Monday, September 26, 2011

Othello Falling: Hope Among the Facets of Abuse

September 26, 2011

“Othello Falling” has now reached Act Three, and here is where the decisions about structuring the classic play in a different way are being keenly felt.

Because this is a two-person performance, made up entirely of dialogue and internal thought that moves between Othello and Desdemona, there was no place for one of Shakespeare’s greatest villains, Iago. In the play, the venomous Iago puts into motion all of the elements that destroy the tragic lovers. He insinuates constantly to Othello that Desdemona has not been faithful; he makes sure the damning evidence of the lost handkerchief is placed in the possession of Cassio (Othello’s perceived rival); and as Iago proclaims piety, loyalty and honesty, he lies to and manipulates all involved, in order to fan high the flames of jealousy and violence.

But in real-life abusive relationships, there are no Iagos, or at the very least they are clothed in the colors of troubled life, not the pure black of villainy.  The descent into cruelty and tragic violence is precipitated by many of the factors that have been introduced already in this play-in-poetry: flawed and unrealistic preconceptions between partners; generational and cultural histories of abusive behavior; objectifying of individuals and lack of communication; an environment where home feels unstable, isolated and untrustworthy.

The events of Scene Three provide many challenges to me as a writer, and to Jaeda and myself as performers. Desdemona, after a traumatic episode in which she had every reason to believe her new husband dead, is reunited with him, but during an intimate moment she is gripped by flashbacks of an abusive childhood event which does much to explain her alienation and disdain earlier displayed toward her father. Feeling helpless and ashamed, she cannot bring herself to confide these feelings to Othello. This is a pervasive, sad (and unwarranted) syndrome among battered women: many consider themselves “damaged”, or in some way responsible for the abuse done to them. This is no more their fault than the abuse itself—abusers will often emotionally manipulate their victims into a state of fear that should they tell anyone, they will be not be believed, and subsequently loathed and ostracized. In addition, they are burdened with further fear that even if they are believed, no one could possibly love a “spoiled” or “stained” partner. The cruelty of this kind of conditioning from abusers is vicious indeed.

Making matters worse both in real life and in “Othello Falling” is the sad fact that confiding these feelings and experiences to one’s lover hardly insures a compassionate and supportive response. Many men, to their discredit, would respond exactly as the woman has been conditioned to fear: with anger, expressions of betrayal, and the inflicting of further hurt. Othello is not Iago; he is not an evil man, bent on destruction. But neither is he an enlightened man in the arena of love and complex relationships. He lives in what he perceives to be an uncompromising world, filled with absolutes. Often used by the powers that he serves, he has been conditioned to expect that kind of interaction between people, and trust has become an elusive concept for him. He has many self-doubts and repressed angers. He states that “honesty is more important than life” – a noble ideal, except for the fact that what constitutes honesty for him are simplistic and unrealistic concepts of perfect mental and physical loyalty and openness.

So Desdemona displays a brief interlude of troubled distance from her lover, and not comprehending, Othello interprets this as evidence that her love for him has faded already. He begins to poison his own thoughts with jealous fantasies and feelings of being tricked and wronged.

Would the results have been any different had the lovers attempted hard but clear communication of their feelings? In this play, with these characters, probably not. And that is part of the ongoing tragedy of this type of interaction in real life, too. But in real life things are not always so absolute as they are in a play. There are ways to break free from a relationship filled with hurt and a dead end of violence and pain. That’s why this benefit is happening, and why (even if there is no hope for Othello and Desdemona), there is hope for the rest of us.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Othello Falling, Week Three: Broken Visions of Sexuality

In the third week of the Othello Falling benefit, I delve deeper into the sexual relationship of Othello and Desdemona. It’s a part of the play that has been controversial for different reasons in the past. Race, of course, has given the physical side of the marriage a “forbidden” aspect, more or less so depending on the current state of society – but it’s clear upon reading the original Shakespeare that it is not a morality piece about race. Shakespeare’s choice of Othello’s ethnicity comes from the play’s roots, as it is based on the Italian short story "Un Capitano Moro" ("A Moorish Captain") by Cinthio, first published in 1565.

In fact there are no overt sex scenes in the play. But in the relationship of the characters, as is true in many relationships that become violent or abusive, sexuality plays a large part. The “Othello” paintings of Nabil Kanso (huge canvases filled with primary colors and fevered sensual imagery), seem to portray the entire relationship as a tortured sexual one.

I have, in my experience assisting battered women, known many who told me they stayed with their abuser in part because of fear and intimidation, and in part because they felt the sexually romantic lover who initially wooed them must still be present somehow – still accessible, and it was impossible to give up on the belief that the passionate love they shared was somehow unreal.

I think it’s safe to say that communication between individuals is often at its most flawed when it should be at its best: during sexual bonding. People hide their feelings, or pour them out—they make assumptions, take on roles that they feel are expected or desired—vulnerability and intensity go hand in hand, carving volatile new paths into the psyche; or unearthing old, painful experiences, which each new bonding was supposed to have made all better.

My goal in this poetic interpretation, of course, is to try and illuminate some of the factors that contribute to violent relationships. And so as I look at the wedding night of Othello and Desdemona, I see him troubled by the passionate sexuality she displays: as a soldier, he is used to passion being displayed by camp followers (prostitutes), and to see similar lights of passion in his wife’s eyes is difficult for him to reconcile. He has idealized married love (particularly to a noblewoman, like Desdemona), and expected some kind of revelation in her sensual behavior – an impossible mix of goddess-like detachment from sexuality while at the same time enjoying it with him. At first he blames himself for not seeing that in her, but that will change, as the seeds of possessiveness and jealously grow. As for Desdemona, she continues to exalt her marriage as a symbol of new freedom and strength, and puts Othello in her mind far above the petty aristocratic noblemen who have surrounded her in the past. He is not really there as a person in her perceptions, and so she misses every signal of his sudden doubt in her qualities as a woman of “great heart”. They are objects to one another, and this, more than anything, lays the groundwork for the feelings of mutual betrayal that are soon to grow into violence.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Othello Falling" Production Diary - After the First Weekend

Othello Falling Production Diary
August 16, 2011

The opening of the Othello Falling benefit was exciting and satisfying – so many friends stood up and made their support known, by commenting, re-posting the links to the benefit site all across the internet, and offering the kindest words to Jaeda and myself for the effort we are making. A special thank-you to Gina, Kristaline, Lisa, Lucy and Rose, who went above and beyond in their support, advice and encouragement.

I think my favorite moment in the aftermath of the opening was a note from Jaeda (who had never heard my voice before), telling me that her feathered housemate, Birdie Boy, had begun to warble at the sound of my recitation as Othello. What more delightful validation could there be than that?

But of course there is much more to do, and I quickly settled myself down to continue the project. My thoughts had always been clear in my mind that I wanted to follow the first recitation, which introduced Othello and Desdemona on their wedding day, with vows exchanged between the two. Somehow in those vows I wanted to display, subtly at first, the gap between their visions of one another and the realities that would very quickly begin to pull apart their harmony together. Othello, in his vows, out and out admits he is puzzled why Desdemona should love him. He is much older, and has known very little in his life but war. He sees pleasure and fire in her eyes, and tells himself that there can be no other reason for that than honest love, for he has no “temptations” to offer her – equal youth, or cultured learning – that might be serving to cloud her perception. And this is of course true, though his perception of that love will change, as his own self-doubts gnaw at him. For Desdemona, my writing of her character has grown in many ways since I first heard Jaeda read the part. I always thought of Desdemona as a strong woman (as I believe Shakespeare portrayed her, though this is not always brought out in theatric productions), but Jaeda’s Desdemona is fierce and fiery indeed, making me think her character has been brought to a high-strung emotional edge herself, from a lifetime of being controlled and used like a possession. In the rebellious act of her marriage to Othello she sees an end to servitude, and a freedom to be strong with a man who should be accustomed to strength; in her eyes he has emerged from war and strife with what she feels is nobility and a form of proud wisdom. In short, she is quite blind to his doubts and troubled sense of self-worth.

I think these currents of emotion and expectation echo what happens in many relationships that become abusive. The baggage carried into the relationship – old violence, self-doubt, idealization of one’s partner based on flawed perception – is ignored in the beginning, but ignoring it only lights an unseen fuse, which will haunt and shadow the sometimes nearly-mad happiness of passionate infatuation.

So the wedding vows of Othello and Desdemona are in fact poignantly sad and unknowingly desperate…neither one truly sees the other at all.

Visit the ongoing Othello Falling benefit against abuse HERE
Visit Community Action Stops Abuse HERE

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Curtain Up on "Othello Falling"

A diary on the creation of Othello Falling, by R. Paul Sardanas

Today the curtain is going up, after a busy week pulling together all the threads of this production. Of course at the same time I've been working at my full time day job, and taking care of home, but I've felt a tremendous thread of excitement growing as the opening day has come closer and closer. For a long time, while pondering a second benefit to support Community Action Stops Abuse (and the fifth anniversary of the Poets Against Abuse movement), I deliberated on how best to meld entertainment and enlightenment in a form that people could enjoy for its own sake, and come away from with a determination to do whatever they can to oppose cruelty and abuse --whether that might be to donate to CASA (the beneficiary of this benefit, a safe haven organization for women and children trying to free themselves from domestic and other abuse), or simply to try and be more conscious in their own choose, as often as possible, thoughtfulness, consideration, and kindness when dealing with the hard issues within relationships. Instead of anger...instead of hurt.

I chose Othello as the vehicle for the benefit early on. I've always been entranced by the story, and of course the characters would give me as a writer the strong centers of thought and emotion that I wanted -- to explore the kind of dark passions that give rise to abuse and violence. So I sat down with my many "Othello" themed books: Nabil Kanso's brilliant, dark and sensual collection of Othello paintings...Harold Bloom's insightful exploration of the themes of the play...several novels based on the favorite movie version, with a young Laurence Fishburne (later of Matrix fame) as the Moor. They were all wonderful, all inspiring. So in typical mad fashion, I decided to mirror them all. A series of oil paintings that will soon begin to appear on the site, a book that I can sell to benefit CASA, and the crowning segment of the benefit, a performance of a kind of play framed into poetry, to post and run online.

Though no actor (if I were to step on a stage, I'm certain my face would turn bright red, and I would forget every word in the English language), I resolved to take on the part of Othello. For Desdemona, I have many dear friends that I might have asked, but one stood out in a brilliant spotlight in my mind: Jaeda DeWalt, a spoken-word poet, a luminous creator of photographic art, and a person with a powerful spirit and heart.

Jaeda and I have never met...we live about as geographically far apart in the continental U.S. as possible (the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf shore of Florida). But we have been friends for years, and she took part in the original Poets Against Abuse benefit I organized in 2006. I have watched her unfold one astonishing creation after another as a creator and artist, and she has always applauded as I worked within my own creative and collaborative artistic world. When I asked Jaeda, I of course braced myself that she might be too busy with her own amazing career...but she didn't hesitate for a moment, telling me she would be honored to be Desdemona for this benefit. I described the concept and sent her Desdemona's first recitation, assuring her that I would totally respect the demands of her schedule, asking her to create an mp3 reading when she could, to launch the benefit. Within 24 hours, it was in my mailbox. Jaeda, you are just too much.

And so here we are, the curtain about to rise. We will add to the growing play-in-poetry every week, unless the demands of life interrupt...and I am proud and happy beyond words to offer this creation, along with the hope that people who are touched by it will walk away desiring -- in whatever small or large fashion -- to embrace an end to cruelty.

Visit the "Othello Falling" Benefit

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Poetry Against Abuse

In 2006, I had the honor of publishing a collection of remarkable poets, all of whom donated their work in an effort to support survivors of abuse. The "Nox" collection appeared both in print and online, and all benefits from its sale went to a safe haven organization called CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), which provides support to women and children struggling to free themselves from environments of abuse in their lives.

To celebrate the five-year anniversary of that book, I am producing another collection, this time solely of my own poetic works, to again benefit CASA. "Othello Falling" will explore themes of jealousy, passion and violence from the Shakespeare play, with the hope of illuminating how loving relationships can spiral down into pain and hurt. Perhaps through that awareness, men and women caught in that terrible cycle can find keys to change that downward spiral in their own lives -- to seek for healing and safety.

As the book evolves I will post excerpts from it here and on my website, along with a series of oil paintings that will accompany the poetry. When "Othello Falling" is released, all profits from its sale will go to benefit Community Action Stops Abuse.

So today I look back to honor over forty poets and artists who contributed to "Nox", including the writer who inspired it, Don McGregor, and many dear friends who donated their creative power from all over the world. The online collection can still be viewed by clicking the highlighted link below, and there are many further links on the anthology pages to CASA, for anyone who would like to learn more about the work they do:

The Nox Anthology: Poets Against Abuse

I also look forward, recognizing that the work to provide support and catharsis, healing and safety to abuse survivors never ends, but our caring and creativity can shine a light into that dark place, and offer hope.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Man Who Drew Humanity

It's been a year of too many goodbyes.

Gene Colan passed away this week, almost exactly a year after the passing of his wife, Adrienne. Gene was an illustrator of monumental achievements, known worldwide for the fluid grace and power of his creations. To pinpoint the moment I became a fan of his work, you'd have to go all the way back to 1968, when as a ten year old, I picked up a magazine he had illustrated called Dr. Strange...and I was hooked for life.

In a medium not known (at the time) for emotional depth, Gene's illustrations showed dimension and subtlety, capturing above all the countless nuances of the human face and form. As I grew from the boy enraptured by the dynamism and emotion of his art into a young man striving to find my own voice as a creator, I would return again and again to Gene's work, because above all I wanted to explore the depths and subtlety within people, and his art was a beacon shining across that landscape.

Thirty-seven years after I picked up that Dr. Strange book, far along my own creative path as a poet, I found out that Gene and his wife were living not far from the part of Florida I had recently relocated to myself. I was shy about the idea of approaching him; he had been one of my idols for so long, he seemed on an unapproachable plane to me. But I had heard across the years that he was a remarkably warm and open man, and so I took a deep breath and wrote to him, expressing my admiration for his work, and thanking him for the inspiration he had given me in my life.

Gene wrote back immediately. He wanted to know all about me; he was genuinely delighted that I had written. His wife Adrienne also sent a note, saying that she was an avid lover of poetry and had done a web search on my name -- she had found and read a number of my works, and was just as delighted as Gene at the opportunity for us to become friends.

For a long time I remained starstruck, but they were so gracious, so enthusiastic, so warm. I fell in love with them both. My own Mom had passed away over twenty years before, and my Dad was distant and indifferent; I thought perhaps it was unfair of me to feel so drawn to Gene and Adrienne in the filling of that void, but in the years that followed, their interest in my life never wavered. I would write poems for them on holidays, and Adrienne would write me long letters telling me her own favorites among the great poets (many of which we shared). She laughed and told me wildly funny jokes, and Gene would cheer every time a new work of mine appeared. I had begun a philanthropic effort called "Poets Against Abuse", inspired by a story done by another idol of mine, Don McGregor, and Gene. Both of these great-hearted men gave me permission to include their work in an online anthology to support survivors of abuse, asking nothing but the honor of helping women and children caught in environments of pain and danger.

In 2006 we talked for the first time about Gene illustrating one of my works. Along with his career drawing the exploits of larger-than-life characters and superheroes, he had a keen interest in what he called "Fine Art", and had done sublime and powerful portraits and other non-commercial works. But he didn't want to draw something easy. He asked me to choose the most complex, most emotionally layered of my works...and after much deliberation, I sent him a long poem I had written called "Dining on Twilight", in which I explored the difficult emotions in my parents' marriage right up to her death from cancer, cast in a kind of mythic imagery. A challenging work even for me to get a grip on. I thought Gene would say I was crazy -- that it could not be drawn.

Instead, he wrote to me with immense enthusiasm, saying how much the piece had moved him, and he would love to try creating an image for it. He told me he didn't want to let me down, and asked me question after question about my own emotions in creating it. Finally he said he was ready, and in a few months he would send me the work. When he did, I was staggered by its beauty, its depth, and its amazing grasp of the humanity in a man and woman who loved one another but struggled for dominance in a joining filled with both passion and pain. Here it is: Gene Colan's rendering of "Dining on Twilight".

To this day, I look at the drawing in awe. Gene asked me, nervously (to my amazement), if I liked it. I told him he had done the impossible, and captured every emotion, every subtle shade of the poem. He thanked me, and I could only mutter equal thanks in return.

Gene wanted to do one more of my existing poems, and then, he said, he wished I would write something special for him -- a new work to illustrate, which he would tell me about. The second work we chose was a poem about a man and a woman walking in a blizzard, and feeling only warmth, as they were lost in their love for each other. Here it is, called "Plough and Stars".

Once again, Gene blew me away -- this time with the richness of this evocation of love.

And so we talked about the third piece. It would never be completed, as Gene's health declined, and tragedy would arrive in the death of his beloved Adrienne. But I wrote the poem for it, after a long talk with Gene in which he described to me a visionary image of what he felt love to be. He had moved from the painful, complex image of my parents, to the loving and warm depiction of a love that could defy all worldly cold -- his own vision of love went beyond death itself. In it he saw a man on a train platform in winter, and as he stood there a vision of spring would appear, as frozen vines and plants around him would seem to spring into life. A train would appear, coming toward the platform, and at that point he realized that he had died, and had been waiting -- the train would be carrying the love of his life, and soon they would be reunited. I don't think Gene ever envisioned a world in which his beloved Adrienne would be gone before him, and so he was the man on the platform, and she the one who would come to him. It didn't work out that way.

Though the third drawing was never done, it lives now in my mind. And it is Adrienne who has been waiting on the platform, for the love of her life to join her. In my heart and in my dreams, they will always be together. I am grateful beyond all words for the chance to have had them both in my life. Here they are, and here is the poem I wrote from Gene's vision.

On the Platform
 Dedicated to Gene Colan

In the middle distance,
the tracks seemed to run together
into a single line, until they turned,
bending from sight,
in the direction that she would come.

He stood on the train platform
with afternoon dimming.
A brief lull in the day’s snowfall;
lights would soon bathe
the stark, grey space
in yellow radiance,

Behind him was a high concrete wall,
and there were roots and vines,
January stark, clinging to the stone.
At winter’s close, perhaps,
they would yearn for color,
to thicken,
graced with hints
that would be flowers, in their time.

As he watched the wall,
the tangled lines of life
in hibernation
opened out, and he saw thorns,
ice-covered, on the vines.

He took off his glove, and reached out,
resting a fingertip
on that tracery of life,
of withered pain, and the scent
of phantom petals against stone.

He didn’t even feel it prick,
and was surprised to see
a drop of blood left there.
Winter flower,
a rose,
to freeze and grace the wall
until the sun came.

When he’d died,
only one thing
had been cause for sadness.
Leaving love behind, after so many years,
to wait here
until the day that she would join him.

The lights had gone down
while he’d let his thoughts wander.
He saw, then
the headlamp of the approaching train,
as it turned that distant bend,
and came, arrow-straight,
pushing a different sun before it.

Soon she would arrive
at the platform.
He would leave his glove off
so he could take her hand,
here, where winter ends.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Visionary Sensuality: Creating "Eros - The Divinity of Passion" with H. Samarel

I'm often asked what it has been like to work closely with so many artists in my writing career. Friends and readers have seen how devoted I am to the joining of words to art; it's been a fascination of mine since as a young man I fell in love with the visionary works of William Blake, who saw art and poetry as vivid partners in the presentation of ideas. In my own creative world, I have seen my concepts wedded to stunning visuals with gifted artists like David Cuccia, Marge Simon, Gene Colan, Felipe Echevarria, and Steve Mannion. My most recent poetry/art creation is with one of the foremost artists of sensuality in the world: H. Samarel.

Samarel and I have worked together before, creating some intense collaborations of individual poetry and art, but when we decided to do a book together, I knew it was going to be something special.

How does a book like this take shape? For Samarel and I, there was no need to start from scratch, learning about each other before cautiously taking the steps to craft a book project. He and I have usually worked using the technique of ekphrasis, which is the dramatic re-imagining of a work of visual art. To that end I asked Samarel to choose twenty of his artworks and send them to me to muse over. We discussed the basic feel we wanted for the book, and decided on works that were sensual and powerful, but also less explicit than some of our other works, so that we could strive for a classical feel to the book. Needless to say, when Samarel sent me his choices, I was blown away by their subtlety and strength. I felt that using them we could craft a journey into the heart of passion itself, tying it to spirituality as we went. Here is what I would ultimately write about that in the introduction to the book:

Spirituality and sexuality are long overdue for a re-connection. Somehow in modern life those two great sources of passion have fallen into conflict. There was a time when respect for the Sacred Feminine was a way of life. Down through history, even patriarchal cultures like that of ancient Rome had a place for the concept of Bona Dea—the Good Goddess—a figure suffused with life, and linked with the pleasures of sexuality. Before that, in the Egyptian personifications of Isis and Osiris, sex was celebrated as an experience leading to resurrection and the soul’s immortality.

Contrast that to today, where demonized sex is presented over and over in terms of negativity: lust is a vice, nudity shameful…the hungers of the body considered to be violent things, to be tamed in the name of decency. Needless to say, I don’t agree with that vision of passion.

Throughout our separate careers in the arts, Samarel and I have championed the beauty of sexual feelings. The glory of the flesh when set alight with fires of the soul. In this book we explore that, shaping a journey that moves from loneliness and isolation to the reclamation of sexual power, to the tempering and humanizing of that power. The lovers we portray are framed in both darkness and light—ultimately, we hope, finding balance.

That we chose a woman for the embodiment of that journey is done in full awareness that our perceptions as men will be tested—carried far into waters that echo the ocean-deep strength of the Sacred Feminine. And if the images burn brightly enough to even partly illuminate those waters, then so too can we join our lovers in journeys of transcendence; incandescent in our desires and their fulfillment; crowned with fiery halos; finding heaven, in each other’s arms.

So I spread Samarel's twenty images in front of me, and started to order them in a way that I thought fit the goals of that journey. Beginning with loneliness and a desire for empowerment...

Cut me free
from all that is hesitant in my soul.
I have pulled the stars from the sky.
Let the steel of night itself
become my sword,
severing me from weakness.
A dark incarnation
will be the first step.
Filled with frenzied joy;
wanting nothing more
than to scream each climax
into the void.
Sky and city crash together;
all lights of home
may be left behind.
The part of me
that sadly longed
for an embrace to anchor and fill me,
feels instead the dizzying ascent
into the liquid black heavens.
I will be borne
on the razor’s edge.
Let me become that which cuts
but never bleeds.

The images take a dark turn: an exploration of desperate and hungry sexuality.

So she rises.
All generations
have had a name for her.
Inanna, Lilith,
Kali, Nox;
woman of scarlet and obsidian.
She brings the release
that comes from surrender to her.
She answers to no god.
Approach her as you would
a pillar of fire;
with respect born of time
in the cold dark,
coupled with the lust for heat.
She is subtle,
her face curtained in liquid strands
behind which her eyes wait,
knowing you.
She does not suffer fools.
Seraphim and magi
might speak to her
as they would
to a coyly smiling sphinx;
considering what words to choose.
Hoping to coax from her
all the secrets of evening.
Lovers of this goddess
are bold and foolish at once.
She eats them alive,
after telling them the word
which sets their souls to flight
on crippled wings
that tremble with ecstasy.
Call her what you will
before you die in her arms,
parting that crimson curtain of her hair
to see the deadly, loving
abyssal and beautiful eyes,
knowing you.

Though intense, those feelings are ultimately unfulfilling, and the journey continues to a place of self-awareness...

perhaps there was
too much sound and color,
too much heat and speed.
Perhaps the ache,
the unquenchable thirst of want,
struck too hard;
dragging me down
even as it raised me up.
I overwhelmed my loneliness
by enlarging myself;
embracing the persona
of a goddess who stands alone.
I banished emptiness
in a dizzying vision of raw sex.
Perhaps I missed
a true answer for loneliness,
for emptiness.
But where, where do I go?
In what shape?
How red should my lips be?
Ensanguined, like blood?
Can I still hold the black
of the night sky, of the abyss
in the pupils of my eyes?
Can I still be Nox, Mother Night;
still be Lilith, Wife of Knowledge?
Yes, yes, the answer must be yes.
But there must be more.
A deeper legacy to claim,
that knows…what?
The heart?
Or perhaps
just the simplicity of love.

...and a re-connection with body, soul, spirit and nature.

Life bursts from every pore.
A sensual communion
carrying the seeds
of nature’s fierce will
to join, to bond, to create.
The burning strength
she has carried within her
spreads upward
along the graceful lines
of her legs, her sex,
her stomach, her breasts.
Everything that has known
the joy of growth,
finds a new home
in the heart of her body.
She is bronzed
by rays of a sun
that blazes
behind her own eyes;
tendrils of energy,
having risen to her crown,
dip down again,
caressing her
in the crackling aura
of life, life, life.
Of all the goddesses
she has touched,
bringing them into herself,
it is Persephone in Spring
that possesses her now.
Stolen by a dark lover
and carried to the underworld,
she returns,
to embody the welcome
of a world
uncurling in silent heat.

From that place, the joining of a couple both sexually and spiritually can happen (and does, as the book concludes).

We must never forget,
or forsake this bond.
Never lose
the consummation
of our joined souls.
The secret words of sex
are no mystery.
Take and offer.
Receive and offer.
listen for the sound
of pain to be soothed;
dreams, so fragile
to be nurtured.
We must remember
the dark,
and how harsh the sun is
in our eyes,
when we have lingered
too long without light.
Yet how healing
the warmth of sky,
the warmth of our flesh
when we yield up
our hibernating spirits
and awaken.
We must never forget
that to be uncaring,
can leave wounds
all but impossible to heal.
We must remember
what it feels like
when our bodies are joined,
in brief moments
of completeness;
echoing an eternal joining.
Love me as I love you,
here standing
in the divinity of passion.

Those are just a few of the poems and artistic vistas in the book. Creating this vision with Samarel was exciting and illuminating, and we hope that others will enjoy following the journey that we crafted. To a place, as I wrote above, where we can find heaven, in each other's arms.

Eros: The Divinity of Passion is available here:


Visit Samarel's website HERE
Visit R. Paul's website HERE