Tuesday, January 31, 2017

~ cranberry juice ~

Driving to a destination not planned
with the windows down, allowing
the sun to bless me for the day.
A mason jar of fresh cranberry juice,
hint of lime,
seated next to me, refresh and
tingle my tongue, giving me
reassurance that the sun is real.
Listening to music that smells
like fresh laundry pulled in from outside.
The journey is within my blood,
seeking release and to be shared
with those who still see the dark.
Those who seek with hands, touching
life and not giving up until the
glass of cranberry juice quenches their thirst.
This is who I am - 
free, untamed, bohemian, sensualist - 
as reminded by someone who sees me
as I truly am.
Viridian, my freedom colour,
setting me away from the world
and yet thrive within it; the feeling
of knowing that this is NOW,
of here, right and now.
Taoist teachings lend strength
to the winds that speak my name.
edging me to go on and on.
Never turn back.
Never regret. Never surrender.
Follow the flow as directed by
the black wings of the Raven,
the eyes of the goddess who blesses me.
I refuse to close my eyes
and shut out that which is before me - 
of welded steel carried by the 
old Samurai who wants to teach me
how to dance in the air
and bring fear to my enemies.
One drop of the cranberry juice
reminds me to keep alive that
which those have tried to poison.
Fly fast and true, wings given by 
my goddess of War and Death.
Fly onward in the journey.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Memories of Cypress Parish

Reading Elise Blackwell is quite an enjoyment; her words evoke such imagery and emotions that could only come from someone who has seen and experienced much in their life. Although she and I have never met face to face, I consider her to be a friend, if only in the aether.

The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish is a reflection, albeit a fictional one, of a man looking back on his life and the choices he made during the Spring of 1927. Louis Proby, now an old man, is awaiting the "arrival" of Hurricane Katrina, yet his mind goes back in time to when New Orleans first flooded in 1927. During that year, he was a strapping 17 year old man in Cypress, Louisiana who had seen little yet knew that there was more to Life. During this Spring, he fell in love and lost his virginity, made friends with men in high places, experienced the big city of New Orleans in all its glorified debauchery, and was a victim of a flooding that shouldn't have happened in the first place.

His father was an upright and fair man with both whites and blacks, his mother was a pious woman, and his siblings carried their own personalities. I do have to admit that out of all his siblings, I preferred Emily and her connection to the world through her sense of smell. Although Louis' father wants him to be a doctor, Louis desires something else, something grander than what he experiences in the day to day. In thanks to his friend, the artist Gaspar Anderson, he understands that the world is what you make of it; a muddy river can hold so many colours, and a simple girl can be on the verge of exploding into a woman who can feel more than others.

Elise has this thing with her writing that I simply adore - her quiet words create such magick across the pages. The rhythm of what she is trying to convey is simple and direct yet with a hushed sense that holds so much power within. She reveals much with very little as others try to do with over 1000 pages. I always enjoy a book when I can feel myself there among the characters; I had no trouble slipping back in time to 1920s Louisiana and watching Louis come into his own under the threat of a flood. This book, along with all of her others, is highly recommended.

Thank you, as always, Elise.


Monday, January 23, 2017

He Who Rules the Oceans is No One

As much I love adventure novels, I truly have no excuse for reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne so late in my life. This classic novel by Jules Verne is a grand mixture of suspense, history and adventure as three men from different backgrounds meet a man who is unlike any man they'd ever met.

After several sightings of a mysterious new fish in the oceans, Professor Aronnax and his servant Conseil, and Ned Land, a fierce and courageous harpooner, take to the warship Abraham Lincoln to solve the mystery. However, after their ship is sunk by the mysterious creature, the three survivors discover that their "foe" is not animal but rather of machine - the infamous submarine the Nautilus - and Captain Nemo at the helm. As Nemo takes them in with distinct instructions that they will never leave the Nautilus, the trio are soon crossing through seas and oceans, making discoveries while visiting the watery graves of many a sunken ship. Aronnax, our narrator, provides us with clear accounts of braving through icebergs and getting trapped in one, seeing the lost continent of Atlantis, fighting off sharks, burying the dead in a coral cemetery, and battling giant squid who have a taste for man flesh (that scene was AMAZING, by the way)

While the adventures and discoveries seem to never end, the trio do remind themselves that they are prisoners in the Nautilus - they can never leave. Nemo, a bitter man against the world, sees fits to never set foot on true land again or interact with other people of the world. He finds freedom in the water and makes it his home - a place with no rules. Yet, and I found myself thinking about this at great length - is Nemo a self imposed prisoner as well? Did he confuse freedom with prison? I've read several books that talk of people who, after getting fed up with the world, decide to strike out on their own and find some secluded spot to create a new life - books such as Into the Wild and Walden come to mind. Yet, as with Nemo, I have to wonder if we are truly capable of cutting ourselves off from other people, to live in seclusion and away from the rules of the world.  Aronnax, on several occasions, thinks his host to be mad in emotion and feeling. Is Nemo mad, or perhaps something else entirely?

I saw the Disney movie several years ago and loved it, yet the book is much darker and more in depth as to Nemo's psyche, two things that I absolutely love. This story will stay with me for quite some time - if not for the darkness within Nemo, then definitely for the detailed descriptions of ocean life as provided by Aronnax. I felt as though I was right there with them, watching the ocean reveal its beauty as far as the eye could see.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

~ warrior poet ~

Today, she shall fly
with wings made of letters,
symbols forgotten, and emotions discarded.
Today, she shall call herself
warrior poet. The pen can
destroy the sword. Ink
falling like blood across the pages.
Today, she shall see the world
with multicoloured eyes
and an old soul that smells
like oolong tea.
Today, she shall refuse the light 
in search of the Darkness
that becomes her true and first friend.
Of black and hidden.
Today, I am her and she is somewhere else.
Today, she is born.

(photo taken at Woodruff Fontaine House, Memphis, Tennessee)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

We Need to Dance in the Fire

I have known Arthur Hinds and Kathryn Hinds for several years - they are two of the most creative, energetic, loving, and just amazing people I've ever known. While Kathryn is a master of the Written Word, Arthur is quite the Bard. Coming from the band Emerald Rose, Arthur has created three solo CDs, each showing off his ability to weave words and reflections with great music. Such is the case with the CD Dance In the Fire - twelve songs that will make you smile, think, and compel you to live your life to the fullest.

From the opening title track to the end song of "Turn the Wheel", Hinds has crafted songs that will linger in your mind and soul for a long time. Rather than do a breakdown of each song, I want to talk about several of my favourite tracks. "Spirit Chant" has a nice combination of Middle Eastern and pagan influences that will have your body moving before you even realize it. The song speaks of connections between all people and the Earth - something we all need to understand and embrace. Although I love Frank Sinatra singing "Witchcraft", Arthur puts his own spin on the song, breathing a new breath into such a classic. "Set Your Spirit Free" is another song that will have you moving while giving you the "push" to open your mind and live your life. "Turn the Wheel", another chant song, rounds out the CD well with the "images" of being out to sea as the Wheel turns in all of us. Although each song on the CD is priceless and needs to be listened to repeatedly, these particular songs stuck out in my mind.

If you are looking for music to speaks to your soul no matter your background, race, gender, whatever, you need to give Arthur Hinds a listen.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Orleans in a Cup - New Tea Blend!

Kristin Fouquet's books and photography embody what it means to be in New Orleans - the spirit, eccentricity, and passion are conveyed quite well. I fell in love with her words when I read the book Surreptitiously Yours and since then, devoured all of her works. So, it came as no surprise that I had to create a tea for her and her publishing house, Le Salon.

May I present to you, the NEW tea blend from Viridian Tea Company - Le Salon Tea!

I made the blend not too long ago; when I opened the container to take the above photograph tonight, my senses went into overdrive. This heady and sensual mixture of assam tea, dandelion, and rose hips is quite the blend. This blend, to me, is Fouquet's NOLA.

The tea blend will be available in my Etsy store, ViridianTeaCompany, my booth at the Cooper Young Community Farmers Market, and at The Broom Closet in the South Main District of Memphis.

And while you're at it, purchase Fouquet's books through Le Salon or on Amazon - you will not be disappointed. See my previous reviews of her four books.

May Your Cup Never Dry!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's a BooDADDY of a Blend!

Ready for the first NEW tea blend of 2017?

May I present to you, on behalf of Viridian Tea Company -

Jake's BooDaddy Tea Blend!

The blend, as inspired by the book, The Accidental Detective by Nikki Nelson-Hicks, consists of sencha green tea, lavender, rose hips, and sage. The perfect blend to protect you from the horrors of the swamps and voodoo chickens!

The tea is available through my Etsy store, ViridianTeaCompany, as well as The Broom Closet in the South Main District of Memphis, with other areas coming soon. The blend will also be available at my booth at the Cooper Young Farmers Market on Saturdays, as well as all conventions that I attend.

And while you're at it, go check out the book The Accidental Detective, as published through ProSe Press! A great read (go check out my review of the book earlier in my blog!)

May Your Cup Never Dry!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

. . . . and the hippos . . .

And The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks is the long lost collaboration between William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, two members of the Beat Generation. This book is a kiss on the cheek of the world in which they inhabited: drinking, sex, drugs, books, and freedom. And murder. This book is the fictionalized retelling of an actual murder that occurred in 1944, as told through the voices of the Beats. Each chapter is told from either the perspective of Mike Ryko (Kerouac) or Will Dennison (Burroughs), and each chapter does have its own flow and distinct voice. When the murder finally occurs, it's almost thrown in as an after thought amid the constant flow of alcohol. This book also reads well while listening to jazz. A lot of jazz.

I fell in love with Kerouac (Ti Jean) several years ago after reading On The Road; I later visited his grave in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac fueled the flames of wanderlust, creativity, and freedom for me. Burroughs was a distant respect for me - if you have ever read Naked Lunch, you'll understand. I think I read that book twice and it still confused the hell out of me. I watched the movie before the reading the book - bad decision. Still, like all other literary movements, the Beat Generation very much has a place in the world of books. Their wild adventures and books that told all is one of my many writing inspirations - in fact, I received the green light from my publisher to begin writing a series that is set in the Beat Generation's world.

Thank you, as always, Jack and William.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Shadow King - Chapter One

A single thread, silent and grey,
fleeting, moment.
It tells of how we met. That night
perched outside my window.
He watched me, silent thread
wrapped in fog and mist.
To be claimed by a being
neither of Death nor of Life.
The Shadow King, with crown of black thorns
gently prick, easing the suffering
of those who wish to hide.
Indigo, deeper than nightfall,
embrace my body and claim
that which is secret.
I have no sins to confess, only that I love you.
Forever more, never nothing;
single thread shall tell all.
Come, King, and sit beside me.
Hold my hand and seek the scent
that comes when I hide my fears from you.
You claim to love me, you who bear black,
you whose eyes move like a flame in joy.
Make me into that which keeps you
from being lonely and human.
And I, this woman of flesh colour of caramel,
shall evermore love you then.

(Hollywood Cemetery - Jackson, Tennessee)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Stain of Madness That Smells Sweet

After giving myself enough of a break, I decided to return to a world I truly love and enjoy - the world of writer/photographer Kristin Fouquet - The Olive Stain and Other Stories as published through Le Salon Press. These stories, mixed with lovely black and white cemetery photography, is the "darkest" book of her collection. However, the stories and photographs still ring Fouquet in her unique style and creativity.

I won't go into the short stories except that they are all good! However, I will talk about the main story - The Olive Stain. The story is thus: Millie, after many years of absence, visits her older brother Raymond and his partner Byron in their lovely New Orleans home. All seems to be well except for a curious stain on the wall in the nursery that smells of Sweet Olive. Suddenly, the past comes alive as the true nature of the house shows itself to Millie . . . only too late.

I literally read this book about twenty minutes ago - a perfect read while having a picnic in a cemetery or in a secluded cafe that reeks of gossip and lipstick stained cigarettes. Fouquet is a master of the macabre, the eccentric, the eclectic, and a day in the life of New Orleans. Her photographs are another way of conveying her creative voice and are just as divine.

Thank you again, Kristin!


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Are You . . . PECULIAR?

I really wasn't too sure what to expect from Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, yet once I began the strange tale, I found that I could not stop reading it. This book, the first in the trilogy and also a film, should be and will be devoured. It is not only a tale of magick and wonder, but also of great sadness, and a look upon that most frail of all things - the human condition.

Jacob Portman is a sixteen year old boy who has no idea what he wants in his life. The only goal in his life so far is to get fired from his job, the one that, unfortunately, he has due to his wealthy and somewhat neglectful mother. He has one friend and Life does not appear to be anything spectacular. However, he has a strong connection with his granddad, a teller of stories about his younger days. When Jacob was little, his granddad would tell him stories about a peculiar place he used to live in, a place in which girls could levitate off the ground, or boys who had bees living inside of them, or invisible boys who refused to wear clothes. When Jacob answers a call made by his frantic granddad, he goes to his house and finds him dead in the woods. Suddenly, the stories from the past have returned and Jacob must travel to Wales to discover just why they have returned and, more importantly, learn that they never died.

This book, laden with vintage photographs, is an excellent read for young adults and adults who refuse to stop believing in that which can not be explained. When I reached the explanation for the Peculiar Children, my head began to swim with ideas - a lot of what ifs. The story, told from the perspective of Jacob, shows a progression from wallflower kid with no life to one who shows confidence, acceptance, and a willingness to believe. His father is a man who spends his time working on ornithology projects that he knows will never be finished; he never had the closeness with his father as Jacob did with him. It feels as though the magick skipped him completely and therefore, keeps him "stuck" in his own limiting world. Yet Jacob refuses to just "walk away" from what has been handed to him. He takes it, understands it, and even makes it his own. That's what every true hero does in one way or another.

Bravo to Mr. Riggs for writing such an exquisite book. I look forward to returning to this world soon with Hollow City.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Race and Love In the Caribbean

Toni Morrison is one of the reasons why I am an author. When I first read The Bluest Eye many years ago, I felt magic in her tragic words. Since then, I read most of her other works, yet in looking back, I feel as though I missed something. So, I've returned to her books and discovered that the magic is just as powerful as before, even with older eyes.

Tar Baby, one of her better works, tells the story of Isle de Chevalier resident Valerian Street (candy company millionaire), his wife Margaret (former Miss Maine who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks), and their servants Sidney, Ondine, Yardman, and Mary. While Yardman and Mary are outside workers, Sydney and Ondine are the inside help of the fading beauty queen and her much older husband. Valerian treats Sydney and Ondine like family to an extent, while Margaret finds herself trying to get close to Ondine and her "ward", Jadine. Jadine is a supermodel with light caramel skin, a world traveler, and one who is used to the finer things in life, of which both families provide for her. However, everything is thrown into chaos when a black man is discovered in Margaret's closet. The man, named Son, is a stowaway who's looking for food and a place to hide. He is a commoner, a ruffian and while Sydney, Ondine, and Margaret will have nothing to do with him, Valerian, with a grin, invites the scraggly man to dinner.

Tar Baby is of colour lines - when to keep at a safe distance and when to blur - and how love is both comforting and tragic. The love a man has for a woman, even when told that it won't amount to anything. The love a mother will have for her son, even when she abuses him via cigarette burns and pricks of a pin. The love a woman will have for her freedom at any cost. And, the love of one's identity when cast as a savage animal among your own race. This book will stay with you long after you have finished reading. Tar Baby is a gentle/harsh reminder that race has been and always will be a factor among humans, and that love takes many forms, no matter how disastrous.