Monday, December 19, 2011

True compassion doesn't cherry-pick.

Or, put another way, compassion that cherry-picks is just another word for prejudice

14th and Pearl

I pass things on my way to school, sometimes beautiful things. Friday I saw an elderly man standing next to a fence cup the reddish-orange bloom of a trumpet flower in one hand while he ran his fingers tenderly down its fuzzy stem with the other. That the alien fruit and foliage of this city still inspires it's aging resident. That there is always so much wonder in this world worth stopping and reaching out for.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

counting to a googol


oh, Zuma! trace those words again on my skin. secret words. you only mouthed in my direction on a whim. I slipped my toes into them. and ran a race to win. miles away now at the Getty. coloring butterflies with crayons in the gallery. my friend, can you also be caught and counted? like pennies in our fountain or stars out over the terrace. are you my Polaris? a north star to point the way for tired Capricornus? or just a fickle wind.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Matthew 5:44

I've been thinking lately on forgiveness and the prescription of loving our enemies. I don't have many enemies to love, but there are those whose actions in one way or another have caused me to feel unfairly treated. This ranges from the absurd (that asshole who cut me off in traffic) to repeated acts of insensitivity or hurtfulness. I have been lucky. There is not much in my personal history which cannot or has not been forgiven. But I've found it helps if I am able to understand, even a little bit, the underlying cause of the action or miscommunication. Why did so and so do x, y & z? How have I interpreted it (because it is an interpretation, not fact) and why? There is often some sort of ailment at the root of it. Mine or someone else's previous hurt working itself out in the present. This is ok. Even when it's not ok. I have more trouble coming to terms with what I fail to understand, especially after exerting some mental and emotional effort at working the problem out. 

I am, however, at least as frequently incomprehensible to myself as others are to me. Today in class I noticed a willful interference with my own experience of physical freedom. I can honestly say I didn't want to feel better. I wanted to pull down on my lousy body. Perhaps I wanted to punish it. This flies in the face of some assumptions. Love your enemies, heh? As though our enemies seek our demise while we, on the other hand, are perfect purveyors of our own health and good intentions. Perhaps there is some personal dimension to this biblical saying. This afternoon I was my own adversity, my own antagonist. Maybe the practice of loving our enemies can work directly in our favor - not in some mysteriously altruistic way - but because we are often our own worst enemies. Should we not then love ourselves? I can see how, practically speaking, adherence to this golden rule might give a person (me) more patience and flexibility dealing with their own frustratingly complicated and unhelpful selves.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

With this cigarette I absolve thee.
Penance will be self-love
And a felt-tipped cowboy hat.

lesser things

How many fears and insecurities we bump up against in just a day. Am I able to bear myself up? Will I meet the demands placed on me physically, mentally, emotionally? How afraid I am that I cannot!

Last night these melted away. I sat outside on the bricks, smoked a cigarette (I know it's unhealthy), and took myself in. I am not so bad - even though I am not transformed into some higher or brighter thing. This waist, these legs, my critical mind and nagging desire to get closer to others. I am not always gentle, but I am mostly good-willed.

I am reminded that it is ok to begin again, to always begin again from where I am at. I sometimes find myself crawling back to my center, pride in hand, after having been distracted by some lesser thing. But as long as my return is sincere, I have yet to be turned away from that source of self-acceptance and benevolent comfort.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

chameleon

with all your various affectations
you are a study in adaptation.
in fact, your body is replete
with parts made specially for deceit.
from spiny tail to parrot feet,
bulging eyes and horny head
without these you might just
be dead.

but, one thing I should confess,
though saying so might cause a mess,
I find that your most helpful trait
(and one that many emulate) is
not one of my favorite.
crimson, amber, indigo,
tangerine, tea-green, peridot,
chartreuse, emerald, cobalt blue,
you conform yourself to any hue.

so no one knows
where you begin or where you
end or how to ferret in your
grin sincerity from fitting-in.
in other words, I think I must
(although you might call me
unjust) compose a poem
for some other animal
I trust!

helplessness blues

I nannied on Saturday. One twin commenced to hit the other. The victim of this abuse appealed to their mother. Whereby J. replied with a question, "Then why don't you move away." This doesn't mean to imply J. was un-empathetic to the abuse; she was merely pointing out that the aggressed-upon twin had the power to remove themselves from the noxious and hurtful behavior of the other without her intervention. I found this bit of wisdom totally rational and wish for myself that I could follow the same advice. Acknowledging as well, were I to follow it and distance myself from those who hurt me I also would not, like the twin of my story, be as tempted to hit back. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

the way home

One of the greatest gifts I received growing up came in the form of a sunny afternoon's walk home from the bus stop. I was overcome with the sensation that, regardless of what trials lay behind and what awaited me at home, I was ok. I was not only safe in this green, insulated bubble of Copland Drive, but happy. I took a seat on the curb and basked in this realization before continuing on my way. For those few gloriously stretched out minutes I felt liberated from fear and from the kind of debilitating worry which, we come to find, renders us powerlessly ineffective as adults and taints far too many of our experiences with mental anguish and physical tension. This experience (and many since) of momentary awareness is what emboldens me in my study of the Alexander Technique and why every return to length and width feels fresh after having lapsed into anxiety. This place of opening and gentle release is a home you can never return too often. It is the kind that leaves your sheets made up, your favorite quilt on the bed, the lights on. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

body

all
the guys
at the bar
tell me I look
younger
than I
am.
I suppose
I should be
thankful
they
seem
to like
this body
bag.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

nursery rhymes I


"As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveler in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star."

 - "The Star" by Jane Taylor, 1806.

melt away my fear my dear. take the reins. light the way. show me what I have to say. not everyone has a heart that speaks to them that way. in fact I find it's dark beneath the surface. and struggle without hope to find a purpose. a will beyond my will that must be done. a hymn that finally moves this poet into song. if only I could be as submissive as the one. that bears fruit when the time has come. cherry blossoms bent low in the sun. do not doubt the branch on which they're hung. cherry blossoms bent low in the sun. do not doubt the branch on which they're hung.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I left M.T.O. because I could no longer see a way forward. That doesn't mean I did not directly benefit from my time there (under the help and guidance of several mentors), or even that a way forward did not exist - only that after looking, I did not myself find it. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

my dark horse,

my underdog,
favorite of my choosing,
I'm done cheering for teams that
can't win unless they're losing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sometimes I see you with a golden light around you.
Sometimes I can see through youWhen I do,
baby all I find is how good you are.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

my black infinity

I do not regret any of the 30+ acorns which fell from the tree I used to park my car under in Atlanta, or the pock-marks they left in the paint. Nor do I regret the smear Luke left when he permanently rubbed "wash me" into its dirt-covered hood. Like a friend you have both battled with and gone to battle for, these scars only make me love it more.
Sitting at Library Alehouse, drinking a Rochefort. On the television a Red Sox game is on. The score is 2/2 and it's the top of the third, but none of this really matters; I came in to distract myself. I only glance up at the screen because that's what you do at a bar. But I realize all of a sudden, from a previous text, that my sister (who recently moved to Boston) is waiting outside this game to get in. Although I am far more comfortable on my bar stool than she is in line, that we are in some way sharing this moment is the first truly happy thought I've had all miserable day. My thoughts return to last night and how A.L. told me he was and is still with me. My God how we are always, always, all with each other.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Last night Abe told me I am the painter.
And I believe him. So today I must start painting.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

people hurt

Sometimes I wish people's ability to hurt me would finally outweigh my capacity for forgiveness. Then I realize how stupid that is.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The bravest thing I've ever done was make it through childhood. It is also the bravest thing I continue to do, when I do it. This is a blessing for me and not a little bit of a curse. But, after spending time working with a family I think embodies loving support, intelligent direction and total dedication, I think it's fair to say even in the best of circumstances, it is the same for everyone.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

One quick and dirty way to assess whether a personal view or political belief has any validity is to ask if it is compassionate. If not, you're way off base. Period.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

evening news

At 10:30 this evening you could see the moon straight through my bedroom window sitting exactly where I am.

Friday, May 6, 2011

stop me if you've heard this one before

I met a comedian one night at this bar who tried to get my number. He wore a white shirt with a slit down the front and sandals. He said he'd found enlightenment, that he had traveled, that knowledge is power. I had to laugh at him. I asked what God was like. I've only experienced short bursts of love and light. It felt like compassion. The development of one's self is not a struggle for perfection (that wiped away his grin). It's not a search for esoteric knowledge and using it for power is a sin. It's not all the steps you may have taken round the world or some great moment of arrival. It's a moment to moment fight for life, for freedom, for survival.

sleepwalking

I am like a dead thing. All the moments between noticing.

Monday, March 28, 2011

little lives 2

Somewhere a box was made (a cardboard clam shell to-go container) which traveled a great distance - from tree to factory to truck to a neatly stacked pile on the back shelf of the 17th street cafe - whose fate was to hold my piece of spinach quiche only once.

That everything bears us, holds us up, giving completely and without exception from what it is. How we take these little lives without thanks. And throw them away just as thoughtlessly.

little lives 1

I want to write an elegant poem about the seagull I picked up off the street, barehanded, and how I cried into its wet feathers like a little girl and wouldn't put it down. About his eyes, how they were quietly shut, his exact weight and proportion in my arms, head limp in my hand like a baby's. Larger, softer, warmer than I imagined. That he yielded his weight to me, this wild thing, even in death.

All which I might never in a lifetime have known had this bird not managed to die, perfectly, at the end of my street. How I secretly fear I caused it's death by wanting to touch it in the air. How my child mind even now grasps more fully the power of want, the world as a lamb.

the state of things

If non-doing were synonymous with laziness or sulkiness I'd be the champion right now. I can't pinpoint the exact moment I left the fight, but at some point I did. I believe there's a gravity attached to all things. When we work we reach toward the ceiling of our limitations, sometimes beyond. When we cease work we begin our slide downward, naturally, towards the mean. From whence we came. It's not enough what I'm doing - even though I see myself making progress. I'm embarrassed and embarrassed at my embarrassment. The sting of it would not be so great if my ego were not so large.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tonight could be the night.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I've never broken any hearts - nor has mine been broken by any other.
We break our own hearts when we fail to see what is in front of us.
It's strange how the sound of insecurity, the bell of insecurity rings "Me. Me. Me."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

attachment

Every human relationship we get into we also have to find our way out of.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

atlanta visit

No longer the need for showy signs of affection, I've accepted that I am married to it, bodily. Like aged love, it was enough to sit for a while together. The familiarity of the trees, the coldness and the moisture. The absence and quiet of winter. A few more months and the cicadas will fill it again with their love song.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

lovers

a short poem from one stranger to another. handwritten, it was there then it was gone. in some pant pocket. set accidentally free amongst the keys or digging for the phone some grow in depth, in dimension. some are just an apparition. they flash then disappear. some hang shamelessly in there. words of smoke, of an early morning mist that burns off slowly. it was the sun on our last tuesday.