Check Please

Without a contemplative practice – or some other regular investment of time into an action-based something that prompts a moving from head to heart; from self to other – it seems we risk falling subject to talking solely about petty, surfacey things.

With time and life and all that which pertains to the unfolding of even just one single day being precious and limited, how might I want to spend it and with who?

I don’t think it’s patience I lack when it comes to internally saying Check please! in response to a person droning on and on about mundane things (at length and in great detail), who is unavailable to listen and unable to peak interest in anyone else in the room. It’s disinterest, pure and simple. It’s a matter of valuing my gifted time.

It’s a bold and interesting thing to say but: I love people with a heart as big as the sky in sprawl over the Rocky Mountains and: I would rather not converse with a vast majority of them. My time, I think, is better well spent reading and writing poetry; on the cushion; sipping tea.

Besides, most people won’t be reached through words spoken out loud face to face – not on any level that really penetrates into the deeper well of things. We need other modes and vehicles of transport to deliver messaging that translates to something bigger than stock musings regarding the passing of time or patterns of the weather.

Home!?…

Home is at once:
where I lay my head to rest each night –
the dwelling place that holds the shelving which holds the books I’ve collected;
the town I am cradled in and the people that I share my breath with
on a regular basis, who all gaze out and see the same mountains I do;
the state my town resides and the landscape, cattle, barbed wire,
and boots on the ground that spread from border to border;
the stomping grounds of my birth and raising,
where I fell down the basement steps in a rolling walker
when I was a baby on Lemon Street and slow danced with boys
at school dances in the gym of Log College Middle School;
and the inner world I carry with me like a snowglobe
and can shake up and make it glitter rain wherever I go.
________

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Broken Mugs and a Full Moon

On Monday, I broke my favorite mug (see pic above); the one I use every day; the one I purchased from a local clay artist over the summer and carted home in the saddlebag of my motorcycle. On Tuesday, I managed to break my 2nd favorite mug.

I was on a roll.

On Wednesday, I stopped into three different small town thrift shops on my way to visit a friend up north on the Flathead Lake and purchased a mug with a dancing Snoopy on one side and the words: Life is too short not to live it up a little on the other side for .50 cents and balance was restored to my early morning tea-drinking routine.

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From One Poem to Another

This morning, my friend Chris sent me this poem, which inspired me to write my own poem.

To Be of Use
by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work headfirst
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

___________

Untitled
by Nicole Dunn

I want to invest in people
who can keep up with me
or lead the way;
who aren’t intimidated by how I show up;
who don’t feel it necessary to cut me down
in order to make them self feel better;
who have strong backs
and soft hearts, like me.

I want to associate with people
who know what their work is – and do it;
who don’t consider it bad ass that I
ride a motorcycle or play drums like I meant it;
who make it no big deal that I do what I do;
who can grow and shine their own light
and not shrink or shirk away
in the presence of mine.

(NOTE: The “strong backs and soft hearts” is based on a core teaching of Roshi Joan’s “strong back, soft front.”)

My week in poems

Penned this morning: 10/17

It’s safe to fashion poems
about birds in flight
or on perched parade.
It’s safe to cover such topics
as accentuate the earth,
the sky and the uprising of varied landscapes
in their wild glory.
And don’t get me wrong,
I write script about all of these
marvels with great pleasure and frequency.

But I am pressing now in another direction
alongside the birds and sky,
one much less safe and cozy.

One that pushes the envelope,
urging an important inquiry
to form on my lips,
and on the tip of my writing pen
amid the candle flame flickering
in the early morning darkness:
where is the middle ground
between angrily amping up
and letting go in heart heavy defeat?

________

Penned on 10/16:

Things are changing
and I am no longer interested
in sparing others hard truths
at the expense of my own.

There is a price to pay for silence
when words are what need
to be ushered forward.

There is a toll the body
accrues when niceness
overrides honesty.

Hang on, dear ones.
This is going to be a bumpy ride.

_________

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Forehead to the Ground

When I bend down
and touch my forehead to the ground
in gratitude,
I am pretty sure the
aging leaves still clinging
to the two elm trees in the backyard
murmur in resonance.

I am pretty sure
it calls birds in closer and
inspires the squirrels
to lean in to listen more intently
and the roots of the front yard
mountain ash to dig down a little deeper.

I am pretty sure
a shifting in the air can be felt
and the moon in her wisdom clad gown
sits a touch more upright
in her royal posture.

Face to stone, heart to flames

All I said in response was:
“I’m not sure that’s the best idea.”
And with that, he brandished the sword
of ancient male domination.
He unsheathed it from its hiding place
and held it to my neck and said:
I am the elder. This is what we’re doing.
This is not up for discussion.

His words thundered down from on high.
They were coarse and sterile
and befitting a great tyrant.
His eyes were wide as he spoke
and it was clear that I was not welcome
to proceed.

I’d like to say I defended myself.
That I picked up my own sword and
thrusted back.
But I didn’t.
Instead, my face turned to stone
and my heart turned to flames.
I said: Yep, got it, and walked away,
seething with a rage I didn’t know
I could feel.

I let him win.

I regret my inaction to speak up.

It won’t happen again.