Ode to the Lonely Heart

Ode to the Lonely Heart

Sole occupant
of concavity:
stalactite core
weeping red sap.

Circular beats
crack the silence
with “not enough,
I’m not enough.”

Rivulets seek
reunion,
slicing a home
through hostility.

Granitic walls
bear witness to
the suffering
of no body.

Flinching eye, turn
to this abyss
and fold your arms
around despair.

Suffering, Healing, and Freedom

My primary religious context growing up was Irish Catholicism, with heavy doses of superstition, hints of mysticism, and a certain Manichean abhorrence of the body and appreciation for suffering. When I read the stories of Christ and the saints, my attention was often caught by a theme of suffering for salvation. Self-punishment through active masochistic practices or passive fasting from pleasurable activities seemed highlighted as the “best” pathway to connection with God.

When I changed religions as an adult, I remained interested in pain and suffering. Part of this was difficulty in letting go of all of my former beliefs at once. Many pagans looked at me askance when I talked out loud about the possible benefits of suffering. The pagans who taught and worked with me preferred to embrace a theology of embodiment and joy. To combat the pain-thirsty Catholic God was this vision of a Goddess whose rituals were “all acts of love and pleasure.”

Continue reading “Suffering, Healing, and Freedom”

Nonsense

Looking through old files of poetry drafts, I came upon this piece. I do not recall writing it, but the filename was “nonsense.pages.” I have decided it is an homage to Lewis Carroll.

The unctious frighteners do plume
about the myriad and splintered bloom.
From bifurcated orange drunken marrow
emerges the grey unheeded sparrow.
At hated, obsolescent failures bleak
the gruesome phantom dares not blink
lest rend you his undines by claw and dog
then post results to malicious blogs.
Unharrowed soil hearkens to the nail
the respite of gods bled to compost and fail
a garden she grew merely of weed and mint
her hair unbroken and mended in splint.
We should all so luckily skin divest
and heart so vibrantly under, blessed.
Antlered stags the moonlight drink and think
of homes unmade for turgid, irksome mink.
Here lies the secret of ancient black wrens
cavorting orgiastic beaks in glens:
“A victory from darkness must be wrought!”
The pointless battle once more to be fought.

The New Lexicon

Tolendaiser
The state of hesitation
when a gift from one’s parent
requires gratitude
but inspires a sense
of abandonment,
of not being seen;
a childhood wound.

Marchibarolan
The distance between
two lovers in bed
while attempting to sleep.

Xiltatation
A sense of urgency
after the realization
of a scheduling error,
when one must rush
from a styling appointment
to the funeral of a loved one.

Padronomonisg
A person who avows
materialist atheism
yet consults the horoscope
with surreptitious fervor.

Linagronaztic
Unfurling the bedsheets to discover
a long-lost sock, the mate of which
has been since cast into the garbage,
or made into a dust rag.

Hudriplomisml
The startling revelation
that one’s ancestors
were of an unexpected race,
and the onset of clarity
of long-held confusions.

Riquewrinaldol
A quality of revulsion,
with inexplicable spite.

Makwuentheka
An archaic magical practice,
in which the remains of old computers
are cast to divine the contents
of desiccated hard drives.

Sistelnakroth
A persistent, unwelcome spirit
who invites itself to parties,
weddings, births, and offers
inarticulate predictions of catastrophe
for persons unknown.

Warmuzlenaig
The name for a wild animal,
tamed to become a household pet,
who dreams of shredding
the throats of its owners.

Zoplexionaklip
The shock of recognizing
that one has sent
incriminating text messages
to the worst possible recipient.

Flizakorflam
A toxic play substance
given to children
who irritate their parents.

Aericothanko
A sexual position
wherein two or more lovers
contemplate orgasm
while separated by a body
of water, such as the ocean.

Cthaxorphilae
The love of, or affection for,
pseudoscientific claims
posited with inassailable authority
by those puporting to be
religious filmmakers.

Mandragora

Graduate school has taken up much of the energy I might spend writing or updating this blog, so entries are likely to be few and far between. However! I do want to update, as Scarlet Imprint has announced the opportunity to pre-order its upcoming anthology of poetry, Mandragora, which features some of my work! I am quite excited and honored to be a part of this project, and among so many other accomplished writers.

Anxiety and Silence

I used to long for a vacation from myself. The idea meant different things at different times, but most often it was a reaction to feeling feeling exhausted by an ongoing inner monologue, a constant analysis of myself and my situations, and seeming inability to feel my feelings in the moment. The solution, I thought, was to turn off my mind, disconnect the internal censor, and cease the endless feeling of “shoulds” that caused ongoing stress. This shaped my early sense of what it meant to be liberated.

It took time to recognize this as anxiety. I knew I worried a lot, and ruminated over things for hours at a time, unable to let go. When I feared someone was upset with me, I would not ask directly but analyze the situation to death and ask others what they thought and try to come up with a plan to make it so the person couldn’t be upset with me. You know, if it turned out they were.

Most distressing was my inability to simply enjoy things. I would sit at concerts, or with friends, or go to parties and get frustrated that my anxious commentary wouldn’t let me be immersed in the moments. My attempts to relax seemed to pull me only more deeply into the cycles, adding judgment and arguing to the anxious thought loops. The mind could not escape its own maze. When I became more attuned to my body, I thought dancing, drinking, or sex were paths to that silence. But when I did manage to disconnect, the result was automatic behavior that was equally without pleasure. Eating half the pizza without noticing or savoring. Drinking to excess and then being too drunk to enjoy much of anything, only to spend the next day analyzing everything I said and did to make sure I hadn’t any regrets.

Since beginning regular meditation and devoting myself to my spiritual practice, I’ve found myself plunged more deeply into anxiety. Early in my sitting practice, I had a morning in which I was startled to realize I could actually feel the tension in my leg muscles. The revelation was not only that I could have that degree of bodily awareness, but in doing so, I could allow the muscles to relax. So it was with other aspects of anxiety: I became more connected, more conscientious of cyclical thought loops that had no resolution, stressing about things beyond control, avoiding others because of my fears of their opinion of me. As with the muscular contraction, awareness brought with it the potential to ease and relax these constrictions. It has and continues to take practice, and there times when I have to make peace with the understanding that some part of me will continue to ruminate in spite of my efforts. I embraced self-observation and relaxation practices as means to understand and alleviate my anxiety. I’ve also engaged in psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy at various points.

In the past month, I’ve returned to that early longing to disconnect and now see it as a craving for the silence within, and had the sense that it could be within reach after these years of work. Though not a permanent silence. In fact, I’m no longer wholly sure what I imagine it to be like, to experience such stillness. Turning off my mind is not an ideal solution; it does not lead to greater consciousness, peace, or integrity. Neither does being wholly consumed in my mind. In the Haindl tarot deck, the Wheel of Fortune card shows the wheel spinning all manner of drama around a wounded center, while beneath, in starry bliss, the human face gazes. This is not detachment out of fear, but true nonattachment that comes through being in the world and yet able to observe with equanimity, acceptance.

I’ve increased my meditation practice for a time to help cultivate that inner silence, and still find there are times when I’ve spent twenty minutes thinking of television shows, perceived slights, gossip, or other distractions and forgetting to notice the feeling of air moving in and out of my nose, and sinking into that stillness within. This past weekend, however, I was out socially and kept noticing my anxiety come up about being in social situations, or wanting to worry about school situations I cannot control, and found that I could breathe into the stillness within me and allow those things to be as they are. Not silencing those thoughts and feelings, but meeting them with silence, a silence somehow whole and organic that allows a deeper coherence to emerge, a voice within that was ready to be heard and to speak.

I went out dancing last night and noticed again how my mind felt like a degree of separation from the joy of experience. It occurred to me that this space between my mind and my experience may not be a curse. This could be an opening wherein consciousness can hold space. Meeting my mind and experience with silence and acceptance gave birth to ecstatic dancing and joy.