How to make the art without the fear.

She was a complete stranger to me. Truth be told she still is — I do not know her name. And we never even spoke to each other.  But in our brief, barely-one-minute encounter, she opened me to a whole new way of alleviating my biggest fears around creating art and sharing it with the world.

There is not an artist alive who does not struggle with big fear around exposing themselves to a world that can often feel judgmental and punishing. While as creatives one of our greatest strengths is our vulnerability, that instinct to hold back or try to fit in can be majorly paralyzing.

How to break free? Here is a perfect start, and it’s so simple you’ll be able to draw strength from it many times over, for the rest of your life, no matter your age or endeavor. So I’ve recorded myself telling this story as a little six minute podcast which you can listen to by clicking the recording below (or you can just keep reading):

A few Saturdays ago, my husband and I were taking a walk through Tyler State Park and as we were coming up a hill there was a family coming the other way, and walking behind the dad and his son was the daughter and this tiny girl was singing at the top of her little lungs. Singing and watching the water of the stream rushing along, sunlight all tumbling down upon her hair through the trees. And as she sang – words completely incomprehensible, I literally have no idea what the words to this song were – she moved the lollipop in and out of her mouth.

And I was struck by the bigness of her presence, this tiny kid. This tiny creature booming inside the bigness of the world. And I thought isn’t this the way of things. We come into the world and for a brief time we are children spreading ourselves out into the world., exploring, getting messy, getting curious, being surprised and delighted, exhausting our little selves in all the very best ways. Playing. Then things inevitably happen to us, we are bullied, or we get bad grades or we are hurt deeply by someone we love or a pet dies or a friend moves away. And little by little, we become smaller and smaller. We grow bigger in size but as we do, we retreat farther and farther into ourselves. We protect ourselves from the bigness of the world, hoping that by becoming smaller we won’t hurt as much. If we are lucky we won’t be seen and then we cannot be hurt.

For me, writing is the way I learned to and am still learning – to fill out again. To remember that I am allowed to be here, to experience all the pleasure and all the pain of it. To take up space. In spite of all the ways life has tried to keep me small, I can still dare to expand into all of who I am. Enjoy the joy and use the pain as well. Both are sources of creativity. When I write sometimes I will think – can I say this? Can I reveal this? In so many ways I think creativity is to keep digging deeper and keep asking over and over – am I allowed? Am I allowed? To feel all of this? To feel the way I feel? To share that? Am I allowed to be this wild strange creature that I am? And not only be this creature but can I be her out loud? Can I be her where the world can hear me? See me? Judge me? Be influenced by me?

That little girl in the park – with her over sized sunglasses and cherry taffy stained lips and golden hair curling every which way as she bounced along – she had a song inside of her. that she wasn’t keeping to herself. She was happily and very deliberately singing it out loud. For her to hear. For people to hear. For the trees and the water and the rocks and the dogs and the birds and the flowers to hear. That’s all poetry is really, that’s all art is. Taking the songs you have inside and signing them out loud just to hear the way they sound. Just to remind yourself that you are allowed to be here. To feel all of it. To share all of it. We are allowed to grow big again – big like kids – grow big and take up space.

Not only are we allowed but we were meant to do this. We were designed to create, to sing, to write, to move, to make our art out loud.

So that’s the story of the stranger who opened my eyes, heart, and mind to a new way of creating art that feels the most like me at my most joyous and true.

In closing, I want to wish you an absolutely beautiful two weeks ahead. I am on vacation with my family next week, so it is very possible I will not be sending a note out on Monday the 18th. I’ll be thinking of you though, of course. And looking forward to returning to our Monday dates on the 25th, refreshed and salt-water rejuvenated  🙂

Until then…. as the mysterious stranger in my story would no doubt encourage you to do… go big. Dance like nobody’s watching, and sing like nobody’s listening.

With so much love and gratitude eternal,

Allison Marie

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// Rise //

I had been given too many hands, brought up with ravens nesting in my throat. Love is screaming down the hall, love is darkness tearing cracks in a house which cannot fall. I learned the secret as it was threaded, woman into woman into woman into me. My wrists rush full of your veins (you at the ankles of my budding devotion, you the ascending lotus flower, you the sinew of the mouth of lineage).

My name is a language, my name is a generation, my name is earth, my name is seven letters penned in the dirt.

My name is the name of the truth.

I made it split my tongue, this opalescent rain which fills my lungs. Wet this room at the center of my neglect, concave, dim; the white eyes of this dying celestial.

Fracture this calculated light where I hunger and crawl and thirst for the rivers, watch as my numbness scales every mountain if only to peel back the sky, death is but a kiss along the seabed of a dying moon. Teacher, read for me. If my words disturb you, feed your breath to the cells of my body until I speak again of gentleness, speak the name, all of the names within my name, embryos falling through my hands.

And we will turn our cold minds to emptiness; we will coax a taste for morning, begin to raise our faces from the dust.

.

 

// Darkness Falls //

I didn’t want it to be like this
you hanging by your teeth from my breast
and my not wanting to kiss you.
How the being of neglect walks alone through the hills
black cloaks and woodland creatures falling all around
my feet

the birds have come to nest
the birds have come to die

for lack of air in my lungs.
I could watch you spinning for as long as it takes
to stand the earth still
and freeze the clouds overhead in place,

write to me of the darkness you see. I want
to read the words you choose.

I bathe in cool darkness,
shower and dress and tug at my
neck
in darkness

line my lips and my eyes and stain my cheeks
with the smut and the ink

of the darkness in which
we dare not between us
speak.

.

.

// untitled //

are you okay
it seems like the corners of your eyes
have fallen
it seems like the way you hold onto my hand is
flowers dying on the cherry wooden table
next to a beautiful vase
by the window left
like curtains alone with the breeze.

up against the wall i thought i heard the sounds of time
footsteps coming down the hall
are you okay
when i’m in here they don’t tell me anything

the carpets are greensea and the dust
chokes the daylight.
i’m turning in my sleep
footsteps leaving down the back stairs.
screen your calls, you have no more to say but
i am waiting and the calls cannot get through
i’ve disconnected all the lines
not knowing is not better
(are you okay?)

but i’m afraid there will be no answer
so i keep the questions folded in small creases
inside my paperfoil heart.
i’m okay i’m okay i’m okay.

.

.

// Beg //

You unlock your mouth in dreams
undone by my adoration,
my heart continues
to divide.

What may I offer you to feast upon?
This body is sacred, this body is sick.

I drip as you beg
at the plastic edges of my sweet disturbance,

cry for the softmilk of my blood.

The pallid grasp of chemical hands
drowning the streets in her venomous drink,
sing for the weakness of thy flesh,
how charming the scent of dark, ripe seed.

In the place where love has never lived,
the mourning of love grows here:
spread wide and sodden atop the fading gravestone hills,
a cold nightwind gives birth

to a dying winter sky

our pleasured anguish writhing
beautifully beneath her.

.

.

// I Looked Up //

I looked up and I saw
you coming.
I saw the way you
have entered my life in footprints

I had mistaken for music.
The sky began spinning
golden spheres of watercolour globes
melting teardrops upon thick stems.

Life will be water. Life will bleed.

These were the endlessness of
fields wet with gray which unfolds forever.
I saw you raining up from the ocean
from clouds full of darkness.

I pulled your broken bones
from my throat
and we went again hungry.
They were affixing my lashes with feathers:

my eyes became heavy
my eyes became soft.

I saw you coming
and I saw you leave.

I wait for you
counting hymns in silence.
I watch the way sunlight
burns through the trees.

.

.

For Andy 

// The Truth of Who We Are //

We mistake so many monstrous things for strength and this to me is very dangerous. To label something strong and powerful for the wrong reasons. To call anything less than love and humility “strong” is to call weakness strength. It is to put our trust in what is false, unreal, incompetent and incapable of providing protection, inspiration, life.

With all that is happening in my country, the turmoil, manipulation and shame that has infiltrated the very fabric of our existence as a free nation, what I am most afraid of is our collectively losing our grasp on the truth. The truth of who we are, what we stand for, what we desire to become.

In these radical times what is threatened most is our own minds, our ability to think for ourselves, to break away from the hype. Where can we turn to trust anyone or anything?

We must become the most fundamental of truths.

We must search ourselves to uncover the love in the light and the darkness and we must hold tight to what we know. If it is not humble it is not strong. This we know. This one simple truth unblinds us, this simple truth would bring the world to its knees in praise of gentleness and compassion if we would only practice what we know to be true.

Only as much as we can trust ourselves and one another can we build anything at all.

Now is the time for art and writing and creativity which cuts to the very bones of the truth.

This is our work.

It matters.

.

.

// Fall for You //

You and I
delicate devils
murderous angels falling dustpink
upon the footsteps

of the dark

as I dance you eclipse me
your eyes along my slenderbones

moonglobes thrust into orbital
desire

kiss this grievous heaven
erupt in the mouth of this sweetpain
love as grace as you puncture

rupture resuscitate
my heart.

.

.

// The Lives We (Do Not) Live //

As I am writing this to you
another life curls herself
against my spine,
she whispers into someone else’s
ears, I mistake them

for my own.

I confuse our turning
toward one another

or away?

The life I have chosen

blooms upon
my chest
as the one which haunts me
stands beside us
always

still.

.

.

// I Hate You I Love You //

I hate the way you write. How you expertly unmask a thing I never felt worthy enough to claim. Baby teeth, bare breasts against a bare back shallow breathing, strip swimming in the lake behind my house on the last golden pages of summer. The red crest of dawn raining along the ocean waves, the space between my fingers as it wraps around your cigarette transporting it from your soft lips to mine.

The way I bite when I kiss you.

All of it makes me want to develop the codes that would bring entire global systems down. Nervous systems, subway systems, government, technology, religion, media, everything with screaming walls you cannot see but feel dividing up the cold chambers of your soul as you sit in bars blinking at screens trying to erase yourself.

I whistle your love songs and imagine pulling the plug on every light across the globe so all that is left to guide the lonely through the blackout streets are white electric clouds sweeping through tree limbs made windy of stars.

I do not know if this is love but the way you rise makes me want to shut everything down.

I want what you have to spread its million mouths wide inside my veins not to taste me but to breed into me, to bleed into me your terrible miraculous insides, to become a thing no one else can touch. An animal which cannot be given a name but all the sorrowslain people, they would give every last breath from their disintegrating lives for just one moment to be this new creature that we are. They would reach for us with beautiful hands as we vanish into the ether.

I wish I could say this in a way that reflects the way it is smoldering on the underside of my trembling tongue, with more elegance, with more grace. So I don’t sound so much like I’m full of grease and some kind of snaked inky greed but there it is. The truth is a gaping black chasm gouged in the table between us. I cannot help but follow my dark thoughts and they have led me here to you, to this crumbling naked room. The air between us growing thin, trying to get out the same way we got in, but the sand falls in too fast.

Two butterflies trapped in an hourglass falling from the sky.

As we observe each other’s bodies but do not speak, the doors of the past all close behind us and disappear.

Here we sit wet and glistening underground, here is the pit of my stomach of fangs and fears. My love, here are my hands and my heart and my sickness.

I beg of you for both of us: start digging.

.

.