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Every Day Acts of Peace

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tibet 1995: We Are Strands Married In The Web of Life

My friends and I climbed all day
to reach the summit ...
where the unseen air
moves the prayer flags
in a dance
that joins the infinite
with the finite -
the visible world
with the invisible realms ...
beyond perception.

I sit on a large rock face
overlooking the world.

Out of the palm of my hand
I extract the splinters
I gathered
spinning the circular frame
of the prayer wheel
over zealously
this morning.

It was my attempt
to turn the wheel,
overturn the central axis
of my fate
and confirm the end
of my karmic life cycles.

I draw out
the wood and metal
embedded into my hand
with great respect,
with the same forgiveness
gifted to any module ritual.

I press my palm
to express what was
further pressured
into me
from the outside,
from the push
in the climb
to these new heights.

I inhale deeply
stinging my lungs
and chapping my throat.

I am very cold
and wrap my handkerchiefs
tightly around my wrists
to seal my cuffs.

I have no buttons,
I gifted them away to someone
who treasured them more than I.

Yesterday I watched an Elder,
a sightless lady
focused intently on her worship -
her vision was impaired
yet the sanctity of her faith
was not blind.

She turned over,
end to end,
each one of her prayer beads
only to stop, once -
to grab my arm
to capture and hold my attention.

I held her hand in mine
and I felt her textures -
her sunny skin burnt-golden
and the creases of her smiles.

Her heart caressed
my purple corduroy coat,
she had a fierce grip,
as unrelenting as her determination
to live out her life
on the terms of her own devotion.

The buttons on my coat cuff
resembled her prayer beads,
and each time her hand found a button,
she turned it over
smiling as she passed it
between her fingers.

Each button was treated sacrosanct,
sensed as if it held a beaded memory
and the mere touch of it
released a familiar store
of past sights and sensations -
treasured relics from her
boxed and buried past.

I felt her touch,
her fingertips brushed
the softness of my fabric.

I felt her sound,
her prayers penetrated
past my exterior coat
into my padded inner-lining.

I wished my coat sleeve had more buttons,
offerings for her to redeem
along each step in her Soul's search.

I sat down beside her
and I took her free hand,
then I glided my fingers
over the gilded pads of her fingertips.

I traced her configuration,
the structural arrangements of her parts,
the concentric circles that her uniqueness carved
and printed into the flesh that covered her jointed bones.

I felt the fabric of our universality,
the pattern that had built up over time,
the relationship of elements
in our bodies to our substance
and systems of being.

My wrist clicked from the dampness,
and my breath slowed from the high altitude.

I bent myself into a whispering position.
I shivered from the chill in the ground.
I wrapped myself tighter whenever my body shuttered.

I found my voice, I quivered.
Blind chance and cold made me sound
like a chanter, a singer of town cries.

Softly and cautiously from my mouth spilled
the stuttered lyrics of an ancient poem -
about a mountain that had a temple,
which housed a monk,
who told a story -
about a mountain that had a temple,
which housed a monk,
who told a story.
She giggled as I repeated the poem
each time she asked what the story was about.

She knew her part and I knew mine.
We both played our roles and found fun in the game.
We were philosophical about life and meshed.
We were fabric woven together at regular intervals,
a system related, connected parts,
paths that crossed in the manner
of strings threaded into a net.

We talked and she prayed
that someday ...
We would all Self-realize,
remember to see, that ...
We are all connected,
strands married in the web of life.

~~ Other People's Fingerprints ~~
Henrik Johan Ibsen sometime after 1828 wrote;
"If you want to be of value to society,
 there is no better way
 than to forge yourself
 into a vessel for its use."

Yucatan 1986: The Veil In Front Of My Eyes Thins

The rain sweetens the annatto seeds 
that I grind into red achiote paste.
My fingers redden,
wet from weather,
as I rub the paste 
onto a freshly sacrificed fish.

Ready for baking 
I wrap the fish 
in young green banana leaves 
I picked this morning.

The grey ash falls away, 
as I poke the coals to see 
if they will reveal 
their internal glow.

I lay the fish 
next to the baked bread 
keeping ready-to-eat-warm 
underneath the hot ash.

I have met many wise women 
along my travels 
through southern Mexico.
They gifted me 
their family secrets 
of cooking dishes, 
baking sweets,
and curing spices.

I safeguard 
the art of curanderismo, 
respect their secrets 
when I cook the sacred recipes.

I brought in my canvas bag
some marzipan 
from the city of Puebla,
famous for its pastry legacy 
from the French presence 
in 19th century Mexico.

I fell in love with 
Puebla’s signature dish of Mole Poblano -
a rich sauce made from grinding
chiles, nuts, herbs, spices and chocolate ...
usually served over turkey or chicken.

For my traveling herbal bag,
I chose to buy,
the renowned chocolate of Oaxaca -
after watching people bring 
cocoa beans, sugar, almonds and cinnamon,
to their neighbourhood mills to grind as ingredients 
into rich mixtures for hot chocolate and atoles.

As the rain pours down faster 
my friend, 
the wise curandera of the Mayan jungle,
comes out of her home 
smiling her sweet-toothed smile.

She has been making some tea 
to heal her cousin’s arthritis.
Cousin's constant fear 
has penetrated wet-cold 
into the dry-warmth of his bones.

My friend guides me with her eyes 
to notice the fleeting shadows -
the soldiers are getting closer
and potentially may threaten our meal.

She motions with her hands 
for me to look behind me -
in the hammocks 
slung between the trees 
are soldiers sleeping.

The smell of our food cooking 
must have lured 
the soldiering men from the jungle -
the chocolate rain is now tasting salty
and smoky from aromatic wood burning.

The soldiers will want to share the meal -
so my friend makes lavender tea as a sedative 
to keep these warriors docile and friendly.
I make more chocolate cake,
adding yerba buena spearmint and lemongrass, 
to calm down the soldiers' warring nerves.

I am alive swimming in now, 
exactly where I am to be, 
to create my life point.

I feel my body, 
my skin suit full of watery biology, 
walking the planet in gravity ...
feeling life’s miracles, 
as a spiritual being, 
in a soulful physical form.

On this edge of my next step, 
I have paced out the space that contains me.

I move my Self beyond the open window 
even if I do not yet see the entire view.

I see the nature of my true Self, 
and remember my place of origin.

I step into the game of free choice,
and pray the veil in front of my eyes will thin.

~~ Other People's Fingerprints ~~
Sometime somewhere Serge Kahili King wrote,
“… shamans recognize no hierarchy 
or authority in matters of the mind;
if ever a group of people 
could be said to follow a system 
of spiritual democracy,
it would be the shamans of the world.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cuba 1987: Begin Another Round of New Beginnings

The ocean waits for me each day,
born to that spot before me,
a fluid statue 
upholding the knowledge 
that I will come.

I am here 
to cast shadow castles 
in the sand, 
build dreams at my feet.

I sit at the end of the street 
where the road ends abruptly, 
falling its paved loose 
chunks of asphalt 
into the tides. 

Ocean mixes with sand, trash 
and international tourists 
tanning on the beach -
there is stillness here 
on the half broken stairs 
to somewhere.

My back is up against 
the torn rusted barb wire fence,
which supports me just enough, 
so I can dangle my feet 
over the precipice 
of the suddenly terminated road,
which from my current vantage point, 
leads to nowhere.

I am doing nothing in particular, 
except humming and overheating,
simply turning the weeks, 
and the world’s events 
over in my mind -
I wait for the sun to set, 
to end the day, 
in this part of the world ...
then two sisters appear 
beside and above me.

The youngest at twelve, 
stands shyly on the road, 
at the top of the stairs -
her hand on the railing 
ready to brace, 
in case 
she suddenly falls 
from innocence.

The elder, fifteen, 
little by little 
ventures down the staircase,
onto the sand, 
into my line of vision, 
where I am 
kicking up my heels.

At first I thought 
the sisters were from Mexico, 
part of the socialist tourism fraction 
which arrive smuggling 
their army of smells
from Canada, Russia, Mexico, France and Spain. 

Descending daily 
into this body of heat 
the planes disembark 
their foreign cargo
of international ambassadors 
who reflect the rising tide 
of socialist market economies.

I study the sister girls, 
they possess 
relaxed natural beauty 
and an unspoiled intelligence.
The girls laugh and point
to their origins, 
only a few yards from here, 
very local.

The sister’s steps 
forward to befriend me 
are cautious, 
typical in Cuba, 
yet something 
novel within them 
shines through - 
connecting us 
to each other, 
as we move the dance 
into deeper communication.

I am fascinated, 
not so much 
by the form 
the girls’ identity 
starts to take,
but by how 
their awkward 
freedom of movement 
plays out 
into a display ...
of child-like 
wonder and amusement, 
an exhibition 
that charms 
any and all 
fears away.

Their childlike innocence is magnetic 
amidst the pull of Havana’s sophistication.

The eldest, bored by stillness, 
wanders about the sand 
investigating everything underfoot -
as if she has never seen a beach before, 
even though the ocean is her doorstep.

We talk about the politics of fish bones
and the society of life in the ocean.

The sun crowns 
the girl’s long dark hair 
with a glow of wonder, 
adding a communal sparkle 
to their homemade,
handmade, seashell jewelry -
their all, and everything, 
highlights the knowing 
shining from within them 
through their eyes, 
the windows of their Soul, 
their life force is vibrant, 
clearly present.

They giggle 
as I describe the ocean 
and sand elsewhere 
in Canada, Mexico, Florida.

Girlishly they cling around my neck, 
all coral pink smiles, 
ruffled fringed skirts 
and fingers 
entangling my hair ...
I become shy 
at their unrestrained affection, 
and look down 
at the purple seaweed 
woven between their toes and mine,
creating a cultural tapestry of togetherness, 
framed healthy, 
peacefully cherubic.

I overcome my shyness
and open my heart further 
to receive their loving kindness -
as their love penetrates deeper 
I see more clearly, 
I see 
that their faces possess 
an emotional spirit of comfort, 
a sweet smell of consistency
by the pleasure 
of childhood 
vulnerability ...
these forces of their true nature 
sculpt an uncommon awareness, 
a self-determined self-sufficiency 
heroic in it's inquisitiveness.

Through the freedom these girls grant themselves,
I am born again 
by their natural invigorating 
qualities of curiosity -
I am enthused 
and inspired
to my core
to again begin 
yet another round 
of new beginnings.

~~ Other People's Fingerprints ~~
 In 1963 Carilda Oliver Labra wrote;
“Please, don’t point your weapons at the sky:
the sparrows are terrorized,
and it’s springtime, it’s raining, the meadows are ruminating.
Please, you’ll melt the moon, the only night light of the poor.
It’s not that I’m afraid, or a coward. I’d do everything for my homeland;
but don’t argue so much over your nuclear missiles,
because something horrible is happening and I haven’t had time enough to love.”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Zanzibar 2006: Head Above Trees

Zanzibar tapioca lies on the ground, heavy.
It is easy to be a root vegetable, uprooted.
I travel from Kenya to Tanzania to Zanzibar to Ethiopia.
I travel from Ethiopia to Zanzibar to Tanzania to Kenya.
This week borders were closed into Sudan and Eritrea.

As I fly, I notice no January snows on Mount Kilimanjaro.

In the international media coverage
more people are concerned about bird flu -
than human cargo or families of refugees.
I do not believe in hope,
I believe in simply being what I am, to be.

In my pocket I have a list of endangered fish.
No one I have talked to has heard of this list.

I read it to restaurant cooks, managers, 
patrons and fish sellers in open-air markets.
More people are concerned about bird flu than ocean health.
I calculate that birds are tired of high attitude, 
while the ocean is simply exhausted.

To be fair to the birds 
they are fatigued 
of flying high enough 
to survive being targets -
being the prey of bullets
from hunters hunting,
and being the collateral damage 
of Heavenly aimed friendly fire, 
from cheering soldiers celebrating their Self proclaimed wins.
I have grown tired of hearing gun fire and fire works.

This latest round of West African victories 
did not reach the front page of the daily news -
most news deserving readership 
seldom travels the length of any page,
particularity the international parched-mental tabloids.

Every time I go swimming,
the flying fish brake the surface tension, 
wings spread as I trail my hand, 
in the turquoise waters of Zanzibar.
My hands become covered in shiny silvery fish scales.
These jewelled waters are transparent mirrors of life.
Time does not travel here, but remains calm.

I touch the schooling jelly fish,
and I enjoy being shocked.
The tiny electrical shocks become predictable–
a useful occurrence for me to rebel against,
or submit to, depending on the day-
depending on which way currency travels.
Depending on if my inner peace is full of peace.

Either way, the currents evokes images
of what is inside me 
that is not still.
The restlessness of not I,
not mine to carry 
around my neck,
yet my energies are weighed down
and baggage my body
handsomely tiresome
ionically cumbersome.

I travel from Kenya to Tanzania to Zanzibar to Ethiopia.
I travel from Ethiopia to Zanzibar to Tanzania to Kenya.

An Elder, takes me to the church 
in Zanzibar's old town square.
This pink coral Stone Town used to be 
the central slave market for West Africa.
The church's cellar 
housed the slave cells, 
the incubative rooms, 
which divided mothers 
from children 
and husbands from wives.

My guide, 
in a body of an older man, 
asks me to read and help clear 
the energy from this space -
this time encapsulated misery, 
which still holds this island 
hauntingly captive, 
in grief stricken poverty consciousness.
Yet, Zanzibar has always been spiritual rich,
a wealth of wisdom 
from transforming 
the knowledge of the ages.

I stare at my breakfast,
hot and spicy in this heat and humidity.
I eat on the roof of the last Sultan's guesthouse.
Below me the Masai Warriors sell their red coloured crafts.
The bright fruits, perfumes and spices
growing on the ancient plantation mix smells,
white jasmine smells mix with vanilla flowers,
and each morning newly-awaken minds mix,
while smells entrance emotions and enslave senses. 

I stare at my breakfast
served to me just the way I like it,
with a smile and heavy on the spices.
I meditate on the history of being part of history.
I consider what it is simple to consider.
I simplify what is complex about life, and living one.

It is easy to break open the shell of an egg
already cracked from the drop at birth -
even cosmic eggs 
are fractals of fractional history -
unified at source in a solitary individual cell, 
yet coded at it's core to Self replicate, 
divide and conquer multiple singularities -
the human is the oddity 
with illusionary desires 
to enslave and control 
the uncontrollable.

The extent of heat within
the spicy sauce 
smothered onto my fried eggs
is amazing and delicious -
but there can be no explanation
for the astounding price of eggs in restaurants –
unless eggs are honoured 
and seen for what they truly are -
an incalculable soft layer of protein
birthed from the bottom 
of a chicken’s womb, 
exiting via the out door.

I meditate on
what is the price of humans 
birthed from women -
incalculable value for their soft layers 
of protein-enhanced 
water-based matrix,
enshrined for months 
within the temple of her Soul,
birthed from the bottom 
of a mother's heart.

In Kenya I saw a herd of giraffe, 
standing heads above the trees.
The sun highlighted their ears, tail twitches,
many spots of different colours.
While there I closed my eyes, 
and felt like I could
feel the fir on their necks –
smell their breath, 
and be warmed by their body heat.

I remember they moved with grace –
a swagger and sway 
that balanced 
their truck of a neck 
with their suitcase body, 
all held up 
by four legs 
hoofed and rooted 
into ancient soil,
heads and shoulders 
above the rest.

Giraffes give birth standing up, 
and are silent 
except when looking for their young -
then they cry ...
long sobbing cries.

My eggs cracked open laying before me, I feel.
I feel the wind on the bottom of my feet.
Now, if only I could see
the reflection of their giraffe Soul,
in their eyes and tear drops,
when their young go adventuring
head above trees.

~~ Other People's Fingerprints ~~
Sometime after 1929 Martin Luther King Jr. said;
 “Take the first step in faith.
You don’t 
have to see the whole staircase. 

Just take the first step.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nairobi 2006: I Ripple My Beauty Awake

My clothes still smell of dirt,
the smell of the many feet 
that walk these paths.
My clothes still smell of clay
the smell of many hands 
who sculpt history.

My clothes still smell of rain,
the smell of many bodies washed -
the thirst of a land never quenched.
My clothes still smell of the Sun,
the smell of skin baking –
the heat of a land never burnt.

My clothes still smell of moon,
the smell of faces glowing, beaming smiles –
the light of a land never in darkness.
My clothes have been washed many times,
the smell of life never fades –
the warmth of my flesh never cools.

My clothes have been worn out over time,
the smell of my experience grows stronger –
the taste I have for life never diminishes.

It is beauty that unites 
love with passion and ecstasy with eternity.
The sound of your voice in my ear startles me alive.
My beauty ripples awake. I startle myself awake.
Body shivers still, quiet, sounds come in,
I am impressed - a singular experience in this lifetime.

The capability of my self-recognition,
recognizing the art of my choices,
remembering beyond my understanding of myself.
My beauty ripples awake. I ripple my beauty awake.
The seeds in my core fall from the tree of my life.
I plant myself firmly on the ground,
command my roots to reach deep into the ground -
I ripple my beauty awake.

The Sun rises, the Sun falls, 
the Moon rises, the Moon falls –
the all of the all, 
ripples my beauty awake -
I choose to ripple my beauty awake.

~~ Other People's Fingerprints ~~
Canada First Nations, Ojibwa chant;
 “And it is going to echo clearly against the sky 
when I come along making my noise.”

Toronto 1988: The Space Between My Atoms Deepen

In my dreams I remember
That in the Beginning 
There was inner movement,
But I always forget my dreams ...
I always forget 
To envision my future 
Before I create it.

I forget to build with essence 
Rather than form –
So when unknown mystery approaches 
I will not hesitate to become approachable …
By shifting my viewpoint, 
Then my global stance, 
I embrace a future, 
I have yet to create. 

Still standing still, 
Still breathing 
After my momentary reconfiguration, 
I become aware 
Of the power of relationship –
Where my attention goes my energy flows –
Gathering all my forces 
Into a simple structure 
Of complex manifestation. 
But welcomely, 
I all-of-a-sudden Self-concieve.

I conceive 
That I am
That I must cultivate my attention 
By consciously practicing the art of focus -
My art of my focus charges all my senses, 
Converges my nervy mind
Into single-mindedness.

I practice focusing, 
Across the intersection,
First on the blue door, 
Second on the blue coats, 
Then hats and cats -
Dogs that walk by.
Then I concentrate 
All my senses 
To search 
For any signs of life ...
That might inhabit this space of intelligence ...
And may know 
How green the grass really is 
On the other side ...
That realm beyond my sixth sight, 
The realm which contains all That, exists 
All around me. 

I re-focus on the merchandise walking by, 
Every brand of shoe and boot -
I look closely at the souls of feet, 
To see if they are supported.

I expand, 
And then, I notice 
Above and beyond me -
The huge sky 
Painting the ceiling 
Of my reality with infinity.

Pressed flat by frost, 
My surroundings become 
Squished-enlarged ...
Ground, sky, trees
Birds, animals and people 
Grow in value and statue.

Everything accelerates.
Rising out of the permafrost blues,
Coughing out the darkness, 
From inception's last layer -
The last breath of Winter’s 
Rhythm and hues. 

I become aware 
Of the peppered sky,
Stars a splattered arc 
Of clustered communities 
Populated by inner light, 
Lit by inner fire, 
Selves sacred immolate ...
Life a meditative fire purification ceremony -
What the Tibetans call 
The mountain of burnt offerings.

No matter how difficult 
Our situation might be
We have erasure potential, and possibility -
Purifying ourselves through free will, 
Personal choice, 
Achieving Self-liberation from obscurations, 
Living charm,
The charma of dharma non-karma,
Inconspicuous consumptive consciousness.

Brilliance plasters across my viewing field,
A dazzling dance within the veiled rays 
Of inner universal life –
A whirl of nature’s random secret messages 
Transmitted to those who perceive.
I see planets - 
Tonight I see Chiron 
Returning to our skies
To help light the waves above us, 
Light the waves within us,
Light what is beyond us.

I remember on this planet 
The potential for life is infinite, 
Yet, I ache from knowing 
I am 
Addicted to knowledge of more.
I am
Wanting to know more.
I deeply desire further Self-awareness. 

I visualize 
That I can further Self-educate ...
Self-cultivate until I feel connection 
To my personal truth, 
Connection to my knowledge ...

But all of this yearning 
Has evolutionary requirements -
That I Self-evolve, Self-become, 
Self-lighten by Self-defining.

Being my all and everything 
requires my Self-leadership.
To know who I am requires 
That I choose to know who I am.
And who I am not.
Simple simplification to Self-identify.
I create my simple Self-identity. 
I create my Self-awareness.
I create my Self-respect and Self-dignity. 
I become, I be, I am Self-fulfilling.

I practice patience.

Time responds 
By elongating a falling star’s flutter.
The star's life disappears from the sky,
Just short of forever being the spectacular,
It was born to be ...

Or so I perceive, in this moment.

In front of my path 
The star's light leaves a slight trail,
a luminance shadow of it's former brilliance ...
The star has become something more ...
Perhaps Star has become something other ...
Self is another word for transformation,
the formation of form, 
and the transiting of information.

Or so I perceive, in this moment.

I remember the breath of life 
That cords my Soul 
Connects my present journey's existence - 
With my essence, 
With my inherent nature
With my abundant concentration of qualities,
Which constitute, in part, my presence.
My own ethical constitution 
Governing my own Self to be true peace.

Or so I perceive, in this moment.

I remember presence ...
That which comes before me 
Illuminating my darkness.
Each individual's Self-assurance,
That lights up the all, around
Each one, 
Of us.

Possibilities become apparent, 
I become unstuck,
And Self-radiate 
My infinite eternal potential.

It is time to move 
From my endless fixation on frozen tundra ...
Move my attention 
To a place to warm my eternity ...
Perpetual motion 
Abiding a travelling fellowship 
With the ever lasting aspects 
Of guiding my Self to myself.
My own internal compass,
That, which is me, 
That, which has no expiration date, 
That, which is not fixed, or has a shelf life.

My heighten sensory perception 
Revitalizes my life purpose,
And I use this renewed Self-sustainability 
To navigate 
My head and my heart 
Into a safe place 
Of expanded exploration ..
And so, 
Even though ...
I am packed deeply 
Inside my body of experience ...
So squeezed for space 
That I sometimes loose my sense of Self ... 
I finally, 
Finally I 
Do feel.
I finally do feel, 
I do feel. 

I know I am present 
When I feel full of life, 
Feel my life full of me, 
My presence.
Being in present time, 
Being present 
Is the same as feeling full of life, 
Feeling my life, 
Feeling, knowing 
And experiencing my sense of Self.
I feel deep space expand around, and within me. 
I feel my space, I am alive - 
I feel the space between by atoms deepen.

~ Other People's Fingerprints ~
Sometime after 1879 Hans Albert Einstein said; 
“Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony. 
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."