Thursday, December 20, 2018

Duvall O'Steen - New Headshots from the amazing Paul Greco Photography. A more serious side here. Gritty New York Drama shot. The poetry in this one is daring you not to read it!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Me Time

Today was delightful.  I finally had some downtime. A full day without so much to do.  Me time. Time to take stock, step off the ride of life and reflect a bit. The noise of my barking To Do list falling to a faint far-away buzz. I am smiling more than I have in months.

Amazing how refreshing a simple day without obligations can be.

It got me thinking...

How much of my life is lived genuinely for me? Do I prioritize duties and obligations over my own joys, desires, goals?  What IF I spent more time doing nothing?  I wonder...

There's a story inside me
a glory
yet to be fulfilled
an explosion of sheer beauty
uncovering a pristine truth
so detailed,
so refined,
it sparkles like a gemstone
as facets of my mind
spark within my heart
like lightning bugs that dance,
shaking the cocktail of my soul,
piercing precisely to the core,
an excavation and removal of who I was before.

There's a story inside me
that's brewing
an aging vintage
molded, dusty, torn
deformed from years of storage and abuse;
it's shaking loose the old familiar chains,
like a sprout, it's busting through
a blossom on the verge,
a star's initial burst.
If I stop the go-see- do
and quiet ushers in,
there's a new and deeper listening,
silence becomes my friend,
my ears make out a melody
that's always been  humming
close to the horizon of my consciousness,
a glimpse of genius
draws me in
and I recognize,
with great surprise,
my own breath on the wind.
My every smile is singing
as chapter one begins.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Mortal Mystery

Yet another shooting today.

Not in a school this time, but still, a child was shot and is critically fighting for his life.

What has happened to us? How did we get here? When did LIFE become so de-valued? It is the single most precious thing we have. All of us. Without it, we have nothing.

How do we not see ourselves in another? THIS is what baffles me. THIS is what motivated my response to gun violence... I share it here in fully as we cannot partially respond to this gun violence issue. Life is worth fighting for.


What is it 
in you
that cannot see 
That does not recognize the familiarity 
of my tears, my needs, my eyes?
How can you not smell my love,
the floral fragrance I whisper to this world,
my smile a mighty atomizer
spewing pleasure through my teeth 
as beautiful truths come bursting forth. 
Is there no value in you
that you cannot value me?
Are you lacking certain bones or muscles that pump your heart
to keep it soft and steady, alive?
Is your soul so hidden in your pinky toe
that you do not know
that we are kin
Sisters in sisterhood
Brothers in brotherhood
Partners in being 
Homo sapien?
Journeying in lock step 
on a planet racing toward extinction?
Are you so convinced of difference 
that you cannot spot the evidence 
of sameness all around you?
Do you hunger? Do you cry?
Does your left ear itch when you fly? Like mine?
Have you ever tried to taste the rain?
Or catch a bubble in your hand?
I wonder if you can.
If you have the capacity 
to see my vulnerability 
and its undeniable resemblance 
to your own. 
When you hold your lover's hand,
does it paint your cheeks like mine?
Does your mother's face bring swirling thoughts, memories, scars to mind?
Perhaps it is the viewfinder 
you look through
that distorts your vision 
blurs your judgment as you aim,
my nose transformed into a bullseye 
as your finger strokes the trigger
stoking up the flames inside your mind
muddying the watery weak excuses 
that you claim 
grant you some kind of permission 
to do the unspeakable
Here and Now.
Why do I sense fear 
in your bloodshot eyes?
As you pose in your mock state of strength?
Could it be that you are afraid of unarmed me?
Your power-gun nothing but a mask
to hide the blackest blasts
of your inner shame?
Does your eyelid know my name?
That quiver in your palm,
perhaps it's picking up the rhythm of my pulse
our heartbeats quickened 
by the fatal proximity of an early grave.
What score will you celebrate today?
As my final breath blends with yours
the air we share an equalizer,
our need for it the same.
Have you no burning in that smoking fingertip?
No chapping of your grimly parted lips?
No resonance within your vocal chords that vibrate just like mine
as you chant your victory cry
while I whimper my last words?
You see me as an apple in those orange eyes of yours
but surprise!
We are family
fruit from a familiar tree of DNA. 
You're shooting off my nose
to spite our collective human face. 

Duvall O’Steen ©2016

Monday, June 23, 2014

Beauty of Interest

I was walking through Central Park the other day, on my way to the public restrooms near the Delacort Theatre. An older, well dressed lady stopped me to politely ask if I knew where the Great Lawn was. I am familiar with the location of the Great Lawn inside the Park, but as I explained to her, I am not sure exactly how to "get there from here," so to speak. I basically advised walk East and South a little ways. She was concerned about the curving trails and winding pathways inside the Park, fearing she might get lost if she merely ambles East and South.

"Well," I quipped, "at least you'll be surrounded by beauty as you wander along."

"Oh," she sighs with a dismissive gesture of her pale hand. "I am not interested in beauty."

And just like that, I was rendered speechless. Simply smiled, shrugged my shoulders and made my way on up the hill towards my destination.

But ever since ... I have been thinking - how could anyone NOT be interested in Beauty?  ???????????????????????

Isn't there something inherent in human nature that is interested in Beauty?  Isn't that why it often stops us in our tracks? Isn't that where inspiration dwells and where great art comes from?

Is it even remotely possible to NOT be interested in Beauty?

Perhaps this lady had seen enough beauty (with a small b) in her day and her quota was full?  Or perhaps she had no capacity to take in any more? Is this what we all have to look forward to in the twilight of our life? Being too busy or too lost or too distracted to be interested in Beauty??  I am personally planning to travel the globe in search of Beauty before my days in the sun are through.

I got to thinking about the little things. All the little bits and dabs of Beauty here and there. How they sneak up on us and demand our attention.  The curve of a laughter-filled face. The first little blossom in the window box after a long rough winter. The particular shade of blue in a clear summer sky at dusk. The possibilities are endless. If we are not interested in Beauty, how much of our experience do we reject? Or hide from? Or repress?

Sometimes the little things strike me, stick to me like glue. Until words eventually come tumbling out to explain.  Join me as I indulge  a secret Beauty that found my fingers one fine day. That little curve beneath the pelvic bone, so large and tender and fragile. One day I found it mesmerizing. Sacred.

She Sleeps

She sleeps
in fetal pose.
I trace the curve
of her hip with my finger,
that pocket of Divinity
where complete surrender
I could take her hip bone with me as I go.
There is no need.
For I know
that she would give it me
if asked.

Duvall O'Steen
© 2014 Duvall O'Steen LLC

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: