Empty: A Blessing

When it comes to the subject of emptiness,
Are you hell-bent for leather?
Is it a safe bet to say you’re obsessed
With that empty sensation?

I’m saying:
If you’re prone to dissociation,
Put your absent-ghost-hands up…
…yup, that’s what I thought.

We’ve got a full house
Full of haunted houses,
And understand
I add myself to that accounting.

No matter where we go
When we collectively
Vacate our respective
Mental premises,
Our bodies always remain,
Are fully present for every second,
Absorbing each bit of it,
Faithful fleshly servants.

So many sock puppets
Patiently awaiting fistfuls of animation,

So many driverless cars
Remaining steadfast
In the face of abandonment
Tragically taking place
Right outside the filling station.

We’ve been exhibiting the tendency
To run on empty,
To pretend the tank is full,
Despite complete depletion,
Needing our souls’ vehicles cleaned,
Yearning to be windshield-wipered from the inside.

We are in a complicated relationship with the void,
Both annoyed by and beholden to the hole and the whole,
It’s a constant push-pull with the gape and the fullness.

Sometimes, we’re desperate to be vessels,
No more, no less,

Then we morph into vortexes of want,
Vacuums of longing.

We venture into some pretty treacherous
Troubled waters in search of that no-thing-ness
Spoken of by holy souls, sages and madmen.

We sail some dangerous seas
Trying to appease the grievous need.

We are the beating hearts
Bursting forth from our own chests
And yes, it gets messy
When just existing is considered disruptive.

It’s a pleasant enough suggestion to
Love the skin you’re in,

That is, unless you’ve let your flesh
Dance against the razor’s edge,

Unless you’ve ever been an
Wanting to
Dislodge the contents
Of what’s deadlocked
In your consciousness.

That is, unless trauma has knocked
Upon your soul’s door
And been answered by an apparition.

That is, unless you’ve got a headful of demons
Screaming for your attention,
And you’d give anything to evict them,

Unless you’ve ever checked out
When the pressure continued to mount,
Preferring any alteration to your mindstate
Over the cold hard slap
Of concrete reality against your cheek,

Unless you’ve ever eaten your feelings
For the cognitive knockout,
The numb and stunned bliss of a donut binge
Crammed down your throat
Like a rainbow-sprinkled, maple-iced
Iron fist of dumbstruck and delicious emotionlessness.

The final frontier
Of our quest to fill the emptiness.

You can live without booze,
Without drugs,
Without jumping up
To make sure the front door’s locked shut
A hundred times in a state of compulsion,
Without TV,
Without weed,
Even without prayer, dance, chanting,
Meditation, creative visualization
(Not that that’s my recommendation,)

The point is,
You can live without most anything,

But, dearly beloved,
You still must eat.

Be still my beating heart.

The humility of this earthbound existence,
Of this abject barrenness,
Plumbs a depth that is endless,
And the intensity is eerily

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Then it all goes pop
And we are lost in the awesomeness,
Beyond the mere sensation of container.

Turned inside out.
Turned out.
Sweet freedom.

Praise be to this vacancy,
To the newly-released,
To the better-than-vessel,

Dispersing into murky otherworldliness,
Swimming in the liminal spaces,
Dissolving beyond emptiness,
Beyond thought,

Beyond what the some-thing of time-space is not,
Where all that you’ve got are opposites to play with:
The not-finite of the infinite.
The no-thing of nothing.

This description is
Another slippery fish,
And not one among us
Has yet to get
A better grip on it
Than this,

Still, we persist,
Make valiant attempts
From within this human condition.

I stand here and speak to you,
A simple earthling
Birthing verses made of words
Assembled from letters
I’ve put together,

But all they can do
In their ephemeral
And essential emptiness
Is point to whatever.

For example,
I can write moon in swirling cursive
With an old-timey purple plume,
Or a thousand-dollar fountain pen,

I can graffiti m-o-o-n
Ten stories high
On the side a skyscraper
In the wildness
Of the city night,

I can stand here
Behind this mic
And shout,

But my mouth
Remains moonless.

No luminous crystal-blue orbs
Issue forth from my lips,

No glorious yellow crescents
Spill from my tongue,

But still,
I will keep singing these lunar tunes,
Composing my moon-eyed poetry,

Because, doncha see,
I gotta lotta dichotomy
Going on in me,

And a little wisdom—not much—
Just enough to know
That within the poison
Always lives the antidote,

Just enough to know that
There are treasures buried
In the deep mines of our lives.

Which is why we’re willing to climb
Down the ancient spiral staircases
Carved directly into the bedrock
Of our hearts’ grief-stricken death-wishes,
And keep going.

Knowing that this emptiness
Holds blessings beyond comprehension.

Knowing that this loneliness is
Holy holy holy


Photo Credit: “Initiation Well” by Claudio Accheri


This piece was written for Write Club Los Angeles. I post it here with love and gratitude to my Write Club LA/Bootleg Theater family