Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shuffle, Snort, Cry

The Lives of the Heart
by Jane Hirshfield

Are ligneous, muscular, chemical.
Wear birch-colored feathers,
green tunnels of horse-tail reed.
Wear calcified spirals, Fibonaccian spheres.
Are edible; are glassy; are clay; blue schist.
Can be burned as tallow, as coal,
can be skinned for garnets, for shoes.
Cast shadows or light;
shuffle; snort; cry out in passion.
Are salt, are bitter,
tear sweet grass with their teeth.
Step silently into blue needle-fall at dawn.
Thrash in the net until hit.
Rise up as cities, as serpentined magma, as maples,
hiss lava-red into the sea.
Leave the strange kiss of their bodies
in Burgess Shale. Can be found, can be lost,
can be carried, broken, sung.
Lie dormant until they are opened by ice,
by drought. Go blind in the service of lace.
Are starving, are sated, indifferent, curious, mad.
Are stamped out in plastic, in tin.
Are stubborn, are careful, are slipshod,
are strung on the blue backs of flies
on the black backs of cows.
Wander the vacant whale-roads, the white thickets
heavy with slaughter.
Wander the fragrant carpets of alpine flowers.
Not one is not held in the arms of the rest, to blossom.
Not one is not given to ecstasy's lions.
Not one does not grieve.
Each of them opens and closes, closes and opens
the heavy gate - violent, serene, consenting, suffering it all.

I pulled down my collection of Rumi poems from its shelf tonight, the one titled The Essential Rumi, the one that kinda makes me want to have a Greatest Hits collection of my own someday, like Tammy Wynette, some kind of CD that pulls all my critical successes together in one place.  Never mind that I'm not a musician, and could never wear the sparkly ballgowns Tammy wore, or that all my successes are in the personal vein lately, and that it's kind of hard to package a perfect two-second handstand with a sweet set of emails I really nailed at work last week and make it all saleable.  I'm sure Google will figure it out someday. 

In the meantime, you'll just have to wait for that collection, or check in on Amelia's impression of me as a rock star at Grizzly & Golden, where Sinead O'Connor currently steals the show.

My whole point about my Essential Rumi book is that it had two inches of dust on it.  In general, my poetry life is a little rusty, so if any of you have poems stabbing you in the heart lately, please send them my way.  Also, if you have a cleaning service, please send that my way, as my bookshelf dusting schedule halted back in 1997.

The 90s and the topic of a Greatest Hits collection makes me think of the Prince double-disc set that I was married to in college, and the fact that I used to wake to the song Pop Life before 8am somedays.  Sorry, roomies.  Sorry for lots of things. 

Speaking of Prince, however, can we just have a moment for how he pulled himself together through the years?  I mean, boyfriend really took a stand for his hair over time, and damn if he didn't learn a trick or two with some tweezers.

That is neither here nor there, obviously, except to say I'm certain there is a graduate-level thesis or even PhD dissertation lurking in the twin subjects of Rumi and Prince.  If I had more time, I might discover it. 

But the real reason I'm writing, of course, is donuts (which my husband recently called a Super Food).  I read an article last week with a pretty self-explanatory title, and I just had to share it here.  Apparently, You Experience a Silent Rage After Exerting Self-Control.  If you click on the research behind the article, you gain access to a real world psychology experiment that, I swear, tests peoples reactions to insults after they have denied themselves a donut. 

Or something like that. I admit I didn't read the whole experiment.  But it did bring back my early Psychology classes in college, where I first discovered my disdain for statistics, and my awe and pity for the graduate assistants who walked us through them week after week.  I much preferred sitting in my dark French Film Studies class and, weirdly, Intro to Biology, where I'm sure we never dissected anything, but I remember clearly a splayed frog on my desk. 

You can skip the article about Silent Rage, but you probably should see The Five Year Engagement, a movie that sometimes feels five years long itself, but ultimately packs enough silliness that I was chuckling about it for weeks after I saw it in the theater last year.  It too contains a psych experiment around donuts, and some not-so-silent rage. 

That is it!  Except to say that in her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown says that vulnerability is the first thing we look for in another person, but the last thing we want to share about ourselves.  I have written about the freedom you gain from exposing yourself before (and the humorous perils of the improper use of that word, expose) and I'm realizing, more and more, how true this is in my life. 

The more I talk about the things that trouble me, the easier those things become to manage. Showing these tender underbellies in ourselves is also a fantastic way to build trust.  So get out there and tell the world your secrets.  Or, a shy dandelion will also do. 

Speaking of tender underbellies, and the exhilaration that comes with new ventures, the podcast I've been developing with Lukis Kauffman has now launched into the pod-o-sphere!  Please welcome Rabbit Hat Fix to your ear-buds as soon as possible, and subscribe on iTunes if you are so inclined.

Okay, that's really it now.  I leave you with a little quote also tilled from Brene Brown's book: "Art...most closely resembles what it is like to be human." -Nicholas Wilton

Sending love to all you radiant humans and messy art-in-the-making,


  1. hey! did I recommend Brene Brown to you (via On Being)? Or did you find it on your own? #worldscollide? Also, need to download Rabbit Hat Fix!

  2. Hi!! Are you wanting an end credit here? :) I think my friend recommended her to me, and then I brought it up and you were like, You HAVE to listen to this On Being. And I was like, Okaaaaaaay. And, as usual, you were right. It was excellent. xoxo