Tag Archives: poetry

One Precious Life in The Third Act

 

I am not a religious person

I don’t speak of God

But sense the order of things

The smallness or bigness of things

 

In meditation I hear myself say;

I don’t want to contribute to society

It’s a reaction

To the onslaught of opportunities flung in the face daily

Through the electric waves

That scream aimlessly from every wired port

 

Electricity is appealing

Particularly in storms

Last night the storm scared the pants off people cowering in their beds

And burned my friend’s folks house down

I stood naked in the brilliant night

Comfortable in the lightening

A sense that lightening makes me strong

This electricity

 

Not so much the metal messengers when

They carry shock waves of disaster, fear and demand

Lightening may equal disaster and fear as well

So perhaps the relevant word is demand

 

 Through the internet they beg; know this, learn this!

So often it would be better to learn what I have forgotten

Like shopping in my own closet

I think I need a new blouse

But here in the back is one I’ve forgotten

I don’t need new things

I will not bury myself under but

Pull from the treasure of my past

Piling on others things

Isn’t this the definition of gluttony?

One must be discerning to keep exhaustion at bay

 

I do not react to ‘contribute’ in the apparent way

And consider as I hear it

The small ways

In the beauty of the garden

The delicacy of the dinners

Helping students find their way

Placing the flower in the vase

The conversation with a friend

Efforts for those I love

And for those I do not

But who need me none the less

In which one cannot be other than in service

 

Mary Oliver’s question lingers;

What will you do with this one wild and precious life?

This is not the first or even the second act

I now know the curtain will go down

How many years are left in wholeness?

Where wild youth did not care

Or believe in mortality

Now wild stays under the skin

And less inclined to engage beyond;

I will not be bullied into the pen

 

Join this

Fix this

No and maybe

I see ways small and quiet

To offer this one precious life

To both of us

 

What is undone here?

Really, not all that much

I notice things are big and small

Endless urgencies press the swollen gates

I hold my ground in quiet ways

To save this precious life

 

Author’s note: Contribute is the word that came to me but it held more meaning than to help. I’m reworking my website and have been given suggestions on marketing that include a slew of social media sites. And I don’t want to have to contribute so to speak, to that life in order to create mine. And there is the weariness of being inundated daily by requests to sign on or up or give signatures, money etc. and no sooner do I acquiese than there is an additional request. It’s not just the endless information that comes at us but the time spent sifting through it. Where do the days go?

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Filed under American culture, meditation, nature, new age enlightenment, poetry, politcal action, social action, social commentary, Uncategorized, yoga, yoga and religion, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

Not Ready To Be Born Though This Endless Winter

Two o’clock and dark as dusk;

 I sail home on flood waters glacial and grey

 A furious sky banished the sun

It tries to crush us

Rush into the house grasping wet packages bursting with promise

I light the hearth and organize the groceries

Admire the warm lamp light on blue walls and

Red tulips in a silver vase

The house soon saturated with spice and vanilla to keep the damp dripping at bay and give the oven purpose

 

My dog dances under foot as he knows the last walk waits for the waning sky and too late will be too dark for a decent outing

In luck as the sky pauses for breath, we race into the bracing wind without worry

Packed in ice

No flame or fire touches once aching limbs heavy on warmer days

Now weightless

Fluid duck feet scoot me through a silken pond

 

A pack of deer pause; ghostly shadows frozen in the fog

They neither fear nor welcome us but take us as passing phantoms

We stare back and wait till they float across the field as one spirit

 

No cars pass

No others walk past

I am all sense but no sense to stop though the light is waning

Enchanted in this mist

It is my dog who finally stops and looks up to say it is time to turn back

I hadn’t realized we’d gone so far

 

It will be pitch before we see home and now it begins to rain again; a grisly rain to bow our heads

Though soaking feet are no pleasure the sunless sky and solid air have a hold on me

Don’t pull away from me

You are not ready to move on

 

It is true

Once the clock passes midnight of the old year the promise of renewal comes quietly

The light begins to shift

The plants move under the ground

That promise of renewal means rise to the occasion!

I am not ready

 

We do not stop

We did not stop

Our phones attached to our bodies

Our computers ever clanging

 

We raced around and braced against nature

To keep our pace

To hold our schedules

 

Where once one was unlucky enough to just try to survive

Now ease becomes burden as survival is assumed (though not for all)

And the icing on the cake is now the cake

And the sweetness becomes cloying

Choking

 

Here this life of unchanging pace is not the survival of life against death

But the gruesome survival of transformation not subtle but violent

And coming every quicker

 

No time to check the tide of rising power of those drunk with self interest

As the forward thrust of high, always high tide threatens to swallow us

Clashing humanity clawing, advancing was ever so and there is no complaining

 

And so

This night as every night

When I slip into heated sheets in a room kept purposefully cool for nothing less than my pleasure

The habitual smile as I slip into the cocoon

Is the relief of one who knows that hibernation must be embraced in small ways

 

Stay the tap- tap- tap of doing

To melt into the cocoon

To pause in this transitory bliss

A moment is not too short for gratitude

 

There are only many moments together

In this endless winter

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Possum

Possum

St. Patrick’s Day 2001-August 19, 2013

Three trees loom over a soft depression in the front yard where our dog lay;

Her favorite resting place

Here is a mound of newly turned earth the size of our dog beyond the kitchen window;

Her final resting place

 

I sit on the terrace in her quiet company

I wasn’t here to say goodbye but gone west to help sick parents

She surprised us

Swam untroubled in the creek the day before

Left the way you’d expect from her, no drama, no trouble, no expense

 

My husband left for dinner with friends on a pleasant night

Possum lying on the lawn beside her beloved companion Red as was their habit

Gone when her master, my youngest came home from work

In his grief he did what a boy might;

Tears running down typically stoic cheeks

Built a funeral pyre; hauling rocks from the creek to make a circle

It was blazing for the warrior companion to his childhood games when the others came home and halted his plans

She was buried in the morning

 

A puff of wind picks up unseen dog hair that swirls and vanishes

I do not feel the wind and do not see any reason for this mini cyclone but inconsolable, I wonder if that bodiless dog is trying to comfort me with her undercoat of downy fur that covered the house no matter how I brushed her every day

Her heart seized without my close comfort

 

She was born in our home on St. Patrick’s Day, the runt of the litter

I kept her for my youngest son

He needed practice at responsibility and love, I thought

Her eyes twinkled merrily; aware beyond her siblings

I’d named them in tribute to the day and she was clearly the Leprechaun though walking in the woods when she just a few weeks old I saw a baby possum cross the trail that looked like her and so I renamed her Possum as Leprechaun was an awkward name for a dog

The 6 pound cat here beside me had seemed so large when she’d snuggled at that puppy’s side

Now frail and fading from tired kidneys; I thought she would be the first to leave

Isabelle and Possum

Her companion, Red, lay across her grave once I placed the final stone

He is lost without her, eyes straining at spotted fawns in the distance who so resemble her

I think he believes it must be her in the distance

She was the pointer, the spotter, the one who always ran free in the fields above and below

She hunted for the chase but his habit was capture and so we kept him close

Red lying on Possum's Grave

All is changing; all is turning as it always has

but today I am not rolling with the turn but tossing against it

It is my birthday and my birthday always feels like the turning of seasons

It is the day that the light shifts and the air turns cooler

The flowers turn inward and the sky feels closer

Near is the time for remembering and mourning and asking forgiveness

The Jewish New Year

The New Year

I am not easily turning this year

Perhaps the ride from California’s light is just too much this day

 

This dog was not ours alone but a neighborhood’s mascot

Beloved friend of the Radnor rangers;  she was an illegal but adored trespasser so many times in her younger years when she couldn’t be contained

She never knew a leash, never made an enemy

I love you Possum

May you rest in peace

Possum and Red

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Enchanted

_MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize

 More A Mass of Surrendered Nadis Than the Self With This Face

 

The one I recognize as me runs into the storm.

She has for as far back as I can remember.

What hypnotist’s spell was put on me and in what life time did I agree to this?

 Daylight turns green casting a yellow hue over the earth under the weight of an accelerating sky.

As far back as I can remember.

I step onto the forested pathway to the rocky ridge as the wind picks up the hem of my shirt.

The woods are empty of humanity but mine and mine seems more a mass of surrendered nadis than the self with my name.

Around the climbing bend I feel it more than see it in the darkening light.

The hawk sits on a branch at eye level.

Streaks of bared wood reveal newly sharpened claws.

I don’t recognize the bird’s markings and make a note to look it up once home.

For now I determine to become its companion if it will have me, as we sit in wait for the tempest to rain down.

Yellow leaves fly sideways like sorcerer’s plates.

Wind blows the bird’s feathers as my hair whips my face and neck but we are unruffled.

And my feet begin to dance the way they do when the thunder crashes and the rain is a roar that does not yet touch earth sheltered beneath a thousand leafy branches.

I can’t stay still and bid the bird good day.

In my goofy way I start to laugh and feet that never run on pavement or plan to run at all are carrying me swiftly through the forest.

The squall starts to wane as I near home, soaked and satisfied but less so to see the sky move away.

It’s often this strange timing.

I’m back to the one who has this name, who has this hair, who does this job;

 The one you know as me.

Until the thunder claps and the sky gets close and I am not that but nature remembered gone to find her lost tribe.

For nadis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadi_%28yoga%29

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Total Recall

_MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize

In the worst of winter you recall a child;

 

A simple creature who did not rush

But digested the life; one thought with one action.

Not parsing time or pausing to weigh the worth of a task

But wholly absorbed as only one who has nothing to answer to can be absorbed.

 

Who asked for what was wanted without assuming the answer

Who ate only when hungry and drank from thirst not habit

In the times before moral outrage

The short window of innocence

When you constructed your dreams from nightmares;

Manifested desires in fantasy that went unchecked.

 

Before you were restless,

And burn -out became numbness.

 

Remembering what you turn to others to teach you now            

Before you ran to textbooks and spiritual guides

Before you quoted others to make your point

And distractions replaced your memory with advice that crowded out the cells that knew before.

 

When stacking stones was holier than parent’s handclapping at your grammar school play

No one told you consciousness creates matter

But you expected that.

In the days before the whirring machine blocked the flow of your thoughts;

Your fancy created the world

Just hand from pen to paper.

 

You were fertile

But not yet fertilized.

 

Child hood ripostes were correct but you were not so clever yet.

Protected by the castle walls, you could not yet comprehend the battlefield

While chanting songs to ease the smart of other’s glances:

I Know You Are But What Am I

I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks back on you.

It takes one to know one.

You had the words but no comprehension to back them up.

The knowledge you had, had no words to describe.

You made no choices but time chose for you. It would not stop. 

Inner guides met outer guides and plotted to keep you and those did collide at the first reckoning

But age made you sober;

For better where collusion carved awareness

 And worse when you forgot yourself.

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Black Bird Ballet

 

Murmuration

It’s the end of a long day. I’m tired. My eyes are tired.  Waiting at the traffic light at the end of Tyne Boulevard, I stare at the ruins of the Baptist church across the street.

They’re demolishing it to put up something grander than the 2 city blocks and 75 foot cross that was there before. God , like a wealthy show off, is celebrated by excess. I stare at the wasteland of rubble and telephone wires and notice a wave of black that looks like a swarm of bees crossing the sky. It dips and soars like a flag in the wind and a closer look reveals black birds.Like a minuet, like a classical ballet, two swarms of birds, cross paths like crashing surf, magnetized, demagnetized, winding in and out of each other, weaving across the sky and back like they are caught in the undertow.

What strange vortex is this? The decimation and mess of power lines to nowhere are an ominous sight and the birds careening yet still in the same space, suspended by invisible nets chills and fascinates me. There is so much energy and it isn’t going anywhere;  not dissolving nor moving forward. This slow motion power surge draws me in like a visual interpretation of music;  a stoner’s lava lamp.

Mesmerized, I want to stay with the birds. Exhaustion is replaced by  exhilaration in the blink of this red light. The light changes and I don’t want to move. But I follow the traffic onto the main road home. I am part of another pattern that I can’t escape right now. And I don’t look back.

Hilary
This post was dusted off from the Journal pages of Active Yoga where it was originally posted in January 2008

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While I Was Sleeping

Row row row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily merrily merrily merrily

Life is but a dream

“Mr. Raff, please take her out of here!  All she does is stare out the window!”

Headmaster of The Kimberly School to my father

While I was sleeping

Wars were waged and politics shifted

While I was sleeping a nation rebelled and while I was sleeping a nation drowned in apathy

While I was sleeping the internet was formed and social media was a club you joined even if you didn’t want to

When I was sleeping I could see you but you didn’t notice me

When I was sleeping I saw the terrain, trees and sky but I didn’t notice the tweeting of twitter or the beeping phone or la de da of a wakening computer. I didn’t care

While I was sleeping yoga became business

While I was sleeping I watched thieves but I was too deep in my dreams to stop them

While I was sleeping the church of rock and roll became the alter of kirtan

While I was sleeping the phrase “heart center” was created and it was one of the full –of- shittest things I ever heard

While I was sleeping nothing changed. Not really. The climate did but it always had patterns. Now it is patterned toward demise

While I was sleeping I didn’t change. Not really: Maybe on the surface, maybe my behavior, like yours

I grew up by a wilderness sanctuary and now thousands of miles away I live by another one.  I know it’s more than good luck. I dream of wilderness

When I was sleeping I was avoiding and you call it detachment and I was pure happiness and you call it Bliss

While I was sleeping non-attachment became a chicken shit way of saying detachment, paying attention was named consciousness, thoughtfulness was named mindfulness and it became acceptable to refer to the emotions as the heart center where the assumption is that all things of the heart are goodness and light

“Snap out of it!” I say. Some things can’t be taught but remembered. They were always there. Don’t escape into schools but stare out the window and dream and live in a timeless place

You say”Wake up! The world is changing while you are sleeping and you will be left behind”. But I will wait for it to change again while I am sleeping

I am sleeping and you are naming things Yoga and Buddhism and energy work and talking about chakras. Who gives a shit! These things existed before words stole their fire.

Three times means listen. Three times I’ve turned on the radio to hear one of my favorite bands, Boston, singing one of my favorite songs,

“I understand about indecision

and I don’t care if I get behind

People living in competition,

All I want is to have my peace of mind”

http://s0.ilike.com/play#Boston:Peace+Of+Mind:29526:s50204

And I remember part of a poem I wrote in the 6th grade that earned me a lousy grade

“…Schools and rules and books I’m told, are necessary to unfold the truths of life

The need for strife, to modernize they say is important to our lives

But I know life is dreams and haze and this progressive system’s just a maze.”

Give me a break. I was probably twelve.

Life has changed but not me. “Mr. Raff PLEASE, take her out of here!”

It snowed; a lot. The winter storm advisory in Philadelphia recommended people stay off the roads. The Mayor cancelled the Eagles Sunday Night Football game in an unprecedented display of moderation. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell was apoplectic:

“We’ve become a nation of wusses”, he declared.  The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything.  If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down!”

That’s a riot and probably true and Ed Rendell may be one of the last members of the Home of the Free and the Brave

But the snow continues to fall

While we are sleeping

(Published on Elephant Journal)

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