Sunday, December 16, 2018

Asking the Potato Bush for a Healing

The uninvited microscopic visitors that I have been having coffee and tea with for that past couple of days, waged a battle with my bronchial tubes. I coughed and hacked and coughed some more.
Our purple flowering potato bush whispered, "Come outside and I will help you."
I walked out, and the air immediately embraced me with her silky breath. I opened the gate in the old picket fence and stepped into the backyard. I touched the pink rose bloom that was smiling at me and asked it to help. I reached up to shake hands with our guava tree, asking that it also to help me. I walked around the guava and gave the Bird of Paradise bloom a big smile. I stopped, breathed in deep and turned toward the potato bush that now reached a height of 8 feet and is at least as wide. I held one of her leaves, gently with my thumb and finger. I closed my eyes, breathed in deeply, and asked it to help my body heal, to be a conduit from Mother Earth to bring me healing.
I could feel energy flowing into my arm. It felt like a loving embrace.
Before I opened my eyes, I heard the bees buzzing around the orange tree. When I opened my eyes, a bright ripe orange lay to the right of my feet. I thanked the plant people and Mother Earth. I went inside and ate the orange. My coughing had subsided when I first set foot into the backyard. It stopped when I held the potato bush.
I am blessed.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Grief Throws A Blanket

Grief throws a blanket
Over our heads,
And punches us in the stomach
So hard,
It knocks us to the ground.
Sometimes we’re afraid
To lift the blanket
And get up.
We hold our breath,
Not moving,
Wishing the grief
Would just go away.
But we have to get back up
On our own two feet
In order to remove
The blanket of grief.
We must stand up
And open our eyes,
Letting the tears
Clean our lenses
So that we can see
That we are still here.
The grief has not consumed us,
When we stand up,
Our legs might wobble,
And our shoulders might shake,
But we will feel
Flowing back in.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Trickster Mom

Today would have been,
Oh how I wish it could be,
My mother's 91st birthday.
Her name was Amadita
In the little village of La Jara
Adjacent to the San Pedro
Parks Wilderness
Of New Mexico, USA.
With her eyes aglow
She told me she had a pet prairie dog.
I thought that was cool.
I wanted one, too.
The adobe house she grew up in
Had no running water and no electricity.
I only experience that when I go camping.
One of her daily chores was
To take a bucket down to the creek
And bring it back full of water.
She hated the kitchen.
She preferred to work
Outside with the farm animals.
She married a Navy vet.
Who adored her.
We all did.
By the time I learned
She had another name
Besides, mom.
She had taken the Anglicized
White man’s version,
She was Amy.
She was a trickster.
She hid behind the doors,
In the closet,
Or under the bed,
And scare us
Whenever she got the chance.
I did it to our children.
I still do it to my spouse.
My mother used to make me laugh.
Often. Every day, and a lot.
We would talk for hours.
And laugh and tease for more.
She confessed one day,
After I came home from the war,
That she hadn’t read my letters
I sent her from Viet Nam.
She cried whenever one dropped
Through the mail slot.
She knew they wouldn’t make her laugh.
She was afraid one might say I died.
She died in 1986.
We put a license plate
On her coffin
And slid a bag
Of chocolate covered raisins
Into her hand,
For a snack,
On her final trip.
We wrote love notes
With permanent markers
All over her casket
So Saint Peter
Could easily see
Just how loved she was.
I miss her on days
Like today.
And then I laugh,
Remembering my
Trickster mom.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

When Death takes my hand

When Death takes my hand
And lifts me out of my body,
She will kiss me and say,
"You have been a blessing
Upon the Earth."
She will embrace me
And then giggle,
"You made me laugh
So many times."
She will put her hand
On my heart,
Pull my head
Onto her bosom
And whisper,
"I cried with you,
Many, many, times
After I took your son."
Death and I will fly b
Beyond the Earth,
Beyond our galaxy,
Into the light.
Where our son,
My parents,
And my ancestors
Will shout,
"You have been a blessing
Upon the Earth!"
They will all embrace me,
Holding me tight,
And lovingly say,
"Welcome home."

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Jeremy's "Call"

I received our son, Jeremy’s, “call”,
Late at night on the 23rd of October 1992.
A dreaded knowingness hopped on my back.
I carried it into the trauma unit’s family room.
I turned off the light, sat on the chair, and shook my rattle.
My spirit guide put her arm around me.
“It is time,” she said.
We flew into the Lower World and stopped at a ledge
Overlooking an iridescent river.
We walked down a rocky embankment
To a rowboat, tied to a dock.
My spirit guide handed me a glowing orb.
“Give this to the gatekeeper,” she said.
We got into the boat. 
She stroked the oars
Slowly across the dark water
To the dock on the other side.
She helped me disembark. 
The bearded gatekeeper stood eight feet tall.
His arms were folded,
His eyes were stern.
I handed him the orb.
He took it with both hands 
And walked away from the opening. 
We entered the cave of waiting souls.
Jeremy came walking over to me.
I hugged him and then I sat on a large stone and cried.
He bent down and put his arm around me.
“It’s OK, Dad. I’m ready.”
I wiped snot from my nose with the back of my arm.
He became small enough for me to carry him out
Without being seen by the gatekeeper.
My spirit guide and I ran to the boat.
She rowed to the other side.
We flew out of the Lower World,
Through this world and beyond the Upper World.
Sadness overwhelmed me.
Tears clouded my eyes.
We were flying,
Flying higher and higher.
Grief had already wrapped its sadness around me.
I heard a loud snap.
A thin slice of light appeared 
In the void’s blackness.
It grew kinder and brighter,
Taking my sadness away.
Jeremy and I were engulfed in light.
He gave me a hug and walked into the opening.
“I love you, Dad,” he said as my parents took his hand.
The opening snapped shut.
But the darkness was not complete.
A Kindness took its place.
My spirit guide and I flew back into the family room.
I walked into his trauma unit
And looked at the brain monitor.
Jeremy’s body was brain dead.
I called the nurse.
Soon his room was filled with staff
Preparing his body for organ donation.
I cry on this day, the 23rd.
I cry because I miss him.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

How Would My Great-grandparents Feel?

I want our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be proud of their heritage. I want them to be aware of our ancestors' existence and culture. I know that the culture changes and sometimes gets lost as time moves forward. 
My adult children do not live in our house. Our grandchildren do not live nearby. Opportunities to teach my grandchildren about their ancestors and heritage is very limited.
How would I feel, (after I am dead) if one of my great-grandchildren wanted to learn about his heritage but when he went to ask, my relatives refused, saying that he was trying to steal the culture, that his blood was too diluted, that he did not live in the community, that he did not understand their ways, that he was too white?
I wonder how my great-grandparents feel.  

I can’t help but think that my great-grandparents would have wanted to teach me the Native ways. They would want me to be proud of my heritage. 
But my heritage has been stolen. Stolen by laws, stolen by White man's attitudes, and stolen by poverty, and stolen by fear. I know that my Native ancestors are from the New Mexico area. I do not know which tribe or pueblo they were from.
My soul longs for my ancestors. My soul longs for the songs, the dances, the worldview, and the wisdom that my great-grandparents would have given me. Their blood flows through my veins.

Monday, October 15, 2018


Sometimes our heritage has parts
That were kept secret,
Or minimally mentioned,
Or not taught to us,
And not celebrated.
And sometimes we discover
Those parts were kept secret
To protect us from harm.
How then can we can we know
What our souls long for?
How then can we be proud
Of that part of ourselves?
How then can we really be whole?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Bixby Park Tunnel

When I was a boy,   
Nearly seven decades ago, 
I walked two miles 
To the beach 
All by myself. 
I walked down 
Junipero Avenue. 
I rolled my eyes 
Knowing how the locals 
Mispronounce it as 
One a pair oh. 
I’d cross Anaheim Street
And read the Cabart Theater Marquee
Looking for a pair of movies
I’d like to see.
I continued on
Passing by the California Bungalow houses
On my Independent Press Telegram
Paper route.
I’d watched the cars whizzing by
As I’d wait for the light on 7th Street.
I’d pass Doctor Logan Jackon’s house,
Glad that I didn’t need to get a shot.
I crossed Broadway 
To the Park Pantry restaurant,
And hoped that someday 
I could afford to eat there.
I'd stroll through Bixby Park 
Scanning, Searching, and hunting  
For any friends who might 
Want to play at the beach. 
When there were, 
And when there weren't, 
I'd cross the park 
From one corner 
To the corner 
Of Cherry and Ocean.  
I'd descend the stairs 
Into the Bixby Park tunnel 
That went under  
Ocean Boulevard 
To the beach.  
I always found friends
Some I knew
Some I’d just met.
We'd play at the shore
And play tag with the waves.
Some kids had skim boards
Some had floats.
We’d play all day.
When we got hungry
We pull out the bologna sandwich
That we’d made at home.
Our teeth crunched the sand  
That the wind always,
Always, always blew
Onto our sandwiches.
When it was time to go home
I'd go into the tunnel
And back through the park.
I needed to be home
Well before it got dark.
I am sad 
That the tunnel 
Is no more.  
I suppose 
When children of ten 
Were no longer allowed 
To walk to the beach 
All by themselves, 
They sealed the tunnel, 
And the memories 
And only left a mural  
At the ocean side  
Of the tunnel.  

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Peace on Earth

I am grateful for peace on earth.
There is peace on Earth. 
There has always been peace on Earth. 
It starts with me, and you, and anyone. 
I am at peace, right now. 
My house is at peace, right now.
My cul de sac is at peace, right now.
And so it goes.
The sun does not shine on all of Mother Earth "
At the same time.
When we are on the dark side,
We can shine our own light to bring peace on Earth.
When I let someone, who is in a hurry, cut in line,
I bring peace.
When I stop breathe and let it go,
I bring peace.
When I see that there is no "other"
Because we are all earthlings,
I am peace.

Friday, September 07, 2018

When I Was Eight

My eight-year-old face


Against the drinking fountain

At Saint Matthews Grammar school

When the bigger boy,

The older boy,

The tall blond white boy,

Shoved me

While I took

A drink of water.

“That’s fountain’s for white kids,”

He yelled and sneered.

“You’re a nigger.
And you can’t drink from there.”
“He ain’t no nigger.”

Another boy said,

“He’s a wetback .”

“He’s a wetback nigger.”

The blond boy said.

“Look at his big fat lips.

I bet he gets haircuts

To hide his curly hair.”

In 1957

I was new

To this nearly all white school,

New to this city,

And new to this state,
That I soon learned to hate.

Lucky for me

I was rescued by Sister Marie,

The school principal.

She called an assembly

Gathered the whole school.
She stood me in front

Of all the white children

And loudly declared,

“Every summer day

You all go out and lay

At the beach

To get a tan

As dark as you can.

You burn your skin.

It turns red and peels.

And you try again.”

Sister Marie

Took hold of me

And pulled up my arm

Exposing my dark tan skin.

“God gave this boy

A natural tan,

Darker than you ,
Darker than me

Ever can.
Do let me catch you

Teasing or hitting him

Or I will call your parents

And expel you from school.”

I thought Sister Marie

Was really cool.

But I was no fool.

I knew the white boys

Would find other ways

To be cruel.