I Sometimes Feel

I sometimes feel
That the shoes I’m wearing are not mine.
But your shoes are mine.
The shoes in the corner of your room,
The ones with the scuff near the pinky toe,
Made when you boarded the bus
And your toe was snagged
By the metal stripping on the last step.
The snag was made
By that crazy encyclopedia salesman with the curly hair
Who insisted on riding the bus
With his goods in tow,
Laboriously lugging his huge metal book case,
Day after day.
You knew it would lead to trouble for you.
And it did.
You remember that day well.
Watching the bus driver look
More often into the rear view mirror
Than on the road ahead.
It was the day you first noticed
He had a tattoo
And you figured the guy was in the Navy,
Because it was 1963, and your father always told you
Only hoodlums and Navy men had tattoos.
And you hated the thought of his being a hoodlum.
You were in such an irritable mood
Because you had scuffed your shoe,
When you asked him
About the “ink stains” on his arm
He told you he didn’t want to see you
On his bus again.
And he didn’t.
You must remember.
I remember.
I sometimes feel
As though I am everyone,
Every single person that ever lived.
I sometimes feel
As though I am everyone else
But me.

Scattered light, scattered worlds.

In early morn when scattered light doth fall
Onto the grooved and blemished hardwood floor,
Suspended in the liquid air in dance,
In frolic, frenzy and delight, are specs
Of worlds and universes only seen
In open hearts, occulted to the eyes
And ears and other senses of the mind.
Intuit life and laughter in abundance there
Until the rising sun disturbs the spell
And charm of the enchantment suddenly.
Sublime for merely seconds and just then,
As nature’s subterfuge makes all this seem
A dream, the dream itself but fades away.
A calm and stillness lingers for awhile.

A Poem: A Relic Transformed

A Relic Transformed

I stood silently staring in the twilight moments after sunset.
An enormous steel structure lay static in counterpoint to a rather pacific ocean.
It was several stories in height and at least a city block in length.
Waves lightly lapping against a motionless grid of solid beams
corroded, eroded, yet structural integrity remained.
The elements of nature collaborated on this rust-colored sculpture
from the relics of humankind’s industry.
Its now-rough surfaces carefully caressed and contoured
Over a hundred years by a salty air;
And every so often a seagull added its deposits
to retard corrosion in places for the perfect patina.

Suddenly my imagination gave birth to a vision,
a vision of cohabitating with this slowly changing seascape.
Some people may see an ugly object where I see a beautiful process.
Some people may see decay where I see refinement and natural transformation.
I thought this could be the framework of a living community of people
for whom the present moment is the only reality wherein
each seeks harmony with the interconnectedness of all things.
The sculpture would then take on new participants in its evolution.

I removed my shoes, walked into the water, and began climbing.
I possessed no fear, neither for falling nor for puncture wounds in my feet.
I felt intuitively safe, like a small child climbing all over his parent.
The steel was still warm from an all-day sun bath. It was rather soothing.
And standing one story high, I looked up and imagined domiciles
artfully stacked and stretched throughout.
I envisioned one future resident playing a flute, another meditating,
and myself, sitting in a library behind a glass wall.

It was a dream, and a lofty one at that.
For I was alone.
I hadn’t seen a living person in a decade of my wondering this land.
I longed for community, even the company of a single man or woman.
A woman – oh, to be with a woman again in heart and soul.
But, I shall make this my home.
I can transform it myself.
Just for me.
Just…for the process.
And so, I did.

A Poem: Dream Child

Dream Child

Sarah is nine when she wants to be. Every morning she tells me about her dreams and it’s clear to me that she must be at least 109. The landscapes she paints, with words few children her age can pronounce, can be horror-filled and paradisiacal, sometimes at once.

She skips down the sidewalk
with tacks in her bare feet
going clickity-clack, clickity-clack.

Stopping by the pond
to look at the koi
she drops to her knees.

And in her reflection
she sees not a face
but a mountainous range spewing lava and ash.

She touches the water with her finger
and the ripples reveal the lava
forming into fish.

They dance for a moment
and dissipate back into lava
as prior to being disturbed.

She wants the fish
to dance some more,
so, she touches the water again.

But the lava now flowing
down the reflection of her face
does not form into fish.

So she swabs her cheek
with her entire hand
and beholds her ash-covered fingers.

To answer some instinctual call
she licks the ash from her finger
and smiles.

The taste was fantastic;
she savored the moment;
and the ash became shiny black crystals.

The crystals were attractive.
They could make a nice neckless
and for that she needed more.

With both hands and vigor
she plunged into the pond
and hauled out two handfuls of black pearls.

She thought they’d make beautiful jewelry.
she could sell some at the market.

Into her pocket
the lot of them went
and she stood up.

Skipping again
with mud-covered legs
she ran through the marsh.

It just made her happy
playfully batting
at grasses as tall as she was.

It was the finest of days,
with sunshine and clouds,
against an azure-blue sky.

But the grasses were getting
taller and thicker,
and the skies grew darker.

Grass turned to sticks,
more rigid like branches,
and she had to move them around as she walked.

She came to a thicket,
and the only way out
was through a bog.

She waded through dark patches
until she tripped
and fell down.

Before standing up
she looked behind her
and saw the most amazing pile of leather shoes.

She found herself in the cobbler’s stall
at the market
when she had an epiphany.

She could trade a black pearl
for a new pair of shoes
if the cobbler was willing to barter.

The cobbler said, “Sure.”
So she reached in her pocket
and pulled out some koi.

The cobbler than said,
“Well, I have a branding iron to trademark my shoes.
You can put them on that.”

It looked like a skillet,
but it made sense to her,
so she dropped the koi on the surface.

The koi mouths opened,
and out came shrieks,
then sizzle-pop, sizzle-pop, fizz.

All that remained
were shiny brass tacks
in a pile.

“Perfect! I can use these on my boots,” said the cobbler.

Then Sarah awoke and shared with me this “tale of a long protracted journey” – her words – of her soul. Her visions seem wise beyond her years.

A Poem: The Moment

I prefer my dreams – even my fiercest nightmares – to conscious human life. Everything I can imagine and sense consciously can be found in the amorphous and fluid context of my dreamscapes. High anxiety, anger and seething rage may make their appearances; but I am never depressed there! Rather, I am ever excited to go deep into the moment – regardless of what is happening – and embrace it, know it intimately. If I could only do that when consciously awake, I would never again be depressed. Alas…

sublime bliss
engendered by this
time-lapse experience
of a lotus flower unfurling its petals

close my eyes
open my eyes

There is a comforting pacification to be found in the moment.

sudden terror
strikes the heart
when your little one
is lost in a crowd

pursue with single-minded purpose,
wander around searching, asking, calling,
no thoughts of loss
only mystery

There is a comforting pacification to be found in the moment.

earthquakes rumble
buildings crumble
death and destruction

exhilarated and amazed
no worries present
seeking safety through the cityscape

There is a comforting pacification to be found in the moment.

her name I never knew
her touch I’d never forget
holding hands for a fleeting moment
my heart forever changed

let the enchantment linger
then let it go – dissipate
clinging will cause suffering
take a deep breath

There is a comforting pacification to be found in the moment.

© 2018 Michael Armenia

Blueberries & Rosemary and an unrelated spontaneous poem

Blueberries & Rosemary

Quite by accident, I discovered that I like the combination of blueberry and rosemary. When I popped a blueberry in my mouth this morning, my hand must have grazed some rosemary from Ian Lister’s memorial service. It was lying on the table next to me before I realized it was there. When I bit into the blueberry, the first sensation was a delicate rosemary note which lightly danced on my tongue as I masticated.  (I said, ‘masticate’! Geeze…grow up!  Anyway…) The two just blended smashingly. I think Remy would be proud. (Remy, from Ratatouille? The rat who was thinking that saffron would totally make his smoked Tomme de chèvre? Nevermind. Anyway…)

One day when I have a kitchen again, I’m going to try making some savory gluten-free griddle cakes with blueberries and rosemary – no added sweeteners. What seems most delicious would be to serve them up with a little cashew ‘cheese’ spread. If they turn out well, as I expect they will, I shall call them Ian’s bread in honor of him.

In Latin class, we often bring in potluck snacks. Sometimes, just cookies or chocolate. Occasionally there is a mix of things and Ian was no stranger to experimenting. I think he was the first person – if not the first, he did it anyway –  to dip a banana chip in Mexican salsa. Listen you mustn’t be too shy. After all, Remy’s mental mentor…(that sounds funny – ‘mental mentor – mental because he was a figment of Remy’s imagination – anyway) …his mentor Gusteaux once said (and I stand by it): “You must try things that may not work. And you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true. Anyone can cook. But only the fearless can be great.” Only the fearless can be great! That’s because truly fearless people are made of pure love, baby! And food must be always be prepared with gratitude and love. (Alan Watts has a nice little speech about the preparation of food and I wholeheartedly agree with him.)

Speaking of food…here’s a poem:

Saffron colored pre-dusk light
Scattered along a metal and glass skyline
Betrayed the hustle & bustle of a city
Making an abrupt pronouncement
At the edge of gorgeous plain.
A wall of confusion swirls
Between the fresh desert air
And the chemical odors
Of a modern city.
I teeter on the edge,
Born and raised on the artificial,
The cold and pointless,
The lies, and empty stereotypes,
A world more filled with vice than virtue.

Oyster of the sea,
Teach me how you pearl a grain of sand.
Where do you find the strength and perseverance?

Lotus of the pond,
Teach me how to find hope and life in the mud.
Where do you find the faith that one day
You will feed on light?

© 2018 Michael Armenia

Poem: Auspices of and Early and Cold Winter

[Written on the morning of the first snow fall of 2017]

Nettle stalks,
Dead long since summer turned to autumn,
Standing taller than the average human,
Droop with the weight of freshly fallen snow
In the frigid air of early November.
Their arching tops,
With hanging clusters of dried seeds
dangling in temptation,
Encourage the robins, thrushes and towhees,
Who cannot alight upon them,
To mimic the in-flight dining rituals of hummingbirds.
Some seeds fall; fodder for a later time.
Further attempts to fill their beaks
From the ever-dancing perches
Ultimately prove fruitful;
And the birds fly off to a nesting cove
Of quieter warmth
Beneath the snow-laden fir trees
To digest their bounty.

©2017 Michael Armenia

Poem: Divinity in the Key of All and Nothing

I stood staring at the structure.
Packets of cold and warm streams of air,
Flow steadfastly against an elastic metallic fabric.
Expanding and contracting forms undulate along the draping surface,
Billowing like smoke with a design, a purpose.

Hauntingly like the bowing of a saw,
The sweet motion produces the most alluring music.
The longer it falls on the ear, the more it sounds like echoing voices.
This is the source that teaches choirs of angels to speak.
Soft, then loud. Dynamic.
It is in this world but not of it.

Divinity in the key of all and nothing, both tonal and atonal.
If seeing and hearing were not enough to tantalize the senses,
I could feel it.
I could smell it.
I could taste it.
The most perfect synesthesia.

Transfixed for hours, I stood from midnight until dawn
When the rays of the rising sun pierced the glass building in slow motion,
Illuminating the structure and overpowering its ambient glow.
The spell was broken.
But I rejoice. It resides inside me now without end.
Inspiring and sedating, I call upon it at will to charge my energy and sooth my spirit.

I walked away forever transformed.
A moment of sadness ensued.
For, who I was when I first arrived is no longer.
First, mourning an intangible and ineffable loss.
Then, letting go of attachment to who I thought I was.
Sublime freedom remains.

© 2018 Michael Armenia