Around the Elephant

I don’t read instructions but I keep them around for future reference

I start sacrilegiously but tend to end with reverence

I don’t have a plan as often as I have a man: that’s a poor combination depending on the situation

When I illuminate my dusky corners, I see the sparkles that were there all along

Though I awake with amnesia, I dream in song

I’ve learned to love doing nothing, to look forward to stillness and inactivity, to settle into peace with humor and curiosity

Why so serious? Asked the fly to the spider

Drawing close, the fly offered hot cider

Take, eat, remember me, or not

The gift was unconditional anyway

It is enough for me to have a cosy corner and a cup of tea tonight

Listening to the rain, old friend and fellow traveler, land with gentle impact outside my caravan of dreams

I am warmed by the glow of light within and without

Perhaps the deafening din of my own carryings on will simmer down enough for me to listen to the voices of others

Sacred silence is my favorite meeting place, in that field beyond words where kindred spirits melt into bliss

Then I return here, to my life of toils and troubles

I live with one foot in each world, walking the line between Earth and the Divine

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

Enlightened AF

You can never get to the end of it, you said about The Divine

Your words drew kaleidoscopic visions in my mind
I used to feel oppressed by poverty
Now I know I was only oppressed by the false beliefs within me
All the riches were always inside me
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders
Beyond the collapsing walls, the sky is open
I am still tormented by the torrent of my thoughts
Then I think, ‘I don’t belong in anyone else’s head, nor do they belong in mine’
I try to let go of unhelpful thought-patterns
Such as my deep disappointment when I deem myself as less than perfect in every way, which happens multiple times each day
I may not be able to unthink a thought, but I can balance a negative with a positive, I can let the cloud float away without latching on all day
Today I was transported back to the time when I’d jerk off men for pennies on the dime
Now in the context of a trained medical professional providing a form of physical therapy to another doctor
Standing next to the massage table, I felt as if I hadn’t come far even after all the struggle and sacrifice to get out of poverty, to give my kids a better life
I remind myself that I have enough and I am enough
In my humble, imperfect way
I am enlightened AF sometimes

Sleep Talking

Long ago and far away
On a bus grinding through the night
The air thick with sweat and grime
All we had was time
Beer and ice cream on my lips
Bitterness and liquor on his
The man next to me said that I was afraid of talking in my sleep
He overstepped the boundary that I failed to establish between us
Sometimes when I wake up alone, I wonder if my lover heard me sleep-talking and left me to wallow in my past
I want to tell him the truth about my life, but I fear that he would stop loving me,
or worse- rehash it endless times and tell his religious family who would judge me as a hell-bound, lying, baby-killing whore
They’d be right, in a sense
I have exchanged sex for money and I’ve had 3 abortions, each one horrible in its own way, but not as bad as being stuck in an abusive, disempowering situation
Judge not, motherfuckers
I don’t want any man to judge the decisions I’ve made about my body
Least of all a man who is financially dependent on my career: a profession which swallowed my fetuses whole
My past is nobody’s business but my own
I don’t want to be given a hard time for the hard times I’ve already been through
I’m trying to heal and move on
I’m trying to meet myself with compassion for the trauma I’ve endured
I am strong and tough and vulnerable and delicate
My dark secrets are at once more innocent and scandalous than my jealous partners imagine
I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore so I stopped being pregnant
You weren’t supporting me by being broke and leaving me shamefully unmarried
I didn’t want to spend the weekend with you so I didn’t
I regret the weekend away because the other men treated me both better and worse than you, but I love you- painfully clear now that the hormonal storm of pregnancy has simmered down
Why do I set myself up for drama and disaster? I’m trying to heal but your rehashing of the past dredges up emotional detritus, dragging me back
My old stress addiction dies hard
I clamp my jaw
My teeth grind like a bus in the night
I pray that I didn’t sleep talk last night

Orderly

There was seemingly so much order in the house

I didn’t hear the echoes of screams or shouts
Silence deafened the din
The ticking clock was the only sound within
All those books lined up stoically on shelves
Couldn’t hold back his chaos from hell
Every room was clean and neat
Her living nightmare uncontained by crisp white sheets
Grandma, you lived with abuse all those years
Warrior-strong, I never saw your tears
Grandpa’s explosive anger was unjustified
You finally have peace now that he died
But you can’t turn back time
You can’t take back years of your life
From your struggle, I have learned
I depend on no man for what I earn
I prioritize how I feel inside
Over how others perceive my life
Spring cleaning starts in my mind
My relationships are full of ease, not strife
I know you had your reasons
And I thank you for your sacrifice
I honor you by living my best life

In Case I Die Early

In case I die early

From the virus which I will be in close contact with for the foreseeable future
Rest assured that I lived a full life
I was intermittently enlightened, and there is no higher bliss than that
It took nearly my whole life, but I finally found love
I enjoyed exquisite physical pleasures and the connection of sacred partnership
My mind was often filled with colorful visions and my heart overflowed with music
I wrote wild poetry which I shared only with you, and a great many other things too
If you want to remember my life, take a deep breath and know that you are loved by the universe, that you are love itself
If you want to see me, look up at the sky and trees
If you want to hear my voice, listen to the river and the birds singing
If you want to feel me, place your hand over your heart, and know that we are not far apart
If I don’t die early, I’ll keep creating my visions to promote vibrant healing
But in case I die soon, I wanted you to know that I go peacefully, though I long to see my family and turn my dreams into reality to share them with you
Take care of yourselves, and each other
Take care of Mother Earth
You are supported by spirit with every breath

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

Samurai

Before I knew how to love,

I freely offered up my heart

Blind shot in the dark
I was the one who dropped my heart on the floor
From my open hands
Not knowing that I had smashed through a door
Not knowing what I would gain
Not knowing what I could never lose
No one seemed to notice, no one intervened
As I set out on my own
Lifting the veil, stepping through the screen
It wasn’t easy
I made every possible mistake
Burning my fire to fulfill other people’s desires
I was able to do everything and anything,
Because I already felt dead
From the heartbreak which split and throbbed in my head
I flipped circus tricks in the strangest of beds
Unscripted, I drifted
I met so many people
I worshipped under unconventional steeples
Life is my book, my science, my art
It all started when I sacrificed my heart
Everyday I learn how to love more
Love myself, my life, my family
Love even the dregs of humanity
Those who have yet to wander away from themselves
Those who have yet to realize who they really are
Because they cling so tightly to their identity
I’m privileged to live like a Samurai; at once warrior, servant, and free

Emergency Room

Emerging from the emergency room, gasping to find my breath, I weep.

I finished my last shift in that hell-hole, and I thought I would cry tears of joy, but instead I am crying tears of raw emotional release.
My patients called me an angel, but many of them were also angels to me- holding my spirit buoyantly with their sparkling eyes, a much-needed balance to my co-workers who seemed mostly dead inside.
Crushed inside the machine
Their eyes see only the screen
Their skin knows no fresh air or sunlight
As they toil day and night
In a crowded, chaotic space filled with alarms
Long ago, they replaced their charms
With rigid motions, mechanical minds
Without windows, they don’t notice the passage of time
When did they become so cold and bitter?
It must have been little by little
The fire in their hearts was starved of oxygen, their spirits wore away
I hope I keep my heartspirit intact, at the end of the day
Flashback to a line of gurneys in the ambulance bay
My attending grilling me, I didn’t know what to say
Broken bones and chronic pain
STAT CT to look for a bleed in the brain
Patients sustained on turkey sandwiches and diet ginger-ale
We wait on them, they wait for us, but we are all stuck in this jail
Trapped in a health care system which is systematically inhumane
No wonder so many of us don’t feel quite sane
My vision is blurred by tears
I’ve finished one more day in the middle of many hard years
Of sacrificing my life, enduring unfathomable strife
Just to help others survive another night
I want to get off this roller coaster, but I’m strapped in
Though I am sick to my stomach and deafened by the din
I return to my breath, breathe in new air
I have the rest of my life to move on towards
Tomorrow night, I’ll be back in the wards
With renewed gratitude, I leave this emergency beast
I walk past patients waiting to suckle the mechanical teat
Finally allowing room for my own emergency
My meltdown of tears isn’t enough to drown out the blaze
Which burnt me out long before today
I struggle to justify
Why I put myself in situations that make me cry