First Thought

This could be a Spring of retreat; a step or two toward the past. Maybe time on our hands and loads of room for reflection. My own longings lean toward the masses questioning all the holes in all the systems that Covid-19 surged right up to our every sensibility.

My next prayer is that all this new-found realization of what matters, this renewed knowledge of what essential is, will not get tossed and lost for good by most.

Reflection choices can be simple too; in fact, the majority of mine certainly are. I can’t believe how much it means to walk in the woods right now. All the smells of Spring are especially entrancing, and I am so in beyond land when I look at the tender shoots that replaced the tiny seeds I planted weeks ago. I’m so excited to be a back deck farmer this year. Small things. The every things.

It was within these lines of thought on this lazy Thursday, I was reminded of a sweet and lovely moment of 3 years ago, when we were allowed more fearless touch.

Wishing all a gentle and inspiring weekend.

morning bliss I am the first thought
On his mind as daybreak blinks
Sunday morning bliss…

 Gently smudging pain’s traces
Sweetly replacing facades

RL

Haiku / Tanka

Inspired by the artwork of: aaronpaquette.net and prompted by: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/heal/

The Point

Life is never easy, not really, and not for anyone, and especially if you’re a person of color living within a colonized country. It honestly feels like we’re always living in an ongoing classic movie. The underdogs fighting the Borg, the Establishment, “The Man”. Man, this fight never ends…

I’ll take heart in a recent Jeffrey A Sachs Twitter thread that announced: “The SJWs Are Winning and You’re All Just Going to Have to Deal With It!”  …Wakanda forever!

I don’t know what it’s going to take for the equities we crave to come to pass, but I can hope and I can pray and I can take to the streets when it all becomes too much. In between the battles, respite is precious. This is when we take stock and take in what means the most to us at our deepest levels. At least, I hope we do.

So, this is one of my moments, when I breathe in gratitude for what lifts my heart and grounds my soul…

Through It All
Through all contention
Through any and all dramas
Through every joy

Friends for life, literally
Touchstones, sound boards, life rafts, all

RL
#haiku #tanka

Treasure Islandchristmas 2018 J&me

My finest treasure
The gift that holds my heart firm
Love guarded fiercely

Most dear; smiles that create bliss
Reminding always, the point

RL
#haiku #tanka

May the best of peace, genuine joy and healthy successes meet you all in 2019.

Cheers!

RL

 

Dejah, The Warrior

This is a re-post for my dear friend, Glo, in tribute to the amazing life and soul of her baby, and their loved ones. It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years. Already. I can’t say exactly how it feels for Gloria, Robert & Rayne, but I would like them to know we remember with them. We share in their heartrending memories and in support of their amazing capacity to move forward in strength, purpose and love for each other and for life. They couldn’t live a better legacy for their son and brother… 

I hardly know this young boy who impacted my life and so many others so profoundly. What kid is all that interested in their mother’s friends anyway? And so, I came to know him mostly through her, our Glo.

She is that quintessential statement of strength and courage, which can almost sound like a cliché, but it isn’t when it’s applied to a parent facing one of our worst fears.  Which is what happened to her and she, true to character, faced that nightmare fully and head-on.

He was only three years old when they were told he had cancer.  It was horribly bad news.  Most kids who get this kind of cancer have a pretty good outlook, but for some the challenge will push  to the limit.  This was to be the case for him.

I can’t imagine having to look at my baby’s sweet innocent face, and into his trusting eyes, knowing what they knew was to come for their son, and try to prepare for that.  How unbearable could it have felt to know the awful truth of what was in store in some ways, and not have any idea or certainty about anything else?

The only thing that turned out to be absolutely certain is that this kid had something else too – a hell of a fighting spirit. Those innocent eyes masked a strength that could rival a grown man’s, and that was good because he used it fully. It was what carried him beyond the lines of expectation.

As it turned out, his backup arsenal was also beyond outstanding.  His shield of steel was the love and faith of his mother, and his dad and sister were the center of his phalanx.

Phalanx is a perfect word for his story.  I’d stumbled around for a while looking for a way to describe all the people who joined the power of this boy’s circle. My son said, “That sounds like you’re talking about a phalanx, mom”.  I asked what that was exactly. After he explained, I thought yes, that’s exactly what they are.

A phalanx is defined as a compact or close-knit body of people, a formation of infantry carrying overlapping shields and long spears.  Perfect.  That’s what they were – overlapping shields of love and spears of hope. The rest of that foundation was formidably filled out by all the family and friends who rallied around them.

No matter their role as those weapons of love and hope, every one of them, including the calvary of determined medical personnel was there in common spirit.  All were there to throw everything they could at that God-damned tumour.

They did it well for ten amazing years.  It wasn’t a smooth trip for sure, but they fought those ups and downs with purpose. He and his family were also determined to instill something meaningful into what would seem to be a senseless, painful ordeal.

He moved to the center of an organized effort to finally stop cancer in children.  He and his family charged alongside an organization called Kick For A Cure, whose role is to fund the research that will finally “kick cancer where it hurts”.

Part of the fight for a full life was trying to be just a boy who could play and learn like everyone else. Why should any child have to fight to be just a 5 year old or an 8 year old? The balancing act to just be and to be a helper in the bigger picture becomes another unexpected fact of life, a new normal.

The day came when balance was made impossible, and it became an effort to just hold on – to a few more hours spent wrapped in the bond of fighters who’ve survived together for so long.  To a few more minutes of saying I love you, and for that one more heartbreaking second to look into each other’s eyes.

When children get so sick, when they die, we are all devastated.  We cry and feel deeply because for those moments, born to us or not, they all become our babies.

Maybe we ask God or the Universe, why or how?  Maybe one day we’ll have all the answers, but for now, at this moment, I need to believe that the Universe said these things to him:

Thank you, Dejah.

Thank you for enduring the pain of the fight for so long.

Thank you doing for so much work in such a short period of time to inform and teach about childhood cancer.

Thank you for all that you’ve given and taught to your mom, dad, and sister.

Thank you for all that you’ve given and shown to your family and friends.

Thank you for the sacrifice you gave to medicine that will one day make this illness less devastating for another child.

Thank you for the way you brought your community together over and over again, and got them all thinking about love, and for reminding them that, it is the only true purpose.

Your work is done Dejah, and it was done in superhero excellence.

You’re finally pain free; dance wildly in joy.  You’ve earned it, kid.

You will always, always, be a kick ass hero.

Dejah Milne
February 4, 2000 – October 5, 2013

dejah

Photo by Cher Milne Gennaro‎, Memories with Dejah

 

RL

_______________________________________________________

The story of how Dejah affected his community and the people around the world was captured during his beautiful service tribute and in how his story was shared around the globe.

 

Tales From The Heart: Dad

Nova Scotia, July 2017

Of great character
Lovely men earn the prizes
Strong and gentle wins

Cowards wilt in their presence
Fight or flight; laugh while they run

Haiku / Tanka

 

I’ve written a few times about the days of my childhood, when my mother was alone or alone within the presence of an abusive man who tormented her and her children. I’ve even written a bit about that broken man. Yet, I’ve never been able to really put down a word of meaning about the man who would ultimately become my beacon of manly decency, the barometer for all who’d follow and be measured against.

No matter how hard I tried to write a nod of love for Father’s Day or his birthday, whatever event, I would draw a blank or the words I put down felt far too much like a eulogy. Even when I wanted to relay one of his famous tales of hilarity, I’d cringe at how much it felt like I was standing at a funeral lectern; the same feelings washed over me as did when I delivered a eulogy for one of his grandchildren.

Then, this summer holiday, during our annual events of hugs and dinner talk, huge laughter, day trips, familial eye-rolling impatience, and intense political arguments that look like someone’s about to get offed, I entered epiphany territory. If I didn’t say these things now, for him, to him, ultimately my words really would simply become the very thing I feared.

So here it is, not a “Happy Something Day” anything. Just a summer hug to my dad, who as a step-father, stepped in it and all over it in his own inimitable way, to become the embodiment of what a man of decency and character should be. Whose heart was far bigger than he needed to shelter us. Whose protective and respectful love is genuine and unreserved.

He’s shown how it’s done after screw ups. Oh yes, he’s definitely a pro at screwing up, BUT he’s equally adept at employing his best to undo his infractions. His apologies are quick and he fills the holes of his failings with triple the ratio of acts of kindness. I’ve never met a man who wants to make up for his failings as badly as he. It’s one of his most admirable aspects which has repaid him with enormous, widespread respect.

Outside of that, he’s your basic straight shooter, what you see is what you get, and certainly honesty is a key attribute. Well, unless he’s got a story to tell. There’s no doubt he’s got a blarney bone floating in there, but that’s just one more lovable trait, right? I’ve not met anyone yet, who can tell a tale with his level of wit and witty circuitous routes. That’s bonus material right there.

Tin man 7.jpg

Oz never needed to give this Tin Man a heart

And so, if all this isn’t the embodiment of good character, what is? His shoes will always be a bit of a loose fit for someone to fill, but that ain’t no complaint by me. Damned certain neither of us will ever make apology for that. I hope when he sees this note, he’ll feel my respect too. Maybe he’ll even have seen something that surprises. Whatever his feelings, I do know I’ll get a hug not long after.

Thanks, Dad.

RL

String O’ Tears

puppeteerFor a friend….

A message, a song, prose of awareness to carry to your fair-weather friend

That really great one who utterly love-bombs you, repeatedly – if not ceaselessly
Bombards you hard enough to make you forget your own fugging mind
The mind that used to have instincts that automatically waved red flags
Those inner stirrings of wariness that led you right from wrong
When you weren’t the puppet you became in order to earn more ear candy
Those sweets that plump your heart and keenly sink into your under-nourished psyche

Enough sugar to make you think you are the brightest, funniest, loveliest star ever found
And he will always assert with that add-on: …“and I have known many a crispy star”
And so he enlists you to spy, cajole, and/or keep an eye out for reporting purposes
Ah, soon we learn a puppeteer’s affinity with clowns runs far more extensively than skin deep…
He uses you to mark his territory, share his dirty deeds; you’re his unique ‘love in crime’
& if reports are interesting enough, he will even step out from behind his shield of breasts
To poke his nose out gingerly, which counts as brave for this completely scar-less ‘warrior’

You do it because, sigh, someone has finally or fully seen how really special you are
And, no real harm, just a bit of fun, just messing a little with idiots & low-lifes after all
‘Cause beneath it all, he’s a nice guy, so alone & a little scared, mostly misunderstood
Your maternal instinct will fill in all the excuses he hints at to make you both feel better
In gratitude, he’ll toss you more necklaces hand-beaded with extra-honeyed accolades

He’ll gift you amusing anecdotes and witticisms du jour and you’ll both laugh and laugh
Or he’ll wax on spiritual depth, prophet-like and it’ll be like you’ve bathed in enlightenment
So many days in a year, so many appropriated lines to unveil, so many toys available for play
Oh, to be free of those strings, to dance around and around a stage, firm and stable
Where the feelings and thoughts and words fed to your soul are unfeigned

Oh, to live, only where love is real and the only strings attached are honestly heart to heart

RL


For the interested, here’s a quick review of the process these personalities engage in, in real life:  But, He’s a ‘SoulMate’  Why Narcissists Disappear  (Hint: It’s not just the silent treatment)

A Strange Cawcophany

The window rattled
Harbinger delivery
Deep eyes command, “heed”

Friends caw with concern
Wariness is in order
Step back from the sill

Strange portents unveiled
Holding unforeseen remorse
Seeks to change the past

RL

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/anticipation/
Photo contribution via Facebook, T Mungo

Cupid’s Fraudballs – Deep Love Times 1,001

So, not every love story resembles the Harlequin Romance model or the Dr. Phil / Oprah recommendations of ‘healthy’, nor are they as far off the chain as the trailer park trashy gymnastics  of the Jerry Springer couplings either.

Sometimes they’re the stuff of mythical proportions. Heady. Messy. Legendary – Taylor and Burton, Bacall and Bogart, Hepburn and Tracy – all grown from impossible drama seeds planted within the largest of human persona.

They’re the masters of the double black diamond slopes of emotional mountain ranges – INTENSE and tender, RAGING and nurturing, DANGEROUS and comforting …. Mythical Gods come to life, breathtaking to behold, and dizzily staggering to live with.

Not all are destined for fame or the full theatre; some of these lesser-sized immortals are merely just around the cul-de-sac circles, seemingly average neighbours, but just as fiery, and we knew two of them…


K&P Style
He will say she was unforgiving,
She will say he was unbearably untrustworthy.
He will say she is relentless wariness,
And she will say he mercilessly pushes her over limits.
He will say she is insanely focused on rules,
She will say his demands are cruel humiliations.
He will say she refuses to understand him,
She will say, seeking true empathy from him is like talking to the dead.
He will say she is every appalling name in the book,
And she will say, she loathes that he is only either angel or demon.
He seeks her adoring maternal nurturing,
She begs him to stand tall as a real & loyal hero.
She will say he burned down their home,
He will say she lit the match.
He will admit how awful he is,
She will concede that she aches for his good days.
He will say, he despises needing her this much,
She will say, she hates that she will never love another as deeply.
He will trim his beard for her,
She will grow her hair long for him.
He will kiss her neck,
She will take his hand in hers.
He will hold her face,
She will lean her head on his back.
He can be calmed only by living with the ordinary, the banal,
She can be safe only within strength without edges.
Their light has been, will be, entwined for eternity,
They will say goodbye,  1,001 times… or more.

…………………………………………………………………

Marianne Williamson said: “Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.”

I’d add forgiveness does not mean having to keep anyone in your life. It means getting to your own genuine peace after exiting the dark.

Happy Love Day, to all.  Here’s to the  ups and downs and twists in life, regardless of the degrees, that steer us to our strengths, and hopefully, to our best love.

RL  

No Surrender

I am very honored to have this post featured on The Poetry Daily, February 15, 2016

Someone to Watch Over Me…

It wasn’t a typical love story then and I suppose it’s not so much now either, at least not the kind we think about in this season of Valentine wishes and dreams.

broken flower 3jpgYou have to be this young to believe that you are this much in charge of life; that destiny has already been completely met.  To know that the only education you need to make your dreams come true is your own thoughts and a chat with your friends –  to be so heartbreakingly unaware of the precariousness  that will haunt even the babies to come.

She was a naive, pretty, eighteen year old small town girl who had no idea that so many of her dreams were going to turn into a lifetime of regrets.  She picked out her dream man, 20 years old, so very handsome and tall, and who held out to her a bouquet of the loveliest promises.

Not long after meeting, she became pregnant and it probably wasn’t much longer after that, that the first flower from that fragile bouquet fell.   The images her thoughts weaved for her future were simple, but meant everything – little home wrapped in the white picket fence of love, and lovely family dinners, family picnics and parties, and Christmas trees loaded with gifts.

She had intended so many occasions of wonderful for herself, and for me.  We were supposed to be that family that she envied in the movies, the love stories that she placed herself into in her favorite books, and in those images in Norman Rockwell paintings that confirmed how life was supposed to be. Sweet dreams sweet intentions.

They were slapped away brutally.  Literally.  He wasn’t ready for that dream.  Not at that time, not completely, maybe never.   He was more drawn to the calls of a wild party.  He had many more bottles to hoist up, and while he ‘owned’ her, he was nowhere near finished with his explorations of women.   Her resistance to ‘his way’ led to her learning that promises were only his dreams in the moment and they were nowhere near as real as those first black eyes.

I don’t know when I first heard or saw him hit her; I can remember that only from about age four.  I know that when it happened, I became very still as my heartbeat filled my ears.  I must have learned by then to make myself invisible.  The only way she could make herself invisible was to run away.   Some might say she didn’t learn how to do that right soon enough.

She did leave, many times, but somehow he would find her.  Us.  Sometimes her friends would tell him where we were; sometimes even her own brothers would sell her out during drunken party conversation or under threat.  Sometimes the loneliness and fear conquered her and she would call him herself.  She finally left for good when I was thirteen.

She didn’t leave her dreams though.  Not all of them anyway.  She still thought she could find that one good man. That’s how life was supposed to be.  Wasn’t that ever reinforced on every song on the radio, TV shows and magazine headlines?  So that’s what she pursued, even while the rest of her life was floating in a jumbled mess around her.

She had her share of boyfriends for some years, but no one could last for long.   They either owned their share of chaos and/or they couldn’t bear to deal with hers.  It would take years for the stars to align for her.  Maybe it was all the prayers she cried through to be delivered from that loneliness and to fill the need for someone to watch over her, because he came for her, finally.

It was not the typical script for a ‘let me rescue you’ love story.  He was just as messed up as she was, but somehow, eventually, this one wanted to get it together, with her, at the same time that she had reached her breaking point.

Somehow, armed only with whatever bit of guidance that was to come their way, they pushed through all the debris of their lives and rebuilt everything.  They did as best as they could, which turned out to be very well.  Their turned-around lives are far richer, and have lasted three times longer, so far, than their early trek over those fiery, alcohol-fueled coals.

Now she prays, hard and often, that her lessons of recovery from hell have been seen by her children, and their children, who learned all too well the modeled example of her youth.

Dreams do come true, but not from behind the wall of recriminations, isolated introspection, and avoidance.  The answers could be easy, but it’s still  work to carve out the road to them.  This can’t be any harder than it is to stay in pretension that all is well, to stay in hell.

I will pray that her prayers are answered for her. Again.

RL

My Mother, the Nun

Alright, my mother isn’t, and wasn’t ever, a nun.  She grew up wanting to be one, but life has a way of trading dreams on people, and I was the first trade-off.

Her life wasn’t anywhere close to a serene cloistered order.  I wrote a little about that in a post called ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’.

Her adult road didn’t include even following the tenets of her early faith.  The closest to church involvement was the annual search for one that held summer camps for kids.  That was her summer break and our free annual vacation.

What she ended up doing mostly was working 12 hour days in emergency first-aid and security detail.   A few years into this industry, she’d re-found her faith, but it could never be used as any kind of vocation. Those 12 hour shifts were an economic necessity and there are few comparable offerings in the faith field.

So, it was long days until retirement at age 71.  By then she wanted only to putter, and maybe volunteer a little.  She’d already started going to church regularly again, and she helped the Reverend here and there.  Their pleasant working relationship became true friendship. She had no idea this would cause her earliest reveries to swell again.

One day the Reverend made her an offer.  Would she like to be a lay-reader?  She would only have to study some, and practise the rituals in assistance for a while.  She was instantly transported to places of long ago innocence.  Her sixty something year old dream, a little re-shaped, finally got her to that place that was always meant to be.

Mom vestments October 2013-2

Kicked the habit, made good in
vestments
My mother,
Lay-Reader

RL

Blogger and author JT Weaver posted a challenge to write stories in the 270 word range. For some of us, this is like requesting a brush-cut after we’ve been used to only a trim up to the hips. In the end though, it’s made me appreciate the less is more doctrine even more.  JT’s challenge idea was inspired by the “Hemingway Challenge” and Abraham Lincoln’s succinct Gettysburg Address of 270 words:
jtweaver.net  (2014 – 01 – 11- the-270)

P.S. This exercise also taught me that WordPress includes the captions on photos in their word count. I did not.

Ever Been Properly in Love?

During his first year on CNN, TV Host Piers Morgan always asked his guests, “Have you ever been properly in love”?  Of course that always got his guests wondering or reminiscing, and so, I did too.  Forgive me a few moments of sentimentality. It is Valentine’s season after all.

Valentines-Wallpaper- whiteI realize as I’ve got older that I have been properly in love many, many times.  Hey, keep calm and read on, it wasn’t all hormones.  I don’t mean just in the romantic sense that Piers was inquiring about, but with all the wonderful friends that I have known over the years. They may have come and gone, or come and stayed, but I am forever changed by the genuine love grown between us.

It’s the kind of love that inspired countless shared hours of deep laughs, light fun, brilliant thinking and inspiring ideas, and so many fabulous occasions. It is the kind that offers a solid place to lean on while navigating troubles and sorrows.

It’s the kindness of love that draws us to each other maybe for only moments in shared interests and similar stories, or for a quick friendly review of talent or taste.  Of course it has also taken my hand and flipped me flat out on the threshold of deep resonating romance, and then even permanently tied me to the indescribable heart-song of my child.

Love is a song made of infinite notes; it’s a never-ending tune that rises and fades like all dynamics of life.  There are no real endings because even after we’ve moved on, we left the trail of what we gave.

And so,  after all of this, yes, I would get to answer that question, yes. I have been properly in love, many times, maybe always. And, actually, isn’t that really the truth of us all?

Happy Love Day!

RL