Half(a)Life

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Me arrancaste el alma…

and there, in the palm of my hand,
the bloody trace of
who I am, who I
might have been

…corazón destruido por latir…

the words come like a bolt
from the black,
will not be taken back
when the past strikes it hits like
a gunshot,
memory shrapnel to the back of the head
and leaves you for dead

…latiendo por destruir…

we die every moment
and live every death, a breath’s hesitation
a lifetime’s regret, until forgetfulness
comes and erases the line
between real pain and play
a world swept away in an instant of
always

…un espejo hecho añicos.

Will the Real Pro-Lifer Please Stand Up?

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It is possible that life begins at conception…
but it is indisputable that it does not end there.

At the height of the Syrian refugee “post-ocalypse”, I stumbled across the following blog post: “That Other Refugee Problem is Much Bigger than the Syrian One.”

Okay, No. 1: Bullshit.

And, now that that’s out of the way…

We need to revisit the parameters of the pro-life/pro-choice debate in this country. Because at its heart, it is neither one nor the other. But then, that is what labels are for: focusing attention on the sound bite so that the content ceases to matter.

What we need is not more rhetoric; what we need is a new definition of life.

  1. We cannot claim a pro-life stance while ignoring the ongoing plight of the Syrians at our borders. Let’s get that out of the way up top. Last I checked, they were alive, living beings…at least for the moment. So get off your high abortion horse and try some introspection on for size.
  2. We cannot claim a pro-life stance and insist that our fellow citizens do not have a right to affordable, adequate healthcare. Are we really protecting life if we do not provide for the continual well-being of the lives we have protected?
  3. We cannot claim a pro-life stance if we are not willing at least to reconsider our positions on capital punishment. If it is murder to take a life at its inception, is it not also murder to take it at any point along the way? And why is it we’re more concerned about the death penalty than about life sentences handed down for ridiculous reasons? What about those lives? Do we simply slam the door and forget about them?
  4. We cannot claim a pro-life stance and proceed to ignore the “strangers” on the other side of the planet.
  5. We cannot claim a pro-life stance and insist that rampant capitalism, guided only by an invisible hand (apparently attached to the invisible arm of an invisible sociopath), is the most promising approach to global economics.
  6. We cannot claim a pro-life stance without calling to account the employment practices, at home and abroad, of the merchants and corporations with whom we do business on a daily basis.
  7. And (I hope it goes without saying) we cannot claim a pro-life stance and proceed to shoot up Planned Parenthood clinics. To do this is both to give the lie to our supposed position and to misunderstand the work that Planned Parenthood does. The value of a woman’s life goes far beyond her ability to give birth, and PP does much to ensure that this value is recognized in full, start to finish, as it should be.

Whether or not life begins at conception (and, personally, I tend to think that it does), there is no escaping the fact that it doesn’t end until death. But here’s the problem: the period between the two is often measured by our own understanding (too often political rather than principled) of the meaning of life. And if we insist on limiting our concept of “pro-life” to the nine months preceding birth, many of those full lives will end far too soon.

As for myself, I am neither “pro-life” nor “pro-choice.” I am pro-nuance. And that poor little guy goes begging every single day.

 

Thinking Out Loud

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If butterfly wings,
having sired the storm,
presage a chaos yet to be born...then
                                regardless of form
beauty is beauty and
                                      fire is warm.

And if, once washed, the bowl remains         full,

then life is not over
no matter the pull

Last but not least 
                                              the feast.

First Step

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The moment of recognition
right before the end;
begin to understand
the future lies not behind but ahead.

Collision between one and other–
everyone’s brother, nobody’s friend.
Cold is the flame
that gnaws at the frame of existence

In one instance, at least, a reprieve
no thievery here. Never
Fear–the normal wear and tear
will take you before you can grasp

the questions you can’t ask
or have answered. A glance
from the corner of down-turned eye
and a sigh of relief

the chief of these is
the first step of many

Another Day

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The world was never my oyster
at best a broken toaster
just enough to burn your fingers
when you try to take the slices
pleasures can’t be vices
a maze that’s full of mice is just
another day at the races
so many faces so little voice
and every thought’s a choice between
living and existing
and all the while
a hidden smile insists on
persisting.

Turn that frown upside down–

then let the tear-waters rise
until you

drown

Falling

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The sky is falling…
Well, maybe just a speck of dust, but
still–

Pill swallowed; now
Mellow: yellow snow is just as
cold as white. By night,
who can tell the difference?

Close the door; turn on all the
lights.
Bar the windows; lock them
tight.
Keep the bogey in the dark.
You’ve had your lark. Time to get

Serious

Here Today

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(Photo courtesy of Prakash Adhikary)

The Buddha said: “The life of mortals in this world is troubled and brief and combined with pain. For there is not any means by which those that have been born can avoid dying; after reaching old age there is death; of such a nature are living beings. As ripe fruits are early in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in danger of death. As all earthen vessels made by the potter end in being broken, so is the life of mortals. Both young and adult, both those who are fools and those who are wise, all fall into the power of death; all are subject to death.”

– The Parable of the Mustard Seed

There are those who believe that, given time and resources, scientific advancement will one day conquer death itself.

I am not one of those people.

As much as I yearn to see the future, to walk in a world defined by galaxies rather than continents, to travel at the speed of light to the place where stars are born; as much as I’d love to watch history’s eons unfold endlessly around me; as much as I’d give to read the end of the story–even so, the thought rings hollow.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my life is exalted by its inherent limitations, without which it would be meaningless, moment-less. I wonder if they are really limitations at all, or if they are simply infinity in disguise. I am who I am because I will not be forever. True eternity dwells in the finite; the vicissitudes of time render time timeless. My existence matters only because it will one day cease.

This is my time. I am here today.

This person called “Vance” is a moment in time, a blip on the radar of reality–it cannot be otherwise. Whatever fate awaits is predicated upon birth and death. I am in between. It is the only place I can exist. It is the only arena in which I may act. And when I act, I act as one who will soon disappear and who therefore must act now.

Chögyam Trungpa taught that “we are quivering between this and that.” We live our lives poised on the razor’s edge, at a moment’s notice. We dwell in the instant between first breath and last. And in an instant, the instant will pass.

This is my time. I am here today.

I do not fear the loss of tomorrow, because it is the elusiveness of tomorrow that makes such a precious commodity out of today. A precious stone is precious because it is scarce. If there is always to be Vance, then what real value can Vance really possess? I am precious because I am scarce. The promise of death makes a precious commodity of my life.

There are things only I can do, words only I can say, and thoughts only I can think–and I have only today in which to do, say, and think them. They have never been before; they will never be again. Life’s greatest glory is its own impermanence. Here today; gone tomorrow. Precious now.

If I am to live as Vance, I must one day die as Vance. And in between, I must act.