writer’s block

Been struggling to find inspiration lately. Maybe I’m just jaded? I mean, how many more shootings can I write about? And the royal wedding was splendid and all, but I didn’t even know it was happening until it was over. (Yes, I’m out of touch.) I’ve been searching for meaning and struggling to find it, even in my triathlon training. Like, who cares? What’s the point? I keep thinking about my friend from college in Africa. I’ve been back in the States too long. Maybe once I finish this grad school thing, it’s time to go where I feel like I can really make a difference.

Below is a poem I originally published on February 20, 2013. It seems appropriate today.

writer’s block

I’m reaching and falling.
I’m hemming and hawing.
I’m trying and failing.
I’m rowing, now bailing.
Stop.

Another day.

(Go outside.)
(Never give up.)

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. — Anais Nin

For an audio recording of the above, click below:

 

 

 

 

friday night frenzy

If I were to open my heart I’d say a lot of things right now. Things like, “It’s Friday, folks. Hip hip hooray!”

Only it’s raining. And I volunteered to pick up trash tomorrow — in the rain. Ohhh, goodie.

Put your money where your mouth is.

No, really. It won’t be so bad. My friends will be there. I can sleep when we’re done. Really.

If you say so.

I say so. Except . . . When I was a kid, I thought my parents had it all figured out. I thought that when I grew up, I’d have it all figured out, too.

Oh, honey.

I know. I know.

Speaking of “honey,” people say funny things in the South. Like “Sweet Pea.” And “you’uns.” And “y’all.” And I realized tonight: I’m getting used to it. It will feel strange to visit California and not hear, “You’uns ain’t done nothin’ wrong, y’all ‘ear?” or “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” . . .

. . . It’s not so different from listening to Mandarin in Asia, actually. It was strange to return home and understand conversations around me then, too.

Is that so? Hmm . . .

Conversations are great, yes. But what about communication?

You would ask.

Communication is key — in everything. It’s why we can’t just all get along. We don’t seek to listen and understand before first being heard. This goes for everyone.

And me too. Me too.

But . . . “home.” What is home? Is it the bed upon which we lay our head? The person with whom we don’t hold back? The thing we’re really good at? People boast that their homes are the BEST EVER. But have they traveled the world? Have they seen everything it has to offer?

They don’t have to. Home is where they’re comfortable.

I see, I see. But not for me. Home is where my heart is, but it’s more than that, too.

SO much more.

SO.

I should really go to bed. But I have dishes to do and wars to fight first. (This poem inspired me the other night, though. Lord knows I need to lay off the Pledge®.)

dust if you must

 

 

 

 

 

 

enough

Inadequate. That’s how I feel every time I sit down at the page.

Every time I put on running shoes.

Every time I open an email.

I’m not enough, ‘nough, ‘nough, but I’ll be damned if I give in. Every day is a fight against the great unknown, the land within.

There are people for that, they say . . . you whisper . . . They can help. They can help.

I knowww . . .

But I’m doing fine on my own. I’ve got my boxing gloves and heart of steel, my line of defense, my reason. I don’t need your Zoloft.

But how did you get here? Your peers are fine. They’ve got kids of their own now. Careers. Homes. You never wanted that, anyway. You were a woman with purpose, not a “Mom!!!”

That doesn’t mean I wanted to be alone.

But you’ve got it so good. Remember Taiwan when it was 100 million degrees and you didn’t have air-conditioning? When you didn’t have a place to wash your clothes? When you didn’t have an oven? You have SO MUCH to be thankful for.

And I am. I am . . .

. . . But if I have all of these things, and if I’m still struggling, is it my fault? Is it yours? Is it society’s?

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

True enough, but try again. That’s others’ problem, not mine. I think often of the Syrian and Rohingyan refugees, the Bangladeshis, the Cambodians. I’ve seen them. Seen their lives. Felt them. I have so much to be thankful for, and I’d give it up in an insta—

—So easy to say. Would you? Would you, really?

YES.

And?

And yet.

Thankful is not enough. Purpose. Life is about purpose. What is the mother when her children leave the nest? What is the rich man on his dying day? What is the triathlete when the race is over? What REALLY matters?

Granted, I AM alone. I’m NOT a mom. I have TIME to think these thoughts, on my bed in my apartment in Tennessee — where the birds “sing pretty” and the rebel flag flies high. (Who knew the North-South controversy was still so strong? Not this California girl.) Why can’t we look for our similarities instead of our differences? Why does white privilege have to exist? Why must women be forced fight for their rights? If you really stop to think about it, it’s all SO DUMB.

But it IS real, and it IS relevant — just like the mother in rags living in a cardboard box in India. She’s only 23 but she looks 35. Her children will always be beggars. This is the caste they’ve been given, the lot they have won — just by being BORN.

The 16-year-old in Southern California whose grandma got liposuction, permanent makeup, and a boob job is real, too. LOOK like the stars, kiddo. That’s the real reason you’re here.

It’s a big world out there, they say. Shoot for the stars. Follow your heart.

But what happens when the stars forget to shine, and your heart breaks before you begin?

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I’m gonna go for my run now. Wish me luck!

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I went to a “Poetry Slam” last night — basically an open mic session for people to share their poems, which also included a performance by the American poet Buddy Wakefield. I’d never heard of Buddy before, but apparently he’s a pretty big deal. He’s performed on BBC, HBO, ABC and won Individual World Poetry Slams in recent years. His work is powerful; much of it is dark. I like the powerful part — not so much the darkness. I’m not sure I agree with his worldview, but I bought his book and liked how he signed it. He hit a nerve close to home, as you can see.

the wild wind blows

I’ll be honest: I’m discouraged tonight. Life isn’t always easy; in fact, sometimes it’s downright hard.

That said . . . There are certain universal truths that we must all cling to during difficult times. One of them is that, like music, poetry can make everything better. :)

This poem is perhaps my favorite to date because it is one of my technical best. I originally posted it on September 3, 2013.

The Wild Wind Blows

The wild wind blows,
In caverns – slows
The beating of my heart.

In darkness deep,
Where creepers creep,
I dream of days, depart —

To summer sun
Where rivers run,
And all the world’s an art —

And all of love
A perfect glove,
And you, the perfect part.

The wild wind blows,
A blanket, snows,
Alone, I’m miles apart —

In darkness deep
And silence steep,
From you who has my heart.

To listen to this poem, click below:

what man has made of man

what-man-has-made-of-man (2)I could go on.

With obesity rates skyrocketing in the United States, many people are asking, “Why?” Why are we fatter now than, say, fifty years ago?

Some look to fast food chains for their answer. “It’s all your fault!” they like to say. “You’re too cheap, and you taste too good!” Others blame more healthful foods. “It’s all your fault!” they’re apt to say. “You’re too expensive, and you taste like wood!” Some others blame traffic and a commuter lifestyle. “You take too long!” they often say. “You crawl along; you’re in my way!” And, still others, the weather. “By gosh, it’s hot. Too hot to go; I guess I’ll stay . . .”

Occasionally a bright-eyed individual will examine their use of time throughout the day. They walk when they could drive, move when they could sit. They actually enjoy exercise — or, at least they try to find ways to exercise that they enjoy. And they put their phones down. And turn off the TV. And have real conversations. And go outside.

They see more. And breathe more. And feel more. And live more.

Our bodies were made to move. When we render them stationary — be it by a desk job, TV addiction, video game, social media, or what have you — we compromise them, and our minds, and our lives.

One of my favorite poems by William Wordsworth sums up my thoughts well:

Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
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For an (imperfect!) audio recording of this poem, click below.
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the search

bachelier-phantom-chamberAnd if I could inside me,
find all of me that’s you.
I’d bleary, eye the darkness,
then plummet down to you.

I’d through the winding tunnels,
across the creaking planks,
eschew the jaundiced suitors,
the lust of lesser ranks.

I’d scale the wintry mountain,
I’d swim the briny sea,
I’d fight the zinging cobra,
I’d crawl on hand and knee.

And, desp’rate, I would find you,
and headstrong I would be.
For there I’d find inside you,
your desp’rate search for me.

For an audio version of this poem, click below.

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Image: Google

little we see

Because it’s been too long and there hasn’t been time and my mind’s been on and you’ve been on it.

This.

FullSizeRender-14

Lake Sonoma

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The world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours.

— William Wordsworth

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Little we see . . . or even notice? With all the hustle and bustle, and bad news and bad guys, and pressures and deadlines, and so on and so on, sometimes it’s more than this introverted thoughtful can handle. We live in a beautiful world. Our beautiful home. And yet what do we do with it? Where do we stand?

Don’t believe me (about the beautiful part)? Check out this video.

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I sought to write

kafka-320x382

I thought to write,
but as it were,
my thoughts were but
a sully blur.
And eyes were glass,
and heart was pale,
oh, what an ass,
a sorry fail!

And still I tried,
I tarried on,
I sought to find
the words were gone.
But all they did
was laugh at me,
around and ’round,
“Tee-hee! Tee-hee!”

Determined now,
I hurried on,
Forget the night,
I’d seize the dawn.
I grabbed my pen,
I found my ale,
some coffee, too,
forget the kale!

And there I sat,
and sat, and sat,
’til glazey-eyed,
I saw a bat.
I swung and swirled
and tipped and twirled,
I missed the words,
but rocked the world!

And then I sat,
and sat and sat,
’til, eyelids drooped,
I heard the cat.
And in he came,
and out I went,
Forget the words,
this writer’s spent.

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Note: This is based on a real life story: After days at work, this has often been me. Oh, how I have wanted to write. Oh, how words have evaded me.

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For a (very bad) audio of this poem, click below.


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Image: Google — Kafka burning the midnight oil
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leisure

IMG_4018I haven’t posted any poetry in a while, and this time, I won’t be posting mine. Instead, I wanted to share a poem by William Henry Davies, which my dear friend Fraggle pointed out me yesterday. It is, I must say, both fitting and sublime.

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What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

— William Henry Davies

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Image: Liane Dimond — Bodega Bay Cows

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on my way

pathwayI can only be me.

Must live the life I’m given,
and wear the skin I’m in,
be wary how I’m driven,
and of the walls within.

Must mind to whom I listen,
think deeply, unafraid,
to ask the questions hidden,
no matter where they’re laid.

Can only be . . .

And always kind to others,
must selfless, always brave,
think not of petty druthers,
a loving pathway pave.

Must worry not ’bout others —
their glories or their stays,
or envy all their treasures,
I’ll follow my own ways.

. . . me.

For when this life is over,
for when my race is run,
I’ll worry not ’bout Rover,
just want to see the Son.

And me is who He’s given,
so me is who I’ll stay.
And me has always thriven,
when me is on my way.

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*For an audio recording of this poem, click below.

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Image: Pinterest

children’s stories

chinese childI was trying to write a children’s story. I wasn’t any good at it.

My language was too dense.
My thoughts, too dull.
My words too extreme.
My heart, too full.

Because you see…

Life is hard, children. And we make it that way. We grow from you — so innocent, wide-eyed, full of joy — and turn into…? Monsters. We are monsters, children. Everyone one of us. Even the best of us. Monsters. Continue reading

why we write

writer….
Tell tell a story.

To tell our stories.

To share our hearts.

To fall apart.

To pull ourselves together.

To communicate.

To inform.

To breathe in.

To exhale.

To forgive.

To forget.

To remember.

To hope.

To kill hope.

To grieve.

To understand.

To apologize.

To express.

To think.

To garble.

To worry.

To cry.

To laugh.

To sigh.

To hurt.

To heal.

To give.

To receive.

To send secret messages.

To laugh.

To learn.

To love.

To fight.

To die.

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We write because we have no other choice.

Because writing consumes us or we consume it.

Because it gives voice to our tears, wind to our wings, air to our everything.

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We write because we are alive.

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Why do you write? Do you?

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“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

— Lord Byron

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writer’s lament

writer's blockI’ve been trying to write a post all morning. Trying to reach deep within and pull out something deep and meaningful to which you might all relate. I’ve been thinking about black and white and gray and how I don’t believe in gray and how that is why I know religion doesn’t matter: We all know right from wrong. But instead of flowing like a waterfall, my thoughts are congested spillway blocked by matters of immediate importance: I’m stressed. Interviews and new tutoring positions (I’ve recently been signed on as a kids’ tutor at several companies in the Bay Area) are on my mind, not to mention bills and dreams and exercise things. It’s harder to ride my bike in Berkeley. I miss it.

And so I reach and fall and try and bail and am reminded of a poem I wrote more than a year ago:

I’m reaching and falling.
I’m hemming and hawing.
I’m trying and failing.
I’m rowing, now bailing.
Stop.

Another day.

And I wonder if this ever happens to you? And I wonder how authors do it? Writing comes so easily to me when my subject is on my mind. But when it’s not? Writing is like pulling teeth, only worse, because I want SO badly to do it, and do it well.

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if i could go anywhere

foggy-vista-thumb..
If I could go anywhere, I would go to Carmel, on the coast of California, in the year 1990. My family would be staying at a small condo by the beach. It would be foggy and misty. I would be six years old, and my mom would be turning 32. We would be there to celebrate her birthday, and I would be laughing and twirling and calling her an old lady.

I would then take my six-year-old self on a trip around the world. I’d stop in Delhi, Dhaka, Beijing, Tokyo . . . Manila, Sydney, Cape Town, Istanbul . . . Bucharest, Athens, Rome, Lisbon . . . Moscow, Santiago, Pell City, Montreal . . . Continue reading

love is sweeter still

photo3

I took this on my run the other day. Aren’t they cute?

You’re the one did not exist,
the one I’d never known.
The one of whom the stories list,
but life had never shown.

You came to me, I didn’t see
you ‘pproach or standing there.
I was turned toward history —
destruction and despair.

You didn’t wait for me to turn
around to say “Hello.”
Instead you swept me off my feet
and laughed, “Where shall we go?”

But still I thought of history —
was scared deep down inside.
I saw the way you looked at me,
but eyes before have lied.

But you were patient, soft, and kind;
assured me, “This is real.”
With gentle touch you did unwind
a heart I thought was steel.

And now we’re walking hand in hand
and love is sweeter still,
than storybooks, which do not stand
a chance ‘gainst what is real —

For storybooks, they have an end,
but we’ll go on and on.
There are things you cannot rend,
not even when they’re gone.

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For an audio recording of this poem, click here:

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Image: Mine. All Rights Reserve

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uncertainty

blueIf songs of old,
our futures told,
would all our dreams be dying?

Would in the mist,
our lovers kissed,
we only be goodbying? . . .

Would there in space,
be time and place,
for fighting and for flying? . . .

Or would it be,
on easy sea,
that all we are is sighing?

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If ancient lore
and tales of yore
would tell me where I’m going —

I’d tell them back
to hold their flack:
This girl will keep on flowing.

For dreams of old
our futures hold,
what ever keeps us growing.

Uncertainty’s
a friend, you see,
and far better than knowing.

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For an audio recording of this poem, click here:

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Image: Pinterest

Related Articles:

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dead man’s lament

cemetery 3From darkness I came,
to darkness I went,
and wondered, inane,
how my days were spent.
As there in my grave,
in coffin so cool,
regret was a wave:
“Had I been a fool?”

My days had been good,
my days had been bad,
The life that I led,
was all that I had.
But what had I thought?
How far did I think?
Had I seen it not —
this critical kink?

See, money was mine,
and power and fame.
And all was a sign,
I’d much to acclaim!
And if I lacked love,
I wasn’t to blame.
That came from above,
was God’s little game! Continue reading

a simple life

vfiles27343

A home overlooking Lake Folsom in El Dorado Hills

It’s a simple life, an easy life,
in El Dorado Hills.
Where cookie-cutter houses sit,
on cookie-cutter hills.
Where all the people drive to work
in fancy, shiny cars.
And all the children laugh and play
and look up to the “stars.”*

It’s a simple life, a quiet life,
in heaven’s spot on earth.
With all the fences whitely washed,
and mothers giving birth
To little ones who’ll laugh and play
and look up to the “stars,”
and grow up doing just the same,
in fancy, shiny cars.

It’s a simple life, a little life,
the one we’ve bought and sold.
Where all that matters is our health,
our riches when we’re old.
Where nothing’s to be thought, of course,
about the world outside,
for all that matters is our own,
America’s our pride.

*Stars as in celebrities

For an audio recording of this poem, click here:

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Image: Google

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poetry

canoe2

Poetry’s in the journey . . .

Poetry I cannot force,
it comes and then it goes.
Like a river at its source,
it ebbs and then it flows.

Words, you see, are only that,
and rhyme and rhythm, too.
Poetry’s not pit-a-pat,
but here in me and you.

–in the sun and in the rain,
the things that quiet tears;
in the love and in the pain–
experience of years.

Then the poet, what is she?
She’s nothing like a muse.
Rather, she’s a puppet, see,
and words her only use.

So poetry, my fickle friend,
I wonder what’s in store?
Will you stay until the end,
or show me to the door?
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For an audio recording of this poem, click here:

“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”
Charles Bukowski

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Note: The first stanza of this poem came to me in a moment of frustration when I was trying very, very hard to write another poem on a very different subject–and getting nowhere. Since that time, it has taken me FOREVER to finish this. Fickle is right!

Image: Pinterest

Related Articles:

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glue

try too hard3You say you want the real me,
I say I want it, too.
But how can I destroy me,
reveal myself to you?

We all of us have demons,
dark things we’d rather hide.
Though, honest, we’re not heathens,
still it can’t be denied . . .

That none of us is perfect,
no beauty is unflawed.
And what appears a defect
should sometimes be hurrahed.

But maybe that’s my downfall —
it’s too late, I’ve bought in.
Won’t listen to your windfall,
perfection is my sin.

You say you want the real me,
I say I want it, too.
But how can I destroy me,
when I am my own glue?

Click below for an audio recording of this poem.

“I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.” – Robert Frost

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Image: Google

Related Articles:

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the visitor, revisited

full moonTruth is, I’m struggling.

I’m reaching and falling.
I’m hemming and hawing.
I’m trying and failing.
I’m rowing, now bailing.

Stop!

Another day.

from my poem “Writer’s Block

My mind has been going a million miles an hour in a hundred different directions lately, and it’s making writing difficult. I’ve been working on a new poem (which I love) for the past several days, but I’m having a hard time finishing it. What am I trying to say? It’s a question I haven’t been able to answer . . . Continue reading

the wild wind blows

Snow_Cavern_by_Emtoo2The wild wind blows
in caverns – slows
the beating of my heart.

In darkness deep,
where creepers creep,
I dream of days, depart —

To summer sun
where rivers run,
and all the world’s an art —

And all of love,
a perfect glove,
and you, the perfect part.

The wild wind blows,
a blanket, snows,
alone, I’m miles apart —

Continue reading

who we are (and where we’re going)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always known how my life would turn out.

beach

Sanjhih, Taiwan

I knew what I wanted to be, and where I’d go to school, and who I’d marry (someday), and where I’d grow old. I knew who my friends would be, and how many kids I’d have, and that my parents would divorce, and that I’d move to Taiwan . . . I knew I’d have a serious rock-climbing accident, and that I’d survive. I knew I’d be “different,” and that that’d be okay.

I knew it all . . .

And I’ll bet you did, too. I’ll bet you’re an expert on everything that’s ever happened to you (or will) in your entire life.

Ha. Continue reading

the thing about poetry

imagesEvery time I write a poem, it starts with the first two lines. Maybe I’m experiencing an emotion and the words come tumbling out.

The tears do tumble down my face,
the one who doesn’t cry.

Or perhaps I’m riding my bike on a cool summer evening, or walking beneath the stars.

Empty streets, and she awake,
the one who walks alone.

Maybe I’m in the supermarket, or listening to birds outside.

Little birdie out my window,
chirping, calling, “Come and play!”

Whatever it is, those first two lines are the key to the rest of the poem. They will either make or break it… Continue reading

empty streets

moonlighted2Empty streets, and she awake,
the one who walks alone.
She will not the world forsake,
and she’ll do it on her own.

There’s a love, it is an ache —
it’s all she’s ever known.
While her love the world did take,
to her, it’s never shown.

Not to say the world’s a rake,
or one she would disown.
But the moonlight makes her quake —
it’s here her heart is flown. Continue reading