Writing

Book Excerpt – Ways I Did Not Shatter My Heel

Ways I Did Not Shatter My Heel

1.
Jumping from a lover’s window.

Although a shattered calcaneus is referred to as the “lover’s fracture” since a lover may jump from great heights while trying to escape the lover’s spouse.
Wild lord.

2.
Losing my footing on Mount Whitney and smashing the bony bulb against a ruthless rock.

Although I did boulder in my pre-LA five-week Portland purgatory, where I would climb high enough to start to feel the vertigo, intimate fear, and I’d force myself to let go of the grips and push off with my feet to free fall to the foam crash mat.
Humble wreckage.

3.
Scaling a resolute wooden wall in an athletic obstacle race and falling into last, and broken, place.

Although I signed up for a Spartan Race before the cast was even off my foot, and three months after the cast was removed, still limping and swollen, I ran. And jumped bleacher stairs at Citi Field with my feet tied together, and scaled walls.
Glory grind.

4.
Drinking and stumbling, catching my too high heel in the 86th Street subway grate at 4am on a Sunday.

Although once I had surrendered and moved in with Alexis – after leaving the Brooklyn apartment I’d only lived in for three months and moving my collection of photos, cowboy boots I couldn’t fit on my swollen foot, high school art teachers band shirts, and mostly boxes of books to storage – we made mixed drinks in her Grandma’s old familiar kitchen and found reasons to laugh ourselves ugly, screech breathing and wet eyed, while drinking our refreshing inebriating creations we deemed FML’s (fuck my life’s). Sometimes you can’t pay rent, but you can buy a bottle of Beefeater gin and a fancy lime seltzer and garnish with raspberries.
Mercy alliance.

5.
Attacked by a wolf while backpacking, bloodthirsty teeth latching onto my left ankle.

Although Una, a small Boston Terrier, slept next to my casted foot while I stayed with Alexis. One bed, two ladies, and a little protector who curled up next to the unforgiving boot, a healer in a runt’s disguise.
Magic guard.

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Restoring Keith Haring’s mural, TriBeCa, 2013

Book Excerpt – Recrystallization

I’ve spent more years with New York than with any man. The city’s hands are rough and I no longer crave the touch of those long steel fingers reaching for the sky, the ever more, ever opportune spires, the never delivering, never loving silence of concrete. But promises keep the patient. The city’s greatest feat may be how long it’s able to seduce the intelligent, like a glass bottle for intricate ships or a moving car with no exit for a frantic fly.

The city has me wondering how any of my choices must have been aligned if they kept me here so long. My favorite decision here – greener than grey, reminiscent of the ocean and chosen by the thin pulsing skin of my chest – to learn to teach yoga, after a Brooklyn instructor brought a retreat flyer to the café I managed. If I did choose it; maybe transformation is always choosing us.

And if the rigid machinery of history unspun itself right now – I got my non-fractured heel back, the apprenticeship in hand, a roof over my head – I’d keep hatching a plan to leave in 6 weeks, sitting on this rock in Central Park with Sheila. The physical properties of rocks are the end result of the processes that formed them, and over time rocks can transform from one type into another. The most beautiful and devastating thing about time is change. Metamorphic rocks are formed by being subjected to different temperature and pressure conditions than those in which the original rock was formed. Recrystallization.

Failure is not an option.

Failure tastes like the first sip of liquor; it stings, but wants to go down easy, pushes you away but lures you back in. Failure wears high heels, because failure isn’t actually a failure, it’s more of a misguided friend. Favors the small screen over the big picture, whispers drunk words in your ear: envy, lost, too late. Success doesn’t live for the party, it’s too busy spreading it’s toes in the grass and writing poems about rocks.

Sheila talks about the route from Portland to Seattle to La Conner to Los Angeles, and I am forgetting that people the world over dream of New York, our appearance so deceptive. Travelers think the city is a heroic stag, an impressive spectacle of determination, but it is a cheetah. Slick and calculating, cheetahs are the fastest land animal; they clock 40mph during a sprint, they stalk prey and then charge towards it, trip it during the chase, and bite its throat until it suffocates to death. They also breed throughout the entire year.

Two blondes exposing hungry legs to the first showing of sun in months, smiling. Smiling with eventual finally spring, smiling because so soon I will be gone. Going, with the weightlessness of loss, the salty savory smell of leaving, the bitter sliding down into the dark of the throat as the sweetness of anticipated arrival hits the tip of my tongue.

No one’s doubts or proclamations, and certainly not my first failed attempt at Los Angeles is holding any weight against the persistence that pulls me. Surrender pulls too, like the moon will pull anything on earth. The earth holds onto everything except the water, which the moon has its way with daily, torn literally between two worlds. In typical failure fashion, the small moon shaped holes cratered into my pores hold seeds waiting for a someday in the sun.

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NYC sunrise taken from the taxi to the airport  – May 2014

 

Book Excerpt – vehicle for Grace

I lay on the couch, foot elevated and bandaged, and try to read my National Strength and Conditioning Association manual.  It’s hard to focus. I want to move. Not read about movement. I have spent the last year devoted to a meditation practice, electing to sit still. Pioneering an expanse on two square pillows, in front of a worn wooden altar with a candle I can’t see with my eyes closed, but whose flame I can still sense, peeling layers of inherited identity from my Self, and mostly learning to be grateful. I want to pray that I can resume my life, that this is a minor blip, but a deeper feeling chides me for the selfish prayer.  I wish that my intention to be a warrior, be a vehicle for grace, didn’t mean this. Didn’t mean this is going to get worse. The shrewd spine of self awareness is you know that is exactly what it means. Know you posted this Adyashanti passage everywhere: Make no mistake about it – enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the façade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.

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Brooklyn, 2013 (photo-Barbie Frudakis)

 

Getting Free

Let’s make war paint with our own families ashes,
spread them like night across our cheeks,
how bright our eyes shine in comparison.
The shape of disempowerment is the ugliest. It is your own rotting intestines tying you to the cage of your unworthiness, the cacophony of a million little girls innocence lost
every time you move in fear and regret.
As a child, I always dreamt of pianos falling towards my face.
Made it hard to fall asleep for years. Funny how we can love what we fear.

Grief is a cabin, calls you home, burns a chokingly hot fireplace
that makes it hard to go outside.
I should put us all out of our misery. He was a dull knife, lost edge, all talk.
I don’t want to be alive. She was a vulture, playing possum, all talk.
Never thought I’d find salvation crawling from the bloody mouth
of their opposite of love into the dark alone.
I didn’t expect to meet god out there. He, too, travels alone.

A second chance is no longer a second chance if it’s the eighty-fifth. We pay the universe handsomely for these few hours, so give away your demons, limb by limb, tooth by tooth, offer them back to the source. It is a brave thing, to sacrifice your most hardened warriors, to stand emptied and alone.
The sound of breath gives us away each second, safe only in our vulnerability, safe only in the space of not knowing,
safe only in the amens in our blood.

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Los Angeles, 2015

appear to disappear

the heart
a drunk firefly
flickers sometimes

we equate the dark with absence

thinking we are our thoughts
diminishing the gods in our blood
the listening in our pores

the cosmic beat
in our chests wouldn’t harmonize
with light if light wasn’t our home

our bodies are talking
honor their language

the deep knowing that curls from the nerves out
our organs are whispering
from cell to cell

we wake sometimes so raw
a white light

a humming in our eyes

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Esalen, 2016

Bare Heart

Is there anything more beautiful
than the movement from complicated to simple?
The wind peels fruitless layers off me.
We have to carry on, bare heart.

Under the earth’s surface, caves,
irregular formations, drip and crystallization.

I am on a pilgrimage to morning
where I get to explore the surface of things.
Hundreds of years pass before the spires diving down
and the spires forging up kiss.

What is unimaginable before it happens,
seems inevitable once it does.

Decades of autonomy before collision.
Not looking for something does not mean not finding it.

Identities, these accomplices, hover in the air, then fall.
They will never survive the ocean.
Poetry is embedded in the walkway here,
what better use for words than to support action?

Sleep is a compass magnetizing
to the southeast and I keep slipping, slipping,
to the place without a map where knowing reminisces
on old history and decisions made in silence.

I arrived from elsewhere but
it is all right here.

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Wellington, NZ, 2015