While Staying in a Converted Coffee Mill in Kona and Learning the Ways of the Warrior Woman Who Lives There  

(for Kelly)

I squat on the cold porcelain

and relieve myself.

My city self.

My heated toilet seats at home self.

Far from the world that swaddles the baby

I presently share black night with the

sound of wild pigs, fornicating or ripping

each other to meaty shreds, hard to tell which.

Just below the outside deck on which sits

the lone bowl and me.

Not far.  In fact, much too close.

I clutch my nightshirt from it

dragging to the floor and pray to be spared a couple’s supper.

I want to revile this minute.  Every cell in me does.

I shiver from spider webs and

shadows that limp and drape around

me in this pitch blue January mist,

tickling my arms like a lover trying to catch my gaze.

I reach my hand down into the abyss

of the canyon below as I piss an anxious piss.

Reaching down to God, who lives among the

wild pigs and other hauntings, don’t you know?

Praying for a wrenching.

If I scream wild enough perhaps

I’ll never feel the teeth gutting my innards.

Yet as I pull my hand back, untouched,

the terrored screeches fall to a chorus

of panting huffs, rhythmic, nearly song,

a ritual stomp reminiscent

of the Black fraternity gearing for

a hazing.

I scurry back to the cold sheets

of my borrowed bed and stare at

the moon, who glares back with a warning,

like an Irish koan:

“Beware the lure of the wild, cushy girl.

‘Tis pungent with lust.

‘Twill fondle you in all the places and

snatch you from your illusions of safety

by the kinks of your nappy crown.”

And it does.  It pulls out a good patch, in fact.

Since then, I’ve shaved every remaining hair,

and now chase the wild scent with the

same relish I’ve clung to fears. 

My friend the warrior woman had been

a city girl like me. 

We rose up together, our young ripening days,

in the poshness of Beverly Hills. 

A trial in her life changed her.

Here it demonstrates like a perfect étude.

And so I ask, always now, as lives the warrior woman,

for another chance to try my hand at leaping,

to try my hand at living.

Happy New Year 2022

May this New Year bring you peace, surrender, serenity, and a few breathtaking insights.  May you want for nothing, because you already have everything.  May the intentions you set this day be felt against the sides of mountains, ring into the ether with an ear-warming reverberation, and settle in the bones of those not as fortunate as you.  And may those intentions keep us all connected like a mighty woven net of love that always catches us when we fall. Happy New Year, one and all! 

As a working musician, the very last thing I do in the very last moments of every year is sing.

“… as it has been since forever ago and auld lang syne.  I am a New Year baby; it is in my DNA to usher out an old, usher in a new. To ritualize the idea of rebirth, renewal, and restoration; to chant, to pray, to dance, to give auspiciousness to new beginnings and rites of passage, to participate in burning bowl rituals and labyrinth walks, to summon the rains and the gods, to howl at the moon, to burn sage, to close my eyes, shut off the valve and listen. Listen to the wind in the trees tell me what I need to know next, what I need to do next, how I need to sing next. And then I sing.” ——— (Excerpt from my poem “Lost & Found” from the collection BONES)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Letters for a Nation

Bl  ck     L  v  s     M  tt  r

can you read this out loud?

     a         i  e         a   e

can you read this out loud? 

can you reckon it into society?

painted on boulevards    art-ivism

in action    every letter singing

none erased

whole  &  absolute

like Black bodies before they are broken

into shards  &  howls

before the need to assert

we     m   tt   r

like Prince who changed

his name to an unpronounceable

symbol

us mattering feels as

elusive as the need for

linear language when it simply

insists on being

w  th    h  ld

And In This Corner

All these wisdoms that have shouted at me for an eternity.

There’s the parable of the genius writer whose book has sold more than any other in the history of books, has made her rich, legendary. And on her deathbed she’s still trying to work out a better ending to her masterpiece. Alive till we die.

That particular one is filled with an alluring fertility (and ripe for a hashtag), one that exhausts me even as it draws me to it. I mean, do I really have to work that hard in this life?

Then there’s the one, Eastern in origin, about needing less, and the wisdom in non-attachment, which proposes that right where we are, without all those constant yearnings and itches and creepy-crawlers in our veins, IS right where we are supposed to be, and that every situation, every person, every direction of the wind is exactly The What, The Who, The Where, and The When of our life, as it is meant to be.

The silence and calm of that particular one draws me to it like a craving I cannot quench. No room for a person obsessively refining her masterpiece in that wisdom. That one implies an eternal hunger. This one implies an eternal peace.

I would pay good money to see both wisdoms duke it out in the ring, frankly, because my arms have been pulled out of their sockets by each one vying for my club membership, as I try my damnedest to live by both creeds, try to find a snug beanbag on which to plop these bones, and want for absolutely nothing. Least of all, a quiet center. Least of all, a soul on fire.

The First Snow

The city grows still, save the snowfall.

Did it really grow still?  People staying

inside, burrowing in with their

coffee and the paper?  Or does

the snow absorb the hum of the city

into its cells?  Making certain this

moment is honored with silence?

Birds flit and fly.

Snowflakes alight on my

eyebrows.  And the stillness is a balm

from which I hope to never

emerge.  But I will.

Tomorrow’s forecast — slushy rain,

the swoosh of tires on wet

streets, the bustle resumed.

So I take this moment.

Except I can’t really take it,

as it isn’t mine to take,

but is its own magnificent

sovereignty I am merely

allowed the privilege of tasting,

however fleeting.

Threnody for a Leap Year: An American Story


Before 2020 even arrives

I claim for all to hear that it will be an auspicious year

One for the books

This is my modern habit

Claim it and it becomes truth

Or as the proponents of this idea say

It’s already truth and is simply awaiting your agreement

Clever that one

Whenever I am at the end of my tether

I cling to clever mystical ideas

One-One-Twenty-Twenty

A milestone birthday

I am now the same age as the year I was born

And a leap year to boot

known in many spiritual communities as a year   always

of awakening and spiritual enlightenment

A virtual bonanza of numerological magic in my very palms

Too luscious not to play with

Life has felt stifled for so long

I make ridiculous claims

Not even certain I believe

But more than willing to be loud

A coming move

A new town

Resuscitation

Breathing room to be artful

To recover health and spirit

Say it loud and the world is yours

An unapologetic child’s belief in magic

Where not much else matters but my own contentment

And then an entire planet folds in on itself

A dying star in the midst of my own self-indulgently forced intersection of stars

I find myself positing with spit that the only use for a Klan hood

Is to operate as a medical mask

A snark not nearly so cutting once I read of

A man in San Diego who did just that

For years I felt alien to my own race

A terrible affliction

Today I thrust fist into air and shout about Black Lives

Can’t NOT see my siblings’ necks under that knee

Blood seeping from tear ducts like plastic Jesus tchotchkes

On the corner for $1.89 but you can always bargain

The threat of extinction nearer than the sun bleeding through

Raggy human-stained ozone threads

When the phalanx of law enforcement swarms protestors

And I watch from the safety of my flat screen

And am more fixated on who is social distancing

than on the power of protest

My brain seizes the way a computer freezes and needs a moment to untangle

When death comes and keeps coming

A party crasher who will not leave

breaking the furniture and pissing on the carpets

When the pulverized bones of Black Lives

By lynch mobs and those enlisted To Protect and To Serve

When the pulverized bones of those who did not survive ventilators

Because a new war lives: “to mask or not to mask”

Are blown by a restless wind

And the powder gusts and gathers

As airborne as this virus

Dusting like topsoil the heads of a system committed to its status quo

Because we’ve led with privilege and hubris

A ghost town will be erected in the place where

Equitable society tried in futility to exist

And as pandemic-age babies are born

From mothers who risk safety to be in hospitals

And fathers not even allowed in delivery rooms

As they are born into the collective terror of a country

Now pariah to the rest of the world

They will possess the ancestral coding to one day thrust

Arms wide and take hold this earth

Wresting it from a generation that did not deserve it

Wild hearts that will make whole again soil and sky and oxygen and humanity

They will claim it audaciously

An unapologetic child’s belief in magic

I skim back over the words of this hope

But cannot find its pulse without losing breath

And the very thought feels an insult to the memory of

George and Breonna and Elijah

I gear up     strap on     start my way through an untilled jungle

Ready to be one in the revolution

Even leaning in just a bit for the rending of thorns against bare arms

The tiniest symbol of atonement for all my self-absorbed days

2020

Auspicious indeed

And a new daily prayer

May I never go back to sleep








Poet’s Note: The year isn’t even over, yet I’ve been compelled to write a thought anyway; not so much a year-end review, as I’ve tended to do in the past, but a nagging expression that needed to find some paper quick. 2020 was/is a Leap Year. From a numerological standpoint, Leap Day, February 29, is known in many spiritual communities as being one of awakening and spiritual enlightenment. My own awakening is still in the yawning and stretching stage, but a shift has most definitely occurred. My very last public singing performance (I do/did this for a living) was on Leap Day, before the world went and got itself into a bit of a pandemic. And — perhaps poetically — I sang the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with the Metropolitan Master Chorale. The whole year so far feels nearly impossible to express what I find painful and inexpressible. But poetry is healing. And healing, poetry.

Spiritual Algorithm: A Prescription for This Age of Pandemic

rockypeakblog

Navigating the murky waters of life is a job with tenure.  All the money and station in the world won’t reprieve us from the task.  Below are 9 simple practices that can mean the difference between the grind of life (or even the blunt interruption of that grind) and truly living.  Costs nothing.  Big Pharma has no equity in THIS medicine.

 

  1. Turn away from the anxiety-fueling news programs that litter television and the Internet.

Just refuse them.   They are designed for one agenda only —— to whip us into a distracted frenzy, and by virtue weaken us and our pocketbooks at the seams, because having an entire culture in panic mode is profitable, and is never about being in the public’s interest.  Find your news through more legitimate sources.  Do the homework needed to figure out who and what those are.  Information is valuable and crucial; hysteria never is.

 

  1. Read for pleasure.

As a writer I want to encourage books. I want to encourage good books.  I want to encourage literature.  But hey, read a magazine, just read —— for pure enjoyment and expansion.  And try as often as possible to do it outside the digital and electronic universe.  Kindle and iBooks are both fun and convenient, but don’t let them be your exclusive source for reading.  The brain needs a good chunk of quality time every day to be removed from electromagnetic energy and social media, and to be reminded of the world of imagination and connection that does exist beyond our digital screens.

 

  1. Meditate.  OR . . .

…at the very least find a way to simply be in silence and stillness for a few minutes every day.  The more minutes a day you can find in that quiet, the better able you will be to heed the inner voice, and the better everything will be.  Guaranteed!   Consider a wonderful memoir by Sara Maitland on her experiment of withdrawing from the world in pursuit of silence.  There is a whole world of discussion to be had on the topic and its impact on a society, and which is utterly fascinating.  For now, for this, simply allow yourself a few minutes each day to power everything down.   And listen.

 

  1. Connect with Higher Power.

This term has as wide a berth as the ocean, so even the most ardent atheist can find his or hers.  Something that is greater than your pedestrian self and has something to teach you, offer you, feed you. Maybe it’s the Collective Unconscious. Maybe it’s your own higher consciousness, which exists in every human, usually buried beneath all the traumas and dysfunctions, but there, just ripe and ready to guide us, if we’re keen to do some unearthing.  Maybe it’s nature.  Maybe it’s the source within.  Or a source out there. Maybe it’s simply goodness.  It will show up differently for every individual on the planet yet is that unquantifiable something that maneuvers us around the land mines and connects us to each other.  There is no need to affix a label; simply be with it.  Find yours, and plug in regularly.

 

  1. Create, even if you’re not an artist.

“Artist” is merely a label.  We all have creativity and imagination within us, and it can show up in the most unexpected cloak, which is usually how it works anyway.  Feed it. Allow it to feed you.  Have fun with it.  The benefits to soul are untold.  In this time of quarantine, and out.

 

  1. Be a child again (closely linked to the above, and which is not the same as being child-ISH).

There has been so much obligation, commitment, management, planning, and fortune-making that has governed our adult lives that we can easily allow it to collapse our spirits.  Easy to get so caught up in building the life of our dreams that we forget to actually live the life of our dreams.  These mandated lockdowns and Stay at Home orders have forced us to slow down, whether we’ve wanted to or not.  As a result, some truly profound epiphanies have been had from the many about the lives they’d been living before this pandemic.  So, every once in a while let it all go, and do what children do. Precisely because we are presently in the state of severance, throw Zoom parties. Live-stream living room performances for friends.  Stage social distancing drive-by parades. Play dress-up to come to the dinner table.  The ideas are endless.  The point, to play fiercely and with release and abandon.

The flipside of that same spirit … do nothing.  The Italians have a delicious term for it —— dolce far niente —— literally translated as the “sweetness of doing nothing.” They have raised it to an art, but in our ambition-worship culture we have stamped the label of shame onto it.  We do not need to be in the constant state of planning, producing, and consuming.  Precisely because of this pandemic, we are in trauma.  We are in grief.  You are okay to not be okay.  So, take the pressure off.  Smile at nothing.  Sit and gaze.  Daydream.  Decompress.  It is the crucial yin to our Everest-conquering yang.

 

  1. Be in nature.

Communing with creatures beyond our pets and other humans, moving among the wise old trees, strolling along a shore, recognizing the cruciality of taking care of the earth, this is what it means to be in nature.  For the time being, but not forever, our access to beaches and nature trails has been limited by the necessity for flattening the curve of this virus.  Even so, it is possible to snag ourselves a little bit of nature every day.  Put on your protective mask, walk outside your door, and you are in it.  Even in the city.  Just walk, and marvel at the sky (cleaner these days than ever before with fewer cars on the roads).  Equal parts meditation and exercise, being in the nature right outside our door can open the heart chakra and shift our receptor paradigm to receiving or, perhaps and more pointedly, feeling worthy of blessings.  It increases our ability to see that blessings are flying all around us like gnats.  And it’s not only the stuff that feels like blessings.  It’s even the stuff (or people) we consider the opposite, because every encounter serves as a teacher —— and may actually be where the real gold lies. Wait, what? All this from observing flowers and trees?  Oh, yes.  Until our beautiful beaches and glorious canyon trails can safely reopen, even the smallest patch of garden or that duck pond in the neighborhood can be that salve and conduit.  Nature is quite remarkable at showing up anywhere and opening the vessel within for our daily access.

 

  1. Create a daily gratitude ritual . . .

…particularly during this coronaspell of death, sickness, fear, and the loss of “normal,” when it’s harder to see blessings.  It can be a prayer, a journal log, a mantra, a meditation.  Even in the various periods of my life of not feeling especially grateful, I, for example, always found such beauty in the tradition of blessing one’s food.  What a lovely idea to express out loud our thankfulness for the bounty on our plates, and for not taking a meal for granted but cherishing it for what it gives us, especially considering how many don’t have this luxury. Now, imagine employing that gratitude practice with everything.  Just imagine.

 

And finally . . .

 

 

  1. Be of service.

From sewing and dispensing face masks, to surprise drop-offs of groceries at someone’s door, to making food for the homeless, to outreach calls, this Age of Pandemic has shown what people are made of, and that it isn’t only the front-liners who are able to be of service to the community.  We all have the ability to be there for others, whether an individual or our community at large.  Service is the most restorative unguent there is for self-absorption or for trying to find meaning in a world that often seems senseless and cruel, especially in these strange days.  Maybe you aren’t struggling with that.  Many are.  Pandemic or no, this might just be the single most potent go-to for establishing or recovering ourselves as persons of value on the planet…

and within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of Bones, Aleatory on the Radio, Viscera, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and the 2018 North Street Book Prize-winner for Literary Fiction, Trading Fours. She has also produced several albums of music and meditation.  Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Goodreads, Amazon Author, & Bandcamp.

 

 

The Swarm of Painted Ladies

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The swarm of Painted Ladies

showered me unexpectedly.

Startlingly.

A baptism.

A cleansing.

Carrying with them, in their spiritual lightness and artful wings,

the flutter of renewal, restoration and redemption.

Some have said their early migration is global-warming-induced.

It’s a thought that lends a sadness to this unexpected christening

I received upon their arrival.

Though, for me,

a girl with campaigns launched left and right these days toward

wellness and soul tending,

a girl awfully in love with finding angels and symbols

in every nook and under every rock,

too early couldn’t’ve been more

right on time.

Love Letter To His New Donor (a summoner’s aubade)

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Dearest friend,

May I call you this? We’ll soon both be
members of a cherished club,
and as such I feel, already, a kinship.
As I write this, the mouths of the
purple morning-glories beyond my window
are achingly gaped,
singing your praises I like to think,
knowing you are coming,
and the sun is brilliant, almost white,
on this late-winter morning
after a week of sunless rain.
You are coming. This I know.
And I feel hope, which scares me some.

I am grateful and sad. I think we both know why,
and there is enough disappointment in myself
without continuing to reinvigorate it
with words.  I ask only this:
Walk deliberately toward it.
Trip and fall, if it comes to it, but take no prisoners, least of all him.
Expose panties. Jump back up. Make a joke out of the spill,
scrappy like I know you must be.
Then keep on stepping high.
Keep him in gentle accord.
Keep yourself there too.
Above all, breathe. The dark nights for both of you
will soften their edges, and the morning-glory
will yawn again each dawn to remind you that you are as glorious.
Send me a postcard from beyond the moon.
I hung out there myself once.
We’ll regale together this love supreme that
keeps us all rallying for one another.

 

PLEASE visit  http://kidneyforhans.com/  and do a girl a solid.