Monday, August 25, 2008
The train lurched forward
like it had just come unstuck.
The miles and miles of grasslands,
trees, power lines, overpasses, bridges
and flashing lights were something to see
out the window, but when that track
was clear, the world outside spun by
in an intoxicating blur.
And that's the way this passenger
train moved sometimes.
The birds outside were chirping,
he could hear them
even over the buzzing fans
that were supposed to be
cooling the house.
The attick was always steamy
this time of year, but it was
the best place to watch wildlife.
It had become a bit of a past time
for him to look out over the land
from high up in his house.
His heart sang on days like this,
but he didn't know how to
explain just what he'd heard
within his very own chest.
That's why he sometimes caught
himself looking back trying to
recall what his heart had said
and when. When he finally
gave up trying to distinguish
between his head and his heart,
that's when he went back to the humming
of the birds and fans coming down from
the top floor of his summer house.
The foot struck ground rolling across
the dirt: heel, arch, ball, toes.
Up in the ankle there was a little click, while
the knee inaudibly popped and snapped.
The hip rotated with a calm
unequaled except by that of the bobbing
of the head upon the neck. Only the
arms swung forward and back
simultaneously with a grace
that moved the second foot to
plant, lifting only to balance the
strong radiating motion of the torso.
Yes, the shoulders made their noise
too, imperceptible to the untrained ear.
The scent of the raw earth entering the
nose and exiting through the eyes, while the
lips parted to reveal a set of teeth
that protected a soft and moist tongue
which rested, tasting the sweet green
fragrant air of the garden in which
the feet played and prayed for more.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
He came to me in a dream,
waking and with eyes closed.
This was not an ordinary man.
Certainly, he had the usual features of a man in sand:
See, this man was buried up to his chin.
And still he wore a fancy grin.
He had big lips, bright eyes and a little nose,
But no one knew if he wore pantyhose.
Now it is true and please don't laugh,
that the man in sand had a thick moustache.
Sadly, though, and it is not fair.
But the man in sand, he had no hair.
Oh, the man whose head was in the sand,
smiled to folks across the land.
He liked to talk and loved to greet.
But, dang he swore he talked to feet.
There it was just next to the sea
that the man in sand felt totally free.
So on it went that the man in sand who liked to greet,
talked and smiled and winked at feet.
Until one day, strolled a Joe,
across the beach and stubbed his toe.
Joe bent down and yelled aloud,
but the man in sand was very proud.
His eye felt bruised and don't you know
that all he did was smile at Joe.
"Now I am tall and sweet as pie,
and sure am sorry about your eye."
Replied the man,
"I must confess that I've felt blue,
smiling at feet and soles of shoes."
The man in sand was full of grace,
he said, "I'd like to smile upon your face."
Joe obliged and smiled some,
the man was sure he'd found a chum.
They talked and played and chewed the fat,
they shared their stories and that was that.
They'd looked and learned and gotten to know,
and it was time for Joe to go.
The man in sand now wore no smile,
which hadn't happened in quite a while.
Joe grinned and said, "I'll see you soon."
The man in sand just eyed the moon.
It was it and so it go.
The sun, he rose, the moon did glow.
Time dragged by for the man in sand,
and what had changed? His head got tanned.
For many moons the man prayed would
Joe come back and stay for good.
With much excitement, relief and joy,
the man saw Joe, who called, "Ahoy!"
Across the beach, from face to head,
Joe spoke, "Wow! Your head is red!"
The man in sand said to that, "It's part of the curse of having no hair."
Joe replied, "Well, my friend, looky here: I've brought you something you can wear."
From under his arm emerged a thing.
It was not a bat or ball or ring.
It wasn't a guitar, a shirt or shoes.
It was long and black and somewhat rouge.
The man in sand intrigued so much,
lost track of time, locale and such.
What it was he could not tell,
it had no flavor, taste nor smell.
The man looked up, above the ground.
He saw that Joe was not around.
The man in sand, confused and sad
smiled not, well, maybe just a tad.
Still, he had a gift, a mystery form,
long and black and simply worn.
Some feet came by and kicked it up
Within it seemed to be some kind of cup.
The cup it spun around and sped
toward the man's sunburnt red head.
Landing firm and clasping tight,
The man in sand, he felt quite right.
Upon his dome
was not a phone,
or glass or tome
No bird or plant
or dog or cat.
Upon his head there was no bat,
upon his head there sat a hat.
The hat was sleek with special shape
The man in sand had mouth agape.
A new smile he'd never felt before
came from his head and up to the fore.
This hat was neat, no, cool, so fun,
and kept him shaded from the sun.
When word did spread across the land
the man in sand felt quite grand.
The man in the sand began to meet
the smiling faces of all the feet.
Folks swam seas, fans tread land
just to see the hat in sand.
The moon shone bright upon the night
one month had passed since hat fit tight.
The people tread across the land
but they grew bored of hat in sand
Soon enough no one stared,
it seemed to be that no longer cared.
The man in sand now under hat
cussed and fought, hissed and spat.
On it went, the man was mad
no one cared about what he had.
Just about to stop and snooze,
the man in sand felt something move.
A click, a clack, a krink and crack.
Gears were churning and burning too.
And all at once something grew.
Inside the head of the man in the sand
Sounded gongs of a marching band.
The man in sand was no longer blue.
The hat rose up and built floor two.
No longer rouge, but black and red
the hat sat tighter upon man's head.
Again they came, the feet with heels
Leaving their banana peels.
Again they left, uninterested and bored
And man searched hat, "what more is stored?"
The hat spoke back with grinding gears
The man in sand opened up his ears.
Noise kept on till hat broke free
And suddenly, there was floor three.
Floor three could laugh, floor three could talk.
Feet returned, and hat was greeting, "welcome back."
Amusing sight it was to them,
a hat which spoke, "ahem, ahem,"
"Focus here, and clear your lens,
take my photo, tell your friends."
A few came by but not too much
The hat could talk and laugh and such,
but so? So what, so could they!
The feet snapped photos and walked away.
No one remained upon the sand
except of course the hat and man.
The hat got hot and belched out loud,
"This," hat snapped, "will bring a crowd."
He plopped and plooped
and plimped and blooped.
To prove to folks he was alive,
out cropped floors four and five.
And even more
than five and four,
Just for kicks
out came six.
Tall and wide with arms and hands,
And games and rides and foreign lands,
The hat sat fast upon man's head
It even sang while baking bread.
Well now word spread like wildfire
that hat stood tall and was inspired.
So people flocked and people flew.
The hat's popularity grew and grew.
And man smiled big while hat talked tall
and kept his cool above it all.
Ring the bells and sound alarms!
Reporters reported the hat with arms.
The people gathered and walked in swarms.
Before too long, the hat grew charms.
Magazine covers, news spots and shows,
everyone talked about the hat that grows.
The beach was packed and hat felt good.
The man in sand had grown a hood.
No longer stuck below the brim,
it had been hat, all hat, no him.
The man in sand had popped on through
rising up to hat, floor two.
With so much interest, popularity soared
Eventually, though, people got bored.
The beaches emptied, the car's lots thinned.
The man in sand and hat still grinned.
The man rose up to higher heights,
And hat lit up with brighter lights.
After noise and smoke and gears,
the hat was more than it appears.
The man within was still alive,
peeking through floor six or five.
Hat had grown again to mammoth proportions
with so very many un-hat-like distortions.
A maze of dolls and funny toys,
the hat appealed to girls and boys
and moms and dads and grandpas alike
the hat could cook while you ride a bike.
Now with legs and feet of its own,
The hat and man were free to roam.
We don't need the beach crowds now
let's just go where we will go.
Up, up and away and off in the night
Went man and hat, oh my, what a sight.
And in their wake was a beach chock full
of trash and junk and the random seagull.
Now the legs of the hat were not very nimble
Gangly, long, and no thicker than a thimble.
The way it walked was very simple
and every step, it left a dimple.
Inside the hat, the man peered out,
steering the hat, or so he thought.
The man no longer was the man in sand
but new, improved with hat in hand,
so to speak or sneak and if this is Greek,
the hat and man invited all to have a peek.
The hat and man scuttered their load,
Across the sand and grass and road.
Out in the world so very, very vast
went hat-with-man-in-tow at last.
And on the horizon, you could see
A silhouette of the load so free.
Where would they go, what would they do?
Man had ideas and hat had a few.
And you could be sure that along the way,
the hat and man would enliven the day.
People gawked and stared and such.
To hat and man this wasn't much.
No big deal, just walk on by
it wasn't that the hat was shy.
More to do and more to be
Hat and man, they felt so free.
They could not stop for all the fans,
but sometimes did to shake some hands.
Sometimes someone would take note
and walk with hat in the same boat.
And hat and man they tried to greet
the faces, people hands and feet.
But hat and man they moved along
Looking for that perfect song.
Not quite sure how it would sound,
they knew they'd know when it was found.
As they walked, hat added floors
he needed room for shopping stores.
Aboard folks came to buy the stuff,
and hat and man would huff and puff.
It took a lot to move the crowd
which grew and got so very loud.
Hat ate lots to bear the weight.
Meanwhile, man was feeling great!
He now had friends who came and went
who browsed and stole and bought and spent.
No police were on the hat
If someone stole, well that was that.
The hat was now a carnival
with rides and games and mini-mall.
Days grew long, to months and years.
The man in hat now felt some fears.
What was it they came to do?
Before the hat had gone and grew?
Just where were they anyway?
And why did man not want to stay?
And who was there inside the hat?
A mouse, a bird, and man and cat.
Not just that but many more
and no one asked to have a tour.
But people came, they did not stop,
The hat was full, from brim to top.
Hat was tired but feeling great,
he was full of food he ate.
Walking first, then running fast
the hat and man traveled past
sights and sounds and what they'd done
had grown so large, it now weighed tons.
Upon the man it took its toll.
No, this was not a leisure stroll.
Each step it took, hat left a hole
and man knew that this was not the goal.
Puzzled sick, he needed help
And then one day began to yelp.
Within the hat he lost control, and lonely now among the crowd,
the man inside, he wanted out, and it was then he called aloud.
Please don't make this last so long
I only want to sing my song.
And through a door he saw afar
into the sky this one bright star.
Star was bright and shining down
upon the man who wore a frown,
and smiling said, "hello my friend,"
"I see you there, my help I lend."
And then it struck, the pain of fear.
The hat it slowed and broke a gear.
The man knew not what he had done.
And something said to run boy, run.
But he could not, no, he was trapped.
Then something bent and something snapped.
From hat came an awful sound.
Man looked up to find the ground.
Nowhere there was feet or floor
Man rattled 'round the shopping store.
Into the heights and to the lows
And where he was no one knows.
No where fast, with nothing fast
The hat calmed down the man at last.
And man relaxed but wondered why
he'd looked out and saw the sky.
And it was there up in the dark
a little like a golden spark!
The spark was bright and gentle too
Her light was just a calming blue.
She had a twinkle in her eye
And man was sure that she could fly.
He asked her in and showed her hat
He sent her out and that was that.
Puzzled now and somewhat sad,
man felt guilt that he was mad.
He knew not why or what or who
was causing him to feel so blue.
Convinced he'd missed something great
He tried to eat what's on his plate.
Please the guests of the hat
which didn't work right off the bat.
He told the hat to turn around.
The hat returned an awful sound.
Now man was crazy yes indeed,
he knew this was not feeling freed.
But in the hat the man was lost
He wanted out at any cost.
He begged and begged to the sky
Won't you let me up and fly?
Cuz if he could he knew he'd go
to somewhere nice and don't you know
he'd be himself without the hat
he didn't even question that.
So star came back and said ok,
fly away no need to stay.
Man was boy and flew quite high
free at last up in the sky!
He looked for star and found a light
and then awoke, his fists clenched tight.
Sadly back inside the walls,
trapped again inside hat's halls,
man asked sky, "How can I?"
leave this hat and why'm I here?"
and sky said, "man you broke a gear,
and by the way, you want to leave
I'll show you how and call you Steve.
And when you change your name you'll see
that you will soon be feeling free."
Man sat back and scratched his chin.
He could not think above the din.
The hat was loud but sometimes sweet,
and it was time for hat to eat.
Barely back to daily tasks,
the boy had donned again his masks.
The boy, the man in sand, or Steve,
he didn't care if he could leave.
Something clicked inside him then
and up into the hat he went.
Higher than he had ever been,
he brought his paper and a pen.
He knew he'd write of this someday
so he took notes of what he'd say.
He'd write it, say it, share it too.
He knew not when or with just who.
And up and up, it was no dream,
the man in hat was being Steve.
And for so long he lived alone
up inside the balding dome
of boy or man or Steve's old head,
no hat in there just a soft, warm bed
for Steve to sleep and write and write.
The sky outside, inside as well
Steve thought, my, how this is swell.
Something called and itched him though,
He knew not where or when he'd go
away from here, from where he was
but he knew it would make a buzz.
Without the hat, without the din,
a quiet boy named Steve begin.
Now on a journey he went to burn
away the past and then return.
Through the past he walked his feet
But never did he feel the heat.
Through the fire he strolled he strolled
burning paths of fire untold.
He did not know it made no sense
that he was always feeling tense.
He figured it was desert so
he decided again to get up and go.
Another place, another time
another life, another rhyme.
This time though, Steve wasn't kidding
he found some friends to help his bidding.
He looked around for those who seemed
to know the way of sky, Steve deemed.
He planned and planned to move away,
he only knew he could not stay.
The hat may follow or come along
if Steve did not just carry on.
Messes left and messes made
and Steve was headed for the shade.
Summer sun and beach and sand
And oh this seemed so mighty grand.
And everyone across the land
would cheer and clap their hands and stand.
Steve had notes and tales to tell
and many weren't all that swell.
What I mean is times were tough
new place, new place became too rough.
Settle down he told himself,
but Steve was put upon a shelf.
The sky, not ready for him yet
saved his star, and got him wet.
Almost drowned within the flow,
Steve again would choose to go.
Another place, another time,
another home, another rhyme.
Later on and lost again
Steve forgot about his pen.
Start again to write and write
the pages were an awful sight.
Scribble, scratch, tear and torn
the writing hand of Steve was born.
And in the night, the hat returned
and Steve was Steve, the hat had learned.
Years ago, he had a plan,
the man, the boy, the man in sand
the man in hat, and Steve the man
to tell a tale, like just he can.
With hat in hand and under arm
written notes and pen still warm.
And to the publisher, he did send
not knowing how all would end.
He had made so many wrongs
And tried to sing so many songs.
Hat in hand he walked the land
just looking for his piece of sand.
And to the sea he had a look
and under arm his printed book.
He smiled big as he read
The REAL deal was walking ahead
His woman's feet upon the sand
Isn't she so very grand.
The both of them there
with windblown beach hair.
Hers long and brown, his curly black.
He looked ahead and she looked back.
They smiled big with so much love,
The sun shown down from far above.
He thought to himself that's for sure
How lucky he'd been to have met her
Inside that big old crusty hat.
He had asked her and her cat
to come to shore
and have a tour
of their new home
His prayers there in front of him
And at the beach, the fun grew dim.
One more thing, the biggest need
the hat was still making him bleed.
Together they grabbed the hat fast
and tossed it in the sea at last.
And holding hands, they walked the shore
and found a spot to have a snore
they pitched a tent and under stars
they cuddled up and talked for hours.
And light as a feather
They slept and slept
And then they wept.
He found what was right
What a wonderful sight
the sea with one he loved.
He opened his eyes
and smiled at the dream.
Today is going to be a good day.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
While this is not something I wish to relate to the actual sun, this is an honest story about me with the sun serving as metaphor for my self. It describes my trying to fit in to a world that rewards sameness, and also doing my best to honor my Grandpa's wishes when he died: for me to help people. He told me just before he died to take care of my Mom and to help people, and that is what I have tried to convey in this story, the fear, pain and confusion of beginning at age 8 to serve others while trying to learn about serving my self as well. I tried to help people by first learning a little about energy and attempting to give that energy to others while often creating a mess, becoming a "person," through imitation while feeling "false", hiding my true self and then later as using my given talents and natural personality to brighten people's lives. I hope this clarifies my intentions for this book.
The Only Sun
Written by Steve Panella
Sun, Moon and Earth paintings by Steve Panella
May 11, 2008
This is the story of a sun. An only sun.
This only sun always felt like it was the most important star in the sky. It knew it was very bright and helped to sustain and warm many people, plants and animals. And people loved how they felt in the presence of the sun.
Before long, the sun noticed that the people were happy so he shone proudly in the sky enjoying the happy people. And one day, the only sun began to notice that some of the people were not always feeling good. And he began to wonder if he was not doing his job properly.
So the sun thought that he would make those people who were not happy feel good. The sun tried everything he could think of to make the unhappy people happy. But nothing seemed to work.
The sun worked hard to understand himself and find out what was wrong with him so he could get better and then make the people feel better. As he became stronger, he understood how to get hotter and he baked the desert and burned the treetops. He scorched the skies and he boiled the waters. And then the people became angry at the sun. He had never experienced this and it frightened the sun terribly. So he called upon the clouds to hide him.
And the clouds came and sheltered the sun from the people. And the sun relaxed. But the people seemed angry that the sun was hiding, so the sun reappeared as he had been. When the sun reappeared, the people went back to sometimes being happy and sometimes being unhappy, and the sun was afraid that the people might become angry again if he ever had to hide.
The sun was not sure what to do, but he knew that the unhappy people must be unhappy because he was not doing his job. The sun knew he was supposed to care for and nurture the people. The plants and the animals were happy, but the people were not. The sun did not know what it was like to be human so he tried to imagine what it would be like to be human. For a long time, the sun thought about being a person. In his head, he shook hands with people and smiled at them and frowned and giggled too. The sun ate food and exercised and went to school and slept just like the people do. But there was something missing. The sun never felt like a person because it was all in his head.
So he decided to really try to be a person. He decided this hoping he would be able to find out what being a person was like so that he might return to being the sun someday and then make the unhappy people happy. So the sun traveled down to the earth. The sun was very afraid that someone might notice that he was not really a person, that he was the sun. And so he became very dark. He learned how to hide and pretend to part of the things that the people were doing. He knew that he was still the sun, but he thought that he could remain dark, learn from watching the people and doing what they did, and someday he would truly become a person.
Soon, the only sun began to really live as a person did. He ate breakfast, went to school, came home, watched television, ate dinner, did his homework and brushed his teeth before going to bed. The sun had a mother, a father and some friends. The sun played soccer in the summer and went sledding in the winter. During this time the sun learned many things about being a person. He was really doing it!
And so, on the sun went as a human. Occasionally he would remember he was the sun and then he would get angry with himself and make himself darker than ever. He knew he had a job to do. He had to know what it was like to be a person, and if anyone found out that he was bright, he might be seen as the sun and have to return to the sky. Before long, the sun started to forget that he was the sun. He practiced being a person for so long he had started to get good at it. He made himself believe he was a person, and so he was.
The sun saw that people had relationships and got jobs and lived in buildings and the sun wanted that for himself. He noticed how much he liked ice cream and hot dogs and dreaming when he slept. And the sun pursued these things. The sun even tried to pursue life as an artist, believing that he was skilled and that people would become happy from seeing his art. The sun struggled though. He felt that something was missing.
On a very sad day for the sun, he looked in the mirror and realized that he was unhappy. A little glimmer of hope came from the sun’s eye. Suddenly, the sun became excited. He did not know who he was any longer. But he knew something felt right. He smiled at himself the rest of the day.
Now he was not sure what to do. The sun imagined that he began to see his body and his dreams slowly fading away. And the sun was very frightened. How could he possibly lose his dreams and his body? He did not understand. He ran from the rest of the people because they began to appear different. He did not feel like a person anymore. The sun sought help from people who also had glimmering eyes like he had seen in his own eyes in the mirror that day. He read books and watched movies to learn about that glimmer. He tried religious rituals and time and time again he felt pulled away from the dreams and body he had worked so hard to make real.
One day, the sun called out to God for help though he didn’t know who God was. And within moments, the sun felt immense pain and was sorry he had asked for help. He tried to take it back. He ate ice cream and made art and tried to follow the dreams he had built for himself, but it was no use. The pain got stronger and stronger. The sun began to feel some of his rays escaping. He was sure that people would know that he was bright and he was very afraid. Others arrived to help the sun. They told the sun that everything was ok and that losing his dreams and body was ok. But the sun continued to struggling to hide his brightness.One day, the sun was so upset that the only solution he could see was to jump into the sea. He thought for sure that his rays could not be seen under water and that he could live down there and never be found by people. But this did not work either. The sun jumped in and the
water began to steam and boil and the water spit the sun out. It was then that the sun suddenly knew that he was in fact very bright.
The sun looked at himself and wondered what had happened. His face in the mirror was now made entirely of light. His hands and his feet were light. His arms and legs and torso were all light. And there in the center of his chest was the core of the light. He was petrified with fear.
The next day, the sun tried to return to work. He tried to smile and frown and shake hands and eat ice cream, but the sun was not happy doing these things. The sun looked around and the people looked sad. They were complaining that they had not seen the sun in so long. And the sun knew that they were talking about him and he glowed to himself. The people would then smile and forget that they had not seen the sun. And on it went. Until one evening, the sun realized that every time someone mentioned the sun he would smile. And he figured out that when he was alone he would forget that he was indeed the sun. It was the happy and unhappy people talking about the sun who would remind him who he was.
The sun was becoming exhausted trying to continue being a person when he knew he was the sun. And inside he wanted desperately to return to being the sun, but he did not know how. He looked around and around for the answer. Then one day he met a person who he had known a long time ago. She was like no one else and could make the sun feel like the sun easily. When they first met long ago, the sun was confused because at that time, the sun did not remember that he was the sun. But he wondered what he looked like in her bright reflection now.
She smiled and told him that she was called the moon. And the sun could clearly see who he was because of her. The sun wanted to return to the sky desperately. So he asked the moon to join him in the sky so he could remember who he was at all times. And together, the sun and the moon returned to the sky and the people rejoiced. Before too long, the people returned to their happiness and unhappiness and the sun noticed that the people hardly noticed him except when they looked into the sky.
The sun and moon were very happy together. Without the moon, the sun would forget who he was, and without the sun, the moon would grow dark. So the two agreed to keep the people showered with light. And the sun decided that happiness or unhappiness of the people was up to each person. He figured that the unhappy people did not notice that they were showered with as much light as all of the other people, plants and animals. And that is how the sun and moon became a team.
And the only sun knew then that he and the moon were part of a much larger sky than he ever realized before. And he wondered how many of the people had forgotten that they too were bright stars, just like the sun. It was then that the sun knew how to shine just as he had been created to shine. He also knew that it was he that revolved around the earth, and that he and the moon were part of a grand inter-working system of stars and bodies in space. He was no longer an only sun but was one sun of many suns. He smiled and winked at the moon. And the moon smiled and she winked back.