Wild Like Horses

-Gina Marselle

…then my breath became spirit
Escaping so free

Gravity melting breath like butter
Along silken skin into a river
Breathing in water breath

Sacred heart center

Breath is the color of fire
Purple, red, yellow

Ribcage expanding
Exploding
Exhaling breath spirit

Gravity slows racing heart
Holding breath
Lungs are full

Thankful

I can hold my spirit

Still

Or set her free

Wild like horses
Galloping into the river’s edge

 

“Rafiq”

This is an image of my horse out on a trail ride. Rafiq is a rescue Arabian. Photograph was taken by the trainer, Elisa Bohannon who is the owner and trainer at Blue Barn Stable. More info on Blue Barn: https://www.facebook.com/BlueBarnEquine/

Yellow

by G. Marselle

Yellow Desert Wildflowers |Edgewood, NM | G. Marselle, 2020
I will rise to the challenge
like an unbroken wave
outrunning a winter storm,
even when the thermometer reads 0ºF.
Between H2O and air,
I will sail with calm purpose. 
When energy is dull, I will rest/reset
like a fat, lazy cloud
on a quiet, spring morning.
Inspiration awakens,
dives into a yellow desert wildflower
blooming brilliant and alive. Even the sun reaches
for her inspiration inside tiny petals.
I, too, bloom bright.
Divine love surrounds summer with happiness 
and birds sing their arrival. 
Tomorrow is a new day, and I will rise
to the challenge, as basil and thyme grow unbroken
alongside autumn orange pumpkins. 

Note: This poem was inspired by a writing prompt shared by Eva Crespin with my high school students at a poetry writer’s workshop held on January 21, 2021. Thank you Eva for inspiring us all to write from our heart.

Also, the words “I rise” makes me think both of “Rise Up” sung by Andra Day and “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou and how powerful the words are. No matter how down you may feel, just know, you can still rise.

“…And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again…”

by Cassandra Monique Batie / Jennifer Decilveo

“…Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise…”

by Maya Angelou

Apache Plume

           ~ In memory of Julie Brokken (1959-2020)

Gina Marselle © January 2, 2021

The desert is a brutal abode
Drought-wise
Too hot during summer solstice
Too cold during winter solstice
Empty most moments
Sometimes only bees hear the echo of wing flap
So how does an apache plume awaken each morning
Stretching for the peaceful, cerulean expanse
Water-wise
Inspiring purple butterflies
Cooling quails
Well past twilight
Content to settle in the sandy, low desert
Flowering yellow-white petals
Whispering hope  

This poem is inspired by Julie Brokken’s photograph: Twilight Apache Plume. It is copyright material, and you may view the image on her website: http://www.juliebrokken.com/botanical-beings.html. Please scroll down about halfway to view the image. As well as the poem, I included a watercolor I did of the photograph. This poem and watercolor are in memory of New Mexico artist and poet Julie Brokken (1959-2020).

Apache Plume, watercolor by Gina Marselle

Release What Doesn’t Belong

by Gina Marselle, November 2020

“Alive and well–

release what doesn’t belong,”

a mantra imagines.

I release this worry, heavy like a crow

sitting empty on a branch

near a river’s edge–

without flight.

This pandemic is like a broken wing

filling my head with fear,

allowing anxiety to bear her weight.

Weighing my heart down until breath is shallow

weak, panicky:

breathe in to the count of 4

hold for the count of 4

exhale for the count of 8

4-4-8

again.

My breath feels weak, without belief.

Prayers are empty. The sky has little light.

Inhale.

A corner of the blue sky smells like lilacs in autumn–

jealous my lungs gulp deep.

I try to center.

Palpating the naked earth between my toes,

as the wind arouses my hair.

I seed my toes into the earth’s belly

experiencing the enormity of time.

Earth has survived all the pandemics.

What can I learn from her?

I am silent. Listening.

I hear her enormous gulps of air,

she sighs a tremendous breath.

She utters in a voice as endless as time,

“You are alive and well–

release what doesn’t belong to you.”

I gulp her breath as my own,

kiss it deep into my center–

whisper out this mantra

until the crow heals and takes flight.

The branch snaps back with strength, the weight lifted

and without fear, worry

dances carefree in the quiet breeze

as the early morning light lifts higher into a dim sky.

ask your heart–

ask your heart

I.

May I be happy?

May I be loved?

May I be worthy of that love?

May I be at peace?

May I be strong enough?

May I be okay alone?

II.

There is so much happening in the world and with all my roles–mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, neighbor, voter…I sometimes forget the role of SELF. The role self and all I need in order to have harmony. On empty, I can’t accomplish much.

III.

On empty,

I won’t get very far

if I am driving –my body– this vehicle, on empty

will putter, stall, stop. Getting nowhere. I’ll just be stuck here, stuck with these emotions, stuck with these fears, stuck on EMPTY.

IV.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

ask your heart

May I have energy?

She will say, yes. She looks out for you. Pumps life into you without any other reason than she loves you. Once-in-a-while, she’d like you to take a moment in gratitude. Place your hand on her, feel her strength and say, “Thank you.”

So Heart,

“Thank you. Thank you for beating all these years, for giving me life for all these years. Such a gift to see my daughter grow, to see my son grow, to see the sun rise and set 16,790 times–truly, that’s a miracle.

I am

grateful.”

Gina Marselle, 10/17/2020

Hermosa Beach, Cali | July 2019 | Gina Marselle

Thirst

Dedicated to those fighting fires.

Thirst sits heavy in my throat
Opaque smoke hangs
Confident in the New Mexican sky
Our ancient sky is now a holder of smoke
For all the fires burning to the west, Northwest
As the winds shift
The Southwest
Wraps the smoke into its four corners

I pray for rain to clear the atmosphere
I miss our blue sky
Miss seeing the Sandias
Then I feel guilt

I have no right to miss the sky
A family misses their child more
Their small son and his dog—the dog stayed with his boy
As the smoke stifled both
Found together, the pup curled in his lap
Reading the news article, I just can’t—
Tears for this lost. Tears for the raging fire
The angry fires that burn
Mother nature can be vicious in her descent

She may also be loving
We pray, I pray, on my knees for holy water,
For rain to fill the fiery sky
For a tsunami of water
To drench the burning lands, tress, homes

Loss of life is too much, we are already fighting a pandemic
And protests.And police brutality.Andunity.And.And.And—
It’s too much
I want to drown my thirst into moments of peace
Gulp tranquility, HOPE
Until my belly is full and I’m bloated
I want to breathe water
Inhale, exhale
I pray for a universe of water to drench
Destructive fires—gift each life a chance

Water is humble—
It is difficult to ask for help
With faith, prayer, I look up and within a blink
There is a portion of the New Mexico sky
Giving me hope that eventually
The smoke will settle, the fires will succumb
This thirst quenched with life-healing water

© Gina Marselle September 16, 2020

Note: This work was inspired by a call for poets to write on the theme of water. I recorded this poem and it was shared during the “Volume 27 of Wednesday Night Poetry Virtual Open Mic, Poetry Through the Pandemic.” Poet, Author, Teaching Artist, Photographer and Host of Wednesday Night Poetry, Kai Coggin, invited poets to share poems about water to bring on the rains to drench the fires raging the west and Northwest parts of the United States. “Wednesday Night Poetry is physically held each week at Kollective Coffee+Tea in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, but is now held virtually to poets all over the world!”

© Gina Marselle | Offering | 9.18.202

#sayhername

Breonna Taylor

In honor of Breonna Taylor’s memory, I dedicate this post to her and her family. My condolences to her friends and family. God bless and my sincere prayers that the world soon finds solace.

https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-matters-ep-2-say-her-name-breonna-taylor-a-conversation-with-tamika-mallory-and-taylor-family-attorney-lonita-baker/

Gina Marselle, July 11, 2020

After Reading Nye’s Poem, Kindness

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.”
~Naomi Shihab Nye

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love.”
~Lin-Manuel Miranda

       for my daughter, Miranda

Before you know what love really is
You have to strip yourself
Of everything
Every feeling
Every article of clothing
Every sound
Taste
Smell

Get rid of it all

Every material thing
You ever felt
You have to get rid
Of what you thought love is/or was

You have to give birth
      (or hold a child
      or a butterfly
      or a miracle
      or faith
      or race your horse across an empty cornfield
      without bit or saddle)

Love is love unaware
Of anything
But everything
Like bravery
Like a caterpillar spreading her wings
Knowing she doesn’t yet have wings
You too, don’t need wings
Because you already know how to fly
As you grand jeté
Landing softly but with firmness
Only a mountain understands
A thousand years later
As the sun sets and kisses Earth goodnight

A mother rocks
Nurses
Coos
Her golden, littlest love to sleep

Before you know what love is
You have to empty your soul
Like a yogi
Empties breath
All the way out until lung is flat
And the heart muscle has to remember
How to pump
Because life is not without

Hope

It has to have hope
Else we drown
One
By
One
Until it is just Adam and Eve, again
Standing naked
But this time they don’t see
Because they’re blind
And maybe this time

We’ll get it right

We’ll all fall into an abyss
And swim, and swim

We’ll be familiar with the
Darkness
Because we never knew anything else
Like we are back inside the
Womb
From which we all came
A quiet blackness
Of warmth
Of love
Safe
Content
Alone

Before you know what love is
You have to empty your pockets all the way out

And still believe

You are whole
You are brave

© Gina Marselle
May 28, 2020

My Daughter at American Ballet Theatre, NYC | Summer 2017 | Photo by Gina Marselle

LOTS OF LOVE OUT

LOTS OF LOVE OUT

Do you need strength in this moment?
Have you forgotten to love self?
To feel loving kindness?
Are you wandering from room to room?
Or sitting numb on your couch?
Are you cleaning the kitchen, again?
The bathroom, again?
Scrubbing boredom away.
Empty hours stack up—minutes turn into days.
Time is endless.
The only excitement is groceries being delivered
and finally, they had in stock a beautiful, organic tomato.

A prayer of thanks.

In the garden, your seeds just begin.
You pull weeds so seeds have room to grow.
The sun shines today.
The dog carries his ball in his mouth,
his tongue out the side panting.
The birds sing,
a Cooper Hawk flies from tree to tree
building nest.

It is the little things

that bring breath
and calm. Lilacs bloom.
You give some to your daughter
so she can place on her nightstand.
You make her blueberry banana muffins with crumble on top,
plain banana muffins for son.
After a shower and clean hair, the night settles.
Your prayers and wishes
for connection settle the soul.
It is not in others, but in self that prayers are answered

in the little things—

all tremendous blessings hidden in sweet
breaths. Inhale, exhale.
Big breaths in. Lots of love out—
sleep brings peace and tomorrow is a new day.

© Gina Marselle, 2020

Like Me

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you. (44)

~from The Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu translation by S. Mitchell

Sometimes, sleep sits empty
on a brick wall.
It doesn’t waver or fall,
it’s thin smoke,
anxiety on a string
swaying in a spring breeze,
more gently than a tire swing—

like me.

I count how many likes on my poem,
posted on social media:
only one today;
six the other day;
zero the day before that–
and the poems sit empty
unread,
unliked,

like me.

Anxiety takes hold of my breath,
holds it hostage,
sucking life,
zipping it up in too tight of jeans
until stomach aches,
and vomit sneaks up the windpipe
never to escape.
But sits there, uncomfortable—

like me.

Even if my life is uneventful,
I still try
to make the day worth something.
I love the sunrise as much as breath,
I love the warmth radiating on my skin,
hands in dirt planting carrot seeds, beets
radishes for their vibrant colors
for their sweet or bitter taste,
hoping they take root—

like me.

My roots are not tied down to place,
but to memory,
to my children,
to poems,
even if unread—
my name ties them to earth
and root.
Showing the universe
I’m here.
Life has meaning
and, maybe, in that moment
that I posted that poem,
bravery stood up—

like me.

Sometimes, anxiety punches me in the gut,
knocks the wind right out of me
and maybe I’ll fall,
and then again, maybe I won’t.

Each morning that I wake up,
grateful for another chance…

© Gina Marselle, April 26, 2020

Take Root | April 2020| Image by Gina Marselle