art, ethereal, living, moments, mystics, nature

Truth Teller

owl

art & poem by Carmen H Gray

 

Harbinger of Truth

Night Scout

Spirit of the hidden realms

You called out

Before dayspring with its auspicious, tender light

Caught me, heedless in my faraway flight

Who? Who? You asked

And I heard the question

Though I found no origin

Surrounding my perception

What were you foraging?

So attentive to the starkness

A keen awareness to the rustling

Of flight wings in darkness

Harbinger of Truth

Night Scout leave-taking

Giving me pause

As dawn was breaking

Benediction with a farewell sigh

As you moved swiftly

Into the violet-gray sky

 

 

art, hope, letting go, living, moments, time

Dark Night

profile                                                     Art & Poem by Carmen H Gray

I wrote the poem below 25 years ago. Found it today rummaging through old things this morning and it inspired a self-portrait. Although I am quite sensitive/empathic, in all these subsequent years, but especially in the last 5 ones, I have learned how to shore up my psychic boundaries, practice self-care and self-compassion. This has created a firmer foundation for me to explore who I am and what I feel, apart from others around me. It has led me to shed the burdens that I have allowed others to place upon me. In other words, I have a better sense of me. I read this poem now and realize, I no longer feel these emotions. I absolutely can and do sense the grief and heaviness in others, especially I can tap into this during my reiki sessions with my clients. I hear the feelings/experiences that are present in their subconscious.  But, there is no need for me to take on another person’s healing process now. I am there to reflect it, but not to feel it for them. For my own healing unfolded, and for this I am grateful.

Dark Night

To be alert and eyes wide open,

Heart exposed, vulnerable organ that it is,

Is to be both cursed and blessed.

But it is the only way to truly be

To truly live, and see and feel and die.

As I witness sad souls beat down in this world,

My heart feels heavy with the weight of their sorrows

How insignificant it may be, that in my life

I am present when your restless soul seeks

The warmth of another, reaching, hands outstretched, searching, searching…

How common that I mourn for you

When nights are long and painful

The senses are heightened

For every smell is sickening

And even silence is too loud

How simple to share moments of despair

When a blanket of nothingness surrounds you

Groping, blindly for hope

Hope, hope…this is what will save us

Returning to our human condition

Sharing our dark night of the soul

 

immigration, living

70,000

70,000

by Carmen H Gray

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(art by children, ages 10 and 11, while staying at a respite center run by the Catholic church in McAllen, Texas)

70,000 is a neat number

Rounded up for sixty-nine thousand and something beyond fifty

Easily divisible by two

Until you keep dividing in half

Eventually you reach fractions of a whole

Those shards of whole parts

Are not just numbers

They are fractured pieces of a person’s soul

Disturbances in family fault lines

That refuse to lay dormant

You can see it in the drawings of the children

Who are crying, ¿Dónde está mi mamá?”

And in the exanimated eyes

That can no longer produce tears

Those quashed emotions inhabit

An exponential fallout

From this tidy number

art, beauty, hope, living, moments, mystics, nature, time

Autumn

Art and Poetry by Carmen H Gray

Autumn

The clouds opened up in October

Fay beings in my garden

All of the old souls summoned from the cold, misty northlands

Landing hither and thither

On that one flower that overshadows me

It grew from seed, you never know what will happen

When you send seeds forth

Into their future states of being

One might become

The one that surpasses you

To stand in that hushed intermission

Of fluttering souls

All Soul’s ShadowSelves

On a steady path south

To a mountain where I have lingered in this lifetime

living, moments, Mountain, nature

Up

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Up

Before I took you there

I just knew it was the place

We had to travel together

A steep and rocky path

Crowded with ferns and lichen

And a few old trees

But you pointed out

All of the new growth

As we spoke of Trachtenberg math

And you told me how

He created this system

To keep his mind occupied while locked away in misery

And how his book fascinated you as a young boy

Probably the Old Ones

Like the old trees

Telling the new growth

Number secrets

We rested against the old trees

And sat on rocks that served as splendid suspensions

The trees gave way to open sky

And I knew this moment was magical

The candy colored sky agreed

A father and daughter’s journey

Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

cancer, hope, letting go, living, moments, nature

Why Poetry

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Why Poetry

My poetry is influenced by nature, math, science and art. I had an opportunity to study Emily Dickinson at Amherst in the summer of 2017 when I won a grant for the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has always been interesting to me, both her writing and her life. I resonated with the way in which she observed time and moments of being, with a great reverence for the minute and the mundane.

My Mexican-American heritage also plays a part in my writing, as does my personal journey in mothering a teen who survived cancer and another one who was on a transgender journey. I have been to hell and back in many ways that most people understand, but not all people are willing to admit. Here I stand, alive and willing to share my stories with the world. I know that my stories have helped others understand their own. I hear this again and again when I lay myself down on the metaphorical table and all allow myself to peel away the layers, bare for all to see.

When I write poetry, I channel. I channel the anguish and the deep sense of compassion that I have experienced on the path. I tap into a greater cosmic consciousness, on a realm outside of this 3 dimensional reality. I have written as long as I can remember. Poetry is how I think. It is my therapy and my lifeline. While I went through watching my thirteen year old daughter fighting for her life, I could not control the outcome. The interesting thing I learned, is that no one is really in control of anything. We like to think we are, it helps us feel steady, to think that if we plan everything just so, it will all unfold as we imagined it would. But, life is not that way for many, and it certainly was not for me. I was schooled in how to slow way, way down by the cancer. In the In Between Times, there is no future. There is only now. And in the now, everything becomes heavy, the movements fluid and gentle, as you flow with (as opposed to against) time. Sometimes, when you are in the underwater-like existence, you experience other-worldly latitudes. Once, when I could not comfort my sweet daughter during an agonizing bout of anxiety that her cancer might return, I experienced this very phenomena. She was 2 months into remission. I had to go to work. I had done everything to comfort her, but she was facing her own fears and I could not allay them. The fierceness of a mother to protect and shelter her offspring is hardly unique. But, this fierceness went beyond the five senses, because there are senses that lie unawakened in all of us, until such a moment presents itself for its stirring. I thought of my vulnerable daughter and when I arrived at work, I felt compelled to write a poem for her. The words fell easily onto the page:   

                  Whirring noises are the sounds of birds in flight

The cold air a misty San Francisco morning in the depths of summer

Prayers whispered to Whoever while my hand touches the soft fuzz of her delicate hair

Delicate shell, the inverse of Her being, Her soul, Her unconquerable spirit

We are not in that sterile place of radioactive inspection

We are in our own private world where time and beauty bless us

With their perfect embrace

Just as I finished my last line, she called me. “Mom! You’re standing at the end of my bed.” “What?”, I asked her, still in my poem daze. “I am pinching myself. You are standing here, looking at me.” I smiled a smile the old mystics must have known intimately, “Yes, I am with you. I told you a mother’s love is just that strong. I conjured ourselves together with words.”

Emily Dickinson was right. There is nothing mundane about the small things. There are greater worlds to explore in the depths of minutia. All around us, all day, everyday. And that is how I move through my life now.

letting go, living, moments

Life Twice, Again

Life Twice, Again

by Carmen H Gray

Life twice, by and by

The want, the wonder, the frivolous why

The comings and goings of faraway ships

Silvery musings forming inside of my lips

Lips that once whispered youthful utterings

While inside my belly where once there were flutterings

A light has broken and shapes appeared in its whiteness

The child, the maiden, the wistful ripeness

And their shadows, no doubt, holding space in the stillness

Therein is where I find myself inhabiting realness

All of the cuts and the sharp words that wished to be said

Rose up to greet my heart gently, without fear or dread

And, I, having lived a singular moment twice

Embraced those shadows in my paradise

 

 

 

 

hope, living, moments, nature

Rose of Mary

file-28

Rose of Mary

by Carmen H Gray

Dew of the sea

Rose of Mary

I saw a brand new fairy

On a wilder walk today

He fluttered around the fragrant bouquet

Amidst the palest blue bloom

Heavenly scent, verdantly strewn

Transformation before my eyes

A sign of promise in disguise

And off he went without a thought

Of the wondrous gift that he had brought