Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Solstice Blessings : Who Makes a Way to My Heart, I Will Deliver Poems to Yours

Photos & Collage
by Renee Podunovich
Joyous Winter Solstice Blessings to all my friends 
and to this terribly beautiful world that I love so much. 

Illustrious for Brief Moments

Today is another chance
            to be fully alive,
            present in the What
            Is —               the light and dark embodied,
                                    the movement from dreaming       
                                    to waking dreams— all of it
                                    the same mysterious fabric.

Sunrise— Juncos feast at the feeder
cheerful in the chill white,
light lands on feathers and drifts,
                                    on me at my writing desk,
                                    on you, somewhere —

Webs of distance
I won’t write about longing ever again.
I have already wandered that endless path,
followed it to the distant most planets.
I am here, not there. not anywhere else.
I exist inside the silk lining
of pockets of snow, softly
elevating me and the winter birds
far far from our summer selves,
                                    stillness, seeds and scattered
                                    words become our

dream food

We are held aloft—illustrious —for brief moments
before our feet sink through
to the solid, frozen earth,
dark matter, the underworld
that will once again
birth us at

-Renee Podunovich, 12.21.18

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Land & Water Musing: The River Beneath the Reservoir

McPhee Reservoir / Dolores River
photo by Renee Podunovich

McPhee reservoir was almost completely drained this year because of extreme drought conditions. I discovered this on my first walk along the Dolores River trail this fall, and was stunned that I could keep going on an on because the reservoir is in fact just its own skeleton again. 

I was immediately reminded of Clarissa Pinkoles Estés musings on the “Rio Abajo Rio”— the river beneath the river, which “flows and flows into our lives.”

After the initial shock at the sight of it, and after my judgments about water right issues and concerns for the ecosystem settled, I resolved to adapt to the current conditions. I decided to meet the place as it is now. This is not last year when I floated unrestricted, bobbing on my paddleboard under summer sun alight on deep waters that lulled me into a waking-dreaming bliss. And this is not all the years before that, and this is not next year either.

This full acceptance of What Is Now happened in a single moment, startling me awake from my internal landscape. It happened suddenly, as her water songs sparkling on small currents of her always flowing, finally caught my full attention—  and it occurred to me—  she is herself again. She is not buried under a backlog of restricted water, existing along the deep bottom, unseen and forgotten to those recreating above. She is fully alive as her River Self, unbroken and moving forward— to the sea—  Imagine!
“The creative force flows over the terrain of our psyches looking for the natural hollows, the arroyos, the channels that exist in us. We become its tributaries, its basins; we are its pools, ponds, streams and sanctuaries. The wild creative force flows into whatever beds we have for it…” –Clarissa Pinkola Estés in Women Who Run With the Wolves
All fall and into early winter, I have committed to meeting her as she is now, rather than inflicting my memories and expectations upon her. I find myself yearning to be near her often. She is the backbone of the reservoir, and fully elegant as her essential self, wending in a serpentine swagger through the uncovered land that is wide and open around her. There is a beachy quality to the landscape somehow, the blues, the wind and alternating sandy swatches and dry-as-a-bone areas in which deep crevices of petrified mud are like puzzle pieces, calling the curious to examine what might be deep inside the earth now exposed. Sunken treasure appears here and there, rusty metal objects mostly, but surprisingly little rubbish.
Driftwood Pen
photo by Renee Podunovich
I am often childlike in these explorations, stopping along the sandy banks at the far reaches where the reservoir now starts to reveal itself again. I love the small beaches along her flanks, surrounded by the dry reservoir bottom in a soaring expanse. I wish to dance in this openness, but resist as it would be ridiculous and unexplainable to others wandering out here in the bottomlands. I find an interesting piece of driftwood in the wet sand and draw a heart with the initials of a beloved in the dark mud, send a wish of wellness out, out, out and wonder how long before it gets washed away or if someone will find this declaration of sentiment in the sand and wonder as well.

The River reciprocates my attempt to Be With What Is. She tells me, “I am where I am and I am OK in this current transition that is still unknown and unfolding.” This is my life now, paired back to what is essentially meaningful to me, and often these are things that aren’t valued in the consumer driven world. Some days it takes so much self-reassurance to stay with the decision to burrow into my own creative process for awhile, when the reality of economics and career are real pressures to be contended with. This is not last year or next year. This is the year I decided to live in closer proximity to what my heart loves most.  

Of our individual creative endeavors, Estés states, 
“Creating one thing at a certain point in the river feeds those who come to the river, feeds creatures far downstream, yet others in the deep. Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed.” 
This year, for now, my life is under the reservoir, under the boats and water-skiers, the swimming dogs and splashing children. At this certain point in the river, I stand. I am at the very essential foundation of my life again—  listening for words that describe the descent, believing something of beauty and value will emerge from here.  I will continue to offer what I find—  gifts from my Soul River to yours.

-Renee Podunovich, 2018

Friday, November 23, 2018

Healing Poems at The Mindful Word

photo by Renee Podunovich

A series of my “healing poems” have been published at The Mindful Word. This was my first attempt, after a 5-year hiatus, at the “getting published game” that I play periodically. I enjoy researching appropriate venues for my work, and if successful, it gets the work out of my journal or personal blog and into the larger stream of words in the world. That there was a 24-hour turnaround from submission to acceptance on these amazes me!

I am pleased with this venue for these particular poems. They could have ended up in a literary journal, which I enjoy too, but this is a platform for mindful wellness and I appreciate that they include creative process and poetry in their offerings so that readers who may not venture into the realm of obscure literary journals might enjoy the benefits of the curative language of poetics.

These were constructed within a 6-month period last winter and evolved out of my own personal therapy work via dreams, conscious movement, shamanic breathwork and art therapy, all experienced in group settings designed to offer a container of support. I am forever grateful for the special group of women that I spent a week with last year in a dreamwork retreat. On an organic farm, on an island in British Columbia, we shared our hearts and dreams. “The Self Caring Sea” is a deep bow to each of them and their fierce beauty.

The poem “Witness(ed)” was written for a special person whose healing process I was honored to be a part of, and forever changed by. I am often humbled by the job of supporting others on their healing path. The task of inner work is full of risk and uncertainty. The continued courage it requires once started is not a matter for the weak of heart. It takes tremendous daring to awaken from the trance of the status quo (whatever that has been for us) and equal bravery to reclaim our wholeness. Considering the endless distractions and pacifications of our culture, it is miraculous that any of us face our own shadows or take up this calling.

The profound opportunity to witness others on their journey inspires my writing often. Writing a healing poem gifts me with the opportunity to restore my own psyche. Often in working so closely with others and witnessing their woundedness, my own wounds are shown to me— again or at another level. And a good healing poem transcends both myself and the other person and becomes relevant to the hearts of many because we are all connected, made of the same substance, interwoven in the now and in our futures.

In the shifting landscape of cultures and environments, and the uncertainty of what it means for our species and many others, we need each other more than ever. We need healing words. May these poems remind me and you— that we are all in this thing together. I see you. I see me. I care about us.

You can check out the poetry and other resources of interest at The Mindful Word

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wounded Healer: Gathering Poems in the Immensity

Photo by Swain Scales
Wounded Healer

We were small in the valley
of red and white sands,
just creatures among creatures
in wilderness.
We stayed close together,
            friends in the immensity,
            hiking canyons and washes at night
with a full moon and headlamps
and me blindly reaching for objects
in the shadows and for some reason, that night,
I spotted all of the corpses:
            a decomposing coyote,
            large femur of a bird,
            skull of a mouse,
            a baby deer hide —
death was everywhere.

Later, as I walked to my cabin in pitch black,
I heard misery —
a wounded animal,
            baby of a creature
            whimpering, terror.
I pointed my flashlight in the direction of the sound,
and for a moment,
I was prepared to scour the dark,
            find and save,
            soothe and ease,
an anxiety in my chest —
a responsibility, old, familiar,
like when I was a child and sensed
that the people around me ached,
each one (everyone) in their own way,
could see it but not calm it,
            lived with knowing I had no power
            over grief.

In the morning, I spoke of it
to the poet, Dahveed, as he poured me coffee.
“Yes,” he said. “I heard it too.”
“Do you think it was suffering?” I asked.
“I think there is suffering all around, always.”
And his eyes told me another truth —
that I am not responsible to fix it.

-Renee Podunovich, 2018