Room Mosaic–Ten for Today

Fan 

A fan blows rhythm into wood;

Across the room stirs fluttered paper;

Vibrations travel far into distant jungles.
 
Poster

Sylvia Plath said it; trapped inside the mind

Nothing you can say or do to get out of that fertile futility forest

Except to lose it.
 
Picasso

The politics of a line fascinates the artist,

Astonishes the viewer with simplicity, 

Of message, method and mood–peace face.
 
Photo

Three folded into one chair–Mamie, flanked by two little granddaughters–summer in France,

My two girls embraced in awkward submission, forced smiles,

Posing for another camera off center.


Air Plant

A floating glass bubble filled with silver and brown sand,

Hemp roped from the ceiling,

Inside crowd rocks, pebbles, earth, shells and one dead succulent.
 
Clay Pot

An art fair in Santa Monica, a day before many moons ago,

When time belonged to browse and easy chatter,

Not like now 20 years later when sparse, efficient words work us through the hours. 

A kind of kindness (Ten for Today)


We’re in the car. I muse out loud, “I want to carry into the world the kindness and caring I feel when I do yoga or when I write about the garden I peek at sometimes through the fence separating our yard from the neighbor’s or when I’m baking apricot and garlic spread into baguette then topping it with sun dried tomatoes that have soaked in Greek olive oil a good long while, for our dinner guests.”

The one in the front seat is silent, but the wise ass in the back seat, snarkily asks in disbelief, “You?” Then she shakes her head slowly and says, “Nah.” They both laugh.

I laugh. She’s a quick witted funny kid. But as we drive a way into the silence, a momentary pause in conversation, each with our thoughts, I frown inside. 

I meant it. The kindness does not extend far beyond the mat. I don’t want to manufacture it for myself by motion and feel-good-pat-on-the-back exercises and readings. I want to exercise it, stress test it in the throes of messy, even horrible existence, in the battles on the streets, on the road, in the supermarket, and on social media. 

This election circus distracts me (a Trump funk), foments mental terror and pulsing anger that requires the quelling by kindness, everyone’s. But mine is especially important in my world, to the people I touch. Hiding inside words, playing nice with language won’t do. I won’t be jailed by the surrounding toxic vitriol. I vow to melt it, laser it with the heat of my passionate dispassion. 

Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love…

Writing the Divine (Ten for Today)


August 8, 2016
 
I stuck a three-fold brochure entitled “What is Vedanta?” inside my book on writing. It’s a book mark but also a reminder. The pairing is everything.
 
The Vedanta is a philosophy based on the oldest scriptures of India, the Vedas. The basic premise teaches the divine in all of us, and the pursuit of the divine is all there is. Writing needs no definition. Most everyone writes.
 
But writing for some is more than communication, practical missives that need delivery to complete some operation, some function of human existence. Some of us write because it’s what we do to reach the divine in us. I’m not sure I’m including myself in that “us,” but I’d like to consider that conviction more.
 
More than God and the divine, the Vedanta embraces all other belief systems whose end goal is reaching the divine. In other words, it makes no difference the words or way, it’s making the journey that matters. And that’s sort of my approach to writing. I write. Every day. Some of it’s good, some not. No matter, it’s the doing that counts.
 
Some days writing is therapy. Some days it’s meditation. Others it’s creation, while still others–struggle. Writing is life. It’s all we do. Some of us.
 
The finest and lowest moments connect to writing: that painful process of birthing a poem, a story, an article, a listicle, even, like molding bramble, hay and rocks together to make a statue of the Mona Lisa. And then the miracle of finishing with something approximating Da Vinci’s girl, or even pretty damned close–well, that’s heavenly.
 
The struggle to achieve, find, see and discover the divine of us in, by, through and despite the Vedanta continues moment by moment. It is the ever-present, ever-elusive (seemingly) goal. Writing is the mock up. 

Cut

I cut myself last night, a slice not deep but well-placed

like a knotted finger string, center tip of the left index

or pointer, that guiding gun dog of the hand.

It happened as I chopped and spoke, diced and

listened, as she teasingly warned, “Careful. Don’t cut yourself.”

And then, not five minutes after smug riposte, “I don’t cut myself

any more. I’ve been chopping longer than you’re alive,” the eye first,

followed a hair-pin later by stinging prick alarm, ending with

stifled exhale and reflex footing to clear water.

Quick pouring like a scalp wound, I swiftly improvised a napkin

tourniquet, then resumed my chop in plump, papered digit,

slow labor, but serviceable, hidden, blunted, wrapped

crimson seeping like shame, pride and irreverence tucked

under the skin resting on disbelieving bones.

I slipped so quickly to the sink and back, returning

to my task unfazed and fluid, so they wouldn’t see, she

who pronounced my fate and the other who witnessed.

Brushing off the slight speed bump in the banter, I turned

the absorbing wrap growing redder toward me, out of sight.

And soon they left me for work and parties, wounded, hindered

and aching to know, the pain signal, what attention needed

paying, which moment or opportunity squandered.

Today, I press it, that slit in consciousness, right thumb to

left index, cataloguing input–sensory, intuitive and cognitive–

carefully20160807_202150.jpg caressing the seconds at my fingertips.

 

 

 

 

Cultural Creation: Misogyny in the House (Ten for Today)


August 5, 2016
Anxiety plucked at my sleep last night, spun me round inside my blanket, eventually tossed off like that rest awarded the dead after a life lived well. The mind wheel turned over the many ways I should be more direct, genuine and truthful in asking, no demanding what I want and need–never an easy thing for someone who feels undeserving most days. And I don’t know why I should feel that way.
 
It may have to do with this: a girl grows up in a loving household with loving parents who have told her the stories of her past and of her family’s past. She is told that she is the only child who was planned. Her parents were trying for a boy after two girls. But she turned out to be a girl. So, despite her wish for no more than three children, her mother is persuaded to try once more for that boy for her husband. The fourth was the charm. And then there was the major accident 7 years after him, another girl.
 
The girl is loved and encouraged to succeed from a mother who had her own ambitions but stayed home to raise children. Eventually this mother got her GED, a driver’s license, a job, an AA in secretarial science, a BA in English Literature and a Masters Degree in English Literature all in a matter of 20 years beginning from the time the girl was 15.
 
She saw her mother cook, clean and care for her household, children and husband who worked too many hours to be more than a shadow in the house. He slept days and worked nights. The girl saw this mother wait hand and foot on the man who had a strange kind of love of insults and denigration. He called it love, and she called it something the girl would understand when she grew up.
 
Last night’s anxious rumination stems from this story. Rehearsing dialogues, letters and monologues aimed at asking for what I want–without guilt and remorse–takes all night. The conditioning that created the condition–disbelief in deserving–takes a lifetime.

Post Politics: April Fools…Still? (Ten For Today)


August 3, 2016
 
You–

Where do I begin? Are you for real? You know the clear sign of adulthood is recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses, limitations and possibilities. Children believe they can do anything, fly to the moon with just their will and hands flapping, grow a cape and avenge their slights against school yard bullies. But adults know the difference between fantasy and reality. Not you.
 
Some say you know exactly what you’re doing. Others say you yourself have no idea what will come out of your mouth until you say it. My dear mother in law is like that–no editing filter from brain to mouth. It comes from a hyperactive attention deficit disorder, lack of impulse control and other causes. I’m no doctor. I’m just an observer. But she, at least, understands where she belongs, what makes her most effective as mother, friend, cook, caretaker and citizen. She knows her shortcomings and does not decide to become a surgeon or insist she can be one just because she believes her surgeons are not doing enough for her cancer and heart condition.
 
But you, ‘man’, own everything you do, say and believe, and expect others to do the same. You’re not a citizen of the world, just yours. The rest of us are all visitors to your world. They used to diagnose people like you as insane monomaniacal threats, curable only by electroshock therapy.
 
But that’s you. Somehow you have inserted yourself into every corner of the planet. The causes of your rise are plenty, but the time for analysis and disbelief are long past. Now the question is what will be done with you by the half of the nation that thinks, cares and clings to a worn, battered, torn and flaking democracy, but a democracy at last.
 
I am confident thoughtful people with conscience will do the right thing. Those lost in hope, dreams and fantasies, those longing for brutal fathers as a result of their own overriding fears, indomitable past or cultural patriarchal indoctrination will see themselves in you or not see you at all for the sake of something, something to help them bear the weight of the malaise and downright horror of their existence.
 
Whatever happens, madman (not to defame the ill) or pretender, I have hope that reason and goodness will prevail by the forceful intentions and actions of people who care, love and hope in humanity.   

There’s a Woman (Ten for Today)


August 2, 2016
 
I used to have so much fight in me, so much conviction, indignation, righteousness and determination. I was ambition. I was striving.
 
Now I’m heart-fatigued, deadened by weather, watches and people, so I can’t be bothered with so much of what bothered me. My ambitions are quieter, steadier now. And while before everything turned to anger–contradiction, injustice, oppression–now those conditions are met with a profound sadness that shatters my steady, moves my once immovable tears from the dammed up reservoir of hurt, pain, disappointment, fear, shock and panic to come, future furies and frustrations.
 
For example, I know someone who takes advantage of my inability to say no, sometimes. She plays me, and I know it and accept it. I allow her to do that–use me for her own gains and pleasures. I can only surmise I permit her to take advantage; otherwise, I would simply make her stop.
 
That slight, that injustice, that unfairness, how she treats me, would have enraged me in younger days. I would have ached to avenge my pride, my dignity, scraping my imagination with retorts, come-backs, equalizing actions and humiliating reconciliation.
 
But today, I observe her making me uncomfortable, forcing me to vocalize the dirty rotten truth between us. And I watch myself watching her watching me. Awaiting the courage and the words, I witness her machinations, manipulations and movements, and mull the situation over, slightly anxious, confident the solution will find me.