The future

not fixed

draws us forward

as we reach towards it.

Spider tickles my skin

we are weavers, both.

I draw filaments of light

braided with heartstrings,

play our yearning as a harp

in a song not yet learned.

Let the wind sing through me.

Let the children sing to me.

I am my mother’s child.

No thought will free mine

of the legacy of slavery,

only the careful unbinding

of the dragon under my skin,

whose volatile breath 

rips the pleasantries out of my mouth.

The taste of ash gives me courage.

I will scream until no more babies are beaten by the ones sworn to tend them,

until no more Black churches crumble in flames,

until no one looks at my flesh and decides I am less for it.

See my scales, weak men playing God.

See my claws, and shudder.

Recognize reckoning in my serpentine gaze.

Perhaps one day you will understand that I am powered

not by the rage you fear,

but by this underbelly, once rent and rewoven,

which waits for those willing to bare their own.

The downy fullness visible only to those who have also braved fire,

and trauma,

and learned the skill of grief,

and that the hardest thing to do

is to find one’s voice and sing.

The future,

not fixed

draws us forward

as we reach towards it.

We learn that tears are pickaxes,

breaking through the concrete over our hearts.

Wails the tethers that bring our soul pieces home.

Outraged howls the hammers that destroy that which wastes life.

Fists to the sky and voices speaking truth to power the shovels of the Great Turning.

This weaving is not done in a day,

or a lifetime,

and cannot be done alone.

Uncertain, yet inevitable.

Beauty calls us on.

Chaos and infinity

a maelstrom,

a concordance,

the paradox of birthing a tomorrow

where we can see the sky:

One part opening,

envisioning our dancing grandchildren.

Creating through our believing.

One part destroying,

dismantling the structures that imprisoned our ancestors.

Healing through our unraveling.

Seeds cannot grow in undigested shit.

Learn to make compost again.

Let me feel your hot breath.

I will not mind too much if you brush me with your scales.

I know they are there, beneath the patina of fragility

and the weight of complacence.

Don’t tell me you have no time for the revolution,

that it's not your job. 

We are too wily and wild for such nonsense.

I will only listen to your tenderness,

be it whisper 

or roar,

and the truth

that calls you on.

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)

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.

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.

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.

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© 2018 by Medicinal Poetry