Monday, July 27, 2009

Amazing: healing for teen girls through yoga and creative arts

So excited to hear about this organization, which uses yoga and creative writing and art to help teen girls heal.

Their Video:

Friday, July 24, 2009

yoga houses and meditating on shoes

Yoga is the study of the architecture of my home, the scaffolding, the inhabitant.

“There is no home, unless we find it in ourselves.”



In church, fancy shoes were worn-
scuff-free shoes, bejeweled shoes, high-heeled shoes teetering toward heaven.
I felt bare wood between my fingers holding the back of the pew in front of me
as I slipped off one shoe at a time,
shinking in height next to my Grandmother,
who was apparently trying to reach God with large hats.

At the mosque down the street from my apartment,
men take off their work boots in favor of socks or thin sandals to bow down toward the East River.
sometimes spilling out of the mosque and onto the steet itself,
fabric knees kissing pavement again and again.

In the meditation hall,
my socks scuff in walking meditation,
rolling through bones and pressure points,
stilling the mind-
God, where do you want me to go?
And how should I get there?
In motorcycle boots, red-high stilletos, bare toes?
I follow white Kenneth Cole cottoned heels moving slowly in front of me.
Toe, heel, heel, toe.

On the spongy yoga mat,
my barest of feet grip and release,
leaving small prayer prints as unique as our own inner language.
My toes polished, or not.
Sometimes they go upside down, standing on air.

God must have ears bigger than my downstairs neighbor,
to hear all the heel clicking and toe padding and sock scuffing.
All those barefoot intentions and well-heeled thoughts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

manhattan maps

My heart has a scar the shape of Manhattan.
The subway map is tattooed on my palm, something I intrinsically know and grasp upon.


NYC Love Triangle

The Empire State Building felt like midtown itself, tall grey and corporate, the inside of her turning like a revolving door, steel against steel, thought against thought, separated by black rubber padding. The loop de loop of practical footwear and discount bags leaving smudge marks on the glass interior she’d polished the day before. “Floor 58!” yelled the attendant, in his tweed jacket, pushing streams of people up into her, only to peer out the top as if they wished to escape.

She too wished to escape, but how do you jump off and out of yourself?

Over her ledge stood the City, buildings lined up like dominos, cigarette-thin from above. And uptown stood Chrysler, chic in her 20s style flapper dress turned upside down. Empire watched her. No one pushed or climbed their way through her belly. No lines of people munching McDonalds and sipping Jamba Juice were sucked up her elevator like some straw.

Empire sighed gusts of cumulous clouds in envy.

Oh, to stand long and lean, to be silent in this city of noise, to be elegant in this crass place. Like some silent movie star in a drop-waist dress lighting up at night in lines of silver like rows of stars, belted around Orion’s waist.

For while Empire loved Chrysler, Chrysler loved Orion. Orion, that downtown drag queen with the night sky for a stage, in his heels tall enough to obit him into space, flashier than any billboard and pinpoint bright. He orbited above Chrysler nightly, made of things to wish on. She loved him like some sugar-sweet toothache just from looking at him, dancing above her head in wide lines of stars. Sometimes she could look under his dress, and wondered at that, too. But he never noticed her, didn’t look down that way, he kept his chin up, grazing the Big Picture, lived in the big picture so much because he was a big picture. If anything, he was waiting for someone to come gliding across the horizon like a nighttime float in some Macy’s Day Parade. Some girlboy made of stars and sparkle and light.
Most nights, Orion hung his belt over the colored tip of Empire.  He liked how she always changed colors.  He'd hang his belt and keep gazing, over the city as a whole, flashing like a sky full of stars layid on the ground, a sky in reverse.  "The city is trying to reach us" he’d whisper in Empire’s long ear, watching her lights turn on one square at a time at dusk, creeping upward slowly toward the sky, toward him, he thought. In return, he brightened star by star like light bulbs strung on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Empire never noticed him. She only looked over his lean shoulder, watching Chrysler's silver bangles turn on, one by one, flashing toward heaven.  Empire would look at her own crown and sigh in sudden gusts of wind, "So gaudy" she thought, of her pink tips for Valentine's Day, red and green for Christmas.  DING!  The attendant exited with a handyman's tool belt around his waist.  It was his job to turn on her lights every night, though neither one of them liked it. 

Empire sighed riplets of green light because it was March. “Oh, little Chrysler girl, where did you grow up?  What kind of daddy did you have?  His marquee must have lit up with your name every Sunday, and you’d overlook the sun sparkle parks together, brimming with happy walkers. He must have bought you pink fluff cotton candy under white fluff clouds and you must have talked about being a princess when you grew up and he must have listened.  And now you are. On Fifth Avenue in a silver upward-flowing dress, the moon kissing your forehead every night.”
And so went every night, the berumuda triangle of lost love over New York City, as millions lost and found and lost love again on the gridded streets below, streets paved with impermanence. They say the city never sleeps, the buildings twinkling at night with hidden feelings and wishes, the sky twirling on its axis of desire, a broadway-star pole dancing on the horizon line. Orion with his flashy boots and Chrysler in her dress and Empire in her crown, restless and star crossed, wanting to fill in the empty rooms of their hearts with different things.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I planted myself here
where poems streak by my window like the J train
and the only thing I’m raising are dreams
in the shifting soil underneath manhattan sidewalks

they grow out of cracks, but they grow
where the cows cannot munch their tops off
and no one is bailing them
they are stepped over freely by punk boys and girls and teachers and MTA workers and lovers and students

Was there nothing in the will about east 11th street
And a studio apartment the size of your downstairs bathroom?

I still know how to ride a horse
I’m still not afraid to get muddy
I’m not afraid of pitch black nights silent as sleep
I can still sense which way the road will turn and know when a calf is dying

Its not much different here
Still dirty
With a need for instinct

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

last year

calendar pages stuck together
like new-born eyelids
or early mornings, moments glued by sunlight:
the confusion of new beginnings
the harness

love letters i forgot to open
prayer flags dripping to the floor in colorful puddles
of oil slicked sunlight the grease of dreams
under our feet
miles passing in new york minutes
tall buildings pulling high as weeds

under rivers tunnels thick as veins
pump in and out of the heart
labeled L and J
the east river of alphabet soup
we search
as if our eyes did not see each other
through the new york anatomy
scaffolding things together
and calling it growth-

“everyone is damaged here” you tell me
and i see
the reason we left or stayed
is some fault line like caifornia earthquake indicators
squeezed into palms holding silver subway poles
and black escalator arms rolling like big tires
in loops and loops

we walk.
from delancey to 14th street and back
my mind
setting that groove like thin bicycle tires
and cabs and cars and trains

if i could just turn upside down
the sky would ooze everywhere
even into last year-


does it matter if you're an aquarius during the coming aquarian age?

“On November 11 1991 at the longitude and latitude of Los Angeles, the Aquarian Age
was totally established. This time is the cusp period. There are three, seven year cycles of
the cusp and we are in the second cycle of the final count down.

We must enter this age with a lot of love, and with affirmation, prayer and meditation.
The Aquarian Age is the Golden Age. It is the time of change and growth. It is the time
when each human being must consciously decide to meet the destiny face to face.”

(We enter the Aquarian Age on November 11, 2012.)

Five Sutras for the Aquarian Age

1. Understand through compassion, otherwise, you will misunderstand the times.
2. Recognize the other person is you.
3. When the time is on you, start and the pressure will be off.
4. There’s a way through every block.
5. Vibrate the cosmos and the cosmos shall clear the path.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Angelwings: (a yoga retreat rant)

The woodgrain on the doors swirled into the shape of two large angel wings. Inside, we were signing Krishna. We were writing Krishna. Here, we were allowed to feel too much. And I thought of Anais and Sylvia and Mira and burning stars and flying birds. Here, it was ok to have a mind like ours, that runs on treadmills or goes deep sea diving, scoring the bottom for pearls. Here it was ok to have a powerful mind, one that can be either a key or a dagger, depending on which way its held. The muscles are weaker when wielding the key toward the divine. We've been used to sharp things, like thoughts, turned inward.

Life is not that different here than in New York. There's still the daily diet of yoga and buddha bowls. Only trees outnumber cabs, a thousand to none. Here, it is yoga against the soft backdrop of sunsets and crickets and a lake that turns from aqua to navy. Here, the softness of the yoga blurs into the edges of pines. I miss the sharp spikes of Manhattan, and the way the yoga pops out there, against the backdrop of concrete and steel, soft overlaid on hard. If we lived in the country like this, a retreat would mean joining a punk band, making noise, building spikes out of our hair, to get that balance between soft and hard back.

Every morning I am thanking our gods for the coffee and brownies, though they're only spiked with stevia. I'm hearing Dharma Mittra breathe. Everything smells of lavendar, Dr Bronner's, and flax seed, like all these places do. I go everywhere in bare feet. I wonder if Dr. Bronner's is the key to enlightenment.

In the communial housing on the third night, it hits me, the silence. And I am reminded of the shuttle bus up here, leaving 32nd street in torrential rains. The bus driver explained the running rivers of tears down the right side of the windshield were caused by two screws missing and windshield wipers that no longer worked. I must have lost or broken something somewhere, because I felt the torrents inside, running, rushing black, and blue. The last year and a half, and the images in the shape of bodies I miss, searing my brain like sun-balls after eyes are closed on a mid-summer day. And the smells remind me of what I've lost, and the silence. Everything does, and I watch which way I wield my mind around these losses. I long for the wood angelwings to spring to life, to lift me up, but it is the middle of the night and I am not to be reborn until the next morning.

The next morning is sunscreen and spelt muffins. "One more loving time, family!" and we throw our arms up into victorious warrior ones, and twos. I always wanted to be like the Sylvias, but to survive, to touch the bottom and know it, but come up to tell about it. I wanted that strength to go deep, and then resurface, and live to tell. The exhales soften me deeper into the strength of my warriors. It is July, and I've been going through the going down for some time now. I press off my toes and fly into a crow. I see the bottom, I am flying through.

On the bus ride home, we surf waves of fields, silos standing like abandoned castles, reminding me of my rural past. The young years, when I did not want to be a dairy princess or in 4H, and was already planning days of soy milk and concrete wilderness and deep zen. I pull out this notebook and link the pens around my neck like a feather boa. The words dye the holsteins outside my window a rich pink. I rebuild what was given to me, like memories, tears, like land and cattle. The land curdles under the bus tires as we cross the Massachusetts border into New York. I am searching thin pages like the back of upstate libraries, uncovering seeds of hipster dharmic punk in the silence. I am replanting, until the land is covered by a sheath of silver-gray concrete and we roll into Spanish Harlem and it feels like home. I am talking with Krishna, hoping my city will always be cut by grains of farm soil, that all my warriors will see the bottom and soar through. Dharma is breathing out the back of the bus, and we are back where we began, but it is different.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"what all writers ultimately do is pass on their breath."

Sunday, July 05, 2009

back from Kripalu

and am realizing my whole life is a yoga retreat.

and I'm reading Natalie Goldberg again.

From "Long Quiet Highway" :

"Writing became the tool I used to digest my life and to understand, finally, the grace, the gratitude I could feel, not because everything was hunky-dory, but because we can use everything we are. Actually we have no choice....And we can't avoid an inch of our experience; if we do it causes a blur, a bleep, a puffy unreality. Our job is to wake up to everything, because if we slow down enough, we see we are everything."

Love this! :.......

"what all writers ultimately do is pass on their breath."


I can't believe how much I resonate with her personal story (did she read my diary?), and am intrigued by the connections between writing/yoga/ space, presence, and integration are keys to knowing yourself, and how to know yourself is to connect more deeply with the world and be of some service. And how you have to be real.

"Actually, the suburbs were ideal for developing a life of cloistered aloneness, a monk's or a writer's life. ...I had to go back and reclaim, transform, what I had inherited. Eventually I had to stop running from what I had been given."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Yoga and Me Documentary