Let It Be Me

I would rather die laughing,
even if I am the butt of the joke;
Life has too many twists and turns
and not enough levity, yet not
for lack of instances that might
provoke hoots of delight;

I remember in college
there was a gal who wanted
to write about serious things,
death, sex, loss, pain, using humor
and I thought it tasteless, seemed
no respect accorded the suffering,
probing issues too sensitive
and personal, and I would likely
feel the same today;

Yet there are always small things
one notices if observant,
the funny way the dog stalks
his companion’s food dish
once he’s cleaned out his own,
she with lips pulled back in a snarl
the way she dreams sometimes,
if he dares to feign interest;
the lowing cows on their way
to the river for a drink, sounding
like a group of drunken college
frat boys after a night of indulging;
the angle of that massive tilted pine
across the street, as if caught
doing something it ought not,
pointing directly down our road;

There is no need to contribute
to another’s angst for a laugh,
the strange way an old man
with a bad hip walks, the overly
made-up woman trying to impress;
surely there is enough humor
in the everyday, my own blunders,
say, and if that’s what it takes
to spark a chuckle of recognition,
let it be me; oh, please,
let it be me.

Here’s the little stalker. 🤗

Beanstalk

We are all moving on to the next level,
just as he did after coming through
walls, us sitting at our kitchen table,
pleading eyes confused, conflicted;

Nobody spoke of suicide in that place,
yet there he was, and I had to ask
another neighbor if she knew
what had happened;

I remember passing by a lone figure
walking a small white dog,
and sometimes I thought it a woman,
sometimes a man; ahh, this being
was mahu, a two spirited one,
yin and yang that might have merged
into a lovely ebony and ivory symbol,
while instead, his Japanese parents felt
only shame, and so freedom
was sought by moving to a large
east coast city where those of like
kind could seek a life free from
judgments that bound them in ties
far too snug to house the beauty
of their souls;

Distressed parents conspired
somehow to bring their son back,
yet back to what? A life in this
tiny town with its own ideas
of how firstborn sons should act?
Instead in despair, they found
their son hanging limp
from a rope
in the garage,
imagine;

When his spirit came to us,
it was with a desire to find
a way to transition between
this world and the next, and so
we envisioned a beautiful
beanstalk, glistening ivy green
with heart-shaped leaves,
its sinuous vines a strong rope
without obligation of gravity,
and it grew and branched out,
carrying this dear one
into a magical realm
where harmony might prevail,
higher, further from the suffering
of simply living with yearnings
his broken family could never
comprehend.

Tahitian Gardenia ~ bj

Turn on Your Heart Light

The heart is a lonely hunter, soaring
high above, taking the long view,
eyes ever sharp, focused on the objects
of its affection, and yet in flying free,
never asks another to suffer bonds;
Still, heart without head can be
an isolated experience; some of us,
you know, have little choice
in the matter, we are simply called
to another realm beyond logic
with which the world seems entranced;

Perhaps this is why I am beguiled
by the redtails who hunt here,
setting down whatever I am doing
to contemplate with rapture
as they glide, formidable
gaze missing nothing of import
to them anyway, landing heavily
to stand, thick wings mantling
and flexing, muscular thighs poised
to run down what they cannot grasp
in that free-falling dive, oh!

The patience of these majestic ones
as they hover over a prairie dog hole,
waiting a seeming eternity for something
to emerge as it will, sometimes;
I admire them as I do no human being,
the wild animal soul suffers no fools
as does the heart, where it suits,
the mind’s record keeper absent
or sleeping, tucked away in an old
musty library somewhere, lost
in rumination, weighing rights
and slights and caring not at all
about connections so fragile
they might cease to exist altogether.

Red tail hawks hunting in our field, northern NM ~ bj

Under the Quiet

Golden showers stream down
in dappled luminescence,
crescent slivers of fragrant
eucalyptus leaves
and she sits, no distraction
save the gurgle of a coppery-
bottomed meandering brook,
sparkling and nosing its way
through giant boulders
rolled into place long
before flows were choked back
to mere trickles, still it exudes
contentment, beauty;

She wonders at the silence
under the silence, what is the
texture of a thing unseen?
Too fine a vision has gotten her
in trouble more than once,
overactive imagination
they called it yet it persists,
and her mind can’t stop wondering
if there is this, than there must
be that, something deeper
in the woven shadows of trees,
the hollows of husky trunks,
the shapes of billowing clouds,
themselves harbingers of light
released from cerulean skies
in the form of diamond drops,
lustrous liquid giving off
the only sound in a world
once silent as grass,
or the thoughts that plague
her now.

Mana Rd., Big Island HI ~ bj

The Consistency of Dirt

I always had dirt between my toes, beginning when I was old enough to toddle, and my parents did not care, having come out west from Chicago, land of the freezing, and I do not remember any scolding for it, surely I would if it existed, walked on blistering asphalt too, never caring if my feet hardened into hooves, all the better to play horse, romping and galloping around the yard;

I went to Hamilton Park bare chested in only white underwear, more like shorts back then, and I will never forget the boys that made fun of me on the merry-go-round, free as they likely would never be, instead targeting a smiling little girl, sun streaking her chestnut hair blonde, but you know, I never went without a shirt after that day, so it must have made quite an impression, the end of innocence, perhaps we all recall this in our lives;

Five years old and off to school, I do not recall rebelling at shoes, only the delight in learning, and walking with neighborhood kids picked up along the way, a small gang of non-thugs back then, the place was safe, ridiculously so compared to these times, our school tucked neatly into the arms of a huge mountain range; breathing fully, natural as a mountain goat, and to think city folks need yoga to teach them what came naturally to children raised
in sunshine and lush surroundings;

Moving to New England after high school gave me another sort of grounding, bare feet tucked into thick socks and boots, but oh, the forest! The lakes! I never missed those barefooted excursions, I would always be nature’s child, wild as the fisher cats and foxes roaming the woods, swimming with the loons and giant bass, naked as there was no one to notice; my new form of bare feet for over three decades, a dance with nature that would always be, both girls raised in the forest, free as too many children will never experience;

Then it was off to Moloka’i, the girls choosing public over homeschooling, local kids walking barefoot to school, their wide brown feet slapping red dirt roads and the one short sidewalk on the way up the hill from the ocean, no chastisement from teachers, families recently freed from pineapple plantation work, and who was there to mandate otherwise? Still I wonder, thirty years later, have the rules changed? Or will there always be places that subconsciously realize we need bare ground under our feet in order to heal this fractured species of ours?

Coffers

Fill a vessel with clean water,
and imagine a world where all
may do the same; imagining
such a world is not difficult,
we only have to carve out
a small space into which
we insert our intentions;
these are not meaningless,
in fact, they are essential,
if we are to ever change
the dominant paradigm;

Greed and lust for more
have held sway in this world
long enough, cruelties visited
upon others, bodies over
which one steps roughly
on the way to some imagined
pot of gold and to hell
with the fallen;

Isn’t it time we ceased
taking it all for ourselves
or for granted, that we,
the privileged ones
who possess such incredible
bounty are somehow entitled
to this position; after all,
we have worked hard
(and most have) for our
petty luxuries, though we
might not envision it so;

And back we arrive at the vision,
how now to change it, now we have
more than too many, how to use
that same focus on dreaming a world
where all are safe and smiling,
giving where and how we can
without tremendous sacrifice,
after all, finding it easier
than we thought to lift others up;
it diminishes us not, in fact
it fills us up in a way
that nothing material ever could.

Enchanted

The music of the universe greets me daily,
voices on the wind, crackling through
heavily laden boughs of pine trees,
chattering black and blue birds arriving
in massive flocks every morning to the feeder,
ravens and magpies keeping their distance,
waiting on fence posts out by the fields,
trusting that what fed them yesterday
will show up in perpetuity, abundance
in the midst of winter’s cold; meanwhile
the pack of coyotes howls and yips,
acknowledging the bounty tossed
across the road nearly every day;
with compost tumblers full, we have
enough to share;

None of us knows what will greet us
as we open eyes and senses
onto a new day, fresh start for every
sentient creature on earth;
how we meet the Mystery is up to us,
cranked on caffeine and sugar,
boarding the train to a city high rise,
or quietly, softly, in wonder at another
precious gift, the sky, the clouds,
the breath we have drawn since birth,
bellows of lungs automatic, in, out,
are we aware of their significance?
Are we grateful for the intelligence
of these bodies, treating them kindly,
reverently even, as we stroll
into brilliant rays of blessed sunlight?

Retrospective

Go alone, I will join you later,
you are free anytime you wish;
no strings, save the vows
into which you entreated me,
all those years ago;

Go as you will, you have earned
my trust, my soul safe
in your keeping; that, at least,
I can count on, even as I abhor
restraints myself;

I would not entrap you,
yet you stay, always returning
like countless waves thundering
onto the same beach,
each changing the composition
of shoreline forever,
each renewing the sand,
glistening like diamonds
as the salty water calls itself
back to the swollen body
of the sea;

Not everyone is kind.
Not everyone has integrity.
All is imperfect.
And yet you are, we are this,
in the purity of our striving.

Keokea 2020 ~ bj

The Fire Within

Sip the nectar apapane bird,
that golden liquid fire,
warming the belly, opening
those channels to life,
itself born of twin flames;

Conflagrations ignite so easily
when young, not enough wisdom
to pick and choose, nature does it
for us, the rest is up to fate,
giving rise to yet more knowledge
or a ripening child within,
hardly knowing its own destiny,
and we, ignorant of our own,
clasp hands and waddle off
into the virtual sunset;

Oh, life! Oh, love! What little
we know of its permutations
until much later, raising the young one
perhaps our first real reckoning
with a thing unconditional, a bond
so deep it scares us, responsibility
we perhaps might have exercised
in that choice seemingly made for us
by hormones, finally gripping us
in alternating waves of delight
and terror;

Fast forward decades of joy and sorrow,
and if we are lucky we learn; if luckier,
we grow apart as well as together,
fluid units of life force, rivers diverging
and flowing back, each branch lifting
nutrients and debris along respective
pathways, joining up again and again
as experience and choices alter our course;
and thus that ever flowing river is changed
forever.

Rio Grande River, Taos Gorge ~ 2021 bj

Closing the Gap

Stay in the distance, watch the light,
it is all you need; It is all I ever craved,
this meeting with light imbued forms,
spirit beings that visited me when young,
floating up the canyon, me standing
small, eagerly awaiting that reunion;

The Church would have called them
evil, figments of imagination,
not recognizing anything outside
their own proscribed reality, black books, old
white men directing men, women standing
ever on the outside looking in, told they are
crucial, a support system for the Patriarchs,
though heaven forbid this was disclosed
directly;

So women remained background images,
baking cookies, cross stitching pictures,
singing hymns, and I yearned
for any other life, free from this
indentured servitude in a nylon body
suit slit for necessary procreation,
bouncing baby after baby
on bruised knees, tender from all
that bowing and scraping;

Yes, if it was sin, I was all for it,
liberty to make my own mistakes,
free from castigation, worthy, I knew,
in the eyes of Creation, never believing
myself otherwise, and I made many
painful choices, yet here I sit, whole
in my own person, still questioning,
still wondering, day after day,
at the purpose of it all;

Will humanity survive, and if it does,
I can assure you, it will not be because
we all filed into neat lines, but rather
because we burst free from imagined
constraints to discover, as if for the
first time, the wonders awaiting us
each day we draw breath, seeds cast
everywhere by Earth herself, and us,
in open-eyed wonder, finally deciding
to tend them as if all life hinged
on their germination.

desert sunset, BJ