On Service and Serving

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Photo by Ding LU on Unsplash

On Service and Serving

What a
bizarre perverse
spectacle we must be
to anyone with the gift of
vision.

Contorting our delusions
to fit absurd collective
narrative illusions.

Your happiness is
worthless
to me
and yet

I weigh my worth upon you saying
that you are pleased by my efforts
to bring happiness directly
to your seat with a smile in my voice

fit to claw your eyes out
to minimize eyestrain.

As I strain,

monks go door to door
with empty bowl in hand and
it is filled more often
than not.

If it be a sin
to covet a neighbor’s empty bowl
then I am the foulest
most wretched creature living

if one could subscribe
to the false illusion that
somehow this is life.

But I lie while lying;
it is his heart I covet most.

I would reach into him and
feast right upon it,
right there in his face,
sitting upright, cross-legged

upon the dusty,
nutrient-starved earth, and he
quietly, peacefully

would mourn the fact that
he only had the one
heart to offer,

withholding nothing.

I don’t even count them
as withholds anymore,
for they are nothing to behold;

I place the holy magic beans
inside the divine tabernacle
and watch random gods of diversion
snatch them all away like a

school of piranha
picking clean the bones of my
counterfeit coffers.

Thus, am I served.

It would be cute
to call it being
eaten alive,

but that would play to
the illusion that the beans,
the tabernacle
and my convent with the gods
ever existed and that

somehow,
this is living.

Oh, what a bizarre spectacle I must be
to anyone with the true gift of sight.

But I am ready.

Ready to leave it all behind,
take a leap into the absence of lore,
and see for myself
what this living business is all about.

Perhaps
the best part of
my yet-to-be-told tale
will be when I ended service
and served.

My story begins on the last page.
***

(Video is only loosely related to the poem. I only included it because I really loved the movie, and it makes me feel better about things in my life that kinda suck right now.)

Written for dVerse Poetics: The Art of Confession in Poetry, hosted by  anmol(alias HA).

all the difference

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Photo by Alejandro Benėt on Unsplash

all the difference

On the path not taken
incomplete thoughts and wishes
pair with longing and regret
along elongated line-of-sight
shrinking to a point-of-light
as all paths do when curving
beyond known horizons
I close my eyes for vision

the grass is greener, and yet
the air is thick and toxic
reflection fails to muster depth
strangers call me pops and grandpa
ex-lovers commiserate
in much greater numbers, laughing
at flaws, triumphs, cuts and scars
revealed only to their eyes

pale winter sunset invites frost
breathing artic dusk breezes, I watch
my trail turns away from light
Orion the hunter claims the night
as he pursues the Pleiades
my hunt dovetails to warmer days
for the path not taken
is uninhabitable
***

Written for dVerse Poetics: Time and What If?, hosted by Merril D. Smith. Other poets contributed to this prompt here.

the loneliest part (is knowing)

the loneliest part (is knowing)

knowing is the loneliest part
(for it is knowing
that you are
alone)

it’s lighting the wick after dusk
(the wick’s initial spark
cutting through tangled
colorless murky thickets)

my lantern lights a moonless night
unknown banished from amber sphere
(my amber sphere is weak
and clearly finite)

margins of its influence dim
(for the margins are too frail to divine)
beyond lies entangled nothings
randomly pierced by pricks of light

(each nothing entangled
as knotted terrain; each pin-prick
of light, a home or villa)

each, a distant lonely lantern
(each lantern,
a wick’s spark,
cutting)

lighting a range; the loneliest part
(for the loneliest part
is in knowing they are
alone;
surrounded by loved ones,
they may not know it,
but they are,
utterly and completely
alone)

look to the sky and you’ll find more
of lanterns lit eons ago
(eons later,
their light dots darkness
like notes from sheet-music)

each one a voice; an unheard song

living verse that died without bridge
(for the living verse we hear
leads to a divine bridge,
a cosmic chorus of a song
heard in its entirety only by
the Infinite,
the Alpha,
and the Omega)

unrehearsed, the ballad plays on
its meaning dims where our light ends
knowing is the loneliest part

(for knowing this
is knowing that
I am alone)
***

Inspired by this Oatmeal comic and this tweet.

Shared at Real Toads

Happy New Year, everyone. See you in 2019.

 

for my dearest intrepid

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Photo by Steve Shreve on Unsplash

for my dearest intrepid

you and I are more different than alike
born under the same sign in different
eras and regions, our intertwined fate
indifferent to lineage, chromosomes

we share no bloodline, only profound love
for your mother and sister, and yes, still
I instilled my values upon your heart
hoping you’d call upon them in moments

of your greatest need, of unseen hazards
dovetailing with the inexplicable
born from my inevitable absence
(we rarely have say in Final partings)

we have differences and share likenesses
both from broken and imperfectly-stitched
families, mended by golden-lacquered truths
my truth lied in helping you stand alone

but while I drew strength from isolation
you forged alliances with other hearts
each heart fortifying your own backbone
foreign course, yet I admired your route

your unique journey led you to a path
not so different from mine; I know it well
a quest to find answers from a father
leading to an absence of resonance

while I can’t truly know your emptiness;
for it is a similar, but different
flavored void than my own quest for my Truth
if you never knew it before, hear me

I will end this crime and tell you the Truth
it’s what he should’ve told you long ago
and what I should’ve known you long needed
for you (as you are right now) are enough

you are you; your differences are beacons
as lighthouses, cutting light from darkness,
rock from sea, known earth from cosmic secrets
I pray our similarities guide you

strengthening, enlightening your journeys
without fogging your way towards your own Truth
for, you see, my dearest, intrepid son
we are more alike than we are different
***

Apollo’s Lament

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Image source: NASA

Apollo’s Lament

Two dozen or so of intrepid stock
have seen the far-side with their own two eyes
a vastness and a full-body away
the furthest a man has ventured apart

“Where are you?” she asked, with penny for trade
soft lamp painting crescent upon her face
within arm’s reach, I would answer with touch
feeling’s believing, whenever we lie

Those men could only boldly go so far
detached, yet still tethered by their baggage
toting food, water, their breathable air
carbon scrubbers, to stop self-poisoning

“Where you going?” he asked, “party’s this way”
I’d be there soon, I lied, convincingly
insulated from the December chill
I yield my toxins to the evergreens

Apollo wears many hats ardently
His archetype arcs winding remote course
an arm’s length of two-hundred thousand miles
rising alone, each on this lonely earth.
***

The clip below isn’t related to the poem, but it fulfills my obligation to mention the holiday season. I hope you’re all having a fulfilling christmahaunakwanzaka, or whatever.  

Liberating the Moment

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World outside my kitchen window.

Liberating the Moment

She missed it earlier
but examining the November storm
from behind the sanctuary of
coffee-sweetened kitchen window,
before the late-fall deluge wiped evidence,
wispy-warm poems rose
from every chimney vent
clear to the far tree-line, each
an ascending esoteric-buttressed declaration
of internal warmth and acceptance.

She smiled,
squeezing me extra tight
as the rain shushed the trees,
shooed the expelled steam-dancers,
obscured the looking-glass,
embracing the roof overhead
with white noise.

We observed the rain in silence.

Seizing the moment
would’ve been ideal; instead,
we let it breathe,
the evergreens and barren trees,
the chimney vents and fogging panes,
she, embraced by me,
all exhaling in equanimous unity.
***

Another one for toads.

not a cult.

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Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

not a cult.

u·to·pi·a – /yo͞oˈtōpēə/ – noun: Utopia; plural noun: Utopias; noun: utopia; plural noun: utopias

an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect. The word was first used in the book Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More.

 synonyms: paradise, heaven (on earth), Eden, Garden of Eden, Shangri-La, Elysium; idyll, nirvana, God’s country; literaryArcadia

 “it may be your idea of Utopia, but it’s not mine.”

Utopia is not a cult.

It is not a snowy compound off the grid,
but it was two young lovers
throwing popcorn at each other
because there’s no snow in San Diego.

Utopia is not a cult.

It’s not group-think or conformist factions,
but it was sitting
through the same community play,
year after year,

knowing mean old Ebenezer
will have a change of heart,
and yet still weeping tears of joy
when he does, hugging his nephew.

It’s not a cult, and yet, it was there

pretending to be sound asleep
when tiny children impatiently stirred us
to see what the fat guy in red and white
brought them the night before.

Utopia is not a cult. It’s just not.

It doesn’t demand wealth redistribution,
even as she anonymously paid the meal tab
of a struggling young adult
on year one of surviving alone,

knowing that nearly everyone
has a year-one story
that hasn’t been heard.

Utopia isn’t a cult.

It doesn’t demand mandatory appeasement,
but she gave the greatest cuddles
in human history, and she never tired
of delivering comfort.

Utopia doesn’t measure cups
except on the occasion
when she examined empty cups,
looking to fill them again.

I don’t know if Utopia is a she,
but I know she isn’t a cult.

Utopia’s voice was frail and robust;
hearing her song filled your own lungs
with chorus,

but you are not required to sing,
you ninny!

Only sing with her
if you want to,
and you will want to.

Because she ain’t a cult!

And I can’t tell you who she is
but I can tell you who she isn’t
and describe who she was

whenever she cleared her throat
etching her soft voice into memory

whenever she replenished her neighbor’s bowl
without hesitation or thought of her own

whenever she held me as I cried in darkness
patiently awaiting my slow turn to sunrise.

Yeah, I know who Utopia was
but I cannot tell you who she is

for I cannot describe the phenomenon
while simultaneously living the miracle
any more than I can put legs on a snake
or feathered wings on a fish.

Utopia is of us, within us, and beyond us.
She is ours to grasp, or leave alone.
She is perhaps my next breath,
and certainly was my last smile,

But she ain’t no damn cult.
***

Written for dVerse Poetics: Utopia, hosted by Gospel Isosceles.

Also shared at Real Toads The Tuesday Platform.

Quantum Entanglement (The Lovers)

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Photo by Rhett Wesley on Unsplash

Quantum Entanglement (The Lovers)

In a blink
all he thought he knew
subverted

With a wink
all she thought she outgrew
reawakened

On the brink
all their fates knocked askew
re-knotted

With a kink
all the cosmos curled a screw
unfastened

Interlinked
by indifferent ether Déjà vu
enraptured
***

Written for dVerse Quadrille #68: Winkle, Winkle, Little Poem, hosted by De Jackson (Whimsy Gizmo).

I wrote this before coming up with a title for it. I got my title from here.

Winter’s Breathing Lesson

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My driveway, about a winter ago. Perhaps two winters ago?

Winter’s Breathing Lesson

wolves thrive in winter
a matter of attrition
as their prey weakens

though her canines are not fanged
her biting air stirs my lungs

this winter is tamed
El Nino tempers her howl
flurries become rain

I’m steeled for a land of white
the mist still chills our pack’s trail

weather-guessers clash
none know what tomorrow brings
I embrace the void

cooler, darker than last moon’s
I keep my howls to myself
***

Written for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Winter, Posted by Sumana Roy.

NOAA predicts a warm, wet winter for the Seattle area this time (so no snow days), but Farmer’s Almanac says batten down the hatches for unseasonably cold weather.

I was going to write a satire about the two conflicting predictions from the dual weather sages, but mindful presence moved me in a different direction. 

I haven’t looked at the data for myself, but meh, I’m genuinely good with either outcome. 🙂

And because I love BOTH versions…

Pariah

Pariah

As an artist, he spins artistry – I wholeheartedly admire
But lustful seed; malicious need, delicious greed fueling his fire
Misdeeds come to light and overnight, his blights birth a pariah

Setting his art apart in heart makes me Descartes to his pariah
His harmful slips trumps craftsmanship, ripping all I admire
Provoked folks were broken on his yoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire

Using muses won’t excuse abuse; can’t recuse flair from our fire
Through introspection, we selectively reject the learned pariah
Yet we learned the life-affirmed abuse of the abuser I admired

This known pariah grown from man’s own fire of cruelty, I admire
***

Written for imaginary garden with real toads Fussy Little Forms: Tritina. This is my second attempt at this tritina form.

Also shared on Poetry Pantry #424.

Background: There is a gifted poet who I admired and wanted to emulate a great deal. I won’t mention his name here, but some of you may be familiar with his work. He basically came from nowhere, grew up in squalor, as his people were oppressed and all-but-erased by the US government. He was physically abused as a child. But he eventually fell in love with language, pulled himself up, and rose to prominence as one of America’s dynamic new literary voices.

But tragically, he then used his newfound influence to sexually harass aspiring writers looking to him for mentorship. Obviously, my heart goes out to the women he victimized. Also, I feel like a fool for admiring him in the first place, and in some small measure, for still admiring him today.

I’ve been grappling with this for several months now. His actions were abhorrent and unacceptable. But I also cannot ignore the abhorrent conditions that birthed and probably informed his actions. Hurt people hurt people. Should this man be erased for happening to others? And what of the others who happened to him when he was a young innocent child?

I don’t have the answers, but I just feel sick about the whole damn thing.