Thursday, August 23, 2012

Parents. Can't live with them or...

Let's face it -none of us would even be here if not for our parents.  No matter how good or bad they are or were, we often take them for granted.  The sheer fact of their existence is proof of ours, or at least a conduit for it.

I've had several friend lose a parent lately, and I just lost one of mine last year.  My friends' hurting hearts bring all of my grief top of mind; it resurfaces in surprising ways that humble me.

As human beings we tend to glorify the dead, and maybe rightly so.  What we take for granted in life is somehow magnified in death.  The tremendous power of loss breaks down those defense mechanisms that limit our gratitude or constrict our capacity for love, appreciation, tolerance.  I believe I love my father even more now that he is gone.  The value of his impact on my life becomes ever more apparent as I face the many struggles and joys of this life without him. It is only in the losing of him that I found him as he really is/was - a slightly more objective view perhaps.  Hindsight, as they say...

The fragile continuum between life and death feels like a thin rubber band, variable, taut and oh so easily severed.  We are all eagerly fooled by the illusion of strength and evolution - believing our human bodies can adapt to any circumstances that may arise.  I've developed a profound appreciation for how foolish I am, especially after sitting vigil as my father slowly slipped away in a Hospice ward last summer.  Death, in all its forms, is like a mirror for truth, forcing us to face reality head on, in all its raw and precious glory.  Magnifying the goodness of those who've left us behind is probably our way to count the many blessings they offered us, belatedly.

I warn you this poem is rough, but God, is it truthful.  Proceed with caution...


Hospice Blues:
It ain’t for the faint of heart.

Smells of sanitizer
and inside air
sounds of gurgled breath
the date in erasable blue
leaving no doubt
of how many days are left.
"Billie" the kind one
serves
bringing drugs and quiet chats
as memory goggles
shade my eyes;
I sense the Billie-Shellie-Deb du jour
but see only
the snowmen, stories, silly surprises
that would not make up
the scrapbook of my life
were it not for this gentle man
they tend,
who lay struggling
with the decision
tween this world and the next,
considering slowly and precisely
the perfect moment to give-in,
depart.

Time slows
to a steady rhythmic pulse
as jobs and loves
even dinner plans
fade to back
as the dashboard of my days
wipes tears or prayers
on intermittent speeds;
phone-rings, car horns,
even hunger pangs
do not disturb
the trance-like watching
waiting
in this stark and joyless room
my Daddy's pit stop
on the arduous race
to a hopefully pain free place.

I cannot bear to look
yet dare not look away
a treasure map of torture
dots his legs, fingers, face
He's molting
day by day
shedding this emaciated shell
removing All
that hinders him from Grace.

... and later ...


Thinning days
drying lips
the graying of knuckles
that weight upon my heart
to be with him
or
to let him go
an hourly quiz
that jars my soul
swinging like a metronome
tween morbid valleys of gripping fear
and roller coaster heights
of grateful wonder, honor, awe
to share the final moments
in his quiet denouement.
 
I think
   perhaps
        I'm lucky
I know
   that I am older
         without the wiser
         of Goodbye
the one and only gift
I could not wrap myself to give.


©2012 DOS
The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Branching

I sat beneath trees today.  Leaves all green and plentiful.  It's springtime and everything is aflutter with life and liveliness and growth.  Another cloudy day in May that brought depth to my favorite color and made greener my every wandering sight.  As I looked up into the trees all around me, I began to take note of the webs of branches, reflecting the map of my thoughts reaching this way and that. I love the way trees grow. Firmly rooted in one solid, still and significant place, they reach out and defy all sense of reason or gravity as they try new routes and altering angles to bring breadth and circumference to the shade they provide.

Being a curious soul who has often wandered down varying paths and in multiple directions, often at the very same time, I am delighted by the wayward nature of tree branches.  They give me hope, as they fork and splay and traverse various trajectories, always staying rooted in the glory of the trunk, the core, the life force of their being.

Oddly enough, I found an old poem, a short one, that is more about tree rings than branches but the tree imagery is somehow relevant here.  See if you agree...


I wear a stack of rings
around my finger
Each with its own story
of who I used to be
the many lives I've lived
the ages of this gnarled soul
roots twisted between greens
sprouting through seasons
dying each new death
A grand victory of survival.



©2012 DOS
The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crying Tired

Have you ever been so tired that you were "crying tired"? I am guessing more women can relate to this than men. Maybe "crying tired" is a female phenomenon. I wonder...

I've been traveling so much lately for work that I find myself fatigued a lot. Between the Godforsaken wake up calls to catch ridiculously early flights, to the barrage of spring time allergies, each onslaught stronger than the next as different cities greet springtime differently and the long hours on my feet in retail stores or working special events... all these factors converge to produce one extremely tired Duvall.  Innately, I like people. So, I can always be counted upon to overcome the fatigue and smile, chat, shake hands and "represent" with the best of them. But in the strangest moments or the weirdest of times, my energy will wane and tears will flow out of sheer vulnerability.  The circumstances may not warrant tears but the energy flow (or lack thereof) simply melts down and things do not compute and emotion overtakes reason every time.

Crying tired is a curious phenomenon.  It's like some part of me inside can see it happening, and I know that my tears are foolish and I am aware that my behavior is hysterical and yet I cannot seem to stop it.  I despise that feeling of being out of control, of being lost, of being a victim of circumstance...  I am lucky that crying tired is a not a natural state of being for me.  I have sincere and deep compassion for those who suffer depression, as I suspect bio-chemical depression must feel like crying tired all the time.

I tend to feel very deeply, either highs or lows. My passion abounds, bringing me to the very depths of depression or the heights of great joy and gratitude.  I feel very lucky and blessed to have access to such a free flowing river of feeling that abides in my soul.  But I have often wondered about such extremes, questioning if perhaps I might be bi-polar.  I believe all of us are to a certain extent, and luckily for me, my case is not one of abnormal psychosis or non-functioning neurosis.  I am just like everyone else - full of ego enough to wonder about my own amplified neuroses.  ha!

Sometimes when I feel low, I get out a pen and generally the word speak for themselves...

Broken

Heavy like a burden
weighted, rusty chains anchor
drowning
into a sea of marbles
cool glass sparkling
sucking me beneath the light
rolling me down
down
low.
Eyes unclosed
effortful lids beat my lashes
against the fray
swallowing
half-chewed lies
that settle deep inside
Me.

Sack full of bones
deaf
to the rattle of strings
loose
untied,
a wheel that will not turn
a voice that cannot sing
a poem torn into
the end forever gone
needing to be renewed
invisible
to eyes of worldly man
crowned the Queen of falling tears
heap of refuse
still unseen.

Braided mats of hair
that ache too tight
melted wax that burns
snagging fingernails that scratch
bubbling bile that belches
creeping up my back
ancient hymns of shame
retro baby steps
skidding on my rump
those race track welts that will not heal
back scrubber bruises
branded intact.

I am broken, bedside
cannot crawl to peaceful dreams
or fight you from behind.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trusting your Instincts

Sometimes you just know.  Who knows how or why you know - you just do.  Yet all of our polite, well intentioned social upbringing seems to teach us the very antithesis of the old adage "trust your instincts".  I was walking around downtown Indianapolis today and a woman walking nearby caught my eye, primarily becuase she was not really walking, more like staggering about.  It was a warm, beautiful blue-sky spring day, and she was wearing a black backless halter dress with an odd pair of souped up track sneakers.  She stopped every so often to check herself out in the glass reflections of the street level windows in the large downtown skyscrapers. During one of her Narcissus chats with her beloved reflection, I sauntered by her, keeping my steady amicable pace on a rare and gorgeous day that did not call for rushing anywhere.  At the next corner, waiting for the street light and the infamous green hand signal, she made eye contact with her head slightly bowed and politely inquired if I could help her and her kids get something to eat.  Somehow, I did not believe she had any kids, nor that she really needed something to eat.  So I declined, equally as polie, referring to a lack of cash in the wallet at the present time.  I flat out lied - told her I was on credit for the time being.  She thanked me and ambled along not far behind me as we crossed and made our way around the circle surrounding a large public monument.  The welcoming spring weather brought everyone outside, so it was merely seconds before she found her next victim, and I could barely make out the sound of her voice in the background as I heard her ask a business suit for some lunch money.  I did not linger to discover her success or failure, but made my way as planned to Starbucks for my "fix" du jour.

Standing inside at the SB counter and waiting for highly customized beverage, I began to feel guilty.  Here I was traveling on business about to enjoy my favorite beverage on someone else's dime, and I could not even spare her the couresty of checking the spare change in my wallet?  I thought about turning back, quickly, to find her and give her at least a dollar.  But my addiction prevailed and I waited for my cup of happiness.  Inwardly, I chastised myself a little and agreed that the next needy person who asked for my help, I would be more open to. I am blessed, after all, and have a responsibility to share my blessings with my less fortunate brothers and sisters on this lonely planet.

I sat outside on the steps of the public monument, sipping away and making phone calls till I ensured the beverage was good to the last drop.  As I made my way around the sqauare, heading back toward the hotel and seeking a nice spot for a late lunch, I caught side of her glamorous sneakers and turned with the idea of making amends.  As I approaded her nodded head, I realized she was working on something.  On closer inspection, her efforts revealed themselves in the clear blue light of day. She was scratching off LOTTO tickets with a long fingernail. Obviously, someone else had bought into her story about children and her fragile plea for lunch money.  I laughted at my own foolishness and couldn't help but think "Trust your instincts".

How often do I go through life ignoring that little voice inside and accusing it of being stingy or closed or lacking in altruism?  The inner judge is often harsh, but luckily she's a bit slower than my initial impulses.  How I envy people who trust their instincts?  I wonder how often I have kicked myself for not doing this or that, when all along it was for the BEST that this or that not be done.  I suppose hindsight is 20/20, but it's the forward sight that appeals to me.  Sometimes you just know.  And when you know, you know.  So why balk or doubt yourself or refuse to trust?

This little episode got me thinking about trust, in all its weighty implications.  I am proud to say that I have trusted a time or two.  And will trust again.  Now, if only I could find the weight within me to extend that same precious gift to myself...

trust

a high dive spring board of Olympic proportion
free falls to the deep end;
the pool of sound that is my voice.
ripples resonate upward toward your ears
echoes of your Grace
pierce the aqua filter to my core
synchronized hiding in slow motion fades
reverse tucked pike
I break the surface of Awareness
a glowing ring of honesty you perspire
you smile into the eyes of my five year old
in that instant, I am alive.

the giant of your Soul swallows my bean stalk whole
leaving me tiny, grounded, ill-prepared
you make friends with the little girl inside
sliding down my esophagus with every gentle glance
lapping up the love within my ribs
breathing in unison, We stare
there's room for both of us inside your rejection of before
a wonderland of Joy that you call now,
without knowing why or how or when I jumped
the trampoline of your broad shoulders grinned
and caught Me.
I blink and think
and do not dare to close my eyes
I trust You
standing naked in your sight.

©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rant

I hate people who are entitled. People who think others should accommodate THEM!  Who are they?  And why should I be socially acceptable and “nice” to accommodate them when they were irresponsible to begin with?  For example… I hate people who come to the movies LATE and then expect other people to shift or move or reposition stuff to make room for them.  Why should we?  Today, I went to the movies.  I always arrive early, so that I have time to make my selection and choose the best seat for me and my preferences.  As other people sat around me, I ended up with one free seat on either side of me.  The theatre started to fill up and naturally, long after previews had started and literally moments before the actual film began, a couple showed up and wanted me to politely move and reposition my hand bag, jacket, phone, self, etc so that they could sit together.  Of course, one is socially obligated to get up and move but it just annoys me!  Why are they entitled to sit together if they arrive late?  Why do I have to move myself and my stuff simply because I am solo?  I couldn’t resist. I grumbled at them that if they wanted their selection of seats, they should arrive BEFORE the movie starts!!

Not particularly graceful, I know.  And honestly, I am ashamed of myself for being so perturbed by it.  But it is very annoying to me.  And then… naturally, they both got up, at different times, to go to the bathroom (or whatever) in the middle of the film, disturbing everyone as they walk across the theatre in front of the screen.  Not the kind of people I feel like being nice to!

And then, I get subjected to a Hollywood version of romance, where the boy and girl do everything BUT come together, until the last possible minute. Their friends are all married with small booming families and finally they come together too.  Because, naturally, life always works out that way.  Two beautiful people end up having a beautiful life together. Oh how very sweet!  Such B.S.!!  And believe it or not, I cried.  I cried for her when he rejected her.  I cried for him when he finally figured out she was “the one”. I cried for all the millions of people who never figure that out. I cried for the many more millions who cannot seem to find a him or a her.  (Did I mention that the annoying entitled young latecomers to my immediate right were a couple??  A romantic, kissy-face, hand-holding, happy couple???  Grrrrr)

How is it that happy things begin to make us sad when they happen for other people?  I’ve never been the jealous type, but lately, I find myself thinking things like “why not me”, instead of “good for her” or “oh, I am so happy for you”.  Luckily, I am not the only one.  A very dear friend confessed to having similar sentiments over tea the other day.  Both she and I are generally very generous, kind, positive souls. When did we become bitter or empty enough to see our own lack in someone else’s fulfillment?  I hate it whenever I think or feel that way.  Thankfully, it isn’t often.  But how shameful it is!  I am stuck on a recurring refrain of  “glass half empty”.  In truth, my glass is not only FULL but overflowing. I live a charmed life.  True, I cannot seem to attract a single, available, age-appropriate man in the same time zone, but so what?  I love my life. Why do I let Hollywood or society or other people make me feel inadequate?  Just because I don’t have a life partner?  Because I go to the movies alone? Because I am comfortable in my own skin and not needy or reliant on someone else?

It all just makes me mad today.  Why I even bother going to romantic movies is a mystery.  Of course, the theatre will be filled with couples!  Of course, it’s a great “date” experience! Of course, it will highlight my solo-ness.  Naturally, it will elevate any sense of loneliness I feel.  Why am I surprised?  To be so close to romance, with couples on either side of me and four couples on the oversized screen in front of me, just made me feel how very far away I am from any real proximity of love. Or union. Or togetherness.  It’s all about longing.  Desire.  Some vague feeling of emptiness… Not a sickness, just a symptom.  Why can I not believe that I am “enough” – just me, just exactly as I am?

 Proximity
The space between my sighs
is yours
to fill
to munch
to claw
gather, grind,
then gingerly release.

The curve of my waist
is arching
tilting
leaning
lurching forward
towards a dance
with the comforting crook
of your left arm.

The silence of my toes
is beckoning
searching for your rhythm
hunting for your laughter
a whisper for the music you make
which taps me to an alternate time
where All
is
at once
complete.
The hollow spot
in my biggest bed
is empty
nothing
near the back of my knees
the small of my spine
the Y of my legs
so restless
‘neath the ample sheets.
(the poem continues but you get the idea… it ends with...)
How much more
could my world become
if you chose
to be
nearer than near
to me?
©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Swan Song


I recently took a walk on a beautiful spring day along Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. A lovely Swan caught my eye and I sauntered down to the pier to observe him closely. He was not alone, as many ducks were flitting and flirting along the shore, as well.

A local retiree showed up with a bagful of bread and started tossing it into the crystal blue water for the ducks to eat.  Naturally, the ducks came scurrying over and started their feast, complete with chomping, quacking and competing. One hunk of bread was particularly large, left over day old bread of the dinner party variety. The ducks gave it a go and could not manage the size nor the hardness of it.  The swan took interest in it and found absorbing obsession with it as he tried to bite into it.  His mate came from across the water and scored some remnants from the ducks. Then watched as his life partner attempted to vanquish the toughened remains of last night's human banquet.

I was fascinated by the enduring steadfast tenacity of the swan.  He wanted that bread, he ached for that victory. He kept pulling the bread to him and burrowing his beak into it. Each time it slipped away into the current, he chased it and dove at it again. With Olympic determination he pursued his desire. With passion and intensity, he used all his resources attempting to devour that which he so craved. The course rough skin of the bread firmly defeating him every time. If only he could wait, allow the bread to soften. If only his patience matched his passion.

I found myself thinking - I am like that! Especially when it comes to romance.  I burn with passion inside and when it sets fire to someone on the outside that I truly want, the fire then consumes me until I get him  and then consume him.  I am steadfast and tunnel-visioned and extremely resourceful. In all simplicity, I become obsessed. If only I could wait till the time was right, till the bread was ready, till I could sink my teeth into the skin of him and fully savor every part of him. As opposed to pulling him near and chasing when he wiggles away. If only I could find the patience to match my passion. To wait for him to soften to me, to embrace my bite, to reveal his vulnerable underbelly to me.

Maybe, just maybe, I would somehow find the courage to unlock the caged fire that continually burns within me.

Somehow this swan scene reminded me of the film The Last Station, about Tolstoy at the end of his life and his wife's struggle to preserve his estate.  I left the movie theatre so inspired by Helen Mirren's performance and so full of her romantic passion, that I walked straight to Central Park and penned the poem below.  After which I went right back to the theatre to see the film for the second time that same day!  I highly recommend it.

I Want a Love Like That...

I want a love like THAT
 one that breaks things
 one that giggles,
 screams
 one that melts like glaciers
 one drop per kiss
 over the river of a lifetime.

One that gets me outside myself
 crawls me into his veins
 for fleeting moments
 of certain, brilliant unity;
Loyal,
 like breath
 that never fails till death
 no matter the Poison it consumes
 no matter the Blockage that seeps in
 in vain attempts
 to alter its steady rhythm.

I want a love like THAT
 that leaves me full
 in the empty hours
 that percolates
 brews
 coloring my water
 with more than flavor
 coating the sieve
 of his heart’s skin
 preventing my precious
 many-savored truths
 from leaking out,
 from slipping through.

One that celebrates
 my Spring
 each tiny, bud-like
 opening of my art
 and fertilizes every winter dark
 to pull me through
 the blackest victories of my Shame.

One that takes ALL
 I have to offer
 sans remorse
 void of regret
 the key to my treasure chest,
 with the gilted grace
 to pause
 and playfully give back.

I want a love that sighs
 and sings a hymn for me
 on my very sick bed
 who wakes the morning
 with the sunshine in his eyes
 drawing me
 in complex shades of gray
 upon the canvas of the world,
 this atlas I attract
 as I search for my secret soul,
 to wrap it like the sky
 around the firmness of his waist.

 A love that brings me HOME
 with one subtle, swift embrace.

©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mantra Schmantra

My neighbor and I started this year off right! Declaring our goals to manifest great things with the power of intention and positive energy.  We’ve even drafted a daily mantra – “this year, I am open to welcoming the perfect available man for me into my life”.  We goad each other whenever we’re veering wayward, off the path of positivity, and we remind each other with smiley face icons and exclamation points to keep our eye on the prize and manifest only good things into our lives.  I’ve been jazzed up and on a roll – feeling sky high and affirming every positive thing (or potentially positive thing) that happens each day with gratitude and delight, confident that each of these little upbeat happenstances are symbols of my awesome powers to manifest.  I’m walking the walk and talking the talk…

Or at least I thought I was.

Today, waiting for my bag to at the tedious conveyer belts in baggage claim at JFK, a very handsome man stood beside me and made eye contact.  He had crystal blue eyes, like marbles, hidden beneath dark framed stylish glasses.  Well coiffed hair, dark, with a hint of gray at the side burns. Slender, tall, casual chic in style.  Overall, a handsome man who surprised me and made me smile.  Well, all of my efforts at positive energy did manifest one thing – for maybe the first time EVER, my bag was the very first one to appear.  I almost applauded right there on the spot.  This little bubble of jubilation was not lost on my handsome observer.  I shrugged demurely and said “now that’s a first!  I feel so lucky!”  To which this apparition of beauty replied “You should play the lotto”, his blue eyes lingering upon me and making me feel all girlie and ebullient inside.  “Maybe I will” was my rather clever retort as I awkwardly gathered my bag and carry-on and prepared to leave.  Turning in his direction, I made eye contact once again – you know the kind that registers, hovers, makes it feel wrong to break away.  I stood there a wee bit dumbfounded and couldn’t think of anything to say but “have a good day”.  He looked ever so slightly surprised and returned my parting salutation with a gentle “you, too”.  I walked away feeling something had gone terribly wrong.  A little loss, a tiny grief, made each step gangly and uncertain as I headed toward the ground transportation exit. I even hovered a moment, hoping he’d end up in the taxi line directly behind me. When I finally saw him again, he was on his cell and looking around for his ride.  We had the briefest stint of eye contact once again and then both of us continued on with the rest of our lives.

What happened to being “open to welcoming the perfect available man for me into my life”???  I couldn’t find one single flirtatious word, one little hint of sex appeal to invite this handsome stranger to open up to me?  Is all of my mantra talk just BS? And do I let it slide in the heat of battle when an opportunity finally does arise?  How many times do my words go unspoken?  Do my desires crouch and hide, waiting for some other perfect time to make a well rehearsed and scripted entrance, stage right?  Is there a playwright alive who could write me some lines for just these types of moments?  How can I claim to be open and welcoming when all I do is clam up and rely on courteous pleasantries whenever a potential beau catches my eye?

As I rode all the way back to my Manhattan home, I felt the positive energy of the last few weeks begin to fade. The reality check of another potential loss hung heavy in the air, and I found myself thinking of my very first crush. High School.  Oh God, was I smitten!  And no, I could not talk to him either.  A tacky little 8 year old boy blew my cover, telling him all about my fatal crush. But sometimes I wonder… sometime I wish… Had I told him myself, who knows?  Maybe I wouldn’t be needing all these mantras today.


Sounds in the Rock

Stillness
 escapes me
 when your trumpet rings,
 heralds your entrance
 across a barren stage,
 void of props, scenes
 from the theatrical games
 we used to play.

Motion
 gathers, curls, creeps
 a rising tide of whirring thoughts,
 hula hoops
 that ring ‘round
 the rosy patches of my mind
 bright spots amid the brainy gray
 pink perfect memories
 that mottle the cortex
 and muddy the music
 of my speech,
 interrupting
 disengaging
 unforgiving the fits and starts
 reclaiming the spotlight
 in this thwarted present
 of Here and Now;

I stammer
 and hang glide
 across the valley
 of the longest moment ever
 in the hope of landing safely
 near you.

You are coming at me. 

Lightning strikes my kite
 and keeps electric jolts
 from pouring like rain
 through my very toes
 that reach for you.
Rays of love light
 dart
 from the open sunrise of my mouth
 shining the cresting wave
 of my frozen tongue
 high
 vaulting from the red ringed roof top
 of my teeth
 an echo
 failing to launch
 to land,
 to speak.
(and then later, the poem ends with…)

The words retract
  before they even begin,
  bountiful in volume
  this unheard symphony
  your approaching presence sings;
  in the second of a lifetime
  You pass by
  ungreeted
  once again
  by Me.

All the noise within Me
  turns
  to watch you wander away
  silently.


©2012 DOS
The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Visions for Hemingway

Hemingway once wrote: "I want to write one true sentence." And "If I can write one sentence, simple and true, everyday, I'll be satisfied".

I read this recently in a new-ish book about Hemingway’s first wife. These words grabbed me, pierced me straight through to the core.  I find myself thinking about them frequently.  What is a true sentence anyway?  Who is the arbiter of truth?  I am often aware as I tell little white lies for social convenience or glaring lies of omission to avoid social conflicts, etc.  How often do we tell the truth?  And to whom?   Maybe the reason we have to write the truth, in sentences, is that it is simply too hard to speak.  

As an actor, I am a keen observer of human behavior and much of the human interaction around me. I watch the millions of strangers in New York City as they lie with their eyes or fidget their way out of answering a question truthfully.  We speak in polite idioms and socialized systems with the excellent manners we were taught as children, but often, a whole other world of truth rages underneath.  It intrigues me, our human struggles with this concept of truth. And how often do we lie to ourselves or convince ourselves of truths that are altogether un-true.  I wonder… whose truth is the one that counts?

As a poet, I find that images speak more truthfully than words ever hoped to.  I am keenly aware of the power of symbolism and the way it envelops me in multi-layered truths. The world is full of them – literal signs on the street, the nagging recurrence of certain song lyrics, or images in nature that make us stop and reflect, sensing a higher truth which always comes just when we need it most. 

Once in my late twenties, I was grappling with the concept of man-made religion verses a more personal style or level of spirituality.  I woke up from a nap in the middle of a Saturday afternoon to find my very Catholic crucifix split apart and just barely hanging from the wall; my rosary wrapped around it and dangling just inches above my face.  I laughed aloud. This image was a perfect and very true picture of exactly what I was feeling on that particular day.  The image stayed with me, as they often do, following me like a shadow, crowding the corners of my mind.  Finally I took out a pen and sat down to write. I don’t know if there is “one true sentence here” (let the arbiters of truth decide, whomever they turn out to be), but never a truer or more literal image has come to me…

My crucifix is torn.
Hanging lopsided
like an autumn leaf
yet to fall from my bedroom walls,
distorting the perfect oval
of the rosary that rings around it.
An illusion
as the weight of those glass prayers
splits Christ from His cross
partially.
The nail pierced through His feet
the only thing
that binds Him
to that dogwood tree.
Tilted toward my eyes
poised to dive
down-to-earth
and share this plane with me.
Sure to walk upon my welcome mat
and turn my water into wine
sans Halo
sans Shrine.
Naked with knowingness
embracing the Divine within my ribs
swelling with breath of tears.
Beauty ejecting shame
and all the metaphors of ritual
force-fed in high chairs
potty trains
elementary grades
imposed nick-names.
Powerfully pulling me beyond.
A roto-rooter
for the clogged plumbing in my soul.
Cleansing like a slimy mud bath

the Genesis of letting go.

©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Easy Addiction

I confess that I have an addiction. Starbucks matcha green tea latte with soy milk has some kind of happiness drug inside it. It is a VERY green beverage that always draws raised eyebrows when people see me sipping it. I eagerly justify this addiction by praising the power of green tea to purify my pores and rid me of the free radicals that life in an urban environment readily bring.  And I go out of my way to hold meetings or social occasions near or better yet IN a Starbucks, so that I can get my ‘fix’ and continue my happiness trip.  Of all things to be addicted to, surely green tea is one of the best, yes?

With my craving in mind, I recently scheduled an appointment with a client at a Starbucks near his hotel.  I arrived a bit early to carve out a space for us and gather the necessary chairs from random spots or single sippers with no need for that second seat.  Another gentleman arrived in close proximity and began eyeing me frequently. I worried that he was “hovering” – the famous New York City trick that allows ones to pounce the instant a seat becomes available.  I kept feeling his eyes upon me and started to feel a bit nervous. Luckily, my client arrived and we sat with our respective beverages.  After a fairly intense and even emotional meeting which ended in a hug (always a good sign), he ran off to another appointment while I tidied up and began the layering process – scarf, hat, coat, gloves…  The slightly suspicious gentleman remained in his seat nearby and feeling no threat to my now unnecessary seats, I looked up and made awkward eye contact, even offered a feeble smile. To which this portly stranger gently replied, “Man! You really know how to rock a dress!” 

Ha!

It was so unexpected and delightful that I catapulted, with the help of the happy drug in my green tea latte, straight up to Cloud 9.  I laughed and beamed at him, thanking him kindly for his surprising compliment.  I sauntered out the door with a spring in my step, grinning like a goofy Cheshire cat. I know how to rock a dress?  Really?  What a wonderful thing to say to a lady, especially following an intense and emotional meeting with “the boss”.  I thought to myself how easy it would be to get used to that – the feeling of heartfelt glee that bubbles up spontaneously when unsolicited flattery comes my way.  This fellow caffeine addict had just made my day.  I sang a song of gratitude and decided this was an addiction worthy of cultivation. Where is the man who will sing my praises, especially on difficult days?  Who will lift my spirits with one quick lash of wit, with one well placed nod of acclimation?  I aim to manifest more of that feeling, and in fact, once wrote a poem that emanated from such a tender and incessant need. After writing the poem, I couldn’t decide what to call it.  Eventually the lone word “wish” found its way to the top of the page and somehow … it fits.  Isn’t every addiction kindled or ignited by the passionate presence of a wish, somewhere deep inside?  ??? What do you wish today?  I pray that you will “rock your wish” each and every day and that together, we will manifest a more beautiful world…


Wish

Your pupils make museums
of each masterpiece
you un-earth
in this excavation of me 

mined and searched
my pit falls open
as you shovel with your wanting
every beloved inch of me
restoring cracked mosaics
placing the pristine sculpture of my sides
on a worthy stand for your lingering memory


tickling treasures from my torso
till laugh out loud beauty
comes leaping from me

(and later, the poem ends with)…


my lips curl, tender
a mirror for your ecstasy.



©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Foggy Feelings

Foggy Feelings


I always get lucky when I travel.  While I was visiting friends in Orvieto recently, their friends called to invite us to Sunday lunch.  The hosts had been gifted a whole thigh of wild boar (Cinghiale) and wanted to share it with some friends.  Luckily, I happened to be in town, so they also invited some other American friends who now live in Orvieto, to balance the native English vs Italian speakers.  We loaded up and drove down to the countryside in Umbria.  The hosts live in a marvelous, beautifully restored little villa with scrumptious views of the rolling hill sides of Umbria, complete with vineyards, Medieval towers, the ubiquitous Cypress trees that line the driveway – everything BUT a view of Orvieto.  Two large trees block the view of the lovely Etruscan town of Orvieto, and its gorgeous cathedral (or duomo) with a post Renaissance fa├žade.  Much of the greeting, the grand tour and the get-to-know-you chit chat centered around lamenting the lack of Orvieto in the view. I, however, was delighted with the view just exactly as it appeared.  The dining room is located along a long glass wall, so that we all had the immense pleasure of the “bella vista” while we dined.

 The meal was wonderful, the company exceptional.  Despite the fast flying Italian dialects all around me, I managed to keep up and understood much more than I anticipated.  After the meal, it was show-time as the hosts had just returned from a vacation abroad to India and the Maldives Islands.  We ooohed and aaahhed and laughed on cue at charming photos and listened to their remarkable travel tales.  All the while, an evening fog slowly crept into the valleys of Umbria.  By the time we finished our five hour pranzo (lunch), the view was misty with multi-color grays mixed among the greens, and evening lamps began to appear throughout the charming country side.  I found myself enchanted.  Full of fabulous food, heart-warming connections and locally made red wine, I fell in love with fog. Its creeping, its mysterious shaping of our human eye, as visions appear and roll like clouds, as dusk pervades the very roots of my soul.  The farm houses, the villas, the vineyards – all took on a romantic quality like love scenes in the rain at the movies.  It made me long for a handsome man to hold my hand, a sister to tell my secrets to, a lover to steam up the windows even more…  I found myself nostalgic for things that had never been.  How can it be that we miss what we have never had?  Perhaps the idea of former lives is not so foreign, not so incredulous.  I remember writing a poem entitled Nostalgia once, while sitting in Central Park soaking up the muted colors of the Fall.

NOSTALGIA

As the first frost fades
My Indian Summer dawns
I relish the rays of sun
that speak to me
as I journey toward my second home
in Central Park.


Kaleidoscopes of autumn leaves
swirl in funnels of sprinkles
wind-dropped atop the "Imagine" shrine
reflected in my eyes
blowing out the candle of Lennon's dreams
and doing him homage
all the same
with their diversity of hues.

 Creation thinks its spring.

The wildflower bursts of hope
swell the teardrops in my eyes
as the crinkling death of summer
neath my feet
crunches me toward winter
and the absence of my Solar friend.


This brief return of June
cruelly beams you into me.
I cannot help but lose my breath
and briefly sink into the quicksand
of our memories.


©2012 DOS

The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to: duvallosteennyc@gmail.com.