Austin poetry

For My Sister

Sisters swinging on swingset in backyard
If I could turn back time
to that day on the swings
I would 

Summer clung to the air
jostling the canopy
of the Great Pecan Tree
He laughed with his whole heart
and so did we

Down and back
forwards and Up
Wild curls reeling
to catch the clouds

Faster, higher
sweeter, lighter
toes scraping the sky
The moment, our spaceship
suspended in delight

Before the kitchen door opens
Before the magic breaks
Two backyard pendulums
swing

© Amelia Isabel
Photo credit: Hannah Nicole

Belong

A silhouette of a woman sitting and watching the sunset
When feel like I have nowhere to belong to –
I must remember that I belong to myself.
These bones.
These feelings.
This soul.
They are a universe –
a land
uninhabited by any other creature.
Only the cells of dinosaurs
and distant galaxies have called me home.
But in this life
I rule them alone.
My life is my kingdom,
my body my planet.
My reign shall be long and golden,
as long as I look towards the light.
Even in darkness,
I will glow,
burning the borrowed embers
that breathe and live all on their own.
I am responsible for this soul.
This Being.
For as long as we both shall live.

© Amelia Isabel
Photo credit: Kevin Cole

Expansion: An Honor

Expansion sculpture by Paige Bradley featured here in Brooklyn.

A few weeks ago, I was struggling through a very dark internal war of searching for purpose in the world. A dear friend passed this image to me to help me cope with my darkness. Something stirred inside me, and a poem sifted itself out of my brokenness. I realized it was my LIGHT I was more afraid of, not my darkness. I decided to share it with Paige Bradley, the creator of the “Expansion” sculpture (featured here in Brooklyn), out of gratitude for giving me a guide post out of my despair.

She featured it on her blog this morning, as the very first poem to be written about the infamous piece. What an honor!

Life is much brighter today, and it feels all too easy to forget dark times exist when you’re basking in the morning glow. Those dark places are truly the most fertile grounds for hope and expansion. After all, not a darker place exists than the moment right before the sun begins to rise.

Love on this day and every day,
Amelia

Photo credit: Paige Bradley

A Visit from Maya Angelou

Christmas lights strung across a room

Once upon a time, the Greeks believed in invisible fairy creatures called “dæmons” or “geniuses” that served as spirit guides and the ultimate connection to one’s divine creativity. They helped us to transcend, become one with our calling, and step closer to understanding what life is all about.

What if invisible fairies weren’t the only ones helping us in our creative acts?

Last week, I had a unique opportunity to intimately bear witness to my own creative process as a new poem burbled up inside me like a cork floating up to the surface in a pool of champagne. A classmate of mine shared the following lines in our poetry course:

It’s the strangest sensation to be happily lonely
to keep the thoughts of a universe, safe inside a humbled heart
It’s a whimsical place, to feel luckily bound in a body 
that won’t misuse its wisdom

With my genius at my side, we wrote this piece:

Sanctuary within a Temple
A Reflection on the Universe within the Body

My heart space
Is a child’s bedroom
A warm womb where I am tucked away
Beneath a rolling sea of linen and down
Looking up through soft sheer canopy curtains
At the twinkling lights of the universe
Strung across the ceiling
Gently swaying
To the pulse of my chamber walls
Rocking me into the safest slumber

And ultimately, the following story. I didn’t realize it right away, but as the last line came out, I gradually noticed something different about my poetic genius. The familiar sensation of a whimsical story began banging around inside my ribs, commanding to be heard. And I obliged.

Dr. Angelou, this one’s for you.

Screenshot of my youtube video, A Visit from Maya Angelou

“Lights” photo credit: Chris Jones

Canopy Curtain Call

Respledent Quetzal captured by Frank Vassen in Mirador de Quetzales, Costa Rica

[Photo captured by Frank Vassen in Mirador de los Quetzales, Costa Rica] 

Crystal-like whistles
Airy chirps and yawny sighs
Resonate from tree to tree
The orchestra awakens

The Sun opens a curtain as
The East Wind pushes through
And hushes the choir

Ringing through Monteverde
Like drops of water
With a festival twist
The opening number begins

Snow white coattails
Blood red vest
Long machete plumes of green and blue

Mesoamerica’s beloved ave
Cuts through the canopy

Like an electric strobe light

© Amelia Isabel

Me in 2008 birthing the poem in the middle of the cloud forest.

#ThrowbackThursday to a poem I birthed in 2008 on a bridge in the middle of the Costa Rican cloud forest. This is my most cherished work of poetry I have ever written. (Look at all that HAIR! And that concentration! That’s Czikszentmihalyi’s “flow” right there!) Photo credit: Sarah Boncal

The Dam Cannot Hold

"Expansion" sculpture in New York by Paige Bradley.

Poem inspired by Paige Bradley’s “Expansion” sculpture featured here in New York City and from my own fears of embracing my inner Light. (Photo credit: Paige Bradley)

Here I sit
broken in the sunlight
My scars illumined
from the inside out
Cracked

Bandages once invisible
hold together
fragile skin, bones, and breath

My light is showing

A bumble bee bumbles overhead
Scanning me
zzzzz
My scars shiver
revealing where they are hidden
Can he sense my shadows
quivering deep beneath
my ragged walls?

I crumple

liquid fear
seeping out
warmed by the sun

The bumbling bloke
bounces into the window
sending shockwaves skipping
across the glass trampoline
Disoriented
or giddy in his own delight
he shoots off
and I remain
Quaking

Light pools beneath my aching fractures
enflaming the cracks
searing the transparent tape
This dry dam cannot hold

What happens when the light breaks free?
Where will all my pieces go?
zzzzzz

© Amelia Isabel

The Creative Process of Legos


Solitary lego

How often do we find ourselves guilty of focusing too much on the product of our work and banging our head against the wall every step of the way through the beautiful but odious creative process?

This year alone? More times than I’m going to admit.

So, in an attempt to stimulate my creative juices, I attended the JustThis: Zen Writing meetup at the Austin Zen Center earlier this week. The group begins with a short meditation followed by a prompt, then 30 minutes of writing whatever comes up. Finally, we go around the room, sharing whatever we’ve written, and the rest of the group can offer feedback.

The prompt was a short piece entitled Finding the Lego by Maryann Corbett of St. Paul, Minnesota, about turning up one small object loaded with meaning.

Nothing really resonated with me in the piece other than the idea of the lego. This was also my first time attending the meetup, and I was late, so I identified with the missing lego piece, feeling like the outsider who tries to fit in at the last minute.

The 30-minute session began, and I had no clue what to write. I was already allowing myself to feel uncomfortable because of my tardiness (I arrived right in the middle of meditation portion. Awkward.). With a smile from the organizer, I assured myself that it was OK that I was there, and that I was welcome. So, I focused on the lego:

I am the lego
I am the lego who shows up late
asking for its chance to connect with the others.

Aren’t we all legos?

Lego represents the building blocks of matter
But even Lego has legos
Lego atoms
Specially designed to make it into a lego

How far can we go?

How far can we go
‘til we are no longer lego
and more of something else?

Then, my mind veered off into all kinds of directions. Stream of Consciousness. Danny Kaye. Lego doodles. If lego spoke Spanish: Soy el lego que llego tarde… then, finally writing the words “I don’t even know what I am writing anymore.”

I was about to give up and just sit there for the remaining 5 minutes, just staring at my skirt… when one small gem popped out:

Legos in my dress
Legos in my chest
I am a kingdom of legos

Building nations of dreams
Creation it seems
is but a thing of legos

Huh. Process does work.

I’ll be hosting my own poetry meetup tonight at Friends & Neighbors on E. Cesar Chavez at 6:00, and we’ll be honoring process. Event info here: Eastside Poetry & Coffee.

Photo credit: Paul Hudson

Blue

I saw a blue balloon today
floating along the stratosphere —
caressing heaven’s belly, batting
its glittering eye, intrinsically aware
of its place between the cosmos.

I saw a blue jay today
squawking down below our porch —
flitting among the branches, hopping
alongside the dry creek bed, content
in his handsome feathered frame.

I saw a blue bicycle and his sister today
racing each other through the park —
squealing in delight, wanting not
to be last, training wheels flying
as swift as wings.

I saw you everywhere today
coloring shirts and shoes and a dragonfly kite —
laughing behind graffiti, smiling across
the expansive Texas sky, your blue hair waving
in my memory.

For Machelle.

© Amelia Isabel

FIRST-TIME PUBLISHED AUTHOR!

GUYS, I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!

Last July while lunching at Central Market,  the eensiest of weensiest of spiders landed on my shoulder  — a magnificent tiny speck of bright yellow topaz — that captivated my attention. It was as if she wanted me to paint her in words. So, I did.  I submitted the poem on a whim back in October and within a few days, learned that it was selected for publication. It was officially published on Every Day Poets yesterday. They even paid me ONE DOLLAR for my work! A whole dollar! My first dollar! Which I now have in my possession and shall be framed shortly.

Tonight at my monthly creative meetup, a friend shared the story of the Spider Grandmother, who, according to certain Native American legends, is thought to be Mother Earth or the creator of the universe. These myths say that when a spider shows itself, it is believed to be the Spider Grandmother communicating.

I am so very glad I listened.

To spiders, the earth, and first dolla bills!

The eight-legged amarillo aerialist

A visitor lands on the fleshy terrain —
only a tickle betrays her presence.

With assistance from my pen,
I help coax her
to a safer location.

The eight-legged amarillo aerialist
repels off my pen

and

onto

            the ketchup bottle,

invisibly cutting her bungee
and swinging
f  r  e  e  .

Suspended from the lip of the catsup’s cliff
she twirls in her harness,
perfecting her tricks.
Dazzling silk
in the sun.

Her audience of one applauds her so.

A breath escapes me,
and the amarillo aerialist

plummets

to the linoleum surface

but stops
just in time to admire her
r e f l e c t i o n
then yo-yos back up the side of Heinz.

Mesmerizing.

I laugh as she casts an invisible wire and zip-lines away into the sunset.

© Amelia Isabel