we are also the shadow

visual from APOD app…let this suffice moongazing curiosity! chani advises us not to go look at or absorb this moon – cleanse and purge!

we are infinite
fractal
timeless

when blood spills
we are the wounded place
the sensitive scar tissue
protecting life
from death
until death

we are tattooed
by grief
that love language
our rage and our weeping
show where we fester
where the fight is

that bile, that grime in the fold
that stench
that’s a warning
there’s a standard
we still need to set

we cannot stagnate for long

we are the river
we are the droplets that
spill through the soil
to quench at the root

we are overflowing
your structures
your cons
feel our pounds
your borders so waterlogged
and fragile

we the seep
we the slow creep of holy flood
through your ceiling
the rising rapid tide within
each liberating question
rushing under every skin

we are the deepest place
the light cannot reach us
unless we choose
the mountain path for an age
it’s all archipelago
to us

we ancient

we the patient ones
we carve our fury
with knives made of bones

we are the nightmare
that wakes you to leave
this burning house
but you must recall
we are also the matches

we are the balance
not only the flame in the dark
but each silhouette
against the bright

we are the
spark of life that shines
we are also the shadow

we are everything
you make
live in shadow

you who eat only
sunlight and death

we are underground
we are the dirt
we know who we go home to
we are not lost
we cannot lose
we know death is a portal
we are the black hole
through which all life must
burst

we know life is a miracle
we who
spin on an axis
pulsing like a heart
we
still
beat

we go pray in the dark
we know
where god lives

but tonight
we just shadow on sunlight
eyes closed
against the glare

(hear it read aloud on ig)

spell for another day on earth

what must it feel like
to carry every longing
feed every body
lift us in flight, hold us
offer every beauty
fractals patterns chaos
such genius and glorious design
– to swallow sun
and create sustenance
and then be told
‘we want more’

what must it feel like
to be reached into
for stones we call precious
pumped for your black blood
when everything of you
each breath in lung
each grain of salt or sand
each blade of grass or steel
each creature, singular or multitudinous
took from before time until this instant
to craft

what must it feel like
to be offered one day a year
when you give your whole self
every inch, every rotation
to all that moves towards life
every ritual of gratitude
is too small
a quick flame against a starfull sky
compared to the gifts of earth
womb, breath, sunrise, moon
and a chance at love

know this: some of us love you
we worship you
we know you as
our eternal altar

some of us remember
we foresee
we are so satisfied with you
our perfect planet

some of us are fighting yet
for you, our beloved
some of us
we celebrate you
every single day

fog clearing moon

fog cast before the moon
soft fingers that can’t touch her face
this river of our righteous tears
earth women bear this weight

fog on a full fat moon
fragments converge into something new
what we release has a gravity
let go of what’s not true

sweet and fog clearing moon
show me this dirt is not so bleak
lift up your skywide veil
promise me: there’s always light

be careful, i am fertile

be careful
i am fertile
a soil thick with promise
a mouth full of petals
you can feel when you are near me
how i may touch you
and you may blossom

be careful
i am fertile
do you know i thought i was barren?
someone told me that story
it took so many accidental gardens
for me to realize
i had sun in my fingers

be careful
i am fertile
i wake up glossy ripe
the next idea damp with dew
soft fuzz in vernix and miracle
screaming for my attention
reaching for my light

be careful
i am fertile
there is a divine timing
a pulse i can hear within
a season for incubation
a moment of bliss and surrender
code name: abundance

be careful
i am fertile
dream by my river
whisper longings under my moon
if the world says yes, i feel it
watch, i’ll unfurl in every direction
to let tomorrow through

be careful
i am fertile
and not at all alone
so many of us howl in the starlight
comforted by our own creations
fungal feral lava workers
arching our backs in joy

be careful
we are fertile
growing the next generation
of awe, of wonder, of fractal fate
in obstinate wombs
bound for production
we spin time ever forward

be careful
we are fertile
that heat between our palms
that poem in the mirror
we know the beauty of our own reckoning
all those years, asleep in delicious fog
that was only winter

be careful
we are awake now
be careful
we are springing
be careful of our spells now
be careful – we are the fecund earth
and oh yes, oh yes

we are fertile

deep practice

a quick note, but still a love note:

practice is holy.

a friend asked me today how i am, and it amazes me how good i am right now today. i could point to external factors, recent good news or accolades, but that would be an act of misdirection because what i want to point to is within me, deep in the folds of my mind and the muscles of my body. deep in the love discipline of my spirit.

i have been meditating each morning, sometimes only a couple of moments before an early swim; sometimes over an hour, quiet in the dark or the moonlight. my friend Sendolo recently showed me a meditation for pleasure where the whole meditation is just asking my body and spirit what could increase my ease and comfort?

i stand up and do at least one sun salutation before moving beyond my bedroom. that sometimes leads to more yoga, but often doesn’t. i adapt the flow to include a pilates bridge pose in the middle because i’m strengthening my abs and hips to support what my knees can no longer do.

i play wordle and quordle and the daily challenge on woodoku.

i swim every day, mostly in the mornings. i listen to audiobooks when i swim. before or after my swim i do a qi gong practice i learned from my friend Mawulisa at the BOLD national gathering. she called it 13 joints – i rotate and stretch my neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles.

i write every day. by which i mean i ideate, organize thoughts, draft things, share those drafts, process feedback, sing things, catch poems out of the ether.

to write long-form pieces, i romance myself a bit with tea, beautiful music, candles, incense. i celebrate the feeling of completion with play, even though writing is also a kind of play for me, imagination and design and world building and problem solving and dreaming.

i take vitamins and supplements twice a day.

i have reminders in my phone for all of these practices, even though many of them now feel embodied. i have a kegel reminder going off now, as it does three times a day. i also have reminders for practices related to financial management, home management, people who need a bit of extra love and attention in my life, and milestones for work. everything is small. everything is changing me.

i am paying a lot of attention right now to right sized extension of my energy – not overextending beyond what i can give with authentic presence, and not withholding my life force. there is an abundance of me in the right conditions.

i am also attending to how i view the world – i am not taking it personally. everything is an invitation to practice being free and interacting with other free beings.

i extend energetic and material resources to those in crisis, both intimate private crises and international war and climate catastrophe. i remember we are all always connected and dedicate my practice to everyone’s happiness and wellness, to all beings experiencing freedom from tyranny and violence.

i am giving up practices that don’t align with my values or well being. which doesn’t mean they never happen, but they are more and more aberration than practice.

i reflect each day – what am i learning? are these practices working? am i able to be accountable to myself, my people, my time, my generation? do i need adjustments?

i think all the time about how Octavia E Butler said habit was more important than talent. i reread a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh this month, and i read atomic habits, and both things reminded me of the sacred work of practice in creating life satisfaction, in making life my practice ground and focusing energy where i have agency.

what good is freedom if we don’t expand into it, if we still operate as if someone else has all the control? i could have more freedom, always. these constructs are so fortified. i am still focused on freedom as the full realization of humans loving ourselves in most of my work.

but i take none of my current freedom for granted. i have the freedom to become more and more self-aware and self-responsive every day, which allows me to be a more honest, boundaried, authentic and loving member of my relationships, communities and species.

even the simplest practices become deep when i think of how much history and struggle it took generations to claim the time i have to now sit quietly, listen for a poem, swim in a public pool, read books of self-improvement, say what feels true, love myself as i am, and reject any construct that limits my humanity.

five months ago i was in despair, barely able to function without weeping. at that time all i could practice was grief and facing reality. i needed to acknowledge the truth of that pain. swimming helped me find myself in the tsunami. breathing meditation brought me back to the scale of my body. focusing on what i could practice brought me back into the realm of possibilities.

if it all feels like way too much, find one practice you can commit to every day, even if you start with only one minute, one rep, one bow, one cycle, one lap, one stanza, one page. one cry. one moment of choice. do it deeply, with reverence. or quickly, haphazard…but do it. we become what we practice.

what are you practicing?

we all have chernobyl in our lungs

we all have chernobyl in our lungs

we children of catastrophe
cannot sleep
focused on fissures

who left us to die?
those close enough to slip away instantly?
those poisoned
coming apart in the cells?
those willing to risk it all?

the salt sea and fertile loam
can still taste that bitter
and radioactive dust

that slow, invisible ash:
our future

what cannot be contained
becomes us
what i mean is
we all have a cancer now
within us, or between us
in our own bodies
in our structures
in the bodies we love
in the structures we need

directly in our bones
creating rocks from our softest tissues
pitting thyroids and prostates against us
strangeness creeps into us
equal parts violation and colonization
flags of disaster
on each play

now, that contaminated soil
is on the road between the reckless
and the wreck
and in my body i feel the earth
wishing for respite

we all have nuclear bodies
in search of remediation
our bodies cannot hold
this much rage
this much greed

earth does not consent to the violation of war
we do not consent

touching the profound

recently, many times, i have touched the profound.

it wasn’t just a good day, but a series of days – weeks – where i felt interconnected, and on purpose, and vibrant, and met, and loved and loving and adaptive. of the world, literally, made of the substance of all that exists. and even when struggle and crisis arise, i feel able to meet it with that profound energy, which translates into curiosity and awareness.

it is not lost on me that this sense of aliveness coincides with a break from social media. and comes in the wake of a season of despair, facing the things which make me shudder with doubt about human purpose.

i read some things that brought me deeply into this wonder, and i have and will share those.
but this recent contact with the profound feels most deeply rooted in practice. and it occurs to me that i want to write a poem about this kind of experience:

love is this humbled crawl
from dirtself to godself
stripped of masks and pontifications
i find no difference
ask anyone, love unveils it
we are divine cells of earth

endless and special

i writhe in the soil
until a rhythm comes
i dance through the swampheat
oil spills rainbow my grief
burrow to the molten core of me
pounding the heart of everything

flame in our kiss

i love myself in cycle!
every day reveals the ongoing ritual
by which i show myself devotion
candles lit, i raise a bowl to my lips
give thanks for the labor of sustenance
and the body which can swallow it

we bow, flesh to concrete

to trust love i must surrender
to the awe of being human
even falling far from heaven
i am sacred, worth forgiveness
worth prayer, lust and tenderness
i am never separate from god

and she wanders in us

to trust love i gaze in mirrors
soft eyes recognizing my distinct life
by its flaws
i swoon for each wound and scar
i remember: i’m made of the same dust
as mercury and mars

we are constellation

i remember: when my lover worships me
it is the love in me for myself
that can receive it, can believe it
i remember: my first breath was like this
loving myself enough
to demand to be held

we emerge helpless

i leave no dark unturned
no vast expanse unexplored
no mystery ignored
i have only one lifetime in which to love myself
so i will be naked
and i will be known

we each live
a whole world in one story
– let it be a love story
we have only one lifetime in which to love ourselves
so let us be naked
and let us be known

something is ending

you want to argue with me on the internet
you feel judged by my coping mechanisms
it’s all misunderstanding my love, listen.
so many have died, but we are still alive!
argue all you want! you’re still here
I’ll defend nothing – I’m still here
we both know something of living
I promise I don’t know more than you
and I (mostly) don’t think I do, I promise
and you don’t know more than I do
about reaching for tomorrow from this
blessed broken bodymind or spiritheart
still, I am learning. every. day.
simple things like how to breathe
to love without controlling
to admit I have been wrong
I am learning. every. day.
not to apologize for each breath
or hearing the call of joy

even here in the ruins
I feel the thrum of life
even in your corrections and bickering
all I hear is each one of you saying
I’m alive I exist I want to live
and I hear you
all I see is how much you want to be seen,
vibrant, special, nobody’s fool, free
and I see you
all I know is death is not our enemy
time is no accident or prison, but the gift of life
being right is not a permanent state
it’s logical to be obsessed with living
and to be flooded with fear
crawl beside me back into our ancestors’ arms
do you argue with invisible strangers because no one else will listen?
look – even wrong, you’re someone’s miracle
we might all be a single sacred mistake

but we are still alive
every time I feel lost frustrated stuck angry
or overcome by despair and grief
meaning every day, every single day
of this slow and fatal endtime
I find my eyes in a mirror
and whisper: you are still alive
and to each loved one: we are still alive
our adaptations unfolding from our
undeniable need for each other
yes something is ending – but it isn’t us love!

the future is not something they can steal
or you can win or I can win
it’s at the intersection of every argument
it’s in the resistance to every oppression
it’s in the generosity that bursts thru hoarding
it’s the impulse to save each other
from the sharp corners of a full life
I see you trying, I hear you singing
in dialectical chorus
echoing our own kind of forever
we live/we lived, we live/we lived
we live/we lived

what if this body

ah but what if this is the ideal body after all
this body which once danced all night and still waited to see the sun rise
this body which caught mothers as they released babies from their bodies
this body which has known so many kinds of touch
from lovers who wanted and didn’t want it
from doctors who saw and didn’t see it
from children who did not hesitate to surrender tears or laughter or dreams
onto my bosom

what if this body has kept me from becoming a monster
kept me humble
stilled me from ego
with sufficient doubt

what if this body was the ideal protection
from the death throes of patriarchy
if this body was a lighthouse
to the lovers who knew
freedom was the arousing aspect

and what if this body
is the ideal body
for what is coming
when the food dwindles on the shelves
because all of us willing to pull it from the ground
and milk or slaughter the beasts
have turned to feed our own
or are too busy grieving
or gone quiet in the plague
of a nation that will always choose
pride and profit
over its people
when the rest of the world
is sick of indulging the bully
and the rich men are stabbing each other with phallic weapons
and we are all simply too sick
to apologize or be accountable

the farmers are sick
and the teachers are sick
and the babies are sick
and the soldiers are sick
and the nurses are tired
and the doctors are depressed
and the scroll is eternal
and the rest of us
are watching the end
muted on our televisions

what if this body was made
for an endless quarantine
as this dysfunctional nation collapses
what if this body is the promise of a lush future
perfect for holding on to
through another night of grief
that is not even shocking
because we all know
we all die

what if this body is the last to know hunger
unveiling the strength always there
carrying us through this wild life
while greedy bellies grumble in absence of the fat that fills one up
may mine swallow my thighs from within
delight in self loving sweetness
sustained by soft

what if this body
is the ideal body
for this apocalypse
what if?
what if the future
is simply all the fat girls
outlasting the fools

we who still alive

1. we who still alive
whisper to each other
‘forgive me
I did not know
what you was holding’

2. someone who loves you
needs to know
‘not trynna to fix you
dare not judge you
just here beside you
learning to live’

3. we who still alive
cup palmfuls of sea
offering each other
love’s enduring oceans
blushing with want
for our ghosts, living and dead
showing our shadows
falling for darkness

4. we who still alive
know the future
is a warping window
a dream coming true
among the restless

5. we who still alive
let no one try us
let no one cross us
let no one shrink us
in search of their
own medicine
their own magic

6. we who still alive
be whole against the knife
be wild against the cage
be silence in cacophony
be song inside the smoke
be of the many
be set on freedom
be so kind

7. we who still alive
put your hands on your body
your ancestors can feel you
touch that gentle
nourish that fire
love that steady
heal that self