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Showing posts from July, 2014

What I Learned from 40 Days of Poetry

Spiritual practice is personal. We choose what and why and where and how we practice. Having tried chanting, meditation, prayer and structured breathing in the past, I ventured into a writing sadhana this time, and boy am I glad I did! 
Poetry as a spiritual discipline took me deep into my yoga practice and my spiritual core. I feel like I emerged with a better knowledge of myself and greater compassion for myself and others. 
When I sit down to journal or write prose or an essay, it is not necessarily a spiritual pursuit. Poetry, on the other hand, asks that we suspend normal language and thought patterns and channel a part of ourselves that is freer, less rational, less linear, more musical and mysterious. Poetry is creative play. Sometimes we forget how to play as adults, but play is something that poetry demands. We don't order in restaurants or complete transactions at the bank or close sales with clients using poetry. Poetry is associated with arts and leisure, like so many…

Wild Raspberries

When the news of the world is dismal and frightening,
and you're powerless to change it. 
When it seems that whatever you are and all that you do,
are so very inferior to your peers, or so the world would have you believe. 
When childhood memories of speeches from parents on what to avoid, what to study, who not to be like and what was expected of you for your gender resurface, in spite of your belief that you have healed.
When all you can seem to do is consume reading material, books, articles, essays, facts, references and photographs,  trying to come nearer to some sort of knowledge or understanding  of precisely why and how you, and the world, are failing. 
When in spite of your peaceful and contented moments, guilt creeps in, for the happiness you have,  because it's not hard earned enough, because others are not as fortunate, because so many people are telling you  all of the other things you need to have already done or should do now to escape the pit of dismal mediocr…

Sky Walking

Above my head, the Earth, fields and grass, out of reach and the stuff of daydreams, luminous shades of green and soft browns, varying shapes of mountains in hues of gray, some dotted with white caps.
In other places, when I look up I see the Seas, the Oceans, vast expanses of deep blue.
Beneath my feet, the Sky, winds and clouds, tickling my bare feet and sweeping them along to another coordinate,  where I can gaze down at a new constellation. 

The Reckoning

Do people change? Past a certain age, do they change their long held beliefs, almost like altering a genome, and erasing part of a family tree from an heirloom Bible? 
What causes a person to hang on for dear life to a religious belief, or a philosophical one? 
Does it hurt to let go?
In the places we are most vulnerable, we hang on for dear life. Don't chop off my gangrenous limb. God, please don't take my sick and suffering child from this Earth. God, I know you're there.  She died, but I know she's with You. 
Is He? Is She? Do you know in your heart,  in your head, or both?  You can't know this in your logical mind. Apologetics are a millennial waste of everyone's time.  
A little girl, alone, misses her father, sees her mother cry, and plays by herself.  God must be there, and Jesus is a reason to be happy, after all.  Nighttime prayers are above all comforting, and creative.  When everyone else is gone, even Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, at least I&#…

Shrink

If you want to talk about
the fifth dimension,
the planetary shift,
ascension symptoms,
past life regression,
planets stationing, retrograding or aligning,
numerology, Chinese astrology, or spiritology,
don't call my husband.
Call a shrink.
Or, call me, but I may tell you
to call a shrink.

If you want to talk about
current events,
history,
economics,
good books to read,
politics,
international affairs,
spectator sports,
family,
or recipes,
my husband is a great person to call.

If one day we flip a switch,
and he starts talking to me about
the former things,
instead of the latter,
and we become a couple
focused on the new diet
to revolutionize our lives,
the harmful chemicals lurking
all over our house,
plans to get us off the grid
or cryogenic sleep,
I will die a little inside,
and tell him
to call a shrink,
and hope for the best.

My hope is this,
that the person we marry
is a good indicator of what we truly value,
and that a good marriage outlasts any need
to call a shrink.


The Trail

Breathing in the scent of damp earth, sheltered by gray clouds and tall trees, warm, tense in distinct places, then relaxed.
The sound of a rhythmic soft thud, and the breath, interspersed with bird song.
Glimmers of sun through the tree tops, and the soupy feeling of the air, enveloping my body, flushing my skin.
Gentle upward slopes,  and muddy depressions, leading to a downhill gravel trail.
Thirty minutes of this precious human life, speeding ever forward, always gaining momentum, and then a plateau, a decline, the final sprint of a barn sour horse, and it's over.
A life within a life. 


You Love

A certain kind of love
creates the feeling
that all you have desired
is within you
and around you.
When that love is summoned,
you can touch it
with your hands tied.

A certain person
who enchants you
and unlocks you
may point you in the direction
of this love,
but the experience of it
is not with that person.

This love requires no object.

When you find it,
you may feel at times
like you have lost it,
then you find your way back.

When it happens to you,
it feels monumental,
it feels like upheaval,
it feels raw,
until it settles in.

In time you discover,
different people
and different experiences
become wood for the fire
of this love.

After the first talisman
inducts you to this magic,
there will be others
to progress you.
Loss and change won't harm you,
and all of life is this great adventure
in which,
you are the subject.

You love.

Artist: Zindy Nielsen

Celebration

A coming together of people, a temporary group formation of individuals, from different homes and different cultures, of varying ages, sizes and proclivities, joining in one accord.
This can be serious. This can be powerful, a statement, a game changer.
This can also be lighthearted, playfully aimless, intentionally frivolous, a kind of undoing of the usual doing. 
A celebration, in honor of nothing,  or everything.
An exchange of food, drink, words, ideas, energy, personal space, and collective space. A giving forth and a taking in, of what is already shared  among a group. 
When a space is only personal, only familial, only private, there is one kind of energy, like a thin line, like a slow and steady stream of water, like a hummed tune.
When a personal, familial space is thrown open, doors and windows and gates are opened, and its elements are shared and consumed by many, the energy is enriched and amplified, like a wide rainbow swath of color and light, like a rushing river, like…

Consolation

It is in the moments
of guilt,
doubt,
shame,
fear,
and sorrow,
that turning to a personal God
could perhaps
feel most natural.

When we would tell someone close to us
all that weighs on our hearts,
if only that person were near,
or could listen, really hear us,
and see us, and embrace us.

But how many times is someone
that close to you,
really close to you?

Have you ever thought of God as personal?
Imagining at night before sleep,
what you hope will be sleep,
that you can lie down at the feet of someone
so much greater than you,
in size, in weight, in strength, in presence, in intelligence,
in power,
that you can only approach a tiny corner of that being?
You are allowed to approach,
and you are known,
you know not how.

Never mind God.

Simply knowing that all is connected,
that we are all a part of each other,
and this planet,
in moments of doubt, shame, fear and sorrow,
dive deeply into yourself and find someone there,
someone who is really that close to you,
nearer than your thought…

Wish

At 10:10, or 11:11, or 12:12,
when I see the clock, I make a wish.  I know the wish is only good before the minute changes, and so the wish is simple.
Usually my wishes are for people, plural, for me, too, but not just for me. 
Sometimes my wish is just for you, yes, You, singular, and plural.  It's 9:37 right now,  but for you, I wish deep inner peace, a reliable sense that all is well, to which you can always return. 
I wish for you a warm, welcoming place in your own heart, where you can bring each troubling thought or circumstance, and wrap them up in an impenetrable embrace. 
I wish for you an unshakable sense of belonging, wherever you go in the wide world, or in your neighborhood. 
I wish for you the granting of  your heart's true desires, and also freedom from your desires, a feeling of always being satiated, in the Now. 
I wish for you to know your own uniqueness, and to wholly love it. 
I wish for you an invigorating embrace, a forehead kiss, from the Goddess, as yo…

Tasting Notes

Feelings can have actual flavors,
when we sit down to taste them.

Surprise tastes like lemonade,
limeade and sweet tarts.

Contentment tastes like beets.

Happiness tastes like velvety,
red chile chocolate cake.

Longing tastes like black olives.

Impatience tastes like sour milk.

Jealousy tastes like endives.

Affection tastes like vanilla pudding.

Relaxation tastes like pear and cucumber.

Desire tastes like kiwi.

You taste cool, fermented, dry and crisp,
with a touch of anise.





Colors

Deep reds, into chocolate forests of hunter, chartreuse, violet and magenta,  extending to endless seas of aquamarine, teal, xanadu,  opalesque aubergine plants of fuchsia, falu, burgundy noir, translucent golden glimmers of eburnean silver sheen, indigo purplish denim hues of blues you've never ever seen, downy feathers of tawny taupe drifting down to a fulvous  billowy bed of sarcoline and sleep, deep, deep sleep,  the darkest shade of white. 

Certain Knowledge

Names of films and actors, facts I learned for the bar exam, the plots of my favorite novels, words in French and Spanish, both Japanese phonetic alphabets, measurements for things I've baked three hundred times, I just can't remember. 
How many times per day my heart beats, how many miles I drive in a week, how many calories are in a sandwich, how many people can fit in my living room, how many dreams I have in a night, I just don't know.
What you said to me yesterday, how you looked at me a year ago, how your complexion shifts with the seasons, or with your moods, the cadence of your speech, the way you cross your ankles, and fold your hands, I just can't forget. 
I could fill volumes with every detail of the time I spend with you. 
The mind forgets easily but the heart always remembers, and I am confidently certain, I love you. 



Star

I am whole,
from head to toe,
from without and within,
from my breath to my skin,
from my bones to my soul.

Formed with the elements
of the very first stars,
I am empowered.

Connected to the mind of
the Universe,
I am informed.

Dancing in vibration with
a cosmic choreography,
I have my place
among everyone else,
and I shine.


Intervention

People matter more than plans, feelings dominate circumstance,
no matter the number or the weather, how can you keep your soul together?
Not what you do,  or who's with you, or what you desired, but being inspired!
To be fulfilled, you must be skilled, to find the Divine, in your own mind.
The people around you, sometimes you choose them, sometimes they astound you, you'll always lose them. You can't control most events, you can't force things to make any sense.
You hear people say, "be like me!" "Follow my path and you'll be free!" You'll see them fall, you'll see them scatter, their image and their acclaim won't matter.
No one escapes suffering and pain, every one of us, sane or insane, will follow this path to our death, each of us have to breathe a last breath. 
How will you fly before you die? What is the limit of your sky? What are you hoarding inside your account? Experience or money, and in what amount? 
Is it your body, you…

Dead Roots

In another dream, I was wandering down a country road, paved, but barely. I stumbled upon a dead tree, large, with two trunks. One had fallen, and the other was left standing. Dead leaves still clung to  several branches, brown and withered, crunchy and thin.  I stopped, and squatted  next to the roots, and looked beyond  the fallen trunk.  Dark mud and a pond.  A familiar car approached and slowed.  A man from my church  stopped the car, rolling down the window.
"You look a little lost?" "Just out for a walk and I stopped here, but I will get going soon." "I will be in church Sunday. Maybe I'll see you." "Yes, I think so."
Every tree that does not bear good fruit,is cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am the vine; you are the branches.If you remain in me, and I in you,you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing.
Set your mind on things above,not on earthly things. 
As I awoke, these verses came to mind. The body dies.  Many tre…

Antipoem

Silence.  Lacuna. Only the body, and the senses, inwardly perceived, incommunicado. Mental activity ceases, and the hands are inert. 



Estival

Walking in the grass, a few minutes after twilight, a crescent moon glows in the sky just above the top of the pines. 
A pint of beer, three quarters full, in one hand, pajama clad boy beside me, bare feet.  "I saw one. I think I heard a coyote!"
"We saw some on my way home.  I mean I did. Me, myself and I." "What about Wonder Woman?" "I haven't talked to her since I was a kid. They're back there. Let's go." "Here they are! There are more of them." "I am getting mosquito bites." "The bat, oooh, little bat!" "Batman, da na na na na na na na!"
At the top of the steps, the moon's in a different spot. "I can see it's mouth."
Something big is flying around the flowers, and it's not a bat.  The dog is fearlessly chasing it. All the creatures disappear  from the water's approach.  The sound of the water running through the hose, and then the squeak of the spigot. 
Inside aga…

DC Haikus

Russian Yeti are
interesting to my two
children in their bed.

Zoo animals have
a hobby that suits them well,
in people watching.

Even one person
being added to a group
can change everything.

Love letter to me
for as I get up today,
I need reminded.

I don't want to hear
your poems in the morning.
Later in the day.

Family dinner with friend
on a terrace. Violin
is played by a boy.

Swimming boys at dusk,
fireflies with milk and cookies,
having drinks with John.

Magnolia trees
and holly shrubs are plants we
don't see in our town.

Magnolia trees
and holly shrubs are plants I
saw in my home town.

Art museums are not
favorited by our young boys,
but they like sculptures.

Understanding war,
looking at the names and planes,
they feel fear and pain.

Contemplative their
gaze, as they sit on the edge
of a clear fountain.

Love letter to me
he put it into my hand
when I needed it.

Washington invites
memories of Parisian
architects and art.

One Pierre Charles L'Enfant
disliked John Jay …