Out of the Blue: A wordstream experiment

I was recently invited by my old friend, dance artist Sete Tele, to write to a free-thought narrative based on a series of photographs he had taken.

My first thought was ‘Wow, what a compliment’, and an instant later, I wondered what on earth such a narrative would look like.  How does a person translate photographs into words that are meaningful for dancers?  What are pictures and words without music or movement?  Not only had I never written a free narrative before, but I had never referred to visual media to inspire writing.  And my long-ago experiences of dance were far removed from anything so tangible as words…  So I asked Sete what he wanted to see, and he answered that he wanted to see what I see, and feel, in response to the photos.  Unpolished; intuitive.

‘Righto then’, I thought.  Let’s just go for it and see what happens.

What did happen is so different from anything I’ve ever produced before.  Mood, style, structure… all unusual for me; out of the blue, as it were.

I wonder now if every such experiment would produce similarly unexpected results?  Here it is:


To laugh is to breathe in the heartiest of ways.
What joy to splash in the beauty of all that is new and wondrous, fleeting and unexplainable.

Buoyed in bubbles of frivolity.
When out of the blue,
a new current brushes past;
a caress that demands attention.
It swirls, dances, shape-shifts,
and flies through the air as a zillion tiny diamonds on the breeze.

I’m entranced,
as it rains down, cool, refreshing.
And then tugs on my legs.

Thrash  ahhhooo
How arrogant is it
that I’m shocked
to not understand?

How conceited is it that I should try?

A surge slams,
all at once hot and cold.
Winds now in cahoots, explode a chandelier of shattered crystal shards –
Eddies lunge:
Who the hell are you?
And why are you here?
This is not your place.

Never have I felt so out of my depth.
Never have I so thoroughly not understood.

Never has my privilege so betrayed me,
Revealed me as an empty vessel,

Challenged me with such Imperative
to fathom
Someone’s life.  Someone’s death.

Ahead is a vortex of promise
but are there lies or truths within it?

Will I know
more or less?
Will I grow
more or less?


Immerse ahhhshhh
I choose to dwell.  Engage;
Ask who, what, why, how?
Observe and listen.
And feel.  That I might understand.

I know a woman who dwelled for sixty years.
Enveloped in her sadness,
never seeking breath nor peace.
Sixty years suffocated.

She’s not me.
In for a penny, in for a pound.
Yet drenched in someone’s turmoil,
Deeply entangled,
Deeply estranged,
I can not breathe.

More or less?
I have learned
that I have to

Here, preconception is a flailing sword.
Each piece of soil, salt and grit
has its place, and it falls in…

If you dare to look.

Truth is an ugly beast,
Laid bare in its wholeness.
If you dare to look.

Below the current.
There’s reflection, restitution,
for better or worse.
And Peace of sorts.

Another platform from which to launch.

Sooner or later I will go up for air,
lest I forget to move
in that calm where
nothing happens.

Lest I drown in my stillness.
Lest I get cold in my complacency, where the sun don’t shine.

There’s fuel in the turmoil at the surface.  An uncomfortable fact.
This is the circle of my life.  It’s the cycle of experience.
Reminding that there’s more to do and learn.
Discomfort says I’m alive and living for all that that’s worth.

Absorb the depth, as sponge does water.
Push off.  And breathe.



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