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I’m accustomed to gazing at stars beyond stars
soaring like dragons across the night sky.
Wrapped in fleece, I steal away,
bare feet padding across dew-soaked grasses,
rolling onto my backside, bathing in moonlight.

Like a faerie dipping into the heart of a flower
to indulge in the nectar renewing her mantle,
I must return to solitude and sanity.

These city ramblings are a Cinderella story,
and if I languish, my shine wears thin.
I fear that all remaining will be shadow,
the ruffled collar of Rat, scuttling into the sewer
with the advent and brilliance of day.
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Ode to Fungi

Reclining in wrapping indifferent to its contents,

the tidy row of portobellos lies chilling;

scaly surfaces restricted by saran to fit,

shipped far from forest understory

now gasping for breath through tiny

puncture-perfect holes.

 

Carefully pulling free vulgar covering,

breaking bread now with the heart of mycelium

transporting me into underground networks

where leaf mold poises over soil and secrets.

I honor this delicacy, relish the treasure;

and sit enraptured by savory mushroom meat,

digging in with licentious abandon.

 

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volcanic rock

I find I’m looking for fear

with a background trembling

in anticipation of its discovery.

Why does my mind willfully seek out

that which engenders this shaky unrest?

 

My body yearns to move

while thoughts, suspended in space,

inspire little if not lethargy.

 

Two wires twined inside a sheath,

allowing a human be(com)ing to survive.

One goes to the production of energy,

physical. The other immobilizes

the very vehicle to my liberation:

the yang, the yin.

 

The pureness of wondering how

to sink further into feelings

soothes my ruffled collar;

and I breathe more deeply,

now out of intention.

 

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When the rains come

and they have,

and they have –

the porous ground pulls in nutrients,

cane toads wake up from a long,

long slumber.

 

It has been dry in Hawai’i nei,

we have all been thirsty

for this liquid manna pouring forth

from the socked-in heavens;

breathe it in,

ears attuned to the dance

as it slides off metal rooftops

and collects in the pockets

between spongy grasses

and decaying fronds.

 

Envisage liver red worms

slithering freely as they convert

crumbling soil, nourish starving saplings

while half-ripened bananas arch

on rugged stalks, filling fruit

as the figs and the foliage

and the birds and the bugs

merge a chorus of thanksgiving

drowned out in this happy deluge.

 

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Timeless

He turns over in his sleep,

wanting to be sure I am out of harm’s way,

though the language spoken is of dreams.

Laughing until we tear up,

knowing this interlude will be forgotten

with the coming of morn.

 

I pull into myself then;

watch the steady rise and fall of ribs

as familiar to me as my own skin,

knowing what is temporal is fragile;

that it will end all too soon.

 

We just don’t know when.

 

Life does not play favorites.

What is precious or repugnant –

neither endures forever.

 

My love must coexist with pragmatism,

for in order to discover the depth and breadth of joy,

embracing impermanence is the only option;

savoring each moment

for the miracle it is.

 

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Clean Sweep

copyright 2013 - Bela Johnson

Swelling waters crash

over concrete jetties,

sweeping docks clean of debris:

cigarette butts, bottle tops,

Friday night remainders.

Still, in we jump –

glad of the sea and movement

away from whatever it is

binding us to despair

and blinding us to love.

copyright 2013 - Bela Johnson
images: copyright 2013 – Bela Johnson

What Money Can’t Buy

snake

 

It has been predicted: this is My Lucky Year. A once-in-a-lifetime return of the Water Snake, which blessed the annum of my birth. If I make it to 120 years of age, I’ll have another, but it’s not likely to happen.

So of course I wait for money, good fortune, opportunity in the form of a landfall: a gift, success, manna from heaven. Money itself is a familiar nemesis: I’ve had it, lost it, invested it, watched it decline in value, gathered more.

But here’s the thing: I’m increasingly aware that this luck is indeed streaming to me, only in the most unsuspected manner and through channels possessing no monetary value whatsoever. A pearl beyond price, it is the shining jewel of happiness: a pure, unadulterated, undiluted, unabashed transformation from fixation on the grave concerns that besiege humankind – from the unjust, the unseen, the unforeseen events and circumstances that plague all troubled species on this blue marbled planet – into a moment to moment walking meditation on the miraculous.

Suddenly and without obvious fanfare, I am smiling – quite a lot, as a matter of fact. My heart feels hopeful and I am struck with synchronicities everywhere: lucky bolts and inspirations out of the blue; ideas both conceptual as well as concrete. And while this wondrous way of being does not entail hiding my head in the sand, it allows me to manage life on a daily basis with all of my faculties attuned to assist, gather in and release out – without the added burden of stressing about things over which I have little to no control.

Imperfect, perhaps – but remarkable, nonetheless. I accept it with gratitude; I welcome the change.

Turn, Turn, Turn

It’s such a pleasure to witness friends who take advantage of a midlife shakeup and confront their fears in order to implement major lifestyle changes. I’m thinking of one acquaintance whom I have known for almost thirty years; one whose face appears lit from within where once a kind of tightness dwelled.

My own significant wake-up call arrived in my early forties. I don’t know if I would have it in me at almost sixty to shift in quite that way again, though the process, once engaged, is certainly ongoing. For it took not only courage and fortitude, but also a substantial allocation of energy and ambition to begin breaking those rigid life-long patterns.

We don’t know any different until we do. Even then, the challenges we face are astronomical: drop our storyline; stop taking things personally; divest ourselves of unworkable relationships; cease or curtail destructive habits of all sorts, whether physical, emotional or mental; forgive ourselves and others for not meeting expectations; lighten our burdens; establish supportive relationships. It’s always a work in progress.

 

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Headlights

heussenstamm

I cannot wear sequins.

A closet full of skirts and dresses

tried on over the years;

wishful thinking.

 

What I do,

where I live

does not lend itself

to swoops of air between the legs;

bluster and sparkle.

 

No need for headlights.

 

It feels like a violation;

the paradox of glitter

and steaming mulch;

canyons and the finality

of fabric cleaving

to the four winds.

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ODE TO LOVE

I haven’t written a rhyming poem since I was a child! Sitting on my back lanai watching a painted gecko dipping into my spent teacup on a blissful, sunny Hawaiian winter day, I thought, ‘Why not have some fun?’ And so I offer up this little ditty.

Happy Valentine’s Day, beloveds everywhere!

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ODE TO LOVE

Love is gentle, love is kind;

It lifts us up, dear ones enshrined

in magic, bliss; a thousand verbs

have sung its praises

O, hear the words!

I love you, want, I

need you near;

Should something happen –

you disappear – I’d suffer

endless days and nights

in torture, longing

to take flight

away from pain too great to bear.

(Would time refill that empty chair?)

If ever you should chance to meet

a person close as skin; their feet

as precious as a heart-shaped face –

no one could ever take their place –

Just count your lucky stars,

and then? Keep loving women,

loving men and children,

dogs and horses, too – extending

love to something new

until your arms stretch far and wide

o’er hill and vale; ‘cross truth and lies

and finally reach that journey’s end:

beloved self,

beloved friend.

~ BJ