Book Excerpt

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Hello!

Now that my new book, LAND, has just come out, I wanted to share with you one of the poems from it, that I had published on Women’s Spiritual Poetry. I also write a little bit about what inspired the book, and I hope you enjoy!

The article is here!

 

 

 

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Seeking Truth

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We say we need rest,
but refuse to slow down.
We say we want peace,
but refuse to stop blaming.
We say we want happiness,
but refuse to seek its causes.
We say love is the answer,
but refuse to believe in love.
We say we want connection,
but refuse to reach out.
We say we reject violence,
but refuse the way to harmony.
We say we care for the earth,
but refuse to listen to her cry.
We say that all lives matter,
but refuse to respect life.
But something else is true:
We mean what we say.
We want for things to be good,
and to know what good is.
This is our foundation;
This is our imperfect beauty;
This is our sacred humanity.
May we honour the truth
in what we say and believe,
and seek their realization.

– tammy takahashi

Your Smiling Gaze

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Take your gaze far,
There is always so much to see.
And maybe you don’t take your mind
on a journey to the past,
where epics and legends gone by
want to sweep you off your feet
until you fall, like Alice did, down
to where nothing will fit the same.
Maybe you don’t surrender your mind
to the distant future, which,
like all the galaxies in the cosmos,
form the most entrancing worlds,
maybe the scariest ones too,
that, no matter how much you want to,
you cannot bring your fingers to touch.
Maybe, as you cast your gaze to glory,
bringing that contented smile to your face,
you are finding yourself in the position of things,
feeling your heart beat the tune of your life,
the thrum echoing the earth’s great pulse,
and maybe you come into this great force,
with a moment of recognition: I am here,
I am fully awake to this moment. I am. I am.
 
– tt

I Belong

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Where does
the path begin
and where does it go?
Sometimes I feel
I’ve landed
right in the middle of
an ecosystem
with its very long history
I know nothing of,
and I fear
I’ll never catch up
or be able to
feel my way around,
that I don’t meet
the preconditions
for harmony.
I feel my senses
don’t serve me here,
do not point the way.
It is in the digging deep,
though, the excavating
of my own right
to a history,
that I will lay claim
to what must be
a simple, if profound feeling:
that I belong.
That I am here,
as you are here,
and we are each
finding our way
through the jungle of
our own ancestral histories,
reaching out
with hope and
good intentions,
with one essential,
sacred goal:
to be love.
 
– TS

We Are Gold: A Poem

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our gilded days
and we are –
an imperfect yet holy
refraction
caught in our desires
that come down to this:
to be whole
to be loved,
and the mistakes we make
in the way we cannot
recognize
that we are not what is
left over, incomplete,
searching,
no, we are a reflection,
illumined and pure,
of the vastest space
we can imagine,
and I envision this,
as I my eye catches the spark
of the sun glinting off
gold leaf
on sacred temple grounds:
I don’t have to transport myself
anywhere
for my transmutation.
I am here
with everything that is,
and I will stay here,
until I understand that
love seeps through me
the way the moon
bleeds her light into the sky,
unhindered, abundant,
limitless, moving mountains and seas
with nothing but
inner light.
– TS

All our Tomorrows

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soft now,
treading slow,
eyes widening in wonder
at how –
at just because,
for the way we have
been blessed with
our existence,
so much of what
is ours to
witness,
the kingdoms under
our feet,
the fairytales in
the great waters
of the world,
and I want to sit
on the gleaming sand,
and make a castle
that will be as
glorious as it is
free to wash
away
and I want to
reflect on the
castle of my body,
and learn its
every shape
today,
and watch it
gracefully go the
way of all things,
slow,
into tomorrow.
 
– TS

The Day that Changed the World

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Today, something a little bit different. I wanted to share with you a stream-of-consciousness poem I wrote while waiting for the US election results to come in last November. As emotions surged that I didn’t know what to do with, I turned to the page (to the computer, to be honest!) and poured everything inside of me onto the page (screen). This has not been polished or edited in any way, and it is not pretty and it was not made with an audience in mind. It was a piece of me in that moment, unfettered. That day brought a lot of fear to me; it was not by any means my first time experiencing fear, and it will not be the last, but it was a big day, and this is me, and it is my hope that sharing this messy poem can bring us together in all our our glorious ups-and-downs …

ELECTION DAY
In a grey world, we can only
See colour through a fog.
We don’t know about saturation
So much as remember it,
Hear the vague impressions
That were once shouts: Red! Blue!
Home and ground sunk below
Where gravity never took hold
So we fly down. But we can always
Go the way of flight.
It only takes a single moment,
As an object of fear concretizes
And a lifetime of peace
Sinks into apparent illusion,
As memories have always
Made of our lives.
The world is not ours to claim,
But our hearts are. Our domain.
What better time to remember now,
Or to try to understand?
What will I do next?
I’ll prepare a soup lunch
In a changed world that
Remains as abstract to me
As the former one always was.
I’d rather come together in joy,
As many times as I’ve forgotten how,
But I’ll be happy to come together
In our sadness and shock,
And create a new, blessed warmth
To fuel the world.
Madness reigns only so long
As we feed it and let it in,
As long as we see the actual
For the true.
Still, the heart pounds,
Face flushes swooshes
Through the head causing
Pain and the kind of terror
I had once when I lost
My father’s grip in the ocean
And the universe started
Sucking me in, away from
The only world I’d known.
This never felt like an invitation,
No, it was a violation of my child me.
I want to scream STOP now as then,
Knowing it cannot and that
I am not at the center of this
Chaotic revolution.
People have been screaming stop
My whole existence and
Back to the very beginning and
It never filtered in, not like this.
Here, the selfish can be transformed
Into compassion. This is
Our necessity, the new
Life’s work.
It doesn’t matter what my head knows,
It never did.
The body soldiers on, fingers shaking
Head afire, heart quivering.
The mind is back there, in the grey fog,
With the sinking homes and
Vanishing holdings-on.
We need to grow the heart
From the ground up
Through the muck and the
Night terrors to come,
And go to where it’s green
And where delusions shatter
Into the laughing sky
And our emergent laughing souls.
Where is Jack Kerouac’s America,
That invited him in through the cracks
So that he may keep all our dreams whole,
Where did I go, who fell into his
Journeys of the road, spoke to his hobos
And saluted the sacred in our ruptures?
Where will I go, as I scramble to
Piece together a version of myself
That was for so short of time?
Who will I be as I try to do more
Than just wander through new climes?
It is a sad, mad, frantic time,
Our neighbours are not our friends
We have all become the enemy
Of peace and sensibility.
This has all happened before,
Our woes leap across time
So we can turn them into a circle,
And hold hands around it,
And weep,
And carry on.
And then WHAT?
Because even though the body is not lying
The mind is not believing.
It can’t be happening (to us).
It would never happen.
History teaches us (the right) lessons.
Even more selfish:
I and we must be the exceptions,
Immune from political and natural
Cycles and diseases.
No, it’s time to stop and dive in.
Let’s look at what we’ve made
And where we find ourselves.
Let’s get dirty with the mess of it all
And wash each other clean
Until we are shining with
Brand new memories,
If that is what we continue
To look for.
And still the blue sky is blue
And the red blood is ours
And the trees and children everywhere
And the mothers and fathers
Sisters and brothers
wait for our attention.
And still the wind only sometimes
Changes where it goes.
Love never turned its back on us.
Love cannot do that
Any more than it would.
It is ours to claim.
Yes, it is ours to claim.

  • TS