Mythos & Marginalia

life notes; flaws and all

j.g. lewis

original content and images ©j.g. lewis

a daily breath...

A thought du jour, my daily breath includes collected and conceived observations, questions of life, fortune cookie philosophies, reminders, messages of peace and simplicity, unsolicited advice, inspirations, quotes and words that got me thinking. They may get you thinking too . . .

Mondays are just young Fridays

It is a substantial record: Clues.
   The 1980 album by Robert Palmer took new wave sensibilities of the late ‘70s and ushered in the magnitude of what would become standard ‘80s popular music.
   I listened to the record intently last week, twice in a row. It has been decades since I have done that, but I had to. I enjoyed listening to the music that much.
   Years ago, I used to do it often. As a teenager, I remember the excitement of buying a new LP and listening to it repeatedly for hours and days. These were the times when radio wasn’t playing a lot of rock and roll. I grew up in a city that had only one AM station for the longest time (until a country music station took to the airwaves), and it was more focused on news, current events, and mostly my mom’s kind of music. Evenings they would play to a younger generation, but only the more popular pop songs (there was also an FM station but it played only classical music.
   Records and Rolling Stone magazine were then my link to real music.
   Back then you would play new records repeatedly, learning the songs, studying the lyrics and cover art. Elton John’s Don’t Shoot Me comes to mind and, of course, Dark Side of the Moon.
   As my music collection grew over the years, as important as each record was, albums would be played less frequently; I had more albums to choose from. It had to be a damn good record to be played frequently.
   I know that changed when I owned my first car. The radio was still reliable, and I used to tape albums to play in the car’s cassette deck. Prior to that, listening to music was a stationary experience. Because of the limitations of the turntable, you had to stay in one place and listen, usually on headphones.
   I decided I wouldn’t buy any new albums this year, but instead listen to the music I already owned. I have a lot to select from, in all genres, on both vinyl and compact disc. I listen to music a lot, and in past years would frequently visit record stores to search out and both new releases and unfamiliar vintage albums by artists I was both familiar and unfamiliar with.
   I’ve now got a lot of alums that all need a good listening to.
   Clues was one of those albums.
   The album rocked a little harder than Secrets, his previous effort, but also dwelled in the synth-pop territory. One song, I Dream of Wires, written by new wave darling Gary New is sonically propulsive, a noticeable change of direction from the sophisticated strains of Palmer’s soulful, occasionally jazzy, sound. Palmer was the first artist I heard described as “blue-eyed soul”.
   This record captured the spirit of the times, without now seeming nostalgic. His albums that followed, both solo efforts and his work with The Power Station (an unlikely hook up with members of Duran Duran and Chic) continued in a similar groove, appealing to the Pepsi generation on MTV with his movie-star good looks and videos with the highly stylized back-up babes he became associated with.
   As I flip through my music collection, I am finding more and more albums worthy of re-discovering. All this music was purchased for a reason, and no doubt hasn’t been listened to with the intensity it deserves to be.

02/19/2024                                                                                        j.g.l.

truth or dare

Landscapes, like weather forecasts,
altered daily. Attitudes of how
we view our world, however,
remain stagnant.

Acid rain, climate change, dangers
inconvenient as carbon footprints in
freshly-fallen snow. We wait only
for it all to wash away.

Fossil fuels and solar flares, impotent
political dialogue of truth or dare.
Do we pay any heed past what
remains of the day?

Shame and blame living as we are.
What we do, or what we can do?
If only we would comprehend
how we have devolved.

Temperatures rising, though you
couldn’t tell it now. Common sense
approach far too common. We accept
what we cannot know.

We struggle, unknowingly, ignorant
of our ways. Messages lack meaning.
All talk. No action. Zero-sum gain
if all we do is complain.

02/16/2024                                                                                          j.g.l.

work in progress

I need to remind myself, more often,
who I am and what I have become.
More so, I need to remind myself of
what I am becoming.
If I am truly a work in progress, how
much progress have I made?
How can I tell if I don’t remind myself
or question myself?
Only I can really know.

02/15/2024                                                                              j.g.l.

I'm like a pencil;
sometimes sharp,
most days
well-rounded,
other times
dull or
occasionally
broken.
Still I write.

j.g. lewis
is a writer/photographer in Toronto.

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Sophie and the Rose

Posted on October 13, 2021 by j.g.lewis Leave a comment

by Lisa Marguerite Mora

It was red and perfect. Singular. Sitting pristine on the bush, the rose was fully bloomed. I’d been watching it, the small plot of garden for weeks. Boredom was the dusty dry heat of the sidewalk every day after school. Endless concrete pavement, I’d count the cracks, sometimes tried not to step on them. To entertain myself, instead of traveling straight down the boulevard home, I zig-zagged up and down the avenues so I could look at all the charming houses. All my life I’ve been looking for the relief of beauty. Though I wouldn’t have called it that back in the 2nd grade. Maybe I called it fun or wow! or thought of it as some kind of entertainment. Though, the rose, when I saw it, didn’t fall into either category. It beckoned from another world. Dark crimson velvet edged in light. That day I stopped when I saw it. In my mind formed the word, “More.”

Sophie was also in the second grade, but she was eight while I was seven. A big boned Scandinavian, I remember her hair falling prettily out of her long brown and golden pony tail. Her parents were young. And very free. Actually I don’t know if the long haired man who seemed to often be at their apartment with Sophie and her mother, if he was her father. I decided he was father-like, completing for them a family unit. She lived across the alley from me in a more modern apartment than mine. Hers smelled bright and sweet, with wall to wall beige carpet and Sophie had her own room. And Barbie dolls. I had a Francie. Recently I’d acquired a little red polka dotted raincoat and red rubber boots for her. I brought them across the alley to Sophie’s home, . Sophie’s bed was up on concrete blocks. Many of my friend’s homes were make-do like this. I didn’t think anything of it as our furniture was haphazard as well. Most people, I thought lived this way unless they were “rich” and part of another world.

The red rose, I’ve recently learned, is the emblem for the House of Lancaster a royal lineage to the throne of England in the late 1400s. The white rose was the House of York and the two houses fought each other in the War of the Roses or the Cousins War (they were all related) for the right to rule. Being close to the crown afforded a person luxury and protection and riches. The discrepancy between the classes then was especially marked as it is becoming today. Wealth and power has always been very seductive if only for the physical comforts they afford. Eventually the bloodshed between the two houses, culminated in the disappearance and probable murder of two boy princes, royal heirs of the House of York supposedly by the hand of their uncle Richard the Third, who was not even of the red rose faction. But we don’t know for sure that he killed them, his own nephews. Some say the deed was ordered by Margaret Beaufort of the House of Lancaster, the red rose. Richard was eventually killed in a final battle and Henry Tudor the Lancastrian heir, son of Margaret Beaufort, took the throne. He married a York princess and thus the Tudor Rose was born, the unification of the white and the red roses. With his reign came years of peace. I didn’t know any of this when I was seven. I knew only that I loved roses, which were as rare and as precious as diamonds to me, especially the ones that seemed to be made of red velvet.

They represented also the month I was born and I thought myself lucky. Maybe even special. The red rose in the garden perched and floating on one stem of a single green bush, contrasted against the seawater graininess of my days. Sand and dust and a leaning forward of waiting for something more interesting, something better. I was aware, even then, I needed to grow up and take care of where my life was going. I knew the purpose of my being a child was so I could eventually become an adult, and become more than I was. Instinctively I was aware that being a child was dangerous. And somehow the notion of destiny lived in my heart.

We were in Sophie’s bedroom which was long and rectangular and a bit dark. “Shhh,” she motioned for me to be quiet, and crept toward the door. She listened, hunched forward, cracked it open, listened harder. Closed it again and sat with me on the floor where we were playing with our dolls. “I thought I heard Mike.” So, something about Sophie being worried about Mike, I registered. I didn’t want to be worried about anything here. I often spent time at my friends’ so I wouldn’t have to be worried at home.

Sophie walked from school with me one day. I decided to show her the rose. It floated swaying a little in the breeze in all its beauty. She was awed. She wanted it and I wanted it. Did she tell me to do it? I can’t remember. But I reached forward and snapped the rose off its stem. That’s what people did when they wanted something – they took it. Especially if it was beautiful. And precious. The rose had grown freely in the open air for all to see. Why shouldn’t I have it?

It shattered, red petals littering the sidewalk. We both stared in silence.

I knew the rose wasn’t mine and now I had ruined it. It was beautiful and unattainable or at least I didn’t know how to access such beauty for myself. We had no garden at home. Only an alley and concrete around our apartment building. Had I committed such an act because Sophie was there? Because she encouraged me? The red of the rose was now the red shame on my face. We walked away, and resumed our journey back home.

When the York king Edward the 4th died, his eldest son who was thirteen was the next in line. Edward asked his brother Richard to take care of the boy and guide him. Richard promised. He then put the boy and his younger brother in the Tower for safe keeping in the turbulent days after the king’s death. The boys were never seen outside of the Tower again.

At Sophie’s apartment her mother who looked all of eighteen was lounged in her bed, the sheet pulled up over her breasts. She smiled hello and informed us that she and Michael had just “made love” and it was “beautiful.” Her instructive tone made me uncomfortable. We listened politely before turning to go to Sophie’s room to play. Later I noticed when I went home that my Francie’s little red rubber boots were missing. I couldn’t find them anywhere though I searched and searched. I asked Sophie another time if she’d seen them. She looked cross, her cheeks flushed, her lips bruised bright crimson, a tight bud refusing to open.

They moved away at the end of the semester. Her mother said she didn’t want to bring Sophie up in the city anymore. Was I sad? Not really. Things I could not explain happened when Sophie was around and I became not myself. I went back to being a child who read books, and tried to write them. I viewed the antics of my classmates and the adults always a bit removed, for in the end other people continued to disappoint me. Instead I preferred my own imagination, wondering what was inside the charming houses on the walking avenues with their gardens of roses and other flowers. I stayed in wonder, shying away from that heavier vibration of need and angst, even though I had cause enough to have my own. Never again would I seek to possess something too fragile with beauty. Probably I would have done well in the age of chivalry and courtly love.

A few monarchs later after Henry VII’s rule, human bones of a ten and thirteen-year-old, both male, were found buried on the grounds outside the White Tower. Were these the legitimate heirs robbed of their right to the English throne? It’s assumed these were the little lost princes.

But even now, no one knows. No one knows for sure.

Lisa Marguerite Mora is an award-winning writer and poet.
She conducts workshops and offers literary services

www.lisamargueritemora.com

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