What’s the Big Deal?

Stepping into that ladies parlor made me shiver,
reminded me of a rich friend’s house, her mother’s
shell pink bedroom with attached bath, gold gilded pink
tufted velvet chair she sat on to apply considerable amounts
of makeup and tease her platinum bleached blonde hair;

It scared the wits out of me how certain people live,
and I, her daughter’s friend, knew secrets she
of necessity would have to learn later, the pregnancy,
her firstborn running away with a beautiful Mexican
boyfriend to marry, something her mother would
never endorse in a million lifetimes;

And I thought then and I think now, what is this path
of exclusion, the shunning of dear family, friends,
people who don’t comply with another’s version
of what they ought to be, how things must look
in order to be acceptable and to whom I cannot imagine
if not themselves, the bitterness rising as gall
in the throat or feeding a tumor, black wad of hate
and resentment somewhere, now hidden, later
to be discovered somewhere in their own precious body;

We are all on this earth to learn unconditional love,
and experience schools us, molds us, polishes us like
diamonds from the roughest coal if we but accept
the tutelage, the sooner the better, in order
that we garner something of value to pass along
to a world in need of wisdom when our time here
is done.

mountains above Peñasco, NM ~ bj 2022


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.

No Small Thing

The dance we do, two partners holding
a thin sheet of paper between them, no hands,
just bodies aware of that small bit of substance,
mute as snow, drifting not crashing
into the weight of it;

The dance we do locks eyes and hearts as one
small thing, defining us, still unique, this closeness;
The space of a thin sheet of paper we do not drop,
it does not shift about but holds its own potential
there in the dark or in the light; no writing, no
scribble, no pictures, no definable substance;

It is blank but visible always, this thin sheet
of paper, fragile as an icicle, smooth as the surface
tension of water, strong as the atom and equally

Call It Moving On

She’s been dead a couple of years,
my soul mate. Lots of people’s soul mate.
That was her gift. She belonged to everybody
and nobody at all. She was very much
her own woman or the Goddess’ woman
or at least a powerful woman; no less
nor more than I, myself; but still.

We are stratified into more subtle layers
than most people care to discover,
a bit of fairy dust really, and yet.
It matters less and less only we did
understand one another, and upon death,
suddenly our work comes more alive.
People are searching for answers.
Our passing reminds them of this.

I keep wondering if I ought to be shaking
bits of her out of my body, but where
then do I put the pieces? I who am
daily reminded of footprints and planets,
the excesses of my own species. And still
I am reluctant to see those remnants go.

It’s not that I cannot let her progress,
she is doing that splendidly, even now;
and images come alive in heartbeats
out in the garden by the clove tree
which could never cast those memories
into fires of forgetfulness, knowing deep
as sap the need for proliferation of kindred,
her now-forgotten mace and nutmeg.

Only Human

What can be grasped in the depth of one’s gaze
peering mysteriously through curtains
of illusion, how to ever truly comprehend;
I sit gazing at that image now, the one of you
and me on the water, snow-crested Mauna Kea
backdrop, you in your element and me
in mine, I suppose;

Presentation unfailingly graceful, care ever
in the details, radiance beaming clear through,
and yet tortuous as life was to you anyway,
it ended. Just like that.

Wincing at your self proclaimed ugliness,
shaming parental voices never stilled,
and more beautiful a being I have rarely met
(choice of verb flipping flash card ‘known,’
rejected out of hand).

Impossible to fully intimate another we bar
no hold on the ego’s livery, while I carry
on perceiving shadows and crevices furrowed
deeper than appearances. You harbored
no guile, yet all I could glimpse
in those luminous dark eyes was wisdom
and experience; timber solid as trees
and just as vulnerable to the axe.

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photo: Hipstamatic rendering of guava leaf – Pololu Valley trail, 2015

Iconic Irony

All we know of another
may be only what our illusions support;
if we want a savior, they become that
in our minds, even our cells;
if we need a lover, a mother,
a brother, best friend, they become that
as well, until, exhausted from the weight
of the world’s expectations,
a pin is pulled, the makeup slides off,
holy garments slip from slumped shoulders
and the beloved appears, just like us,
in their naked humanity.

If I barely know myself,
how is it I suppose I can know another,
save for my own projections;
we are complex, we are selfish,
the most noble among us gets angry,
even cruel in our way, and we jump
back stunned, barely able to witness
what materializes before astonished eyes;
we observe, questioning, not them
if we are lucky, but our own
perceptual distortions.

photo: bj, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ 2015

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not like Mona Lisa

who seems too pious for the picking
and more like Vermeer’s Girl,
something suggested only
as if she knows she’s goddess,
while the other is bent toward God;

I am not one of those who
harbors yearning for the unresponsive,
though I understand the predilection.
Still, to whet one’s appetite
for what’s authentic conjures
in one another the deities
of which we speak, asking more
of what lies dormant within;
and even then, we dally.

Ah, to awaken the most wondrous spirit,
to imagine the fullness of existence
and embrace eternity in this moment.
To do this with another.
We are ecstatic in the dance,
we are living the dream.

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Desirous of returning, perhaps,
furtive glances at the young couple, hands
never far from one another, stroking gently
and they know, these manatee women,
how it changes, that touch,
first a small betrayal, feelings far out
of proportion to events peculiar
to youth they would gladly recapture,
if only wisdom would imbue it;

Then follow the children contemplated
even now, his building a sand belly
and photographing, sending to envious friends
because they say so, faking is funny, oh,
the irony, biological urges blurring senses,
morning passion play marking faces,
masks one sees through, if attentive;

Elder gestures now revealing,
impressing far more than the telling,
(youth’s perception terms it envy,
oversimplifying complexities developing,
years left in the making);

Still, the mind casts to and fro,
fly fisher’s line not quite settling on the waters
of imagination, back and forth encores,
brains sharp as once they were,
bodies standing stock still,
melting candle legs supporting
burgeoned bellies, gravity drawing them inexorably
back to point of origin;
bargain made, body borrowed,
innocence hearkening to a time
they, too, were blissfully unafraid.


Have you ever thought to yourself,
if only this person would see my heart,
if blame and fear were set aside,
we might forge truer bonds?

It is always surprising when another
remains unwilling to own their part,
especially when friends drop
like dominoes, again and again.

Surely it is not always the other’s fault?

When a well-trod higher road proves insufficient,
an exasperated distance gains last resort.
Humans have feelings, after all.

While it is difficult to stop blaming oneself
for actions beyond understanding,
it might be equally onerous for another
to stop offloading personal responsibility
onto others.

Life is the great teacher,
may we learn well.
Open to learning, one must realize
humility has many recalcitrant students.


How can it be in this land of plenitude,
our fellows spilling out now
into city streets, smearing pristine glare
of glossy retail windows
with the crime of their insanity?

I walk and talk with open heart,
not from a place where vacant stares
meet hollow eyes;
hear his story, however true,
offer a meal he declines,
proud he is employed, no longer able
to dig holes, he says,
since someone crushed the back
of his skull with a rock.

Live long enough and it all seems plausible,
as we stroll along, talking unselfconsciously
in a throng of iPhone-toting trust fund youth,
oblivious to the suffering their lack of empathy
stamps securely on a world they inherit.