Our Beautiful Souls


IMG_3123When something shocking happens in life our world shrinks down.  Everything we know somehow narrows, magnifying the thing in the center that is our pain, our sorrow, our grief, our fear, our shame.  Suddenly we do not see, cannot see, anything outside of what we feel.  We begin a sort of sleep walk.  Moving around, going about the necessities of life, unaware of anything outside of our immediate place in time.  We see ourselves putting on shoes, getting something to eat, talking to friends, paying our bills.  Yet, we are disconnected from all of it.  Suddenly apart from the world, in a cocoon of emotion we can’t even begin to know how to escape.  Everything feels like a dream, as if there is a veil between us and the rest of the world.

Slowly though, the world returns to us.  We start to wake up.  We notice the rain, or a bird, we are aware of the smile of a friend.  We begin to find interest in things we’d forgotten we used to love, and still do.  We look up, and out.  We feel the warmth of the sun and feel the rhythm of the world.  We learn that life moves on, moves forward, one small moment at a time.  Until, finally, we are mostly ourselves again.  A piece of us utterly changed by our experience, but still, ourselves.

The whole of this experience, though usually terribly painful, is beautiful.  The feeling of it, the pulling away, the return, all bring a deeper meaning to our lives.  It can, if we let it, help us to find a peace and a grace we didn’t know before.  It can help us to see more deeply into things.

Life is a gift.  Our friends and family are gifts.  We are lucky, even with the pain and sorrow that inevitably come.  After all, pain and sorrow only come because we were brave enough and our souls beautiful enough to love someone or something.

“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings



“It is dangerous to leave….”

20140723-100220-36140253.jpg“It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written.
A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a consequence.

Only one answer: write carelessly so that nothing that is not green will survive.”

— William Carlos Williams (Paterson)

“One day you finally knew…”

Evening stroll

Evening stroll

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
— Mary Oliver

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste…”

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
― Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

“I sit here…. “

20140303-173148.jpg“I sit here
drunk now.
I am
a series of
small victories
and large defeats
and I am as
as any other
I have gotten
from there to
without committing murder
or being
having ended up in the

as I drink alone
again tonight
my soul despite all the past
thanks all the gods
who were not
for me
― Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers at Last

“This poem is very long…”

“This poem is very long
So long, in fact, that your attention span
May be stretched to its very limits
But that’s okay
It’s what’s so special about poetry
See, poetry takes time
We live in a time
Call it our culture or society
It doesn’t matter to me cause neither one rhymes
A time where most people don’t want to listen
Our throats wait like matchsticks waiting to catch fire
Waiting until we can speak
No patience to listen

But this poem is long
It’s so long, in fact, that during the time of this poem
You could’ve done any number of other wonderful things
You could’ve called your father
Call your father
You could be writing a postcard right now
Write a postcard
When was the last time you wrote a postcard?
You could be outside
You’re probably not too far away from a sunrise or a sunset
Watch the sun rise
Maybe you could’ve written your own poem
A better poem
You could have played a tune or sung a song
You could have met your neighbor
And memorized their name
Memorize the name of your neighbor
You could’ve drawn a picture
(Or, at least, colored one in)

Harris Beach

Harris Beach

You could’ve started a book
Or finished a prayer
You could’ve talked to God
When was the last time you prayed?
Really prayed?

This is a long poem
So long, in fact, that you’ve already spent a minute with it
When was the last time you hugged a friend for a minute?
Or told them that you love them?
Tell your friends you love them

…no, I mean it, tell them

Say, I love you

Say, you make life worth living
Because that, is what friends do
Of all of the wonderful things that you could’ve done
During this very, very long poem
You could have connected
Maybe you are connecting
Maybe we’re connecting
See, I believe that the only things that really matter
In the grand scheme of life are God and people
And if people are made in the image of God
Then when you spend your time with people
It’s never wasted
And in this very long poem
I’m trying to let a poem do what a poem does:
Make things simpler
We don’t need poems to make things more complicated
We have each other for that
We need poems to remind ourselves of the things that really matter
To take time
A long time
To be alive for the sake of someone else for a single moment
Or for many moments

Cause we need each other

To hold the hands of a broken person
All you have to do is meet a person
Shake their hand
Look in their eyes

They are you

We are all broken together
But these shattered pieces of our existence don’t have to be a mess
We just have to care enough to hold our tongues sometimes
To sit and listen to a very long poem
A story of a life
The joy of a friend and the grief of friend
To hold and be held
And be quiet

So, pray
Write a postcard
Call your parents and forgive them and then thank them
Turn off the TV
Create art as best as you can
Share as much as possible, especially money
Tell someone about a very long poem you once heard
And how afterward it brought you to them”
― Colleen HooverThis Girl

“I want you to tell me….”

10560688744_f669afe803_b.jpg“I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with.
Tell me why you loved them,
then tell me why they loved you.

Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through.
Tell me what the word home means to you
and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name
just by the way you describe your bedroom
when you were eight.

See, I want to know the first time you felt the weight of hate,
and if that day still trembles beneath your bones.

Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain
or bounce in the bellies of snow?
And if you were to build a snowman,
would you rip two branches from a tree to build your snowman arms
or would leave your snowman armless
for the sake of being harmless to the tree?
And if you would,
would you notice how that tree weeps for you
because your snowman has no arms to hug you
every time you kiss him on the cheek?

Do you kiss your friends on the cheek?
Do you sleep beside them when they’re sad
even if it makes your lover mad?
Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion
or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain?

See, I wanna know what you think of your first name,
and if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mother’s joy
when she spoke it for the very first time.

I want you to tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind.
Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel.
Tell me, knowing I often picture Gandhi at ten years old
beating up little boys at school.

If you were walking by a chemical plant
where smokestacks were filling the sky with dark black clouds
would you holler “Poison! Poison! Poison!” really loud
or would you whisper
“That cloud looks like a fish,
and that cloud looks like a fairy!”

Do you believe that Mary was really a virgin?
Do you believe that Moses really parted the sea?
And if you don’t believe in miracles, tell me —
how would you explain the miracle of my life to me?

See, I wanna know if you believe in any god
or if you believe in many gods
or better yet
what gods believe in you.
And for all the times that you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself,
have the prayers you asked come true?
And if they didn’t, did you feel denied?
And if you felt denied,
denied by who?

I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror
on a day you’re feeling good.
I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror
on a day you’re feeling bad.
I wanna know the first person who taught you your beauty
could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.

If you ever reach enlightenment
will you remember how to laugh?

Have you ever been a song?
Would you think less of me
if I told you I’ve lived my entire life a little off-key?
And I’m not nearly as smart as my poetry
I just plagiarize the thoughts of the people around me
who have learned the wisdom of silence.

Do you believe that concrete perpetuates violence?
And if you do —
I want you to tell me of a meadow
where my skateboard will soar.

See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living.
I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving,
and if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes.
I wanna know if you bleed sometimes
from other people’s wounds,
and if you dream sometimes
that this life is just a balloon —
that if you wanted to, you could pop,
but you never would
‘cause you’d never want it to stop.

If a tree fell in the forest
and you were the only one there to hear —
if its fall to the ground didn’t make a sound,
would you panic in fear that you didn’t exist,
or would you bask in the bliss of your nothingness?

And lastly, let me ask you this:

If you and I went for a walk
and the entire walk, we didn’t talk —
do you think eventually, we’d… kiss?

No, wait.
That’s asking too much —
after all,
this is only our first date.”
― Andrea Gibson