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

Our Task

One may believe that our task as mothers
is simply to love our children.
Some can.
Some can’t.
Some can’t see the yellow moon
or waves slap against the shore
or their worth.
They run like wind on tails of mustangs.
Hearts armored with granite
stitched together with fallen rose petals,
shattered mirrors—
thin shards that slit throat—
killing that one chicken that always scurried up to the porch
when called out the back door, “Here, kitty, kitty…”

Some kind of crazy, a made-up horror film.
Sometimes true.
That chicken’s feathers were plucked,
emptied blood and guts,
Nowadays, kids don’t farm.
It may be grotesque,
but it is how chickens come to plate.
Fried in an old, black cast iron pan.
Oil splatters stove—
grease is difficult to remove
like memory.
A homemade dinner served
with a box of cheap red wine.

An apocalypse hurts less.

Our tasks as mothers is simply to love our children.
Some can.
Some can’t.

My mother stopped loving me probably when I was 8.
I don’t blame her.
Or her mother.
Or my Great Grandmother.

They were all alcoholics. No one taught them how to mother or love.
They did the best they could.
There was no al anon. Or one day at a time.
Just a poison inside a bottle
hidden under the kitchen sink
only for daughters to bare.

When I gave birth to my daughter 20 years ago,
I labored three days—
Finally, a C-Section.
Then daughter nursed. I promised her
for all the setting suns,
I’d do my best to love her,

cherish her, want her, adore her.

Perhaps, God will recognize my hard work.
My daily struggle to mother.
To love.

Allowing forgiveness. It’s a tremendous gift.
My mother suffers from breast cancer now.
I don’t know how she is doing,
as she doesn’t communicate with me or my brother.
Sometimes she talks to my dad (her ex). He tells us sometimes,

but lately, no one mentions her. Already a ghost.

Mother stays hidden in thoughts and journal pages.
In quiet prayers.
Perhaps, God will give me strength to say goodbye—
not in sadness at her gravesite, but in my heart, instead.

©Gina Marselle, 2020

Fortress

20 days in isolation,

each tally marks
my life inside:
mom,
teacher,
wife,
daughter,
sister,
friend,
photographer,
poet—the same as before,
but different now.

Inside my fortress
capturing images
documenting #life
#istayhomefor—

1. Signs on a business’ door:
We are closed due to COVID-19
2. Empty sunsets—
3. Kano’s endless artwork—
4. Self-portraits, only in black & white,
5. Writing and writing and writing….

Tallies on the wall mark 20 days—
20 days disconnected from the world,
but oddly, connected,
being inside,
just staying home.

© Gina Marselle, April 2, 2020

Photos below are the photographs listed in the poem, Fortress, various times throughout being in isolation, all taken on an iPhone 7 Plus. 

1. Signs on a business’ door: We are closed due to COVID-19
2. Empty sunsets—
3. Kano’s endless artwork—
4. Self portraits, only in black & white,
5. Writing and writing and writing….

Red Is the Color of Breath

 

Red is the color of breath.

Splendid since colors named,

endless as time.

It symbolizes everything

about the past, present and future.

It follows extremes.

It sways in the moonlit breeze.

Flits like a feather toward the Rio—

graceful on the current.

Swaying with the evening stars and winter clouds.

Red covers cold air with warmth.

Passion.

Fire.

Love,

always love.

Red holds sacredness,

places it on heart

strings.

Guitar

plays

one,

quiet note at a time—

like Maria sings

to the children

in Sound of Music

high up where snow blankets mountain tops

like ocean whitecaps.

This is no rescue.

No mediation.

Sand is old.

It knows more stories than

our Sandia and Rio combined.

It mixes with blood of life

with Passion of Christ

from dust to dust.

Red is the color of breath.

It flits south hungrily now on the moonlight

like a rabbit baits coyote, as a red tail hawk hunts.

Winter is ending, an unremarkable taciturn,

an endless blackness—

waiting for spring to release winter

to release depressed thoughts—

anything the mind packed.

Now, Red, flits over the mesa

to the peak of the Sandia’s.

Calls out to black bear—

soft and gentle,

an unhurried request

to release spring.

In its journey finding ways to heal,

Red plunges into sun,

as red tail hawk dives for mouse.

Brilliance born

admiration, worship.

Gratitude as Sun

gives breath to morning sky.

There are no answers—

only forgiveness.

Faith.

Hope.

Love,

always love.

Red mediates in this blessed silence honoring

life as Earth wakes. Soon, Red blends

into all colors so others may revere.

©Gina Marselle, 2020

Self portrait of the poet.

 

March 20, 2020

“…but am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut bur—

and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the guest leaves—…”

~ Emily Dickinson

March 20, 2020

Dear _____,

…petite like an Arabian horse compared to a thoroughbred. My Hair is brunette, frizzy like a Weathered Cloud. Fiery highlights ignite Curls like a Match to Candle. Hazel eyes change color as quick as a sail upon wind during a Gale. My body mimics an hour glass, Sands of Time show a life lived—still hoping to see more. Its roundness comes from childbirth, food, and Italian genetics. My Breasts, like storm waves beneath clavicle, guard heart space. My arms are not long nor graceful like a ballerina, they are strong enough to carry pain, lithe enough to offer a hug to my children. My Eyes are wrinkled from writing and writing and editing as Poets or Teachers do. My ribs shelter breath as a Wren shelters her eggs with wing and song—nestling away from Uncertainty; wish I may hide away from Coronavirus, it’s devouring the world. It’ll Steal my lungs, it’ll Steal my loved ones. My tummy is anxious—rumbles—like soft Aftershocks from a significant Earthquake. My Nether regions aren’t Hell—they’re life and shelter protected by plump legs, muscled, robust enough to ride my horse into battle. Ankles twist like snakes and Connect to feet that carry me wherever I go—in these Uncertain Times—at this moment—a Tremendous Gift!

*This piece is inspired by an excerpt from a letter (L268) written by Emily Dickinson to her friend Thomas Wentworth Higginson (July 1862)

©Gina Marselle, 2020