The Deepest Parts

The others return after a long absence

to char meat; smoke chases 

me into my room and

I dream an infestation

tiny red ants

swarming into crevices

at the edge of sight.

And the return of black

seeking oblivion, certain

the termination of life

my life

the only possible path.

Even though I know

soul-deep

that, first, death is not the end;

my ancestors chatter at me constantly

as we swim the vital river

and second, what is overwhelming

my senses is

not mine.

Grace flowing yesterday and

today I must be on my guard

again, no longer breathing in

ringing harmonics of om

while feeling into the music

of trees rooting beneath me.

Instead the crash

from the depths of the forest-

planet

stripped,

razed

in a greedy profit grab.

What do we think

we are doing?

Unseen

a shoot emerges from the stump,

as our human bodies turn

into compost for new trees.

The functioning whole teaches

giving.

Taking

— a plastic rootless

illusion  —

will not survive

the flood of life.

Inspired by: Oblivion, Termination, Flood, Plastic and Crash.

Growing Souls

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

In the attic-boxed stories

illustrated with crayons

my name in cursive carefully

claiming this 8-year-old brilliance,

I enter the saga 

of Gertrude, a just plain

ugly little girl who doesn’t give

a hoot about fashions or what

the popular kids are parroting.

She stands against bullies,

a genuine badass.

And by the end of the story,

she simply doesn’t care

that the other girls

are following her.

 

This strategic thinker, casting

myself a writer

fueling a family belief

in my sanity: 

Oh, that child, such a wild

imagination!  As I prattled on

ghosts in my closet,

dream visions, premonitions,

seeing energy like most people

see a table, and feeling

behind slick smiles, knowing

“Well, to tell the truth”

is the opening line

of a lie lurking near the curtains

ready to burst onto the stage.  

 

I skirt around the play

with pithy comments,

the mainstream trap is clearly

insane, so I’m happy, hearing

my friends call me wacky.

 

I am Gertrude, I see

that horizon 

the liminal space

the threshold

where creation is the leading

edge, so we drop

habits like hot potatoes,

release lies squirming through

the nets, abandon

mental convictions

mid-sentence.

Jumping up from a poem

mid-thought

when a bird crashes into my glass

window.  We all do it,

the poplar reminds.

I proclaim it is necessary for stars

to splinter

through my indefensible

sensibility.  I acknowledge

at long last the words

spinning my constructions and

I praise

the spaces beneath 

the stories

where we all reside.

Inspired by: Imagination, Horizon, Trap

To The Poplar

You, huge ancient poplar

rooting under my bed,

steady me in my deep

meditations.  Introducing me

to your progeny who flourish

all around the spring-fed lake

glistening with your gold

leaves to celebrate the fall.

Humming the ground

thrumming vitality

urging me out of my oblong box

of manmade separation

to sink deeper into our connection,

where we dance with the full moon

and Venus peeking through your pre-dawn

branching.  I lean into the

billion-year-old intelligence

waiting for my receptive heart-

space, the fluid love starlit

and root-bound, tracing

these invisible webs into

my felt reality

as we explore how to be grateful

for what is

right now.

 

 

Inspired by:  Fluid, Oblong, Gold, Grateful

Kawsak Sacha

 The convictions of the Amazonian Women’s Collective carry them on their mission to save their homeland, the lungs of the planet.  They know that the spiritual being that is the jungle is essential to our survival.  Their ancient knowledge has been belittled and mocked and aggressively attacked by profit- and greed-driven corporations who have no understanding of the whole, who are committed to extracting parts — which will destroy the entire system (much like body snatchers who harvest organs — at the cost of their victims’ lives.) Worse, these corporations have legal standing, although they clearly do not breathe or have any life.

Our understanding of the rainforest is as misunderstood as a flocculent spiral galaxy if one only concentrates on the stars, ignoring the unseen dark matter that must be present to hold them together. 

And so these people are raising their voices to educate the world.

The Kawsak Sacha (the Selva Viviente, The Living Forest) addresses this gross violation of respect for life, and demands legal recognition of the jungle: an organic living being.   I recommend this six-minute video, to experience how determined peoples commit to saving their very existence — and ours.

https://kawsaksacha.org

Here is my translation (rough and not anywhere near the beauty of the original piece) if you don’t speak Spanish:

The Kawsak Sacha is the space of life of all the beings who live in the jungle

from the tiniest being to the largest and most supreme

including the animal, vegetable, mineral and cosmic spiritual worlds.

This area transcends the notion of territory; it is destined to revitalize

our emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual facets

to restabilize energy, life, equilibrium of life in its original ways.

It is the dominion of waterfalls, lakes, wetlands, mountains, rivers and trees,

places populated where the supreme beings, the spiritual guides protect the Kawsak Sacha

who live and grow, develop their lives just as humans do.

The Kawsak Sacha is also the place of transmission of the knowledge of the Yachay

where they intuit the world and the knowledge of the masters and spiritual guides of the living places

and the sublime worldview for a methodical apprenticeship.

This universe, the natural equilibrium of the harmony of life, the perpetuation of the culture,

the existence of living beings and the continuation of Kawsak Sacha depends on the permanency and the transmission

of the powers of the supreme beings 

protectors of the Kawsak Sacha with the Yachay

as co-creation and respect between human beings and the beings of the jungle.

In our Amazon, in Sarayuka, beings similar to us exist

like the Amazanga, everything we can see and hear.

And because of this, we don’t want to allow the extraction of oil in our territory.

If they extract these things, all of the beings and spirits of the jungle will disappear.

The masters and the animals of the jungle will be extinguished.

Without them, our territory will be orphaned.

And this is why we protect and conserve our living jungle.

Inspired by: Carry, Flocculent, Conviction, Recommend

 

Embracing Shadows

Painstakingly

taking pains

to embrace all these dark fragments

of beings who simply want

to be loved

treasured

rendered moonstruck

in the darkness,

face toward the sky

in awed vulnerability.

The darkness has always been

the place of greatest danger;

that’s when the men come

and invade,

plunder,

drunkenly innocent

in the sense

that come morning,

they can deny it all.

Night is the time

to hide, cower,

hope that the lack of light

will cause them to stumble

against some tower

of toys that escaped the fierce

admonitions to clean up

before you cause an accident.

The crash broadcasting

their presence

to the population of sleepers

who waken crossly,

with caustic words promising

retribution and a firmer

insistence on scouring

the pathway to your innocence

tomorrow.  And yes, it’s time

to shed those childish fears,

and this is how:

walking through the minefield

mindfully

saying this is so

and this is how I survived,

admiring the intelligence

of the childhood hero

swooping out of the shadows

to save me.

 

Inspired by Moonstruck, Shed, Population, and Broadcast

Ah, about that Emperor…

What do people without an ancient tree

Outside their window dream of?

My own nights are guided

My thoughts rooted through and

The soil exposed, so that I toss

And turn, wake up blearily

In the hold of a narrative

Repeated like a list of wrongs

I’ve endured, ensorcelled

By a frightened being

Insistent upon protecting

Me from the evils lurking

Without, building a solid

Cage to help me survive.

My tree sends me downloads

That open in the night, snaking

Through the fractures of my 

Constructed reality, illustrating

The sheer lunacy 

Live on stage

This sullen detailing

Snuffing out any probability,

Any compassion for the other

Who struck out in her own fear.

And this rewritten history

To ensure that anyone listening

Will feel oh, so sorry

For….who?  Fully awakened at five,

Lucidity-impelled to let this go.

No matter how far along the path

Of self-healing, I drag

These patterns of sheer

Survival.  In the day, easily dismissed,

A sugary smile and a cookie,

An offer for an outing,

until in the darkness,

The little voice insistent

As the tired adult slumbers.

I leave my bed, read an email

— A comedy show poking fun

At the cultural dissonance

Between the lies absorbed at childhood

That keep piling down

Blizzards of misinformation

Covering up the stark truth.

The murmuration of starlings

Yesterday bursting from the bare

Branches of this Poplar.

I cling to the tale of the clear-

Seeing child declaring the naked

Truth, waking me

until I hawk and harrumph

Through this throat-closing mucus

To sing:

Separation is a lie.

Our walls are built

To keep us busy as

The few enrich themselves

Destroying and selling the remains

of the age-old beings

Who reach us in our sleep.

Cousins

Billions of years of intelligence

Coursing through us, invisible,

Unutterable, the harmonic sounds

In registers we ignore.

The evil trance-talk keeping us

Apart, dozing instead of embracing

Trees, bees, birds and coyotes —

And oh, goddess, where are the elephants?

Their stomping rampage an echo

The smallest children hear, surprised.

We re-member our connection

Recognizing the sentience

Right outside these doors

That we coveted for so long

The ones that now resemble

Sterile jails, like the cars we huddle 

In, driving past our hopeless

brothers holding

Childish scrawls for help,

Reacting angrily to a clear-cutting

That we forget as soon as we pass,

Led to exclude

The very best parts of ourselves

That growl and pounce and scream

And squirm, anguished,

Sensitive

Hurting

Fragments

We reach to reclaim.

Inspired by: Lunacy and Ensorcell

And Lee Camp’s new comedy special. Check it out here.

Trumpery*

*When you don’t have to speak; your name says it all.

Applesauce, balderdash,

codswallop, malarkey,

my grandpa’s scratchy voice

fiddle-faddle, folderol.

He didn’t suffer fools,

he’d tell you, and yet

oh my goddess, he was racist,

sexist, misogynist, chauvinist, and

what’s the word for when

you disown your daughter

for marrying a Catholic?

His unique perspective informed

by the white colonialism which brought

his family, escorted by US soldiers,

to the new land they stole

with US dollars, palpable

terror of

the displaced Indigenous peoples

who continued to live

in the arms of their ancestors,

fused to the roots of the giant

trees, and nestled in the webs

of the constellations spinning

through their language, guiding

their footsteps, their prayers

landing like gibberish

from savages, by god,

dangerous as a woman

who must be impregnated

in the continual breeding

of this new seed spreading

like kudzu.  Clearing the forests,

grinding the roots, that angry

protective fear the soil

I sprouted in.  I lean,

drained,

against the trunk of this massive

Poplar, who watched it all,

and she sends me insights

and visions even as the others

sit under the spell

of the vicious diatribe

the pure trumpery

they have elected

and say we must respect.

Inspired by: Impose, Malarkey, Unique

 

This Aggression Will Not Stand

Children in cages at the borders,

long lines of women fleeing violence

from actions our government

has taken in their countries

to enrich a few.  

What is the answer?

No more hitting the snooze button,

it’s time to wake up.

We have sequestered our hearts

in the hopes the prince

will arrive, but the forest

has surrounded us with thorns

and the property has been condemned.

The percentage of people in peril

supporting the top tier

is growing; we feel their boots

on our backs and rush to the

chiropractor only to find

this can’t be adjusted.

Pinch yourself.  We must awaken,

spit out that poisoned

apple, and rise up.

Inspired by:  Property, Percentage, Sequester, and Snooze.

And…scene

I am in tears

as her brutal soliloquy

muses upon the myriad

ways I have irritated her

these long months.  I experience

a similar sensitivity to

the harsh chemicals used to deterge

bathrooms and kitchen counters,

the burn

closing my throat.

As my body orchestrates

the litany

you don’t belong,

I summon the wise woman

of my future, the elder whose sole

intent is to save the planet,

and we hold space

for the hurting children

who never quite grasp

the rules and are always

inescapably in harm’s way.

This new present I create

is spacious and inclusive;

every distressed, inflamed

piece no longer resisted.

Embracing what is

with a slow and careful love

flowing over these obstructions

and welcoming them back home.

Even as I say

no more

and close the curtains

on her act — her voice

dwindling until her projections

slide into her own awareness,

perhaps —

I celebrate

myself in all of my glorious

fucked-up

fucking beautiful

mess, thankful

for the unexpected gifts

of angels,

withdrawing

to allow

the magic of integration.

 

Inspired by:  Deterge, Soliloquy,  Belong, and Orchestrate.

Surprise Chemical Reactions

The “archetype of the symbolic flood…stands not only for the end of a formal universe, but also for the completion of any cycle by the destruction of the power which held its components together.  When this power ceases to function, the components return to the Akasha – the universal solvent.”  Juan Cirlot, Dictionary of Symbols

The bay freezes overnight,

a tease of winter

surprises the lake mid-sentence,

swirls and eddies iced over

in poses they will quit

only with the sun’s blessing.

In the garage, I wade

through flowing water,

grab buckets, towels, a flash-

light to reveal how precisely

an outlet valve fills its function.

In the kitchen, my father fumbles

a cup, sloshing liquid over the counter

just as my mother comes in clutching

her ostomy bag and an armful

of sheets.  (I don’t ask if it leaked.)

This must be the birthday

of the unconscious, so long

denied, spilling into new morning.

An era is ending

and everyone is wet,

wringing and wondering.

I leave to write and come back

to my father, soaked from

a hole in the bucket

he chose, disdaining the stream-

lined method I’d arranged.

The containers no longer

hold and we must finally

be authentic as this new

being

arises in front

of our astonished faces

damp from our exertions

to keep up with this flow.

 

Inspired by: Chemical, Quit, Freeze, Birthday