from a Belgium beach with the ladies
to Brussels Plaza here with a Shanghai friend
onward through Berlin, running into two pals,
back to a Boston catch-up at Frieda’s nook,
adding the Washington connection on the terrace,
and dinner-dating my man at home
before headed for the north on the weekend.
the week isn’t over yet,
and not every one can be like it,
but right now, the tide rolls in
and it’s good.
whether they are large or small,
shrill or quiet, abstract or quite tangible —
they only have in common the large white walls
upon which they hang and our wide eyes
looking upon them.
and perhaps the fact that they, too,
we walk out and a man collapses in the train station.
it is a football kind of day, with beer gushing harder
than these first spring rains.
some stop, some help, some pass.
we only have in common the ground we trod on
and our eyes seeing and the fact that we, too,
once started blank. sort of.
on days like this, I am just so glad that
art wins. art is not yet algorithmically controllable.
it is still shaky, still insecure, still true, still more than its little parts,
still grand, waiting to be interpreted and
always to be made anew.
just as each of our encounters.
a Cathedral among women,
she is there for you and me always,
with light shining in
and music moving feet.
built a long time ago
for an entirely miraculous purpose
and sought out by many ever since,
she stands firmly in a shaken, broken world.
happy birthday, mom.
these days were filled with this and that,
here and there with these and those ones.
there were cups of coffee sipped in the sunshine,
grandma visits, dad and mom lunches, sister chats,
a chilled beer on the corner with the friend,
phone calls, bike rides, newspaper articles,
redecorations, spring cleanings, card writings,
long runs, sexy times, Bach at night.
little, calm, unplanned joys were sprinkled throughout,
leading toward this celebration to usher in
the season of the spirit.
the shadow of death will not last,
the curtain will rupture at last.
we too will rise
and fly on eagles’ wings.
If I’d seen him walking out
of that prison into the arms
of his wife and the photo which
the journalist posted, I’d have
sent a bunch of balloons up into
the skies, polka-dotting the firmament
with colorful fingerprints of freedom,
to celebrate this day of commencement.
freedom is always a long
way coming and remains a rocky
road. Now I, too, know and there is no
turning back. The birthing of it all
only ever goes one direction.
So up they flee and fly and spread and
disappear but travel on and on in my
imagination to remind me that out there, it
is solitary and vast but it is so, so very
most of all.
“Fitting in is when you want to be a part of something. Belonging is when others want you.” (Brené Brown and very wise middle schoolers)
I want to be very precise here:
Integration, inclusion starts with the
majority, the powerful.
And the invitation is, always,
a spiritual posture
of grace and peace
toward each other
in our inextricable interconnectivity.
Then, we can meet with
humility and courage
and make magic and meaning
and make it matter.
one is sitting at a laundromat
way past dusk in the dark
in the middle of the metropolis
with half a glass of white
waiting for the load to be done.
one is on her way to belly-dancing class,
stuck somewhere out there in traffic,
putting past her the death of a friend
while making sure her pup is safe
and not taking apart her apartment
while she’s gone.
the third of the bunch is on the couch
with half of the bottle gone,
gazing across the frozen fields
to motivate daring with dust
and distinguish king from kin.
these three are separate, it is true,
but they’re connected at once as well
by loss of much and learning of more
and friendship way beyond it all.
and so it pulses and pulls and pushes on
toward a common arc
of justice and joy and jubilee
and good news for once and for all.
our sink is splashed with plentiful colors,
our apartment inhabited by friends,
the streets pulsing with all the masses
and this town claimed by music, beer, and joys.
my love is first the hottest prince
of tulips and all the orange
and then a bear with beard and ears
and cuddly fur all around.
we walk, we drink, we dance, we talk;
it’s all a massive movement,
for them, for us, for everyone
to plunge and drown and splash.
it’s odd at first for this one here
to let go and let it be
and smash the window walls at last
and step out of the ivory cage.
but the muscle memory sets in,
alas! and saves her from the past
and pulls her into these beats and sounds
and expands her lungs and skins.
later, she walks home alone and calm
with the Dom in sight so bright,
and once she’s taken off bow tie and hat,
it’s as real as it’s ever been.
this time she’ll get it right for sure
and strive for participation
because as different as it looks each day:
the mission is urgent — and alive!
so she sleeps with the roaring all around
of cages and walls falling apart
freeing all of us from averageness
and positioning anew the spotlight.
and in the morning a new season shall begin
or the day after that, if it may
as long the as the dust stays shaken up
there’s hope and change and:
it didn’t start this way and it didn’t end this way either,
this day and week and even month, but
everything beyond the bells and
responsibilities reminded me of the fact
that in the absence, there’s a presence.
the One who once gave all of it to us
and entrusts others and also me with other skills and
knowledge and anecdotal value wants
every one of us to glow and shine and float.
it is then on us to do with it what we must
and can and want and will to multiply
what we have been given and share
it among the lowest.
so I take my bags and travel under sunny, crisp, blue
skies afoot and humble and sobered
and supremely excited as well
just to grasp yet again and this time for good that
it’s massive and it’s vast and above all:
it’s all love.
The day I’ll have done something
other than live and write poetry
for more than seven years,
I shall remain with it forever.
there’s an exhaustion that only ebbs, I know it.
and then there’s this: fatigue, finally, which flows.
the former comes from fraud committed against
one’s purpose, the latter from flowing in the midst of it.
and tonight, out there on the wooden dance floor,
with every old tune the DJ put on, with every offer,
with every smile and every new and fleeting bond,
with every turn and every twirl, with all the sweat,
with every sip of water and the shower pouring down,
it all came crashing back into the halls of this being
that seeks kin and kindred spirits in this time,
or perhaps simply the spirit
to make matters matter
once again and for good.
so this past weekend, a goldfish
jumped out of a glass bowl and into
the ocean. the more it was jumping,
the smaller the bowl seemed and the
larger and promising and sun-flooded
the vast blue appeared. while all of this
was unfolding on the screen before
me, the more those glass walls were moving
in on me too, and have been ever since.
so as the fish hiked up my tears flowed
down and the drama mounted to barely
standing it in the middle of a pew in
church. my neighbour handed me a tissue.
and then some time passed (as it always does)
and I slept some and worked some and called
such good friends and ran a bit and broke
my no alc-in-jan-vow and drank some red
wine. and then the other night a winter
thunder storm woke me at four in the morning and had
me sitting up straight and silent to simply listen to all
the extravaganzas happening all around me all
the time. and with the masses of snowflakes
zipping around very unladylike, my ocean rose
again higher and higher until it swept across
without apology or purpose. and there it was
again and didn’t end and had me
startled finally once more. and that’s what
it does: it comes and it goes and it ebbs and it
flows and sometimes I sink and sometimes I
swim and sometimes I sit and the beach and
it’s a bit control and
some started this year with goals such as to
drink not, ban sweets, jog more, perhaps be kinder, too.
all four are on my list, going strong on day 11.
then I had a flashback the other night,
with bitten lips, sweat-stained clothes, a given-up blanket
of a different time
that perhaps has never been.
either way I was woken up
for hopefully the rest of the year
to sell my stuff if I need to, write a book if that’s it,
move to a trailer or barn, sleep in nothing but hay,
consume none and invest only,
climb the tallest mountain, buy that one-way ticket,
study that foreign language, take on the brass and the blues,
dance until morning sun rises, make pottery pot and cups,
sweat more, love harder than ever, risk it once and for all.
Jump, leap, fall, fly.
Goals are for grown-ups.
so into the new year
we hiked up the snow-covered mountain,
vertically, far away from paths,
and shelter to hide from the gruesome gusts.
the name of the mountain
resonates among colorful childhood memories
of my dad and aunt
and therefore radiates a majesty
that it doesn’t have
merely on the map.
so as we drew upward
through knee-high frozen slopes
not elegantly, quite impatiently, increasingly exhausted,
I was reminded of the book
in which a hiker barely makes it
onto Mt. Everest
only to return to more clarity, humility, love.
Then a thought of my friend`s brother passed by
slowly and saddening
only to remind me that mountains don`t wait,
nor do they wail
in case you don`t make it.
the peace out here,
or is it ambivalence,
the brutality of them,
or is it their consistency,
it all is still there to be pondered about
with every step I make,
it is still there,
even after step after step after step.
the only thing that changes
with every step I take,
is this body of mine
as it burns through energy reserves
yearns for water
hungers for rest
catches all the air it can,
always reaching for more.
I`m no pro,
but I can still read the signs:
These limbs change faster than the mountains.
These thoughts change faster than the seasons.
Other things change faster than my mood
and than my winking eyes.
So as a dot on this spectrum
I, too, keep the balance.
for Christmas mass this year,
we went to our local church
made of red brick and village gossip.
everything went as usual
to the point where leaving the club
still seemed to be the most sensible option.
not even the organ was playing along very merrily,
even though its date was female.
but then, all of the sudden, to the surprise of us all,
the old priest (is there any other kind?!)
took out his old radio player, hit play
and introduced the entire congregation to his favorite song.
the tune was probably from the 80s
and his singing training probably from the shower.
but, with every stanza that he firmly presented to us
in spite of Parkinson’s pains,
the situation slowly got turned around.
ostensibly, the man was touched by something
that didn’t per se touch anyone else in the pews,
but I was moved by his being moved
and that moment was real.
so — even if my Eve didn’t involve a baby born
in the midst of a revolution against a regime,
it involved inspiration growing from the dark.
and what could be more real
to a beginner in this life
than true vulnerability
shown by a representative from the most stoned artefact.
the moment was embarrassingly small at first,
later potently real
and certainly suitably embedded
in a neighbourhood of the only Americans
who came to attend the service
and sat down next to me.
the three of us
bonded over the fact that we all
are strangers in this place
but that inspiration, when it strolls by,
looks like this:
an old tune
sung out of the dusty radio
of a lonely man
to the sea of searching souls
in the middle of the night.
last week I joined Twitter, solely
for professional matters. (…as if
I could just take off my private
parts like a coat. oh no.)
it claims to be the place where it
all happens all the time, though
I see no flowers blooming, no provisions given.
anyhow, I joined to represent and connect, it is done
for now, let’s hope I can
distinguish moths from butterflies.
and then another night came, luckily.
we met up at a Turkish place
run by an Iraqi man
in a conservative German town,
the love, the friend, and I.
the friend, he comes from Syria, always reminds me
that the past tense of to flee isn’t he flew.
sitting there, surrounded by bearded men and
garlic and Arabic and wintery nighttime,
one thing became so very clear.
I must not confuse two things
that our time has branded as one:
audience isn’t community.
the former — a thrill for every extrovert,
a fix, addiction, recipe for reputation, inevitable curse.
the latter: people who help picking up the pieces
when vulnerability visits these barren lands.
so – both needed and valid.
one momentarily more seductive,
one eternally important.
let’s hope I don’t miss the mark
and there’s no-one left
to remind me of the fact
that I did.
If it so happens, graciously,
that this is the first of four quarters,
then the prospect is a mighty good one.
And if there’s a succession of auxiliary verbs
that clothe our quarters,
however long they are woven and written and given to last,
I just crossed the finish line of “ought”.
During the last 25 years, I was introduced to
values, norms and habits,
customs, convictions and conventions,
rites, rituals and rights,
and to cultures from which they all grow.
I looked through lenses of living
and formed one for myself,
testing and probing and leaving
and starting anew yet again.
So with this pair of glasses,
there’s an almost clear vision installed
on the spheres that I am from.
When grouped as the next quarter awaiting,
then the next 25 years out there
will fall under auxiliary verb “is”,
symbolising the real, the immediate, the now.
With all that I was given,
the knowledge that I learned
and skills which I have earned,
and the trust that I keep,
it is now time to plunge on forward
into my surroundings right here and right now,
and to do my very own part
from dawn to dusk and past,
in the littles and the bigs
to create, make happen, realize.
And, in all of it, all the time,
keeping the sine wave flowing,
keeping the rhythm that connects
all of this, just like a beat.
At halftime, then, there’ll be champagne
and wrinkles and poise alike
and gray hair, perhaps, and summersaults, too,
and kids and books and dances
and mindfulness and gratitude
and many trips to the ocean.
And now the prognostics stop, alas,
because the third era, “can”,
will exhibit itself
what’s possible out there at all,
probing anew any boundary.
The final season, named “will”, some say,
will ring in the worlds gone by
and those out there and yet to come,
but that, even more so, is a far-away time.
And this is now
and plenty to catch
and hold and cradle and form.
our new apartment,
which isn’t actually brand new anymore,
but still occasionally feels this way
when I commute back to it on the designated free days,
holds up the roof of the house
with massive, old timber.
the beams stand tall and saturated
with rich browns of a tree’s strength
transcending death brought upon man’s axe.
now, when these old swing tunes swell through the night
this place turns into the old wooden barn
located on Tuxedo Junction
somewhere down South
sometime in the hottest of summers
with smells of sweat tea bourbon roaming the roads.
there, far away and long ago,
a part of this soul was once born
and faithfully committed always
and long lost ever since, too.
in this barn, built with hay and clay and hands,
a love grows.
it’s occasionally inhibited,
then also overflowing,
and always infinite.
…by the way, en passant,
a part of this soul speaking here
was also born
in the French fields of purple and gold,
also in the summertime,
with a well nearby
and chatter all night long
and wine and bread on the table.
it’s all a mystery, most of all,
and, just as I am,
it, too, is just as out of place at times,
most of the time anyway, as far as I’m concerned.
so between the deep South
and these French fields,
this soul oscillates and flees and frees
itself from homes and homages to these many,
knowing it won’t last anyway, either way.
so here it roams, perpetually poised
by sights of windows and winds,
this schizophrenic soul, willingly admitting always,
and utterly, madly so
to something it’s never truly held
but always sort of known.
it’s a funny, foolish admittance,
but the only one worth grasping of
until it all unfolds.
it thrills and ignites,
it swears and it sweats,
it also bows and vows,
it moves and it shakes,
it stretches and bends,
it serves and it lends,
it hopes and it lets,
it enables and creates,
it transfixes and transforms,
it borrows and returns,
it grows and expands
and it surely never ends.