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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.

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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?

 

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.

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.

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


1a

 

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”.

Do Not Be Afraid


embrace

Do not be afraid
to lose yourself in me.
My hands are strong,
yet gentle
and, if need be,
I shall carry you
within the calm shadows
of my love.

Do not be afraid
to laugh with me;
the warmth of my love for you
I gather from the
rainbows of your smile.

Do not be afraid to cry with me
when life overwhelms you;
I will gather your tears
within the well of my understanding
and pour them carefully
upon the fires of your fear.

Do not be afraid
to live with me;
I will build for you a home
with floors of tender mercy,
Walls of compassion,
ceilings of hope,
and windows of promise.

Do not be afraid
to die with me;
I will lead you through
the dark forests of your doubt
until the bright meadows
of forever rise beneath our feet
and the cool waters of eternity
swallows our souls, together.

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.

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.

 

This Is How I Start My Days


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This is how I start my days.

At four a.m., I awaken with a start. It isn’t that I wasn’t sleeping well, but this is my witching hour. I reach over and pull the covers up over my wife and take a moment to gaze in absolute awe at this beauty, this incredible effervescent woman sharing my bed.

I quietly swing my feet to the floor and sit for a moment. My muse is impatiently pulling me into awakening, but I do my best to resist. I want to sleep just a little bit more, but my eyes have already made out the flashing light on my hibernating computer and just like that, I want to be writing more than I want to be dreaming.

I gently close the bedroom door behind me and make my way into the kitchen. I put water in the kettle, light the stove, and grab my pack of cigarettes. I head out the door into the blackness of the night, sit upon the second stoop, and light up. The ritual never changes. And there, beneath the canopy of constellations, I look for my special star. I don’t know what it is called, and I don’t know why it is that star…but I need to start each day in silent commune before it. Once I find it, I stare at it for a few minutes, emptying my mind of creeping thoughts. I slowly close my eyes, inhale another drag, and listen.

Like little mice on padded feet, the words start scampering around my brain. The writing has begun.

I toss the cigarette into the night, watching a spiral of red sparks ascend, then descend, as if to punctuate the purpose of this ritual. From the kitchen, the kettle begins to sing, and I rush in before it hits full crescendo and awakens my wife. I pour the steaming water over a cone of coffee grounds and inhale the rising steam. In a seamless arch, I take my cup of coffee to the kitchen table, flip open the lid to my computer, and hit the resume button.

And then I write. And write and write and write. At this point, what I write is irrelevant. That I write is the point. The wee hours of the morning are not the time to self-critique or to spin a plot. It is the time for the bleeding of words.

This is how I start my days.

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

 

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

 

Writer’s Block


Image
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 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.

Pino-AfternoonRespite-30x30

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

The Skirt


Image

You laid your plaited skirt
on the foot of my bed,
neatly folded as though
in doing so you could somehow
retain your virtue.

In the midst of our fleshy thrashing,
I kicked it to the floor, and you began
to cry, deep sobs that rattled
the mattress springs.

I moved, too reluctantly, to retrieve it
but you said, “Why bother? You’ve ruined it.
You’ve ruined me. You’ve ruined everything!”

Making love doesn’t always
mean making sense,
and so I threw my feet to the floor,
pulled on my jeans, and looked back,
although I would never be able to see.

“So that’s it?” you sobbed.
“You bastard!”

I smiled In affirmation, buttoned my shirt,
and turned toward the door,
and as an afterthought, picked up
your once plaited skirt, tossed it
carelessly over my shoulder,

and left.

 

The Following Two Poems Just Published by Indiana University’s Literary and Arts Journal


I am extremely honored that two of my poems, “Graveyard” and “Corner Bar” have been published in the spring edition of “From the Well House” – Indiana University’s Literary and Arts Journal. Please visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fromthewellhouse  I am reposting the two poems here in honor of my “Followers” who push me to keep writing with their support and encouragement.  These two poems are for you! ~ Thank you….Dennis McHale

GRAVEYARD

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I always found the
taste of Heaven stale,
like coffee three days old.

I prefer to spend my nights
in graveyards with ghosts,
in the company of stone angels
and cemetery cats
whispering my secrets to the dead.

The setting sun casts
dying fingers of soft orange light
through rusting iron gates,
lobbing sharp, offensive shadows
across these cold granite faces.

Above, an unkindness of ravens
caw an unspeakable truth.
Of late, I have been known
to sing with them.

My darkness is a sanctuary,
my voice a broken prayer.
My hope deeply planted
in this field of shattered bones
awaiting a resurrection
that shall never come.

Here among the sleeping dead
I have lain down many times,
and in the stillness of the night
have heard my death composed.

CORNER BAR

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It always felt familiar and safe;
not like home, but filled with that same tragic scent
of failure, futility, and confusion.
In this darkened chapel, night after night,
we feigned brotherhood, but watched our backs.
We found religion in tall tales
and twisted notes floating softly from the jukebox.
The enormity of the lies exchanged was staggering,
yet not once was truth demanded.

Here, we worshiped and blessed ourselves
at the mahogany and brass altar of amber absolution,
our sins washed in a flood of cheap whiskey and stale beer.
Our bottles filled the night with dead words and hungry ashtrays
and all these incessant “maybes”
while shameless calls for “another!” filled the tepid air.

We licked the back of our teeth
and bought rounds for the prostitute sitting there all alone,
hunched over to entice our drunken libidos.
We adored her, this faded Madonna,
with her chipped teeth and sagging breasts,
reeking of a stale alcohol and tragic perfume.
Where once there had been beauty and life
some bastard had beaten it out of her;
taking everything that made a woman good and reduced her to this.
Our prayers were answered
in the way this whore swallowed you whole
in the back room’s secret confessional
where you keep her words tightly knit
in the dark corners of your heart.

This was the flip-side of our saintly home-lives;
our souls consumed in the repetition of it all.
We whispered our hallelujahs as the clock struck two;
last call and a slow retreat into the shameless shadows of wretched existence,
as God soundly closed the doors behind us.

Where I Live


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How temperamental is the man in me
who misses you but will not call this because
I find the thought of romance more alluring
than actually opening myself to you?
I drink to burn the voices in my belly
that mock my tenuous hold on sanity.
I buy my smokes one at a time because
I have no vision of or faith in tomorrow
and I make my living scratching the underbelly of
this wretched world;
This desolate city, crumbling beneath the
broken wings of blackbirds…it is my home.
It is where I live. My pen scrapes past
its veneer of civility and sheds light upon
the ugly, the lost, the torn asunder. My people.
I take my walks at night under many clouds
all dressed in muted black.
I am callous with the hipsters and the tweakers
camped by the muddy rivers, and the hookers
and the pimps and the holy man and the
goddamned garish fluidity of this headache world.
I live in a city of fifty thousand accumulated flesh tombs
or more pretending about the news and the weather
with their minds drifting always back to the same
goddamned thing. How pathetic to be so far away
in space but not in time?
How desperate is the faith convinced by two arguments;
Both to be and not to be?
When I stumble, I lean against the wall or the lamppost
reading a page of Plath or passage of Hemingway
and all I can think is how courageous their exits were.
I yearn for their knowledge of the final crossing.
I read words, not novels, because words
are better spit than woven.
I refuse my fate gazing at my expiration date
and pouring another drink, I turn off the radio and
sit silently in the dark chambers of my thoughts.
I remember you, but me? I do not.

Letting Go


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Slip away my son, your night has come
As this day unwinds the sorrow
And do not fear the bells you hear
They ring a bright tomorrow

See the stars above, shining bright, my love
It reveals a path for you
Take one step to be heaven bound and free
Your spirit’s been renewed

It has been my boy, the utmost joy
To hold and love you true
If I must let go, you must surely know
How proud I am of you

Take my hand my dear, and feel me near
Let go these earthly hollows
Feel the light within as you now ascend
And know that I will follow

 

In Memory of Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens


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Oh, Brother! Heaven your great soul doth claim
As we humbly sing of your immortal and righteous fame;
Libya’s vast beauty you did us, in love,  engage,
Where you sought nobler objects in our civil rage:
And, with wise conduct, to your home country showed
The hope, the promise on this, our land bestowed.
The crown of a hero you must now eternal wear,
On your victorious head, sadly now lay prostrate there.
We that loved you, grieve, concerned this day to see
Such a price for liberty and freedom, which is never free
In heaven angels weep at such an untimely death
In unimaginable grief we Libyans mourn with a single breath

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if-just-once-more

IF JUST ONCE MORE by D.L. McHale


 

A heart divided cannot beat for long
An unsung note cannot be called a song
The dancer spins a lonely pirouette
Who dances only with her silhouette

The un-prayed prayer on deaf ears fall
Despite the soul’s relentless call
This crowded world is such an empty place
When from heaven, too, angels fall from grace

The flames of love that burn so bright
Without lips to kiss becomes a dying light
The promise of love that is unreturned
Is the loneliest truth for man to learn

The sun may rise, but each day descends
Like a long, dark night that will never end
The longest path for he who walks alone
Are the shuffled steps toward an empty home

In winter’s grip, luscious gardens shorn
Though the wilted rose still bears its thorns
Yet all these sorrows I would dare embrace
If just once more I could see your face

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Supriya


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I think a while of Supriya, and while I think,
She’s the reason I write poems with India ink
To make permanent my words, my thoughts, my love
For this beautiful vision sent from heaven above
“Greatly Beloved” is what her name means
Angels whisper her name, or so it seems
She’s the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon
Her grace floods my heart like a summer monsoon
Her poetic heart understands my desire
Her songs and poems do my muse inspire
For she is that link between heaven and earth
She’s the reason for my laughter, my joy, and my mirth
I don’t know from where she draws such beauty and grace
I only know she hides behind a beautiful face
In my heart, in my soul, to the center of my core
And all that I ask is a few minutes more
To have and to hold her in my faraway arms
To protect and to love her and keep her from harm.
She’s the reason I write such words on this day
For she’s entered my life and carried me away.
For if the truth were known, Love cannot speak
But only thinks and does and continually seeks
To lift up my spirit past the stars up above,
Supriya my friend, my hope, and my love.

 

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i never had a plan for you


3

you push and pull, like wolves at the door,
and all i hear is this discordant humming.
you play only the black keys, the sharp keys,
and your music screams of pain.
but isn’t that the choice?

we’ve come a long and lonely way
to owe ourselves to wolves
each howl a dying little light of the soul
i don’t remember, did we take this road together?
did you see our wings fold together?

you have a wanderlust growing in your soul
and live where ashes take the form of houses
all around the grounds we see a flashlight metronome,
that skips to sleep in leaps, lock and key, or latchkey…
a house you tricked empty because
you knew they would take it back, piece by piece.

who do we let it in? do we have a choice?
you said you don’t even like to be seen
in the parking lot, beneath the moon
and the drinking of the glass…
whatever the hell that means

i’m sorry again for everything i’ve been
and all the things i wasn’t
i’d sink to your city streets if i wasn’t buried in your hands
there is nothing out there; i do not hear what you hear
regardless of everything, i came to know you as a relic
you are ashes falling between my burnt fingers

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Little White Bird


white bird

 

We counted, huddled, precious hours
two lovers sheltered against springtime showers
‘Neath the down-stretched arms of a weeping willow
My arms your shelter, my lap your pillow

And there, like the myth of an ancient love
Carried upon the wings of a snow white dove
Sunlight breaking with the flutter of wings
From the little white bird who softly sings

We watched it flit with a delicate glee
From branch to branch and tree to tree
Against its soft wing nature pressed
The storm abates, the day is dressed

Beloved skies where imagination weeps
These our newfound white bird keeps
Beneath her wings, winds lifting higher
Chasing clouds for her hearts desire

Until she finds her true love rising
On thermal bands, her flight revising
The two-winged now as one together
Each wingbeat now in equal measure

And so do we, in love’s all knowing
Feel this precious love now growing
In awe we sigh, love’s prayer now heard
In the shadow of our little white bird

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My Pagoda


pagoda

 

In my next incarnation,
I will dwell in a house
with a roof that curls like a smile.
Nestled in a flush of empurpled trees
and luminous clouds –
paths winding up
the velvety-green mountains
and ninety-nine steps
upward to my teak-carved door.

Shivering, I will rise in the morning,
blow on my hands like coals,
and squat to make tea in the teapot.
Slowly, the aromatic leaves will fill my heart
like a cup, the tea swirling,
knowing more than I know.

In the room’s far corner,
an altar, a few flowers, incense.
Buddha smiling.

My visitors will carry bright offerings
But how little will be necessary!
Like a beggar’s bowl,
each day will be full and empty

 

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We Shall Remember: Ode to a Dying Poet


moon words

Your night has fallen;
the brilliant light
of the new moon
filtering through the
broken mass of clouds,
a brilliant ray reflecting
upon your tongue-kissed works.
Your verse remains standing,
redeeming the world from darkness:
they seem to move and
we are filled with awe.

Your words were mountains;
iron-like masses thrown heavily
against the somber sky –
and as the dark blue deepens
into purple and purple-black
we reflect upon your poems,
which were gurgling streams
of naked visceral truth
cutting through our consciousness.

One never thinks of velvet
when the light is cold and thin;
when snow lies deep
and the intense light dazzles the eye.
But your lines were velvet in their
silver light and inky blackness
and we shall remember.

To Love Once More


kiss

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.

 

Love’s Transforming Hand


heart_in_hand_by_warfarelieutenant_thumb3

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 Love’s hand touching me
I feel 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 live, I love, and share 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 kiss
And I knew that stars were more than this.

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.

Fade to Heaven


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Time comforts me, though the clock winds down
And I’m driven to the ticking of another sound
My heart beats so softly, in erratic measure
Comes now an end to this life I have deeply  treasured

I have done my best, or so shall I plead
As the Book of Life will surely read
When comfort was asked, I held out my hand
I shared what I had without a demand

Solace I gave to those deep in sorrow
Lived for today, and prayed for tomorrow
The sick I did comfort, the hungry I fed
If needed I fought, and oftentimes bled

For the weak and the child with no one to care
To fill them with love and crush their despair
My joys and my sorrows, both equally scattered
Like dying fall leaves that no longer  matter

Now days turn to hours, and hours to minutes
Now comes to a close this life with me in it
Softly my prayers in last utterance fall
“Grace be upon me, I’ve given my all.”

Secondhand Love


I'm stuck here in this life I didn't ask for. There must be something more.
I’m stuck here in this life I didn’t ask for. There must be something more.

Walked away and I won’t look back
Can’t be bothered now by the love you lack
Saw my reflection in your cold, dark eyes
You heart was closed , but that’s no surprise

Can you tell me, was I just another man
Filling a void in your selfish plan?
Will the love I felt simply fade away
Like a clear blue sky on a cloudy day?

My life is passing like a babbling brook
Devoid of substance because of all you took
Did you think I’d surrender? Did you think I’d die?
Like a worn out book that’s been tossed aside?

I’ll Just say goodbye and be  on my way
You’ve had you fun, now simply drift away
I won’t be played like a child’s broken toy
Your second-hand love is devoid of joy