my Words


My mother had

A different suffering,

an other strife

to mine.

Or was it just the same?

She had a lot she wanted to say,

She had thoughts to express,

But to her dismay

He didn’t want to hear.

He wouldn’t let her speak.

He found her logic weak.

At first she swallowed what she felt,

Choosing instead to soothe his fear

Of hearing her view

Or hearing who

She was.

That was best,

She thought.

She smiled her smile of victory.

She had conquered herself.

No need for self-expression here.

She’d be her self elsewhere.

Her words were neatly locked away,

She stored them for another day

that never came

it seems.

For when she tried to unpack them,

Or simply let him see she did have some,

He raged against her audacity.

Rage back!

I always cried

To myself.

Speak!

Be

Who you are!

You are your thoughts,

Your words are you.

Without them

How does your heart express its depth?

Or your mind reflect its brilliance?

Despite your dazzling smile,

How do you shine without your words?

How do you live or breathe?

So I have been my word.

My words have been

My breath that feeds

My mind, my heart, my Life.

Thirsty,

I drink words of every sound,

From people or books that I have found

Fascinating;

and pour them into

Every ear I pass.

My words, their words

Kind words, good words,

Words that teach and words that heal

Or simply words that make you feel

Alive.

Words that open up my mind

Or stretch my open hand

Across the gulfs that

Only words can bridge…

Yet, with him

My words fail

To make their mark

They don’t ignite even a spark.

I’m absolutely free to be

But he’s completely bored with me.

When unresponsive to my pleas,

He lets me speak, ignoring me…

I’m left with other words.

Of Rage.

Words that harm, that hit and hurt,

that spill

my discontented heart,

And scorch the coldness they receive

And scatter my anger in the wind

hopelessly.

With all my words not yet spent

they continue to flame

still seeking vent

and spill

Now silently and wet

Onto pages of poetry

That  journal my insatiable

Expression.

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Synthesis


Together

Stronger than before

Each confident and certain of the bond that binds us

Needing everything and nothing from the other.

A unit

Distance does not alter the function we perform.

Dependent and independent

Relying on each other’s strengths,

Compensating for each other’s weakness.

Complete

Separate and inseparable

Looking forward to being together

without expectation,

Without anxiety

Nothing hidden.

Bringing everything we are

And loving everything we find

Partners.

Trusting

In the layered light of our love,

In the comfort of the worn path behind,

In our own capacity to move beyond the obstacles

Thankful:

To Him for favouring us with Faith

To each other for weathering the storms

that brought us here

To ourselves for striving for what’s possible

Satisfied:

Brimming with contentment for what is

Savouring the gift we have

Right Now

The only moment of Life

Red Tape and other sticky matters


Reluctantly I wake to

another day

the same as yesterday.

Gray and expectant.

No anticipated e-mail

or message…snail mail?

 

Can snails hurry?

I wonder…

They have just two paces

sluggish

or still.

They don’t move in straight lines either.

And the more you prod them

the deeper they retreat.

Then nothing happens.

Anticipation and expectation

breed such sweet slow brewed anger.

Inboxed

apologies,  delays

another postponement,

red tape

and other sticky matters…

Smouldering,

I race to strike the keys

that cypher my frustration.

Blast. Send. Extinguish.

There.

Back to the tedium, of waiting

I yawn

and rub  my eyes

Dulled by my own disillusionment.

 

Feigning relaxation

I put up my feet

seeking sleep…

an escape

from the exhaustion of more waiting.

 

 

Inspired by the prompts of Three Word Wednesday (dull, yawn, race), the tardiness of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the poor services of Gulf Visa.

The Colour of a Lie


It’s repugnant and unacceptable when politicians are caught out in a lie. We scorn their reputations, doubt political reporting and express our unanimous outrage at their corruption. Lawyers and journalists are equally infamous and the rest of us raise our noses in indignation at people who “lie for a living.” We don’t trust what we read or hear in the press, on TV, on-line or anywhere for that matter. We’re skeptical about it all.  Did Osama bin Laden die? Hmm, but when? Ha, did he even exist? Suspicious and cynical, we trust nothing and no-one.

But have we considered why we are so comfortable in our skepticism? Why are we so convinced of the lies of others?

Perhaps the answer lies in the next question: When last did you lie?

Think about it. Don’t be outraged at the question. And don’t flap it aside with “Ag, we all lie!” as a flippant response. Think about it.

What is it YOU lie about? And why?

Do you tell yourself, it’s a small thing, just to protect someone’s feelings? Is that really it? Or are you protecting yourself, the way people see you or avoiding an outcome you don’t want to face? Do you find yourself spinning the story according to the enthused reaction of your audience, enjoying them enjoying you, adding a bit here twisting a little there? It sounds better that way and they love the drama you’re adding. Or do you lie about your spending to hubby, mum-in-law or you down-and-out friend? The new shoes were on sale, or they were “a gift” from your mother…It’s interesting when you begin to explore the lies you tell…and WHY?

It’s just a white lie, we say, completely convinced of our justification in tainting the truth, brightening or diminishing it, twisting or distorting it, feigning sincerity or giving our statements false authority or omitting aspects of the facts. There are numerous ways in which we spin our tales and pose them as truth…our creativity knows no bounds.

But is there a difference in the colour of our lies?

Given, the colleague who passes off their under grad Degree as an MBA seems worse than the mother who tells her daughter she looks great in a garish dress. And the man who tells his wife his working late while he’s actually philandering, seems worse than the one who pretends to be “out-of-town for a meeting” when he really just doesn’t feel like saying “yes” to another family commitment. And yet that guy seems worse than the sticky-faced child who says he really didn’t steal the chocolate at the corner shop. There definitely are degrees of magnitude and impact.

But in reality, how different are we to the politicians, lawyers and journalists we sneer at? Are we not motivated by the same basic instincts: to protect or advance ourselves at the expense of the absolute truth and the consequence we’re avoiding? Are we not just plain and simply lying through our teeth, as the expression goes.

Whatever, your reason, excuse, justification, how about risking the truth? How about telling it like it is, regardless of how it isn’t. How about digging deep down and finding the resource to communicate exactly what needs to be said, with self-respect and empathy, owning the outcome and having the courage to face the people in our lives, as we are, as circumstance presents – as Life is. How about being AUTHENTIC?

I’ve heard that lying is easy because “It’s the path of least resistance.”

Yes, lying is common place. It’s human nature. And developing as human beings takes resisting our base nature.

Speaking our truth takes courage. And it is freeing. We are left free of the fear of what others may think. Free of the fear of discovery. Free of the pretense of what we are not. Free of the guilt that we are false and base.

We are left knowing ourselves as courageous. And the possibility of being fully known and loved becomes available.

Murmurs from the Cape Flats express


 

This week marked a new chapter in my teaching adventures. While others in my profession move cities and countries, I’ve enjoyed the great adventure of moving my classroom from the suburbs to the city center! With the drop in foreign students over the wet Cape Town winter, a reshuffling of staff was in order and I took on doing what I had doggedly dodged for 8 years: working in the city. The idea of navigating the tedium of morning traffic around the mountain, into the heart of Cape Town, wipers swishing and demister puffing, has never inspired any degree of enthusiasm in me. And I had successfully avoided it by teaching in the leafy suburbs…until this week.

 

The truth is that I have been open to  new chapters this year: this blog is evidence of that. So I approached teaching in the city, with adventure in mind – a Metro Rail Adventure, at that! Rather than brave the carbon crawl in my car, I’ve opted for a real life, man-in-the-street experience. Which means (not the dreaded mini bus, thank goodness!) a morning train with my fellow South Africans! And it’s been a learning I continue to look forward to each day.

Now I’ve  traveled by train during various phases of my life before: as a high school and university student, and later as a young working mother. And what I’m getting is how differently we perceive life at the various stages of our journey through it. I accept that the world itself has changed: after all, I am no longer checked for the audacity of entering a first class carriage, signs are now displayed in three official languages inside the train and hawkers are allowed aboard to sell their wares. But what has changed most is my own awareness of life around me, of human behaviour, of the barriers that remain in place despite the apparent freedom we enjoy. As a teenager commuting only two stations, I looked forward to meeting my friends on the station then chatting all the way through the train ride and all through the walk up Kendal Road until the bell went for assembly. Barring a conductor throwing a passenger off for “jumping train”, I was oblivious to the people around me.

But I’m fully present now. And it’s been a wonderful discovery…

Embarking on any adventure requires a spirit of cheer and excited anticipation. So, despite the biting cold of Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday, I rose early and eager. This was great! I was out in the fresh air, energised and ready for a real workday start. There was a spring in my step as I briskly trotted down the steps into the subway. Immediately, the whiff of government issue sanitizer hit my nostrils, barely covering the stench of stale urine that lingered beneath it. I found myself smiling and shallowly breathing through my mouth, intent not to gag. Horribly familiar, true, but the memory had faded better than the stench.

Up on the other side, I marched on to the platform and chirped a “Good Morning” to three women sitting on the sheltered bench. One raised a sharp eyebrow, another looked away and the third smiled her bemusement in reply. Determined to maintain my cheerful demeanor, I scanned the platform.  How could there be so many people and so little sound, I wondered. Of course! Coated up against the chill of the morning, almost everyone was wired up to an iPod or their cell. A few others had a book and even fewer sat in pairs talking softly. Here and there were some dejected souls looking like the day’s work ahead was a fate worse than I could imagine. And near the fencing, like me twenty years ago, a group of self expressed teens were freely sharing their opinions on life with their buddies and whoever else would listen.

As the train pulled in to collect us, I realised how sheltered we are in a car –  my usual mode of transport. Without the protection of our vehicles’ hulking metal, we are all afraid, too timid to say hello to a stranger, too self-conscious to even smile warmly. In our cars, we easily show another driver our emotion – a wave to say “go ahead, cut in” or a fed up arched brow saying “Do you think your big car makes your rudeness okay?” We even show fists or a finger when we’re justifiably fed up and we don’t hesitate to blow our horns. But take away the shelter of the windscreen, the roof and the bonnet, put us face to face in a carriage with other human beings and – as in a fully packed elevator – there’s a fearful shut down: eyes drop or stare unseeing, bodies compact and stiffen and bags are clutched tightly.  Nobody wants to engage. There is no acknowledging the other. Even for those teens yakking away loudly, their full-blown expressiveness operates only to keep others at bay.  And packed as the train is, we remain disconnected.

So with these insights, I observe the other passengers. I’m enjoying the world that this adventure has opened…I’m learning about myself. And I’m learning about everyone else. What have you been noticing lately?

I almost omitted mentioning  Three Word Wednesday and this week’s prompts: ‘gag’, ‘maintain’ and ‘omit’. Follow the link in my Blogroll and read some more of the responses.

Mum on the edge…


Cheering, Coaxing, Curbing, Warning

Teaching , Preaching, Threatening, Storming

Starting off well

but slowly I spiral

pretending to cope,

but I’m in denial.

Trying hard to keep a grip

to make my point

and not to flip.

But why, oh why is it so hard

for them to listen,

for me to be heard?

My stubborn kids

are driving me crazy

Can’t stand them being stroppy

or sloppy or lazy

Can’t handle that they

just have their own way

of doing their thing

and having their say.

I vaguely recall being

a sharp mouthed teen

but was I so lazy

and sloppy and mean?

Did I roll my eyes at every suggestion

of study and chores

and dress code inspection?

Did I fling back retorts

to passing comments

at my room or my hair or

my cupboards contents?

Did I march away

boldly swinging my hips

as I slammed my room door

and curled up my lips?

If I did, Mum, forgive me,

‘Cause I truly see now

how hurtful it is

and how fragile mums are.

 

 

Haiku


Have you ever tried Haiku?

No,no-  it’s not a type of Sushi!

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese word art originating in Zen philosophy. As I’ve been surfing other poetry blogs, I’ve been inspired to return to this form of word art.

Japanese Haiku poets follow strict rules in constructing their Haiku. In English there is greater flexibility in the approach and the rules alter slightly. I’ve never been one for formula – I usually get mind-numbing flashbacks to high school trigonometry at the mention of the word! But there’s something appealingly challenging about expressing a concept or observation succinctly- in a maximum of 17 syllables…

In Haiku, the idea is to write a poem of 3 lines, with the first, second and third line containing 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. The poem is whole, independent and complete in its communication. Another feature is to create a “cut” in the words through punctuation or meaning. Traditionally, Haiku was written about Nature or contained a seasonal concept. The effect is often tranquil but powerful. Even today, the season of the piece is alluded to subtly.

It is simplicity in poetry.

It is minimalist.

It is beautiful.

“cozy winter evening:

fond family feeding

on news, warmth and love”

That’s my Haiku for tonight, with my sister over for supper, and a hearty catching up around our crackling  fire.