Notes From The Thick Of It

Lately, I find sadness in the strangest of places. 

It bubbles around below the surface of me, and camps out

like a refugee in my throat. 


Every morning since a week before the election, I read the news. 

I scour the news. I rub it hard. I flow forcefully through the news.

I check sources, confirm information, read opinion pieces, listen

to the writers and artists and good journalists who know how to pay attention. 

I also follow the hunters of spirit, those who are grounded in body

and mind-attention, in peace making and loving activism and meditation, 

but are also awake to the realities of suffering and oppression, the long

monsoon of history. 

Its warnings. How story holds the signs. 

Something is bubbling around the surface of us. 


On a personal level, I find sadness in what I love. 

I am reading all the new poets and writers. All the ones

winning awards and publications that I, too, have applied to.

I love them all. There is so much to say and so much that needs

to be said. I love the personal essay,

the think piece that blends body and individual story with the world. 

That blurs fact and truth and leaves questions.

Leaves me with feelings I cannot name, unopened doorways.

Heat and light

right there on my skin and in my eyes. 

What I mean is I am hungry to be a part of this world

and I know that I am also not a part of this world. 

Most of this is about ego, I know. The work must always matter

more than being seen. But there is so much being seen

how can I not want to be in that?

There is a part of this that is my DNA, how I was raised. 

The attention I received and did not earn,

the unfinished life of my mother

an uneasy river in my bones. 

But there is a part of this that's about a community I thought I had

and now I cannot reach. 

I'm too needy, I know.

People don't respond to clinginess. 

To forced friendships and attachments.

I'm aware of my static but can't seem to de-

energize it. To find the right metal to rub it away. 

There is a part of me that watches this all unfold.

That knows I need to go inward for a while.

To create for the sake of creating.

To make and ingest the world, the art of it

and the news of it, and respond from a very grounded,

personal place until something grows on its own

without force.

Something like a bird-scattered seed.

A tree that did not mean to be a tree and then was only a tree. 


There is so much brewing. It's a long fermentation. 

And I'm sad. I'm in love with my life and have found ground in being a teacher. 

In encouragement for the sake of encouragement. 

In support for the sake of how art grows. 

But I keep swallowing desire. I want too much. 

I wrote a book and it's not good enough. 

The books getting published are so good.

It is the age of rediscovery.

Of poetry and voices once oppressed having space. 

And I love this. I teach this.

I try to take away the whiteness. The world is sick

from too much whiteness. 

Still, I want. 

I want to help make things happen. I want to be a part of something big. 

Somehow, I always thought I was meant for big. 

I'm learning that I am never going to be a part of something big. 

The sadness is a witness to this dying in me. 

I am small. In order to make art and have true community

I need to let go of big,

of being seen. 

I have to retreat, to pull away, to get back to the words.

Words themselves, sounds themselves,

the hunger behind

the hunger. 

What I mean is too much social has been killing my soul. 

Too much knowing. Too much reaching.

Too much push and pull for publication and groups and


This is hard.

Because of course for my career and what I truly love about art

and story and language I do need to put myself out there.

In order to have a career that pays 

more than a fast food worker

I need publications and credits and to know people.

But I think, for me, there's a better way to do this. 

Maybe I'm just hurt. Maybe it's okay to hurt. 

To feel the sting of rejection.

Perhaps there's something to be said 

for simmering in this world I cannot control.

But I'm sad because I'm starving for the simplicity of practice. 

Of the overused but necessary word


Maybe a better word that is more spiritual is Creativity.

The dance of imagination and idea, of something 

from nothing. 

An art that wants nothing but to speak into the ether what needs saying. 

And if it is heard?

That is good, and true, and real.

Celebration is necessary.

We need more ritual for giving and receiving. 

But if not received? 

I need an art that goes on speaking. 


How to stay informed and outraged

and active and present

and sane and moving?

That, too, is the sadness. 

There are always questions that linger around the skin of the skull.

Perhaps this is spirit.


What drives us. 

The unknowing. 

What I do know is my life needs a slow stretch.

A staying with something tight. 

A making that is not shared.

Neither good nor bad. 

A sitting that is not guided by music or counting or even forced breathing. 

Just a sit. 

A walk for the sake of a walk. 

A seeing for the sake of seeing. 

I can't be a part of this world the way I feel now. 

I'm too needy.

a 4-year old dancing on mommy and daddy's bed as they praise me tell me I'm so pretty that I should be an actor someday and I repeat the lines they tell me to and feel a superficial love a superficial acceptance an awakening desire to be seen be noticed be a part of something bright and special and easily digestible by many eyes and hands clapping

I'm sad because I know this girl is dying. 

Sadness misses Virginia because it's where I was somebody. 

I wanted to leave that place because I knew I needed to be nobody.

And now I am nobody.

(And I don't need you tell me I'm somebody. This is a rebirth I need.)

It's okay to be sad.

To want something from a raw nothingness. 

To know that wanting is the problem

but to keep skimming the fat from the surface. 

A clarity of heart.

A clarity of art. 

A service that is only about service. 

A nourishment that comes from below. 

A love that is both grounded and safe but also awake and stirring.

A world that is this, too. 


I used to love words. 

And sounds. 

Poetry that was clear but carried me somewhere.

Somewhere that is here but glittery in its witnessing. 

Stories, too.

Lives as they are.

Things that are just things.

But knowing that all things are resonant. 

Metaphor more than a feeling in the throat. 

An old sound only wolves can hear. 

A dirt bath in the desert. 

A peach in the hand, held out to you.