Category Archives: photography

Our Future, Still Being Written

6/20/18

Listening to Amelia Curran
After Hours of Reading

If this is all there is
and you have forgotten the rest
and if you cannot keep from
the seduction of despair
I understand
and
hold out a hand.
Rest a while
in the shade of favorite music
or vacation in a favorite book.
No shame in resting,
I understand
and
give permission
as for you
as for me.
And if in the barrage of news
every bit worse than the last
and tears well up and head hangs
still, I would urge you to remember
what is real,
who you are, have always been,
the long perspective.
A marathon requires pacing
replenishment, an eye on the far-off goal
as you put one foot in front of the other
as your heart beats and muscles ache
as you breathe
and breathe
and
remember.
You have trained for this:
Every challenge, hard time, tragedy, trauma
you found strength to heal and endure
and now you are called on for more.
Those faltering for now
are aided by others
who will in turn
need help.
Like geese in a “V”
stronger together, each leader in turn
falls back, resumes.
Yes, this is not what you sought
but this is what was sown,
the past playing out
but not necessarily
our future, still being written.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2018

Note: Amelia Curran is a Canadian singer-songwriter I heard of from Peter Mulvey (an incredible American singer-songwriter). Listening to music and reading is how I have been getting through some personally dark days and high anxiety.

I found this recent poem while looking for something else. Although written this past June, it was as if I had written it to encourage and support myself — and others– right now, the week of the midterm election. A reminder to breathe, to rest when needed, to help each other, to take the long view, to vote. I offer this to you in kindness, as my way of holding out a hand. Hang in there, dear ones.

November Sunset, M D Mikus, Copyright 2017

50–“Risk” from “As Easy as Breathing”

Updated from a post on Jan. 20, 2017

Trees and Shadow by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2010

Risk

It’s a risk
to wake up every morning

and see
if you fall short

or stand tall,
grow an inch or a foot,

see what seeds may land
and take root,

your heart cracked open
like a walnut.

It’s a risk
to get up every morning,

leave the land of dreams
and begin again,

leave the land of dreams and dreaming,
stride on solid ground,

learn and teach,
grow and glow…

then throw out all you know
and begin again.

It’s a risk.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1998

From my book, As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation. It was written in response to a guy I knew who said he needed risky sports to feel alive. Watch my reading here: https://youtu.be/6OstW8lniek

In the years after my first breast cancer treatment (1996-7, surgery, chemo, and radiation), I continued to write with a healing intention, sharing my poems with those who might be helped by them. Eventually I considered assembling a book. My first concept was a small collection to help cancer patients and their families and friends. After 9/11/2001, I realized that people like me, who had dealt with life threatening illness, learned a lot about living in times of great fear. And so the book got bigger, with selected poems from a 6-year period. Over the years, these poems have supported many people in coping with all kinds of traumatic life circumstances—including cancer—and to even thrive.

“Risk” is track 34 on my CD, Full Blooming: Selections from a Poetic Journal… with some other poems from As Easy As Breathing and also Letting Go and New Beginnings (and 3 songs).

For more video poems

Let the Truth Be Known

IL Route 22, Sept. 2017, copyright MDMikus

I’m normally a pretty high energy person, an optimist. For a while I’ve not posted new poems (maybe one), nor written much. My energy’s been very low and I was mostly on hold. Every day I would try to do something. Maybe bike 10 minutes or get a load of wash done. Maybe just take my medications on time, eat healthy meals. Hang out with my husband. Breathe, drink enough water. This was not depression, which I recognize.

Because I am who I am, I tried to figure this out, made a list of fatigue factors. Tried to find what I could do about any of them. Slowly I am edging back to what feels like normal for me. Today was a good day.

I’m not saying any of this to get suggestions, and I appreciate your concern, truly. There are some things in life I can’t do anything about and I hate that (as Anne Lamott says). My youngest sister, Dorothy, is dealing with stage 4 aggressive breast cancer and has for almost 5 years. She is ten years younger than me. I was kind of a second mother and we are still close. Over the years I’ve done a lot of writing to help both of us. And I can support her in some ways, but I cannot fix this and the stress of it affects all of us.

I believe in healing. I have experienced profound body, mind, spirit healing for myself…more than once. And I also know there is much mystery in what happens, to whom, and why.

Dorothy has helped a lot of people in these 5 years. As she goes through the medical world, she spreads around what she learned from me about guided imagery, homeopathy, energy work (like acupuncture and reiki) etc. Her current oncologist encourages her to get massage and reiki etc. because it helps her feel better and thus do better. She’s shared my poems with her support group and taught me a lot. (She really likes “cupping” for pain–do you remember the Olympic athletes who used it?) She hugs everyone (a family trait).

One way I’ve learned to deal with anxiety of all types is to be grounded and in the present moment. “Right here. Right now” I say, even aloud sometimes.

Writing is coming back which feels wonderful, like I am coming back into myself. Here is a recent poem prompted by a video of an interview of Patti Smith. The poem reminded me there is always a context to what goes on all around me–the big picture, the cycles, the mystery of it all.

9/21/17

Let the Truth Be Known

After an Interview with Patti Smith
Posted on Facebook by Jan Krist

If I could tell you
truthfully
knowing what I know
the facts, the narrative arcs…

if I could say to you
eye to eye
unblinking
no fingers crossed—
however unlikely it seems
now
looking around
reading as much as I can bear
and stay sane
and still sleep at night

I would say:
It all works out
Not as some Pollyanna
apple-cheeked naivete but
I trust—on some level—
all is well and all shall be well

I do not know the details
I barely, barely know my place in it
on a single day
but I know that in this
pervasive dark
under the most abhorrent rocks
as truth is revealed
as what was wounded
in need of healing
comes to light
at first shocking but
as with many things
light and air and revelation
heals
and hope keeps breaking through
as others find answers
to the insoluble problems

I do not have to know it all
I do have to hold a space
for transformation to take place
encouraging, welcoming, embracing, accepting
the whole becoming
what it could be—

you and me…
we…

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2017

62–“Express, Process, Assess” from “Resist the Slide into Darkness”

Chicago Trains, Coming and Going, by M D Mikus, Copyright 2012

4/26/16

Express, Process, Assess

After Mike Latza and Oriah Mountian Dreamer

Fear and I are well-acquainted
but any love lost is unrequited
Fear is not my friend though
sometimes I pretzel-bend in its wind

It is a choice, this distance
a choosing and re-choosing in the face of challenge
Not what has happened that might
suck me down and in and under but
who am I in relation to this
potential grand piano falling from the sky
Why ask why when there is no answer
Why contract into fetal-ball position
as if that guarantees protection

Beaten egg whites gently folded in
add humor as leavening to lighten
the batter I am making from a recipe
handed down or found or made up on the spot
Trust…just enough

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016

From my upcoming book, Resist the Slide into Darkness. Listen here: https://youtu.be/DRxcVnP0uVo

Mike Latza is the editor of the journal, Willow Review. (I was the Illinois Featured Author in 2013.) I wrote this poem after the annual Willow Review launch and reading at College of Lake County, which is always inspiring for me. Oriah Mountain Dreamer is the author of The Invitation–based on her poem–and other books. We are connected on Facebook where she often writes beautiful, insightful short essays. Inspiration can come from anywhere and threads begin to weave together into something that speaks to me, that whispers “write this down.”

Randolph and State Streets, by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2012

For more poem videos in the series

61–“On Imperfection, For Corax” from “Frazzle”

Public Art in Dallas: The Eye, photo by M D Mikus, Copyright 2014

1/28/14

On Imperfection
For Corax

On the other side of darkness
the past looks far away,
and if I didn’t know better,
mostly forgotten.

Live in the now,
isn’t that what they say?
I agree mostly and also intend
to remember my lessons:

not to repeat same old mistakes,
not to let the unconscious pilot the course,
to remember to breathe,
to always be kind and

to forgive, every day forgive
imperfection. For here we learn
by being in form, subject to complex patterns
we cannot sense or anticipate.

If we were perfect—
which we are somewhere—
what would be the point of
choosing to go to Earth-school?

As long as we are here—
those numbered precious days,
those rare allotted minutes—
we have work to do.

Get on with it.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2014

From Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing.
And Transcending Boundaries: Inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir.

Listen here: https://youtu.be/E1vMFwdGa_E

Today it was hard to convince myself that making these videos matters. It seemed that anything I can do is insignificant in the face of massive challenges and national upheaval. Yet…none of us is alone. We inspire each other. We each do our part, right? When I considered not recording, I felt heavier, less hopeful. Maybe that is enough of a reason: to feel lighter, to hope, and perhaps inspire hope. For these few moments, let us demonstrate resilience…together. I am grateful for your presence.

Eye in Daylight, Dallas, photo by M D Mikus, Copyright 2014

For more poem videos in the series

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transcending Boundaries: Inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir