The Flashes Buried Here

2CC49FE5-E6ED-44F1-B17A-E0D70ED16A01There are flashes buried here
in the hot sand of this poem

Some are mirages
others are mirrors

Who put them there
is not for us to know

Some say it’s not a place
for people to dwell

but sometimes you must
cross the desert
to find your freedom sunrise

even though it’s been shining through that
ache within an ache
the whole time

If the rabbit has it
and the sagebrush is lush
and the moon shower
brings the cactus flower

you have no right
to just lie down
and bury your feet

What if the cactus
abandoned the moon
before it’s bloom had bloomed?

How would the bat makes his way?

So keep walking
Keep drinking in what feeds you
Keep gathering the shimmerings

buried beneath your feet

Some are mirages
some are mirrors
and some are red-hot miracles
awaiting the eye of your heart

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The Shape of Love

IMG_5389Sometimes the way love abandoned you
takes the shape of a shimmering lake
in the desert

miles from safety, miles from reason

But you must go anyway
in order to find the final tear.

In order for the final tear to fall
you must fall
further than the times before.

So you walk step by step
descending
descending dry
descending deeply

you walk hand and hand with death
your first ally

you walk tenderly
with regret and forgiveness
with love and release

You tell all of them goodbye

You keep falling
further than the times before

until you discover the lake is a mirage
and always has been

And the desert takes its due
and the sun is not your ally

The ways love abandoned you
comes in the shape of a parched throat
and parched thoughts

but the truth wants to form a syllable
inside you
and it whispers your name

and you know now:
You abandoned yourself

And it hurts.

Everything.

Everything is on fire.

You are so thirsty.

The fire says, die here or climb.

It is not a koan. Die here or climb.

If you abandon yourself now
you abandon everybody you claim to love

You can’t love
without taking yourself
into the big heart

So you begin.

Your body moves up the mountain
and there’s nothing pulling you up
except one thought—
you have too much love to give
to lie down here forever
under the big hard sun

The way love finds you
comes in the shape of hot heart rocks
the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen
that appear as you climb your way out
hand over fist
over hand over fist
claiming your life with everything
that still is alive in you

They are screaming your name
with a strength beyond muscle

and finally
you reach the rim of the world

the desert and the mountain
and the heart of the world
have tattooed the shape of love
in you

and you know now you will never
abandon yourself again

The Desert Teaches Me Thirst: Three Cheritas

blue desertI recently discovered a poetic form called cherita from poet Annie R. Ray. Cherita [pronounced CHAIR-rita] means ‘story’ in Malay and was created by poet ai li in 1997 in memory of her grandparents. It arises out of the English-language haiku and tanka traditions, but allows for a micro-narrative and is slightly more flexible in form and style. It consists of a one-line stanza, then a two-line stanza, and ends with a three-line stanza. This is my first fling with them.
___________________________________________

cold blue night

beside an abandoned cabin
I lay like an orphan of the world

the desert teaches me thirst–
thrusting in my throat
like a murderer

(inspired by a day and night of being stranded in the desert last August)
_________________________

a quiet laurel grove

you’ve stopped running
I’ve stopped chasing

you crown me with leaves of bay
I crown you with what I say
an ancient royal ritual

(inspired by my relationship with my anima, the forest where I live, and my adaptation of the myth of Daphne)
___________________

still black cow

on a hill,
a mother’s cry in the mist

the first was the last breath–
baby bovine,
you did not make it

(inspired by seeing a stillborn calf on a hill on a misty winter day)

Dust On Her Feet

fireshe sits on a sheepskin rug
crafted by her own
Italian-made hands

digging in the dirt
with a sagebrush stick
declaring
she’s so tired of taking

with a
a scratch on her arm
dust on her feet
glint in her eyes
mud on her chest
fire in her heart

she exposes herself
sharing gifts
of song and fire and laughter
and glimmering beads of seashell

making it EASY to love her

like the jicama
that made the face
of a wild german girl
wince because her taste buds
were confused

like the birds
when the moon
covered the sun

but she’s as clear
as the morning star
rising through the desert sky

a testament to rebirth
committed to making beauty

giving it away
as an offering

to the wilderness within

Sacred Mountain Dust

sunset_lake_mountain_scenery_landscape_nature_water_natural-1350240.jpg!dWho has the ears to hear
your sagebrush story
of death and rebirth
growing in your gut
as the world rolls on?

Who has the time for
a mountain moon coyote
howling in your bones
as the world floats on by?

Who can feel the warmth
of a juniper bark fire still blazing
beneath your breastbone
as the world turns?

Who has the eyes to see
the wild paw prints still
tracking across your heart
as the world races into the future?

Have all the sharp voices yet
drowned out that clarion call
clear as the morning star
pulling up the sun?

Have all the rough rags
of the routine already
washed you clean of your
sacred mountain dust?

Or does a little speck remain?

Does a bright song abide
within the heartbeat
of your delicious desert dawn?

If so, let it be the seed note
of your magnificent symphony
sprouting through the
concrete of the world
as it pours itself along your path

Desert Vows

Inyo_Mountain_WildernessThe ceremony really begins
when tears
of remorse
fall into the desert dust

like a long-awaited thunderstorm
releasing all the heavy, old stories

and ends with tears
of joy
swelling like the waxing moon

which is how Life
committing to itself
looks on the face

Why some take a wedding walk
and others a funeral march

is not for humans to know

Anointed with essential oils
and wearing a desert gown
some hold hands with themselves
carrying a bouquet of sagebrush and mormon tea

Anointed with blood and sweat
and wearing a torn mountain cloak
another holds hands with death
and a bouquet of heart-shaped rocks

The Great Inyo sun shines on both
with equal regard
the great witness
to the vows

which are the same for all:

Thou shall not abandon thyself

Do you take this Beloved,
lovely creature of the earth
to have and to hold,
from this day forward,
for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
until death do us part?

and with an exchange
known only in the bones
of the land
and the wellspring of the heart

the Yes
is born
once again