You Know Who You Are

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I thought I’d post something lighthearted for a change. Don’t get use to it. 🙂

You Know Who You Are.
by Tosha Michelle

You who carry sunshine in
your hair, the sky in your hands,
and blueberry pie in your eyes

You who knows all the words
to every Chet Baker song.

Why don’t you come by my record shop?
I’ll teach you the percussive du wop

Come unearth my city plot.
Right my upside down heart
with the lilt of your melodic
voice.

Stain my soul with your graceful hands.

Sing me your red velvet tune
with not one note of sorrow.

Scrawl on my tongue
your heart song.
I’ll sing along.

Make music to a woman
not so young, but not yet old.
My mind a score of hunger.
Patterns of passion across
my face.

Don’t be afraid to improvise
summer nights composed of
bodies and sway.
Wingtip and rosehip.
We’ll create our
own tune.

The tenor sax takes the lead.
It sounds like desire,
like it won’t ever stop.

Let’s crack the night with needle and groove.
Two lovers infusing the dark with rhythm and spark.

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Swim

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The afternoon is sunny,
light falls warm
The breeze through the
car window full of lilacs

Soft air caresses your bare
arms. Everything is a hazy
green.

Nothing in the day speaks
of grief, but its there on
the news.

This should be a universe
of promise, of expectation.
The death of innocent lives,
feels so out of time with the
sky’s forget me not hue.

You think about rolling the car windows up,
shutting out the blossoming world.
letting winter settle in
Fear unpacking its suitcase
in your mind.

Consumed with rage over
black hearts and evil ways.
Terrorists stealing
what should be preserved

Their shrapnel of devastation,
an infinity of darkness
littering the ground
My hate is bigger
than your hate

You fight the urge to give in
to give up.
The world is breakable, but
your spirit is not.

We are all here trying to find
our balance on this broken
wheel.

Your heart constricts in a
fist of humanity.

Love pours out, gold as honey.
A living lightbulb goes off,
illuminating the transparent
glass of intimidation.

Hope waits beyond despair
You note how the heavens
embrace the sky.

The blue so deep, so thick
You could dive into it
You could swim in it
until you reach the other side-

In Search of Emily and Her Feathers

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Hope at times seems
to drift and waft at a distance.
Nothing more than
stray wind on my neck. My
saltless palms
trying to grasp its alluring scent.

On damselfly wings,
it soars on the breeze, passed
my open window.
Sweeping the white clouds,
while dancing on
the edge of the horizon.
Moving to the tune of prayers,
palms of faith.

The creature of
someone else’s mind.

Speech unwoken and
without weight to tether it
to the ground.

It floats here,
just out of reach.
Dim. Quietly,
with heavy laden eyes.

I’m glad to have not lost its aura
entirely, but to see it
move at the sky’s whim.

Hope resting on the updraft.
I wait here
on my knees, expectant, dreamily,
mournfully, with the
skin of my unclothed heart for
its downpour.

-Tosha Michelle

NY Times Best Selling Author Sylvain Reynard on Poetry.

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NY Times Best Selling Author and my favorite enigma Sylvain Reynard was gracious enough to write a guest blog on poetry. If you aren’t familiar with Reynard’s books,you are missing out on riveting tales full of suffering, sex, love, faith, and redemption. You can find out more about SR and his work by going to http://sylvainreynard.com/ You can also find him in all his tweeting glory @sylvainreynard

This poet is a huge fan. You will be too.

Now I give you SR in his own words

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Many people avoid poetry.

Poetry usually brings to mind limericks, or schoolyard sing-songs, or angst-driven blank verse. But The Iliad and The Odyssey are poems. Dante’s The Divine Comedy is a poem.

Poetry is extremely flexible as a genre and like other arts it contributes something important to the human experience. Poetry can be a thing of beauty and a medium for reflecting on profound and sometimes unsettling truths.

When I wrote The Gabriel Series, I was inspired by the poetry of Dante, hoping to introduce the beauty of his art to a wider audience. Dante is not very well known anymore and few people read him outside of school or university.

In my new Florentine Series, I was inspired by the poet Apuleius’s account of the love affair between Cupid and Psyche. Again, this is a poem that is not very well known and infrequently read.

You can read the tale by starting here: http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/TheGoldenAssIV.htm#anchor_Toc347999726

Psyche was the youngest of three sisters and very beautiful. Her beauty was so great, it intimidated prospective suitors. Her older sisters quickly found husbands, while Psyche remained alone.

Her father feared that Psyche had been cursed by the gods and so he sought out an Oracle, who instructed him to deliver his daughter up to marry a great winged evil. In sorrow and despair, the father obeyed. Psyche went along with the Oracle’s instructions, proclaiming that her condemnation was the result of unbridled envy.

And then something surprising happened…

“…prompted by the sight of the evening star, Psyche retired to bed. Now, when night was well advanced, gentle whispers sounded in her ears, and all alone she feared for her virgin self, trembling and quivering, frightened most of what she knew nothing of. Her unknown husband had arrived and mounted the bed, and made Psyche his wife, departing swiftly before light fell. The servant-voices waiting in her chamber cared for the new bride no longer virgin. Things transpired thus for many a night, and through constant habit, as nature dictates, her new state accustomed her to its pleasures, and that sound of mysterious whispering consoled her solitude.”

Psyche was delivered up to someone, but far from treating her evilly, he treats her well. He gives her pleasure. He loves her body. But he only comes to her at night, so she has no idea who he is.

The oracle prophesied of a great winged evil, but her husband reveals himself as a tender, attentive lover, who truly cares for her. One evening, he speaks to her,

“Sweetest Psyche,” he said, “my dear wife, cruel Fortune threatens you with deadly danger, which I want you to guard against with utmost care. Your sisters think you dead and, troubled by this, they’ll soon come to the cliff-top. When they do, if you should chance to hear their lament, don’t answer or even look in their direction, or you’ll cause me the bitterest pain and bring utter ruin on yourself.”

Psyche subsequently is faced with a dilemma – should she trust her husband’s actions and how he treats her, or should she trust the judgments of her family and the Oracle.

Psyche knows what it is like to be judged on appearance alone, without regard to her character. Suitors shunned her, because she was thought to be too beautiful and too perfect – like a statue. In the poem, it looks as if she places all her trust in appearances as she strives to discover her husband’s identity, not trusting that his actions have revealed his true character.

But what would looking on his face reveal? Would it make his actions a lie? Psyche doesn’t stop to reflect on her husband’s nature. If he were truly monstrous, he’d treat her badly and not kindly. He loves her and brings her pleasure and she seems to enjoy his company, although she is plagued with doubt. Her doubt, however, reveals a fatal flaw in her character – she cannot trust her judgment of her husband based on his actions; she must judge him based on his appearances. This fatal flaw will be her undoing …

You can read the rest of the story through the link I posted above.

I deal with similar themes in “The Prince” and “The Raven,” and also the next book in the series “The Shadow.” The male and female leads find themselves in a situation where they end up having to trust one another’s characters rather than outward appearances. Indeed, the importance of having a good character is one of the themes of the novels, along with love, sex, hope, and redemption.

I welcome your comments on the myth of Cupid and Psyche and I hope that you will take time for beauty and poetry in your daily life. – SR

Interview with Faith in a Box Author-Rick Greenberg

Today’s featured guest is Richard Greenberg, author of Faith in a Box, a memoir of faith and renewal. It was the early 90’s and Rick Greenberg had it all, a beautiful wife, adoring children, and a great career. Rick, a marine, had seen his share of trying times. He had fought in two wars, Vietnam and Iraq and lived to tell the tale. Life was beautiful, but on a fateful weekend, during a Vietnam vet reunion, his perfect world was turned upside down. Tragedy would strike, taking from Rick his dearest and leaving Rick, himself, near death and in a coma. Doctors gave no hope to the family. However, thirty days later, Rick awoke. His doctors were stunned. His family knew it was a miracle. Rick wanted no part of it. All he knew was that his wife was gone and so was his faith.

Faith in a Box chronicles Rick’s grueling recovery, his journey into the abyss and how miraculously he found his way back toward the light and a faith he thought was long lost. It’s a story of love and courage, inspirational and uplifting. I dare you to read this book and not be moved.

Rick was kind enough to consent to an interview via e-mail below is our exchange.

1. Rick, your story read like a testimony (and a powerful one at that). In the book, you hold nothing back. You’re very honest about your loss, your struggles, your doubt in God, and your journey into the abyss and back. How difficult was it to put your life on display like that?

This was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done. In the book, you read how I gave a few testimonials to my church congregation and thought I was done. It was more than twenty years later before I felt compelled, by God, to write the book. When I gave my testimonies in church, I had to confess that I was a non-believing sinner. I felt, if I’m going to do this, then I must tell it all, leave nothing out, no matter how embarrassing or hurtful it was, and is to me.

However, the thing that I most agonized over was how my children would react after reading the book. They were unaware of most, if not all that went on during my trip into the abyss. My youngest gave me five stars, the middle one said how he enjoyed knowing a lot of what was happening and said, “Well done Dad.” My oldest said that she was proud of how honest I was about telling all, and commended me on my bravery to do this. However, perhaps the best came from my stepson who said, “This was like a love letter to your family.” Overall, though I still cringe when someone I know is about to read the book, I believe I have done exactly what God has wanted me to do.

2. You truly are a walking miracle. By all accounts, you should not be here right now. What do you say to doubters or people who discount your story?

Unbelievably, no one has. Those that have read the book find that it is not my memories that tell the story, but those who witness it. . Each family member telling how the doctors all agreed, I was dead. How my brother testifies, in his own words about the neurologist who came in the middle of the night and says, “He is brain dead. You must consider removing him from life support.”

If anyone discounts the truth about this story for reasons they cannot accept what seems impossible, then to them I say what the doctor who removed my breathing device said the day I awoke. “This isn’t possible. No one goes from the sate he was in to where he is now in three hours. Yet here I am. Sometimes Faith is all we have.

3. What compelled you to write Faith in a Box, and for our readers, could you please explain the meaning behind the title?

First, I need to tell you how I came up with the name, “Faith in a Box.” I already knew that the book would be about my blaming God for what happened to my wife, Cindy, and me. I knew I was writing about a journey of little to no faith, to total faith in Jesus Christ. I prayed on what to name the book. Then on one particular Sunday while attending church services, my Pastor’s sermon was talking about, “As hard as you try, you cannot keep God in a Box.” I grabbed my wife Kim’s arm and said, “That’s the name of the book, Faith in a Box.”

The meaning behind the title is this. I knew there was a God. I believed this from childhood, but my faith in Him was very weak. My family and some medical staff all declared me a miracle. I woke from a coma thirty days later struggling with a medically induced addiction and paralysis. I could not read, write, tell time, nothing. The rehab doctors all agreed, it would take years for me to recover. I needed to blame someone or something. That was going to be God. But my Faith in God was something I did not want to deal with. I could not believe in a loving, good God. Yet my family kept reminding me of their faith. I didn’t want to hurt them. So, I took that faith, took God and put it in a box. I closed that box lid and it was gone.
As I have already explained, I did not want to write this book. I felt I had given three testimonies and that was all God wanted from me, wrong. God wants me to tell the world about this miracle. He wants everyone to know he is here with us, and he’s still doing miracles.

After putting off the book for more than twenty years, I had forgotten all about it. Then in November 2011 my wife Kim is diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. The doctors all say they need to act quickly if she is to have a chance. Kim is crying and I’m scared. After the original shock subsides, memories of the loss of Cindy return. The pain of going through another wife dying has me begging God for his help. Praying for an answer of why Kim. With all that pain from those years long ago resurfacing from my fear of losing Kim, it struck me. I need to write this book, I knew immediately that God was going to be there with me. That every word I write He will guide me.

So I began to write. I talked with the hospitals and asked for anyone who had anything to do with that time in my life to come forward and write down what they remember. I would sit downstairs while Kim was receiving her chemotherapy, writing. I wrote day and night until the book was finished. In August 2012, Kim was declared cancer free and has remained that way ever since. God did not give Kim cancer, but He did cure her, praise Jesus. In His infinite wisdom, God knew this was coming to Kim. He used it to give me a kick in the pants to start writing.

4. There are themes of forgiveness, survival and renewal resonant throughout the book. What do you hope your readers walk away with after reading Faith in a Box?

Very simply, first, I hope they will come away with a truth that God does exist, and he is still in the business of doing miracles. He is in our lives, guiding us. He is there when we laugh and when we cry. If we hurt He comforts, if troubled He stands with us. He will never abandon us, even if we tell him to get lost. His love for us in endless, and there is nothing you can do that will shock him into abandoning you. No sin is too big for Him to forgive, which is why Jesus died on the cross.

Second, I hope that anyone who suffers the loss of a loved one will understand they are not alone. There are people out in this world that can, and will help them, and there is a loving, and good God, ready to be with them. To know that one day they will see them again.

Third, for anyone suffering through an accident or an illness and find they are in pain, paralysis, or mental disorder, and all they want is to regain a life they once had, there is hope. Through God, all things are possible.

5. Are there any more books in the works?

Yes there are. I am near completing my book on Vietnam. The book is based on my life experiences while serving with the First Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division from September 1969 to September 1970. This book began before Faith in a Box and I started writing it because I felt I had forgotten too many things. Friends, places, incidents I needed to remember.

It is not about heroes, or famous battles. Most of us in Vietnam were not heroes. We saw combat, some more than others, but all we wanted to do was get back home. The story is just about an average Joe trying to do his job for his buddies and get home to his wife and baby. There are battles that never made the news or the military history books, but nonetheless, they’re fought with the same ferocity and bravery as such places as Hamburger Hill and the battle for Hue City. Every event in the book actually took place in Vietnam. It covers an entire twelve-month Tour of Duty and that is its name, “Tour of Duty.”

When Tour of Duty is finished and published, I hope to start a sequel to Faith in a Box. This book will cover a faith tested beyond what most of us could endure. Yet, this faith only grew to become a faith so big, so beautiful it stands today as a beacon in the sky for our family to follow.

To learn more about Richard and his amazing life and book, please go here: http://rickgreenbergauthor.com/
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