I want to be on the right side of history.
We all do, of course, and we all have
our ideas of right and wrong, as though
every part of this were an open discussion.
We want to take the comfortable path
and be assured of our golden destination.
We don’t want obstacles along the way;
we don’t want the seamier side of the
fairy tale, only the ending, rainbow bright.
But there is a wrong side of history, we
know this. It is the side most of us won’t
be here to regret, mourn, or reconsider.
It is the side that bears witness to our
ugliest nature, that twists our own need
for comfort and security into a languishing
hole all those who are struggling will
easily fall into. It is the hole we will have
dug, depraved, with our own two hands.
I want to be on the side of history that
favours life, and that honours the sanctity
of the living. I want to be on the side
that remembers what it’s like to desire
the chance, no, all the chances we have
in us to imagine, for every last one of
us sentient beings, from beginningless
time until the never-ending. For all of us.
Here is how to recognize the right side
of history: it lives, it breathes, it includes,
it contemplates, it makes things better.
It never looks away. It never looks away.
It is full of hearts that can rest in the
knowledge that they beat the to soulful
rhythms of compassion-driven action.
It is full of people who hold hands, and
take every opportunity they can to listen
and bear witness. It is waking up to a day
free of bloodshed and the thoughts that
take us there, that can unfold and stretch
and open into all the infinite tomorrows.
I look out at the vast ocean
And see nascence,
Imagine a world yet to come,
Or maybe one that has never been.
It is empty of what we think
We have known; we are free,
There is only possibility.
Save for the fact of my witnessing,
There is no evidence at all
Of our imprint,
So my visions begin to swell,
My heart starts to jump
In agitation and awe:
If I focus long enough
On the depth of blues,
And the sparkles
The sun’s reflection
Stir for my eyes,
Can I force away the future
That wants to unfold?
Can I relegate to the past
Or the never-was
What wants to bulldoze
Its way into our now?
Maybe I am sitting here,
Willing my own disintegration,
But as long as I am here,
Sitting before the vastness
Of the flowing waters,
I will carry with me hope,
The seed of every action
We take to become One:
With our selves, each other,
The majestic place
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 …
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
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
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
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 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.