In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"


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Not an Extrovert? Here’s How to Eat Out

thinking-alone

“Are you mad?” Much to my confusion, someone would occasionally ask me that question out of the blue. Apparently, my face looks unhappy and my attention elsewhere. And though I was not unhappy when asked, I was probably preoccupied. Always…

(One of my articles: Read more here.)


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Stillness and Presence


“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, 

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets” 

The dance is ongoing. It is presence. It never was nor will be but at the still point of our ever turning, evolving world–that is us. And the dance is lovely and freeing if you stay there.


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Heritage Now

image

With fever and chills, my father lies in a hospital bed and

fights invaders ransacking his cells while we, her dad and I,

Share ancestral history over wine and braised Brussels sprouts.
 
Her father pulls out an album of black and whites painting shades,

Faces that look like his and hers, she who hungrily leafs through

Her fore-figures shepherding precious genetic messages, DNA,

Carried on lines like cargo bins rolling down mining tracks,

Straight to the mountain’s core, our heart’s beating back minutes

Through rock and river, rice paddies and leper camps, continents

And decades all swum, waded through generations of race, religion,

Geography and cultural diaspora, lost at sea; my people roamed.

I tell her we were gypsies and exiles, imperialists and colonizers,

Journalists and piano-tuners, soldiers and artists, musicians

And doctors, lawyers, painters and prisoners; we sailed on ships.

She eats the images page after page flying and flashing ghosts

In pressing drive, primal ranging expansive lust for connection,

An answer to why she is, these cellular haunts flooding her veins.

She wants to know the stories that she belongs to, her threaded

Braide-links to French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Rumanian, Russian, Latvian
 
and German world walkers. She doesn’t know yet, which link connects them all,
 
all the grandfather’s fathers and their fathers’ fathers before.
 
She doesn’t know the whole story and she can never know.


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Cradle to Grave


One more I honor and pray will not be the last,

This poem, your day, awakenings to more days

Filled with complaints, facts, lies, jokes and sighs

Those last with mortal grimace and existential pain–

And celebrations.

No one fills your place, not before or after,

None who sits just where you do in my house,

Or my car, no one quite like you who inherited and grew

status, class, gender, race, trait, stance and ethnicity.

You made me.

One day you will unmake me just like the sun and earth,

My fiery Death whose smoke will awaken the ravens

Loosen charred Regret and Steam, neither life companions

On my walk, my rise and fall, blossom and decay, my stain

After you.
 


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There is no Word 

  

A word run rough shod over

centuries long rendering it

nearly vacuous, the emotion

contained within reduced to 

pithy sayings and pathetic poems,

some I have penned myself,

and pretty memes inspiring

less than more by over exposure,

how can this word be explained,

described and painted accurately?

Perhaps a paragraph filled with

affectionate acts is enough:

a driver slamming the brakes

screeching at a near miss cat kill, or

the 80 year old’s collapse at his sixty

year marriage’s cease upon awakening

to his wife’s motionless body, or

the wide open daddy arms anticipating

embrace at the first steps’ trail’s end?

Too Hallmark, Facebook sentimental?

What about soldiers or police officers

arm in arm in solidarity, peril-pals

undying, or prom dates in wide grins,

shy shoulder-slumped and side glance

photos or sunset hand-holding clips

or tears and aching hearts and darkness

as corollary preceded by its inverse,

heart-pounding, heady ecstasy-like

near nausea and enervating hysterical

joy found only in the scent, touch and

sound of the key to a lock match tight,

the yes to the life-long approval sought?

Too banal, trite, common, overblown?

Try this:

What is the square root of a 24-hour

day that begins in darkness with a howl,

signaling the death knell to the dying wish

of a martyr–just one more hour’s peaceful

sleep–a howl that electrocutes nerve

endings everwhere, that only patient 

tender care will quiet a defenseless being

suckling, emitting the sweet aromas of

new warmth baking mother’s milk like 

raisin toast popping sweet and savory,

and a once eyes-for-only lover cum

zombie escaping grey-eyed and sallow

briefcase in hand out the door shut-grunt

leaving only wispy cool air in a dim den’s

stale morning stuffy exhausted eye-burn,

bone-weary sympathy for the life made

and lived now, nostalgia and hope stew 

simmering on the stove daily, all repeat,

all gone now the glimmering show in 

new leather pumps price-tag clicking 

and tailored skirts tucking in silk blouses

hanging dusty in closed closets blear-eyes

catatonically fix on blindly automatonic as

day ends where it began, only now the 

briefcase rests against the chair close

to the snores emitted from the dead man’s

sleep craved more than the man who

made this life leaked out exhaled in the

other’s breath and yours, theirs, ours hourly,

daily, yearly and ever so in smiles and frowns,

razored sight and heart, grim boredom and

coffee steam morning’s quiet contentment

and grasping an idea finally that endings

and beginnings are the same and conclusions

are illusions and passion is stillness while 

death has always meant living, the chaos of

it the only order ever it was, patterning 

a day-long life? The square root of it.

That, my dear, generates, defines and

encapsulates the engine and caboose.
 

Happy pledge, notice and honor to what makes us, us.

 

 

  


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Bow to Mystery

I went looking for my calling 

until my calling found me 

but forgot my name.

Before I could hear, 

I wanted to be a 

journalist,

teacher, 

biologist,

writer,

mommy, 

dancer, 

artist, 

dragon, 

nurse, 

sociologist,

tightrope walker, 

doctor 

and boy.

A few wishes called to me 

and a few I summoned once 

on a boring Tuesday afternoon, 

or was it Wednesday?

Days go nameless 

when your suit does not fit (unfit), 

your business is none of yours, 

and your words remind you 

of the unspecified advice 

given by that unnamed source 

on a forgotten date or 

something someone once said or 

letters you read in a book.

Endeavoring turned out a total bust, 

all that flapping and folding 

just to breathe the same air we all do 

and  always have since birth.

And after so much wind, 

when good fortune dropped in my lap, 

I turned to the skies looking for the bird.

Where does all the world’s blindness come from?

“Who created the creator?” my father asked, 

surprising me with the quality of the question. 

We all were.

But the truth is, 

the laurel crowns all word-walkers emerging open-eyed 

envisioning the final curtain call 

–as if there were a stage. 

I bow to mystery.