Monday, August 2, 2021

Amazed by the Muse

Erato, Muse of Poetry: Sir Edward Poynting (1836-1919)

 In science, music, art and even in ordinary conversation, where does inspiration come from? Often fresh ideas that well up in my mind both in dreams and in waking life seem so strange that it is easy to imagine that they come from somewhere outside myself. Thus the notion of a Muse is born, an actual disembodied entity, conventionally female, who favors the artist from time to time with hints and nudges of where to go next.

In the 1990s, I took part in an exciting public poetry movement in Boulder Creek, CA which was centered around the Boulder Creek Brewery, the Boulder Creek Bistro, and J.J. Webb's Poetry Grove a few miles north of town. As a frequent contributor to this poetic action, I was continually looking for inspiration and often appealed to my poetry Muse, in whatever realm She dwelt, for just one more original spark to light my lyre.

Since these poetry sessions were rather frequent, I practiced keeping my versical antennas open for Muse reception wherever I went. Which, in this particular case, happened to be a seaside gathering of the Holy Hemp Sisters.

In an era of severe marijuana prohibition, including daily military-style helicopter surveillance and the classic midnight "knock on the door" of families caught growing the forbidden flower, the Santa Cruz Holy Hemp Sisters responded with fun and good humor, their insignia being a strand of artificial hemp leaves worn in the hair, as a necklace or as a waistband. To get a sense of the HHS activities, here's a recent Facebook post by LB Johnson a prominent member of that Holy Sisterhood.
"Seems like another lifetime... The Holy Hemp Sisters, educating about the virtues of cannabis through outreach and events, 1990s. Special thanks and gratitude to Theodora Kerry for her tireless leadership, creativity and vision. Also to Sandra Pastorius for her wisdom words and tech skills at the time.

We put on some well attended creative events, Hemp Hop Heaven, and The Hallowed Weed (Oct 31), come to mind, along with many booths at festivals and street corners. One year we had a booth at the county fair and a fundamental Christian group labeled us witches and put out a flyer using the cauldron photo that we created for the Hallowed Weed event. Teehee... we got a kick outta that!
When Theodora and I were at the Jazz Heritage Festival in New Orleans, 1991, we got the news that the HH Sisters were mentioned in an article on the front page of the Wall St Journal. That was an awesome time, the good ol' days."

LB Johnson at the Seabright Beach Holy Hemp Sisters gathering

 Some time in the '90s I attended a Holy Hemp Sisters gathering on Seabright Beach just north of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. As the festivities were taking shape I decided to break from the group and walk along the ocean towards the Yacht Harbor. I was barefoot and enjoying the sensation of cold water washing over my feet as I walked along the shore.

As I was enjoying my salt-water foot bath, I noticed a beautiful woman in a long flowered skirt walking towards me from the opposite direction, a woman whom I surmised had nothing to do with the Hemp celebration. Then just as this woman approached within a yard of me, a larger than usual wavelet swept across the sand. The woman instinctively raised her long skirt out of reach of the water, affording a quick glimpse of her lovely legs just above above the knees. As we passed each another going our separate ways, I smiled at this accidental little erotic gift at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

i had not waded more than a few yards past this raised hem line encounter when I noticed, scratched in the sand in two-inch-high block letters, the following message, just seconds before it was erased by the incoming tide: WILL YOU MARRY ME? it said. Then the next wave swept the message away. Perhaps, I reasoned (my mind inclined to think in mythological terms by the cannabis molecules I had previously inhaled) the first encounter had signaled the presence of my Muse; while the second encounter showed me Her message. (Thank you, Sophia!) Which message I was eventually able to expand into this:

Will you marry me? said the sea
Will you take my name?
Yes I will, I answered back
And to the sea I came.
Will you marry me? said the sea
Will you be my fiancée?
I've spread myself beneath the moon
In kelp and coral lingerie.
Will you marry my estuary?
Will you copulate with my slough?
Do you take my foamy white breakers?
I will, said I, and I do.
But would you dare to wed the sea?
We practice deep polygamy
So He, She, It would marry thee
And no one ever leaves the sea.
Will you marry me? said the sea
Will you share my deep salty life?
Would you be the sea's newest husband?
Would you be the ocean's next wife?
Will you marry me? said the sea.
Would you offer me your heart?
Why get married? my heart replied
I've belonged to the sea from the Start.
Nick, amazed by the Muse