                                                                       – Mitsu Suzuki

There is a kindness of canvas
An artist’s peace
If just a glance, a moment to dwell
An offering
Rising through depths of piled forfeiture
There is a spark of hope
Purple yellow faces
A cycle not denied

 

Author’s Note –

I was graciously invited to attend an on-line reading of haiku by some amazing poets from the Pacific Northwest and around the world. They read one haiku – their own or another’s – and spoke of the meaning. It was in celebration of International Haiku Poetry Day. The theme was taken from The Poetry Society of America who invited poets to write about “poems they return to in difficult times – to find solace, perspective, or even moment of delight.” Thank you Cj Prince and Victor Ortiz for this brilliant opportunity to learn and grow.

In the short hour, three of the haiku included winter violets. The images stayed with me and deepened as each new winter violet popped its head up to speak.

I took it to the canvas first and played with a different process than I usually do. It is very difficult to photograph this image. It just doesn’t do it justice. You may get a better idea of what it looks like if you do close-ups of the above image.

Then I moved to write with the inspiration of the poets – Mitsu SuzukiChiyo-ni, and Ami Tanaka. Much gratitude.

Iron Rain

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Iron Rain

Iron Rain, acrylic on watercolor paper, 18″ X 24″, Lex Leonard

There is a planet faraway where the rain is made of iron…..

Helen placed her phone down on her lap. Her eyes were tired. The glow made them itch and when she read too long, especially when it was dark in the room, her eyes watered. 

Leaning her head back to rest against the wooden slats of her grandmother’s only remaining dining room chair, she let herself feel the water pool under her narrowed eyelids. And when there was no more room, she squeezed them tighter, shutting out all frivolous possibilities.

And tears ran down her cheeks, under her jaw, and dropped onto the screen of her phone. They puddled there. Not a lot but enough to catch the light of the moon through the attic window. 

Iron. Helen mused. As her eyes cleared she could see the moon glow in each drop, silvery, a bit like iron. And she wondered what iron raindrops sound like…

 

She never cried that hard before
sobs and snot ran down her blouse
she wiped, eyes, nose, blouse
in apology as if that would make a difference

The noise of each teardrop
full of anger, enraged, hot and molten
seized mid-air, became real
plunked onto her cheek then blouse
then to the ground

She shook,
she was cold in her raving madness,
the sound
the iron clinks
and clunks,
did anyone else hear

Why couldn’t anyone else hear

Bent to Earth she touched
each tear, each iron droplet

A memory 

She wanted to collect them
keep them safe
to remember
remember
remember

Why doesn’t anyone else remember

Her finger pressed,
a print
hers mixed with iron rain,
proof
of their existence
a mud, a plaster
a cast of what was 

Helen’s phone glowed at her. She blinked her eyes and wiped the screen on her skirt. The message was from Sarah. 

Want to have coffee.

Yes. Helen wanted coffee.

See you at Cassie’s in about an hour.

Yes. Helen wanted coffee, an iron brew to warm her from the inside.

She stood and walked by memory to the wall. She didn’t need a light to guide her to the switch. 

The light blinded her a bit. She made a note to change the bulb to something softer.  

Helen looked at herself in the mirror, straightened her hair, and noticed a delicate iron sheen on her cheeks.

 

Author’s Note:

I fell behind. Or should I say, I fell into the black hole. 

I’m finding this isolation and the bigger picture a time of many ups and downs.

I am learning not to deride myself for doing “nothing.” In the time of a pandemic simply surviving, taking a breath, opening my eyes, is the most important thing to do every day. 

I am learning to slow down. Pretty much everything is optional. There is not a big script that is my contract. Being is enough and if I chose to watch TV, fine. Cook. Fine. Meditate. Fine. Walk the dog. Fine. If I don’t do any of all that stuff I “should” be doing, ITS FREAKING FINE.

It was snowy and very cold these past two days and we didn’t get our twice a day doggo walks. That is part of the despair, I think.

But yesterday, our monthly writing group met over, wait for it, Zoom. I cancelled last month’s because it was at the very beginning of this pandemic and I just didn’t have a good feeling about bringing together my best friends in a public place to write. Many work in the schools, including myself. I just didn’t have a good feeling about it. I was right. Within the week, we were in self-isolation.

But seeing everyone and hearing their voices and listening to their writing was a joy.

Today I decided to play a bit and paint this to go along with my writing.

Our prompts were taken from headlines and five words. As always, we can use them however we wish. The rule is no rules. Some came from the Na/GloPoWriMo sight or gathered from the Internet:

Delicate. Spontaneous. Frivolous. Enraged. Narrowed.

  1. Hickory, Dickory, Dock, The Tortoise Played The….

  2. Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine Hippos’  May Be Restoring Columbia’s Ecosystem

  3. Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where The Rain Is Made Of Iron

  4. Family Colors Each Brick Of Their House With Colorful Chalk

Pandemic

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Pandemic.19

I don’t know your slipping away.
I don’t know you but numbers grow
With your decrease. We are afraid,
I don’t know your slipping away
While loved ones mourn. I just stay
Home, my only purpose, to sew.
I don’t know your slipping away.
I don’t know you, but numbers grow.

 

Author’s Note:

Today a triolet: – a poem of eight lines, typically of eight syllables each, rhyming abaaabab and so structured that the first line recurs as the fourth and seventh and the second as the eighth.

From Na/GloPoWriMo;

For today’s prompt (optional, as always), I’d like to challenge you to write a triolet. These eight-line poems involve repeating lines and a tight rhyme scheme. The repetitions and rhymes can lend themselves to humorous poems, as well as to poems expressing dramatic or sorrowful moods. And sometimes the repetitions can be used in deceptive ways, by splitting the words in a given line into different sentences, and making subtle changes, as in this powerful triolet by Sandra McPherson.

Grotto

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Grotto, acrylic and ink on watercolor paper, 18″X24″, Lex Leonard

In the beginning
a cavern gestation
dark, warm, fluid
underwater quiet
a den in which to grow
without worry
a place to become
what I am

Then I emerged
all new and shiny
ready to become more
still me, but more

There is no need for me to fear
This dark
This hollow
This stillness
This solitary space
Imposed

The other time, in three days
here was something new
and shiny
still the same
yet more
not in ways of musts and rules
but a knowing…there is more
and it doesn’t matter what that is
just a reminder
to be me, here and now

I, too, will emerge from this antre
shaking off many things
having been exiled to
dark, still, quiet in
sacred space
knowing there is more

 

Author’s Note:

This is day eleven of the National Poetry Writing Month/Global Writing Month. I didn’t post yesterday’s poem. It is at the bottom of this post. And today I am not writing to the prompt.

I began this painting yesterday. I am several years removed from celebrating the traditions of Holy Week and Easter. I celebrate in another way taking with me a life of of what serves me.

I have no specific religion, but I do believe in Source.

I do believe in holy and wise people who came here to help us realize what gifts we are. To help us realize that we are wonderfully and perfectly and beautifully made. This is our personal gift as well as a gift to all beings. And it is our purpose to share our beautiful selves. Flaws, if you must, and all.

As I painted this on Good Friday, I was in a place in my fear. In darkness. And I knew there was a message for me. I used only bone black and titanium white to begin after having blessed the canvas with the elements and opened the directions. This is my holy practice with my art.

As I sat with this, faces began to emerge from the strokes. Many faces, even a figure. I thought I might just darken a few lines of all the faces, but I stopped at the one that was most obvious. I knew I was going to add the quinacridone crimson. So this face emerge d surround by red, fire, hair. Me. So she stays. I’m posting below several image points along the way as I painted.

I am a certified Intentional Creativity instructor, Red Thread Guide, and poet. Using Intentional Creativity as a spiritual practice is a powerful addition to my other practices – Passage Meditation with the Blue Mountain Center for Meditation and my shamanic practice.

Life, for me, is about weaving together that which serves and sharing the gifts I have been given to help all beings realize their beauty within.

My Process: 1. Blessing the canvas with the elements. 2. Writing the intention. 3. Opening the directions. 4. Faces emerge.

 

NaPoWriMo Day 10

Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is another one from the archives, first suggested to us by long-time Na/GloPoWriMo participant Vince Gotera. It’s the hay(na)ku). Created by the poet Eileen Tabios and named by Vince, the hay(na)ku is a variant on the haiku. A hay(na)ku consists of a three-line stanza, where the first line has one word, the second line has two words, and the third line has three words. You can write just one, or chain several together into a longer poem. For example, you could write a hay(na)ku sonnet, like the one that Vince himself wrote back during NaPoWriMo 2012!

 

Evolution

Paramecium
Swimming obedience
Survival in tedium

Prometheus
Clayed resilience
Sparked life abundance

Bohemian
Soaring avian
Extant not oblivion

Microscopic
Story mythical
Consummate zenithal marrow

Bluejay

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Bluejay, acrylic and ink on watercolor paper, 18″x24″, Lex Leonard

Bluejay

Today is a spiral day the anger and the fear and the hopelessness all coming at once but organized one right after the other they greet me as i open my eyes and start my day i try to organize them for my brain and all they want is each one to be the first in line without exception impertinent little bastards impolite and quite pushy i get mad at the dog i am sharpe with my partner i am angry at myself for the dirty floor and the piles of stuff cluttering from a few weeks ago attempt at clearing out the clutter another failure my office my sacred space for meditating that must be clutter free i am at odds with myself because of those impish grins pushing to be first and most important and what they fucking don’t understand what i can’t seem to make them fucking understand is that they are not important enough to make me feel like shit and i breathe and listen to the birds and write this on watercolor paper to paint on when i am finished to bring healing and i hear the bluejay singing like i have never heard before he is happy at the bird feeder alone right now because all we can get is the cheap seed and the birds are spoiled and don’t like it and it is spring and there are other sources so it is his alone and when this is all over we will always buy the good stuff because that is what is important right now

 

 

Author’s Note:

The days spiral. Today is not such a good day. So it is to the canvas I go with my words. And then paint. Thank the Universe for Intentional Creativity.

From NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo:

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) is inspired by Kaschock’s use of space to organize her poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “concrete” poem – a poem in which the lines and words are organized to take a shape that reflects in some way the theme of the poem. This might seem like a very modernist idea, but poets have been writing concrete poems since the 1600s! Your poem can take a simple shape, like a box or ball, or maybe you’ll have fun trying something more elaborate, like this poem in the shape of a Christmas tree.