Poem: Madness Approaches


There is an otter swimming in the tub

and chimps that wear evening gloves

Sometimes a little gray mouse

playing  music with her beloved spouse

Or a drowsy dreamy sloth

sipping upside down chicken broth

And the sleepy lion laying near

is too lazy to really fear

While nearby drying with a towel

found in the bathroom is the owl

In every corner of these rooms

birds chat with Vidal Sassoon

On a chair tucked away in the back

some lumbering bear his toupee so black

Little creepy crawly insect things

with ancient writing on their wings

All these creatures just hanging plain as day

looking like they’re here to stay

Maybe it’s all not so bad

the outside world is just as mad

 

 

 

 

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Poem: Food For Free


School Lunch Lines

with hair net lunch ladies

and cement paste potatoes

and spit filled ketchup

But today the book said:

159

(160 if you count 5-year-old Luciana)

Lining up outside

long before the prison-bolt door is let loose

drawn like a vortex

walking and sweating with bags and backpacks

or stopping in front from the city bus

and the cars stuffed full as they hope they will be too

“Sign the book”: is the weary demand

it is the Payment

The Price

for all you will get

Fill your bags and your belly

“I have no teeth, so no corn on the cob”

“No dessert because I am diabetic”

“I am homeless and live in the streets”

Gracias

Thank you

I am now the lunch lady

I give food for free

 

 

Go Easy…


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Sometimes thinking about the past is appropriate, especially when you get news about someone that meant something to you, even if you haven’t spent much time with them in recent years.

Families are such slippery things–they are fragile and sometimes easily shattered. They also are defined by many different things, not just by blood. And often the ones that aren’t put together by blood can mean more. We define them ourselves.

When the some things that created them, like a marriage, dissolve, then they seem to disappear too–at least in the physical sense. But we may realize, especially at critical moments, they still linger within deeper parts of us; that these people who were once family are still dear.

So when I heard my ex-father-in-law is now in hospice, I found myself extremely sad. He was someone who had been very good to me while I was married. It’s been easy to recall so many memories of the kind things about him: his easy acceptance of our decision to adopt a HIV positive child, and his special love for her. And his overly enthusiastic attitude (and long conversations and questions) about my career as an EMT/Paramedic, something I didn’t always feel at home from his son. He loved the stuff!

I picture him as the typical unassuming New England man, quiet but always willing to help; that crooked smile, bald head and slight limp. He was my go to guy, always aware of what was happening with the weather, and loving to talk about it.

Maybe he’s not officially ‘family’ anymore, but in my heart he will always hold a very special place as he made me feel welcome and a part. I felt like family because of him.

Thank you, and may the rest of your days be easy…

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Poem: Surrender 


I surrender 

lay down among the fallen

my own weak and weary comrades 

Those who have marched

with me all along 

The fiercely fighting soldiers 

taking battles to the blood 

I look down on the hillside 

upon the fallen foe

and see such devastation 

discarded  in my moving through 

wondering what I did

It may just be sweeter

to lay it all down 

surrender to the flowing wind

that blows along the hard edged ridges

surrounding my peaceful 

mind

Poem: The Wanting 


Let go of the wanting 

and see where it leads

down dust blown highways

where cactus men point 

and sun burned grasses

to wave scorching goodbyes

The wanting is feral

a scavenger dog

sniffing out treasures

meaty and ripe

It creeps through the cracks 

and appears in the night 

lapping up moments 

chewing on greed

Take a hold of the wanting 

by the nape of the neck

smooth out its fur

give feed to her fury

And let go of the wanting 

to run off

somewhere among 

the tangled 

wild wood of your life

Joy Through Sacrifice


Watching an interesting TED talk today about a young Arctic surfer (yes, you heard me right, that was Arctic surfer), he said something that really struck me–not about surfing, but about sacrifice. As you can imagine, someone who surfs in frigid waters does a fair amount of sacrificing.  He does it in part to get away from the normal tropic crowds, but also to take these amazing photographs. To paraphrase very loosely he said something like: most things worth any kind of real joy usually involve some kind of sacrifice.

That gave me pause.

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I began thinking about some of the things that take sacrifice but bring joy:

  • 9 months of carrying a baby: the worrying, the weight gain, the hormone shifts, the vomiting, the swelling, the potential dangers involved…
  • being in a relationship: any kind really. It’s constant ups and downs, bargaining (with the kids, partners, co-workers, family members), tears, give/take, compromises, giving away parts of yourself at times
  • having a dream or goal: these can take huge amounts of time, money, changes in lifestyle and re-evaluating ourselves for the final outcome
  • moving somewhere new: leaving friends and family behind; leaving a career or job, doing something scary, taking a leap of faith
  • starting over (with a job/a person/or alone: leaving your comfort zone, stretching parts of yourself you may not know you had, or totally remaking yourself
  • helping others or someone else: living with less than normal, learning about other cultures (which maybe is uncomfortable), focusing less on “me”
  • giving up something completely: getting used to life “without”, feeling what it’s like when others perceive because we are now “different”
  • changing our point of view for the greater good: getting into arguments (political/family?), battling within ourselves over the old point of view, reconciling what’s right/wrong
  • coming out: about our sexual orientation, addictions, mental health, illness, abuse, political view or anything else we’ve been keeping inside for fear of judgement, shame or condemnation
  • sharing our home with animals: limiting our work day, getting up in the middle of the night, cleaning up hair, poop and vomit off the floor
  • Waiting: for anything you want, it can be excruciating at times because we are a culture of wanting everything now, having patience is like hot iron swirling in our bellies…the loss of precious time while we wait
  • standing up for what you believe when others around you don’t agree: this can be going to rallies or being a vegan, it can bring agitation or arguments from others, confrontations or simply tiresome questions
  • sharing our home with children: never having peace and quiet (or rarely); suddenly realizing you have to sacrifice so much and become a very good teacher when you hardly know yourself (or much else for that matter…)

There are so many more things…what can you add to the list? And it all comes down to mindset like anything else really. We give to get. Nothing comes easily really.  It seems like many things feel like work these days, and trying to pick out the little pieces of joy can be tough. But when you think about the sacrifices we make all adding up to something beautiful–that it’s the wrapping surrounding the gift inside, then it doesn’t feel quite so much like drudgery. 

So when you are climbing that next mountain and it feels like hell: the boots are giving you blisters, the sweating like a banshee and the mosquitoes buzzing around your head: remember that when you get to the top you will see this incredible view of the world below. Every step you took to get there was worth what lies before you as you look out. See it as you breathe the joy and try to remember that you couldn’t have experienced the splendor without a bit of pain.

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Poem: Safe


It seems I’ve spent years 

looking 

peering around my own 

mind

for the right one

chasing the disguised 

tucking in 

and out

of doorways 

I follow 

into cities of my own making 

burned out places

trying to grow free

the tap tap

of footsteps 

on stone cracked pavement 

lead me farther into

another chase 

It seems a matrix 

endless labyrinth of curling walls

wet with the salt of sweat 

as I run

away 

and to

exhausted 

the beginning