Category Archives: Video poem series

Inspired by Tom Prasada-Rao

Heading Back Home by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2015

For me, the past year has been a “Twilight Zone” of one medical crisis after another—a new “surprise” before I’d even healed from the last one. From heart problems, possibly related to cancer treatment 23 years ago (with talk of a pacemaker) to 6 excision biopsies and 4 subsequent surgeries for melanoma, with an extreme allergy to the hypoallergenic tape, which caused blistering of my skin. Extended vertigo. I was hit by a motorcycle (no serious injury). A kidney stone (not my first, not the usual composition) led to a sudden jump in blood pressure. The procedure blasting the stone, went awry due to an equipment malfunction, which led to a whole array of ongoing problems including, bizarrely, a strained knee, which months later, is still debilitating. Interspersed with a sprinkling of other “issues” just for spice.

Not to whine or complain, but really? As it turns out, I’m doing ok. One moment at a time, remembering to breathe. Remembering I have healing tools and support. Remembering to ask for help.

Over and over again help has come to dig me out of the depths. My loving husband stepped up big time. Very few days have we both lost our “cool” in all this mess. Family and friends and my support team kept me going. Doctors who listen. Nature to rebalance. Books to escape with. Music to uplift. And the moving stories of others going through their own big-time challenges.

Tom Prasada-Rao is a gifted musician with a healing story. He is a lovely singer/songwriter who went through major cancer surgery this past winter. He wrote about it on Facebook, showing a photo of his long scar. Normally I don’t really care for post-surgery photos, but his story and attitude about his “bad ass scar” “increasing his street cred” was potent healing medicine for me as I headed into more of my own surgeries.

These are the 3 poems inspired by Tom and his music and courageous, loving, healing presence. My heartfelt thanks, Tom Prasada-Rao!

2/4/19

“Badass Scar”

Thank you Tom Prasada-Rao
for changing my anxious mind
in one heartfelt line
about your long surgery
and re-emergence into the light

As I face another visible scar
another 2 surgeries, not nearly
as complex or dangerous as yours
my troubles lightened and lifted
a smile appeared, no lie

Each scar—of the many—
a badge of survival
And the pain that comes still
even after months of healing
is nothing to what could have been

if cancer had won.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

2/13/19

Wounded Healer

of T P-R

Sometimes
stay very still
in one place
quietly breathing
and listen.
It is hard and
it is your job
to receive.
Not at some point
to restore or resume
or even to refresh
but to find
the new threads to weave
and then follow them out
of persistent darkness.
Tell your honest story
invite in those needing comfort
not to rebuild what was, but
to create who you are becoming.
To trust more
to be patient more than ever before.
To befriend darkness
to release and reveal.
To fully inhabit
this body with scars
measured in miles
in tears, in fears.
To go away, to dive deep
and come back
deeper still
loving.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

2/23/19

Doing Healing Work

from Tom and Eric and Karla
who have never met as far as I know

The hardest
when traveling
through and past
abject darkness
it to not become
dark
soaked in it
through and through
no matter how
it may damage you
and then spraying dark all around you
unaware, even unwilling.
No
I tell you true
do not choose to
go behind that door
in this life game show
we are creating.
Even if a dark dip
choose love
choose light.
Begin with you
let dark slide off you
“like water off a duck’s back”
as my mother used to say
to her sensitive daughter.
Or let dark overtake
temporarily, feel fully
and remember to release.
Or find your own metaphor
your own goal to aim for.
No matter what has happened
is happening
let go of fear
let go of mindlessness
remember you are a wondrous healer
think of all the scrapes and bruises
you no longer have, inside and out.
You are headed somewhere.
And if this is it
this black bottomless pit
where no light escapes or enters
remember
this is not who you are
only where you are.
Find a bird singing somewhere
or a leaf falling in the flowing river.
Find a cloud of any shape or color
or a clear cloudless depth of azure sky.
Find a song that uplifts
already written or write your own
maybe from your re-formation.
Look anywhere, there is a thread
or beginning of an idea of a thread
that can be woven into
a rope to shape into a ladder
to climb back out on.
Not avoiding the rich loam of life
the shell or armor of protection
as if nothing harsh or fatal
will get out or in
but consider
allowing the possibility of
transformation and transcendence.
Without change there is no growth
without growth there is no life.
Why else did you come?

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

One more bit of inspiration by Tom:
Although I’ve often read my poems to groups of people, it took years for me to record my first poem-video—just after my birthday in 2014. I was painfully shy about it. My willingness to make that first recording was inspired in part by Tom Prasada-Rao and his deeply heartfelt songs that he posted on Facebook. (I now have almost 70 poem-videos on my YouTube channel.)
Here is the blog post with my reading of that first poem, “I Know That.”

Or is you prefer, you can go directly to YouTube:
“I Know That”—on YouTube

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

Taking a Break from the Poem Videos

After 62 videos (and days) I am taking a break from making my poem videos to finish my next book, “Transcending Boundaries: Inspired by Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir.” Thank you for listening and for your kindness and generous comments. If you missed some of them or would like to see the photos or want to listen again: http://www.fullblooming.com/category/video-poem-series/

You can also watch the videos on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0SXdl_48M5GH6CN_tfoa_w

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