Family Matters

“All children are my children. I teach them the songs and whatever else I can. That’s what Grandmothers are for – to teach songs and tell stories and show them the right berries to pick and roots to dig. And also to give them all the love they can stand. No better job in the world than being Grandmother.”
Leila Fisher (Hoh)

It started with a head injury:

my father’s great grandfather, a night watchman

patrolling in the darkness when a drunk

clocked him with a metal lantern.

Erratic ever after, prone to sudden

bursts of rage, his family discovered

the calming technique of placing

my two-year-old father on the old man’s

lap. That prompted lullabies and soothed

the beast. I’d always found

this story charming when my gregarious

father told it.  At least, until the day

my grandson rushed into the office, only

securing my father’s attention by

scampering behind the computer

desk amid the jumble of wires. The roar

drew my protective swoop, separating

the two, perplexed by this inordinate

yet familiar fury, intent on saving

the innocent. I underestimated

this child’s compassionate wisdom.

He waited a few weeks,

at first ignoring my father’s overtures,

the blues he sang obviously inauthentic.

As advances grew

progressively kinder, I watched them

move to the country of healing.

The old man’s heart finally open,

it’s time to rock ‘n’ roll today.

My grandson runs into the room.

“Don’t scare Grandpa,” I call

so my father is ready, manufacturing

surprise when he feels a poke.

Giggling, the two-year-old master teacher

withdraws a few feet, curling into a ball,

the sportsman’s invitation to play.

When my father pounces with a shout,

the child screams in delight and runs

runs, runs to the safety of my lap.

We huddle in a blanket. “Scary!”

He declares. His heart is pounding.

Eyes wide, we watch the monster

approach. “Stop,” he commands.

And when it appears his boundary won’t

be respected — my father advances —

I throw up my palms, as well.

“Stop!” I plead, and add, “This is base!

We’re safe!” Ah, yes, the rules of sports.

He retreats.

We cuddle until our heartbeats calm.

And then the experiment repeats.

My warning song, the scream,

the panicked flight. Over and over.

Now crawling fast

over an ottoman, creating an obstacle

course, his pursuer always a step behind.

My mother is crying, she is laughing

so hard. My inner two-year-old perks

her ears at this uncharted territory,

learning how to feel this huge emotion safely.

At last I see the true story of the monster

my father had to comfort

when the frightened females in his family

placed his innocence like an offering

into the lap of the madman. And how he had

to take it in, keep it simmering for

this very opportunity. How often

do we miss the quintessential teaching

embodied in a toddler, the strong brave

heart offering to heal the gaping wounds

long papered over by our tales, yet

so obvious to this tuned-in being?

The energy worker of few words: the emphatic

“No!” and the passionate “Yes!”

He felled the demons

of seven generations with one exuberant

swoop. The figures — that I’ve spent decades

painstakingly setting up on my altar

of healing intentions — topple like dominos.

You can bet the ancestors are feeling

these embraces. “Hugs,” he commands

before he leaves.

Word Of The Day Challenge: Gregarious

Daily Addictions Prompt: Plead

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts: Darkness

FOWC Prompt: Quintessential

Ragtag Prompt: Embrace

3TC: Country, Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll

Include Yourself

I abandon all false modesty

because I belong. In my body,

in my seething emotions,

in my recycled thoughts spinning

out of control. I belong

in this family, no longer

need to show up and create “peace”

by letting go of my way.

I risk exposure by being authentic

and even so, this is me. I belong

to my community. No matter

what views I express or how

they trigger you. I am alive

and I am included. I belong

to the serried ranks of hopeless

animals whose lives are caged

to feed me. I belong

to this nation, with its hidden

history of genocide and greed.

I belong to the Pentagon

dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

I belong to every imprisoned being.

I belong to the oceans, suffocating

in plastic. I belong to the earth

drenched in pesticides.  

I open and I open my heart

to this new reality of global citizen.

Every time I resist, every time

I hear the gigantic “no”

I look deeper, pull the hurting

unwanted piece of me into

my heart. We all belong.

We are all included.

Daily Ragtag Prompt: Serried

Word of the Day Challenge: Exposure

Inspired by the Daily Addictions Prompt: Gigantic

Do all the cool kids use cool prompts?

Walking Mysteries

The sun burns her sultry way
to the horizon and a little breeze
blows celebration kisses as
my 13-year-old friend and I begin
our nightly journey. We head to the lake
first tonight. Showing up wet at the door
might cause a conniption, so I have
her mother’s blessing.
She is a keen swimmer,
ducking for a long drink. She comes
out quickly but I let her know
we can stay.
The water she shakes is cool.
She wades past white
rip rap and feathery strands of dark
green seaweed. Every now and then
she emerges to roll on the grass.
My belly laughs
at her antics are a gift
to her big heart.
Sheer joy.
Her mother tells me later what
I can see as we walk,
dragging her arthritic hind leg,
panting in her pain. And always,
tail wagging, head lifted to salute
the neighbor riding his bike calling
“Stella is taking a walk!”
Everybody here basks in the love
she radiates. I lead her on a different
route tonight, since a swim first
would be more
convenient for the humans, but
she is disoriented, pausing now to peer
at the dim shape of a house.
She recently lost her human
father, and she looks for him
in the few passing cars
which stop to greet her.
She sniffs Sweet Williams and thyme,
but I think her scent powers are fading.
I pet her and call her name and finally,
she simply accepts
her confusion, allows the unknown
to ground her into the same magnetic
earth we pace every evening. She is
my gift tonight. We treasure life
as we near the end of the road.

Daily Ragtag Prompt: Keen

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts: Burn

Word of the Day Challenge: Conniption

Giftwrapped Serendipity

“Everything precious can be replaced.” ~ Victoria Stuart

I sent out a prayer
to open myself to the next
level of being in relationship.
Hoping to experience ease and pleasure.
And the responsive universe
immediately brought me gifts
— the type that used to make me
cringe, flee, cry, despair.
Growth, it seems, requires facing,
allowing all the experiences
I judged as bad, harmful, toxic
and first hid from, then escaped
before gathering courage to stand up to,
identify and protect myself from.
And always, they’ve exited the stage
only to enter again, stage right —
stage fright, house left —
dressed in different clothing.
Every experience I have resisted
clings to me, an energetic stamp
wrapping tight arms around me
in a death squeeze. Go away!
I proclaim, safe in the knowledge
that I have been a victim,
I’ve been traumatized,
for God’s sake!
Whose god?
Who’s God?
If I’m god, this is for my sake?
The gift becomes evident by its wrapping
scales of glittery resistance. I can spend
my days investigating, labeling, singing long and
passionately about it. But I keep sending out
my intention until now I see
if I can embrace the resistance I wrap
around this experience, there may well be
beauty inside. I never bother to open
the actual gift, I just resist
and resist the so-called toxic
wrapping, send it away and act
surprised when it arrives the next
moment, the loving universe yelling,
“Oh, my dearest love, surprise!”

Daily Ragtag Prompt: Scale

Inspired by the Word of The Day Challenge: Serendipity

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts: Pleasure

The Constant Invitation

“Consciousness narrows as we get older….Adults have congealed in their beliefs and are hard to shift…whereas children are more fluid and consequently more willing to entertain new ideas. If you want to understand what an expanded consciousness looks like, all you have to do is have tea with a four-year-old.” Alison Gopnik
“Or drop a tab of LSD.” Michael Pollan
“In contemplative practice, I set awakening as my highest priority. Every single minute. Ahem. Wake me if I forget?!” ~ me to the universe.

By a sheer fluke, I spy
a shy green heron perch
on my neighbor’s deck. The white
clouds reflecting catch
my attention. It is difficult for me
to see tiny fish dart
even in this clear water,
with all of these trees
vivid summer green
waves in the lake. But this
bird’s doors of perception
are wide open and even though I sit
peacefully behind screens,
as soon as delight and curiosity
move me to peer
through binoculars and marvel
— such colorful plumage,
a human watching alert
transforms fishing to flight. Sometimes
in crowds, I can feel eyes on me,
turn quickly and meet a speculative stare.
And if I enter a room where I’d been
discussed, it is obvious. I can tune in
to what you are feeling right now.
The world is a connected field.
We used to toddle about,
tripping on every unfiltered perception
before choosing survival. A butterfly’s
enticing dance is ignored for the speeding
car. We learn to cautiously keep
our attention on what can harm us.
And that’s a good thing,
as it brought us here. Now
I am ready to return
to childlike wonder,
give up the belief that I know you
— or anyone or anything. So as I
notice and embrace my habits
of survival, I can wiggle
like my two-year-old teacher.
I keep asking: What is this?
Who are you?
Wanna play?

Inspired by the Daily Addictions Prompt: Transform

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts: Clouds

Daily Ragtag Prompt: Fluke

I’m playing poet by combining these three prompts daily. It’s fun!

Under The Numbness

“Honesty is an alive process.” ~ Thomas Hubl

I was a tourist in We-space
when Grace spoke up, silvery
and focused, an opening for
Love to run in, arms outstretched.
Joy, tumbling in cartwheels,
lay panting on the grass to listen.
All week, I have been feeling numb
and curious at my seeming
poverty. Where are my emotions?
Do I only feel them when a wound
is flicked like a whip
on a sensitive horse’s flank,
from sedate walk to wild gallop?
I hereby celebrate this milestone where
they nudged me playfully
and tickled me unmercifully
so that when I received the terse
text that I’d lost my job,
emotions surged like hot lava.
My rational mind dictated
don’t be self-centered, here
is good reason to celebrate.
My grandson will no longer sit
in his carseat for an hour each way
through treacherous traffic,
no time for breakfast, a rude
awakening with the solace
of his beloved grandmother.
He gets to stay home with Mommy!
I will leap to logic later; right now
I am bereft, honoring these feelings
of abandonment, love being snatched
from my arms with no warning.
I can feel the rising clamor
of earlier, similar incidents
when my base was too small
to ride these huge feelings,
and I wail, airing and allowing
all of the grief, the sadness, the mad.
I grab an emotion color wheel
to help me name
the rich shades in this rainbow
swirling through me. This is untold
wealth and hidden treasures:
I find peace
lodging comfortably here —
surprise — and a deep respect
as I allow myself
to enjoy being alive. All mine:
searing emotions, brutal
vitality. And later, dream
faces of old friends
and lovers bring abrupt
devastation, and this time
I name it
to their face and mine.
I feel it
with my tender heart
this time.

Inspired by the Rag Tag Prompt: Milestone

Inspired by the Daily Addictions Prompt: Poverty

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts: Tourist

The challenge to write a poem combining these three prompts daily is inspiring!

Plutchik’s Color Wheel of Emotions

The Music Is Just Starting

“Apparently, the healing energies are everywhere in the air as in a special WI-FI-field. But to be effective, they need a human being as a medium to lend them body and voice for a few minutes. Then the healing powers begin to work with gestures and sounds.” ~ Dr. Karl-Heinz Rauscher

Be aware of the power of sound vibrations in setting intentions and in manifesting. ~ Victoria Stuart

I’ve been embracing my shadows
and learning that love is precision.
I sing out my intentions
in the depths of meditative space
and the reverberations are shattering
my ways to cope. My family
and friends are used to my indulgence;
I’ve allowed them to ride roughshod
over my best interests, because isn’t
that what loving means? Now they are
afraid I will deprive them of my presence.
Ironic, since this is the first time
I have even seen the ground
let alone been able to stand mine.
In this new space opened by my desire
to be in the next level of relationships,
I acknowledge my instinct to flee
the mess and confusion, the seeming
disrespect. Even so, it is my honor
to present myself all decked out
in my new shades. Drumming and chanting
my new mantra:  I belong here.
I celebrate this imperfect
now, unsettling enough that my
ancestors are rolling in their graves.
That’s a good sign; the fresh air
will disintegrate secrets they have hidden
and free us all to play.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: Deprive

Inspired by the Rag Tag Prompt: Indulgence

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts

Inspired by the Daily Addictions Prompt: Cope