Monday, September 30, 2013

Listening Lessons

I was listening from the outside in
a closed door separating me from the sound
not eavesdropping, the sort of listening you do
when there is nothing you can do but listen
the howling, high pitched, hysterical laughter
the contagious, giddy, over the top let loose
and I waxed poetic in my head about what
she could possibly be finding so hilarious
and I was contemplating going inside
to let her know that she had made my day
that her joy was infectious and terminal
and then he stumbled out the door
clutching his sides through his dirty t-shirt
and he continued to howl with laughter
as he sifted through his shopping cart
filled with cardboard boxes and belongings
before peppering me with a series
of nonsensical questions before sitting down
in a chair next to me and sobbing
before the police showed up and he was kind
enough to issue me a conspiratorial warning
before he picked up a menu and pretended
to be reading, pretended to be busy
until they left with their coffee and the laughter
started up again before the questions before
the fit of coughing before more tears
and I was left to wonder to myself
what it means to really listen to someone
when there is so much you can't see

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This Falling

This falling
I am
and we are
and it is
and this falling
is a season
and a way of life.
The fluttering pretense
the toss of the label
and the canned response.
This falling is words
landing on pages
and paychecks.
The tender crash
of old men
sitting on the edge
of the bathtub.
The razor strikes
flesh and sinew
past the falling dark.
It is hours tumbling
into days
rolled into weeks
into months and years.
Southern Comfort
without the crash and burn
just the thrum and twang
of drawl and steel string.
It's not tripping over
what's behind you
or sifting through remains.
It's the unclenched fist
after the furious fight.
It's falling out of favor
and falling into grace.
Falling into dreams
waking with the ache
of words in languages
I've never spoken
and understand
all the same.
Die Franzosen zogen nach Danzig.
Danzig fing an zu brennen,
Die Franzosen fingen an zu rennen;
Ohne Strumpf und ohne Schuh'
Rannten sie nach Frankreich zu.

It's thorns and branches
the cadence of a racing heart
falling against your ribs
like the footfall of hunters
and climbing a tree
and standing still
as statues waiting
for them to fall.
It's falling in love
with the same person
day after day after day
knowing you're safe
enough to soften
the rough edges
of your soul
to trip into yes
come closer.
Choosing to stay
I choose this heart
to have and to hold
unfold and our stories
fall away like leaves
from stark branches
Fall has always
been my season.
Falling makes
an art of letting go.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What if Prayer is Just Another Word for Love?

It used to get under my skin when people would tell me they were praying for me. It came from a long history of feeling judged and condemned by a religious community. "I'll pray for you," often in reference to my sexuality, could come across less as an act of compassion than a declaration of, "You're bad."

My response to being told that I was being prayed for was not very nice. I'm ashamed now of the times that I responded to those words with, "Please don't," or long explanations of how I wasn't Christian or didn't believe in God, or whatever else it was that spewed out of my mouth.

The shift came in an odd sort of middle of the night epiphany. This is when most of my emotional shifts take place. Lying in the dark, staring at the ceiling, I recalled the voice of a pastor I used to know and love. What he named his love didn't matter. How he chose to label compassion or humility wasn't any of my concern. All that mattered is that he lived what he talked. He was humble. He was a well of compassion. He was love.

And he ended every service by looking at the congregation and saying the words, "I ask that you pray for me, as I always pray for you," and then he would simply walk out.

It mattered because he meant it. It wasn't so much the words. It was the sincerity of the plea, it was the way the inflection was different every time. Sometimes his voice would crack, thick with emotion, as he made his request. Sometimes it was said with joy and sparkling eyes. It may have been repetitive, but it was clearly never spoken on auto pilot. It wasn't just something to say because it was part of the routine. He didn't see himself as someone who was above the people to whom he was speaking. He was right down there in it. He sincerely prayed for the well being of others, and he sincerely asked that others would pray for his own well being. Love is circuitous.

If you tell me that you pray for me now, the only response you will receive from me is, "Thank you."

I don't care if you are praying to God, however you name him or her. I don't care if you are sending out Universal intentions or lighting candles and holding me in the light. I don't care if you're conducting a ritual or crossing your fingers. If you are, in some form, thinking of me with kindness, love, or compassion and wishing goodness upon my soul or my life, thank you.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Morning Comforts

The frayed edges of an ancient cardigan
hot coffee in a mug that was made by hand
by the gift giver some seven or so years ago
not being able to feel that it is already sunny
and 85 degrees at not quite eight in the morning
dreams that explain nothing and reveal everything
a soft voice, thick with emotion set to rustling trees
and bird call against the backdrop of home
September is halfway over and not slowing down
making the bed before sorting and tossing
in an endless game of what goes and what stays
moving with reverence for the silence
that's pregnant with solitude and beginning
trusting the endings to come soon
I don't need to know anything more than
my readiness because the only way ever
there has been to begin is to stop
over thinking and just start

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Trail Blazed Me

Helicopters and cop cars
another shooting
another man dead
the third in as many months
within a couple of blocks
of the home that is my haven
you can't raise the dead
only raze your indifference
when it's right outside
your front door
instead of on the news

This morning I was awakened
by the sounds of thunder
and lightning brightening the sky
and the drip, drip, drip of rain
directly onto my bedroom floor
my love affair with the monsoon
is never dampened by
the old leaking roof
and it's drawing to an end
so I kiss it good morning like
I'll never say goodbye

The privilege of another walk
in the rain and returning
home with a coffee in hand
nothing more to annoy me
than the man who calls out
his screen door to beckon
me over, every single morning
it's the same, and he's always
so surprised when my battered
boots never cross his threshold
which is nothing at all
in the grand scheme of things
it's not a bullet and it isn't blood
and it isn't getting raped

Dreams that she loves me
and it feels like home
and I wake up to find
evidence that it's all true
every single morning it's
still true and she is the truest
thing I've ever known
it's not shame or regret
in the grand scheme of things
it's everything, this business
of loving and being loved

I've never blazed a trail
not a single one
no matter the machete
in my hand
no matter the fire
in my belly
no matter the words
in my throat
no matter the matters
at hand, it has
always been and will
always be
the trail that blazed me

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1st

Nighttime in the kitchen.
A paper towel for a clean slate.
A dry erase marker to write new dates.
Clean out the freezer.
Throw out a magnet that was purchased while in a pit of despair. Its message is no longer relevant.
Change the home of a postcard that lists the places she finds me.
Start to throw away a card whose message is brief. Realize it is the handwriting that is important and keep it.
Remember a birthday.
Place the picture of my patron deity in a small cardboard box of special significance.
Stare at the calendar holding only two dates. It will not be that sparse for long. Savor the empty.
Think about cleaning the refrigerator and the stove. Decide that it can wait until tomorrow.
Listen to the quiet.
Feel the fear that came on suddenly vanished just as quickly. Feel it, but don't analyze.
Decide to take a break before tackling the dishes.
Start washing dishes.
Just start.
Stop when it's time to stop.
It's a brand new month and there's no reason to cry in this moment.
It's all so fucking beautiful.
September is here.