Come, phaenicia sericata

The pain wrenches me out of sleep
and I flinch away from it.
Last year, it would keep me writhing
in bed, or else deathly still
afraid that any movement would exacerbate
this agony.
I know right off that I am dehyrated
so small sips of water come first.
Then, eyes closed,
I visualize fresh clear liquid
soothing each inflamed cell.
Allowing careful breaths
to lead me right into the agony.
exploring every nook and cranny.

There is a beach near Esmeraldas
far from any human-made lights
I stretched out on at night
to be stunned by shooting stars.
It is as wide a place as I have ever been,
the vast southern sky filled with strange constellations,
the pale beach stretching out of sight,
the surf roaring and pounding its endless rhythm.
I can go there anytime I remember,
and feel the gratitude
for that magnificent space.

From that wide place, I can call in my ancestors,
ask: whose pain is this?
I accept the instant answers: today
the third great grandmother who died in childbirth
claims it. When I feel
into her abrupt departure,
the echoes are clanging and
I have reached one of my pain song’s writers.
Honoring her brings me to my own lack
of authenticity, feeling attacked
by family members yesterday and not standing
up for myself, taking the casual abuse
as if it were something I could easily shake off.

This struggle to speak my truth
has a long ancestral trail of grief
and pain. Each time I wake up
to my need to be authentic,
I expose yet another festering wound
from the depths of my soul journey.
When I call for maggots,
those fastidious debriders,
most of you wince and reel back in horror,
but my strategy for healing
depends upon the disclosure of secrets
and the pain of holding them.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: strategy


Prefield Consciousness*


(Caption: The eastern sky this morning.)

(*The State of Being Plugged In To What’s About To Happen)

If my daily prompt hasn’t arrived,

how will I write today’s poem

before everyone arrives, I wondered.

Then I opened my eyes

and sprang from the meditation mat,

grabbed my camera and coat

and ran out to greet

a sunrise whose intensity

crimsoned the blue-shot eastern sky

and caught my entire attention.

Then I turned to a west pinkened

in hues usually reserved for a sunset.

I spun around slowly to the call

of the color song

suffusing the entire horizon.

Reentering the house,

my cheeks rosy and my brain afire,

today’s word was really no surprise.


(Caption: The western sky at sunrise.)

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: horizon


I wish for you a bright sun

to melt away all the places of your stuckness

so you can flow into the present with me.

I wish you nightmares

that wake you in a cold sweat

and the power to finally name

and embrace

your deepest fears.

I wish for you a friend

to weep with,

and a hand to hold.

I wish you poetry that sings to your soul.

I wish you such intense and fleeting beauty

that you catch your breath

and are afraid to blink.

And when you do,

I wish the newness

of this ever expanding present

to catch you up

and never let you go.

I wish you death

in the middle of your life

so that you can walk as partners

radiantly co-creating the moments you’re alive.

I wish for you the sacred knowledge

of all the invisible resources

your heart holds, all of your ancestors,

the spirits of the land.

I wish you talking rocks and sighing trees.

I wish for you a dance floor

and a partner who responds to your every cue

and a dance that twirls and spins

with so much joy

that everyone on the sidelines

runs in to dance with you.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: blink

The Healing Path

Dear Doctor,

Don’t shock someone in a crisis by saying,

you are oversensitive


you have autoimmunity.

Especially if you are wearing a white coat

and have a stethoscope around your neck,

please avoid a diagnosis-like voodoo hex,

an ominous-sounding word followed with:

we don’t know what causes it,

and there is no cure,

but I can give you pills

and cut out your organs, if you like.

Don’t you know how dangerous that is?

I’d like to find your patients — your clients

who paid good money for that dollop

of bullshit you have splattered all over them —

and instead say:

You have a rare and beautiful gift,

invisible tentacles entangled in

every person you have ever connected with,

every time you have been drawn to,

every space you resonate with.

You are plugged into an internet

of your own creation,

and you started before you could speak,

a child with a huge, loving heart

intent on saving those you loved.

(In fact, right now, there may be loved ones

who have attached themselves to you

and are busily suctioning off your energy.)

Many steps led you to this place of crisis,

and the way back starts

by embracing this moment, right now.

Don’t listen to that person offering you meds

to take away the pain.

This is the place where you enter healing

by embracing what hurts.

Your healing path will lead you far

from the electronic-screened brightness

of the distracted civilization.

You will be supported by poets

and chefs, fellow sufferers

who found their own way,

as you will find yours.

Reel in your tentacles,

slowly, calmly,

reclaiming yourself.

This is essential to your healing.

Every night, you’ll send them out in your dreams,

seeking old friends, old enemies,

so every morning, sit in silence

be with your loving heart

and reclaim yourself.

Let the gift of the crisis draw you inward

to the place of silence where

you can embrace the now,

all of its pain and darkness,

all the swirling pieces of other people’s nightmares

you have been holding for them.

Remember: you can’t make anyone happy.

Happy is one point on a wave

that endlessly undulates

through the vast ocean of your being.


Sometimes you will surf like a pro,

poised with exhilaration

as the wave carries you forward.

Sometimes you will be dashed into the riptide,

struggling hopelessly against the forces

that are intent on dragging you under.

And all the others you connect with

are the same.  Let them experience

their own glorious ride

while you peel back the layers

of your crisis to that beautiful

gift of connection.

The planet is waiting for you.

Inspired by the Daily Word Prompt: shock

Taking The Leap

This is my teacher:

he wakes me up

to the way I want to be in the world,

crouching with a wild grin

and leaping into my arms,

collapsing in laughter.

And again.

I use that ottoman

to prop my feet,

or maybe, if I desire change,

to plop my butt.

For him, it is a drum to smack,

a diving board,

a precipice to poise over

before leaping into the wild unknown.

There is so much joy

available for the agile mind,

the confident grace, body in motion.

And always, the threat

of pain, and the bruises

to reflect the missteps,

the hard knocks, jumping

without thought, with no plan.

The key seems to be: have faith

that strong resources are always there,

mostly invisible unless you

look through your heart.

Fling yourself into space

but first announce your intention

and know you will be caught —

just as I am there for him,

in each heart-stopping lesson

he blesses me with,

this pure generous

wake-up call.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: agile


You see, they taught me that to escape

was a sign of weakness.

Tough it out, bear it,

deal with it.

Don’t be a wimp.

But some contracts are signed too quickly

and the fine print reveals

conditions too onerous,

designed to beat down the spirit,

to enslave and stamp out inner fires.

And sometimes someone else signs for you.

Our civilization is like that,

rolling over entire cultures

with this crushing domination.

Schools were designed to wipe that smile

right off your face,

to make you sit without squirming,

to move you with bells

and fierce, loveless admonitions.

Rewarding you for fulfilling

the contract that makes you a good little citizen.

Look for the loophole!

Find the narrow window and squeeze through!

Pick the lock!

And then double back and help the others

who have been squeezed like lemons:

dried up, hopeless rinds.

Bring them water.

Give them the silent space

to find their strength

away from the bells, the little desks,

the rewards for knowing false things

and the punishment for being real.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: loophole

Holding Mysteries

In my earliest days, I studied

like the joker in the watchtower:

there must be some way outta here,

too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.”

Piano scales soothed me, even at age four:

diligently creating music and order

in the chaos I called home.

I was the optimist

learning astrology, tarot,

gardening, cosmetology,

philosophy, nutrition,

childhood development,

trying to find a way to see things clearly,

to answer all the burning questions.

And every time I said, I know this,

I fell asleep, sucked back into the confusion.

Now in the second half of my life

— and yes, I fully expect to reach 100,

I study the questions that cannot be answered,

and the answers that cannot be questioned.

I don’t know you

and I can’t ever know you,

so surprise me and say anything.

I study now

the inner space, as wide

as the night sky deep

in primitive wilderness;

the wild genius;

the doors of the heart,

what makes them clang shut,


what makes them spring open.

I study the connections between us,

how I can tune into you,

into the angst of your long-dead great grandmother.

I study mysteries with no intention

of ever arriving at the dead

place of I know.

I look intently at pain

and dark places,

with a childlike wonder,

the joy of asking what is this,

and why?

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: study