my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Feeding the Fire

if what you do and how you live does not feed the fire
in your heart and blossom into poems,
leave, quit, do not turn back,

I have been thinking about this, not just for my life, but for those who surround me, who, like me, are running out of time. Those like me, who keep waiting for the right time to get assertive and make choices to improve their life. Today is the day, now is the time. Baca tells us this with a great deal of passion. A long poem, but well worth the time to take it in.  A link at the bottome takes you to a page introducing you to this incredible Native American writer.Enjoy.


Jimmy Santiago Baca

If it does not feed the fire
of your creativity, then leave it.
If people and things do not
inspire your heart to dream,
then leave them.
If you are not crazily in love
and making a stupid fool of yourself,
then step closer to the edge
of your heart and climb
where you've been forbidden to go.
Debts, accusations, assaults by enemies
mean nothing,
go where the fire feeds you.
Turn your attention to the magic of whores,
grief, addicts and drunks, until you stumble upon
that shining halo surrounding your heart
that will allow you to violate every fear happily,
be where you're not supposed to be,
the love of an angel who's caught your blood on fire
again, who's gulped all of you in one breath
to mix in her soul, to explode your brooding
and again, your words rush from the stones
like a river coursing down
from some motherly mountain source,
and if your life doesn't spill forth
unabashedly, recklessly, randomly
rushing in wonder at life,
then change, leave, quit, silence the idle chatter
and do away with useless acquaintances
who have forgotten how to dream,
bitch rudely in your dark mood at the mediocrity
of scholars who meddle in whimsy for academic trifles—
let you be their object of scorn,
let you be their object of mockery,
let you be their chilling symbol
of what they never had the courage to do, to complete, to follow,
let you be the flaming faith that makes them shield their eyes
as you burn from all sides,
taking a harmless topic and making of it a burning galaxy
or shooting stars in the dark of their souls,
illuminating your sadness, your aching joy for life,
your famished insistence for God and all that is creative
to attend you as a witness to your struggle,
let the useless banter and quick pleasures
belong to others, the merchants, computer analysts
and government workers;
        you haven't been afraid
        of rapture among thieves,
        bloody duels in drunken brawls,
        denying yourself
        the essence of your soul work
        as poems rusted while you scratched
        at your heart to see if it was a diamond
        and not cheap pane glass,
now, then, after returning from one more poet's journey
in the heart of the bear, the teeth of the wolf,
the legs of the wild horse,
sense what your experience tells you,
your ears ringing with deception and lies and foul tastes,
now that your memory is riddled with blank loss,
tyrants who wielded their boastful threats
to the sleeping dogs and old trees in the yards,
now that you've returned from men and women
who've abandoned their dreams and sit around
like corpses in the grave moldering with regret,
steady your heart now, my friend, with fortitude
long-lasting enduring hope, and hail the early dawn
like a ship off coast that's come for you,
spent and ragged and beggared,
if what you do and how you live does not feed the fire
in your heart and blossom into poems,
leave, quit, do not turn back,
move fast away from that which would mold your gift,
break it, disrespect it, kill it.
Guard it, nurture it, take your full-flung honorable
heart and plunge it into the fire
into the stars, into the trees, into the hearts of others
sorrow and love and restore the dream
by writing of its again-discovered wild beauty.

from Healing Earthquakes, Book V, "Rebirth"
for more poems by Baca:


Loretta said...

Years ago, I heard Jimmy Santiago Baca read this poem, and I felt the truth in it. I think he may have been reading at a Poetry Festival. He is a powerful presence.
Today that truth is even more obvious. The quest that he suggests is not easy, but certainly worth a try.
Thanks, Pam

Ben said...

"then change, leave, quit, silence the idle chatter and do away with useless acquaintances

However, all of my acquaintances seem useless. Perhaps it is my own Dark Passenger.... which seems to be the point of the poem, to loose him... but he is me. I think my fire has yet to be lit.

MCJ said...

Very powerful for me - really puts my struggle with the WS group into focus. I agree with Loretta that this quest won't be easy but I'm beginning to understand that if I want to keep my "fire" lit I need to be honest with myself about what it will take to do that even if it means having to make some difficult decisions along the way. Thanks, as always Pam for your thought-provoking posts here.

Loretta said...

When I read ". . . do away with useless acquaintances . . ." I took it to mean to include teachings that may have worked for me as a child, but as an adult, they were holding me back. Acquaintances often have different ways of living and thinking than I have.

This is where the hard part begins. When I look back on my life today, I can see many relationships and concepts in a whole new light. I can see unhelpful ways of thinking that held me back. This poem encourages me to be reflective. That's how I learn.

pkcyphert said...

Plato said "the unexamined life is not worth living." That's been challenged by the quote "the unlived life is not worth examining. Making conscious decisions to live one's life, not simply watch it pass by, is the first step to having the meaningful life that Baca suggests is possible. Too few take that first step. After 60 years, I feel I am taking such steps.