the hot seat

the hot seat

2010-2012

she notes her patterns
most lead to anguish
she must perch on the seat
sit in her stuff and
unwind the past—it’s
daunting and painful
and also the way

when facing what
burns her, her fresh
stare unnerving, she
slips off the seat and
back into her drama
familiar and repeated

her thoughts are not true
they mislead and trip her
committed to face this
she clambers back on
to see through the lie
she so carefully erected

turns over rocks
yanks out the roots
the closer she draws
to her core confusion
like volcanic lava
the hotter it gets

her shame almost
swamps her until
she sees through—
she bows to the seat
knows she’ll return
oh! this being human

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.

branded

branded
note from self

she received an order
from destiny—was
branded by love and
the name of her God
right on her chest
over her heart
she remembers the
scent of the searing
the throb of the burn
and the crater it left
others can’t see it
but she knows it’s there
it requires submission
to all that was asked
give it up let it go
and be free

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.

keeping spirits up

keeping spirits up
note from self

the work—
applying what she
knows to be true
kindness required
there’s injury, pain
life’s a slog
every minutia
a class in attention

he makes the mocha
she knocks it over
floods the counter
rivers the drawer
spatters oak floor
one-handed, she
snatches the laptop
out of the wave
unscathed

chance for harsh
words—none
or blame
doesn’t happen
they work
in tandem
she “I’m sorry”
he “no need”
they remake
the mocha

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.

on fire

on fire

she borrowed an arm for a lifetime
attached to a body, of course
it’s nearing the end of its tenure
and now it is hounding with heat
the wrist is a livid bonfire
flames licking and curling inside
coals glow red in the shoulder
there’s a white pill
for muscles and tissue
for jangling nerves, a
red-and-white capsule to take
they only pare aside edges—
the urge is to push pain away
but that turns it into a “thing”
so she draws it close, yes
unpacks what it is—precious and
and tender—a near-and-dear friend
melding titanium and tissue
it’s so busy in there
she dives deep under pain
finds more primal sensation
the clean tingle of being alive

lamp unto yourself

lamp unto yourself
note to self

this is the work—
to become a lamp
unto yourself

notice, you already are
it’s a chilla, a test
and shows up again
and again—a new
region on the spiral
to scout and survey

everyone’s task—
collect and harmonize
radiance so it sustains
but doesn’t sear—
be a sprig of light
humane, balanced, kind
and warm, yes, that too
this is the way

—the Buddha is reported to have spoken the title phrase

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
Disclaimer: These are drafts—not final versions
.

give it up

let it go
note to self

oh, girl—
remember Robert
Bly’s proverbial
five-mile-long bag
filled with the rubble
of living—annoyance
umbrage, anxiety—
give it up, all of it—
piecemeal hurts more
you know that

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.

accept the weave

accept the weave
note to self

you’re assigned parents
and a body—no choice there
you show up on the planet—
where am I? now what?
who are these people?

accept the weave—
that doesn’t mean you
can’t snitch when your
cousin spits, reach
for college, a compelling job

or a thoughtful relationship
but resisting what’s given
will only yield anguish—
life is aching enough
without piling on more

it’s a fine demarcation
between acceptance
and submission
what you’re given is
simply a starting place

what lies before you is a
puzzle to parse—only you can
solve it—where are the corners?
are these the boundaries?
what am I?

with thanks to Susan Adelle for the title phrase

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—they may never turn into anything more or they might flower.

surrender

surrender
note to self

the colicky infant
yields to the long-braided child
the sulky teen gives way

to the brisk, busy woman
she cedes to a bowed back
and wild egret hair

it’s the way of things
so achingly evident yet
the carnal body squirms

capitulates
yes, to all of it
there is no other concession

of course, be brave
stand and face the bully
care for the injured wren

but most of all
love one another
then, like Beowulf

we must yield
the leasehold
of our days

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—they may never turn into anything more or they might flower.

off my wrist they sailed

off my wrist they sailed

note to self 1993

olive wood, worn pecan and
buttery from my touch—
fingering love, gratitude, peace,
and prayers upon prayers upon prayers

ninety-nine beads, each an aroma
of the beloved, plus two carved ones
that divide each thirty-three
a gift from my Sufi teacher—
bestowed from his murshid to him
the indelible chain of hearts

three wraps around my wrist,
always there. for thirty years,
I’d passed the tasbih beads
through thumb and forefinger
marking a sacred word or phrase

precious, old friends.

on a ten-day island retreat
I found a cockle 500 feet
above the sea—a shell, up here?
Did the land upheave
three-hundred-million years ago?

my intention: throw it back
from whence it came,
return it home to the Maui gods.
I made the cast and the shell took flight

as though in pursuit,
my treasured beads sailed off my wrist
aghast, I watched them fly
a long, asymmetrical
arc toward the woods

a chilla, a test, so very clear.
suspended, frozen,
my heart lurched at the loss
they’re well and truly gone

let them go!

did I pinpoint their likely
grave in forest duff, spongy
and deep? oh, I searched!
frantic, desperate, digging, pawing
they must be there.
why had I not replaced aging string?

never found.

cross-legged on my bed,
sick at heart that I hadn’t
released my claim on them
I pondered the test I’d failed—
how will it come again?

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—they may never turn into anything more or they might flower.