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Hi, and Welcome to The Winter Bites My Bones

If you are an interested reader, or are a poet yourself, whether you have very little knowledge of poetry or quite a lot already, this website is mainly intended for you. The bulk of this site contains an anthology of my work from 1981-2013, but it also contains a few contributed surprises. Topics range from light, fun poems to the darker, more contemporary poems (the heart of the website) reminiscent of the two Charles’: Bukowski & Baudelaire.   It’s still young and growing, so check back often for new material.

You’ll see this blog enjoys a vast viewership (in excess of 100,000 readers) and contains up-to-date comments, but the web page itself is permanent.  Guest contributors are welcome to take advantage of this wide pool of readers. Please indicate if you’d just like to share, or if you are also looking for constructive criticism.  To have your work featured on this site,  email me your prose and/or poems to dennis.l.mchale@gmail.com.

Your comments and critiques are not only welcome, they are essential to the continued growth and development of my writing, and that of my guest contributors.  If you prefer reading articles that  range from contemplative to general musings, please see my weblog, Insights and Observations: Critical Meditations @ http://insightsandobservations.wordpress.com/

Thank you for visiting.  Happy reading and writing!

Dennis McHale

blessed

sojourner

HEAVENLY SOJOURNER by D.L McHale


In the quiet spaces of my mind
there is  a softly sleeping figure
with the relaxed repose of an angel.

I kiss her cheek and lightly stroke her autumn hair
with a hope that she might slightly stir,
becoming minutely aware of my presence,
if only for an instant.

Heavenly sojourner, you are there in my dreams
laughing with me under the wild canopy of my fluctuating soul;
in between moments of consciousness
in between exhalations and eye-blinks.
I am caressed and buttressed
by the elegant strength of your tender spirit.

You are freedom after centuries of imprisonment.
You are a heavy rain after a cruel drought.
You bring the stars closer to my eyes.
You pull colorful spiral galaxies toward us
with your heart-bending gravity.

We explode like kaleidoscopic fireworks,
splattering a longstanding dream
across the churning night sky.
Refilling our palette of sensuality
with shattered rainbows.

We bend down to pick up the myriad jagged pieces,
our heartbeats bouncing again and again
to the hypnotic rhythm of evening descending;
our hands touching, our eyes devouring .

Our minds uniting, and our bodies shaking
as fiery desires are sporadically quenched
and rekindled, slowly dying down to embers
of nirvana whose warm afterglow
is eventually extinguished by the cool,
refreshing stream of our parallel thoughts
drifting weightlessly towards the sandy shores of eternity.

changetheworld

9 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD by D.L.McHale


“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” 
~ Margaret Mead

ONE:
Hold onto the faith that what you can do, and are willing to do, matters. Nothing matters more. You are not solely responsible for the solution. Bite off only as much as you can chew and trust that it will be enough to directly and indirectly feed a multitude of others.

TWO:
When you do pray, pray for purpose. I promise you, the answers will come.  They may not come in a way you were hoping, but they will come in a way that you need.  And you may not see that your prayer was answered until you look back one day and see how all the answers fell into perfect place.

THREE:
If you don’t do so already, make time to meditate. Oftentimes, we are so deafened by the noise of our own hectic lives and the demands pressed upon us that we drown out the quiet whisper within ourselves that reveals our inner compass, our hidden strengths, and our unique gifts.

FOUR:
Recognize that the person most in need of comfort and support may well, at times, be you. Allow others to do for you what you cannot in this moment do for yourself. In accepting love and care from another, you allow other individuals to fully actualize their humanity.

FIVE:
Empower yourself to change the world. Each of us, individually and magnificently, can do something by simply reaching out and offering the gift of comfort, assistance, and love for that one person who cries out in need.

SIX:
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves our paying attention “on purpose” and in “this moment.” Marathons are more easily won if the runner can simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly, and in equal measure. They are generally lost when all the runner can see is the 26 miles stretching ahead.

SEVEN:
Accept the reality that you are not powerless. You are infinitely powerful. The answers you so desperately seek are within you. But do not confuse power with purpose. Power is simply the fuel necessary to propel your purpose.

EIGHT:
Look to those closest to you in need. Discern what your “gift” is and extend it to others. Resist any temptation toward personal recognition or reward. Empowered individuals are in the business of sowing, not reaping.

NINE:
Believe that what you do not only matters, it is essential. It may seem like a small gesture to you, but you just might inspire another who then inspires another who then inspires another.

WRITING FOR GHOSTS by D.L.McHale


ghosts

It is 4 a.m. and once again I am planted before the keyboard attempting to craft words into clever sentences…and there you go, failure in the first keystrokes. The good news, based upon my dearth of hits on WordPress, is that no one will read this anyway.

I once envisioned myself a budding writer, but now I am thoroughly convinced that feeling was nothing more than insomnia in the early morning hours combined with a pot of cheap coffee flushing out last night’s indigestion (don’t worry, that’s as graphic as I am capable of writing!)

I know I could be a good writer, if it wasn’t for all that grammar and words and things. But who am I kidding? It’s all about the words…the fucking words! (Hey, I used “dearth” in my second sentence…doesn’t that count for anything?) Well, I don’t have words or ideas or pesky plots, but what I do have is way too much time on my hands, so here you go.

When I write, I don’t have a particular audience in mind. Well, sort of, I guess…I have the ghosts of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Hemingway, and Plath. Sweet Sylvia Plath. Lots of dead people who, while not necessarily helpful critics, at least show up in my head and watch the circus of confusion unfold. Sometimes I can hear the occasional clicking of the tongue, a sure sign to lay on the backspace and come at a line from a new direction. Or maybe the clicking is the melting cubes in Ernest’s posthumous cocktail. The revolver of his pistol being locked into place? Who knows? The point is, I’m often guided by the whispers of spirits.

It feels as though when I write it has less to do with me having something to say than something that has to be said having me to write it. (Wow, I just plagiarized myself..that last line was something I wrote a year ago!) But it’s true, nonetheless. I often find that it is sufficient for me to just press the keys, and somehow the story will tell itself. Don’t believe me? I just wrote everything above without a thought in my head.

The key to being a great writer, I’m convinced, is to be a great reader. There is nothing I can say now, or will ever write, that hasn’t been said or written before. But a studious reader understands that there are a million ways to say the same thing, and that’s the beauty, and salvation, of writing. You don’t have to be original. You just have to have a unique dialect. In my case, it also helps to have a really poor opinion of most of today’s writing. I continually lie to myself and say, “I can do better!” And sometimes…I do. Then I pull down a worn copy of Pushkin and think, “shit..fuck this!! I can’t write!” And again, I am right.

So I continue my early morning ritual and if it’s true what they say, that if you give 1,000 monkeys 1,000 typewriters, in a thousand years, one of them will bang out the complete works of William Shakespeare, then surely, if this continues for a thousand mornings, I can bang out something worth reading.

secrets

SECRETS by D.L.McHale


Should you desire to be hateful — to dissect an innocent heart from the inside, to bury a soul under its own weight, bind it in secrecy. Afflict it with a power it cannot share, knowledge it cannot teach, truth it cannot practice.

Secrets are dangerous not in being told, but in being kept.

What is locked in the heart is so vulnerable and precious; it is a force meant to be reflected upon, reconciled, and released. Perhaps some secrets are too burdensome to be unleashed in shameless entirety or in direct confidence, and those are scattered throughout time in legends, myths, in art and poetry; masterpieces littering each single experience with whispers and with shadows. The secrets and their fragments we may be blessed or cursed to encounter are not for us to harbor, but to share as we see fit:

When we share foolishly, they instruct us; when we share wisely, they enlighten others.

In life, we accumulate so many secrets — they settle under our skin. They imprison us in our own minds, trap us with our own wills. Sometimes such secrets efface our very desire to live, for being alive is no more than sharing secrets:

Taking them on and letting them go.

For those who are truly living, there is no such thing as a secret, for to hear a whisper is to be whispered oneself. Being alive is standing on an ocean shore listening to the tide or marking the centre of a gust of wind or smiling quietly at a stranger’s conversation or holding the unshed tears of a close friend, inhaling the hushed morsels of existence and inserting ourselves in their place.

When we do this, we take the wind and give to it our being, and thus the burden of being is lightened for all. We cannot hold secrets dear, we can only hold them in vain. We are merely vessels after all:

Filled so we may be emptied, emptied so we may be filled again.

 

 

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THE LIFE AND DEATH OF MY CREATIVITY by D.L.McHale


It is said that one of the prerequisites of creativity is to have had experienced childhood trauma. Read the works of any great Irish writer (Frank McCourt, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce) and you will clearly see that youthful pain and suffering fueled much of their creative genius.   And while I do not claim to be remotely on par with these incredible storytellers, to read any of my writing is to know that  childhood trauma played a significant role in the determination of my creative voice.

To be honest, my youth unfolded like the discarded first  draft of a story that could have been so much better. There simply weren’t enough stretches of peace or joy in it to attend to the edits necessary to have made it bearable.  It isn’t that I am filled with regret for all of the things that might have been.  It’s more that I am blanketed in a sadness for the sheer waste of it all.

Intuitively, I know that my broken juvenile years  can’t be the full measure of why I write the way I write.  Something deeper, more sinister, is afoot. Something bigger and more malevolent presses my pen to the paper.

For me, the value of nothing out of nothing comes something. The nothing started even earlier than the moment when I began to write.  I have no doubt that what little creativity I possess is the function of some neurological quirk; that I have just enough of psychosis or depression to fuel an interesting poem here, an article there. That creativity (if that’s even the word for it)  is not, in any circumstance, the product of “talent” or creative muse, but rather arises more as a testament to a damaged mind that perceives the events of life from a slightly more skewed or twisted perspective.

Perhaps it was the combination of the two: an injured adolescence and a form of brain damage.  When I was four years old, I fell down the stairwell of the two story duplex my family lived in while my father was stationed in the Navy.  I was rushed to the hospital because the fall had resulted in a crushing blow to the frontal temporal region of my skull.  Surely, my brain was impacted, if not forever altered because of this accident.  Combine that blow with the endless physical and sexual trauma that rejoined the family the day my father retired from service, and then, perhaps  I can begin to put my finger upon my “creativity.”

Ask yourself…what can be more creative than scrambling daily throughout your entire childhood to find a place to survive.  Out of necessity, the damaged mind constructs a false reality in which to take shelter. It is this false reality that takes form in the expressive arts.

I may never know what truly fuels my creative process.  The sands of time that fill the hourglass of my life have nearly run out.  While I am by no means an old man, I am, nonetheless, a tired man and my time upon this tortured plane of existence called “life” can now be measured in moments rather than years. I will leave behind me no great works of art, no lasting legacy of poetic genius.  Even the memory of me will fade before the ink is dry on my final written word.

Mine has been a lonely walk: solitude whispers a silent story. And as we all know, life and living require interaction. But I was born alone, have lived alone, and will undoubtedly die…alone.  And that doesn’t require creativity.

always-sing

ALWAYS BE SINGING by D.L.McHale


by http://www.dlmchale.com on October 10, 2016.  © Dennis McHale, All rights reserved
Painting by Rajesh Shah

sing

Sing of leaving the warm wetness of her womb
Of falling into the room, wide-eyed and softly agile
When life stretched before you, innocent spirit so fragile
Sing of the crawling to horizons yet sailed
Into your Father’s strong arms lightly held

Sing the hushed lullabies in your Mother’s sweet voice
Who when given the choice, brought you into this world?
Sing of your childhood, each moment a treasure
Such memories we measure in toys now long broken

And white lies then spoken in giggles and laughter
For then ever-after the truth held the day
Sing of your visions unfolding and carefree
As children’s dreams are meant to be
Of bruises and cuts from climbs gone amiss

Of band-aids and the healing of your Mother’s soft kiss.
Sing of the loss of those long carefree days
No longer to play, for in sadness we yearn
To simply return to our youthful ways.

POET’S NOTE: The title of this piece, “Always Be Singing”,  is meant lead the reader immediately into the atmosphere of the whole poem, in which the child (or the child within us) and the parent seem to move in the circle traced by the irradiation of love. The words, movements and gestures of the child/parent correspond to the interior movement of their hearts. It is possible to understand the language of love only through the prism of this movement.

 

seagull

THE SEAGULL AND THE MOON by D.L.McHale


seagull
Moon night

I had a dream last night where I watched the moon swallowing the stars,
greedily ingesting the sparkling tapestry of the heavens, asserting a vain primacy,
ever becoming brighter and brighter until I could no longer look directly at it.

Silver clouds, in whispered wisps, shrouded this celestial midnight consumption
shape-shifting across the evening sky, spitting regretful droplets of sorrowful rain.

Abruptly I awoke,  bathed in cold light, my face caressed by a bitter breeze
wafting through a carelessly open window, and there, on the windowsill,
quietly sat a majestic seagull.

His waterproof coat of feathers was luxurious.  His animal spirit was fierce and strong.
The red dot, like resilient drop of blood, accented a brilliant yellow downward-curved beak
as his stony black eye fixed upon me with knowledgeable contempt and exacting judgment,suggesting that in my waking I had somehow slandered the significance of this extraordinary night.

One by one, molting black-tipped feathers fell like accusations upon my pace-worn wooden floor until the whole of it was carpeted and this noble scavenger fell naked backward into the nocturnal void squawking in his naked, downward death-spiral…

“I am Life! I am Death” …words whispered like dank petrichor with dawn’s rising light.

What was I to make of this?  Was I awake, or was this my awakening?

I could not the discern what was real and what was not, but in that way of knowing that cleaves not to understanding, I knew.

I knew this was my last night.

I watched as meandering rivulets of rain painted my window like random-flowing veins,
transparent rivers of pain creating artfully disturbing and distorting prisms through which the lunar light filtered into my bedchamber swaddling me in hazy sheets of bewilderment and appalling fear.

I, too, was being swallowed into the voracious belly of the moon.  My final breaths, like puffs of steam, floated before my sleep-filled eyes and like the stars ingested before me, my light faded into nothingness.

And the moon, she smiled.

10 Reasons You Should Not Discuss Politics on Facebook by D.L.McHale


facebook

I see a lot of things I disagree with on social media. And, to be honest, I’ve probably posted more than my share of things that are disagreeable. It’s hard to keep our personal beliefs to ourselves when we see things online that we take issue with. Let’s take the subject of politics on Facebook.

For me personally, I have many friends and family members on Facebook who are on both sides of the fence politically. From time to time I have posted something politically charged, only to go back a little bit later and remove it after I’ve thought about the possible repercussions. I am now fully committed to never doing it again.

So, I’ve come up with some reasons why none of us should post about politics on Facebook. Nothing that I’ve written is intended to silence anyone. My sole motivation is to keep relationships on Facebook intact, and invite the reader to look toward more appropriate forums for political debate.  Here you go….

  1. You could alienate family and lose your friends.There is no reason friends and family can’t discuss political issues calmly and respectfully…but for heaven’s sake, do so in person! If you don’t feel comfortable expressing opinions at the dinner table, why would you feel so comfortable doing so online? Don’t be a coward! Most people feel righteous and powerful when they are safe behind their computers and post things they would never say face to face. Being an online political bully is no different than being a bully in person. Remember, even if you are right doesn’t make it right! And what does it say about you as a friend that you are willing to hurt the ones you love just to express your political leanings?
  1. You could lose your job. Posting your strong political beliefs on Facebook is personal, and it’s not business…correct? Bullshit!  If your employer feels strongly about a political issue and you go on Facebook and post totally derogatory rants counter to what they believe, they might take your post personally and professionally. You want your employer to like you and factor you into the culture of the business they built. And while you have every right to hold opposite beliefs, you don’t need to invite career disaster just to put your opinion online.  Employers hire people they know, like and trust. Period. If you are willing to accept the consequence, by all means, post away.  But after the election is over, and you sit there unemployed, not sure what happened, don’t blame others for your indiscretion.
  1. You are wasting your time. “Your clever meme changed my political beliefs” said no one ever! You’re not going to change someone’s political beliefs on Facebook. You may think you have the most compelling argument, but guess what? You don’t, and neither do they. You can debate and debate, but you’re just wasting your time. People are different and believe different things. If you truly love and care for your online friends and family , quietly accept it, agree to disagree and move on. Life’s too short. Let your vote be your voice.
  1. Facebook is the wrong platform. If you’re bound and determined to spend time arguing over political issues online, perhaps you should go to a political blog or a news site and do so. Don’t ruin everyone else’s experience on Facebook with your political rants, no matter how passionately you think others NEED to hear your point of view. No one wants to limit your freedom to fight for what you believe, but ask yourself, is Facebook the right forum? Last week you were posting photos of your precious niece at a ballet recital.  This week your niece’s parents don’t give a shit about you because you called them stupid on political issues.  If you are willing to damage your close relationships to express an opinion that evaporates in the next political cycle, by all means, do so. Perhaps you should go into politics yourself where you can sacrifice your loved ones as long as you get your soap-box to stand upon. Fair exchange, right?
  1. There’s enough politics in the media. One of the reasons I use Facebook is to laugh, have fun and converse with my friends and family. I don’t use it to get worked up or stressed out over something I see that I disagree with. There’s enough political coverage in the mainstream media. More than enough. Keep it there and leave the politics to the pundits. As much as you believe you are the end-all in political debate…you are not. Get over yourself. When all is said and done in this election, you Mom will still be your Mom; your maid-of-honor will still be your best friend. Your aunt and uncle will still be part of the fabric of your life.  (Well, maybe.)
  1. You might lose 50% of your clients. If you’re marketing your business on Facebook, you absolutely NEVER want to go down this road on your Facebook business page. When you post your political beliefs on your business Facebook page, I guarantee you just lost up to 50% of your potential client base.  And for what?  The right to feel right?  I have a lot of strong opinions, but none of them are valued over $1.00.  But hey, it’s your business.  If you feel everything you’ve worked hard for and sacrificed for is easily given up for the right to be King of the Mountain of Facebook, by all means go for it.  I’m sure your candidate will mail you a check to cover your loss.  What, nothing in the mailbox.  I’m sorry.  Keep posting…maybe it will be in the mail next week.
  1. You’re just feeding the troll. I’m sorry for name-calling in a post that despises name-calling, but let’s face it: you’re just making yourself another Internet troll. And Facebook is infested with trolls. It’s too easy and you are not nearly as clever as you think you are. Half-truths and shallow talking points are what the internet are made of. The troll diet consists of apples and oranges as they attempt to equate things like the rainbow flag to the confederate flag. These people don’t deserve your attention; they’re just antagonists. They don’t want rules. They just want to fight and prefer it to be unmediated. That is exactly the platform Facebook provides. It’s a place where people feel comfortable making huge rhetorical leaps, without facing the challenge or consequences of having to back it up. Do yourself a favor and just stay out of it.
  1. Keep your political posts to facts and figures and funny (not mean) things. Don’t pretend you know what you are talking about. Are you an expert on foreign policy, or do you just have a personal opinion? Can you talk with expertise on the nuances of global economics, or are you just pissed because your paycheck is shrinking, rather than growing? Keep it to the facts as it applies to you
  1. When you comment on a friend’s post, don’t make it personal – ever. If a friend’s Facebook posts are offensive to you, “un-follow” them until Election Day 2016. That way their posts and cheap memes won’t be visible to you.  Or, if they really go too far, “unfriend” or “block” them. But please, don’t do this for family members with whom you may be breaking bread or sharing turkey in a few weeks’ time.
  1. Join a closed Facebook group dedicated to your political point of view .Rant all you want with those like-minded individuals. But don’t think that just because it’s closed, your posts will be private; they won’t be. Join Twitter and leave Facebook behind for now. You can “follow” those who believe what you do and they can reciprocate. In that way, Twitter is very incestuous, but keeping it all in the family can sometimes be a good thing.

Agree or disagree with my advice? Instead of beating up on others, go ahead a beat up on me at dennis.l.mchale@gmail.com. Trust me, I have nothing to lose. I promise, I won’t be offended and perhaps your family and friends will still love and accept you after election day.

Echoes Across Time


The first poem I ever wrote…..

The Winter Bites My Bones

Love never dies…
it echoes across time.

It is like a circle
revolving
with no beginning,
no end.

The pain of love diminishing
as it journeys to the far side
of the circle is real
and deep….
but remember the joy
before the pain
and listen for the echo.

Love has no dimension,
yet it clearly defines
all that it touches.

Memories are
the images carved
as love passes along
our side of the circle;
life’s subtle reminder
to hold on
and listen
as love echoes across time.

Cast your ear
to yesterday’s wind,
if you must;
do not be too surprised
when the sounds you seek
reach back to you from
tomorrow.

Echoes bounce in time and space
for that is their nature –
but they must return,
for that is their truth.

The circle cannot be denied.

Love cannot die…
it echoes across time.

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EMPOWERING YOURSELF TO CHANGE THE WORLD


“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” 
~ Margaret Mead

terrorism

Each and every day precious orchids wither in the garden of life, and die. They never have the chance to fully bloom. These orchids are the men, women, children, soldiers, police, and innocent civilians whose lives are cut down by senseless acts of crime, violence, war, and terrorism.

We awaken daily to see promising lives and futures swallowed whole behind cowardly and senseless acts of terror and we, the survivors, caretakers of the garden, begin to struggle behind the unanswerable:

“Why?”

grief 2

Each and every day nations grieve after having once more stared into the bloody, gaping maw of death and destruction visited upon their cities: Munich, Aleppo, Damascus, Homs, Benghazi, Misrata, Ferguson, New York, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Baghdad, Basra, Nice, Paris, Grozny, Mumbai; the list seems frightfully endless.

Man’s incredible thirst for the blood of his fellow man seems, at times, unquenchable.

Each and every day we see nations rally around the families of the dead and maimed, embracing their brothers and sisters with mournful tears and desolate prayers that fall from their trembling lips upon blood soaked sand.  We witness unimaginable suffering in cities and communities everywhere and find ourselves caught up in what seems like and endless loop of rebuilding and healing.

Those of us who are unscathed physically (though mentally savaged) begin our struggle for an understanding that never comes. We seek answers to enormous questions that can’t even be framed. And tragically, we begin to doubt ourselves. We doubt our ability to navigate the futility and despair felt in connection with these continuing acts of horror. In our collective grief and sense of powerlessness, we quite naturally turn to our God, by whatever name we call Him, and tearfully cry out for mercy.

Prayer

I realize I often turn my own readers off when chastening them not to look too earnestly for God’s mercy in times like these.  It isn’t that I don’t believe in God. I most certainly and devotedly do.  I just don’t think He’s as merciful as we lead ourselves to believe.  I believe God expects us to be the channels of that mercy.  We look to Heaven for answers, yet fail to look within ourselves.

Mercy
We keep searching for God’s mercy whilst withholding our own.

More often than not, we sit by almost catatonic after each horrifying act feeling helpless against the enormity of it all.  And yet, the question inevitably arises:

“What can I, just one person, do to make a difference?”

I’ve asked myself that very question every time a new tragedy unfolds. And for too long, I sat there, likewise, feeling powerless and defeated.  Yes, I also prayed for strength, understanding, and mercy.  But like so many others, I felt my prayers fell on silent ears. They were seemingly unanswered, or worse, I feared, unanswerable.

It was a restless night a few years ago, as I was writing an article on first responders to the Boston Marathon bombing, with utter clarity and intensity, I was compelled by what can only be described as a stream of consciousness – a phrase that kept repeating itself in my brain, much like a song you can’t get out of your head.  And so, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. It was like that lost piece of a puzzle that perfectly fell into place. I came to the amazing realization that this was the answer to my prayers.

Pouring like clear, fresh water from my pen, I wrote it down:

We are closest to God when we extend compassion;
we are furthest from Him when we withhold it.

Compassion

I had to ask myself the hard question: what was I doing to extend compassion?  What was my role in the solution in the face of so much pain and suffering? Then it finally dawned on me.  I could write.  That was my gift.  My blog reaches over 170,000 people. If I could write something that could comfort, inspire, or motivate just one of those readers, I could make a difference. It isn’t much, and I’m not the best writer, but it is one thing. I finally came to the realization that even the smallest spark can yield the greatest fire!

I began searching on the internet for examples of what others have done to make a meaningful difference.  As I was debating whether to offer up examples of iconic individuals such as Jesus, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela, etc., I came across an incredible discovery that was too perfect and too awesome not to share with you.

Milana
Her name is Milana Aleksandrovna Vayntrub, an Uzbek American actress, comedian, writer, and producer who is best known for playing the wholesome character Lily Adams in a series of AT&T television commercials. But more importantly and relevant to this discussion, Milana is also the co-founder of CantDoNothing.org  (#cantdonothing) an incredibly successful online organization that has offered thousands a pathway to “individual” empowerment. Her message is simple: doing something, no matter how small and inconsequential it feels in the moment, for it is better to do that small something than to not do anything at all.

Milana is tireless in her efforts to show us that individuals can make a profound difference. Through her own work with Syrian and Turkish refugees arriving by the boatloads into Greece, she clearly demonstrates that feelings of powerlessness that leads to inaction is a false construct created by generations of war-mongers and power-hungry bureaucracies as they attempt to marginalize the power of individuals, of social activism.  The power of one individual helping another, Milana shows, can affect an incredible sea change of good that can and will alter the lives of thousands over time.
Cant

Doing “something” produces ever expanding ripples whose reach extends far beyond one individual act of charity and compassion.  Doing even the smallest thing, Milana demonstrates, can ultimately change the world.

I confess, I have been generally suspect when it comes to feel-good solutions to complex human problems involving suffering and pain. But the more I dug into it, the more I found endless examples where one individual has done something which can, in time, alter the course of our human experience.  You may never hear about these people. These are not well-to-do celebrities or Ivy League business moguls (although many of those do wonderful things) but rather they are your neighbors, the man or woman or adolescent next door, the lady mechanic fixing your car, your child’s teacher, a college student with a bold idea. They are often hidden in the shadows of our everyday lives, but their lights shine brilliantly within their obscurity and their power is undeniable:

Jorge Munozhttp://moralheroes.org/jorge-munoz# Jorge Munoz’s humble efforts and his heroic commitment to feed his needy neighbors equally inspires those who need help and those who can help.

Aki_rahttp://www.cambodianselfhelpdemining.org/  A former Khmer Rouge conscripted child soldier who works as museum curator in  Cambodia, Aki Ra has devoted his life to removing landmines in Cambodia and to caring for young landmine victims. Aki Ra states that since 1992 he has personally removed and destroyed as many as 50,000 landmines.

The Choshttps://www.onedayswages.org/ Self-described as an ”average family” from Seattle, WA, Eugene and Minhee Cho state upfront, “We would never ask anyone to do what we would not do ourselves.”  They founded #OneDaysWages to show others how to combat global poverty by creating their own personal campaign to alleviate extreme global poverty.

Kathyhttps://theliftgarage.org/  Kathy Heying founded Lift Garage, a 501c3 nonprofit aimed to move people out of poverty homelessness by providing low-cost car repair, free pre-purchase car inspections, and honest advice that supports our community on the road to more secure lives.

150417133321-edwin-sabuhoro-poaching-headshot-super-169https://vimeo.com/154614207  He is literally turning gorilla poachers into protectors. , Edwin Sabuhoro came up with an idea to help gorilla poachers make a living — a plan that didn’t include killing wildlife. “I thought of an idea of turning poachers to farmers,” says Sabuhoro, who took all of his savings — $2,000 — and divided it to poachers to rent land, buy seeds and start farming.

There are hundreds of heroic examples like these, enough that I can almost guarantee you will find one that provides an avenue for “your talent, your gift.” For me to feel a broken, aching heart for the victims of a terrorist attack across the globe, yet remain blind to the suffering and pain of those closest to me while doing nothing is a cheap, selfish emotion.  I assure you, I am better than that.  So are you.

What I learned by researching what others were doing to make a difference, I finally understood that In my own life, the line between “grace” and “disgrace” is simply the difference between “doing something” versus “doing nothing.”

I put together this small list of suggestions that might help provide you, as it does me, a pathway toward identifying how you can make a difference:

9 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD

  1. Hold onto the faith that what you can do, and are willing to do, matters. Nothing matters more. You are not solely responsible for the solution. Bite off only as much as you can chew and trust that it will be enough to directly and indirectly feed a multitude of others.
  2. When you do pray, pray for purpose. I promise you, the answers will come.  They may not come in a way you were hoping, but they will come in a way that you need.  And you may not see that your prayer was answered until you look back one day and see how all the answers fell into perfect place.
  3. If you don’t do so already, make time to meditate. Oftentimes, we are so deafened by the noise of our own hectic lives and the demands pressed upon us that we drown out the quiet whisper within ourselves that reveals our inner compass, our hidden strengths, and our unique gifts.
  4. Recognize that the person most in need of comfort and support may well, at times, be you. Allow others to do for you what you cannot in this moment for yourself. In accepting love and care from another, you allow other individuals to fully actualize their humanity.
  5. Empower yourself to change the world. Each of us, individually and magnificently, can do something by simply reaching out and offering the gift of comfort, assistance, and love for that one person who cries out in need.
  6. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves our paying attention “on purpose” and in “this moment.” Marathons are more easily won if the runner can simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly, and in equal measure. They are generally lost when all the runner can see is the 26 miles stretching ahead.
  7. Accept the reality that you are not powerless. You are infinitely powerful. The answers you so desperately seek are within you. But do not confuse power with purpose. Power is simply the fuel necessary to propel your purpose.
  8. Look to those closest to you in need. Discern what your “gift” is and extend it to others. Resist any temptation toward personal recognition or reward. Empowered individuals are in the business of sowing, not reaping.
  9. Believe that what you do not only matters, it is essential. It may seem like a small gesture to you, but you just might inspire another who then inspires another who then inspires another.

This last point is a beautiful example of the Butterfly Effect; the concept developed by Edward Lorenz in 1960 suggesting small causes can have extremely large effects over time. The butterfly effect simply states that small events can lead to big changes.

Butteryfly-Effect1-400x266

The phrase was started by the Lorenz’s hypothesis that the flap of a butterfly’s wings could influence a hurricane half way across the world.

For the purpose of this post, I have borrowed from Lorenz’s  butterfly effect to demonstrate that even the smallest gesture by a single individual, say a gesture of compassion, mercy, or love, extended to just one other person in need, could ultimately reshape the world into a more compassionate, merciful, and loving place.

Consider this: every instance of great change in the world began with a single person. One person. And it all begins with self-empowerment. It begins with believing that what you think, or what you do, can shape the events in not only your life, but the lives of others.

butterfly-effect.jpg

Keep in mind that in empowering yourself, there is no fixed end point. Self-actualization and empowerment is thus not a location or a stage of development, but rather a state of being, an awareness of who one really is in relation to others. A realization that in this relation to others, you can be the catalyst for significant and far-reaching change. An acceptance that your single gesture of compassion, mercy, and love can, theoretically, set into motion a ripple of correlated events that could one day prevent war and terrorism.

We are not angels, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do angelic things.

And why shouldn’t that someone, somewhere, somehow, be you?

 

adam-dreamhealer-wiki-toronto-healer-naturopathic-energy-healing-picture

BREATHE: A PRAYER FOR FRANCE by D.L.McHale


With every breath, inhale love and peace

Though the acrid smoke of terror sears the lungs
Exhale to glory and the assurance of hope

Do not allow the feeble tantrums of hate
To rob you of the joyous songs of faith and courage

Breathe in the evil and the immoral acts of mortals
Exhale the beauty of poets, dancers, and artists all
For they are God’s voice lifting through the darkness

Breathe in light; exhale dreams of a better world.
Exhale fear and misunderstanding; inhale trust
In the limitless imaginations of peacemakers

Do not whisper your prayers, rather shout loudly
So that the force of your pleas peel back dark clouds
And the beauty of your supplications outshine the sun

Hold your breath for a moment, and taste the kiss of life
And with lungs full of God’ compassion and tenderness
Exhale your loss and your grief and your sorrows

Do not allow suffering today to rob you of your breath
But in exquisite protest, breathe more deeply yet
Let your inhalations be incantations to soothe the living
And your exhalations be the exaltation for the dead

Do more than just survive…continue to breathe, deeply
For in every breath there is possibility and promise
In every breath lies healing and forgiveness and peace

Just breathe.

 

 

 

 

deterioration

I AM READY by D.L.McHale


wip

Artwork Courtesy of DeviantArt©2016

“At the end, I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards. “

Autuor, Anne Lamott

The years have swept my face
carving time in deep crevices
thinning my skin with relentless cold
Like a child pushing milk teeth
my smile is likewise gapped
though my innocence lays broken
like this child’s backyard toys

These days, I pretend I am busy
that I’m working, that I’m writing
but I’m not doing anything
I just didn’t want to appear artificial
in these my final fading days

I have known glorious moments of fame
where my words stoked the hearts of man
and my poems filled a woman’s tender soul
but all these thing mean very little to me
I am into the finality of the here and now
the past is such a strange thing for me

Oh, loving her was indeed an incredible journey
a wonderful everlasting treasure hunt
I found emeralds in her soft green eyes
and sparkling diamonds in her radiant smile
golden coins tinkling in her laughter
her kiss as soft and pure as harvest wine
but like all treasure, she lies buried now
while I am castaway upon these lonely shores

My life is a dead space, expired time
if you would describe it in colors, a grayness
The changing seasons no longer cut
by snow and rain and sun and falling leaves
but rather, like clouds pushing darkly
against one another in a stormy sky
my days blend beneath a blotted sun

I know the number of my evenings are few
and my remaining mornings fewer by one
but I am tired, and I am alone

…and I am ready

 

Featured Image -- 19498

REFLECTIONS ON FREEDOM by D.L. McHale


Insights and Observations: Critical Meditations by D. L.McHale

zenosfrudakis01Zenos Frudakis Freedom Sculpture

On December 10th 1948, the United Nations General Assembly ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration enshrined the principle that human beings could no longer be treated in law or public policy as mere tools of the powerful or subjects of the state, but that they possess inherent value, and must be permitted to live their lives according to the priorities they themselves identify, in so far as they do not infringe the rights of others. This enshrined the definition of freedom that extends beyond international borders and political regimes.

Personal freedom is “the legal allowance to do whatever a person wants insofar as he or she does not offensively harm or coerce other people against those other people’s wills”, and insomuch as the desired end does not constrain, suppress, or deny the freedom of others. Remember, this limitation is a logical requirement. Freedom obviously…

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queen_of_darkness-1580536

HOMECOMING by D.L.McHale©


The royal robes of winter’s night
tightly bind me in its blue-black grip
The shadow of majestic purple mountains
kneel upon the fields of frozen graves
ancient tombstones, like granite faces
hemming the barren valley floors

An amber moon spills its bitter glow
through naked branches like brittle
fingers clutching a button-less cloak
Icy winds whip swirls of fog across
lifeless lakes, and on broken wings
doves fall from a voiceless sky

In a distant village, old ladies warble lullabies
to their dying husbands; soft verse cutting
like jagged blades through thick cherry smoke
bleeding from pipes clenched in broken teeth.
The children, with bellies as round as their joyless
eyes feed upon fermented peaches and dance
on knitted bones, playing hide but please, don’t seek
for we are tired, for we are weak

I have walked a lifetime to return 
to this is, my kingdom, stretching as far as the blind
eye can see. Built upon the shifting sands of hope lost
This, both kingdom and the shoveled grave
My head crowned in a spray of dying stars;
my spirit drowned in muted prayer;
my hobbled feet cut upon jagged stones.

This is my destiny, my hell, my home.

Lovers in Flames

OUR BURNING LOVE by D.L.McHale©


How long will  our love be kept waiting,
our trembling hearts anticipating,
yearning reflected in half-closed eyes,
refusing sleep when passion lies,
with spoken words clearly stating –
how long will our love be kept waiting?

For love is purely mesmerizing
we tightly embrace as the sun is rising,
come fill  this man’s heart with joy,
for daylight brings my heart’s envoy
in nature’s work there’s no disguising,
what we share is purely mesmerizing.

Your burning love makes my shadows bright,
and carries us through to dawn’s first light,
dancing circles turn around,
feeling the Earth’s beat underground
on this blessed day and shortest night,
the sweetest love makes shadows bright

>

Nat

An Ode to Natalie by D.L.McHale


Natalie, you are destined to shine
beneath a dazzling array of bright colors
Brilliant, and brave, and blinding
Your light will provide bright reflections
and light the stage upon which you dance;
careless, joyful, and exuberant

Mine is a separate light that bathes me –
not quite so radiant and full of shadows
I will always struggle to find my way
my light will never warm me in its beam
It is what it seems: an insignificant blue glow,
dim and misleading.

In your light, you will be found
In mine, everything may be lost,

yet because you’ve shined your light upon me
there is hope…and f0r that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Lasting love

SHE FILLED ME WITH A LASTING BREATH, by D.L.McHale


She whispered softly in my ear
such tender words to ease my pain;
soothing verse to calm my fears.
Though, she was gone when morning came,

The essence of her love remains!
Here even in my darkest hour
soft echoes of her song sustains,
which fills me with a lasting power.

Where has she gone? my life unwinds!
If I must die, I’m so resigned,
for dying unites and gently binds
my heart to hers, two souls entwined.

She filled me with a lasting breath;
Once more within my arms I hold
the height of love, its width, its breadth,
spanning dreams that now unfold

So cast me down into death’s abyss,
But allow once more her lips to kiss.
I shall not pray for more than this –
Once more I love…eternal bliss

Tyler Warren 2

SLEEP ETERNAL, MY SON: In Rememberance of Tyler Warren


In Loving Memory of Tyler Warren: There is perhaps no pain that cuts as deeply to the heart as that of a parent prematurely losing a child.  My dear friend, Robbie Whitlock Warren, recently laid to rest her courageous and loving child, Tyler.  Tyler Warren was that rare breed of a man who put the needs and well-being of others selflessly before his own safety and needs and above those of his own, serving as a volunteer firefighter, heroically serving his community. He lived life with joy, love, and laughter…surrounded by his loving friends and family.  No words can offer comfort, but may God, in His tender mercy, wrap his family in loving arms and in the sure knowledge that they will all be reunited in the promise of eternal life.  God speed, Tyler.

Tyler Firefighter Sheild

sleep eternal, my son
the flesh is over;
wear as much earth as you wish now

let the flowers braid
themselves across your breast
let the bees bumble and
the morning birds babble
above your heroic bones

let the setting sun
kiss your marbled stone
with summer’s lips

let the southern winds
embrace you
like a mother’s arms

let the heavenly poems begin
though the poets surely weep
for your earthly voice has ended

let the memories flow as freely
as the rivers in which you bathed
as an innocent, carefree child

how can the earth be denied
the heavenly sustenance of you
which I have known and loved all these years

who am I to deny God his angel
or the ocean her song
your whispers remain upon His lips
your sighs upon their waves

pray the passing seasons
don’t stack themselves
too high one upon the other
as I await our sure reunion

 

 

 

Krista

Join Krista in This Important “Suicide Awareness” Fundraising Walk.


Krista 2Dear friends, family and colleagues, my dear friend, Krista Kennel Duranski, is going to walk in The Overnight Walk-New York City on June 4th. It’s a 16-18 mile walk for Suicide Awareness. Please consider donating to her walk if you have a minute. Any size donation is appreciated in her quest to raise Suicide Awareness and money for it’s prevention. Her goal for today is $100 in donations.  Simply click on the link below and give what you can.

Thank you! ‪#‎22toomany‬http://theovernight.donordrive.com/participant/kristakennell

two_lovers_by_biffno-d50mj0z

BEFORE by D.L.McHale


Before the ashes, Vulcan’s vengeful fire.
Before the sex, a deep and burning desire
Before the storm, a dark and restless quiet;
Before the morning, a deep and somber night.

Before the hunt, the frightened fleeing fox,
Before the race, coiled tightly in starter’s blocks.
Before the cut, such soft unblemished skin;
Before the blade, sparks fly, the  whetstone spins.

Before new love, the queasy, nauseous start;
Before the kiss, a young and hopeful heart.
Before rejection, all things possible, bright, and new;
Before enlightenment, faith in what we say and do.

Before Sun’s rays, dark clouds enshroud the planet
Before the sculptor, beauty locked in blocks of granite.
Before the fall, transcendence true and boldly rising;
Before the gasp, in silent awe, a sweet surprising.

Before the rose arises first the lowly bloom –
Before the family, a dark and empty room.
Before old age comes the child full of life!
Before victory, the pain of loss and bitter strife.

Before the Universe, a bright and solitary star
Before the nearness, a cold and distant far
Before the night, a day of brilliant cerulean blue
Before the “Us,”  a prayer for joining “Me” to “You”

plates

LOVE IS A MANY SPLINTERED THING by D.L.McHale


Love…

Whole platters of
Expectation
Handled timidly by
Waiters
and
Waitresses
of desire.

Carelessly slipping
Through now
Trembling fingers,
Once bold and sure.

Tragically
Tumbling beyond
Last moment grasps,
End over end,
Sadly spewing its
Delicious contents
in a hopeless
Death spiral.

Nothing remains
but a shattering
Introduction
to the cold, hard
Floorboards of reality.
Love is a many
Splintered thing.

Port

Stocking confessions


This is an incredible read. I wish the author so much health and love.

FEC-THis

For anyone who thinks stockings are a throwback to the 40’s and the post-war frenzy of the nylon riots, fear not. Stockings are alive and well and making a huge comeback in my household and the homes of countless other women across the globe. These stockings are immensely functional, have a hint of sheen, an open toe and a block heel. They also have a small seam. They’re manufactured by a German company but I don’t think it’s Falke, which is a shame because Falke make good stockings. Falke or fake, I’ve been persuaded to wear these very special stockings for at least the next two weeks because I’m reliably told they are a lingerie lifesaver, for me and others like me.

Of course no stocking is ever perfect and often we have to contend with bad length, limited silkiness, wonky seams and the like. Length and texture are certainly a…

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Hasty

To Angel(a)


I can feel your pain, like the falling rain

it washes over me leaving me damp and cold and shivering –
but the thought of you warms me like a cup of hot chocolate
and I know it’s going to be okay.

I see through the glaring light of your smiles, and while
you try to hide what you feel inside, I know, in that knowing
that only love can reveal.  I want to gather your tears
in the well of my understanding, and pour them 
upon the fire of your fears.

I don’t have much to offer, just my heart and my love
but love won’t pay this rent, when you are spent
within the crucible of self-doubt.  How can I reach you
and teach you what I know…that you are perfection;
I don’t want to heal you, just reveal to you the beauty
that is you.

You don’t have to let me in, but you, my friend
will always be in me, like a broken sparrow whose wings
will heal, and I know you will fly again.
lighthouse-storm-painting-wallpaper-1

BEHOLD, MY LIGHT by DLMcHale


 

I wrote this poem a few years ago the night I visited the haunted
lighthouse in St. Augustine and then I lost it….until tonight!

Behold, my light so brightly burning
Guiding wayward sailors home.
Covered in breaking waves now churning
Battered ‘neath the angry foam

Awake, my Captain; tend my fire
The ships are blind upon the sea
Night has come so dark and dire
Bring them safely home to me

Push back your fear and never fail me
Do not tarry, nor think twice
No time for prayers on bended knee
The sea demands her sacrifice

Many a keeper survived the commotion
Tending my flame with ardent care
Many more forever lost to the ocean
Swept from my winding, icy stair

I am the hope of every seamen,
Warning of the rock and shoal,
And you, my Captain, tend my beacon
With all your heart and weary soul.

 

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Celladora


Reposted by request of Raquel

The Winter Bites My Bones

Celladora,
whose softly curved lips
reveals a smile beneath
my soft-pressed kiss;

she takes me to the place,
exactly where I always meant to go;
outside of time and place,
past flesh to thought –

I dissolve in her radiant reflection.
Her love is an image of the world
made small enough to hold inside my mind;
an exploration of that inward beauty
where the borderlines  of “she” and “I” meet
between the real and the imagined,
the present and the past,
the lost and the found,
the lasting and eternal.

Time seems almost to dissolve.
With her, everything is an
infinite exploration and discovery
of the self and the universal,
and I, the jouncing and jostling
wilderness traveler,
constantly adjusting the gear
on my back, steeling my resolve,
finding my footing and heading off
upon unchartered paths.

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Lovers and Dancers

ONE LAST DANCE by D.L.McHale


Lovers and Dancers

In Spring she danced with her true love
Each step in softness, lights descending
From the silver rays of moon above
Terpsichore's guidance never-ending.
Summer found her slightly winded
Though to her lover’s hand she held
And while this dance more quickly ended,
Within his arms all fears were quelled.
Upon a chilled wind Fall did follow
Fatigued, she cried, “No more to dance!”
He prayed to her beloved, Apollo,
“What price secures another chance?”
In Winter’s snow she found her rest
His tears upon her funeral pyre;
Now holding close within his chest
One final dance, his heart’s desire.
Blue No. 1

ILLUMINATION


(Dedicated to Jules)

We always sleep with curtains drawn,
in the soft blue light of morning,
I rise and pull the black velvet tight.

 You stirred, half-asleep in a pool of desire 
then stretched your hand back to my thigh 
our bed a ship in sleep’s doubled plunging 
 
wave upon wave, until as though a lighthouse
      beam had crossed the room: the vase between
 
the windows suddenly ablaze, a spirit,
        seized, inside its amethyst blue gaze.  
 
What’s that? you whisper. A slip of light, untamed,
       had turned the vase into a crystal ball,
 
whose blue eye looked back at us, amazed, two
       sleepers startled in each other’s arms,
     
while day lapped at night’s extinguished edge,
            adrift between the past and future tense,
 
        a blue moon for an instant caught in its chipped
                 sapphire—love enduring, give or take.
Lovers in Flames

OUR BURNING LOVE by D.L.McHale


How long will  our love be kept waiting,
our trembling hearts anticipating,
yearning reflected in half-closed eyes,
refusing sleep when passion lies,
with spoken words clearly stating –
how long will our love be kept waiting?

For love is purely mesmerizing
we tightly embrace as the sun is rising,
come fill  this man’s heart with joy,
for daylight brings my heart’s envoy
in nature’s work there’s no disguising,
what we share is purely mesmerizing.

Your burning love makes my shadows bright,
and carries us through to dawn’s first light,
dancing circles turn around,
feeling the Earth’s beat underground
on this blessed day and shortest night,
the sweetest love makes shadows bright

IT IS THE SEASON by D.L.McHale


image

“God talks in the trees.”
— Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

It is the season of sleeping late 
while dreaming of red-orange trees 
shuddering in the evening breeze. 
These are the short days
when the thirst for warmth suborns desire 
and Eros kisses summer love goodnight.

It is the season of crimson sunsets 
pouring slowly, like thick molasses, 
over church steeples and frozen riverbeds. 
When snow-pregnant clouds float lazily 
across flower-less meadows
and lovers seek shelter beneath heavy quilts.

It is the season of naked trees, 
with branches like fingers extending 
toward the setting sun, tracing delicate arches 
across the rose autumn sky.
Those days when the blackbird flies southward
into the night beneath crystal constellations.

It is the season of surrender, 
when burdens, like the yellowing leaves, 
fall silently to the frozen earth
and tired bones warm themselves before tended fires.
It is the season of dying in the palm of God’s hand;
comforted in the knowledge of spring’s resurrection.

NOSTALGIA by D.L.McHale


image

In my mind’s recess, a soft caress
of memories and days gone by
A kaleidoscope of love and hope
And answers to the “Why?”

I fall within and live again
Those magic days bygone
My thoughts set free in reverie
Warmed by a setting sun

Another time in perfect rhyme
Now formed in my revision
I’m lifted up as I fill my cup
With reflection and a vision.

Within my dream, or so it seems
The best of times has past
Yet still somehow, I cherish “Now”
And tighter still my grasp

Outside my mind my thoughts unwind
And now today returned –
For yesterday is still no way
To face the future’s turn.