Sunday, December 9, 2018

FIREWALK


I walked on fire again last night. 
Surrounded by women I may have never met.
Except for our shared searching in the dark 
for the light of fire, 

still burning in our bellies.

We’ve always gathered in circles,
cycling back through ages.
But every time feels new
as I stare into the shimmering, crackling coals.
I try to tap into that ancient wisdom,
the retelling of stories
until each woman’s voice blends into one.
And we toss them all into the flame
through tears and laughter and pounding drum.
Burning the illusions and agreements 
that no longer serve us,
wondering if we too 
will be consumed by heat.

But a funny thing happens 
as I step out the other side,
as my foot touches the cool, moisture of grass.
The sensation of heat and cold lose their meaning.
And all that is left is a sense of tingling with life. 
The old fears, sadness and pain rise like smoke,
leaving me giddy and light and 
ready to face whatever comes next.  

Sharpening the Knife

Here we are
Eye to eye
And thirsty
Tenderly testing the waters
Of this deep, crystal clear pool.

But we are no longer young and foolish
We can still hear the sizzle from the last time
We let such enchanting water 
put out our roaring flame.  

We are sweaty and weary
And wear our battle wounds with pride.
We are warriors not unfamiliar to the weight of a sword
We’ve slashed ties and built a fortress
And guarded it fiercely to raise our young.

So we dance carefully around each other
Stealthy and alert
We poke and pry
And make careful notes of each response.

But allow ourselves to be curious 
of the shape taking form in the stone
As we each chip away at deceptions,
mirages, and alluring sleights of hand.
Our machetes drawn, we are determined 
to clear out the briars of our own illusions.
The taste of salt and blood rests soothing on my tongue. 
And we find scars braid stronger where the skin was torn.

So I let my mind sharpen against you 
like a knife against leather
No need anymore for anyone to validate me
Your power feeds my fire.

And your yang gives space for my yin to finally breathe.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The End is the Beginning

Starting over 
is an eternal beginning.  
The bruise of night bleeds seamlessly 
into the rosy pink of dawn.  

Standing up too quickly 
from the amnesia of sleep, 
leaves me dizzy.
Like the swirling, spiraling, somersaults 
of a snake consuming its own tail.

Lifetimes merge when I look at you.   
How many times have we stood 
before this reflection?
Like stacked shadows of past lives.
New stories unravel from your mouth,
but your eyes still feel like coming home. 
And when I put my trembling hand to your chest, 
I cannot tell where your heartbeat ends 
and mine begins.

We reset at center.

Eyes wide open,
we step resolutely into each other’s arms.
Every time you touch me,
and respect the sacredness of that act,
I open a little more.
Every time we dare to dance 
in forbidden spaces
and find the other 
still holding our gaze,
we learn to trust.  
And stripped bare, 
with nothing left to hide,
we fall a little deeper in love.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Evolution is Revolution

I was listening to Two Guys on Your Head the other day on my way home from work and they were talking about the power of words, something I think about a lot.  They were saying that if we choose to identify with the “resistance” or even “deconstructing,” we are actually limiting our choices to reaction and therefore letting someone else dictate our actions.  We lose the power of agency, of defining our own reality.  Toltec shaman teachings as taught by Don Miguel Ruiz talk about the conscious dream, the dream of the planet that we are all a part of.  We are all dreaming while wide-awake.  But what do we do with that dream?  We may not have control of the ingredients that the universe provides each of us on our journey, but we do control what we do with them.  Do we curse the stars and waste it away?  Or do we make art?  Do we become co-creators with the universe, with the expressions of deity dancing like Kali rattling her skulls all around us?  Do we embrace the “worthy obstacles” Heather Ash speaks about that are placed lovingly in our path for growth and learning, for teaching us where we still have work to do?

I believe my own evolution is the most powerful revolution I can ever be a part of!

You see many moons ago I traded in a rather dramatic and chaotic life for one of simple meditation and contemplation.  For seven transformative years, I did deep inner work, healing past wounds and leapfrogging lifetimes of karmic baggage. But there came a time where being a recluse became an escape.  I reached a plateau through which I could not pass without re-entering the world of relationship, for there are some things that cannot be healed in isolation.  So I found myself tumbling out of my safe haven into a rocky marriage full of health, financial, cultural and immigration challenges.  I gave birth to two amazing beings, but I still found myself face to face with the realization that I had somehow recreated the very relationship I was born into despite my desperate attempts to free myself from its clutches.  I can see now, however, that I was given the opportunity to recreate it in order to truly face it and finally let it go, find myself in free fall, and rename it flight. 

Since then I frequently find myself engaged with re-enactments from my past.  Choices of sacrifice but suddenly curious which sacrifice is actually the better option. Are these choices made out of love or simply guilt and fear?  Are these choices to please others or my own soul, to open or to fold in on myself?  Pangs of abandonment or insecurity, deep wounds keep surfacing as I stare like a deer in headlights…Will I fall for it yet again? Take the bait?  Fall in the same trap?  How many times round this planet do I need to finally see my own truth and break free?

As Mark Nepo says, we rise up like mountains only to be worn down.  But it is not an image of futility.  It is a wearing down to the truth of who we are.  We cannot find out unless we first stand up.  We must stand up and be tested, be whittled down like wood in a carver's hands.  No one said it would be easy or pleasant!  But Nepo says that “though there are risks and dangers that wait in the world, we truly have no choice but to live out what we are born with, to find and work our path.”  We must choose “living over hiding,” “being over thinking,” “participating over observing,” “thriving over surviving.”  

And you are free to critique me, poke fun at me, and scoff at my naiveté.  But I will simply smile and move on.  Because as long as I am captivated by my own journey of self-discovery, I will take in what you have to offer only as much as it moves me forward.  Like vitamin C in high doses, my body will simply take what it needs to heal, to fortify its strength and then piss the rest out.  So my revolution is that I deny your definition of me and will find my way out of any box you place me in.  I do not accept your power over me.  I am not your victim.  You only debase yourself, for I will rise again.  I will dance agilely around your obstacles, laughing like a child because I know your tactics only serve to make me stronger.  Each time I see through you, you lose power.  For we are all lucid dreaming, and you only have as much power as I am willing to give you.  Your days are numbered.  One day soon we will all collectively pull off the sheet and behold the scared child trembling beneath like the wizard of Oz behind his curtain.  Hate is counterproductive.  Not only is it a waste of time and energy, but in the end I just pity you.  I will not squander not a single moment more of my precious life on your trickery, your subterfuge and your fear mongering.  I will instead pour my energy into transformation, one soul at a time. For our evolution is your revolution. And it is only a matter of time.      

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Shadow Boxing

I’m watching James gently exorcise the demon out of my dog.  He’s a grumpy old chihuahua with high anxiety.  He chokes himself on his own collar and squeals in pain like his life is in danger even though James is merely holding him by the scruff.  I cringe at a distance watching James patiently subdue him, lying him gently but firmly on his back to exert a dominance that should be obvious given their 200 pound difference.  Watching this drama play out before me, I realize it is all the more ironic because all James is trying to do is give him a bath!

But isn’t this exactly what I do?  Fight imaginary demons in my head.  Twist, growl, and yelp when actually the universe is simply massaging out the kinks in my muscles so that they can be soft and supple again, so I can regain my range of motion.  In a way, the universe is generously showing me where I still have work to do, where the knots are, the old agreements that keep me chained inside an imaginary cage. Like last weekend when I opend the bunnies’ hutch to let them run around in the crisp fall weather.  But every single one of them remained within the bounds of where the cage had been.  They would cautiously explore the outer boundary only to bound back at the slightest noise.  Am I  I living my life like a rabbit?  Heart racing, feeling like prey surrounded by predators. My muscles taut and ready to spring, dash and take cover.  Instictively conjuring all potential threats and trying to get a jump on the next source of danger?

Or maybe this is like shadow boxing.  Fighting an imaginary opponent trains my muscles, perfects my moves and helps me live into my rhythm.  Maybe these are my guardians giving me a sneak peek, an insight and preparing me by letting me envision myself already in battle with my next worthy obstacle.  Maybe these inner struggles are necessary practice where I learn to plant my feet, open, and resist the instinct to cower or run. Retrain myself to keep my eyes open when the ball is flying at my face, so I can catch it.  Like playing arpeggios on the piano as a child to build muscle memory in my fingertips.  Maybe this is a practice run!  

So like my dog Yogi, I eventually relax my muscles, soften my eyes, and sink into the moment. I feel myself melt, soft and pliable, open to receive the wisdom in the breeze on my face.  Just then, a light rain begins to dampen my skin and wash me clean.  I bow and begin to spar like my life depended on it.  Because maybe one day soon, it will.  
    

Sunday, June 17, 2018

El Tratado de Tordesillas

It’s an old world, one I enjoy.  The lilt of Spanish, the coziness of la plaza, dando la vuelta, a slow way of life, savored like wine.  Time to saludar y platicar con todo el mundo.  The direct way of speaking, full of dramatic gestures and booming voices.  La frutería / la carnicería / la bodega.  The soft rhythm of time strolling across the sky.  La comida casually blending into la cena with the fragrance of una copa.  Friendships that last a lifetime and family that ties you to the earth.  Architecture that tucks seamlessly into the landscape, all curves and flores salvages reclaiming the upturned stone.  Buildings soak in history, cool caves wind like a labyrinth beneath our feet.  La gente anda, comfortable in their own skin; mi amor/mi cielo rolling like water off their tongues.  No one pretends to be anything but human, with all the faults and vices that give sabor a la vida, that make us unique and precious.    

But still, under all this harmony, there is a hidden sin, un pecado, that no one wants to confess.

You see, I am in the heart of colonialism.  This is where the art of domination was perfected and exported all over the globe.  I can’t help but wonder if what I am enjoying is the wealth, las sobras, that they brought back from las Americas, the relaxed lifestyle granted to those who live off of other people’s sweat.  I am both shocked and implicated when the guide in the museum talks of the discovery of the new world.  I didn’t know people still talked like that without putting it entre comillas.  Tordesillas is where Spain and Portugal split the “New World” between them, this pueblo’s nefarious claim to fame.  However, everyone talks about it as a point of pride rather than of vergüenza.  There is no remorse, or even acknowledgement, for the ancient worlds they were destroying, enslaving, and plundering in the process.  Only a little embarrassment for the regretful error of geography.  

Yet I blend into this sea of white faces,
comfortable despite being halfway around the globe.
Las raíces son iguales.
We have yet to atone for our sins of slavery, slaughter and devastation.



There is a mural en la calle a la plaza que me encanta y la paso todos los días.  It reminds me of the truth behind the façade.  The layered story floating beneath the surface. There is an indigenous woman with the árbol de la vida sprouting from her head, tears trailing from her eyes.  She is a mountain with una herida profunda.  From where a wooden cross pierces her flesh, a deep gash tears the earth in two.  To the west Spain pulls her apart, to the east Portugal.  Both men, “noblemen” with flags to identify them as so.  But nothing is noble about what they do.

This is the role of artists.  To lift the magnifying glass to our own skin, and to hold it there, even when it burns.  

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ritmo

Sometimes you meet people
and instantly know
They were placed
en tu camino 
for a reason.
The rhythm en su voz
Reverberates with a familiar cadence
Como una llama que baila en el viento
pero de repente grows still, 
rises erguida
And you find yourself holding your breath
in recognition
of a Great Soul.

Speaking to you 
through a held glance,
a soft touch.
Brushing your skin in passing 
like angel whispers.
Pulling you out of the crowd,
curando el espíritu.
Un simple soplado de aire.
En un sonido –
rodondo, sensual y sagrado -
blowing healing breath
through the curved spiral of horn.

“La vida es ritmo.
Ritmo es vida”

This blessed ancient cry, 
rising as if from the heart of the earth,
carries us through time.
Una huella que nos identifica
como humano.
The kiss that brings us to life,
a tingling in the skin.

“Bésame.  
Bésame mucho.  
Como si fuera esta noche 
la última vez.”

Just like that, you welcomed us, 
gave us the key to your world.
Opened your home,
your sun-kissed garden
with flashes of brilliant red poppies 
and taste of herbs.

Wise teacher and guide,
we followed you 
como peregrinos
into the cool caves
you carved with bare hands.
Smooth walls of la bodega
Infused with love,
of home, 
of family and friends.

Where all of us are equal
Nos hace iguales
compartir la comida, 
el vino,
la música.

Raising our voices 
to the strum of strings,
your fingers release
sacred spirits from the earth
that fill us with joy 
empapados de sonrisas
ganas de cantar y bailar
y saborear la vida
que el universo
nos regaló.

Gracias, Paco y María,
por haber abierto la puerta de su corazón
para que nosotros también pudiéramos
sentir el latido de la tierra, 
la canción en el aire
y mecer en el agua que nos da la vida
y que corre como sangre en nuestras venas
recordándonos que todavía es posible que

“the world will live as one.”

Con mucho respeto y cariño,
Hope Ruiz

Redemption

Your breath called me over the sea.
My body tense, resistant, stubborn.
But today I felt Your air on me
Kiss of angels’ wings
Whispered across my skin
And my pores opened to hear You.

Sudden intake of air
to recover what I once lost.
Like a precious trinket, 
shimmering beneath the water,
I remembered
the innocence you stole
the last time I walked this earth.
You stole what was never yours.
And now She calls me back to reclaim it.

And I run, 
muscles strong,
lion ink bold on my arm.
Music pounds in my veins,
as I find my way back.
To hold you,
to console you,
to tell you it will all be all right.
That we overcome and rise above in the end.

Looking back, it is he who turns to dust.
And I walk triumphant into the sunset.

Soul mate

Time bends
when I am with you.
30 minutes can feel like 3 days.
6 months, a lifetime.
Space stretches to embrace us.

You may be halfway around the world,
but we share the same air.
Our hearts still beat in unison
and our laughter sends ripples 
across the ocean.

I close my eyes and 
touch my toes to the sweet kiss of water,
radiating from your shores.
Your sparkling eyes gaze at me lovingly 
from Her reflection.
She, our willing messenger.

Even the mountains and rocks 
seem to recognize us.
Reincarnation of Savitri,
the love that breaks 
the chains of time, of lifetimes.
To have found each other again in this one,
after such a long, arduous journey,
is a gift I treasure.
Fully aware I am living on borrowed time,
I am grateful.

It is this awareness that allows us to sink
below the surface
and savor the moments granted,
Shimmering in water,
as the precious treasures
They are.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Fear of Possession


They say I disappear.
I can be “Intimidating”
Not just give you the cold shoulder,
But can fucking freeze you out.
You see, my default is rather feline.
Though I yearn for companionship,
I am quite content, satisfied and fulfilled being alone.

And yet…
Sometimes when I lift my eyes in your direction,
the insatiable hunger of fire can suddenly
flash and lap you up in its heat.
It threatens to burn everything in its wake
as my eyes dance over you
like a cat toying with its prey.

So I try to spare you,
try to keep my energy contained.
But I admit at times it escapes in a moment of carelessness
and flickers like flame.
Sometimes I get so tired of holding
this raging passion under my skin,
that when I think I’ve met a worthy match,
I long to let her out to play.

But please don’t be fooled by my flirtatious dance.
Know that I will never let you own me.
So don’t try to bridle me,
or put me in any fucking stall.
I don’t want your ring or your name.
And certainly need no hero.
If I feel the heat of your brand,
I will smile and nod
as I gracefully evade your grip.
Skittish and frisky,
I’ll simply prance away.

Though I sometimes
tire of dancing alone,
miss the warmth of body heat in my bed,
I prefer the loneliness of being alone,
for loneliness is much more painful
while pacing the fence line of a failed relationship
gazing longingly at the open green outside.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to be contained.

The Word


Is there power in a word? 
Could it hold the power of creation?
Do we speak our way into existence? 
The Christians say:
In the beginning was the word and the word was GOD. 
Toltec shamans say:
Be impeccable with your word. 
Because it’s how we define our world. 
How we define ourselves. 

If so, we should be careful with the labels we use. 
Careful about the stories we tell, of ourselves and others. 
For our mouths can heal or maim.
Be magical incantations or angry weapons. 
Which do we choose? 

I’ve often wondered why we knock each other down rather than build each other up.
My son laughs at me when I ask why there aren’t video games of how many people you help and inspire rather than how many you can shoot and kill?
But really, why pay homage to the hatred, give our attention to the fear eating our world?
And why do we want to lend our words to those of the oppressors?  
Why do we do their work for them? 
Make it easy to defeat us? 
Make us question ourselves, doubt and divide each other. 
Why do we repeat their mantra that CRUEL is powerful? 
It seems to me we’ve already lost the war when we destroy ourselves to prove ourselves. 

But then again,
We’re the ones who have given those words their power: bitch, cunt, whore…
We’ve loaded them with their meaning. 
What if we simply stripped them of their meaning? 
The whole structure implodes and crumbles…

But then I’ve denied the power of the Word. 
And without the Word, I am nothing.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Chimes

The wind is singing to me,
sacred and sweet.
I keep thinking I will wake,
and find myself dreaming.
But instead, you reach out your hand,
silently reminding me
to take another leap.
With each step, walls tremble.
Shatter into a thousand reflections.
Leaving nothing but turquoise sky.
I’m dizzy from the freedom
I was trained never to see.

Reclaim my birthright.
Sing a liberation song.
Not some misguided homage
to an arbitrary nation or religion,
but to the simple miracle of being alive.
Breath, the great equalizer.
Air shared and mingling,
roots intertwined.
Open palms stretch to the heavens.
Choose me. 
Choose life. 
Choose wings.

When I do,
You are there.
Eyes, a burning fire.
Blazing through illusions,
strata accumulated over millennia,
and blown away like loose sand.
My body is kindling,
offered to an open flame.
We walk on water.
Dive through air.
Laugh through solid rock.
Because we do not hold on to injury.
Refuse to be broken.
Claim our ancestry from before time began.

No rings to bind.
No ties to strangle.
No forms to sign.
Just a simultaneous melting,
fluidly melding into one.
You are the nest I return to,
but also the form of clouds as I soar.
A permeable essence,
where questions lose shape
and morph into knowing.
And doubts dissolve

into a smile.