Toledo resident and independent writer, Craig A. Combs, makes his Glass City solo reading debut at third space/B-Bop Records as he reads from his newly published book of poetry, Taking Tea in the Black Rose: Singing Through the Shadows Until We're Dancing in the Light, during the Toledo Arts Commission's monthly Art Walk spectacular.

Local fine art enthusiasts from across Lucas County and beyond gathered at the newly opened vintage record shop and collaborative meeting space on North Michigan Street in downtown Toledo to hear Craig read about his personal healing journey through his original writings, based on the theme of "Lucid Love: The Sensible Search for Presence", following an Hors d'Oeuvres Reception with the author and his immediate family.

The following is a set list of the pieces that made it into this video production, excluding the last one, which I have included at the end here to round out the last chapter of the book.

P. 1 INTRODUCTION 14:00

CHAPTER 1: FOREST – ELEMENT OF WOOD – SPRING – Positive Self-Assertion/Creativity
*Spark of Seduction
*(Semper as) Ox House Humper
*Moving in Place
*Crickets in the Misty Rain (Debut Public Reading)
*Daydreaming Our Beauty’s Disguise
*Life Springs Internal

CHAPTER 2: DESERT – ELEMENT OF FIRE – SUMMER – Unconditional Love/Joy/Intimacy
*With Pure Intent
*Lynx’s Lost Remark
*The Creative Science of Destruction
*(Ecstasy of Sweet) Surrender (Debut Public Reading)

CHAPTER 3: VALLEY – ELEMENT OF EARTH – LATE SUMMER – Nurturance/Empathy
*Patience of the Pelican
*Incompletely Yours
*Earth’s Rehearsals Righted, at Last
*Taking Tea in the Black Rose

CHAPTER 4: MOUNTAIN – ELEMENT OF METAL – AUTUMN – Self-Worth/Ideals/Spirituality
*Beyond These Dusty Rags
*It Is I
*Twins
*Poison Love

CHAPTER 5: OCEAN – ELEMENT OF WATER – WINTER – Truthfulness/Perseverance/Reflection
*Darkest December
*Marshlands (Debut Public Reading)
*Identity of Crisis
*Broad Shoulders
*Airborne over Iowa

"Airborne over Iowa"

State of the mind, regression
now seems state of the art
for this country’s youth
troubled throughout life by
traffic lights a boy watches all
day from his classroom
turning from green to amber to red

The grey matter in his tender
head worn with memories
of chaps of ebony leather
whipping up unguarded emissions of youth
caged innocence erupts without notice at first
then flees frantically like a villain
cruising from shore to shore
momentarily frozen in time
the eye of his soul awakens
like a beacon light
forthcoming with candid
admissions, summer-camp catechism
almost nearing exhaustion
the blameless guilt as heavy as mercury
drags the body like
an intoxicated trout
swiftly downriver and out to sea
leaving your better half
with me to peruse the tapestries
that line the walls of my heart

They come from places like Baghdad
and Tripoli, such luxuries
where even the sand seems
locked in a standstill, and where
a single germ of thought was tossed
into the void with clear resolve
it grew roots, sprouted, and became the
treasures so lusciously displayed before us
I too am born from that one thought
freed from tyranny’s shackles forever
by its darkness never caged

With these wings you
might say I’m a loon
for it’s true that I
sing quite a maddening tune
by chance to be heard among
mobs of passers-by
only those who, yea
only those few who
on the eve of the jackal’s feast
are still unable to cry
you catch me speaking witless
in broken rhythms, unsound
argued among wise men
this blasphemous good-bye

One wild loon I am not
I am the ibis set loose from the sun
begat of two but born not of another
cast from the sea of swirling lights
who with me share stories of truth and
fiction in perfect glory, inlaid with
pyrite and mother-of-pearl
I taste the sweetness of
their ageless fruit
I sip from Libra’s cool waters
and the haggard finger
my body escapes, my goal
that grows more elusive
from day to day

I am a tapestry of going and
coming to another end now
before a good night’s sleep
May I come again immune to
the baseness and spite of
a once jealous heart to see
the science of sanity
unfasten the grip of our
mindless “state of the art”

27 March, 1991
(c) 2011 All rights reserved.

Run time: 1:16:22 (approx.)

NB: I would like to make one point of clarification here on a topic brought up in the reading. At the end of Chapter 2, I was asked a question by local poet and musician, Arnie Koester, about the correlation between the Jewish Kabbalah and the Tarot, and I wanted to make my position a bit clearer on this subject.

My own research, and that of numerous esoteric scholars throughout the ages, have concluded that two things can be reasonably deduced at this point. First, the Hebrew alphabet stems from the earlier Phoenician alphabet and dates back to 3,000-3,300 years ago. Second, the use of the Tarot card deck for divination purposes dates back some 550 years ago. Thus, my comments may seem to muddy these facts somewhat, so let me be a bit clearer on this subject.

The point I was trying to make to Arnie and the crowd was that the fundamental symbolic basis of the Tarot actually pre-dates the creation of the Hebraic writing system--going back to pre-dynastic Egypt, prior to 3100 BC--despite its historical use beginning just over five centuries ago.

There has been much research done on the subject, and the casual investigator can and will find much of it contradictory on the surface. But for the purpose of this discussion, it should suffice to merely understand that the actual root wisdom of the Tarot pre-dates the creation of the cabalistic sciences by about two millennia, if not more.

So, Arnie, there you have it. I recommend a further investigation of these facts to all serious students of the occult, though the historical context has very little relevance to the actual depth of knowledge inherent in these tools of esoteric wisdom themselves. :)

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