“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance” – Socrates
Sacred Contracts XXIII: The Nature of Strays
1. Realization: i
It’s understood when a stray snaps
at a hand(out). It’s their past,
their experience, a proven defense
against steel-toed smiles
posed as mercy in the street.
It’s the chance you take by
opening your heart
to get close to it.
2. Realization: ii
You can’t become discontent
or take personally its lone
misconception of a life
it only lives to possess,
or doesn’t understand
how the taste formed as
teeth into the long roots
of its mouth.
Anubis whispers the difference
between natives, immigrants
Anput whispers who
its heart should trust
or who not.
years of self-neglect
and societal conditioning
confuses its natural instinct.
It forgets who it was,
can no longer hear
its canine gods,
assumes the lie
as a life of truth
it must endure.
3) Realization: iii
One does not become self-focused
or doubt their own intent
through light and goodness of heart.
Or, regret having opened
to a waning sentient
despite what pain manifests.
It's the experience one must chance
to survive ensuing guilt
for not ever having tried.
4) Realization: iv
Some strays are ready to receive;
others, content not missing something
they've only ever dreamed.
Some already belong to another
and suffer from a sacrificial choice
so palpably prevalent
nothing you extend
will ever seem secure
enough to get them to gravitate
toward truth, to lick birth extended
from your finger, never again
beg for scraps.
You can recreate every hieroglyph
and broken clay slate
you think you've translated
on independent evolution from dirt
before them, but. . .
it may never be enough to get
them to see the lie they're living
is killing them more
than pain of truth ever could.
5) Realization: v
The dark stray with sunken eyes
and thinning coat sees tumbleweeds
has-been lives and wannabes
it's committed its life to believe.
And you, depleted, accept leaving
to preserve one minuscule truth
you'll never surrender to a
lie in the streets.
6) Realization: vi
Persistence factors the difference
between the giver who desires
only to Love and serve
and the predator out for a trophy
via a kill-shot for a stray's ability
to produce for the factory
or dinner table.
Experienced strays are street-smart;
they smell the difference --
And, possess a saint's patience
to wait it out.
7) Realization: vii
You ask me to share wisdom
when to hold on, let go.
Each stray has their own unique
experience fired by belief
or lack of faith
in the fruition of dreams.
I would say to you:
as long as you build strength
let them bite;
let them resist.
Let them circle you;
it’s part of the process.
Let them snarl;
let them bark until
their lungs are spent,
state begs them. . .quit.
And, lying there, half-starved
of life, gasping for breath -
they exhale and submit
I would say:
if your strength wanes thin,
if your arm numbs from
extended offerings, crusted
on time's stained fingertips,
and you smell the frozen Winter
coming over the mountains
from its Autumn hunt
and you have no coat
to cover your bones, turn.
Walk, or, run toward warmth.
Do not look back into the fading shadow
of what you've left or you’ll trip and fall
become embittered in rock salt.
Look only toward the crossroads
you approach, toward those
kindred strays of love and truth:
those destined as Sacred Contracts.
Sacred Contracts XXVII: Independent Women
Being Alone is Her Default
We spill across sand because
nothing can hold us back.
Aquatic creatures swimming
the coastal waters of mankind;
always mistresses, never wives.
Our mystery is our strength;
our strength our independence.
The Ocean is a refuge, our lives
unstoppable waves cracking
the shipyards of commerce.
When angry, we swell; when hurt
we rise up to a category greater
than our depths; we evade nets;
we swallow ships, our graveyards
are vast, watery treks of death;
We live, but are haunted from within
memories; we churn as caterpillar’s
from shore to shore, rhythmic motion
seeking a channel to lead us home
to the inner sanctum of our ourselves.
There is no reflection in the ocean;
dark water ensures its inventory
of sunken treasure is concealed;
men dive in vain for the diagram
of creation, their map of origin.
When we feel trapped we carve
new ways of escape; we chisel
rough stone until a smooth fall;
we rust iron until its oxide doors
pinprick our metal imprisonment.
Yet, despite our resolve, some
discover their Sacred Contract;
as above becomes below reflected
in glacier'd eyes of equal Love
for the first time. It's then we affirm
no man is an island unto himself,
and we learn neither is any woman.
E Pluribus Unum
Writing is meditation, yoga -
a morning mantra of creative
expansion into the universe
as love to whoever absorbs
the frequency. Today, over tea
and silence I contemplate
what this truly means to me.
What it means to be cooled
by a fan vs. no electricity. To have
warm water, much less clean,
or for housekeeping. I know
what being dirty means – I know
how being hungry feels – even now
my stomach twists because I forgot
to get groceries – again.
But, what does it mean that I can.
What does it mean to drive, to not
carry a pole with laden baskets
across my shoulders or head.
Or walk an alley with everything
I own on my back. What does it mean
that I have enough money to eat,
to not barter or beg my paintings,
poems, or myself to survive.
What does it mean to be healthy
to need no prescription or suffer
an illness requiring medication
I cannot afford. What does it mean
to not grieve loss today, when
one friend's mother and another's
father have both departed earth.
What does it mean to be Native American
on a reservation with a new generation
of independence fireworks filling the sky
with the colors of the paleface, their skin
of white, blood of red, and navy blue
musket smoke rising over ancestors
strewn across the Trail of Tears.
What does it mean to be a refugee
fleeing terrorism only to be met by
a locked gate, dead infant in their arms.
Or Mexican worker walking among
the catcalls of 'Walls' and division.
Or an Asian immigrant fleeing
a communistic country of oppression.
I have walked the broken pavement
of third world countries earning daily
bread by selling frozen water in baggies
to tourists through the car windows.
I know what it means to lie against
an active volcano's chest, swallowed
by the Southern constellation’s breath.
I know what it means to be lost and used.
To be found, hopeful, and appreciated.
I could tell them where it's found - but they
would have to listen, and too many seek
reasons but cannot still long enough
to learn the Karmic lesson of contentment
for fear it’s a “vain philosophy” that will
lead them out of their struggling pain. .
I can say, as a farmer sowing seed,
that no amount of searching the world
or materialistic belongings, nor wishing
will reap the peace that lies within war,
or breathtaking art made from trash
the blessing in poverty, or the pure truth
of a simple life. Of love. Of death.
What does it mean to debate religion
or politics over dinner or at work.
What does it mean to disown a child
because of who they love, or a friend
because of what they believe. To forget
where our fathers came from, why
they fled and how many died to survive.
It all means we don't remember who we
are, and why we returned to this dream
we’re in. That everything in life is what
we manifest for the experience of flesh.
What it's like to hurt, to give, to seek
but not find, then receive; to be, and
ascend the tangible meaning of that being.
Only through the contrast of who we aren’t
can we learn who we are and want to be.
But, instead of acknowledging differences
as the path to attaining our dream, we resist.
Label. Blame. Fight. Demand conformity,
congregate with like-minded to avoid being
lonely or the weight of being wrong.
Listen, I will only say this once before
finishing to enjoy my Independence Day;
Here is the secret of a peaceful existence
despite circumstance, the heart of Oneness,
of E Pluribus Unum: genuine gratefulness.
In resistance of what is lies unending pain;
In acceptance and gratitude eternal peace.
Parched we approach
the well, enlightened
by its moist contents;
Shedding skins of cloth
exposed bodies, muddy
with ancient memories;
Once we swallowed
too much, depleted salt
from our nutrients;
Drained the resource
unearthed svelte remains
once an ample reservoir;
The innate distance
of taut wire between us
lost its staying power;
Our fingers splayed
with air, arms navigated
There's an ancient art
of accepting and offering
just enough as needed;
Vessels mustn't receive
beyond their means, nor
empty beyond giving.
Sacred Contracts XXX: God
The shifting shapes of forest
were kaleidoscopic beneath the sun
The marching of water grew distant
The Spirit of the Wood honored
our presence, accepting obeisance
at the base of its venerable root
What I had always known manifested
in the exchange, and the branches moved –
revealed a realm known only to Native
Foregone history remembers itself
when boiled clean of present – rises
through its epidermis, lights the surface
Everything I ever thought I knew
was released before God’s presence
but, not the god who demands sacrifice
That god of men’s heads (I should pause
here and say, “Yes; both”) That god of ego
of insatiable alteration of Truth
Not that god, no. But, God
Have you ever imagined what earth
would look like drained – if some
celestial hose pipe was released
Washed away the green and sediment
dissolving beds of rock, pushing oceans
and lakes to the bottom of the Universe
What would remain would be interlocking
webs of root holding space for all that was
to conceive everything that will be again
That is God, interconnecting roots
of Life bringing forth breath and fruit
It’s gravity pulling everything together
keeping it solidly affixed, grounded
so it isn’t torn apart like paper
There are Dryads in every forest
you tread. They whisper your name
in their natural language of tree
To understand is to believe magic
isn’t a black bag of secrets to learn
but an olden way of Life to carry on
A realization of what happens NOW
could never diminish what was THEN –
On the contrary, it fulfills Prophecy
It solidifies All that is to come from All
that was when all is said and done
and we realize we, too, are Gods –
Clauses in the other’s Sacred Contract
fulfilling all that is divinely sacrosanct
in this fragile, yet holy human experience