adventures of a fearless (mostly) globe trotting seeker...
wondering, wandering, barefoot, nomadess

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sticky Sweet Mother

from india diary:
november 13

i love you all and i wish i could see you more
all your faces become one
but i was swallowed by the ever unfolding road
i am loving it being back in my other home
the hot black night brings me back to the womb and i am ecstatic free lunatic here
dark jungle velvet starless night with thunder clapping the earth like a bootie smack
everyone has gone to bed and the neon bulb illuminates the hallway, all the americans have gone to bed some complaining of the wildness here, spicy food, pollution, traffic and general chaos that is everyday life here in india
i sit awake and alone so exquisitely aware
awake when the rest of the world is sleeping
i smoke my beedie cigarettes which are rolled in dried leaves not paper and which open my third eye and get me high
and i sit alone
a woman alone
as always
a woman has sat alone
'with my thoughts
but they do not bother me
they run like an unfolding stream a ribbon of time that eats itself
that is the nature of the mind
like clockwork, like time
and here time is eaten by space
but i remember
i remember all the way back to the beginning before the sword of time
and before there was that logic clicking away the minutes of my life
there was this feeling in my heart
like a gasp of air in a deep wet ocean that never ends
i crawl from the belly of this primordial soup to peer at a new event horizon
i long because i live and
i live because i long
and i am not afraid
not afraid of the terrible calling of my own heart in the naked wet jungle night
the air so thick like black velvet that threaterns to swallow me whole like the snake swallowing a frog i saw here yesterday
in the jungle night i see rats skirting the walls and spiders in the halls and skinny dogs weeping as they dig for morsels of food in the trash we left out
and i think of a lover home and cant make a call
and i think why am i trying to call somewhere around the world in the middle of the night?
and i know i just want a compartment to put this longing into
but no matter how many containers i have
they will not contain this sleepless wakeful longing
i say yes
thirsty thirsty always thirsty being quenching in the belly of the
sticky sweet mother here

Saturday, December 25, 2010

3 Christmas Snapshots

i get a call from the reservation, it is cold there. conversations with native americans are short on words, filled with lots of spaces. they got the money i sent for christmas and now they are going to buy a present for the mom, the matriarch. i can hear the rumble of the engine and can see the beat up truck driving through the desolate, flat winter prairie, the crunch of the tires on the frozen earth, the steam rising from the heat of the engine hitting the frigid grey air. i can see all these things even though i have only been there in summer. in the summertime, wild, yellow sunflowers grow on the side of the road as tall as me and they say that as high as the sunflowers are in summertime, that's how high the snow will be in winter. joy and pain. i go to the reservation because i pray to the spirits to help me heal my family.

my son walks out the door after our visit. i hand him money for a bus to get downtown and a twenty and say, "merry christmas, don't say i never did anything for you". he laughs, we hug and he walks out the door. i feel a pang in my stomach, an emptiness. maybe in the same place he grew inside me. in that emptiness, i feel an excitement. the wheel turns and things will never be the same. i see his dark skin and punker jacket walking away through the blinds of my window and he grows smaller and smaller until he disappears. he is a man now. i see his youth like a flame making it's way in the world.

she sits somewhere, is she alone? is she alone on christmas? i picture a woman with a face like mine, more softened by time, i picture her staring out a window. i picture light on her face, such a beautiful face of sharp white skin framed by black hair. she used to say when we would argue that she would be dead someday and i would regret not getting along with her. she made me fear the ravages of time on a woman's desirability and beauty. but these were her fears, not mine, and i learned to cut them out with a knife when i was in istanbul with my teacher. the fear of becoming an old woman, undesirable and unloved with no company left but too many pets. i used to deliver meals to homebound elderly for thanksgiving, maybe as penance for not seeing my own mother. i walked into many sad, cramped, dark apartments that smelled of decay and cat urine. i hope wherever she is, wherever she has taken herself to disappear to, i hope she is laughing and knows that i love her. we let the light in.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Prodigal son

has it really been six months since i have seen you?
and how many angry words have passed between us in this time?
so many misunderstandings
it must be difficult to let the dream die of who you wish your mother was
and to love me, this woman, instead
the prodigal mother has returned
right now in the silence, i drink in the sweetness of your slumber
how many times have i watched over you sleeping and marveled at the brown of your skin and hair?
of the impossible beauty of my own son, who is 18
flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone
i worship you
i worship the life that moves through you that was born to live on its on
and what an amazing thing that we can come together and i can fall asleep on your shoulder at dinner
you who used to fall asleep in my lap as a baby, as a boy
and now you are a grown man
it is not easy to become a man in this world
i am not a man, but the journey to become a woman, to become myself
to become human has been beguiling and exaughsting at times
and still continues as i search for patterns in the sky
and you here now, is part of me becoming woman, mother,
you help me know who i am, what i have come to experience
some people worship their ancestors
i worship my son
in these days of youth you are as bright as the sun
and determined to struggle as a gutter punk angel
god you make me laugh
showing up at my door with your hobo stick
a wooden pole with your clothes tied up in a blanket bundle on the end
there is nothing to hold onto as you shapeshift and grow
there was a time when you grew like a ripe seed inside me
and when you were born, i could always protect you
but as you grew, i could not protect you from the things we must each face on our own
like the inevitability of death and the desire to leave a mark on the world
and what a shame to go from being your god, the one who birthed and suckled you
to being slowly diminished to a hypocritical woman
because who has seen my shortcomings and suffered for them more than my own child?
there is nothing to hold onto

it feels so holy, as you sleep in your own silence to be here, to be aware of this moment. so pregnant with grace. i used to tell my classes, what is grace? grace is the when things change that you never thought could change. when things you thought were impossible begin to soften, shift and move

is such a small woman allowed so much glory in one life? can such a vulnerable arrangement of flesh and bones withstand the white surge of so much beauty? i keep asking for this container to be able to hold more.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Time to let go

Tuesday, January 21
Venice Beach, Ca

the raving cocksmith with angel wings

its all coming down like the rain, alot of face softening into tears and laughter and making love with a new man who is my raving cocksmith with angel wings who just made me french toast and is cleaning the apartment for my sons visit this afternoon. the raving cocksmith says i have 4 faces. the fierce one, which i show the most. the nurturer, who is seemingly at odds with the fierce one. the traveler, who often looks off melancholy into the distance like i was last night. and the one i hardly show, the little girl who screams so loudly inside me that you can't hear her at all.
i drank red wine and told some sad stories and then crawled off in my leg cast to sit in the bathroom and cry alone. i turned on the water in the sink so i could have privacy with the sound of my sobs. not because i am afraid to show my tears, but because at times, i am like a cat who wants to lick my wounds alone in a corner, some very old animal instinct for solitude. the gaping wound opened again and the cool rush of infinite space and meaninglessness rushed through me like a wind or a ghost train. and i think, oh god, am i here again? sitting on some dingy bath mat in someone else's bathroom? rocking myself to sooth the sharpness of the moment? i crawled into bed and let myself be held and some part of me wondered, "does this man love me?" is anything for certain in this world as the floor keeps dropping out beneath me to expose the fine network of stars and far off galaxies and groundlessness beneath my feet?
the clouds are letting go of the rain...
it is time for letting go
pruning back to the bones
what is essential?

it's not my time to go

back from india
travelled across continents and oceans and broke barriers of sound to
crash land a car back in la on my third day home
twisted metal oragami car wreck
what messages are hidden in the crushed metal?
broken ankle, cast, crutches

i lay in bed eating percocets and drinking red wine
it wasnt my time
a young hispanic kid at the clinic in the hood
where i go to get my cast because i don't have insurance
asks me how i got my cast and crutches that look the same as his
i say i broke my ankle in a car crash
he says he got shot
he says they tried to kill him but it wasnt his time
yea, i say, it wasnt my time either
the furniture in the waiting room are crumbling salvation army couches that belong in a grandmas living room
i sit in the hood with people of color who carry a large percentage of the hardship in america
in a dingy waiting room with scuffed and dirty linoleum floor, we are frozen in a moment of physical vulnerability under watery, pale flourescent light bulbs
the doctor rolls his eyes at an older mexican couple who can't speak english
who probably dragged themselves through heartbreaking odds to mop floors and pick produce and god forbid they raise their heads to be seen
a black woman gets dragged in by the cops hog tied
screaming "bitches, bitches!"
her blood curdling screams make me squirm in my seat
not easy to watch the parade of human suffering
her hair is undone and nappy, her pants keep sliding down to expose her ass crack as she writhes against the grip of the cops and handcuffs
the flesh of her belly hangs loosely with stretch marks but still she has the strength of superman
she bucks her body into a straight line in the air between where they hold her feet and shoulders, all the anger twisting inside her like a lightening bolt
looks like she made some bad choices, but also i am sure
her life hasnt been fair
whatever fair is
but certainly, it doesnt seem fair that most of the people living this hard are people of color
do we pray to the same gods?

it wasnt my time and
i am a goddam testament to the resilience of the human condition
dreams broken, bones broken
i lay in bed
writing, writing
so much letting go to do
i feel like i am in a great contraction
a cocoon of winter
the butterfly, while sleeping crouched in darkness never knows what it is becoming
i welcome unknowing becoming
and wait in white linens with grey skies in the window most near me
and listen to the gentle patter of the many small feet of the rain on the roof above me
i dont get out much right now
i wait to test the cut of new wings in spring
to test the velvet softness against the cold knife of the wind
like a newborn gasping in the cold oxygen
test the mend of the bone

bone deep, bone deep
laid flat on my back i write about my family
whose memories and predilictions move like the sea of marrow within me
they are bone deep within me
they are the architecture my blood, flesh and heart are hung on
my bones the unseen freeways tracing traffic patterns of my ancestors
the sorrow of the gypsies
my new lover asks about my family
i say i dont know where they are
we are people of the air, rootless
so much freedom and guilt
so much wine and song and passion and dance
we are the colors of red and black
when green turns to gold
you know winter is coming
pruned back to my bones, and further still
laying naked in the snow
the blinding whiteness of pills and pillows
i wait in the molting to see the glory of my next pair of wings

Friday, December 17, 2010

How long can i burn?

Thursday, December 9
Venice Beach, Ca


how much can i bear? how long can i burn?
it is as if i am testing the container of my flesh, heart and mind
twisted metal car wreck

i see: a car turn in front of me, too late to break, oh shit
i see: airbag, smoke rising from outside the car, i see liquid on the pavement,
where am i?
i see: the inside of the ambulance, i see beautiful man asking me am i ok?

cops ask me questions but i am confused, he turned in front of me i say.
i am dazed.
i collapse on the sidewalk, there is too much pain to stand, i weep
i was supposed to see my son tomorrow
i crossed oceans flying from india and now the car is gone to drive the last hour and a half to close the distance between us
oh the distance between us when you live in my heart

i see: doctor, x-ray machine, broken ankle
i see: ceiling, cracking white paint, blue percocet pills
i see: lemon yellow sky at sunset with the long, skinny fingerlings of palm braches silhouetted in black, i cam smell the salt of the sea a few blocks away, but i cannot walk that far
i see: small, brave flowers pushing through the grass

all things have a life unto themselves are are sacred unto their own
like my son
has a life unto himself and is sacred to his own
i suffer for my love, whether i am good or not, i suffer for my love
when is it enough? when have i paid enough?
grief, loss and sorrow you have been my very close friends
and yes, i will grant you joy is never far away

how much can i take? how long can i burn?
i don't fight my mind, i ride the thought like a snake.
with each breath i say, how much can i take? how long can i burn?
how much can i take? how long can i burn?
how much can i take? how long can i burn?

break: mend, break: mend
is this the break that will mend?


i recieved an email from kolkata this morning
the sex workers union says yes,
they want me to come teach the womens empowerment in march
in the red light district of sonagatchi i will redeem myself

i feel like an old soldier
scarred from battle
who knows what must be done,
who finds truth in the cut and taste of the battlefield, the bedroom
i love, i pray, i let go
i move where the road rises to meet me, what is asking to be done?

and i will have to develop patience for the longing in my own heart for my son
all i really ask is that he always knows i love him
please god, that is what i ask

when he was a little boy we used to play a game, we would ask each other,
"how much do you love me?"
"to the stars" he would say
"beyond the stars" i would say
"to infinity" he would say
"you win" i would say and make him laugh and try to run away as i tickled his torso and tight round child belly

how much can i bear? how long can i burn?
however much is alotted me, to infinity and beyond

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are there people somewhere who don't burn like this?

Travel Journal
Kashi, India Nov 2011

how do we find the strength to wake up everyday and face adversity, to face the suffering in the world and in ourselves? i will go ask the crippled woman begging on the corner, ma, how do you find the courage and hope everyday? is the blind human will to survive so strong? who is looking through these eyes? the one who came to taste this life.

i wake up everyday weeping, this morning is no different. what is left of me after all these tears i dont know, i feel like i am melting. my bones are turned to dust. i am less ashamed to cry. the mothers love is demanding, but it is also unconditional. a monkey sticks his dark, nimble hand through the window grates and steals rohan's matches.

i lounge on the crumbling sofa in the lobby checking my emails in the lazy afternoon. i order another pot of hot honey-ginger-lemon tea to soothe my cold. the sharp, acidic smell of cow shit and urine wafts into the hotel lobby and cuts my nostrils. why not, it's 3:15pm, right on time. it's always the right time for cow shit in varanasi. the past and the present collide in the alleys of bovine and human commerce. so ridiculous as to be farcical. i play a tinny version of the o'jays, "people all over the world, join hands, start a love train". and i dance madly, goofily in the lobby of the ganga fuji home and make all the indian boys working there laugh. they are shy. i try to grab their hands and make them dance too. for what is there to do but laugh as it all burns down? in my drunken master, rose colored, heart-shaped sunglasses. isn't it all ridiculous? isn't it all sublime? isn't it all gorgeous in it's brokedown glory? i say yes. tomorrow i fly to goa, and the wheel turns again. the road, the road, the path is momentum, finding stillness in movement. the more the joy, the more the suffering. what is in the center of the tandava, the wild dance of shiva's destruction where he waves his thousands of arms and legs? nothing. nothing is there, only space, and even less than that.

who sees through my eyes? my soul has come to see through my eyes. the dervishes were the mad ones. mad for experience, for all experience is creation. we are the ones who have come to taste this life.


are there people some where who don't burn like this? after dinner, we went for a walk along the burning ghat, where they bring the corpses to be baptised in the holy ganges so they can be freed from karmas both known and unknown. then the bodies are placed on the pyre, the holy fire that has not been extinguished for five thousand years. the souless body burns like one more piece of kindling. "ram nam satya hai". only one thing we know is true, people die. the hazy smoke from the fire rises and shimmies, blurring the landscape into a dream. gray, frothy ashes are picked up and blown in the wind, ashes of another body touching lightly on my skin. where do i begin and where does the other end?

a woman was weeping inconsolably on the steps by the burning ghat. i never see anyone weeping here. i never see women here, just clumps of solemn men like crows. a ragged man sidles up to me and rohan, "want hash?". no thanks. "good hash" he tries again before slinking off. cows brush past me on the steps. lots of indians point to my golden face jewelry, my big nose hoop. they smile, "you married?" they ask. no, i say. "nice indian culture, you looking very pretty" they say. i tell rohan i want to go find my favorite chai wallah from the last trip. we wander down the crooked lanes until we find the vegetable market. our chai wallah has his ancient shop across from the open market where the sad looking vegetables are laying at the end of the day. the chai wallah remembers us. he makes the chai like it is his religion. each god is worshipped in his cups. the milk is boiled on hot coals and he squats before the fire and metal pot all day, crushing the man shaped ginger roots to a fibrous pulp. he measures the green cardamom pods, he looks reflectively as he adds each spice to flavor the tea. there is a picture of his father hanging from the wall across from where he labours in his little pit. we wait patiently for the best chai in varanasi on a hard wood bench under his father's portrait. he said this was his fathers shop before it was his. he was going away to school when his father got sick and he gave up everything to come back and carry on the family tradition. "three generations" he says holding up knobby, long fingers to us. his back is to the street, the wall is cut open with a square there, like a window without a pane, he sits in the ledge. there is a tall skinny doorway where we walk in. through these two rectangles, we can watch the parade of the street outside. six corpses are carried past in the half hour we sit there refilling our clay cups. his shop is on the lane that leads to the burning ghats. "ram nam satya hai" the men carrying the bodies and the men running behind in the procession yell. it is a great disgrace if no one pays for your body to burn. some bodies are just dropped in the river, the unknown, the disgraced. there are men who practice strange tantra who wait for those bodies to float down the river. they take them and use them in a ritual where they chant over the dead corpse and sit to meditate on it. the god shiva is a corpse and so this is a form of worshipping that god, of taking his energy. they say it gives a lot of power. rohan says that shiva is the only god who started as a man. he travelled from the south of india until he reached the icy himalyas, and practiced such severe austerities and deep meditations that he became a god. his naked body is covered in the ashes of the burned bodies, his hair is in dread locks wrapped high on his head, this is where he has put the river ganges to control it's wild flow. he smokes hash and eats medicine plants and meditates in austerity. he is a corpse himself, and represents the passionless observer. he is brought to life by his lover, shakti, who has incarnated in many forms of the goddess. through their lovemaking, the universe is created. shakti dances for the delight of the choiceless witness and he observes her dance of creating the world with love.

after chai, we walk back to the river, the ghats are empty now. the ancient crumbling buildings lit in the fog remind me somehow of paris. of a city risen from the deep waters of the subconscious mind. the impossible architecture floating on nothing more than mere mortals dreams of heaven and a bridge to the after life. the water is dark now, just a black mirror to reflect the half eaten face of the moon. the boats are docked and somehow so charming with all the bright colored paints fading and splintering. everything is crumbing and decaying most beautifully, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. somehow the hungry mouth of time passes it's tongue over varanasi and lets decay be something that lasts forever rather than that is the beginning of the end. the end has begun. the beginning has ended. there is one boat still in the water this late. dark figures move inside. they begin releasing the little bowls made of leaves with flowers and candles inside. they must have released over one hundred lights as we sat silently watching, each brave lamp bobbling in the water. the reflection on the inky water was quite beautiful and stirred something childlike in my heart. how fragile is each individual flame? how enduring is all this glory?


i straddle the razor's edge between the sacred and the profane. my guru says adharma is dharma for me. no law is the law. this is the path of the left hand, the feminine tabboo. breaking taboo to find personal truth and freedom from the conditioning of society. friend, what law is written in tongues of fire on the bridal chamber of your heart? if you dare to look the truth will make you blind, then it will make you see, then it will set you free. in the end as in the beginning, the prophet bowed before the burning bush saying, all is god, all is god. all god is one. i am not promising my students enlightenment or anything else. who can say how the buddha became enlightened? only the buddha knows. the great ones have come and transcended to mystical understandings that were always fresh from their conditioning. they were the rebels. christ turned over the merchants tables in the temple. everyone is buying and selling salvation because it's just so damn hard to be a human and feel your heart in the great, crushing beauty of love and loss. the agreement with birth is death. the great ones have come and wandered in the wilderness, they have wandered away from the religions. and we all blindly go to the temples and buildings to be told what the great ones said. the great ones taught freedom and seeking truth through personal, mystical experience. i hand my student a bottle of whiskey as we sweat dancing on the rooftop under the dark sky of a new moon. i say, "vipassana this!" as he takes a swig. life is the meditation, stay awake soul, stay awake. all is god, or none. the only corruption is the belief in corruption, the soul is the passenger, the soul is eternally pure.

the more the pleasure, the more the pain, the more this life as the river of experience flows through the woman's body from the womb of beginingless time emptying back into the ocean of forever. we are the well that is thirsty for its own water, we are the taste that is hungry for its own taste. our tears too must flow back to the ocean of forever. our tears too are thirsty for themselves.