Wednesday, August 7, 2013


There is a danger
that lurks
in every label

a searing pain
into the first impressions
the value judgments
the assessments made
at every preconceived twist of phrase

the narrowing of minds
the blind spots
that hinder the kind of knowing
that releases us from shame.

There is a lie
of omission
in every title
a speck of blinding dust
that conceals the vision
of the multitudes
and darkens our inner light.

There is a blast
to the very base
the foundation
that makes up my fragile soul
each time you mark me
with that irritating name,
stinging my skin
with corporal confinement
and deadly chains.

There is a voice
that quiets
surrenders in vain
silent screams
made miniature
by the pigeon you have holed me in,
a depth of melodic range
never to be sung again.

How can I ever let you
know me
when you already
my fame?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

That Fear of Generosity

So, I'm standing in line at Starbucks (yep, guilty pleasure time) and the young lady in front of me is paying for her beverage. Searching her wallets, her pockets, the compartments of her handbag, etc., literally looking in any possible place where coins might hide.  She was searching for quite some time, effectively holding up the line and causing me to feel a bit uncomfortable for her.  So I offered to help. "Can I help? What do you need?" My wallet open and ready to pitch in the necessary coinage.  She looked a bit startled, glanced at me with furrowed brow and uttered a forceful "no", then promptly went back to searching.  The perky young gal behind me chimes in "I'm sure she meant to say 'no thank you'."  I just smiled at both of them and stiffened up, feeling like a creature from another planet.

The undercurrent of hostility in this young lady's reply to my offer baffles me.  What is so wrong with a generous and friendly gesture?  It was clear from my tone that I was not rushing her, nor impatient with her. I was simply trying to "pay it forward", as they say, and offer a small token of generosity to a complete stranger.  I went from feeling magnanimous and kind to feeling naive and a bit gauche in a  matter of milli seconds.  I shrugged it off and ordered my daily dose of green tea addiction and walked to the waiting area at the end of the bar.  Here she is again.  She avoids eye contact and moves out of my aura to wait over near the napkin bar.  Again, I am baffled and feeling like I've done something wrong.  Weird.

What is it that is so scary about generosity?  I found myself thinking of this on the way home.  I myself have been guilty of such an ungrateful and proud response.  I will never forget it.  I had a very kind-hearted friend once go shopping with me to buy a gown for a black tie event.  She graciously offered to pay for these two dresses because I could not decide between the two and my budget was meager, to say the least. I adamantly refused, as pride kicked in and my do-it-your-self-sufficiency bristled up my spine.  I did not need a hand out and would not even consider letting her pay for my dresses.  A mutual friend who was with us at the time said to me, "Duvall, why can't you just accept a gift with joy in your heart?"  And I was floored!  I stood in complete silence as I realized that my adamant refusal was potentially hurtful to my very generous friend who only wished for me to have lots of great reasons to get dressed up in my near future.  Wow.  I gave in then and there - "you're right - you're absolutely right," and we proceeded to check out.  I walked out with two dresses and two very dear friends that day. 

I learned that giving is, in fact, a gift to the giver.  It feels good to be generous.  Not allowing someone to be generous to us can be hurtful and offensive.  Pride is one of the seven deadly sins and its lashing hurts, sometimes piercing the skin of those who only want to do something kind for us.

I like to be generous and I recognize the lift it gives my spirit whenever I commit an act of generosity.  Sure, I understand the impulse to shy away from it or say "no thank you - I couldn't possibly accept".   But now, I try instead to say thank you, and really mean it!  To accept a gift with joy in my heart.  It is amazing how good we BOTH can feel when we simply open ourselves to the act of giving AND receiving.  Two mood lifts for the price of one, so to speak.  ;-)

Along a somewhat similar line of thinking, I once wrote a poem about learning to love without need.  Adoring, offering, receiving, enjoying without the weight of obligation or neediness.  Somehow it rings a bell and feels relevant here...

Without Need

Like the Sun
with rays of outstretched arms,
I can love you
            and not want.

Shine my fingertips across your skin
reflecting all your whiteness
allowing shadow underneath, accepting;
the powerful tenderness of Touch
soft, deep shade of bluest Trust.

Like a Circle
with its never-ending band, complete;
I can lack
no thing from you
wrap myself around
just to glory in your you-ness
breathe in the blossoms of your Spring smiles
mourn the winter in your eyes
catch the falling leaves of truth you speak
melt in my desire for your summer heat
revolving all around me.

Centered, I can see all sides of you
captured by your gravity;
swells my soul
to recognize your melody 

You are

and   All That Is

in Me


in the vastness of your presence
and sings my life for me!

©2013 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:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Becoming the Background

Sometimes the universe speaks to us, whether we listen or not.  I recently heard a song lyric that continues to stay with me.  Or more accurately, I mis-heard a lyric that still stays with me, a threat, a warning sign, an invitation...  The line was something along the lines of "I am becoming the background."  Oddly enough, I cannot name the song, the artist, the date, time or place that I heard it, but boy, do I remember that line.  Strange how it keeps repeating in my head.  Things that make you stop and go 'hmmmmm...'

Also, interestingly enough, there is a current documentary film making headlines all about back-up singers ("20 Feet from Stardom") which comes highly recommended from a friend.  The thought even came up in a game recently - 'would you rather'?  The game question reads something like this --"Would you rather live a short life and become famous in your chosen field? OR live a long life knowing you were meant for greatness but never quite achieved it?"  Ouch.  Either way - ouch!

I find myself wondering more and more about legacy and what my efforts in the theatre are achieving and whether or not it is somehow self-serving to just keep doing shows.  I do believe in the power of live theatre to heal, to change people's lives, to increase awareness and tolerance, to touch people and expand their compassion.  So, even something as simple and seemingly self-serving as "just doing another show" is meaningful.  Truly.  I just wonder about the bigger picture.

And now it is father's day.  I find myself aching, quite literally, to make my father proud.  He was always very proud of me, no doubt. And he taught me that I could "do anything I set my mind to" and he was right.  Everything I have ever achieved, I earned through hard work, determination, humiliation, passion, enthusiasm and time... And to this day, I am not one to let fear hold me back. So, why is that I now feel 'I am becoming the background'? 

As actors, we are taught to "find your light" -never be in the darkness on stage.  If an audience can't see you, they can't hear you.  So where is the spotlight I am now supposed to find? What is the foreground of my life?  Am I committed to finding it?  Or better yet, to painting it?  Creating it?  Who is the hero I am waiting for to come and nudge me on to center stage?  I am becoming the background.  Can you hear me in the dark?  Am I brave enough to truly make my voice heard?  ???

I once wrote a poem called "Discovering Me".  Perhaps a perfect pastime for summer 2013...

there is a stillness
to my listening
Tiny seeds of my soul
are bursting forth
like jonquils
dancing their yellow youth
to buoy my cheek bones
into lifesaving smiles
much to my surprise.


My womb is swelling
I'm giving birth
to someone I've never known
the petals pushing through
untie the brilliance of red shoe strings
my sash askew
girl toes freed
begin to tap
and chase the butterflies
head thrown back
as Roots of a Voice
vaguely familiar
uniquely my own
gnarl and twist and effort their way,
with the help of spring,
to the bright blueness
of the expansion


©2013 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:

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year - New ... what?

January!  It's always so full of promise, so alive with expectation and resolution and mystery.  I often look forward to the beginning of a new year, never really knowing which way things will turn.  This year, I am lucky to ease into 2013.  With only part time employment, winter weather and a shrinking local community of friends, I am blessed to have some time on my hands.  I've soaked it up with culture.  Movies, museums, books.  Even upgraded to the new I-phone 5 so that I could properly balance that feeling of enlightenment which art imbues with the healthy dose of stupidity that new gagdets bring.  ;-)

And therein lies the conundrum... in this new year, I feel both empowered/optimistic and bewildered/lost - all at the same time.  The world feels ripe, alive with opportunity and possibility, and yet I feel like the man on the brink of "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" (Frost)... not knowing which way to go or which prospects to pursue.  The typical artist struggle between commerce and creativity throbs inside my brain. I need to earn more income and yet I long for more fulfilling projects and meaningful ways to spend my time. Perhaps this age old debate is at the heart of my dichotomy of emotion.

Some people long for a crystal ball and even seek one out.  I recently had a friend gift one to me.  A free session with a psychic who uses lots of numerology.  Granted, she said some amazing things, but even her inner future spotlight could not predict a path, a direction, or any usable advice for me.  As usual, the answers lie inside.  Time to turtle duck inside my shell and simply "be" with all the energy and all the possibilities.  Time will tell.  And Guidance will instruct my feet.  For now, I give in to the humility and the vulnerability of confusion.  In fact, I welcome it.  I open myself to every path and every option and I embrace the cornucopia of opportunity that 2013 brings...

As we ease into this year, let us all pause and bring awareness to the full potential of the present moment.  It sings with unpredictability and joyful creative power.

This wee little poem is called Temptation.  Perhaps written at a time like this - on the verge, on the brink or in a lull between great things.  Somehow it feels relevant at the start of something new to simply stop.  To quit.  And then, perhaps, begin again...

To quit
a striking chord
the rhythm of cessation
disconnected from the Blood
the pulsing river of change
that is today

To stop
for just one Breath
clear and deep
a breath like Birth
to let me start

©2013 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: