Break Out

Another volcano appears on my skin; painful and angry.

God only knows how many have surfaced and eventually healed.

I’d say that my acne appears out of nowhere, but I have a strong suspicion that my unbalanced lifestyle is at the root.

My fingers trace the latest eruption like braille, decoding the message my body is trying to tell me, has been trying to tell me since the first zit appeared on my face 27 years ago.

I hear, see, and feel you, body

You are my friend and not my enemy

You taught me to see symptoms as symbols, like how my shiny face embodies the way I mirror whoever is in front of me.

You quietly protest that I stop convincing myself of the lie that I don’t have time to take care of myself or to nourish myself adequately, that I am unworthy of love.

‘Break free from outdated beliefs that are no longer serving you’ you whisper nearly imperceptibly.

Your sage wisdom is getting harder to ignore.

Carnival

Welcome to the carnival

I offer all manner of novelties to delight you
Are your thoughts as wild as a flying trapeze?
I’ve got pills to set your mind at ease
Does your heart feel like it has been trampled by an elephant?
You don’t need to use booze to get bent
I’ll flood your blood with chemical love and adjust the dose to fit like a glove
I’ve perfected my performance to be your ideal physician despite my perpetual exhaustion, hanger and burn out
Ignoring my own pain as I eliminate yours
Neither one of us is listening to the sacred wisdom of our bodies
I suffer long and hard so that you don’t have to feel a thing
In my side-show alley you’ll see that if you want more than an endless stream of candy refills, if you want me to be your shaman instead of your drug dealer, at any time you can feel your feelings instead of suppress them
Take a plunge from the high dive on the wild horse of your unmedicated body
Hear your healing lion’s roar
Let your self-expression soar
Allow yourself to fall into the safety net of the universe
Trust that you belong, that you are a star just as you are
Juggle fire and meet yourself with humor when gravity makes its presence known
Allow yourself to be shot from the cannon of self-doubt, trusting that you will be ok
If healing is a series of flaming hoops
The transformative way out is through
Show yourself what you can do
Dance to uplifting music every day
Cultivate strength and flexibility in body and brain
Remind yourself it is normal to feel insane
In this seemingly crazy world, only you can take the reins
Be the ringleader of your life
It ain’t me, babe
Though I have the hard-won power to prescribe the goodies you crave
To be in control of ourselves we must give up control of everything else
Welcome to the big time
The show can’t go on without you
I applaud you
My eyes are open to witness your marvels and miracles

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

Pretty Poison

Pastel petals bloom

Through the display case we swoon

Crystalline icing swirl

Dazzling eyes of boys and girls

Powdered sugar snow

Melting in our mouths is all we know

We are blind to our impending blindness

Wrapped up in celebration and intended kindness

Bakery boxes tied up with string

Filled with treats- our favorite things

Warm flaky crust seems like a must

We willingly plunge our teeth into hidden filling

We don’t foresee that we’d better wake up soon

From our creamy dreams, spoon after spoon

Digging our graves, one gulp at a time

Swallowing pretty poison, spending our dimes

Our wallets grow thin as our bodies grow fat

Sugar causes illness, what do you think of that?

Our organs try to keep up, but our pancreas can only take so much

Diabetes sets our body on fire

In a burning house, tragedies transpire

Our vision fades, our kidneys fail

Our heart cries out, do we hear the wail?

Our arteries harden as our muscles soften

Bite by bite, we build our coffin

Our brain is addicted, our mind turns bitter

With rotting flesh, we lose toes and fingers

An ugly site and a sour smell

Only we can liberate ourselves from this hell

It isn’t pretty and it isn’t sweet

Let’s eat real food and keep our feet

Our Mother’s Face

We thought we could improve perfection, Mama

When we drew lines across your face
Highways of asphalt scars connecting the
Clusters of concrete wounds on your cheeks
High rise buildings offering every luxury but you, Mama
We dig into you without asking, Mama, pounding into your bedrock
Even as you gently rock us to sleep each night, as if our actions are alright
We are the ones who refuse to turn out the lights
We don’t hear your wisdom, Mama, which you sing softly even now
We boast loudly but when do we listen, Mama?
We are shaken to the bone when we drill into you, Mama
Between fracking and petroleum, our hearts are in pandemonium
We make ourselves ill when we poison your blood
Dumping debris into your waters
We choke as we pollute your lungs
Pouring smoke into your atmosphere
We share a single circulatory and respiratory system with you, Mama
Our shortsighted deeds will always come back to haunt us in spades
We drink from your abundant cup, rarely satisfied that we have enough
We pretend to be separate from you even as we depend on you for our every breath, from birth to death
We think we know best but we haven’t fooled the rest, only ourselves
We act big, but we are dust on your mighty shoulders, Mama
Our mother has the most gorgeous face
Deep blue-green eyes and a sparkling smile
Bathed in rich brown skin, holding the miracle of life itself within her
Her beauty cannot be improved by anything man-made
To thrive, she needs only to be loved by those she loves unconditionally, by us
This is her divine lesson of self-love
Caring for the Earth is caring for ourselves
We spring forth from the Earth’s womb, are nourished by her breast, and remain connected to her indefinitely by an unbreakable umbilical cord
Though we mistreat you, we love you and we need you, Mama
You are the only oasis in the vast desert of the universe
We feel calm and content when we are close to you, Mama
Words are not your language
We must show our love for you through actions
Spending quality time with you
Living simply and sustainably
Voting with every transaction
Passing legislation to protect you from destruction by our hands
We have injured you too many times in the name of profit Mama, which only robs ourselves of true wealth: clean air, water and soil
We can’t buy more of you in any store, Mama
When we hurt you, we hurt ourselves more
You wait patiently for us to learn, even as we pillage and burn
You demonstrate how to love more completely, Mama, but that does not excuse our transgressions
This Earth Day, may we pause for reflection on our self-centered predilection
May we hold you in the center of our heart, where you always belonged from the start
Though at times we get distracted, more of your children are treading softly on you each day, Mama
May I be one such child of the Earth, and help others so inspired do the same
Your health depends on what we do today
May we lift our faces to you and see our collective dream come true

Worse Things

Sometimes when I drink alone-
One cold beer on a hot summer’s night,
At the end of a long day,
to wash lingering anxiety away
I wonder if I am an alcoholic
But then I think
There are worse things to be

Like those who destroy the earth
To feed their insatiable greed

Like pedophiles and rapists
Serial killers
Users and abusers of women and children

The dramatic and manipulative
Who are unnecessarily cruel to their loved ones

Those who blame everyone but themselves for their own egregious behavior
Instead of looking within

The judgemental and cold-hearted
Who raise their voice when they should be listening