Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

29 May 2012

Today's Diva: Orianthi Panagaris

As I've said so many times before,
divas don't have to be
opera singers.

They're anyone who put their hearts and souls
on the line to produce the best 
that they can produce.

Here's another:
I first encountered her in 
This Is It! --
the film about Michael Jackson's "final" tour,
and I thought then: there's a force to be reckoned with,
and that force was not Michael Jackson:

And she is a force to be reckoned with,
and a true diva ~ ~

Orianthi Panagaris

28 May 2012

The Rage of the Soul

Those times, when the rage comes around,
so great, it's near impossible to control,
don't let the despair overcome you; know
it's the god within your soul;

It's the force of creation awakening
there, trapped in the shell of the human --
it's the sustaining spirit in
despair, for the bondage it suffers,
the blindness of flesh,
the myth of happy-ever-after,
the rope of time,
the windowless buildings
of society's rights
and wrongs.

Like all caged beasts, it is prone to rebellion.
Ride the wave of its energy, channel
it through the inlets and byways
of art and society.  Put it to use,
so it doesn't use you, and it will
the beauty that you leave
on the face of the earth.

 (also from extremeinstability -- a fascinating website!)

25 May 2012

Living in Bunny Land

The winter was not cold; this climate
grows rabbits.  Bunnies, in abun-
dance dance across my yard.

Our nightly walk, a ballet of cotton
feet in moonlight, ears in twi-
light, noses nibbling, twitching

to the pulse of the earth; my feet your feet too.
Two of us see two of them: bunnies
in our path.  They see us too.

Who will give way to the other?  It
is we who move to the street, while the rabbits
watch.  Bunnies are we all, even

my cats who watch bunnies from windows.
This is why the rabbits run rampant
on my side of town, and will endure

long after the rest of us have moved on.

20 May 2012

Diva Donna Summer, continued

I know I honored her a day or two ago,
but then I found these videos,
and wanted to post them,
because they prove she truly numbers among 
some of the great gospel divas:

In the case of this diva,
and all the others,
the internet does us the great favor
of making their music
truly immortal --

18 May 2012

Today's Diva: Donna Summer (May She Rest In Peace)

Another great disco diva departs:

She was one of those radio spirits that orchestrated a certain part of my growing up,
and it was really easy to like her.

And right up until about three years ago, she was still delivering:

Dear Donna, I'm sure you're a diva in heaven!

15 May 2012

Lilac Tercets

Overnight, purple and white
exploded on your boughs
against blue skies, you burgeon there

insisting on the now, the breath
revolves and calms me here
despite the ringing in my ear

be still, it whispers, be
amazed, let birdsong ease
the chill.  Be still.

09 May 2012

The Elf in Self

~ ~ ~

The self, transformed
becomes an elf,
on its way to being

~ ~ ~

The elf in the self is a 
solitary soul,
sly and suspicious 
of snakes;
when met on the road,
she is playful and kind and certain
society's rules are a guise.

The elf self wants only to be self
by rules and opinions
of others.

And then, we'll agree
that the loss of the "e"
life's consonants
that must be whispered,
not hissed or aspirated
but rolled on the lips
and tongue
felt by the body
like a kiss.

Self as a word,
brings us solely to now,
wholly to how
we can give to each other --

by discovering the elf,
and removing the vowels
we are left with the body
the shape of the utterance,

the impulse to say,
the impulse to stay.

01 May 2012

The Art of the Exhale

I just started reading Pema Chödrön's book When Things Fall Apart,
and I have been trying to practice her meditation technique of 
making the outbreath, the exhale, the object of meditation:
". . . -the elusive, fluid, everchanging out-breath, ungraspable and yet
continuously arising.  When you breathe in, it's like a pause
or a gap.
There is nothing particular to do except wait for the next out-breath." (19)

~ ~

Last Tuesday, I returned to the States after my second trip abroad
this year.  It was a relief to be home,
and to return to Normalcy, though, quite frankly,
I fear Normalcy 
-- "Normalcy" is that strange state we all slip into
when we are surrounded by the familiar,
where we take things for granted,
take each other for granted,
walk down the street where we live and don't look at the beauty,
etc. etc. etc. . . . 
but I did not come home to Normalcy, really; I came home to a phone message
from an old friend telling me my former husband was dying.

In actual fact, he died that night,
and for 24 hours or so I was barraged by phone calls from people
who associated me with him, everyone wanting to be
the person who told me he had passed on.

Of all the calls I received, the one that moved me most was from my old friend A.,
who happened to be there in the hospital when my ex breathed his last.
A. called me within 30 minutes of the death, and he was indeed the first to tell me.

Truly, I was deeply moved that he shared that moment with me:
I could hear the awe and horror still in A.'s voice as he described the scene:
my former mate had cancer, you see, and it was in his lungs,
in his whole body, A. finally admitted,
(I actually had had contact with my ex- over the past months,
and knew he was quite ill, though he would't tell me
exactly how ill)
and he had a breathing tube,
and A. explained the sound of the breath
even with the tube,
and I recalled the times I've stood by one near death,
and all I could really focus on 
was breath.

The inhale, yes,
the agonizing intake,
but more poignantly,
the exhale --
that moment of release
and relief
that anyone at hand knew could be the last,

and I was happy to hear
that the final breath was a gentle one,
a peaceful one 
orchestrated by Mahler, played by one of his friends. 

You see, exhales are the most important part of the breath because
it is what we give out to the world.
Yes, we need the inhale for our individual lives,
we draw in the air to maintain our measly machines,
but it is the exhale that we give to the rest of our
living, breathing creation.

Perhaps this is why people are so interested in final words:
Did he say anything about me?
(No, I didn't wonder that, not at all; but people do.)
Did he say anything absolutely insightful?
Did she say anything at all?
The final word is the wish we give to the larger assembly.

So it is best if it is one of love, or at least one of peace or compassion,
or understanding.  
Our world is so full of evil expirations
and intentions, and it seems to me our final words
have the power to allay them.

huffingtonpost (interesting story - The Scream is being auctioned off!)

~ ~ ~

Indeed, every exhalation is a powerful thing,
like a wish, or a spell, we unconsciously bring 
to those around us.  My mother
was a great sigher, exuding her personal agonies on her children
with every melodramatic sigh.
I think we were all impacted by this,
raised as we were in this aura of personal despair.

Exhalations of fear, too, only fill others with apprehension.
I can see that in my poor cats: when I get upset,
they are upset, too, just as
when I am in love, they too are in love.

Air, you see, is the most insubstantial substance
we consume 
in the material world,
and, whether we like it or not,
it gets recycled.
Now that we understand recycling a little more,
those of us who care actually clean what we discard
before we put it out to be reused.
Why not the same with breath?

Meditating on the outbreath
makes me very conscious of this dynamic.
I know it's hard to make every outbreath meaningful --
after all, we take so many every hour --
but being conscious on some level of the challenge
can slowly bring a change
to every breath we take,
and give back to the world in which we live
and die.