Poetry Post: West 52nd

“West 52nd” is my first serious poem and was published in the poetry journal, Poetry Bone.  It describes an encounter with an old community theatre friend at the stage door after his Broadway performance in Smokey Joe’s Cafe.  I didn’t have my camera with me to capture the moment.  As I rode home, images in the form of words came to me. This poem is the result.

©1997 MG Mandarino

                                               

West 52nd

The March wind

impaled me.

Thirsty eyes

drank me in

and returned a gift.

He spoke of visions,

dreams, trust, and faith,

love, even.

 

A leather jacket ghost

spoke of years,

a lifetime gone,

suspended

in the moment,

again eighteen.

I’d touched the face of

God

in the shadow

of the lights of

Broadway.

-Maria G. Mandarino

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Poetry Post: Leaves

“Leaves” is another one of my early poems.  This one was published in Capper’s in 1998.

Leaves

Remember when we romped in brittle leaves

And I’d select perfect samples

In a brown bag for a Thanksgiving collage

To be proudly displayed on the front door

That said “a child lives here,

Love lives here.”

Remember how we’d bury ourselves in the leaves,

The scent of mold mixing with firewood burning in the

distance,

Forgetting time and tomorrow’s homework,

Not feeling the chill of autumn’s setting sun

Till our names were called for Sunday dinner,

Savoring the moment,

Thinking it would never end.

–Maria G. Mandarino

 

Poetry Post: Bless This House

Cooking is one of my favorite creative outlets.  This poem is one of my early poems.  It was published in the literary journal, Italian-Americana.

© MG Mandarino 1998

Bless This House

Molton lava from a stainless steel pot

On a Sunday morning

Can make everything right.

The cauldron’s hot mix

Swallows sugar and salt.

Olive oil,

Onions and

Basil,

A tapestry of smells

Rises like incense

To the attic.

Ancient ghosts rise too,

Smile

And bless this house.

–Maria G. Mandarino

 

Blog Post: How to Gracefully Wait in the Space

It hurts when you get to watch someone you love screw up.

But you can’t fix it for them.  It’s not why you’re here. We all sign up for stuff.  And some of us sign up to watch others go through it.  And whether we realize this or not, we also sign up to wait and honor their process.  As this person makes their mistakes and grows and learns from them, we also get to grow and learn in our waiting.

So, how do you gracefully navigate the waiting at a time when you are consumed with worry, fear, and doubt?  How do you skate around the hurts that pierce your heart as you hold your breath and watch someone you care about make mindless choices?  Mistakes you could give them the shortcut for or the answer key.

Of course none of this would help.  Pilfering the answer key never got anyone from algebra to calculus.  It might ease the pain of algebra.  But what a hullaballoo awaits next semester in calculus.  It’s the same with life.  You take a short cut in one place, and a harder lesson is lurking right around the corner.  It’s not about making the hard thing easy.

So while something like this is playing out in your life, just what do you do in the Sacred Space?

At the heart of the Sacred Space for me is the practice of prayer.  And that practice looks different on different days.  It depends on me;  it depends on the situation.  As I tell my patients about acupuncture, the success of a treatment is reliant upon a few non-clinical things.  Their energy.  My energy.  And not just that.  It is reliant upon their energy on that particular day.  And my energy on that particular day.  Tomorrow all of that will be different and so the same exact acupuncture points may yield a different outcome.  We are always different, from moment to moment.  At the school where I studied massage therapy in New York, we used to talk about the homeodynamic model.  We are all in flux.  Nothing is ever the same because each day we (and the planet on which we live) are not the same.

Despite this, the reality is it can be hard to pray when our hearts are so full for the person suffering.  How do we pray in moments like these?  For what do we pray?  Truthfully, there are days I simply can’t pray.  Language escapes me.  I stumble.  I’m awkward.  I’m clueless.  My mind and heart hold too much.  And they aren’t speaking well to each other.  How can I possibly bring anything coherent to God for him to hold for me?

I’ve come to understand that it’s okay to simply sit in the space with love and compassion.  And to know that God already knows.  Keep it simple.  Just bring what is in your heart.  God already knows.  Bring your loved one into this space, offer them as a child would bring a wounded animal to an adult for help.  God already knows.  It is said that prayer is “a longing of the heart.”  So why not just welcome that longing into the sacred space.  Don’t make it complicated.  Stop searching for the words to put on it.  Let yourself feel.  God is the frequency of love and compassion.  God is love and compassion.  And so you are already speaking God’s language when you simply offer love and compassion for the person suffering.  In fact, I think when you do this you are actually speaking a language that God understands better than any words we can put on it.

The one thing I am sure we should never do in the sacred space is nothing, or worse yet worry.  Apathy and worry are not the frequency of the sacred.  Thus, the sacred space is not a void of confusion where we wring our hands and say “I have no idea how this can ever work, how this person can heal, how this person can come to greater clarity and spiritual alignment.”  Or, “this is too hard.”

Nothing for God is too hard.  It is we who make it hard.  Bring your heart, bring your love.  People say we should hand our worries over to God.  I wonder what might happen if we hand our hearts and our love over to him instead.

Blessings,
Maria Mandarino

Poetry: Kokopelli Man, Santa Fe, 2001

Kokopelli Man, Santa Fe, 2001

The late afternoon sky

was the color of the turquoise ring

I’d bought that morning

at Indian Market;

the clouds full, white,

and near.

I sat in his cathedral,

beneath tall pine trees

and aspens turned gold

by cool August nights.

His long black hair tied neatly,

the Kokopelli man

fingered an ancestral flute.

He called the music healing

and I, anointed by each note, understood.

He said too that art was important,

important enough to do it your own way

and not bend to someone else’s plan.

“Otherwise you might as well

be pumping gas outside of Tesuque,” he said

with a throaty laugh and a knowing smile.

He tried it the other way once, got railroaded

by white-shirted record executives before he

decided to carve his own road.

“Karma’s a funny thing,” he said of the white shirts.

“It has this way of slapping you on the forehead

when you do wrong.”

He smiled again, bright black eyes holding mine.

Then the Kokopelli man picked up the hollowed

piece of cedar,

took it to his lips

and anointed me

again.

©Maria Mandarino 2001