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Posts Tagged ‘failure’

One More Lesson

 

 

 

while pouring tea for failure,

I forgot to add the tea—

we drink the hot water together and laugh

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Self-forgiveness is not the first impulse.

In fact, I curse. Run my hands through my hair,

 

tug at my scalp. Sigh. Again. My shoulders fall slack

in the place where my wings would be.

 

In my gut, the seed of apology starts to root.

Perhaps that is what changes things,

 

what allows me to let failure look me in the face,

let it trace my cheeks, the barest caress.

 

It never asks me to be beautiful. It never

expects nor wants perfection. It touches me so tenderly,

 

is it any wonder that soon the apology

spills from my lips like the clearest stream,

 

and I stand in the cold clear rush of it.

The whole world looks different from here.

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Should We Tell Her?

 

 

 

Somewhere in my heart

there is a tiny woman

with a crimson scarf

and hair pulled back

who is balancing

on a tightrope—

she has not yet learned

that it is okay

for her to fall,

that the net

will always catch her,

so she keeps doing

the same boring walk

back and forth

thinking how brave

and how proficient

she is at staying

on the rope,

never learning

she could also

jump and swing

and leap and twirl and fall

and get back up.

 

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Dear poetry friends,

 

I’ve been dabbling in storytelling, both written and oral, and this month Edible Southwest, an elegant gourmet magazine, picked up a story of mine in their annual storytelling issue. It’s a story of when things go wrong around holiday meals … and how sometimes, that allows for things to go right …

You can check it out here: The Lesson of the Daughter-in-Law

 

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That’s what cars are for,

said the master whistler, when I told him

I could not whistle.

I auditioned for him

with my one-note draft,

and he said, Yeah, I

can work with that,

which I took to mean

that I could work with that.

Eventually, he said,

you’ll arrive at a tone.

And so I whistled

four hours as I drove north,

starting with Moon River,

Skylark, and Paris in Springtime,

then, demoralized

by lack of progress,

turned on the eighties station

and created a breeze

to accompany INXS, Howard Jones,

Prince and Tone Loc.

The difference between

what I heard in my head

and what came from my lips—

so much beauty

missing. And just

before arriving at my own

front door, I had somehow

begun a gusty rendition

of When the Saints Go Marching In,

and thought to myself,

yeah, I think I might

be getting it, but five

verses later laughed

at my longing for success.

When I opened the door

of the car, I felt the wind

meet my face. I let it

carry the almost notes

and decided tomorrow

I’d try some Moondance

and Fever before Hot Cross Buns,

knowing how it takes

a lot of wind

before one’s ship comes in.

 

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building a cup tower,

then laughing as they all come down,

inviting myself

to imagine the word Dixie

on all these towers I’ve built

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After hoping and trying

and failing and hoping

and trying and failing

and hoping and trying

and failing the mind

perhaps will finally say

I don’t know what comes next

and, startled by the sweet

clarity of this, the body

raises both arms, though

the mind didn’t tell it to—

yes, the arms rise weightless

and open, as if there is nothing

they aren’t ready to embrace,

as if the world as it is

might come rushing in.

 

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This is the path of failure. We see that our definition of success is what is not working. What is working is deep, unseen. —Joi Sharp

 

 

Even a small discontent is enough to shut us down,

convince us that the world is cold and indifferent.

Everywhere there’s evidence of this: The slush

 

that falls on your car seat when you open the car door.

The carrion eaters with their great black wings

that linger beside the road. You pray for sun,

 

and it gets darker. Someone asks

you a question, and you see your whole life

fold into one small envelope of failure.

 

Then one day you hit against the same

impassable wall you always hit and this time you fall

to your knees, not because you are weak,

 

but because at last you are ready to be opened.

Oh sweet failure, how it leads us.

Any unhappy ending is only an invitation

 

to crawl into the blank pages

of the next unwritten chapter.

It was never success that transformed us—

 

always the breaking. Not the breaking itself,

but the mystery inside pushing through us

like bindweed through pavement

 

making cracks in everything

we think we know so that the world

can come streaming in.

 

 

 

 

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when all the balls drop

pick them up with a smile

and let the last thing

they see be the sparkle in your eye

and your hands no longer grasping

 

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Malfunction

 

 

 

It didn’t snap,

the trap, when the vole

ran across it—I watched

from my kitchen window

as the fat gray body

emerged from the grass

and traipsed across the waiting trap

before it looped through the pansies

and returned to the lawn.

And I, who set the trap

with Adam’s Smooth Peanut Butter,

laughed with strange delight

in my failure to kill

that damn little kale eating vole.

What is it in us that learns to relax?

The tips of lawn grass trembled

as the vole ran its path back to the field,

oblivious to my scheming.

It knew only that the mint overtaking

the pansies was delicious,

so green, so fresh.

 

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