beginnings

Some poems seem to take on a life of their own. Apropos perhaps, I do not remember when I wrote the first version of the poem below—only that it was a very long time ago—and it seems also to have no end. I’ve come back to it multiple times, tweaked it here and there, but its completion is forever illusive. Like snake tracks in the desert sand, it evades capture. This poem of beginnings and endings, has neither. Maybe we are all like that, without beginning nor ending, in reality… and our essential self too, like snake tracks in the desert sand, evades capture.

beginnings

In every beginning 
there is death 
and in all death, there is rebirth.
Do you remember your beginning? 
 
We are a continuum, of 
eternity & nothingness 
polarity & unity
a quivering consciousness sometimes shackled
by words.
 
Freezing bits of existence 
into b/l_o.c+k-s tumbling 
from our mouths
we trip 
in the rubble of our own expression.
 
Until weary, perhaps
with splintered and twisted feet
we lay down, seeking 
nothing 
other than earth
and sky.
 
Here we find, an infinite desert.
Here our hollowed self, shimmers 
alive
reawakened 
in an instant of eternity.
 
A single drop of rain    falls 
into the soul 
and the membrane of each cell shivers 
shedding itself 
into currents of grace 
flowing and
flowing like blood into 
crevices 
and over rocks and into ancient 
ravines
 
returning devoutly 
inevitably
to firelit waves of a primordial sea.

Do you remember
                                      your beginning?

A Simple Story

This is a simple story. 

The other day I went for a walk and found a small park with a bench and a very large tree. Sitting there, I took in the surrounding quiet, light, and pleasure of watching a mother and child playing together. And even still, the light weight of an infinite digital universe in my palm took me out of the quiet, the light, and the simple joy. With so much to “do”—I disappeared altogether from the park. 

Then, for some reason, some beckoning from a mysterious somewhere calls and… I looked up. Spinning through the air through the blue through the soft light there, came these two leaves together on one stem. In the park once again. Awake again. My heart beating, once again. I promise to put my phone away and walk over to where the spinning lovers landed. My journey is not solitary. And I collect this little treasure and thank the voices from beyond and my heart is filled again, with quiet with light and with joy. 

two leaves on one stem
suddenly across the sky
spin love into flight

hatsumode on the beach

One of my favorite rituals at the beginning of the new year is to visit a local shrine, a practice known as hatsumode in Japan. Shrines in Japan are places of quiet beauty where nature’s sacredness is honored and the sanctity of life itself is celebrated. Often steeped in many hundreds of years of history, they are as rooted as the ancient trees on the shrine grounds themselves, encircled with shimenawa. In the air, light dances and shadows sing, softly. 

With no way to any shrine at the beginning of this new year, I went instead, to the beach. On the ocean’s shore, there are no shimenawa nor torii to announce sacred spaces; there are no basins for ritual cleansing nor altars to thank kami and pray for the new year nor omikuji and omamori to buy. Indeed, there is nothing on the beach, of human-made design. But sacredness and sanctity are present—in abundance.  I find that in the absence of shrines nonetheless, my soul dances and my heart sings, still.

Could I, in an aching heartbeat I would, fly to a shrine in Japan for my new year’s hatsumode… pour cool water over my hands, caress the wrinkled skin of those trees, carefully perform the correct way of praying at the altar, fold my omikuji with childlike delight, and bow deeply before it all. But I cannot. 

Rather, I dive into this ocean. And immersed wholly in its freezing water, my body surprisingly warms and suddenly it feels good simply, to be alive. Like the waves, I breathe deeply. And gasp. We are beautiful—an ocean wild and free. Like the waves we are—a ceaseless love. We are the shrine. We dance and we sing.

The Ocean

One of the loveliest things about strolling along the beach is finding seashells. Some of them call out to you, with a little coy glimmer or a slight beckoning and irresistible sigh. “Come, take me home with you, let me adorn your shelves, let me remind you of the sea and its beauty every day” they whisper. And others even more beguiling, “For you, I have made the arduous journey and stranded myself upon this shore! Do not leave here without me.” Alas, what heartless soul does not succumb to the romance of seashells?
Like seashells, poems too find their own ways of surfacing into our meandering minds and our wanderlust—just at the very precise moment we need them. Our wayfaring souls are steered by poetry and seashells alike.

Here is a poem by Khalil Gribran which articulates an inevitable journey to the sea, to the ocean of becoming. And on the eve of 2022, and of all the unknown ahead, I pause on its sandy shore and watch the waves rolling in. Shall I walk back now to the familiar comforts of my faraway motherland, or shall I plunge into this ocean, this unknowable depth with a million and one shades of blue—unabashed, without reserve, naked, and wholeheartedly?

Fear

It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.

Khalil Gibran

again

~a short meditation on flight, five~

and into this house of the sun 
i am carried again
swept up
held, and
laid down in its luster
soft center churning gold
into golden
rims
burning and brimming full
fuller and fuller, thicker and
rounder, rounder rims
        we 
                p
                   l
                      u
                           n
                           
                                      g
                                             e
and we
                 d
                      i
                            v
                              e


and then we  f l  y    f o r    f o  r   e    v     e      r
in all
and in every
d    i    r    e    c    t    i    o    n


again

Querencia

onto my screen
"querencia" saunters
announcing herself fresh
like an ocean breeze
and like the lightest foam on this sea's shore
she is the trending word
she is trailing her footsteps all across
the social media sand dunes 
"querencia
querencia
querencia" 
i repeat after the computer-generated voice
google translated
"querencia"—its quick to softness 
melts in my mouth
i'm caught i like it and i succumb 
like butter to the sun
"Gotcha!" she laughs
with a wry wink and a wave
and saunters again, 
this time off 
towards some shimmering coral-pink horizon
beyond my screen

querencia~querencia~querencia*
my love 
my heart
untamed roses and
my diamond in the sky 

*a Spanish metaphysical concept on the place from which one's strength and/or inspiration is drawn; where one feels most authentic, safe, and at home

philocalist

philocalist: a person who loves beauty; one who sees and appreciates beauty in all things.

What is beauty? Like love, beauty is some kind of nameable uncontainable, some kind of innate and immediate and intrinsic nature of our humanness. And like love, beauty eludes definition the way sunlight escapes boxes and the shadows. We cannot live without the light. We cannot live without love and we cannot live without beauty.

Beauty might be a rose, or a stranger who comes to our rescue. It could be that smooth shiny surface of wooden floor boards worn step after step after step after step—a million times over. Or sparkles dancing on water. Dew in the morning light. A friendly smile. Honey. And sweetness.

In one way or the other, beauty is everything that is good. Like a natural point of rest, beauty is the default setting for our most essential selves. The Navajo word for it is Hózhó. Harmony balance reciprocity peace.

So in your moments of darkness, of hurt or of despair, look into the mirror and remember that not only are you beautiful—but that you are beauty itself… beauty reflecting beauty. Say not “I am beautiful”, but declare “I Am Beauty”. And everything else in this tumultuous life shall fall into place—step after step after step after step—you shall Walk in Beauty. Hózhó.

philocalist: a person who knows themself as beauty; one who walks in beauty.

into the light

t um blin g 
at the edge of the world 
i fall 
down 
tumbling with the awkward
grace 
of a dancer 
unhinged 
unfettered 
unbridled  
and entirely 
undone 
free 
free now 
and cascading freely
down and
over the edge and at last 
tumbling 
tumbling down 
t um blin g  
down 
and 
and into 
the  l  i   g    h      t
 

the poet’s day off

today i take refuge in the mundane
the ordinary and prosaic 
laundry beckons like an old friend
or, a cup of hot black coffee on my desk

for lunch, i eat goat cheese with sliced cucumber sprinkled with lots of black pepper and a dash of cayenne a drizzle of honey dried parsley flakes and chopped walnuts... between two slices of whole wheat bread, with a glass of tap water
really
you should try it

today, every single one of my electronic gadgets work without mishap while
crystals and sage bundles 
gather the dust
the vacuum cleaner is no dance partner today, nor
hungry ghost
and the gods are silent 
and clocks steer clear of double digit numbers

flowers are just pretty flowers, and 
rocks are, well.... rocks

i welcome the air, slightly matte and thick
like a fleece blanket somehow comforting in its stillness

today i take a shower, trim my nails—no polish—rub cream into my face and go to bed before the stroke of midnight, and do not dream
for just today
i am twinkled out, and grounded.

tomorrow, i shall fly
again

field of dreams

Life is a field
of dreams
growing with the wind
and weather patterns 
of thoughts
feelings 
and voices
Voices from the soil
of memory
past loves and sorrows
past joys and triumphs
and remorse 
They take root
and grow
into our field of dreams
And whether asleep or awake
we all walk our field of dreams
on pathways of hope 
or of despair
to horizons unknown
But surely
on a pathway of love
love itself is the horizon 
and the infinitely wild beautiful blue sky above