To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. - Ecc. 3

El Yunque, Puerto Rico

Sunday, November 7, 2010

heartsong or heartstrong

or both. enjoy. 

I know every vein in your body
have touched the ones
protruding at your forearms and the tops of your feet
pushed them and seen that they are both resilient and collapsible 
rising and falling
against your inner layer of skin
systolic pressure 
pushing your vessels outward
pushing you outward
and towards me
in rhythm
the rhythm of your heart beat
drumming in smooth two-step to the beat of my own
your blood
filling my chest cavity
dulling the sound of my heart
in the heart 
of this unfamiliar city
a city of hope
cracked into a million pieces 
and i dream pieces
of you from a half empty bed
i'd be content to know half of me
but sometimes you hold on so tight
that my heart has sprung a leak
and the constant drip
is out of cadence 
with the familiar, steady drum
we have constructed from human bone and 
human skin
tightened and secured
with plaited human hair
still slick and sweet smelling from the shower
yes, it is
out of cadence 
with that familiar, steady drum
beat myself every night
to quiet the circus marching through my chest
wondering if migraines are a normal side effect
or if by being sensitive to light
i can hide in the dark
or if a little cotton in the ears could
silence the noise
and i could just sleep in peace tonight
instead i feel like i am underwater
even my own voice is unclear
and you're gone so often that i can't
fall back in step with the music

then it starts to fade out

and in the silence
i create my own. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

inspired lately



it is strong coffee on saturday morning
with a caffeinated brain it is easier to talk shit about the neighbors
it is the crackle of the record player over salsa beats and motown hits
it is grandma
because if it doesn't kill you it only makes you stronger
and she's not dead yet
and maybe it's me
and maybe i am like my mother
and maybe the blood in my veins has seen more than my eyes and understood more than my heart and knowing so much, it grows angry at being stuck in my body and my present
and maybe i look so much like her that the spirits confuse us
and maybe she loves that
maybe legacy is a way to cheat death and death is mad
maybe death claimed her and i have to believe it was to save her from something worse
maybe death is much more gracious than she seems

but sometimes it was worse
sometimes it was blood-crusted corners of mouths
and sterilized tubes
sometimes life is hospital
gowns and hospital beds
gauze and drip bags
sometimes it was a mask between lips and skin
and maybe spirits still mistake me for her
even though there is no lump in my breast
and my body has not lost nor borne any children
but that's not what spirits see when they look at you

because my thick thighs and unruly curls are only part of my mother's legacy
spirit eyes see the burnt orange of our strong will
the sunflower yellow of our positive minds
the dusty knuckle-brown of hard work
we are autumn souls
hardening soil
covered with fallen leaves
awaiting rebirth

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"because @ some point it was decided that making love required 2 bodies to be adjacent in time and space..."

"To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips." - Khalil Gibran


Seven years ago
We made a promise.
Too naïve to understand.
Too stubborn to give up.
There's a new moon tonight
Bursting with butterscotch light
Peaking thru hazy gray summer rainclouds in a starless sky
There is nothing new about it
That is the same moon that was out the night we made that promise
Seven years ago
To naïve to understand.
Too stubborn to give up.
The butterscotch moon has melted and coated the lillies that mysteriously line my stoop and I struggle to remember if yellow is the color of friendship or insanity...
Raindrops glisten on the petals that are pushed back in full bloom, stamens sticking straight up so that each flower is a tiny ballerina dancing in gratitude for the summer thunderstorm... Or in celebration of our promise?
Too naïve to understand that a promise made once quickly becomes an obligation
Daily renewal is necessary for longevity 
Are we still too stubborn to give up?

when not to play with fire

I'm listening to the silence between your words
it speaks to me in volumes
The meaning of your carefully crafted sentences is shattered by unforgiving white space
bursting to the point of breaking with aged emotion.
Like a mountain climber
your tongue
searches for steady footholds
Preferring the fine dust of sturdy weather-beaten rock to the texture of the skin on the back of my neck
See, I have a hard time keeping my heart off my sleeve
But your intentional avoidance exposes me
to the possibility of turning my heart into that dusty rockface
And I'd rather hide it than let it play
in the white canyons between your words
Exposed to the elements of raw emotion
Yours is a silence that hums and I will not harmonize
No matter how much I love to sing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

i love words addendum

"My addiction to diction has me itching for the quickest of prescriptions for vivid depictions of the most intimate visions. Only the most descriptive of scriptures that allows me to picture an image solely based on the inscription of scribblers is my intention."
- a really good poet (#postedwithoutpermission, #dontsueme)

the flow of your diction caresses the shores of my mind. loquacious lips carry prolix kisses delivered by divine tradition. stories and verbal inventions drawing fact from fiction. love, comedy and affliction in a smooth, warm mixture of words turned picture become permanent fixture in my mind's eye.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

i love words

i had the same conversation two days in a row with different (awesome) people about how i (and they) love words.  in one of my favorite books-- Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker-- she says that humans aren't superior because they have language but rather that they need language because they are so prone to screwing things up that they need to be able to explain themselves.  however you want to look at it we have a plethora of beautiful words to be played with, swallowed, tied up in, poured over and appreciated.  i write down the words i don't know when i am reading a book and look them up later.  today i learned the word inimical.

Pronunciation: \i-ˈni-mi-kəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin inimicalis, from Latin inimicus enemy — more atenemy
Date: 1573
1 : being adverse often by reason of hostility or malevolence 
2 a : having the disposition of an enemy : hostile  b :reflecting or indicating hostility : unfriendly 
— in·im·i·cal·ly  \-mi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Here is how Steinbeck used it in the book I was reading today,  East of Eden: "The emotion of nonviolence was building in him until it became a prejudice like any other thought-stultifying prejudice.  To inflice any hurt on anything for any purpose became inimical to him."  
anyone else get chills?
[big, loser sigh]

Pronunciation: \ˈstəl-tə-ˌfī\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): stul·ti·fiedstul·ti·fy·ing
Etymology: Late Latin stultificare to make foolish, from Latin stultusfoolish; akin to Latin stolidus stolid
Date: 1737
1 archaic : to allege or prove to be of unsound mind and hence not responsible
2 : to cause to appear or be stupid, foolish, or absurdly illogical
3 a : to impair, invalidate, or make ineffective : negate b : to have a dulling or inhibiting effect on
— stul·ti·fi·ca·tion  \ˌstəl-tə-fə-ˈkā-shən\ noun

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Let's Journey to a Rainbow

Please Stay the Night by Chuck Mangione

This song simultaneously matches the cloudy day and brightens it... and if you asked me like this i'd probably say, "what's for breakfast?" what can i say? i have a weakness for horn players and that jazz flute (and french toast :-D). enjoy.

"real" school reform

some days i wake up and read the paper and i want to go marching around the capital with a sign and a list of demands; some days i'm too tired for all that because i'm actually doing my job (novel idea for some teachers).  in Education Week James Farwell wrote this article called "What Would Real School Reform Look Like? usually i'm not one for reform debates because i get so frustrated that i want to bulldoze right through the DOE and start fresh (rev·o·lu·tion: an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.). emphasis added by yours truly because, as stated by Mr. Einstein: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
so in the article Farwell presents his  idea for what real school reform would have to look like. after dismissing current reform attempts as ineffective he makes some good points. Here are some favs:

"We need to view our children as the unique and special people that they are. Our schools need to become the “neighborhoods,” to use the late Fred Rogers’ term, that create the means for each child’s uniqueness and potential to be realized.
One qualification for anyone who works in schools should be a love and respect for children. Anyone lacking in these two areas should be asked to seek employment elsewhere.
We need to approach each child as a whole person, as someone who has physical, emotional, social, intellectual, artistic, and spiritual needs. Children are more than just brains to be filled and candidates for the job market.
We need to realize that not all children are developmentally ready for learning basic skills at the same time, nor do they learn in the same way. Moreover, they cannot show what they have learned by using only one means for measuring learning success."

Basically that's all the lovey dovey, soft stuff, he goes into some hard facts and ideas about how to equally share the financial burden of a quality education in a "village" model and while that interests me/is important what good teaching and good schooling really boils down to (and i have held this opinion since i began working with kids) is KNOWING YOUR STUDENTS. period. that's all. not even close to rocket science.  just know them. know where they're from, what they like, who they are, how many siblings, who they live with, why they don't like bananas, what kind of music they like, how they learn best, whether they have difficulty in social interactions, why and it goes on and on but this is the only way to ensure that you can best teach them.  and love them.  love them love them until your heart is full and teaching/giving them a little of what you know is all that can make it bigger and make more space for what they have to teach you.  they are people, not statistics and even when all odds are against you and it seems like those talking heads on capitol hill (and down the hall in the principal's office) will never get it together, fight the good fight in your own classroom with weapons of knowledge and love.

- a 20-something hopeful....and i'm not changing for nobody.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Invictus...unconquered.... by William Ernest Henley

I used to joke, "Of course BC accepted me, I'm 18, Puerto Rican and I don't have a baby, I'm helping to fill their quota."  6 years later, i extend a thousand apologies to my struggling mothers and victims of circumstance but i also realize that i was belittiling the hard work i did to get to where i was.  so, on this 28th day of july, 2010 as my master's degree was confirmed upon completion of my master's defense with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities therein i appreciate what i did to get here as well as the hard work, love, support, well wishes, prayers and general good vibes from my family and friends.  i appreciate the negative energy sent also, keep it comin, that shit is good target practice.

written as a "demonstration of his resilience" Henley says it best in the poem below that was introduced to me in high school, had new-found meaning in college and continues to ring true in my heart today.  enjoy.  peace and prosperity, humans.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Shun not the struggle, face it, for it is God's gift..."

The revolution's here
No one can lead you off your path
You'll try to change the world
So please excuse me while I laugh
No one can change your ways
No one can lead you off your path
You'll try to change the world
So please excuse me while I laugh
- Talib Kweli

it's funny how you think you know who are but then a set of brand new eyes are looking clear through you and you don't know this person from adam but they seem to know something about you, realize something about you that you didn't know or you knew and never put words to. gosh, i love connecting to people.

anyway, what was said about me is that i am passionate and hopeful in the face of struggle. even when odds are against me i keep on keepin on. i guess i never saw this as much of feat because the fact is that there are people with far more odds against them and anything i struggle through ... well, if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger, right? so, "struggle doesn't necessarily have to feel like hardship." in fact, if you look at it more as duty, which i realize i do, then it can even feel good. ask anyone who works with inner-city youth and they'll tell you it's hard and the classroom holds far more than 30 students because the roster doesn't account for the baggage that they carry in and maybe it feels like you're jumping hurdles all day but celebrate each hurdle and thank god that you have the capacity to jump it in the first place.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Gospel According to Shug

Below is an excerpt from one of my favorite books of all time, Temple of My Familiar by one of the loves of my life: Alice Walker. The book is a companion novel to The Color Purple and i understand something new each time I read it. ENJOY.

"HELPED are those who are enemies of their own racism; they shall live in harmony with the citizens of this world, and not with those of their ancestors, which has passed away, and which they shall never see again.

HELPED are those born from love: conceived in their father's tenderness and their mother's orgasm, for they shall be those - numbers of whom will be called "illegitimate" whose spirits shall know no boundaries, even between heaven and earth, and whose eyes shall reveal the spark of the love that was their own creation. They shall know joy equal to their suffering and they will lead multitudes into dancing and Peace.

HELPED are those too busy living to respond when they are wrongfully attacked: on their walks they shall find mysteries so intriguing as to distract them from every blow.

HELPED are those who find something in Creation to admire each and every hour. Their days will overflow with beauty and the darkest dungeon will offer gifts.

HELPED are those who receive only to give; always in their house will be the circular energy of generosity; and in their hearts a beginning of new age on Earth: when no keys will be needed to unlock the heart and no locks will be needed on the doors.

HELPED are those who love the stranger; in this they reflect the heart of the Creator and that of the Mother.

HELPED are those who are content to be themselves; they will never lack mystery in their lives and the joys of self-discovery will be constant.

HELPED are those who love the entire cosmos rather than their own tiny country, city, or farm, for to them will be shown the unbroken web of life and the meaning of infinity.

HELPED are those who live in quietness, knowing neither brand name nor fad; they shall live every day as if in eternity, and each moment shall be full as it is long.

HELPED are those who love others unsplit off from their faults; to them will be given clarity of vision.

HELPED are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception, and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.

HELPED are those who love the Earth, their mother, and who willingly suffer that she may no die; in their grief over her pain they will weep rivers of blood, and in their joy in her lively response to love, they will converse with trees.

HELPED are those whose every act is a prayer for harmony in the Universe, for they are the restorers of balance to our planet. To them will be given the insight that every good act done anywhere in the cosmos welcomes the life of an animal or a child.

HELPED are those who risk themselves for others' sakes; to them will be given increasing opportunities for ever greater risks. Theirs will be a vision of the world in which no one's gift is despised or lost.

HELPED are those who strive to give up their anger; their reward will be that in any confrontation their first thoughts will never be of violence or war.

HELPED are those whose every act is a prayer for peace; on them depends the future of the world.

HELPED are those who forgive; their reward shall be forgetfulness of every evil done to them. It will be in their power, therefore, to envision the new Earth.

HELPED are those who are shown the existence of the Creator's magic in the Universe, they shall experience delight and astonishment without ceasing.

HELPED are those who laugh with a pure heart; theirs will be the company of the jolly righteous.

HELPED are those who love all the colors of all the human beings, as they love all the colors of animals and plants; none of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them.

HELPED are those who love the lesbian, the gay, and the straight, as they love the sun, the moon, and the stars. None of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them.

HELPED are those who love the broken and the whole; none of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any of themselves shall be despised.

HELPED are those who do not join mobs; theirs shall be the understanding that to attack in anger is to murder in confusion.

HELPED are those who find the courage to do at least one small thing each day to help the existence of another - plant, animal, river, or other human being. They shall be joined by a multitude of the timid.

HELPED are those who lose their fear of death; theirs is the power to envision the future in a blade of grass.

HELPED are those who love and actively support the diversity of life; they shall be secure in their differentness.

HELPED are those who know. "

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

wrap your arms around me baby like a circle round the sun

I'm headed back to NY on the Metro-North (doesn't traveling alone make u think a lot? Sometimes that's why I don't like it...). I'm coming from the camp that I spent 5 glorious summers at as a child. Standing at the bank and looking out at the lake I realized that I new the tree skyline by heart, it was etched in my brain and the feeling of being there had since been covered by other bullshit and I was able to put my mind at ease for the first time in a while. My eyes relaxed, opposite from the way I walk through NYC as if I have blinders on, with music plugging up my ears and foul smells barraging me. Wide open spaces trigger something in your brain that makes it easier to relax, to see, to breathe, to think, to feel, to love (sidebar: is this why prisons "work?" Hmm.). I am eternally appreciative of the memories I have from this place and the lessons I have learned (boating, swimming, firestarting, first aid, how to be a good friend, helping, sharing, what poison ivy looks like, how to appreciate every little thing God has given you-- to name a few). More so, I am ever-grateful for the people who graced my life at that time and continue to do so today. There is something special about the kind of relationship that 13/14 year old girls have. You know everything about each other- partly because, due to the time-on-earth:experience ratio there is less to know but also because there are no holds barred knowing that this person loves you and your secrets are just important to them as they are to you. I am ecstatic/awed/thankful to report that 10 years apart changed nothing and seeing these special ladies helped me to hold a mirror to myself and know that I love me because they first loved me--- before I was even me!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

i need girlfriends

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.- Alice Walker

me: i just looked at my thighs, i need a gym, stat. no, 3 months ago, i need a gym 3 months ago.
pascale: u need those thighs. u carry life. girl, shut up.

if you live anywhere where cell phones exist you know about bbm. well, let me tell you, bbm is not just any ordinary messaging program for me. it has turned into a running conversation between myself and some amazing ladies that pretty much keeps me sane. imagine that you have a co-worker a few cubes down and you're like, "if that bitch gives me attitude one more time im gonna...[censored]." well, don't do that, just turn to your blackberry, type in what that trick did and get instant feedback from people who love you and are having similar issues and keep their phones nearby for situations such as this. fabulous. and you don't get fired. i call this text therapy and it is soo necessary. bbm just makes this conversation instant but in general girls NEED girls. we need female friends and not ones who are there for show. you know, the ones that you just go out with just because. no, real friends who are there for you, understand you and hold a life view that is just different enough to validate your feelings and challenge your thinking, in short: surround yourself with people who make you grow. amen. these women keep you sane, keep you focused, keep you honest and keep you you. you wouldn't think that you'd need anyone to keep you you but without a mirror we can't actually see ourselves. go out there, find a mirror and hold on to her so that you will never forget her beauty or your own.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


what if you don't know your own intentions? or, maybe, you are just hiding them from yourself? does that make you extremely intelligent or extremely crazy? is it possible to not know what you needed until you get it? why or why not? if it is possible to not know what you have until you lose then it can be possible to hide your feelings so well that even you forgot where you put them and start to questions whether you had them in the first place?


Because of their innocence the spirit world manifests itself to children
so i know you used to visit me
on nights i was alone with my thoughts
standing over my shoulder
to share the book i was reading
your garment of liquid glass visibly white
remained in my room until my young body surrendered to sleep

now your yellowed portrait sits with me at the kitchen table
i look into my own eyes
and remember you through invention
sitting behind your sewing machine
quick fingers maneuvering deftly
knitted eyebrows
in concentration

in your yellowed portrait i trace the contour of my own nose
and you are standing in the kitchen
onion overpowering warm chorizo undertones
in the center of the pan
stirring in sofrito you ask about my book
my schoolwork
the boy who keeps teasing me

in your yellowed portrait
you thin lips pressed shut;
no smiles, yet no lies
painted red
glossy and preserved
your body brought forth three men
reason enough for the constant click of rosary beads
reason enough to rub a crucified Jesus
down to a nub

a woman, a widow, a mother, a yellowed portrait
and broken hearts
an untold story
unlearned lessons
unprayed prayers and unsung praises
lying in wait
for glory day

faith at this moment

"The painful things seemed like knots on a beautiful necklace, necessary for keeping the beads in place."- Anita Diamant ("The Red Tent")

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

on days that i feel unhappy certain christian teachings i have been taught lead me to believe that it's the Enemy- capital E- trying to keep me down, tell me i'm not worth it, make me feel bad. but then, on happy, light days couldn't that be this enemy too? this time trying to keep me blinded from what is really going on around me? helping me to think what i am doing is right when i couldn't be more wrong? casting doubt? the god of the jews hardened the pharoah's heart to make it possible for hordes of slaves to walk right on out of egypt and it was similar hardness aka grit that saved job from temptation and certain death. in current world circumstances i find it hard to understand who's who and what's what but- quite honestly- these celestial battles going on for my soul make me nervous. thinking we are alone in the universe is scarier so i leave that alone. we are not alone, left for dead, but when you really start to hold this faith thing and turn it around in your hands you start to see it as the piece of cut crystal that it resembles; sparkling, twinkling, changing depending on your position and the position of the sun. so it all depends on where we are and what season of life we are in. is faith supposed to be rigid like the crystal? unbend-able? stiff? cold, hard crystal would chip if dropped or if it fell as humans so often "fall," "fail", "miss the mark." hmmmmm no, it's more like water... fluid, moving, changing direction, filling the cup it is poured into and sparkling in the sun like innumerable diamonds.

Monday, May 10, 2010

small bodies, large minds

I have made the argument before for memorizing poetry so in order to encourage my first graders to do so i recited an old fav/classic in class from memory: Frost's The Road Not Taken. What followed was a lively conversation with my 6 year olds about taking the road less traveled. This particular comment warmed my heart: "Ms. Cordero, the poet wants to take the road that's more grassy because not so many people had went there. I think he is being brave because it is probably scarier but you have to do scary things because you have to be brave like you told us Ms. Cordero. If you don't try something you can't say you don't like it."

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

this isn't a mood swing

"We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust. This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing."
- Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

so, a man grows his whole life not having health insurance, we know it happens-- i mean happened!?-- in our great nation. he's about 45, maybe slightly overweight but in seemingly healthy condition. he goes to a free check-up day in the clinic and finds out that he has had a certain heart disease for years-- a chronic disease. however, shortly after receiving the news, he begins to show symptoms, becomes sick and dies from what would seem to be an acute onset of the disease. an acute onset of a chronic disease? seems oxymoronic, no? relate it to the placebo effect-- some people taking the drug, others unknowingly taking the sugar pill but effectiveness of the respective pills across the two groups is virtually the same. therefore, the body reacts equally to information given as it does to the actual agents working within the body. ah, the power of the mind. was he better off not knowing?

in the article, The Americanization of Mental Illness, author Ethan Watters says, "The idea that our Western conception of mental health and illness might be shaping the expression of illnesses in other cultures is rarely discussed in the professional literature."

i can't speak for other cultures but i think we can look at the male-female relationship as a microcosm for this culture to culture relationship (or lack thereof) that Watters is discussing (or the culture to culture relationship as a microcosm of the male-female relationship-- depending on how you look at the world). And if we think about what makes these two relationships similar is that A- they are dynamic and B- there is potential for there to be a "dominant" and a "submissive," if we aren't careful.

in looking at the male-female relationship within the realm of health, the power struggle is at play. let's take P.M.S. for example. Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. Syndrome. hey disease-namers... it's not a syndrome, it's just what happens. it is what it is and now it has a scary name to make it into something ugly and not the natural, life-giving process it is. (Semi-sidebar: I'd like to see these words come to pass: "After we pass this bill, being a woman will no longer be a preexisting medical condition."— Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.) maybe we just shouldn't name "illnesses" at all (we should definitely stop labeling things that aren't illnesses as such). sure it helps the doctors and maybe it calms patients to know that they have X and can treat it with Y. but, maybe, as an entire society we are calling illness upon ourselves by giving the Enemy a name. we have power in our words; sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? WRONG. More like: "Reckless words pierce like a sword,but the tongue of the wise brings healing." - Proverbs 12:18

so, maybe we are better off not knowing, after all.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

i have a problem making titles


Women, you walk around half broken
half fake
your minds working overtime
not in the name of love
or beauty
or life
but because you can't seem to unite
what you see in a magazine
to your phenotypical design
self-projected hate
flying through this space
covering your face
in the scornful gaze of a woman who has forgotten
where she came from.

women, you have forgotten where you came from
you have forgotten the age-old stories of your mothers
inopportune amnesia has caused you to ignore your god-given intuition
or maybe you made the decision
either way,
you have forgotten
where you came from

you have forgotten the babies you nursed
and the children you have lost
you have forgotten the barefoot walks
on sun-bleached sand and moist forest floors
you have forgotten meeting by the shore
in the late morning sun to braid
wildflowers made of color and air
through the hair of other women

women, you have forgotten your sisters

their full lips and matching hips
no longer seem familiar to you
and you let their long necks stoop
and spines crumble
under pressure
and in the absence of
the strong rope weaved from the hair of every woman who came before her
It is the only thing that will keep her from falling
over the edge of the mountain called self-hate
but women,
you have forgotten where you came from

you have forgotten the first full moon you saw clearly
that night that all the women in the village
washed the lifeblood from between your thighs
with water from the River
while your mother fed you mooncakes and wine
and your sisters sang to the goddess within you
that had come of age in the short time you are lent on this earth

but women,
you have forgotten where you came from
because you let this man tell you
to stop being a bitch
well take your closed mind and your small dick
and get out of my bed
because i'm going to the river
to wash your musk from my sheets
in the sweet scent of wildflowers made from color and air

i had forgotten where i came from
i had forgotten what i could learn from the breeze
the difference between the scent of a new season
and the lingering stench of a dead animal
i had forgotten my strong brown legs and my soft brown belly
i had forgotten why they were meant to be that way
i had forgotten that half of the world's population
was comprised of Eves
and who they are
is a part of me
now we can start to be
the way we were meant
loving, strong, clairvoyant, beautiful...
remembering is the first step
to being free

Sunday, February 21, 2010


remember when it was the night before you had to go back to school after vacation? the dred? the excitement to see your friends? the countdown before the next break?
well, guess what--- your teachers felt the same way. i should already be getting ready for the first day back after this much appreciated, much-needed, cherished mid-winter break but as i plan my return to school i am remembering a conversation i had this break about maslow's pyramid of needs (see photo). very often i get caught up in the higher end of this pyramid with my students. because i can assume (for the most part) that my students are steadily receiving food, water, shelter and clothing i am free to begin fulfilling higher-ordered needs. this is not the case everywhere. here in nyc 16,000 children are homeless. SIXTEEN THOUSAND! the challenge i face is how to make my six year olds aware of this. how to turn them into good citizens without deflating their natural bubbly, hopeful, sweet and innocent personalities. ideas welcome.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All about schools?

It's All About Schools- NYTimes Op-Ed by Thomas L. Friedman

i read the above piece on my blackberry as i lazily lounged on my much-anticipated SNOWDAY! concisely, Friedman puts forward that every missile sent wailing to an Al Qaeda target should be accompanied with the building of 50 modern schools for boys and girls. i was immediately brought back to the world created for me in Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea. there is a set of children in the world that have none of the school options that we have available in the u.s. when you are old enough to make decisions a rich, well-dressed man comes to your home, his highly-shined shoes contrasted against your dirt floor, perhaps his sweet cologne mingles with the rotting/medicinal smell of a sick family member in the next room and he says, "I will pay for your family to live if you come to my madrassa to get your education." thus, fanatics are made, not born. in the end, money speaks and instinctual drive to survive overshadows the desire for justice and living by principal. you would do the same.

a prayer once prayed by a Jesuit priest:
dear lord, thank you for your many blessings.
please provide food for those who hunger
and a hunger for justice for those who have food.

Shatter my heart so there may be room for Limitless Love - Sufi saying

on the healing powers of death. Enjoy.

"If one believes that the Life/Death/Life force has no stanza beyond death, it is no wonder that some humans are frightened of commitment. They are terrified to go through even one ending. They cannot bear to pass from the veranda into the inner rooms. They are fearful, for they sense that there in the breakfast room of the house of love sits Lady Death, tapping her toe, folding and unfolding her gloves. Before her is a work list, on one side what is living, on the other, what is dying. She means to carry through. She means to maintain balance." (p. 143)

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.
Women Who Run with Wolves (1992)

as a culture we believe that death is the end of the road, the last stop. we do not openly accept (the way many antiquated cultures do) the time after death as a real and important stage that we must pass through. yes, pass through, not end at. the dance between life and death carries on everyday with or without your acknowledgment. day after day death claims life while simultaneously paving its way. as a life, a relationship, an experience or even a book ends, part of you dies leaving ashen ground in its path... the ash rejuvenates the land and your heart and soul may prepare for the tender, new growth.

so... maybe we shouldn't imagine lady death at the aforementioned breakfast table, impatiently gesturing but, rather, as a wise mother who knows when enough is enough and accepts, even welcomes, the necessary deaths to make room for new life.

this doesn't just apply to love relationships but in every aspect of our life in which an beginning or ending, a birth or death, can occur.

balance. be a constant pursuant.

Monday, February 8, 2010

seeking title

Photo: Sun rising (with a vengence?) over battered façade of El Morro, Old San Juan



Yesterday we eloped
Shotgun wedding style
In preparation of our love child
The baby announcement reads:

Join us in celebrating the birth of I
Daughter of proud parents me and myself.
Lovingly acknowledged by granparents mother earth and father god.
(To be baptized at no church
By godparents Past & Future Self. )

She was born between disbelief and despair
Nights of memories forgotten come back to scare
the poor child
While gilded hopes floated past her sleeping form to be breathed in
in the fitful way of the half dead.
Simultaneously starved and fed
she arose

The Lotus
Emerging from the dregs
Of her own old soul
To be born again
In the way that we people sometimes do
Not emerging from the womb
Legs and eyes and fingers
To be created from her own broken rib
Having reached epiphany at the moment her insides were turned out and she watched her own heart pulsing in the palm of her hand
She turned herself around and walked away for good
Leaving a shell of herself marooned in a different time...
and started to feel again
Not the muted touches
And cold caresses of shadows and ghosts
But dark red kisses
And peaceful mornings
Deep sleep
And hearty laughter
A soul awakened
To its own timeless beauty
And unceasing will.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

a poem starts with a lump in the throat -R. Frost

Birch Trees in Winter

Poetry (from the Greek "ποίησις", poiesis, a "making") is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning.

I once saw Maya Angelou speak and she urged the audience over and over to read and memorize poetry. I then read the following essay, which presented a strong case for memorizing poetry. I highly recommend you read it (it's short!).
So, I am a huge fan of spoken word and will drop most things to hang out in some small cafe listening to never-before-heard poets. poet is a term that is and, in my opinion, should be used loosely. poetry is, at its core, communication. it is a veiled form of communication that, ironically, bares the soul. That which we are most frightened of can be made UNfrightening in a few short phrases. That which we love most can be honored in a verse and sometimes, on particularly blessed days, a poem can create a dissonance in you so great that your view is changed and growth occurs. so, read poetry, memorize it, analyze it, treasure the "classics" and embrace the no-names because we all have a little bit of poetry inside.

I memorized the following poem for a yearly speech contest I HAD to participate in during high school. I hated it at the time and appreciate it so much more now. Enjoy.

Poem of the week:

Birches by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust--
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

and so it begins...

as of late i have been completely enamored with the web 2.0 world. following feeds and commenting as i please has been greatly liberating for me as i am approaching (or perhaps already wallowing in) a post-collegiate funk and greatly miss late night conversations revolving around the life views (each tinted and/or stained by the particular life experiences)of myself and my fellow co-eds. though i can not lavishly spend time frolicking in a lack of accountability i can humbly present my thoughts and pray that whatever space they enter they inspire conversation and critical thinking. enjoy! I will.