Lemonwood

My mustard yellow sweater

is grown into the blue sky

as a blossom of heat

rests over a melted pot

overlooking fields

where I sip my green tea

in a tiny, wooden cup-

I sit on my knees

open face to see

a cloud move by

like a flame

far above without border

in the midst of falling leaves

dead in the yellows, oranges

and the reds-

Everything is finally free,

but here I am

a voice

gentle, like a sleeping giant

while every ear

is missing

resisting every smile

in-between.

Catalyst Bloom

Beyond it is obtainable
 
no, you aren’t selfish
 
but true to yourself
 
for all gold that glimmers
 
is not a yellow leaf
 
nor is it made in fire–
 
and the fragile diamonds
 
covering our leather skin
 
does not bring a smile
 
for smiles have never been
 
everlasting
 
with the exception of one
 
on the other side
 
of the sliding glass door
 
but no ever dared to try it
 
for the opportunity
 
never arrived,
 
and we are but moleskins
 
writing down depths
 
of what we can grasp–
 
here I watch the orange leaves
 
fall from your mother and father’s
 
table
 
they cover your white cloth
 
and perfume
 
like the generations of before
 
and still, an opportunity
 
never arrived,
 
so instead at my hour
 
I knock on opportunity’s
 
door
 
to find nothing inside
 
except for my reflection
 
blooming without me knowing
 
and a napkin crumbled
 
in my hand like
 
a leaf that crunches
 
like burnt paper.

Catching the World

The best things in life are those things that happen around us: from the moment you hold a red leaf in your hand to the moment you hold your wife’s hand.  You take the time to talk to your wife about many things, even silly things.  We talk about things that matter and the things that don’t matter.  We, humans, talk about ideas and only things that are fleeting.  We often forget… We are fleeting as well.
 
We stand up.  We listen and shout.  We let media and the world control our thoughts.  Why isn’t our attention on the red leaf?  Where is your lover’s hand? Fall is coming and it is here.  As shortly as we looked to see it come we will see it go.  We forget about these things because we distract ourselves. It’s our fault, for we let the ever so irrelevant overpower the relevant.
 
The relevant is the wind in the air that passes through the trees.  The relevant is the now, the present.  It is the smile of someone that loves you from across the room. It’s the seconds counting down your night to end when you don’t want it to. It’s the sweet-salty caramel in desserts and crispness of the fresh air.
 
Many times the world looks like chaos.  Yet, we never talk about the good things.
 
The good things are happening right before our eyes.  It is the time when we take a walk. On our walk, we see an orange-gray cat rolling over a sunny road as he pretends to play with his imaginary friend.  He’s skittish now that you are approaching…
 
It’s the moment you look through a bush and thorns to see a black cow’s eye stare your eye from the other side of a fence.  You believe you think the cow’s eye is happy to see you, but it is only curious… There’s only a mystery in that moment, for we do not know what we see in each other…
 
It’s these little things that matter.  Whatever happened to them?  Why have we disappeared from these moments?  The world is only turning every ten feet in all directions as the leaves are falling.
 
Be still and catch the world spinning, before it turns you around the other way.

McIntosh Delicious

As life resembles it

one day we were strangers

an acidic arrangement

a gentle orange

sliced into an apple,

a grey and red

weathered apple,

green as grass

yellow and round

like the morning sun–

With our eyes open

and only one hand

to take

and see an ancient truth

come alive–

We are haunted

because we do not know

if the answer

is a sight we can handle,

but a light

a golden light

looks into the mirror

of our tree-like souls,

and we are deranged

with forgotten roots–

I walk up the silent hill now

bright green in its splendor

filled with harmony

and salty rain

with only one hole

in the sky to look

at the sky,

never has a day

been so quiet–

I grip, and take it now

for it is mine

all the days of my life

I will cherish it

without taste in my tongue

or water

in my eyes

the leaves will fall

and I will forget

life’s unspoken gift.

 

Robbed

It’s hard being an island

when there are so many

islands in this world–

We find the grey mass

keeping us down,

buried in opaque

sand and dirt

then mud

that white, white mud

that covers us–

We have longed to be free

to reach the sky

to see a world

finally normal

finally at peace

but it isn’t,

and life is a young shadow

chasing after us–

All we ask for is a key

to a door

when all we’ve wanted

is the golden key

to the golden door

beneath our tides–

But we are locked

behind answers

as they follow us

to our graves

at the bottom of the sea

with bubbles of thoughts

hopes and desires

left unsaid

in the quiet dreams

of our starry depths–

Nothing is more treasured

than the present

for the present

matters the most

for that is where we are at–

Meet me at the beach

before dawn

before the sun

and moon

speak their first words,

and there

I will make my trade.

Mindclouds

Sent into the spotted clouds

white as snow, soft as breath

with a sky, it could be a sky,

periwinkle blue

the freshest of air–

This is a prism

of the sleeping

and lofty transferred

with not a soul to see,

for the rooms, if they are rooms

are empty, yet filled

with transparent doors,

but the doors and rooms

are open and broken–

I walk towards the infinite

clock,

the invisible mechanic

that never existed

for she shines now

ever so brightly,

in every direction

where fountains, streams,

and pools of water are clear,

such clarity

without gravity

where rules and boundaries

are only imagined–

Created…

I am alone there now

and no one

should want to be alone,

but I am

with discovery

as my only companion.

 

 

 

Uphill Weeds

There is trust in love

a cold street of desire

and one we take

minute by minute

second by second

to experience the hours,

but then it’s gone

and at the same time

it isn’t–

the street’s always been

as my steps have always been,

for the love of moss grows

and stretches over time–

I wonder

if the windows are listening

in this windowless world

and if the tallest grass

will conquer our dreams–

Maybe tomorrow will be better

but what if it isn’t?

If tomorrow isn’t better

maybe today will be better

but what if it isn’t?

We ask ourselves

the wrong questions,

we give ourselves

the wrong answers,

and while we’re busy

making maps of our lives

the street has always been

cold as it warm

and low as it is high.

 

 

A Motive of Persistence

Lately, I’ve been learning again about persistence.  I’ve been persistent in the past. However, it’s not an easy trait to learn, or in this case, relearn.  You try as hard as you can to achieve something.  You do all you can to tackle your goal to the ground.  You  like to think you are strong, but a stronger wave sends you back to your place time and time again.  You find yourself on the beach, again, covered in sand and spitting up salty water.  You spend your energy and time rushing out into the sea against the currents.  You try it again, and again.  When you least expect it, life sends you another curve ball: here comes the tsunami.

It’s true what psychologists say about conflicts and difficult situations: it’s either fight or flight.  I like to fight.  I don’t see any purpose in running away.  However… We all have those Netflix evenings of escapism.  During wars in the past, people used to go to the movies to escape their problems.  It took their minds off of the terror and terrible situations in the world.  If only there was a way to escape your troubles, you could…  Yet, we do it all the time.  We purposely don’t read certain books, because they remind us of painful circumstances that hang over our lives like ghosts that haunt us.

One day, I finally realized what makes persistence easy and what makes it difficult.  Persistence is difficult when it is primarily selfish.  I find that when we make goals that will only benefit ourselves, it’s harder to achieve them.  It’s probably because they’re so vain and pointless.  Self-serving is fine, for a while, maybe even a few days, but it is fleeting.  Selfishness just leads down a path of emptiness.  It doesn’t drive.  Survival drives us.  It always has.  When it comes to selfishness, our determination falls behind.  I think it’s because deep down we know our motives are wrong.  They do nothing to benefit others or do anything good for this world.  In a way, we feel useless.  What’s the point battling the waves of life?

Sometimes humans have these strange needs for affirmation, praise, and acknowledgement.  But for what?  For our pride as human beings?  I think if we reach deep, beyond the surface, we’ll find our need for satisfaction and self worth.  Maybe going outside of ourselves to do things for others could fill that void in our lives.  It not only makes us stronger, but makes us want to be stronger.  It feels like there is a purpose now, one that matters.  With that in mind, persistence comes easier.  Or at least, I think it does.

Becoming Friends

There is no color

only love

Since we are born colors

into love

Blue skies and grey skies

they are all the same

The only way to end hatred

is by love

We were born a nation

one of many

Free to choose

and be happy

Free not to choose

and be strong

One to protect

and be at peace

It starts with one

and walks alone

We are always talking

but always forget

From dust we rise

to dust we lay

With only patience

for an end’s delay.

In Search of Religion

I know many people may be searching for truth or God, or something to believe in.  I think we all have this innate search for the big answers in life.  We love others or feel love from others.  In this love, we feel God–for God is love.  As a Christian, I believe in that.  I think we often put too much stock in people in order to judge whether or not a religion is true.

The Bible does talk about Christians showing the light and being the salt of the Earth.  I believe it’s true that we can be vessels and live out our testimonies.  If we have acquired the Holy Spirit, that light shines into the world.  This shows people that God is working in their lives.  Most of all, love shows people who God is.

This all works.  Then again, I’ve been on both sides.  The key thing I have learned is this:

You should not choose a religion based solely on people’s actions and behavior, but you should only choose a religion because you believe it is true.

At different points in my life, I used to discern whether or not Christianity was the true religion.  I assessed Christians in my life.  I judged the way they treated me.  When I attended churches, I looked around and studied them.  Wasn’t that the driver that cut me off in the parking lot?  Now that he’s in church, he is all the sudden loving me and shaking my hand?  I’ll admit: it’s confusing, because Christians are not always kind and loving as they should be.  That includes myself.

At some point in my life, every group of religious or non-religious person has done something unkind and unloving towards me.  I have done unkind and unloving things towards people.  This is confusing, isn’t it?  I thought that being Christian would make me a better person.  That’s not necessarily the case.  I realized my flaws are that I believe in the way of Christ, but I do not always walk in the way of Christ.  Religion, or in this case, Christianity, should transform me from within.  It should transform me because I am willing to be transformed.  I discipline myself to be more aware, more obedient and loving in all the things that I do.  Eventually, there’s success.

It is great while it lasts.  However…  Give me less than six hours of sleep and put me behind the wheel of a car, then I’ll be inwardly cursing up a storm towards the reckless drivers on the road.  I think we have all been there.  When we break the transformation process, we become discouraged.  Discouragement leads to self-deprecation, because we realize we’re not perfect.  As a result, we keep on making mistakes.  We start judging people and saying awful things, because we feel we are entitled to do that.  Pride sets in.  Selfishness takes over.  At that point, it doesn’t seem like religion is doing much at all for us.  We expect it to do all the work, because we feel it shouldn’t be up to us.  That’s foolishness, because religion expects that we walk with it.  Allowance and idleness are not the same things.  By allowing transformation, we need a change of mind, a willing heart, and actions that proceed.

We look at ourselves for answers.  We look to the world for reassurance.  What is truth?  Who is God?  What will happen when I die?  Where can I find peace?  Where can I find joy?  How can my life feel like it is going in the right direction?  …Am I on the right path?  We question and judge ourselves and all those around us.  Nothing feels certain. That’s why we need to look straight towards religion, towards the very thing that transforms our lives.

Fr. Seraphim Rose is a man who has inspired me.  In his early academic life, he was into Chinese Taoism and Asian philosophies.  He eventually converted to Orthodoxy and became a hieromonk of ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia).  Fr. Rose wrote a book called God’s Revelation to the Human Heart addressing the human condition of suffering in relation to the “core of all Christian life: the conversion of the heart of man, which begins to burn with love for Christ and transforms him into a new man.”

There are two big things I took away from this book:

(1) Coming to religion isn’t about analyzing something or making a decision, but it’s about revelation: God reveals Himself to us. Even though we want to spend our lives lost and try to search out religion on our own, it doesn’t matter. God is always present and He is ready to reveal Himself to us at any moment.

(2) God reveals himself to us by the heart.  I’m sure many of us expect a cloud to open up and see God talking to us from Heaven.  Most often, that doesn’t happen to us.  Instead, in Christianity, God talks to the human heart.  He speaks to us in a real and loving way.  We just need to listen with our hearts.

If we rely primarily on people, we will be disappointed, because people will eventually fail us. As for God, God will never disappoint us.  God never fails.  He is always good, loving, and true.  If we want to search for truth, we need to open our hearts to God and let Him speak into our lives.