Music Without Lyrics

Why do I feel sad today? Not super sad. It’s just this minor chord playing itself under the notes of my day. I woke up in this tune, and it doesn’t seem to want to stop playing. Maybe that’s not the truth. Maybe the truth is it was there before, but wasn’t quite loud enough for me to hear. Now that I think about it, I’ve been hearing it for awhile. Whenever I got very, very quiet I could almost make out the chord below the other notes. Maybe it’s just been getting slowly louder and louder over a few years, until there is no mistaking it. Maybe the real truth is it’s been playing under all the notes of my life for decades. Truthfully, maybe I was born with it playing. Maybe I heard it at that moment of my first breath, and that’s why I cried.

It’s just … Without lyrics, how am I to know what it means?

— Able Boodha


The Ride

every part of my skin feels the constantly changing temperature

colors shimmer under the sun in multitudinous neon shades of green

small pools of yellow, white, and blue beckon in shadowed groves by the road

the scented air changes its perfume with each roll of my wheels along the pavement

so rich the odors of the growing, they linger on my tongue like the finest of wines

a hawk soars closely above, her shadow riding beside me along a newly planted field

feeling the road beneath my tires, my body leans to hug its curves like a lover

I hear the engine beneath me whine or hesitate, and shift up or down to meet its need

all my senses are alive, I am awakened and fully present in the moment

I am not thinking, I am feeling, only feeling–with every part of my being

resting in my primal instincts, I experience unity with all that is and am immersed in joy

like the wild thing that I am

— Able Boodha

The Rose Grown Wild

do not pluck the rose grown wild

leave it on the vine and love it there

entice the bud to open its petals

fully gifting itself to you

breathe in its fragrance

more fully alive than any

that is cultivated in captivity

spill its fine and sweet wine

drink in every drop of it

lingering through every last quiver

however many times you spill it:

the rose grown wild is always there

more heady than any you can buy

but if you cannot love it as it is

know that if you pluck it, it will die.

— Able Boodha


I’ve worked through everything in this CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy) group which, by the way, I am just about to graduate from. I thought I was getting better. A couple of weeks ago I was triggered by something another vet was describing about her experience. Memories from my own experience started flashing through my mind, and feelings, and sounds. My body physically shook. I couldn’t control it. … I had a hard time grounding myself so I could keep listening to her. In fact, I don’t remember really hearing anything she said after that. I was too busy trying to get myself back under control. It took awhile, but I managed. It turned out okay.

Tonight though. Damn. Tonight I was in a conference call  with other organization members addressing the needs of a woman vet who’s MST (Military Sexual Trauma) experience was similarly brutal to mine. There were questions about her behaviors, which I knew were consistent with someone who has been through this experience so I shared that I had been through this also (without going into details) and that I also had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and that it was common and legitimate that she might exhibit some of the behaviors she was exhibiting, etc.

We made the decision that I would be the one to primarily deal with her via conference call (along with only one other member on the call, so she wouldn’t feel overwhelmed or “ganged up on”). I’m fine with that. But then someone started going on about her story, questioning details, almost blithely describing details that for me had been gruesome and brutal and painful. … I had to yell “I’m sorry I have to get off here.” And I punched the hang-up button on my phone. My whole body was shaking. Again with the memories flashing in my head.

I’m still shaking. I can’t get this shit out of my head. It’s been four and a half hours and still my body is in knots. I thought if I wrote it down it might help, nothing else seems to be working right now. Got the headphones on, cranking up the tunes.

One and a half hours LATER:  How many times can you smash your head against a brick wall before the wall moves? None. That’s not the wall moving, that’s your head caving in.

I’m feeling a little better. But I still can’t shake off the memories. And now I feel depressed. Or maybe that’s sad. Who knows? It’s been so long since I felt anything much besides numb, it’s really hard to tell. Someone please tell me I’m not alone in that.

One hour LATER:  It’s 0404 hours. I think I can go to bed now. Except I’m starving. Dogs are so loyal! My buddy’s laying on her bed in my office, snoring so loud I can hear her through my headphones, when I know she’d rather be upstairs sleeping in the big bed. How can you not love that?


I love the way the sunlight twinkles bark

just before the sun goes down

–when cicadas buzz and sings the lark–

accentuating each scaly spot of skin

and every scar that connects them

exposing every untold story

not otherwise easy to see

I climb and trace the wrinkles

with my fingertips, touch the ghosts of

feathery caresses in transparent periwinkle

all the stories imprinted, I remember,

left there that September to September

recalling the time I sat in that branch

engrossed in a book I found by chance

in the traveling library, so absorbed that day

I fell out of the tree and broke my arm

it was the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay

that I fell into when I was nine, or maybe ten,

I worried more about the book than my descent

reminding me of the woods where I walked and mused

and learned the hard lesson that robins will refuse

even kill their young if they are scented with man’s touch

recollecting that, in the summer, high as I could climb I saw

waves of corn stalks slosh all around us and such

brought ships with adventures from far off lands

through one of those wind chimed seas my brother and I swam

for a mile to meet the nicest lady who fed us cookies and milk

until she died in the Palm Sunday tornadoes, with her ilk

she was our mother’s sister’s husband’s aunt

which made her a kind of relative–it was like that there

everyone was in some way related, so it was not for want

that kids could never get away with anything dumb,

some cousin of your mama’s sister’s neighbor, would plumb

call her to say she had seen you down at the creek

when you were supposed to be up at the garden picking beans

that was also the year I read Kant and Descartes,

from my father’s limited library of philosophers,

and Freud, and decided halfway through he wasn’t so smart

by god, he was a pompous woman-hating ass and

I put the book away, and have not read him since and

it’s possible I became a feminist in that moment

Freud awakened the ire that caused me to foment

a rebellious whisper inside myself: I did not imagine this,

I did not want this–not even in my imagination,

not in my id, my ego, or my superego–his was a fucked up analysis–

not with my Eros, not with my Thanatos,

and he can leave my libido out of this holocaust–

I am not the one that’s crazy, you stupid man

but I knew why my father was his fan

and maybe I knew something about Freud

that even he didn’t know about himself

he should have spent more time employed

with tracing the scars and wrinkles of an old tree

just before the sun went down over a tasseled sea

leaving ghostly imprints on its gnarly skin, recon sorties

that mapped his soul by telling its stories

— Able Boodha

The Abyss

Sometimes I want to beat against the chains that bind me, when all I need do is let them drop from my hands.

Sometimes I want to define who I am becoming, when all I need to do is be and let being be enough.

Sometimes the scream inside me is so loud I wonder how people do not hear it, yet I cannot even whisper “today there is fear and confusion behind this smile.”

I have walked many paths, but never more uncertain than this one I walk now. For I have no idea where I am, or where I am going … or why it even matters that I drop these chains and let myself fall into the abyss.

— Able Boodha