Friday, September 25, 2015

Give It All Away... Love and Light Poetry Workshop with Jessica and Juan

You give it away and it magically grows back so you have more of it . . . What is it? Not money, because it does not grow on trees. . . and not any physical possessions . . . For Jack Weber it is love, and he came up with 15 reasons to prove it:  On September 23, 2015 I read this essay divided into three voices, with Jessica Wilson and Juan Cardenas, as a part of a Poetry Workshop "Give It All Away..." This paradoxical recipe works very well, if applied with sincerity, so, the advice to our listeners, residents at Phoenix House Venice, was to go, "have at it..."
Maja Trochimczyk, Juan Cardenas, Jessica Wilson, Akilah Templeton

Though called "Poetry Workshop" and filled with poems, our event was actually not very poetic, not in the sense of learning the craft of writing poetry. . . Our focus was content. September is the National Recovery Month and we decided to celebrate it by sharing words of wisdom, inspiration, and positive thinking. Words of truth, love and light.  Before the reading started, I went around the room to shake hands with everyone in the audience. It is a very important gesture of connection and affirmation. While shaking hands you have to look the person straight into their eyes. This is where you meet and know each other. this is the connection of love.

Jessica M. Wilson, the President of the Los Angeles Poet Society, accompanied by her husband, flutist and poet Juan Cardenas, led the way with poems from her new book, Serious Longing, published this year by Editions du Cygne in Paris. Surrounded by soft tones of the flute, she continued the reading with an inspiring poem printed in the program:


I am a Poet of the
Cosmic chord -- I say, “luz”,
Maja calls it, “love”.

Perception and digital signals, dials us up
one by one.
We are here; empty.

Come and fill us up,
just don’t feel us up; we’re tired
of being used,
tired of being consumed.
Trash bag over our young and we don’t even want to look
to see its face. An atrocity.

A lone 93-year-old man who’s loved so,
as to sacrifice decades of his life for a cause of millions...
and here he makes breath
for only few to ever see.
Broken chord.
Chain-link to every human’s ghost.
A known unknowing of our eternity.

JESSICA M. WILSON is Navajo Indian Poet from East Los Angeles, CA. She has an MFA in Writing from Otis College of Art and Design and a BA in Creative Writing and Art History from University of California, Riverside. She began the Los Angeles Poet Society as an answer to bring the LA literary 'scene' into light - so there would be transparency between Poets and Poetry Venues, Publishers, Musicians and Artists and all creatives. To bring the community together, she is Founder and Host of the Literary Series: Writers' Row, Writer Wednesday, SoapBox Poets Open Mic, and the Salon @ NoHo. Jessica is a Poet Teacher with California Poets in the Schools, and believes in the power of the word! She is also a member of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change and the Revolutionary Poets Brigade in Los Angeles.

Her final poem was a call to action, inspiring her listeners to acknowledge and speak their personal truth: 


I can imagine the earth in a field of words.
I make new ethics; blow them into the winds to meet the people.

I can influence the direction of the sparkling tide
by tapping my finger
on its surface.

In an exhale of sighs, I can signal traffic
to travel another way.
Flashing bulbs
of green and yellow merge from my palms.
They taste like nectarine
and nourish us.

I can blow the dust of glass
into new cities of neon lights
and dark clouds.

I am able to resist because someone has to.
If you question nothing,
why have a mind to think?

I can do something because I really never liked
waiting around
for a show to start.
I am the show.
We are the actors on this world-set of made up dreams,
fantasy nodes, truths we shear from the trees and towers.

We are the truth.
Let us show it always.
Let us be truth.

Jessica M. Wilson

JUAN CARDENAS, who was ten when he came to the U.S. from Mexico,  is a flutist, vocalist, poet, activist, and educator to the bilingual community, specializing in teaching poetry and music to the youth. He is a Poet Teacher with California Poets in the Schools, working with native Spanish speakers and youth of diverse cultural backgrounds. Juan is also part of the 100 Thousand Poets and Musicians for Change, and the Revolutionary Poets Brigade - Los Angeles. This is what he says about the tole of creativity in his life:

"Literature and creative expression were the gateway to discovering who I was, it made the everyday living simpler to understand, and school a lot easier to handle; not to mention motivating. I am able to see how poetry impacted my life at a young age in a positive way. I am now aware of the different directions my life could have gone as I see today’s youth. As an immigrant growing in a Latino community, I first-handedly felt  the lack of literary outlets in the community. Unfortunately, I still feel its presence in North Hollywood. I would like to be the bridge to the community to literal creative arts."

After the presentations by Jessica and Juan it was my turn. First, I led my listeners in a five-minute Meditation on Light that I created, based on a variety of inspirations. Then, I read three poems with love as the theme, my favorite subject.

© 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk, Ph.D

I followed the meditation with an ancient Druidic Blessing of Light from Ireland, that I used for my Christmas Wishes this year. Indeed, this is the Year of Light!

May the blessing of light be on you 

Light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine on you

And warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire.

Meditation on Light

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax. Imagine a bright, golden-white light right above your head, a miniature sun, or a star. Its golden rays shine all around, through you. You are surrounded, enveloped, protected by light. You are safe.

Now, the light shines inside you; its rays penetrate your whole body. All shadows disappear. There is no regret, fear, anger, sorrow. There is no guilt, no shame. Only light. The rays are everywhere, light is everything.

Now, the bright star descends into you; invite the light to enter and fill you. It shines in your brain, inside your head. You see it in your mind's eye. Light particles scatter and flow in waves. You are all light. All thoughts are pure light. There is no darkness. Only light, only peace. 

Now, the light star comes further down and settles in your heart. You have a small sun shining in the middle of your chest. It stays there. The pulsating sun-heart is moving the golden white, dazzling light into all the parts of your body. Your blood and veins are full of light.  Its warm glow spreads all over.

The streams of light flow through all your organs, muscles, skin. The light rays purify, heal, and cleanse. They flow to the tips of the fingers, the tips of the toes, eyes, ears, mouth, nose... the top of your head and the soles of your feet, all over your body. The light is energizing. It is good. All good. You are thankful, full of joy. You feel calm, peaceful, serene. 

You rest in the golden glow of the light. You say YES to the light, YES to the life this light brings. Here you are, a bright, living, pulsating star, made of stardust and starlight. 

Here… Now… In this moment…. Next… You are light. You are peace. You are love.

Still.... silent ... serene... Breathe deeply. Breathe in, breathe out... Breathe in, breathe out... 

You rest in the tranquil rhythm of your heart – a bright, pulsating golden sun.

The sun of gratitude, the star of joy, the light of love. 

(c) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk (revised in 2016 and reposted on this blog; published in Into Light)

We can find light and love in many places. In our hearts, in the hearts of our family and friends, in the arts.  The story of Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine is fascinating, an enchantment that survived through the ages.  It is a miraculous painting that appears to look at you, as if it were alive.

Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine, Poland's Chartoryski Museum

The Lady with an Ermine

~ after Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, in the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow

Her eyes follow me around the room
with that secretive smile she shares
with her famous cousin.
Filled with the knowledge of what was, what will be
she slowly caresses the smooth warm ermine fur.

"Tesoro, amore mio, sii tranquillo, ti amo"

Leonardo’s brush made a space for her to inhabit,
a grey-blue sky painted black much later –
she was pregnant, her son – a Sforza bastard,
the white ermine - the emblem of her Duke.

Sheltered by Polish royalty, she revealed
her charms only to their closest confidantes.
In 1830, exiled in a precious wood box, to Paris,
In 1919, returned to taste the Polish freedom.

"Amore mio, sii tranquillo, ti amo"

In 1939, hidden again, found by the Nazis
for Hitler’s last dream, the Linz F├╝hrermuseum,
Art among red flags and swastikas, flourishing
in the dark cavern of his mind. Never built.

Berlin, occupied Krakow, Governor Frank's
hunting lodge, Bavaria. The Red Army's closing in.
The train tracks. Crisp winter air. American soldiers,
The cameras of Monument Men.

"Sii tranquillo, ti amo"

Back home in Krakow, she is safe
in the recess of a museum wall. Under a muted spotlight,
Children play a game:Walk briskly from right to left,
don’t let your eyes leave her eyes, see how she is watching you.

Her eyes follow me around the room
Filled with the knowledge of what was, what will be
she slowly caresses the smooth warm ermine fur.
She knows that I know that she knows.

"Amore mio, ti amo"


* Tesoro, amore mio, sii tranquillo, ti amo" - fragment of a love letter in Italian, "Sweetheart, my love, be  quiet, I love you"

(C) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

In the second poem, the entire house has joined me, fifty voices repeating every line after I said it. I actually asked the listeners just to repeat the words in caps, or so I thought. But they had the text in the program and started from the beginning, one phrase after another. Why not? It turned out fantastic! The poem became very dynamic and energized. It came alive. I'm always going to read this poem in this way.

The poem is built around the kernel of basic daily meditations based on four phrases: I'm sorry, Please forgive me. Thank you and I love you.  I recently encountered these phrases on the Stillness in the Storm blog where I find poetic inspiration. The radio host Ted Mahr of Out of This World Radio, recounted a story of the poisoned water of Fukushima. Human-made radiation after the nuclear disaster is spreading around the globe, poisoning all living beings in the Pacific Ocean. Poisoning the waters, the source of life is a terrible thing that we did and now have to fix it.

According to Dr. Masaru Emoto, the creator of the Emoto Peace Project in Tokyo, Japan, we should pray and send our thoughts to the ocean's waters to heal them. At the shore of the ocean, we should gather daily, in a group, and say the following prayer, three times in a row:

Prayer to Fukushima Waters 

Water, we are sorry
Water, please forgive us
Water, we thank you
Water, we love you

I took these basic phrases that can also be found in the most Catholic of rituals, the Mass, starting from "sorry" Confession at the entrance, asking for forgiveness in Kyrie Eleison - Christe eleison and leading to the rite of Thanksgiving in the Eucharist, and the sharing of peace with everyone in Communion, eating the bread of light and love...  So here, my version:

Repeat After Me

Yes, you can find it. /Your way out./
It is so simple. /First you say:/

I AM SORRY – I’m sorry too./
We are the guilty ones,/ we are all at fault!
What happens next? /The door opens./
We stop at the threshold and say:/

Forgiveness erases all your guilt,/
all my fears, all our sorrows /– the burden
of dead thoughts is lifted./ See?/
We float up into brightness./ We are
sparks of starlight, /a constellation
dancing in the sky/ as we say:/

Filled with gratitude for every cloud,/
leaf and petal, /every breath we take,/
every heartbeat, /we are ready, at last,/
to say what’s the most important:/

I give you all the love/
of my tired, aching heart./

I give you all the love/
of my grateful, tranquil heart./

(c) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

Inspired by the success of the group performance of this poem, that turned truly uplifting and inspirational, I then turned to my favorite "group reading" poem - that is written on the page in color font, divided into four voices, intertwining into the fabric of one call to action: "Break the veil, undo the knots, free the mind... to see the blessings of infinity, to hear the music of sing-song lullabies, calming us ... for awakening in grace... when the Veil and the Weave are gone."  

This religious poem, entitled The Veil, the Weave, was inspired in equal measure by a quote from prophet Isaiah (its content) and the revolutionary poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky (its form). It was first posted on this blog for Black History Month in 2014  and was copied in my previous post this September 2015. It was recently read by four poets at the Rapp Saloon in Santa Monica (hosted by Elena Secota). I was joined by the voices of the wonderful Susan Rogers, Ambika Talwar, and Melissa Studdard.

Maja Trochimczyk, Susan Rogers, Ambika Talwar and Melissa Studdard at the Rapp Saloon. 

I previously read it at various events of the Spiritual Quartet, a group of four female poets (Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Ambika Talwar, and myself) of diverse religious and spiritual traditions, Judaism, Catholicism, Sukyo Mahikari, Scientology, Eastern mysticism... We presented our poetry at readings in Southern California, including one in March 2011 at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga (a Village Poets Reading).  Unfortunately, I read this poem by myself then, not having yet come up with this inspired idea of converting the poem into a chorus of voices and a call to community action...

Maja Trochimczyk with Lois P. Jones and Ambika Talwar (L) and with Susan Rogers (R).

But there is always the next time, and now, we have poems that can be woven into a network of luminous voices. Why? 

To quote Ambika Talwar, "because poetry is a bridge to new worlds... So you can live beauty of your deepest awakening passion and be fulfilled!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On Gardeners, Murderers, and the Virtue of Patience

I used to think that there are just two types of men, rapists and gays. Luckily, time heals all wounds and I changed my mind. Now I think that there just two types of people, those of Service to Others (STO people) and those of Service to Self (STS people). I borrowed this distinction from someone else, but I do not think that person would mind. In any case, the STO people focus on loving, forgiving, and helping others. The STS people are on a mad power and resource grab... In other words, the STO people are gardeners: they care for, plant, and support the little seeds of love. The STS people are murderers: they destroy, uproot, pour salt water on wounds, and take what is not theirs to take.

The trouble is we are vacillating internally between these two extremes, the gardeners and the murderers. The challenge is we have to become more positive, and content; to live without attacking anyone for not being as "good" as we see ourselves to be. (Wishful thinking we mistake for reality, but that too, does not matter)... Without judgment and condemnation - the two favorite past times of the human species. Especially, if the judgment is followed by execution. At least that's what we see on TV, or Netflix, if you watch those crime shows, or just any shows: they all have somehow become very dark and cruel and focused on the victory of crime in the recent decade.

Sometimes, even when trying to plant and care for a plant, a rose bush, a tree, the gardeners may fail and out of the goodness of their hearts, hurt what they purport to care for. The challenge here is not to get discouraged by this challenge. It is to stay focused on what's above, what's calling,what's spiritually and personally more uplifting and inspirational. It is to be kind in thoughts, words, and gestures. "Grace" in Christian Bible was translated "loving kindness" in the Jewish one and I, for one, like that expression better.

So... what acts of "loving kindness" have you committed recently? In your mind, in your heart? Did you say something nice to someone really tired and frustrated? Did you open yourself to love?  It is neither easy, nor fast: "Love is patient, love is kind..." People write about the Bible as if the Book was  just made up by a bunch of scribes, without knowing that the Book, our Book is alive and speaks to us directly, if only we really need an answer and ask for guidance.  Then, the challenge is to remain patient and keep listening, in serenity, in silence.

The Waiting

She opens the envelope – a letter
With a newspaper clipping
A bouquet of red roses and a story
About mortgage fraud on the back

He rubbed his soap along the edges
She breathes in his scent after the shower

Three phone calls while she was away
Eight after she sent him that letter
Admitting  what it meant to her –
That hot July day, under the tiger sky

Press five if you accept this call –
Stay on the line – Stay on the line

Breathing – dreaming – searching – hoping –
A lifeline – A lifeguard – Her lifeguard –
Stay –

Lush buds open on a dormant branch
The half-forgotten fragrance
The taste of his sweat on her lips
Heavy drops falling from above

The aroma of his bronze, spicy
Body – his touch on her skin
A sudden swell of emotion
An irruption of the past into the present

Stay on the line – accept this call
From an inmate at Avenal State Prison

A long-lost love awakens
With a whiff of newsprint ink
Mixed with a faint echo
Of what once was, could be, will be –

When they meet on God’s mountain
When rosebuds open into a scarlet cloud
That makes the fortuneteller blush
As she sees their future in her Tarot cards

“My love” – he says – Thirty second left –
Stay on the line – Stay on the line 

(c) 2014 by Maja Trochimczyk. With thanks for many wonderful comments that helped streamline and clarify this poem, to dear friends from Westside Women Writers: Millicent Borges Accardi, Lois P. Jones, Madeleine Butcher, Georgia Jones-Davis, Kathi Stafford, Sonya Sabanac, and Susan Rogers. Published in the second half of the special issue of Clockwise Cat, called Femmewise Cat celebrating women poets and artists, pages 93-96

Westside Women Writers at McGroarty Arts Center:
Susan Rogers, Sonya Sabanac, Maja Trochimczyk, Lois P. Jnes and Kathi Stafford

I recently read that poem at the "Westside Women Writers go Eastside" at the McGroarty Arts Center (August 23), so I thought of reposting it here.  Then, merely a week later, at the Poetry Palooza event at the same Former home of California Poet Laureate John Steven McGroarty  (August 29), my other poetry group, Village Poets, read my even older poem, "The Veil, the Weave" is a religious poem, inspired by a line from Isaiah. It us stylized a la Vladimir Mayakovsky's poetry of the Soviet Revolution - with broad gestures, dramatic exclamations, and the spacing of the words all over the page. In addition, I colored the words and phrases, to designate the four or five different readers needed for the performance. Caps in black mean everyone is reading those lines.

The Veil, the Weave

“On this mountain, God will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, / the web that is woven over all nations:  He will destroy Death forever.”              
                                                                                        ~  Isaiah, Chapter 25, Verses 7-8

the veil     that veils    the weave      that is woven

break them                      tear them                   shred them         set us free

the veil that obscures   distorts true meaning    disorients           and stifles

obfuscation          dilapidation               obliteration                abomination

the weave of sticky thread
is a trap to capture the unwary
                                the weave of shiny thread
                                is a snare to entangle the greedy
                                               the weave of sweet-scented thread
                                                is a seduction of beauty into nothing
                                                                                             the weave is woven
                                                                                            where is the weaver?
where is he hiding?
                       this maker of imitations
                                               the master of mimicry
                                                                      the creator of absence
the weave holds us tight
                              in the habit of hours
                                                   in the rut of the known
                                                             in the suffocating thickness of lies

that are woven             
                      that are told!

break the veil    undo the knots    free the mind

to see the blessings of infinity
                                to hear the music
                                                 of sing-song lullabies
                                                                calming us for the night
for the first gleam 
                         of stardust 
                                              for awakening 
                                                                    in grace

when the veil       and the weave          are gone

© 2008 by Maja Trochimczyk                             

The Veil of lies and deception that we have been shrouded in, and sometimes willingly accept, seduced by its shimmering, illusive allure, spreads out all over the world... But what happens, if the Veil is broken and we are able to see as we have been meant to see?  Angels dance, and we dance with them:

An Invitation to  the Dance

And the angels are dancing.

Did you say dancing? Yes, dancing. Making somersaults 
and jumping two hundred yards in the air.

Air? Are they here? I thought they lived in infinity,
Or eternity, or the great beyond, or whatchamacalit.
No. Here. They are laughing their heads off.  Giggling,
smiling, smirking, guffawing. Laughing.

What’s so funny? Nic. Nada. Naught. It is just that they are so happy.
So incredibly,  exorbitantly, blissfully happy.

Why?  Oh, because of that quirky thing from the country song.

What thing? Don’t you know? Have you not heard
that love conquers all?  That love triumphs
over lies, fear, anger, shame and despair?
That it is? Love is. True love. Our love…

It blossoms in us, through us.
It opens its petals.  The world is more tranquil,
serene in the luminescence of our love.
New stars are born and peace comes to earth when we
are together, immersed in this love. When we
find it. Return to it. Share it. Cherish it. When we
are not giving up. No matter what. No matter how hard.
No matter how late.  Simple, very simple.
Impossible? Yet, it is here to stay.

So what about these angels, then…
Oh, yes. Would you like to go dancing with the angels?
 Boogie-woogie, waltz, tango or salsa? 

(C) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk