Stone Hearted (from Prompt 19)

The feeling was scratched

on our weakened bark

Drip drop of a hell I never wanted to be a part of.

Yes, it came back to us this night. Of all nights.

The night of fog and clearing roads

Losing my favorite pebble

thrown around when it felt at times

jagged, sometimes,

or when it stole the warmth from my hands

and now the wet leaves

blue on my shoulders

ecstatic at my refusal to stay

constant as I challenge my direction

and the timpani between my eyes

and the heartbeat of the sluggish

curled up in your heart

where they have festered

all this time in your stead.

My skin imitates the moss in your head

where they last saw you

calm, still, in the forest

I almost relived your path

The crunching leaves

The limbs hopped

The hope limber still

Until the path spit us out

into thicket

Hard brush and rain ever constant

But I ran into the dark

heavied by the water

guessing for lights unseen

looking for paths unmarked

but in your stead

I found the precipice

j

Grieta (from Prompt 18)

At Rise: Mauricio hiding in a hole in the desert, behind the brush.

Mauricio: Sometimes, it’s easier this way. Whether to enjoy my sand head buried in darkness. Whether I accept my blind eyes as they make believe that I’m no longer here. I pray that here has become there. Is it okay to think this way? Is it okay to regret this? In the sand, I camouflage myself along the wedges of dirt and sage. I blend as a praying mantis in the soil.

I am a large mantid. Mantids, I think that is the scientific name. Not so easy to hide sometimes.

In Arenal, we would sit at night and the glow of the volcano would make its way to us. We never felt the heat, but we believed we did. A phantom comfort when there wasn’t much to eat. As human beings, it is easy to aspire to the impossible. It is an insult to keep your thoughts and dreams as low to the ground as your shoes. A friend of a friend of a friend says he can get you through the border on a cold night in Juarez. Then second cousin Martin will come from Odessa to drive you in his pick up like dusty luggage left in the sun. He’s legal, he can get by okay. All you have to do is get to El Paso.

Jacinto, my Papa, went first, with the family savings, and he left on the back of Manolito’s maroon minivan at dawn on the second of October. He never knew hugs or his way around one, but he tried that day. He wrapped his arms around me much too tightly and said that he would send for me. His tone flat and distant as if he had already taken off for the United States days ago. El Norte called and he answered. He swam the gutters of six borders and I heard his voice once again. For months, we wondered if he had enough to eat along the way, or if his shoes were holding on, or if he drowned in the big river. My mother was so proud she found his shoes at the flea market two weeks before he left. Barely used boots fit for a long hike at just ten colones! She smiled toothlessly, hiding her sorrow. For years she held that pain of distance and finally he sent for Mama and my sister, to join him in this place called Wichita. So far up North I think you can wave hello to the elves in the winter time. They found their way and that was seven years ago. And I waited in the house with two rooms by the big tree where the tall grass begins. With Abuela Mariella.

She is gone too, you know? She left not long ago.

In the tall grass, there was a praying mantis that would sit still at the sight of me. And we had a staring contest every day after school. I thought it looked me closely and waited for me to make my move to destroy it. But it never flinched. Maybe it didn’t know any better, and hoped the closer the danger, the closer the food. It is a dumb insect after all…

Did you mean to send for me too, Papa? Did you expect me to walk this path like you did? Did you want me to do this on my own?

He hides behind the brush again as headlights approach.

Sometimes, it’s easier this way.

Lights Out.

Mote and Light (from Prompt 16)

A void of sun, floating in this shineless cavern

holding on to the grip as I held to the notion you would return

to find me

to relieve and relive

the cool spring of our friendship

upon which we lifted

and hovered weightless

at one point in time, ascending

upward and nearing an illumination

that felt like you

and I cherished that hope as a yard void of insects

A continued affliction

that makes your smaller

to mean less

and meaningless

until the limbs

over-extended and distant

from the teasing invitation

so close to memory and artery

now fancies itself artillery

threatening the mote

thinning

weightless

suspended


Poetry and whatever else comes to mind based on my #icprompts on Instagram!

j

Parade Day

The parade started at 10am and I thought I would get to sleep in. No parent with a young child gets to sleep in. This is my burden to bear and I accepted it as I woke earlier than I wanted to for a day I wasn’t prepared for.

I decided yesterday I would take today off for the local Parade Day. I figured it would be a great opportunity to spend quality time with my son and get to do the things we didn’t get to do last weekend.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I struggle with being present. I have a conceptual, scatterbrained mind that takes me decades into the future, then to the lessons I keep forgetting, then to next weekend, then to what’s in front of me. I need to look into that. But for the time being, I have condensed my goal for self-betterment into a concise, attainable focus:

Be present at least once a day. Don’t wander, get out of your head. Enjoy what’s in front of you.

Be present. My son deserves that from me. Typing this as the day comes to an end, I’m feeling pretty good about our outings. In spite of the parking availability, we made it just as the parade was getting underway. Second Street was lined with families and their eager children with their hands hungry for candy and handouts and they littered the edges of a road suddenly too small for parade floats. Then came the local clubs and real estate teams and other floats by organizations of influence and goodwill in our city, and the joy was palpable and bright on a breezy morning. We got sprayed by the water soakers, we got more tootsie rolls than we could handle, and even a little jump rope for my son to practice his hopping. I hadn’t even considered leaving, but after a solid forty five minutes, my boy was ready to go exploring downtown. Hoping to remain in the moment, I opted to let him lead for a little while. 

He examined the splash pad downtown. He hopped around and asked for a lollipop from his parade loot. He said he wanted to sit down and relax so we went into the coffee shop for some shade and a snack. 

We counted the candy spoils and sat enjoying our drinks and our shared chocolate chip cookie. And I didn’t think about anything else. 

These days are a luxury. This is why I opt to take something from them because I know they are few and far between. In those moments when we rise to the surface, and gasp for air before plunging back into the depths of adulthood, I think there is time to evaluate what is good about our pursuits, and why it’s important to stay the course. We must seize the opportunity to look at what’s in front of us, and grant ourselves the clarity to be moved and to be truthful about how things are actually going for us.

I’m lucky because I get to have moments of reflection more and more. I get to pause when others simply cannot. But it didn’t use to be that way. Just two short years ago, I was gasping for air every single day. My pursuits were not aligning with the person I wanted to be and I was investing my time and energy into something that wasn’t compatible with my life anymore. I remember feeling suffocated and directionless and joyless. With those bitter memories faintly echoing in my heart, I am reminded to take nothing for granted. So go forth, enjoy your families, let your commitment to the now grant you the clarity you’re looking for, and joy will come. 

I hope you get a parade day yourself very soon. You deserve that.

j

Into the Weeds

When I was working as a videographer, I didn’t do a good job on my lawn-care. The wedding industry in Wyoming crams a year’s worth of business into the summer months, so watching the grass grow just wasn’t a priority when the deadlines clawed at my heels. 

As I type, there is an obnoxious weed stifling the grass so horribly I fear I’ll have to start over with grass seed in the fall for next year. It is what it is. The weed is curious though. This weed with the tiny yellow flower, doesn’t sprout upward, but rather, stretches out on all sides on a quest to hug as far as it can reach. It’s a tough, greedy one. And I haven’t had much luck killing it.

If you really think about it, this isn’t an issue that cropped up overnight. This weed made itself cozy while I prioritized work. One of the reasons I left the video business was a complete lack of balance. Yes, this happens often in the freelancer and small business world, but I can’t completely blame my shortcomings on the nature of the beast. Your approach is a reflection of your priorities–Your values, passions, what drives you. I never seriously considered those questions until I let it all get out of hand. Is the lawn that important to me? Do I care what my neighbors think about my lawn? And more broadly, what do I care about? How am I going to spend more quality time with my family? What do I want to pursue and how am I going to pursue it?

To be rid of an infestation is not a short term goal. I didn’t know how to prioritize and balance the work and life balance of my life, so the weeds took over. Now I find it’s not so much about watching the grass grow, but about monitoring and maintaining it.

Usually I’m the kind of person who avoids getting into the weeds because I hate the minutiae of it. The hardship of assorting everything in your life that’s gotten out of hand. However, I’m reminding myself this is my own doing, and I must handle the problem before I resort to that grass-less Southwest lawn style. Let’s not go there.

I have to go now, I hope you have a vibrant, joyful weekend!

j

The typical update about reshuffling priorities.

My middle name is erratic. I have been so gung-ho about producing work and content that my inconsistent output is my only constant these days. Again, I’m revisiting this challenge of finding time to be creative. Since things are wild right now, I figure this might be the fastest way to get the word out:

  1. I’m currently offline from social media Monday-Friday, specifically from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Using Reddit and other apps sparingly. I just can’t keep myself on track if I continue wasting time on these networks. Social Media Blackout it is.
  2. The Creative Drive Podcast is on hold for the summer. Something had to give before the jenga tower fell. It will come back eventually, and that is okay.
  3. Our Kid’s Asleep Podcast will still be going strong!
  4. No more video projects for now until I finish what’s on my plate.
  5. I should be able to post here every now and then. Might be easier this way.

I’m doing this because something has to change. It is my great hope that this time to refocus will mean more quality family time, more learning, and more writing/recording.

Stay tuned folks! And Happy Father’s Day to all you Fathers out there,

j

A Shine

Transcend with me you fool

you flesh and bone

I too was a carnivore

wet and eager for sinew

at the dawn of a century

expired at the hands of gusts

the sand in my eyes

and cradled infants

sun-kissed at the mountains

that faced west

She lowered her head and gaze and

i

followed without you

into The Resplendent