Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Not a stranger to myself — responding to a note from someone I used to know.

Don’t be a stranger, she writes.

I find myself thinking
how can I be anything but?
I was somewhat of a stranger to myself when I knew her,
in the midst of a getting-to-know-self dance. Getting closer, but always a
few steps behind.

Now I generally keep up but my
self keeps me on my toes.

On a person-to-person basis,
Not being a stranger implies visits,
intimate and casual conversations
some form of connection
we may or may not have.

It’s always a risk,
but to you, stranger/acquaintance/community sister,
it could be like facing a flame of my past, my past beliefs
or like facing the awkward silences of the I-used-to-know-yous,
and who are you now?

She writes that she hopes to see me soon.

I’m not sure what to say to that.

I am thinking of the dream, a few nights back, of people from that community yelling at me, of the nagging feeling that stayed with me most of the day.  I am thinking of well-meant phrases that came across as antagonistic that day with her in the garden. I am also thinking that this matters, but less and less.

I am thinking of the feeling of wholeness and happiness that lingers with me longer as time goes by. Of standing with myself, of being in partnership, of doing art, of finding ways to sustain my livelihood.

I am thinking of dancing.

Don’t be a stranger, she writes.

Maybe that time — time for not-stranger-ness —  has passed. Perhaps it has not. I feel distant from that-which-was. I am not sure of what will be.

I put the letter down. At face value, the mailing is a year-end letter from a nonprofit organization asking for money. Her note is scrawled across the top, turning the letter into a more personal appeal.

letter fragment

It does appeal to the part of me that wanted — and wants to be part of something. But I remind myself that I am part of something, of some things: my own life, my marriage, my friendships, my Nia communities, large and small.

And I think of what it means to belong, not merely fit in. And how at some points in my life, I felt like I belonged and fit in, but often confused the two. While I’m still at odds with myself sometimes, in feeling “not enough,” I feel more like I belong. I belong, most of all, to myself. I’m not sure I want to fit in, at least not in the way I once did.

I don’t know how much thought she put into writing this short note. Clearly, I have put some thought into how I am reacting and responding to it.

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Evolving perspective (stream-of-consciousness poem)

I began this soon after the election in November, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a while. I finished it this past weekend.

**
We categorize and decide what is and should be
these broad sweeping labels cross borders and state lines
dividing this from that, us from them,
and we find ourselves pointing our fingers at each other

We go on defense
I’m not like that, I’m not like them,
It’s you who is pointing the finger, not me

Maybe all our fingers are pointing at someone
Maybe we want an explanation, a rationale,
someone to applaud, someone to blame

When we generalize,
we can cut others down to

less than life-size.

It’s hard to be part of the problem and
part of the solution,
our cells are divided and our selves are
torn and
our communities are split into
many
different

pieces.

Sometimes, we turn away from
each other even
when we literally stand
side-by-side.

I don’t know
if i can tell you that
it’s always best to turn to each other
when we’ve got our boxing gloves on

I want to say:
Put the gloves down first, then listen.

What if we aren’t really fighting each other
but a system
that keeps us separate, apart
the words unify and compromise
don’t go very deep
when they’re used to
pacify, console,
cajole, silence.

We are a nation of many people,
interests, and opinions.

We are a nation of many communities,
individuals, identities.

Perhaps we have many definitions of what
freedom means,
whether freedom opens doors for free thought
or guarantees security
and safety from what?
the world outside our neighborhoods
an existential threat
a real life danger
the story changes with each teller

I want to be realistic without losing
my idealism, but it’s hard to live the
everyday reality where rights are
peeled away, day by day.

I tell myself to breathe,
take care,
take small steps.

Another day, another headline, with
more fears brought to light.
I watch the protests, the brave souls
on the front lines

I want to say
I am ready and willing to fight.
I see people comment about
the best way to stand up:
what and when and how and where…

I pick my battles, follow my own rhythm.
I pick up my pen
and begin.

Haiku: Insomnia

I’m thankful that I generally sleep better these days.

Insomnia sucks
Wish I could sleep more soundly
My thoughts stay restless

– 2013

Conversation with my inner critic

I hear the voice, intruding in on my thoughts:

I am the one who minimizes your art
and tells you
no.
I am the one that doubts your
dreams and drives you too hard in their pursuit.
I am what you do not claim.
I am the one who steals your glory
Keeps you small when you rise
Who convinces you
you are no one.

My reply:
Your voice can be so loud
I want to raise my own
so I can hear
myself.

– Spring 2014

Lessons in observation, healing, strength

img_0366

Spirit rising, 2012

The sycamore and little birds crying,
felt moved
dappled sunlight

Moved by divine calling
feels like a lot.
also: enough.

Nature connection, touching
base with Spirit, “just want to know you’re there.”
I hear the answer: “Yes.”

Vulnerability
so much
responsibility
feels like a weight

Comparison, judgments
still there to some degree –
sometimes discouraging.

Resilience, this great resilience is
mine.
I have faith.
I have faith.

-September 2013

 

Holding on.

I am sitting with you,
hands pulsing
heart racing.
I am sitting with you,
allowing my tears to soak
deep into the ground.
I am sitting with you,
grieving a thousand missed moments.

I want your touch so badly
but I feel so lost

I concentrate on words like
cancer and exhaustion, and
neglect words like
strength and meaning

I am looking for answers.
I am standing in deep water
coat tails dragging,
holding onto the shore.

–  January 2014

I carry.

Hummingbird perching

Message from hummingbird, 2013

 

I am the tiger alive within me.
I am crossing deep
I am laughter ringing true

I don’t want to be
the guilty one
the lost one
the misplaced one.

No, I want to run free with wild abandon
I want to cry one thousand wells.
I want to laugh myself back to reality.

Where do I stand?
Is it alone,
or beside

I question that which
breaks me and spits me back
out.

I carry blessings on my back.
I carry shadows.
I carry nothing;
I carry it all.

– January 2014