Archive | Poetry

Thoughts on a Meditation Cushion

Sitting in meditation this morning
Watching my thoughts churn
Muted turbulent clouds
Barging into my head and each other
An uneasy, silent movie of a stormy sky
High school registration
March trip planning
Friday dinner
Basketball practice
My training session
The Brahmaviharas
Custody schedule
Sadness, the kids go away today
My bike, is the wheel inflated?
Perhaps I can go riding today
Stomach grumbles, what’s for breakfast?
The meditation retreat last day’s dance
A thought arises out of the mess
How confusing the world is
How confusing
And a counter thought smiles
How simple
To be sitting here
On my meditation cushion.

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Fool’s Leap

Let’s build a box together,
Shall we?
One side made up of limitations
The second expectations
The third is disappointments
The fourth frustrations
The top from judgements
The bottom from beliefs
With some nails, scattered on the floor,
To symbolize our fears.

Let’s build a box together
A box to keep us small
To keep us safe from any need to
Grow
Expand
Or fly
Can you imagine flying in this box?
The nails shaking up a storm inside
The walls closing in
Crashing imminent.

Willing to give
Anything, anything at all
Just so there would be
No
Crashing.

And yet
What if
By crashing
Something new could come
Something fertile
Something blooming
Something green
And red
And pink
And yellow
And colorful all over?
What if
By crashing
The walls could disappear
And then
I
Could
Fly?

I’m listening to OneRepublic’s music in my car
Safe in the box
Safe in the car
Safe in my fears
But the music is beating, beating, beating
Calling me out of the box
And I find myself squirming
One part a sedate, responsible driver
The other dancing with the beat.
I want to leap out and explode
Instead of staying stuck
In this hurtling metal car
Inside of staying stuck
In my own self-built box.

Dancing, dancing, singing, dancing
My spirit’s hands reach up and out
Fingers tickling the stars
Sending storms into the stratosphere
I need to dance so I can write
I need to sing so I can write
I need more space
No box can fit
I dance and sing and sing and dance
With this creative, freedom trance.

The metal box, its speed, are gone
And in their place my soul explodes
To outer space, creating storms
Bringing blessed rain and more
Flowers, fruit, a golden shower
Words to fill out seven novels
Words to fill the heart with joy
I knew somewhere, somewhere within
This passion smoldered hid
Awaiting a single lighted match
To give it this release
Into a fool’s trusting leap.

And now,
What now?
No change.
No change at all.
After all,
That’s who I was,
You know,
Before.

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Peeling the Onion

The poem this morning is for Jeanne, who is helping me peel the onion, and in the process, understand myself.

One day
I know
All these layers
I’m peeling
Will be
Not gone
But ingested
A part of the
Richness
Of me
And then
On that day
That marvelous inner sunshiny day
Writing
Will be
Not a fear
Not a black heavy cloud
Not a choking in my throat
Or a tightness in my heart
But instead
A song
And a dance
Light and free.

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It’s All in the Details

It’s all in the details, I’m told,
Eyelashes lined up like bamboos in the wind on a blinking eye
Veins sending droplets of water stretched on a leaf
Whiskers trembling on a dog sniffing the breeze
A glint of fiery green on a hummingbird’s wing.

It’s all in the details, I’ve heard say,
The oxygen-sucking scent of a match lighting a dark room
The spicy smell of an orange peeled, tickling the nose
The remembered sea, sun and sand smell of sunscreen lotion slathered on suntanned skin
The pungency of teenager boy, sweaty after a hot football afternoon in the field.

It’s all in the details, some claim,
The touch of a newborn butterfly’s wavering, skinny legs on my hand before it opens its slow-drying wings
The sun rays burning the neckline under my hair as I hike on the trail
A dog’s curvy head, nudging itself under my palm, its short tickling hairs
The ever-cool, scratchy-smooth feel of a manzanita branch in the shade.

It’s all in the details, you know,
Chocolate melting in sweetness down an eager throat
Lemon juice curdling the tongue
Tomato and cucumbers, sliced salad, bursting in a flavor of my grandma’s love,
Papaya, pulpy and velvety, a taste of Hawaii.

It’s all in the details
It is?
But what if
I’m near sighted
My eyes are weak
What if the only details I see are blobs of color
What if I spent the last twenty years too depressed to see anything other
Than fog and blurriness and smooshed up
Somehow
Togetherness of nothing?

It’s all in the details, the experts say,
Scent
Sight
Taste
Touch
Sound
So they say
But what if I can’t taste the trace of blackberries in wine
Or see the golden flakes in a girl’s eyes
Or smell anything in my allergy-stuffed nose that dreads working its neurons
Or hear anything other than a mess of sound in a jazz concert?

It’s all in the details, I guess,
But I’m afraid,
What if
After all these years of depressing my brain
I’m too closed off to see anything other than color blobs
And smell anything other than strong smells (aversion) or weak (blah, but fine)
And touch anything but hot and cold or soft and rough
And taste anything but good or not (chocolate is good)
Or hear anything other than a cacophony of sound (that jazz concert I misunderstood).

And so, part of me wonders
Has there been a depressed writer before (my heart whispers, sure)
Has there been a blind writer before (surely sure)
Has there been a writer who had parts that went berserk whenever writing was mentioned
Whose perfection refused to allow anything other than perfection
Who couldn’t write more than a few words on the page
Whose only way to release the pressure
The earthquake that threatened
The need to express
To write
To tell
Was
This?

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A Dream During the Holy Fire Ignition

In my dream, I reached mountain summits.
Everest, the Top of the World, turned out
Both warm and cold,
Deprived of sufficient oxygen yet abundant in the essence of life.
Startled to find myself up there,
Without having ever climbed
And frightened of his height,
Clouds merging with snowy peaks,
My heart tightened —
How could I possibly deserve to be up here
So effortlessly?
I retreated as the dream flew me down
And across continents and oceans to

Shasta, magnificent in her aloneness,
Sheer in her glaciers and cliffs,
Her spirit grand and giving,
Filled my heart with health, confidence and joy,
Reminding me, this much is true,
This has already been done.
There I stood, alone on the summit of rock and snow,
Flinging my hands up in triumph,
Awash in the glory of my connection to the mountain
Vibrating to her spiritual song.

I flew north, the dream reminded me
There’s more summits visited —
On Rainier, my tears washed away
Sadness from my heart
Illuminated by the barely risen sun.
Cool and solid, the mountain
Received my tears yet reminded me
Breathe,
Adding himself categorically, without my asking,
First, and not alone, to a new list of
Successes.
My breath, not quite enough,
Left me whizzing, my lungs screaming for more oxygen —
All this crying left me lacking in air,
My heart heavy with the knowledge of the
Burden I had carried for so long,
Overcome by the mountain’s generosity
And the weightlessness of my burden
Now left buried in the mountain’s mantle of snow.

The dream then flew, wings at my back
South and East,
Over low-slung trees
And herds of tiny elephants
A desert, not a desert.
There, lonely on the Serengeti planes,
Kili rose above me, a goddess of freedom,
Surprising me with her majestic ridges,
Making me laugh and sigh with longing.
I strained to see her snow, her glacier,
But so close only the mountain rose,
Like a hump over the plane.
Up here, she whispered, come here next.

I wondered at this influx of mountains
Climbed or unclimbed in my dream, when
Once again the scene changed
To a path, made of a sudden
Into a river, an ocean of sparkling gold
From the rays of the sun,
Leading me,
(So it said in a gravelly, cascading voice)
To joy, with joy;
To peace, in peace;
To love, with love;
A path to path.

I walked, floated down the river, soared overhead,
And found that
There is only love and love,
There is only peace and peace,
There is only joy and joy,
There is only path and path.

An abundance of love,
And that love, nothing like I ever imagined:
Not a consuming love
Or an enfolding love,
Or a holding-on-to love,
But a space
A freedom
A limitlessness
An openness.

In my dream, I reached the tops of mountains,
Touching them with my feet and my heart,
A fire burning
In the palms of my hands.
In my dream, from these summits,
I sent out a message
Of peace and love.

Because, remember?
There is only peace and peace
And love and love
And joy and joy
And path and path.

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Inner Weather

clear skies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My feelings are
Overflowing
Today.

Overflowing. Such a short word.
Only four syllables.
Finite.
It must be finite to be a part
Of language.

If my feelings
Had
A Ripple Effect,
There would be a storm in California today.

Instead, the sun is shining
And a smear of white
Is the only cloud
On a pale blue sky that stretches forever.

I close my eyes and imagine
The rain streaking across pavement,
Clearing,
Cleaning,
Flooding,
Overflowing gutters and sending leaves tumbling in
Heaps
Down to the road.

Instead, there’s not a breath of wind to be found,
The trees stand stock still, well-defined,
Against that same pale blue stretching sky.

I am reassured by the sight of this sky,
The lone cloud, unmoving, as though the paint dropped from the paintbrush by chance,
The trees, their trust.

The universe is unaffected by my mood.
All is calm.
And slowly, as I remember to breathe,
I realize my inner storm, too, was finite,
And now, it

Passed.

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