You and This Life

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Who are you if not
everything you have seen,
touched, explored, loved?
How can you be anything less
than all has made you?
How can you be less
than the ocean that,
inflected with your touch
as you first rediscovered her,
goes on to blanket the world
with her swelling tides and cries?
How can you be less
than the sand you walk upon,
hot and gleaming under you,
that tell a thousand stories
of wreckage and wanderlust,
and of the art of staying?
Look at that protecting sky
streaked with billowing dreams,
that passes from midnight blue,
through all the sea greens
to begin each new day
as only a golden miracle can,
and ends in ochres and fire
ceding to the witching, twilight hour.
In all of this, you are contained,
each varied hue speaks of you,
and the infinite pools of emotion
that live in each of your moments.
No, you cannot be less than all this,
and nor can you say you are more,
because you, against all odds,
have found yourself here, with all;
you are this life, and it you,
and in the stillness of a pause,
you notice all the wild joys and furies
come to rest in your caged heart,
and this the seed of your liberation.
 
– Tammy Takahashi
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I Bow to You

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I gather false strength
and stand upright,
me versus the world.
I throw my shoulders back,
throw my gaze long,
discerning and proud,
as though surveying
something that belongs to me,
and not to you,
or to you, and not to me,
and this is where desire dwells,
and a terrible need grows,
and I am in my perch,
and you are in yours,
and no proximity
can bring us together.
 
I bend down,
close my eyes, and bow,
and immediately,
the separation has disappeared.
We are not yet one,
this might be the work
of a lifetime.
But we are so much closer,
I feel so much closer here,
where I can smell
the earth below, that tethers us
to the same source,
where I can kiss your feet
in acknowledgement
of my devotion to you,
who have so much to teach me.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

For Sri Lanka

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Sometimes I imagine
that if i try hard enough,
I can bring myself
to every place of suffering,
be in all the places at once
where unfathomable
pain and confusion dwell,
where growth has ceded
to the tides of destruction
and love is smothered
by dark fear and rage,
and do everything
that is within my power,
and in my imagination,
my power is great,
to take all this misery
upon myself, so that,
for just long enough,
there will be a clearing,
and in this open space
we will see so clearly
that this sheen of splendor,
it is for all of us,
and that if we can’t share
in the ready abundance,
and bow before the other
as we cling steadfast to ourselves,
we will lose all of it, together,
and that to choose wisely,
would be to go the other way,
and share, and love,
and mourn and grieve together,
and rebuild slowly, as one.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

The Wonders

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I do not want to rest in my confusion,
where I am most weary, and ready to pause.
Instead, I want to wait for the moment
when the confusion diffuses, as all things do,
for even just a moment, and remember
that forever resides in moments just like this,
because forever does not discriminate,
or err on the side of expanding our suffering.
Forever hides behind, above and between
the weighted world of our mind’s making,
and forever may lie outside of our grasp
for now, but knows how to be our clearing,
and sends us one small invitation at a time,
just large enough for our weary souls
to rest our gaze on, and gasp in wonder,
and marvel at how quick we were to forget,
and remember: this is what I am working for.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

Past Now Love

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There is no part of our land
that has been left untouched
by the ravages of our violence
and the blessing of our prayers,
existing together, all at once;
it can be the work of a lifetime
to sit with everything we know.
There is no life without history,
and no body without memory.
To walk is to walk with ghosts,
to breathe is breathe the story
we’ve brought to waking dreams.
Fear drives dark excavations,
Wonder brings back the light.
What’s dissolved, what remains,
what brought tears, our hope,
the fluid emblems of our lives.
May we find the love within us
to seek all those sacred spaces
marked with all of experience;
the silken threads and wisps
singing to us our past laments
as we find in them everything
we need to remember about us,
and our will to make it better.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

I Want to Be

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I want to be like the sun,
using my incredible power
to light up the world.
 
I want to give like the tree
that stands the test of time
to give us our chance at life.
 
I want to sing like the birds
who create peace and beauty
every time they make a sound.
 
I want to know like the sky
that looks without limitation
and inspires all imagination
 
I want to feel like the moon
allowing all emotions safe harbor
with an open eye and heart
 
I want to bud like a flower
with not even a slight doubt
about my inherent perfection
 
I want to aim like the wind
happy with all the directions
travelling so far and so light
 
I want to roar like the ocean
with her wild, untamed strength
that comes from her fluidity
 
I want to love like Time,
which cannot exist without us,
and extends to all without end.
 
– Tammy Takahashi

A Poem for Notre Dame

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In every great plumed tree
lies the coming, naked winter,
each beam of starlight
tells of a past no more.
The stately art of an era
bears out our name, rounds out
the body of our experience,
the effigies stand time still
while leaving us desperate
to climb into the world
where memories come to life.
When a great building dies
it pours madly into the world,
scattered in all the directions,
remnants of a collective dream,
of a the sacred space where
the history of emotion lived,
with all the hushed whispers
and reverential quietude,
the rapture of encountering,
face-to-face, the ripened fruit
of our grandest human hopes
and greatest earned potential.
Every single thing that exists
contains the code of its demise
and we do not know know when,
or how, or by what means
this destruction born of creation
comes to journey’s end,
only that we can bear witness
to all this life in its passing.
 
– Tammy Takahashi