Poetry Alive

 

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Wild Self 

Breathing

Poetry alive

Beyond form

Beyond words

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2017

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“The greatest inspiration, the most sublime ideas of living that have come down to humanity come from a higher realm, a happier realm, a place of pure dreams, a heaven of blessed notions. Ideas and infinite possibilities dwell there in absolute tranquility.
Before these ideas came to us they were pure, they were silent, and their life-giving possibilities were splendid. But when they come to our earthly realm they acquire weight and words. They become less.”

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“The sweetest notions, ideas of universal love and justice, love for one another, or intuitions of joyful creation, these are all perfect in their heavenly existences. Any artist will tell you that ideas are happier in the heaven of their conception than on the earth of their realization. We should return to pure contemplation, to sweet meditation, to the peace of silent loving, the serenity of deep faith, to the stillness of deep waters. We should sit still in our deep selves and dream good new things for humanity. We should try and make those dreams real. We should keep trying to raise higher the conditions and possibilities of this world. Then maybe one day, after much striving, we might well begin to create a world justice and a new light on this earth that could inspire a ten-second silence of wonder – even in heaven.”
― Ben Okri

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The Dark Side of the Moon

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There is no one

To love me

But myself

Dark side

Of the moon

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2017

*photo by Beth Kirkhart, to see more of her work visit her on Twitter at @GilennLinn

Sometimes we come to a place in our lives and realize that something is dying. We might not always understand it especially when it happens within the deeper parts of ourselves.  I have recently been thankful for such an experience despite the pain that has risen to the surface. I have learned that I can embrace death and be glad for its coming. I have been on an unannounced hiatus from writing on this blog since the beginning of the year and I thank the patience of my readers. But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the simple beauty of Beth’s photo that I found something in it calling to me…cracking me open to write again.

Beth Kirkhart provided me with some interesting history of her photo that she took in Santa Ana Refuge in Southern Texas. It is home to an abundance of wildlife, in addition; to many birds, it is also provides shelter to ocelots, jaguarundi, jaguar, and mountain lions. The refuge is right on the border between Mexico and the US, where Trump wants to build his wall. However, such a wall would surely disrupt the wildlife there.

While Beth was watching the wind blow the grasses and framing the moon, she heard a woman hush a child: a family group who had just crossed the river were hiding in a thorn bush thicket, waiting for her to finish her photo so they could be on their way by night.

Such is the wind at dusk there.

As a Mexican-American, when Beth shared this story with me I could only imagine how that mother must have been feeling. It reminded me of things I missed out on as a small child when my own mother wasn’t present in my life….like being in the shelter and sanctuary of loving arms. So many times we humans can put up walls…walls that disrupt the flow of life. Walls that may shut life out. So then we are faced with a sort of Life-Death-Life cycle. Clarissa Pinkola Estés wrote, “Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings- all in the same relationship.” So perhaps we can still find love on the dark side of the moon.

But for the Love

“Unless you know how to love your neighbor, you cannot love God. Before placing an offering on the altar of God, you have to reconcile with your neighbor, because reconciling with your neighbor is to reconcile with God. You can only touch God through his creatures; you will not understand what is true love, the love of God, unless you practice the love of humanity.” ~Thich Nhat Hahn, Zen master, poet and peace activist, Taming the Tiger Within

Recently, I had the honor of becoming friends with Chase Gagnon through a poetry group we’re apart of on Facebook. To say it simply, his words move my soul. Today, I have the privilege to share the power of his poetry, photography and storytelling! Enjoy.

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“I was walking into Zeff’s on the corner of Russell and Winder for lunch when I saw him sitting against the wall. The same tattered old man who’s always roaming around Eastern Market through the snow and freezing rain asking strangers for money, the guy who you can see digging through dumpsters and trash cans looking for scraps of food.

I never have anything to give him, and he knows this by now. But it’s the day after Christmas, and I just hit it big off a dollar scratcher. Won thirty five bucks. He puts his head down as I approach, shielding his face from the wind. “Hey man, you want some lunch?” His eyes lit up “you serious fam? I’m hungry as a motherfucker!

I said “hell yeah!” motioning him with my head to get up off the cold ground. We walked into the filthy dive and sat at the bar, each ordered a couple coney dogs and some chilly fries with a hot cup of coffee.”

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“We sat and talked about basketball, how insane Andre Drummond played last night as highlights from the game flashed across the fuzzy TV screen above the counter. Laughed at how stupid our fellow Americans were for electing Donald Trump, and then talked a little bit about how goddamn cold it’s been this past week.

I saw his eyes ice over when he thought about the weather outside, gazing back out into the filthy streets where he sleeps while he sipped his piping hot coffee, both bare hands gripping the mug for warmth. “You know, I can’t remember the last time someone treated me like a human.”

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how bitter
its silence —
gently falling snow

~Chase Gagnon

*photos, poetry, and storytelling by Chase Gagnon

Humanity Matters!

 

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Its all about connection…a touch, a look, a word, a sense of feeling human in a world that seems confused -a world lost in the process we know as life. Culture has boundaries attached to it as well as identity because of how it links together with our personal beliefs. Nevertheless, they give meaning and purpose to this maze of existence. But I am forced to ask the question, “Is that where the journey ends?” The resounding answer is NO! We just might discover through the people we meet along the way, the places we visit and the experiences we encounter that we are granted a unique privilege. The privilege to come together in a new way. The privilege to rewrite the story.

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No matter what color your skin is, what gender you are, what political views you hold, what your sexual orientation is, what language you speak, what country you come from, what religion you believe or don’t believe, or what culture you have the heritage we all share is feeling and being human in all the tragedy and comedy. Humanity Matters because the bottom line is that no matter how lost this world might be without each other we are nothing. May we all find our humanity. Starting TODAY!

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Maybe its time to shift our borders…our boundaries inside and out. Maybe we might just find a sense of familiarity through the current devastation and darkness. Maybe we might just find the strength and courage to whisper, “I remember you. We come together now with a new identity, but our dignity hasn’t been stripped from us, so I extend my hand to you. Yes, I remember that we are still brothers and sisters. I haven’t forgotten. Let that no longer be our fear for we know each other as we know ourselves… a new identity for the world to see on the outside, but we see each other from the inside. To think of this I shall not water your garden  with tears of sorrows past, but with tears of joy that we can still stand on common ground. Whether our inner demons have been exorcised from within us when we look at ourselves we are seeing each other. Let this be the tie that binds us again with our shifting borders. Let this be the healing for the sickness in our souls.”

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I would like to end with a few thoughts from Deng Ming-Dao, “This world and this society are competitive. Tao uses the metaphor of the warrior to meet that competition. Warriors never yield to their opponents. They may sidestep, but they do not give way. Whether you are a lawyer, police officer, fire fighter, doctor, businessperson, athlete, or any one of numerous professions, you compete against either other people or natural forces. But there is a right way and a wrong way to compete. Avoid anger and greed. Use concentration   and awareness. Coincidentally, concentration and awareness are also necessary for spirituality. That is why the follower of Tao incorporates the way of the warrior into training. The warrior and the sage both seek to transcend emotion and petty thinking, to perfect themselves, and to live lives of the deepest truth. But when outside the arena, do not forget to be kind. Leave behind competitive aggression. You must still have awareness concentration, and reflex, but the expression will be different. Your compassion must not falter. That is why the combination of the way of the warrior with the way of the sage is the ultimate symbol of versatility. Such a follower of Tao commands the extremes of the universe.”

Here is a song that captures the sign of the times:

The Same As It Ever Was

An Impermanent Breath

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Sometimes there is a winding road

That seems to lead nowhere 

And the soul whispers, “Go on…

Don’t stop now…”

Taking a deep breath

You take the next step and the next

Clinging desperately to faith 

As you venture farther out

And you slowly begin to realize

Just how infinite your spirit is

You begin to see that 

You will never reach the end

Of your essence…

You go on and on 

An impermanent breath

Of eternity.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

Mother Nature

Breathing in silence

Breathing out love and patience

Earthling gratitude

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

Gracias a la Vida / Thanks to Life

Performed by Mercedes Sosa

Lyrics:

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me dio dos luceros que cuando los abro
Perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco
Y en el ancho cielo su fondo estrellado
Y en las multitudes el hombre que yo amo

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me two stars, which when I open them,
Perfectly distinguish black from white
And in the tall sky its starry backdrop,
And within the multitudes the one that I love.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado el oído que en todo su ancho
Graba noche y día, grillos y canarios,
Martillos, turbinas, ladridos, chubascos,
Y la voz tan tierna de mi bien amado

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me hearing that, in all of its reach
Records night and day crickets and canaries,
Hammers and turbines, bricks and storms,
And the tender voice of my beloved.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado el sonido y el abecedario;
Con el las palabras que pienso y declaro:
Madre, amigo, hermano, y luz alumbrando
La ruta del alma del que estoy amando

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me sound and the alphabet.
With them the words I think and declare:
“Mother,” “Friend,” “Brother” and light shining down on
The road of the soul of the one I’m loving.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados;
Con ellos anduve ciudades y charcos,
Playas y desiertos, montañas y llanos,
Y la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me the steps of my tired feet.
With them I have traversed cities and puddles
Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains.
And your house, your street and your garden.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me dio el corazón que agita su marco
Cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano,
Cuando miro al bueno tan lejos del malo,
Cuando miro al fondo de tus ojos claros

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me this heart that shakes its frame,
When I see the fruit of the human brain,
When I see good so far from evil,
When I look into the depth of your light eyes…

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto
Así yo distingo dicha de quebranto,
Los dos materiales que forman mi canto,
Y el canto de ustedes que es mi mismo canto,
Y el canto de todos que es mi propio canto
Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me laughter and it gave me tears.
With them I distinguish happiness from pain
The two elements that make up my song,
And your song, as well, which is the same song.
And everyone’s song, which is my very song.

Song by: Joan Baez

Translation taken from http://lyricstranslate.com/en/gracias-la-vida-thanks-life.html-0#ixzz3PUeD1vrm