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

Deep Connection

“The music loomed large in the experience: ‘I was learning a song and the song was simple…it was one note…C…it was the vibration of the universe…a collection of everything that ever existed…all together equalling God.'” ~ Patrick Mettes in How To Change Your Mind

I used to believe meditation

was an island in the storm

a way of calming that inner

soap opera, a place to notice —

whoa, these actors on the stage

need a break, a gentle but firm,

thank you for sharing

meaning shut up already.

Here I sit

noticing the sensations of my body,

feeling all these swarming emotions,

aware of the mindless chattering.

Tuning in to the space that holds us.

I thought that meditation

was a spiritual practice to be scheduled

along with exercise and meals.

Morphing now to become the essential

way to frame my day. 

And now I see that meditation is

constantly allowing me to drop in,

ground myself, inviting the parts

of me that emerge from the dark

locked places to see through

my eyes this new shift in reality.

Vacuuming the rug as way.

Listening to you as way.

Including, expanding this yes,

now this. Embracing the resistance

with compassion. Ah, this no.

Knowing meditation keeps revealing

all that I don’t know. All that I could

never imagine knowing. This.

Now this not knowing.

I just recycled 2016 Daily Word Prompt: Island

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

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

Navigating The Rapids

“‘It is always what is under pressure in us, especially under pressure of concealment — that explodes in poetry.’
Taurus poet Adrienne Rich wrote that in an essay about the poet Emily
Dickinson. She was describing the process of tapping into potent but
buried feelings so as to create beautiful works of literature. I’m hoping to
persuade you to take a comparable approach: to give voice to what’s
under pressure inside you, but in a graceful and constructive way that has
positive results.” ` Rob Brezsny in today’s Free Will Astrology  

I have been working with powerful
intentions. This sounds so simple.
How can I convey the energy
that sweeps through all of my carefully
constructed fences, the ramshackle
remnants of protections created
as a small child, intent on survival?
If you say the right word, I will respond
from under the blanket
I’ve flung over this wobbly table,
either shivering, silent,
too timid to peep, “I’m scared!”
muttering to myself, finally
daring to dart out and defend
myself from the crushing
bulldozer of mob rule. Which probably will
catch you off guard. New phone, whodiz?
I admit, I appear
to be a calm and loving woman.
There is no surface indication of the
trauma I have buried. It feels so very naive
to state an intention to move into a new
awakening of my being on this planet,
even in the safe container
of a course designed to help me
traverse the minefield of scattered
pieces of myself. I have walked carefully
for so many decades, never sure
whose casual comment will detonate
the unexploded ordnance,
flood me with panic
as victims of violence
rise to the surface, screaming,
“Not safe!” I am sitting tonight,
with an original idea of settling before
sleeping. Instead, the work goes on
til the wee hours as I greet each torn
wound, marveling at the high intelligence
and cunning wisdom of a child
who built a raft to navigate
the raging rapids — even as she
was plummeting
toward the waterfall of certain
destruction. The will to live,
to survive whatever life presents,
is an honor to behold.
We look and listen and presence.
We cry and wail and mourn.
Sobbing together until finally
there is a calm space
to invite her: peer through
the eyes of the woman I am now,
free all this canny skill
into a new waterfall
of abundant creativity.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: Fence

Inspired by the Rag Tag Prompt: Navigate

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts

Inspired by the Daily Addictions Prompt: Abundant

Love Is Everything

“Love is everything….A platitude is precisely what is left of a truth after it has been drained of all emotion.  To resaturate that dried husk with feeling is to see it again for what it is: the loveliest and most deeply rooted of all truths, hidden in plain sight….our senses…are liable at any time to astonish us with news of the sheer wonder of the world.” ~ Michael Pollan

My grandson is climbing a tree!

An ornamental bush, really, highly pruned

to the coincidentally exact

specifications of a small climber.

His foot fits into the ledge

of a cut and then upward onto a perch.

Reaching high to grasp limbs on both sides

he is delighted by a shower of drops

from the recent rain. He jiggles again

and listens and feels the waterfall

joy radiating. Such a passionate being

seized by the desire to vibrate.

I remind him to be gentle

with the living tree, and more,

to thank the tree

for holding him. He flashes that

mischievous toddler’s grin — surely

the root of all double-dog dares —

and shakes so hard that he loses

his footing and lands, surprised

on the ground. Not even six inches,

so a minor fall, but the timing of my

warning has convinced him

that the tree’s strong boundaries

around rough stuff had ended their embrace.

Or perhaps his grandmother’s gift

of prophesy has again been confirmed.

He journeys back through the secret

pathway he has created to approach

the only tree he can climb here.

The tree remembers you, I say.

I have taught him to hug

huge old trees, and that listening to

and respecting the beings who do not engage

in human talk is an essential part

of loving. I am only now learning

through him that I belong here.

I am alive and my voice is unique

and needed. I’m letting go of all the survival

tactics that made me question whether

or not I really was the weird one, the knowing

that I didn’t fit in, and that I must change

my basic nature. I am here,

I am open, I am available,

and love is everything.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: Prophesy

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts

What You Resist Persists

“It is hard to give up being special, to realize the extent of personal ignorance — and to realize that such ignorance can never be altered….the impact of that realization forces a deep humility.”  ~ Richard Lewontin

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein

My feeds do not nourish today,

filled as they are with anger at ICE

employees and rage that children are tricked

away from their parents’ arms

and locked in cages to teach

other people looking here for hope

that we only give nightmares.

I am being urged

to march, to protest, to resist.

I sit here, well-fed, complicit

benefitting from the pure

greed of a network of mobsters

who place puppets on thrones

with bombs and endless war

all to strip resources from

easy marks. I pay them to do this.

I’m taxed by the richest

nation in the world, a thief

who destroys your garden

and locks you up if you plea

for mercy. My own ancestors surged

across the boundaries to steal land

from the people living here. In their stories,

they marvel at the fruit and nut trees,

never once admitting they were planted

and nurtured by loving

native gardeners.  They lived in fear

of predators and called the people they stole from

less than human, savages,

projecting all of their worst

unowned traits onto the innocent.

I am not resisting today. I am owning

all this unclaimed trauma that impels

us to recycle the past, each time

more horrific, as we stay numbed

aimless and distracted. If we wake up,

the pain is immense, generations deep,

perhaps the depth of the entire human

race toward dominion. I will run

beside my toddler grandson, teach him

that the birds are watching and talking

about his activities, that the tree he climbed

last week remembers him, that the flowers

are the sexual organs of beings whose

brains explore the rich soil to

communicate with all their neighbors.

And we will greet each living being

with love and respect, and when we feel

rage or frustration, pain or fear,

we will express it right here, right now.

Scream with us! Throw yourself uncaring

onto the hot pavement with a wail.

Unbottle all the trauma that must

emerge before we can attempt

to create a new future.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: Aimless

Group Mind

I have been tuning in to the movement

of the beings around me and this city

has demolished nature to build

highrises surrounded by drainage

ditches and run-off ponds, where geese

hatch their eggs and waddle along

the heated tarmacadam. There are loops

and circles of interstate highways

that devastated neighborhoods and the sounds

of 18 wheelers and motorcycles

ambulances and cars jar

at all hours of the day. From the air

it all looks green. The descendants of the forests

have tried to stay present, stretching their branches

to form tree canopies over the endless roads

unless they are stunted and twisted

by the linemen protecting the electrical wires.

Even where I live, by a pond created

when they dug for the highway

and liberated a freshwater spring,

the noise never fades to the background,

an unsettling percussion punctuated

by honks or sirens, squeals and clatters.

We do what we can, the mother

and her fawn cautious on the drive,

the great blue heron patient to a certain

point, then scolding and chasing

away his brother. One bird at a time.

The corvids caw the alert, hummingbirds

squabble over the feeder, and the goldfinches

warn and dive to protect their thistle

from each other.  I lock the doors when I leave.

We have all been kicked out of the garden,

and we grab what we can, anxious

as the constant chaos of traffic

reminds us to take

care, beware, dividing

our hearts from the true experience

of loving unity that we simply

cannot see or feel

with all of this racket

going on.  But let me tell you, father,

today my tender heart is full of you.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: City