Bad Poetry Thursday (Late): I Am Here…and Still Awake

Listening to the sound of the rain falling
The patter tattooing the concrete outside the window
I can hear the sounds of cars whooshing on the highway
As everyone heads out into their lives with direction

I have felt so lost, surviving on a tide pulling me out to sea
Drifting aimlessly along the shore line
Not sure of where I am going or what I can do
Further and further away from where I want to be

Here, I try to sleep to the distant sounds of the trains
Nothing of what I am used to hearing or feeling
Sounds of video games in the next room
Or the bells from the cat’s collar as she runs down the hall

Yet, I am here….and still awake.

Being away from home is never an easy thing for a lot of people. The bed feels different. Even if you bring your own pillow, the sheets don’t have the same feel. The blankets don’t have the same feel. And if you have animals that like to hang out on your bed, nothing smells like them. The noises outside are different. Even the air in the room can feel different. For me, I try to fool my body and mind a little bit with white noise. Typically, I do this by leaving the television on with the volume down fairly low. But, the commercials tend to be louder…so there’s sometimes that jarring moment in the middle of the night when a particularly loud commercial comes on. With me trying to work through my own internal and mental issues…all of that just adds on to a lot of other things. With my mind racing, I tend to turn everything off and just listen. This morning, it’s raining. Not very heavy. But I can still hear it when I have the window cracked open. That act of listening helps me to focus my mind. And this morning, my mind is on home. I miss being home. Just a few days longer.

–T /|\

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Bad Poetry Thursday: The Road Not Taken (Frost)

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken

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.

Instead of spending my time trying to hack out another of my horrible poems, I thought it might be more appropriate to post one of my all-time favorites, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. This particular work has a lot of meaning for me and continues to serve as a reminder that everyday life, everyday relationships, everyday everything is not the easiest road to travel. There is no certain Path in anything. Life, work, your Spirituality. Others may have walked similar paths, but yours is unique, specifically yours. The road you choose is ultimately your own to decide. If you prefer the worn Path, you will walk that Path. If you prefer the Path that is not easily spotted and requires a bit more work, diligence, and patience – you will choose that one. For me, I prefer those wild Paths. The ones that require you to not only pay attention to the mostly unmarked Path, but those that so few walk. For I can see the beauty, passion, and joy in what still remains wild, untamed, and raw. Certainly, there will be bumps, bruises, and some pain along the way…but to me, that’s all worth what I find on my travels.

–T /|\

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Bad Poetry Thursday: Hiking the Path

Hiking the Path

Each step forward
Takes me a little further
Along this unplanned Path

Higher in elevation than before
Through the sloped floors of the forest
Ever further on the ascent

Looking over a shoulder
Down into the green valley below
A breathtaking view to behold

Looking further upwards
Along the barely seen Path before me
The summit encircled with clouds

What might I find on this arduous climb?
Monsters to defeat, challenges to accept?
Or rocky terrain that may take my ankle to peril?

Climb ever higher I am compelled to do
Not because this craggy summit exists
But for the experience of doing so

Life is about challenges and accepting them
Life is about pushing yourself to your limits
Though the pinnacle one may never reach

One thematic that continues throughout my life is that of a hike. I actually enjoying hiking quite a lot. Walking through a forest is one of the best pleasures I know of in Life. But every aspect of my Life can be easily placed into a paradigm of a hiking-style journey. Without a challenge, something to strive for, something to reach for…Life tends to resemble walking on a sidewalk in the city for me. Perhaps, its foolish for me to see everyday Life as part of a long-term journey, but it certainly does provide a bit of direction for me. Plus, as I said, I love the imagery.

–T /|\

Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com

Bad Poetry Thursday: The Peaceful Center

Staring out across the valley below
Scarred by miles of barbed wire and fence posts
Literally no end in sight up to the forested hills

Blue skies and clouds overhead
Framed against a waving golden sea
Of prairie grass nearly shoulder high

The wind is light against the skin
As I reach to pull a piece of prairie grass
Tight in my grip I feel the snap

The quiet blanket of summer air
Wraps all around my heightened senses
Noises, smells and sights are everywhere

This is the calm, peaceful center of my world

Within Druidry, as I have been taught it, there is always a wonderful place you develop in your mind. Some call it the Sacred Grove. Others refer to it as internal Sacred Space. For me, its just a place to enter when I need calm that would be more than what grounding and centering can do for me. But what I describe is not my Sacred Grove. That is a different place for me, which resembles some of the more distant locations within the Rocky Mountains. This particular place, I modeled on the fields of western Kansas that I drove through to get to the Rocky Mountains one late summer. From inside the car, on the interstate, it felt like I was surrounded by a giant golden sea, which felt so calm and serene. For me, this is a place of some hardcore grounding and centering…when I need it most. For those wondering how to do this, its just simple visualization. Build out what you find to be most pleasant. Once you have the basic concept, spend some time continue to visualize it from time to time – and allow yourself to build intricate detail. See the pitting of any large rocks. Look carefully at the bark on the trees, the shapes and colors of the leaves, the sounds of the nearby animals. You’ll not only have a joy at the world you are building for yourself, but you can always find a measure of safety there.🙂

–T /|\

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Pexels.com

Bad Poetry Thursday: Fighting Off the Whispers

Over the weekend, I got an Email from someone asking what it was like when I first started out as a Pagan. My first footsteps on this Path happened during the times of the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s. I was confused over how secretive all the Pagans were that I met out in the civilian populace. They seemed to be afraid to declare who they were. I didn’t realize that I had more protections than they did. In the military, there was no open discrimination against you over the beliefs that you held. You could easily declare your beliefs and not see any immediate punishment. At least not punishment in the eyes of the military. When I came out openly as Pagan, I was moved to a different shift in my duty section. I found myself on shift with three Charismatic Christian preachers. And each of them took a turn working directly with me. Or I should say, preaching at me while I was working. That was my first taste of what the civilians were getting outside of the boundaries of the base. I decided to write something for Bad Poetry Thursday about that. Its an open schematic; in other words, no rhyming material, but I wanted to give a try to three line stanzas, which I’ve also found harder to write, particularly because I tend to be so verbose.

–T /|\

Fighting Off the Whispers

I try my best not to dwell on times long past
A time when I first walked in the footsteps
Of the Path I find myself currently on

Back when the mere mention of alternative lifestyles
Was enough to send everyone scrambling for the exits
And watching the shadows of the alleyways headed home

A time when being a Witch was a guarantee for your family
To wind up as wards of the state here in Texas
Or a brick to find its way through your front window

Many have called that time “the Satanic Panic”
When the Christian communities lost their shit
And saw the Devil in the shadow of every mailbox

Many have claimed that those times have gone away
Not from what I have seen – the attackers are better hidden
The outcry is not nearly as loud, but the whispers just as damaging

Life is not as easy for those of us who chose a different way to live
Simply because we see love in a different way, see divine differently
Each and every day, we fight our battles against those that condemn

…but fight we shall, because Love should not be caged by a definition
Because our idea of the divine is so much wider and encompassing
Because we choose not to see a life so narrow and unforgiving

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Bad Poetry Thursday: My Own Beast of the Mind

Back in the mid 1980s, when I decided to take up poetry writing, I used rhyming schematics. For a while, I found it a lot of fun trying to work out the rhyming aspect while fashioning words that helped convey meaning around it. At some point, I decided I was fairly bad at it and moved over to non-rhyming schematics, as it made it far easier to write what was on my mind. About six or seven years ago, I gave up on that too…because I was really bad at it. And I mean really bad. And I still am, hence the naming convention I have chosen for Thursday blog posts:  Bad Poetry Thursday. I know it sounds like I am being self-defeatist and just beating myself down with some self-deprecating humor, which I have been told by a lot of people I need to stop doing it. But this isn’t just a humorous attempt at naming what I do – its a reality check for myself too. There are folks that really like the poetry I write, including the open verse material. I’m flattered that they do, but I still consider it to be some of the worst writing that I do. Maybe I am my own worst critic – and I probably am. Most writers tend to be.

So, for today’s Bad Poetry Thursday I thought I would try to go back to rhyming poetry. The below work was written in about five to seven minutes. I added a few more minutes to go through and do some formatting to how its written. I hope you enjoy it, but I am not going to be offended if you hold your nose through the reading process.  #JustSayin’ 🙂

My Own Beast of the Mind

I hear you screaming in the landscape of my mind
Hunting me throughout my day, deep into my night
Somewhere in the dense fog of the unknown
Hidden far away from any part of my sight

I hide where I think I can not be seen
Aware of your steps throughout it all
I can hear your breath and smell your stench
The talons on your claws to drag me to my fall

I know you’re there, ready to attack
Sooner or later, I’ll have to do what’s right
Find whatever weapons that I can
Whether I want to or not, I will have to fight

I have to come out into the open and face you
Meet your green-eyed gaze and answer your call
Push the panic down and find my shield
Await your charge with my back against the wall

Because I have to…I have no choice
Or you will consume every part of me

–T /|\
10/22/2020

Photo by Jose Vega on Pexels.com

Bad Poetry Thursday: “One Day, I’ll Listen…”

It is morning on the beach
Flat wisps of clouds caress the horizon
Over a flat, motionless pale blue sheet
That reflects the brightness of the rising sun

The soft, fluffy sands of the dunes around me
Move slowly with the hint of a slight breeze
Which carries the sounds of my phone’s music
Softly playing some country music artist’s lonely tale

I lean back on the dune looking upwards into the sky
As squadrons of seagulls drift along on wind currents
Unfelt dozens of feet beneath their altitude
Seemingly searching on pathways completely unseen

I have been here for hours but really only mere minutes
Just watching the scene playing out in front of me
Long before the daily crowd of sun worshippers arrive
Just me and the quiet life around – serenity for thinking

Playing the “what-ifs”, “what might have beens” over and over
Turning over every stone of the Past expecting something new
And finding the same brown soil that was already all around
An empty spiral rolling around and around with no end

Seeing a nearby rock, I reach over and pick it up
Half expecting to see something different than the sand beneath
For a moment, I realize what this means, what she had said
And again, she is right. One of these days, I’ll listen

I reach back and throw the rock into the glassy blue sheet
The ripples form immediately after the splash
I watch for a moment and then stand up
Gathering up my tennis shoes and socks, I walk to the parking lot

One of these days, I’ll listen
For right now, its time to jump

I have a few places I go to when I need moments alone. One of my favorites is a forest that is a special place for me. The beach scenario I describe above is one of the rare places I go. Usually, its for moments of necessary solitude, where I get to spend my time thinking. Yesterday (Tuesday, as I write this), I needed this place more than I have before. In real life, I’ve never seen this beach in my life. My thoughts are that it may be on the eastern shores of Florida or possibly even one of the beaches of southern California. Physically, wherever this beach is really doesn’t matter. The music playing from my phone is typically that of the so-called “Bakersfield Beat” which is a sub-genre of country music that is significantly influenced by the electric rock sound. The Eagles, Dwight Yoakum, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco and so many others typify this sound.

Oh?  The stone? That’s a symbol of the Past. Putting it back into the ocean….well, that’s an easy one to figure out. 🙂

–T /|\

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Crucible of Change

There are times that you need to clear away things in your Life, so that new growth can take place. Old hobbies that no longer interest you, clothes that no longer fit or cannot be repaired, and even entire parts of one’s past. A crucible is a ceramic or metal container where substances can be melted down or subjected to very high temperatures. This is sometimes done to burn away everything except the base metal itself. However, in this case, I am using the definition that a crucible is “a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.” (Dictionary.com)

The Crucible of Change
10/6/2020

Looking back at the past
Burning bright in the distance
This had to be done
To be able to go forward

Not all is gone though
Some pieces of the past endure
The fires of destruction
The crucible of change

Those pieces are malleable
Able to evolve with a new focus, a new dream
Remaining as true as they were
When they started along on this Path

There is no sadness at the flames
No regrets to this complete reduction
This choice is the Path I am to walk
With these people whom I chosen as family

For  the new to grow joyfully and properly
The way must be cleared
For growth will require new soil, new life
For the roots to be true and deep

The Universe set all of this before you
You made the choice that you have
You stepped off into the void
Knowing the dragon would catch you

As it always will be, as it always shall be

Changes. The Step to Take. Trust.

Lots of changes come into our lives. Some are easy to handle. Others are a lot more complicated and can be somewhat uncomfortable. Sometimes that uncomfortable nature can force us to run from things or people we need to have in our lives. Running from change only prolongs what will happen. Embrace that change, find ways to be at peace with what is going on and you may find a far more harmonious and breathtakingly wonderful life ahead for you. Not every change is bad, but every change is inevitable. Its about growth. Sometimes to grow, you have to release what you leave behind.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. –Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

Changes. The Step to Take. Trust.

He stepped out of the truck
To find himself in front of her house
She burst from the front door
Running towards him at full pace

She tackled him with the force of a linebacker
That first touch, they both knew
This was meant to be throughout Time
That first kiss was the absolute clincher

Later, she beckoned him to live their lives together
For they both knew the destiny that was involved
But he had never felt these strong emotions before
He became frightened of his feelings and could not do as she asked

She pleaded with him to rethink his denial
They were meant to be together, he knew that too
When he still remained frightened of his feelings
She parted with him, broken-hearted

The years went by and their lives continued apart
But they both would look in on one another
The longing to just hear the other’s voice was too strong
Two souls connected forever so long ago

In and out they weaved within each other
Continuing to form the intricate knot that they had started
Binding to one another as no one else could
In a manner that she knew all along

After so many years apart, she asked him one last time
Could he commit to what they should have had long ago
She announced her feelings for him were still there
And he finally admitted his were still there too

He continued to hold off the idea of commitment
Seeking the “perfect moment” to go forward
Soon he realized that there was no “perfect moment”
They needed to move forward together

The three card spread provide the final assessment for his change
Two of Wands (Reversed), The Tower, Queen of Cauldrons
To move forward meant the destruction of all he had known
Taking a step off the walls of the castle into thin air

Don’t be afraid when everything seemingly falls into place
Take that step from the high walls
The Dragon will be there to catch you
She certainly will be, of that all is certain, for She is never wrong

The Days Between – Jerry Garcia

I am undeniable a Dead-head. I own several gbs of their music. I have several solo works of other members. I have all the concerts from the last two years of Dead & Company in my music collection. Yet, I have never seen the Grateful Dead play live. I’ve not seen any of the solo efforts in a live setting. I’ve yet to make a single Dead & Company show. To be frankly honest, the Grateful Dead and associated acts were never part of my musical calculus until somewhere in late 1994 or early 1995.

See, I grew up in the mid-1980s. Teenagers at that time were listening to New Wave or Heavy Metal. Me? I was a Metal-head. My youth was spent listening to bands like Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, Twisted Sister, Motorhead, Cirith Ungol, Metallica, Megadeth, Saxon, Fastway, Dio, Rainbow, Doro, Lita Ford, Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Mercyful Fate, Ratt, Motley Crue, and many others. The Grateful Dead just weren’t anywhere in that neighborhood. But three years spent overseas in Germany changed a lot of this for me.

While stationed in Germany, I was exposed to a wider assortment of music – and learned to appreciate musicianship in its many forms. One of my earliest encounters was through jazz guitarists such as Allan Holdsworth, Al Di Meola, AND Kazumi Watanabe. From these, I came upon acts such as the Indigo Girls, and Gary Moore. And eventually, I wandered into the Grateful Dead.

It was the lyrics that got me there, along with listening to more of the “In the Dark” album than just “Touch of Grey”. I found a lot of synchronicity with various songs, such as “Black Muddy River.” This led me to digging into the band’s past and finding more songs with awesome lyrics. Eventually, I came across the song “Days Between” – where I found lyrics that were incredible, with such delicious imagery attached to it (see the lyrics for the song below). This was the type of poet that I wanted to be!

Sadly though – it wasn’t Jerry’s voice that drew me in. That was – and still is – Bob Weir. I enjoy his vocal renditions of songs in Dead & Company that were traditionally Jerry’s to sing. That’s not to say that Jerry was a terrible vocalist, merely that my ear is drawn more to Weir’s style.

I do remember where I was on August 9th, when the news came out that Jerry Garcia had passed away in 1995. I was working a day shift as a Tape Librarian at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. When my shift was over, I heard on the radio about other fans of the Grateful Dead who were meeting in a local park to celebrate Jerry’s life. It didn’t take me long to decide to go there. When the sun set, candles were passed around and lit – and the crowd sang songs that were traditionally Jerry’s. I didn’t get to stay the entire night, as I did have a shift to work the next morning – but according to the news people stayed until well after midnight.

I can’t honestly say that the Grateful Dead and their music has really touched my life, or even that it has ignited a fire within me. What it has become though, is a constant companion wherever I go. My iPhone typically has over 2gb of Grateful Dead music on it at any given time. When I am writing (as I am now), the music playing in the background is of the Grateful Dead or some derivative. The sound calms me, relaxes me, and really puts me in a frame of mind to think. So, while I’ve never seen any aspect of the Grateful Dead in a live setting, the music of this band, and the associated acts that have sprung from it have become that constant companion that I really enjoy. We might not be old friends from way back in the day, but we’ve made up for that over the last twenty-plus years.

Jerry was born on August 1st, and died in 1995 eight days after his birthday. Yesterday. many Dead-heads celebrated what would have been Jerry’s 75th birthday. On August 9th, Dead-heads will remember the loss of Jerry twenty-two years ago. From August 2nd to August 8th, this period of time has been lovingly referred to as “The Days Between”…in loving tribute to Jerry, I present to you the lyrics to “The Days Between” in closing.

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Summer flies and August dies
The world grows dark and mean
Comes the shimmer of the moon
On black infested trees
The singing man is at his song
The holy on their knees
The reckless are out wrecking
The timid plead their pleas
No one knows much more of this
Than anyone can see anyone can see

There were days
And there were days
And there were days besides
When phantom ships with phantom sails
Set to sea on phantom tides
Comes the lightning of the sun
On bright unfocused eyes
The blue of yet another day
A springtime wet with sighs
A hopeful candle lingers
In the land of lullabies
Where headless horsemen vanish
With wild and lonely cries, lonely cries

There were days
And there were days
And there were days I know
When all we ever wanted
Was to learn and love and grow
Once we grew into our shoes
We told them where to go
Walked halfway around the world
On promise of the glow
Walked upon a mountain top
Walked barefoot in the snow
Gave the best we had to give
How much we’ll never know we’ll never know

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Polished like a golden bowl
The finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
Still tender, young and green
Left on shelves collecting dust
Not knowing what they mean
Valentines of flesh and blood
As soft as velveteen
Hoping love would not forsake
The days that lie between lie between

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Polished like a golden bowl
The finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
Still tender, young and green
Left on shelves collecting dust
Not knowing what they mean
Valentines of flesh and blood
Still tender, young and green
Hoping love would not forsake
The days that lie between lie between

Written by Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter

My Odd Thoughts on Journals – Hand-written v. Keyboard

So, I write poetry. Back in the day, I wrote a LOT of poetry. Being in the military at that time, with a girlfriend back in Shreveport, Louisiana, I sent all of those poems to her. She would cut them out of the letters, and put them in an album. When we broke up, I never saw that album again. But then, I discovered BBSs, and wrote a lot of my poetry while logged in. I was rather prolific there as well. When Renaissance BBS closed down, I was provided with a printout of all the poems I had written there. Two moves – one to Germany, the other back to the States – provided a loss of those poems as well. Thinking back, I believe it may be somewhere close to 400 poems or more that I have lost over that time frame – probably to never be seen again.

These days, I tend to write poetry here on WordPress, and will sometimes back it up on EverNote. But the reality of that has been slim to non-existent, which is a bad habit I have fallen into. A few years back, I submitted one of my poems – Lone Wolf: Innocence in Snow – to a writing contest here at the college. I won first place in the poetry contest, and also received an award for best writing work for the entire writing showcase. I realized at that point, that I needed to start backing up my work, particularly since I wrote mostly in a digital environment.

As I noted, my backup efforts have been sporadic, at best. So, when I finished my Bardic Grade with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, I realized that I needed a better manner to protect my writings – particularly my poetry. So, I bought three blank, lined journals – dedicated one to my own personal thoughts, the second to my upcoming Ovate Grade Gwers work, and the third to my poetry. Now, my efforts are towards writing out my poetry by hand into my journal. And in doing this, I discovered something rather strange.

As I started reading through my entries here on WordPress, I realized that I had written poetry that I couldn’t recall. There were a few that I remembered, but as I looked through those, I realized that these were poems I had hand-written back in the late 1990s. The other poems were ones that I had written in the last few years, via the computer. As I sat and pondered over this, it dawned on me that many of the appointments and event schedules that I write in Google calendar are easily forgotten a few days later. Furthermore, I found myself using Google calendar for a few days, and then no longer using it like I had previously. However, if I wrote things down – even as a scribbled note on the back of an envelope – I could easily recall what I had written three, four, and even eight months later.

Maybe its just a learning concept for me. If I write it, I remember it. I remember every single note I took at Pantheacon, earlier this year. I hand wrote all of those notes. A meeting with another department, I couldn’t recall a single note I took. That meeting was less than two weeks ago. I wrote those notes using a blue-tooth keyboard connected to my iPad.

There is a history of Alzheimer’s disease among the male members of my family on my father’s side. My grandfather, before he died, couldn’t even recall who his grandchildren were. My father had trouble with his short-term memory before he passed away a little more than two years ago. Perhaps, its just my genetic makeup?? If so, why should I be able to recall what I wrote at Pantheacon a few months ago with a slightly fuzzy clarity?? And why can I not recall poems I wrote a little over two years ago on a keyboard, and have vivid recollection of poems I wrote back in the early 2000s, and even back in the mid 1980s?? Its certainly a concept to study a bit deeper.

As an experiment of sorts, I have started moving all my writing – save for the blog – to pen and paper. I am also moving my calendar from Google to a daily planner. And I will be taking careful notes about how well I recall things using these methods for the next year-plus. Who knows? Perhaps my clarity of recall has something to do with rote memory of what I write physically with my hand because of the motion. Maybe its something to do with how I learned as a child. Maybe its none of that. Or even all of that. But this is the kind of stuff that puzzles me. And the kind of stuff I enjoy researching.

Connectivity, indeed…..

–T /|\

Poem: Shattered Summer Dreams

The sounds are unmistakable
Frozen in the soundtracks
Of so many steamy Summer days
Baseball striking bat
Baseball slamming into glove
A recorded out for the scorebook

Every player on the field
From outfield, infield and dugout
Dreams of catching the last out
Hitting the game winning home run
Scoring the winning run
In the bottom of an October ninth

All those shared dreams
All those shared memories
Of summers gone by into the mists
Recorded in countless scorebooks
Part of a dusty, unspoken history
Remembered by so few into the future

Only a special few make it to the Show
The basepaths that they have traveled
Littered with the shattered dreams of others
The sounds of crushed fastballs gone
The screams and shouts of the victorious faded
The tears of the losing side, long washed away

Poem: Labeling Theory

Everywhere one looks there is a label to see
One proclaiming that you might get cancer if you use this
Another stating every ingredient contained within
Calorie and nutrition declared for all

Then there are the labels that are not seen
The ones we all attach to other people
Particularly when they do not conform
To the balance of our own outlook in society

We categorize everyone everywhere
By the language they speak, their height
Their weight, the color of their eyes
Even the color of their skin

By their religious beliefs, what God(s) they worship
What church they do or do not attend
The car that they drive, how much money they make
What sports team(s) they root for

Categorize, attach descriptive, and all is known
No need to communicate, no need to talk
No need to discuss, no need to really know
The label does all that work for us

Perhaps Detective Spooner was truly correct
“One look at the skin, and we think we know just what’s underneath.”
All thanks to a simple descriptive that masks strangers
Into faceless, nameless entities

A product of our social environment
Or an example of lazy analysis?
I cannot say completely for sure
But it certainly is apt for our faceless, nameless humanity

Print it, peel it, stick it and forget it
Anytime you need to know, just look close

Poem: The Whirlwind of Voting

The whirlwind can be relentless they say
Air agitated to the very edge of its existence
Pushing, clawing, ripping at they who stand against it

The same can be said for the world around us
Rumor, accusation, words agitated to their edge
Utilized as weapons of destruction against others

Moving through that whirlwind of words
Invites a destruction of one’s own soul
Left naked against a whirling reel of razor blades

Yet, we step forward into this tornado of vitriol
Every year we slid the curtain aside in the voting booth
And mark our choices with dripping blood from the cuts

Poem:The World is Watching

They stand there in peace
Carrying the “weapons” of words and hands
Speaking prayers aloud or in silence
Looking to stop the long black snake

Because where there is danger in the world
There are protectors standing…

You bring pepper spray, rubber bullets and attack dogs
Unleashing violence and harm in response
Swinging batons with harmful intent
Demanding subservience to your methods

Because whatever you think you are getting away with
There are people watching…

Many brought their bodies to offer
Upon the burning pyre of your anger and hate
Others brought cameras and microphones
To record your vicious actions

Because no matter where you think you are
The world is watching….

The winds carry a mournful sound today
A song for those injured from your actions
But soon the wind will howl a different tune
One of retribution, anger and a cry for justice

Because no matter who you think is watching
The Gods certainly are…

Poem: Somewhere Someone is Unaware of Experiencing

Somewhere Someone is Unaware of Experiencing
Robyn Birchleaf
11/1/2016

Somewhere there is a happy person in this world
Someone who does not see the politics we see
Someone who does not see the corporation rape we do
Somewhere is a person living a life happy and unaware

Unaware of people fighting one another over ideology
Experiencing all the beauty that sunrises and sunsets provide
Experiencing a life filled with peaceful purpose and calm
Unaware of the anger and violence propagated to make things right

Someone is out there, finding all the aspects of what we seek
Unaware of the anger and violence that surrounds them daily
Experiencing life as everyone else should, as an equal in peace
Somewhere – they could even be on the bus seat next to you

They Are Real

People have chided me for believing
Scolded me for walking my own Path
Banished me to a place I do not believe
All in the name of being who I am

Far back into the time of my youth
I read about all of you in textbooks
Goddesses and Gods, great and small
An everyday part of a superstitious Past

When I stared out the library windows
Looked into the branches of the trees
I saw what I never could have believed
Goddesses and Gods grinning back at me

“Soon enough” I heard in my ears
No one else made a movement
No one else had seemingly heard
I sat there, alone in my confusion

“Wait. Read. Soon enough.”
And then I saw just the branches of the tree
The silence of the library’s walls
Rushed in to deafen my thoughts

Many years later in a moldy reception area
For an antiquated mainframe system I toiled on
The voices returned, whispering that it was time
Time to step outwards and meet them

One Summer afternoon, I did just that
I got into my car and drove west
Away from where I lived and worked
Out into the western Texas scene

Passing small towns, down seemingly forgotten roads
Stopping at a small grove of mesquite trees
That sang my name in unison as I neared
A few moments later, I found Them

…and was surprised that They were nothing I had imagined
They were REAL…They ARE real

I am TommyElf

It took them a while, but my Crow buddies have figured out that I now show up at work coming from a different direction. This morning, I was finally fed up enough with work to walk out to “get some air”. I wasn’t gone long – maybe ten minutes at most. All I did was walk down to the pond near the tennis courts, and sit at the dirty, little gazebo that overlooks the waters there — and the flotilla of ducks we have there. For the past week or so, I have felt a bit “out of sorts” – if you will pardon the expression. Much like Crow buddies, it took some time for me to realize my new pattern.

While I was standing out there, with a yellow pad of lined paper in one hand, and a pen in the other – it took me three minutes to write this short poem.

Stepping out the front door
Into the morning dew
Clouds in the sky
Heralding a return of rain
Rain, heralding a moment
Where focus comes back
To where it should have been

Eye on the future
Ear to the ground
Listening to the whispers
Of Gods, Ancestors and Spirits
Pulling me back to center
Away from the Edges
To where I am meant to be

Moving up here was supposed to put me closer to work – to cut down on a drive that was nearly an hour in one direction. To give me time to do the things I have been wanting to do for over a year now. Focus on my Pagan studies, write in my journals, write in my notes…relax. And I have done none of those things.

Walking on Wild Horse Island in MontanaI have done none of these things, because I am once again falling into an old pattern. One I was in since 1986 – and was given the chance to break out of when I was unemployed. Putting my job before everything. Allowing that to be the definitive description of who I am. No offense to my employer, but I am not an Assessment Analyst. I am not a “stats guy”. I am not a “data whisperer” for a motley assortment of database systems. That’s what I do to earn money to pay for the things that I have.

I am a Pagan. I believe in the Gods and Goddesses. I communicate with them from time to time. Some more often than others. But they are real. They do exist. For those wishing to argue about a singular Entity that they believe is the only one. More power to you, but I am not here to argue. I am here to handle what they set in front of me. Arguing with others over Their existence, or trying to convince other people that They do exist — not part of the equation for me. I am not called by a particular tradition or pantheon. I am not worried or bothered with the idea of cultural appropriation. For me, the Gods call to who They call to.

I am a Druid. Specifically, I am a Druid working through my Bardic Grade in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Everything in my life revolves around a set of connections between myself and the Earth, Through the elements. Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. Yes, I consider Spirit to be an element. And yes, I consider each element to be the basis of how I connect to Nature and all aspects of it. Yes, I believe in the Web of Life. Yes, I believe in the Circle of Life. Yes, I believe in how every connection – no matter how small or large has meaning.

I have my Circle of very close friends. I have blood relatives. I have friends that I have a very loose connection with. Be they Christian, Pagan, Buddhist, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, or what not – each has earned my respect for who they are. I love them no less for whatever Path they follow through Life. Each, in their own way, connect with me on some level – and through that connection comes my respect, admiration and love. I have their back when I can. They are my tribe. They are my people.

I read. I listen. I watch. I love. I learn. I am. Some may have a problem with me over these beliefs that I hold. I truly don’t care. That is their own Path to walk, their own manner of understanding the world around them – to the degree that they can or are willing to do so. Try to impede me or my tribe on our individual and/or collective Paths, you will be in for a fight you have never seen before. Try to take an individual’s freedoms from them, and you had better be prepared to fight them to the end of their days (or yours) in this life, and the next.

I am Pagan. I am a Druid. I believe in many Gods and Goddesses. I seek my own inner peace through connectivity with everything around me. Everything has a distinct life and awareness – some at levels we are not capable of comprehending for whatever reason. I have a Tribe that is my family – not necessarily of blood and DNA, but family nonetheless. If any of that makes you think less of me, it may be best for you to simply move along. I wish you no harm. I have no quarrel, argument, debate or fight with you. But I will protect and fight for who I am. I owe that much self-respect to my Tribe, to my Ancestors that have come before me, and to myself.

Pagan, Druid, polytheist, animist, tribe member. That’s who I am. That’s where my definition comes from. I am who I am. I am defined by who I am – not by what I do. I am TommyElf.

[Poem] Blackbird Mysteries

Blackbird Mysteries

You are everywhere I look,
Beating wings and crackling sound
Bringing to me things you took
It is you, the Blackbird I found

Screaming Grackles in bush and tree
The thieving Magpies carrying away their loot
The inevitable Crows whose beady eyes see
Visions of Hitchcock begin to take root

With reputations of a thief or eater of the dead,
I often wonder if that is deserved.
Or are those just tales that we have been fed
Lies and propaganda that we are served?

I watch you in the backyard feeder and bath
Hopping from foot to foot screaming at others
I wonder – can you count or do basic math?
Do the Blue Jays gripe about manners to your mother?

It matters not, as I watch you eat and drink
What mysteries do you hide in your verse?
Yet as I spy on your gatherings, I bethink
What will be said when we once again converse?

007 – Why Paganism? Why Druidry?

I spend some time discussing why I choose to be a Pagan, and why I use the framework of Druidry to hang my coat of Paganism, and hat of Polytheism on. I wax somewhat in-eloquently (what’s different about that than usual?) on my perspective of the Gods…along with a few left-turns into gender issues (not that far – I took one step in that direction), and a few other topical dead-ends. “If I Could Only Speak Crow…” is featured in the Spoken Word segment, and Wendy Rule’s “Dance of the Wild Faeries” from her 2011 album ‘Live at the Castle on the Hill’ is the featured music segment. You can find Wendy’s music at http://www.wendyrule.com/. Please support your Pagan musicians by buying their albums, so that they can continue to bring their magick to our ears!!

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Direct Download: http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/007_-_Why_Paganism_Why_Druidry.mp3