little by little

 

this growth that begins and ends with me.

Dynamic tapestry,

threaded stitch by stitch,

inch by inch.

I am made of a million miniature choices,

microscopic voices

in the chorus of the song of learning.

 

Grand leaps are important

soul’s dark nights most relevant

and sometimes a whole lifetime

comes into perspective in an instant.

But evolution is primarily a journey of persistence,

taken one step at a time.

It may seem interminable

the wait for full freedom unbearable

from the outside imperceptible:

wisdom blends and bubbles like slowly-rising bread,

each breath another woven thread.

Rarely do we leap tall wounds in a single bound

or unbind ourselves in a single prayer.

little by little,

tortoise, not hare

hearing the way,

we get there by learning

there is nowhere to go

only this next curious moment.

Loving is not the sum of wishes brought to fruition.

No book can fully convey the nuances of longing,

or how wishing continues long after it has come true,

how the pain of seeing weeds and wounds can unravel dreams.

 

I dreamed of you

but all my imaginings

were leaves in the wind

insubstantial, 

and beholden to the elements and seasons.

Only living as long as they are connected to roots,

fed by dedicated cultivation,

and given room to grow.

 

I prepared for you

But no amount of study could ready me 

for the reality of living with you.

each tired morning

each night of fighting

    the pervasiveness of loneliness;

each perception check against my projections:

disappointments stacking like bricks in the wall

we never thought we’d build in the middle of love’s garden.

 

I am not what you wished for.

Could not, will never be.

And you are not what I hoped.

Wishes live not in this complicated world.

Hopes are only for those too conditioned to act

and too afraid to actually change.

But we are still, again and again choosing to be here

even as the coating wears off

and the cracks show.

We might have to dig up the foundation

to build a house that will last,

one careful moment of tenderness

at a time.

We might have to let go of what we think we want

or deserve

to meet each other on the solid ground,

in the real world.

To plant seeds we will have to carefully tend through the season of darkness

that precedes each revelation

and thus, be delighted by the beauty of Spring,

as the saplings push through

the cracks in the thawing wall

wearing it away until it becomes a frame:

a foundation for the new life to come. 

 

He presses and draws,

invisible yet deeply sensed,

this power that strips

the mind clean.

A moment of whipped

thoughts inside equally

stirred hair.

Blind to everything you believed

as well as your next step.

Careful, Wind is an impersonal lover.

He will dance with you,

he will bare your heart to the fullness of life,

but he might take your precious coverings in the process.

Depositing them on distant crags

as barren and empty as your newly bereft chest.

Sometimes you have to give up your favorite scarf,

your woolen armor flying off in the tempest,

to see how indomitable the forces of life.

To give you the perfect push out of your comfort zone.

 

Sometimes he is gentle, bearing sweet scents of budding roses.

 

Sometimes he is brought on prayers, carrying cool relief for bright hot days.

But sometimes Wind is a ravager,

stripping away everything but the essence.

Baring us to hollow bone,

until we are played awake like the reed flute.

Like the leaves dancing,

pulled at last from their homes,

delighting in the freedom that comes from letting everything go,

even our attachment to life,

and letting the force carry us beyond.

Ground is white.

from snow or salt I cannot tell.

How we compensate for weather 

without considering the causes 

 

and blessings

 of climate.

 

Sky shifts.

one shade of grey to another,

even the layers of glass cannot keep the bleak out.

 

For a reason, the world sleeps.

for a season, color vacates

and warmth is a dream remembered,

of easier times.

A thing saved for tropical climes.

Nothing can live forever.

Even the Sun rests.

In our myths,

   the Sun always dies.

as all heroes, curious of what the Underworld knows.

 

Pluto, the keeper of that cavernous place

 laughs at attachments,

mocks our silly attempts to hold onto life

like something tangible.

Winter reminds us that life is a circle,

Color is ephemeral,

and Fire knows when to go out.

And when to stay in.

 

As babes in wombs dream of the children they will become,

as seeds in ground envision their eventual blossom and fruit,

so we dream our awakening,

so we hang on to promise.

Through deep layers and long shadows.

Through haze of grey on grey,

white on white,

day on day.

Through the illusion of nothing

and the great numbing waste.

 

Don’t pour salt on your roads.

Let the snow slow you down.

Let the ice remind you

how precious each step,

how precarious each moment.

Move just enough aside

to prepare the soil

for the new life to come.

The pattern made by what falls through

the careful construction 

delineating false from true

as simply as red from blue

some spaces inside, some out

some realms hell,

some heaven

yet all the same sand.

Freehand  

 

     measuring pigment and silica

in proper proportion,

the perfection of straight lines,

born of decades of practice,

all the possible precision

of a truly focused mind.

Hours tap, tap, tapping a single image,

bright mandala a few feet wide,

sometimes years carefully offered 

to this immaculate collection of particles

telling one part of the divine story.

When it’s complete,

every grain in its place,

the breath and prayer of each monk arranged

as so much color and imagery:

a brush of sleeve,

a rush of eager wind,

and it is gone,

never to be seen in such way again.

 

Offerings made not for the glory of human eyes.

Not for consumption and rapturous cries

of the hungry hordes.

Not to fill the emptiness,

Nor ease the longing.

Knowledge never to be known,

seeds held in futures sown,

ephemeral, ineffable,

a fleeting fragrance, dance of effulgence,

to intimate and celebrate humanity’s greatest, wisest enemy: 

impermanence.

 

How, after years of creation, 

refinement, prayed for alignment, gracious inspiration,

to say “my life, my art, my identity,

is as complete as it can be,”

and let it go completely,

to take up new colors and a new form?

To hold so lightly something given such attention,

sweat and blood and tears to come this far

the grieving of each lost star,

and everything between the original wish,

and now.

How to say “I am not anything I have ever made, I am akin to the Maker:

I have but one slate in this life.”

And wipe it clean.

 

To stop running from impermanence, 

doggedly tapping a mark upon the world,

clinging to the false hope of meaning

the potential fulfillment of longing.

Building a castle of sand,

when no matter how we try,

the tide will rise

the leaves will fall

and only a spiral 

of compressed colored carbon

will remain.

Why make an enemy

of the inevitable end of all striving,

when it could be our best inspiring?

 

Pride and yearning notwithstanding,

beyond my desire to give nourishment and meaning

perhaps I can learn from those monks.

Offer my art to the tempestuous ocean,

to the wild quiet of bubbling mountain streams,

and let it be carried away:

Grains of sand melting into nothingness

dissolving on the water’s surface,

until all is lost, and found, and fallen through.

 

 

Listen to the demo track of this here 

 

 

The sting of hot tears

pierces the jadedness

shielding my eyes

from the intricacies

of all these tragedies

as feeling 

finally bubbles over the edge 

of my heavy cup.

Too many people have died this year.

No explanation can encompass this wrongness.

There are no words for the depths of this despair.

But we will see millions on our screens:

to proliferate opinions,

manufacture complacency, 

ensure continuing consumption,

and rage against whilst perpetuating the machine.

 

I am weary of reasons.

Mind has ruled long enough.

Anything is justifiable,

twistable, edible,

ostensibly inevitable

when given the proper spin.

“No more ‘why’.”

calls this aching heart,

finally breathed into enough

for shock and disbelief

of humanity’s capacity for inhumanity

to melt into sadness.

Perhaps instead we grieve.

Grieve everything:

the lives of the victims, 

the lost genius of the perpetrators

twisted by the insanity

of the ones who pay for guns

to wreak the havoc on the world

they will not look at in themselves;

grieve the viscous dystopia we find ourselves in

powered by the fear that hides 

under every act of hatred.

 

And when enough tears have fallen, 

like lava rising from the unrestable depths

to slowly and steadily transmute everything in its wake,

the heat of feeling beyond reasoning 

will burn through our comfortable numbness.

Maybe we can start 

to put our words

and our money 

and our actions

where our hearts live.

And “why” will become the rallying cry 

of hands planting seeds

of love made visible through lives indivisible,

and the memory that tears can also be of joy.

 

{Listen to this poem here}

 

Love is not what we imagine.

Not born of a thousand wishes,

or a million full-breathed sighs.

Not a prize

to be won,

when we finally get it right,

and blaze like a well-placed Sun.

There are no happily-ever-afters

on the path of true lovers.

Happiness is a fleeting, gracious visitor,

who does not wait for the bed to be made to stop by,

nor choose to come just because a perfect meal has been laid

and the house is finally clean.

 

No one can take away our longing.

 

Nothing in love, in life, in these precious lives is guaranteed,

other than surprise.

 

Longing is humanity’s greatest gift,

and perhaps our heaviest burden.

 

Years of yearning

and careful study

cannot prepare us for the reality

of another breathing, hurting, needing, opening, human being beside us;

for the capacity to long for someone

even when he is seven inches away;

for the necessity to be willing, again,

like children, to fail, to fall, to make awful mistakes,

to try and try and try harder and fail better and try again 

until we learn the art of loving well.

No fairytale could touch the immense truth that is learning how to love,

or the knowing that forever is lived

one tearful prayer

one anguished fight

one remembered detail,

one. breath. of forgiveness,

one day,

one kiss

at a time.

 

 

(hear this piece on soundcloud)

 

the depths of the Fall.

Some leaves still green,

some brown,

some a radiant red,

defying death for a moment

of blazing, illustrious relishment

before succumbing to the inevitable insensitivity

 

of time to beauty.

The long nights 

punctuated by bright crescent moon

and crisp air,

and the inexorable charging

towards release into darkness.

We can never accomplish

all that we hope

in a season, a year,

a life.

That is the nature of the meeting

of our cyclical universe

with the linearity of desire.

Flow exists because of ebb.

And letting go is the art of a lifetime;

though incremental, increasingly essential the longer we live.

 

So we fall.

 

like finally dried leaves,

still damp with the memory

of a Spring seemingly barely gone.

We wrap our uncertainty and impermanence around us

like so much wool.

Somehow surprised, again, 

that not even Summer lasts forever.

And the height of bright days’ blossoming

returns, in time,

both from and to

the depths of Autumn’s falling.

 

 

Listen to Niema share this poem on soundcloud

listen.

 

It is our listening 

that keeps Goddess playing.

our attuning

that re-weaves the world.

The question: “What am I hearing?”
a prayer for understanding;

a benediction to the curious,

ever-opening, pulsing divine,

that lives in our listening

to the space between 

wood and ears,

between thoughts and breaths,

between the sparkling of our tears:

that lives in the sound.

 

 

Her existing a reflection

of our ongoing attention.

Retention of the essence of life

found through remembering the rhythm,

the rhythm, the rhythm, the rhythm,

the churning vibration

pulsing our resonant heart strings,

that is the sound what lifts our wings:

sound is what lifts our wings.

 

If we could hear the symphony our blood makes in its pumping,

the wonder found in a baby’s birth, in a baby’s first breath,

how rivers sound to each other,

we would know

Goddess lives.

She lives in the sound.

 

 

(listen to the audio recording of Niema speaking this on soundcloud)

https://soundcloud.com/niema-lightseed/breathing-room-medicinal

patience

paving the road,

one unclenching at a time

placed like stones in a line,

unsteadily yet assuredly

inching towards full presence.

Prescience

of a way of being together

beyond fantasies of forever,

past the tense 

gripping

of the past’s tension,

provides ballast

through outrageous storms.

Outed, this rage,

reveling in unconsciousness

unmasked in its impatience

its inordinate reaction sense.

Rage, born of every wrong,

every misspelled song;

sometimes buried

yet always burning,

 casting blame in widening arcs

charring the hope for healing when hidden,

now brought to the surface

unwieldy,

unwilling,

yet also forgiven,

thus revealing its true form:

the fear, the sadness, waiting

all along

to be seen in its true face,

to be given its proper place

in the open air,

where there is light,

and space,

and room to breathe.

Where, wisely spread,

everything can serve its purpose.

And the love that is our essence,

the beginning and end of all things,

is found again, 

through patience.

waiting for you to be what follows

when the lump in my throat dissolves.

When I finally check off everything on my to-do list,

for you to be 

there with hand outstretched,

inviting me on an adventure.

Wishing that your presence 

on my contacts list,

the last words we sent across the web

still visible,

frozen in time like your pixelated smile,

meant that I need only push a button

and wait for your response.

 

The ache of emptiness is its vastness.

the unquenchable yearning for it to be filled by something remembered,

something treasured.

Feeling the value

of what cannot be held.

Finding the fullness

hidden in every breath,

wisdom whispering at the edges,

like the echo of your laugh.

Abiding in the patient expectancy

of a life beholden

to cycles and seasons,

comings and leavings,

birthings and dyings,

I cannot help but look for you

when the spin stops

and my eyes turn to sky.

when my heart wonders who to call

to remind me of what is true.

But as wind can only be seen

by the way it dances the trees,

you only appear

in the salty warmth of my cheeks,

my poignant smile of gratitude

my pen on paper, witnessing

the unburdening of a heart 

that is bereft, and full, and following,

dissolving,

offering to life through art.

Trust the gentle joy.

Open to the moments of grace

when ease is enough,

and the smile of your heart

finds its way to your face.

Notice your addiction to grandiosity.

The flash and pomp of the high-flying banner

of triumph or despair.

How you glamorize suffering

and attach to intensity.

Adrenaline’s normality

makes us miss the beauty

 

of our own quiet suchness.

One. fully. breathed. breath

is worth a thousand gasps.

The soft, contented “yes”

more powerful than any yelp.

A whispered, heartfelt “Thank you,”

humanity’s greatest prayer.

where breath meets
and light explodes inside.
Sentences become questions
and the quest inexorably changes.
We are changed by this loving.
We are known by our seeing.

 

Loosing history
sand falling through healing fingers
enabling the dexterity necessary
to weave a blanket 
from our unthreaded tapestries.
We cast a new clay vessel
from the shards of every heartbreak
from childhood hence.
Pull down each post from the fence
around our garden hearts,
to become firewood 
that burns with our love,
to fire the pots 
that will hold our future food.

 

This love is not for the feint,
though sometimes the fey.
Not for any part that clings 
to our illusions of separation,
or clutches the familiar wretchedness 
our wounds would bind us in.
We are learning that the only bounds around us
are the ones we've built.
And this bond of love
a tight rope over the jagged sharpness of our jadedness.
We let go
we hold on
we breathe into our weakness 
to remember we are strong.
We practice togetherness
through each tremulous unearthing
of what is sacred inside us.

 


This sapling,
This tree of love we are growing,
watered by tears, prayers, orgasms, and gratitude,
enlivened by our pulling the weeds and rocks from the soil.

Spirit touches this body 
through his hands,
through his lips caressing my brow.


I am a little girl lost in the woods,
and he plants a sign post.
I am a homeless priestess
and he shelters me,
while offering that we rebuild the temple
through our living.
I am simply and fully, finally, a woman 
praying for freedom,
and he smiles and says, "come on, let's learn to be humans, being."

This desire is beyond me.

Though it stems from my essence

it is a vast ocean of longing 

that drowns any who would dare peer into the deep.

 

Mystics know that only such an unstoppable force can create life.

I trust the heart that made this wish.

I trust the thrust of evolution,

the wild unwinding of this tightly coiled yearning.

This illustrious hiss of serpent stirring my soil.

 

I want him. 

 

Though I know he's only a metaphor.

A mirror melting and molten

an image of perfect absolution

in the arms of the Beloved.

   who could only ever be inside me.

Though my skill at projection 

defeats my remembrance of origination.

And I long for the comfort of sight and touch.

 

All I want is love. We seem to think it's all we need.

As Juliet whispered to the moonlit face of her other

"The more I give to thee, the more I have,"

But that story haunts us with its tragedy,

not the reminding of love's infinitude.

Like this drama of self pulling against self,

set against the backdrop of memory,

past or future, 

of one perfect night.

That one perfect night when I got my wish.

That has not yet been, and yet always lives in that realm

just outside of our field of vision.

And though life can give us what is asked,

it never guarantees duration

or satiation.

Or that it will match the magnificence

of our imagination.

 

Can I love myself enough?

Can I sit in deserving fully enough,

to taste the nectar of adoration?

Or will I clasp the poisonous asp to my breast 

like the unrequited lover of old?

I can only ever hold either of those insubstantial alliances for a moment

before the longed-for embrace takes the life it gives.

Like the shadowed serpent,

what I think I want has been cast so far away by the very fear of not having,

which is only ecliped by the fear of actually having,

that I am left alone with my wanting,

rather than risking the letting go that quickly follows such ecstasy.

It must be so,

else I would not have known bliss and agony in such rapid succession

with such relentless repetition.

 

In the still, soft dark of the quiet night.

Longing for a specter of a memory,

a wafting intangibility,

that for a moment let me taste the fruit of wholeness.

And yet was but a shade of what could be.

 

Desire

     is beyond me.

 

I cannot fight it, fear giving into it, 

feel dead when I turn away from it.

and lost when I look its way.

No power of choice,

no carefulness of voice,

no force of will,

can make the fallen a Queen again.

 

But perhaps I can choose the manner of sacrifice

or rather,

that which is given.

The spell has been cast,

the fate sealed,

the fire inevitable,

the thirst unquenchable.

But perhaps the gift is in the intractable inevitability

of this human frailty.

The fulfillment wiser than the plan.

And offering all the broken pieces,

in all their imperfect glory,

will bring me to the edge of history.

And give me what I truly wanted,

under the face of the longing,

 and beyond any inessential wish.

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© 2018 by Medicinal Poetry