Category Archives: Poetry

dear me

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Dear me,

Get up.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Breath.
Stand. Walk. Wash your face.
Get up.
Rise and Shine.

Get up.
This is not over.
You are not over,
you are only just beginning.
There are no fat ladies singing,
the credits have not rolled
your movie has only just started.
You have words to write.
There are breezes lifting kites, blowing leaves
that need to be noticed;
there are songs
that need to be heard.

Get up.
Drag your pen across paper.
Write (dammit). Write despite of your broken hand,
in spite of the lifeless fingers.
Write (dammit)
with your teeth if you have to.
Get the words out.
Write about fire, stars, water,
Just write (dammit).

Stand.
Defy gravity.
Do not give them your power.
Do not give
One. More. Moment to those
who called your hopes and fears drama that they didn’t have time for.
Do not.
Do not make yourself small for other’s comfort.
Stand. Defy gravity, even as it pulls you to the earth.
Stand. Inhale. Exhale. Shine.
Be yourself,
your messy, dramatic, beautifully flawed, your lovable self.
Just be.

Stand.
You are who you love,
You are not who loves you.
Define yourself.
On a cool night walk to the beach and make a fire
burn the letters. Take
the card you have clung to and
burn it.
Give them to the fire.
Burn them all
Get up. Look up. Walk away.
Look at the stars, borrow as much light as you need.
Listen to the waves.
Walk into the arms of your friends.
Let go. Let go.
Let the rest go.

Shine.
Walk into your garden and
plant a new seed.
Stand. Shine. Watch it grow,
watch it defy gravity.
Pull the weeds.
Burn them. Burn every last weed
(like the card, like the words, let go, let go, let go)
every weed
that would choke your seed, steal its light,
hinder its growth.
The world will tell you to stop,
to dim your light.
Do not.
There are people that need more light.
Make extra.

Shine.
Feast
on chocolate, on love, on every moment of your life.
Breath.
Deeper than you’ve ever dared.
Stand.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Walk.
Walk into darkness, into nothing and
trust each step you take.
Save your own life. One breath,
one step, one word, one seed
at a time.

Dear me,
There is no other moment.
There is only right now.
Live.
Right now.
Get up. Stand. Walk. Shine.
Be that which is you, and only you.
You are enough.
You are what you love.
You are.
Start there.
Breath.

well adjusted

SAMSUNGIt’s been a challenging week. The details I’ll leave for another time. I can be, very occasionally, a ‘well adjusted and functioning adult’ but more often than not I’m a ‘flying by the seat of my pants making this stuff up as I go along’ kind of person. I have some healthy coping mechanisms, like yoga, art, wonderful friends, and music, and I have some not so healthy coping mechanisms, like not eating, not making the bed, talking to inanimate objects.

Here are my top 10(ish), or maybe 15 coping mechanisms for the last week, in no order what so ever:

  • took out a live wasp’s nest, with a bat, during the day when they were around, it was a Lieutenant Dan kinda moment
  • allowed myself to chew off exactly 1 fingernail, my left pinkie, it looks dreadful, I’m only allowed to chew another when my pinkie grows back
  • curled up on my couch with my daughter, ate pie and ice cream and watched animated movies (The Incredibles and Wreak It Ralph), cried in a somewhat dignified manner
  • curled up on a friend’s couch and watched movies (Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Sliding Doors), cried in a rather undignified manner (waterproof mascara that can hold it’s own through a hot yoga class crumbles and runs down your face if you cry long enough, especially the undignified type of crying)
  • reached out to friends, cried, and laughed and made horribly inappropriate jokes (inappropriate humour being a major coping mechanism)
  • made art, did not cry on the art (involved quick tissue reflexes)
  • talked to my steering wheel, cried on my steering wheel, sung to my steering wheel, drummed on my steering wheel; my steering wheel knows all my secrets
  • talked to my dog, talked to my cat, my fish, my garden, the lizard, but not the snake, the snake doesn’t listen
  • sang and hummed to myself, a lot, I mean for hours, I think the dog liked it, but it’s so hard to tell with him
  • didn’t make the bed for 3 whole days, also picked clothes out of the dryer instead of folding and putting them away
  • did yoga, got sweaty and breathed deeply, felt MUCH better afterwards
  • various forms of retail therapy –  expensive yoga pants that make my ass look fabulous, little balls to roll away the tension in my neck, dark chocolate with cherries, so far….
  • narrowed my diet to pie (now gone), toast, coffee, and the odd bowl of cereal (lost 5 pounds, I do not recommend this diet)
  • played sudoko on my phone for extended periods of time (which I justify as a exercise for my brain)
  • poetry, lots of poetry, because I’m a word nerd – a small sample of poems below

I will live, have lived through worse, so I’m pretty confident “this too shall pass”, but I keep wondering when will I finally become that elusive “adult” who has all this junk figured out. The one who can balance a cheque book (who knows where the damn check book is), plan a menu that doesn’t involve the microwave or popcorn, gracefully juggle work/family/life/the universe and everything, always have clothes on the right way out, has a happy well adjusted marriage, never puts their foot in their mouth for weeks at a time, or overreacts in dramatic and super embarrassing ways, and never ever has orphaned socks? You know that mythical creature known as the well adjusted, mature adult. I’ve heard of them, even think I’ve spotted a few, but ultimately those ones turn out to be just as flawed as the rest of us.

And so it goes.

Life, crammed full of messy, undignified, embarrassing, humbling, glorious and sacred moments, full of enough sorrow for us to appreciate joy, and enough ugliness for us to appreciate beauty, and gratitude, because in the end it’s a beautiful world, full of kindness and love.

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crappy picture, but I made this

swinging

Swung for love,
flung in-between
sound earth and sky’s embrace
green willows as my garland.

My sadness, in degrees does soar away,
and whispers back again.
My heart belonging
to faraway horizons.
Time so briefly spent in tumbling clouds
divides more wide than from tides to moon,
but still my flight will not wait
for breath
or sight
as I swing from sorrow
and back again.
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made this too

sound

do not think
that you can
know me
for I am only
one heart
beating
in a world
too full
with sound.

Enough
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now

– David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet

The Guest-House

This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Say I Am You: Poetry Interspersed with Stories of Rumi and Shams, Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, Maypop, 1994.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

– Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986.

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

  • Theodore Roethke

Weathering

me with quote

Weathering

Literally thin-skinned, I suppose, my face
catches the wind off the snow-line and flushes
with a flush that will never wholly settle. Well:
that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young for ever, to pass.

I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.
But now that I am in love with a place
which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy,

happy is how I look, and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake, my waist thicken,
and the years work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather-beaten as well

that’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among the lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.

–Fleur Adcock

I love this poem, and one day I hope to have that time among the lakes.

Perhaps even more now that I am weathering. My hair is going grey, my waist thickened, and my face, while never pretty, is showing the years in various lines and wrinkles.

I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.

That’s me. Never the attractive, pretty, or sought after one. I’m at peace with being somewhat plain (except for the unruly hair), there are worse things, much worse things. Perhaps I’ll be the type of woman who looks fabulous at 70, but a life of being average looking, a life of more than a few difficulties has given me some insights.

  • Eat the damn cake, because you know, it’s cake.
  • Hug people and tell them they matter, because people do matter, and often need to reminded of this.
  • Hold on to what you love. Let go of what hurts you. Seems easy enough. Still working on this one.
  • There are no knights in shining armor, you have to rescue yourself. I used to dream of being rescued, of someone loving me like Neruda wrote in his poems, now I’m okay with reading his poetry to myself, and taking care of myself.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business, so try not to care so much about that. Still working on this one too.
  • Every day alive is a gift, don’t waste it. It’s been 14 years and 2 days since my friend Cathy died. My friend with three kids the same ages as mine. Every year I get with my kids is icing, is precious. Every spring, every holiday, every damn day. I try not to forget this.
  • There is such a thing as a free lunch. Sometimes you get the lunch, and sometimes you give someone the lunch. That’s how life works.
  • Kindness, it really is the new black. It goes with everything.
  • When things get uncomfortable, try not to reach for the first, or second, or third distraction. When you feel rotten, feel rotten, don’t wallow, but don’t push it down and pretend it doesn’t exist. Lean into it, and when you’re ready let it go. Lean on your friends, and let them lean on you. It’s how we all get by, with a little help from our friends.

It’s not a huge amount of knowledge, but it’s what’s I’ve got right now. I think maybe if I had had an easier time of it, if I was ever seen as beautiful, or wealthy or any number of things, that I might not have had my ego kicked into the dirt enough times to soften it, to soften me, to weather me. This is a good thing I tell myself when I look in the mirror and see every single year on my face, around my waist, on my belly and on my thighs, and I then I channel Anne Lamott as best I can

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
― Anne Lamott

So, another year older, and I’m still walking and breathing. I’m happy, most of the time, and grateful, so very grateful for what I do have.

old poems

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Over 9 years ago I stopped drinking. It’s not something I advertise, but it’s not something I actively try to hide either. The disease runs in my family. I am alive, and on most days well, only because I found a way to stop.

I used to write poetry. I used to write quite a lot of poetry, and today for many reasons I dusted off writing from around 10 years ago, from one of the most difficult times of my life. If there was a way I could take what I’ve learned, box it up and give to people I love I would do it. I can’t. I can only pray and hope, and continue to take care of my own sobriety. Someone told me when you quit drinking you feel better, you feel pain better, joy, love, sorrow, you feel everything that you had been drinking not to feel. It can be overwhelming. Most of the poems are about that, about feeling better.

I don’t know why I moved away from poetry, and started using more words to write blog posts instead. Poetry is much harder, maybe that’s why.

Here are some, in no relevant order, because organization of anything creative still is challenging for me. Most are free verse, a few are cinquains, one of the very few forms of poetry I had any proficiency with.

blackness

a diving spotted loon
to which the surging waves arouse no wonder,
a soaring mateless seagull beneath
grave misting clouds,
a pair of blackest crows
in deliberate and dark discourse,
and the early morning chorus of birds
I have not met,
here are my early morning companions

this morning,
my last morning here.

and this I ponder wrapped in heavy woolen
drinking strong coffee
made stronger still with Jamison’s

I ponder these birds
the burden of their sky
the profundity of their black waves
their universal harmony

and when the drizzle mixes with the rising surge
the loon dives again and does not return for me
the crows take their argument to distant trees
and the seagull glides so low under
the weeping
clouds – I cannot breathe to watch

I am alone
with their water and thoughtful stones
the unspoken rain
and within my silence
with the blunt smell of cold
and the raw touch of
grey horizon light

in the untraveled blackened depths
under which
I will always lie.

fish hooks

Sober,
I have not known this face
reborn in palest newborn skin
translucent, and
tissue thin
all my nerves unclothed
disgraced, at their own nakedness

I do not know how to use these hands

a flesh of weeping grief
from savage shredded tracks
the tiny fish hooks sliced
and pierced
with their
sharpened razor points

of grief and joy and hate and fear of love
and of despair

I have never heard my voice
still they dig
minute barbs grasping
my unprotected soul
wrenching out my
heart
for all to see
tearing open my
eyes
so I must look

at the person I do not know.

river

Has there always been such green
all and each
so richly saturated
with this chromatic life,
these leaves, spirits within living stories,
twisting over
and around
and in between
each and one another
in their lilting seduction of
wind and sun?

did they do this yesterday?
did they flicker in this coquettish glee
inside my footfalls
sun tickling tenderly
each surface – so thoughtfully webbed-
while in their turn they reached
to lick the honeyed beams
along this muddied path
to water’s edge.
I walk to sense the flowing strength
flirting within twinkling beams
and to caress,
between reflective ripples,
smooth slippery stones
filled with energy.
will there always be
such life?

ecstasy

I would let go
but for the colour.
still,

I like to sneak to the edge
and dig my fingernails into stone
and ponder
the relief of falling
the ecstasy in shattering bones, the
liberation of seeping blood. but

when I crawl back
it is for the shade
of your tears.

unforgiven

who do I imagine I am?
breath?
thought?

in a place
where ten year old
bulldozers tear down
one hundred year old trees
in this place where
house sized wood chippers
vomit green onto
clear cut ground

bare foot in the grass
the rain will not
baptize me

my finger waits
for the drop that
could forgive me.

bones

far away
I am this night
as blackness swallows day
sweet, my grief
rests in the folding
black from bloodless red,
lay my bones,
my lonely love
lay my bones
and heart of clay

silences

I have not
always shown
me, as I am.
not in open, worn
these ragged
clothes.
let sun and rain
peel away my
raw, and
bloodied flesh.
and so,
I sometimes pause,
to wonder
at the silences.​

for you

for you
I would wrench
thunderclouds from rapture
accept their jagged burning rage
weep till there is no rain
and scream out all your agony
until my heart disintegrates
in thunder

for you
I would dry dew’s tears
from each and every
green and glistened blade

for you
I am salt
and I whisper
through your hands

crying

I cry for what I cannot save

for the dying roadside bird
bloodied under blackened wheels

for the frightened child
held down
learning how a secret’s kept

I cry for
young veins punctured
with poisoned needles

I cry for pain
I feel screaming inside you
that fills all of me
that I cannot take away

for the sickness
that I comfort
but cannot heal

I cry for all that’s broken
that I cannot fix

and some days
I cry
for me.

cold sleep

no stars
weep abandon
as our discarded die
disappeared in foul rooms, cold tears
dried wine.

claws

fear strolls
on soft bear’s paws
hushed growling, calmly tastes
decides – and stretching sharpest claws
carves me.

cut me

I hate
the sky’s fading
touch – etched within my heart
take the words from me – cut them all
away

him

there was a time
he could not
release me

that was
before

now his
ever restless feet
carry him away

a broken toy
stepped on, crumbled – yet
walking still
a stranger
that I tried to stand before

uncovered
as only myself
a broken, walking doll

he is
not a boy, but
a man, terrified of the ghosts
in my eyes
of the unsayable
that slices through my rooms

he is close
and he is untouchable

in a way
that cuts through me

alone with his beauty
his pain
his cruelty
his anger, and
his love

an embrace unfelt
laid cold
upon my soul.

Like I said, I used to write poems. There are more here.

sleep

Danae-1908

pretending, I arrange
pillows, I arrange and
I imagine
the space
you would fill, your
breath’s rhythm, your
mouth’s heat
by my shoulder,
in my hair, the
movement on my hip of
a single finger tracing
my pale skin.
I imagine
the causal tangle
of our legs.
and then
I close my eyes,
lean into you,
and sleep.

sometimes

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I stay up when I should sleep, and
sleep when I should be awake
sometimes
I talk when I should listen, and
remain silent when I should speak
sometimes
I want to be still for days,
wrapped in quiet.

then sometimes
I remember you, and
the way you used to be, and
the way I used to be.
sometimes, I hold my used-to-be-self
in cupped hands, and
then place her gently down,
and go back to living.

Unconditional Fulfillment, by Missi Rasmussen

original found here

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Equipment you will need:
A peeler that fits into your hand snugly
so you have complete control
as you enter the time-consuming task
of peeling away all the outer layers
of the fruit he left behind. Nevermind
it’s been sitting there among the gnat traps.
It will be perfect without the bruises.
Preferably a dedicated saucepot. You
cannot work well with a coating that sticks
or something you cannot handle
well. It must have a good,
strong handle. As must you.
A strainer that fits your vessel.
Nothing is more frustrating
than trying to fit two pieces
together and making a mess
because they never went together
in the first place. Tea is watery
and runs quickly in all directions.
No one likes cleaning it up, and there’s
almost always some of it left behind.
You don’t want to be soaking
on your hands and knees due to
an incompatible strainer/cup relationship.
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons fresh ginger.
Preferably chopped up and mashed
yourself. You can use that stone statue he gave you
that’s always stayed intact no matter how many
times you’ve “accidentally” dropped it on another
surface just as hard.
2 cloves.
Depends on their freshness. Also
depends on the time you are willing to put into
raising them. The children,
not the cloves.

1 cinnamon stick.
Very important, but it depends
on the size. Use the largest stick
you can find. There’s no such thing as too much
cinnamon, and it will help you
stay warm with all that spice.
1-2 peppercorns.
Some people like adding these for an extra bite.
But if you’ve been through enough pain
already, feel free to omit.
2 cups milk.
You could have made this yourself five
years ago if he hadn’t been so jealous.
What a waste! You may find you need more of this later,
so save a reserve. You may need it to ease
the strength or lower the temperature,
as you were expecting lukewarm.
2 cups water.
Perfect ingredient, and you can find it anywhere. Cooling
and cleansing; it’s just what you need.
But do not use bath water; residue
always remains.
Sweetner:
Don’t be crazy! This is the best part. Honey
works well, but I always hated it when he called me sweetie.
Honey takes time. Sugar is my favorite, but it’s unhealthy.
Never accept anything artificial. Your own wits will do.
Method:
You must boil first to remove impurities.
Think of it as a ritual. And as the steam rises,
breathe in the moment of one thing changing
into another.
Add a few other things, but keep boiling. You
have everything you need, so the order doesn’t
matter anymore. Just make sure
you never turn up the heat. You certainly
want to avoid open flames and the irreparable
damage they can cause.
Stew.
Just long enough for things to saturate.

With your compatible cup and strainer, separate the tea
from the shit that’s accumulated at the bottom.
It looks good, and it smells wonderful,
but don’t be fooled. It can
only be used once.
Finally, serve it up the way it deserves.
With lots of froth in an artistic ceramic mug,
Nothing with your college logo or anything with a chip in it.
Avoid anything you acquired while on vacation.
Avoid anything given to you by someone whose
identity is starting to fade away.
The tea deserves a better vessel in which
to reside before it is sure to
be enjoyed by your unconditional fulfillment.

for trolls, on and off the internet

Recently I’ve received thinly veiled threats about this blog, about one post in particular.

I repeat, if you don’t like what I write, don’t read my blog. Threatening and offensive comments will not be published, and I will not apologize for, or remove anything I’ve written as a response to such comments.

Right, now on to Shane Koyczan.

I love this man’s poetry – and this really is for all the trolls who’s only purpose is to cause pain.

the rest is dross

Things have been difficult lately.

I’ve received some criticism today, about me personally, and about my writing, specifically about this blog “are disgusted by it” and “just who reads that shit you write?” were the exact words. That’s okay, not everyone is going to like me or like what I write. So today I was reading poetry, which generally helps, and certainly never hurts, and then this song came on.

Thanks Johnny Cash, I think I’ll do just that.

and here’s some of the poetry that went through my head today

Canto LXXXI, excerpt 
Ezra Pound

“What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage”

… the rest is dross

The Waking
-Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.