Category Archives: prose poem

letting go is love

If you want to be… let go.

Letting go is not getting rid of. Letting go is letting be… In the end, we discover that to love and let go are the same thing. Both ways do not seek to possess. — Jack Kornfield

***

My old apartment had a spot on the living room floor that radiated warmth. It probably was in close proximity to a radiator in the apartment below mine, but I liked to think that it existed for the sheer pleasure of my feet’s touch.

I would trace my feet along its boundaries, feel the divide between warmth and cold, and wonder if it was a love story meant for only a few tiles to share. It didn’t matter that the whole room wanted to be loved. I wanted to be loved.

Every time I rediscovered it, it put my entire body at ease. Sometimes, I would lay my whole body on the floor. The warmth could hold my hands, cheek, chest, and the beginning inches of my waist all at once.

I would curl my body as tightly into the fetal position as I could and try to contain the warmth. Slowly, my body would start to shake. It was time to let go, and this fact never changed no matter how much I struggled. It always escaped me too soon, and the cold would run up my spine like a shiver.

***

To say the least, letting go is just something I did not do up until about five years ago. I carried every negative, shameful event and feeling that I could with me. It’s no wonder that so many parts of my body are so tight. I wrapped my story, the sad one that I would not let go of, into my hips, my hamstrings, my trapezius, anywhere I could fit it. This is one of the main reasons I don’t get discouraged with my limited flexibility in many poses. I know that those areas of tightness are old wounds, old sadness. I’m not going to force myself deeper into poses to get rid of them. I’m going to be patient and let yoga be a form of love for my present, past, and future and offer love, offer forgiveness, and offer acceptance in the form of my breath.

One of the things that I am most thankful for in my yoga practice is the lessons it has taught me in letting go. I feel like each exhale, each time I smile when I fall out of a pose, each time I close my eyes in a balance pose is a road map straight into the heart of letting go. My yoga practice has made me very aware of the things that I carry and the things I can let go of.

Letting go doesn’t mean losing or giving up. It’s a form of healing  and forgiveness. It’s a form of love and it creates space for more love.

What are some things that you do to let go?

–lissa

photo by Walkabout Wolf.

What is YIOM?

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majestic velvet expansions

photo uploaded by Nika Fadul.

i want a poem to exist within the spaces between my heart beat. i want the inches of longing and hollowness within me to merge into a living breathing artform and my insides to vibrate sonnet-like love. i want to move my soul so deeply that it becomes a soaring hot pink balloon that i could tie around my waist and fly away towards heaven. i want to tag the moon and have it play chase with me all night. imagine what the moon must feel like: majestic velvet expansiveness. maybe i could bring back to life that deep belly laugh that went extinct when i realized the word no is the most misunderstood word in the entire book of languages. i wish that i could take a pair of scissors and cut through the vivid horror tales that replay on and on in my head. if i could have stillness, more than anything, i would want it to be autumn and to sit on a freshly washed sheet and stare up at the rainbow of leaves and watch the tree branches dance with the wind. have you ever noticed the way autumn sounds so alive?

there’s a point when you lose too much and fate becomes a dark looming thing that drags you along on a leash and kicks you in the bottom if you ask to just rest and sit for a few more moments. i want to be majestic velvet expansiveness. i wish i could lean into the moon, the leaves, the beauty surrounding me and find out their secret. how are you happy? why are you glowing when there is so much loss all around you and embedding you? maybe they would whisper back, it’s simple, my lovely. let go and love.

–lissa


you, me and sadness. two or three

elle, can we go out tonight  just the two of us? phoenix asked.

what do you mean it’s always just us, i said.

no. it’s you, me, and sadness.

and what makes you think it’s my sadness?

well, he pauses, it’s simple. i don’t feel sad when i am with you.


photo  by ArminBxl.

his lips burst into the kind of smile that temporarily short circuits the electricity within me; i tilt my lips against his to see if a wave of sparks could rinse between the two of us. my fingers arc to explore the curves of his stillness. they are such traitors. they love to touch him — this six foot five and a half (you must get that exactly right or you will be saltily corrected) almost three hundred pound magnificent man. my fingers don’t touch me that way. they dig and pick in their jittery desire to keep up with my frenetic heart. i’ll have wide-open spaces where my face used to be because of them… and he won’t even care, he’ll just push my fingers away like always and kiss each line in my hand until my anxiety rushes out of my ears and all i hear are the lyrics of his soft breathing.

i’ll just reach for the on off switch i keep in my jean pocket, i say.

you don’t have to.

i squish sadness into my intestines and hope that my digestive system will work like a car wash and scrub all my darkness away. but sadness isn’t water soluble; it always creeps back into my irises to show me pictures of all that i am not.

i am. i am. i am. i flash happy pictures in my mind to make it a war. i am. i am, i tell the sadness. sometimes, i close my eyes when i am with him and do this. i’ve even jumped up and down and done a semi-circle to make my point clear. yeah, i know — completely not sane. how do you explain that other than to laugh and blame it on the wine?

you are sentastic, i finally say.

sentastic? a complete sentence.

no, sensational and fantastic.

ahh. you know i hate when you do that, he says, but of course he doesn’t mean it — the grimace on his face is centimeters away from being a smile. i once told him that i make up words to describe him because normal, regular words don’t do him justice.  i rubbed my thumb against the back of my neck to give myself a thumbs up sign for that one.

we sit in a happy silence until i ask what do you want to do tonight?

i’m not sure, he says, looking around.

i really mean it, i say, about sadness.

i know, he says, but of course he doesn’t really believe me. he thinks i’m in love with sadness. he said it to me once when he thought i was still asleep, followed by i wish-i wish — and then silence. what does he wish for? do i even want to know?

his fingers find my funny spot and some of the water i’m drinking follows my giggles and slips onto my chin. you are the reason they invented the adult bib, he says and the wrinkles by his eyes soften.

thanks a lot, i say in mock hurt, and push him away. we sit in silence for some time watching the flickering colors on the television. i wish we could sneak into the screen. i could be clair and he could be cliff; we would have a team of writers in charge of making us brilliantly funny each day — no sadness allowed. we would sit in the kitchen with our charming children after a long day and make brownies together.

i look over at him, suddenly nervous — he’s said that when i get quiet, that’s when the sadness starts to emanate. where do you go? go somewhere different or stay here with me.

–lissa


a pumpkin robot (another letter i’ll never send)

dear k:

photo  by wottheduk.
i think i am a robot.

not the shiny high tech kind that a brainy person could build from scratch and program with enough happiness and frivolity to make billions of people happy. or the sexy, intriguing kind that writers like to ponder in their poetry. but a listless, lifeless, often redundant robot with limbs so heavy that sometimes it hurts to walk — if i’m lucky. but i am not lucky or shiny or sexy. i am merely a pumpkin robot. my insides stream out and color the ground a gentle orange; i am so empty that i wonder if i am dead.

i eatsleepwork but all from behind a trusty window. the days are so similar that i forget if it is monday or thursday. have you left me yet or am i still convincing myself that one day you won’t be angry and lash me with it? i could have loved you something wonderful.

i like to press my face against the glass and feel coldness push itself into my cheeks. if i wait long enough maybe my brown cheeks will turn a lush, soft pink like a baby. maybe i could start all over. it’s not like i have anything left.

i write the words save me into the foggy glass. i used to try to save everyone. i dreamed all the world needed was love to heal. people don’t want love though. they want food. they want their amputated leg to stop hurting. they want to erase the images of  gun shots and bombs that stripped their family, country apart. what can you and your stupid love do for me, they shout. i whimper and flatten myself against the ground — my pumpkin iron arms the only thing holding me together.

sometimes, i think there’s another pumpkin robot out there (maybe even you). i talk to him or her rather than to god — my soul is damned anyway. i know you’re out there, i whisper to her. the words you have to be float into the thick quiet.  roam the world with me. i know a perfect spot for dreaming where it never grows cold, the air smells like vanilla and honey, and you don’t have to wear shoes. the grass tickles your feet and you’re happy. you’re happy and it’s not a war to stay that way — it’s intermingled in each breath in and each laugh out.

come with me. we can paint our dreams in bright yellow and purple hues and string them together with band aids and the little bit of love we can muster from our rusty parts. we can fly away on them and never look back.

— lissa.


blender


photo by meg greer.

***

“i put your pancreas in the blender,” oliver said. “it spurted red colors so dark, they almost seemed blueish brown.”

“how could you do something so important without me?” i asked. “you’re not an artist. you’re nearly color blind. you never see what i see.”

it was an impossible conversation. “you have to see it,” he said.

he walked me to the kitchen like you would walk someone who had only just learned to walk. each step was uncertain like i was carrying the weight of an elephant in my calf. wasn’t this how being with him felt — heavy, inescapable? i swayed against him in the doorway, afraid to look, gentle back and forth whispers against the wall of his chest. for a moment, i lost myself in the movement and imagined for a moment that i was a young tree flirting with the wind instead of a middle-aged woman in a hospital talking to her dead lover.

forget i told you that part. i don’t need your pity. you don’t want to hear about the cells in my pancreas. i know i don’t. the sneaky little creeps that keep growing and spreading so silently that you would think they were the perfect house guests. you would invite them over for tea and sit and laugh with them until you realized they never left. they were the ones you felt beside you at night who stole your sleep as they dug their heels into your stomach and back.

oliver died of cancer too. damnit. i said too. “you’re still alive,” i whisper to myself, wrapping my arms around my body in the biggest hug i can muster. despite the years and miles between our diagnoses, the doctors used the same words to describe our cancer: unexplainable and unfortunate. did they all meet in a conference once a year that taught them words to use to convey compassion? why didn’t the words reach the blank look in their eyes? why is a woman who treated her body like a temple in the same situation as a man who smoked for twenty years?

oliver smelled like bubble gum and tobacco. can you believe that there was a time when i used to try to drown myself in that smell? when i thought i wouldn’t be able to live without being able to bury my face into his chest so deep that i all i could breathe was him. every single part of me loved him so much. if my toes could have clung to him, they would have.

somehow though my life got better without him. having my own air to breathe, my own scent to create, my own days to plan, built steps towards an inner peace that blossomed into a warm fire inside me that made me whole.

why is it then that now when the end is almost near, oliver is back crowding my every thought? instead of hearing the man coughing in the room next to mine, i’m with oliver again and we’re in our tiny brick kitchen in brooklyn.

“here,” he says, showing me the blender with a boyish grin. his eyes look sunken, his cheeks so thin, and his teeth are a stained dark brown. do we die frozen in our essence? this was the way oliver would have looked if you had turned him inside out. why had i lost so much of myself in this lifeless man?

and what about you, pancreas, i thought, staring into the blender. it didn’t look like the indomitable villain i had imagined. it seemed harmless torn apart into tiny little shreds. i felt a crazy impulse to kiss each strip and spread forgiveness with the warmth of my lips.

my blood was just as disappointing as my pancreas. it didn’t look bluebrown. it was a very dull red. i expected vivid ketchup colors just yearning to be scattered onto a canvas. i expected to feel different, lighter. shouldn’t the voids have raced out of my body without the vampire organ there to chase away the moments of hope each deep breath in and out brought?

“aren’t you happy?” oliver asked, stirring me out of my thoughts.

“yes, baby. thank you,” i said and brushed a kiss against his temple. “i have to do this alone though.” slowly, i walk away and my steps don’t feel like elephants at all, more like breathless butterfly flutters. my bed doesn’t feel like a hospital bed but like a hammock swaying in each breath of life. i don’t feel unexplainable or unfortunate. i feel alive, even if it’s just for each moment and i’m okay with that because each moment is all we ever really have.

–lissa


my dreams

***

my dreams want to fly across rooftops like superheroes. they’re tired of hiding underneath my bed, entangled in crumpled beginnings of new worlds scribbled on recycled paper. they want to conquer bad guys like sadness and fear rather than envision eating your lips off with extra strength bleach. i know it’s bad, momma, but i want to scrape you out of my life like wallpaper. i want to kill your words before they hit my insides like a hammer tap tapping hate.

momma, i made your favorite: chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting.
i got another masters degree for you.
i brought the ocean home with me so you could remember the way daddy used to smell.
i fit into my size two jeans from middle school you know the ones you saved for all those years to remind me of when i used to be good enough for you.

will you love me now?

my dreams want to find other dreams to join forces with and create world joy. they’ve given up on pleasing you, momma. you’re never happy. you’re sharp like a scissor and hungry like a tornado when you tear my dreams apart by their seams and swallow them whole.

don’t dream so big, i told my dreams. i don’t mean that. that’s something momma would say. i scratched under their chins and rested my cheek in their fur. i love you. i don’t want us to go out there and see that everyone is momma. they nodded. and we don’t want you to stay here and think that you are momma, they said.

we sank into my full size mattress and listened to the usual bed sores that caused the frame to groan in pain. we took ten breaths in, then ten breaths out until our senses became still and the mattress felt like a hammock floating back and forth in a breeze. we didn’t break the cycle. we didn’t ask to fly or soar or leave but when we woke up we were covered in sand and daddy was hugging us. maybe we never really woke. maybe we dreamed our dreams into reality. or maybe a father scooped his sleepy daughter into his arms and finally made good on his promise to come back for her.

momma, i’ve left you. will you love me now?

-lissa


breathe love

the question isn’t will you love me, why don’t you love me anymore, or why has love forgotten about me? love cannot be given or taken. it is everywhere. i am love. you are love.

let me breathe love towards you like a fire breathing dragon. do you feel its incessant heat against your face, the way it dares to life places inside of you that you have long ago mourned and buried? don’t turn away and cover your face. you don’t need to fear love, say it won’t last, or pretend it doesn’t exist. it will never leave you.

the only question worth asking is why are you still waiting for something that is everywhere?

my heart leaped out of my chest like a small wrinkled frog. it opened its mouth, tongue dangling, panting as it ingested the contents of the room. a cycle of life transpired with each exchange: pale orange mist during inhalation and bright red sun during exhalation.

it sat on the white and pink patterned dresser in the corner of my room and stared at me. i watched it beat without me and  lost myself  in the beauty of silence filling the room. i  pet  it over and over amazed by its satin texture.

it grew plumper with each caress until suddenly it burst apart like twenty bullets had ricocheted its inner fibers. my cheeks seemed wet but i couldn’t feel the tears. how do you perform resuscitation on a heart? i gathered the pieces and attempted to mold them into one. it resisted; it wasn’t clay nor was it broken. instead of one, it was now twenty vesicles of love.

i pressed slivers of my heart to the space beneath my tongue, the inside of my eye lids, the narrow pads of my fingertips, and every spare inch of skin i could find. my heart intertwined the thread of its veins into my flesh. soon each breath, kiss, word, step, and touch i gave became more than just a habitual act; they were love. i was love, a love that didn’t fear, hide, or need — a love that only loved.

— lissa

postsecret photo uploaded by iceblink240.