Maybe

SONY DSCSome days a spiritual life resembles a sunrise hike through old growth forest. We stumble through the trees on intermittently illumined paths, stubbing our toes on roots, threatened by unruly underbrush, and evading fear of what creatures are nested in the old stumps and beside occasional creeks. It is beautiful, alive, and mysterious. And mostly dimly lighted. As we walk, our eyes take time to adjust to the glimpses of light diffused through blackberry bushes, spotted on lichen beards and falling through cedar trees.

In our fear we may fixate on the glimpses of light, sometimes focusing so much on it that we misstep or are pulled into a trail that seems safe but goes nowhere. The light is – sometimes – part of the problem with finding our way, we so crave it. When we quit peering soin tensely and allow ourselves to explore the obfuscated underbrush … the dark, the night itself lets go into dawn and we find it was manageable all alone.

At this moment I think that the purpose of “awakening” is not the pursuit of the light itself … nor the faithful trodding toward some clearing where we think “all will be well”. It is an  illusion to think that we will – in time – sit in the sun for longer hours than it is light. It is not possible.

Perhaps the light is there so that we can open up the fear and blindness we experience, accept it, honor it, even befriend it. Perhaps we traverse through all this fear and mystery and hope in order to see what we have been walking through all along.old growth

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The singing night

the air is singing the stories of
summer
oh – hear it!
 
only interrupt the path of our arresting
conversation
and attend even a moment to
 
the smell of the night
the familiar way the lobster sticks to the soft smoke-grilled shell
and the tendril of crab in butter
you gave me
the bite of mint floating in bourbon
 
photo (3)
 
if we lean into our senses
 we will hear what underlies it all
 
insect cymbals rattling, banging
and then falling
like a starling’s murmuration
lyrical, other worldly
and such a friend to the ear
and heart
 
this isn’t Puget Sound
where the night hush
sinks into the ground with the dew
and only the “whash” and plop of the waves
on the rocks
 
these singing nights
are heavy wool blankets
and fire breath
pull it in, blow it out
and feel it
rising and falling
like labor
and love-making
and the changing embers
glowing in new shape and form
which is friendship
 
last night we heard a whole song
in and between soul-filling
the glow of the fire
the word of the ivory-fingered gospel
and the picking of strings and story
of mamas and look-out towers
of failure
and birth
and the epiphanied treasures
that are mystery
Piano_Profile_by_TBW_Photography
 
we heard a whole song of songs
and story
in the treasury of music
which is our lives
each one
soft to the touch
to love and lyric and laughter
 
such beauty
and truth
is almost
too much to bear
 
 
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Kentucky Sunday

a wild bouquet of 3-year-olds
fling themselves into water jets
and sit down
before dissolving into
a crowd of guardians and water play
 
oh the racket!
waterpark
of 5-year-old boys
who are deliriously
happy
being doused by buckets of water
 
almost as gleeful
as their dad
who has a couple of them
over his shoulder
sopping wet
and squealing
 
it is into this calescent
Kentucky Sunday
the kind that could stifle
conversation
and divert every kind intent
 
that we call for
 
bloody marys
maybe 2
no celery stalk
but olives
which shipwreck and sink
to the bottom
of the glass
 
bloody mary 2
 
we sit in this summer field
while
you tell truth
 
which spills out
like the sweat on your brow
uncaged stories
as redolent and wounding as
I’ve heard
 
and this heartsong
 
only a patch in the acres of
your tender and
interrupted pilgrimage
 
you cry
for the love of a friend
 
and rehearse with me
the binding and releasing of
wonder and fear
wonder and fear
 
 the tugging of discontent
and the unexpected gardens
where loneliness leads
 
you are art
 
such honesty
I did not earn
but you gave
anyway
 
i neglected to thank you
 
birdcage man
 
we don’t know
what weighs down the pockets
of those we hold in our hearts
or only in 
eyesight
 
rocks or nails
or a day old piece of leftover fish
wrapped in a napkin 
 
who knows?
 
the scripts written
for and by you
are with you
and being harvested
even now
 
like those 
sprouting children
~~~
 
too soon the day collapsed
into home grown carrots
organic broccoli
and cheese
poems
and the friction
of insect legs that sing up the night
 
much too soon 
 
as you left
i thought
“maybe this is what holy is:
being trusted enough
to hold the darkness and light
of another
in your heart
and to love it all”
 
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Mint Julep

It is just enough
to break open a midwest summer
just add
gossiping insects
sultry walks
embarrassingly disobedient hair
and
“The Ohio”
 
I sink into a cool night
with a slight breeze of cricket-song ~~~
 
I swish white sugar and water
in the bottom of a glass
muddle some mint
plop ice
then bourbon and
bring on the guitar!
 
It takes little,
really,
to be happy:
 
home grown mint,
a place to call safe
and a voluptuous summer night  
 
Today I could kneel on the ground
in praise
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Juxtaposition

parallel-lines

how close together are the tracks

of good and evil

intentions and proof cannot contain them

a choice made for healing

wounds someone else

empties out in a bowl of tears

fiercer than a Kentucky rainfall

~~~

you may have lived years

doing what is right

for someone else and even for you.

only to

find yourself

straddling the universes

of resentment and hope

like waterskies

with your weak legs and a choppy lake

~~~

I am distraught

I am angrier than chaos

I am hopeful and relieved and expectant

~~~

And isn’t that life

unforgiving and principled

resistant to change

and bound for it

which is just fine in theory

and so bone-piercing

when it

comes.

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unlock your heart

unlock your heart
so love can fall in it
no reason to shutter
the door
 
is it so big
so hard
so scary
to let yourself love and be loved
 
do you think you are so special
to live behind
a gate peeking out
at me and
the world
 
what about
the sunsets
you say you enjoy
are they any different
than the waitress
the barber
the old woman on the bus
who needs
help getting her bag 
up the stairs?
 
are you really
so precious
so fragile
so complete
 
to not fall in love
every day?
 
 
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Let me cry

smokey mountain1I can’t get the stench
out of my hair
and my clothes
the rubberish burn
composting bananas
and soup bones
and lettuce
and feces
 
the man tearing off
labels of 
plastic bottles
to sell
 
 
the wet naked babies
cleaned with dirty water
who have never known anything else
 
the wedged in shacks
made of boards, mesh and plastic
the mamas and papas
smiling at my
smiling at their childrensmokey mountain naked boy
 
the slow motion cats
too gaunt to play
and the blue sky
in octagons and slivers
through 
corrugated metal 
remnants
 
3000 families
live in this dump
scavenging to survive
another day
no birth proof
no education
no healthcare
 
reed-thin bodies
and herds of children
Smokey mountain 2running
through 
the pop cans
glass shards
and my junk
 
Forgive me
for shelter
for Starbucks
for my fat belly
 
for not knowing
my privilege
 
Forgive me
for washing machines
and 3 meals a day
 
Forgive me for 
my unwillingness
to quit buying
and tossing
for praying
for an end to the cold
 
for not knowing
for not seeing
for thinking the world was 
about “mine”
in the millions of choices I make
 
Let me cry
don’t comfort me
-not now-
let my broken heart
stay in pieces
 
it would be
wrong
any other way
 
Smokey mountain 4 boys
 
*Smokey Mountain II is home to 3000 families on the outskirts of Manila. Most of them are undocumented, uneducated, and are migrants. I am working on connecting to a org there that helps these families. Send me a note if you’d like to know more. 
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