Archive for November, 2012

cold is the cold of the lover who’s gone
cold is the cold of the parent just died
cold is the cold of the grave in the mist
cold is the cold of the sweetheart you miss

cold is the grief of a chest in a knot—
empty your gut, empty your cot
of all that warmed the very human heart
of all you loved, of all that you sought

when winter’s cold held me in my bed
i thought of you, i held it in your stead
a frown of frost seeded long ago
a cold of a cold that settled

and would not let me go

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I used to think being single was the worst thing.
I used to think: not even the opposite ends of the planet
are aware of pain like I am. Once I went there and found
that all the world’s anger and remorse
was shunted past them through a crawl space
in the ice. Arriving home,

I lit my own birthday cake and let the burning wax run
over the icing while I drank port and smoked a cigar.

I am grateful for the beginnings of love and the ends of war,
where-ever they are right now.

I’ve been down this road many times. Everything
here turns upon a stone of verse,
over which I vault with ease.

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the following is a list of people who may be present for one’s death:

            a nurse
            a doctor
            a police officer
            your math teacher
            a priest
            a friend
            a spouse
            a lover
            your child
            a grandchild
            your editor
            a parent
            the janitor
            a volunteer
            another patient
            a journalist
            a stranger
            your broker
            your pimp
            a crossing guard
            a shepherd
            a barista
            a bar-tender
            the mayor
            a messenger
            your attorney
            a waiter
            a bank teller
            your sky diving instructor
            a bus driver
            your therapist
            a gardener
            a baker
            your piano tuner

do you really think you have a choice?

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we tend to go about our days automatically avoiding pain. especially emotional pain. i know now that the ultimate act of self compassion is to do the opposite. when pain stabs me from an unexpected source, as it does many times each day, i have learned to turn towards the pain. to close my eyes for exactly the amount of time it takes to acknowledge and notice the pain. to get familiar with it. to not run from it any more. to say to it: “these thoughts, pain. these feelings, pain. these urges, pain.” doing this helps me be less pushed around by the pain. and the pain does not last as long as i used to think it would. more importantly: i learn to survive the pain over and over again. practicing my pain survival skills without objection or avoidance lowers my overall pain level because i gain confidence in my skills with every practice session. pain no longer freaks me out the way it used to.

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one could ask: why post anything online? why disclose one’s thoughts? why write a book? or a poem? an essay? a novel? or a research paper? i do these things to support my own problem solving skills. and with the hope that others might benefit from my efforts.

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I never met the daughter I never had.
I hope she would have been smart and successful.
And no doubt a little angry and sensitive.
                                    Most around me are.
In my life I’ve only met several kind of people.
Those who care and those who pretend to.
What’s to love? My life began slowly,
and picked up steam only in the last 5 minutes.
Prior to that memory kept me going.
To the daughter I never had I always wished I’d said
may you be strong and may you be happy.
May you have the courage to live the life you need.

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Our culture tends to value knowledge over skill. This is a habit learned from 2500 years of Neo-Platonism. The notion that the “truth will set you free” is as unshakeable from our social lexicon as the idea of some “special genius” as the motivating force behind fame, wealth and success. Yet contemporary psychologists have discovered that the success of experts in their field is not so much due to the possession of a superior intellectual problem solving heuristic as it is to the fact that they have practiced certain skills over and over again. Skillful performance is actually more valuable than truth. It adds a new slant to the old joke, “when in doubt, do right!”

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