i’ve never been pretty
that word, all the feelings
all the expansive and burdensome landscape
it plays across in the great mind we share
has never been applied to me
i learned to wield it though, the word, clumsily
as a compliment to little girls
“pretty shoes”, “pretty dress”, “such a pretty girl”
and pets
“pretty girl”
and later, as a stand in for lust
“pretty girl”
or a dismissal
“pretty girl”, “pretty woman”
or a joke
“i feel pretty, oh so pretty…”
and much later, as a many layered thing
“he’s very pretty”

now its a word of the past
an engine for the baggage train of patriarchy and oppression
and a reminder of my own culpability
a word I don’t use any more
a violent word like “cunt”, “whore”, “slut”
a word that dies on the back of my tongue

i watched my daughter, in her battle against prettiness
shave her head and insert gold teeth
she wanted to feel what i felt
the absense of the priviledge and weight
my little girl
who delighted in her princess dress and sparkly shoes
who danced and sang with abandon on the back lawn at twilight
declaring to no one, in a voice like a forest stream
“I am so pretty”

Prayer of Appreciation

whatever visions of gods or powers I once followed have lost their power over me
to whom then should I pray

from whom do I receive the two year old voice of my son’s daughter calling my name
or texture of his speaking to her of comfort and delight
who listens to the rising within me at these simple words::

where is the altar, and what is the offering I can give to match the unexpected fragrance of flowers on the wind
or of the brine from the morning shore

how many kneelings will suffice to express what I have gained from the thousand ways in which I have been broken or from the ten thousand kindness’s from which I’ve been formed

what language can carry back all that I have found in the hearts that have whispered through me

my body is too poor, even in its wildest dance, to give proper due to the deep wells of passion that have washed me

only life,
only living,
wholly living,
is worthy of the gifts
so to life only will I bow

soul sister

it is in the trembling of my fingers,
a trembling that wells up from
bone and memory
that I know you are near
Not your words, though I feel the breath of them
not your eyes which hold me like a cloud holds water
not the grasp of your hand, though it’s warmth is a persistent sun
I am moved by your moving, the currents of my life rippled in your wake
I feel you feel, like our hearts are great tethered balloons traveling through the wide sky streams
I am seen, and thus see
I am heard, and know music
I find you here
even in this emptiness

Jedi Mind Tricks

I hold the thought of you
as it were, with what in me
is capable of holding
sometimes it is the candle’s flicker
tiny and open to all the world
or else it is the sun fire
heat and brilliance and roiling gravity
often it is the expected hearth
calling from the cold road
at all times, you are alight
always, I will tend the flame

the dance

Something there is luminous,
piercing sparks like the eyes of lovers,
in the meeting of feet and floor
A language in light
with tall tales, whispered nothing’s and passioned cries,
a flowing tapestry of color
across a firmament of silent points

Our bodies are the mouths of our existence
and we, the troubadours of uncompromising aliveness
singing a denial of the solitary flame
Arms reaching
Eyes beseeching
Hands trailing an aurora
out of the soul hungry desire,
spiraling out from our spines,
like the explosive birth of a new star
to destroy the empty space
between you and I

The Life I Imagined

This isn’t the life I imagined…
These eyes, the eyes inside, looking the wrong way through the telescope of hope; building dreams out of the pre-fabricated styrofoam of the known; dreams tossed aside when the real deal , the shadowed and hapless un-known, the circumstances of thoughtless time and busy bodies and contradictary culture and fallible family and more money and more money and fear and lust and love and sex and fear crash like currents in a storm wracked swell that carries and pushes the me inside the me to fight for oxygen, to fight to distinguish the meaningful from the mirage, to stay afloat another day no matter the cost to the future promised self….how do I not drown….now that dreams have lost their buoyancy.
I am alone. I have known that since I realized at the age of five that my body, my actions, my words could be manipulated and extracted and directed…but not my mind. Inside, I am alone, inviolate. You cannot see through these eyes, cannot feel through these fingers, cannot know the intricate pathways of thought and passion, cannot encompass the essential kernel that watches this life unfold; and no effort of honesty or art, no public confession of shame, no grand work come to fruition can bridge the existential chasm that lies between us…
this also is true, this also undeniable; that we breath each other with every inhale. We are made of of traveling electrons that easily jump from body to body to mountain to droplet of water across distances so intimately vast that distance loses meaning; and time becomes twisted and broken. We are made of currents of light that mingle and mix and flow together through barely defined empty space; obliterating our sacred illusion of individuality to reveal a universe where everything; everything; everything…
everything is no more nor less than notes plucked on a string, notes flowing into themes and movements into a great unrestrained, oceanic symphony.
We/I seek to hide; we/I seek to come together; we/I push and pull and strive and agonize alone;
alone together.
This isn’t the life i imagined
when my eyes believed in what they seek

love doesn’t end

love doesn’t end
it isn’t a coat you remove
when you grow too warm
love is wearing you
and like a child in a new satin dress
she refuses to take you off even to sleep
she plays wildly in you
without regard to tearing or digging in the dirt
so you quickly grow tattered and threadbare
until love stands naked inside you
until you become love’s own skin
through you she feels
other skin and gravity and fire
she refuses to wash you off as
her aroma penetrates your sweat and desire and fear
though, in the course of time
you may find that you are left
in bits and pieces on the road
while love continues on
you will never, ever, be rid of the stench of love

the thief

There are small, still moments
when I am willing to see
days and years evaporate
the stories of triumph or failure fall apart
like so much ash
and the growing tale of my self creation fades
then only pain and beauty remain
unmeasured and unbound

perhaps you too have seen in this way
where all distinction becomes trivial
where your senses combine alchemically
into some greater sense
perhaps you know if this is where a god would live
for myself, I have not lived as a god
I fear to go where such love would drive me
I fear the cost of such sight
and so, steal only glances at divinity
and dream of melancholy ambrosia


much as i would wish, there are no earthquakes
no rippling of the earth that would move me from here to there
no uncontrollable shaking to destroy the facades built over decades
nor are there tsunamis to sweep away my life as it is
no flood to replace the topsoil, to wash away habits embedded like ancient roads through the landscape

i am, instead, a worm, burrowing through the cracks
slowly churning a small sample of this familiar thought or that unconscious glance
i am a bee, searching for a scrap of nectar, hoping to seed new blossoms along my incomprehensible journey

there are no glittering keys to unlock the mystery of my workings
there is, the simplicity of working, the step by step, the sublime intensity of trying again
and here I lean into the unknown,
Into the fear that has become my North Star
Into the darkness that wants a ray of light

sudden change is built on ten thousand curious steps
carved from desperate moments and despair
Into our flesh, as wind and water shape mountain peaks
ten thousand storms fathered the avalanche, and each of the numberless tears are its mother

as if

I don’t want to be alone
I want intimacy
I want to experience, together
as if two sets of eyes were one
as if the sweet pangs of beauty born were a cup to be shared
as if we were truly I

I don’t want to be invisible
I want to be transparent
as if light and I were so alike that shadows found no purchaser
as if shame did not solidify my marrow
as if there were some respite from my self

I don’t want to end
I want to transform
to become more, without losing that essential core
as if I am not merely a collection
as if I am some how less
as if the great mystery could remain unsolved

I don’t want to be alone
as if I were