Thank You

There are parts of


I’ve been working

to love.


Parts that I

have hidden

from myself.


You love them



I wonder,



You feel your

way through

my plumpness,

following every

slope and dip

of my sacred



The softness

of my belly



your hands.


You stroke me

as if you

were sculpting

your greatest

work of art.


You undress me

with reverence,

and I stand



like a Calla Lily

pulsing at the

verge of spring.


You explore the


of my body

in wondrous

lust, nurturing

the parts of me

I have shamed.


I am exposed to

what I have


leaving me with

no other option,

but to love




You came into this world

like a ray of sunlight

invading darkness.

Pushing your way through bars

created to keep God out.



While folks around you

buried themselves under layers

of fear, concrete-heavy,

you allowed your petals to unfold,

bravely showing the world

the essence of your soul.


Your love was too great to keep

restrained within a bud.

Despite the perils of winter,

you bloomed, magnificently, under

pewter skies.


What some may deem a weed,

is a flower with grit, refusing

to be conquered by her environment.


Like a Field Daisy, you root

yourself in the soil of hope,

expanding your rhizomes

like arms reaching for dreams.


You are a Queen,

wrapped in an ebony robe,

glittering with star dust

created millions of years ago

as a vision of you.


You look deep within the corners

of your flaws, within the crevasses

of your wounds and somehow, every time,

you find the star dust that glitters on your robe.

Remembering you were made radiantly perfect!


You shined your way and broke darkness.

You shined your way and exposed day.

Oh, my beautiful Jameelah, you have never

diminished against the fray!





She has sex with him
at least three times a “weak.”
Thinks that if she keeps him engaged,
he won’t want to leave.
Remembers her father saying
he would be back,
going to the store
and disappearing for days
lost in the self-worth he lacked.
Thinks that her mother
drove her father away,
that if she can be
sexy enough,
woman enough,
perfect enough,
her husband will want to stay.
She believes the narratives
in the media,
narratives that sell
a self-destructive truth.
If she loses 11 more pounds,
she might just be good.
Enough for him,
for herself.
She waxes
and sprays,
and shades,
and alters,
because the truth is
she hates what she
sees, and she falters.
In a world constructed
to de-construct
she believes
perfection lies
in a plastic flower.
In a world
saturated with L’Oréal
there’s nothing Real
about Covering a
Girl’s power.
She obsesses about the
dark circles under
her eyes,
cellulite that
deforms her perception
of perfect thighs.
The softness of her
midriff shames,
it’s her pregnancies she blames.
Her mother taught
her to share,
to care for others, and
to dare,
but she forgot to
teach her to
love herself,
to see herself in front of
the mirror and
unconditionally bare
the parts of her body
has taught her to hate,
because she will never
be good enough,
she will never
be good enough
in her shape.
It’s crazy cuz the
natural brown of her
is a societal discriminant
unless it’s a tan,
then it’s accepted as
Societal advance.
Except in Mexico or Philippines
where the working class
yearns to whiten their skin,
darkened by the hue of the soil
wished they could change their kin.
The natural plumpness
of her lips
is too afro-centric
it’s created with implants
or injectable fillers
because that’s
what’s accepted.
She is hyper-sexualized
and then
marginalized for
having sex too early,
contradicting messages
that have her twisted
Told her sexuality
is a sin
and blamed for the
depravation of men.
She’s been reduced
to sexual pleasure,
her body the object
of measure.
But she yearns for
a spiritual connection,
to be made love to
in the depths of her soul
for who she really is
only there
will anyone know.
She doesn’t fulfill
the physical demands
society has constructed
to see herself as
Her daughters notice
and soon enough
their own beauty
becomes mutable.
You see
our natural beauty is not
natural recognizes
that only nature
Can produce such magnificence.
to sodium hydroxide
relaxers and dyes
flat irons, Spanks,
and contacts that
color eyes.
Es Negrita pero esta bonita.
Es gordita pero es de buen corazón.
Thank you, but she doesn’t need
you to Justify what’s
already perfect.
In learning to love herself,
she has stopped searchin’.
Do me a favor and
Just Defy
the archetype of
a physique that only serves
misogynistic lies.
I once heard a quote in a movie:
“If God created the world, how do we know
what things we can change and
what things must remain sacred?”
As long as we continue
to deny our divine beauty
we will be lost in self-hatred.
Mike Theiss

Mike Theiss

Nature Teaches Us We Belong


People come to this place to camp, in some ways to get away from the “other” life they have created.  Nature welcomes us here.  We come and go, and it stands here knowing that it belongs – never questioning its place.  The trees are adorned with green sequences that glitter in the dance of the wind.  Many see the trees, but I wonder how many notice them?  They whisper stories of ancient traditions and beliefs that open the heart and recognize the spirit.



The river allows the riverbed to guide her journey, trusting that it will take her to where she is meant to be.  She is born from a droplet the way a dream is born from a breath.  The rocks stand as vocal cords, allowing the river to speak, to announce her presence.  I don’t want to just feel the river – I want to experience it, like translucent silk, embracing and accepting every part of me.  Water is delicate, light, and flexible, yet she has the force and constancy to re-shape the robust, jagged rocks she comes across.  Like love, in time, water can transform the most abradant being.



The birds speak a sound that can only be translated by the heart.  It’s the flute to the orchestra of the universe.  Fireflies, wasps, and butterflies come by also reminding us of their presence in this beautiful place.  They too understand their place.  Lizards take the occasional opportunity to peak, but don’t trust us enough to come near.


If we pay close attention, we can see (feel) how perfectly synchronized it all is.  Only then will it become clear how perfect we are, and how perfectly we belong.


Thank you to the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians for sharing this part of the land with us.  For opening their home and giving us the beautiful gift of nature.

The Beat of the Son

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The beat of the son

Is in sync with the rhythm of my heart.

The conga y timbales


Through my veins, traveling,

Feeding life and oxygen

To my feet,

Arousing, stroking, sensually gliding

Through the streets of Havana.

Aroma de café

Twirling the earthy smells

Of the aged tobacco leaves, gently

Disintegrating in the hands of

The old country folk, Guajiros.


Dilapidated, exquisitely architectured

Colonial buildings

Eroded by the sea,

By the ancient spirit of La Revolucion

Line the streets with vibrant combinations of

Starburst  shades and pastel hues

like delicately carved pastries.


Buildings scraped and bruised

by the memories

Of those exiled, and the longing

Of those left behind.


Intimately combined colors

Sing to the tunes of the son

En clave

Enchanting the spirits of Cuba,

Embracing its parks, its town squares

Its majestic sea wall.


At night the stars are serenaded

With old boleros of

Unrequited love, romantic passion,

Pain drowned by old Havana rum,

The country life of the guajiro, and

Memories of an unknown distant land,






Dainty women flower the streets

With pink perfume, and a sensuality

As untamable as wild grass

Mulata Linda!  Mira que tu si

Que tiene Tumbao!

She braves a world where

La Revolucion forgot

Her voice existed.

In her, a determination as relentless

As  the Granma.


Dominoes pound against the backdrop of

Salsa, Rumba, Danzon, and Mambo

Like the 3:2 rhythm of la clave.

Each play critically calculated.

“Me Pegue” calls the victorious voice

commanding the praise and glory

of the passerby.


Old men arguing in a language

soft and invigorating like the sweetness of

The mango and guava,

Yet jagged and sluggish like

Dreams deferred,

Eclipsed by La Lucha


Cono! Que Vola?! Comepinga!


Vivid hand gestures

Whirling and spinning

Into synchronized

Guapea moves conveying

Passion and enthusiasm

For the harmoniously untamed  conversations.


The streets are a tapestry of laughter.

Jovial voices breaking through

The monotony and the physical boarders the

Cubanos are bound by.

Their spirits dance to the tempo

Of their ancestors.  Afro-Cubanismo

Guides the timing and pulse of

Each step.




The raw innocence of children

Carries a wounded dog on

Its back under the blazing sun,

Dribbles and punts

the ball in the

summer rain; and

somersaults into the ocean

like airborne apostrophes

and commas from the

crumbling piers  of



In the Son like in the

Spirit of the people,

There is a strength that

Persists beyond La Revolucion,

Beyond social-political idealism.

It’s a strength only found

In the divinity of being.

Beauty in Winter (Tita Carmen)

November 24, 2012 will be 2 years since my grandmother Carmen Elida Prince passed. The following is a meditation by my daughter Carmen Elida Mason that rings true to the impact my grandmother also had on me:

“I learned how to love deeply and fully through my Tita Carmen. I don’t think I fully realized the impact she had on me until she passed away. In fact, I don’t think anyone did. Her energy could move people. She was the type of person who enjoyed watching novelas and occasionally gossiping on the phone. And that’s okay…she didn’t have to be or do anything else. Her love was so strong, that no statistics or theories or revolution could replicate it’s power.”

It was this love that my grandmother radiated, that filled even her difficult journey with cancer with so many blessings.  And it was her love that encouraged me to see all these blessings even in the midst of my grief.

LUNG CANCER  (August 25, 2010)

What the fuck is that!?  Are the words I want to utter after grandma tells me the doctor needs to do a bronchoscopy to diagnose the developmental stage of her cancer.  An abyss of fear, of abandonment emptied my stomach.  Nausea overwhelmed my emotions because I couldn’t handle feeling anything else.  I surrendered myself to that moment because I was no longer in control and I took in all the love I had ever received from my grandmother – I took it in because I was faced with the possibility of loosing her.  All I could say to her, because I know her spirit, was that she would not stop living until the last day of her life – no matter what the outcome.

It wasn’t her physical death that I feared; it was the possibility of her suffering.  So there I was thinking how not to think about it.  I decided to numb myself until the day of her test.

The Day of the Bronchoscopy   (September 3, 2010)

In the midst of tragedy, one must continue to recognize the gifts from God – for this is the way in which he answers our prayers.

First Gift from God – Stephan:   A warm dispositioned lab technician with a cute French accent in English and Spanish, gently and nurturing, sat right next to Grandma and held her hand as he introduced himself and gave her an initial explanation of the process.  I saw in his eyes that he was fulfilling his purpose in life, and cared deeply for the service he gave.

Second Gift from God:  How fortunate my grandmother is to have health insurance, so that she is able to receive the necessary medical attention as her material body transitions to its season of Fall.  How many people endure ailments and painful physical conditions without dreaming of the possibility of a dignified healthcare system?  How many die each year of preventable illnesses and diseases?  How many more live with chronic illnesses without the proper care?

That she has health insurance is an accident of birth – geography and economic status.  That we are grateful for the care she is receiving is a gift from God.

Third Gift from God – TOM:  A lab technician, Tom, came to the waiting room to inform me that Grandma was ready to be discharged.  As I walked out of the waiting room and proceeded to the hallway, he inquired if I was Carmen’s daughter or granddaughter.  He then said, “I love your grandmother; she has such a beautiful spirit; I just want to take her home with me.”  He proceeded to describe how well the procedure went and how much everyone had enjoyed my grandmother.

As he helped her out of the wheelchair and into the car, he hugged her and in his broken Spanish whispered in her ear, “Que Dios Te Bendiga.”  Grandma embraced him and he kissed her softly on the cheek.

This is the kind of immediate impact Grandma has on people.  My Gift – I have experienced her beautiful spirit my entire life.

Fourth Gift from God: Temperate Breeze, Blue Sky, Tender Sun, flirtatious leaves on the trees, the color purple.

Visit to Dr. Mercandetti (September 8, 2010)

Fifth Gift from God:  Before this visit, I had already read the pet scan result – with words like MOTASTISIS, MASS, and TUMOR stabbing at my amateur understanding of cancer. But my Grandmother hadn’t.  “Today” was the day she would have to face her truth.  Like jagged glass intertwined in Dr. Mercandetti’s tongue, the cancerous syllables cut through Grandma’s hope.  Dr. Mercandetti patiently drew an anatomical sketch of Grandma’s lung and gently explained the location of the tumor and why she was having trouble breathing.  He assured her that science would do its part to try and save her life, but her will to live and the love of her family would extend her life far beyond any medical expectations.  He personally made the appointment with the oncologist he was referring my Grandmother to, and told us Dr. Stanton would take wonderful care of her.   In the soil of pain and turmoil, compassion and love bloom.

Visit to Dr. Stanton (September 14, 2010)

Sixth Gift from  God: As we walked into the Scripp’s Cancer Center, we were greeted by Sandra’s radiant smile and gleaming honey-almond eyes.  The recessed lighting reflected off her scalp creating a caramel-orange  aura that matched her African patterned dress.  A crystal award that read “Values in Action” sat to the right of her desk with her name etched in silver.  She assured me we would love Dr. Staton. 

Seventh Gift From God: Dr. Stanton – “The treatment of serious illness demands a devotion to science and a commitment to the art of medicine.  One flows from evidence.  The other is grounded in respect for the goals of each patient.” 

One can’t deny when a profound metaphysical connection occurs between beings; an inexplicable bond.  I had expected a compassionate maybe even gentle doctor, but what I experienced was a spiritual interconnectedness in which I could no longer distinguish a physical separation between myself, my grandmother, and Dr. Stanton.   He began by explaining, declaring, his patient care philosophy – one of respect for the patient’s beliefs and culture and one, which gives dignity and honor to the patient throughout the entire process.  He allowed himself to share the same emotional space that both my Grandmother and I shared – experiencing my grandmother’s fear and pain.  The glossiness of his eyes made him human.  He spent the first part of our encounter listening to my grandmother’s story – learning the heart of this woman who would entrust her life to his.  When the time came for me to translate the difficult decisions that lay ahead for Grandmother, with solidarity, he reached for his guitar and began to play music resonant of  “Cantares del Alma” (Songs of the Soul) by the great classical guitarist ,  Carlos Bonilla Chavez.

Occupying the space between life and death (November 18, 2010)

21 Radiation sessions later, tonight, my grandmother has asked me not to take her to radiation anymore.   I asked her if she knew what she was requesting, and she nodded her head quietly, in surrender. She has lost 22 pounds since September 14th when she weighed 162 1bs.  She doesn’t eat or drink much anymore, and she has resigned her body to the limitations of her bed.  Her body is withering, and I desperately am trying to discover the peaceful beauty in this process – learning how to occupy the uncomfortable space between life and death.

Beauty in Winter (November 22, 2012)

After Carmen and I bathed her for the last time, I watched her as she lay in bed.  Her face had lost it’s rounded vivaciousness, her skin was more pale and waxy in appearance, and the veins of her feet and hands were boldly blue.  Even in her journey toward death, she radiated love.

Even as the Cypress trees morph into the shadow

Of fragile pewter limbs

And the frigid air burns the warmth of the moon

I find beauty in your stillness

And peace in your silence

Even as the bitter wind covets the

Indigo summer breeze

And the rosy crimson hues on your flesh

Become opaque and sallow

I find strength in your existence

And resilience in your process

Even as the snow conceals the

Tapestry of your spring

And the ashen sky

Covers heavy

I find contentment in your inevitability

And harmony in your restfulness

Your serene landscape feels me

With love and compassion

The Sensuous Experience of Washing Dishes

The soap suds are purifying

An immaculate act

My brusque manicured hands

sensually stroke

the tainted surface of each dish


It’s feminine, yet



The pink nail-polish softly

displays its hue through the

soap bubbles  like  bursts of bubble gum


Through the glass lid, I see

the reflection of my curls

draping over my shoulders –

shoulders that are a pair of maracas

kissed by the sun


The curls tickle me, like the

playful tip of a fuchsia feather.


Water flows

Like translucent silk

delicately grazing my skin

It’s weightlessness is liberating


A stream of new beginnings


I glance over my shoulder

And notice David’s playful grin

as he watches the gentle wiggle of my hips


Peering through the window, I

secretly hope for more dirty dishes