Suffering

Windswept Love in a Poppy Field

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poppies

How do you keep the wind upon your face?
Like love, it lightly kisses your cheek,
and is swept away.

She led me into a field covered with green,
where a handful of poppies
had already started blooming
along the edge of the split log fence
Filaree and locoweed were also blooming,
and some other small flowers.

Here, she lay me down in the tall grass
gently pressing me to the earth
with the palms of her delicate hands
until I lay prone looking up
into the blue softness of her eyes.

Slowly, she knelt beside me,
tracing her long, slender fingers
along my cheek; her nails lightly grazing
the contours of my face.
Her hand turned; the soft pads of her fingertips
pressed tenderly against my lips.

I looked upward to the bright sunlight
filtering through the strands of her silken hair,
blinded by the intensity of the brightness;
I lost my vision of her in rippled pools
of tears flooding my eyes between the bright light,
the overwhelming beauty of it all.

I felt the wetness of her own tears
fall upon my upturned face mingling with my own,
as she quietly whispered:

“I no longer love you.”

She rises and walks away
as I lie there, the ground growing cold.
In the sky above, two swallows fly by
wingtip to wingtip.
Even these simple, feathered creatures
have out loved me.

الله اكبر (Allahu Akbar) – For the Children of Libya Lost in the Shadow of War

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The Children of Libya Lost in the Shadow of War
Kids in the Libyan Wars, 17 Feb, 2011 – 2015  Artwork by Mohammad Bin Lamin

Allahu Akbar! you shout to the weeping sky
While the children play and the children die.
Do you not see in this young one’s face
Allah’s eternal love and benevolent grace?
This very God you seek to appease
Weeps for the child who cries and bleeds!

Behold! Our children’s lost innocence
That your savage war now steals away
Without the slightest reverence or sympathy
For the joy to be found in child’s play.
Yet, still you kill and do not hesitate
To drop your bombs and spread your hate!

As you draw your swords to kill and slaughter
Our innocent sons, our precious daughters
You cry “Allahu Akbar!” Yes, God is great!
Yet with each heart pierced, you seal your fate;
For Allah is the love of the mother and child
Allah is found in their dreams and their smiles.

Allahu Akbar! you shout to the weeping skies
As you seek Allah’s blessings for your pitiful lies
You’ll not find your victory in our children’s blood
Nor the mercy and forgiveness of Allah above.
You kill Christians and Muslims and Hindu and Sikh
As we bury our loved ones and the Prophet weeps!

Our nation’s rivers now flow colored with red
Awash with the blood of our innocent dead
The laughter of our children falls eerily silent
As your war wages on increasingly violent
Allahu Akbar! Yes, God is great!
But pray as you will, it’s much too late.

You can’t win a victory through the ghost of a child;
You can’t claim God’s blessing through acts so vile!
Your prayers, Allahu Akbar! now dissolve in the air
For His justice and wrath you cannot bear.

Letting Go

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It is human nature to become too attached to things or people.  Learn how to let go with grace.
It is human nature to become too attached to things or people.
Learn how to let go with grace.

Letting go of regrets is not some passive undertaking. 

Regret is a weight that anchors us in the past,
rendering the future as unobtainable.

Letting go takes courage and lots of sweat.
It takes a willingness to allow pain to run its course.
We are forever changed by the failures of yesterday.
Who we are today barely resembles who we were yesterday.

The heartaches and the pervasive sense of loss
can either pull us down into the morass of self-pity,
or it can catapult us from the depths of relentless sorrow
to the heights of new joy.

It all depends on upon a readiness to face the sun
as it rises upon a new day.
Upon how hungry we are to feed the possibility
that something more, something better
awaits us in the infinite possibilities of tomorrow.

Memories are like a cracked mirror;
they can only serve to offer us
a distorted reflection of our true selves.
Memories seduce us with useless thoughts and images
of what was, of what might have been.
But memories are a poor substitute
for imagination and hope.
If we are ever to break free from the shackles of our past,
we must first wean ourselves from our addiction to memories.
Our addictive behavior is the root of all suffering.

But much like the heroin addict
who struggles and writhes in agonizing pain
as he kicks his deadly habit,
we, too, must find  within ourselves
the strength and courage
to kick our dependence on self-recrimination
and useless reflection.

The soul is a restless being;
it is constantly expanding
and demanding room to grow
and to breathe.
Let’s be honest –
the air has been sucked from yesterday,
and when we exist with our hearts and our feet
planted in the past,
we deny our souls the essential life force
needed  to carry us further
toward our fullest potential.

In the very moment that we let go,
we invite a rapture that can feed and satisfy the soul.

Be brave. Face the emptiness.
Wrap yourself in self-love.

Breathe again.

Live once more.

Goodbye Beneath the Redwoods

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The redwoods swayed softly;
their crowns in the planets,
toes tucked below soft earth
under carpets of wet needles
beneath our feet. 

This is how we said our soft goodbyes.

Our love, our forever love,
lay smoldering in the fire.
I could see the flames flickering
in her dampened eyes. 

I looked away, ashamed and afraid;
too much the coward to own her pain. 

She said it was the smoke –
one final lie to comfort me.

We speak in the soft, cordial tones of defeat
the air hanging heavy and silent between us.
Neither of us could hear the babbling brook
gently washing away the last remnants of hope. 

I will hold back my tears,
and the wrenching of my heart,
for the long, dark lonely nights ahead.  

Tonight, my love, my forever lost love,
let us wrest some comfort and warmth
from the dying embers of this bitter fire. 

Beneath these redwoods gently swaying
gather one last bouquet of memories
to set us on our separate ways.

Behind Green Eyes: A Child of the Ozarks

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Ozark Girl

Photo Credit: Jeff Jones, Photographer
(image of his daughter, Valerie)

Skin softly bleached like the Southern twilight
freckle-kissed face ‘neath the Ozark ‘s skylight
fire-red locks and curls tossed by stormy winds
Pa’s softly-pressed dimple upon her boyish chin

     Green eyes revealing her faded innocence
     a determined gaze, a child’s jaded reverence
     for a young life lived beneath the savage blows
     of poverty’s yoke, though no one knows
     for this girl who bravely looks right through you
     wears a forthright courage, honest and true

She rides a bitter storm that’s never-ending
twelve tender years in fields deep-bending
with calloused hands plucking earth’s creations
like her kinfolk have done for generations

     Laughing like a banshee, she dances in the rain
     holding back her tears as she swallows her pain
     A motherless child born to a colorless world 
     still she sings of a future, of hope yet unfurled
     she sings of the woods, and the trails, and the streams
     of infinite hope and impossible dreams

She could never be pressed to surrender this hour
‘neath the soft Ozark moonbeams that fill her with power
to endure what she must, though she’s only a child
under dark gathering clouds she stands there beguiled
filled with wonder and light behind a soft-freckled face
she presents to the world the persona of grace

Opposite Sides of the Same Pain

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A Sunni mother silently watches:
overhead, a gathering of scavenging ravens
paints the dusky sky above
the broken bodies of her three children.
Bewilderment mixed with horror and beauty,
accented by the pebbles beneath her feet,
polished smooth by a flood of tears.
An acrid wind swirls
with scattered hope and broken dreams;
confetti raining on freshly scorched earth.
Another womb is rent in unbearable grief
at the loss of its precious fruit.

Image

In that very moment, across the sea,
a Haitian waif reflects:
A flock of seagulls angrily position
above the ghetto garbage heap
next to a crumbling shanty
where her newborn triplets scream with hunger.
Bewilderment mixed
with horror and beauty,
the waste beneath her feet glistens
with the flood of her tears.
The stench of rotting wind swirls
with scattered hope and broken dreams;
flies rising up from quaked earth.
Another womb is rent in unbearable grief
at the bounty of its damnable fruit.

 

Crucified Beneath Her Touch

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In my darkest hour, rolled up into a drunken ball upon the divan
reading Plath and Poe, fantasizing about the sweet silence of death;
writing angry verse raging against all things holy and full of light;
then, and only then, was I full of purpose and certainty.

Mindlessly pouring ice-less cups of bourbon to free my tongue,
exorcising my demons on the back of torn bank statements;
scratching out never-to-be-read poems pulled from the bottom of empty bottles.

My loving Kate stood sentinel outside the mahogany door, matronly and superior,
occasionally sneaking in a bowl of tepid broth, or a grilled cheese sandwich;
she both loathed me beyond all measure and attended to my waking needs
with a love that pierced my frozen heart and stung me to the bitter core.

Awash in the dappled grey light of morning, reeking of whiskey and fear
I stood shakily, tucking away all evidence of my madness in the roll-topped desk..
Beneath a shower of scalding water, I made attempts to wash away the night’s sins.
Stuffing my walking corpse into a crisp linen shirt, draped with a burgundy tie,
I stepped into a fresh-pressed suit (dear, Kate!) and stumbled downstairs.

With the coldness of a ghost, I kissed her lonely dry lips goodbye.

Each day, I would drive into the city, interviewing for jobs I would never accept.
Stopping by Tommy’s Irish Pub for a shot of Johnny and a 2 p.m. round of lies –
later napping on a faded green park bench outside the old courthouse.

Dinner laid out would rest un-touched as I passed straight through toward oblivion.
Kate would be at her spinning class, pedaling broken dreams through salted-tears.
Rummaging her dresser, lightly tracing my fingers over her satin underthings,
remembering when, then forgetting why.

I shed the suit and all pretense, pulled on a pair of faded jeans…and wept.