Got a light?

Struggling to create warmth
on a frigid morning, after the chill
has bitten into my bones.
The news is blaring in the other room
Be afraid! Worry! Stay on high alert!
as if to reinforce the lack of fuel.
There is nothing for you here.
It’s all bigger than you
and you are powerless,
so hush now and sleep
is the droning distraction
aimed directly at my inner spirit.
I realize that it is all true.
Nothing can be done
from this cold place of dread.
I close my eyes and drop into
that deep appreciation I feel
whenever my grandson smiles at me.
I soak into it and feel my heart open
to the tiny sparks, lighting
the kindling to torch my bonfire.
This is my superpower.
This is my choice.
No power in the verse can stop me.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: frigid

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Bathtime Fun

This is my first photo challenge submission, because who can resist smiles?  I love the watery colorful imaginative look of this filter, which seems to reflect what is going on in the young bather’s heart, the source of sheer delight.

Inspired by The Photo Challenge: Smile 

All These Mirrors

“Your holiest pain might come from your yearning to change yourself in exactly the way you’d like the world around you to change.” — Rob Brezsny

I climbed a hallowed mountain

last week, with familiar bloated ache

that I call tummy pain.  The ageless mystic

basically said: When are you going

to stop monkeying around

and play big

like the warrior you truly are?

I may be old, but I’m no wimp.

I rose to the challenge,

setting my intention like a heedless

knight starting an impossible quest.

We parted ways as my horse clattered

toward the fearsome dragon.

That was easy, I decided right before

seventy shards of glass

shattered me into a quivering mass.

I couldn’t move, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t breathe.

It took two full days before I could even wonder:

did I ask for this? I certainly requested

immediate aid, and it came pouring in

melting the sharp pieces, a flow

of molten energy finally shifting.

I forced down bone broth before

the next wave hit, and I embarked

on the grand tour of pain,

challenging my perceptions

of my own strength and will to live.

I’d thought pain was no stranger

but this was like being yanked

out of a riptide just before it drowns you

and plunging headlong

down a rocky waterfall, slick

and deadly.  Never catching your breath.

I constructed my own cave,

became a mystic to tune in

to all the disturbing images

in human existence, the ones encoded

in our very DNA.  I knelt in gruesome

battlefields while my ancestors

spat at each other while slipping

in their spilled blood.  When there are ancient

pieces of yourself so despised,

you feel helpless and worthless

and you writhe in agony, wondering

where is the remedy?

The surgeons stand ready, knives gleaming,

but what do you cut out

when the key is locked in your very cells?

I’m standing at the edge of the cave

this morning, looking into a downpour

with darkly grumbling low clouds and fiercely

thrown arrows of pure

flashing light, determined to explore

this question:  what can I change

in myself that I most want to change

in this world?

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: explore

That Kettle’s Black

The postman brought a freaking ink demon

last week and I am most upset

at my own pejorative naming

of an unknown being.  All week

it lingered in a box with a pile of mail

until at predawn I woke

after gleaming black drops of India ink

refused to sink into the parchment prison

calligraphy tried to force on them,

instead poised ready to sink into living

blood. They threatened my grandson

and when my eyes snapped open

it was hovering, a disembodied

3-D shimmer of fractals

made of ink, hanging impossibly in the air.

Perhaps realizing the dream had ended,

it withdrew and studied me

with the same intent curiosity

I exhibited.  I saw the moment

it realized our regard was mutual.

It withdrew with a cautious swiftness

— don’t mind me, I’m not really here —

until a handy wall blocked us.

I followed, less quickly, to no avail.

No trace until I finally opened my box.

Oracle cards hot off the presses,

packed before the solvent molecules

could escape, so they all flung themselves

through my room, my clothes, my nose.

I even murmured, “The freaking ink demon!”

But I am not bringing this to you

to argue the existence

of other dimensions of consciousness,

nor the beings dwelling there

who long to assist us.  I want

to emphasize how quickly I created

bias and prejudice, naming other,

citing all the grotesque differences,

inferring malicious intent

to something only first glimpsed

and unlike anything in my experience.

That stunning three-dimensional impossibility

didn’t resemble any long-dead artist’s

rendering of a radiant

angelic being, and like always,

I was the first to judge.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: radiant

Cat’s Outta The Bag

He wrote, “How ya been, you haven’t posted,”

and I had to think through all of the details

first.  You know that big gangly puppy

that bounds in from the backyard

and vomits all over the kitchen floor,

then licks up every drop and runs to the door,

looking back at you with a demented

tongue-lolling grin?  And you can’t let him

out fast enough.  Not like that.

Or the tiny dog who climbs into your lap

just wanting to snuggle

while you radiate healing vibes

to one another?  Nuh-uh.

Or the loveable Lab, lying

in a patch of winter sunlight,

groaning in her sleep before

struggling painfully to her feet

to celebrate your being!

Nope.  This is much more toxic:

an old dog, slinking

under the back porch in the dark night.

She’s been kicked around

with such careless unrelenting brutality

that there’s no reason to hide anymore

except this time the attacker was invisible,

a malicious assassin who is not afraid to enter

the dark, and delights in the gift

of suffering

like the evil man in a horror film

with a torture chamber.

She will not come out for food,

maybe water when the coast is clear

after throwing up discreetly.

She is shivering in her fever-induced nightmares,

but can you really feel so sorry

for someone sleeping in a lush fur coat?

And yes, I know that telling you this

reveals my deep psychological

blah blah blah, but that’s the one

I mean when

I bravely respond

in all honesty, “So sick.

Sick as a dog.”

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: toxic

In The Zone

I love mysteries where

the resolution is adumbrated

by the first glimpse of the crime scene.

The detective never knows more

than we do, although her ability to grok

far surpasses our own.

We watch her eyes sharpen,

gleaming as she looks afar.

As if while we churlishly trudge

through drifts of snow,

she examines each micro crystal of a snowflake.

These tiny clues wag flags

so miniscule that we most likely

miss them, in our rush to

arrest the suspect.  I want to

cultivate that willingness

to find the fractals that

defy explanation

and use them for intuitive leaps

about the human condition.

Climbing up these perfect

weird patterns to reach

the stars — oh, the magnificence

of galaxies and clusters —

those constellations twinkling

augury like a mother fondly

watching a child who nests

matryoshka dolls, over and over

until finally saying,

oh, I get it.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: micro

What Can I Say? In Praise of Shea

Today I celebrate

the luxurious shea.

Its substitutes, bah, inefficient!

The real thing is most beneficent.

I’d like to be an expert, but

I’ve never actually seen the nut.

Its butter, though, I just adore

and so does every sore and pore.

It makes my hair shine,

it’s quite the lifeline.

I use it in medicinal potions

and in my very best skin lotions.

Ah, Africa, of gifts bestowed

by your great heart since days of old

the shea nut on which I depend

the one I’ll treasure til the end,

more than gold or a precious jewel

for my skin, it’s essential fuel.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: inefficient