Tuesday, August 5, 2014

SUMMER POEMS 2014

4 aug 

SUMMER BLESSING

may you surge like a michigan storm
may you cover the sky in seconds
and explode into brilliance and deafening thunder

may you drop back into the unknown
extend your hands and trust the earth will hold you
may you catch the rebound of your arms and legs
accept your dharma and embrace your fall

may you love like a pack of wild dogs
may you love for the sake of loving
with no expectation of return
may you grow more foolish with each heart opening

may you forgive yourself like trees forgive droughts
may you catch yourself in your own delusions
may you see yourself as your great grandmother sees you
may you gloat in unearned grace


7 july

FAILED REVOLUTIONARY

hey, y’all, why not let me be
the receptacle of all your insecurities?
why not project your fears onto me?
why not hang me out to dry
on that god-forsaken cross?

go ahead
i can take it, i’m a mom
let me be your blank screen 
so you can play and replay 
the narrative of your victimhood
to your heart’s content

attack me all you want
‘cause you know i won’t bite back
i hide under the guise of nonviolence
but really i might just believe your truth over mine

let me wallow in the embarrassment
of my privilege
the daughter of scholars
and degrees i cannot disown
i come from appeasement stock
internalized racism so deep we thought we were white

why not say
“your project is too ambitious”
when i can’t see any other way to survive
“you’re moving too fast”
when i feel i am crawling 
“you’re pushing too hard”
when i’m forcing myself to sit on my hands

let me just roll on over
be buried alive by the brutality of capitalism
white supremacy
heteropatriarchy
let me be crushed under the weight of caste

let my gravestone read
“oh well, nice try”



3 july

MULBERRY TREE

fruit so lush
it litters the boulevard
berries fall into my hand
with a mere stroke
staining nailbeds purple

no one loves her like me
if others notice they don’t show it
boughs so heavy with berries 
i must be the one and only who has ever stopped here

mulberries the most under-appreciated berry
come july mulberries stain every street in detroit purple
“a messy tree”
my neighbor says
or “they’re poisonous” children are told

with my empty jar
i stand under her canopy
she rewards me for the attention i pay
dropping berries onto my sweat-stiffened hair
they roll down my shoulders
and under my purple-soled feet
i lavish her with praise by scattering her fruit

sweeter this year than last
let’s just say the ass-freezing winter
is good for berry trees
let’s just say 
winter was good for goddamn something

man pushing a grocery cart 
down the middle of the street
stops to check on me
“y’alright? now be careful”

and he walks on
before i can offer him a handful
of sunned-sugar winter-surviving 
mouth melting black sweet
explosion of mulberry

no one i tell you
no one loves her like i do

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

for all us mamas who didn’t know any better
for all us desperate mamas whose own mamas
left us too early
weaned us before we were ready
lied to us trying to protect us

for all us mamas who had to teach ourselves
how to make kimchi
because while our mamas were alive
we refused to learn
who didn’t want to spend the summers
“helping” at home

for all us mamas who had to unshame ourselves
learn the hard way how to love ourselves
who went straight through the hurricane
instead of around it like we were told to do
for all us mamas who refused to listen

for any mama who said the wrong thing to a small child
who sewed her shadow onto a dependent
who blamed everyone around her 
who pushed away those who desperately wanted her to be happy
who shut herself away and begged to be left alone

for any mama who got weighed down with family baggage
who took on the karma of her mama and her grandmama 
and great grand and great great grand
for any mama who survived occupation 
days and nights in the desert
stopped keeping count

for all the mamas broken and patched 
shattered and glued
uprooted and transplanted
remember us 
for any one moment
of sweetness

savor us
for how hard we tried
how our love for our babies
made us wiling to fail 
over and over and over again


11 may

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chakra Poems 2014

MULADHARA

why so easily capsized?
where is the depth of your keel,
the anchor of your capacious pelvic basin?

break through the concrete of muladhara
to send roots down
through the trunks of your legs
and meet earth through your soles

you say i abandoned you
but i only sidestepped
to give you fuller contact
with thawed april soil
spongy and fecund



SVADISTHANA

where uterus meets sacred bone
and sacrum broadens its warm orange palm

oxytocin-induced empathy
prevails over muladhara’s fear of survival

from the intuition of my ovaries
come my best ideas and my three children

where quads and adductors meet abdominals
while intestines churn
convergence of process with action

like the mangos 3 for 1 on the 99 cent shelf
ripe for whatever the day may bring


MANIPURAKA

cable to the navel pulls
upper plank of the abdomen up
to raise the sun above the horizon

golden beam from your solar plexus 
enters the room first
seat of asmita:
who do you think you are?
how far will you go to be that self?

the guts to show up and speak up
be your yellow magnificence
no apologies
let others adjust to your brilliance



ANAHATA

unhurt
unstruck
unbeaten

in the prana-filled cave of the heart
atman sits
like a thumb drive
carrying the archives of my unhurt self
already the green of healing
has generated new tissue

merge of eternal purusha
and the constant change of prakrti
cardiovascular chakra

a bell not to be struck
i contain a celestial song
ringing without touch

i rise above karma
beyond circumstances and history
my ancestors deliver me here
unbeaten and whole
to remind me
i am free to choose



VISHUDDHI

what does the white elephant of your throat
long to utter?
what untold story lies in your larynx?

from the pit of your throat
sweet nectar amrita drips
into life juice or poison
you choose

croak or keen or croon
it doesn’t matter
only that the smoky petals unfurl
into necessary ululations
to transform brutality into wisdom



AJNA

may your pineal perceive what your eyes cannot
in melatonin-laden lucid dreams

join the cardinal in the dawn chorus
heralding the morning even before the sun appears
you contain knowledge without information
certainty beyond physical evidence
as yet unmanifest

shiva and shakti 
ida and pingala
seer and seen
converge 
transcend
transform



SAHASRARA

as you balance on your head
in the center of a bare room
you belong to no caste

evolved as you’ll ever be
you wrap your earthbound self
around the polestar of the eternal

you’ve forgotten all your reasons
to argue with reality
here you remain undisturbed
ecstatic in equanimity
hair standing on end

get ready for the big bang
of instant enlightenment
but come back to tell us all about it

Yoga Nun Detroit: Confessions, Rants, and a Manifesto

despite my instinct to disavow any state-sponsored "holiday," i was inspired by my friends albulena shabani and corina mccarthy-fadel, to write a poem a day and post it. starting 5 april 2014, and continuing throughout the month, it became my morning ritual (to the detriment of my pranayama practice), and i wouldn't let myself get out of bed until a poem had been dashed off. somedays it took 5 minutes. usually i gave myself 15-20 minutes, but a few poems required 45 minutes to an hour. my rule was that i immediately posted it on facebook without rewriting or editing. this broke my habit of crafting and workshopping, and forced me to let go of expectations. the response on fb was encouraging. i developed a community of readers ranging from old and new friends, bare acquaintances, and strangers, who gave me immediate feedback. to all of them, i am grateful, for not letting the poems fall into that great, silent abyss, and letting me know that eyes and ears were receiving. perhaps out of this project, more poems will arise, and perhaps not. no matter, no expectations. 

in the spirit of sharing, here are my april 2014 poems. i offer them on a community gift basis. i will not be sending any out for publication, but anyone can copy and share in any way you choose. as a courtesy, you can credit me and let me know. the chakra poems will be grouped in a separate post.
love and poetry, pkh




5 april

have you ever had a dream about a past so vivid
you couldn’t find your way back into the present,
not even through the internet?

have you ever made a playlist 
for your own funeral?

have you ever forced someone to stay alive
when they’d rather be dead?

have you ever jumped into a lake,
under shooting stars,
wearing your wedding dress?
(divorced?)

have you ever pushed a squirming red baby 
out onto your dining room floor?

have you ever changed so radically
that you mistake your passport photo 
for a stranger? 


6 april

A
my crown rings until my scalp tingles
the stars lean in to listen

E
cloudbusters break up chemtrails
jesus and buddha party on mars

I
redwinged blackbirds who land on the windowsill
of the practice room
every morning
while i practice viloma

O
i lift my liver
and widen my diaphragm
to love courageously

U
i choose this mess
my one grimy unshackled life
in a city never to be devastated


7 apr

sleeping to the rhythm of my wheezing breath
waking into birdsong of impermanence
i dream that amy goodman is airing a special on you
heart racing i stumble for my phone
while the talking heads blather
sun’s steady rise over belle isle



8 apr

feigning fertility
uterus puffs and flows in
pheromone-induced bleed

i’m outta eggs
ain’t no more, honey
it was a good run
and yet
samskara of random moon cycles rages on

bring on the hot flashes
bring on the white hair
i pine for my crone self



10 apr

CONFESSIONS OF A YOGA NUN


i was only generous 
when i wallowed in plenty

all those dinners i shared with you?
ha! more where that came from

now that i have unshackled 
the golden handcuffs 
of the middle class
to walk the proverbial contemplative path

come to realize 
i am just as stingy as the banks

i refuse to provide
the toilet paper
i hoard nuts like a squirrel
i’ve stopped shopping for you

i can’t help but notice the deficits
and not the surplus
still brainwashed by capitalism
i embrace scarcity like a lover
while ignoring abundance

so much for samadhi
now all i crave is almond butter
or a meal that someone else has cooked



11 apr

say what you need to say 
and get it over with

forget chops
be bare

don’t mistake prakrti
for purusha

embrace ephemera
but admit 
that’s all 
it is



12 apr

SONG FOR EMANCIPATION

get you some samadhi, sister
get you some bliss
get you some kaivalya, brother
cut yourself some liberation

how about some ananda, sweetie
a shot of moksha
a long supta baddha konasana
then 20 minute shavasana

get you some corpse, man
don’t scrimp on stillness
get you some sattva, babe
some clarity
some luminescence

get you some translucence, baba
a clear smooth breath
sit yourself in your inner ashram, mama
sweep clean the temple of your heart

make your mind a waveless pond
smooth out the bumps of your samskara
sister, get yourself some silence
settle into total absorption



13 apr

APRIL HEAT WAVE

like the budding maple
i have already forgotten winter
already forgiven february for freezing our pipes

i barely recall
the gusts that blew through our windows
ignoring the layers of plastic and duct tape

like the dandelions
i spring up again
in every crevice of soil
every sliver of light

sunshine bleaches out 
any shadow of hesitation
my body nods yes 
again, yes
please, yes




14 apr

KILLER BRA

your bra may be killing you
your sandwich may be starving you
your couch may be crushing you
your shoes may be trapping you
your phone may be bullying you
your thoughts may be stalking you
your feelings may be drowning you
your dreams may be tricking you
your thong may be twerking you
your prostate may be pricking you
your unconscious may be ruling you
your mind may be deranging you
your poem may be pondering you



15 april

MID APRIL SNOW

i dictate this poem
because i refuse to lift my hands out of bedcovers
without radiators hissing me awake

secretly I am grateful for the clouds last night 
blocking my view of the blood moon

that attention-seeking cosmos 
what a pain

secretly I long for comfort 
more than enlightenment 
don’t let me trick you 
into thinking I am a sadhaka

really i am a mushroom
seeking only warmth and moisture
shrinking under frost
holed up until spring



16 apr

THINK LIKE A REDWORM

what you call garbage
i call random obsolescence
capitalism’s constant production
requires instant turnover

what you deem worthless
nourishes and clothes me
last year’s wardrobe
last weeks’s excess produce

what you call waste
i call fuel for my methane digester
your dish water flushes my toilet
your wood scraps contain my raised beds

what you call weeds
flourishes in my alley
bitter dandelion greens for smoothies
lemony sorrel for salads

i coexist with my redworms
as i bask in urban plenty
i ruin my reputation
as i bow in deference to the earth



18 apr

MANIFESTO OF A YOGA NUN

chew until liquid
breathe through your nose
unclasp your bra as soon as you get home

choose discomfort but not repression
embrace foolishness
fail better and with more pizzazz

eat bitter greens
and fermented foods from unlabeled jars
don’t be afraid to handle your scoby

sing while you bike
dance in the kitchen
when you’re pissed at someone imagine them at age 5

walk the precipice
practice emptiness
involute in order to evolute

ask for what you need
give until you’re empty
receive until you overflow

til you overflow
you overflow
flow



19 apr

CALLED OUT

privilege is when i am up in the branches of the tree
and if i don’t bother to look down
all i see are those higher than me
whom in my smugness i can resent

it’s when i hoard the bananas
like everyone else at my level
who has hidden themselves
from those who don’t have any

it’s when i look away from the panhandler
at the neighborhood valero
their confusion over my buzzcut - “sir” “ma’am” “sir”
makes it easier for me to ignore them

privilege is how i unwittingly oppress my neighbor
who will probably never read this poem
because facebook is a luxury for smartphone users 
who have enough food and warmth
to take time to read a goddamn poem




20 apr


what’s the difference between window plastic and a blackbird?
alighting on the window sill at dawn
clear plastic contains my winged urges
keeps my feet on painted wooden planks
as i tuck my wings under scapulae

what’s the difference between fluorescence and sleep?
coils of glass confine luminary flicker
in too much electromagnetic radiation
i prefer that leaping flywalk we do in dreams
so i can reach you faster than light

what’s the difference between sunlight and moonlight?
the space between sternum and spine
between frontal lobe and hypothalamus
as i merge front and back bodies
i rise from the center of my arches into tadasana

what’s the difference between resurrection and breakfast?
perfect roundness of yolk
when the shell cracks
the stone rolled from the mouth of the cave
fragrance of frankincense hovers



21 apr

오빠 O-BBA

today you would’ve turned 52
more than twice the age
when we found you
on the bathroom floor

’87 august day in o’hare
i leave meiko with her dad
to weep alone in the united airlines terminal 
so i don’t upset her
as if grief and shock don’t show up in breastmilk
my back against an air-conditioned window
cold as stone
i shed silent airport tears

how did you see fit to leave us so soon?
my children and i would gaze at your album
and marvel at your superman muscles
quickly mythologized
you are forever good and kind and strong
we have long forgotten your suffering
your struggles
your illness
perhaps you died
of frustration

i will always only know you
as my perfectly proportioned
bodybuilder big brother
today you are more story than ache
the gap you left has been filled in
with our projections 
flickering on our mental screens
with our own unfulfilled hopes



22 apr

BOURGIE BLUES


d’you think sharing your mama’s silver
with your revolutionary co-op
will take the blue out of your bloodline?

you figure giving everything away
will heal generations of class abuse?

just cause no deed is in your name
you think you can wash your hands
of all that stolen land?

you think supporting the middle class
is the answer to marx?
like good pensions and top-of-the-line health insurance
are the goals of class struggle?

what good is your shrinking bank account
when you still act like a master?
how can you be a member of the collective
when you wave your vocabulary 
and your degrees around like flags on poles?

bourgie baby, even your ancestors
are trying to keep you down
you can give away your money
but you can’t shed your bourgie shine
can see it a mile away
you’re still basking in that bourgie glow



23 apr

cycling into morning headwind
northwest gusts
bring possibility of april frost
scent of alaskan rainforest and sweetgrass
and udon from the anchorage airport
spirits of the north
place of elders and newborns
i pedal harder
to be enveloped in you


24 apr

NO ONE SAID DECOLONIZING WOULD BE EASY

every once in a while
a baby rooster gets mixed in with the hens
the hens pay no mind as they poke at slugs
but the rooster is all about protecting his would-be harem
wearing his poor self out with his flapping and crowing

inside the house straitjacket of default 
enforces social habits
how easily i become “the mom”
another “the dad”
half of us play a game of 
waiting for the dirty dishes to pile up
the other half doesn’t even notice
half of us shop and cook
the other half eats 2am frozen pizza
and doesn’t know where the knives are kept
half of us sleep upstairs
while the other half stays downstairs 
with lights on and doors ajar 
to watch comings and goings like sentries

revolution starts at home, no say?
i dismantle default gender roles
when i swing my sledgehammer
at the crumbling plaster ceiling 
i defy capitalism when i forage, barter, and create
but who will take out the compost?
buy new toilet paper?
wash the sinkful of dishes?
again and again and again?



30 apr

you don’t have to be a poet if you don’t want to
you don’t have to take your hands out of the bedclothes
to type some bullshit in the dark
you don’t have to live life with so much energy
you don’t have to burn so many damn calories every frigging day
and be so hungry like ALL the time

no one’s making you wake up so early
no one asked you for your outrageous advice
no one wants your hella whack opinion
no one’s making you decolonize your delusional mind

so what if the revolution is already raging?
so what if you pose as the avant garde?

so what if you question everything to death?
to death, y’all, to death!

enough already
enough words
enough april
enough spring thunder 

sit down already
return to stillness

be here empty

vast

silent