Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Irish Truths

A friend sent me the most beautiful Irish blessing in a photo video today, with gorgeous images of the famous Emerald Isle that my ancestors called ‘home’.  Being more than three quarters Irish, I have a natural affinity for all things Irish and have always loved the lyricism in well known Irish blessings and comical Irish toasts.  One particular part of this lovely, albeit lengthy, blessing struck me as particularly true today –

“May you understand the strength of God in a thunderstorm in winter.” 

Wow!  How beautiful is that?  And how true!  Isn’t it incredible how thunderstorms can grip and fascinate us?  With fear, with majesty, with respect, with awe? As the skies begin to dance and the earth makes primal music, the entire world seems to rumba in a sexy, powerful game of domination.  And yes, we see/feel/taste/hear/smell the power of our Creator, as life grows very still, capturing our attention on a magic carpet ride – our universal welcome mat to the glory of the present moment.

Thunderstorms usually inspire me to find the nearest pen and let the words tumble out as freely as the raindrops fall from the sky.  One particular thunderstorm poem (below) is very sexy and intriguing.  Dare I equate the words sexy and God?  I confess there is something very alluring and yes, sexy about power.  And finding oneself face to face with the power of the heavens does indeed stir my soul with admiration and glory and yes, desire. Perhaps any real contact with the Divine ignites desire, because on some level, we are all seeking that spark, that rejuvenation, that wake-up call which proves to us that we are really alive and vibrant and radiating a powerful energy of our own.  That energy is divinity itself.

undulating pelts of rain
prickle my skin
rinsing my cheeks
with Mother Nature’s tears
sister-sweet embrace of wrapping winds
dark gray skies
the Universe mourns beside me
as I sit, drenched
with thoughts of you
sweating in this warm, wet, tiered shower
tall, alone
piercing with its songs of you
Lightning echoes
flashing brightly, opening my soul
in reverence of you
delaying traffic jams of honking thoughts
stilling me
with a smiling image
dying to drown into you
to melt
and flow like run-off waters
to the Mighty River of you

no umbrella for the weight of you
puddles of desire
make me wet for you
tornadoes rumble down below
as I swim
inside an ocean of want
of you

(and later, the poem concludes with)

sprinkles slowly taper off
dousing gently
the terrifying flame of you
as spots of sun
surreptitiously shine through
I return to me
and a dry, normal world
void of

©2011 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, January 26, 2012

Beauty Blessings

There is a song in Avenue Q called “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”, and while I may be somewhat ashamed to admit it, I think there is real truth in these words. Social stereotypes abound, and we find ourselves, particularly in vulnerable moments, jumping to stereotypical conclusions that could very well warrant the title of “racist”.  I was walking home from the subway, late, after seeing a Broadway show.  My head was filled with the star-power performances I had seen, and lyrics rang through my inner ear.  There are a few blocks near this particular subway stop that tend to be a bit sketchy, with various characters forever lurking about and even more so after the witching hour of midnight.  One such character was walking in my direction.  He was muttering or singing to himself and swaggering just a bit.  Instinctively, I started to look at my phone, to avert eye contact and avoid any type of interaction.  In that moment, I assumed he was probably drunk or high or homeless or all of the above.  In the dark it was tough to make out his race  - all I knew for sure was that he was different from me and in a sketchy part of town late at night.  I preferred to stick with my post curtain call high and not welcome in this stranger’s energy.  Quickening my pace, I scrolled through all my previously opened messages, with the intention of appearing very “busy” and engaged. 

Much to my chagrin, this man saunters by and says “God bless ya, Beautiful” with a wink and a “tsk!”  As my eyes jumped up in delightful surprise, he met me face to face with a glorious smile and a gentlemanly nod of his head.  He kept walking, I kept walking – two ships that pass in the night, or so the old adage goes… 

I walked home grinning, charmed by a man I had preconceived as a beggar, drug dealer, drunkard or worse.  My heart swelled a little more open as I accepted his graceful blessing and wondered what about me had been beautiful to him in that moment.  It softened me, just a touch.  And in a city full of concrete and speed, I slowed down, lifted my head and looked around me, wondering whom I might bless before I got home.

As I neared my home sweet home, I found myself contemplating the concept of beauty. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of these outward expressions of beauty – the transient, ephemeral thing that is always in the eye of the so-called beholder. Maybe because my Mom always said “beauty is more than skin deep”, and when she chastised me with “don’t be ugly”, I knew she meant nothing about lipstick, hair combs or hemlines. It is inner beauty that we must seek to cultivate every hour, every day of our lives.  Perhaps that will keep our heads out of our phones or our hearts open to the people we meet on the street, regardless of the address or the exterior package in which they arrive.

I once wrote a poem, while sitting beside a pond in Central Park.  The flotsam in the pond, coupled with its mirrored images of clouds and sky got me thinking about what was underneath. I wonder about the amazing ability of human beings to find and proclaim “beauty” in things that they do not truly see…

Sunday Shades

A Pond
  ripples Still
  inside me
Deeply catching tossed coin wishes
Floating fallen leaves
Along the surface shimmering
  for your Sunday musing.

Filled with earth’s rough refuse
  in the organs concealed within
My smooth glassy skin
Frescoed with your visions
  of sky and salty floral truths
Whispered by your customs,
  of shore-side sunning
  without diving
You skip
  around the perimeter
  snapping photos of the mirrored hues.

and then,
You tell me that I’m beautiful.

©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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Subway Spirituality

On the East Side subway (6 train) today, a frisky elderly black man caught my eye.  At first glance, he looked like quite a character. Maybe even homeless, with his hoodie and unkempt graying beard.  On closer inspection, there was nothing un-clean in his attire, and I quickly ruled out homelessness when I noticed that he had rings on every single finger of both hands. Wide bold designs, all in silver, a few with gemstones.  His I-pod speakers were not jacked up offensively loud, but it was clear he was grooving to some favorite tunes.  I got a kick out of his energy and chastised myself internally for assuming he might have been homeless or worse yet – trouble.  He began to sing along, aloud, for the listening pleasure of his co-riders.  “God is my friend” was the recurring refrain.  He even danced a little in his seat. I couldn’t make out all the words but “God is my friend” came through quite distinctly and was repeated over and over.  I smiled at his idiosyncrasies and found my toe tapping along to his religious refrain. Others were aggravated at his ebullient nature; some smiled and acknowledged a secret kinship with him in his friendship with God.  For me, a moment of gratitude swept over me as I realized in that moment what a friend I had in God, indeed!  So many rich and wonderful blessings to be grateful for in this dynamic and thought-provoking life.

As I arrived at my stop, I headed through the turn style and looked up to read
 “This is your station. We want to hear from you.”
This struck me as incredibly humorous; I paused to shake my head and chuckle at the onslaught of meaning this phrase inspired.  Was God telling me that He wanted to hear from me?  Or from the quirky old black man on the train?  Or was this a message to remind me to be an open station and welcome the messages coming in from the likes of my fellow subterranean travelers?  Where is this station of mine and who is the listener?  I felt buoyed by the simple yet complex idea that God, as my friend, might want to hear from me. Having had some insecurities about starting a blog and putting my poetic inspirations into the world, was this a subtle nod of encouragement that would uplift me enough to go home and write another blog entry?  Or was my internal station dialing up the right frequency for these few minutes to actually hear and behold another human being’s presence, in a subway car full of self-involved, sheltered people who desire to be anything but present in this car full of strangers?  I felt, at once, as if I had spoken and been spoken to.  Somehow in the mystery of the moment, and in the acknowledgement of that man’s truthful tune, I felt inspired and I began to step more firmly on these city streets, just begging the earth to feel me and my presence here.
As usual the arrow of inspiration struck straight into my core and gently reminded me of some words I had written long before…
Oasis      (a miniature Ode to O'Keefe)

I'm shifting,
like sand
molting, unfolding
with the Wisdom of the Desert.

I see in sun spots
before me
a New Door
a Voice
waiting to come out
an aesthetic vocabulary
liquid Gold
beneath my skin
an Alchemy
from an unforeseen Divinity
calling me to BIG
a place I've never been;

(And later, the poem continues…)
I shed my muddy memories
growing Giant-sized
sprouting essential meaning
as the Voice of the Sky
puts Thunder
in my mouth.

And for a MOMENT
I forget
to be

what JOY!

“This is your station. We want to hear from you.”   

©2011 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, January 24, 2012

Elevator Blues

Elevator Blues
As I rode down the snail’s pace of our “new” elevator in my Manhattan co-op today, the doors popped open just two floors below.  A neighbor, not unfamiliar to me, stepped in.  She and I were cloaked in our winter best – full-scale fluffy body armor to battle the frigid freezing temps outside.  Zipped up, tucked in, gloved and hovering, we nodded hello and stared at the doors that did not close. And did not close.  And did not close.  I gently pushed the “door close” button as the bile inside began to rise with subtle trepidation.  The awkward moment of silence with nowhere to stare as fleece-lined hats subverted our peripheral vision and drew a line in the proverbial sand between us.  Feeling foolish by our inability to even look at each other, much less connect, I tilted my head sideways, hoping to glance a smile or role my eyes in commiseration with a fellow survivor of this crotchety old machine’s inconsistencies.  Alas no, she stared straight down and waited patiently for the doors to finally close.

We rode slowly along the descending floors as my spirits began to sink a little, for the utter and complete lack of any creative words to share with my neighbor, my fellow passenger in this steady, albeit creaky, unpredictable life.  As the doors finally opened, she scurried along, almost running ahead to her destination, her obstacles, the commitments of her day.  I paused to let the front door close and stared through the glass wondering… when did I lose my ability to connect?

I waltzed through my day slowly, with eyes wide open, and found inside me a sense of longing, which almost always inspires inside me some poetic words, some lyrical insights. I share some with you now from a poem of mine aptly named “I vacillate”:

I vacillate
  between Love and Longing
like a metronome
  I adore and miss You
The magic of the clock we create
  Time hovers
and then it’s gone
  A hot air balloon
  by the rare and shiny stone
called sharing
of time zones, moments, minds
  Limbs that find the fullness
of their height
  Holes that find filling
Gestures that reunite
  a depth of clarity – expression unrefined
Pure and easy satisfaction
  until you’re gone
and Loss
  is mine…

©2011 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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


As I travel along the extraordinary journey that I regularly refer to as my “life”, I am often struck by the profound and simple truth of the moment.  Various moments, they happen anytime, anywhere.  Incredible insights into humanity, nature, spirituality or normalcy spring up at me and surprise me like bubbles floating to the tip of my consciousness. I savor them with mystery, reverence and awe.  I am honored to share the wonder and the poetry of such moments.  Join me as I walk in cloud-filled shoes on the bumpy, cracked and fragile sidewalk of my urban life. 

(Where spiritual terms are used, feel free to insert your unique preferences.  I tend to use words like “God” or” Creator” or “Higher Being”, but please make yourself at home and create whatever meaning that feels most comfortable to you.)

©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.