At Least I Can Feel

The scope is just too large
The blank canvas too vast
I just don’t know where to start
So I crack my knuckles
Turn my gaze forward
And instead of tuning out distractions
I let them guide me
To worlds previously unseen
Words flow from my fingertips
Words that barely make sense to me
Words evoking moods and visuals
That exist only in my head
Or maybe I ripped them off
From the plethora of sensations
Bombarding me at every turn
Someone once told me to be mindful
But they didn’t know or understand
For me that means everything
Boring down on me at once
And I can’t pry apart
The real from the surreal
When it all sounds and feels
So good and so bad
I’m not sure which is better
At least I can feel.

I Think I’m Having A Breakdown

Wild eyes filled with ideas that feel strange
Hard to see behind the light’s glare
Can’t focus beyond the wayward grasses blowing
Forgetting to pay attention to the importance around me
So if the games continue and the show goes on, what part do I play?

It’s going by too fast to find my footing
The scenes are changing so quickly I can’t think straight
I’m assailed with warm breezes and then I see it
A tall flower looming above the plain by the sound of the road
It holds me, transfixed, wondering at its reach
Hoping it finds what it’s looking for.

Do we have to travel for redemption
Or is it perched on a branch and we just have to climb a little
Out of our holes of despair and apathy
Before I can continue that thought I blink
And instead of grasses or flowers my sightline’s fuzzy, out of focus.

I’m getting older and my dreams are fading
Too full of tactical moves and tasks
Just want to slow down, breathe
There may be a path hidden by the undergrowth
Most won’t look hard enough, they like the smooth way
But I like wildflowers and fossils and looking under rocks.

Is it crazy to hear the stream speaking?
Hearing words of praise from moving water beats condemnation from those close
Skin prickles with the sun’s rays
I shouldn’t move too far from the stream
There’s no shade in the field.

No welcoming branches to hold me close
Feet keep moving though the mind wants to rest
The air is stifling and the heart slows
I can see an oasis on the horizon
Mine has books and trees and wine
All I need until the end of all things.

Slow Fade

The sparkling magic faded to a dull sheen in the daylight. The light didn’t shine as bright in company of the sun. Some people thought the dark was a place to hide, but for her, all was clearer and truer at night. Her senses came alive when slightly deprived. In the full glare of day, her vision and hearing seemed to grow fuzzy. She couldn’t seem to grasp ideas as readily. But the night was hers.

She walked along a sidewalk lit by lanterns, as the town was celebrating its heritage and there were signs and ephemera from different centuries displayed. Music blared from shop speakers and from musicians in darkened clubs. Flashes from cameras flickered alongside flashes from fireworks from the square a few blocks away. The air was heavy, humid. The quarter moon had a sweaty haze circling it. She didn’t want to stop walking, not noticing her face growing slick with perspiration. She had met her responsibilities with hesitation but finished quickly to arrive at her real destination.

She drew close to an edge of town not as well-kept as the touristy section. Overgrown flora abounded as she remembered the pond was on the other side of the tree line. Making her way, carefully picking amongst weeds and shrubs and flowers at rest, she finally came to the pond’s edge. She found a spot of moss near a tree and sat and waited.

She wondered how people could be afraid of the dark. Sometimes what you could see was far less scary than what festered in the imagination. She sat and watched dark ripples on the pond. She heard frogs, crickets. Then a rustling. A light shuffling from beyond the reeds and emerged a few yards away, a vision in white. The swan reached its neck toward the stars, stretched out its wings. As she watched, she thought the bird would span the whole pond with its wings, but its reach was not quite so wide. But it did touch her somewhere deep inside as it had every time she had spent time in the presence of this bird.

When the bird folded and opened its wings again, she felt the wind brush off the wings and caress her, embrace her. The dark eyes seemed to look at the stars and she wondered not for the first time at the intelligence of this animal. A few months ago she would have thought anthropomorphism was silly. Now it seemed a surreal possibility. She just couldn’t explain the appearance of this swan in her thoughts when she had her accident, how it haunted her dreams at the hospital, and then how she felt led to this pond that seemed hidden away and neglected. She had questioned everything in her life after the accident, wondering at things that used to be so important and how they all fell away when it really counted. What was left was memories of dreams. She did not want to fondly think of her dreams if she made it to her dotage; she wanted to remember reaching and touching the stars. But she hadn’t known where to start.

Until that night she walked interminably and found this pond. And saw the swan.

She had sat with her toes in the water, singing a song from childhood when she had the idea for a painting. She could see the piece in its entirety. She hadn’t even drawn since her life had gotten busy. Why think of a silly hobby now? She was comfortable, ducks in a row and all. Though she did dream of rich colors and soulful songs. But they had no place in her life. Did they?

She had started taking a different way home, stopping to hear music at the bar, especially Thursday nights, when the horn player echoed the song from her dreams. She bought some oils and some canvas, started puttering in the mornings… and then after work… and then in the evenings… she felt restless and ended up at the pond frequently hoping for another glimpse of white. A few weeks after first spying the bird, she was sitting staring into the inky depths of the pond when a quick flash frightened her. As she looked up, the swan circled her and flew around the trees and seemed to be on its way to the heavens when it plummeted and headed straight for her. She stood, bracing for impact and not believing it when it came.

Shooting stars, meteor showers, fireworks. They all seemed to surround her. Her head throbbed. Her heart beat a quick staccato. She blinked and the swan was gone but for a rustle of leaves and a white feather floating to the ground. All was quiet, clear. She felt like she had put on glasses and could see everything better. She not only heard the crickets, but seemed to understand their language. She couldn’t be sure how long she stayed at the pond, but she saw the early colors of dawn streaking across the sky.

She often returned to the pond, hoping to see the swan, but to no avail. She was prolific with her paintings and felt a bottomless supply of inspiration had been awakened within her. Her days were short and her nights were long, just as she liked.

One night, when she was about to leave the pond, she stood still at the sound of a familiar rustling. She slowly sat at the edge and dipped her toes in the water. Before her, the swan emerged from the reeds, its wings opening. She reached her arms wide and they both stopped and looked at one another. Wings and arms folding back down, she and the majestic bird gazed at each other, neither blinking. It swam towards her, gliding so beautifully on the water, tears came to her eyes. She had represented graceful lines in her paintings, but nothing came close to the real thing. The swan came to rest at the edge of the pond, right in front of her. It reached its long neck forward and brushed the side of her face. Then it looked at her. She reached and touched its wings. There were no sparks or speech. But there was something ephemeral.

And she would take it with her and spend the rest of her days trying to paint it.

Keep Thrumming

Incredible lightness settled where confusion had been dwelling
Wisps of ideas swirled like stale smoke looking for breathing room
Stepping through memories and hopes
Trying to find a path that speaks to stars
That shine in my eyes when I dream and wonder

Walking through the twinkling dusk
The trees swaying and whispering lullabies
I struggle to keep my eyes open
As water and music and fading sunshine melt
Keeping my starkest thoughts at bay

If notes could keep themselves
And hopes could flower in living color
The songs would turn sweeter and not bluesy
My arms reach out to grasp something to hold
Not quite bereft but not brimming either

Floating through the air thick with thoughts
It can be easy to settle on one or two
But to be true instead of safe
To stay open is the rougher path
And it keeps the heart thrumming.

an intimate portrait


he saw me only in words and letters and not sounds or tastes but kept coming back just the same
when he needed to feel higher and better
he asked to sketch me and when he was done I was shocked for it was not my face I saw looking back at me
but a portrait of my most private thoughts and places
every nook, crevice, hill, texture
rendered in pencil so deftly and softly drawn
showing something raw and beautiful when I had never been beautiful
but when I looked closer I saw him looking back at me
as he saw himself
so it was never just me
but I was still beautiful because we are all mirrors to each other
and the reflection does not exactly lie
but just reflects everything backwards
so we have to look a bit differently to the familiar in others and ourselves
to find beauty and truth
whether gently drawn or roughly chiseled in stone
we are not lesser or lower than anyone to anyone for anyone
if we remember the reflection and the silhouette of the shadow in the afternoon glow
as it fades to evening as do we all
we are left with artist renderings or words and pictures
and we are beautiful and higher and better
but still words and letters will not describe
what we hear and taste but we can try
to be true

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