Category Archives: lisa goettel

the gray

elephantsI watched two old gray trunks entwine tonight
and it sent me to pieces.

like I knew something of unchaining
after long loss

like I knew something of recognizing
a thing so long gone
I had to feel
and feel
and feel to know it wasn’t some soft delusion

like I knew something of how
when everyone leaves they
take you too

but joy descends
without a breath of recognition for forgiveness
or time
and in one swift moment
a life’s restored.

all that time spent sick,
looking up at a mountain
of impossible healing
laid waste
on the altar of
now,
you’re here.

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love poems, too

I’m imagining a night
right now
where I couldn’t get there fast enough
if you hollered for me

so I’ll send this down the wire
like an old telegraph
made of pulses
and listen here
on the other end
alert and quiet

for the sound of the star I recognize

don’t sleep too long

******************

benevolence is a word I cannot stop hearing
gifts that are really gifts
and as soon as I tune my drum to it
the music never quits

******************

I will hold the gaze of my Love
the way a mother would hold the gaze of her child
as her wound was being stitched
because if it is not seen
it is less there.

We laugh when young children hide their eyes
and believe they can no longer be seen
but I wonder if they know a clever truth

that all we own are our own gates
and through them we make the world

******************

you make my heart beat
or should I say something more Gestalt

no,
you make my heart beat because you’ve shined your light
and I receive
and it beats

******************

be still
belly digest
warm cat
fingers buzz
heater chug and blow
pulse go

your every detail is the realm of my heart

******************

let’s meet here
come to my place
and make music
logs burning each other brighter
restoring the superhighway that goes
past every hangup
until we’re so full
only stillness can hold our high
and the world makes itself again
at our feet

******************

this last one out loud
because I want to feel the words in my mouth
when you speak them

your willing plaything

and the buzz moves to my lips.

this is the same realm
with a new door

better yet, tear down the house.

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love poem #1

somewhere in that abyss of light you call the sky
is a force beyond reckoning who
holds you dear
the way all your longing can’t even fathom

we all know this
but then we get the sky confused with God or aliens or a dream-
something other than what it is,
a picture that gives our dense body a sense of horizon
an expanse that awakens our skinlessness
and hope

and then we confuse feeling dear
with feeling uniquely special
and more than something or someone else
forgetting the freedom in love
the inherent, utter equality
and unspecific connectedness

but if you could imagine
for a moment
and paint the picture you wish
from one small thread of remembering
you would find a love so much bigger than love
and more generous than even the softest gaze
from your Beloved.

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This Family

each of us were chosen.
we are here
for someone in this room made
a sacred choice
so strong
life defined itself again
and a light was thrown in the sky.

when I look up tonight I see
the cosmos playing connect-the-dots
my star made from yours,
made from another’s before her.

the light goes so far we don’t even
know time
or if we are seeing something alive or dead.
these lightways between us
are portal veins
beating the drum of all time and life.

there is nothing you could do
or not do
that could ever unmake us.
if anyone has ever looked up and seen you
the miracle has happened.

the infinite light pile
of every small thought
in the history of ever
conspired to become the spark,
the kindness, the recognition
that became
you
and then you too were asked
what do you wish?

you are my family.
your light is close to mine
our wishes liquid neighbors
and if you look out the window forever
or sing your light into a new star,
if you dance
or crumble
or ride your wagon in circles
I will marvel
at your sweet sips of truth.

to me, the pulse of our unspeakable bigness
lives in your laugh

because
you are my family.
near star,
our sacred intersection,
blessed proximity
makes your lights
so much brighter
from here

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The Leaf and the Tree

Mama Tree and Papa Bear

Mama Tree and Papa Bear

As I prepare to lift off for a new experience in the tropical wonderland of Bali, I am celebrating and appreciating both my parents who decided to take the leap too.  They accepted my invite to participate in the retreat I’ll be co-leading there – Soulful Relating Through Song and Dance.  It’s truly a leap for them at every level, and their courage is inspiring.  I’m really looking forward to this time with them and with everyone in the group – reflecting on the ways we connect to our self, our soul and spirit… to others and the outside world as a whole.

Gratitude is one of the most direct routes I know of to that sweet spot of connection, and it’s the key ingredient in my annual holiday poem hunting for family members.  Honestly, the tradition has given way to a (ahem) more fluid and unpredictable timeline – the poems come when the muse stikes and I make enough space in my crazy life.  This year, one made it out on time- my splash around the big pool of Thank You to Mom.

The Leaf and the Tree

I knew of a great tree,
standing within a great forest.
Great, not for anything but being as it was
a natural climber that sought the sun.

She was one of a million sisters, brothers there
making life among life
Raised by the sky that brought food and storm.

She grew strong, like the others—
shapely, positioned on a high slope on a clearing,
more strongly sown than some perhaps, for the exposure and angle of her roots.

She spoke in slow stretches of bark, making leaves as fruit.

She became my tree.
I would come and go, connected to her in grateful, silent ways
though my days and purpose were different, moving—

I spent hours against her trunk yet I could not tell you her true story.
I spoke another, noisier language,
seeing from behind my own reachings.

I wondered how it was for her,
if I had come to serve her, or she me,
if she saw herself reflected in my shiny, watchful face.

She saw me surely,
tended me generously, being tree as she was,
sheltered me as she knew well to do,
with no instruction but her forest and seed.

I saw her from my own eyes, alone among that forest
not knowing if she knew
that my very presence was testament to how she lived
her roots unfurled, giving thanks to her sky.

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a hundred springs

Update: I learned today of a friend’s sudden passing.  I feel shock and sadness and a heavy heart – noticing how loss hits hard and fast, then freezes, then seeps in very slowly, subtly shifting the landscape.  We’re traveling a short journey here, and I am renewing the intention to hold the people in my life (you) with gratitude and to share how I am nourished. Thank you for reading this, for witnessing my journey and for connecting here. 

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

~Meister Eckhart

Pops, aka Denny Goettel

That’s my Pops.

The past couple years I’ve offered poems to my family members as Christmas gifts. It’s a gift for me too, taking the meditation, holding them in my mind and heart and asking for the words. I feel closer to both them and myself.

When I held the image of my dad this time, I saw a vision of an Indian man too, with six feathers in his hair. I imagined him and my father are not so far apart in the grand scheme of Iowan millenia.

Here’s what I found in the dig.

a hundred springs
and the blessings will
still swim from under rocks
in the ice-fingered stream bed,
as the resurrection of that april frog
made known,
the rocks themselves can sing.

a thousand springs
and the taste of peace
still paints the cheeks
of the man with six feathers
building fire inside the sacred hearth
of family fed;

his family beats a drum
in the bark of a tree
now alight,
sending signals of
children no longer cold.

enough springs
and what came before will
insist there is no space or time—
leaves of rust and saffron
up on the farm
blown here,
still telling us the scent
of home under these early wet flakes—
insisting to the man with six feathers
they know the harmonies of now.

the first spring or the last,
and his elder hope
for simple people
remains as pure as the shout
of the robin
just there:

for these blessings to
be known by his children,
and theirs,

in the resonant sky
of our season
holding spring.

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silence collecting.

I’m glad blogs don’t need vacuuming.

Instead of dust-bunny collecting it’s just been here silence-collecting, which actually feels like a cleaning. This spring and summer has been one big and unexpected (as these things are) journey of Lisa time – distilling Maslow’s pyramid down to the bottom, then slowly adding every thing back in, now hopefully settling in their places in a more balanced and integrated way. I know I feel more healthy and whole on the other side.

I never stopped writing, but needed to explore my voice with the spaciousness that comes without the conscious or subconscious considerations about how things will land with anyone else. Now the creative-pod-seeds are spilling with much to share and I’m looking forward to being out loud again.

Your eyes and heart, reception and contributions – they challenge and nurture me and I am grateful for your visits and gifts. I’ve missed you!

Speaking of gifts, before I share anything from my own pen, I must proselytize two bits of wonderfulness. Do yourself a favor and check them out.

1) My newest favoritist poem, by Naomi Shihab Nye: Kindness.

2) The bestest-ever mommy-to-be blogumentary of soulsisterwriter Patresa Hartman. She’s documenting her first pregnancy weekly with the perfect mix of poignant wisdom and candid spit-your-espresso-out style. You will be well-rewarded (and learn things) if you take a break from whatever you’re doing and read the archives. It’s been all-the-more interesting for me since I’ll be an aunt around the same time she’s due. So thank you P- if I could hold a hormone cocktail and extra pound or two for you, I would.
Don’t Touch My Belly.

And last for today – with more to come soon – a little gift from Burning Man to me, from me to you:

create this gift for yourself alone,
to generate the greatest gift for others

your guides are unique
though they tell a universal message-

let us marvel in our connectedness
by celebrating you

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Moving and Shaking

I’ve spent the bulk of this week feeling abundantly irritable but quietly happy and oddly brave- a weird combo I’m learning to associate with change. Life is feeling alternately fragile and full, earthy and elusive. A week of mindbodyspirit-opening yoga in Mexico, new heart-flowerings, global movements, powerful dreaming, themes of birth and dying coming from everywhere.

Last night I dreamed of nursing babies – feeling life flowing through me so vividly, and still in the dream I felt like I didn’t have enough, that my limitations were disappointing and hurting my children. Today I watched footage of destruction I could not fully take in on the other side of the earth. Tomorrow I hold space for a service in celebration of my grandmother who passed away last week after a full and rich life. I am feeling the movings and shakings of my own tectonic plates.

I know I’m beginning to explore a new, vital, compelling, raw and shifting place in my life- one that does not yet feel ripe for naming. So instead of word-wrangling here, I am trying to drop in, tune in and feel through.

I decided to write tonight only because I picked up a neglected journal and started flipping through pages, and am always surprised when I find the wisdom I seek. From time to time I write love notes to myself. Some poems, some intentions, some reassurances quick and to the point. Here are a few from my flipping, if you’d like to try them on and wear them around too. I’d love to hear one of yours, if you’re in the mood to share.

 

less good ideas
more trust and surrender
guided by the power of intention
there is no wasted time
all is well

 

The price of aliveness is the will to live.

I choose again to live. To feel the breath of my humanness and bring my formed and formless gifts in this world. I create my reality and choose to see a world of beauty.

 

unfocus.
loss is grace.
the way you take the thread and tie it to your plot-
that is the weight you feel.
the tape replays and reviews-

fuck that.
I want to be inhabited by grace
touching fingertips with the revolution
rolling down the hill sideways
picking up speed on the way to unway
trusting gravity and grass.

there are 10 billion things on the other side of I don’t want to.
surf the wave.

 

There is nothing to know
There is no tomorrow
Your pen writes on the page
until the page turns
Glow
is not a verb
There is nothing to do
Drop into yourself
the way you long to be known.

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the man and the crab

A man was walking across a desert-
as he walked, he did not wonder how he found himself there
or where he was going
or how long it would take to arrive.
He did not notice his thirst
or peril,
moving foot by foot,
following a blind power to keep moving.

After some time had passed, a crab came to follow him in the sand.
The crab said to the man,
I will follow you.
I do not know where I am going,
and I seek water and shelter from this heat.

The man turned to the crab, fiercely shouting,
Go! I am blind with hunger.
I follow no path.
I know no water.
I will eat you if you follow.

Still the crab persisted.
But I must! There is no one else to lead.

I am only a small crab in a huge desert.
Eat me if you will, but until then I will follow in your shadow.

The man shouted again, and kicked sand.
Still the crab did not go.
The man grew silent, weakened from his outburst.
He turned and continued walking, the crab following behind.

After many, many miles, the man stopped and turned.
The crab froze, preparing to be eaten.
Then the crab said,
Thank you. You have been a kind and good leader.

The man said,
I do not understand why you follow me blindly.
I have been neither kind nor good and I have no strength to care for you.
I will not eat you, but I must cross this desert alone.

The crab heard him, then gazed ahead and scurried past the man,
saying nothing.

The man watched the crab move ahead, alone in the blazing sun.
He watched until it was out of sight, then fell to his knees in tears.
He did not know why he cried, but knew that without the crab he would not continue on.

After a moment, he stood again and yelled out,
Wait! I am coming! Please wait!
He ran ahead, his eyes desperate and looking.
He said,
You have already been my food.
Your companionship on this journey sustains me.

He ran faster, shouting
Forgive me!

And in that moment he saw the sea.

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testimony

A re-write of an old poem. I’ll probably re-write it forever.

testimony

you stand on my coast,
lacing the air with your scent;
until you are more scent than you

your words a dummy trail –
crumbs, leading to an empty room
where the sound of each syllable in my ear is more real than your fingers

this space now, so full of un-you,
how does it live so brightly without even one particle of light?

you are far from here, and so am I;
a story frozen in pictures.

 

I stand, naked
asking the moon the way
Yemaja!
but moons are made of longing.

 

I want to be led down a river
paced and perfectly navigated-
released to a lucid and easy end to our dreaming

I want to touch slowly
eyes and fingers-
giving you my face
and finding yours inside the cracks between hope and what you were

unzip me with a pure breath
and I will find the space below trust to hold whatever’s left
for you

step off with me and we will free fall in a relentless healing-
singing ourselves clean,
saying grace to our crackings

give me the face of the lion and I will kiss and rub her ears
knowing fierce is will and will is juice and juice is what fires the pistons of joy

bring me your spent infant and I will ooze into your cradle
where we can sleep and wake again-
another sacrifice on the altar of Something More-
born, man and woman,

loving ourselves undone-
surrendering to the movement of tides,
our sweat a baptism,
breathlessness breathing us
and our skin teaching us where we don’t end.

 

you pull my cord,
and the ocean shows me a light that has never belonged to her
or the moon.

how am I so slow remembering my own reflection?

there is no place to be apart-
even in darkness,
angled as we are,
the sun is real

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