Uncover the Sun

Not Broken

I’ve heard therapists say it about their clients, friends say it about their friends, casual acquaintances mention it regarding someone who’s going through a hard time. And every time I hear, “He’s broken, she’s broken, they’re broken,” I wince. Why? Because broken is a label that dehumanizes, that treats people as if they are machines. Every time I hear this phrase, I picture a person broken down by the side of the road with others walking by glad that it’s not them. And yes, there is a patronizing quality in, “She’s broken,” as if the person saying it is better, more whole, not as prone to the dings and pains of being human.

Being “broken,” implies that we need fixing, usually by something or someone else. And we all do need help sometimes. But if you go out there and break a leg, usually the doctor puts it in a cast, recommends rest and elevation, and tells you it will heal in about six weeks. Your leg may be broken, but no one suggests that you are. We humans have this amazing innate ability to heal, given the right support, education, and encouragement.

Being broken also implies that something doesn’t work, that you don’t work, and in a capitalist society, not working is the ultimate sin. We categorize people by whether they have a “good job,” or not, usually one that pays well, rather than one that brings joy and a sense of service and purpose. People who are not working for money at all, like stay-at-home parents, are considered less powerful in this society. If your life is “not working,” if you are unable to conform, you are considered less valuable as a human being.

Labeling someone, “broken,” puts them in a category of “the other,” and it’s a lot easier to ignore, dismiss, and incarcerate “broken others.” So, no, you’re not broken. You may be going through utter hell, you may have scars from physical injury, emotional trauma, or be grieving the fate of mankind, but you’re not broken, you’re human.

Uncover the Sun

Your Metal


Test your metal,

let it sing to you

under the tap tap hammer

of everyday life


The instrument of air

will play tunes

upon that windchime

of yours


Enough fire will form

any tool you’ll ever need

to dig or till,

sew or bejewel


Your metal will serve you well

as weapons sing

through the air

in fierce metallic cries


Your metal-

perfectly balanced

between life and death,

love and loss



every bit of your metal

will fall down

into earth’s veins again


Death, that metallurgist,

will render you

forge ready

once more



who knows what

you will then



Uncover the Sun

Five Minutes


In five minutes

you can change your mind

or your life,

write a poem,

end a relationship,

answer the phone,

drink a cup of coffee,

win a prize,

count three hundred seconds,

forgive yourself or another,

laugh uproariously,

listen carefully,

quit a job.


In five minutes

you can change your mind

or your life,

stand up to injustice

start a relationship,

give a speech,

read a book,

donate to a cause,

start a new job,

appreciate yourself or another,

weep many tears,

help a stranger.


In five minutes

you can change your life

or not.

Uncover the Sun

Feast of Stars


Through the rocky crags

we can see a whole feast of stars

laid out against the sky

in an infinite banquet

of sound


That kind of music

only comes in the night

when the last crescendo of day

fades into dark

with a savoring pause


The moon rises,

singing her light arias,

while the stars dance

sweetly with the sky

and the earth smiles in wonder


It is then that our minds remember

ourselves, each other,

and the bountiful concert

that no human instrument

ever played so well


Uncover the Sun




This long column holds

up a head full of brains,

ideas, imagination,

the power of remembrance,

a scull clothed in flesh, nerves, and skin,

and openings orbiting

random thoughts


This tube of sound and swallow

constricts around sorrow,

gulps past the bit of apple

Adam once ate

but blamed on Eve,

and sings life

one note at a time


This gusty windpipe

develops from conception

right from the heart

to nod, bend, and swivel,

to express self,

sense, nonsense,

and sometimes silence


This long slender holder

of every flowering mind

often grows tired

of lifting up

the whole human

world, one small brain

at a time


Uncover the Sun



If you travel past the fallen sunset

into the blue heaven

of not knowing what

lies ahead,

you may find music there

and a moving still life

painted by fate in broad strokes

with marvelous detail

that changes

the closer you arrive


If you travel beyond the trees

rooted in every weather

and follow

the curved trunk up

into the branching future,

you may find home there,

where liberty


at the top of the highest reach

of any living creature


If you travel beyond the death

of dreams, and loves

and wishes,

you may find a gift there

waiting for you

not to be opened

only held

and known

and accepted,

wrappings and all


Uncover the Sun



When I was young, I had a hard time switching from a creative dreamy state to a linear, homework mode, and vice versa. I needed quite a bit of transition time between different kinds of tasks. Reading books helped calm down my brain and make the shift back and forth easier. Certain times of the day, like morning, were easier for me to focus my mind on left brain activities like math, and I loved having unscheduled hours from late afternoon into nighttime in which to ponder and create.


After learning to write analytical essays in 9th grade, it became more difficult for me to write creatively. My head actually hurt trying to make myself conform to school work. I got the same kinds of headaches in college while moving between right to left brain activities and back. Years later,  a woman hooked me up to a biofeedback machine. Apparently, I spend a great deal of time in dreamy states of mind similar to small children between the ages of three and five, which explained a lot.


As an adult, I still need transition time between right and left-brain activities. While doing bookkeeping for example, I put music on  and start in the morning. For right-brained activities like art, I start later in the evening after the mundane tasks are finished. It remains difficult for me to shift from doing art to linear activities, for example, but after left brain activities, right brain ones seem like I escaped from jail and made a break for freedom. It is important for creative folks to figure out how to transition back and forth between such different kinds of tasks effectively.


Since I’m self-employed, I am able to establish my own hours and have a lot of freedom to organize my day in the way in which my brain works best. When I tried the traditional, 40 hour per week job, of which I lasted exactly three years out of my entire life, I experienced increased ill health, not to mention frustration creatively.


Many of our societal structures work well for people who can make their brains operate a certain way. But for those who cannot, it is awful. They may be the artists, writers, musicians, and creative folks that don’t conform, not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t. Some may call it a lifestyle choice, but for many creative types, it’s the only way their brains function properly. Unfortunately, this isn’t a friendly society for nonconformist brains. Or as a woman from another country told me, “Your society is soul crushing for artists.”Continue reading

Uncover the Sun

No-fig Days


Some days

are no-fig days,

no fat fruit

plumply waiting

to be picked


No sweetness


lushly among the leaves,

the pulp juicy

around the seeds


No surprises

beckoning in the garden

to delight the eyes

and pique

the palate


Some days

are no-fig days,


from other ordinary days

except by anticipation


Of fig days,

full of flavor and devourings

and the glory of nature

bearing and sharing

most fruitfully

Uncover the Sun



For the dead,

we swallow past

the lump in our throats


We stand up to speak

in the face of those

whose misery matches ours


We struggle for words

to share our hearts

and our loss


Birth and death dates

are inscribed in newspaper articles

or etched on stone


to become part of a story

of a life that no one

wholly knows


Most of us only meet

in the middle, missing

the birth or maybe the final moment


And every day

and some day

each person here


will have to grieve

the dead or be grieved

by the living


Year after decade

we mourn

and remember


Our rituals for the dead

become love

honoring love

Uncover the Sun

The Third Death


The first death is the physical,

the shock of the person gone,

no longer there to hold

or see or hear,

all of their possessions

no longer theirs


The second death is the realization

that they will not be here

for the rest of your life;

at any occasion of family and friends,

through further losses and celebrations,

they will be missing


The third death

is how they disappear

from most conversation

into the realm of thought and feeling only,

as if being alive is a requirement

for inclusion


The third death

includes the awareness

that most of the living shun the dead

and that someday, we too

will be an occasional thought or feeling