Dear Dark-Hearted-Star

Dear Dark-Hearted-Star
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 
Dear Dark-hearted star–
Shine your mystery
Into the daytime sky,
Shine your holy darkness
Onto the tongues of butterflies,
Shine your shadowed path
Into the eager eyes of bees,
And bloom a radiant midnight
Into my shrouded, keening heart,
And allow me, just once,
To travel your billowy, silken halls
And find myself in your light,
To reveal myself in your presence,
To partake of your nectar of astonishment
So that I may awaken to the bravery
To shine as freely as you.

 

dark hearted star

 

 


 

 

 





Chosen

Chosen
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 
The thing is
No one believes me.
How the fireflies dazzled their way
To my back screen door, like
A galaxy spiraling towards me.
No one believes their light
Became so strong, so blinding
It simply crossed the threshold
Into my kitchen, gathered me up
In its arms, and lifted me outside
Into the night, and upwards, passed the trees,
Higher, into the clouds of moonlit angel hair,
And higher, to the stars,
Where suddenly it let me go
And still I kept rising, and the mass of fireflies sang—
(I didn’t know fireflies sang),
And I rose to their shimmering chorus up,
Up until the moon grabbed me out of the sky
And swirled me over and over in her jet black hair
As a spider tumbles a fly in a web,
And I laughed as she spun me, for her hair
Was soft as wind, and she sang like the fireflies
An uncluttered lullaby—pure, incandescent, like
Rays of sunlight beaming through a morning forest,
And the more she wove, the more I could breathe,
And her song bathed around me every bit
As softly as her hair, and when she finished,
And I had tumbled one last time
I found myself drifting to sleep in her satin shrouded arms,
And somewhere nearby I could see
The fireflies forming a ring around us,
Encircling us in diamonds and glittering sapphires,
And I could feel her chest rise and fall
As she too began to sleep,
And the dreams we had that night
Were unlike any I have ever had.
To say they were resplendent
Would be putting it mildly—they were dreams
Of pure, radiant light—my mind and soul blazed
With brilliance, sang with silver, rang with bells
Of crystal, and I knew things—answers
To things—questions exploded like fireworks
And then drizzled towards me like
Ribbons of fireflies—because they were fireflies—
Each and every one of my questions was a firefly,
Every one of the answers was too,
And I knew right then and there,
Asleep in the arms of the moon,
Guarded by a legion of fireflies,
That the world, no matter how dark,
No matter how light, was made of light–
Light brighter than we could ever imagine, light
That made the darkness darker so as to illuminate
The way for angels carrying candles, light
That made the sun seem playfully small,
Light that made my problems and their solutions become bubbles of dew,
And everything, everyone was the chosen one,
Every atom, cell, strand of dancing DNA
Was chosen, and lit up from within
With a heavenly darkness,
And loved beyond measure,
Loved beyond fear, loved beyond doubt,
Loved beyond the wildest passions
One could ever hope for—loved beyond belief.
I knew these things asleep in the arms of the moon.
And when I woke I was in my bed,
And when I stood I stumbled,
And when I stumbled I stayed on my knees
And thanked the moon, the fireflies, the stars,
And when I rose to go tell the world
How the answers and the questions—how
Your heart and my heart, your body and my body, your soul
And my soul, your mind and my mind, are all made of light,
How we are all chosen, how we are all known,
And that the way to letting your light shine
Is to go, go through the darkness,
Go through the darkness
Until you sleep in the arms of the moon, like
A baby–when I rose to tell the world
I heard you say, what good will it do?
It’s not about good, I replied. It’s about knowing
That somehow, someway we are all OK,
We are all light destined for light, to hatch into light.
So right now, in this place, in this moment in time and space,
Take my hand, and rejoice, and go, I said,
Go into the darkness—
Run, stumble as I did, stumble for years if you have to, just go,
I will be by your side. Go until you see them—
Angels carrying candles, fireflies lanterning the path,
The moon opening her arms. Go.
Go and be loved by light swaddled in darkness until your own self-love
Dawns like a summer morning in the night of your self-hate.
I know. You’re right. I was wrong about what I said
At the beginning. I know you believe me.

 

 

 


 

 

 





When You Open

When You Open
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 

When you open
In your own perfectly sweet, and treacherous time,
You will see what you thought
Were mere wrappings
To be unloved and discarded,
Are really part and parcel of the blossoming.
Just on the other side
Of the delicate, luminous tissue
That makes up love’s secret desire,
Is the revelation you are
Love’s secret desire, you
Are the beauty you long for.
On the underside of your visible identity,
The one you show day in day out,
You are the light you seek
In the world.

 

opening flower

 

 


 

 

 

 





Imagine This

Imagine This

by

Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 

Imagine this:
Being confined
For what to you
Feels like an eternity,
And then
Light-inspired-
Earth-supported-
Water-nourished-
Sky-accepted-
You wake up one day
And decide to show us
A whole other world
You’ve been keeping safely,
Wisely, and tenderly
Hidden away.

 

imagine this flower photo

 

 

 


 

 

 


For Mishima

For Mishima
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 
Wear a kimono,
Dawn the sun,
Sweat with your lovers
And night soil men,
Put down your tanto,
Lift up the pen,
Sweat with your lovers,
And dance in the snow of your words.
Step one way
Or the other,
Away from the purgatory
Of being trapped in the fourth wall,
Go beyond shame,
Go beyond dysphoria,
And sweat with your lovers
And night soil men.
Let the mask of your grandmother,
Mask of St. Sebastian, mask
Of traditions, mask of the broken mirror,
And let them melt away like painted snow,
And then dance Imperial Crescent Moon–
Dance with your words
And dance with yourself
And sweat with your lovers
In beds of satin,
Take Omi’s hand—his white-gloved hand,
And walk the dew covered grass
To the Golden Pavilion,
And wrestle with him, like a child
In its golden light,
Blossom in his arms,
Let him cool your fevers
And clear your lungs
With his breath,
And let the terrible destruction
Wrought by shame
And straying too far
From your luminous beauty,
Fall away like cherry blossom petals in spring,
And dance, dance in the fields
Of your flame-colored words,
And let the Emperor of Peace
Rule your troubled and elegant land.

 

 


 

 

 





Masks

Dear Readers,

This is a summer-rerun post–a story called, Masks.  It was originally written 3 years ago but is truer now than it was then–at least for me.  It was inspired by a post on Jean Raffa’s wonderful blog, Matrignosis, called, “Ruling the Inner Chamber” ( http://jeanraffa.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/ruling-the-inner-chamber-3/&nbsp .

 

 

Masks

by

Joseph Anthony Petro

Once inside a time, a child descended the rainbow spiral and slipped into the life of a troubled young couple. The child floated in its embryonic wonder, dreaming of eternity, dreaming of worlds within worlds, dreaming of creating the universe, as her little body formed–clothing those dreams in flesh and bone.


At long last she was born again and when she first focused her grey, oceanic eyes on her mother, she took the image of her mother, saw it form into a mask, and drop down onto her little face as lightly as a breeze. After a moment the mask took on the shape and contour her own face, and disappeared, leaving her seemingly unaffected. The same thing happened when she first saw her father. A mask lifted from his face, imprinted with his features, drifted down upon her face, and disappeared just below the surface.


One day, years later, her father lost his temper for the hundredth time, something about money and bills, and the image of his face changed, distorted, and another mask lifted and wafted through the room until it landed on her face where, like the other masks, it took the shape and form of her face and then disappeared.


One day her mother flew into a rage and slapped her around the room, because she had broken her cellphone, and the child took on the mask that lifted from her mother’s wild, anger-blinded face. Her tears acted like an extra strong adhesive as that mask stuck itself down to stay.


Another day she was assaulted by an uncle in the basement of his house on Easter Sunday. His mask burned as it grafted to her face. As did the faces of everyone upstairs when she was finally able to move and go upstairs, in shock, somehow their gazes told her they all knew what a horrible, ugly person she had suddenly become. And they looked away but their masks hung in the room and followed her as if suspended on invisible strings, to where she sat rocking on the floor in front of the TV, her arms wrapped around her knees, like stunted wings.


Still another day she was humiliated in front of the entire school when she forgot the words to the song she was singing at the Christmas assembly. It was quite a feat, but she managed to assimilate the masks of everyone staring at her; everyone who laughed and pointed their fingers.

Over time and over years, she took on mask after mask from those around her.  She would watch other children get praised for something they did or said and she took on their masks as well. She took on masks of bullies, victims, the wall flowers in the corner; heroes, heroines, pop stars, movie stars, lovers, therapists, friends, and even imaginary people she made up in her mind. And with every mask she forgot who she was. Sure she knew the name her parents gave her; sure she knew things about herself. But her real name; her true identity, that became increasingly hidden under layers and layers of micro thin, but nonetheless nearly unbreakable masks.


Until one day, in her late thirties, she broke down while looking in the mirror. She no longer knew who she was. She didn’t know what to do with her life. She didn’t have a purpose, a direction. She didn’t know anything except that she hated herself, that she felt ashamed with every step she took. And as she stood, hunched over the sink, sobbing into her hands, a raven slammed into the bathroom window with a horrible thud. Broken from her trance, she ran downstairs to see if the bird was still alive. Outside her door, flapping miserably, but looking a bit embarrassed, was a raven. Its eyes looked dazed, one of its wings was bent in a way it shouldn’t be, but otherwise it seemed OK. She bent down to see if there was something she could do when she fell backwards screaming because the raven, as a-matter-of-factly-as the rising sun said: “It was worth it.”


After shaking her head and staring at the raven for quite some time, she stood up, trembling.

“You heard me,” said the raven, “now pick me up and take me inside, I won’t bite. Yet.”


The woman gingerly scooped the raven into her arms, surprised at the size and weight of this night-colored creature.


“What do mean, it was worth it.”


“I had to get your attention somehow. I didn’t mean to hit the window so hard, but at least it broke you out of your trance.”


“You-you smacked into the window for me?”


“Yes, a few more minutes and you’da been lost forever.”


“Lost?”


“In the swamps of pity. Once people get lost in there, they almost never make it out alive. But you’re OK now,” he said as she gently placed him on the couch.


“What do you need,” she asked, “What can I do for you?”


“I just need a few minutes to rest before I ask you to stick my wing back into its socket. It’s just a bit dislocated.”


She cringed at the thought. “It’s the least I can do after you saved me from the swamps of self-pity.”


“I suppose,” said the raven, “but first we need to work on you.”


“Me? What do you mean?”


“I was sent here to help you remember.”


“Remember what?”


“Who you really are.”


“But I know who I…” and then she stopped and remembered the mirror.


“Right,” said the raven as he tried lifting his hurt wing. He winced.


“What do I need to do?”


“Remove the masks.”


“Masks?”


“The ones you’ve been collecting since before you were born.”


“I don’t know what you mean.”


“You do not know who you are,” said the raven. “You don’t recognize yourself. And the person you see in the mirror you hate. You do not like who you have become.


“Yes,” she said starring at the floor.


“It’s the masks,” he said.


“I don’t remember wearing any masks.”


“I believe you,” said the raven, “now please, let’s actually do this to my wing first, I’ll be able to concentrate better on you. Pull my wing gently from right here near the shoulder and lift it ever so slightly and then gently, gently, press it in and towards my body.”


With a deep gulp she slowly did as he requested. He screeched sending her tumbling backwards.
And then he was flapping around the room, strutting with great glee.

“It worked!” he shouted, “Nicely done! So much better!” And for a few moments he preened his feathers starring at her with eyes the color of black blood.


“Now,” he said, “let’s begin.”


She tried to speak but he interrupted her.


“Just listen,” said the raven, “this is only a beginning, and there isn’t a finish line. This work is eternal. We are just going to make it so you at least remember your real name. That’s a great start. Most people don’t get to that point. Once you do that though, the other masks will lift off almost of their own power and you will become lighter and lighter, more you than ever.” And as he spoke, he guided her on a journey within herself, where she began lifting off the masks of the people in her life. As some of the masks were removed, she wept; with others she raged; with others she threw up into the trash can; with others she shook for hours. Mask by mask, she uncovered who she really was. She got in touch with her body, with some of the memories she had long ago hidden. She slowly began accepting herself as herself. She would look in the mirror and catch glimpses of the person she always wanted to be; the person she really was underneath all the masks. The person she loved.


The raven stayed by her side for the rest of her life. And wonder of wonders, with every mask she removed, he shifted his shape. First he became a horse, then a black bear. Then he became an owl, and then a panther. And one day, after she had removed a particularly old and worn out mask, one that crimped her skin with its brittleness, she looked towards her shape-shifting friend, and he was an angel—winged, dark as night, and yet somehow radiant as the stars.


“Now,” he said, “are you beginning to remember your real name?”


“I think so,” she said, “but if I’m right, won’t that be the end? I mean you said there wasn’t a finish line, but if I remember my real name and who I really am, won’t that be it? Game over?”


“Not at all,” said the angel smiling like a crescent moon, “it only means you can begin doing everything you always wanted to do. It only means you will begin looking at this unmasking work as a grace-filled, wonderful adventure and privilege. It simply means you will shine like you were meant to shine. It simply means those around you will begin to look at you with awe and reverence, for so few people know who they are, and when they get into the presence of someone who knows their real name, they will seek out your wisdom. So tell me,” he whispered as he stopped to look her in the eyes, “what is your name?”


After a few moments of luminous chills coursing through her body, and tears of gratitude streaming down her face, she said, “Freedom. My name is Freedom.”

 


 

 

 




Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Listen

Listen
By
Joseph Anthony

 

 
Silence
We all know
You will be the last one standing.

After all the fires and floods
You will step out from the ruins
And take your rightful place
At the center of all things.

How can we redeem ourselves now
So that you will not swallow us up into your endless belly?
Is there a way you can unfold yourself now
So that when the time comes for our souls
To thaw and to lift, we won’t be so afraid when you call our names?
Is there a way of touching you now
So that when you drape us in your arms
Your embrace won’t feel so cold and foreign?
Is there a way, Silence, of getting to know you now
So that when the softening comes,
And the rendering, we won’t be so afraid
That we beg to be born again?

With all of our distractions and means
Of avoiding you we know we fear the thing
We want the most.

So please
Speak through us now so that we may learn
Your language, sing through us now
So that we may learn your melody,
Move through us now so that when our steps distill into dancing
We will fall joyfully into the feathers
Of your waiting and terrible wings.

 

 


 





Dream

Dream
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 
Fireflies
You have broken my heart again.
I see your staccato signals,
I know you are rogue stars
Who let go of their moorings and escaped.
Oh how I long to be like you.

I know caterpillars dissolve
Into a hiding place of their own making.
I know all about that.
What I don’t know is: do they have faith in wings?
Do they believe they carry within themselves
A drop of air waiting to be freed?

I see flowers blooming at night,
I see the pink and purple sunsets
That were hiding all day behind the blue.
I know it is the coming darkness
Combined with dust and the disappearing sun
That makes the watercolor skies.

I hope when I am free of this cage—
When I am not beholden to what anyone thinks or says
Or what the mirror has been telling me
All these years—I hope I will shine, like
A galaxy of fireflies on a hot summer night,
I hope I will dance among the flowers—
Wings fluttering flamboyantly, baptized
By the clear, open light of day.
I hope when the stars of truth separate
From the backdrop void of lies
That I will find a place among the trees
And dazzle the world.

 

 


 

 

 





Gliding

Gliding
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 

The longer I live, the more I realize flamboyant pink flamingoes
Splash in the shallow, blue water of my being.
The more I move the more I sense my bones house a marrow of light.
Somewhere in my cells and those elegant strands of DNA,
The sun, the moon, and all the stars in between weave
Into one rippling tapestry of aliveness.
The more I breathe with my whole body the more I wash my hands
Of the tiresome dualities and ever-expanding binaries.
The more I take mischievous delight in skirting the margins and bathing
In a spectrum of sensual possibilities, the more I dance with recherché impulses
And experience in between spaces opening like songs on which I can ride, like
Magic carpets, and be lifted to liberated places.
The more I participate in the unclouded awareness of sheer potential,
Where authenticity breeds and freedom spirals in satins and silks,
The more I dream of angels who embrace me and whisper in my ear:
“It’s not too late. Come. There are many of us.
Glide while walking home.”

 

 

 


 

 

 



In Your Own Time

In Your Own Time
For Frani
By Joseph Anthony Petro

 
In the shadow of trees
The owl glides over the moonlit marsh, like a dream.
Fireflies drift into shadow-dappled fields, like
A slow carnival of stars.
Bats break free from the shadow-shawled branches, like
Pieces of darkness fluttering through the sky.
It is alright to live in the shadows.
Candles and gold are brightest there.
It is also alright—more than alright-
To burst forth from the shadows, like
Morning through the trees,
To climb over riverbanks and spread over the shore
Perfectly imperfect—loving the shadows
For who they are, knowing their purpose is pure
As midnight, pure as cricket song, pure
As the talons of the owl as it blossoms from the darkness
And descends, joyously, full of hunger,
Towards the object of her desire.
It is alright—it is more than alright
To be who and what you are—
No matter the shadows, no matter the light—
The fields of the world
Await the beating of your wings.