Sunday, December 16, 2012

Still Sweepin'

How much courage
how much presence
does it take to sweep
the road after the tanks
have rolled through?

sweep, sweep, sweep...
one sweep at a time
reclaiming the road
reclaiming the mind
reclaiming peace

one square foot at a time

Monday, November 26, 2012

Breathing Lessons

Over the weekend I caught the movie 'The Sessions'. It offers up some insights into living with disability, but the scope of the movie is small - mostly covering one year of a 49 yr life through the lens of sexuality. Still, it's a lens worth looking through to humanize the face of the disabled.

The movie was only the first breadcrumb on my trail to discover Mark O'Brien - the man behind the story - poet, journalist and disability activist. Disabled by polio at age 6, he lived under his parents care until he was 27, next moving to a nursing home for two years. He escaped that horror to bravely venture into the big, grand world of adult independence and enrolled at Berkley, graduating in journalism. He was also a poet, stating: "Poetry and journalism have more in common than either would like to admit. They both have to tell the truth."

He wrote by poking painstakingly slow at a keyboard with a stick in his mouth as he lay inside an iron lung machine - the contraption that gave him breath and sustained his life.

Mark O'Brien on writing: "I'm living and I imagine it's for some reason. I have my work. I write. I don't have writer's block ever. I have all this stuff I want to write. And I can only write an hour or two a day. There's never enough time to write."

In digging up information on him, I came upon this link to the '96 documentary on him that won an Oscar for best short documentary - 'Breathing Lessons'. It's short - 36 minutes -- and waaaay better than The Sessions. The latter is the "watered down for the mainstream," mass appeal, feel-good, semi-romantic comedy. Breathing Lessons is the real deal - multi-layered, complex, complicated -- like a human being is.  The sexual surrogacy story of 'The Sessions' being just one small chapter of a remarkable life of a writer confined and limited - in body only.

If you take the time to watch this you'll only be enriched. Consider it leavening for the writer in you.

"Everybody becomes disabled.... unless you die first." - Mark O'Brien

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow? A Sestina of Flor y Canto - 7 Years Later

                                                                        Diego Rivera mural panel
If you want your garden to flourish
you must know discord as well as harmony,
encourage each plant toward its growth,
appreciate and honor its gift,
the bounty it brings from a tiny seed,
work that's never finished and always begins again.

If you're averse to beginning again
you'll never see your garden flourish,
you might as well not bother with seed
or dream of a flowering harmony;
don't hold out for any gift;
hope without action bears no growth.

Drought and storm threaten all growth;
it may take a fool to resolve again,
to see crazy potential as a gift
where others see nothing that can flourish,
to trust this twisting path to harmony
and what this thing is we call a 'seed'.

This little bit of hope in seed,
our faith one day we’ll find new growth,
this rocky ground tilled toward harmony,
this familiar soil turned again,
every obstacle to our garden's flourish,
together, all of these, a gift.

Every season brings its gift;
every choice bears fruit and seed;
and whether we choose a life to flourish
or let virulent weeds choke out its growth
it's ours to choose if we try again,
to work this patch into harmony.

There's no arrival into harmony;
chaos comes bearing its unwelcome gift -
the gift that tells us once again
nurturing the seed,
tending its growth,
is endless work if a life is to flourish.

Every move toward harmony starts with choosing the right seed
and embracing the hidden gift: every obstacle to its growth.
We choose to rise again - or not. We choose a life of flourish.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Standing Strong

I remember like yesterday that initial sharpening of my vision six years ago when my doc spoke the word "remission," and also my wanting to use my added time well, the "gravy years" as I’ve called them as I tried to live them to the best of my ability. Second time around with a second remission, I didn't know it would be all the more magnified. Nobody told me that would happen. I could never imagine it. I've never really been here before.

Life being full of surprises, it’s important to remember many of them are good ones, but sometimes you have to get past some pretty bad ones before you can find the good ones further down the road. Never knowing what lies beyond the next bend, all that's required of me is to try to make the best out of this ride today and whatever it brings my way, i.e: Show up! Show up to the challenges I have to [and get to] labor with, along with the rewards of joining everyone here for one more spin on this blue-green planet another day.

My story is a common story. One could say it’s unfortunately a more and more common story, but with that, so is the good and fortunate story of survival and re-mission.  It takes some luck, but as a good friend reminds me: 

“I'm a great believer in luck -- and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." 

On that note, here's a song about working hard, standing strong, and becoming a worthy opponent to the challenges in the Ring. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Remembering Ray Bradbury

I've been thinking of Ray Bradbury since his passing - well, actually since the day before his passing and feeling inspired to write my first 'Dandelion Wine' summer count of the season - a gratitude habit I've gotten into since reading his novel of the same name a couple summers ago. Today I remembered I'd written a piece about him on my blog a couple years ago. Being the week of his leaving us, I decided to post it - if only to remind myself.

Expect the unexpected.

Thank you, Ray Bradbury and Mr. Electro.
click on link:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dandelion Wine Summer Count

June 3rd - first fireflies
courting the light in darkness
beneath the full moon

luminescent sparks
an old man counts his summers
fireflies flashing by

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Here's to Now - by Ugly Cassanova / Modest Mouse

Here's to now
Here's to now

Actually, I was thinking
Said everything out loud
'Cause apricot seeds carry arsenic
That we don't worry about

Sitting on your doorstep
Waiting for you to come home or come out
Well apple seeds have cyanide
That we don't care about

So here's to now
Here's to now

Buildings built sturdy
Rolled up and every time
And as bees get aged and the bellies get to sag
Well the people fall right out

Pride is really falling
I'm proud that I'm not proud
And as the people get aged and the bellies get sagged
Well their instincts all fall out

Here's to now
Here's to now

Here's to now
Here's to now

The bus boy's younger brother
When he drinks he talks too much
He seemed normal to me
But at quarter to three
Well I could see he was a little bit touched

Actually, I was thinking
Said everything out loud
'Cause apricot seeds carry arsenic
That we don't care about

Here's to now
Here's to now

Here's to now
Here's to now

Actually, I was thinking
Said everything out loud
Well actually I was thinking
So here's to right now
Here's to right now

Here's to now
Here's to now


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"The First Man in the World to Crawl Up Kilimanjaro"

Frustrated ever? Obstacles to navigate? What seems like a looming mountain ahead? Come meet Kyle Maynard - a 25 yr old hero of mine.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Funambulism Over Niagara


Keep it in perspective. 
Don't look down. 
Keep your sight immediately in front of you. 
Trust your feet.
Keep on friendly terms with gravity. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

La Belle et la Bete

The final ecstatic scene from Jean Cocteau's 1946 La Belle et la Bete [Beauty and the Beast] along with the Philip Glass opera of the same.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Message from Uncle Walt

"I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, 
The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me, 
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue." 

                                   ~ Walt Whitman - Song of Myself

Friday, January 13, 2012

Old Man River

From the brave and great Paul Robeson; the lyrics changed as he got older and the world around him, too. This was among his last concerts in Europe after his 10 yr fight for his right to freely travel was returned to him by the US Supreme Court. Anyone as hated and feared as he was has got to be worth looking into, eh?

A chill ran up me when I heard him singing these last lines:

"But I keeps laughin'
instead of cryin' -
I must keep fightin'
until I'm dyin' -
And Old Man River
He'll just keep rollin' along."