On Improvising: Music Can Dance if you let it.

And now for something completely different.

Music Can Dance if you let it.

“So, tell me about yourself”

 doesn’t sound quite right

when the person speaking

is in the middle

of a pelvic exam.

My pelvic exam.

What am I supposed to say to that?

“Well doc, this time last year

 you took my uterus

out through my hoo ha

 and named it Fergus,

You know more

about me than I do.”

 Would you have shot milk

from your nose

if I’d allowed myself to say

what I was thinking

instead of the tired

and rehearsed answer

that I always give

listing titles

Mom, Wife, Daughter,

safe things

and nothing else.

Years of training

Keep me from saying

what I really want.

The contrast between being

physically vulnerable

without knowing the freedom

of emotional vulnerability

does not escape me.

Music can dance if you let it

But it will be another four years

before I have the courage

to let it find me.

All rights reserved: CRC Publishing 2014

Twas the Night Before Lessons

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Twas The Night Before Lessons

By: Deana O’Hara

Twas the night before lessons and all through the house,
I start praying to the gods of blue grass:
Scruggs, Watson & Krauss
I’ve played all the rolls
both forward and back
but no matter how hard I try
this new song
it’s still whack.
It’s easy he said
What a lie.
What a ruse.
Instead of grassing,
I’m singing the blues.
He’ll listen
He’ll wince
He’ll encourage
and smile.
He’ll keep me as a student
at least for a while.
Teach has the patience
of good old Saint Nick.
Even if he makes me cut my nails
to the quick.
You’ll get it.
Keep trying
He say’s through the tears.
Once you start playing,
you’ll be grassing for years.

Mending My Life

Well written poetry heals souls.

Why bother using an Ivy League vocabulary when the truth is as simple as that?

Well

written

poetry

heals

souls.

When discussing great literature, I catch myself wanting to write as if I’ve graduated from Baylor instead of business college. That makes book reviews difficult for me sometimes. I want to match the intellect of the authors in question and write as if I were a scholar myself. My main problem with that however is the scholastic approach to writing does not match my day-to-day voice. I’m not an MFA graduate. I’m just me. Mac and Cheese as Molly calls me. Comfort food in many ways.

I went looking for my literary voice last year and found my heart. Granted my heart was at the time in a about a million pieces all over the floor. I was lost in the rubble when a ragtag band of modern-day poets and women’s rights activists invited me to internet tea last fall. We banded together as only women can and sifted through the debris of unmet needs, false hopes, unrealistic expectations of others and toxic co-dependency.  Their love and acceptance breathes life into my battle weary soul.

I have no idea how long I’d been holding my breath; it must have been a while. I just know that it had been long time since I’d had fresh air. I found a respite and breathing place with these women. I took big gulps of air at first and gushed quite a bit over their acceptance and caring. I’ve settled in quite nicely now and my heart rate and oxygen levels have returned to normal.

Recovering from a broken heart takes more time than I am sometimes willing to allow.  One of the unexpected bonuses, while I am picking up the pieces I discover that not all of them fit any more. This is good news. This means there is room for more —

More friends

More hope

More adventures

More love.

I have officially turned the corner and the scenery is to die for.

I wrote my first poem of sorts in many years on September 12 of 2011.  My poetic soul knows what I didn’t. You might say it was my battle cry.

The Fractured Mirror

To be handed one’s emotional ass on a silver platter and yet have so little regard for self, that the best revelation one can muster that anything is wrong  are stomach issues, persistent blushing, and chest pain is a travesty. While it is true that artists are capable of being emotionally empathetic to a fault and that our souls can easily be a magnet to acts of spiritual terrorism, we still have choices.

Does one choose to succumb to this warped sense of reality, thereby being a victim of the fractured mirror of others as well as their own learned misogynistic views? Or can the false mirror be broken and a new paradigm created?

Some world views are nothing more than a fractured reflection of one’s own self-hatred and false dichotomies.

Unrealistic expectations and lies of others do not define me. I DEFINE ME.

Thus began my journey back to wholeness and life. Molly gave us the following poem during my very first week of writing classes – I’d never read The Journey by Mary Oliver before. As soon as I read it, I knew I was home.

one day you finally knew what you had to do, and began. though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice, though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles, “mend my life!” – each voice cried, but you didn’t stop you knew what you had to do. though the wind pried with its stiff finger at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible, it was already late enough and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches & stones. but little by little as you left their voices behind the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds. and there was a new voice which you suddenly recognized as your own and that kept you company as you strode deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do, determined to save the only life you could save. – mary oliver

I’m continuing my journey next week by attending Poetry Book Camp led by Molly Fisk which means I won’t be here. While I’m gone might I suggest reading a good poetry book or better yet – write your own poems. Like I said – Well written poetry heals souls. Your soul is worth it.

I’ll be back before the month is out.

Take care.

Poem: The Cottonwood I lived in as a child…

Added 2:00 pm April 4. — Continuing with poetry month – my newest submission to the group — the prompt was “the cottonwood tree I lived in as a child.” In publishing this on my blog, I caused some confusion in my group — in light of that, I’m going to be more careful and probably keep my group writing separate from my blog writing. Learning a new thing means being willing to make mistakes.

The cottonwood tree I lived in as a child
sat on a hill
in a field far away.
Cattle lay with me
for respite from the heat.
A lone bull stood watch by day
and at night
hoot owls sang their song
while the moon rose
and cotton wisps
like wishes
flew through the air.

Poetry: Leather or Lace

April is poetry month. Today’s prompt was “A Little Love Poem.” Here is mine

Leather or Lace?

I used to be so afraid.

Of your size.

Your strength.

But your eyes speak peace.

You nuzzle my neck

I tickle your ears.

And we belong to each other.

The scoop swoosh scoop

of seamless motion

step by step

Hips in rhythm.

Fast or slow, we flow as one;

Even bareback.

I brush your hair.

And you eat out of my hand.

Sometimes you thump me on the head with yours

A love tap between friends.

And when you try to knock over the outhouse when I am in it

I know you love me too.

Poetry: Unfolding a Myth

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. ~Rumi

A Poetic Response by me.


Vicariously living off the wishes and dreams of others,

She spends her days lost in black and white.

Oblivious to her own pulse

Her life is spent like a cheap romance novel;

Gripping, yet void of real meaning.

Lost in fantasy;

Never truly loving

or living

She dies a stranger

to herself

and to the world.

Don’t be that woman.

Open your eyes to the life

and breath

and pulse of the women you are.

Breathe in the sensual poetry

of motion and living.

Glance long.

Smile back. 

Move slowly.

Drink deeply.

Love wholly. 

Live Abundantly.

Poetry: Chasing The Sun

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Though cattle low while birds sing
And the owl calls out its mourning song
The sun waits.

The gifted hours of evening’s slumber
Silently give way to morning’s heed.
Nature stirs with a half opened eye,
Waiting for the sound of the sun upon still waters.

Nature knows what I do not.
Try as I might,I cannot chase a sunrise.

Poetry: The Brag, I Live

I Live

A brag poem, written for Poetry Boot Camp.

I’m not supposed to be here.
I’m only 15 and an average student.
Broken Home
Missing Father
Alcoholic mother
Working to pay my way.
Kids like me
don’t get scholarships over seas.
Until now.
I’m in the middle of nowhere,
Grimslov College in Sweden.
Which is somewhere really
When I think about it.
A holding place with 50 others
from around the world.
I’m in orientation
Waiting to be set free and
chomping at the bit.
The scent of Polo Cologne
And expensive cigars
Sends me over an edge
That I never recover.
I can close my eyes
And still drink deeply
The scent of a man.
Leather, Wood
Tobacco and moss
Mingled with sweat,
fills every waking pour
And I believe I’m finally alive.
I haven’t forgotten her
Half woman
Half child.
Sheepishly,
I remember him.
Eyes so blue they melt the soul
A countenance so kind
That girls swoon.
Yale Boy: A sheep among wolves.
He is wise beyond his years
He satisfies nothing immediate
And points me rather to life.
There will always be boys.
This year is a gift.
Live it.
The fact that I am only 15
And he is 18
May be aiding his wisdom.
Oh, what a year to live.
I live a year of museums and art
Of the pomp and circumstance of the Nobel Awards
And meeting the king
Even if I do accidentally call him short.
I live and swim in the Baltic Sea
Tumbling backwards down a hill
When I my host family strips nude
In front of me.
I live trying wine and Italian food
In Stockholm with friends
Only to throw it up while
Watching The French Lieutenants’ Woman
Because I’m too young to live so quickly.
Stranded
With no money or cell

I live hitchhiking

Back to my town.
Picked up by Iranians,
I live and lie like a rug
convincing them I’m from Australia
and not an American.
I live beneath the Northern lights
wearing only baby doll jammies and ski boots,
because at 16
on top of the tallest mountain I’ve ever seen,
that seemed the appropriate attire.
I live to face down a drunken lumberjack
who doesn’t yet know he’s in drag and tries to kiss me,
by kicking him in the shins with those same ski boots.
I live to see the boys
who weren’t supposed to be in our cabin
jump out of the second story window
like lemmings off a cliff when I run to be rescued.
I live to see Duffy
foolishly stay behind
and receive a black eye
defending my honor.
I live to come home again and chomp at the bit.
I live many years
Through careers
Through marriage
Through sickness and health.
I live in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma
which is somewhere really.
Raising a family
That’s almost grown.
I live and I wonder what’s next for me.
I remember the scent of a man,
wise beyond his years,
and it does nothing to satisfy the immediate.
It just points me to life.
 There will always be boys.
This life is a gift.
Live it.
This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved.

Voice: Who Speaks For You?

Photo from istock.

You can’t find your voice if you only let others speak for you.

I love the photo from istock. The person in the middle standing out in red with their arms in the air seems so freeing. A visual “ME! I’m here!” in a sea of beige. It speaks to me and so does the quote about letting others speak for me. I think I’ve spent most of my life handing off personal power and pieces of my identity for peace.

I’m only on week two of my voice studies and my brain is already overflowing with Ah Ha moments and inspiration. The assignments have been relatively simple really and yet scary at the same time. I have an Associates Degree while everyone else appears to have a Masters in Lit or higher – heck yes I’m comparing. It scares me.

It’s no coincidence that I would find a writers voice class in the same season that I am questioning my own beliefs about life in general and wondering whose voice really transfers over. Is it my voice people hear or is my version of someone’s expectations? Since I don’t know the answer, I believe that is a question worth exploring.

My journaling goes beyond the lessons these days as I look at why I choose certain phrases and where opinions come from. Am I being rebellious? Am I being afraid? Am I being a parrot? or Am I being me?

Writing has become enjoyable again.  They don’t know me. There are no expectations of specific character and behavior. I have the freedom and permission to try on voices like a teenager tries on clothes. There’s no box to fit into.

This class is as freeing as the day I learned how to do stand up — granted I hope and pray writing produces better results.  Or maybe the fruit that seed planted *is* growing. Maybe stand-up is just another part of the path of finding myself again. Once I learned how to tell jokes on stage – kill or die trying – other things (like going back to being a Democrat) don’t seem nearly as formidable. I’m eyeball deep in Republicans, trust me when I say that changing back is a bit formidable. Other questions do arise however:

  • Just because I’m a Christian does that mean I *have* to talk about God all the time?
  • Can I have opinions that are left of center rather than right?
  • Can I talk about something else like how hard being middle-aged is sometimes?
  • Can I talk about love or nature or even sex.
  • Can I talk about the really sexy artist/poet that makes me melt?
  • I’m a Mom but do I have to talk about my kids?

Can I swear?

Anne Lamott does.

I remember the first time I read Traveling Mercies and I saw the F-word. It knocked my sensibilities right out of my socks and caused me to double-check the jacket. Yep, she’s a Christian.  My eyes lit up, I giggled and looked around wondering if anyone had heard what I just read. Then something magical happened, my soul settled deep into my reading chair and by the end of the book – I wanted dreadlocks too.

Wanting them and actually getting them are not the same thing. Trying them on for size? Totally worth it.  I just didn’t know how I was going to do that. I finally had my chance while on a cruise with some new artist friends and had my hair braided on the beach in Costa Maya last Spring. They lasted all of 12 hours. Dreadlocks  aren’t me after all — the wires kept poking me. I finally sat straight up in bed at 2 in the morning and spent two hours taking them out.

I don’t have to copy someone’s look or voice or opinion to fit in. And if I do then they aren’t my tribe.

I don’t have to be Anne Lamott or ee cummings or CS Lewis to be a writer. I don’t have to live off of someone else’s faith to be a Christian either.  I just have to be wholly me whatever that entails.

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. October 26, 2011. All rights reserved.