Category Archives: people

Amanda Palmer: Song in Progress

10/18/17

Amanda Palmer: Song in Process

what do you most fear, part 2

Every fear
ever invented
is stuck in
someone’s throat
as if
everything is darkness

All the fears
loneliness, isolation
not-enoughness
the doom of the times
we seem to be in
and yet…

on the good days
we breathe
on the good days
sun shines or rain
falls on the wild fires
on the good days
we can sleep and wake
before we remember fear

And the bad days
we all have
we won’t speak of here
but to acknowledge them
as part of universal life

As I scroll down this list
of over a thousand comments
not reading each word
but blessing each
vulnerable human

who took the time
to write on the chance
it would matter
to someone reading
or someone praying
or someone writing a song.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2017

IL Route 22, Sept. 2017, copyright MDMikus

Dinner with Geary–Connecting through Poetry

7/24/17

Dinner with Geary

On the good days
what comes between here and there
the before and after, now and then
the necessary transition
the clarifying calm after the storm
the personal and the political
is messy but manageable

On the bad days
fear overrides all good instinct
kindness mistaken for weakness
brute control at any cost, manipulation
mistaken for power and yet…
even here in abject darkness
a sliver of light, or a crack

that lets light in or a smidgeon of hope
What kind of question opens the door
to the path, not laid out in advance
but created new under each separate footfall?
Why tell you this—or ask you
to consider not losing hope, not despairing?

We are each a dot in a context
a deliberate point in a pointillist painting
It is the context, the perspective
I offer for consideration

And we are each a universe entire
autonomous yet connected in a web
of strands seen by some, felt by others
maybe you are one, if what you once knew
when you came here has not been pounded down
If you can still recognize what is true:
We were made for these times

To remember, hold to beauty, inspire
Not as in human cold marble statues
of superficial shallow perfection
but embodied spirits, warmly human
unwitting gods of creation, fragile and powerful
at least a bit willing.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2017

In looking for something else, I found this poem and realized I had not heard from my friend, Geary, in quite a while, since we had met for dinner at a favorite Thai restaurant. I realized I had not sent him the poem that came out of our conversation. I decided to email it to him to check and see if he was ok. He got back to me right away and had quite a story to tell. As he said, once again our lives were in parallel. Here is this poem for you too. What has inspired you lately?

Chicago Roof with Pigeon, by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2012

The Vision: A Fable of Our Times

Listen to the poem here

The Vision:
A Fable of Our Times

by Margaret Dubay Mikus

There was a Teddy Bear
tall and true
who sat on a throne.
He conducted music
when few were at home.
How frustrating he found this
was made very clear
when he said to those gathered
“This may be my last year here.”

The faithful awoke
to the challenge he made.
They redoubled their efforts
and soon made the grade.
They worked hard together
and even at home!
to make more magic together
than they could do alone.

The rest (or unfaithful
I suppose you could say)
soon fell by the wayside
and chose not to stay.

The result of this challenge
issued from on High
was a short time of confusion,
complaints and some tears,
renewed efforts and energy spent,
ultimately resulting in more heartfelt music
than had been heard in the land for years.

Those hearing this music
were moved beyond saying.
They thought to themselves
“This sounds like angels are praying.”
And they told their friends
who told their friends,
till all over the town
this became the new trend.

Along with the news
something else spread too,
some of the heart magic
acted like glue
to bring people together
instead of apart;
this was powerful magic
these songs from the heart.

Now, the faithful who stayed
and sang from their hearts
who struggled and worked
to learn their own parts,
they too were rewarded
by the magic of song.
The energy they spent
in singing well together
returned to them doubled,
cares light as a feather.

Support sprang up
from the businesses there
who knew a good thing
and wanted to share.
The Chamber of Commerce
swore undying devotion
and set up a committee
to set things in motion.

Elders and teens
did whatever was needed
to support behind the scenes.
Family and friends
and friends of friends too
sold tickets, raised money, ate dinners
sewed costumes, made handouts, bought flowers,
sold ads, designed posters, put up sets,
took down chairs, created decorations,
sold candy, handed out programs,
all as best they knew.

The politicians of the town
jumped on the bandwagon too,
as the music drew more people
and the phenomenon grew.
For politicians know
what is good for the town
turns out to be good for them too.
As the singers traveled all over the land
they carried the name of the town.
First nearer, then farther
they spread their heart music around.

The town became known
as a place for the arts
somewhere you could go
for opera or concerts
or paintings or a show.
The businesses prospered
from the people who came
first for art, then for shopping
as the town got its name.

Then the townspeople said
“What we need is a Home
to welcome back our singers
whenever they roam.
A place to hear heart music
in all of its glory.”
And so it was done.
There’s more to this story.

The Teddy Bear had a vision you see
of what heart music could do
and how it could be
that more and more people
would come and be healed
and say to those near
“I love” and “I forgive.”
Then the world could be changed
based on love and not fear
and the Teddy Bear would stay
for year after year.

© 1995


Listen to the poem here

Where did “The Fable” come from and why release it now? A story of intention and inspiration and taking a leap. Backstory of The Vision

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

John Flynn at Folkstage–part2

August Monarch, Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2007

While searching for my poems that were inspired by singer/songwriter, John Flynn, I found this second one (included in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine.) It was from a Facebook post on the day of Nelson Mandela’s death. Reading it now reminds me of John urging us at the concert last night: to be more kind, to do something to help lift someone up. Thank you, John, for all of it.

12/8/13

White Woman from Illinois on Mandela

Posted by John Flynn on Facebook:

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint
as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

He might be the first to say
he was ordinary,
a man making choices with great clarity,

understanding consequences
to holding hate and anger close,
how one gets burned
and nothing is accomplished.

To say now he was awe-inspiring,
to raise him so high in sainthood,
select media-glorifying snippets to focus on,
reducing him to an icon on a pedestal

does him and us a disservice
for it assumes we cannot also be better,
do better, make the forgiving choices.
It assumes he was a hero above us, beyond us,

a mythological figure, not flesh and bone.
It says we admire from afar but do not aspire
to be something held so high…
and that is wrong.

We are all capable of better,
more conscious loving acts.
We are all awesome healers
no matter our circumstance.

We do not have to reflexively perpetuate
old patterns that do not serve us.
We can heal within and radiate healing out.

Start now, start somewhere,
some small breach, maybe love yourself
a little or a little more today
as a way of remembering him,
honoring a long life of sacrifice
and ultimate joy—as a choice.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013

To hear this poem and read more about it

For my first John Flynn-inspired poem: read here

Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine:
Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing