Reaching In, Reaching Out

comments 20
Poetry

Some nights are for forgiveness.

I can only let the mail
pile up for so long.
Then I have to open the notes
I’ve been sending myself
since who knows when,
and really drink them in.
Notice the handmade paper,
the choice of twine,
the careful hand-writing,
the postmarks from places
I never knew I’d been.
How did I get there?
When was I lost at sea?
I realize…
a distance has been opened,
and it’s measure is a sinking grief.
What good is being king
if you do not bless your subjects
with your holy presence?
The messages speak
using the only means available.
That strange body symptom,
that visiting sense of futility,
the disgust at my own needy efforts,
the pain of circumstance,
the fatigue of striving
for the one change that never comes—
these are the avenues desire walks.
I leave my perch to walk amongst them,
find my missing pieces,
wrap my arm around them
and hold them close.
Tickle their noses.
Shelter them from distance
and tell them stories
until they fall asleep in my embrace.

Some nights are for forgiveness,
for abandoning plans and
taking myself down to the water,
down by the sea to whisper
all night long to those parts of me
still far beyond the horizon clinging
to their little rafts in the wind,
desperate and confused,
wondering where I’ve gone.

This way…
Over here…

I love you…

20 Comments

  1. The only way to wholeness, to holiness. Calling all the pieces home. So lovely. I have many moments where I see the ‘Alison thing’ doing her best ‘Alison’, the only thing she knows how to do, and I love her so dearly, nothing needs to change, no striving, just a loving gentle whisper that all is well.
    A.

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    • That’s it, Alison. It is remarkable to be able to ‘witness’ oneself and all of one’s striving and temporary discontentment, and then from the distance of witnessing, to see the intimacy with oneself that arises as limited perceptions melt… We love those guys, those parts of us doing their best… But there is so much more to the sky than one little part… 🙂

      Michael

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      • Yes, so much more. I haven’t ventured very far yet. I consider it a great achievement in this life that I have learned how to laugh at myself, forgive myself and others, and to love and be loved. Anything else will be gravy 🙂

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        • You will have to convince me there IS anything else… 🙂

          When we are present for these moments of laughing and lovivng, it feels like our fullness tanks are pretty well topped off!

          Michael

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  2. This again feels as if written with your admirable and exquisitely brutal honesty Michael. And again, I am impelled to read three times in an attempt to fathom what’s behind the words, and also to establish what are the actual correlates in Michael’s life. Whilst there’s nothing too oblique here, the door is open to interpretation, or so it would seem to my inquisitive side.

    Perhaps this indicates two things:

    Firstly, that I am not at all good at reading poetry. This, I feel, is almost certainly the case. Others who come here seem to grasp your meanings with apparent ease. Perhaps my task is made all the more tricky as I don’t speak good American and the language of the angels is alien to me, never having been a religious sort. I’ve tried my hand at poetry in the past with disastrous consequences.

    Secondly, perhaps I am attempting what many do when confronted with abstract works of art – I am endeavouring to construe meaning beyond the direct intention of what is before me. It is just as it is; it may evoke feelings of this or that kind; that’s all there is to it, so stop thinking about it. I suspect that this is not quite what you expect of readers, though would be interested to know.

    A final thought:

    Have you ever considered publishing a commentary to your poetry? This, I suppose, takes all the magic out of the thing, and yet to me would be interesting in so far as it tells me more about the poet than either the poetry or the prose could in isolation. Then again, having a private life is good!

    Another triumph Michael; and I do hope I have not reduced all of this to the mundane?

    Hariod.

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    • Hariod,

      First off, let us extinguish now, together, this idea of there being greater or lesser abilities to read poetry… I just won’t have it. 🙂 I think it is a matter of having an experience, and the amazing thing about it is that I can’t even really know whether anyone is experiencing quite what I put on paper, but there are nonetheless tones that resonate… In other words, our experiences of writing and reading are all unique, but we discover commonality underwriting the uniqueness, however difficult the commonality may be to describe. We find… we are all linked in ways far deeper than words…

      I try and not have any expectations of my friends who read here. It is a continual source of amazement to me that there are people reading here at all. When I write poems, I’m usually just trying to capture a feeling and sometimes I couldn’t tell you exactly what is trying to be said. Often I sit down with one line, and a feeling, and end up in a different landscape altogether.

      I hadn’t considered writing commentary, but am not opposed to the idea. This poem had its genesis in a traffic jam of doubt and discontentedness, held and consoled by I don’t quite know what– the being that lives between all beings I suppose.

      At work I have been faced with some challenges this week outside of my comfort zone, and with very limited timeframe to arrive at an endpoint. As I am managing people as part of this endeavor, and tend to be self-aware (sometimes perhaps self-conscious) of my interactions with them, running around like a headless chicken leaves me feeling some days as though I’ve come up short on multiple fronts. Add to that a skin infection I contracted somehow that was threatening to bloom, while I was resisting doctor’s recommendations (per the manual) to take antibiotics, and hoping I wasn’t taking the ‘wrong’ approach. A weekend spent compiling poems– some published here already and some not– to create some sort of momentum behind publishing an e-book, which got that inner critic in full swing… That, what the hell am I doing voice…

      So, some nights… are made for forgiveness… I am not one to be all too clear about specific messages carried by any given mash-up of circumstances, but I did feel clear it would be helpful to hold these pieces as fully as possible, and breath for a few minutes into a broader sky. Nothing is really as difficult or as urgent as it seems… What good is it being one who is blessed with the innate ability to breath peace and love into these places, and not do so? What good is it to be the king, and not offer tangible blessings to one’s kingdom…?

      Thank you for the questions and your presence here,
      Michael

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      • I am very sorry to hear that work is creating pressures at the moment Michael. Deadlines can be just that as you know, so do be careful as you accomplish your tasks; without our health, there is not much scope for the more important things. I’ve seen work consume people in the past; I mean kill them, or render them to a state of psychological wreckage which then took years to recover from. I know that some jobs are all about deadlines, and they can’t be avoided, so this is where extra care and self-awareness are needed I think.

        It’s excellent to have this feedback on your perspective as a poet, which very much enriches my sense of things both here, and of you. When you say ‘I can’t even really know whether anyone is experiencing quite what I put on paper. . .’ it reminds me of what Jiddu Krishnamurti said after a lifetime of philosophical writing (and a little poetry), ‘I don’t know if anyone has understood a single word I’ve said’ It also reminds me of the great Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah who instructed listeners not to grasp at his words with their minds, that it made no difference if the conscious intellect comprehended all the detail.

        I like it when you say ‘I’m usually just trying to capture a feeling and sometimes I couldn’t tell you exactly what is trying to be said.’ This reminds me of those lines in The Prophet when Al Mustafa says ‘A seeker of silences am I, and what treasure have I found in silences that I may dispense with confidence?’ And later: ‘People of Orphalese, of what can I speak save of that which is even now moving within your souls?’.

        Thank you for the extra detail Michael, and keep remembering your own words: ‘Nothing is really as difficult or as urgent as it seems.’

        Hariod.

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        • Thank you, Hariod. My work is quite enjoyable on the whole, but sometimes there are incoming tides in any service-oriented profession. The key is to remember my own words, as you say, which generally is the intent. These times when life piles on are rich opportunities to connect with the depths within, and on the whole I think are part of the natural rhythm of things.

          The writing is a helpful way to penetrate the fog on the glass and see beyond… 🙂 Communicating with friends is a great balm to the rush as well…

          Michael

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  3. Touching story Michael. I love the line “what good is being king if you don’t bless your subjects” great metaphor for loving all our abandoned aspects and maybe outer subjects as well.
    Love them all and regain wholeness/ holiness. Thanks!

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    • That one struck me as well, as it came out, the feeling of being distant from who we are, in charge of our littleness… it’s such a wasted exercise…

      Michael

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  4. Zara says

    This is absolutely beautiful Michael..I completely agree with Andy..love them all and gain inner solace!
    Much love to you my friend
    Zara

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    • Thank you, Zara. It is interesting to think of these parts… What are they? Elements of consciousness striving under limited understanding… How we feel when our view of the inner sky has been reduced to a sliver… What a grand experience it is reaching out to them, expanding the view, and offering them a tour of the fullness of their home…

      Much love to you as well,
      Michael

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  5. Ah, so it is the king holding this space and offering such comfort. I often wonder about this tangible experience of being held and loved, to which I can attest but not explain or even describe. Thank you for putting it to words. No need to explain! I’ll just rest here and receive as needed until I am not clinging but kicking out on that boogie board for another ride. (Peace to M at work, in healing skin, calling across the water!)

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    • Thanks, M, for the recognition and well-wishes. I believe I am on the mend… That experience of being held is indeed amazing and fulfilling. It’s like looking up from the all-consuming waves battering one’s little dingy, and realizing the storm is already past, the skies ahead are blue, and a rainbow is forming where the dark and light are meeting. The seas will obviously be clearing… The world is more than one wave… See you out there on the waters on that boogie board!

      Michael

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