New Year’s Eve: Reflections and Goals.

I look back at 2018 as being a very strange time, but whatever my disappointments were, I ball it all into a scrap piece of paper and throw it in the garbage. It’s time to start anew, but in a different way this time. I go into 2019 knowing full well what I want, even if it means I won’t get it. I think that the journey, as I settle in my makeshift boat and watch the waters below me, has been enough so far. As a writer one always hopes to be read, but that doesn’t happen very often, at least as one would like. I’m here figuring out what this urgency to write means and now just now enjoying it as some would say as a hobby, a past time, something you say dismissively to someone at a party, a strange affair with the self I suppose, wanting and loving it so much, and sometimes in secret, scolding yourself later for giving out more information then needed. Ah, yes me, the pen, and paper- the only relationship that has lasted so long.

My main goal is to keep posting, keep reading others works and being inspired as I tip toe this very new land I find myself seriously venturing into for the first time. But I have specific reading goals, and books I’ve been meaning to read but never really do. I plan on reading James Joyce’s Ulysses for the month of January. It was a banned book, seems difficult to grasp-which intrigues me and I’m curious to see if I would get it on the first round of reading.

I would also like to achieve Crow Pose for my yoga practice, to be able to balance my weight on my two arms would be a beautiful moment. A nice little chapter to say: I can truly hold myself up even as I face the ground, to be able to hold one’s weight in the world, to know I can, to know I can succeed even as it feels as though I can no longer balance myself against the strong winds of the changing times and moods of the world.

Happy 2019 to all, may it serve everyone well!

Rumi’s Little Book of Life

I have made this little book into an oracle of sorts. If I feel lost or a sadness has come to visit me a while and I no longer have the patience to host this visitor, I take the little book, close my eyes and flip to a page, and there will be my antidote, the elixir to help me on my way.

Rumi will always move me, even if some days I feel like a statue. Reading even a couple of lines softens me and reminds me of my humanity. He always feel like a hand on my shoulder letting me know to always look for the Divine. And the Divine is the confirmation that our soul is light and will lead us in the right direction, to love.

Love is an attribute of God wanting nothing
repentance is an attribute of man, it is a worm
to Love’s dragon, absurd in God’s presence.
Love for anything but Him is unreal
for that which is not Him is a gilded object
shining outside yet empty inside,
light and golden on the outside yet dark within.
The moment divine light disappears
darkness is revealed and unreal love
is extinguished like a candle,
the body is discarded and beauty returns to its source.
The moonlight goes back to the moon
and its reflection disappears from the black wall.
Divine love is the sun of perfection
the Divine Word is its Light
and the creatures are its shadow.

From, “Part Two: Garden of the Heart”.
Rumi’s Little Book of Life. Translated By: Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin.

Short Story: Wymuth

“What am I looking at?”, he chuckles to himself. He watches it scamper about and then waddling like a penguin to a rock, little arms stretched out until they grab it. “Oh my goodness, why am I not…” and he reaches around for his camera but as soon as he turns it on, fixes his view on the little thing, it vanishes.

Wymuth is too old to go after a leprechaun or was it a fairy? Either way the sun was getting up there ready for its shiny, noon display. The terrible, majestic sun and its pinpoint heat ray. He had his wide, brimmed hat on and had no fear of a little heat this summer.

Wymuth is an old coot. Too picky to find someone to settle down with and too grumpy for the city that birthed him. After taking his savings, and a deposit of his pension in his debit account monthly, he set off into the woods. He bought a piece of land, made a small cabin to his liking and set a wide patch for vegetables and fruit.

On his rocking chair he settles, feeling his sore bones and muscles relaxing against the cushions. Back and forth he goes, slowly closing and opening his eyes, his lids scratching the dryness until they close with calmness. His mouth still not wanting food, his belly still content from a feast of warm oatmeal and strawberries fresh from picking in the early dawn. Something in his mind pokes around in his heart. Like a vagabond, the thought hitchhikes across the highway of his brain, swimming down past his throat, and landing in the ocean that seems too alive, and yet too tired to consider this traveler of sorts. What did this thought want? The defenses were picking their teeth, not caring or thinking it a threat. The thought, waving around its arms and saying, ‘I feel so empty’. The defenses just smack their mouth together just to say, ‘that’s just you, we’re fine here, we got everything we need’. It wasn’t enough for the vagabond now stomping its feet, ‘but I need something, I am missing something!’. The defenses did not want to get up from their comfortable spot, but they did anyway, took out a shiv and killed the thought until the blood spilled out like a fountain. The clean up crew came along, sweeping the carrion and flushing it down. To Wymuth, it was just a fart. He happily tilts to one side and let it rip. He chuckles and snorts until he’s awake again and a little hungry.

Frying some eggs, that the hens laid, he carefully transfers it to the awaiting slice of bread. He places a pinch of salt, a piece of a leafy green lettuce, and a couple slices of an heirloom tomato. He tops it off with another slice, that he smeared with pesto. Upon taking a bite, “this is what I’ve been missing”. As he chews, he goes back outside hoping to see the little creature. He could only see the thick, trunked trees standing tall, with green lush branches swaying slowly from a passing breeze. The little creature is probably shuffling away between the bushes. He concludes, “I scared the thing, look at me, a big fleshy creature just wandering where he shouldn’t”.

Drinking orange juice, he waters some herbs lining the back part of his cabin. He adjusts the green sheet he made into a roof over the delicate herbs to make sure they don’t burn under the sun.

What else could be said of Wymuth? He likes to wear his soft, brown corduroys every day until they are so dirty, he has to wash them. He prefers cotton button downs than t-shirts, and socks do not agree with him during the summer. He wiggles his toes in his sandals, enjoying the warmth of the sunlight. But what about Wymuth that he does not know of himself? That’s a better question that most people explore about themselves. Not Wymuth, why would he do such a thing? But little does he know, that those thoughts that spring once in awhile come from a heartache he has yet to recognize. He may fart them out once in a while, but some, without his knowing, have cemented themselves between his teeth, lining his callused fingers, and even between the graying hairs on his head. They were about a love he could not have and to him it was all or nothing; if I could not have her then I don’t want no one else, literally. He was not like people who compromise and say: ‘well, love comes in all forms’; ‘we learn to love’; ‘being alone is too sad, I’ll have anyone that can close that void’.

So, who was this woman? She was a ray of light in the dark abyss of humanity. The kind of person God makes every once in a while, when the devil ain’t looking, depositing the soul in a vessel where he can’t reach them. Her calling was higher than the lower realms that we live in and call home. To her, she wanted to heal the world, so he pulled back, let her go and now he’s here. Here, is a clearing in a forest, a piece a land he negotiated and eventually bought. Here, is where he plans to die. Here, is where he’s showing the real God, what his hands can really do.

God is a fickle thought to most people. Actually, a lot of people. They give this God either too much power or no power to the point in where they conclude- they, he, she, whatever it’s called does not exist. But life is funny for some. The way one goes about the world says more than what we wish it did. The things hidden from us aren’t really hidden and the things in clear view aren’t always a buoy to hold on to until something else comes along. Wymuth knows what God is and with certainty what God isn’t. It’s so easy to be swayed by a dangling carrot when one is hungry, especially when one is starved and with eyesight obscured. But when one knows where to find food, and have a clear view of the landscape a carrot doesn’t seem that appetizing now does it?

Wymuth couldn’t sit in the company of other people anymore. The conversations never went where he was trying to get to, and people seemed too enamored with this carrot chasing game. If he tried to tell someone what he found out, they seemed to want it packaged like this; the steps, the how and the why’s and how much do I have to spend until I could achieve what needs to be achieved? Such soulless people, Wymuth would think. Being a preacher was not his calling for sure, he felt his soul die a little with every encounter. To preserve and nurture it, he felt that he needed to go away. His Claire went away to help, but he just couldn’t convince her to take him with her. The heartache? not being with Claire until he dies. But he keeps an altar like she taught him; a wooden shelf, a goblet of water, and a candle burning. He would light the candle and say, “this light I offer to my beloved, so she never gets lost in the dark of someone else’s energy.”

Mornings and nights pass onto each other. Day by day, Wymuth diligently tends to his garden but also goes into the forest. He cleans up the garbage left by careless hikers. He rearranges the fallen branches, and even takes some with him for the upcoming winter. Every morning, he wakes up and kisses the dawn and every night he sends a prayer with the wind for Claire. He gets older each day, but the tinctures, the vegetables, and the walking he does keeps him out of any real danger. His soul makes the defenses to these intrusive thoughts, striking them down, and even squinting their eyes trying to come up with a plan to destroy the origin of their births. Wymuth on the other hand, comes across a strange sight. Small rocks arranged in such a way, it seems irregular for the scenery. He looks about, hoping to spot the furry creature responsible for such a display. Alas, they make no appearance. Wymuth shrugs and walks on, a bag in hand and a picking stick on the other, looking for debris not belonging to the forest.

One morning as he kisses the dawn, eyes lingering at the sun breaking the horizon, a brilliant orange and red staining the clouds, he sees something scamper away from the pumpkin patch. He goes over and makes out the little shoots springing from the dampened earth, and walks about to inspect if any damage was done to the neighboring vegetables and fruits. There were some empty strawberry bushes, but he sighs and hopes that the little creature is as careful as he was now. He doesn’t mind hungry thieves, he would only be upset if the plants were ruined in the process. He says into the shadowy morning, “They should taste really good, the soil here is fertile ya know” and walks back towards his humble abode leaving a, “just don’t rough them up too much or else they won’t sprout nothing good to eat” behind him.

By the candles he lights up in the night, as he eats his dinner, he watches the rain fall too roughly. His defenses have found the source, they urge him to pick the peppermint leaves, to take a few sprigs of rosemary, and to add cloves in a pot of boiling water. He makes the concoction and after eating his dinner he swishes the warm liquid about his mouth and spits it outside. He blows out all the candles with a satisfied sigh.

Wymuth is awoken in the middle of the night by a couple of pots falling from the cabinets. He slowly sits up on his bed, and through the mosquito net, fixes his eye towards the kitchen. He sees the little fella he saw weeks earlier. Its shadowed figure still, wondering what the old man was going to do. It shuffles quietly towards to opened door, and sprints fast away from the cabin. Wymuth laughs, “I wonder what its looking for?”. He falls back to sleep unbothered.

The little creature is sprinting so fast it looks as though it leaves white glitter trailing behind. It makes its way back to its home in a tree. Sitting down, panting a bit, another little creature gets up from its slumber. They don’t look like much; short, stout little things, they’re almost as cute as otters but not hairy enough to be considered one. Their dark eyes shine, and the awoken little thing just sighs and shakes their head. They’ve concluded that the old man is harmless, but his companion just wanted to make sure. He found no weapons, and he just seems like a lonely human doing no harm, which was counterintuitive to him, they’re always up to something, he thought.

In the morning, Wymuth rearranges the pots back into their respective places, as the oatmeal simmers in a pot on the stove. He went out to get the strawberries, putting them in a basket and washing them. He halves the strawberries and arranges them on the oatmeal. Eating directly from the pot, he savors his breakfast; the oatmeal sweetened with cinnamon, a pinch of salt and cloves, paired perfectly with the freshly, washed strawberries. His palate is simple, he does not mind the same breakfast days on end, as long as it is this sweet and this satisfying.

The little creatures took to Wymuth, watching the old man from afar picking up the stuff those people leave behind. Such an inconvenience to them, tripping over these foreign objects as they move quickly about. They made offerings to the forest spirit, going so far as arranging the stones as the spirit likes them. But no avail, the garbage just keeps coming. They would watch these big things walk about, their big feet squishing sometimes the food they eat, how dare they? How dare they come here and step all over their home with their big ugly looking feet?

One creature pointed to the old man’s heart, they saw something else glowing there. It was a different color than the rest of the old man’s light. They grew concerned. One went to the river and fished out from the depths, a translucent, blue stone. They wanted to gift this man, with the odd colored light, with this blue stone, hoping it would help him. They left it inside of a bucket of water by the side of his herb garden.

Wymuth returns home, sweating and feeling hot. He places the bag of garbage on the back of his truck, ready to be placed in the large bin near town. He goes to grab his shower caddy with his soap and sponge, and makes his way to his makeshift shower. He was in the process of making another room for the toilet and bath, but he needs more material. He is hoping to finish before it gets too cold. For now, the outdoor shower was a luxury. The shower’s floor was a patch of smooth stones and moss, surrounded by a tall wooden fence. He retrieves the bucket of water, that he keeps by the herb garden, and the small cup next it. He strips down, not having neighbors to worry about and goes in. He grabs his soap, and splashes some water on him to create the suds. He smiles as it refreshes his skin and creates a soft, sweet minty scent from the soap, enveloping him in a wonderful cool off. As he scrapes the bottom of the bucket, to rinse off the soapy foam, he splashes the water and something hard hits him on the shoulder. With a delicate thud, it falls on a patch of moss. The translucent, blue stone glints off light. He reaches down to grab it, “what a beauty” he says out loud, “where did you come from?”.

He walks back to his cabin, bare feet picking up dirt, which he wipes off on a towel before entering his home. He grabs a hanging towel and places the stone on the table. He gazes at it as he dries off. He goes to his wardrobe and picks out a fresh pair of underwear, puts it on and sits down still staring at the little stone. His soul defenders have figured it out, and whisper to him, ‘place it in the goblet of water that you have for Claire’. He fetches the wide mouth cup, delicately placing it on the table. He gently places the blue stone at the bottom. Soon enough, a blue light blooms and spills over the sides. Wymuth is urged to look inside, as he does he could see Claire reflected in the light and his heart is warmed. He could see her smoking a cigar and blowing the smoke slowly over someone’s head, she then moves about to reach a big, green leaf which she then uses to fan away something dark roaming too close to the person she’s treating. She sees the dark energy and with a rough word it vanishes. A few tears spring from his eyes, and the creatures are watching him outside. They watch curiously, as the strange light dissipates and his own light glows stronger. Wymuth then says, “thank you, I just needed to know if she was okay” knowing somehow, with a nudge from his defenders, that it was the little creatures doing, “thank you” and he softly weeps, a few tears landing on Claire’s reflection. They scurry off leaving a patch of a small, leafy herb behind them. 

Two

Two is my favorite word. Two, to, too, too. Two divided in each hand as one. The tongue halfway on the roof of the mouth on the too, the tah, the two, the to somewhere, the too too and two fingers symbolizing peace, pointer and middle scissors cutting in two halves and halves together is a whole and whole can be severed in two broken hearts: two souls shattered to pieces, to glass that injures and bleeds two by two, by two drops falling into the mouth that sings too, trilling the vocal chords two by two, by two, plucking the soul strings so that two came to, too.

What is it about two? Two things, two hearts, two souls, two bodies, one to each and to each one too, and matters to, that the two can come together as one whole but can be severed in two again, broken too by two by two by two.

I love the word two, the woo silent, the tee resilient cutting the tongue, the middle caressing the half, halfway meeting the lines inside the opening of a sentence that can drain into the throat two by two, swallowed and nourished for the purpose, just to. Two, too, to we go, hand in hand, one by one, two together or apart but always two.

“two is my favorite word too” you say. I smile, two lips, two eyes, two ears that eager at every syllable that makes their way out of your lips, and I admire those two eyes, two ears, those lips that pucker to say, “two”.

Poem XX

Adrienne Rich’s Twenty-One Love Poems are something to behold. Poem XX is the one that moved me, the one that shed a light on something within me I needed to understand, about what the soul is, what the soul is made of.

“That conversation we were always on the edge of having, runs on in my head”, what is this conversation? The internal monologue we have, that inner voice that gathers our intuition and hands it to us. I then read it over and over sharpening my understanding of the soul. Is it a mirror, reflecting the vulnerabilities of ourselves we hide? Not necessarily. We are so prone to continue this life ignoring ourselves for the sake of having a life people think is worth living. There comes a time though, a small moment, where we see ourselves, and the neglect that has caused our grief, “…drowning in secrets, fear wound round her throat”. This grief we try to set aside, throw whatever we can at it, but it’s still determined to creep up when we believe to have defeated it. Our soul is not a mirror, but it will show us what we have been neglecting, how we have been hurting. And then, the sudden realization that we can indeed have a hand at shaping our soul, to have a hand at expanding and growing by nourishing it, to realize it is ours, it is mine, “and soon I shall know I was talking to my own soul”.

This was my interpretation of it and sometimes I wonder if I’m right or wrong. But then again, even though the writer had a certain intention with it, how it is received is something entirely different. I like to think of poetry and other art forms like a road sign, something that highlights what you’ve been mulling over and over again in the palm of your hands, and at times medicine, an elixir that brings the understanding you need in order to continue on.

And now I ask, what has moved you on this Monday, or lately?

Poem XX from Twenty-One Love Poems in, The Dream of a Common Language by: Adrienne Rich

Short Story: Bloodroot

When I wrote this I was sifting through all the alien conspiracy theories. I guess in a way we don’t fully understand our own humanity until it’s threatened. Which is the heart of every story revolving aliens and otherworldly things. So here I present Bloodroot.

She awoke crumpled between branches that have fallen and continue to fall all around her. The scent of fresh leaves smear her skin, broken into small cuts and gashes from the fall. Unclothed and exposed to the environment with the texture of the leaves leaving their prints on her with the help of the blood trickling out of her wounds. Her chest rises and falls slowly taking in the air, two fisted lungs expanding and contracting within her. The sky is blue; it’s still blue she wonders. The blue is so blue it feels like home. Deep within her heart she knows she isn’t home and her memory is splicing the previous moments into smithereens.

Peeling herself off the ground, she stands on her feet and wobbles in place. The ground seems to have moved suddenly hitting her in the middle of her forehead, a flash of lightning, and the dizziness brings her to her knees. She lands on a branch and howls in pain. Sitting and holding onto her shins, hugging her legs she waits for the dizzy spell to subside. She blinks slowly adjusting herself to this place and time. She rests her chin on her knees and sighs. Eventually she closes her eyes and finds herself in a glass chamber, connected to something by way of long chords strapped to her thighs, chest, and head.

Alarms go off somewhere within her mind, and she opens her eyes and looks up to the tree that broke her fall. Walking towards it she wraps her arms around its trunk and tries to say ‘thank you’ but the words come out jumbled and incomprehensible. She’s startled by it and tries to shake her head of it to try again but her tongue seems to have lost coordination and slops about in her mouth when she tries to speak. She shakes her head one more time and an urge takes over her senses. Gathering all the fallen branches into two separate piles, and categorizing them from short to long, starting from the center, is all she wants in this moment. She strips the tree of its bark and ties each pile as though to form wooden wings. Once finished, she makes two loops, weaving her arms through them and adjusting the makeshift wings to her person.

Standing tall, she tries to flap her wings bouncing slowly on the balls of her feet until they begin to sway, and she’s satisfied. Walking along, smiling to herself as her wings spread and contract on their own, the leaves as her green feathers shine delighting her. The sun is not too bright but it warms her skin drying the blood from her wounds.

Running here to there, with the expectation to fly only to fall over from the momentum. Again and again she tries and again and again she falls. She looks at her arms, she spreads her fingers and holds her hands together, opening and closing them. She falls to her knees and wonders why she cannot fly.

The image of her in the chamber fill her eyes again, coming through in pulses. There were people there. She can see their legs hurrying as the alarms went off. The door to her chamber opened and she saw their faces. Round like a full moon, eyes set wide and darker than the night sky, mouth like a pinch of skin pouting on the chin. They seem to have been saying something she couldn’t understand. The images stop pulsing and she finds herself once again on a grassy plain, the weight of the makeshift wings on her back, and the deep, writhing urge to fly.

Ahead on the horizon, she sees figures making their way towards her. Standing she watches people who look like her, exactly like her and runs to them. However, they become startled and become frightened as she tries to speak. The words she thinks she’s saying is somehow sounding like squawks and chirps. Frustrated she grasps her throat with her hands trying to figure out why she’s sounding like a bird. The people eventually retreat, scared and speaking to each other in their own language, a language she cannot understand. Alone again, she sits down adjusting her wings so she can settle comfortably.

A man appears beckoning her with a glass of water. He’s wearing a strange plastic suit, but she receives the water gratefully, gulping it down realizing suddenly how thirsty she is. As she quenches her thirst another man appears in the same plastic suit, holding a large net. Slowly making his way around the woman, the man in front of her gives him the cue to capture her. He jumps back and watches the woman struggle, squawking wildly, eyes darting from the man to the net feeling betrayed.

She’s transported in a vehicle, not able to see where she is or where she’s being taken. Eventually she finds herself in another glass chamber, having mechanical arms extract vials of blood from her every now and then. She watches the people working behind the glass, busy with something she can’t see, wondering if they’ll ever release her so she can fly. The urge has not left her; it has intensified significantly as time passes over her. Everyone is clothed and she realizes she is not and tries to hide her embarrassment each time their gaze is directed at her.

The people take notes on an electronic pad, typing in information. They notice the bruises on her and one of the men finally speaks, “there is a report coming from Erise explaining a turbulent confrontation between their citizens. They had this human aboard and disagreed with whatever they were doing to this being”. The other man raises an eyebrow, “what were they doing?”. He presses a couple of buttons on his device and hands him the electronic pad. He chuckles as he reads the description, “they wanted to give this human wings?” and they both burst into laughter. The woman squints in their direction trying to figure out if they are laughing at her naked body. She holds herself closer, feeling scared by the minute. “They were right to be angry, give a human wings? Why grant such a thing to a human? I will never understand”. The woman then gathers courage to speak but again it comes out as squawks and the men look at each other trying not to laugh.

One of the men then examines the blood samples under a microscope, places the swab under a dish that then turns the information into small symbols now flashing on a bigger screen next to the glass chamber. The other man takes a clear liquid and adds it to another vial of blood, inserts it through a mechanical arm, which then in turn injects it into the woman’s right arm. She flinches and the mechanical arm recoils back to its spot as she doubles over holding her stomach, her small human eyes bulge breaking capillaries, a ring of red freckles dotting up to her cheeks, her arms extend out, chest thrusted upwards as she lets out a deafening screech. A force on her back slams her chest to the ground as her wooden wings get torn apart by white bones bursting through her skin, slithering out from the middle of her spine and then fanning wide as blood drops drip on the ground all around her. No longer able to scream she breathes heavily, her fingers bending backwards and forwards from the excruciating pain. The weight of her wings drag her backwards and she cries and her weeping is ragged and horse. She looks at the ceiling of her chamber and feels the urge to burst through it so she can fly. But the weight of the hanging bones is too much and she could only wonder why and how. Not able to wonder about who she was only the urge to fly courses through her and her heart breaks, her arms reach out to grab a leaf. Stuffing the leaves within her reach into her mouth, her tears run back into her hair. The men look on horrified. Softly screeching, mouthful of leaves muffling most of it, the desire resting at the edge of her skin, her eyes try to remember the sky but all she can see is the whiteness of the chamber and she dies.

They take her body and place it in a box, they file her away in a wall of cabinets, each labeled in foreign writing. The glass chamber is cleaned up, the woman forgotten on another planet far removed from her own.   

Post Mortem Memories

What if you could get a snapshot of the last thing your loved one saw before they died? Or a sound recording of what they were thinking before the heart hits the brakes? Would the death be less hurtful? Will we begin to love them or hate them fully then? What if they told us how they feel, how they really felt when they were able to?

How vulnerable do we feel when we let it all in though? To be viewed as a public park, everyone pissing everywhere, throwing their garbage where they stand and moving on not noticing the trash cans here and there. The snapshot of a fleeting memory, a blurry sight, as if through tears, of someone throwing their shit around you not caring how it will be received. A photographic memory hurts, to see and remember everything with such clarity as everyone else fumbles around you trying to remember what they ate for lunch yesterday.

What if you could get a piece, some kind of fabric that will let you feel what they felt the moment they breathed their last breath? As you wrap it around your person, does the guilt stab a part of you, the part of you that knew what to say and when to say it but never said it, does the guilt fill the broken parts of you, the pieces stinging in defense, feeling too broken to fully love in return, even if the dying person caused you to be a broken thing in the first place?

Last night, I dreamed someone gave me a snapshot of the last thing my great aunt saw before she died- a constellation of stars in the dark, navy sky. I felt relieved. I felt absolved of the pain I felt for not holding the woman who gave some meaning to my life before she died. Ah, to see the possibility of the beyond in the glittery skies, to see the infinite, the hope, the sincere hope that there is no end, just a leap into something else that marks a chapter finished, that marks the trail end, that marks the path done and done. I have not done any damage, I have not caused so much pain, there was a hope I did not kill with my carelessness.

They took the picture back and I continued walking on a dirt path, someone handed me a mug of water and I drank deeply sighing into myself. I held the mug close to my chest and I awoke holding my hands, the mug no longer there. The banging of the heater brought me back, the reality insisting as the spiritual plane draws back as a veil, the gossamer curtains swaying slowly back into place.

Through the Door

don’t die young and empty
fists and fists
and they insist
don’t lie down
with the image of risks
taken on a promise
that the feeling will be coming
and becoming lightning
in the stillness of noon
don’t go just yet
fisted fists angrily clenched
they will insist
on filling up to the brim
open your hand and take
take and take
the inheritance of greed
straddled around your neck
and the ache
it aches to keep wanting
long after the disappearance of taste

Gabriel’s Wing- 19 Ghazal No.1

What does it mean to be moved? Moved to tears? to anger? to sadness? to happiness? Something within us stirs and is alive waiting for anything that has the capacity to brighten or dim, to enhance or mute, to grow or to shrink. As a creative person, as a writer, and as a human being I want to talk about what moves me, and what stays with me. So, I want to share pieces of work that has moved something within me, that has stirred my essence, and has eventually stained a bit of my existence.

In “Gabriel’s Wing”, Allama Iqbal’s constant questioning of “mine or Yours?” has stayed with me ever since I came across the poem five years ago. My own spiritual journey is holy at this moment, to the point that it feels a little difficult to fully share. I started this journey around the time I read this poem. “Mine or Yours?” the responsibility of life, of being, touching upon the idea of perfection and the faults. When some of us finally arrive to the threshold of our God, we have our arms wide open and in need of the embrace of the Divine. Our own notions of a pure love is sort of tainted a bit by the idea of mother and father, so we arrive here- ‘my maker’ and assign them the role of mother and father. I couldn’t help but to think of when a child has done something wrong, the father looks over to the mother to say, ‘that’s your child not mine’ when reading this poem. We somehow take it upon ourselves that this must be a collaborative work, me and God, God as the parent but also us creating our God and confusingly God creating us. We’re here wondering if everything we see is ours or God’s. When everything is not perfect as we think it should be, whose fault is that? We either think too much or too little of ourselves, so it’s natural that we think too much or too little of God.

No matter where one is on their spiritual journey, there’s always this sincere questioning of God. The God we are taught about, the God we don’t see, the God we do see, and the God we wish could be if only people try to believe enough. But here Iqbal questions everything we are aware of so far; if heaven is corrupted, is it God’s heaven or my heaven? If I’m ignorant of the world’s woes, is it God’s fault or mine? If all of life is truly meaningless, am I to blame or can I blame God for that? Should I know of Your faults God, how an angel dared to rebel at the moment of You showing Your magnificent powers of creation, will that make You weaker in my eyes, should it affect my devotion to you? Everything that is holy is Yours God but didn’t I, as a human being, had a hand in writing those words? And me, a human you made, am I still Yours God, will you still claim me God if I’m no longer perfect in your eyes or will I stand alone?

If we want to be skeptical, we could say all of this is ours. The reality here is ours and we should accept blame where blame is due. When a human being decides to harm others, God didn’t reach within them and move them to destroy another’s world the same way Satan did not move them to do the same. So, this God we question is the likeness we seek. We wish to put a mirror to our faults and yet we shy away at the last minute: ‘there must be something grand that can take all the blame, both good and bad, I don’t want the responsibility of all of that’.

For me, God is not a man in the sky, and we are not made in that man’s likeness. I’m confident I know for sure what God isn’t, but I still don’t fully know what God truly is. My own journey is still roving. I’m still trying to figure out what God is. I came across Simone Weil’s words today, “Love needs reality. What is more terrible than the discovery that through a bodily appearance we have been loving an imaginary being” (from “Love”, Simone Weil: An Anthology) and it stirs up that feeling again when I question my devotion to a God I chose to believe in; how could I love someone I don’t see? To be asked to take things on faith and faith alone is an exercise of the heart’s will, its capacity to love, and a test to our humanity. What makes us real,what makes us human? Hoping for an all-powerful being we can’t see to love us as we are is a ridiculous endeavor. It makes people angry and upset to say that, hell it makes me upset to even say it. So, when I read “Gabriel’s Wing”, it brought to my attention my creator and the responsibility of things whether they are perfect or not, and are these things perfect in the first place if they could change with perspective and blame?

I know what God is not through these questions. For now, I am content in the unraveling of this spiritual world as a new one blooms before me, with me before it, understanding everything from questioning everything I’ve been told about it.

“Gabriel’s Wing” is a piece of work that has stained me, not a day goes by where I don’t think about it. The line, “and man, that thing of dust, that star whose shining lights your world-” is a line that makes me smile. There’s always that residue left within us, like a child looking up at their parent, whether joyful or sad, how powerful are we to have that capacity to light up someone’s world, aren’t we something?

Short Story: Oliver

This story came to me while I was showering one evening, as I was thinking about strange signs life can give us sometimes, and how we come to realize things too late. The end might seem a little dramatic, but isn’t that how it feels, when we are too late to grasp what could have been? So here I present, “Oliver”.

He chews the antacid as he closes his briefcase. The quarterly reports nestle between thick manila folders, loose pens, and a calculator. He adjusts his sweater and heads out the door. 7am skies on a spring day, dew still lingers, and the sun hazes caught between gossamer clouds.

Routine as railways, his feet the unwilling steel tires effortlessly gliding through, passing coffee shops and their inviting aromas of freshly baked goods. A sign sways lazily on a light pole, almost falling from the clear striated tape:

NEVER HIDE TWO EYES

SEEN AND HEARD

ALWAYS

He smiles at the inanity of it and continues, checking his watch now and then, knowing the train arrives at 7:30am every weekday morning. He sees another sign stamped on another light pole:

IF YOU SEE WITH TWO EYES

NOT HIDDEN

MAKE WISH

He scoffs, “yea, I wish” and laughs quickening his steps not wanting to miss the train -a few more blocks- he thinks to himself, egging himself further down the avenue.

He spots another sign:

MAKE WISH—->

His curiosity peaks and he veers away from the routine for a few minutes. He looks down the alleyway and decides on an impulse to follow. He wipes droplets of sweat off his forehead and smacks his chest gently wondering why the antacid isn’t kicking in yet.

A door is ajar, and he looks in. A solitary, wooden chair is off to his right, the room appears empty. Just as he is about to run back to his designated tracks, seeing there’s only five minutes left until his train arrives, something emerges from the shadows. He is momentarily taken aback as a small creature greets him by nodding its head. He notices the deep wrinkles on its face and within each fold, small mushroom like moles peek through. “I will grant you one wish” and it extends its arms towards this man.

He in turn watches before him, in his mind’s eye: a football game he played when he was in high school; playing a piano in a recital as his father records it with a video camera; a kitchen where his mother stirs a pot smiling at him; walking across a stage where a woman is holding a rolled up, ribbon tied paper; and a woman pulling away after kissing him, cheeks flushed, lips stained by the cherry soda they were sharing, the taste lingering on his tongue and her words echoing, “I think I love you Oliver”.

Before he could formulate his wish, a pain strikes him, his arm goes numb and he falls face down. He watches the creature disappear in a plume of upturned dust, the woman still in his mind’s eyes, “I think I love you Oliver” smiling. He could never bring himself to say them back. All the things between them seem trivial now. What was he looking for in life anyway? There was something strange happening between his mind and his heart. But as the blood slowly spills over the corners of his mouth, he could only taste the cherry soda.