The mess is the message

I can replay the past

like a music video, 

scripted carefully

shot from angles

to present myself


victim, heroine,

the perfect blessing

to all her dependants.

And I have, believe me:

when you aren’t able to love yourself

as you are, to give what you have,

you invent elaborate versions —

what would people like?

what would make me worthy? —

distribute fantasy

a fairy godmother,

a generous lover who asks

for nothing in return,

a cook who feeds the crowd

lavishly, left eating crumbs

until the next paycheck.

Now I must stand here and say,

Look, the past didn’t work

well for me. 

I’m creating a new

song in all the keys

labeled discordant,

not to be played.

Crashing crescendoes

vehement anger,

sobbing wailing strings of grief,

fear in whispered minor chords

my truth

as I shed

the false harmonies

rising up

in a mess.

And you’ll surely look away

while I listen

for the whole notes

of me 

I’m finally reclaiming.

Inspired by:  Video, Past, Dependant, Tune 

Re-member Roots

The trauma’s denied by my ancestors,

their own history torn like a page

fluttering, then sodden on the shore

behind them.  Best forgotten.

Harvest hay, milk cows, feed

those ravenous mouths.

Curtains drawn, that door

locked.  Survival demands we

turn away.  Life wants to live

so we crawl forward forgetting

we have to be strong

in the middle of the night 

when the plaintive voice

calls, quietly at first

then fist-pounding the rattling

frames in true panic.

We can’t go there.

Though sweat ices skin,

veins throbbing, thoughts spinning

we welcome the cluster

headache gladly

diagnose what has come

to fill the emptiness we refuse

to address.  The symptoms cascade.

Conditions worsen.

On the stage, the actors grow

more grotesque, mocking the values

we claim to treasure.  A kaleidoscope

spinning fractals of deliberate

obfuscation, impossible to predict

the next outrage.  We sit

like shocked puritans as the natives

claim the land beneath our

smugly-built brick houses

and we look at each other

and swear we never

saw it coming.


Written for #OctPoWriMo Day 4 – Denied and Cluster.

Health Hack

This disease is incurable.

I do not believe

I am going to survive.

The doctors prescribe

pills and potions and operations,

will never contemplate

vibrant health.

I must practice


inflammation like a wildfire,


Daily meditation

the option no one suggests.

It is obvious

with western medical thinking

I will never

get well.  Death is coming

no matter what.

Their message is dire.

And even though

their message is dire,

no matter what,

death is coming.

I will never 

get well with western medical thinking.

It is now obvious

the option no one suggests

— daily meditation,

persistent, controls

the wildfire of


I must practice.

Vibrant health

will never contemplate

pills and potions and operations

the doctors prescribe.

I am going to survive.

I don’t believe

this disease is incurable.


This is a reverse poem, written for a dverse poets prompt by Frank Hubeny.  I’ll quote Frank here, “a reverse poem is one that presents a message, story or a viewpoint for a few lines and then stops and rewinds all of it playing the message back, line by line, but in reverse order to present a very different story or viewpoint perhaps even the opposite of the first view. It can be quite powerful especially if the first direction is depressing and the reverse of that is uplifting.”

What I Wish For You

Breathe and let go.  Release whatever it is that has you trapped or contracted. Isn’t that what everybody’s looking for, some healing? — Pablo Amaringo

Once upon a time, before 

I had a glimmer of true healing,

I’d wait for a crisis to seek specialists

clueless, hoping for a magic pill. 

Now in this ever after,

I meditate for an hour 

before my appointment.

I set my intention: exactly

what I will heal and the outcome.

I remain standing in the consulting room

until the healer enters.

We greet each other warmly.

When she asks, Why are you here?

I state out loud, sending the powerful sounds

to the universe’s waiting, responsive ears:

I am releasing and clearing

all the shrapnel from my recent

breakdown, and tonight

I will dance under the stars.

Obviously, I’ve left western medicine far behind.

This is orthobionomy, a subtle

work.  Every tiny touch 

enhances my intention:  I feel

zaps of energy spark up with

vivid images and anchoring thoughts

now fizzling as I remember 

I am here to let this go.

There is a music school next door;

an apprentice shaman adds drumbeats

to my healing vibes.

When she reaches my

pelvic bones, all the worries I hold

about my son flood in,

then flow out the bubbling wells 

at the soles of my feet.  

A cough chokes out when she reaches

my throat.  I should have spoken

my truth yesterday when my father yelled.

Let it go, blossoming like

a sudden hibiscus flower

vibrant for one day

before it dies.  I am amazed

where I store my worries

and how they can dissipate

in my pure commitment aligned

with her skilled hands.

And later, I open the door to the sun

shining with such fire

it burns away the last

traces as I walk and then skip

past the mothers whose children touched me

through the thin walls.  They didn’t hear,

locked in their cars, and they look askance

as I celebrate.  Magic

flows in me like blood

pumping from the wisdom of my heart.

There’s no waiting for darkness and starlight

as I dance in the light of day.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: glimmer

Caveat Emptor

She is having such difficulty

finding the exact gadget

to froth milk for her lattes.

She’s taken a stand:

no more exorbitant fees

at the local coffee shop.

On her brand new iPhone

she pulls up reviews:

such a dilemma!  As she revels 

in this quandary, an alarm

reminds her to take her pills,

the ones that soothe and mask

all the messages her body

is sending her. She simply has

no time to read 

the signal fires, not

with all these looming

decisions.  If she orders 

in the next five minutes,

she’s guaranteed delivery

by tomorrow, that magical time

when she can purchase

her own salvation, with just

one click.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: froth

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

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

Lost & found

She said, don’t turn away from

the darkness in you

that reaches out when you are down,

most vulnerable to its seductive

despair.  You must face

and hold it tenderly,

this part of you, so estranged

eclipsed by your sunny ways.

With your sweet smile, your need

to be strong for everyone,

there is no place for this wild

raging and its sullen sad

friend who finds no value

in this world.  It’s true

that when the sickness comes yet again

and their whispers become the only voice

to follow, I lose all hope;

everything reduced to black and white

caricatures, stripped of worth,

like this desolate piece of me

waiting with such grave patience

to emerge on fever-tossed nights.

Who is there to hold you

when you creep from the lonely shadows

and claim the stage

before the audience can be seated?

No curtain call for you

as I open the drapes.

The smile, as I greet the sunrise

banishing you yet again.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: patience

Headache Revisited: Sacred and Profane

Once there was a time

when I would have complained

that this headache came quite suddenly

out of the blue

from left field

without warning

completely unexpectedly.

Back then I stirred in

all the necessary ingredients

carelessly, as if born

yesterday, baking the cake

bushwhacked when all the invited

guests popped out of the shadows

yelling, “Surprise!”

Nowadays, I no longer believe

in coincidence. I can follow the trail

like a detective:  a-ha!

lack of liquid here,

running full out there,

each step leading to my present

predicament, which can be

resolved calmly, no time wasted

in recrimination.  I’ll just do it

differently now.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: suddenly