HUMAN

A forever response to the environment
Dancing with a partner with a thousand arms
Ignoring or acting on our myriad desires
The need to sleep, eat, exercise, communicate, regulate

Breaking and forming habits
That sustain us through the winds of compulsion

Human:

Taking a bicycle out into the dark, cool night
Safety lights mounted
Blasting Ariana Grande from an iPhone
And racing around a quiet neighborhood in a stiff gear
Waving and smiling at peering residents to reassure them you are just living your best life
Feeling like an apocalypse rebel
So free to breathe and be happy in public

Staying connected
Wanting to be seen
BUT
Precisely in the best way we see ourselves
While hoping to be seen for more than our worst

Human:

Saying ridiculous things or singing stupid songs to free our minds from stress
The need to be rid of stress so strong
We are willing to annoy people around us

To express emotion
To scream in primal terror of grief unprocessed
Alone in a big room after a teleconference

To experience emotion
A sudden urgency
A push of pain, fear, elation, disgust, darkness

Or to repress emotion
And integrate when we are safe
To allow our feeling back into our bodies
Tapping them in, breathing them out, softening them through

As if they were no longer dangerous, or wishful
As if through feeling we give birth to something beautiful
Something that loved us unconditionally
And wanted the best for us

And when we are ready
The touch of another human
Without which our minds question our safety
The comfort of a warm hand on our back
Together being human.

Nascent

Leaping into the unknown
Am I non-essential?
Wasn’t that the plan all along?
That if the world needed me,
I would be in a field somewhere
Twirling and learning how to gather up strength
And speed
For precise release at the right moment,
And let those who dream an American Dream
Run up the ladders to the treetops
That never stop fruiting
Stuffing apples into their overalls
And churning sauce for their young,
I dump a little water at the roots
And say thank you when an apple is tossed down.
“You’re just not needed right now.”
And that’s okay
Because while you were busy not needing me
I found ways to be myself
Deep and pure
Present and available
To nurture a seed
Tender and fragile
Nascent
Buried
The most beautiful thing in the world.

Decide

Exploring all my options

Need some time off the grid

Too much of what you are saying

Can’t hear the voice inside my head

Too many years of listening

Gotta make art now

Art decides

Relieved

One foot in front of the other, slowly
The walking escalator moves me past
So many faces
Hair colors, lengths
Somber expressions
One or two make eye contact
I’m relieved
So many don’t need me

Connecting

Another late night over the Grapevine
Returning low-eyed from Bakersfield
Wondering if the country
Will stop corruption
Or just give in to the man of action
The coffee from Chili’s was just not good
But we all left satisfied
Feeling full yet gnaws the hunger
Of dreams just out of reach
Lana Del Rey crooning sweetly
Still loving men who disappoint us

Finding ground

Imagine being rooted in art
Generations of support for the craft and sacrifices
Imagine being grounded in anything
Does the grounding feel like a steadyness?
Like a destiny?
Does it smell like life and feed your hunger?
Is it a heavy anchor?
Or is it shackles and chains on all limbs,
Restricting all movement?
She was rooted in religious control. He was rooted in cruelty.
I flew away, tearing my roots. Feeling my uprootedness.
Finding new ground, wherever my heart lands.

A little longer

Slowed way down
Agreed to stop standing in bathrooms
Running toward parked cars
Happy to sit
Happy to work
Happy to take a backseat
What am I learning?
Material
Turns out I’m not dropping my gifts
Just disappointing the large audience
Or learning not to
Not willing to be parted from my babies
They deserve at least that
In this world of busyness
Work
All the disdainful distractions from what matters
Why bother breathing if you can’t share all the love in your heart?
No more laboring to feed the rich
My soul cries for more

Thirty-Nine

A dark and wintry melody
Sung alone with a guitar
Cracked my heart open tonight
Remembering
The shimmering of fresh snow
From golden street lamps between shadows
Underneath a black empty sky
I am small, sprinting barefoot across campus
Holding my stilettos
Drunk and foolish
Running with a new friend I’ll never see again
to catch a midnight movie in time
How vast the night skies, all of them
How fruitless her hills, I went hungry sometimes
The nagging feeling there was going to be nothing here for me.
I cannot stay.

How far away from that time I feel now.
Novels have been written.
I cry for the trials I would face.
How much life would change me
Remembering the hunger that looked like drive
To those near enough to witness.
Many have traveled much farther
Also alone
Crossing dark oceans with hope in their heart.
How strange and beautiful is this life?
How grateful am I to finally have a companion.
But tonight I feel her loneliness
I feel her emptiness, her placelessness
I feel the cold snow stinging and numbing my feet
And the alcohol warming my heart
For the long and difficult road ahead.

Wait or Seduce

Hunkering down

The winds are whipping around tonight

Like mad little goblins

Just when I’m maximum spooked

The enormous, graceful koi fish

Makes an appearance again

It’s my sign to:

Wait

Wait

Wait

Earlier,

A capitalist’s wet dream

Flooded American living rooms

Not a dry eye anywhere

But it seemed a little too perfect to me

Wait, wait, wait

Am I being seduced?

To what am I faithful?

Do you all need seduction?

And what if I refuse?

The Pain of Evolution

Can you imagine

How much suffering evolution required?

The gasping of gills choking on light air

The pain of rocks against

Soft foot flesh

The stretching of lungs too tight for thin mountain air

The number of children you had to watch die

Helplessly

What pain was endured to arrive at this

Halcyon moment of comfort and balance

And we take it all for granted

Until we can’t breathe freely again.