At tender age of twenty-four
I stood at the crossroads obscure.
The rightly path in front of me
lay thickets bare and thornily.
I could not muster courage strong
for that path so I chose the wrong.
I took the dead-end path instead
and danced and danced on feet that bled
until at last I came around.
Inside myself a new path found.
Through letting go in present tense
uncoded psychic dissonance.
This time I heeded inner call
walking without a fear to fall.
Darkness no longer terrifies
when clarity and truth belies.
Author Archives: Tai Jimenez
At tender age of twenty-four
Alice and Dorothy
go on a journey
where nothing is good
though that it should.
they fall out of bed.
They want to go home.
They want to wake up.
They drink from the cup
that fucks they shit up.
They deal with dimensions
of shape and of size
not too easily defied.
confused with desperation,
what they need is meditation.
At last they say
to those who hear:
surrender all to your home inside
that palace of wondrous fanta-sci-fy.
There is nothing else.
No here nor there
that once imagined
All due praise
to the Geese of Fenway
reminds me to be human
even as I sidestep the shit
and whose power
can bring traffic to a halt on Boylston
in the early afternoon light
of opening day.
Nowadays, no one stops to hear a bird sing.
Instead, we google it and think we know.
These shortened attention spans are trying to
(pause, pause, pause, pause, pause)
drive me crazy.
Teacher: Are you a jelly person or a jam person?
Teacher: But if you had to pick between jelly or jam, which would it be?
Student: I rarely eat sweets of any kind. Sugar is–
Teacher: Ok, let’s imagine you’re lost in the desert for three days without food. Only water. You’re exhausted from fear, hunger and drastic changes in temperature. In the distance, there is a jam oasis to the east and a jelly oasis to the west. Which would it be?
Student: (thinks…) Jam?
Teacher: (playing for real) Oh, me too! I’m a jam person myself.
Teacher: Did you see what you just did? You felt affirmed by my being a jam person. You attached your identity to the thing. If I’d said I was a jelly person, you may have felt a twinge of separation. You might attach suspicion to my jelly-ness. In this simple way, we are ravenously attaching our identities to every little thing, jelly or jam, feeling inflated by the things that are like us, and building a separation between ourselves and things that we deem, from a limited perspective, to be unlike ourselves. We do this instead of cultivating being-ness from within.
Your being does not exist only in opposites: jelly or jam, this or that. Your being has always known this. It rides the currents of choice, itself. In many however, being becomes dimmed or swallowed by all the noisy shoulds of the modern world.
With intention, being can be uncovered, mended. Become aware of your breath, your bodies, the wind and her sisters. Imagine. A conscious, loving touch is the stuff of being. Touch a tree. The earth. Let go of most of that which does not serve you. Start small. Ask for help when you need it. Do what’s right in front of you with as much compassion and creativity as you can muster. On occasion, dip into the unknown. Form a foundation, a family, of some intimate design.
When being is allowed to shine from within, “you” develops a lightness. Landings soften. Flow gets fluid. Fear diminishes. You can listen to your girlfriend’s favorite pop song without judgement. You no longer need to affirm your superiority through what’s on your frickin’ iPod. You might even find beauty in that pop song you once derided, if only because it reminds you of her.
When “being shines through form,” as Eckhart Tolle calls it, what once grasped now opens. What notices, gives. What loves, receives, and in all the vice versas.
When being shines through form, “you” are left with the knowing that you are it. You knew this as a child.
jelly or jam?
Remember when butter
came wrapped in quarters
with an expiration date
a year and a half,
a full Year and a Half!
from its date of its purchase?
from July to the January after next,
and things even more wondrous than that:
water melons at Halloween,
people whose only job it was to deliver couches,
ice cream for dogs
and factories whose only job,
whose only job!
it was to make tiny, tiny, tiny
Oh, you should have seen the toys!
Rainbows on every surface,
lights so bright you could spend a lifetime
never knowing a star
and music that you could swallow and swallow and swallow,
and never feel full.
Do not cast blame when it comes.
We all ate of that easy butter
like it was nothing.
You are my lost city of sorrow,
lost city of light,
of illuminated minds,
illuminate our hearts.
Calling all cars: hear ye! Hear ye!
You make movies of mobsters
with whom we’ve fallen in love
because we see ourselves in them:
We are the underdogs of life.
You teach me to look down
when passersby pass,
to pretend we are invisible,
but I see your hidden heart in parks,
in the corridor of London Planes that line the Charles in witness of
your sad soil, your grit and insistence, armies of wasps,
your tribalism and no-nonsense attitude.
Today I was awakened at the Fort
beneath Rapunzel’s tower,
listening to the Grandmother-wisdom of willows.
I witnessed my own mobster movie of rebellion unfolding
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I never thought I could love you,
your fields of broken glass
where things still grow.
Four years ago
I saw a woodcock
undulating in the shade of the
massive puddingstone of Thwing Street.
Our eyes met for a second and
I thought I saw the gaze of my teacher.
The keys, hidden in plain sight.
“The final statement is not a deliberate one. It is a helpless one.”–John Cage
I’ve always been drawn to visual art. As a child, I poured over my mother’s art books. I had an ability to project myself into a scene, to inhabit its world and to immerse myself into a story. This was during a time when we were not so innundated with images. Art was an entry into the magical parts of my own being. It allowed me to experience emotions that, at that tender age, had yet to be named. I think the way art stimulated my imagination served me as a dancer.
There were two paintings in particular that captured my attention: Rousseau’s “The Dream,” and Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” In the first painting, I was drawn to that mysterious woman lying on a couch in the jungle with the tiger lurking in the bushes. It appeared playful, sensual, yet dangerous. It was very exciting to my young mind. I wanted to know what was about to happen. I wanted to be the convergence itself of woman, jungle and tiger.
The Bosch was more complicated. I couldn’t figure out, based on its vision, if the world was a good place or a bad place. It seemed to be both. This terrified and confused me. I stuck with it because I so desperately wanted to understand the nature of things and this painting seemed to hold some kind of truth to my own life.
Both of my husbands are artists. I took a course in art history at City College with a fabulous lady named Cher and have even recently taken a drawing class. That is all to say that I fancy myself as having an informal education in art.
Now, in the art world, from the beginnings of one’s education, the necessity of finding your own voice is emphasized. You can’t go around doing splatter paintings and expect to be taken seriously. Jackson Pollock did it already. You can be inspired by Pollock, but you have to dig deep into the recesses of your own soul and speak from there.
As dancers, however, this search for one’s own voice is rarely emphasized in traditional training. Most dancers, it is assumed, will be interpreters of another’s vision, namely the choreographer. We are trained, rather, to take direction. To listen. To fit into the line and stay there. To match a previously held standard.
This is especially the case with ballet training. I have a naturally rebellious streak and always insisted on doing things my own way. This often got me into trouble until my dear teacher Madame Darvash taught me an invaluable lesson: that it was my job to learn at least one thing from every teacher. So while I grew open to learning, to being smart about the process, to staying in line, I never quite lost my need to say things my way.
As a teacher of ballet, I try to encourage this individual expression. In my attempt to do that, I have to take a moment to apologize to the great ballerina Sylvie Guillem whom I’ve often used as the butt of a joke: I will often quip that her perfection of line and extension ruined it for everybody. But now I look at Sylvie in another light. I’m grateful for her contribution. She has in fact freed us. I’m not saying you should not get your legs up. I’m saying don’t try to be Jackson Pollock. Leave your own mark.