I felt taller than you [poem]

When I faced you

daughter to father, in the kitchen

I felt taller than you

just like I did as a teen

when I lept for you down the stairwell

and when I threw my hands

around your neck, near the pear tree.

I never meant to hurt you

Even though that was exactly my intent.

As the years have passed

and the strength within us both

has diminished, my anger has turned

to sorrow, not so much for my actions

but for the giant pain in this life

that seems to have left

no other way, but to anger, and defend.

Bing Crosby plays in my ears

as your low voice resounds against the walls

at Christmas, and on Sunday afternoons, trying their best

to absorb whatever joy they could.

Your hair is so much lighter now,

your large body more round, less firm.

I watched you slice tiny shrimp into pieces

at the third birthday luncheon for my son.

I know you’re afraid, and I wish you weren’t

so fearful of the death we all know is coming.

Your own father dying as he choked

on some trivial piece of food from a recliner

in his living room, his wife and son bearing witness

fighting against the truth of that moment.

Why must we always push back at

reality that is before us? Me, you, all of us

in struggle against the harsh reality we see.

please let there be blue paint there, too? choosing to career again. [poem]

I stayed in bed all of today, save
four walks to the kitchen, the same
number of front door openings
so my yellow dog with a hard chest
could pee on sparkling snow, light blue
reflecting the Saturday sky of January.
I felt a fever, which made me scared not
in fear of this virus I’m told to be afraid
of, but of passing on a job interview, a
role I know I’ll get, and will accept, and for which
I will adjust my life accordingly.
I didn’t want to fuck it up, from
sickness, no I’d rather make that happen
by choice. I practiced pitches, the sales funnel steps and learned about aluminum trailers. Hours spent understanding trailers. Done, and still will there be
time for writing, for spreading blue
on white canvas, the feel of wonder
on my fingertips as they glide in
wet paint, creating something from
nothing. The not knowing feels the best, and yet
here I am, with wrinkles
a hairline moving back, an inch past
where Snapchat filters place
the hairline on my head. My scalp
hurts. Years of indecision hidden
under play, curious in deserts, dawdles
on Fridays in the forest and tuesdays
on airplanes. Who but I to set
my schedule, and still, a child played
with gray blue sand and flimsy clear
volcano molds on the table next to
me, behind the computer as I decided
not to let me be so unsure any longer.
From this bed today I practiced
elevator pitches, the fire in my pelvis
cooling with the minutes that pass. I
questioned to the doctor if his drugs
could be to blame. I wished never
to decide my steps from head and not
from heart, and yet I saw him sitting
there, tiny rocks falling from chubby
little hands, water falling on my face
“Don’t cry like that mommy” as my chin
dimpled in. “Mama’s trying to make it better,
little man” amongst the papers and
the mess I created ‘round myself, to
shield us from monotony that is
surely just ahead, when I clear
the mess I created ‘round myself, in
spreading blue on white canvas,
the feel of wonder on my fingertips
as they glide in wet paint,
creating something from nothing.

time to butter bread this morning [poem]

Her speckled tan banana bread
is dense, losing moisture, and tastes
of saran just a tad within my mouthful of
home. My mother always made two tins
of the simple cozy cake from a bunch of
rotting yellow fruit our family did not
eat. She still does. Two weeks ago she
wrapped a loaf within layers of plastic and
left it on my counter next to mail from
DHS needing my attention and bottles of
coriander, turmeric, cumin and black pepper,
a clay pot of pink salt which I use
to add flavor to my food. She knows not to
mention them or ask or stay much longer in
my house these days. She must protect
herself and the way she wants to be. So do
I, now seeing bitterness in a jar and a
warm slice of her on a plate with its gold
flowers and golden brown cracked crust.
I took the time to butter bread this morning. 

the rise of you again [poem]

a new old light in my smile

why

was it the kiss of the man I was meant to

be with

who I kissed almost first, and who I’d love to 

kiss last

the strangeness in our mouths, a welcome home to

our bodies

perhaps it’s when we stop performing proving and decide 

on settling

into the sweetness of a human life, without pushing back at who

we were

all along he was him leaning into life his way, and still there is so much

I don’t know

and there was I was, over there, and there, and there, and here, and there, never 

stopping long 

and maybe now I hear a gentle letting go in knowing not all this life can or should be lived in

this moment

it’s perfect to accept what is, what isn’t, what comes, and what must go because not every little thing

can be

what would I sacrifice, asked the wanderer to me, for the chance to let love be sewn onto my soul for a long while

everything

I know as I let it rest, which isn’t really rest at all because in this mind and life of no casual affair at all, I cannot let it rest when

it must be

I know that my heart my body and my spirit longs for a long adventure into quiet expectations giving and receiving for once without demand

lay with me

a while upon this frozen earth under those red oaks and beech holding onto leaves beside a small hemlock poking through the pines near the flowing river

and let us see

what comes in this life wherein we’ve circled round each other time and time and time again never ever saying goodbye with fire in our eyes and anger in our bones

because love is

and kindness comes and comes, continues to come and ravage my soul as it always does yours and fingernails on flesh and mouths on necks and breasts in your hands and mine

being held by you

is the most

exciting 

thing

I

know

crabmeat chuckles, finally [poem]

as the sticks of crabmeat
slippery from themselves and the water
I rinsed them with in a swirl
slipped across the plate, one landed
all by itself on the center metal ridge of
the steel two-basin sink.
there it was, a shaft off pollock and
egg whites, dressed as king crab
wet and floppy near a spongey yellow towel
I chuckled, the joy in this moment profound
all of life being so silly
and just fine exactly as it is
clarity dressed in leg-style meat
that i will heat in a small pan on an
inexpensive gas stove in a house i do not own
a better choice than the microwave, but if 
I’m being honest, I don’t really care much 
how my food is heated at the moment. 
I’m just so glad
I laughed, and that I will eat it
with a toddler son at my side, who won’t
and we will laugh 
about slippery meat and
slippery spaghetti and
slippery white mushrooms and
how damn slippery our lives together thus far
have been
and I am so happy to hear my chuckle
and his

Being a bridge and letting go of what isn’t mine. — the tortoise shell can go now.

I have a tender friendship and working relationship with an American artist and spiritual coach. I’m her editor — I sit with her words and feel the meaning, then scramble paragraphs around and rewrite until there is a flow that feels divine. This kind of partnering — her words and mine — brings me much joy. I’ve reworked several of articles for publishing, redid her book jacket and amazon listing, and am soon to edit her copy in the foreword of another writer’s book.

I love the art of editing.

This year, I’m welcoming opportunities to edit. More articles, yes, and this year I also see editing books.

I see early early mornings behind a glowing screen with a mug of rooibos tea beside me. I see my heart opening, my mind focusing, and my fingers doing the work of building bridges of understanding. I’ve known, for 7 years now, that being a bridge is part of my dharma — to help people connect better. Connect to their spirit, to lifeforce energy, to nature, to each other, and to their selves. I love this work.

I’ve also made a resolution to listen more, and to be seen without showing off (along with a few other intentions perhaps I’ll share later). To help people connect, I (we) have to listen with openness and vulnerability. To not project a belief or assumption of where someone stands or who they are, far before they’ve told me their story, just to speed into my turn to talk. That’s not listening. I resolve to open my heart and allow the truths of others to come in, while being seen in my true self.

If I can listen, then I can be the bridge of sharing truths so that others can understand better. So that others can see into worlds they do not yet know. (When I travel, it’s always been my great wish to share the scenes and stories before me with bodies who, for whatever reason, aren’t there.)

The author, Kellie J Wright, shares her journey of profound personal change in Internal Journeys: A Spiritual Transformation.

Last night, in the moonlit early morning of New Year’s Day, I opened her book randomly to a chapter called Have. She asks the reader if we possess things that aren’t ours. Beliefs, desires, objects that were handed off to us or that we took on — knowingly or unknowingly — and carry around as our own.

To become the fullest most natural and vibrant versions of our selves, we have to let go of what’s not ours. We have to make space for what is meant for us. And only what’s meant for us. For our now. For our endless stream of nows.

This is the last chapter of her book.

I chuckled reading it, and resonating with words I deeply believe. I carry judgments and bad habits picked up along my life that conflict with my core — light, freedom, joy.

I’ve worn a weighted tortoise shell of ideas I do not want and of a past story told with too much contempt and regret. I am ready, I feel, to let it go. I am making space for what should be, what could be, without it.

I shook my hands and wiped them clean, brushed the skin of my arms and legs down toward the earth, and then washed my hands and feet with water — all while declaring to god and life and the emptying house around me that I release what isn’t mine. Take it take it!

The only way to know what’s under that shell, is to peel it off. I am safe in the loving hands of life — there is no need to burden myself with armor if I’m always in this now.

Let’s see what comes.

Will my skin shine under the sun as I walk upon a warming earth each morning? I’ll know when to seek shade, or protection, for my being by listening to the knowing within. It’s always now. I don’t want to carry what appears to protect against (and prevent) the majesty of reality. Nope. Unburdened and light is my way.

What is yours?

Reach out if you’re listening. I am here.

I will listen and I will believe you. — a New Year’s resolution and a promise to a little girl.

As her blue ocean eyes peered into mine of bluish green, her blonde curls falling beside her face the way mine did when I was her age, I told her “If there’s anything you ever need to say, and you don’t feel safe or sure to tell anyone else, you can always tell me. I will listen to you, and I will believe you. No matter what.”

My parents never told me that, and they never did that. Listened, believed unconditionally, helped make sense of it all, and then act appropriately.

I am not this young girl’s parent. I am her aunt, but I did see her come into this world and that moment was one of my life’s most profound. Those early months were magic. I sang her to sleep some days with mantras. I felt her beating heart on my own while she curled her legs up to her chest and nestled into a similar shape on my own limbs and torso. There is a shared experience between us star children.

I worry about her and her ability to be listened to, and to be believed. I worry often that she won’t find ears for her truths.

As I dig for clues behind the current rage and contempt in my heart at the cruelty in this world, and the pain and problems and their denial to be seen within people who share my own blood, I find a deep yearning, simply, to be listened to, and to be believed.

I find that much of my harder to feel emotions are covering a deep despair over not ever being unconditionally believed. And if I am not believed, then am I really seen? How could I have had worth in the eyes of those who are supposed to hold me unconditionally, if I was not listened to fully and then loved no matter what.

I realize, as a child, that it was not safe in my world to share my full truth. People were uncomfortable if they knew the sadness, the abuse, the reality, of my life. It was only safe to share my victories, not my losses. So, I created a lot of wins, perhaps, just to have a voice. Being better than is far superior to being real. (I’m so sorry for those I hurt when I was trying to be better than you.)

By not sharing the darkness of what I was experiencing, I allowed the storytelling of shame to begin within my hiding mind. Shame grows wild in the secrets and stories we keep to ourselves. (Brené Brown can fill you in on that if you’re not up to speed.)

Looking back, shame was all around me as a kid. It was in the denied depression and resentments of my mother, the overeating overworking over-angry high standards of my father. It was in my blood. And it filled my household.

There were moments when efforts were made, despite its presence, for genuine redemption (glory glory hallelujah) but were covered quickly with a round of “tell us about your perfection, kid number 2” at the post-Sunday church Chinese buffet.

I saw shame also in the sad eyes of some of my friends, in the lower middle class houses I passed in a school bus. My family’s house looked nicer than most on the outside, with its big weeping willow tree out front and the pony out back, but the farmhouse was cluttered, and unfinished (for as long as I lived there) on the inside.

Instead of finding ways to understand, I found ways to escape. Turns out, I wasn’t alone.

There were so many of us sharing our selves with each other, with our harvest season joints and our fifths of very bottom shelf vodka purchased at the Cherry Lane, with a passing round of cigarettes to burn holes in our arms that would scar circles forever. I felt belonging and believed in that badge akin to a polio vaccine wound. I wore it proudly. I had my tribe. And then I overdid it, everything, and saw the havoc I could create with enough charisma and a willingness to please. But it felt good to escape nonetheless. So I kept on… and perhaps still do.

I can’t fault anyone for being who they are, and for having only the tools they have. I know well enough that we are all a product of where we come from and the emotions of those around us when we’re young. But… I can be wiser than that, and choose differently than that, if I try hard enough. I fear I’m not trying hard enough. But I am trying.

So I told that little girl, with the ocean eyes that look into my own with a unique blend of sadness and spirit and a bucket of absolutely horrible beauty behind them, and I tell her that she will always be believed.

If there is ever confusion in her mind of why she feels a way that seems different from what she sees acted out around her, or if she is hurt, or forced, or wild with expansion… I want her to know she can share it without fear of being shushed.

I wonder what could have been if I felt safe to share.

I don’t want that little girl to grow into a woman who wonders what could have been. I don’t want her to impress everyone. I don’t want her to be unsafe in her body, so unsafe to feel what she feels that she hides any abuses passed her way even after an accomplice dies. I hope that she never has those stories to tell me.

I know the blood that raised me also raises her, in part, so I must try to show her another way than denial and avoidance and forced perfection.

I will listen, and I will believe you.

And I hope that she doesn’t need me in the end. I hope that she has that at her home, where should always be her most safe place. But if not, I’ll be there. Just like I try to be, insist on being, for my own son.

And for anyone who needs to be believed, I am here. My resolution for 2021 is to find more ways to listen. There are other bodies out there needing ears for their truths.

therapy again [poem]

therapy is going well, we all agree 
I smoked twice today though, also true
finished off my self-medicating stash 
with a dance party to The Weeknd balanced
iPad recorded my efforts. head nod. 

two therapists, two paradigms of 
healing, and my own acknowledging
an intellectual mind loves to spar
with like minds, developing beings playing
nice to pay the bills. head nod.

I’m paying nothing either, save the
stories I may tell of this to them
they always want the juice, don’t they
I, too, offer a hefty pour of pain, pussy
struggles, parents, pay the bills. head nod. 

one says to dance it out, collagen 
for a leaky gut. note that its his karma, to deal 
with you. the other smiles more kindly
his own elephant still in some bits,
outside. sit with it, he says. head nod.

neither men take the whole truth, nor dozens 
who I paid before, yet they swallow some
mixed, shaken, and ground up and taken 
sipped on slowly, chewed with a note 
in the margin, time ticks on. head nod. 

see you friday on zoom? head nod.

god asks, do you trust me? [poem]

the purpose is experience what it is, is
self-realization, enlightenment, removal of the veil
who decided we needed this, light beings being

god asks, do you trust me?

humans in a mad mad world without rhyme in reason
searching and seeing while others do not care to look
how miraculous it may seem to not wear spectacles

envy not the sleeping sheep with their white fluffy wool
if you choose not to look, how could you see?
they’ll be back again, trust

here’s the secret, searcher (you already know it)
do the things that bring you joy, set me on fire
your passions are also mine

let go of knowing how. mind runs wild
confusion if you choose it, choosing to
cling to itself, not the self, fear

a dozen hands touched me, a being within being
bamboo, heaven on earth is here, on earth
god asked, do you trust me?

eight years cycles round, i honor conviction
oil on my face, lust for freedom in the heart
god asks, do you trust me?

i surrender, let us dance
god says we’ve work to do

terrified of the other mothering [poem]

i hurry rushing flushing bluster of nerves
i pause from stacking the tank tops on the shelf
behind the door of knotty pine, that slides, a bit rough on its track

stop
what am i doing? for whom and i changing what just was? who am i trying to be?

        my healing vacation of quasi-awakening in traumatic shifts of the self
        coming to a close. they’re already in the car. my mother driving him
        home to me, his mother
        an artist when he is away

i slide empty canvases and masterpieces just the same
inside a brown paper box awaiting life, when she comes again

since becoming a mother, i have been trying to find my other mother way
but no. i have to make my own way of mothering, because
i am terrified of the other mothering
the one without unconditional love offering freedom to be creative

        somehow there has to be space
        for art in momming
        it now is who-i-aming, so expand i must in my mothering
        i choose to make space for the artist, the child in a home
        without freedom to create, to be seen in her brightness and her glory

to the sweetness within my mothering
        i offer kindness to you, who will not be understood
        some of us cannot hold space for
        no art in our hearts, lest not in our eyes
        of the children artisting in our homes

        is that what you’re wearing? (she asks)
        yes, mom

edited:

i hurry rushing flushing bluster of nerves
pause from stacking painted tank top, black sweatshirt on a shelf
that sits behind a heavy splintered door made of knotty pine
which doesn’t slide any longer, broken now and laying rough within its metal creaking track

stop
what am i doing? for whom am i putting all this away? who am i trying to be?

my healing vacation of quasi-awakening, traumatic shifts of the self
coming to a close. they’re already in the car. my mother driving him 

        home, to his mothering
        artist when he is away

i slide empty canvases and dried lumpy creations from core
inside a brown paper box awaiting life, when she comes again

since becoming a mother, i have been trying to find another mother way
which, it doesn’t work it hurts more than helps,  i know it cannot be true, because
i am terrified of the other mothering
she doesn’t have unconditional love, or give freedom to be creating

        somehow there has to be space for me, the artst in me, within all of my mothering
        it is who-i-aming, so i must be expanding
        i choose to make space hold space offer grace for the child in this home
        full of life in her space in all she creates her brightness and her glory

and to sweet attempts and perfect failings within all of our untrue mothering
        i offer kindness to you, who won’t be understood
        some cannot hold space for
        art in our hearts, lest not in the eyes
        of children within our homes

stop, is that what you’re wearing?
        yes, mom

don’t take down the art asking to be seen [poem]

i don’t know where to put it, or him
this is his space, too, and i need to be respectful

not everyone should see the sulking frothing form of woman, bleeding
on walls and screens, on her face, smell of cannabis and tulsi smoke and death, asking

art asks
to be seen

so then how to do it
to cut the skin and drip it out
while also being a mother, a lover, a friend
this is his space, too, and i need to be respectful

not everyone needs to look at the choking chastised woman, without a bra
in her home just walking waltzing doing freedom flying birth and life, just asking

art asks
to be seen

so then let her be in art
create space on the inner side
grow rise never contract in the face of fear
new ways of thinking are required if we are to expand

not everyone need know language of the beings being without name or reason
cosmic worlds can speak in silent colors rhythms rhyme and guttural sounds, just asking

art asks
to be seen

i do know where to put it, or her
because this is my space, too, and i need to be respectful

yes to that man, i said [poem]

soft, the marvel of love, too soft
but hard is the copybook of reason

if I may have one for my body
it should be a soft lover, one willing to
rub rub rub the soles of my feet
couldn’t have a life of hard scraping tries from a man who
doesn’t know quite how to love a woman

but better yet, a man of both
a lover of rhyme and reason
i’ll rub my own, he’ll build me a home
using feathers, warm wax, and gloves
to soften the blows of his natural way
of love

yes, i’m in, my love

(hafiz)
oh thou who are trying to learn
the marvel of love
through the copybook of reason
i am very much afraid
you will never see the point

you sexy crescent moon [poem]

you hook me with your tip
as i’m driven under you and inside
madness, taxi, tuk tuks, Delhi

you do not hide
from faces of women in dupattas, men in turbans, cows dawdling
dead on the roadside

look into me, you sexy crescent moon
low, gazing wildy, heart and hara, hot and pricked
just above sugarcane fields forever

are you waxing, are you waning? will you fade or light me up?
i’ll worship and adore you, you sexy crescent moon
feed me, guide me, suck me up

i lie on my side, see you resting, glowing, offering sight to me
bronze face tilts to the heavens, round pout
we’re purple in our humanness

beloved effortlessly seduces his lover, who loves to give herself to him
…cosmic and only time will tell…

i rise in your darkness, offer you my light
round and round and round and round
you sexy crescent moon

first night in india, taxi delhi to rishikesh // march 2014, refurb november 2020