Relics

We all die. Relics left behind for others,
once culturally defined, a slurry now
of overcooked vegetables in the melting pot
of what humanity has become;

For better, we are more homogenous,
conferring fewer reasons to hate
that which is and ever was kindred.
Knowing this, do we truly taste the apple
sweetness of experience, or drum up
further excuses to postpone joy?

At worst, we forget our ancestors,
those from whom we inherit genetically,
even behaviorally, perhaps to our peril;
for history, devoid of lessons learned,
proves a hollow saga sucked dry of juice;
a dessicated plum placed primly
alongside a backdrop of ripe peaches,
fruit of our potential
.

What traces will linger
in this adolescent nation whose excesses
are counterpart to senseless severity,
an artistic strangulation where
even the Rubenesque among us
yearn to be thin and dry as wraiths?

A society threatened by hips and thighs
is doomed to infertility of the imagination.

 

Samsara

It’s a tricky thing, ask
for one thing, get another,
just what is needed.

Understood.

Shake hands with fate,
agree to the veiling
not an ending,
rather the beginnings
of a new life,
tabula rasa.

Oh, the beauty! Tastes
and smells and five,
maybe six senses
all vibrating at once,
luring us into nooks
and alleys and pleasure
and pain and lord,
are we hungry, the earth
is our pasture, her treasures
our plunder, perfecting ways
in which to exert dominion
over what the eyes survey;

Hungry ghosts.

 

Sikkim - Land of Discovery
image: Sikkim – Land of Discovery

fmi on the definition of hungry ghosts:
The Hungry Ghost

GYPSY

The old woman clasps worn cards wearily to grizzled chin,

vertical lines set deep as piercing black eyes etched

into an apple doll face.

Sweeping swollen arthritic fingers over lined forehead,

drumming now, listening to the hollow sound

of bony digits echoing against her skull.

 

Tapping, tapping flat cards to thrust of jaw

ever so gently yet persistently knowing,

as she did,

the message contained within the deck’s images

cast long ago from a stranger’s mind onto paper.

 

Fear arises, wells up inside her throat,

recalling faces beyond memory

castigating, infiltrating, immolating,

angry as the fires of hell that she knew

more accurately than themselves

their own path unfolding.

 

What the men wanted and what they got,

whether from her pack or between her sheets,

seldom elicited gratitude;

rather envy and scorn surged

from the recesses of dull minds

expecting picture-book angels,

unready and unwilling to accept

the too-human answer to their prayers.

 

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Prescience

Beauty is indifferent to itself.

 

Largesse of spirit contrasts with strength

of jaws snapping to the indifferent air,

I don’t know what it ees, but every wanna

dese local boys, dey see one white woman

and dey tink she some kine goddess or somet’ing.

 

Grain of salt and all.

 

Until today, cycling by primary grades

out for recess in the unrelenting sun;

chubby brown boy with dimpled smile

joined by both hands

to a tall yellow-haired girl of eight

standing next to a diminutive friend,

gleaming waves of jet cascading clear and full

down her small perfect back.

 

Paper crown colored in crayon

quickly pilfered from the tow-head

to be placed atop the beaming stripling.

Darker girl looks on imploringly,

sparkling eyes inviting his to acknowledge;

her unfolding splendor remaining,

at least to him,

invisible.

 

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Outcaste

She greets them in alleyways,

meets them indoors;

she’s a mother’s sweet baby,

she’s somebody’s whore.

Her fantasies keep her

from going insane;

her children, her future

bound up in the pain.

 

And for us it is easy,

with lives full and sweet –

moving forward and backward,

eyes avoiding the street.

 

Her gaze sweeps the horizon,

she longs for a clue

how she got here,

where she’s headed

and it’s all up to you.

I know what you’re thinking:

she’s not mine; isn’t yours –

like the homeless and hungry,

despised and abhorred.

 

While the shadows among us

seep under our skin;

they becomes us, they fit

like white lies that unhinge

the most stoic and stolid,

where they come home to roost;

and we have to confront

our own human abuse.

 

~ bj

 

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Bridging Cultures

I cannot tell you what a relief it is

sitting amongst those raised with means and ways

foreign to mine as the surface of the moon.

 

Laughter of young children acting out

like I never could;

relaxing into parental anarchy,

rather than worrying about raising them

with some skewed interpretation of rightness.

 

What can I say about those who likely will

never go to college, except to let them be

who they are.

The world needs diversity more than another lawyer;

another veneered politician spinning rhetoric

from a glossy tongue bought by a corporate constituency.

 

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BLOGOSPHERE

Blogging provides a virtual and sometimes therapeutic channel in which to pour one’s thoughts and feelings that, in turn, insinuate themselves into the collective like dye injected into a crystalline ocean. Slowly spreading, the new medium eventually becomes assimilated into the existing one, and a hybrid is born. We are changed and the world changes us.

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Ramble

I strive to be happy. Honest, I do. But sometimes I have to ask myself completely and without guile, Is it happiness itself I seek? Or is it the process of striving that captivates me – the push/pull between satisfaction and all that fails to match expectations of what humans and life, itself are capable? 

I know that expectations are like premeditated resentments. The devil is, however (as is so often the case), in the particulars: the nuances and fine tuning of my own inner frequencies. It’s a bit like orchestrating a symphony – getting all the discordant elements in harmony at all times is a tall order. Often I succeed, and other times I fail abysmally in pulling up even with my own standards. Is it simply that I observe all I see, both outside and in, with eyes wide open? And if, as so many believe, consciousness equates to bliss, I’m not so sure. Rather, I think being awake in that sense means accepting life on its own terms – meeting what is, which is forever shifting and changing and never static. Then somehow being at peace with it all.

Some are blessed to exist or coexist in virtual isolation, while others of us who admire the wisdom gleaned from those kinds of cloistered conditions are likewise graced with passionate encounters and the joys of creating everything from a wardrobe to offspring. The tradeoff for isolation is precisely that, but it’s no surprise – existence itself is rife with contradiction. For the rest of us, society’s constant tug and pull of distractions and drama create emotional highs and lows, as we struggle like oboes and strings to attune to one another’s harmonic as well as discordant qualities in the midst of creation’s chaos.

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BOOM DITTY BOOM

My generation of boomers was born to mothers who, for the first time in recorded history, found themselves in decision making positions independent of their men. Suddenly lives no longer revolved around how children dressed for school that morning, who picked Timmy up from baseball practice or what to put on the table later that evening. Collectively our mothers began to wonder about fulfillment in their own lives. They began questioning subjectively in ways that were not even conceptualized by objectified generations of women before them, except in the most avant-garde conditions.

It is to these courageous women I owe a debt of gratitude, for they laid the bedrock of a foundation my generation needed in order to rivet the rouged faces of females everywhere – get them focused back on their own inner lives – the wisdom, intelligence, energy and heart required for their own healing and, ultimately, in order to change the status quo. In light of this renewed awareness, renewed because it can be quickly forgotten in the crush of corporate globalization, we are, then, perhaps the first generation of truly independent women since the advent of patriarchy itself over 2,000 years ago.

As women we have always been suited to the task of supervision, both as mothers and functionally intelligent human beings, yet due to a collective dearth of early imprinting, we often lacked the skills necessary for discernment and prioritizing. These Saturnian qualities were notably attributed to the male of the species, or certainly men had extensive experience in practicing them for thousands of years. Yet just as men in modern times have been learning to cultivate the qualities better developed in women – those of connection, emotional expression and communication – women likewise have found ourselves facing these underdeveloped characteristics of reduction and delegation.

Of course there are women who have found themselves, either in the field of academia or in the corporate world, in positions of leadership and management. How long it takes us to build the skills necessary to fill those professional shoes likely depends on the temperament and constitution of the woman, herself. Whether or not she finds herself in balance is another thing. For if we gain the world and yet lose our soul, one wonders if the tradeoff is entirely satisfactory. Some of us unknowingly forfeit our sense of connection and relatedness in the mix, which, when it happens, can engulf our tender heart. It may then be awhile before we reclaim the familiarity of trusting our own flesh, once again.

If practice makes perfect, practice serves to help us learn – especially if we have no role models before us – to face the fires of our doubts, fears and anxieties and accustom ourselves to sitting and sifting before we act. Often it seems easier to pick up the phone and get relational with someone, anyone, who might help relieve our feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. This search for answers or positive feedback outside the self might likewise be interpreted as a throwback plea for those broad shoulders of patriarchy to provide the structure we feel is lacking in our own inner lives. And we can fake it ‘til we make it, but if we are to learn, grow and finally develop a true sense of healthy autonomy, we must painstakingly walk before we can run.

There is no regressing in time, one can only forge ahead. Similar to the advent of new technology, we are developing fresh templates every day. We are imprinting new awarenesses onto subsequent generations. And it is splendid, it is lovely, it is unique and scary and necessary. Our world needs balance and we are tipping the scales. And so we proceed – now as elders in society – with love, patience and understanding. And we grant these first to ourselves.

NEEDLEPOINT 

It might as well be my shroud.
Confusion of tapestry woven daily
in knobbly hues – threads pulled
straight when ease marks the course –
twisted and frayed
when impaired.
 
How many acres of worries
it covers! Like prayer beads worn
shiny with use –
stitched string upon
string until, alarmed,
I buckle under its bulk.
 
I want to conceal every footpath,
leaving no trace –
a sandstorm scouring
undulating desert dunes.
 
Instead, tracks are buried –
grooved deeply
into grey matter
waiting in my wings
seeking flight
on the thermals
of my liberation.
~ Bela Johnson

LOVER

I usually post my own thoughts here on WordPress, but picked up this book today and felt compelled to share what jumped out at me. You are invited to share your feedback – I’d be curious to know what this piece brings up for you. Cheers!

 

The Lover is one of the most potent archetypal forces in the Western psyche, and in America, romantic love may well be the single greatest energy system that governs our lives, competing with religion as the arena in which we seek meaning, wholeness, and ecstasy. Nearly every level of the entertainment world – our movies, novels, magazines and media advertising – taps into this hunger, the passio perpetua of the modern age. At its best, romantic love leads us past the literalism and materialism of the Western mind and brings us face to face with the symbolic life, opening our eyes to the meaning of human love. At its worst, it distorts and wastes our lives.

In our culture, ideals have been set so high that we have come to believe that romantic love is the only form of “love” on which marriage and intimacy can be based. Other cultures, like those of India and Japan, foster deep love and devotion for their partners, but they do not impose the kinds of impossible demands and expectations as Americans have done, believing, as we so often do when we “fall in love,” that we have found the ultimate meaning of life. We feel completed – as if we have found the missing parts of ourselves – and we suddenly feel alive and whole. But when the fantasy wears off, we become anxious, angry, or depressed. We blame our partners for the loss of ecstatic love, or seek romance with someone new.

Underneath, we do not recognize the deep sense of loneliness and alienation that emerges from this idealistic pursuit, one which limits our ability to form genuinely loving and committed relationships. Romance insinuates that we have the right to expect that our desires can and should be satisfied. But by its very nature, romance must deteriorate into egoism, for it speaks more about our own fantasies, projections, and expectations than it does of the other person.

This is the great wound of our psyche, and if we are to heal ourselves, we must undertake the difficult task of understanding it. The path towards consciousness can bring new awareness about ourselves and our relationships with others.

We cannot linger forever in the romantic ideal; eventually we must push forward to overcome the dogmas of our culture. We have to deal with our own Western unconscious and our own Western wounds, finding the healing balm within our own Western soul. What we will find is that the essence of happiness is not so much to be loved, as to love. 

~ Robert A. Johnson, in LOVER: Embracing the Passionate Heart