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No Salvation, Only Flames

When there’s no salvation in this world

For an adventurous soul

There is freedom

No need for judgement

No need for balance

No need for inhibitions

No desire hindered or held back

Hell is already here

Let the flames build and burn

It all

All the loss

All the pain

Licked in the tongues of fires fanned

Well spent and linger then

In the heat

Where everything makes sense

The touch of the divine

On the tip of his finger

Decadent whispers on his lips

Inflammable

When the spark strikes

blue smoke and yellow flame painting
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Unwrapping Holiday Trauma

Every year I face November with dread and guilt.

The dread is a longstanding, entrenched reaction to the upcoming holidays, and specifically Thanksgiving.

The guilt is because people I love were born in November, and it feels ungrateful to hate a particular month so thoroughly. There are November days I enjoy. Warm, sunny days where the leaves are glowing, or are crunchy underfoot, but most November days, it seems, are overcast, cool, damp with the hint of rain about to fall or the remains which are the aftermath of a good soaking.

When I was younger, and then much older, I spent holidays working. I took the shifts no one else wanted so they could have it off and I would be relieved of any holiday obligations.

Early in my life, I questioned the legitimacy of Thanksgiving as a pilgrim thing. Look to indigenous authors and speakers for more on that. It seems shitty, though, to celebrate an undertaking that cost so much human life.

The gratitude part, well, I try to sneak in as much gratitude as I can muster on any given day. Sometimes it’s overwhelming how much I have for which to give thanks, and sometimes I’m really scraping around the bottom of the barrel to come up with the basics, such as they are. Food, housing, transportation, health.

No one wants to hear of the trauma bearing down on the holiday love. Nor should anyone have to listen to that year after year.

Trauma identity may eventually morph into survivor identity which may eventually grow into thriver identity, but if you’re not there yet and the holidays are raw, painful, and full of gloom, it’s okay to step back and not participate.

Self healing and evaluation can take many forms. When I stopped working holidays and had the days off I was at a loss for a while. I didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so how would I spend the day?

I took to the internet at times, posting random stuff I was doing that day, cooking or taking things apart. Hoping to be a cheerful-ish presence for anyone out there quiet and struggling, while maintaining that whatever someone feels at the holidays is valid. Sadness, grief, loss, love, joy, numbness, apathy, bitterness, guilt, peace. It’s valid. It’s okay.

Year after year of experiences both lovely and difficult, and everything in between, can build up and intertwine around turkey and stuffing and pie and arguments and cheery twinkle lights and magical trees, and mysterious presents, and shouting and embarrassment and broken glass and cinnamon.

Healing sets its own pace. No amount of therapy can undo what’s been done.

The best that can be done is to allow the feelings to flow and to develop strategies for self-care, self-connection, and meet the emotions when they show up drunk and unruly, or robed in death, or staggering with haphazardly hastily wrapped memories.

The crying and the missing and the pain of being separated from loved ones. Valid.

The unpacking, unwrapping of a forgotten treasure or repressed nightmare. Valid.

Isolation or solitude. Valid.

Reading and resting. Valid.

The anger and hurt and disappointment of what might have been, what could have been, what should have been. Valid.

Because you should have been loved.

You could have been loved.

You might have been loved.

Here’s the real thing though, and I hear this from people, and I see it in myself sometimes, that you can be blind to the love in your life. I owe this insight to my children.

You can be blind to love in your life by focusing on the people who didn’t love you when the might have, could have, or should have.

I evaluate my days.

I observe how I behaved, what I did that was good, what needed more work, what opportunities I may have missed, where fear overruled intuition, where instinct sabotaged sense.

I try to envision how I might try something different. The ever evolving experiment that is life begs and answer to the questions what worked, and what didn’t?

How can I bring more joy, and peace, and happiness into my life? Where can I give something away, give something back, add some kindness into to the world?

I write it down.

I mull it over in my mind.

I practice.

I try it out and see what happens.

Sometimes, it is by not participating that I reach peace. I will hole up with a good book and a mug of cocoa and let myself be.

That is a freedom.

No one gets to tell me how I feel.

Feelings come and go.

Anyone who tells me how I should feel about anything, they can just step back. If I’m struggling with difficult emotions and someone says, just be grateful. I’m unlikely to be grateful.

Let me struggle. If I can’t feel it, I can’t address it.

I write a lot of poetry about growing and hope and striving and opening, but the path to get there has been fraught with darkness and suffering and painful realizations interspersed with joy and love and acceptance.

I set forth with my life trying to reach my highest intentions, to develop beyond the limitations of what I have survived, but when the shadows roll in heavy, I grab my blanket, my flashlight, a box of tissues. There’s a system of meeting the dark, developed through experience, and the best I can figure out is to meet it, greet it, and deal with it as gently as possible.

The holidays can be hard. From losses to joys, and the roller coaster that can come emotionally calling may be overwhelming.

Being around others. Valid.

Taking time for yourself. Valid.

I hope the holiday season comes in gently full of soft, wonderful surprises and meaningful connections.

I hope that if you’re struggling through grief, and ups and downs, and working through stuff, that you find a way to make yourself a soft place to land, a safe place to sort it out, a loving place to just be.

It is enough to just be.

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Mixtures Poetica Addition: At The Water Met

January 23, 2021, I wrote the poem: At the Water Met

The poem is a story about awakening, and the longing to rest easy in a disconnect from the world and the events in it. It is a cry for peace, as well as an answering to the call that is life and responsibility. There are dragons and aliens – symbols of power and otherness indicating a universal connection to energies we don’t fully understand which support humanity’s growth (we hope!).

For a while now, I have been playing with this -trying to get the music just right, and testing this kind of vocals or that kind of vocals, and I just couldn’t get it the way it needed to be until recently.

Here’s the spoken word with soundscape version of At The Water Met which will be on the someday forthcoming collection of pieces called Mixtures Poetica which is the follow up to the EP Poetic Mixtures, available on streaming platforms globally.

Here be dragons!
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Heart Returned to Sender

My heart returned last night

From adventures far and wide

A little sheepish

A little quiet

A little battered from the journey

A little rougher than I’d like

So, I set it on the stage with me

Poured love into the mic

Watched it grow and heal beneath

The cozy, kind bar lights

All the worries

All the fears

All the longing that I feel

For a connection deep and true

Transformed by chord and key

Unlocking every fetter

Chaining you to me

I sing away the blues

I’m lost within the music now

My heart is home and healthy

Sound

Giving thanks and gratitude

For every song I drew

From all the love I won and lost

For all the mysteries uncovered

For every dream come true

We’re getting ready for the next dream

Recovery and rest

My heart is home again now

Returned to sender from the best

I could imagine

Whether truth or lie

Love is never ending

Friend

Love never dies

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A Small Peace to Pay

I sat in meditation for hours or a day

Listening to my breath

My heartbeat

And the rest

The world did slide away

In darkness as I prayed

The prayers then fell aside

There was nowhere I could hide

In the empty stretching void

Feelings rose and feelings fell

I sat in meditation

Until I heard the bell

A resonation rising falling

An atonal silent calling

Loud in absence

Did I grow there in the forest

Of darkness silent

Is this realization

To know the breadth and depth

Of spirit

That giants walk among us

Dressed in common streetwear

No way to tell who’s who

Puff of smoke

I disappeared

The memory faded too

I walk the streets as small

As ever I used to

But for a moment I was grande

For an instant I was wise

Now I avoid my meditation

Sitting still and quiet

I take it with me when I walk

Doing dishes and the like

It’s a small peace to pay

Coins of wisdom falling

Into open palms

Trusting the right moment

The right word for to say

We are not alone here

Struggling with our tasks

Connected as we are to every life form

For help to come

We just must ask

I am not wise or wisdom bound

I seek only for the path

The next right thing to do before me

A clear step forward on the way

Holding lightly to this person

Who I’ve been and who I am

A small peace to pay

Centered in my heart

Dollars dropping dangers

Drifting on the breeze

The pains and joys of life

In and out just like the tides

Floating in this moment

Of crowded solitude

I walk the streets around here

Just as wise as you

lighted candle
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A Thousand Ways

I am still counting moments

A thousand ways the water sloshed the boat

A thousand ways the stars shone there above

A thousand reflections cast across the surface

A thousand moons shimmering in the night

I am savoring each connection

Every step upon the path

Every leaf upon the trees

Our canopy as we wandered

I am still counting moments

A thousand ways I felt understood

And seen

A thousand times I reached

To find you there

Beside me

Walking in this wildness

A mad world

A wilderness

With each new step I take

I count a thousand ways

The light within you shines

A beacon for my heart

Let my light rise too

Let my shine be bright enough

To help you find your way

If you are lost and hurting

Look for my starry sky

Look for the shining sun

Feel the gentle breeze

Warm and plucky

To tease the sorrows from your soul

Release the worries from your brow

For a moment here and now

Be safe and whole

Peaceful in a thousand ways

Know you are loved

A thousand ways

yellow flowers
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Raining Hearts

Shadows overcasting

The sun cannot be seen

My heart is bright and singing

Watching the rain that’s falling

Music to my ears

Music in my veins

The rhythm sets my toes to tapping

There’s sparkles in my eyes

It’s raining hearts today

Smiles are all I see

Reflected in the faces that I meet

Reflected in the passing glance

Of my reflection

Dawn arrived with sunshine

I can feel behind the clouds

The rain will move along in time

The sky will be revealed

With upturned faces we can

Stand upon the earth

With sunlight we’ll be dreaming

Of some better days to come

women s gray dress
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Watching the Sunset

I sit on hard stones

Feet dangling

Heels bumping, scraping

Soles finding purchase

At last

The sky mellowed in periwinkle

Above begins the descent

To meet me where I am

Without you

Here in the dark

In this cold

In this void

Faint flickering lights

Parsecs apart

An impossible distance

Against all reason

The fire within me

Answers the sudden flare

of orange in the heavens

I am flame and heat

Living light

I am whole and healed

Connected to

Every star burning

In this cosmos

Eternal

purple nebula
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Behind the Song: Bottle of the Blues

I wrote this song thinking of the line from Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know that goes “You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness,” and how even so, we seek out love and connection with others.

“Like resignation to the end, always the end”

Gotye’s song is, of course, beautiful and sad, and poignant, about endings and final words to lovers beyond our reach.

As Rosalie once said of Bottle of the Blues, “This is a kind of mood.”

Perhaps the addiction is to a darker shade of sadness, one with brittle cracks, and jagged edges.

It’s about beginnings, and connection even in the midst of pain and suffering.

This is a kind of mood, and not everyone will understand.

For those who do, I’m sorry.

Lyrics here

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Things You Never Told Her

In dusty musty boxes

In the basement corner near the back

Papers yellowing with age

Edges curling crinkled

Ink is smudged and

Pencil smearing

Cardboard soft and slightly limping

Are the words that choke you

In the middle of the night

How the sunlight dancing through her hair

Is magic when she lifts her face to laugh

Because she had a thought which pleased her

So she glanced over her shoulder

When her eyes met yours you felt it

Underneath your bones

Electric

How her presence in the darkest nights

Her even softest breathing of her sleeping

On more than one occasion anchored you to life

When her hand brushed up against yours

Fingers intertwining

Held you steady as your fears came creeping

That her touch banished them from sight

How the glimpse of her turning dancing movements

As she measured out a song while she was cooking in the kitchen

And her voice would sing along

That the joy arising from her gave you one more thing to love

About a life that had been dark and wary

Stressed and sacrificial

Maybe she never knew how she was balm to healing pressures

Maybe she never saw her worth beyond a budgeted refusal

Frugal and self reliant

She fixed and healed and tidied

Maybe she wept at times for lack

Maybe she questioned every penny of her worth

Maybe she longed for one more word of kindness

Maybe she wished for a hand which reached her heart

Maybe she knew

How every day you counted her first among your blessings

Some pages in the boxes stuck together

Moldering in cardboard splitting at the seams

Bending breaking open

Spilling letters onto concrete in the basement of your heart

The words running together

In wild fantastic herds

They have galloped across the plains into the forests

Grazing underbrush of lines growing thick

Around the trembling trunks of trees

All the poetry you feel is falling floating down

Drifting in paragraphs

In autumn colors just like leaves

As you trace the patterns on her hands

Watching wrinkles crinkle careless at the corners of her eyes

As she gazes at the antics of the chipmunks just outside

Maybe her smile is warmer, brighter when her glance meets yours

Maybe she reads each unsaid word there within the light

Glowing from within the silence of the corner boxes

In the basement near the back

Spontaneously combusted in the twilight of your life

As the flames dance and spark there

Behind your eyes

All the things you never told her

Flickering tendrils in the darkness

Became her hearth and home

person standing on brown wooden floor
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