The Singing Heart

image from pixabay

The crowd stared at the naked young man, at the heart beating outside his skin, as it had since birth, and at the well behind him, from which he had been extracted by the elders. Twenty years ago, when he’d gone missing, an inhuman singing began here at the well at the center of the village. A chanting in the night.

The pastry chef, who was awake at odd hours preparing his sweets, heard it first and woke his wife. She told the neighbors, and soon everyone was listening in the dark, losing sleep.

By God’s grace, a small hunting party returned from the woods with news of demons–demons with hearts beating outside their scaly chests, singing a cryptic but pertinent riddle for the discerning:

Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things?

{This was inspired by a prompt from Sanaa at dVerse for Prosery on May 10, 2021. Unfortunately, I’m much too late to join in, but I wanted to credit the source of the prompt. Prosery is a regular feature at dVerse that requires participants to create a piece of flash fiction of 144 words or less, using a line of poetry that is provided. In this case, the line is from “Heartbeat” by Rainer Maria Rilke. The line: Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things? must be unaltered and included in the total word count.}

Can Old School Blogging Save My Writer’s Soul?

One of my all-time favorite songs is Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles. Ironically, video also killed the blog, as did every other social media platform.

I began my very first blog before social media as we know it today existed, and this is my fourth personal blog. There was a time when I used to post every day. Now I struggle to post once a month.

It seems like I’ve been forever trying to figure out how to write more. Of course I want to write better. But doesn’t writing more mean writing better? So why haven’t I been writing as much as I’d like to? The truth is I lost the feeling of joy at the thought of publishing a post to my blog a long time ago–circa 2009 to be precise.

Do you remember when blogs were interesting? Before branding and niches? When bloggers weren’t quite so…impersonal? So voiceless and polished? When posts weren’t SEO-driven, marketable (God I hate that word), and utilitarian? In those days, the blog was a humble, eclectic, and sometimes messy (but delightfully authentic) treat to read. And to write.

Today’s blog is often superficial. Commercial. Unoriginal. The internet has been flooded with money-making blogs for the past decade. Blogs that are so full of ads and promotions, pop-ups and marketing (there’s that word again), that you can hardly find the content you were searching for.

The blog’s transformation from its organic, wholesome, democratic roots to a vapid capitalist enterprise was swift and tragic. It’s been quite the revelation to me that my writer’s soul has been one of its casualties. I became plagued with perfectionism, preoccupied with keeping up with trends, and afraid of putting anything in writing that might not measure up to the standards of the marketplace.

It wasn’t that I no longer wanted to blog, it was that I no longer wanted to blog like that.

I don’t care how many words the experts say the ideal blog post should have. Or whether I have found the perfect Google-searched click-bait title. The one rule I am keeping is: the advantage of consistency for the content creator. No one wants to read a blog that posts inconsistently. I know I don’t.

My primary writing goal in 2021 is going to be to show up and write here as often as I can. No one has compelling revelations every day, but there is something in the everyday and the ordinary worth sharing. My inner blog guru will try to make me feel small and unimportant, but the old school blogger in me says, “Write on!”

The old school blog is needed today, and I have a hunch I’m not the only one who misses it.

A Fool’s Gift

Screen Shot 2020-08-19 at 8.30.55 PM
Holy Fool Surrounded by Pilgrims (1872) by Vasily Perov

You delight in tales,
not history or achievements,
in parables ancient and abstract.
Your ways are bloodless.

Fearing nothing but God
and your own human heart,
you are no mere jester,
no sophisticated mime,
or vulgar clown.

The face of a fool is intimate,
not subtle, not philosophical.
You are gifted, though, and deft
at unraveling mystery and depth,
at exchanging rhetoric for art.

{This poem was inspired by the dVerse prompt which asks us to:

Write a poem using the word clown or a word – real or created – with clown as the root.

I am not at all a fan of clowns. I find them quite frightening.

Some poets decided to go the horror route with this prompt. Some went political. (Clowns and politicians just go hand in hand don’t they?)

Mine went a different direction. The Fool fits loosely under the clown category. I have always been intrigued by the archetype of the Fool, and in particular the Holy Fool.

There are many representations of the Fool throughout literature. Shakespeare’s plays feature these types of characters. There’s a Fool card in the tarot. And of course there were many saints who were honored with the title within the Eastern Orthodox Church. (In the Western Church we have St. Francis of Assisi as an example.)

The Holy Fool was known to do outrageous (and occasionally humorous) acts. Many had colorful or controversial pasts.

The concept of the Holy Fool is based, in part, on scriptures such as:

God chooses “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Here are a two great reads on the subject:

The Holy Fool (at Image Journal)

St. Simeon the Holy Fool (at Ship of Fools)

There are so many manifestations of the Fool. It’s a fascinating subject.}