Category Archives: inspiration

the Heavy hand&the Circus

I was outfront the Fox Den, beneath the palms and sipping Herbsaint w/ Katinka, my European girl.  She’s a good one.  She doesn’t bother me w/text messages&other standard, girlfriend-bullshit fare.  She’s a woman.  She knows what its like to live in a country where the Government can come-a-knocking and take you away forever.  The sun had set.  It was quiet&warm on Judge’s Hill.  I was killing time&putting this off.  My flight was at 5:45am.  I was packed.  My ride to the airport had been arranged.  All I had to do was say goodnight to Katinka and write this blog. 

Oh how I have rued this day.  I’ve been putting this off for as long as I can remember and the joke just ain’t funny anymore.  In Yoga circles they call what I’m about to commit Satya, or, honesty.  Satya is pretty important to a Yogi.  Its just under non-violence and compassion on the list of helpers on the path of living right, the Yamas&Niyamas.  Here goes.

People say I’m lucky.  Livin’ the dream and all that.  To call me lucky is to discount all the broke&lean&mean years.  All the slipshot, balls-against-the-wall years when I was laying it on the line.  Going for broke-shit.  Sometimes they ain’t no goin’ you just is broke.

I figure if you’re gonna do something, you might as well have-at-it and fuck-the-rest.  

A young singer/songwriter, up Philly way, said as much to me once.  She said if all you care about is music, eventually it will be all you have left.

And it stuck.  It wasn’t easy-living back then and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now I’m living in Paradise.  I play my rock n roll and I write my “journalism”.  I have spiritual discussions with gorgeous women over whiskeys on the veranda and by the time you read this, I will be in another country, on the beach&w/o shoes for 7 days.

Luck is the closest thing I have to God in my Life.  And grace is the closest I can come to faith.  We’ve been around, you&I.  We’ve gone a few rounds.  We’ve played their game, even though we knew it was rigged and we were born to Lose.

My point?  My point is about Luck.  And faith.  And death&spirituality.  

If fate fucks you will you curse your days&blame your God?
If luck deals you a good hand, will you have the courage to be kind, and accept it?
I don’t believe in God.  And I wouldn’t have spirituality were it not for death.
I’d probably still be swimming from glass to glass or eating shit in the lunch line at St.John’s.  Death has been the motivator, the teacher, the knower, the learner.  I know, a real pick-me-up, right?

For true.

I would not have taken my suitcase into town were it not for death&spirituality.  Death lays a heavy hand in every motion, every moment, every breath and every deal&con.
Death gives perspective.  I can see clearly.  Be it:  the Bad blues or trouble, lust&greed.  Any myriad of distraction that the circus of the mind can throw at me.  Death has been the vision, the means, the end.

It is with luck&grace that I have survived at all.  The bad blues&trouble have imbued in me a compassion for all things living, dying/otherwise.
I am here to serve.  A working-class Bodhisattva bringing presence to the light&dark.  I bear witness and remain all too human, here.  

It all began with a decision to not believe in God.

And it’s only b/c I’ve been there that I can visit sometimes, meet you there, in the light&dark.  I’ve stood on the side of the highway w/a sign and I’ve been “gainfully” employed enough to want to kill the man who signed the checks.  I would never proscribe or ascribe my spirituality to anyone.  But if I tell you something, or if I’m moved enough to write a blog about it, you better believe I fucking mean it.

It cost me the Earth.
-Maya Angelou

Be good babies, and be good to each other.  I’ll see you when I get back from the island.

Jim Trainer
Maya Talum, MEX

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Introducing Guest Blogger- Jim Trainer

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Introducing Jim Trainer. Jim will be a guest here soon, posting words from his arsenal of life. Jim is a friend of my entire family, an old roommate, a comrade, a brother, a piece of my heart. We met in West Philly, after a summer of punched walls and 22oz Heinekens with my actual brother, he crafting words and music and moments, my brother perfecting recipes with black beans and relationships with Aquarians, and me learning love in bartending, and poetry, and frayed men.

When Jim told me he was studying to be a yoga teacher, I was at first surprised. But it makes perfect sense to me. Jim brings the heartbeat of being alive to every art he explores. His music and writing struggle with the ways we move in the world, in heartbreak and loss, and in ecstatic bliss and joy. Yoga centers, it grounds itself in breath and pose, while at the same time, allowing yourself to let go of your past selves in body and mind. It brings full awareness to your personal history because each pose tells you where your strength and weakness is. Jim writes his personal history of strength and weakness into everything he does. Yoga is made for our expanding minds. We never have to be perfect, and it is continually a process. Thank you Jim Trainer, for being part of my process, and for taking us all on the journey with you.

At My Bedside

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After organizing and cleaning, I now have a small bedside nook again, complete with a cute little basket with what I am currently reading. That includes the two latest issues of Poets and Writers, A Year With Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky), The Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende ,and The Gangster We Are All Looking For by le thi diem thuy.

Here’s todays’ Hafiz gem:

Coax Your Mind

Who can look each day at a beautiful landscape

in the distance and not at some point want to

explore it?

Who can look out at the ocean every morning

and never venture beyond your common horizon

when a boat I am offering to you, and even willing

to do most of the paddling?

It is good if something gnaws at your innards

until you come to real terms with your potential.

God, like a flea, may bite somewhere to get

your focus to shift.

The Holy, like a good poem, may enter you and coax your mind… to wade out to more

interesting internal space.

———–

What’s at your bedside?

Sewing Paper and Art as a Faith

I consistently list being artist as one of my titles in many bios I put out into the world. I don’t do much art, though. I prefer to think of myself as an artist sometimes the way Ariel Gore considers herself a poet in her absolutely excellent memoir “Atlas of a Human Heart”. She calls herself a poet, and her boyfriend asks, “well, do you write poetry?” She answers no. She just believes in it. As if it is a faith, as if poetry is just something that keeps her soul moving.

That’s how I feel about art. Yes, I do create art on a random basis (I’m obsessed with sewing found objects onto paper right now and building collages out of sewn paper), but really I just believe in it. It’s my faith. It is what keeps my soul moving.

Inspire!

I am currently inspired by:

Poetry Bombing a Thrift Store

Living Jewelry(especially  bean sprout necklaces)

Turning a bedroom into a sanctuary (Keri Smith was doing it for birth, I want to do it for household peace!)

Levitation

It’s only a half-joke that I include the fact that I want to learn how to levitate in my bio. I actually really want to do it, and I really believe it to be possible. I read Autobiography of a Yogi when I was in my early twenties and understood how masters of breath and meditation could really do miraculous things. Fast forward to May 2011 as I listened to the amazing poet Nikky Finney in a Radio Times interview on NPR. Nikky talked about how she felt like she could levitate or fly when she was little, based on some of the folkloric tales of how African-Americans could fly. She said her grandmother could understand her feelings of levitation and how she would hand her watermelons or other heavy objects to keep her feeling like she wouldn’t float away.

Nikky said people in interviews can’t understand what she means when she talks about this feeling of levitation. It sounds crazy. But to me, it made perfect sense.  When she talked about grabbing on to corners of tables to feel like she wouldn’t float up in the air, I remembered when I was young. I felt like I could see spots of vision that other people couldn’t see. I honestly thought I had different eyes, that I heard different sounds, that my body could do magical things. I felt like I could access different worlds. It does sound crazy. But after listening to Nikky, what I realize is that perhaps when poetry and art and ancestral spirit is running through your veins, ever since the day you were born, your perspective is wider than the reality in front of you.

She goes on to say that perhaps the levitation feeling was just about her coming into her own power. Yes, Nikky.

I am saying, yes, yes, yes.

Call Me by My True Names

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-Thich Nhat Hanh