What’s Killing Me

comments 39

Hafiz and I
have started an air band.
It’s a summer thing.
I guess.
A now and forever thing.
Like being eight years old
and playing tag with your cousin
on a wrap-around porch
on a day that will never, ever forget you.

The sky behind the house
turns pink and orange
in a valley between tall trees
and we appear on the widow’s walk
just as the bass line sets the table.
We’re both playing the bass,
letting it taunt our kidneys
and invite a few thunder beings over,
then Hafiz grabs the guitar
so it won’t fall down
and I spin and crouch and double down
on the reason we exist.
Suddenly we’re singing,
both of us–
who needs instruments–???
swirling around the same microphone
in a slow motion syrup
before I hit the drum riff hard
and start getting a little breathless.
I’ve forgotten my name
and what comes next
and why I ever doubted you.
Hafiz is dipping the microphone
all the way down into the earth,
and we’re both getting
a little tunnel vision,
a little inner pandemonium
before the power chords
put us on their shoulders
and throw us into the sky,
where we’re both singing again:

I love to play sing along…
I love to play sing along…

We land and compose ourselves.
We’re completely still except
for all these jitters and fritters
that are leaking out and crawling
up and down us.
We are movement spreading out
across the face of the land and
this is the grinding part of it,
the moment of recovery
and wondering about
the way orange and violet mix
and how perfection moves in circles
while we surf the momentum we have spun–
savoring what we have given ourselves to so completely,
soaring into a sky whose words have all
burned off entirely.

I leap back on the guitar
and Hafiz takes the drums.
The singing is taking care of itself–!
The forest beyond the field beyond the house
beyond the doubts beyond the quiet
beyond the day of being born
and the day of being dead,
beyond lost and found
is swimming inside of us.
Down is up.  Left is right.
We are dizzy but we don’t miss a beat.
Love is now and presence is vast.
Wide sweeping strokes and bubbles.
Thick viscous recuperated majesty.

We stop at the same time.
Slam on the brakes
and careen into silence.
We escalate into space.

Wouldn’t you love to know
how to play an instrument for real, Hafiz?”

It seems an obvious and relevant question.

He just looks at me.
He looks at the roof, the sky.
Then he pulls me close
to tell me a secret:

That question, he says…

That question is what’s killing me.

* * * * *


  1. I am there….
    Lost in the moment of absolute abandon…
    It’s where I needed be,
    It’s where I regain strength to finish the moment
    Of being in between
    Here and there
    And knowing that even as a groupie…
    I won’t say mere…groupie
    Because that would be unkind to myself
    And I think I found a tambourine…
    Not quite as real as an instrument….
    But it keeps rhythm
    Of somedays I have none…
    Some days I am a heavy metal rockstar kickin’ it…..
    And I feel the beat and I can get lost
    While riding the carpet of the coat tails,
    Enjoying the magic magnificent ride
    Wondering if it was real,.indeed
    If it ever existed at all,
    Because that my friend
    Would just be too awesome.
    Peace love and needing this more than words could say….

    Liked by 7 people

    • Thank you, Kim, for joining in the spirit of this so magnificently. A tambourine is a perfect instrument– even an invisible one– and there are no groupies here. Just beings who feel the movement of Life through their bones and their dreams and their visions. Beings who dance along to the universal song… which I think you do quite well as it is… I am glad you picked up on the nuance of what is real, for it is the allowing of Life and Love to be real that really gets this world going… 🙂

      Peace and Love

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hey there Michael,
        Funny, I was thinking of tambourines yesterday…don’t know why….you know how my head is often found in places that defy rationality….I just go with the flow. Living the life of endless dance with the earth, the water, just being alive in the moment and not asking why, just accepting to glean the lesson and embracing the answers found.
        Peace and love to you as always,
        You must be quite busy…not posting a lot,
        Must be crafting the masterpiece book with Hafiz.
        Always in spirit and soul,

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Kim,

          Well I have been a little busy. I’ve been working on some short stories and they take longer to write than a post, and between work and the writing I have shrunken my bandwidth a little. I have mixed feelings about it but feel I want to put my all into a few stories and write them as well as I can. I would like to see if I can produce something worthy of publication…

          The masterpiece is in the works… Still hoping for July/August… Thanks so much for your friendship and support, Kim!

          Peace and Love

          Liked by 2 people

          • Always there for you, you’ve touched my life in so many ways….words can never describe….sitting here mellowing out to ?John Cougar….a record? CD, recorded in what sounds like a church…reflective peaceful tunes….and the fireworks…argh…I like my peace, but if life is about celebrating and that’s your way to do it, go for it. Keep it memorable…and never forget….happy Memorial Day sweet friend, K

            Liked by 1 person

            • Nice! Happy Memorial Day to you, too, Kim. We had some fireworks here, too. I wondered what was going on and then I remembered your comment here. Ha! Blessings to you, Michael

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this Michael. I’m writing my reply at the quiet end of a journey through Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods (Full Album), ears numbed by headphones, and back through your narrative, steep column of falling words as I start on Silversun a second time; the drum riff is almost melodic. It just makes so much more sense to read this placed against an ever-present background of violet changing to orange, ah how I miss the seasons changing…

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Tiramit,

      Glad you enjoyed this, and that you dove into some Silversun Pickups! I like many of their songs, and this one in particular has the ability to inspire a moment or two of exhilaration. I like four seasons also, which we have meteorologically, but in point of fact we have tourist season– (which just began with the Memorial Day Holiday here in the US) and will conclude sometime in October (after the leaves turn bright colors in the mountains)– and winter. Hahaha! Not really, but it is fun to perceive it that way. Many businesses in the area certainly experience those two seasons. We are in the time of many license plates now…


      Liked by 1 person

      • I see, so you’re on the West side of the continent where it never rains in California but girl, don’t they warn ya… and invaded by the rest of the world during peak season. I know how that feels. Thaks again and also the choice of music you sometimes include, I remember being introduced to Pear Jam a couple of years ago, found on this site…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually on the east side, in New England. We have four lovely seasons and I was being a little sarcastic about the tourism. We live near a highway that doubles or triples with traffic flow during the summer, so in that sense there are literally two season… This was the first weekend of the tide of vehicles– the arrivals and the departures that bookmark the weekend. I’m glad you enjoyed the music!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I’m less excitable than you and Hafiz, Michael. I’d rather sit and play along with life in a small air Chamber Orchestra. In my better moments, I can get a few harmonious bars out of a real Viola da Gamba, but then that damn conductor comes down from my cranium and throws the real musician out.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Hello Hariod,

      I’m not sure the musical selection really has all that much to do with it, really… I could feel the same way listening to opera, Beethoven, countless other musicians and genre’s. It is really the moment of realizing the music has evoked a sense of the utterly still nature of being within us, so that our silence has been tapped by the world as if we were a maple tree and the sap was running, and there is nothing we can do but let it ooze out of our hearts and into the sky while we sit there rapt, as if holding a precious baby inside of us, feeling the most intimate connection with everything at once… That can happen most anywhere, right!? 🙂 Certainly in a small air Chamber Orchestra…

      And so, you understand perfectly the cause of our suffering… that damn conductor!


      Liked by 4 people

  4. This for me is about the return to joy. Joy that extends beyond the backyard, beyond the horizon. You and Hafiz dug right into it and played that funky music with heart and soul and then I noticed the joy extends inwards – and it can get pretty deep in there – just as well as it extends outward. Killing us softly? You are #1 with a bullet 🙂 Peace, Harlon

    Liked by 7 people

    • Yes, Harlon! This is about joy for sure. Joy without a particular reason. Joy that is both means and end. And you’ve captured the essence of what I was feeling– the inward extension of it, the unearthing of our silence. Killing us softly… Ha! Thanks, Harlon!

      Peace and Love

      Liked by 4 people

  5. GREAT poem!

    This one is exhilarating! The awesomeness of me sees the awesomeness of you!
    Silent retreat cleared the space and killed some room for me to start playing my guitar again.
    I stumble through familiar chords and I am titillated by memories of being 16 and “girl with guitar” and learning dust in the wind, and remembering parts of it again. Then, I go to open my mouth and make a sound to sing, and “the sludge comes out” first. Something else to work on… Oh, even the rustiness is getting to be awesomeness. I LOVE aging and forgetting, and remembering, and jamming with ghosts and gods.

    Who needs an instrument?! What is real?! But real isdrumming with Hafiz, showing up with the band. Being one of the band.

    People in Satsang keep making comparisons between Mooji and The Course in Miracles. I think of being 13 years old and asking “Who am I?” Gosh, it’s all the same: glorious circles, but it really is a spiral. You are going places, Michael. And, SO. Am. I. 😀 Into further states of freedom, joy. peace.

    Shine brightly, my friend. Your killing it!

    Love, Ka

    Liked by 8 people

    • Thanks, Ka! Yes, you are going places and we’re all going places and we’re all going there together I think. And you’ve hit the part of this that is so important to me: drumming with Hafiz is totally real. The joy we feel when we are not caught up in life’s pressures and pulls, is real… And one form of joy (air band) no better than another form of joy (playing a physical instrument), and when we make these distinctions we discover we are on the outside of something looking in…

      Yes, it’s fun to pick up the guitar again after a few years and remember the joys once had, of what has been. I love that rustiness is awesomeness. Something very true about that, too. The awesomeness of unfolding, moving and becoming.

      I have seen some snippets of Mooji videos, but haven’t really fully explored his teachings. It was interesting what you said about ACIM and Mooji because I attended a portion of an ACIM conference recently and saw some feedback, and one person was frustrated because in the workshop he or she attended, it digressed into the “Course in Mooji”! ha! I couldn’t really see the downside, but sometimes we focus on particulars– sometimes we like see one as the real teaching and the other as not, perhaps to continued confusion…

      Thanks for the enthusiasm, Ka!

      Liked by 4 people

      • Hi Michael,

        I’m about to post some Mooji snippets that I found go along with my Self-inquiry practice. Being enthusiastic is something I feel like I am often reflecting back to you. Your mention of the ACIMer who provided feedback about a “Course in Mooji” had me tap my knee and sound in my head, “you don’t say?!” Is it a digression? I’ve heard some really great musical solos. Many people are comparing Mooji to Christ. I have no opinion about these distinctions. I’ll be seeing Gangaji in August. Maybe Papaji, who is a teacher to both (Mooji and Gangaji) is speaking through everyone from the other side ~ and Jesus is playing the drums and sometimes harmonica, so that everyone stays on task and in tune. I Am. OM. Anyways, there’s another video that I wanted to share with you where I first heard a person making a comparison between ACIM and Mooji (actually she is a teacher of ACIM) and she interviewed Mooji about her curiosity. Mooji said he never read it. Would you like to know more about that?

        With peace and love,

        Liked by 3 people

        • Hi Ka,

          As you know I watched the video on your site, and enjoyed it very much. Thanks for finding it and sharing it. I do think there are some comparisons about which having no opinion makes the perfectest sense! Most all of them! Ha! When Jesus is playing the drums, and Papaji is leading the song, who is not Christ?

          Peace and Love

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Wooooohooooo what a rideI And I was there right with you.
    I often wonder Michael if the poems are based on your actual experience? Are they? Really? I want some of what you’re on 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • Ha! You’re welcome to it, A!

      I would say that yes, all of my poems are based on actual experience. The way they end up on paper involves my trying to describe whatever images come to carry that experience, but they are my experience. But experience… such a hard thing to define! The experience is always invisible, without image. Writing for me always begins with a feeling I can’t explain or describe, coupled to the need to at least try. And in the trying, something emerges. Some narrative or construct able to carry the feeling and the experience.

      I also was thinking of how we feel so in love at times, so open and clear. And how we still think we’re not there yet for one reason or another. Like the moments we feel aren’t the real ones because we’re not stage musicians. We’re not the spiritual masters. We’re the regular people, so we’re only doing air band experience or something… But of course our experiences are quite real, and a moment of loving connection is a moment of loving connection. There is no better or worse or real or false about it!

      Much Love,

      Liked by 4 people

      • “whatever images come to carry that experience” – this is where you have a gift. Writing would be so much easier for me I think if my experiences and feelings could be translated into images, then I could describe them in images as you do. I will try harder. I will look for images and see what emerges. I’m often very literal so it is always wonderful when I get swept up into a fantastical world – of my own or of others’ making.
        And yes, no matter what, a moment of loving connection is a moment of loving connection – the Divine in motion.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Alison,

          I wish you luck with reaching for images! I don’t know much about how it works other than I just feel them usually. It usually happens when I have a feeling that has no words– just a rich presence. And I can’t use words directly because how could I? Then the images arrive to support the process. It is beautiful to be swept away into imaginary lands– to feel that possibility and the way one thing can so illuminate another.

          But the other thing I’ve found in doing more reading lately, is how different writers truly are and how I can fall in love with so many types and styles. It was a good discovery for me, because it gave me a sense that maybe I could trust the particular way that things translate into the written word through me. Sometimes I read something and I am just blown away, and I think, wow… how does a writer do that? I started a book tonight by Don DeLillo called “End Zone”, and these were the first two sentences. I was hooked instantly. Totally hooked.

          “Taft Robinson was the first black student to be enrolled at Logos College in West Texas. They got him for his speed.”

          Enjoying this moment of connection

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Makes me feel the hot humid breeze of summer, and the drone of cicadas in the air. How wonderful to be able to dip a microphone all the way down into the earth. I’d like to do that and listen to Her whispers.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes, to dip a microphone down into the earth. I like the drone of cicadas and the hot breeze of summer. There is something about the fullness of each season that etches itself into our memories.

      I think the Earth would whisper some pretty wonderful things to you.


      Liked by 2 people

  8. I heard the music build and then stop leaving only echoes and insects. And in the end, after Hafiz says that question is what’s killing him, somebody’s mom with a dish towel in her hands comes out of the house and onto the wrap around porch and asks if you boys would like some lemonade. You must be pretty thirsty after all that playing.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes, we worked up quite a thirst… I love the images you have wrapped around this piece JoAnna. Were we boys up on the roof? Or dimensionless particles of existence? Perhaps we twinkle back and forth, from the cosmic quality to the thirst for lemonade. We should all be thankful for mothers who support and encourage both extremes of our existence…


      Liked by 2 people

  9. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    I love the idea that a day would never ever forget me.
    Playing in my own one person air band is so fun, or singing at the top of my lungs along with my ipod in my truck or with a friend.
    All the beyonds in this piece are so expansive. I could keep going with those for a long time.
    I enjoyed listening to the song, but then I had an ear worm all day. I love to sing and play along. I love to sing and play along. I love to sing and play along. I love to sing and play along……
    Great poem, Michael. Like Ka said, “You’re killing it!”

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Mary!

      Yes, this song kind of sticks to your cochlea doesn’t it! You hear echoes all day or something… I’m glad you enjoyed it but hope it didn’t overstay its welcome!

      I liked the idea of a day remembering us, too. Something neat about recognizing our lives unfold within a greater embrace. If I don’t get a few air band moments a week during the commute, it’s not a good week… 🙂

      Much Love

      Liked by 1 person

  10. who needs instruments? I ask this when I tire of residing in a body that does not bend to my will. My childhood room was purple, orange, and yellow. It was the 70s. These colors lend themselves to off the chain sunsets.

    What is killing you? Did not see that part coming. What is killing me is the space/time continuum, flatland and the other lowDs. Hope to discover what is killing you, You seem so eternal….

    happy summer,

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Linda,

      Yes, exactly, on the colors. I was picturing a sunset and the air band taking place on the roof with the ripening sunset in the background. Hafiz and I were blackened silhouettes in my mind…

      Sorry about the lowD’s and their effects of late. What is killing me in this piece and what I have wrestled with lately a bit is this notion of what is good and real in my unfolding, and what is a half-ditch measure sure to crumble. When we judge our inner movements by an external standard, we get this type of confusion I think. Like the joy of being one with music doesn’t count if we’re not really musicians. That disparity was part of what led to this story/poem…

      Wishing you renewal and many a joyful silence or song–

      Liked by 2 people

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