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You’re hesitating, says John from behind his mask.

Each time I invite you to strike, you wait. And he’s right.

Each time before I extend and lunge, I drop my sword.

It’s crazy. I tell myself not to do it, but every time

he motions to strike, instinct says: drop the sword.

 

John, I say, I’ve trained myself not to be aggressive.

When people are vulnerable, I do everything I can

to make them feel safe. It helps that John

is gentle. It helps that he beams a me a genuine smile.

 

Don’t think of it as aggression, he says. If someone

you love gives you the signal to touch them,

aren’t you always ready to meet them then?

And I am. Think of it as an invitation to touch.

 

I wonder how many stories I’ve hardwired into me.

Thou shalt not hurt. Thou shalt not strike.

Thou shalt not stab another with a sword.

I wonder that I struggle so instinctively now

when this is so clearly a game.

 

John drops his sword. I extend, I lunge.

I touch his chest through his silver vest

with the tip of my sword, then retreat.

Good, he says. Good. Again. Again.

 

Is this the way we learn all the rules

we have written for ourselves?

By breaking them. Is this the way

might choose to meet our opponents?

By loving them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s something the hands learn

with practice—how thin to slice

the apples for drying, how close

to cut to the core. In the same way

the hands learn to touch a lover,

how gently, how firmly, just where.

Oh the apple. What it knows

of desire. What it knows

of bruising, of bite. Oh the hands,

what they know of precision.

Of the pleasure of practice.

Of the joy in getting it right.

CMURosemerry Wahtola Trommer event

 

 

amber moon rise—

the heart, as if seeing it for the first time,

gives a standing ovation

They say you left your house just once

in your last fifteen years—

you slipped alone through veil of night

to see a new-built church.

And rumor says the moon was full

when you escaped your walls—

you had no need for candlelight,

the evening led you well.

Tonight round shines the Hunter’s moon—

so dazzling is the dome

that all the world feels like a church

and night itself a poem.

Perhaps that’s what you understood

and lost your need to leave—

each room, each place is holy

and has a gift to give.

Pushing Buttons

 

Doing something typically feels better than doing nothing.

—Ellen Langer, Harvard Psychologist quoted in “Illusion of Control: Why the world is full of buttons that don’t work,” CNN

 

 

The world is full of buttons

that do nothing—buttons

at crosswalks, in elevators,

in hotel rooms—buttons

that can be pushed, but in

fact have no functionality.

The Harvard psychologist

suggests that these buttons

serve a purpose: they help

people feel as if they have

some control: she says

it feels good to have

something to do.

 

We could, I suppose, make

buttons to press for these

careening days when we

realize just how little control

we have. Not over death.

Not over weather. Not

over anyone’s heart—not

even our own.

 

Or we could press

our own belly buttons—

a reminder there are

a few things we can do:

Write letters. Walk. Say

thank you. Practice peace.

Protest. Wear a raincoat.

Take Vitamin B.

And, of course, the most

difficult thing of all—

to say yes to not being in control,

to dance in that uncomfortable

place, laughing like a stream.

 

 

 

*

 

read the full article here: http://edition.cnn.com/style/article/placebo-buttons-design/index.html

 

It’s not adrenaline after all,

but the bones that tell the body

to fight, to freeze, to flee.

The bones send the hormone

that tells the heart to beat faster,

tells lungs to breathe quicker, tells glucose

to pump through the body as fuel.

The odd gift: the same bones

that tell us to run away

help us stand and see it through.

 

 

 

*

 

 

Check it out: https://phys.org/news/2019-09-bone-adrenaline-flight-response.html?fbclid=IwAR1FsGbaAaoLL5jB1esEouhf7E0SMLnSWwQDjh3hANvvqRNbXmhKGtDPmFw

 

Small Gratitudes

 

 

 

It was one of those days when the alarm

didn’t go off, and we woke anyway

to a world covered in snow, and

 

by noon the sky was blue. And I drove

right through the construction zone

without being stopped by a flagger.

 

The tomato for breakfast was ripe

and sharp and sweet. And the tea

was strong and black. The radio

 

played only songs I wanted to sing.

My car started. I had no flat tires.

I never felt sick. Never fell. More blessings,

 

it turns out, than a woman can count, though

I try to count them all. And the more

I remember—a good friend called, all

 

ten fingers are intact, my eyes still

see across the room—yes,

the more blessings I consider, the more

 

my joy grows until I am dumbfounded,

gobsmacked by gratitude that’s exactly

the size of the known universe, amazed by

 

how perfectly it fits—as if I were made for this—

right inside my skin.

 

En Garde

 

 

 

Keep distance, the fencing teacher says,

and by this he means, stay close enough

to your opponent that you could, at any time,

extend, lunge and attack with your point.

All my life, I’ve tried not to keep distance.

All my life, I’ve done my best to avoid

the attack—from either side. And now,

with my silver lamé and my one white glove

and my face safe behind metal mesh, I dig

to find the part of me who craves engagement,

who seeks a bout, who wants to threaten

my target and exploit their vulnerability.

Keep distance, he says, and I understand

that this is how I show up for the game.

This is how I meet not only the opponent,

but, perhaps for the first time, myself.

One Sauvignon

 

 

 

thirsting for wine

surprised to find inside

a vineyard, a barrel, a glass

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