Choking on Gristled Thoughts

comments 18
Poetry

Sometimes
Life is like
you’re standing
on a crowded street,
oblivious to everything
but
a chunk
of gristle encrusted steak
of an idea
of who you should be being
that you’re politely chewing
for years on end–
years and years and years,
utterly distracted,
like it’s an antidote,
like you’re a cat
encumbered by a
wad of something gooey and medicinal
the vet jammed deep in your cheek
just out of reach of
the jawbone’s axis of rotation
and the tongue’s exploratory reach,
thinking to yourself
very privately and secretly
the whole while
that eventually
if you get it just right
that gristled bit
of law-abiding citizenry
is going to break down
into a twice-baked potato
or a pastry puff or something–
something that’ll go down easy–
while unconsciously
you’re smiling bemusedly
at anyone
who takes notice
of your all too public
masticational devotion.
And the whole time
you’re thinking you’re
on the verge.
You’re thinking
a couple more hard chews
and this thing’ll soften up.
Then it’ll go down naturally.
You keep gearing up
for that moment.
You’re perpetually
daring yourself
to just swallow it,
and reeling backwards
from the brink
with awkward nausea.
You’re at odds.

Hafiz has an idea
for such situations:
Spit that bull puckey out.

There.
Notice anything?
The absence of
something in you
fighting back
with rubbery persistence?
Peace is overwhelming
when it’s been this long–
like there’s night, and day,
and then this…
This other phase…
This way of feeling your whole self…
This jaw-numbed wakefulness…
This seeing all sides…
This gob-smackedness…
This beauty…

The moment we stop
trying to choke down
this world’s
strange notions,
that’s the moment
when things
coalesce to a point.

And oh what a fine point it is.

18 Comments

  1. I really like this as well..I am always mentally chewing on something…..we go to therapists just to spit out…….my glass to Hafiz..my fellow sufi

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    • Thank you, Steffie! Yes, spitting it out can be a practice in itself I think. Or just working up the gumption to swallow it whole. When we make it part of us, accept it, forgive it, and release it, that can be healing, too. Or just sitting in a line of sight to the sun and reading some Hafiz!

      Michael

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    • That’s okay, my friend. You’re in good company. I mean, I didn’t write this poem because I’ve never chewed on anything for the better part of a decade or anything. No sirree… Not me… Uh-uh… 🙂

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so gob-smackedly breathtakingly beautiful with an empty mouth. Breath in that sweet air, drink the sweet water. Alive, enlivened, lighter, not working quite so hard. You know, maybe we can even sing now…

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    • You make a fine point, Andrea. About singing. I’m mostly over a fairly mild cold, and have been watching as slowly the vocal cords return to circulation. After nearly losing your voice, and spitting out the world, singing seems a good time… Thank you for the kind words about ourselves… We are indeed every bit of that uncannily beautiful Mystery. 🙂

      I hope your holiday preparations are proceeding nicely. Someone put the burner on high at the office, and we’re all lined up daily chewing our jaws off these days, so I’m sneaking ecstatic glances towards the coming break…

      Michael

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  3. Coming back in your closing words to Eliot’s ‘still point of the turning world’ – the point that is too simple for thinking and memory to know. How strange it is that simulated voices in our head govern our entire lives. An echo of an echo entrances, beguiles, bewitches, leading us to pursue anything and everything except for what is. We are always the ‘turning world’ and yet we are also the ‘still point’ around which it rotates. To know both at once begins with holding faith in this knowledge, does it not?

    Thank you as ever for your important contributions to the world at this time Michael. This is the darkest of weeks, a disgusting low-point in the history of our species. Each visionary glimmer of hope for us all is to be cherished; and you offer many.

    Hariod. ❤

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    • Faith!? Did you say… faith, Hariod??? ❤

      Yes, it does take a certain hanging on to know both at once. There is a beautiful part of A Course of Love where Jesus suggests our experience of the world has been like our experience of the body when our body temperature is off. Nothing is quite right, and it is constantly nagging at us. He suggests there is another way of experiencing, but that it involves carrying the awareness of everything within the specifics of the present. I imagine it being like knowing the present, in whatever specific form it entails, remains always and forever a point of entrance into everything that is.

      Thank you for the kind words and for your own contributions. I am putting one foot in front of the other, trying not to lose sight of the radiance all around…

      Michael

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      • One has to call on one’s reserves of faith once one knows one doesn’t know yet one wants to know that which one should know, or one thinks that one may come to know for oneself. o_O

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    • Thank you, Sarah! I like Hafiz, too. 🙂

      Since discovering the playful translations of Ladinsky, and spending time with them, he has become a great pointer for me… And thank you for the compliment. You are a beautiful scribe as well. More like a news anchor for the resplendent! I’m looking forward to catching up on the latest videos…

      Michael

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  4. Certainly a vegetarian delight. A belated thanks for your visits to my blog, I’ve been remiss in responding – in a writers retreat – now looking forward to a leisurely stroll through many of my favorite poems and pics over the holiday season. feliz navidad y feliz año nuevo

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    • Thank you, John! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well… It is hard for me to imagine Christmas in the balmy weather I imagine you are enjoying these days, but I’m sure you can find ways to make it work. 🙂

      Hope it’s a wonderful retreat, and you enjoy the journey through image and verse.

      Michael

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  5. ❤ Yes what a fine point it is. Glimpses tell me that, heart-rending bowl-me-over glimpses. Then I go back to chewing on the gristle LOL but that's just part of it all.
    Alison

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    • Don’t even talk to me about picking up the already-been-chewed gum and going to work… 🙂

      Yes, it all happens. It’s all taking place. We’re radiant in ways we can hardly comprehend, even while we’re choking on a wad of our own what for’s…

      Michael

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  6. yes, exactly. You have a way of finding just the right images for the way previously unnamable sensations play out – You are often turning the experiential journey into an art that I look forward to!
    (I was struck to by the overlap with my visceral experience with food. Certain foods have fallen out of rotation for consumption through the years and if I were to explain how the desire for red meat left me a long while ago, I would describe something very similar to this experience of gristliness.) But more importantly, the metaphor here seems related to the gift the body gives us through the senses of the bodily feelings of wrongness or discomfort – the visceral clues the body gives us for our forgetting. The demon I was trying to describe who tightened my back muscles and played discordant music in my ears is related here, the feeling in some writing lately is a description of the offness that is always a clue. We can sit with the choking feeling, the unease and say, oh what is here – I must be forgetting to spit this out, yet again. Thank you body! Thank you, Michael! So great.

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    • I know the feeling when it comes to the experience of gristliness. I can remember being a child at the dinner table, under orders to clean my plate, chewing some highly elastic bit of pork chop or something I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get down! Unbelievable what we remember…! I like what you have written about the clue of ‘offness.’ I agree there are gentle messages that come through the body. When you think about the dizzying array of things the body does to stay whole in every single day, it’s capability to deliver such messages– sometimes in extreme ways– without coming undone altogether is amazing to me.

      I confess there seems to be no shortage of these things we chew on. We spit them out, but somehow we pick them back up it seems, when we weren’t looking or paying attention. We’re spitting out the layers of the tootsie roll pop. I do think we arrive at the center. You can hear all our fellow travelers on this express train to beauty, with their heads out the windows… Thank you, thank you, thank you… It fuels our journey… Thank you, Marga.

      Michael

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