Twilight

It still hurts to swallow and I can feel I’m not quite drug-free. I managed to contain my thoughts this morning. Not ramble into the thicket of fear or worry about bleeding and complications. Though it was cold – of course it was cold – I focused on the moment. Milked how nice the nurses were and asked for three more blankets after discovering the throws were fresh out of a warmer.

I abhor hospitals and all their close cousins. The forms to sign, the smell, those ugly scrubs the color of flat twilight. Why couldn’t the staff sport something more cheerful? The process, the incompetence that lurks and has no place where people are fearful and suffering. Yet there I was, dependent on the system and its machines to tell me if I can go on in hope, can count on a semblance of normalcy to my days. Or if I’ve been harboring anything unwelcome along my G.I. Like cancer.

It was my first time on the oxygen tube. I’d seen it only in movies and on old people. Between the nasal cannula and the faithful monitor, I felt a fully certified sick person. I hated it.

They didn’t tell me it was going to be so awful. At least the surgeon listened to me; saw that at 85 lbs I didn’t need as much sedative as the others and gave me half the normal dose. They lay me on my left side and I soon realized I would not have been able to hang in beyond those ten minutes. It was rough, even violent, though that was no one’s intention. The bite block kept my mouth open, and prevented me from biting and damaging the tube. I learned exactly why I hadn’t been allowed to eat or drink all morning. I gagged and gagged, and the tears ran. When I continued to wipe my eyes outside the room, the nurse explained the Versed does that to a lot of people.

The good look down my esophagus and stomach showed all was clear. Still sore from one of the biopsies, I realize that one had been unnecessary. Why the hec didn’t the doctor see the stomach test I’d passed already? Important thing is my innards looked healthy and at least I left with cool photos for Tennyson. He just learned the parts of the digestive system last week.

I didn’t tell many friends, didn’t want to burden anyone. I don’t bother trying to explain to people the trouble I’ve had eating the last several years. One wonderful doctor of mine once said my life is difficult to describe. But pray, I did. Not so much for fear of dying but the brute powerlessness of it all. You look in, you look out. And see nothing but the unknown dark, hear nothing but the echo of your questions. For all your dreams and aspirations, you come up short face-to-face with your humanity.

You look up.

In My Fantasy, Part 2

1. I look 27.
2. It’s all about me. ME. ME.
3. I am an English Professor.
4. I’m on top of it. Not under it.
5. There are still no women around.
6. I can sleep. Just flick that brain switch.
7. I don’t have to hold my tongue, and pull off a rockin’ marriage.
8. Time lets me put out the 20 posts waiting, waiting to see day.
9. I don’t do stupid things like look for the pair of glasses on my head.
10. Husbands don’t have ADD when their wife talks more than two minutes.
11. I’m a bottomless reservoir of patience and sweetness as wife and mom.
12. Marriage isn’t work. Nah, those vows were an easy ride into the happily ever after.
Right. Everybody’s fantasy.

Related posts: In My Fantasy, Part 1 and I May Be a Man.

Ten Lessons In Case I Die

1. Don’t marry someone like your mother. Choose a woman who wakes smiling.

2. Use your strength for those who’re weak.

3. People don’t care if you’re right, especially when it means they’re wrong.

4. Try it again. Better or differently.

5. Keep singing.

6. Whatever you do, leave your signature on it. Without signing.

7. Follow your gut.

8. Give without expecting.

9. Move on when people let you down. There is so much more to live for.

10. Things can be worse. Remember that you’ve had a mother who’s loved you beyond her ability.

It’s Happy Hour

It happened after yoga one night. The April air was crisp as we hadn’t fully settled into spring. My family waited for me at home, dinner on the table. My eyes filled with tears of contentment. I had come through years of debilitating anxiety and was fortunate to be alive.

Average Yogini

So here are my picks to the prompt: Tell me about a moment when you were happy, so happy you could hardly see straight. You couldn’t have been happier if you’d won the Lottery. Go ahead and visit one another, make friends. Enjoy.

————————

Tough choice: Is it the day I completed a 10,000-mile bicycle ride and met Peggy; or the night California voters approved an effort I had initiated to reduce tobacco use? One led to happiness; the other has saved an estimated one million lives. I’ll go with love.

Wandering Through Time and Place

One year sober last month, I got to meet eight other ladies who had become friends via the sober blogs and communities. Sunshine, tea and cake, good conversation with great people who made me feel heard and understood. I didn’t feel like a freak anymore.

A Hangover Free Life

It was my husband’s birthday. We were hoping and praying for a celebration. We waited in the surgeon’s office for my pathology report on the breast cancer. I scanned the mumbo jumbo of the lab summary for any sign of good news.

Relief and profound gratitude. Healing had begun.

Snowdrops for Faith

I awoke to a machete death just outside the Nicaraguan church. It rattled me. Where was God? Under a lone tree someone sang and then another.

I had come cynical and empty. But with the gift of song came a rush of assurance. God was here.

Middlemay Books

“What a big penis!” We were stunned. Our practitioners had all guessed a girl. But it was his heartbeat, strong on the screen. Our boy actually drew a smile as we watched. I had longed to give my husband a son. I was wild with joy.

A Holistic Journey

Happiness is climbing a tree, catching a firefly, setting him free.
Happiness is playing the drum in your own school band.
And happiness is walking hand in hand.
Happiness is being alone every now and then.
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

– know?

 Geese3

He dressed the day with clouds
   and spilled a sea of stars
      into the night
         calling each by name
  The night's aria declares 
      His deep pleasure

The universe is intoxicated with glory.

    The Autumn wind gasps
the surety of Winter

The geese, one giant wing
   a moving geometry
      that angles into the wind

How do they know? 
   where to go
   when to stop

Trees give up leaves like paper hopes
    swept into the sleepy season

The gray whale pursues the southern waters of Baja
    to warm her heavy womb

How does she know?
    how to birth
    what to eat

Spring forgives the freeze
    and laughs to live again
       in the resurrection of color
before the ferocious Summer

The dolphins' dance is
   a cadence of instinct
      in waves wooed by moontide

The Earth sounds a symphony of reverence.

We build skyscrapers and businesses and poems
   and the tides rush up and claim
      the sand castles of our dreams

      i, the crown of creation
    trifling, a mark of punctuation,
   know less than the beasts
that live and play as they ought.

Your Place in the Virtual Revolution

This post is for parents, bloggers, Facebookers, anyone who’s stuck a foot out on Cyberland. In our talk about belonging, we seemed to think in terms of the social Haves and Have-nots. Many of you spoke of the self-consciousness of often feeling on the fringe. Some shared you were too fat or too this or too that to fit in, others that you never even figured out why you always seemed to find yourself on the outside. I wanted to bring to attention something that’s as right in your face as the computer or phone screen in front of you. The Internet has given every one of us the power to lead. It has made us all insiders.

It’s a new day, a global Do-It-Yourself culture everyone with online access is privy to. YouTube alone is an open platform where anyone can catapult himself into stardom and not hurt himself trying. You can post the silliest, quirkiest, most informative videos and reach thousands in the least – and make as much in dollars. My husband has had the opportunity to monetize his funky YouTube tutorial on how to make Man Kimchee (kimchee made by a man, unheard of in Korean culture. No, I didn’t edit the instructions. See? You can toss basic grammar out the window and still have a shot at good money). We all have watched publishing, newspaper, music conglomerates groan as they caved, giving up a share of the power to self-publishers and bloggers. Cyberspace has become the Great People’s Republic. Alongside the question of copyright; space, boundaries, relationships have redefined themselves yielding a new profile on leaders. Here’s a snippet of a TED Talk from Squidoo.com’s founder Seth Godin and my thoughts on the traits he believes leaders have in common:

1. They challenge the status quo. I’ve observed that high achievers in any field are always on the move, eyeing the next benchmark or creating one. They’re never static.
2. They build a culture. Leadership is less about giving orders as it is about connecting people over shared values and goals. It is the worldwide web, after all. Tribes are no longer bound by geography, no longer have to adapt to the dictate of seasons. Virtual tribes can build community across distance and time, and determine their own climate.
3. They have curiosityabout the people in the tribe, about outsiders. They’re asking questions.
4. They connect people to one another. Do you know what people want more than anything? They want to be missed. They want to be missed the day they don’t show up. Seth wasn’t clear if he meant that leaders help people feel valued or if they themselves end up missed where they leave a vacuum. But I found this a fascinating point. We want to know we count, don’t we?
5. Finally, they commit. To the cause, to the tribe.

Seth also describes leaders who have risen from the masses by sheer drive, people who outside their success are socially awkward. “You don’t need charisma to become a leader. Being a leader gives you charisma. You know, Bill [Gates] has a lot of trouble making eye contact. Bill has a lot of trouble getting a room of strangers to come around to his point of view. But now, because of the impact his foundation has had, people feel differently around him.” Interesting. People are drawn to success. Social Have-nots can actually get.

Seth points out that you don’t need permission to lead. I would add, to make a difference. “I’m not the best blogger there ever was, but I’ve been persistent at it. Anyone could’ve done what I did. But they didn’t. And we keep making the same mistake again and again where we say, Oh no, no. That’s not for me. Someone else is going to do that one. [We make] excuses from fear.” So it seems all that’s left if you hope for a voice and an audience is to deny yourself the fear and get out of your own way.

Last Sunday I hit 1000 likes on my About. A part of me finds it a pretty remarkable milestone for someone who didn’t know which way was up when she started out. If I can do this without the aid of other media platforms, you can get along farther than you think. But the rest of me isn’t starry-eyed about my numbers. Partly because I’m too tired to be impressed, partly because others out here have done that and more, partly because you quickly adjust to your new heights and press on to higher ground. Like those who’re not satisfied with just one medal, title, or mission. This last feeling is a point of transformation all its own for me because I’m not a born dreamer. I went wide-eyed as a baby blogger, seeing 200 follows on a board. And wow, how’d she rack up 75 likes? I wondered. But I’ve come to a point where I’m not concerned about the numbers anymore. They’re nice but they’ll take care of themselves. My focus is on delivering the goods and on my relationship with you. As for authenticity, at that time my About page walked itself right out of my head, decided it had to live. What in your life insists on its own breath? Give it sun and air. I plan to support my son in just about anything he wants to pursue when he’s older. But I’ll want him to stay persistent, skillful, and inimitable. Do what he wants to do beautifully, and in his own way. Leave a mark. It’s my job to provide the opportunities for him to hear what in his spirit asks to live and nurture the will for him to shoot it to the moon. The majority of us has limitations weighing on our dreams, but don’t let your self-talk be one of them. We stop making excuses for ourselves, license to achieve little, when we accept that the stars usually won’t align over our head or the red carpet run under our feet when we want to set out. We each have our pace, mine maddeningly slow most days. A dream to me feels like a painstaking tapestry of priceless minutes I thread here, braid there, working my way around this giant rock I resent that’s really just the stuff of life. We make do. Berlin isn’t the only place the Wall’s come down. We’re talking about leadership in any context but the virtual world has leveled the playing field. Take your place. Claim it. If you want to.

bereft: poetry reborn

rockMIST

i trace the exquisite lines of my grief, run my
fingers over the contours of the rock that is
my gut like the tender potter over his clay
kneading, kneading to soften the lump

and lift my head to find the
world hadn’t ground
to a halt in honor
of my loss.

squeals puncture the playground air
with a drumroll of sneakers that sound carefree but
for the worry of Tag. nothing matters more to the
flustered It than not being It anymore.
the park, a carol of delight
in the moment

it is a holiday.

a daughter is given away,
the sun breaks on the threshold of her hopes,
her horizon wide outside the windows of the church

i walk into an office, took the long way
through hell. after the unsure “i’m sorry”

the girl behind the counter continues on her business.
epiphany: the sky that had fallen on me
had shielded her head. her day intact, she consults
the clock that agrees she ought to pick up her
son from school. she doesn’t see

her beautiful ordinary.

brazen world.

a baby is born in the moment of my
stunned helplessness. such long arms:
the hour holds my emptiness in one hand

the fullness of the mother in the other.

but i bow my head again
my sorrow, a pain that refracts the sun.
why must anyone orbit my heartache?
i free the world to its joys
and mourn with those who mourn.

to every thing there is a season and
a time to every purpose under heaven
my time to weep, someone’s right to laugh.
i loosen the hold on the rock that is
my gut, slippery with tears. my offering
before the opulence of living.

~ for all who have grieved

This was my first fresh poem a year ago, my return to poetry years after letting it go.

Calling

old-door-handleMy husband and I often find ourselves encouraging friends with this bit of wisdom from Elisabeth Elliot: God’s NO is His mercy. We have had our share of disappointments and fears while single and married, but this posture of trust has taught us the goodness of God. Hindsight faithfully reveals that the doors that had shut on us, as in the areas of love and work, were pointing us on to the portals that would swing wide with blessing.

I had always felt barred from overseas missionary work. The door to service abroad that I tried and tried wouldn’t budge. In 1996, I set foot in California for the first time on a working vacation as a guest contributor to a Wycliffe Bible Translators magazine called The Sower. Through the research and writing, I was in part scouting the missionary landscape and tapping possibilities for my place in it.

Fast-forward about ten years to the night a church leader came over for dinner. I had felt judged by this man who was passionate for overseas missions. I got the sense that he, knowing nothing of the many challenges I’d faced until then, thought me complacent in my little world. He never cared to probe, to discover anything of the work abroad I had pursued but that had never panned out for me. That night, he picked up the copy of The Sower that happened to lie on our coffee table, and flipping through, found me in the byline. He was quite taken aback and seemed to see me in a new light.

A deep, sweet realization emerged in a talk with a friend last week. When she expressed pleasure over my writing, I pointed out that my hands, in turn, don’t have the magic touch of hers and that I lack the verve and strength to serve people in the way she does.

I suddenly got chills.

I saw, after all these years, that anything I arguably could have accomplished as a missionary would have remained limited in scope. But the words I have put down, both here and in global publications, reach more people than I would by labor of limbs teaching English or trying to build a hut somewhere. I heard God’s answer to the misperceptions of the man who had wanted more…activity out of me. And I don’t always have to be talking faith. My writing is my art and the art, my worship.

My worship, my calling.

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Revelations 3:7

The LIKE Epidemic

So if you can like help me figure out about when and where this linguistic virus like grew, I’d really appreciate it. People use this curious filler like all the time, even on news radio. I worry hearing moms talk like this; they depend on the word like every five syllables like oh my god. Their children start like picking up the like off the floor and mopping like every breath with it and the saddest part is like I’m not exaggerating.

So like is this originally like an American phenomenon? I really don’t mean to like offend anyone but like didn’t this start as a caricature of the blonde American Valley Girl*? I know East Coasters are also fond of their like. Did it sweep in from the West, fly over and spare the Midwest? Hit mostly like the major cities? Can older readers tell us if you like remember Americans talking this way like in the 50s or 60s? Hey readers like in the other parts of the world, have people like forgotten how to talk over there too? If the like virus runs amok there, is it like an airborne disease from the States or has it like grown from native soil?

As a linguist, I’ve been trying like hard to uncover the subconscious role of this filler. There must be like a rhyme and reason to the madness. Seems it like began with the strange substitute for the verb to say.

So he said, “I’m freezing!”  —-> So he’s like, “I’m freezing!”

How in the world did this like happen? Words take root, like have a purpose. This one’s got me. The filler doesn’t like seem to discriminate the part of speech that it wants to like introduce. We’ve like allowed a linguistic aberration, an unnecessity, to make its home in our speech like a five-headed monster that we’ve like taken in for a pet. Language takes the path of least resistance, will like look to save spit. It’s not supposed to grow weeds. Why is it that people like depend on this word? What is it they feel that they can’t quite like express without it? Why are we like wasting b r ea th?

This is like one of the serious posts on class and language like coming out of the Race Around the World.

*Wikipedia: Valley girl is a stereotype depicting a socio-economic class of white women characterized by the colloquial California English dialect Valleyspeak and vapid materialism. The term originally referred to an ever-increasing swell of semi-affluent and affluent middle-class and upper-middle class girls living in the early 1980s Los Angeles bedroom communities of the San Fernando Valley.

How NoT To Write A Poem

The poem below would earn a D in Holistic Poetry 101. I worked hard to pack in the clichés. You will do well to steer clear of them, avert your gaze when they greet you on the dirt road we call the draft. They’ll hijack your best intentions. Tip for the day: apart from the clichés, watch those -ings! They’ll end up diluting and weakening your poem. I Googled “most famous poems” for confirmation. Seamus Heaney’s Digging is among the few that makes use of the -ing to portray action. The present participle remains safe in Heaney’s deft hands. Remember, the man would be writing in Poetry 301 – as the professor. The majority of poets I pulled up were sparing with the -ing if they used it at all. When they did reach for it, it was the adjective “In its unfading flowers” (Dickinson) or noun “With loathing” (Frost). To shower us with the bursting, dancing, singing, loving is to drown the cake with icing. Don’t paint those lips too red. Please.

The wind swirls as the music caresses
my soul with its warm embrace

Soft rain drops mingling with the tears
streaming down my face

My memory is an undulating sea
reeling, engulfing me in the past.

Prisoner in my mind I bottle my tears
and my mind ponders if I can
soar on eagle’s wings.
I land where the wind whispers softly

As I am embraced by the song of
heaven, a flame of love from above
Sun-kissed I fly into the clouds.

Really? How many thousands of years has the earth seen rain mingling with tears? And why do they always stream down your face? Here’s a Kleenex. You might watch the engulfing. Or just engulf me while you’re at it. You don’t need to say it’s your mind pondering. You ponder because your mind is by definition in the verb. I can’t count the number of songs out there that soar on eagle’s wings. Please make the wind do something, anything, besides whisper. (Are not whispers soft?) You are embraced by –? Guess what? It doesn’t matter. That one hurt the most. If you insist on an embrace, try the active voice. You are aware that first graders learn to rhyme with love and above? You might be careful with the sun-kissed. Very 80s, passé. And since you’re in the air, why fly? Why not break into those clouds? Oh, you’re breaking my heart. Killing me softly (with your song, strumming my pain with your fingers laaaa la laaaa la laaaa).

Sister post The Writing Process: Let the Clichés R.I.P.

Carry You In The Rain

Your toe broke through the sole of your shoe. I didn’t want you stepping on the cold, wet ground. I put you on my back – my boy almost seven – and had trouble walking. A friend of mine was with us and we peeped our head into several restaurants, more like run-down bars, for a new shoe. We left the row of shops and stood on a threshold, facing the pavement. I cradled you.

I would carry you in the rain.

You grew a few years smaller in my arms. As I asked my friend to cover your face with your blue jacket, you slipped into bed with me, pulled me out into the fresh, dry morning. The first thing you asked was what I’d dreamt.

Last week you mused, “I wonder what’s inside the sun, Umma. I want to see.” You expressed this so imploringly. Should I not have told you that you will burn? Should I have left you to dream impossible dreams? Did I kill your wondering?

The other day you took car tracks bereft of the remote and car, and turned them into a runway for your plane. The delight on your face when the plane took off. And Daddy and I had wanted to get rid of the tracks. You blow me away. Life blows you away.

I forget why I keep you close, teach you at home. To free you to stand on your slab of questions and ingenuity, ready to run into the sun. I know that this side of dreams, there’ll be no carrying you in the rain.

 

sunbig

 

How to Succeed as a Blogger – But This May Not Work For You, Part 1

This is one post I did not see coming. When a reader recently asked how I built my “vibrant community in such a short time” and solicited a “how-to”, I thought of the reasons I’m not the ideal blogger to be offering advice. While I’ve been blessed with a dynamic readership, my numbers are not something power bloggers would dignify with a sneeze. I also was as clueless as they come to the blogging world, and got off to a fairly slow start. I didn’t understand what the Reader was, took weeks to learn how to manage my dashboard, did not know to tag my posts (correct, I did not tag them), reparably broke my Follow me widget, had no idea bloggers reached out to one another. Precisely because my learning curve had nothing to do but shoot up, I decided I do have something to say after all. I will share in Part 1 the choices I have made in the blogging and talk more in Part 2 about how this responsive community grew.

Define Yourself
I’ve done network marketing, and appreciate the importance of goal-setting and positive thinking. But I’m just not one to determine I will have X number of followers by such and such time. A part of me remains in awe of people, both in and outside the virtual realm, who will their aspirations into being. Here are a few reasons I don’t dream to the moon as a blogger:

1) My cautiousness against presuming upon my life circumstances
2) Realism. The simple math in my weekly allowance of blogging hours. After Day 5 of not being able to put out my next post, I’m one ornery wife as is.
3) A different purpose. In what I like to speak of as an organic process, I discovered my blog would be an art gallery – at least an attempt at one. Not with paintings or photographs, but words. And so the way I give birth to my posts fits that vision. If I had to choose between searching for the perfect word and befriending 20 new bloggers in a given window of time, there would be no competition. Because my goal isn’t to bust the roof on my stats. My art will always trump the blogging. This is the act that disqualifies me from any chance at power bloggerdom. Not to say the celebrities among us don’t write well because you obviously can’t attract and sustain a massive following without good content. But those rocketing through the virtual stratosphere will not get hung up over a word. Most people won’t because it isn’t smart to. It’s the romantic in me. The Starving Artist Syndrome. I believe the readers will come, as they have – those who will think with me, drink words with me. Would Hemingway have spent his time marketing himself before perfecting a story? Just heard the man turn over in his grave, swearing at the comparison to a ten-month-old blogger. My writing isn’t perfect, and I continue to go back and touch up old posts. My husband withholds the “like” where his wife falls short of his expectation. Now, of course like any one of us I would love to speak to an audience ten times larger. But numbers will not woo me from my beloved word, a writer’s dream and duty to self.

One of the first rules from Blogging 101 is to identify a clear motif for what we want to share, along with our target audience. In my earliest days, I read enough warnings against keeping my topics broad as I have. I took a chance and look back, grateful I got away with it. I managed to because while my blog was open-ended, I was not aimless. The intensity I had to pack up and ship back to New York when I settled in the easy West I was able to reroute to cyberspace and put to work for me. I could go all out on my blog, simply be the woman who would much rather sit in on a college lecture than a baby shower.

I’m speaking of what’s consistent with my ability, nature, and temperament. It will be a different story for others. Many bloggers are and want to be more carefree and freewheeling. We need four of you for every one of me. Make the fun spirit and fluid energy work for you. As hard as I dig my heels in on some issues, I haven’t built this blog upon rants because I don’t want you coming near only to hear me yell all the time. I want to stay more measured. A philippic of a post that’s been sitting in my drafts pile will be a rational appeal as much as an emotional one when it’s published. I don’t bother sharing what new gizmo my husband got and don’t put up photos of breathtaking places in CA. I screen post possibilities through the grid of my goal, which is to elicit as much mileage out of the limitless potential we enjoy to sharpen one another, provoke thought, examine truth, celebrate beauty. The purpose might sound good to you but perhaps you’ll want to achieve this through a medium other than words.

But Don’t Just Be Yourself
I’ll be talking about the social aspect of blogging in the next segment but once people happen to swing by your site, you need content that impels visitors to become readers, right? Else, they will drop in and drop right back out. I never set out to capture followers in the writing. I don’t think you can decide you’re going to produce a post that will make others want to read and stay. I just write. Like my life depends on it. What gets you up in the morning, inspires you during the day, keeps you up at night? If what you want to share with the world does not light your eyes, you can’t expect it to strike anyone else’s gut or funny bone. Why should people follow your chronicle of pain, emotional or physical? How does your photography or drawing stand out? I am not speaking from the angle of competition. You are already unique as a person. How does your blogging bear your thumbprint? Don’t just be yourself. Be yourself in the fullest. For me, this means the 20th draft. I’m sorry that the bloggers who have collaborated with me know this is no exaggeration. Take the compulsion for the best word, every post signed in blood; and the desire to encourage others along the examined life, and what you have is A Holistic Journey. What are the defining characteristics of your blog and why do they matter?

I decided to include this part I pulled six drafts ago, afraid to come across boastful. It makes a glaring point. When I was a few months old on WordPress, Promise wrote me and Opinionated Man a word of respect and affirmation, asking for blogging advice. Promise held me up right alongside the blogger who’s in a class all his own. Needless to say I was flattered. My following amounted to a speck of dust swallowed up by OM’s thousands. I was something out of the Jurassic era unprepared for postmodern cyberterrain. What I hope to make illustrative is that the wonderful reader obviously considered OM and me successful in very different ways. How can anyone really tell you how to prosper out here when there are over 74 million WordPressers, each sui generis? Be who you are – but I mean, at your best. Find your best. This is what I ask of myself both to please the mirror and make it worthwhile for my readers. Locate your mission and be all you.

Continued, Part Two.

 

st r u gg ling artist ii

                    my boy
          i am the shade of his sun
afraid he will burn, but

i am more than the smell of the bosom
          he has learned, to grow up and leave and cleave
                   to the woman of his heart 

                                     i am the album of regrets and
                              and deficiency and forgiving

the roots that climb deep down parents' omissions

i am the redemption of the years my mother
        pushed through the choices she didn't have, on grit and coffee

                       did you know? korean grandmothers don't
                 have a name but Grandma in korean
           and tradition erased their childhood
    -- no one heard -- their cheerful silence was
their greatest gift to us

i am the epode on the piano
        G major 7 in improv and 
                                  syncopation
while i keep time for my family, i am the   sus pension
                                  that knows to resolve

                                      the heave of jazz
                      i can S C A T

                           i am the cherry blossoms that concede
                     their soul in season, unabashed
         and the ones that could not    hold    on
                          their delicate dance down in death
                                  dust to dust    

                           i don't need self-esteem
                           i know Whose i am
                   but God doesn't have twins and
                   He doesn't make machines
         we are each His masterpiece

         no -- no, i don't want to roar
         that i am Woman

                           i just wish silence --
                  license -- to put to paper my person

              who cares what i am
       but the earnest page
and the memories and dreams that ask not to die

i am the apology that i know what i want
                    and have begun to sing before the cicada's time

                           i am the choices i live with
            am almost the books i wait
                                        wait
                                                 to write.

CherryBlossoms
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A fascinating report on cicadas ran in a number of media outlets 
last year. A certain species remains underground for 17 years, 
surviving on roots, to buzz an intense noise for six weeks upon 
surfacing - only to perish. After months of trying to figure out 
what about these creatures enthralled me so, it hit me in the
writing. Seventeen is about the age kids leave home for college.
 

Sleep in the Wind

I vault the sky – blue is a trite fancy –
the expanse, the clear color of longing

The horizon gives way
to empyreal heights
and delicious air, my face
to the eye of the sun

Is it indulgence or calling to ride
the wings of one’s own prayers?

I could sleep in the wind.

I hold onto this incarnation of
dreams but the sun revives me
from slumber on a pillow of dirt
and the sweet draught of
yesterday still in my throat,

I try not to disturb my broken wing.

whitebird3