Little Dove

Anxiety for me is not a teeth-chattering,
nerve-rattling affair, rather the tendency
of an untended mind to flutter toward
the familiar always a heartbeat away
from cool, grounded sanity;

When you return at day’s end, I step
into your world for a moment of comic
relief, little blue dove riding thermals
of your mastered stride, little girl trailing
behind daddy and his toolbox, eager
to discover how things work;

Feeling the weight of chisels soothes
ruffled feathers, caressing copper, steel,
the oiled wooden handles which,
in your perfect patient hands, creates
both the smooth carved boxes holding
treasures as well as the home
in which we live, life-sized canvas
for my own design.

collaborative design: Chris and Bela Johnson with artist Deb Thompson
cremation urn made from reclaimed island hardwood – C.Johnson
designed and created by Chris and Bela Johnson
designed and built by Chris Johnson

Arcady

When the world is weary of mediocrity
and the doors are flung wide open
to admit the least of us is also worthy,
neither better nor worse but as crucial
to the whole as any other life form;

When we finally attain some sort
of collective maturity, a steady hand
on the wheel of samsara can navigate
through the narrowest channels
of perception into a brilliantly clear
vision with limitless horizons.

all photos ©Bela Johnson

Scoured

There are those who shun the wind, though I am not one of them. A desert dweller by birth, living in a subtropical environment has me gasping all too often for air, movement of energy, a yearning for fresh. 

Tonight we drove to the end of the road as is often the case after launching balls for Pili pup, stopping to gaze over boundless sea, daily troubles and strife sailing aloft on lilting thermals and out of minds too much with a tumultuous world, despite our remote location in the scheme of it. 

Driving out of the port town of Kawaihae alongside the ocean toward this northernmost region of Kohala, be observant and you might spy a small weatherbeaten hand-painted sign that reads, Aloha kamakani o’Kohala, Welcome, winds of Kohala! Blessed be our clean air and cooler, more temperate climate. This is a place to learn the value of what remains, once all else is swept away on currents of sea and sky. Taking nature’s lead, we loosen the detritus and learn to love the scoured sparsity of a life lived close to the bones of a vibrant landscape.

all photos ©Bela Johnson

Birthquakes

If I were to sweep, it would never end;
this precious earth has only begun
to burn and swirl and blow away
the flimsy trappings, human footprints
laid down along shorelines expanding
now beneath helicopter eyes, unable
to peer further under Pele’s fiery skirts;

What we consider tragedy is to her
but birthquakes of yet another chapter
in an endless cycle of fits and starts
as we stand nervously in parenthetical
lines, waiting our turn to strike through
her heart once again, creative urges blooming
into discrete shapes and forms, disregarding
the transient nature of life amidst miracles
of existence, five senses, legs on starfish,
hieros gamos, sacred marriage, heaven
and earth united in the upright carriage
of the sentient human form;

Do we not recall sharp edges honed
over time perpetual as sea nudges shore,
even as memory casts this inviolable link
into archaic history at our own peril;
meanwhile rubbish heaps up and up,
spreading plague-like over land and sea,
all hail, homo erectus, purveyor of hubris,
she will bring you, wracked and shaking,
to your bent and humbled knees.

Pele’s lava
Kohala sunset
Hawaiian red chili peppers
tiny dancer
fragrant Plumeria
curious neighbor
Kohala shoreline

~ all photos ©Bela Johnson

Fusion

My ego is not an animal
that needs feeding; the place
you can touch is my heart,
but please go gently
with due respect;

You need only possess
a genuine concern for the
inner person, fragile being
not unlike yourself,
fellow traveler through
this short burst in eternity;

You may keep your agendas,
image or projections; I am
overly weary of users
and artifice, have no need
for hungry ghosts
whose desires appear
bottomless;

I do not wish to increase
the volume of some larger
than life figure you wish
to impose on a world already
overfull with blowhards,
attention-seekers,
spotlight needers;

The circle is small
and can get smaller
without my determining
it so. There is work
to be done in loving.

If you deny your own
quaking heart, perhaps
this deserves attention.
There are many desirous
of the simplest gestures
of kindness;

Find these ones, seek
them everywhere you go.
Then perhaps we will have
much to mull over
when next we meet.

backyard
morning visitor
carrot juice

 

~ all photos © Bela Johnson

In the Clouds

Bring yourself, oh mortal, down
from strata high above,
perhaps we should remind you
that attention is not love;
It’s fine to think you’re welcome
here among us in our midst,
still, you might not care to hear
that you’re no better than the rest;

The boldness of your rally is
beyond what some can bear
while your brothers, sisters carry
all the stardust to your hair;
Let it twinkle deep inside you
so you know that you are blest,
while you eat and shit and suffer
in the galleys with the rest;

It gets lonely, I’d imagine,
you unable to decide
if those gathering around you
only jump on for the ride;
still, you yearn for fame and fortune
while the vacuum grows within
even thought at times you wonder
who’s the butterfly or pin;

On you ramble and you roll
exchanging favors for a smile,
and you know the jig gets hard
when you are dancing all the while;
never pausing, rarely stopping,
the insanity goes deep
and it fills you to the eyeballs
spreads like fungus on the creep;

Then the questions do provoke you
with self loathing and a jinx
when it strikes hard with a blight
you can’t endure like desert Sphinx;
that you’re drowning in delusion
feeling worthless to the core,
as your long-sought admiration
has reduced you to a whore;

Still, awash within the knowing
you’ll survive this, will endure
you await the dispensation
like some bounding, drooling cur;
let me say this with compassion
for your ignorance runs deep:
it’s time for pulling back the sword,
that journey is complete.

 

 

Love or Something Like It

I could spend the rest of my life ruminating:
this is why I do not create bonds easily,
trust takes years, betrayal ever ready
to sharpen its fangs on a tender heart;

I could say it’s because you abandoned me
and failed to protect us Mother, and it would
be true, in part; yet all parents disappoint
and damage despite love and sacrifice,
their own deep suffering notwithstanding,
due in part to perils children can never know;

I passed it on as well, I who least wanted to,
I, the diligent one who was going to get it right
still made mistakes, nothing critical and yet
here we are, frail silly humans, dragging one
another through chambers of ecstacy
and suffering and no matter what we do,
we err;

Love is the great leveler. If we love, we risk
its opposite; if we revel in delicious splendor
these bodies grant us as small compensation
for daily stressors, we cast wide the gates
for all of it, orgasmic bliss and the seed
of life perpetual when another loop is formed
in the tiny golden chain with a locket,
treasured keepsake, the same link that
when magnified darkens under the lens
like forged iron intimating opposites,
a hell of our own making;

And still we chance it and who could refuse?
Again and again the heart beckons
and we return singing Solomon’s song,
humbled into eloquence and beatitudes,
bowing at the feet of the beloved; I would
do it all again. Differently, of course. Yet
I beseech you, who among us would not?

image: Amanda Johnson