The puppy-chewed corners of my flame orange copy of “How Can I Help” by Ram Dass, is long gone; along with nearly all the books we foolishly shipped to Kauai in 2001. Within a couple years mold made them unreadable.
Today I remembered the book because I recently withdrew from social media. It was accidental (when my phone began to hiccup), and then the spacious liberation I felt encouraged me to continue.
The “likes” were making me sick at heart. My need for them.
As I dropped into my physical world, instead of slouched over a screen, I became aware of the leash Instagram had twisted and bound around my attention.
The story that sprang to mind was one Ram Dass included in "How Can I Help," titled “The Rabbi.”
One day a rabbi, in a frenzy of religious passion, rushed in before the ark, fell to his knees and started beating his chest, crying, "I’m nobody! I’m nobody!"
The cantor of the synagogue, impressed by this example of spiritual humility, joined the rabbi on his knees. "I’m nobody! I’m nobody!"
The "shamus" (custodian), watching from the corner, couldn’t restrain himself, either. He joined the other two on his knees, calling out, "I’m nobody! I’m nobody!"
At which point the rabbi, nudging the cantor with his elbow, pointed at the custodian and said, "Look who thinks he’s nobody!"
A few months ago I did my last public poetry event. I wrote a blog about the night a bug flew into my mouth, and as stated there, decided to shift away from the performance piece of making Short Order Poems.
That retreat, and then more recently, leaving Instagram, I like how it feels to become less attached to needing to be seen or "liked."
I spent 2018 pitching poetry decks to retailers. The most fun I had though, was having friends take poems on trips around the world where they'd slip them into public places for discovery. My dear friend Kimberly and I used to refer to these secret deeds as “pixies.”
This week at Kiko, a Canadian visitor told me she’d bought a little poem last year while visiting Kauai and returned for another.
“Every time I clean out my wallet,” she said, “I discover my little poem and it makes me smile.”
This is exactly what I’m going for by printing them into poetry decks.
Pixies. A playful deed done in a secret and surprising way... even if it is simply to delight one's self.
Where do I see these little guest check poems going next?
Restaurants and diners. Naturally.
I miss connecting with strangers over plates of fries and sudsy beers. I miss the juggling act and jostling elbow-to-elbow at the reach-through window where steaming faces of cooks over a grill are framed by the food warmer. I miss the intensity, heat and over-stimulation. I miss serving.
Guest check poems belong in that world. Nourishment for the heart scribbled on a guest check like a love letter from someone you don’t know, but wish you did.
Friends and family tell me to make a physical book rather than just having the Kindle collection that’s available on Amazon. My intent has been from the start to free poetry from their bindings because poetry books are mostly bought by literary types.
I want my poems to reach that thoughtful and soul searching population who are unlikely buyers of poetry books. I want my poems to live in restaurants and diners where guests can stumble upon them and be surprised by the synchronicity of those words at that moment.
Thanks for dropping by.
It's been my pleasure serving you.