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"I vow with all beings . . ."

Poetry by Members of AIDS Project Los Angeles Writers Workshop

December 2001/January 2002

The 16 poems on this page are examples of gathas. Adapted by the Zen teacher Robert Aiken and loosely based on a traditional Indian and Chinese format, gathas aim to bring attention to everyday events. They are linked to each other by having an identical second line.

Illustrations by Amy Dakos
 
Illustrations by Amy Dakos
Illustrations by Amy Dakos

When I hold my lover's hand
I vow with all beings
that he will still be holding my hand
when I journey to the gates of heaven
where I will kneel before God
and kiss His tender feet.
-- Mark Escamilla


When I think of friends who have gone before me,
I vow with all beings
To draw on the essence of who they were,
And feel blessed that they have shaped who I am.
-- Gary Oberst

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Counting out pills into cubicle compartments
I vow with all beings
to fill my life
with music, art and love.
-- Neil Stannard


Driving to the doctor
I vow with all beings
to aim my heart's desires
with the same directness and precision.
-- Neil Stannard


When I remember feeling demeaned by the physical disfigurations of illness,
I vow with all beings
To understand that it is vanity itself which
is demeaning.
-- Gary Oberst


As I take my morning meds
I vow with all beings
To be thankful that my being alive
Is a marvel of modern medicine.
-- Jim Smith


As I walk my dog each day
I vow with all beings
To greet each plant and human
As the loving expressions of God they are.
-- Jim Smith


When I sit at my brother's grave
I vow with all beings
to fight the virus that eats
at my humanity but not my spirit.
-- Mark Escamilla


When I sit down to play
I vow with all beings
to experience the occasion of that moment
in oneness with borrowed time.
-- Neil Stannard


When I offer up my arm to the needle
I vow with all beings
to rejoice in the knowledge
that this blood also gives life.
-- Neil Stannard


When Dennis, my lover, cooks me breakfast
I vow with all beings
To be thankful for the nourishment
It brings my body.
-- Jim Smith


As I awaken from my drugged sleep
I vow with all beings
To approach my waking state
With the warmth and strength of my
morning brew.
-- Jim Smith


When I look at my fading tattoos of death
I vow with all beings
that they will fade
even more.
-- Mark Escamilla


When I hear my mother's suspicious voice
I vow with all beings
to protect her fragile heart.
-- Mark Escamilla


When I wake in the morning with pain,
I vow with all beings
To appreciate how that pain is what allows me
To live another day.
-- Gary Oberst


When I perform the mundane tasks of life,
Washing the glasses, scouring the toilet,
I vow with all beings
To understand that even the inanimate
Is deserving of my respect.
-- Gary Oberst

For information on AIDS Project Los Angeles' Writers Workshop, call (213) 201-1600, Ext. 1136 or (213) 201-1600, Ext. 1038. The workshop meets each Thursday evening and Friday during the daytime.


Back to the December 2001/January 2002 issue of Positive Living.


This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).



  
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This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.
 
See Also
2013 Poetry Month at TheBody.com: HIV/AIDS-Related Poems From Our Readers
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2012 Poetry Month at TheBody.com
2011 Poetry Month at TheBody.com
2010 Poetry Month at TheBody.com
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