Woodpecker

Winter, long and melancholy,
has kicked up its feet;
Stretched out, it’s here to stay,
an unwelcomed guest in the home of my soul

Poetry reminds me of life beyond this gray
I crave the greens, blues, whites, and yes even grays
of the places I used to live and love
recalling the girl it feels I only used to be

Then one day –
barely perceptible, a milder breeze on my face
a little sunshine through the clouds
a woodpecker drums furiously on a tree

Buds push through the dirt, too early
yet stubbornly seeking light anyway
The earth turns, we stretch towards the sun
I stretch toward tomorrow

And the woodpecker reminds me,

Tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat
He insists on now,
insists on cracking open the moment of today.

love letters from fall

I have a collection of prose / poetry that I call “Love Letters to Somebody” (to help explain the post’s title today). These are a couple of pieces inspired by our recent, magnificent change of seasons. The pictures for the first two poems aren’t the trees of inspiration, but just imagine the brightest yellow tree standing out amidst the greens and browns, boldly being so bright and yellow.

View out my window from my favorite sitting place in the house.

Leaves
10/28/18

Because sometimes, when it seemed the leaves would skip their
glorious colors this year,
then you wake up
and everything is now yellows and oranges and reds,
and then the wind
blows through

raining
yellow
leaves
all
around

and you feel again
God is still speaking

 

Burning Bush
11/3/18

The tree
so
goldenrod yellow
if it were in the Garden of Eden,
I too would eat of it, to know
such beauty and knowledge

if it were Moses’ burning bush,
take my shoes off
leap into ecstasy into it
to burn too
Such magnificence
proclaims
the love of God

 

Royalty
11/11/18

Naked and unashamed, she stands
with royal carpet surrounding her majestic throne
unworried that it will all be swept away tomorrow

love letter for a friend

(for 2-27-16)
We sit around this corner table in your favorite Memphis brewery, the four of us, you and your love and me and mine. A few hours ago we were down by the riverside, balancing on a log, balancing each other on a log. Down by the riverside, arm in arm in arm in arm, watching the sun set on the mighty Mississippi. I just want you to know how full my heart was in that moment. Full to bursting. Even when we are a 7.5 hour drive apart, I know I am as much a part of your life as you are mine, even when we don’t talk but every month or two or three. But I love you and you love me, and we are each reflected, in some strange way, in the love we’ve found with these other people, and we all share each other’s stories.

We sit around this corner table with a rickety Jenga tower in front of us, we beat Jenga! we declare, but I know that you and I will keep on going higher and longer, higher than Jenga towers, longer than weekend visits that last 24 hours. We play silly games and laugh so hard we cry and drink rich dark beer that’s the best I ever tasted, almost at least, and I maybe wish I could stay safe in this presence forever. But part of the beauty of what we have is that it can be picked up whenever we need it, and maybe it is best this way, to have highlight moments but share souls from afar, I don’t know…

We sit around this corner table and share the hours and laugh so hard we cry and talk about nothing in particular but I am with you and that is what matters, and this is just my way of saying I love you –

new year new me

January 1, 2016

In a wood-floor room with huge windows that look upon the meandering river below, the dancers make a circle. Everybody has a partner and we will progress around the circle, switching partners; no eye will be unlooked upon. I have been coming to these dances long enough that I finally feel comfortable, happy, at home while dancing. The energy is palpable and we are joyful to start a new year. I start off with my love, making eye contact in the ways we already have been all weekend, sharing our divine selves with each other. I feel so present.

I honor the place in you where the entire universe dwells
I honor the place in me where the entire universe dwells
Namaste

I look people in the eye, holding each and every person’s gaze who will hold mine. I wonder if they know that this used to be out of the question for me. I wonder if they can see my soul’s expansion.

January 2, 2016

Richard Rohr tells me that there are many paths toward contemplation and Love, not just meditation, yoga, and chanting, but even poetry. This makes me feel better, because even though what I am doing is not exactly poetry, maybe if I
created new lines
every once in
a while,
it would look like poetry and we could call it contemplation. Because what I do when I sit down to write is pick a moment that I’ve held on to from the day, or maybe the day before, and let it bubble up from within and see how it is speaking to me. Sometimes it seems profound to me, but usually just a word or three. Sometimes it’s not, but who says the human experience always feels profound? Isn’t the daily hum and beauty of living profundity enough?

joy, and undoing the knowing

(12-28-15) My friend unwraps Reese’s bells with the greatest deliberation and sets them before himself on the counter. One, two, three, four. He stuffs them all into his mouth at once because they taste better that way. Tears roll down my cheeks, my abs ache, I can’t breathe.
I laugh every time just remembering it.

*****

(12-29-15) I know him so well but tonight I don’t. A near stranger staring at me earnestly across the counter. I am stunned and speechless, almost dizzy for a moment as my eyes unfocus – who is this man with the scruff and glasses, rubbing his forehead in that way? They focus again and I see him, the man I’ve always known, yet am undoing the knowing.

*****

(12-30-15) I sit with my therapist and give her my stream, or really train of consciousness about the new love that is pouring into my life and my most wonderful retreat at Gethsemani and how very very happy I am right now, sorry to be talking so much about everything all at once. She laughs; this is your time, use it how you want! She has sat with me in my pain and tears, and somehow it makes things better that she sits with me in my joy and shows me that this is just as important. I struggle to believe joy is okay but maybe it is okay because these people are not leaving me just because I am happy.

*****

(12-31-15) I am at home here, in the home of a Friend. My belly is full and my heart is warm, and we settle in to Quaker silence as I settle in under a blanket.
My heart is full to bursting. I must surely radiate this joy from my very being. I wonder if it is okay to feel this much joy. Maybe I should ponder sadness around the world? No, no, no, something deep within assures me, Joy is precious, and not found every day. Share this joy with others. May all beings be happy. May all beings be free. Joy like this should not – cannot – be contained.

Sun over horizon

12-27-15, Gethsemani

there are many things I know here –
where to get coffee in the morning,
the sound of the church bells ringing,
the tune of Our Father.

but there are many things I want to ask, like
is there an actual monk ringing those church bells in the service?
and, why are there so many knobby hills in Kentucky?
and, do you get bored of your every-day-the-same life here?
and, how did you know you wanted to be a monk?

I don’t even attempt to answer these difficult questions of the universe.

 

On my loop of the garden, I feel someone staring at me and turn around. The moon winks coyly at me. I offer a shy smile back and tease, “come on now, don’t pretend you’re not just borrowing the rays of the sun, you beautiful thing.”
But then, am I not doing the very same thing?

 

I’ve never lived here, but Kentucky charms me in a special way. I don’t know what this means for our future together, but I take note of my feelings.
I drive through the country on my way home and everything is flooded, brown water, green grass. I stop in Louisville and watch everything turn gray outside with water pouring from the sky.

Flooded stream

Ode to a Gnat

Oh gnat, I hate you

with a perfect hate

a hate I wish were lovingkindness

so I’ll write an ode instead.

 

The gnat

buzzes in my ears, hovers around my face, lands on my skin

and I have come to see

that this is the expression of the gnat’s love for me.

 

Oh gnat, why must you torment me so?

Would that you were burning down below!

But the gnat’s love goes unrequited

Could I return it, he’d be so delighted

 

So instead, he speaks the only way he can:

Buzzing in my ears, he says: “I LOVE YOU!

I LOVE YOU! Did you hear me? I LOVE YOU!”

Buzzing in my face, gazing into my green eyes,

looking woefully at my zipped tight lips,

thinking maybe being swept up my nostril with my breath

is a good last attempt for unity

 

But the most telling sign

a true Romeo to his beloved Juliet,

or Ophelia drowning in her pond,

he sees my eyeball, swimming in its

glorious pool of mucus-y eyeball goo,

and with one last “I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU!”

he dives in,

to die in glorious union

with his beloved.

hope

Faith is hope deferred

and sometimes deferred, deferred, deferred

Do I play the fool in holding on

Or is it pride speaking in refusing to let go,

Refusing to admit I am wrong?

Or is this hope real

In a year, five years, ten

Can I look back and say

“Your best decision was never giving up”?

Hope springs forth eternal

Longings of our hearts acted out in our lives

Unquenchable desire for something beautiful

Even if we only see the bottom of the quilt now.

We are messes of men, but

I am compelled to believe

That out of mystery and chaos

Comes beauty and order

And meaning

And that all manner of things shall be well.