When Fear Died In Honduras

alone in a shed
Honduras night en el campo
the countryside, half a mile from
others, people, mestizo
Spanish-speaking

the sound of my cot terrifies me
squeaking silence, my lockless shed
man after man, I imagine them
one bearded, one drunk, one twice my size
each coming through the door to kill me

fear, as my knees push into the cot
10pm, How long will I be afraid? I wonder
Will I stay up all night pondering my demise?
Will anyone hear me struggle, hear me die?
20 years old, not ready to go

but this goes on for forty minutes, maybe an hour
until finally
He’s not coming in, this fear
and if he does
I will kill him, or he will kill me.
simple
then fell sound asleep

Meditating in Public

I meditate in public now. I used to be afraid. What’s up with the weird guy with his eyes closed? 

I don’t care anymore.

Every Friday afternoon my son takes an occupational therapy class. The waiting room is carpeted dysregulation; toys, building blocks, all strewn everywhere, sounds of a kid yelling about tying his own shoelaces, I don’t want to!

Most of the parents sit on their phones scrolling, endless small screen scrolling. That is the normal thing to do, the socially acceptable thing to do, but I hate my phone. If it weren’t for the GPS I’d probably go back to one that flips.

I used to dread the waiting room, but now I place my hands on my lap, set a timer for 30 or 40 minutes, sit and focus on my breath. People come and go around me, their movement like rain fading into the background. Perhaps they glance at me, watch me, I don’t know, I don’t see.

I look forward to OT now, more minutes to meditate, to just be.

My Meditation Practice

Friends ask me about meditation. This coming October will mark 8 years of consistent meditation for me. I started by doing a few daily minutes following instructions I found on a YouTube video. I now do 70 minutes a day, more on Wednesdays, and 100 minutes on both Saturday and Sunday. I also try to participate in a daylong meditation retreat every 4-6 weeks. Why worry about the minutes? More minutes means that I’m less reactive, less prone to agitation while driving my kids to and from countless activities. I tried doing only 45 minutes, but it didn’t work, my stress level went up. I found that at least an hour was my magic amount. What kind of meditation do I do? Vipassana or mindfulness meditation, and often Metta or loving-kindness meditation.

How do I get my minutes in? 3am to 3:20am is usually my first session after going to the bathroom (then I go back to sleep). Session number two is from roughly 6:20am to 6:30am. Before I get out of bed I’m already halfway to an hour, and more importantly, I’ve set my intention to be mindful with my day ahead. Around 8am I get in my next meditation, 2 minutes before opening my computer at work. I find it takes the apprehension out of checking early morning email. Assuming there is a work meeting where I’m mostly listening, I will sneak in 3 more minutes there, counting my breaths (7 inhales equals one minute). Depending on the day, I will sit in my car for 5 minutes of meditation before leaving to go home or pick up a child. If I’m alone in the car driving, I will meditate at the longer red lights collecting at least 2 more minutes. At home to help with dinner, I’m at 42 minutes. My last session comes at around 9pm after reading to my son and tucking him into bed. I mindfully breathe for 28 minutes while he falls asleep. 70 minutes complete.

Key for me is that I’m always looking for meditation minutes, similar to people who try to get in steps. Rather than trying to be more physically active, I’m finding opportunities to be more mindful, more present. For me meditation is an opportunity to let my inner self connect with something bigger than just me. Endless time? The universe? Infinite wisdom? Who knows exactly what it is, but meditation has brought me peace, contentment, the ability to not care so much about superficial things.

What Is Football?

What is football?
days watching men collide
between beer commercials
hours spent, taken by
network television

What is football?
toss the pigskin, eat grilled meat
tailgate with chubby fans
wearing jerseys in parking lots
full of charcoal and puke

What is football?
weightlifting, combine, chalk lines
running 40 yard sprints
hands reaching out, cradling
touchdowns, drunk cheers and jeers

What is football?
sleep-deprived coaches studying
film, like planning D-Day’s invasion
toradol shots blocking pain to
endure injuries that linger lifelong

What is football?
bull in the ring, he got his bell rung
concussion, brain banging, cells dying
headaches, depression, careers over
hobbled husbands, broken bodies

Pontiac

my daughter already talks about the
car she wants an Audi, new, shiny
that her friends will admire like
her iPhone with apps that take
wrinkles out of faces in photos

I tell her about my maroon
dented station wagon, Pontiac
1986 Michigan-made to barely
last past puberty

I parked it with pride
my piece of remembering
that life is unreliable
always ready to
start then stop

blind to history my daughter
will never know the struggle of
driving a car that quit, gave up

for her they don’t exist
like rotary phones
like an indigenous name
turned into painted steel

Writing in Bed

exhaling visible emotion
ink onto page
alive each night if
only for these moments
toes touch sheets happy

the hours before are done
no more plodding through city
streets in laced up leather
free naked now
words moving across the page

composition notebook
indenting with cursive letters
pressing down, scribbled lines
fragments of thought
searching for truth night after night

sometimes finding things
like an old Hot Wheels car in
the sandbox, pull it out
examine chipped paint
try to recall when it was lost

describe what it looks like
loose front tire, red Camaro
“this is it,” I think
to reclaim, touch memory
unearth myself, the buried parts