Letter to my RPM instructor

“Nothing worth having comes without a fight”

you bellowed from the crest of our imagined hill

from the front of the room, while we toiled at your feet

dripping sacrificial sweat off our bikes.

 

Tonight I’d like to suggest otherwise.

Tonight I lay my weapons down,

and welcome the hushed sound

of love.

 

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New Year’s Day

The trick to winter

is to keep beeswax candles in every window, so as you move through the snowy morning room to room in your pyjamas, reverence drips off of you through the sacred lighting of flames.

For your work is to move through the rooms of the world, lighting candles, starting with your own home. Since it is winter, we must start with your own home.

Notice how the bed holds you as this day dawns with nothing particular for you to do, stat holiday and all, that you can just lie in bed and read. Light a candle for that. Beside the old wooden radio player and the deck of Tarot on your bedside table, light the candle that sits there.

Notice how, eventually, the kitchen beckons with her promise of coffee and maybe porridge. Weave your flanneled self through the halls to greet that promise. Light the candle in the kitchen window, beside last February’s jade plant, next to last August’s garlic, also on your window’s altar.

Notice how the kitchen table gleams with December wine stains and splotches of crud. You would not have noticed this in the flurry of yesterday but today is a new year. Go downstairs to fetch fresh shmatas and trim them to size so that you can properly scrub down your kitchen table. The candle burns and your every step matters.

Now your coffee is brewed and words are ready. Words, always words. Welcome these words, as you welcome the year – quietly, sensibly, with reverence.

The snow falls. Today, rather than run, perhaps you may walk, quietly, listening to the snow and silent city. Rather than run, perhaps you may tidy and scrub. Rather than run, let your body sing itself through these words.

You’ve set candles in every window of every room, and this is your purpose. To move through the rooms and light them, while the snow falls outside, while your bed rests from holding you all night, while the words sing, while you prepare your house for all the light of the world.

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Tinsel

 

Hang your tinsel in the frosted windows

and in the cobwebbed corners, in the mirror,

let it glimmer, twinkle, and remind you –

and remind you, and remind you –

 

of the soft animal (thank you mary oliver) that stirred this morning

when you thought upon the new ways

that you could laugh and hope and dream and kiss and cry

 

 

hang your hope in the windows, let it sparkle

when you go to grab your keys, or reach for the almond milk

or take out the trash, let it remind you, remind you, remind you

 

of the soft animal, stirring awake, ready to love

the fiercest, softest part of you.

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Nothing Will Do

No amount of fiddling with a the computer
or eating another bowl of oats and stevia
or contemplating a cup of chardonnay

will make you more present
in the cupped hands
of these november days

yes – november strung like a garland
across the shores, across daylight and dark,
across living and unseen, across the grey,
sunstreaked streets.

You are already nestled in the palm of november
in the way that you dream, the narrow hours
that you sleep, the strange sunlight
in which you inhabit the waking world

pretending with all others that everything
is normal, but these days are far from
ordinary – these are

november days, novembers days
a garland between sleep and wake
a holding space for dreamers
and shape-shifters and

a holding tank for
sacred seeds.

There is sacredness to the way you are ushered
to walk through the shadowy world, smiilng your face
at the occasional warm sun.

Step into it. These garlands have been strung
for you and your sacred walk through the world.

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We’ve made it to the other side:
Sunday, and the clocks turned back

I’ve rested in the cradle of deep fall’s timelessness –
the skeleton branches, that skies that never hover beyond silver

the contours of shadows, the long lines that trail
below copper trees. Miracles happen everywhere:

all the time, there are miracles shaking their wings
like the copper leaves, shaking in the brooding winds

until they gently let go, and fall, and sing their way to rest
fluttering to their soft beds.

When we strip ourselves like trees, we see
we have everything we need

and we can just be: sleeping and waking,
the sun dashing upon us for a moment of brilliant gold,
then held safely once again by the long cloud
covering us like a mother

and we are trees
bare and golden
rooted and strong
seeds already planted
for next spring
our ancestors and offspring
contained in our leaves

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You’ve got a lot of baggage, don’t you
said the wandering minstrel to me

poetry will help you through it
keep writing, speaking, you can do it

what habits we can build ourselves
that lock us into shame and doubt

so much that we don’t notice it
except – when suddenly, it’s spring

and cracks of ice we did not see
suddenly begin to break free

and here we have our habits bare
our fears and doubts, they’re lying there

oh what a dreary load of bags
I carry with me, dragging them

through every river that i’m shown –
I drag these bags through paths unknown

but poetry will help me through it,
said the minstrel, said the poet

let go of burdens, go of fear
let go of all the baggage, dear,

so through the river I can swim
and truly let the light shine in.

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The World Is Full Of Lovers

There is an abundance of ideas in the world
that we artists scoop up from time to time
with our silver colanders, dipped into murky rivers
whose beds are lined with gold.

An abundance. Let us land, shall we, on this word
and feel its breathing feathers between our palms.
Hear its newborn breath, promising hope
stroke its neck and trust its warmth.

Ideas swirl around the world, and I’ve become quite adept
at knowing when they’ve landed on my shoulder,
and often saying yes. I can get into gear, and hear
the whisper of birdsong when she comes to call.

Abundance. The world is full of lovers: soulmates
who’ve been placed in your line of duty
to show you yourself fully, to bring you
trinkets of beauty – the world is always sending them

to you. Look around: the world is full of lovers
born to love you. Scoop them with your sieve,
let them land on your shoulder and hold them in your palms.
Let the heat of their breathing restore your cold hands.

Abundance. The world is full of lovers.
Say yes.

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Succulents

I’ve never been much good at keeping house plants alive,
But ever since my three days in San Francisco
I’ve had this thing for succulents –

bright and brittle, skeletal and lush,
succulents are the bone and blush of the plant world –

they creep with long fingers and grow thick forests
in my little cracked tea cups, in old ceramic mugs

they are deep green, arid living things –
what is it about them?

how they filled endless colourful clay pots
in every hipster café in San Francisco’s hipster-tech Mission district,
bouncing upward with an emerald spring, their spidery limbs
blooming with reptile-like petals. Nothing soft about these sturdy plants,

yet their delicacy glows from deep within them. Just green, green,
bones of green – that survive almost anything –
that don’t beg water, that will root anywhere,
blooming broadly – they are resilient beauty.

The tomboy of houseplants. No fuss, low-maintenance
unassuming in their girlhood beauty.

I’ve never been one for keeping house plants alive,
but since last February it’s all I can do
to keep myself from buying more and more succulents.

They are thriving. I’ve cared for them
like no house plant that’s made it passed this door.
I’ve changed their soil, switched containers,
asked carefully from each of them which window
makes them energetically happy.

The jade lobes, the yucca arms, the spindly spider legs,
each succulent a story, each one placed

in just a way, in one corner of a window
next to another, so that

whatever karma’s happening in San Francisco
swirls its way in this Ontario apartment –
succulents speaking to one another, their resilience
a green song soaring through the window.

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I’ve been waiting for something epic to happen
Like a comet or whatever, but nothing unpleasant

just a giant surge of joy and enlightenment
but not serious enlightenment, I’m talking about the sexy kind

you know, when every bright tone of the graffiti art
on the brick wall ignites in the Friday twilight

and it feels like how your heart feels
when someone you really love peers into your deepest secrets

and ignites your colours, making the simple scruffy
graffiti art of your life’s story suddenly

no longer just some punk homeless kid’s illegal activity
but radical bright art that lightens the world

that God shines holy Friday twilight upon
to burn hope into the souls of city dwellers

rushing home from work, arrested by the sudden
apparition of colour blazing from the painted brick –

yeah, that kind of enlightenment.

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This is the post-Relationship age
where Relationships are just relationships
where we’ve decolonized ourselves from
loving in boxes, and have instead

named the obstacles that hold us –
fear, rejection, abandonment, power –
they are just flowers in our garden
that make up how we look at each other

they are not trees. they are not the forest.

I’m sick of feeling shitty about not knowing how to love
as if there’s even an ounce of truth to that statement
because I haven’t yet fit myself around one particular mold –
I’m tired of being told

through subtext and questions asked
that I’m somehow left behind.
As if love was some secret treasure I’ve yet to find.
As if I don’t know how to love.
As if I don’t live every day in love.

As if we don’t all tug along behind us
some loose chains that hold us back
from loving others, yes, we all carry something,
and it sucks, but it’s okay.

This is the post-Relationship age.
Every morning, more and more, I taste the dawn.
It feels so good to love.

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