Green Room

In the green room of life

We all sit down, take off our masks and laugh

We congratulate each other on another a good show

Seated on the other side of the curtain where duality dissipates

We debrief, recount, replay, tallying up the sacred lessons learned at the end of the day

In the green room, the oppressor and the oppressed embrace

Realizing that we are one, smiling at the absurdity that we ever thought otherwise

Recounting blows, former harsh words melt into knowing smiles 

Disbelieving that we ever forgot that life is a dream, a game with infinite lives, a simulator in which to act out our drama

In the green room, there is nothing to fight about

Life’s perfection is seen clearly and we remember that we are whole, that there is nothing wrong with us, that we are playing

And we play again, vowing that we will remember our true selves this time around

Bouncy Ball

Resilient sphere of color

I throw you down but you only bounce back higher

Dancing down the stream
You get caught on rocks and fallen leaves
I free you and follow you down the babbling brook
Your journey is again halted by forest debris
I dislodge you with a stick and you bound onward
Carried effortlessly by the water
I was told that all rivers flow to the ocean
I am determined to travel there with you, to see this through
Then I learn that water sometimes moves underground
Branch still in hand, we are both stuck on land
I didn’t account for this
Years later, I am an adult in a high-pressure profession
Just now pausing after years of running
As if I’ve been chasing a ball down a stream
Bouncing from one goal to the next
I am bewildered by the restless movement which only distanced me from my heart’s desires
In exchange for passing tests, I received more tests
No one ever asked me if I want to be tested
I value serenity and peace, meditation in nature
I was already where I wanted to be
When I was a girl with a rubber ball
Bring me back to that forest stream
I will stand in it
Let the cool water wash over my feet
Bouncy ball by my side
In stillness and simple satisfaction
We will stay

Flame

Your rage strikes my heart like a lightning bolt

Cracking it open and setting it afire
I am at a loss for what to do, so I warm my hands over the embers and wait
To transform, part of me must die
I cannot rush, only trust
How many times can one heart break?
As many times as it takes
To learn the sacred lessons
To consciously unite with the divine
Time and time again
Pain is pain, sensation is sensation
No matter the form or formal education
Lucid dreaming just before waking
I see a sea of broken hearts glowing in the dark
Each a floating lantern offered up
Burning with the same flame

Off My Chest

I need to get you off my chest

I’ve never felt relaxed in my life because you raised me in the war zone of your wrath
Bombs of panic explode in my mind all day every day
Choking me with your smoke and mirrors even though you are far away
My ears ring with your shouting
You were the biggest little tyrant
Not even two years my senior
Yet always more needy
Mandating, yet begging
I didn’t realize the power I had over you, and still do
You were the one dependent on me for affirmation, not the other way around
I didn’t have a choice then, but I do now-
To live a life without your storms brewing on my horizon
I’ve never slept well in my life because I thought you were going to murder me in my sleep throughout our childhood and adolescence
I used lie in bed wearing a cross around my neck with a note attached to it asking you to think before acting, waiting for dawn to break, dreading another day with you, feeling trapped and hopeless with no end in sight
I never felt protected, respected, seen or heard by our parents
In moments of desperation, I wish you had killed me
Instead you continue to torture me passive aggressively, and I am passive passive aggressive
Silenced, as if buried alive
I toss and turn, tormented between insomnia and nightmares
I’m trying to think before I act
I am upset that I’m even thinking about you now
I am upset about how you get upset ‘at’ me: you throw your rage at me and have me clean up the mess, time and time again, left to calm your ass down as if your reactions were justifiable or somehow my fault
It was never my fault
I am not responsible for how you feel
Leave me alone you evil bitch
I want to scream at you with the force of 35 years of repressed anger and tears
At the same time, I am trying to let go of the hot coal which burns my palm
I am trying to let the rippling waters of my pond be still
I am trying to not be irritated, for only then will you no longer be irritating
I am trying to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings
I am tired of trying so damn hard
I am ready for ease
I am ready for peace
I am ready to breathe
Please, get off my chest
I don’t need to ask- I am responsible for how I feel
I’m not sure what to do next
I’ll probably meditate and self-medicate with raw emo poetry
Like the note pinned to my cross-necklace, you will probably never read this
But maybe those who matter will
Those who feel they are suffering alone
May find healing in this onion peel
And breathe just one breath more freely
For this I humbly pray
Namaste

Workaholic

I went into medicine partly due to heartbreak

The exhaustive training of medical school and residency was a welcome albeit ineffective distraction from my sorrow and loneliness
24-hour shifts are a convenient justification for not keeping in touch with loved ones
Even though the real excuse is my social anxiety and sense of inadequacy
Living within hospital walls, I suspect that I am not the only physician who became a medical doctor to try to forget unrequited love, to escape the world of human relationships
My older colleagues work far more than they need to to make ends meet, far more than any reasonable person would work in a week
Who needs friends or feelings when you have patients and science?
Our skin grows pale under fluorescent lights
Our vision becomes shortsighted as the screens stare unblinkingly
Our hearts forget how to feel carefree
Our muscles atrophy as our brains hypertrophy
Our minds become boxed in with facts, our mental filing cabinets overflow
I am a recovering workaholic working alongside workaholics who do not appear to be in recovery
Perhaps they suspect the same of me
Heads down in the trenches, none of us can know another’s heart
We can only know our own heart, if we listen
We carefully administer medications, surgeries and therapies
We measure progress in numerical metrics of lab values, calculated scores and vital signs
We arrive early and stay late
We work day and night without a break
We always have too much on our plates
We deprive ourselves of sleep, fresh air and food
We know why we have irritable moods
Practicing medicine is an unhealthy, imbalanced lifestyle and we know it
We can only ever heal ourselves
I’m ready to show it
I am finally healing my broken heart
I found that I had to begin at the start
Childhood wounds tangle and bloom
Trauma begets trauma until we change our thoughts, words and actions
Breaking old patterns even as we hold traction
I am love itself, I am the source of what I sought
My cup overflows, it was not all for naught

Labor Pains

Give birth to your best self, America

Painful, messy, terrifying, raw
The most beautiful transformation you’ll ever see
America, you’ve been gestating too long to stop now
Humanity is bursting from your loins, America
Born of the brutal rape of racism
Blood spills on the ground
Fertilizing the soil from which you spring forth
You cannot go back to the way you were, America
You can only keep pushing forward
I am learning to listen to my heart, America
Though the change may not be obvious to you yet
Subtle shifts below the surface move mountains, America
I change my thoughts to change my life
Though the echoes of your trauma are deafening
Though the jaws of your mental imprisonment clamp down hard around me
I no longer strive to be your wounded warrior
I am your healed child, here to show you how to heal yourself
Even though you broke my heart so early and often that you left me without a sense of self
Yet my heart kept on beating
And loving
That is how you heal
Keep on loving
Love yourself, love your life, love your fellow beings and the whole Earth as yourself
Forgive yourself and others
Be kind to all, for we are children on a difficult journey that wouldn’t be so damn difficult if we were kind to each other
Pay it forward and see what happens
Love and kindness and forgiveness is the way
America is having labor pains today
I welcome your birth America, your infinite potential
You suffered so much hate that you became a hater but it is finally time to love, America

Thread

It is you again

Suicidal ideation, my old friend

You are the shadow lurking outside my window

You are always there in my time of greatest need

When my sanity is hanging by a thread

And I am tempted to see if I’d be better off dead

I hang off that thread and gaze over the precipice into the dark abyss

I let go with one finger, only four more, why linger?

My thoughts are a razor blade cutting into the thread like a sharp violin bow

Drawn across the thread of my sanity again and again

Though the depths call me and freedom beckons me to let go

I tie a knot at the end of the thread instead

I recall that nothing lasts forever, not even my shame, not even my pain

I know that I have infinite potential

I set my intention to direct my attention and begin my ascension

I climb, as I have many a time

Suicidality, old friend, thank you for coming to visit but I don’t have to invite you in

Over the years I have transformed, but you remain the same

I know you want only to relieve my suffering, but there are other ways to achieve liberation from suffering which do not involve breaking hearts

I meditate on that, to start

I feel my feet on solid ground again

I bow in deep gratitude to you, my friend

Absinthe and Abstinence

Instead of drinking absinthe

I wish I’d practiced abstinence

Absinthe passed through my lips

You followed suit, more than just the tip

I was butter and you were the knife

Wish I could take back that night

Spread out like jam on toast

On a Manhattan mattress, we did the most

It got so hot, we were the roast

But I was the one who got burned

Absinthe, you brought on sweat, blood and tears

Abstinence, you would have spared me much fear

Absinthe, why’d you help me undress?

Abstinence, you would have prevented stress

Absinthe, you never delivered that green fairy

Abstinence, your fruit is sweeter than the ripest berry

Absinthe, under your tutelage I’ve grown wary

Now I practice abstinence

From every Tom, Dick and Harry

and all the other men who didn’t have my best interest at heart-

You protested loudly when I told you we had to part.

You don’t have to understand

You just have to know that you’re not my man.

Finding Sukha

Sometimes I feel angry
I could blame my parents for the anger they passed down to me through their nature and their nurture
But they are only survivors of abuse and neglect themselves, victims of inter-generational psychological torture
I like to think that they were doing the best they knew how
With limited resources at the time
It was a different world back then;
There was little awareness and poor preparedness,
Less information and more isolation

Sometimes I feel sloppy
My movements get choppy
I crash, splash and make a mess
I only hope that I don’t take anyone down with me
When I slip and fall
Reminding me that in my haste, I don’t save time at all

Sometimes I feel on edge
I am irritable and my mind carves a ledge
Off of which I can easily slip
Into a hellish well
Of memories echoing back at me
Little things that seem big disproportionately when viewed at close range

Like the time an ex gave me condescending lip
When he proudly pronounced the word ‘dukkha’
Then judged me on how the Sanskrit word (not the concept, mind you) was unfamiliar to my vocabulary at the time

Dukkha is commonly translated as ‘suffering’, which is an important concept in Buddhism because the Buddhist path was designed to liberate people from suffering by helping them first overcome their desires/selfish cravings

I am all for liberation, but his elitist attitude was not resonating with me
That fool tried to school me on suffering like I’d never suffered a day in my life, when I’ve suffered every damn blessed day of my life

So I gave him a lesson in letting go of attachment by leaving him

I thought he could stand to benefit from the lesson and

I don’t need to take shit from a privileged prick about fancy words that I was too busy earning a living through sex work to have the time to learn from a text book

Books are hella expensive anyway

That’s why I gladly share my writing freely

Cuz I want it to reach people like me

People who were born into economic or emotional poverty

Through these simple words I string together

I humbly hope to help alleviate suffering in others

Perhaps it only helps alleviate my own suffering, but even that would be enough

I am a person, too

Also, writing feels like free therapy to me

I’ve still never been to actual therapy

I hear the prices are crazy

But I digress…I don’t have the energy to deal with fits of vanity

from spoiled boys who get off on looking down on me and the rest of the world

I think that instead of judging anyone who hasn’t heard the word ‘dukkha’
It would’ve served him better to find sukha
Sukha means ‘ease’

My point is this:
Everybody experiences dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness or stress) and hopefully sukha (happiness, ease, pleasure or bliss) in their lives
Everyone around the world attends the school of life; we are born, live and die in that classroom
But not everybody has access to the luxury of learning outside of their immediate human interactions
However that makes them no less educated than those who have the resources for recreational reading
At least in my book

So I’d tell that ex (if I could stomach the thought of communicating with him, which I presently don’t)
That if he thinks he is superior to others
Because he’s so well-read
Then maybe he should know
How to fit his ego back inside his head

With compassion, I recognize that fear of inadequacy lies at the root of his speaking boastfully

Here are some lessons that I’ve learned, and they aren’t in Sanskrit:
The ego inflates easily but deflates again eventually, and when the ego balloon gets stabbed by a needle it can be a long, hard fall down to the ground                                                                                                    Liberation from our egos and freedom from our desires is the ultimate gift
Money can buy a book but it can’t buy wisdom
Material wealth will get you inside the ivory tower but it won’t shelter you from suffering

Just look at my ex; he was rich in his wallet but impoverished in his heart-mind
Leaving him so that I could be poor but happy
Was a decision that put me at ease,
At ease like sukha

Sometimes I need a lesson in letting go too

Sometimes I find sukha