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.