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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?

 

deterioration

I AM READY by D.L.McHale


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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

 

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.

JUGGLING LIFE by D.L.McHale


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Consider for a moment that we are all jugglers. It is, afterall, what life demands of us; constant juggling – of time, relationships, our attention, responsibilities. We feel ourselves continually caught up in the demanding task of keeping many things up in the air simultaneously, smoothly rotating, round and round.

Suppose then, in our quest to be the best juggler possible, we see that we are juggling three balls: one rubber, one wooden, and one crystal.

In the course of our juggling, we slip and drop one ball. Let’s say it’s the rubber ball. What happens to it? No real damage done, right? It bounces. It comes back to you. This rubber ball might represent your education, your job, your contributions to the community in which you live. It is the decisions you make everyday that defines not the depth, but the breadth of living. In the course of your life you may drop this ball several times…you may change jobs, you advance, you are laid off, you make new friends, old ones slip away, you go back to school…it is constantly moving in new directions.

Do not overly concern yourself when this rubber ball slips and falls to the ground; it will retain its resiliency, bounce back, and everything will be fine.

Suppose now you lose your focus for a second, perhaps a day or two. You drop the wooden ball. What becomes of it? Well, it’s a bit noisier, true, but in all likelihood it will become scratched, perhaps chipped. In time, after a few falls, it may even take on a new shine, a new patina.

This wooden ball represents your health and your spirituality. It changes…constantly. It evolves.  It will not look the same today as it will tomorrow. That is its nature. Be mindful of keeping this one aloft, but do not distress if from time to time it slips your grasp. It, too, is resilient and in the long run, it endures.

But what then of the third ball? The crystal ball? What happens if you take your eye from it for a moment and it hits the floor? What becomes of it?

It shatters! It will not return to you for it is utterly destroyed.

This crystal ball represents your close, intimate relationships. Your husband, your wife. Your Mother and Father and sisters and brothers. It represents your children and their children, et. cetera, et. cetera. It represents family and all close and cherished relationships. It represents the giving and the receiving of love.

If you drop this ball, no amount of effort will repair it. It is lost forever. For this reason alone, you must be acutely and forever focused on keeping this ball in the air at all costs.

As you juggle life, keep this lesson in mind, and keep your priorities likewise aligned. Allow for mistakes in life (the rubber and the wooden balls), but never accept your life as the mistake (the crystal ball!)

I CHOOSE LOVE


(Music video by Shawn Galloway)
(Poem by D. L. McHale)

to suffer is to love
to love is to suffer…

I have known life
I have known love

I choose love

I have known hate
I have known love

I choose love

I have known loss
I have known love

I choose love

I have known death
I have known love

I choose love

to suffer is to love
to love is to suffer…

only through love
can I hope to endure
life, hate, loss and death
each comes to me in their seasons
each comes to me in full abundance
and when the merciless winds
of suffering settles the dust

…there is love

to suffer is to love
to love is to suffer…

does not the agony of birth
seal both mother and child
in eternal embrace?

…there is love

Do not the ministrations
of passing Samaritans
heal the savage wounds of
abandoment, hunger and hate?

…there is love

Did not the sacrifice and the blood
of the Lamb upon the cross
wash away the sins of man?

…there is love

the sweet release of death
fully sanctifies the meaning of life
as loving family and faithful friends
gather together to shelter …in love

to suffer is to love
to love is to suffer…

neither are mine to refuse

I can not. I must not…I will not!
I can not. I must not…I will not!

for I have chosen love

I AM BECOME


image

Spat from the angered mouth of heaven
falling, spiraling, through the mystic ages
thrust without grace into the mortal coil
within my Mother’s sacred womb
and spat once more again into Life

I am become.

On broken knees with a broken voice
whispering hallowed hallelujahs
I am now become
this incredible expression of motion;
motion within volume,
volume within silent prayers

I am become.

Crimson rivers of blood wash
my bleached bones, cleansed and holy,
creating my presentational self –
a life defined in patterns of sentience
expressed through transcendent forms
of human feelings, of human failings,
of growth and attenuation,
of flowing and stowing,
of conflict and resolution,
speed, arrest, terrific excitement,
calm.

I am become.

In suffering forged and forgotten
shackled in the biting chains
of free will and isolation;
the celestial curse of the living flesh
now belies my subtle activation

In Death I am but sweetly spent
and spat once more
into the bowels of Earth
my soul surpassing the expression
of human feeling, of human frailty
transcending the mortal sphere
the push of life itself
it’s relentless assertion of tension
not only in myself, nor in all mankind
but rather in the cosmos
dissolving and so evolving eternal
once more spat into the Heavens

I am become.

The Bowman and the Deer (Angela’s Song)


Doe Portrait V by Marion Rose
Doe Portrait V by Marion Rose

This poem is dedicated to Hastywords,
who taught me the value of true friendship

A bowman knows his craft and his art
The deer only knows its fluttering heart
When the arrow pierces its tender mark
The bowman knows he must give
The deer knows she must part

I never knew of you before we met
Though in my heart you lived
For Love is born in the beating heart
Which the bowman hears and hunts

What once was a sacred mystery
Now lives on the tip of his arrow
But she broke it and lives in the dark
Not daring to hope, so full of sorrow
Distrustful of the bowman’s mark

He knew he could never hold her
Though she cried of lustful hunger
Rather than accept his tender gifts
For of a debt she would never owe
He wanted to tell her, but she said no.

She was locked in battle with her insecurity
But her defiance was all too polished and real
Not wanting to stray, not wanting to feel
Not wanting to falter beneath his loving touch
Denying her heart, for the distance too much

He broke his bow and beheaded his arrows
and blew out candles and laid them to rest
He wanted no shadow to witness
Her struggle, her half-hearted protest
He wanted to protect her dreams and her fears
So she could stop hiding her sweetness
Embrace new love, and cease hiding her tears

She knew she had fallen in impossible love
The kind she would lose and later write of
One heart divided would not much long beat
His arrow lay broken, like his heart  at her feet

So she gathered the pieces, her joy and her bliss;
and offered the bowman her sweet-scented kiss
Then she thrust the arrow deep into his heart
And whispered goodbye as he entered the dark

Petrichor


As you know, from time to time I’ll feature a new poet on The Winter Bites My Bones. I am pleased to spotlight an emerging poet and talent, Steven Cehula.  Although I’ve only known Steve a short time, there are few young artists that back passion with street crede in both his writing and his personality.  Steve is an intelligent, intuitive young poet with an obvious thirst for the art of expressing the mysteries of living through the written word. Please join me in welcoming Steve to our WordPress family!

petrichor
A pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.

Petrichor in the air tonight,
as rain falls to my delight;
tumbling off angel wings,
as it falls the wind does sing.

Sing of now and sing of night,
present turns to past as dusk
doth flourish at loss of light.

So tumble down and cleanse the soul,
feeding grass make this earth whole.

Steve

About Steve Cehula:

Life Enthusiast. Born in Alaskan; now living and loving in South Orange County. I love to travel the world embracing the new cultures and friends I meet. Besides writing I have a voracious appetite for reading, fine food, and stimulating conversation.

Letting Go


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.

light through trees

Love Fulfilled Beneath a Dying Light


When the sun sets, when its dying rays
filters through my bedroom window
I get the full brunt of this powerful star.
It is beautiful and blinding.
I feel its warming fingers softly caressing
my cheek; it dries the last traces of my tears.

Today, as the sun came into its latitude
to be shining directly on me,
I closed my eyes beneath its warmth
remembering brighter days.
Was this the same sun that kissed us
on our first walks upon the beach?
Was this the same sun that cast
its light on our wedding day?

Many people have expressed their love
to both of us throughout this process,
and many people have let us know
that it may be God’s will this, or God’s will that.
And it may well be.
But I know one thing.
We were both born of this organic, living universe.
Star matter is within us. We are forever connected
beneath the arch of its healing light.

I have never felt more in the presence of the supernatural
than today, with this mighty being shining on us,
me here, in my thoughts, you, there, wherever you are.
I can almost see the last breaths of our togetherness
in the stardust that once showered the idea of “us”
being pulled back towards that Sun.
It is as if the Sun had decided to choose this moment,
to envelop the two of us in divergent beams of light,
and take us back, separately, back to the stars.

In a way, it is beautiful.
This Sun, our Sun, reminds me
to live more fully, more appreciatively, and more happily.
I won’t think of a marriage that has died.
I’ll think of those moments we had to dance in its light.
With much love and sadness.

Mistress Moon


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Her face is frost etched glass
floating in the blue-black winds of the night;
she illuminates footsteps hushed
on decayed and dampened leaves;
grieves for freshly planted souls
who have turned from the light of day.

Her midnight corset is tightly laced
by the dazzling tails of falling stars;
she moves in phases
with the  tempered grace of a childless empress
wandering silently and with bowed head
through the cold shadows of winter’s garden.

She seduces the wolf and the poet
with equal ambivalence, each of whom
compose for her dream-soaked arias
and haunting sonnets that speak of
promises never meant to be kept.

She mourns her  powdered reflection
as it ripples across frozen lakes:
hides behind silver-lined clouds when
she can no longer bear the loneliness
of her shadowy journey across granite
mountaintops and sleeping meadows.

At last, in the cool, grey light of morning,
as the sun softly caresses her porcelain
cheek with warm fingers of breaking light,
she sighs but once, then slowly fades into
the rose colored blush of a new day.

My Life’s Palette


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It all began
with the glowing green meadows;
cool, dew-moistened blades of grass
softly pressed into the shape
of a young boy’s naked feet running 
frivolous and joyous
in the backyards of my innocence.

     In time, the azure-blue skies
     puffed with the carefree brilliant white cotton-candy clouds
     of my adolescence fed my wandering dreams,
     lifting me to new heights,
     pressing me tenderly against the heavens.

In my teen years, the skies grew heated
beneath the raging, orange-flecked storms
battering the massive walls of my pubescent limitations.
I fought bravely against the darkening forces shaping me,
but was laid low with the sizzling strike of a silver bolt of lightning,
my body then forged in the ruby red-hot fires of puberty.

     As a young man, there came a day with you in it;
     a dazzling star as yellow-bright and full of light –
     your beauty washed over me, igniting my purpose, 
     I was blinded by the intensity and the nearness of you, 
     awakening within me the amazing brilliant white glow 
     of desire, love, and hope.

Eventually, the blue-black sheet of night
was pulled over me; the skies darkened a midnight onyx
leaving me lying in the cool-grey mist of the shadow of Death.
The lights dimmed as did my voice,
as the murky fingers of Death reached toward me.

     I was immediately lifted up into a new beginning;
     the soothing winds of forever washing over
     the palette of my life
     as once more my heels were dipped
     into the forgiving green blades of grasses
     of eternity’s meadow.

The Divine Tapestry of Life


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We are imperceptibly bound
by the common chords of our humanity;
colored threads weaving a rich tapestry
of shared experience.
Our similitude outshines our differences,
ineradicable and glistening;
certain and enduring
beneath a billowing canopy of endless possibility.

Not me, or you; not him or her, but all as one.

The fabric frays when we close our eyes
to the wonder and intensity of our diversity;
divisiveness and uncertainty pulls at the threads
which embroider the story of our divinity.

Our uniqueness as individuals only adds
to the richness of the fabric of humankind,
where rivers of color intertwine to form
delicate and stunning lines and patterns
– intricate and beautiful in their relations.

No stars hung in heaven shine more brightly,
shimmer more vibrantly,
or radiate more light
than when we embrace one another
as one and not the “other”.

Ocean Walk

Ocean Walk


 

Silver threads woven through midnight skies –
Shooting stars as the white crane flies!
Cool autumn winds and the moon’s reflection;
Shallow tide pools inviting full inspection.

The ocean roars and rolls cascading,
White foam shorelines, slowly fading.
Footprints, mine, wet and dissolving –
Deep in thought, me, a life evolving.

Have I lived the life I was meant to live?
Did I take what was offered, did I offer to give?
Have I fought for the causes that helped to free men,
Or did I justify excuses time and again?

Did I love to my fullest, did I offer my heart?
Did I honor my word, or just play the part?
Have I sacrificed joy for immediate thrills?
Was I too vain, or humble, did I help to cure ills?

Did I live a life worthy, will others be proud,
Will I be buried alone or there with the crowd?
All these and more are the questions I pose.
These really aren’t mysteries for me to suppose!

The Sun now is rising, with fingers of light –
The end of reflection, the end of the night.
I turn with my back to the blue ocean swell;
I’ve too few answers, and that’s just as well.

Life is for living, and there is no exception –
We aren’t meant to dwell in such introspection!
The truth is unfolding, and this much is true;
I’ve plenty days left, and too much to do.

For Better or Worse


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For better or for worse, I am a dark writer.

 It isn’t something I wanted to be as I grew up…it is more something that had to be done to give my inner grief a voice so that the pain and suffering did not consume me. The events of my life have consumed me like maggots feasting on the carcass of a dead child. Have you ever wondered why the best of Irish writers are so dark and depressing? It is because they were consumed and compelled by lives lived in abject poverty, disease and general disrepair and despair. Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Frank McCourt, …all suffered from severe moral disintegration, from morbid ideations brought about by the unrelenting ugliness that this so called “good life” thrust upon them.  

 The French poéts maudits;  François Villon, Baudelaire and Rimbaud?  These were simple men forced to live  their lives outside or against society, awash in the abuse of drugs and alcohol, insanity, crime, and violence. They all died pitiful, painful deaths. Or how about the Americans?  Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Bukowski…each caught up in what life does best…grinding their souls to dust in the absence of any lasting hope until the merciful fist of death grabbed each by the ankle and pulled them under.

 You may think I’m just cynical and indulgent…but I tell you, for every ray of sunshine you can conjure, I can show you ten bolts of lightning that rip and destroy.  I am glad others have happiness….but I myself was pushed through this veil of insidious despair without my consent, and I’ve learned to navigate life in the absence of hope.  And yes, I find some comfort there.  It’s what I know.

 People are always saying, “try and look on the bright side,” and to them I say, “ Look around you, for fuck’s sake!”  There is an ocean of pain, agony, and suffering washing over the majority of the earth’s population…and you think platitudes  and sweet rejoinders make a difference when the crows peck the eyes from a dead child who has starved in the Sudan? Or when 20 beautiful innocent children in Sandy Hook have their precious lives snuffed out, or when entire populations are being systematically wiped off the face of the earth for political expediency?  Get real.  Take off your rose-colored specs and take a deep look around you!  Evil flourishes upon a people’s unwillingness to see.  They are blinded by their blazing sunshine and forced optimism.

 Yes, we live in the same world, but I see the shadows where you see the light. I don’t write this kind of crap because I have something to say…I write it because something which must be said has me to write it. My apologies for the rant…but I get so ill in my gut when people say, “there, there…the world is a beautiful place. Just try harder to be happy.”

 The world is obscene and delusional. And it hurts.

The Insidiousness of Life


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The insidiousness of life is that it constantly presses upon you;
it is unrelenting in its demands that you nurture and refine it.
It evolves, with or without your consent, so there is no rest,
to simply put it on cruise control and enjoy the passing of time.
For me, every breath is a nuisance; every step is a cursed journey
saddled with failed expectations and societal derision.

I never belonged to this world, nor has it offered itself to me,
and the contempt with which I hold its false promises
eats at my guts like ravens nibbling away at my meaning.
Where others are guided by the soft-bent wings of angels,
I am weighed down by the relentless nagging of demons;
wicked little imps who mock my waking hours and torment my sleep.

There is not a grave dug deep enough to bury my sorrows,
nor do I seek any forgiveness for my sorry state.
I will wash away the stench of my miserable existence
with endless cups of liquid absolution, and in my drunken state,
I will stumble through somehow.

Tomorrow’s sunrise may warmly embrace the multitudes;
each with their cheerful dispositions and infernal optimism.
I, on the other hand, will wither beneath the heat,
thirsting constantly for the darkness beneath a waning moon,
for it is in darkness that my soul finds its true voice.

Nature’s Aria



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“Singin’ In The Rain Forest” by Lady Di

Receive the sibilant symphony
of sunset’s twilight serenade –
A cacophony of chirping crickets,
and grass-green geckos cheeping
within frost-flecked ferns
and flower-flocked foliage.
The shrill shriek of the osprey
slices the silence of the summer sky
beneath the bass beat of barnyard owls
hoot-hooting hallowed hallelujahs
in consonance with coyotes chanting
their mournful moonlight wail.
Dissonant and chaotic,
harmonic and serene,
nature’s love songs echoing
across gurgling moss-banked streams
against granite-faced mountains
silhouetted sentinels standing
behind the moon-misted
shroud of the falling night

 

My Slow Descent


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Pressed beneath the broken rhythms of solitude
Stumbling drunk within intoxicated wavy parallels
Of self-derision and unbridled rage against lost time
A shattered vessel of my mother’s dreams
Absent when the arch of forgiveness bends mercifully
Over purpose-broken and diminished men
My unwinding days a gentle push toward the grave
With nothing left to secure my grasp
Pulled asunder by the wrath of fallen angels
When the shadows of my sins, like a burial shroud
Wraps me tightly, a corpse descending
Into the darkened void of eternal sleep.
This, then is my slow descent; tossed upon a funeral pyre
Engulfed within damnation’s perpetual flame
Condemned for lack of conviction as the cold winds
Of judgment kick up and scatter my weightless ashes

 

I Bark, Therefore, I Am


Lord Byron enjoying his "after-vet" time alone.
Lord Byron enjoying his “after-vet” time alone.

I’m not going to yank your leash – it’s been a busy month. A few weeks ago, my humans took me into the scary place with the man in the white coat. You know the place. It’s where everyone gathers around me as I lay on a cold. steel table and they poke and prod. Seems I had something called cancer and my human’s seemed really, really worried and sad. It couldn’t be all that bad, I thought, as the treats seemed to triple recently… but before I could whimper, “let’s get out of this place”, they left me and went away.

Now, I know I’m a brave boy…at least that’s what they told me as they left. But I certainly didn’t feel brave as the man in the white coat took me into the back room and put me into a deep sleep.

I dreamt of all the eight, wonderful, play-packed years I had spent with my humans. I must have chased ten thousand bouncy things in the park, and they always bought me squeaky things to keep me occupied as they went to work each day. I dreamt of the day they rescued me. I had been kept in a breeders cage since birth, and when I was freed, I had seizures brought on by the new flood of attention and love. But as they said, I’m a brave boy, and I was so happy when they took me home to share their kennel with me. Over the next 8 years, I learned to play and cuddle and found my utmost joy in the little humans that would pet me, cooing, “Oooh..he’s so soft!”

I confess, nothing was as much fun as Christmas at my human’s owners house in Grass Valley when I get my new toys and treats! Didn’t much care for the firecracker day each July, but I found my comfort behind Mama’s legs. Oh, how I dreamed some big dog dreams.

When I woke up, the scary man in the white coat was smiling, and there were my humans!! They had come back (as they always do). My tail thumped as I could see how joyful and happy they were! “I got it all,” beamed the white coated man. “It’s was a low grade cancer and I’d be surprised if it comes back,” he said. I don’t know what all the fuss was about, but my humans were no longer sad, and that was all that mattered to me. I’ve got a lot of living, chasing, and loving to do still yet.

As I left the room, I looked back at the white-coated man and gave a little bark. He wasn’t so scary after all, and I felt I owed him a bark of thanks.

 

Lover’s Delight


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With desire spent, we leave the night
Our bodies bathed in morning’s light
Our limbs entwined like climbing vines
Our kisses sweet like summer wine

Our spirits soar, our hearts set free
Beneath a verdant canopy
Of flowering trees and running streams
Of fragrant winds and lazy dreams

Such sorrow shall we one day know
When either you, or I, shall go
And leave the other to sorely miss
This warm embrace, this soulful kiss

As the sunrise drives away the night
and sunlight fades to starry light
So does this love, in ardent gladness,
Dispel the weight of parting’s sadness

But let us in this moment know
One final bout in passion’s throe
And leave the morrow to the night
This moment now is our delight

 

Snoqualmie Falls


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Photograph by Paul Dorpat

The ground beneath my feet rumbles.
Softly at first, and then with each step
increasing in its timbre.

The air is damp and mossy with a gray light
filtering through the canopy of spruce and pine.
Wet thunder rises; my ears are muted
by the intensity of a river plummeting
over slick rock lips;
a roiling, massive death spiral.

Half the volume swan dives elegantly
hundreds of feet into a pounding foaming white pool,
while my pounding heart matches the outpouring,
beat for beat.
The other hangs mistily in the frigid air,
gently nourishing the brown-green algae with its spit.

I cannot help but marvel at the sheer anger of it all,
wondering how many open-mouthed bass
thrust forth into open space, gargoyle-eyed as
the river disappears beneath them,
recognize this as the end of their swim?

Death, anger, power…and yet
so serenely beautiful

Rage on, Snoqualmie,
before the winter’s freeze deprives you
of your liquid dance!

 

daydreaming

Nostalgia


In my mind’s recess, a soft cares
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
Living in yesterday is still no way
To face the future’s turn

 

E=MCreativity


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Einstein gave us relativity,
but failed to factor creativity!
His theorem’s certain, yet we are not
and mankind, therefore, slips the knot.
While science deigns to draw the curtain,
the power of love is all but certain.
Quantum physics, both here and there?
Mankind cannot be factored square!
String theory speaks to nature’s state,
while poets reveal our human grace.
Unification without the arts
is faulty from the very start!
There still remains the mystery
of how we simply came to be?
Big Bang theory explains the stars
but does not speak to why we are?
The paradigm begins to shift
When we factor in the artist’s gift…
Equations writ in bytes and bits
Cannot explain Beethoven’s fifth.
As so we argue with indignation
We only exist in our imagination!

Rebirth


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Stars descend on blackened veils
Guiding my steps to the ocean’s swell
Waves swallowed whole by gold sands porous
A symphony’s repeating chorus
As the moon reflects its softened light
The summer winds caress the night
My thoughts turn toward the heavenly spiral
Of shooting stars and earth’s denial

My eyes ascend to northern lights
While thoughts unformed take sudden flight
Carry me toward a heavenly vision
As my soul begins a new revision
Eyes once blind now clearly see
This single moment is lifting me
Beyond a life of imperfection
And giving me a new direction

Writer’s Block


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Half smoked cigarettes fill the vapid air
the poet hunches over in total disrepair
His dalliance with the muse is such a sad affair
When words won’t come, he slouches in despair
The night mist lingers though he doesn’t’ really care

Surrounded by empty bottles, his vision is impaired
The empty page taunts him, “Fill me if you dare!”
He reaches even deeper, but there’s really nothing there
Another evening of this is more than he can bear
In absolute surrender, his pen flies through the air

The Divine Tapestry of Life


“We are each a thread in the tapestry of our human family. Our outcome is woven of endless possibilities, because we can choose from a universe of endless possibilities. Every person can make a difference.” ~ Steve Brunkhorst

tapestry of life
We are imperceptibly bound
by the common chords of our humanity;
colored threads weaving
a rich tapestry of shared experience.

Our similitude outshines our differences;
durable and glistening; certain and enduring
beneath a billowing canopy of endless possibility.

Not me, or you; not him or her, but all as One.

The fabric frays when we close our eyes
to the wonder and intensity of our diversity;
divisiveness and uncertainty pulls at the threads
which embroider the story of our divinity.

Our uniqueness as individuals only adds
to the richness of the fabric of humankind,
where rivers of color intertwine to form
delicate and stunning lines and patterns
– intricate and beautiful in their relations.

No stars hung in heaven shine more brightly,
shimmer more vibrantly,
or radiate more light
than when we embrace one another
as One.

The Insidiousness of Life


Corner BAr 3

The insidiousness of life is that it constantly presses upon you;
it is unrelenting in its demands that you nurture and refine it.
It evolves, with or without your consent, so there is no rest,
no time to simply put it on cruise control enjoy the passing of time.

For me, every breath is a nuisance; every step is a cursed journey
saddled with failed expectations and societal derision.
I never belonged to this world, nor has it offered itself to me,
and the contempt with which I hold its false promises

eats at my guts like ravens nibbling away at my flesh.
Where others are guided by the soft-bent wings of angels,
I am weighed down by the relentless nagging of demons;
wicked little imps who mock my waking hours and torment my sleep.

There is not a grave dug deep enough to bury my sorrows,
nor do I seek any forgiveness for my sorry state.
I will wash away the stench of my miserable existence
with endless cups of liquid absolution, and in my drunken state,

I will stumble through somehow.

Tomorrow’s sunrise may warmly embrace the multitudes;
each with their cheerful dispositions and infernal optimism.
I, on the other hand, will wither beneath the heat,
thirsting constantly for the darkness beneath a waning moon,
for it is in darkness that my soul finds its true voice.

Promises


“Just so you know, despite the darkness and despair of some of my poetry, here’s a glimpse of the more hopeful and soulful affirmation of my personality” Anyone laughs, I un-follow!

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PROMISES

You ask if love’s forever
A promise I can’t make
But if I could, or thought I should
I would not hesitate

I’d promise you forever
And then a day or two
If I were free to guarantee
Forever loving you

But promises are born of doubt
A doubt that’s seldom real
The love we know can only grow
In trusting what we feel

Yet, I’ll promise you this moment
If words can still your fears
Just hold me now and show me how
To love you through the years

 

Dedicated to Brooke and Her Sister


This is dedicated to two sisters who I have recently come to know and adore. They are the embodiment of what this poem attempts to convey – that we are transformed by the love one has for another.  I’ve posted this before, but never has it spoken so loudly until I understood the transforming love these two sisters have shared in their very special bond.

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By Pino – Two Sisters in “Afternoon Respite”

LOVE”S TRANSFORMING HAND

I don’t profess to understand
The power of Love’s transforming hand
But I can’t deny what’s plain to see
Loving you is changing me

As a child walking on the shore
I saw the ocean…nothing more
I cried, “Oh God – what senseless waste
This vast expanse of liquid space.”

Yet now, with your hands guiding me
I cherish the life within the sea
I built myself a one room home
And dared to live there all alone

It wasn’t that I did not care
Just felt I had not much to share
But now, beneath Love’s soft caress
I simply have to give my best

I once viewed stars as nothing much
Cold, distant worlds beyond my touch.
I had no need for cheap sensations
Built on simple constellations

Then Love’s hand touched me through your heart
And I knew that stars were heaven’s art
No, I don’t profess to understand
The power of Love’s transforming hand

But I can’t deny what’s plain to see
Loving you is changing me