Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oh, Vast Sea

Oh night of poetry, oh open heart.
Oh moon playing all your tricks,
tonight you win. Here I sit misty,
longing.  Nothing to console me,
not my stoop, not this starless sky.
Not the cup, not the apple. Not
the pop of cork, not the haste
of these champagne bubbles.
What I need cannot be found in
the pulsing city of cities I now call
home. I have learned to live with
the ache, the watery eyes.
I take this sadness to bed
fall asleep thinking of my loves
and the parts that keep me away
from them. Tomorrow when
the sun rises I will look away
so I do not see the ocean, the
sky, the vast land. I will look
inside and find them all in
my pulse, in my breath.
I will close my eyes.
They will be
there, right there.

(a work in progress written after a magical night of Poetry at the Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn) 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hey, Jo You So Fine I Love You Long Time

When the white man first came, he brought
The Book, a cross, goblets of wine, white bread,
silk robes and the promise of a Heaven.

When he left, he took our sun and mountain,
our worship, our medicine, our brown magic.
He lined his trail with mosaic bastards,

the aberration of a people who once sanctified
women and battled with spears,
yo-yos, blow guns, western wind.

The white man came again, this time in
camouflage and boogie-woogie. He brought
Santa Claus, democracy, and hand grenades.

He took our fight and aimed outwards to the
yellow neighbor and his Kamikaze, took our
women for servants, sex slaves, nurse maids.

When he left he took our words and letters,
our lessons, our drum beat, our open fist.
He lined his trail with shrapnel and gunpowder,

flattened our cities, tarnished our dreams.
When is the white man coming back?
I look around and see his ghost everywhere,

he is never there. Why won't the white man
love my country anymore? Has he grown
tired of our unflinching love?

The bountiful lands he pillaged for rice, pineapple,
bananas, tabako, mangoes, coconuts are barren now.
They long for the white man's science again,

My tears have always come with ease, this is
something you learn in my country. I remember
when the white man told me tears are prayer,

blessings from the white god with the high nose,
The cheek the white man never touched
still burns from his un-loving.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Heart's Desire

I used to say I was a reformed Catholic.
Really, I did.
As I think of it I realize there is something dishonest about that.

The more honest statement is this: the values I learned from the way the Catholic faith was taught to me are the very fuel that keep me going, that keep me true. If I am truly honest, the values of love, compassion, fidelity, child-like-faith, the unflinching pursuit of deep understanding and a genuine sense of wonder - these mark my character and strength. I learned them all through the way my heart and mind were reared. Some of this happened in "school" and a lot of this happened through the people life continues to shower me with, through the school of life.

In a country where poverty sits side by side with opulence, a heart can only make sense of things through faith and understanding. In a family where night time rituals include bedtime prayers, the soul learns to search every day. And in a home where love indeed conquers all disagreements, misunderstanding and heartbreak one inevitably learns how to make room, to forgive, to accept. And ultimately, this is what all lessons about the life of Christ taught me - a compassionate heart makes room.

And isn't this ultimately the heart's true desire and destiny? To love wholly, without condition. To accept people for who they are, be a mirror that reflects back their best light? The moon is full tonight, and so is my heart. If you hear some raucous howling, join in. Heed your heart and sing the happy howls so full and well-loved.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

That Sickening Sense of Entitlement

What is it with people who come at things with statements like "I deserve this?!" Where do people get off feeling they are entitled to anything anymore? Have they been living under a rock? Have they been on a media diet? Or are they simply without a clue or two?

What we do or don't deserve is irrelevant in this world that is all topsy turvy. Let me tell you who deserves better.

Think of that hard-working father of three, who has kept at a job that doesn't inspire him so he can build a solid home for his family and send his children to school and have them covered under his company's HMO. Then think of him in a 'town hall' meeting at work, hearing ugly words like 'downsize' and 'restructure.' Now think of his heavy walk into the house he has almost paid for, the painful conversation with the wife he loves, with whom plans for a happy retired life have been made. Think of his dwindled retirement fund, the mortgage he is almost done with but cannot keep up with. You have just conjured up a man who deserves more than that pink slip he was given. You have just conjured up a man this system and all its promise has thoroughly failed.

Here's the thing. Stop the whining, stop the pitchy tweets about your pathetic life. It isn't about you. It's about the choices you make. You don't deserve anything but the chance to work hard and do well. And that is a lot. There are people who don't even have access to these. You deserve whatever you have and wherever you find yourself right now. It's the result of choices you have made. Don't like what you see? Then it's your call, not mine so don't complain to me, or to the weary man trying to fix things for you. Life is tough and whiny people can't cut it.

I suppose I could say it isn't your fault, that society has sold you on this false sense of entitlement you so proudly wear. But I won't do that because unless you are under the age of fifteen, I hold you entirely responsible for yourself and your bloated sense of what you deserve. Unless you can get over that, then you'll never really get far in life. And the short distance you are destined to travel, you'll deserve that too. In fact, that might just be all you do deserve.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Come on Baby, Light My Fire

In the final analysis, there
shall be no regret or remorse;
no spreadsheets, no checks and
balances. In the final
analysis there is only you
and your truths, the good ones
that light you up and the ones
that take you to darkness. In
the final analysis it will not
matter that you were loved

wrong or right, only that you
were loved. More importantly
that you loved with furor and
unflinchingly. And that you
danced with abandon. In the
final analysis your swagger
will only matter as much as
the sweat of your hard-working
brow. How much shit taking
was equaled by walking and

working. In the final analysis
how much you know will make
no difference. Your curiosity,
generosity and how openly you
taught, this is what will count.
What you did with what you
know, how you surprised
yourself, that's what I'm
talking about in the final
analysis. Were you kind, were

you gentle - this won't matter this
won't bear much weight in the
final analysis if none of it was real.
So here we sit, on American Independence
Day halfway through the second year of
the second decade of the 2000's and
in the final analysis the thing
that will be most stoking, most
inspiring, most excruciating is this:
have I lived, really lived?

In the final analysis, have I
embodied myself - the good,
the bad, the ugly of me with full
authority and furor? In the final
analysis the real question is am I on fire?
Does the life force of me burn
a steady flame, or spark bursts
of heat? When I speak, do I light up
inside and maybe  through the room?
Do my eyes gleam with ideas,

do my lips flicker with their words?
When I write, is the hand possessed
by pen kinetic? Do I sizzle?
Does my life stoke me? Tonight
cities will light up in fireworks
and cheer, but in the final
analysis and  in the spirit of real
talking, to be truly free requires
fire. So when the dust settles tonight
do it. Find your fire. And work it, baby.