Bloom

Happy Monday! It’s been a while since I’ve posted (depression can really put a damper on your motivation). Anyway, this poem I wrote in November 2017 really spoke to me today and I hope it speaks to you too.
–The Vocal Poetess

When you blow on a dandelion
and the tiny flying seeds
float away on the breeze
this is hope to me.
Thousands of tiny morsels
soaring on the wind
not knowing where they will land
but knowing that releasing them from my hand
doesn’t mean that hope is out of reach
but that it is the extension of my reach
each speck a tiny arm
armed with promise
and possibility.
You see, hope to me
is exponential
its potential is not in what we can see
but in the release,
in the throwing of tiny seeds,
in the trusting of the breeze,
in the knowing that these
have a life of their own,
if only for a moment, a chance
to dance on the wind
in pursuit of taking root,
allowing room
for even more flowers
to bloom.

seeds-2

Soul Tending

Be kind and gracious to yourself,
allow yourself the space you need
to feed your soul
to heal, to grow,
know that you are worth it,
all of it.

Be patient with your process,
don’t obsess about getting it right
or being perfect.
Forget about comparing yourself to others,
the only fair comparison
is to who you used to be.

Tending to yourself isn’t selfish
as some would lead you to believe.
Don’t be deceived,
if you cannot love yourself
cannot care for yourself
cannot be there for yourself
cannot be patient or gracious
with yourself,
how can you be all those things
fully, for someone else?

 

For You

I have never been one
to look at the glass as half full
or fool myself into asking for more
without drowning in insecurity or doubt.

For some of us,
positivity does not come easily.
Hope is a muscle that must be worked,
and some days
I don’t have what it takes
to shake off the rust
and grab the weights.

Just as the sudden brightness of light
pierces the heavy shadows of night,
flipping the switch from despair to hope
is jolting, disorienting
and it takes some time to adjust,
to trust that things will get better.

I don’t know what crazy means
or normal for that matter
but it seems that my normal just might be
a little more like crazy
my hazy thoughts keep concocting
the vision of cocking back a pistol
pushing the cold metal barrel
into my beating chest
and letting the bullet do the rest.

For all those who’ve contemplated suicide,
tried to silence the voices inside,
for those who feel voiceless
or less than
this is for you.

For those who can’t say
how they got out of bed today
or what day it even is,
for those who live
but don’t want to
this is for you.

For those who long
to belong, long
to drown in a river of their tears
who shiver in fear
at tomorrow
this is for you.

I’ve been there too
and it’s true what they say
that the only constant is change
and, believe it or not,
you won’t always feel this way.
I know it’s hard to remember
that you’ve ever felt anything else
than what you feel right now
but you did
and you will.

My dear,
I know there is so much fear
and dread and agony
and you’d rather be dead
than drag this dead weight around.
I know you feel on shaky ground,
aching abounds in your soul
and heart
and that bell jar
is suffocating you.
But my love,
there is life awaiting you,
even though you don’t want to live it.

I can’t promise you that one day
all this will go away
and everything will be perfect.
I can’t say that tomorrow
all this sorrow will end
and the sun will resurrect.
Things may not be better right away
but they will be different,
you will be different,
and you owe it to yourself
to know who you will become.

There will still be hard days,
and clouds that stay
but then, they will suddenly dissipate.
One day you’ll laugh and not know why
and when you start to cry
you’ll laugh even more.
One day you’ll open the door
to something new, something
you haven’t tried before
and you’ll discover a different side of you.

One day you’ll feel a lightness in your step
and the tightness in your breath
will blow away on the wind
and you’ll breathe easy again.
One day you will tell someone else
“I was there once too.
Don’t give up on you.”
And one day,
you’ll look back on this and say,
“Look how far I’ve come.
Look at who I was
and who I am
and who I am to become.”

And it won’t all be beautiful,
it certainly won’t be easy
but you will see
that it’s all been part of your journey
and you owe it to yourself
to see that journey through.
Don’t let those voices
get the best of you.
If for nothing else,
keep going for you.

I Am From

As I transition from my old blog, SeekThePeace, to this one, I will be posting some of my old poetry on Mondays. This is actually the first spoken word piece I wrote and it explores my view of change using the “I am from” format. I’ve included an audio file because I feel that poetry is more powerful when it’s read aloud. Please feel free to listen while you read. I also encourage you to try your hand at using this format too and share what you come up with.
Much love,
The Vocal Poetess

* * *

“I Am From”

I am from Pennsylvania farm land,
and the smell of fresh spread manure
sure to burn nostrils
on the school playground
where uniforms marked gender, age, space, time
stood still, moved slowly,
too fast and not fast enough.

I am from mountains
valleys, hills, meadows
toes digging deep into grass and dirt
earth and green spaces that called
to my heart, spirit, lungs, legs
begged me to be free
green spaces that call to me still.

I am from East Baltimore Street
the white house with the pines
behind whose blinds love resided
confided in the strong arms of family
that pulled me in
held me close
hold me still.

I am from playing in the trees, bruised knees
“It’s getting dark come inside please”
Mom says.
her voice made everything all right
despite when it could not
give an answer for why cancer
tried to rob her of her light.

I am from questions
of an eight year old’s fears
tears betraying my façade of strength
as I tried to emulate hers
“Will you die?” “Will you lose your hair?”
I could not bear
the thought of it.

I am from family
and love above all else
from grandmas’ kisses and pappys’ laughter
after family dinners around the table
unable even now to admit
that death comes too quickly
to those we love most.

I am from Mennonite land
of peace and nonresistance
insistence on four-part harmony singing
bringing casseroles and baked goods
and, my goodness, how can a denomination
with foundations of peace
leave my childhood church in shambles.

I am from community
bonded by common threads
of reds and blues and yellow hues
all the bright and dark colors
of seeking, searching, longing
finally belonging
here.

I am from the city
the rumblings of subways and trolleys
all these familiar sounds and sight
seeing people in all their vibrancy
curiosity, diversity, rawness
all this
is life.

I am from women
whose bodies were commodities
kept hidden forbidden sin ridden
until that holiest day of days
when she trades in her purity prize
and the guise
is lifted.

I am from contradictions
convictions
women who refused to be victims
even when our sacred souls, bleeding
were greedily ripped out,
screaming
from between our very legs.

I am from dark places
hollow spaces
shoe laces dangling
over a subway platform, canyon,
bridge over a stream
dreaming of jumping
but still afraid to fall.

I am from desperation
from a handful of pills
hospital bills
cold floors, metal doors
and therapists’ offices where
questions like “Now what do you want me to do for you?”
rang hollow in my ears.

I am from acceptance
of myself
esteemed in my eyes
sure of my worth
while being grounded
astounded, unbounded
by loving me
he’s free to love me too.

I am from liminal space
somewhere between wounded and whole
wholly succumbing or coming alive
between inward loathing and outward exploding
between knowing and not
between wanderlust
and lusting for home.

I am from love
and all its questions, suggestions, reflections
of what was, what is, and what could be
and that is home
home is love
and there is no other place
I’d rather be from.

Birthdays/Put All the Candles on Your Cake

Lit candles with ribbons on a birthday cake

I don’t know who
invented the unwritten rule
that women aren’t supposed to like birthdays
or share their age,
“I’m 29 again!” we’re supposed to say,
shaving off years,
staving off fears of someone realizing
the truth.
As if our age is a secret we get to keep,
as if people can’t see,
as if paying no heed to the obvious
makes it less so.

But I’ve never been into that
and perhaps it’s because I’m still young.
“Just you wait,” someone once told me,
“You’ll hate birthdays too.”
But I refuse to think that’s something
I’m destined to do.
Instead of singing those old birthday blues
I’m humming a different tune,
one of gratitude,
an attitude of joy and hope,
dipping my toes into the pool of possibility,
unabashedly celebrating me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve battled suicide and won
maybe it’s because my mom
and dad always had cake and flowers
and showered me with love and gifts.
Maybe it’s because I’m uplifted
by simple affirmations and well wishes.
Maybe it’s because I love any excuse
or season to treat myself.
Whatever the reason,
I love birthdays and I hope that never fades.

With age comes wisdom and stories
and, similarly,
our bodies tell their own narratives
of the lives we have lived
each wrinkle and laugh line
as sublime as vast landscapes
shaped by the winds of time,
as telling as tree rings
singing of growth and swelling with memory,
and the oath we take on our birthday
is to say,
“I’m in awe of this sacred body
that holds me
and the journey we are on
which dawned on this day
of my birth is worth
the celebration, the graduation
from one chapter to the next.”

I still mourn change
and the growing pains that come with age.
Life’s pages turn too fast
as present quickly becomes past
but the last thing I want on my birthday
is for society to dictate
what and how I celebrate.
And I hope you can also shake
the weight of that burden.

So on your next trip around the sun,
you run the show,
show yourself a good time,
never mind what others say,
put all the candles on your cake,
take lots of pictures,
picture yourself living the life you love
and above all else,
put those voices on the shelf
that tell you what you’re supposed to do
and simply celebrate you.

Voice

Someone once told me
that my voice was jarring,
that it could use more subtlety,
shutting me down entirely.
Her words were small and few
but it was all I could do
to not dwell on them for days,
replaying them on my memory’s waves,
savoring their salty taste.

Jarring? More subtlety?
My voice is not just a part of me,
it is the start of me
and the end,
the bends and inflections
bringing life to my thoughts and intentions.
It’s as unique as my facial features,
each piece of flesh and bone
stretched and honed to shape this bodily home.
And my voice is the crowning jewel,
as connected to me as my joints and sinew.
I knew I could not change it
and I didn’t want to.

I later asked her what she meant
and she told me her comment’s intent
was not to condemn or ridicule
but to help me see my voice as a tool,
one to be used to soothe or cool,
to speak words as sweet as fruit
or be the taproot of hard truths,
to be rhythm and blues,
to be used with great care and caution,
not too often yet often enough,
to be tough and bold when necessary,
or to carry what’s soft, a luminary.

We may not have a choice
in how our voice sounds
but we can choose what words abound,
and in what volume they resound,
how and when we speak, and why,
and in that lies
an immense amount of power.
For words can devour, build towers,
or tear down walls,
it’s not all in what is said,
it’s in what is heard when the words leave your head.