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Hey Friends! If you can stay up late, join me for Midnight Insight, a late-night conversation on CREATIVE PROCESS hosted by Orlando White and Jesse Maloney, Saturday March 13 at 10 p.m. MST. I’ll be a guest along with the amazing musician, performer and writer Toni Oswald. Free! One hour of fun. To RSVP for this event email Orlando White at owhite@dinecollege.edu

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Even after all these years
of wandering this twisting path of self,
how is it I am still surprised
to find a new home inside the rush of river,
as if I haven’t been here
in this song of melting many times before?
How is it I forgot my home
inside the brittle brown grass of March,
home in the sweet moldering scent of spring,
home in the sun soaked day—
as if the great star of beginnings
is saying again to me, Come, friend.
How is it I sometimes forget to arrive
exactly where I am, especially in these days
when forgiveness arrives like the cranes
on great wings that charge the air.
These days when love comes crashing in
like western wind, breaking branches
and rearranging the yard, as if to say
it is here to change everything.
Sometimes I forget the world will find me
wherever I am and insist in the language
of willow and trunk and hawk and noon,
home, home, you are home.

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Strange Wish

I would never have wished
for those years when I starved myself,
years when any number on the scale
was a reason to hate my own body.
I would never have wished to be in the room
with the man who didn’t listen
when I said no. I would never
have believed I was capable of weaving lies
that could cause so much hurt,
would never have wanted to break
so completely I walked through the world
like a ghost. And yet I have never been
more grateful for the breaking, the grieving,
the struggling, the loss. I didn’t know how resilient
I was until I was shattered. I didn’t know
how failure would teach me trust. Didn’t know
how pain would open me to feel more compassion,
to fall more in love with the world.
It would be a lie to say I am grateful for pain.
But I am grateful for this heart
that contains grief and joy,
grateful for this body that expresses
fear and courage, anger and hope.
Grateful to know myself not only as self
but also as whatever is holding me,
as great space holds the day—
how much bigger the world is now.
I would never wish heartbreak on you,
but if it comes, when it comes,
I wish you the gift of holding the heartbreak,
the miracle of opening
beyond what we ever dreamt was possible,
I wish you gratitude for life,
no matter how impossible it is
to say thank you.

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I want to read the poem of you—
want to hold in my breath
your intimate rhythms
want to translate in my lungs
the silences between your stanzas,
want to feel in my heart
the sharp tug of your turns,
the communion of your inner rhymes.

I want to follow
the ever-emerging form of you,
want to know which words
are appearing even now
in the divine cursive
that writes us all,
want to wander in your ambiguities,
wonder about your secrets,
marvel at your beauty,
be wrestled by your oppositions.

I want to recite your lines
again and again and again
so your stories
are the allusions that inspire
the emerging poem of me.

This is the poem in which I admit
every poem has the potential
to break open the heart—
imagine the size of the book.
This is the poem in which I remember
the heart was made to break open.

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In my tall
brown boots
I can walk
into any room,
any fear,
any graveyard
any loss.
I zip up
those tall
brown boots
and I become
a woman
I trust,
a woman
who knows
how well-protected feet
somehow make
it easier
for the heart
to stay open.
In my tall
brown boots,
I could even
meet betrayal,
could shake
that two-faced hand
and know
where I stand,
could walk
toward love
no matter which
way I walk,
could walk
ever closer
to myself.

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The Song Speaks

Lyrics from “Golden Slumbers” by Paul McCartney and John Lennon

I love when my lyric
slips into your thoughts,
when I float from your lips
for hours. Once there was a way
to get back homeward.
Sometimes I even believe
my own lines.
Once there was a way
to get back home.
Sometimes when you sing me,
I have faith in home.
Please pretty darling do not cry.
And yet you do cry
and make me want to forget
I am a song about longing,
a song of loss.
I want to be the song of finding,
song of arriving together,
song of coming home.
I want to be the song
that lies down to sleep
beside your heart each night.
I will sing a lullaby.
I want to be the song
that that makes you breakfast.
The song that dances with you
in the living room.
The song that always stays.

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Strange Balance

When the boy is sneering
or the glass is breaking
or the woman is weeping
or the streets are crowded
with anger and rage,
it is hard to believe
a small joy
has any real value,
hard to believe
a single red gerber daisy
or a cup of grapefruit-scented tea
might have any relevance,
could bear any weight on the scale
that measures what it is to be alive,
but last night, while I was steeping
in worry, aching with injustice,
my daughter created a stage
between the threadbare couches
and hummed herself a soundtrack
as she leapt and spun
and shuffled and flapped,
and oh, how her brief flare of joy
changed the flavor of the night,
an improbable balance,
the way even the smallest amount of sugar
transforms the bitter sauce,
the way just one note
resolves a minor chord,
the way the barest hint of rain
makes the whole desert
erupt into bloom.

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The glass vase on the table
remembers when it was sand—
remembers its molecules
of silicon dioxide, remembers
what it was like to be singular grains
transported by wind. It remembers
the heat it took to melt,
to lose its crystalline structure.
How intense it is to transform.
It is no small thing to know clarity.
It is no small thing to lose
what we thought we knew of the self,
to submit to a process that changes us
forever. This woman sitting beside
the glass vase on the table
cannot remember when she was dust,
but she remembers those nights
of falling with no one to catch her.
She remembers those days
when she begged the world to open her.
She remembers losing what she thought
she knew and how it was replaced
with the most beautiful nothing—
even now she is changing in ways
she could never predict. Even now
she feels herself melting.

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Now I love biology—the how of
life, the what of cell, the physiology of why—
but I was so bored in ninth-grade biology class
when Bill Williams stood at the front of the room
with his rumpled hair and brown corduroy blazer,
chalk dust on his fingers, chalk dust in his drone,
chalk dust chafing on my teenage thoughts.
I wanted to know about boys. And kissing them.
I wanted to know what it would feel like
if that blonde across the room cornered me
against the wall with the anatomy posters
then let his fingers experiment
across my bare skin. But I was bored
by Mr. Williams’ boring biology, bored
by his black-and-white boring film strips,
bored by the clock that slowed on the wall.
Bored in that windowless room that smelled
of his coffee and formaldehyde.
Sometimes I’d write notes to friends.
I’m so bored, I’d write. As if boredom
were news worthy of sharing. As if biology
weren’t everything.

I would love to go back to that girl
in that junior high room fidgeting
in her metal chair at the shiny black lab table.
Even then, her own biology was riotous,
her estrogen surging, her pituitary gland raging,
her body and mind controlled by forces of nature
she couldn’t begin to understand.
I wouldn’t tell her to pay attention
to Bill Williams, no, but to be more curious
about her own feral hows and whats and whys—
the miracle of her own biology
untethering everything she thought
she knew about who she was
and her place in the biome,
all that dark curly hair springing up
in surprising places, her blood pitching
with a wild and red pulsing
that years later is still her best teacher.

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driving south
through the mountains
watching the moonrise—
and around each corner,
thrilling as it rises again, again, again,
feeling luckier each time—
meeting the self
like that

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