The Point

I found a years-old grocery receipt with the following message I’d scribbled on it:

The point of life is to become enlightened, again and again.

For me, the quick and easy way to become enlightened is to suffer beyond words to the point that my ego splits open and divine light pours in.

Every time I arrive, I bow to my suffering in gratitude.

I remember that what I had grappled and struggled with was actually on my side the whole time.

When I arrive at enlightenment, for a moment, I know peace

Then the journey starts again, like bringing my awareness back to my breath, most of the time I am unconscious of the miracle that flows through me.

Perhaps suffering is not necessary, however it seems to be a catalyst; speeding up the process.

I want to hug the whole world, wrap it in a hand-knit sweater

To those who feel sick, I hope you feel better.

I want the glow in my heart to grow and light up the dark.

I’m glad I kept that receipt

I could frequently benefit from a reminder about what the point is

It is most difficult to remember when I am surrounded by those who cling steadfast to their self-centered identities, awash in all sorts of drama, trying at every angle to drag me into their mire

I pray they will know enlightenment, even if for a moment, someday

I pray that I will know enlightenment, even if for a moment, today

Train

Held by this train

I am forced to take a break from my constant doing

I surrender to gentle rocking, held softly between steel rails

I search for a pencil and find only a pen, reminding me that I cannot undo

the mistakes I have made

I sit with myself, take responsibility for my monstrous actions

I let go of my striving to be the smartest in the room, the prettiest in the picture, the most fiercely independent

I practice radical self-acceptance instead of my usual devastation when I am inevitably imperfect

A young man getting off the train says something to everyone as he passes

He gives us his blessing, tells us to stay cool in this heat

I wonder what he is high on, and am willing to partake

The train moves on without him, gliding through the evening light

I pause my own racing thoughts to bask in the blessing from a stranger on a train

Ever moving between two rails, I dedicate a moment of my journey to gratitude

Raw

Sitting at the edge of my sanity

Gazing into infinity

Holding stones from the river

Life’s sharp lessons

Artfully crafted to dull my ego where it juts out

Where I’m going, I won’t need an ego anyway

Shards of criticism cut into me, the searing pain leaves me speechless

I never had much to say anyway

Truth like light pours into my wound

My darkest places are exposed and there is nowhere to go

I sit with discomfort

Tears burn my cheeks

With each rejection, I remember every rejection

I feel my feet sink into the emotional quicksand of my childhood

I gaze enviously at those who seem to have a solid foundation of love, safety and belonging

Memories like a breeze carrying the debris of letters from ex-lovers written to hurt me because they felt hurt

They wanted me to be their foundation, not knowing I was treading water myself

We all feel the sting of salt

I am so grateful for the time and space to cry, to gaze into the crack in my mind

Realize that I demonstrate all the qualities that I judge in others

Heal my wound with poetry, raw emo poetry

I’m not trying to suture this closed, I’m not trying to rush this

I heal by secondary intention, from the ground up

Fill up your cup

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Please don’t judge me for being a sex worker in order to make ends meet
You taught me how to dissociate from my body, how to put other’s wants ahead of my needs
You were my first violator and my first pimp
Remember molesting me at night throughout my childhood and adolescence?
You opened the floodgates for countless rapes
Remember forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do my whole life?
Pimping me out to abusive children who you ‘felt sorry for’ because they did’t have any friends
The reason why they didn’t have any friends is because they weren’t good friends. Like you, they were trapped in abuse
Oscillating between abuser and abused
Remember commanding me yet never asking or listening?
I told you I was depressed, you told me I was not
The middle school guidance counselor called you to pick me up from school because I was suicidal-
All you did was yell at me
You found out I was a sex worker by violating my privacy
You yelled at me to respect myself
Yet you never respected me and actively taught me to disrespect myself
How can you expect me to fly when all you ever did was drag me down and break my wings
You raised me in poverty
Gave me no financial resources, no guidance
I was hungry, I had textbooks to buy and rent to pay
You want to take credit for my success
I became who I am in spite of you, not because of you
Though I see the crucial role you played
At the end of the day all I can say is namaste

Corona

I wear my crown of martyrdom

On the front lines, yet still at the back of the testing line- haven’t been tested

I think of you, virus, though you do not think of me

Coronavirus, on the news
Coronavirus, in my body
Is the aching in my muscles and bones your calling card?
You desire to enter my cells, virus, as much as I long to keep you out
Together, yet separately, we hunger
You want to pick my lock, use my typewriter to transcribe your RNA, then mail your enveloped self-promoting propaganda air mail special to Hadestown.
Don’t bring me down on the way, I pray
Not like this, not today
My heart breaks to think of those who have lost their lives to you, and those who needlessly will still
My head is intoxicated with fear
You always seem too near
Perhaps we Americans deserve the repercussions of our recklessness
Though it is the innocent who pay, as usual
Another day deep
I march on with trembling hands and heavy feet
Tracking invisible mud out of the wards and onto the street
Ashamed to stay in the job I was fixing to quit anyway,
Ashamed to leave now and abandon my post
The war is on, dwarfing the existential crisis of living the life I want versus fulfilling my societal obligation
I am among the minority who have a medical education
Only in following my heart can I grow up at last, no longer a slave to the judgements of others who do not bear my burden
My mind’s liberation opens up like a blue sky
Back to here and now, overcast again
In clinic and in the hospital
I struggle to bring my heart into the mundane and mission-impossible tasks which overflow from one day to the next
Virus, I gaze at your storm clouds accumulating on the horizon, and feel small
I see your silver lining, as I am well practiced in finding positivity amidst disaster
You are rich in potential
Look at the way you are uniting humanity, virus
People are taking care of themselves and each other like never before
Practicing presence in hospital hallways and supermarket aisles, smiling shyly at each other from behind our suffocating masks
We are finally being mindful of our precious resources, thinking globally and acting locally for sustainable solutions
We are cultivating more community and camaraderie than we could ever quantify
Teamwork and solidarity are weaving our spirits more closely together even as the physical distance between our bodies grows
I take a step back to take in the beauty of the tapestry you wove, virus
You bring opportunity for innovation and flexibility, you demand it
Many of us no longer take life for granted
We are cleaning our hands as often as we always should have
People are being prioritized over profits as we focus on what is essential
We settle in, acknowledging at last that we are in the same boat
Living in unspoken gratitude for each day of health
Please don’t rock my boat too much, virus
Though you are armed with cunning skills
And you may bring about more positive change still
I plan to ride out this storm, though land is not in sight
Virus, perhaps you could rest tonight?
Virus, my type II pneumocytes are mine, my lungs are a celebration of life and you are not invited
I wind-down after another day on the front lines,
I give thanks to those who are doing their part in time
To those in the comfort of your own homes,
Please stay where you are, be satisfied
Coronavirus, we will destroy you with patience and ingenuity, with solidarity and community, with soap and water, and with love for one another

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

Vanish

You struggle to breathe

Your lungs groan under the weight of a million cigarettes
Your body will not heal, nor will you allow it to
You prefer to smoke tobacco than to breathe, you tell me
Your liver is hardened
Fluid builds up in your legs, abdomen and lungs
You bleed into your GI tract
Again and again
Requiring dozens of blood transfusions
Until when?
You prefer to drink than to live, you tell me
Your blood harbors viruses and bacteria
Years of IV drug abuse riddle your veins
My eyes draw lines between the scars on your skin
And spell out your pain
Your body is massively obese
You’ve had just desserts
Your blood is dangerously sweet
The food on the menu is not nourishing
With vibrant foods, we could all be flourishing
Instead we are toxic
Now you’re turning hypoxic
Your own body gets in the way of breathing
Rather than a vehicle, your body is your handicap
Too much mass to move
Stumbling, you tumble into my view
Bullet wounds have torn right through you
Senseless violence, what kind of freedom is this?
We reserve the right to die at the hands of another at any time
I want to take all the suffering I see
Concentrate that energy inside me
And use it to wipe away cigarettes and liquor stores,
Smash opioids off the face of the planet, and while I’m at it
Take my magic wand and with a swish banish sugar from our lips
Eliminate weapons with one wish
I’ll water that seed of hope with the tears of those who know, so it will grow
And we shall be sheltered in our old age by the tree planted in our youth
We’ve suffered enough to learn how to thrive in our world- at least we’ve discovered what not to do.
I have a dream that tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, processed foods, and guns will vanish.
I realize that this is unlikely to happen for a while, as there are profits to be made and suffering to be had.
Taking into account the billions of healthcare dollars it costs to deal with lung disease, liver disease, drug addiction, diabetes and gun violence, let alone the immeasurable cost of lost lives and poor health, how can we afford to carry on the way we have been?
If a substance is harmful, let it vanish.
Why hold on to that which is no longer serving us?
We can do anything with our infinite human potential.
We alone can change our lives and leave the world better than we found it.
Let’s do what we can before we vanish
Do something today
There is no guide book
Vote with your dollars, your actions, your thoughts
Breathing in gratitude, I thank you

You Can Have It

Darling, though we’ve never met

You rolled the dice, you placed a bet
That you could win a lawsuit
Born of the heartbreaking news
That your baby died inside you
A horrific experience, true
But of your baby’s death, I had nothing to do
The coroner’s report reveals the truth
Your baby passed away at least a day before you ever walked my way
Darling, I didn’t even lay eyes upon you
I was being a team player, not a baby slayer
In going above and beyond to help another
I didn’t imagine I’d be sued by a mother
You said we dropped the ball
But we were never playing at all
If it is money you are looking for,
Honey you’re knocking on the wrong door
All those years I could have been earning
I spent in medical school learning
about medicine, not about law
Perhaps I wasn’t well trained after all
You want us to take the blame
for your unspeakable pain
Can you imagine what I have given up
just to help you, is it never enough?
For you, I went hungry, I went without sleep
Hard years away from my family, I didn’t see
I got stuck with needles, splashed with blood
Only for you to smear my name like it was mud
On the journey that led me to you,
I gave up love, I gave my life
I turned away from ease and took on strife
Of my own pregnancies, I sacrificed them all
My weeping uterus bled raw
Just to give you my best, I gave up the rest-
My youth, my babies and childbearing years, too many unnumbered tears
I stayed in an abusive relationship throughout medical school
Because the only way to escape my abuser would have been to drop out and forego my education
I stayed in hell for all the women held back from their full potential because of men
Though it was the hardest thing I ever did, and I still have nightmares about him
I don’t feel safe in my skin, but then again I never did
I wonder if I’d do it all again, just to reach out my hand, only to have you bite it
I fought hard to serve you, and serve you I did
Without a word of thanks from you, kid
Then again, we’ve never met
I’m named in your lawsuit, yet
What I’m trying to tell you
Is that my medical degree,
My heart, my mind
My hard work, and all my precious time-
You can have it
It was always yours anyway
Everything I do, dear patient, is for you
I give you my life- you can have my lawsuit too
In trying to hurt me, you only harm yourself
We are all connected in the One True Self
Limitlessness is bliss
Reach out and return the infinite kiss
Available to you at any time
You can have it if you understand this rhyme

Anxiety

Anxiety, my oldest companion, always by my side

Anxiety
Ball of wirey grey string inside me
Buzzing like an agitated hornet’s nest, threatened and angry
Tangling, strangling, suffocating
Drowning me under dark metal walls rising
Closing in under the pressure of the shadow mountains of never enough
This shifting, terrifying scenery is my home
My neurobiological foundation was not built on safety or security
My mind was melded in the hellfire of anxiety
Flames of self-doubt licking at my heels
Constantly threatening to burn me to the bone
Venomous teeth bared,
My serpent of self-doubt is poised
Ready to strike
That’s how I get through the night
Jaw clenched tight, insomnia punctuated by nightmares
In a lucid dream I fly
In my many travels, I learn a thing or two
I understand now
That my anxiety is my servant,
Trying to protect me
From the many and varied perceived threats
Of my childhood and my adulthood
I breathe in deep
Let my tea steep
Beyond the dragoness serpent, the ring of fire, the charred walls, the mountains holding the howling winds of loneliness,
I see beyond all these horrors
With each breath
A bit of sunshine blue shines through
That bright and buoyant sight
That glimpse of the outside, of a new approach to life
Is all I need
To find peace
To hold hope
To savor the long years of hard suffering, mucking through mud
only to realize that my heart is a lotus blossom of healing
I am kneeling in humble gratitude
With each breath,
My serpent uncoils and I see her beauty
My flames simmer down
The earth beneath me settles and breathes with me
My walls fall, overcome by vines
Even my massive mountains of worry breathe,
Lush with Spring
Thank you for your service, anxiety
You can take a break from protecting me
This moment does not have to be a struggle
In an instant, ease breaks through
I breathe and bow to you, anxiety