a.e. hart's sketchpad

Month: February, 2011

insomniac files

no attempt to be a writer tonight, just need to keep the pipes greased. as soon as evening fell, i was exhausted. i daydream about the girl i have been kissing the past few days to keep myself awake. the older man with ptsd in my kabbalah class in driving me insane. every word out of his mouth twists my insides.  i watch the other seminary students navigate around his presence deftly. i have to hide the cringing. i feel childish, and judgmental. but there he is, typing too hard on his keyboard while we try to learn something so esoteric it can not be taught.

i have a jesus band-aid on my left index finger, and typing is a chore. im not bothering with it due to any real injury. i had a hangnail, and it only bled for a second. i was keeping the bandaid because i found it so humorous, and now that ive used it, id like it to stick.  i doubt it will last through this post.

there is a whiteness in the way people try to disperse the wisdoms they believe that have gained, spiritually speaking.  not a racial whiteness, a chakral whiteness.  despite all our talks  about transcending dualities, spiritual teachers mostly seem to believe that their virtue is rooted deep in the white.  its not how i operate, and it makes me cringe.  i read leonard cohen’s “leaving mt. baldy” and only there do i find real solace.  those who seek G-d and fail, or realize their own impotence, seem to have far more to offer than those who take to the pulpit.

i sneak outside for a cigarette, and stand where my landlord wont find me.  i dont need to hide, but his best friend died in his arms from lung cancer, and i think living here is going to help me quit. again.  i think of Cohen, old Jikan, and his obsession with cigarettes, and I feel both less and more holy.

what was that he said…. “when you’re not feeling holy your loneliness says that you’ve sinned”. something like that anyway, and i dont know why i needed to mention it.  my back hurts and i still have this band aid on.  tommorow night i can kiss that girl again and set down the books, for a few hours a least.

…. the poetry isnt coming, and im not going to force it.  ive been telling complicated bedtime stories. i guess thats all i have to give, for the moment.


poison, part 2

i will sing love songs, until you come out of hiding
every day of your withdrawing is a day of delirious hunger
i can not eat, it will not satiate me

you sleep now, with one eye on your lovers back
and i sleep, with one ear to your lovers words
each unkindness is a small taste
a bit of poison for my silence
bitterness in my letting go

my hands open to release you, because you are a dove
peace requires that you move freely
your lover is a thief, and tethers you like a falcon

i can forgive her
because she is imperfect
and i am a shattered thing, captivated by imperfections
but why love, are you not mending your own wing?
why do you crowd your mind with her confusion
as if it were your own

we have singularity, you and i
i am your wife and yet in you i marry only ayin
the space where you might collect yourself
this is devotion

you see me these days
biting my tongue
you wonder if i am biding my time
but in this world, i am ready always to love another
to take the scared prey to my breast

i open my hand to release you, because you are a dove
this world requires your freedom
when you soar i become endless, my heart a gift to the holy realms
i am blessed in your joy

being of selfish heart
i can not make peace with your struggles
with your slow dance of contraction
i want to see you born again
in or out of love
i want to shake your lovers hand
when she finally turns her eye softly to the sky

only there will i love her
standing courtside
to your great affair with life

but you sleep now, with one eye on her back
and i sleep, with one ear to her words
each unkindness is a small taste
a bit of poison
a bitterness in my letting go

the poison

some nights i just worry about you, because its been too quiet. because the phone hasnt rung since your last catastrophe. my heart is a windup toy with many alarms.
tonight i studied leonard cohen as scripture and tuned in to the whistling stars. the city is vast and the bridge that separates us is thin and long.
as always, you will call, eventually, and everything will appear to be fine. the lamp will grow dim, and then the flame will leap. even we have our rhythms.

here, in the heart of Ein Sof, i am illiterate, and i mutter your name accidentally, between pages.  the electric lights humiliate us, but you take no notice. you collect futures in cast iron and parchment. i am concerned that time might shatter again, leave us tracing illegible truths in chalk.

if your lover was kind to your heart, i wouldnt mind the distance. the thin bridge would never threaten us, and the stars might laugh a little.  if your lover was kind to your heart, i might marry a scientist, get knocked up, toss the whole of my worries up, leave them for the moon to sort.

as it is i carry us like a viper. the poison i carry, this love, might save us both, if we just wish it.
as it is i carry us like a viper. the poison i carry, this love, might set you free.

meditations, #2

i am drawn out, across continents. across nations. the passing of a 29 year old friend, struck down so quickly by cancer, despite her apparently vital health and deep grounding in self care.  the mother of my high school boyfriend, telling me in writing that no one will talk about his suicide.  my mother in a wheelchair.

in contrast, the deepening of my connection to life, to the earth.  the teachers who keep dragging me by the neck back home to
g-d. the friendships that carry me. on friday night we had a party to celebrate my life and transformations.  i watched as my oldest friend hugged a spirit-mate of mine, meeting for the first time, with open arms.  i sat on the front steps, after the guests had gone, chatted with my lifelong love about the way things are.

my ex is calling me on the phone. since the bike accident he’s been laid up, broker by the minute, lawsuits unsettled, bills unpaid. his family is mostly absent, but his sister is carrying the torch, a little love burning in its own chaos a few states east. my heart is tired, but i listen anyway, worry about the homework i need to get done, and about the heartache sinking in.  first he tells me that meghan is gone, then after walking me through his own wasteland, he asks about my mother.

it is good that we can talk about these things, but the night is short and i need to turn off the television, get down to the business of learning.  the heartache is loud. i sit down to play the song my newest friend shared with me today, start to fill out lyrics, and the melody sounds melancholy, but it holds me upright, like a sail.

blessings, all around me.  suzi is alive against all odds, and i am still sober, ten years after the fall. i am still kicking.  i want to know what it feels like to be at peace inside, but i am starting to think that as we get older it only get more complex.  the more people you know and love, the more common tragedy becomes.  blessings and curses, these ever expanding hearts.

nico is taking meghan’s death harder than i can.  neither of us was very close to her. we met, and spent a week drowning in love and laughter at her home on the east coast.  i hadn’t spoken with her since then. there is love, but not a love i depended on, just the love of a fellow traveller.  nico takes everything to his depths. i am trying to remain placid. slow rolling waves of loss, of change. i surf. i stand.

sunday i will go surfing again, in real time, feel the ocean humble my body. i need that, i need to get back into my body. back into the simplest space possible.  im sneezing. there are hundreds of pages to read, and i don’t want to begin. i start by breathing, ask my body what she needs to make peace for the night.  the answer is too quiet, vanishing beneath the hum of the heater, the ringing of the phone.


__________ a few hours later i have to accept that i am not as strong around meghan’s death as i imagined i was. grief crept in, and im losing a night to tears. be at peace, brave friend.

meditations, #1

the moment i left work i knew something was different. my toes were buzzing, my ankles electric. i wasnt tired, or sad. i thought about her, and then thought about g-d (not the god of your fairytales, my own, my own dear friend) and i placed them, one above the other in a sacred pyramid.

i am never alone, never lonely. the stars shake their bodies with laughter when i walk by. the trees dress themselves against the sky. i am awake again, and the elements have come to congratulate me.  they know themselves in my walk, not my walk, but the walk of a body forgetting its captor. the walk of a body stepping back into the divine script. this (i) carried around on my shoulders, some dumb weight, slipped away in the slightest shrug.  destination? unknown.

remember which foot you enter the bathroom with. notice which foot goes first when you leave your home. in each moment of noticing, mutter a prayer of thanks, of wakefulness.  this is witnessing.  becoming awake.

i once told a seeker that if you stood on your head at the same moment every day, no matter where you were, or who you were with, it would change your life immeasurably, and for the better.  it takes bravery to be eccentric. it takes discipline to challenge the ego. developing a muscle is a practice in repetition.

i am not so brave. i no longer fall on my knees in submission to the divine the instant i am terrified by my own lost thoughts. art school was a good place for that, and back then, i would have done anything to become sane. we lose our way because we are drunk with joy, lost on our way to the best party ever, we stray from the path, stumbling through the essence. i am lost, but i am not losing.  i am foolish, and human, but i do not err.

forgive yourself first, then turn to others.  turn to the ones you love, the ones who are easy to forgive. the child biting your finger. the friend who is always late.  only then can you turn towards the unknown.  the imagined enemy, the dangerous ones.  forgive them without reservations. forgive them as deeply as you can forgive the one you love most.

rinse, and repeat.  every day deeper.  every day more ignorance is cast aside.  this is the garment you must cast away. it is the color of the evening sky. its is perfect there, on your shoulders. as you realize this however, it might vanish into the greater twilight.


im reminding myself to tonight, because i feel something returning.  or something slipping away.


these hands don’t want to move. its been a long week. besides the merciless stream of appointments, the two dollars left in my wallet, there is the impending celebration, and the following heartbreak.
last night i slept 16 hours. there was an attempt at Kabbalah study, the captivation, and the moment i “just closed my eyes for a minute”. i woke up after midnight with the words Ein Sof drifting without aim through my vanishing subconscious.  the morning passed in a series of alarms, and when i woke i considered making belle and sebastians reference to “the state that i am in” as a pocket novel, a reality.
its like this every February. the moment of achievement, having passed another year without a needle in my arm.  this time its the big ten, a decade of consciousness.  there are the cravings, the complex web of emotions surrounding my daring feat of doing nothing.  then come the dreams.  and the anniversary.
february 15th, 1997, my father took his own life.  it was the middle of the night, and to my 17 year old heart, it was still valentines day.  i had awakened on the 14th, expecting the roses dad always left in three vases on the kitchen table.  they were not there, and it felt ominous, but in no way prepared me.  after school the following day i bought a box of black hair dye, preparing for a great alteration. i wanted violet blue contact lenses and black hair.  it was all i had talked about for weeks.  my mother, of course, found the bottle of dye and erupted with rage in the name of all things proper, socially acceptable and normative.  she called dad on the phone demanding that he take her side.  he always secretly liked my hair, turning corners after monumental fights to whisper “i think you look sharp, kid.” this time he was plaintive.

“please, just wait until after graduation.  for me.”
i promised i would, knowing from his tone that the fighting was more than he could handle.
that was our last conversation.

on the 15th, i was up the street crushing my medication and getting high when the call came.  mom insisted on sending a family friend to drive up the street to get me. it was less than a  two minute walk.  i sat quietly in the near strangers car.  something was wrong.
i dont need to tell the rest, not now.  not the way i screamed, or the force at which my backpack hit the perfectly white dining room wall.  i dont need to talk about the eerie calm that came over me when she told me it was suicide.  the deep understanding that set in.  he was just like me, and he was tired.  i knew. i felt close to him then, in a way my mother and my sister would never understand.
what i want to talk about is how i spent the rest of the week.  drunk, high, crying on acid on nikki’s mothers kitchen floor.  nikki trying to coerce me into bed with her and her boyfriend while i was grieving.  then a few bottles with justin. the beginning of a great betrayal.
with justin i could be as real as blood, and i wandered into the street half drunk and screamed at the stars.  i pounded on his chest, the way the grieving are inclined to do.  i made him promise that he would never take his own life.  i made him promise.

thirteen years later, and two years ago, he broke that promise.  it was the first week of march, but it felt like february.

_______________________________________end notes

i will sleep tonight. i will study kabbalah, and the five pillars. i will be ecstatically grateful for the life i have today.  my skin feels wet, just under the surface, and even in the california winter a chill has set into my bones.  but spring comes.  my friends are having babies.  i am writing and singing.

i finally did dye my hair black, twelve or so years ago.  it looked all wrong on me, but at the time i was angry, and it suited.  i never did get contacts, but i lined my eyes in red.
maybe dad thought it would serve me better in my grief.
there’s the part i can’t understand.  how can you know the grief you are about to cause, strike the fatal blow yourself.  alter the course of the heart for your friends, for your children?

i keep these two ghosts together now in my head.  they have been keeping each other company.  strange, that they should have the same unusual middle name . strange that even after all of the chaos Justin and I caused, with our drinking and my leaving home (another story for another time, perhaps), my dad still rushed a hot thanksgiving meal to Justin’s single room occupancy with me.

I remember how much care we took to make sure the food would be hot.  the speed limits we broke.

my father was kind.  he was rigid, and carried his burdens silently, behind secretive eyes.  they were those blue eyes that erased sorrows.  like mine.
i learned a lot, losing him the way i did.  i talk a lot, maybe more than i should.  i cant imagine faking a smile on a hard hearted day in february. i sing the blues.  i dont pretend.