“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.”.

Before I get into the post, I apologize in advance for the formatting. I’ve been having issues with WordPress recently and it making me exceedingly frustrated. Of course, my lack of tech savvy could be the real culprit (but GRRR either way). Happy Monday, beautiful people. Speaking of the beautiful…
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Just finished reading The Richard Burton Diaries. Oh my lands! What a journey it was. As usual, I’m late to the book signing, the diaries came out in 2012, In fairness though, by that time, RB had been dead for almost 30 years. Hopefully, he won’t hold it against me. May he rest in lavish, bookish, and superior peace.

My humble take on the inner wordings of flawed greatness, turns out Richard Burton was not just an accomplished actor, but also a gifted writer. The diaries are a superb read, magical and moving for their realism, and gut wrenching for Burton’s sometimes biting cynicism. If you’re not familiar with Richard Burton, he was an acclaimed Welsh actor of both film and stage, probably best known for movies like Cleopatra, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, (my favorite) Where Eagles Dare, and his renounced stage performances as Henry V, and Author of Camelot. One also can’t think of Burton without mentioning his turbulent romance and marriages to the legendary and glorious Elizabeth Taylor. The latter takes on a leading role in his diaries. In one passage he writes of Taylor:

“I have been inordinately lucky all my life but the greatest luck of all has been Elizabeth. She has turned me into a moral man but not a prig, she is a wildly exciting lover-mistress, she is shy and witty, she is nobody’s fool, she is a brilliant actress, she is beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography, she can be arrogant and wilful, she is clement and loving, Dulcis Imperatrix, she is Sunday’s child, she can tolerate my impossibilities and my drunkenness, she is an ache in the stomach when I am away from her, and she loves me!

Their relationship was one for the ages and fascinating in the way only tormented love can be. However, it’s not as intriguing as Burton himself, with his melodic voice, rugged good looks, and command of the English language (both written and spoken) Just look at how eloquently he described the wonders of traveling:

“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares, and the slavery of Home, man feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood. Excitement lends unwonted vigour to the muscle, and the sudden sense of freedom adds a cubit to the mental stature. Afresh dawns the morn of life. Again the bright world is beautiful to the eye, and the glorious face of nature gladdens the soul. A journey, in fact, appeals to Imagination, to Memory, to Hope-the sister graces of our mortal being.

Burton’s diaries begin in 1933, when he was just a young lad of 14. They conclude in 1983, the year of his untimely death at the age of 58. The journals provide an intimate glance into his private life and innermost thoughts. Thoughts that come across as lyrical, profound, self indulgent, deeply introspective, surprisingly scholarly, and always captivating. Like all of us, Burton had his demons, his vanities, his disappointments, his heartaches, his less than moments but also his successes and Mohammed mountaintop, (isn’t life a glamorous hoot) glimmer and glimpses. In some parts, the book reads like a Hollywood gossip column, in others, an erotic love story (always on the precipitate of becoming a Shakespearean tragedy), and in still others, a collection of Dylan poems with Yates’ Revolutionary Road thrown in to make you ponder the banality of even the most extraordinary of lives.

As an aside (and noteworthy, for all of us reading fiends), his love of books almost rivaled his love of Taylor. He consumed volume upon volumes of reading material. He read ferociously and obsessively from every genre. His knowledge of literature was extraordinary. He was very opinionated on the novels he read too. His summation of The Godfather and the Bond books made me chuckle. His knowledge of Shakespeare and Blake was astonishing. I’ve added a few of his suggestions to my reading list. Thanks RB! I think he’d probably hate that I’m calling him that. It beats Dick though.
The impression left upon completion of the book, Richard Burton was a multi dimensional, brilliant, curious, tender, sometimes lovable, other times unlikable man but a man who was always authentic, generous, and genuine in his assessment of himself and the world around him. Like most creative types, he did have periods of misanthropy and depression. At times he was full of self loathing and a natural born critic, both of himself and others, but he tempered his harshness with an engaging wit. He was wickedly funny. If I had to sum up Richard Burton, I would say in my pedestrian and utterly lacking way, he was a bit of a Dickens character, mixed with Oscar Wilde and King Lear.
Oh and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I highly recommend The Richard Burton Diaries. It’s a stellar read for anyone who is a fan of old Hollywood, rags to riches tales, love stories, engaging writing, and tortured men with faces like a Greek God. Men who don’t mind getting deeply personal with their journals. Note, the writings really take off around his 1965 entries. You can see his progression as a writer. Richard Burton was more than apt with a turn of a phrase and danced his way through the pages with the grace of Baryshnikov. If you choose to read the diaries, you will come away with an intimate portrait of a wonderfully complex, indelibly flawed human. He may have been Hollywood royalty but his heart was just like ours, one that bent and broke on occasion. I wish I could do justice to his musings, but you’ll just have to read him for yourself.

-Tosha Michelle


The best scene from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” The acting is mesmerizing.

https://youtu.be/g1IDWOtBDTg

Love. Love. Love

The love blog, soon we’ll be making another post. The love blog promises something for everyone or (whatever floats your “Love Boat”). Pretty sure only people of a certain age will get that dorky reference. Anyway, greetings y’all. How about some quotes on love to brighten our day? Happy 4th of July. We’re off to see the movie “Yesterday”. The reviews are fairly good so we’ll see. 💕 Here’s the trailer and then it about love.

“True love stories never have endings.”

-Richard Bach

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”

Audrey Hepburn

If you keep giving up on people so quickly, you’re gonna miss out on something great.”

-Robin, from How I Met Your Mother

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.

Maya Angelou

“Souls tend to go back to who feels like home.”

-N. R. Heart

“Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.”

Anais Nin 

“Happily ever after is not a fairytale, it’s a choice”

-Fawn Weaver

It was the time when they loved each other best, without hurry or excess, when both were most conscious of and grateful for their incredible victories over adversity. Life would still present them with other mortal trails, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore.

Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

And We Write

Poetry is all about perception.
It’s what we perceive, not what
we see.

It’s all in the rhythm.
The arrangement of the poetic
notes.

It’s about loosening those
syllables until they roll off our pens
in a dance of self.

We release our whimper and watch
it turn into a roar on paper

We write for preservation.
We write to empty the emptiness.
We write like we eat, to live

We spend our nights out on a limb                                                      so we can fall into the melody of our craft

Our souls writing on.                                                                            Finding salvation in verse

-Tosha Michelle

The Remains 

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The ones I love,
and have been
blessed to keep,
are sleeping
as night’s low
pitch hums slowly
fades.

I walk along the lake
with only the birds
to keep me company.
The clouds sticky,
but devoid
of cotton candy,
offer no sweetness.
I move through stony colors,
a stillness in my
soul.

The water churns,
dark froth travels
in its wake.
I cry for some
inexplicable reason.

Through my tears,
I stare out into
the silence,
and think of those
who make me the happiest.
And then I wonder
about those
who have come
and gone.
The ones I have lost,
lost loves, lost friends,
a litany of history.

Memories reclaim
me for a moment.
Has life carried
them where they
want to be?
Does the dusty world
ever taunt them, too?
Do they ever
wonder why time
offers no explanation
for grief and regret?
Do they ever weep
because whatever
we’re made of,
we can never alter
the ticking clock’s
hands.

I hope that there’s
a table set somewhere
for them, and morning kisses
to greet them.

The past opens quickly,
but recedes just as
fast.

I pick a dying
wild flower from its
sidewalk home,
just as a boat
heads off into the gray,
brushed stroke
of the mist.
A lone crow
plummets toward it,
like granite.
The first faint orange
spot appears in the
sky.

Lifting my chin to the sun,
to brightness.
I discard the unbreathable,
dizzy smell of nostalgia.

I bathe in the now,
and wash my soul
in today’s syllables

Thankful for what was,
but even more grateful
for those that remain 
I know without them,
the air would taste
like nothingness.

Standing on the bridge
in the space between
yesterday and today.
I walk back toward
the scent of nectar,
of happiness
Eating up the sunshine
while I still can.

-Tosha Michelle

Paradoxically is Such a Fine Word.

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I’ve been besotted with chocolate.

I’ve been confused
by broccoli.

I’ve been stung by hornets,
but still I stirred the nest.

I’ve tripped over my mangled
spirit walking the narrow way.

I’ve prayed with fervor.
I’ve sinned with grace.

I’ve courted darkness.
I’ve loved the light.

I’ve questioned the sun.
Its answers reflected back
in the hourglass.

I’ve remembered to thank the academy of monotony:
laundry, vacuuming, dusting.

I’ve had it all: the sky, the finicky moon, the unfolded map.

I’ve got lost in a roundabout,
trying to navigate my mind.

I’ve lived well in unsettled hues.

I’ve been Saturday, Sunday,
and Monday.

I’ve tasted ash, eaten roses,
demanded a life of flames.

I’ve been a lunatic and lover.

I’ve been the Patron Saint
offering my protection.

I’ve been Judas,
freely spending the silver.

I’ve nearly drowned in the past’s harsh syllables.

I’ve held a grudge.
I’ve forgiven.

I’ve found a second soul.
I transcribe it in chaos and peace.

My heart circumventing the paradox.

I’ve learned how to rearrange the letters of myself in a sentence that fits.

Casting away yesterday’s syntax.

Coming unmoored.

I move toward clarity’s
swinging door as fast as
a sip through a straw.

I make my getaway.

The quarrel with myself over.
I stand at attention,
dust free.

I’ve survived.

-Tosha Michelle

Turn It Up

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Sometimes we just have to
tap our foot at the life we have
like we would to a familiar tune.
Sometimes there seems to
be a halfway point between
where you’ve been and where
you want go. But you’re stuck
on the side of the road where
the landscape looks dead, but
still you find some pretty in the trees
and that song in your head.
You sing full-lunged as you
toe tap down the highway.
And for a moment it doesn’t matter
what came before or what came after.
You don’t think about where you live
or where supper comes from.
You aren’t concerned with hunger or restlessness.
You just keep going forward, windswept and hope kept,
all too ready to be struck by something reckless,
something mad. Something so intensely hot
it could strike you dead.

-Tosha Michelle