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.

Japanese death poems

This post needs a little explanation. I participated in a poetry class over the last six months. Our fearless leader, Jeanne Rana, invited us every two weeks to try traditional poetic forms: pantoum; villanelle; haiku; dekaaz; the “I am” poem; triolet; sentence down the side; Beatitudes; and today, our final meeting, Japanese death poems.

The instruction around Japanese death poems or jisei: these poems traditionally are spoken on the poets’ or warriors’ deathbed. Their final words.

Jeanne gave us only two minutes to write as many as we could—I believe to get us out of our minds and into our hearts. They are not titled. I have a favorite; do you?

follow
the silken thread

now, now
forever

light blossoms

goodbye
dear world

carry my love

onward!
surprise me

I leave
my warmth

trust, trust, trust
what else is there?

breathe light
instead of air

aha!
this, too

love the
whole catastrophe

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.

slender moments

slender moments

note to self

suspended moments—
vivid, lucid
unambiguous

your Prius shoved
upside down dead bug
wheels spinning

he sauntered down
the path—heart
recognition flames

thrown from a
horse, floating in
air—time arrests

in less than a breath
beliefs, a card house
exposed, collapse

you are cast
into the big field
give over, soften

unambiguous
vivid, lucid—those
slender moments

thank you to Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer for “slender moments”

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.

the indifferent warming light

the indifferent warming light
note to self

it’s not personal
oh, you wanted to believe it is
love is simply love
wild and bright, a warming light
impartial and unconcerned
it belongs to no one in particular
it belongs to everyone
you flailed and railed—
two years metabolizing
it’s just not personal

thank you to David Whyte for the phrase “the indifferent warming light.”

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.

troughs and waves

troughs and waves

note to self

that’s life—
dips and hilltops
troughs and waves
a skin-and-bone
roller coaster
sometimes free fall
it can buffet, a sideways
bluster, other times
a zephyr—
delicate and free

rarely tranquil

when days roll by
smoothly for a while—
writing flows, friends
thrive, my earth suit
functions as it should—
I can feel it coming
barometric pressure
behind my heart
heaviness nearby and
I wonder—what, how
and when? never why

will I bear it well?

I don’t pray for specifics—
we’re given our share
from the big field
I pray for insight and grace
sometimes on my knees
often snuggled in bed—
for those I love, I ask
for the highest good
and I pray, oh I pray
for surrender

the thread

First, a comment about process. I don’t know where these poems come from. What a mystery! I stare at the screen and wait. Usually it’s the middle of the night. If I wait long enough, feel deeply enough, something generally happens. Pondering what I’ve just written, I fiddle. A lot. I refine words, try different line breaks, should it have stanzas? Must I turn it upside down? It’s not lonely work, but it is work alone. Eventually, my body says, “Stop.”

Some poems are a wrestling match, and I return again and again for days. Weeks. Longer. Others show up and I’m satisfied with the form. It says what I intended. Some are strange, and I think, “What is this?”

If you’re a poet, what’s your process? Please share in the comments. I’m curious to know.

the thread

note to self

you were young when
you noticed the end
curious, you picked it up
fine—gossamer, even
tugging might snap it, so you
followed the garnet silk instead—
over under around and through
—then you dropped it

in the myth of
Ariadne and Theseus,
he found his way through
the labyrinth home—
an arduous journey, by
following a slender red thread

diligent, moving with care
you sought the thread’s
end that you’d lost—
a few years passed
finally, there it was!
in lush, native terrain
you picked it up again, faithful
to the path it announced—you too
remembered your way home

fault lines

fault lines
note to self

brush by delicate brush
a painstaking excavator
I uncover the skeleton
of what he did—I was
only four years old
that’s faraway past
yet it carved fault lines
in who I might become
cautious instead of creative

every touch leaves signs—
elephants snap limbs
monks arouse hearts
with their clarity
soldiers blast cities to rubble
ants stumble while hefting
a giant crumb—each
singular action shifts
the bones of our world

pick petals from the daisy
it matters, it doesn’t matter
it matters, it doesn’t
both are holy true—
meet the long ago
metabolize and mend
admire fault lines everywhere
trace with care and gold

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.

sanctuary

sanctuary

note to self

this is where
I go to get quiet—
my inner sanctuary
sink deep and listen
if I am still, I can find
the cathedral of words
part statement of intent
part supplication
part prayer
words pouring
from the wordless
to write myself awake

there’s nothing to do
yet still I’m compelled
to convey what cannot
be written or spoken or
painted or sung or
sculpted although
it can be revealed
the ineffable—
transparent
luminous
empty
open

*thank you to Ayaz Angus Landman for the phrase “cathedral of words”

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.

pilgrim

pilgrim

note to self

since eleven,
a pilgrim, a wayfarer
but not out here
on the inner, instead
what is this?
what am I?
what knows before
anything came to be?

prior,
prior to this outrageous
cosmos—and the birthing,
dying, exploding, expanding
delicious, rollicking mess
of a world, stardust everywhere—
prior to thought, what is that?
what sees through these
eyes? those?

it’s lush in here
the big field of knowing
the password is surrender
however, beware—
beliefs fall away
consciousness shines
a relentless taskmistress
it asks for everything

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.

all you can do

all you can do

note to self

nothing’s “under control”
you may think it is, but
it’s a wild mess, wholly
pandemonium,
all happening, happening
redolent and rampant
spilling out in endless
variety—us included—
and brought into play

so relax.

there’s no stopping it
squalling newborn
assault rifles for sale
your first, tentative kiss
tender lips caress yours
friend’s death diagnosis,
and then your own,
sunrise aflame—apricot on cobalt,
sour milk and moldy tortillas,
puppy snoring in your lap
all of it, erupting at once

relax.

forget the mind
the craving to name,
to nail down something,
anything, and
give it meaning.
troublesome thoughts—
oh, suffering ensues,
that’s guaranteed.
meet it, whatever it is,
not slantwise, straight on

and relax

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.