The Ocean Breathes

Serenity resides beside the seashore
beneath the salty breath of the ocean
the rhythmic humming of the heavy tide
reminds me to breathe deeply

The liquid lungs of this sacred planet
the dark, watery womb of all life
releasing oxygen into the atmosphere
while it sways against the weight of the moon

The crashing exhale of massive waves
chases away all fears of letting go
hypnotized by the back and forth
of forces far greater than I

The awe-inspiring grandeur
of the undulating sea
brings a deep sense of peace
I've been holding my breath
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What’s Left

There is still beauty that pushes through
the tiny cracks in hard concrete paths
the sun still hangs glorious behind 
the gentle clouds passing by unrushed
above the congested cacophony of highway

All this light pollution cannot obliterate
every star behind our protective veil of atmosphere
this tender blue sphere still swirls through space
defying the empty vacuum with precious life
despite a history of catastrophic cataclysms 

It's better to keep breathing for something small
than to be choked by the bitter absence of
all that I once believed to be possible
better to attempt to rise to the challenge
of finding small pockets of pleasure in pain

Sometimes I think my soul is crushed
and given back to the cool soil so that
I can be grounded once again in simplicity
and experience the soft energy of starting over
with fresh tiny tendrils of humble roots

Looking Inside

The blank page is a practice
of reaching deep within
to see what lies in the shadows
behind your heart, suspended
on the other side of silence

Some days you'll find it flooded
a pressure valve in need of release
other days a smooth wall with no seams
a concrete caste that's settled over everything
impenetrable, cold, and cruel cocoon

Some days writing is as easy
as stepping into the stream
of liquid emotion flowing freely
tracing the contours and shadows
of an aching that appears in living color

Some days it takes a chisel
to search for cracks in thick cement
an uncomfortable effort to uncover
the clumsy, crude impressions
of a crippled and cringing unconscious

Unprompted outpourings of an overflowing heart
contrasted with a stiffness that contracts the soul
unable to predict which familiar state awaits me
as I sit down dutifully to endure
whoever I am today

Mercy

I've never mastered the mercy
of letting something die
fear compels me to keep
a cold corpse animated
with artificial light 

Clinging to a casket ensures
I won't ever come to learn
what else life has to offer
but I feel too unworthy
to ask for anything more

There is no energy left inside
for seeking rising suns
settling for a soft hand to hold
as the darkness of night descends
seems all I can manage

Still that hot ember inside remains
more and more often sparking into flame
threatening to devour any illusion
I may choose to cling to for small comfort
whipped up by the wind of all that's ingenuine

Searching for deeper answers beneath
the one that keeps surfacing
unable to decide my own suffering
a life spent floating restlessly down-river
when will the ocean finally come?

You Don’t Have to Earn It

There was a brief time as a teen
when I recoiled from all the love
I thought came to me too easily

Some troubled part of me was
disgusted by the fact that
I didn't earn it

The unconditional love
of my mother, of my family, my pets
seemed cheap and unsettling

I couldn't help but stew in sour thoughts
questioning what I had ever done
to deserve it

Sometimes it seemed like a consolation prize
like accepting this love would confirm
I was incapable of winning it for myself

Now I've learned that, in fact,
the sweetest, most sincere love is
love we haven't earned

Unconditional positive regard
is a precious rarity
to be grateful for

Some people are not so lucky
to have that unflinching affection
selflessly bestowed for no reason

A love that not even collision
with disinterest or hatred
will deter or destroy

Few things are more meaningful
or moving than being granted
a love you feel unworthy of

And there is no greater honor than to spend my life
learning to pay that same love forward, indiscriminately
into the open, imperfect hearts of others 

Fixation to Exhaustion

Swooning sensation
of new aspirations
is quickly stamped out
by self doubt slowly rising
from subconscious to surface

All energy is exhausted
in efforts to extinguish
the inward agony of
not being worthy enough
for your own endeavors

The thought itself becomes tainted
with terrible ties to negative self-talk
until all you can do is turn away
from once cherished dreams
all together

The heaviness of this heartache
is enough to halt everything
even the hopes inside your own head
that you've harbored
to help you hold on   

A Soul Submerged

The tide rises with the descending sun
and as the leaves form a crunchy crust over the earth
that grows thicker with each passing day
I watch the waters creep closer
pawing at the shoreline of my soul

No breakers can withstand
the slow advance of the seasons
time ensures the slow submersion
into the living death of ice and snow
I brace myself for another long sleep

Water-logged months of darkness
slow, undulating rhythm below the waves of winter
are hard, helpful reminders of interconnection
insolation and artificial lighting cannot replace
the outstretched arms of sensual sunshine

The earth turns inwards and withdraws
a well deserved rest from being taken for granted
nursing her wounds beneath the cold surface
resting and recharging to return again
the faithful promise that keeps me going

Intruder

Why do you still seep through my subconscious
and sour my dreams with your familiar scent?
even when I finally feel sure I can let go
your phantom reappears to pierce my heart

Months of black void nights suddenly ended
with blurry images and emotions on fire
still razor sharp after all these years
bleeding out onto my white sheets as I sleep

Even the me inside my mind has grown weary
of your semi-frequent infiltration
last night I told you I wished you'd never
have come back into my life at all

Even so, there is something distracting
about the way nothing else feels real
after our unconscious encounters
everything else becomes hollow

For this reason some part of me still savors
the sweet drops of pain you produce within me
a reminder of the tender stirring I once felt inside
a stark contrast to the silence that now smothers

Embracing Autumn

The sleepy sun begins to blink
after months of brightly beaming
suddenly realizing the long, hot days 
have started to wane once again

There is a stirring of pumpkin spice excitement
as the air lifts and lightens its humid grip
rising early to greet crisp, chilly mornings
with socked feet and hot mugs held tightly in cold hands

Spiced apple cider and gathering together
to face the winter slowly creeping closer
crafting grinning pumpkins to keep the
growing darkness at bay

Learning to allow myself to enjoy this season
despite the inevitable mental decline ahead
bravely barreling toward the frigid cold while
celebrating another successful season in the sun

Passenger

A coyote cuts across the foggy highway
a life held inside indecision, a moment's hesitation
could be a violent end of everything all at once

Sulfurous air that once shrouded out the sun
a sudden impact that swallowed the earth
in many decades of dark, lifeless winter

Time has a way of emphasizing
the absurdity of right and wrong when
final outcomes are impossible to predict

Half the suffering I've known has been
an inner upheaval of moral outrage
resistance to the evils of this world

My stormy turmoil subsides if only
I can learn to surrender all judgement
and accept my place as a humble passenger

Who am I to hold dominion over
the way life is supposed to unfold?
I prefer the role of patient witness anyway

To watch with curious eyes and an open heart
ready to embrace all of life with equanimity
a grateful submission to existence beyond understanding

To play my small part with a soft hand
extending a gentle, hopeful intention of pure love
prepared to let go of any and all expectations

Tender feet along the balustrade, balancing
between engagement and surrender
too often falling into indignation and anger

The perpetual repetition of life can be tedious
but it offers endless chances to keep trying
precious lessons linger behind a door that is always open

Every failure is an opportunity to find grace
there is no permanence, perfection, or wasted effort
everything is as it should be, everything is as it should be