Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wishing You Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2014!

Holiday Poem for Christmas 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

The Styrofoam snowman lookalike Santa 
Sits next to a penguin vase
In fake snow, tinsel

A gilded fruit bowl
“Not fit for food consumption”
Pine branches and cones made of plastic

The Night of GMO Christmas
Stores full of sad, frazzled people 
Buying gifts 

They’ll return next Monday

Lasciate omni speranza?
To be is just to have? 

Still, there's the happy warmth 
Of a baby dozing off 
On Grandpa’s lap
A child’s laughing 
At paper angel’s wings
She crumples in her hands

With pink cheeks, smudged by chocolate
From a large bite of a cookie
She made with her Mom
For Santa

“Merry Christmas” - she smiles
And all is well on Earth
And in Heaven
All is well and will be

(c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

Happy Holidays 2014 Card

By Christina Rosetti

Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answring music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

The Holy Night

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem;
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,
Softened their horned faces
To almost human gazes
Toward the newly Born:
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought their visionary looks,
As yet in their astonied hearing rung
The strange sweet angel-tonge:
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards, their gifts upon the ground,
The incense, myrrh, and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold:
So let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

311 (Snow)

by Emily Dickinson
clr gif
It sifts from Leaden Sieves —
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles of the Road —

It makes an Even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain —
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again —

It reaches to the Fence —
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces —
It deals Celestial Vail

To Stump, and Stack — and Stem —
A Summer’s empty Room —
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them —

It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen —
Then stills its Artisans — like Ghosts —
Denying they have been —


Photos of snowflakes by Wilson Bentley (1865-1931) from Wikipedia under standard terms.
Photos of Holly and Poinsettia leaves by Maja Trochimczyk

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What are We Thankful for? Autumn Leaves, Whitman, Harvest, Memory...

I have not felt particularly poetic during the last month and my poetry-writing shrank to nothing, my photography also disappeared from the horizon, after the November 9 opening of the  exhibition "Positively Local" at the Modest Fly Gallery in Tujunga, where I had just one photograph on display - of a golden leaf.  

Thankgiving Tanka

 half-split blood orange 
 rests on wet apricot leaves
 and blue fescue –
 my fall garden waits
 for the sun’s gold smile

     stacks of books
     in every corner –
     wrapped in a blanket
     of words
     I cherish my cosmos

          rich flavors of pumpkin spices
          almonds and nutmeg
          fill the kitchen –
          warms my heart

(c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

The turning of leaves in the fall is very high on my list of things I'm most thankful for.  In golden, intense California light after the rain the leaves are more beautiful than ever. Sublime and with such intricate, gorgeous detail... but I lost my iPhone, broke my camera, so now I can only look and remember. 

Through October  I worked on my music history project, "Jewish Composers of Polish Music in 1943" -  a paper invited for the international conference entitled "The Musical Worlds of Polish Jews 1920 1960" and held at the Arizona State University.  It was an amazing gathering of minds, with a keynote address by Prof. Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University, live music by the ART Ensemble of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and many fascinating lectures by scholars from Poland, U.K., Australia, Canada and the U.S.  

In my project this time I decided to count the names, this time: from 173 composers listed in 1939, 101 were still alive abroad (most of them have emigrated before the war) and 12 in Poland. Looking through the outlines of the composers' lives - destroyed and twisted by absolute evil, tossed around the world by winds of history... It is not an easy topic. We want to hear about the winners, the survivors, the heroes: we do not want this senseless, absurd, pointless death. I was not even born then, so what I can do? The only thing - remember: Koffler and Gold who died, Tansman, Palester, Kassern, Laks who survived... And be thankful for their gift of music.

Here is a suite in Polish style by Alexandre Tansman for solo guitar: 


And here's Artur Gold's perennially popular tango "Jesienne Roze" from a historical 1932 recording by Adam Aston  - also a Jewish-Polish musician, who survived with the Anders' Army that gathered the refugees and exiles, including war orphans and those released from Soviet camps and left via Iran and Palestine to fight in Africa and Italy. Aston lived, Gold died in Treblinka in 1942 or 1943, after conducting the death camp orchestra and composing the Treblinka Song.


A popular version, recorded by Irena Santor in the 1960s:


American Thanksgiving is a strange holiday about eating turkeys with sweet yams and cranberry sauce, topped off by pumpkin pie, with whipped cream. If you put marshmallows onto yams, you'll be drowning in sugar... white death in installments... The encounters of Indians and Pilgrims in the New World that we are remembering in this holiday, were far from idyllic sharing of the harvest and ended with a wholesale cultural genocide of the First Nations replaced by Anglo-Saxon invaders, followed by hungry waves of immigrants from impoverished areas of Europe, Asia, Africa... There's blood and death in all this sugar.

So, here's a sweet poem about  thanksgiving and blood: 

The Day of Peaches

Maja Trochimczyk

In England, I'd get a ticket for that bite
into the succulent flesh
of O'Henry peach - eating while driving

The peach shines butter yellow to orchid orange, 
blood red -  a blazing rainbow dissipates
into tart sweetness on my tongue

Who picked it? One of the young marines
with shaved heads that ran through the orchard
before being shipped off to war?

The man at the fruit stand said
he managed a machine shop for the marines
and ran five miles with them each morning

He silently packs my peaches, one for the road
I have a bite - warm juice spills on my chin
I think of the Great War, other wars

The marines' blood spilling on cold sand
of the beach, staining the sidewalk - 
I sigh in Thanksgiving 

(C) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk


The fall harvest celebration has ancient, agrarian roots and its variants may be found in different cultures around the world. In pre-Slavic Poland we had - later Christianized - "Dozynki" (The Gleaning or Last Harvest), at the end of the summer harvest, in late August or early September.  The harvesting in the fields started about a month earlier, with the offering the first cut of rye, wheat, or barley to the pagan deities of the fields. Long stems were cut by hand with a sickle and woven into a doll, securely placed on a high fence, overlooking the fields for good luck and the blessings of sunny weather, without summer storms. An offering of water, milk or wine was spilled on the ground in front of the doll, before the start of the harvest. The doll was taken back home after the completion of the harvest... but I do not remember what happened to it later. I remember seeing it up on the fence and being sternly admonished not to touch it by my officially Eastern Orthodox, and actually ancient Pagan grandmother who made it, still faithful to an ancient pagan custom in the 1960s...

In feudal times, the harvest festival ended with bringing in the gifts to the manor, and with a feast for everyone, celebrating the successful gathering of grain to feed the village and the nobility through the next year.   A beautiful depiction of this festival starts Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Oniegin. 

Dozynki is now an official state holiday both in Poland and in Czech Republic, returning to their ancient roots, and making sure we do not forget about our reliance on agriculture and working together with nature to nourish us in a sustainable, healthy way...

Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski -Dozynki (1910)

Instead of writing my own poem for Dozynki, let me share an American classic:

A Carol of Harvest for 1867 

by Walt Whitman 

(published in 1867, reprinted in the 1872 edition 
of Leaves of Grass as “The Return of the Heroes”)


A song of the grass and fields!
A song of the soil, and the good green grass!
A song no more of the city streets;
A song of the soil of the fields.

A song with the smell of sun-dried hay, where the nimble pitchers handle the pitch-fork;
A song tasting of new wheat, and of fresh-husk’d maize.


For the lands, and for these passionate days, and for myself,
Now I awhile return to thee, O soil of Autumn fields,
Reclining on thy breast, giving myself to thee,
Answering the pulses of thy sane and equable heart,
Tuning a verse for thee.

O Earth, that hast no voice, confide to me a voice!
O harvest of my lands! O boundless Summer growths!
O lavish, brown, parturient earth! O infinite, teeming womb!
O theatre of time, and day, and night!
A verse, to seek to see, to narrate thee.


For still upon this stage,
I acted God’s calm, annual drama;
Gorgeous processions, songs of birds,
Sunrise, that fullest feeds and freshens most the soul,
The heaving sea, the waves upon the shore, the musical, strong waves,
The woods, the stalwart trees, the slender, tapering trees,
The flowers, the grass, the lilliput, countless armies of the grass,
The heat, the showers, the measureless pasturages,
The scenery of the snows, the wind’s free orchestra,
The stretching, light-hung roof of clouds, the clear cerulean, and the bulging, silvery fringes,
The high dilating stars, the placid, beckoning stars,
The shows of all the varied soils, and all the growths and products,
The moving flocks and herds, the plains and emerald meadows,
These for all ages’, races’ witnessing.


Fecund America! To-day,
Thou art all over set in births and joys!
Thou groan’st with riches! thy wealth clothes thee as with a swathing garment!
Thou laughest loud with ache of great possessions!
A myriad-twining life, like interlacing vines, binds all thy vast demesne!
As some huge ship, freighted to water’s edge, thou ridest into port!
As rain falls from the heaven, and vapors rise from the earth, so have the precious values fallen upon thee, and risen out of thee!
Thou envy of the globe! thou miracle!
Thou, bathed, choked, swimming in plenty!
Thou lucky Mistress of the tranquil barns!
Thou Prairie Dame that sittest in the middle, and lookest out upon thy world, and lookest East, and lookest West!
Dispensatress, that by a word givest a thousand miles—that giv’st a million farms, and missest nothing!
Thou All-Acceptress—thou Hospitable—(thou only art hospitable, as God is hospitable.)


When last I sang, sad was my voice;
Sad were the shows around me, with deafening noises of hatred, and smoke of conflict;
In the midst of the armies, the Heroes, I stood,
Or pass’d with slow step through the wounded and dying.

But now I sing not War,
Nor the measur’d march of soldiers, nor the tents of camps,
Nor the regiments hastily coming up, deploying in line of battle.

No more the dead and wounded;
No more the sad, unnatural shows of War.

Ask’d room those flush’d immortal ranks? the first forth-stepping armies?
Ask room, alas, the ghastly ranks—the armies dread that follow’d.


Pass—pass, ye proud brigades!
So handsome, dress’d in blue—with your tramping, sinewy legs;
With your shoulders young and strong—with your knapsacks and your muskets;
(How elate I stood and watch’d you, where, starting off, you march’d!)

Pass;—then rattle, drums, again!
Scream, you steamers on the river, out of whistles loud and shrill, your salutes!
For an army heaves in sight—O another gathering army!
Swarming, trailing on the rear—O you dread, accruing army!
O you regiments so piteous, with your mortal diarrhoea! with your fever!
O my land’s maimed darlings! with the plenteous bloody bandage and the crutch!
Lo! your pallid army follow’d!


But on these days of brightness,
On the far-stretching beauteous landscape, the roads and lanes, the high-piled farm-wagons, and the fruits and barns,
Shall the dead intrude?

Yet the dead mar not—they also fit well in Nature;
They fit very well in the landscape, under the trees and grass,
And along the edge of the sky, in the horizon’s far margin.

Nor do I forget you, departed;
Nor in Winter or Summer, my lost ones;
But most, in the open air, as now, when my soul is rapt and at peace—like pleasing phantoms,
Your dear memories, rising, glide silently by me.


I saw the return of the Heroes;

(Yet the heroes never surpass’d, shall never return;
Them, that day, I saw not.)

I saw the great corps,

I saw them approaching, defiling by, with divisions,
Each, at its head, in the midst of his staff, the General.

I saw the processions of armies,

Streaming northward, their work done, they paused awhile in clusters of mighty camps.

No holiday soldiers!—youthful, yet veterans;

Worn, swart, handsome, strong, of the stock of homestead and workshop,
Harden’d of many a long campaign and sweaty march,
Inured on many a hard-fought, bloody field.


A pause—the armies wait;

A million flush’d, embattled conquerors wait;
The world, too, waits—then, soft as breaking night, and sure as dawn,
They melt—they disappear.

Exult, indeed, O lands! victorious lands!

Not there your victory, on those red, shuddering fields;
But here and hence your victory.

Melt, melt away, ye armies! disperse, ye blue-clad soldiers!

Resolve ye back again—give up, for good, your deadly arms;
Other the arms, the fields henceforth for you, or South or North, or East or West,
With saner wars—sweet wars—life-giving wars.


Loud, O my throat, and clear, O soul!

The season of thanks, and the voice of the carol of full-yielding;
The chant of joy and power for boundless fertility.

All till’d and untill’d fields expand before me;

I see the true arenas of my race and land—or first, or last,
Man’s innocent and strong arenas.

I see the Heroes at other toils;

I see, well-wielded in their hands, the better weapons.


I see where America, Mother of All,

Well-pleased, with full-spanning eye, gazes forth, dwells long,
And counts the varied gathering of the products.

Busy the far, the sunlit panorama;

The western fields appear, with endless, prodigal surface;
(The steam-ploughs and horse-ploughs did their work well, and the rotary spader did its work well.)

Lo! prairie, orchard, and the yellow grain of the North,

Cotton and rice of the South, and Louisiana cane;
Open, unseeded fallows, rich fields of clover and timothy,
Kine and horses feeding, and droves of sheep and swine,
And many a stately river flowing, and many a jocund brook,
And healthy uplands with their herby-perfumed breezes,
And the good green grass—that delicate miracle, the ever-recurring grass.


Toil on, Heroes! harvest the products!

Not alone on those warlike fields, the Mother of All,
With dilated form and lambent eyes, watch’d you.

Toil on, Heroes! toil well! Handle the weapons well!

The Mother of All—yet here, as ever, she watches you.


Well-pleased, America, thou beholdest,

Over the fields of the West, those crawling monsters,
The human-divine inventions, the labor-saving implements:
Beholdest, moving in every direction, imbued as with life, the revolving hay-rakes,
The steam-power reaping-machines, and the horse-power machines,
The engines, thrashers of grain, and cleaners of grain, well separating the straw,
The power-hoes for corn-fields—the nimble work of the patent pitch-fork;
Beholdest the newer saw-mill, the cotton-gin, and the rice-cleanser.

Beneath thy look, O Maternal,

With these, and else, and with their own strong hands, the Heroes harvest.

All gather, and all harvest;

(Yet but for thee, O Powerful! not a scythe might swing, as now, in security;
Not a maize-stalk dangle, as now, its silken tassels in peace.)


Under Thee only they harvest—even but a wisp of hay, under thy great face, only;

Harvest the wheat of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin—every barbed spear, under thee;
Harvest the maize of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee—each ear in its light-green sheath,
Gather the hay to its myriad mows, in the odorous, tranquil barns,
Oats to their bins—the white potato, the buckwheat of Michigan, to theirs;
Gather the cotton in Mississippi or Alabama—dig and hoard the golden, the sweet potato of Georgia and the Carolinas,
Clip the wool of California or Pennsylvania,
Cut the flax in the Middle States, or hemp, or tobacco in the Borders,
Pick the pea and the bean, or pull apples from the trees, or bunches of grapes from the vines,
Or aught that ripens in all These States, or North or South,

Under the beaming sun, and under Thee.

Monday, October 21, 2013

On Halloween, All Souls, and All Saints...

Halloween with a Smile, (c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

Did you decorate your house for Halloween yet? I took out my laughing bats, magic hats, and pumpkins. Yet another year of trying to tame the monster, make the grime and horror go away. I wish to replace the vulgar tastelessness of eyeball soups and skeletons on the lawn with some carnival-style whimsy... I'll be disappointed again, surrounded by plastic atrocities emerging from the closet yet again, as we circle on this merry-go-round of time that accelerates every year. When I started my "Chopin with Cherries" blog in 2010, I wrote about the composer's death, cemeteries and Halloween... Let me start this rant against Halloween, then, with a self-quotation:

  "October in America is filled with the excitement of Halloween. Now, that’s a strange celebration! People dress up as zombies. They scatter eyeballs, skeletons, and torn, bloody limbs around their houses. They convert their gardens into makeshift graveyards… All to scare death away. The spiritual roots of Halloween are in Druidic rituals of the Winter Solstice, a holiday of darkness, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. What if the night won and the sun never came back? Monsters, ghouls, and horrible, terrifying, dangerous creatures of the dark are supposed to be roaming the world that night, saying “trick or treat” – “bribe me, or I’ll kill you.” 

In a highly commercialized current version of this celebration, a wild party-season culminating on October 31, we conquer our fear of death by dressing up like the dead and dressing our children like cute little ghouls and monsters, to cheat and trick death, pretending we are already dead. There is more to it, of course, beyond the candy giveaway and all-night, carnival parties. To me, this is a day dedicated to fear and rejection of death. We want to live forever. We mock and deny the power of death, by ridiculing it in the most atrocious way possible. People love Halloween. I’m deeply conflicted about it. As a mother, though, I made my share of costumes… 

Traces into Earth - Photo (c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

I remember going to a cemetery on October 31, during my first year in Canada, two months after coming from Poland. It was a culture shock. There was nobody there, the place was abandoned. In the city, stores and yards were full of make-believe tomb-stones, with sculls scattered around and zombies’ hands sticking out of the ground, but nobody went to bring candles and flowers to real graves. In Poland, at this time of the year, we used to visit the grave-sites of our grandparents, great grandparents, or soldiers, or victims of the war. We used to bring candles to these grave-sites and monuments. In the rain, in quickly falling darkness of a late autumn evening, cemeteries and war memorial sites were shrouded by the warm glow of thousands of candles. People wanted to remember their dead, their fore-bearers. They wanted to reflect on the past, think about their own mortality. The All Souls’ Day, October 31, is a melancholy, yet comforting remembrance of our ancestors and a time for reflection on our own place in the dance of generations.

 In Warsaw, where we had no family graves to visit, we went to the monuments of the fallen: the Unknown Soldier, the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. (A handful of underground Home Army soldiers held out for 63 days before being defeated by the Germans, while the Allies waited for the city to bleed to death). We walked through the alleys of Powazki, the oldest cemetery in town, visited the graves of famous Poles. We brought lots of candles; children ran around and made sure all the candles were burning. They had fun: played with fire, skipped over puddles, collected dry, colorful leaves. Adults walked with their umbrellas, and said “shh, shhh… be quiet, this is a cemetery, a place of peace and eternal rest.” 

But it is not the disgusting artificial severed limbs, eyeless sockets of plastic skulls that may truly terrify you. The scary stuff happens behind closed doors, in homes that look so idyllic from afar, with their bright porch light and tidy gardens:

The Hour of Darkness

"Get out of my house!!!"
said the man.
"Look at the knife
in my hand!"
the boy answered.
The woman cried

with her heart split open.
The little girl whispered:
"I wish I were a fairy
and could make myself deaf
to not hear you..."

And it was night. 


Note: The last line is quoted from The Bible, NIV, the Gospel According to St. John: John 13:30.

(c) 1997 by Maja Trochimczyk 

Darkness comes, last sunlight  - Photo (c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

Sometimes the pain that outlasts all others is internal, invisible, untouched: 

Love Horror

I saw you at the opera:
So royal in your splendidness,
you dispensed favors
left and right,
bestowing graces.

What did you see
in me, a Shulamite
dancing darkly
among throngs
of chaste-less virgins?

Love is a horror of distance -
silent scream
for one kind hour 

(c) 2000 by Maja Trochimczyk

And then, of course, out of a broken heart, a broken present, and no future:

Last Wish

Kiss me with the kiss of death
so my lips stop breathing
kiss me with the kiss of Lete
so its waters wash away
my memory
kiss me, please,
so I could go in peace
to the empty fields of Elysium
for a well deserved stroll in the park
of the late graceful

(c) 2003 by Maja Trochimczyk

The Waters of Lethe - Photo (c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

Sometimes, things happen that you do not want to remember, do not want to forget. April 4, 2000. The day my parents were shot. May 12, 2001, the day my Father died, after a year in and out of the hospital. His last words to me? About a week before his death: "Majusiu, your Dad has become a vampire! I live off other people's blood." And we laughed at this joke about a very serious matter. His spine cells, exhausted by months of malnutrition, stopped producing red blood cells. He lived because he had a blood transfusion every two weeks. Indeed, a vampire.

Then: July 4, 2013, the day my Mother died. I would not believe it was serious, that trip to the hospital (again!), in an ambulance (again!). I had time to get used to to these phone calls from Poland, month after month, year after year, ambulance, hospital, home, convalescence... I have not written any poems in Poland, any about Her death. I'm still in denial. But I wrote this, when they were shot, on the plane back to L.A., returning after 10 days sitting in the hospital, by their bedside in Warsaw:

The Polish Easter

The bullet pierces the lung,
blood spills in darkness:
shortness of breath,
mouth tied with tape
agony in the basement
cold cement floor

How does one live after that?

Does one live?
Without the stomach,
kidneys, intestines and spleen?
Plastic pipes carry out
all kinds of liquid.

The Polish Easter
is a celebration of
overeating. Food is life.

Would Dad ever eat again?
Would Mom ever breathe without gasping?

Honor your mother and father.

I do.

They did not.

(c) 2000 by Maja Trochimczyk

Waiting for You, in Silence  - Photo (c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk
Add caption
Now, both of my parents are gone to the All Souls world.  Where is it? I do not know. What is it? I cannot imagine. It exists, I'm quite certain, as I often feel their presence with me. They both look over my shoulder as I write this, making sure I'm being a good girl. How? Certainly not like that overzealous Guardian Angel in a short story by Slawomir Mrozek; so eager to take care of his charge, a very active boy, he kept hitting and slapping and punishing the youngster for his every move. Unwittingly, the angel caused an adverse reaction. The boy, unable to run out and play with kids without being slapped by his Angel, instead got a chemistry kit, made a bomb, blew up his house, and ran away, followed by the Guardian Angel, limping...
Funeral Portraits in Wilanow Museum, Photo by Maja Trochimczyk
Funeral portraits (taken from coffins), 17th century Polish nobles and noblewomen.
Wilanow Art Gallery, Poland.

All Saints, then. Saints in Heaven. The realm of pure, white satin robes, gold halos, harps hanging on willow branches. Endless boredom. According to Mark Twain, at least. I have not been there yet, only peeked inside a couple of times. Looked and forgot what I saw.  We are not saints. Not yet.

Green shone the wings
of the dove - the Psalm says
with erudite certainty
that I don’t share
touched - as I am -
by an angel
of forgetfulness
and inattention.

Green shone the wings - Photo (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk


Photos (C) 2011-2013 by Maja Trochimczyk
Poetry (c) 1997-2013 by Maja Trochimczyk 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

100 Thousand Poets for Change - What Change? Where? How?


The 100 Thousand Poets for Change event at the end of September has attracted poets from many political and spiritual orientations.  I have participated in two such events with my writing group, Westside Women Writers, so I decided to do something different this year and join the diverse community of poets, artists, spiritual teachers and comedians who gathered at the Church of Truth: Center for Awakening Consciousness. The event, organized by poet Marcielle Brandler was recorded for her show "Marcielle Presents..." to be broadcast on public access TV in Pasadena.

Marcielle invited me because she liked my ephemeral and sensual love poetry and wanted me to read that. I wondered what this type of poetry may have to do with protests, demonstrations, anti-war, anti-1% and pro-Occupy events that other 100 Thousand Poets for Change have evolved into.
I was pleasantly surprised that the change she is interested in is the same type of change I'm interested in - the only one we can actually control and "own" - personal, spiritual change. 
Since we met at the closing of my Exhibition "Shadows-Leaves-Roses" at Scenic Drive Gallery of Susan Dobay in Monrovia, I decided to honor our mutual friend with a poem inspired by her painting, Musicscape 12, an image of a large tree surrounded by small trees in a whirlwind of pastel colors.

See how we dance? 

~ inspired by Susan Dobay's "Musicscape  12"

Simon says – “grow”
and our roots reach for water
our branches for the sun

Simon says – “blossom”
and our pink petals open
in a gold mist of newness

 Simon says – “sing”
and we let the breeze whisper
with hummingbirds, jewels, leaves

 Simon says – “fly”
and we turn and turn again
in swirling clouds, voiceless music, dancing


Published in  an anthology "On Awakening" ed. K. Wilson, Poets on Site, 2012.

The poem is a play on a children's game - followers and teacher, learning to grow and spread your wings, by following an example of someone or something who/that is already there. Inspired. 
How appropriate that the poem was published in a book "On Awakening" edited by Kathabela Wilson and consisting of poetry to paintings by Susan Dobay!

The focus on personal enlightenment took me next to my didactic poem, a definition of virtues - four cardinal and three theological virtues, The Cornerstone. I have shared this poem here in the past, but why not read it again?

The Cornerstone

Justice: Do what's right, what's fair.
           Fortitude:  Keep smiling. Grin and bear.
                   Temperance: Don't take more than your share.
                            Prudence: Choose wisely. Think and care.
 Find yourself deep in your heart
                       In a circle of cardinal virtues
                                     The points of your compass
                                                                YOUR CORNERSTONE
Once you've mastered the steps, new ones appear:
      Faith:   You are not alone . . .
Hope:  And all shall be well . . .
Love:   The very air we breathe

                                                                           WHERE WE ARE. . .

This poem uses color font so it can be read by a group, with each member reading lines of different color and the words in caps read by all. At the end there is a definition of love as the "very air we breathe where we are..." I really, really like this definition and am very proud of having come up with it. It is so true, and so amazing.  It is the universal love of everyone and everything, the love that starts at self and spread outwards to touch every single life, every single being we come in touch with.

But then, I came to the understanding of this love - a concept that eluded me for decades - through a very specific, romantic kind of love. This one, too, is timeless, or can be, when treated right. So I read the perennial favorite of my audiences that I read so often I grew tired and stopped entirely.

The Rose Window
I place you in the heart
of my rose, dark red one
with dew drops on its leaves.
Like a tricked-up baby
from Ann Geddes' postcard
you rest, snugly wrapped
in the comfort of my love.

"That too shall pass," they say,
"That too shall pass.
The rose will wither,
love will fade away."

Respectfully, I disagree.
I know the symmetry
of velvet petals
is but an opening
into a different universe,
a cosmic window,

I see it in the shyness
of your smile. Yes.
You are that lucky.

In the morning
when the curtains of mist
open above silver hills
carved from time
like a Japanese woodcut,
you taste freedom.
You found your true self
under the detritus
of disordered life.

Isn't it strange
that you've been saved
by the perfection

of just one rose?

Published in Rose Always: A Court Love Story (Moonrise Press, Rev. ed. 2011)

From the window it was a very short trip inside, to Marcielle's favorite poem of mine, Eros 6. I read it at the "Shadows-Leaves- Roses" exhibition to a great delight of my audience. It is short and defines feminine view of love that is sweet, sensuous and spiritual. 


Eros 2

if you have a stem
that needs a flower
      I am your rose

if you are a blade of grass
that longs for the happy weight
of the butterfly,
      I’ll give you wings

if you are a cherry
overflowing with rich, sweet juice,
      I’ll plant you as my tree

published in Miriam's Iris (Moonrise Press, 2008).

My poetry fit very well with the theme of the reading and the core ideas represented by the Church of Truth, founded in 1913, and still active. Their motto ("Live the Light, Give the Light! Bring heaven to earth every day!") may appear in many religions and this original, gentle, and inspired group professes borrowing from a number of traditions. 

If you are interested in the Church of Truth, visit their website: CenterforAwakeningConsciousness.com.  This is a definition of their tenets:

"New Thought, as defined by The International New Thought Alliance, is an ever evolving understanding that all of life happens through us, never to us. It uses the term or word consciousness to further explain the process, often quoting Emmet Fox's statement, 'Life is Consciousness,' that leads one to the ever unfolding idea that in order to effect a change in our life, the realm of mind called consciousness must first change."

I  do not know if I will come back for any of their meetings, since I have my calendar filled with artistic events, and my Sunday mornings with serving as an usher in a Catholic church. However, I was delighted to have selected a matching dress, scarf and book covers to go so well with the colors of their poster, depicting the flower of an opening lotus. That was very inspired!

I was also quite happy to meet many interesting poets and inspired writers. For me, a visit to the Church of Truth was a gift and an opening of a window to  a world I knew nothing about.  That's change enough for this year.