I’ve Been Hurt



I’ve been hurt.

Real bad.


No, I’m not trying to compare.


Everyone has a right to honor their own wounds.


And everyone has a responsibility

to go to their pain

and heal it

because hurt is contagious.


It helps to talk about it a bit.


I don’t remember

what happened.

I remember bad things

but I can’t find the memories that explain




I’m sorry.

I always feel like I need to apologize.

I’m a walking apology.



I feel like I need to apologize for being born

but no matter how much I apologize for it

I never feel forgiven


to live

my life.



I’ve been hurt

real bad,

somewhere deep where my mind isn’t allowed to go.


But I feel it

when I try to speak

or dare to try something that would require me to believe I have a right in this world.


I feel it

when it swells up

and spreads through my body and I


and clench and contract and shrink away

like I’m trying to protect myself from another blow

or just disappear.


I used to use anger to get big and strong

and push everything away

and get enough space to


But after just a few years

I burned through my lifetime supply of rage.


I used to use alcohol and drugs

for the soothing

and the cheap, fast illusion of power,

but each night’s step forward

cost me two steps back.


I finally found myself

but I was miles behind.




I stopped taking the edge off.

Now I want to leave it on.

I need it to cut this mystery open.


I’ve spent years trying to give myself permission to cry.

I can do it a little now.

It feels useless trying to squeeze a river

through a little crack.


But I remind myself that

one little crack is all it takes

to bring the dam crashing down

some magnificent day.









Patience and


of water.


Water’s ease and assurance, effortless

in awesome weight and power,

in inevitability.



And I will burst through that wall,

taking the spaces that are mine to fill,

with innocent confidence,

trusting nature

will continuously correct my course

as I flow freely into my life,

laughing at my silly self

for ever having been a river

who wanted permission

to join in our ocean.

Whatever You Do


In Seattle

people obey the “don’t walk” light at the street corner

even if no cars are coming.

Yes, they just stand there!


It looks bizarre and surreal to see them

standing there

obeying without thinking,

but how many signs do we all obey

without even noticing?






facial expressions,




Signs only have power over you

if you don’t reflect on them.

Reflect on them and

take your power back.



wearing that cross means

he’s an ally to the poor and oppressed,


maybe he’s just exploiting that symbol

so he can exploit you.


Don’t trust a sign.

Meet the substance.


Maybe that flag stands for freedom


maybe genocide, slavery, and imperialism


maybe all of these and more.


Maybe it’s not so simple.


You see, a sign is a very simple thing

but significance is


the opposite of simple.


Maybe that look means

the person doesn’t like you


maybe they like you a lot

and it makes them nervous


maybe you’re irrelevant

and they’ve had a hard day


a lifetime of trauma.


All day we react, unaware:

“He looks trustworthy.”

“He looks dangerous.”

“I should…”

“I’m so…”

“I can’t…”

“I’ll just…”


Why did you think that?

What was your sign?

What did you assume?


How many signs do we obey

without even noticing?


(And how many useful signs do we ignore without noticing,

signs that could help us if we were more observant?)


Signs only have power if

you don’t reflect on them.

Notice them,

in the street and in your mind,

and reflect on them.

Take your power back.


Next time you see the “don’t walk” light

and no cars are coming

you can just stand there

or you could cross

or you could roll around in the street

or fall to your knees and sob.


Whatever you do,

first, wake up.

I Have Seen a Bird


I have seen a bird

crumpled, shy, cowering.


But I have seen another bird


wings extending powerfully,

pushing on air until it rises,

then finally soaring on nature’s invisible currents.

A Blessing for You

May you be happy.
May you feel light.
May you allow a smile to gently spread through your face.
May your eyes be open and clean.

May you release your apprehension
and be filled with supple strength.

May you stand tall and rooted,
pulled taught from above and below.

May you remember that your appearance
comes from the inside out.

May you remember that you’re someone
who people are pleased to meet.

May you never forget that you are lovable.
May you often relive memories of the love you have known.

May you remember that heaven is inside you,
always shining just behind the clouds.
May you fly beyond them
on the gust of a single thought.

Young Love


The old fisherman walks the shore

a bit before the sunset,

steady, patient, and quiet,

working to make peace with life.


His wife has passed away and his children are grown

and somewhere else

they have lives of their own.


Alone he must make his peace.


He is almost soft and empty enough,

at last,

for the fullness of life

to fit and breathe

comfortably inside of him.


But the old fisherman shakes his head

and smiles, a little sad,

as his longing taunts his surrender.


He gently steps along the line

where waves and sand

have playfully wrestled

in young love forever.

Wake Up!

If we were truly awake

to what matters in life,

we would


play and laugh, enjoying just each other

with uninhibited delight

because we love each other so much;


we would


savor the unfolding instants,

soberly staring into each other’s eyes,

cursing and praising time,

because we love each other so much;


we would


meditate together on the truth that we will have to die,

grieving and sobbing and wailing and pressing our bodies together,

hating to let go

because we love each other so much;


we would


break every politeness and taboo against expressing love,

break our fear of loving too much,

break our fear of receiving too much love,

BREAK our hearts open

purposely and urgently and desperately,

knowing EVERYTHING depends on succeeding in this,

because we love each other so much.


If we were truly awake

to what matters in life,

we would.


The Safe

You thought you locked your feelings

in a little box.


But now you realize

you’ve played a little trick

on yourself.


You’ve locked


in little a box,

and you’re afraid to come out

where the wild feelings roam.

I Am a Ghost

I am a ghost.


Sometimes I drift through the city

among the living.


I observe them

going through their motions.

They can't see me.

They hardly see each other.


It is lonely to haunt,

to see and not be seen.


But, ah! the thrill of encountering another ghost!

The relief and longing fulfilled

as our eyes meet,

crossing the distance in less than a blink!


We move towards each other

through the crowded graveyard.


At last to be seen!

And by such a spirit.


One who saw the dream behind the illusion,

One who wasn’t strong enough to submit

but had all the courage to rebel,

One who smashed their tight shell,

One who cut off their Earthly anchor

for freedom to pass through walls

and see the other sides,

adventuring through worlds and times!


How sweet it is to have found each other!


we ghosts can no longer become anchored,

even when we want to.


Knowingly, we drift our separate ways.


But we are eternal
and we look forward to meeting again

and again.

No Rest

We can’t be present for the bliss

of blessed self-forgetfulness.


We can’t savor even a peep,

awake in precious nightly sleep.


And release from Earthly grieving

arrives just as mind is leaving.