I believe when I relent, Carole Ambauen, illustrator

By Carole Ambauen
Like many graphic designers, Carole's work is often digital and often unsigned.
It's really lovely to have a piece of her work here that's hand drawn and credited.
More about her, her process and this poem, below.

I topple to rise up then I tower to fall.
I’ve an upstart yen and an urge to surrender.
At whose bidding do I cross and re-cross the hall?
"I push backwards…I go forwards." —Larry Eigner.
"Nothing is true that isn't paradoxical."

Kathy Altman says it. I hear waves in my gyre.
We are standing bubbles of wind, water and sand.
Since the floor is dancing, it’s the perfect partner.
Head on the ground, feet researching the air firsthand,
what's down pushes up my fire, bruises my apple.

"In a field / I am the absence / of field." —Mark Strand.
My abstruse motions read nakedly on my face.
What I wear becomes my name—call me "Blue Shirt Man."
Maybe my words are thick, and maybe rephrase.
We're called by sounds, spirits, ourselves, and each other,

and in peripatetic growth, we find a place.
Though prone to paroxysms, hail Us, full of grace.

Process notes and help in "getting it."

Carole and I share a love of 5Rhythms dance, a practice based 
on five distinct movement styles that the body naturally
moves through during dance. There is a spiritual, ritual,
"deep" component of this practice, available for those who
seek it. Carole and I were both at a class taught by Kathy Altman
wherein she said, "Nothing is true that isn't also paradoxical."
That was the core of the poem. For me, her wise noticing
sparked lines from the poets Larry Eigner, who wrote much
of his work from a wheelchair, and Mark Strand. 

More things: Carole rendered her drawings with eyes closed
relating to lines in the poem, then digitally overlaid them.
I really like how her process captures the idea of surrender,
central to this poem.

My process in making this queron was different from the norm.
Usually, I write the poem, beginning to end, finding the rhymes
and rhythm as I go. This time, I actually wrote each line separately,
which is why almost every line is a seprate, end-stopped sentence
or thought. Usually, you'll find my lines enjambed--that is, sentences
running off the end of one line and continuing on the next, even
across stanza breaks. No, this time, I wrote four sets of five rhyming
lines, then flower-arranged them into this poem (by necessity,
dropping three of the lines for the requisite 17.) I actually wrote
in Excel instead of Word because it was easier to move lines

All this, Carole's process and mine, relates to the ineffable paradox
that one gets at truth through surrender to not knowing, to admitting
that one is subject to randomness and forces far beyond one's ken,
let alone control. That is the reality in which we dance, surrender,
find joy, survive grief, and finally pass on.


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