© 2018 by Medicinal Poetry

 

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 

 

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

I am that rock on the river bottom,

rendered rotund by countless days of rushing water.

 

I was not always smooth.

Once I had crags and crevices.

Gnarly places,

where things got stuck.

Debris of old lives

hiding in my skin.

Became more than I could bare,

carrying all the broken bits,

rubbing myself raw with my own roughness,

overwhelmed by my own heaviness.

No one was brave enough to risk the scratches and rendings

of holding my sharp edges.

So I fell to the bottom.

Where there was nothing but darkness and moistness.

Water, ceaselessly rushing over me.

Tumbling me just enough to reach all of my places,

but mostly just letting me be in it.

I lost track of time, shape, or anything else seemingly certain.

 

Vanity melted in the gently relentless reshaping.

Who knew I was so attached to my untouchability.

no more

no more

I am not identifiable by any obvious means,

indistinguishable from the other stones polished by patience. 

I am just that rock on the river bottom,

 

sitting at the ground of being as it all rushes by above me.

Curious enough to watch it go by, 

let it rouse me enough to travel a bit further downstream,

but mostly just let it be.

Though it will take more time than I care to count,

eventually, eventually,

there will be no more substance here.

Just as there are no longer edges on my cool grey skin,

there will be no leaves or logs or bits of bird's nests,

and there will be no stone.

Just the water, 

carrying it all away.

Holding the Hunger like an old friend.

An old beautiful, dangerous, intimate friend.

A lover who knows this body and heart so well.

so well.

A lover who knows how to play 

every

inch

of my psychosomatic experience

until I lose myself in his embrace.

Because I invited him in,

taught him the curves and waves of my desire.

Showed him where I keep my heart.

Thinking he would guide me home.

But now I know his motives are so ulterior, 

I dare not give in to this offered pleasure.

 

This ultimate seduction.

The hardest to resist is also the deadliest.

I have learned the hard way not to feed this 

Hunger,

for his devouring 

only leaves me hung over and wanting.

 

 

But there is no ending the torment.

No prison that will hold this beast.

No reigns that control it for long.

No where to run.

He knows every place I'd think to hide,

every cranny into which I would slide.

The more I seek to flee,

the more he stalks me like the prey I then make myself to be.

 

I can distract us for a moment from our deadly dance.

But then he finds a new enticement.

Carefully scratches 

at the edge of an emptiness 

that cannot be filled.

A rawness that must ever be exposed.

In desperation,

amidst prayers for absolution 

from the self-same force that gives us life,

I release every strategy.

Every clever plan and delicious fantasy.

 

I can only sit with him.

Tenderly hold this raging ache,

this numbing force,

this tumultuous yearning.

And wait for him to reveal the gift 

he has been this whole time holding.

Braving the claws.

Staring back into the hungry eyes.

Extending my open palms.

Bearing my naked chest.

And bringing him right next to my heart.

 

We breathe together, Hunger and I.

I remember all the joy his toying has brought me.

All the anguish our war has cost me.

All the lessons addiction has taught me.

The compassion this being human has wrought in me.

 

And I am fed, and I am found.

finally the tears come like an orgasm,

breaking open the dam.

The next wave of grieving

gently relieving

all that has been heavy on my heart.

Melting the foggy numbness 

that hides agonizing hurt.

 

These days they seem the same,

the rush gush light blast of ultimate pleasure

overtaking everything,

and the warm salty overflow

as my eyes are washed clean by understanding.

Letting go,

surrendering,

a vastly humbling way 

of making love to the Mystery

that only passes through us

never to be owned,

never held in place.

We do not posses love

love possesses us,

if we allow, if we open enough.

It pulses through and around us 

like the eternal ocean,

always one, yet never the same.

 

I taste salt, 

and peer through the moistness

to realize that I am breathing 

with my whole body.

Releasing what I thought I wanted

gives me a moment of boundless majesty.

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