(This 3-part piece opened up some dialog with significant others in my life, including a written correspondence with my mother over a couple years. It all spurred me to think more, and write more, about other relevant matters, even up to today. I'm working on improving the poetry for future efforts. In this piece, I just used some poetic devices to try to bring thoughts and feelings alive: In Part I, there is loss of love, and a love letter; In part II, a reply to the love letter; In part III, a look at a small sliver of reality and a hope for the future. Please feel free to comment.)
my “secret life/wife” -- its demands and agenda (written in three parts in late 1997)
how could i explain it to her?
i thought of putting it all up for grabs
(for her/for her love)
for a moment i thought of this
because i had been
plunged headlong into abyss
yanked off the chasm's edge with heart in tatters
flailing like a ghost against a hurricane
yet hanging on
with all the faith i could gather
i managed to slow my descent
the more i laid it all bare
and spread out my arms --
and i never hit bottom;
(how close did i get
to being shattered beyond repair,
beyond one i so desire to be?
that was some chasm!
never seen no shit like that before!)
her letter of love found me in this turmoil
of cross-current winds
and swirling fogs --
it etched a scar across me
i pull myself back onto the precipice
scrapes, bruises, shakes and all
i stand on that ledge,
glance back down into that milieu
of conflict and wonderment
as it roils and tosses
even the most steadfast
with challenges of a million lifetimes
and i breathe in deeply
(so that's where and how big questions
get posed and concentrated!
well, i'll be a blue-nosed gopher!)
i grasp her letter,
turn from that ledge
and go running after her:
wait a minute!
i've got some things to talk about!”
(from her letter)
....”Yes, I have even wished that we could partner up in this life and take it on together. That meant that I was wishing to not be as I am in certain fundamental ways, ways which would clash horribly (for me) with ways of yours...These 'ways of yours' are your 'secret life/wife' --its demands & agenda. I have made no secret that I do not believe in the agenda, nor that I am not unlike most other women and could not tolerate its demands. It is trying as a friend. It would be impossible as a wife...”
(A reply of sorts)
How can I explain it to her? Some of these things I thought of as my hands moved over her back one day, massaging, rubbing, stroking, caressing. And as I sat her back and saw her eyes were closed and there was serenity and calm upon her face, I felt I had helped to bring some peace to her. And I found myself thinking...2,000 years from now (or maybe 1,731 years, or more, or less) if earthlings still walk the face of this planet, I can only imagine and desire that a few simple things would have come to be. It would, however, be their world, and much of it would be of their own making. Yet, maybe it be something like this--
Maybe it's Lin Yi, or Gabriela, or Zhodwa, or Milos or La'shon arising, stretching, inhaling, exhaling, peering out windows and doors, then with a laugh, stepping out, jogging to gatherings where everyone (dozens, scores, everywhere on earth) would be buzzing about the latest controversies, advances, breakthroughs, obstacles, or astir with news of a new art form or theory of space travel or better ways of growing food or producing housing, or ways that people in all their diversities could mix it all up in more exciting fashion. Or, maybe a group of youth has somewhere on earth brought a new dance to the human table. They'd be talking about it, whatever it is, over their meals, at work, whenever... They're all friends here, family of the closest kind.
Wherever they walk the planet rocks, and everyone works about four hours a day, doing what's needed (And going to work is the most fun of all because what's done there is for the good of all, and for no other reason!) How incredibly tuned in they all are (to needs -- to the needs of the whole world and everyone in it). It's that conscious, and that real. And even thru arguments (in the fields, factories, streets, schools, labs, studios, anywhere) - disputes mild or heavy, over right or wrong, over possibilities, amid soul-stirring battles for truth ripping through all reaches of human life - they confront with “tender ferocity”, so freed up to take it all on and keep raising the level higher.
The same would be the “currency” in any endeavors (individual or collective), cooking up stir-fry challenges, feeding each other's fires for the cosmic advance. And, every individual is held by all to be a part of this. You see the children everywhere, also a part of it all. They could be anyone's, could be everyone's. You see the elders everywhere, also a part of it all (could be anyone's, could be everyone's). They're all friends here, family of the closest kind, wherever human heart pulses. And with each glimpse, you'd see so much - the pride, the knowing - and maybe it's Lin Yi or Gabriela or Zhodwa, Milos or La'shon (they all know so much in their time of work, in their time of leisure—this is about their life) and the pride, the knowing that anywhere on this planet, humans behold one another as their own, behold their earth as a home that above all must be tended to and passed along thru the human dance drumming life pulse of contentious harmony thru time in a spiraling (upward) search (together) into a universe in flux - the stars, the atoms, themselves.
Every day they arise, stretching, inhaling, exhaling, peering out doors and windows, then with a laugh of libertad, bolting out under that sky where every day wherever they are, that constant reminder (even written on the very air they breathe) - “This is all yours, yes it belongs to all of you. Treat it all with care and with your vision to the farthest horizons, the generations to come. Take responsibility for each other/the whole, the future distant.”
This would be the only “currency”. This would be how “human nature” would create itself.
And on the crest of the waves of song and celebration at the end of the day over ice-sheathed summits/sweltering tropic rain forests/grasslands/deserts/towns/farms/sunset-moonrise, contented and anxious for the coming day, maybe it's Lin Yi, Gabriela, Zhodwa, Milos, La'shon stretching out to touch each other's faces, and with powerful embrace, turning to look back, maybe 2,000 years (or maybe 1,731 years, or more, or less) to their ancestors (ourselves, now) and the world we were born into...
Where millions starved, were driven into shantytowns, trapped in prisons, ghettoes, barrios, went homeless, and died of illnesses even while the means were at hand for all to be fed and housed and made well.
Where wars of plunder and domination shed blood across a planet divided into “nations”.
Where governments of nations propped up their systems of exploitation with brutal force.
Where women and children were raped, abused, demeaned.
Where some nationalities were enslaved, oppressed, brutalized by others.
Where poison by-products of “progress” and “development” nearly destroyed the planet, and natural resources were laid to waste.
Where hopelessness held too much sway; resignation to all the oppressive workings buried deep within; dreams and visions deferred and lost.
Where so many people were so alienated from each other by the workings of things. Often able to connect with each other solely thru exchange of money (and there was a price tag on everything, and even on people), and so many people had so little or no money with which to procure the means to live.
Where “look out for #1” was the cold, cynical “human nature” called forth, propagated and promoted by systems, structures, methods which had only “profit” for “raison d'etre”, lifeblood, motivating factor. Where all the vast and powerful means and forces to resolve all these insane realities were owned and controlled by a handful at the helm of all this - a handful that appropriated as “private” all that was produced collectively by the billions who “slaved” for them.
And as Lin Yi, Gabriela, Zhodwa, Milos, La'shon might look back to us and all these unspeakable workings that shape our world, so destructive, painful, twisted and obscured, they likely would hold close to their hearts their namesakes of our time and millions and billions of people of our time who went up against these workings in many daring and powerful ways.
And they no doubt would hold close to their hearts those of us who struggled mightily to envision them and their world, and who felt impelled to take responsibility for the future, and who determined that taking such responsibility could only mean (with our vision cast to the farthest horizons, locked in our hearts and the cores of our beings) preparing for and carrying out mass revolutions to shatter all those existing relations and their ideological props and begin to bring into being something entirely different.
This then is that era/stage of human history in which we take beginning, concrete steps and leaps to destroy exploitation and oppression, free humanity, and save our planet. It has begun. These are the “years between”, the “years of transition”.
Thru victories and defeats, reversals and mistakes, successes and liberating transformations, it can be seen: A better world is in birth.
And here I stand amid the whole wrenching process, and I can only say: This then (yes!) is my agenda (and certainly it is not just mine). It is not a “wife”. And how could it possibly be a “secret”?...
...So, these things I thought of some as my hands moved over her back one day...And as I sat her back and saw her eyes were closed and there was serenity and calm on her face, I felt I had helped to bring some peace to her. And I thought: There is something else of hers that I would love to massage, caress, stroke and kiss to set her loose all aglow and radiant...(it might even melt all the ice and the snows of winter).
We have to love and care for each other while keeping our “eye on the prize”, while preparing for and playing our part in revolution. Otherwise, we'd never get there. But we must keep our eye on the prize. It's all toward the same horizon.
This is how I had chosen to live. For today, tomorrow, 2,000 years ahead. And, darlin' you know I want to “be with you”. I'm calling, reaching for you to “be with me”...the rose, the dance...
(The Future and a Bag of Chips: Does a Young Girl Have Any Choice At All?)
she was eleven or twelve last time i saw her -
my best friend's neighbor...
(my best friend has walls decorated with crayon drawings
by 11 or 12-year-old neighborhood kids
which have huge hearts and declare:
“we love you, theresa”)
...whose name is “lala”
whose parents drank
whose house had walls crawling with bugs,
who had to look after a kid brother
(and her parents as well)
whose clothes were rags
who was just an eleven or twelve year-old girl
who laughed and played
and whenever she touched those crayons
the pages sang with color and design
she made the pages radiate and sing and “draw you in”
with all she had to shoulder
with all that beset her
with all the mood swings and frustrations
and inevitable dysfunctions --
when that sidewalk stepped up to her chalk
and that page turned up to her crayon
the planet rocked..
patterns of particle/waves
broke on dull gray shores
striking radiant chimes of almost
deafening cascades of color --
this much any fool could tell
but living in this world can sometimes
smother torch and ember
and soon she stopped sending
those solar-strength flares
i asked theresa to encourage her
and she said:
“that girl can't see beyond the bag of chips in her hand
...much less the future”
and, yes, well, all-right-then,
who hasn't from time-to-time had trouble
seeing beyond that bag of chips?
i can only say: don't despair
some of us out here have
sworn our lives to
set loose the spirits and inmates
from their cells
so they can wreak havoc on a world of wrong
and bury it under megatons of
killer roses, lilies, daffodils (and plum blossoms!)
and we will help the little devils of today
to catch a good glimpse of fleeting figures
just beyond that bag of chips
figures that look a lot like
lin yi, gabriela, zhodwa, milos and la'shon
dancing like a riot on a rain-soaked day
no, don't despair
and don't act too surprised
if one day you inquire after lala
and find that she went “down by the riverside”
(to lay down her bag of chips
and to pick up her crayons
and her sword and shield)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The reference at the end of “The Future and a Bag of Chips...” to going “down by the riverside” is a play on a song (spiritual/gospel) I learned as a child. I believe it was named: “Study War No More”, in which there is a verse which goes: “I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield down by the riverside...and study war no more”. This would (hopefully) be the reality for Lin Yi, Gabriela, Zhodwa, Milos and La'shon (future people). But in these days, these times, we (present people) in our millions/billions, must arm ourselves with everything it will take to make that dream a viable possibility.)