Distracted by Niggling Lies

As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. ~ George Orwell

I find zest in the early hours

when my narrow mind — having opened

in darkness, is soothed into spaciousness

by dawning meditation.  Insights diving

like swallows gathering insects

to feed demanding nestlings, rich

rewarding as if everyone has left

intricate dreams airing in plain sight

for me to marvel over.

Midmorning is humbled 

by atrocity, the space painted over

deliberately by news reports

parroting subtle lies with so much

gloss and poise — Orwellian doublespeak:

War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.

But love is easy.  It requires

no frames, no jockeying for position,

no branding.  If we can only sit here

in silence — shhh.  Let go

of our stories, the history we’ve

memorized, the right

and the wrong of each other.

Turn off these incessant screens.

Let’s leave the safety

of the porch and walk

barefoot in the grass

and simply breathe.


Inspired by: Zest, Love, Atrocity, and Porch

Working Out

I’m enrolled in a workout class

designed to give me more flexibility

when wielding my tune-in muscle.

I used to think I was weird or wired

differently, stuck in that unyielding

school desk watching the clock’s

agonizing creep. But now I know

anyone can do this. A parent dials

into their child’s frequency

to understand the being of few words

and passionate, overwhelming desires.

We sense into the needs of our pets,

opening to a way of communicating

that feels mysterious, psychic.

Our schools are designed to stamp

out our mystical knowledge. Everyone

must fit into the square pegs, summoned

by bells to march to classrooms.

Slaves to time, unquestioning.

Some of us fell through the cracks,

resisted the molding, shedding it

like snake skin. Reaching into a field

sparkling like dewdrops on a spiderweb

of magnetic aliveness that spans

the globe, we are awake and sitting.

The mystics and the poets will save us

by opening up the clock

to the spaciousness between seconds,

inviting us to abandon the lurid

sitcoms and online distractions

that keep us tied to an agenda

like mice spinning on a wheel.

Change the station, dial in to

the connection we have all been

reaching for, right here, on the other

side of the canned laughter

that keeps you

from listening to now.

Inspired by the Ragtag Daily Prompt: Sitcom

Say The Magic Word

Love is much more painful than anger. It is the most painful of feelings because it is always experienced in connection with a feeling of total helplessness. By expressing anger, I can deny my own helplessness. I don’t even feel it. ​The critical word at this juncture for the person involved is “Please.” You can feel the strength in that compared to a tantrum. “Papa, please.” “Mama, please.” It is powerful and painful. ~ Bertold Ulsamer

I felt your rage. It seemed directed solely
at me, until I really looked at my brothers
and saw how they labored, broken
by the same misapprehension.
It is so bewildering to feel a parent’s anger
when you are very young. And all I’ve been
able to do since is to search for my own
pissed-off tantrums, the courage to shout
back at you and reveal the pain
I absorbed. Helpless and vulnerable,
you were the oldest and so
your parents, each orphaned,
in separate cages of unexpressed grief
raged carelessly as they drank.
Time and again until for you,
love became synonymous with pain.
The child who learns “I hurt” soon
adds a direction, aims unerringly
until the description becomes an action
and those who should feel waves
of love are deluged in a troubled
sea of unclaimed projections.
Papa, please. I stand before you
and say it with so much compassion,
urging you to turn and face your own
parents, long dead, still stuck
in their turmoil. Please.
The healing movement finds its own
rhythm, its melody snaking through
the dismembered pieces, placing
each lovingly into the chorus
until we all sing, please.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: broken

Heart Sight

“Every human being moving…every sparrow that flew, every branch tossing in the wind was caught in and was a part of the whole mad ecstasy of loveliness, of joy, of importance, of intoxication of life.” ~ Margaret Prescott Montague

Ah, the opportunities to juxtapose

when babies meet their family.

Old wrinkled skin next to unblemished

perfection, eyes meeting

in equal wonder. What being

is this? And the swirls of newborn

dark hair against an uncle’s hairy

knees are a gift

of remembrance. We rarely see

the love which resonates

our world, the field of tenderness

that envelops us, soothing

us in harmonic vibrations.

We walk, distracted and bemused,

oblivious to the stark beauty

infused in every step

until the sight of a baby

softens our hardened hearts

and opens our narrow perceptions.

Great grandmother and baby

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: juxtapose

Which Witch?

Rage itself is often taken on from somewhere else and may have been passed down through several generations. Under the anger, at its source, lies pain. When I am hurt, I become angry. There is strength to be found in rage and I can still maintain contact with others. In pain, I lose my strength and feel alone.
~ Bertold Ulsamer

You would think in my family

there would be some kind of ceremony,

a celebration for budding witches.

Every person who shares my DNA

is highly intuitive, and most

struggle in a world where admitting

you see ghosts, or you read feelings,

that you hear voices or receive warnings

through dreams is considered

downright crazy.  At the very least,

you will be mocked and teased,

maybe beaten by those who fear

what secrets you may uncover.

I have always been driven

to discover the stories of my ancestors.

These days, I understand that they have

been murmuring in my ears

since I was tiny, showing up in the wee

hours of the night, longing

for connection, with no qualms

at disturbing my sleep.  My grandmother

told me stories of her own grandmother

playing the piano when everyone was fast

asleep, sixty years after dying 

during childbirth.  Grandma knew

who was playing, and she told the most

delicious spine-tingling tales

about her family members, scared witless,

scrambling through the dark farmhouse

searching for a living prankster.

We come to this world with so much love

and loyalty to those who have gone before

us, sure that by taking on their troubles,

we’ll ease their pain.  Yesterday I tuned in

to inexplicable anger.  Whose is this?

I placed a huge rock of trauma I’ve carried

at my great grandmother’s feet — her unspeakable

rage at becoming an orphan far too huge

for her to feel, constrained into this boulder

that I gladly hoisted onto my own strong

shoulders.  Except I finally realize

that my greatest gift to her

is forging my own path.

She won’t ever be forgotten;

her steady stream feeds this river 

of life that moves me 

to my own destiny, the going

easier now as I lay my burden down.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompts: ceremony

Days of Yore

“What does yclept mean?” he queried,

peering from A Boy’s King Arthur,

published in 1910. He was eight and a half,

an avid fan of the Knights

of the Round Table, engrossed

in every book he could find.

This one was filled with antiquated

language, and as always,

I found a teaching moment.

Grabbing my two-volume set

of the Oxford English Dictionary,

I opened the tiny drawer and pulled out

the magnifying glass with a flourish. He sighed.

“Ah, it’s the past participle of clepe,”

I crowed. Which of course necessitated

opening Volume 1, to the C’s.

“Mom,” he complained, giving the word

several extra syllables of moaning O’s.

“It’s archaic, look!” I had him read

aloud its meaning: to name or call.

He was exasperated. “I knew that

by context!” He showed me the sentence.

“The sword yclept Excalibur…”

I savored our shared

knowledge quest

while he privately vowed to keep

his questions to himself

and relish uninterrupted reading.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: archaic

Just Be

“When you get the message, hang up the phone.”  Alan Watts

This beautiful child with the big heart,

the songs escaping into the closed

air, is rocking herself while ghosts

cluster around her closet.

Menacing and something to fear,

because though no one else

can see them, still they tell ghost stories,

her only source of knowledge.

She is all alone, and even when she cries,

it appears that no one can hear her.

Nobody comes.

There are rough boys, jealous

of her tap dancing and ballet.

She bears the bruises of their fists,

their unkind shoving, and their cutting

words. She wants to be loved

and accepted, just to show herself

like a wildflower before the trampling

buffalo stampede, just one word

of praise before she’s lost in the dust.

Today I realized that I still carry her

and more, I can be that celebrating

mother who really sees her,

who can sit as she dances

to the tunes she composes.

She is so young, so frightened,

and big tears roll down my cheeks

as she finally emerges. There is nothing

to fix, nothing to heal, only this chance

to be present in this field

of true love. I let go of the guilt

for not hearing her earlier,

the assumption that she was frozen

in time, as she thaws in the fierce

heat of my receptive regard.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompts: guilty and assumption

That Infinite Yearning

I came here with big plans and super

powers, a heartfelt intention

to set things right,

to move my people to a new

place of redemption.

And if you are reading these lines

I claim you. Surprised

to find there was language

to be learned and a body to master,

I often lost myself in the pure

delight of being, twirling in

bliss while around me

the naming and the labeling began.

This is blue, and these are three,

chopping my integration and inner

knowing into bite-sized assimilations

of cultural knowing.

And so I forgot

my true essence, and my mission

that had seemed so easy.

When you land without a reference

point among those who disbelieve

that time and space are a play

on words, a soul mission is reduced

to a note on a page, definable

and so losing necessary fluidity.

I learned separation and how to lie.

Every now and then I attracted

a narcissist whose intent

felt purely evil, doling out harm.

In my terror, I never saw

the chance to utter truth.

If I could call out this chilling

aspect, I could free the frozen

parts of me, could access

my own deep strength. Now

I remember: at our essence,

we are all here

to help each other grow.

We gather on the world’s

stage like the finest musicians.

Tuning our instruments in seeming bedlam,

the bright and beautiful high

notes anchored by the dark.

But I have to put my poem

aside for a while. Family singers

are gathering in the music hall.

I’m an alto and I provide harmony.

We’ve sung together all

my life, and though the verses

are often jarring, I keep

searching for the healing melody.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: narcissism