Song of Songs


A long time ago when much of the world was still a wild place there was once a waterfall with a beautiful voice. She could sing with the stars and moon. She would sing with the trees of the forest and all the creatures that came to her shores. In all the earth there was nothing like her divine voice. One day the waterfall told herself she was tired of singing and telling stores all the time, but she couldn’t stop her voice from flowing with the waters. As time passed the waterfall’s voice grew dull as it cascaded down over the rocks. It had lost its music of laughter. It only sounded cold and angry as it slapped down into the depths below. There were no more lullabies at night because the trees no longer listened. The creatures of the forest came to her shores only to quench their thirst. They no longer stayed to visit. Even the stars hide themselves from her behind the leaves of tree spirits and veils of clouds. The waterfall began to feel a deep sadness that she had never known. She had never been so alone. She didn’t know what to do.


Until one day, a pokey little green frog jumped on a mossy stone at the foot of the waterfall. He began to croak out a song. And croaked and croaked into the night. The next morning, the waterfall called out to the frog and said, “Thank you little web-footed friend. I had forgotten what it feels like to sing out with all your might. For many years now, I have used my voice to say what others wanted to hear. But now I realize that I can only sing the song of songs when I give the gift of presence. You have been a true friend.” After that the frog and waterfall would sing many a new song with each dawning day.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

*photo of waterfall by Nicolas A. Tonelli, Pennsylvanian Waterfalls

*photo of green frog found on Frogs Native to Pennsylvania

Reality Dreaming


“Give your soul the silence it needs to make itself heard. Because the voice of your soul is silent. It’s power can flourish only in the silences. Then your soul will fill you with life. You will be like you really are.”      

~Hainz Körmer

Navigating the Dark

wisdom of bones

What is felt

But not seen

What is so

But not apparent

The rattling voice

Of intuitive nature

 Profound wisdom

Reaching down

To the very bones.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

*photo by Antonio Mora, Dystopia Bella

The Poem


I looked

In every place

All these years

Except my heart

I listened

To the noise

all around

Except my voice

I smelled

the tales

between pages

Except my story

I tasted

 Of earth’s


Except my soul

I touched

the vibrance

of life

Except my spirit


I will be

the POEM.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015



Si es real la luz blanca
de esta lámpara, real
la mano que escribe, ¿son reales
los ojos que miran lo escrito?

De una palabra a la otra
lo que digo se desvanece.
Yo sé que estoy vivo
entre dos paréntesis.


If it is real the white

light from this lamp, real

the writing hand, are they

real, the eyes looking at what I write?

From one word to the other

what I say vanishes.

I know that I am alive

between two parentheses.

by: Octavio Paz

 *art from

Come Home


There has been a struggle in keeping to my meditation as of late. I feel like an empty shell. I feel chained to a land in which I don’t belong or want to live, and yet I have no where else to go. I feel weighed down by the burden of loneliness. I haven’t ever really found my peace about being here. In Austria. I feel frustrated because after 14 years of living in this place I still can’t make lasting connections, and yet am I alluding myself? An old friend, student called me today to see if I would like to join her for a visit to the theater. I had seen her just last week at a poetry reading where I was performing some of my pieces in support for Austrian women’s shelters. A few years had gone by since I had seen her last. I received some powerful feedback from others that night. A gentle reminder from the universe that I am still connected to my inner voice. She was part of that encouragement. So, I accepted her invitation. I accepted because this is the first invitation…personal invitation I’ve received from anyone to do something in a long time.

I am struggling today with self-sabatage. I should be doing something, and yet my pioneering spirit isn’t feeling very adventurous. It is almost like I have to force myself to do anything. I am suppose to be getting organized  and packing to move by the end of the month. I am not feeling motivated.

Maya Angelou died just a few days ago. She was for me a living example of how to be true to oneself. A spiritual mentor whose integrity rested over me like a veil upon the face of light. The brightness of her inner beauty hasn’t been extinguished, but her passing has momentarily caused me to pause.


I feel the old wounds, but it isn’t my reality today. I am looking within to find the strength to take another step forward. All the critical voices swirling in my mind. The ache in my heart intense at the moment. I trust if I stay mindfully with it that the pain will subside.

A voice whispers,”Finish writing and then go to the theater…everything changes…move with what’s being done. Let go of the familiar and the comfort it brings. You are faithful and have always known this about yourself. Stay true to yourself…even if life seems bleak right now…even if the emptiness is overwhelming you.”

“You write words, and don’t feel like a writer. You judge yourself so often. This is self-sabatage. When will you accept yourself? You come home to yourself sometimes, but then make excuses that you can’t stay for long. You only come to visit. Don’t you ever get tired of wandering without protection? If you stayed home in the light of your soul long enough you might find an altogether new adventure.”


“And yes, it is I, your own soul, whispering to you now even as you move this pen across the page. The protection you seek, the safe haven, is here within yourself. It is a home that has always been open to you, but you are a prodigal wandering aimlessly. There is a time coming very soon when you will hear your voice clearly…the voice of a stranger who will call you home.”

“Come home. You are wanted home. You are missed. Come home. Be at home. Home is your protection.”

“Each time you came for a visit you sensed this more and more.”

“Come home to the light of your soul, and be healed. Let healing begin in the safety of home. Let healing begin in the protection of your heart.”

“Open your heart to yourself. Open the door and come inside where you will greet the stranger who was yourself with open arms of love.”

My Secret Garden


“What do you want me to do?”, I asked again.

A voice inside said, “Write what you see.”

“I can’t. It hurts too much. All I see is pain and suffering on the faces. I feel it too. I feel it through the words I read or the voices I hear. It combines with my suffering until I can’t bear it anymore. You want me to write about all that?”


“What about the joy?”  I asked,  “Can’t I write about that?”

“What do you see?” came the question again.

“I see closed windows, doors and gates to everyone’s secret garden. I see walls all around  keeping out intruders. I see boundaries and limits. I see a closed and lost world.”

The voice asked,  “What is in your secret garden?”

I looked and paused, finally muttering,”A space with a lot of weeds. I thought I had gardened.”

“Look again, what do you see?” the voice persisted, “What do you see everyday when you wake up?”

Joining hands with self-doubt, I  babbled, “What if all I see is pain and suffering? Who wants to read about that?”

“WRITE WHAT YOU SEE.” Then silence.

Pausing to breathe and break free from the grip, I asked myself: “OK, what do I see? Let’s start, with my life…I see routine and boredom. Ordinary familiarity. Day in and day out. Stop. What do I see about myself?” Not able to open my eyes, I tried another way.

I closed my  eyes and began again, “What do I feel about myself? Kindness and cruelty, together. Tenderness and bitterness; joy and anger, even rage.”

“Wait. I feel a hushed silence as if something is about to happen. There is a bird and some lemon trees situated in the shade, but the air is warm all around. There’s a voice singing. I see a young girl about 14 years old who didn’t want to move.”

All of a sudden, I remember where I kept a story I had written long ago when my family was moving from Pennsylvania to Arkansas.

A Look Out the Window

     Twilight had already dwindled away and rain was sharply falling upon the hard cement. City lights illuminated the pavement on the street. The vacated buildings were swallowed up by the dark foreboding clouds that loomed above them; making one feel insignificant. The rhythm of the rain went undisturbed upon the pavement except for an occasional car driving by. Once in a while I could see a lonely figure passing. 

     As I watched this melancholy setting, time seemed to turn back its dusty old pages as I remembered my childhood. An image of a little girl appeared on the sidewalk. She seemed down-hearted about something. A strange sensation came over me as I watched the little girl behold the dreary view before her.

     She had dark brown hair and a dark complexion. She didn’t appear any older than nine years old. Slowly she turned toward the window and lifted her gaze.  As our eyes met, I stumbled back, stunned at what I saw. It was my own face peering up at me.

    I quickly went back to the window, but no one was there. It still continued to rain and the clouds had become darker. A lonesome feeling tugged me from somewhere underneath. I definitely would miss the little town where I grew up. A slight dot on the map, which held many memories that I hoped wouldn’t fade. The prospect of the future though beckoned me onward to a new bend in the road.

My secret garden is a place of mysterious wonder with shadow and light, but what I see and feel right now is simply the pain and loneliness.

Malta 042

It’s Easy Until…


It’s easy to heed

The world falling on her face

To stand by and see

Her fall from grace

It’s easy to ignore

Pleas for relief

To shake our head in disbelief

As louder they implore

It’s easy to pretend

There is a heaven and hell

To think who could ever mend

Satan when from heaven he fell

It’s easy to subdue

Our spirit to the point of death

To breathe our last breath

When Life has yet a miracle to imbue

It’s easy to discern

The foolishness of man

To ever strive with a plan

Love’s lesson ultimately to learn

It’s easy to feign

Deafness, blindness, muteness

To stunt growth, the dire acuteness

Confession of no understanding to pain

It’s easy to confuse

Integrity for fallible presumption

To triumph with vague assumption

A plight trust alone can defuse

It’s easy to forsake

Your soul in an hour of need

To walk away from heartbleed

Forgiveness, new promise yet to awake

It’s easy until….

Silence intercedes illusion

Desire compels the will

Rebirth prevails in conclusion.

It’s easy until….

A thousand voices all belong

With joy overflowing karma’s fill

As one voice permeates the Song.

© 2005 Salem Islas-Madlo