Friday, June 28, 2013

My Mountain, inspired by Neil Gaiman

Socorro Peak (M Mountain), T.A. Irion, used by permission

In Socorro, New Mexico, a mountain rose up from the desert in our extended backyard.  The local academic community called it "M" Mountain, so named for the prominent M that, like a misplaced Hollywood sign, advertises the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

I chose to attribute that M to Michelle instead.  From the moment I saw it, I knew this was my mountain.  We all need a mountain to call our own.  To ground us and guide us, to act like a beacon, and aide us in reaching our "impossible" dreams.

Today's little ditty was inspired by a commencement address that Neil Gaiman (award-winning author of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama) delivered to last year's graduates of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  In my mind, Neil Gaiman is both a genius and an addiction.  To that I must now add a damn good motivational speaker.  This 20 minute video is a testament to those talents, and comes with a wholehearted recommendation for anyone who works, lives, and breathes the creative realm.  Even if you decide not to watch the video, I hope that you can glean some inspiration from my poem which was written in response.

My Mountain, inspired by Neil Gaiman

 I. My mountain.
    There is a mountain
    cloaked in enlightened illusion
    and impossible possibilities.
    It cracks the sky
    and breaks all the rules.

II. My adventure.
     I advance toward the summit.
     Sometimes nimbly;
     often clumsily;
     always purposefully
     to avoid the scorpions,
     the rattlesnakes,
     and the imposters.

III. My Voice.
      Along the way,
      I send out signals:
      messages in bottles
      bearing witness
      to the pen in my hand
      and the heart on my sleeve.
      Mostly they smash
      on craggy rock.

IV. My Bliss.
      All will be well—
      my mountain is in view.
      Such is my life
      of work
      that’s not work.
      My glorious and fantastic

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.

There's still more inspiration to be had at The Poem Farm.  That's where you'll find Amy Ludwig VanDerwater with today's Poetry Friday roundup.


  1. I agree! We each need a mountain, and you finding yours through the 'M' is fantastic. That is a poem in itself. May your mountain always crack the sky so that we can hear those messages in bottles. "My glorious and fantastic/mistakes." Yes! Happy PF!

    1. Thank you, Amy. Isn't that last line great? Took that one straight out of Neil's mouth pretty much... but I think he'd be okay with it. ;)

  2. Gail, I just finished THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE... and that speech is one I have listened to a number of times. Yes to everyone needing a mountain! Keep going with yours. xo

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Irene. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is on my summer reading list for sure!

  3. Wonderful poem, Michelle -- Neil G. is definitely an addiction and a genius (and I love his accent!) :) . . .

  4. We all DO need a mountain! Neil Gaiman is great to listen to, and I love your response.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ruth. I appreciate the kind words.

  5. I wish I had time to listen to Neil Gaiman's speech -- I'll have to come back. It must be very inspiring to have prompted you to write this! "Work/ that's not work" -- yes!

    1. I hope you do come back, Tabatha, I know you'll find his speech inspiring too.

      Yes, work that's not work is the good news... pay that's not pay, the not so good news, but I'm still working on that part. ;)

  6. I'm with Tabatha -- I can't listen now, but I WILL come back!

    In the meantime, I love your lines, "We all need a mountain to call our own. To ground us and guide us, to act like a beacon, and aide us in reaching our "impossible" dreams."

    And your poem. Lovely. Inspirational.

    1. Thank you, Mary Lee! Means a lot coming from you. I'm sure you'll be glad you came back to hear his speech at a later date.