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A Poem for another day inside: Leaving and Grieving

April 16, 2020 1 comment

The last poem I published here was a reprise on a poem about grief that I wrote in 2016. At the end of March 2020 we were all grieving in various ways for all the losses we are experiencing. And we still are…

In Chinese Medicine grief is about the lungs, about breath. It is about air, the Chinese element of Metal. And the flip side of grief is inspiration – that inhale half of the breath; the flip side of expiration. So, as I wrote last time, we move to transform grief into praise; praise for all the healthcare workers and all who support them, from First Responders to the janitorial staffs. And as we grieve for all the losses we praise the work of all employed in the critical efforts to keep us all going, from farmers and grocers to drivers and builders.

Grief to Praise. Loss to a New Way. Death to Life. Exhale to Inhale.

Leaving and Grieving

The air is heavy with a metallic tang;
Lungs heave, souls leave,
Those who remain grieve.

Do you hear the sound of death
Echoing across the globe, the
Noise of passing and saving?

Are you quiet and safe, remaining
Inside, moving deeper in your
Journey to another way?

Breathe in that safety, surety that
This change is good, passing.
There is a new way on the other side.

Many are leaving, the rest are grieving.
The light seems dimming, shadows
Creep across the world.

Yet dawn is coming as the world turns.
Light will reveal the path
Outward, inward, leading home.

 

 

 

©2020 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

 

A Saturday poem, a reprise from July 2016: “A Time to Grieve”

March 28, 2020 Leave a comment

I came across a printout of this post from July 8, 2016, as I was clearing out some papers from my office. I read the poem again and thought: wow, here we are in the midst of yet another crisis; maybe the worst one yet! And there will be grief, lots of grief. A new killer is on the loose, not with an automatic weapon designed for war but a tiny COVID-19 virus mutation out to kill as many as it can.

In the nearly four years since I wrote and published this poem the first time, we’ve experienced a lot of loss! I don’t think I need to go through a list;  you all know what I’m referring to. But there is still hope; there is still light; there is still love! As we go through the changes brought on by the virus and the mixed responses to it, there will be more loss. There will be more love! We need a lot more love!

So here is what I wrote about the time then, and here is the poem about grief:

From July 8, 2016:

You know there are no coincidences. Everything is in flow, in divine order. The other day I wrote briefly about reading “The Smell of Rain on Dust”, the latest book by my most esteemed teacher, Martín Prechtel. This lovely little book is all about “Grief and Praise” – its subtitle. As I said the other day I’ll write a complete review of it when I have finished savoring every word. But in the meantime I am struck that I have chosen the perfect time to be reading it. It is time to remember how to grieve!

It is with humility and the deepest respect that I offer this riff on Martín’s work. These are his thoughts that I heard from his lips as I sat learning at his feet and I read in his marvelous book. And I offer it to you as a way to cope with a world that seems off the rails. It is only love that can right the wreckage.

A Time to Grieve

We seem to drift, as a nation,
Ever more deeply into violence and divide;
More killings; cops killing “innocents” –
“Innocents” killing cops.
There is an emerging frenzy to this senseless,
Escalating violence. It is so much, so intense.
It is maddening.
And it is not clear where it will end; or when or how.

Martín knows how.
He has spoken and written about it over and over.
We as a nation – as a so called culture –
Have lost the ability to grieve.

In fact this ability has been taught out of us!
Go shopping instead!
This is always the remedy. Consume more.
Eat up the world to mask the grief.
Hide our losses and sorrow
And desperate need of relief through grief
In our purchases.

Salve the wounds over with stuff.
Feel better with that latest broach –
Pin it on over your heart as a shield to hide behind.
Pin together the tatters in your broken heart.
Pretend it is whole; mend the tears
And choke back the tears.

For Heaven’s sake don’t embarrass yourself
With any display that would reveal your vulnerable soul.
That will not do!
There is no comfort there; only in more stuff.
How else do we keep the wheels on this economy
That promises protection, plenty, prosperity for all
And that pursuit, so elusive, of a happy life?

Grief is equally elusive as happiness!
We are not allowed to grieve.
Three days off for our dearest family members.
Take your own time for friends. Then back to work;
Produce so you can consume more.
No, we are not eating the world! There is always more.

Oh, and there will always be poor. Jesus said so;
And he was right about everything.
And they killed him too!
Never mind the poor; they are not worth dying for.
They are not worthy of our life style.

It will end in one of two ways:

We may kill one another as the violence escalates
To a new world war – a Global War on Terror
Brought to you by terror. Fight terror with terror –
It is the American Way. Our violence begets more violence.
It matters not how it began – it only has a violent end.

Or, we may remember how to grieve.
We can go to the sea and cry a river to fill it.
Weep for the deaths.
Weep for the brutality.
Weep for a society gone so wrong.
Weep for the wars.
Weep for the enemies “following orders.”
Weep for the loved ones whose bones we stand upon.
Weep for us, victims and perpetrators alike.
We are all in this together;
And we will never get out alive!

And when we have wept that river
Flowing to the sea, it might then be time to
Remember something else:
Remember the love that brought us into existence.
Remember the beauty of the world.
Remember the generosity of the Universe
Offering enough and more!
Remember to offer in return our praise and gratitude.

There is a cycle to the loss and gain,
The constant flow of less and more.
Know wherever we are in this cycle
It will continue.
There must always be time for grieving
Because there will always be loss.
Life is loss.
There must always be time for praising
Because there is always gain.
Life is love.

Live life to the fullest in grief and praise!

©2016 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

A Friday poem during this time of pausing in the mystery: The Good Things

March 20, 2020 Leave a comment

As I was writing my “morning pages” this morning I reflected on our situation with this COVID 19 pandemic affecting the entire human population. I’m looking at it as a “pause” – a time we need to stop and reflect on our choices, our values, our behavior. And we now have the time to do this! From this musing I thought about all the good things that are happening and can happen in the middle of this pause.

What do you think “the good things” are?

The Good Things

A message from Omen Crow:
You are in the dark; this is a shadow-time;
The mystery is yet to be revealed. But
There is no need for fear; fear is a choice!

Human activity is reduced and already
Pollution is clearing. Is there any doubt about
The connection? Humans will live differently
On and with the Planet.
And this is a good thing!

Humans will question more: about your lives,
What life is, why you are here. You will question
Your values; you will do more inner work.
And this is a good thing!

Humans will get more rest, eat better, breathe
Cleaner air, drink more water; you will feel better.
And this is a good thing!

Families will bond. Communities will form on
Technology platforms. Shared values will bond
And blend you in new villages where you will
Support one another through love.
And this is a good thing!

Ultimately you will form a Global Herd. Herd
Immunity will develop to create your protection.
And this is a good thing!

Humans are “all in this together.” Many of you
Are echoing this refrain. It will bring you to the
Place of Oneness.
And this is a good thing!

 

 

 

©2020, Richard W. Bredeson, all rights reserved.

A Presidents Day Poem: Currency for the Debt

February 17, 2020 Leave a comment

On Presidents’ Day my thoughts often turn to Washington and Lincoln and their birthday month. When I was a kid we celebrated both days, the 12th for Lincoln and the 22nd for Washington. Now, I guess for the sake of commerce and profit we can only take one day to observe both, or even all of the Presidents that have served us.

And yes, debt is on my mind as we careen toward a trillion dollar deficit! But there is so much more we owe than dollars! One of my most esteemed teachers, Martín Prechtel, often spoke of the Mayan philosophy that we are all born into debt and can never really get out of debt. This is my theme for the day.

Currency for the Debt

We are born into debt; we die in debt.
We stand on the bones of the ancestors
Gazing outward and we wonder:
What is the currency to pay this debt?

Our freedom is bought by the lives of those who defend us.
Our land is bought with the blood of those who have gone before.
Our blessings are bought with the hard labor of slaves.
What is the currency for our security?

The metal we have is leached from our ancestors’ bones.
The blood we have was shed by the soldiers and slaves we lost.
The freedom we have was saved by those who sacrificed all.
And security: Do we pay this debt with our freedom?

Democracy is demanding our attention to this debt.
Presidents have paid dearly to pave this costly way.
And yet, we wonder: would we throw it all over
For the surety of one more breath, one more bite?

 

 

 

©2020, Richard W. Bredeson, all rights reserved.

A Friday Poem for the US, with Love: “Get Out the Vote”

February 14, 2020 Leave a comment

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air. And you may wonder where the love is when you read my poem today.

One of my heroes is Robert Bly. I’ve had the privilege of studying “at his feet” – yes, literally. And I read and reread his poems often. One of my favorite refrains he has written is “It’s already too late!” This is from his second collection of ghazals: “My Sentence was a Thousand Years of Joy” and the poem titled “Listening to Shahram Nazeri.” So, the other day as I was listening to the news, a commentator said something like: “how far is too far?” And my immediate thought was “it’s already too far!” So, with apologies to Robert I am echoing his refrain in the following:

Get Out the Vote

Russia, if you are listening; Lock her up:
Call and response, chant the chant,
Lies and deceit, cover up: it’s already too far.

Get out the vote, trolls take note, purge the rolls,
Establish the doubt, break the booth;
Lies and deceit: it’s already too far!

Electoral College completes the lie; three million votes,
worthless; Michigan’s few thousand swing the tide.
We begin the slide; it’s already too far!

State is in shambles, FBI firings, DOJ meddlings, DOD
next? Fourth Estate attacked day and night;
Can’t hide the slide: it’s already too far!

Babies in cages, walls blowing down, Native lands sullied,
Rivers muddied, bridges collapsed, brown water sickens:
American carnage, yes: it’s already too far.

Laws don’t matter, impeachment’s ignored,
Power unbounded in the name of us all!
Where is the check? Or, is it already too far?

 

 

 

©2020, Richard W. Bredeson, all rights reserved.

A Sunday Poem: Don’t Let Their Throes Throw You

January 5, 2020 2 comments

It seems needed now…

Don’t Let Their Throes Throw You

Violence feels on the rise; state
Sponsored terror, murder is
At the door, our door!

Will it never end? Will the killing
Stop? The promised “new age”
Seems a distant dream.

Yet there are signs and wonders
We watch for, as planets turn
And Pluto returns with renewal.

Perhaps the step-up in violence is
One of these signs: the final throes
Of a dying age, expiring time—

For the ones losing power, losing
Their grip on the old ways. They
Hold tighter for a moment. But

Their days are numbered; their time
Is running. They have no vision.
Don’t let their throes throw you.

Throw off the burden of violence, hold
The vision of that New Age, and take on
The lighter load of love.

 

 

 

©2020, Richard W. Bredeson, all rights reserved.

A Friday Poem for the New Year: “Locked by the Clock”

January 3, 2020 Leave a comment

Over the holidays I’ve been reading a lot of Rumi, especially “The Soul of Rumi, A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems” translated by Coleman Barks. Many of these poems are ghazals, poems comprised of couplets. In his later published poems, Robert Bly took up this form. I have refrained from writing in this form as the rules are complex. But I don’t necessarily have to follow all the rules to write couplets. And I don’t have to call this poem a ghazal!

At this time of the year I often think about time. Yesterday as I was writing, the title of this poem came to mind. As I began to write it couplets came through. And as the poem developed our trip to the ocean to celebrate our December 15th special day came to mind. So, here is an attempt at a ghazal-like poem to celebrate the New Year and to put the passage of time in proper perspective!

Locked by the Clock

Teaching Qigong I often say:
“Locked knees block Qi.” Energy,

It flows from the earth, through the feet
Into the core of our being. Feel it,

The force of that flow surges
Like the tide lifting the heart. Listen:

The roaring surf, the salt spray
Glistening in the hanging mist, suspended:

The shimmering light of winter’s
Sun. Such times at the shore!

It is easy to float, drifting within the
Tide, not locked by the clock. Free:

No thought, merging with the
Ocean, emerging as One.

 

 

 

©2020, Richard W. Bredeson, all rights reserved.