A few of my favorite things: Take two

Choosing my soul

again and again

Feeling her light hurl from my eyes

Love for Love’s Sake

Knowing what that means for the first time in my life

My daughter’s breath filling the darkness of my bedroom at 2 am

Smiling into the ceiling as I listen for hours

Book ended by purring cats

All of us belly up

Sober sliding on my body each morning a little more loosely

even if the diet consists of running

from wounds that aren’t meant for healing

So dear God

do feel free to Damn me

again and again

If only for the scenic route Home.

Stardust of my Song

Once upon a time, I could hardly wait to curl up in some dusky corner and fill my veins with smoky blues and red wine.

Clink glasses with Billie Holiday.  Hold my knees.  Sway.  Ride the dark current of longing.  Sob religiously until the drunk took me at last.  A form of premeditated spiritual murder in retrospect.

But tonight I realized I haven’t cried in 98 days.  

The rest is still there.  The voracious hunger.  The bleeding heart.  The inexplicable kinship with hundred year old divas.  So many songs that will not die.

Drinking didn’t enhance the pain, it didn’t suppress it, it didn’t purge it…

It was the pain.

What I am left with now at 2 am on a Tuesday morning after a long, hard night of Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald is quite simply the lucid, ruthless ache for Love.

My name for God.

The throb is the stardust of our Love.  An all but tangible signpost, the texture of which only thickens with sobriety.  A constellation of breadcrumbs Home.

Bittersweet consolation in our song.

And we all have one.  A God song.

I sang mine for you today in my car after my lunch break.

At the top of my lungs, unabashedly, head thrown back; my song swelled endlessly in my chest like a tiny universe.

Looking for empty spaces.

Sweet dreams,


Just a little I Love you

I made it through New Year’s!

It was much more of a helmet and bunker moment than I anticipated, but it is well with my soul.  Whew.  The aftermath of anything, when sober, is always better.  A well earned nugget of wisdom that one.

Funny how this blog has become a bit of a priestess for me.  My confession, good or bad.  Honesty is my only prerequisite.  She (I’ll assign a sex to my blog, ha!) actually factors into my resolve now.

I don’t want to lose this space with you, with myself, with us.  And isn’t that the magic and the mystery of Love?  Something conceived between Lovers that we all end up living and dying for.

Beauty needs nothing to survive.  It might be the only absolute I believe in and it rises with equal ferocity out of darkness and light.

I am reminded of a line by poet Charles Bukowski from a piece called hangovers:

“it’s all been so beastly


this mad river,

this gouging



that I would wish upon


but myself,


Who can’t identify with that?  That way in which addiction seduces us into isolation and tries to gut us in the corner.  But even there the seed for recovery is planted if we only survive all those dark nights of the soul.

The seed is surviving.  Sobriety starts with surviving and becomes its own beautiful being that we are then privileged to feed, cradle, laugh and cry with.

And wow do I love that the mad river still rages in me, and that the beastly lovely is something I would wish upon everyone now.  The difference is now I am present, I am awake, and I know I am not alone.

Graciously you take my hand and we ride this bitch together.  I love all of you and am so grateful for you in my life.

My words for 2016: honesty.  poetry.  YOU.

I can so commit to that.



Just an honest shout into the void

This one goes out to our souls.

To all of you wrestling with Demon X.

It’s not a story where the hero rises, faces the foe and finds a way to win despite all obstacles.

I think it’s a story where the hero never slays the antagonist.  Best case scenario: he walks wounded and stumbles on surprise flowers between the cracks in the concrete.

Alcoholics will be surrounded by oceans of booze today.  Indulgent spreads will brutally try the restraint of food addicts.  Smoke will rise from patios. The less fortunate will freeze in shadows.  Drugs will happen.  Some to shoot loneliness between the eyes.  Some to take the edge off other addictions.

Some of us will fail utterly.  Some of us will sip coffee and put another X on the calendar.  Some of us will fall somewhere in the middle.  But we will all feel the same broken.  We will all press our palms over the same wound.

I have no poems for you.  No clever quotes.  No god damn memes.

You are the poem I want to read.  And I do quietly every night.  I read your stories  and find them beautiful.  Especially the ones where you fail utterly and yet there he or she is, that pretty soul of yours still screaming at you, at all of us, from some kind of parallel universe:  please don’t stop trying.

What a gorgeous creature.  It looks so lost, all but dead, bleeding out; but if you set your index on its wrist, guess what?  It’s alive.

You are so tragically, beautifully alive.

I see you out there.  And you’re beautiful.  And you are absolutely Loved.



Hunter gatherer

Inside every man sits a shaman in a loin cloth

every once in awhile

we become aware of his presence

when he dips his spear at the throat of someone who asks you

how do you stand the silence?

how do you cope with the diagnosis?

how do you take your mind off the pain?

he flicks the latch

on the hope in your chest

and says

get inside

he drops his spear

climbs in behind you

pulls the lid

grabs your face

presses your foreheads together

as his breath carves a hole in the heart of darkness

unearthed is God’s secret with you:

travel light

follow seasons

go where the food is

it looks different for everyone

The Tide Arrives

The tide arrives

and i lay in bed–still, soft, blinking

every day is my birthday

and my soul spilling back into my body feels like an ocean licking that line of sand that’s always wet

300 million years old and counting

my breath an ancient current, dark and deep

a God spot on my chest and he can’t take his eyes off me

I think I’d like to hear what my voice sounds like this early in the morning

my bedroom voice making love to the sound of bird call and coffee makers


God I’ve missed so much

Maybe I’ll write something now

Maybe I’ll reach for the great enigma of Tomas Transtromer with the two little dots over the O

Maybe I’ll just stay here awhile and let the tendons in my toes

remind me that I’m still alive


God calls forth his plague

a devouring goddess

of old


with wings of smoldering coal

and I

like Moses

40 years in the wild

driving at dark through the land of Pharaoh after a show in Vegas

Rolling Stones Radio

gas station coffee

a photo of my daughter

poised on the dash

for the she-beast

to passover

I watch her now

those death angel wings

dip and swirl in the rearview

One long beat

She sharpens the eye

against neon violence

I wonder if you know of her sweet tooth

for the hidden sugar in sick bellies

Rumi mentioned it to me in passing

one Christmas in college

He said, baby girl:

Blessed be the destroyer

She just opens that big black beak

over the great howl

and eats

Why Wine is Forbidden

“Sometime in the night my Beloved turned on me and swallowed me whole. I disappeared. And that’s the sin. Literally, without. Empty. Disconnected. Lost.”

So I love red wine.

The passion behind that statement deserves its own sentence.

In fact, if it weren’t for this pesky disease, I would be Rumi and she the honorable Shams of Tabriz.

I flip open my Essential Rumi this afternoon and, no kidding, I land on this one:

Why Wine is Forbidden

When the Prophet’s Ray of intelligence

struck the dim-witted man he was with,

the man got very happy and talkative,

Soon he began unmannerly raving.

This is the problem with a selflessness

that comes quickly,

as with wine.

If the wine drinker 

has a deep gentleness in him,

he will show that

when drunk.

But if he has hidden anger and arrogance,

those appear,

and since most people do,

wine is forbidden to everyone.

Selflessness (ego abandonment).  Comes Quickly (Knowledge, not Wisdom).  And, when drunk (I think we can all draw our own conclusions there).

That’s the trifecta for me in that poem.  It’s not about our so called true colors shining while under the influence.  I don’t believe that.  We are all capable of volatile displays of emotion at any moment, drunk or not.

What I see happening here is borrowed enlightenment, descending in a passionate rush.  An enthusiastic one night stand.  There’s no conversation, no engaged dialogue, no authenticity.  The Love element is unstable, implodes, and comes out the under side on its back.

Without traction, without mindful intention the addict’s sensualist power turns on her and everyone she encounters.

Ever chasing that sweet spot, on the brink of delight, Billie Holiday moaning in the background; then suddenly (or so it seemed in retro), fetal and broken.  With someone I love telling me how “different” I seem.  What do you mean, I’d say?  (Denial).  I don’t know, you’re just different.

God, that line really haunted me for some reason.  Still does.

Sometime in the night my Beloved turned on me and swallowed me whole. I disappeared.  And that’s the sin.  Literally, without.  Empty.  Disconnected.  Lost.

I’ve never been a fan of fire and brimstone conversion no matter the circumstance; but I will admit the analogies resonate.  Addiction is Hell.  An abuse of communion.  A perversion.  A demon to be exorcised.

Until then, the ray of intelligence falls over and over again on a dead body.

<Insert soulful sigh>

But as for this night, Lovers: “the woods are lovely, dark and deep,” and we are the moon rising and the wolf within, licking a wound where Rumi’s Light will enter.

One damn day at a time.

A Brief for the Defense

“We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world…”

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Jack Gilbert