fly while you can
before the cage
watching leaves turn riding through mountains dreaming of oceans dining in splendor. landscapes unseen faraway planets hearts beating softly sleeping in springtime. fingers inside her panting and sighing rising and falling bottomless lake. time without time space without space face like a mirror she is my river. who comes in dreams who has no name I wait for her my unknown love.
I'm starting to hear the birds again starting to hear my own voice. I'm starting to follow my own energy again instead of trying to push myself around. I'm starting to listen to myself again I'd become so used to other people making decisions for me where to be what to do how to do it when to do it what matters what doesn't that I thought my gut and my heart and my intuition had gone silent on me of course they never do but I'd reached the point where I couldn't hear them anymore unless they screamed at me. at least I could still hear that. I'm starting to notice the moon and stars the whispering trees the quiet sky the sound of time passing. I'm starting to remember who I am.
One day at work, I daydreamed an alternate reality in which techno skills were considered valueless and everyone had to write poetry to make a living.
The techno people in my alternate reality were not pleased. Every day felt like a final exam in a class they never wanted to take.
Every morning they woke up remembering exactly who they were, what they loved, and what they wanted to do with their lives.
Then they had to forget all about it for another day so they could live and have a home and something to eat for a while longer.
Every evening they dragged themselves home exhausted and discouraged, knowing that another precious day of their lives had been wasted.
They found it frustrating and unacceptable that they could not support themselves doing what they did best and loved most.
They couldn’t believe that they lived in a world in which their most unique and valuable gifts were considered worthless.
Forcing themselves to do something they didn’t like day after day used them up. It took everything they had to get through every day.
They had almost no time or energy left over for what they loved. Their best ideas rotted on the vine as the years went by and their lives slipped away.
They were angry and frustrated all the time. They kept trying to find another way to live, but nothing changed except that they just got older and older.
I know that life. Getting better and better every day at being what you’re not. Hollowing yourself out with “positive attitude” until you feel like a human jack-o’-lantern. Hope and humanity shedding away day by day like sheets of ice sliding down the side of a melting glacier.
I’ve been living that way for thirty years now and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
In my alternate reality, I’d be the one who was happy to start another day, but in this, the all too real world, I’m just one more monkey doing tricks in a cage.
Photo credit: David Jewell. Used by permission.
it is a difficult path we walk to be sensitive yet resilient to be vulnerable but strong to retain our center in wind waves and fire.
my dreams float just below the surface of consciousness like ice floes drifting out to sea. asleep on an airplane they are the clouds beneath me always there and out of reach real surreal and everywhere half-seen in drowsy glimpses. invisible as gravity insatiable as imagination they are the wings that hold me to this earth they can take me anywhere but they always bring me home.
What I see in this drawing is an expression of the tension between expansion and contraction in the context of the ongoing struggle of the inner impulse to open against the ever-enclosing force of external constraints. In the moment captured by this image, that impulse to open, to grow from the inside out, seems to be more powerful than the external forces pressing inward toward the center, as the energy radiating outward from within shatters an outer shell that is no longer large enough or strong enough to contain it.
I am the one who rebels and resists I am the one who will not be oppressed I am the one who fights back. I am the one who calls bullshit on bullshit I am the one who demands to be free I am the one who makes trouble. I won't play it safe or be someone else I am the poet I am the artist the one who goes over the wall. I am the one who knows that a failure to accommodate yourself to a system that strips you of your dignity and violates the very essence of who you are is not a failure at all. I am an energy that cannot be suppressed forgotten bought off or repressed. I am the child I am the elder I am eternal. I have no price I kick and scream I smash the clocks I rock the boat I am the force of life.
Sometimes inspiration and wisdom can come from the most unexpected sources, in this case from the man formerly and most famously known as Johnny Rotten:
“I’m aware of my songs. I’m aware of them because they’re about true emotions, true feelings, things that matter. And you don’t ever forget grief or joy, do you? They’re the constant companions of a human being. If you can coin them accurately enough, they will always be there.”
- John Lydon from A.V. Club interview, April 6, 2010
Beautifully expressed, and so very true.
As I’ve been unable (so far) to shake off the persistent writer’s block with which I’ve been saddled since my accident last October, I thought today would be as good a time as any to share the following poem by Antonio Machado, which appears in Robert Bly’s 1999 anthology The Soul is Here for Its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures:
Is My Soul Asleep?
Is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives that work
in the night stopped? And the water-
wheel of thought, is it
going around now, cups
empty, carrying only shadows?
No, my soul is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,
its eyes wide open
far-off things, and listens
at the shores of the great silence.
These periods when I am not writing, when I seem to be unable to write, are always difficult for me, and I do feel at times as if my soul is asleep, or has left me somehow. Those angels with whom I was wrestling not so long ago seem very far away from me now, and I miss them.