I received the good news this week that Poetica Magazine has chosen “The Last of My Village” as the winner in its annual chapbook competition.  This will be my first collection, and although I always wanted a Perfect Spine (oh the metaphors abound!), I am quite happy to know that I will soon to be able to hold poems in my hands that I can share.  (Maybe I’ll use the opportunity to Reiki every book before I sell or give them away!)

It should be out in September, which means I have been busily tweaking the poems one last time, making sure I’m not leaving anyone out of the thank you page, and figuring out who can take a photo of me I will not look at it and think “ick” and who won’t mind writing a blurb with a two-week turnaround time — you get the idea.

The night before I found out I had won, I was feeling particularly low — the unrelenting heat?  the longer-than-hoped-for financial and vocational transition and the concurrent thoughts of “what am I doing with my life”? a challenging star alignment?

Luckily, my good friend and fellow poet Zein — who’s got a huge heart and an incredible penchant for telling just the perfect story when you most need it (as this fascinating talk on poetry and social change proves) was available for some backdeck wine drinking.

We’ve been living in the same housing co-op for activists for nearly seven years, and although he’s not a healer in the traditional sense, he has been a North Star of Domestic Wellness, guiding us to create a backyard organic vegetable garden, planting flowers that attract ladybugs and butterflies and goldfinches, and painting the walls of our community room the color of a clear autumn morning.

I give myself Reiki almost daily, but just being around a good friend’s good energy can be incredibly grounding and centering.

(And one of the things I love about being a Reiki practitioner is being able to give friends a good jolt when they need it.  Really, everyone should become a first degree practitioner for this reason alone!)

After a day of feeling high around my upcoming publication, I’ve found myself feeling more soulful than normal.  I’ve been doing a fair bit of yoga, meditation, Reiki and sound healing, and suspect I am just detoxing.  Lucky to be able to help it along with friends and self-care practices and Reiki shares — and even a super relaxing abhyanga massage by my friend Donnie this morning.

I have seen Reiki help people let go of what they’ve been carrying, even if they didn’t realize it was a burden.   Sometimes it’s about a tight muscle, other times…

And change — which is all about letting go — is definitely in the air, for all of us.  I have the funny feeling that August won’t be exactly sleepy, so you might want to get your own set of detox and healing practices in place.

On that note, I am teaching another yoga and writing workshop on Friday, August 13th from 8-10 pm.  I’ve been teaching these for a few years, but have recently been inspired to offer them on a monthly basis.  There’s something about the combination of movement of bodies and pens that can help release and heal at a very deep level.  Information and registration here.  Because it’s Friday the 13th, there might be some witchy-witch writing prompts to help you clear out the cobwebs in your neural synapses.

Here’s a poem from the collection for your reading pleasure  — the formatting isn’t working, but you’ll get the idea!  Until next time!

Malcolm X Park Welcomes the New Moon, New Year and Ramadan,  2005


Drop the grave from your shoulders

Mahmoud Darwish

Right here, right now, fly to the vines

along what fences you in. Morning glories

and orange blossoms trumpeting this place,

a new year, a new you feasts on hallucinogenic

nectar, walks on paths paved

with tumbled headstones.

And you hum a mournful tune.

And you shed marigolds

in your first seven footsteps.

You have not been here before.

This lazy day, fountains run

like forest-rivers toward the sea

hours out of reach and you decide

it’s high time to beach your dead-

end desires that splinter

into a thousand thorns.

Right here, the soulful squirreling

of nuts, the rustic stage on which we dance

ourselves a new life, from phrases of the old.

Right here, a sweltering rain

on sweat-lined street stones

the swirling weight of lids and lips,

the remnants of burial grounds swell spirits

underfoot, so we can twirl atop

our dearly departed,

and welcome

what redeems past years.

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