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For Joy (10/12/1947 – 03/08/2020)

 

My sister asked for a chocolate cake
And so I baked her one
With chocolate frosting and nothing out of the ordinary.

She was just recovered from fluid on her lungs
Aspirated the day after Thanksgiving.

Now, at home in her dining room,
She had the breath to appreciate
The chocolate deliciousness.

Ten weeks later, she was lying in her hospital bed, Cancer exploding throughout all her parts. She was mostly delirious, But was willing to take in some cold chicken soup. I fed her, Small spoonful by small spoonful-- Her last meal.

I wish she were here to bake me popovers
And a cocoa carrot cake.

I want to revel with her in the sweet berries salad we'd often share
Or hear her joy at me playing the harp
And see her dab at her eyes when I sang a sad song.

I see your smile, Joy--a reflection of my crooked one. But, where did you go?

What is the plague,
what is the plague?

Is it the virion? Is it the germ?
Or is it callous disregard
For those different and infirm?
Is it the offspring of Narcissus
Who see their reflection in
The vain Gods of progress?

What is the plague,
what is the plague?

We were living, we are dying,
And the selfish keep denying
It's a plague we are defying.
We were dying, but we're surviving
The plague of righteous fascists
Who've been wickedly conniving.

What is the plague,
What is the plague?

We are living in a test
Of our resilience at its best.
So we hope, and strive, and pray
To make it through another day
Hunkering down, and turning away
From touch we crave every which way.

What is the plague,
What is the plague?

We cry at needless loss
When lives we love become the tossed
Bodies in cold cold containers
As the dross of sycophancy
bill for their ridiculous retainers
As we become the pawns in necromancy.

What is the plague,
What is the plague?

The plague is human hubris,
Pride of place and pride of stature,
With souls that are infractured
By the synapses of greed and callous
Disrespect for the being that is earth
And the beings that have worth.

Greed is the plague,
Greed is the plague.

True gifts of light. Do try this at home if you wish!

I led a pre-Christmas group at work last week that I do every year at this time. I ask: what is a gift you’d give yourself, one you’d give to those you love, one you’d give a stranger, one you’d give the group, and one you’d give the world–remember, these are gifts that do not cost money, so think “outside the 🎁”. But I preface this with, what is a similar gift someone(s) once gave you that has helped you in life.

In this spirit of giving and acknowledging such gifts, for this holiday season, I give myself a pat on the back for being patient with life and acceptance of my circuitous path. I give my loved ones many, many, many hugs and kisses (if they want them), my attempts at being non-judgmental, and my time. I give a stranger my work as a volunteer helping families with breastfeeding babies and occasionally helping someone carry something down the street. I give my colleagues(my group) suggestions (only when asked for) and the wisdom of my experience (only when asked for). I give the world my music because I can’t help it and I can’t help it any other way.

And gifts I’ve been given: my mother gave me her altruism, the love of words and grammar and scrabble, and the love of poetry and her faith in my music. My father gave me his talent with numbers and sounds (he was a sonar engineer) and the love of puns and Pi. My husband has given me his patience (sometimes) and a steadfast love and the best father I could have for my children. My children have given me a reason to be proud and the sheer enjoyment of being with them and seeing them grow to be such thoughtful and caring souls (and a huge dollop of attempts at being patient when they drove me nuts). My sister gave me a home when I was needy and an appreciation of beauty and her love of my music. My brother gave me the joy of driving fast and a love of art on paper. My nieces and nephews have given me the gift of listening. My wider family and friends have given me love, people to play with (scrabble, walks on the beach, music) and the joy of connection.

I’m glad I can be grateful.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Dusty Confusion

I have been sleepwalking in a dusty confusion
while my soul longs for the clarity of transcendence.
I retreat into my room, fall into my bed, weary.

Sleep comes to me, 
heavy with fatigue and melancholy. 
I dream of wordless, menacing beings
who attempt to destroy me.
I wake myself from the rush of fear
before I die this dream death. 

I lie there in and out of fitful unconsciousness. 

“Why do you sleep?”
says a Voice at the edge of my awareness.
“Don't forget me,” I say in my anguish.
“Come to the door and greet me.”

"Hello", says the Voice. 

I say, "Come in". 

A gentle hand wrestles
with the tangled bedclothes
of my consciousness, 
letting in a sliver of light
under the blanket of darkness.

The Voice, warm and honeyed, soothes into my ear:
"Open your eyes, the lights will guide you.
They shine on the pathway to wherever you are heading."

A star, shining in my head, seems to say:
"Be just, be kind, be loving.
Watch and learn.
Choose."

From a place of green, warm, enfolding comfort deep inside me,
I hear my own voice:
"Open your heart and mind
and your mouth will sing, spilling out
an evanescent music which bubbles forth
a thousand spirits chanting
like flutes, like bells, like chimes,
like gongs of goodness.

Open your arms and hands
and your fingers will become feathered wings,
fanning out seeds of change
with a whoosh upon the wind."
***
I open my eyes.
I arise.
I stretch off the dusty sleep of the shadows.
I draw over my shoulders
the many-hued scarves of sensation.
I let fear be simply one color of the cloak I wear.
***
My feet follow the trail of the Voice.

Pain and suffering–
pinch, tweak, itch, ache, throb, soreness–
Human condition.

Rubbing in the salve–
With a touch or stroke on skin;
Is this true relief?

Deep inhale of air–
Energy wanders to cells,
Breath is half the cure.

Inspired by Rick Berry, a painter whose figures are unabashed, but not always as curvy as the mature woman in this poem.

A woman–
She dances in the morning light
In the power of her unabashed curvature–
The full breast, the round stomach,
The tender rosy tint of her skin
In the glow of the rising sun.

Hers is the beauty of having labored,
Confident in the strength of her body
That more than once released a newborn,
Wet with the blood and fluid of her womb
Then held upon her warm sweaty midriff
And welcomed with fresh milk into
A legacy of human struggle.

These she nurtured with love and soft arms.
This dance now is to reclaim her rhythm.
She moves with the pulse of the drum
As if it’s her own heartbeat.
She feels the deep strum of bass
As if it’s the earth’s ground.
She sighs with the high breathy flute
As if it’s the cloud on which she floats.

There is sinew under her soft supple skin.
Her body’s muscles echo the millions of ancestral mothers
Who have come before her bearing two-limbed fruit
And daring to strive forth daily in tasks and joys.
She sinks into all her senses.
She smells the oil of amber and rose upon her wrist.
She feels the warmth of sunlight upon her face.
She tastes a ripe peach and rejoices in its juice.
Her feet, touching bare upon the ground, stomp to the beat of drum.
She sees sky, grass, flower, a child’s face, and a man’s weathered yet longed-for visage.
She hears her own voice singing in sympathy with the music’s rhythm
And her heart cries for beauty in all and in awe.

She dances life and death and life again–
A woman.

Resurrection Song

Written last Easter while thinking about where the world seems to be in terms of the daily incredulities. If we sing together, there is hope…

* * * * *

We despair at every horror, every lie, and every scandal;
We hold on by a single thread, or by a greasy handle,
We think we’ve heard it all until we hear what’s worse once more.
Until we feel we’re falling as if right through the floor.
Listen through the static and you will hear a song
Take a breath and catch the note and start to sing along…

Chorus:
The goodness of humanity will shine a welcome light
With an open door in every coldest, deepest, darkest night
With voices chanting every truth, 10 to the power of 10,
And hearts with boundless love will surely rise again,
Rise again, rise again, will surely rise again.

Close your eyes and open your ears to hear an insistent sound,
A persistent, swelling chorus, with an echo coming round,
Every note that’s sounded like the ringing of a bell,
Crowds of people proclaiming we have truth to tell.
Listen through the static and you will hear a song
Take a breath and catch the note and start to sing along…
Chorus…

Weary feet in vict’ry will walk soft where meanness tread.
The shelter for the hapless will make up another bed
The harbor for the stranger will open up its gate
And souls with wounded hope will overthrow the hate.
Listen through the static and you will hear a song
Take a breath and catch the note and start to sing along…
Chorus…

* * *
Hear a demo here: SoundCloud Demo Recording

via What is the essence of my soul?

via Is there singing in the sea?

 

A poem I wrote in the spring of 2018… The inspiration being the news about what is happening to our ocean life and my innate knowledge that all life has and all lives have a song.

* * * * *

Is there singing in the sea?
The sound of the waves is a lullaby
to me reclining on the sand of the shore.
“Shhh-ahh, shhh-ahh, shhh-ahh”
whisper-sings the ocean mother.
I wonder that the clouds in this bluest sky
set the tempo of these waters
that flow with the earth’s spinning rhythm.

Is there singing in the sea?
Do these waves mask the tunes
of the whales’ poignant aria of loss and death,
telling the anguish of suffocation in
the plastic detritus and metallic poisons of two-legged land creatures?

Is there singing in the sea?
Do the dolphins recit of love
in their joyful darting dances in and out of the waves?
Or of fear and pain when caught in the fisher’s net or
when smothered by the fume of a boat’s exhaust?

Is there singing in the sea?
Do the bleached corals, blanched by the heat of humanity’s hubris,
croak in raspy gasps for air?
Do the anemone yet hum a swirly melody of the flow of life and death
as they gently entrap their tiny prey?

Is there singing in the sea?
Down in the dark, dark depths
where the weight of water and the near absence of light
is belied by the insistent beauty of life in thermal streams,
do strangely formed beings sing a pungent bacterial lay of survival,
a deep booming ostinato of “then, now, and evermore”?

Is there singing in the sea?
I walk along the strand and count my steps to the
ebb and flow,
ebb and flow,
ebb and flow
of ever-moving tides.
Seals, resting on rocks and sandbars,
mouthe a pulsing monophony of moaning tones
as they warm themselves in the sun
while waves lap at them in slow deliberate time.
I sing along with their cantata
“ah-roo, ah-roo, ah-roo”.
I pick up the lone nautilus and hold it to my ear.
I hear a soft soothing breathing.
I ask silently of the shell,
“Is there singing in the sea?”
She replies in a quiet
“phffff, phffff; phffff, phffff”
insisting that as long as there is
sky and cloud
wind and water
seal and sun
rock and amoeba
sand and starfish
shell and crab
storm and wave
fish and fathom
shark and cod
predator and prey
whale and narwhal
signal and echo
dolphin and dance
turtle and current
thermal and geyser
there shall be singing in the sea–

but only if the two-legged land creature
learns to sing along.