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Invoking the Siren: & why those ships deserved the rocks

Here. I. Am.

I want to serve.

I want to be inspired &  honest.

I want you to be free.

I want you to say what you need to say.

I want you to do what YOU need to do.

Shut. The. Front. Door.   (!!!!) Ladies… we have our heading. It is time to invoke the Siren in all her glory and find something to rock on those rocks.

What needs a good smashing? Those ships need to be splintered, wrecked… UNdone. Go to your sketchbook/journal and make a list of THREE things you need to smash THIS week. What deserves the rocks? My list is: Procrastination. Doubt. Dissatisfaction. POW. When I look at what I’ve overcome, what I’ve battled and BingBlamSMASHED — everything I need is already in me.

*check it: New Mantra*

And Hey!!! It’s National Poetry Month!!! I packed my poetry away about 6 years ago (except when I’m teaching ‘Writing Without a Net’ at the KC Art Institute every summer). I didn’t know why, but I was just too depleted to introspect or make words of it (cue rant against cancer).  But recently, something happened. I got a group of students who were SO passionate, SO articulate, SO knee deep in REAL writing, that I pulled out the heavy stuff. Not the “for class” pieces I always use as examples of this style or that school, but in the open after-class space created between poets off the record, I read part of a poem that had been eerily foretelling of what was to come:

A Few Honest Words

When Art is felt as absence

and I sit alone and cold

I cut out little stars of sanity

to ward off the darkness

Having driven the angels

from my life

I prefer to follow the fleeting grace of stillness

my impetuous soul

feeding on things I can neither fathom

nor understand…


most afraid of an ironic finale

where my one friend


laughs its’ eternal HA HA

at my logic

finding faulty and vaguely incognito grunts

to mark my passing.

Digesting all doubt in my Cynical Soul

Using my poems to plug up the holes

Art again is felt as absence

the dam breaks

I glimpse salvation alone – bought and sold

forsaking all companions

I choose only my soul

the unconsolable motor driving me mad

knowing nothing

feeling nothing

fighting for my worth in nothing

but a few




Here’s what MadCass wrote to me afterward:At KCAI’S PCAL program, I thought it was so groovy that we got to choose a creative writing program. On the first day of class, after meeting Victoria, I was sure I had chosen correctly! She is a hot ball of energy, eager to learn and share and enlighten. It is nearly impossible not to get excited around her. Her eccentric personality makes students comfortable and unafraid to show their own personal flare. Her class definitely gave me a confidence boost. —  At one point we talked about slam poetry, and that was really cool to me. I had been interested in it previously, and written a few slam poems myself, but I think Victoria’s class is what really pushed me to write a LOT more. I shared my poetry with her after class, and she gave me some wonderful feedback. She also shared a poem with me that she had written called Cherry Thirteen. It had a great impact on me, and I respect her for taking personal interest in each student. Victoria is a strong, brilliant woman with a heart to be admired.” (*humble smile, BIG sloppy hug*)

Here’s the thing: As I began my professional career as a poet. I just wrote. I wrote EVERYthing. I ALMOST completed a creative writing degree and bailed the H*** out because I couldn’t SEE the way… And then, on sheer guts and passion, I put my experience and intuition where my insecurity was and gathered those who were seeking to write their truths. Working together, I gave them the tools to prepare for public performance and we ROCKED many venues with our most personal and profound revelations. (Photo from The BusEvent 1998 “Local artists performing at KC Metro Bus Stops to break down barriers between US and the communities we live in”.  Freaking Brilliant it was.)

I produced ‘Poetry for the People’ style events (a la the AMAZing June Jordan) then turned my eye on full out spoken word events. I produced Banned Books week events for the Free Speech Coalition – Kansas City, and built amazing bridges between young and old, male and female, black, red, and white.  I even anchored the Spoken Word event when we produced Rock the Vote/Rock the Nation KC. I turned my artist’s lens on EVERYthing , Every experience was slave to the words… And my words gave me a road map, a handle… a way the hell OUT of everything I’d been struggling with.

I had unlimited poetry and intoxicating expansive language… then I got cancer. In some bizarre twist, cancer stole my words. I couldn’t communicate. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t think. ( I REALLY did get reduced to “faulty and vaguely incognito grunts”!! How amazingly pre-emptive!)

I’m only now unraveling the implications, but suffice it to say, I lost my words.

It was fortunate that artistic inclination, like green space, finds a way. You can strip away the grasses and weeds, but nature just sprouts them someplace else. Brilliant. When my words failed, my hands spoke for me; my stitch was strong, and because I was brave enough to follow it, I was given a whole new language. That makes me pretty much unstoppable… and unbreakable. **deep bow to the Wisdom of the Cosmos** It took a battle for my life to see the Ruby Slipper lining, but (say it with me) Everything I needed was already in me. Now, can YOU believe that too?

What did u want when possibility was limitless? When you were invincible?  Before life got in the way, before death. What did you WANT?
Ladies? Artists, WHAT Do YOU WANT?
I know you’re out there, in there…  frustrated… faking it. What?  Let’s start there. Let’s start with giddy dreams, luscious perfect aspirations, all the promise of what COULD be – and let’s set the gypsy free. You’ve committed to smashing the bad… Now,  Let’s entertain, for a moment, in art, in life, the delicious possibility of “what if”.
What if you had no constraints.
What if you could dream and breathe free? What if you didn’t have to be afraid… of reprimand, of displeasing, of conflict, of failing.
what could we do?
Would you come with me on a journey, an adventure? Would you un-hand your precious soul and come with me? Past the woods… past the tiny little scary house… out to the misty expanse of possibility?

Now,  post-cancer, my words have returned, faithful prophet, faithful muse, with a laser focus, surround sound purpose… I have both written and visual languages now, and WE, You and me, together have a heading. Inspiration. Truth. Art. Thank you to my new students — I am so looking forward to our adventure! More art. More poetry. More Crunchy Munchy Groove…

Explore the Stitchers Garden Book

I spent my summers on Hilton Head Island with my Mom and we courted sunsets and seashells and sirens in the magic hour. One perfect day as we walked the long expanse of beach, Mom kicked off her shoes and turned to me behind her and said,”Better keep up, I might just siren out to sea…” Om Shanti. It’s time to Siren.

Be brave. It’s just you. Only freer.

So… Ever wanted to visit and revisit the same piece, but in different ways? Take a peek at One Creature-Two Views and consider the possibilities.

lately, I’ve been diving into the sketchbooks:

Today I have my 12 week post-op cancer check in. Only slightly unchilled — but I am WELL armed: I’m taking my sketchbook and my Husband.  *wink*


Birds, pansies, and sassy skeletons! You just never know who is going to get all written &  stitched up in the journals!!  Got any poetry in you? It IS the month after all…

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