medicine.

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The South can be a spiritual and emotional place by nature.

It wraps you up in the language of grace and the blessing of hearts.

And I’ve gone through many seasons of both.

Sometimes people talk about God as though we’re all believers in the Divine, yet there is so much that I’ve seen and felt. I listen, regardless. If it’s important to you, it’s important to me. I can though, move in and out of it as I need to. As much as that doesn’t seem to make sense, I get tangled up with you and your words. I get lost in your story and I want to know how.

I dwell in a community of people who believe in a lot of different things.

I feel their love shine on me the same.

They’re all working on those things. Figuring out how to raise their kids.
They are tired, but looking for meaning in the day to day.

We sit and eat as a way of oneness, as a way of sharing.

Equals, we are, sitting at the great big table.

Still, I find myself lost in it all.

I’ve found a great comfort in not knowing. That is the space that I dwell in.

I see your hearts, living with intention and moving in the ways you need to move. I remember it. I remember it for my own life. I feel how you love, and I still feel what it was like to move in certain ways.

We all kind of lose a bit here and there.

Most of us wish it was our weight. These damn bellies…a physical reminder that we’re all a little soft. I like to remind people that I’m built for comfort, not speed.

I suppose, as I remind myself to submit to a place while I am there, this is what I see.

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There are times that the future freaks me out. I start thinking myself into someone, someone who doesn’t even exist yet. No wonder it’s so overwhelming to dwell in future things. It’s not who you are just yet.

We’re all slowly becoming.

I like that.

That’s a little like medicine, to me.

We have to give ourselves time. I heard someone once say that life is short, but that it’s also long. We have a lot of time to miss our mark and get back up.

I’m always talking about giving yourself time and space. To sit in your own presence and to dwell in it. Sometimes, I do this when I’m surrounded by piles of dirty dishes and smelly cooks. I’ve learned to do the humble work because there is some beauty in its simplicity.

I’ve seen a container be full and emptied and cleaned so many times.

I recognize myself in the same light.

A container, a vessel for something kind of holy and delicate.

I’ve lost it, and gained it back time and time again.

I will continue to do so,

and I will notice myself slowly becoming.

Because that’s a little like medicine to me.

 

holy day

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baby laughs and sunday pot roast

a familiar memory runs through my veins.

the feeling of normality and ritual and calm wash over me,
regardless of the noise and the sound of toys scraping floor,
this was something I had been missing

ketchup, mustard and ice cream,
the things these kids are made of,
that, and their creative restless minds
learning how to build bigger towers
with more and more colors.

the sounds of mom clinking spoons on the sides of pans
dinner rolls, last to come out of the sparkly clean oven,
an inside joke from the years of waiting on bread.
we are always waiting on the bread.

I know that most see these things as they are.
I can’t help but to see them as something I might miss again someday.

so I soak it up when I can. 
and when I’m not toiling away at a day’s worry.
When I decide in my own heart that all of this is so very important. 

the pot roast.
the little head nestled under my chin
with mashed potatoes smeared above his
little lips drenched in drool and baby noises.

God, I’ve missed this.
The toils and the messes and the quiet afternoons.

baby laughs and sunday pot roast

a holy day if I ever knew one

legos-on-floor

the mystery of other worlds

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Sometimes, when I look out into a room,
or when I sit at a table,
I imagine tiny universes
sorta, spinning around.

I see them give and take,
smile and nod and reach,
as though they are trying to understand another world
vastly different from their own.

I understand this.
At times, I am the one who helps facilitate.
I am the one who keeps their glasses full
and their plates warm with food.

It is not the burden of Atlas that I carry,
but the weightlessness that comes
with noticing the invisible things
and the gravity of a new discovery.

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I’ve always enjoyed space.
I love the mystery of other worlds,
which is why I love the mystery in you. As you.
This unknown galaxy swirling like the Milky Way

Don’t let this time go to waste.
You only have a few moments to be this connected
and to discover!
and to explore!

I remember watching the sun shine on your skin
How it glowed, and also its shadows,
the way it allowed me to stand in wonder
as I do always, when I stumble upon a world not my own,

a little universe
with its own fiery suns
as swirling stars.
there you are,

sitting and falling,
moving with intention,
all with a slight lean,
as different worlds do,

drifting into their own forever.

walking with giants

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I am not afraid of your pain, dear one.

there is a wounded healer in all of us.

intertwined and tangled in the dark and light.

some days, I’m not sure which side wins.

 

if it’s even about winning.

more so, making room and acknowledging both sides exist

as do you,

and even though you think the pain is too much, which it will be from time to time,

you will grow, like a weed,

as you do.

 

I’d like to say I’m sorry.

for all of that hard and gritty noise.

It sort of bounces and echoes through our bones,

like screaming into a canyon,

and sometimes, I absorb it and it resides in me

 

but like I said,

I’m okay with the weight of your ghosts.

I’m not afraid.

Secretly, I am more afraid of my own depth

 

sometimes it starts as a trickle and moves into a great flood,

I think, “..even Noah struggled with the Arc.”

some things are lost. some things die.

what blossoms in spring, dies in the winter,

(but it’s not really dead, you see?)

 

it is your ability to create and move,

to nurture and grow tiny things.

that is how we rebuild

 

giving new directions a chance to grow on us

a chance for our narrative to take a turn,

like trying to sell a donkey, and in exchange,

a few seeds we don’t know are magic,

until they grow

and we find ourselves walking with giants.

 

Jack_and_his_Beanstalk_by_DickStarr

 

thunderstorm

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electricity fillin’ up the sky

one mississippi two mississppi

a low rumble down the ways

two miles, I say half asleep

 

I wake up to a

thump, thump, thump, thump

drips from the roof tapping my window seal

cool, wet breath on my face

and the trees slowly touch one another

 

reminding me of that brilliant dance

with her,

half way touching

and moving

 

electricity, again

one mississippi two mississippi three mississippi

quiet rumble, like the sound of water rushing over your head

a little less awake I say,

‘it’s moving away’

 

trees sway less

I am aware of the stagnant air

that now fills my space

but I smell the dampness

it is comforting

 

the storm, it is gone for now

but I am asleep

one leg in, one leg out

to keep the balance of warm and cool

 

I miss the sounds of storm

of wind making trees stretch

wet road smell

 

but then there is bright and breeze

a bird singing its dream

and I am awake.

with a big breath and stretch,

Yes! I am awake, now.

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Blood Buzz

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I’m on a blood buzz.
Sort of, intoxicated-like,
on family and history and potato salad.

Sadness is a tingle,
much like when your foot falls asleep,
but you are very much awake. 

God, am I awake.

I tingle here and there,
this is how I know:
I’ve lost a great love.

Vibrations, almost.
a bit of shell shock.
my ears muffle when you talk to me.

Not all the time. I try to listen.
I try not to think about her.
I realize it’s a losing battle to not think about someone.

how does one snap out of this?
to fall in love again?
to kiss in the dark again?

yes, I know this.

but today, I stare outside my window
I see mostly brown,
but then again, I would.

The green is coming.
daffodils line them Miss’ippi highways;
I can see them!
(something deep inside of me proclaims)

and I am hungover
from big pains
and too much fried catfish.

buzzed. like with too much wine,
but for my family,
my history,

drunk-like,
with them old southern ways,
and hummin’ the hymns
I used to sing.

tangled.

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{I’m so honored and humbled to share this piece with you. 
It was written by my sister-in-law, Leah.  (Who is a beautiful writer…)
And it was written during the time I had just moved into my new room, and everything was astray.
More importantly, it was written for me.
I am so thankful for her and her husband Bryan for loving me so well over the years, and keeping a steady eye and hand on me, as I wander, and have come to them hungry and broken, many times. 
Thank you, thank you, thank you.}

So now you’ve arrived in a new room where you’ll live alone.

It’s clean and not too shabby.
The quiet and solitude you’ve always kind of craved bounces off the plain white walls.
Loneliness can be so loud sometimes.

In your dreams you are back where you were, and she is there too,
with not quite enough space in the bed and her reading light on late into the night.
You toss in your sleep and your foot brushes warmth, skin too clammy in a muggy apartment bedroom.

You think when you wake you will make her an omelette, a little crispy on the edges the way she likes.
Maybe she’ll make the coffee beside you, with the full silence of people who are used to working side by side.

Afterwards you’ll do the dishes, burning off a few more nerve endings in the scalding foam of muddy water.
You’ve never had a dishwasher in this place, so you know your way around the sink by heart.
Scrape the pan, leaving little brown bits floating, then clink together plates of filmy yellow yolk.

When you really do wake up, in the new room, the realization hits you hard:
that in fact you can roll over many times or hog all the covers if you want and there is no one to make breakfast for.

It’s disorienting to feel the crisp new twin sized sheets that will never be worn down by the two of you,
the ones you picked out alone,
staring stone faced in an endless aisle of colors and thread count.

You knew from the start she was a little wild and unknowable but it’s what you loved about her.
The fragile light beaming bright in whatever direction she chose.
It felt good to have her shine it on you for awhile.
Your life together wasn’t perfect but it was steady.
(sometimes you wonder if the stillness is what left her undone)

But now you rouse and pull on your clothes.
In time your shirt will stop smelling like her and the edge of the pain will dull.
Already a family of bouncing boys is using your old bed frame.
With noise like that, they won’t even notice how it squeaks.

You pawned off all your things like that in the last days before check out:
the couch your grandma bought as a wedding gift, an odd assortment of lamps,
a cutting board where you chopped so many onions for your soup.
It wasn’t hard to let them go and you smiled to think of better days ahead for your possessions, the old bones of your life together.

When the place is finally empty,
you roll up your sleeves and start to scrub away the grime that built up over time.
You clean the slimy edge around the sink that usually went unnoticed,
the dusty slats of the blinds,
and the dirty corner of the bathroom, only visible from the toilet. Lastly you head to the front flower box to pull up the tomato plants.

Many come up easily, with a little tug.
Those are the ones she planted this spring thinking you would like to can them in September.
But one plant gives you some trouble, and it pleases you just a little to see it put up a fight.

The roots of this one have really taken hold, it came up voluntarily every year without any prompting.

Last year it grew so big it curled right up the front porch and sent shoots circling the spokes of her bike.
Covered in tomatoes, It looked like she had parked it there forever.

Eventually the plant comes up and you hall it to the bin for debris.
You clean up the big mess of fallen tomatoes except for a few roll aways that scatter under the bushes where you can’t reach.
Then all the while, as you turn in your keys, collect your deposit, and walk away, you imagine those tomatoes going to seed.

I wonder if you’ll drive by on your way home someday, next year, or maybe when you’re older and find that they’ve sprouted again into huge abundant bushes, so big that nobody bothers to pull them.

Tomatoes will dangle from every stem, shining, bulging, ready to burst.

You’ll smile when you notice from your car window, in a quiet knowing way.

And whoever is with you, a lover, a friend, a wife, will notice and ask you why.

Oh nothing you’ll say, as you keep on driving.

But inside you’ll smile, knowing that once they are tangled up together,

there are some things that just can’t easily be undone.

photo

soft.

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soft lips kissing soft baby skin

i see their faces change when they become mommas

everything softens a bit

which is fortunate, because with everything else, we are told to harden

 

with little people, we should soften

yeah, they are loud and messy and say things that might hurt our feelings

so do we

but we actually mean them

 

when I see my sister holding her new baby close to her chest

skin on skin

exchanging of some holy kind of love

only that a momma and daddy and baby can indulge in

 

soak it all in.

I would tell the babies to do it too

because you will want it so so much when you’re older, and feeling alone.

even when the world tells you that harder is better

you will want things soft, again.

 

soft lips kissing soft baby skin

warm and ancient

to a person who does not know what war is

and whose pain is universal in need.

to be fed, held, and loved on.

 

you are more innocent then I will ever be again

that is, if I make it to another person who mends

and loves and creates and gives.

 

soft lips kissing soft baby skin

that’s what I see today

and when I think about what it is I need,

and maybe what we all need,

is something a little softer.

show them your heart.

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I have no reason to feel ashamed.

I feel it bursting from my chest,
like maybe I’ve seen in a movie once.

that great light, as some form of redemption.

yes! I exclaim. All the time now.
because I want people to know they are right.
or at least affirm them in their great revelation.

or small victory.

all of which, deserve recognition.

sometimes, that’s all I need from someone.
is for them to listen, and say, yes!

my pain has run deep, like some vessel running through an old mountain
I search deeply, exposing it, mining it, exploring discoveries, both new and old.

there are things deep inside of you that you never knew existed
a great light and a great capacity to love another;
even when you resist it, you are a good person.

you are a healer, of sorts.

though you don’t see it now.
and sometimes you can’t, if you stay within the confines of safety.

if you wrap up your heart for no one to see,
no one will know.

so I tell you, show them your heart!
it is a renewable source of energy, that beating thing.

you can give, and give some more.
let it rest, and the next day, it is new again.

fresh and ready to beat for someone who needs it.
most importantly, you.

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do not hide your love.
if I could say one thing, it would be that.

let it have no boundaries but the confinement of your chest,
but only physically, you see?

your heart is as big and you want it to be.

and be fierce. cover it, if you need to.
but not for long. it’s a beauty of a thing.

to be honest, we need more of it.

we need more of you,
dear ones.

we need you.

ol’ butch

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sip some of dad’s whiskey.

it’s been a hard day.

lot of this and that,

a lot of my imagination tip toeing where I don’t want it to go

but it goes there, regardless,

like some stubborn child you love unconditionally

but I sip it.

it’s strong goin’ down the first time.

and the second time.

and the third.

you think I’d know better by now.

he makes it from scratch

from georgia corn,

from a still,

buried beneath a lot of years

some of which i’m just starting to see.

we named it ol’ butch, because of a childhood nickname

but it’s a lot more than that.

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spit it on fire and you become a performer

like the ones at the circus that make us ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’

because it’s strong.

that’s how you made it.

strong.

and you play with it.

adding fruit or a barrel’s age,

still, in its purest form,

you see it as a way to clear away some things,

to concentrate,

to intoxicate,

to savor.

and you share it all over.

as it is a staple in both my kitchens.

tastin’ sweet after a hard night’s service,

or rough when I need it to be rough

I guess that’s the thing about hooch

it is what you need it to be

a fog,

or clarity,

or maybe,

just a stiff drink.