City Intimacy

Wandering downtown, on the lookout for the moon, but she is nowhere to be found. The buildings obscure the rise up. Instead, I find so many people, and emotions, the blur of city busy-ness sweeping up the wild instinct, cajoling the primal pulse of heart and erotic nakedness of thought.

You ever walk by a person and get a whiff of their life, little glimpses at where they awoke in the morning, what books their noses are stuck in… ?

It happens here and there, the stories. But more so, it’s a quick emotional sense, a drive-by connection, fleeting

Like a pedestrian passing, rushing with tinged anxiety, maybe late for dinner, trying headlong to be on time.

Another person, eyes wide in an attempt to repress fear, perhaps unused to the city, unsure what lurks in the saturated unknown. He’s probably watching too much cable news.

There’s youthful excitement emanating from those going out for the night, dressed to impress, feeling good, reeking of desperation and cheap cologne, unaware of their surroundings, loud as can be, ready to drop bills and gulp shots.

Homeless folks bundled up, broken down, begging, or just sitting, talking to no one in particular. One man slouched against the cold concrete of a building, he’s crumpled like his cardboard sign, fast asleep as people bustle by. I can’t imagine how tired he must be.

But there’s a lot of that in general: People tired, ready for a couch, a bed, ready for a vacation, a holiday, anything. And frustration. There’s so much frustration in the city. Furrowed brows, confusion, impatience, existential crises deeply expressed in far-off looks, wordless stares into the void of everywhere.

I stop to listen to a man on a loudspeaker. He stands with a small group out front the municipal building downtown. He speaks about dealing drugs, using drugs, finding God, encouraging the youth – and, I catch a wave of sadness. It echoes off the city walls, the faceless windows. The street lights absorb the words in fluorescent indifference.

I thought God might come through with unbridled lifeforce. Ecstatic dance, joy, unrecognizable movements even. Not every time, I suppose. In the fractalized everyday overwhelmingness of kaleidoscopic urban reality, sadness figures in prominently.

When I was younger, and still to this day, a curiosity of mine finds a home in mythos- gods and goddesses presiding over parts of life representing human behavior, personalities, archetypes, feelings.

I learned about Weeping Buddha when I was given a wooden statue by my mom. His story stuck with me.

He was a “great” warrior full of hubris. He fought everyone and anyone to prove his mighty strength. All his challengers fell before him, dead. Until one day, a masked man challenged him. They fought tooth and nail, evenly matched the whole way.

Blow for blow. Viciously.

And finally, the masked man got caught off guard, and they both tumbled to the ground. But not before a near death blow was made. The masked challenger fell limp.

To ensure victory, the great warrior slit the challenger’s throat. Blood stained the sword. With sweat dripping in maniacal laughter, he reached down and pulled off the man’s mask. To his great dismay, it was his son.

The great warrior began to weep. And he didn’t stop weeping. How could he be so caught up and kill his own son?

Right then and there, he gave up the life of war.

He continues to cry and cry, day and night, to this very day. People who find a terrible sadness visit him, and shed tears alongside him, and so, he is known as the Weeping Buddha. Sharing the world’s suffering.

I take a pause as I’m writing. Feeling as though I’m wrapped in a memory, getting off track, wondering how I’m going to return the writing to the city landscape.

At this point, I’m in a bar scratching up the blankness of paper with pen mark after pen mark. People leave me be, but through experience, it’s only a matter of time before someone barges in.

The bartender comes over and asks if I’m writing a book. We smile and flirt.

How many times have writers sat and stirred a particular feeling? Swiping pen to paper like a wand across a canvas, the ink trails a fleeting mark of romance. “By chance, dear writer, what are you writing? I don’t really want to know, though. You’re just piquing my interest. Tantalizing my creative sparks. I want a piece. A fleeting glimpse.”

And I let it happen. Why not? Part of writing is living the story. Giving over to mystery.

A trio of folks plop down next to me and the one guy almost immediately reaches out and says, “Hey, hey. My friend here is from Toronto and she’s loving the vibe and didn’t want to interrupt you writing, but she wants to know if she can trace her hand on your paper?”

I say “Of course, sure thing, why not.”

And just like that, we’re intermingling, chatting. Within a few moments, I realize I know the guy who first said what’s up. We share experiences. He’s showing both the woman and her husband around town, giving them a taste of Philly. We get to talking about mutual friends, free spirits, disappointments, and the complexities of relationships.

All this, in passing.

The woman who traced her hand chimes in a bit more, and we break off into our own little conversation. She says, “I saw you writing. I saw spirit. You know, I’m a believer, but not like that, nothing crazy, but I just saw SPIRIT, and oh my god it’s making me cry. I just saw you spilling your soul into that paper,” and she tears up and wipes her tears, sniffles.

I tell her what a happenstance. Look at what I’m writing.

It all makes so much sense. Weeping Buddha, the despondency of urbanity.

Before long, they take off, and we a hug a long hug. What warmth in a chance encounter.

Two people
in a big city
longing for connection,
something loving
and human
from a stranger.

xoxo

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Absorption Into The Ocean

If I could wake up
every morning so peaceful
so many people still sleeping
the silence of waves
crashing
arhythmic meditation
a briny thickness
hanging heavy
opening up the lungs
deeply breathing
the heart swelling
like the spray of sea foam
crashing
in the distance
a flock of sea birds
splashing
in flight
the horizon lights up
a brackish pink
the receding waves
catching violet
reflecting salt
and purple rays

The way the sun engenders vision…
And gives birth to the morn…
It must be so easy to drown…

I get a cup of decaf coffee
with a splash of regular,
a small dose of pick-me-up caffeine

and the ocean feels less
like a womb and more
like an old crone
dispensing wisdom with each
ruffle of wave

arhythmic meditation
packed into the push
and pull of crashing
waves

I want to jump in
but only get my feet wet,
for now

It must be so easy to drown

like falling asleep
or jumping off a moving boat

This is what I think about
when I think about absorption,
little deaths,
the facade of self
crashing against sand and rocks,
the stubborn ego
holding on
to a capsizing ship.

I always wanted to be buried
naked in the earth
My dead old body decomposed
by the passage of worms
But I can imagine
being thrown overboard
at the edge of a dark, dark moon,
maybe a star will shoot off
and you’ll know I’m gone to the sky
the way a bird takes off and flies
a fleeting memory swallowed
by the unanimous nature of time

It must be so easy to drown

Last night we walked out to the ocean
to catch a glimpse of the setting sun,
but a heavy storm cloud
met us instead.
It brought with it
a deluge of thunder and rain.
We hid under a pier
at a vague attempt to stay dry.
Maybe to wait it out,
but there were dark storm clouds
covering the sky.

We were only delaying the inevitable.

So we ran out
into the storm
small acceptance
and shrieks of joy

Reggaeton bouncing & bumping in passing cars, city blocks momentarily transform into dance halls and clubs. A simple pleasure fleeting.

It’s funny to see men doing roadwork on streets with yellow signs indicating children at play. Beneath the sign sit the workers’ empty lunch boxes. Meanwhile, they maneuver big yellow trucks pushing rocks and asphalt. A few guys stand off to the side. They admire the job and give words of direction. The world feels like a giant sandbox at times.

There’s a wheat paste of a woman with a simple statement written beneath her portrait, “You can keep your thoughts on MY BODY to yourself.”

Three old men sit on a ledge waiting for a bus. They look picture perfect, the morning light just right & angelic. I ask to snap a pic. One guy immediately says no. Another follows in suit shaking his head. The third gives me a boyish smile and a little shrug as if to say, “I don’t mind a photo, I’d actually enjoy one.”

The thunderstorms that roll in remind me of shadows from another world. The warm rain smells like Saturday mornings waking up late, drinking coffee, and reading old novels.

Some mornings we make breakfast. Some evenings we walk to dinner. I know she’s happy when she sings in the shower.

There’s a wall nearby with graffiti that reads loud & clear STOP THE VIOLENCE.

On the weekends, the neighbors around the corner sit outside and play dominoes.

I found a jack of diamonds

& a dead chicken with its head cut off. It smelled like voodoo, and maggots were eating at its flesh. I left it there. But the jack of diamonds, I put that in my pocket.

I biked up to K&A to get a few vegetable plants. Often, it’s where people get their drugs. On the way, the whole corridor smelled of herb, and the el rattled overhead.

I saw a man in an empty lot light up a crack pipe. On the same street, I saw a mom with her breast out feeding her baby.

On the way home, I saw a thief try to steal a power tool from a job site. The owner ran out with a rake and beat him over the back. When it looked like his emotional rage was getting the best of him, I yelled over, “Alright. Alright! That’s enough.” He let the thief go but not before kicking & busting up the rim of his bike.

The jack of diamonds seems insignificant now, but, on second thought, it’s a reminder of richness. Like the basketball courts filled with people playing, and the swings filled with children swinging.

I walk to the community garden again & again to clean up litter, to plant vegetables, to weed and dump kitchen scraps to feed the compost. I continue to see the dead chicken. It’s decomposing body tells more & more stories. Ironically, it takes on a life of its own. & Coincidentally, it rests under the coolness of a cottonwood tree whose seeds fly away like soft ghosts.

They say everything happens for a reason, but I’m not so sure I believe that. There’s an absurdity to life that doesn’t so much create a pattern, but rather, it paints a picture of what happens when concrete covers the earth and wires string up the housing.

I’m sifting through the harshness for the birds who sing at sunset and the break of dawn. There’s always a quietness to be found when you take a moment to slow down. Life is what happens between the cracks, like the span from our first thought to the last one. I’m sifting through the litter &

I found a jack of diamonds

  

When Dominant Narratives Crumble, Dig Through The Rubble

American streets
digital highways
war zones hidden in the subconscious
colors and class
hostile indifference
residual slaves & masters

when did you realize you were alive?

underpaid & overworked
conditioned, zombified
visions
futuristic
big brother
1984
scifi wisdom
oppression in the mind
anonymous rebellion

where do you propagate your seeds?

broken, hurt, & clipped wings
families divided
homes turned inside out
public private
projections of buried hearts

where do you feel safe?

realities of brutality
psychic violence
militarized web space
inner workings occupied
downloads uploads
saturation

how many people do you love?

burning forests of language
flooding cities of privilege
cat callers
clap back
earthquakes
recalibrate the feminine

how do you uplift community?

I saw the moon reach out her arms, glowing into the night. She spoke through the hoot of an owl and howled in the wind like a wolf. I thought about the sun and time and energy, the light reflecting in the moon’s rocky embrace. I thought about careers and caverns, witches and cauldrons, and all the myths we buy into. I saw capitalism descend into the ocean, lost beneath the rise and fall of waves. I saw change move in cycles, like the birth of a bird and death of an egg.

I saw life and its eternal movements.

I saw the ground right beneath your feet.

I saw narratives crumble.

are we amidst a quantum leap?

I see dreams, faint and light, in need of remembrance and darker outlines.

I see alternative riches in need of cultivation & committed engagement.

I see (r)evolution growing through the cracks like weeds.

The Art of Floating

Like stars in a dark sky, dreams are a faint sparkle in the depths of the night.

She woke up early. The light filtered in zebra-like through the blinds ever so lightly trying to nudge her into the day, but the darkness still dark enough to fool her into another 5 minutes of rest. She stretched out a leg, toes pointing, a foot arched to the ceiling. Then an arm, fingers reached into oblivion. She felt as though a dream casting a shadow into reality.

She went through her day in a similar hazy way, memories surfacing to her mind like pockets of air, bubbling up from the ocean floor. She was unsure if the images came from her waking life or some place in her subconscious. Was it her imagination making it all up? She tried to differentiate dreams from reality, but at times, it was too much trouble. So she sat in reflection, letting the thoughts arise and subside, creating a loose semblance of histories.

In her early days she experimented with mind-altering substances. She ate acid in the woods, smoked dmt in the mountains, popped back peyote buttons in the desert. She explored consciousness heavily and without reserve. But when it came down to it, she found a friend in magic mushrooms and ganja. There was something about their interaction that worked well with her chemistry and essence.

She began meditating with the fungi and grass, and practicing yoga by her lonesome, always by her lonesome. For the longest time, she was scared of community. She didn’t want to reveal herself. She wasn’t ready. She felt like an injured bird, and being with people hurt too much. She was afraid of hurting others as well. But her time alone had its advantages. Through her self-reflection, she discovered, locked away like a snake coiled at the base of the spine, an innate power waiting to be cultivated and put to use.

She had heard of the snake called kundalini before, but was unsure how to maneuver, or handle, such a life force. Through continuous practice and inquiry, she slowly gained a wield over the wilderness within, the hidden, dense, and compacted layers, once accessed and opened, they burst forth like so many deathless feathers.

She felt often like she was floating. This was a new feeling for her, so she was wary at first. But day in and day out, the feeling of weightlessness stuck with her. Upon waking, she breathed it in and maintained the buoyancy throughout the day. She felt reconnected to the source, experiencing her inner world as a womb of nourishment and safety.

There was a single moment that pushed her from the embankments of study & solitude, a moment of such overwhelming joy and intensity, it made her sad there was no one around to share it. It was a simple thing. She saw a flower. She became the flower. She identified with the petals. She knew the blossoming and the falling and the crumpling and the drying out on the ground. For her, it was tears. Tears of sadness. Tears of joy. So she left the labyrinths of her inner being and began relearning to live amongst people.

It took time to adjust to the alien, and sometimes harsh, world of others. She tailored her behavior and speech to be, if not a little unusual and out of the ordinary, at the very least pleasant to the ear and easy on the heart. She wanted to share her insights and teachings not only from her psychotropic experiences, but from her dreams as well. She understood such lessons had to be masked and softened. If she spoke without metaphor, people would write her off as a madwoman. She knew she had to present her intricacy of thinking, not literally, but like a tide slowly rising along the shoreline: with so much natural ease, that before one knows it, their feet are wet with foam and waves are lapping at the knees.

She decided it was worthwhile to sit with the ocean to learn further her secrets. She listened to the crashing rhythm unrelenting and strong. She watched as the moon drifted across the horizon and reflected softly in the dark waters. She picked up a stick and started etching symbols in the sand, and like a drop of rain falling on her forehead, a vision presented itself.

From that point forward, she went about her days with a brush as a wand, painting trees in the clouds floating on seas devouring the sun. She conjured landscapes from those worlds she saw when she mirrored her third eye outward. The texture of her paintings evoked deep-rooted feelings and her choice of colors altered people’s moods. She believed wholeheartedly in the fruits of the shadow, of diving into the unknown and retrieving those sparkling treasures from the grips of fear; and the only way she saw fit to describe them was through images and wordless symbols. She tread in that space so often, it felt like home.

This is how she learned to heal herself. She lost herself so thoroughly in her work, she painted herself in dreams.