43 today. Lucky seven.
I am a terrible blogger; if I post here once a month, I consider myself to be
on a roll. This does not mean that I do not have an online presence. I
communicate with many people, in a variety of ways, every day. I put a lot of
time and energy into organizing events and keeping people informed about the
local poetry scene.
writers, I’m compelled toward graphomania. I read and write constantly. I
filter and attempt to comprehend most of my experiences through words. I am
also a verbal processor, sorting through, arranging, analyzing, and evaluating
my thoughts on the spot, as I tell you about them. It has occurred to me in the
last few years that witnessing this, or trying to converse with me during this
process, probably feels like being caught up in a tornado. I hereby apologize
to anyone I may have overwhelmed. The reason I don’t blog about personal
matters more often is that I believe that there is something wise and sane
about allowing thoughts to percolate before sharing them with the world. (Have
you read the comments on any news article recently? I refuse. Takes about thirty
seconds to devolve into hateful idiocy.) There are plenty of people, places,
and things that irritate me, and if I immediately posted about all of them I
would constantly be at war. I believe in trying to put as much love out into
the world. If I called out every person who tried to destroy me or hang me up
with their bullshit, I would just be playing into their childishness and adding
to the melodrama. I have made that mistake too many times before.
One of the great
things about the writing process is letting the piece sit and returning to it
with a new set of eyes. Re-vision is crucial, even when only minor changes have
been made. So I try not to spew. It’s too easy.
This post is
more about taking stock.
birthdays and some hate them. As we age, each one is a reminder that we are
older than we were before. I suppose that can be terrifying. Occasionally, the
thought that all this is going to come to an end at some point makes me sad, or
frightened. It is important to remain in the moment. It is also important to
take care of yourself.
This year my bad
habits caught up with me. I had been eating a lot of junk food, and not
exercising, and I gained even more weight. Someone my size can’t afford to gain
any. I am larger than I have ever been. Some of my clothes no longer fit. More
importantly, I have high blood pressure, and this year I finally began to feel
the burden of the weight in my back, in my chest. I have been watching what I
eat, and am exercising again, so I’m back on track. But I was scared. I want to
be around to watch my son grow. I have more poems to write. I want to experience
more of this amazing adventure. This year my body screamed at me that it is
time to get my shit together or die.
overextended. I am the busiest underemployed person I know. Perhaps this is
because I understand that it is important to do things that I love, and to do
things for their own sake. We live in a culture which judges the worth of
people, places, and things by how much money they generate. This approach destroys
lives, destroys souls. I abstain. I endeavor to live, and to enjoy life. I try
to have something to say. I try to add truth and beauty to the mix, rather than
contribute more vitriol to an already toxic public discourse.
One matter that
has caused some misunderstanding and hard feelings for certain insecure people
in my life is the fact that what I do is who I am. There is no separation
between my art and my life. They have been integrated for me since childhood.
This is why the people who are closest to me need to understand that this path
chose me, and I must see it through. I am not a writer because I want to be. I
am compelled to document the world as I see it. To document my struggle to
understand it all. I am compelled to make some sense of it all, and to share
what I’ve learned with others.
Toni Partington and Christopher Luna
Self Portrait outside Ben, Kiki, and Aristotle's guest house
Orcas Island, WA
I am fortunate
to finally have a partner who respects me, who believes in me, who helps me,
and does not try to change me into something that I am not. Toni Partington is the
love of my life. No one else makes me laugh the way she does. No one else
understands what makes me who I am.
No one else spends
as much time thinking about what I need. I have never met a more nurturing
person. Along with being a great artists and writer, Toni takes very good care
of me and my son. She cooks us incredible meals and works hard to create a sanctuary
in our home. Before I got together with Toni, I did not even possess the
concept of sanctuary, did not even realize that it is something to strive for.
incredibly smart and reliable. She has helped me to improve Ghost Town Poetry
Open Mic, she has designed all of our books, and she has kept me grounded and
humble as my work in the community has led to life as a public figure. It is a
great privilege to serve the poetry community, and to set the stage for great
art events to occur. Toni keeps me honest, and prevents me from letting it all
go to my head. Toni makes sure that I do not become an asshole.
We will be
married next summer. We have finally started planning the ceremony, and it has
brought us closer together. We have been
doing things differently for seven years, and I love her more every day.
Unlike me, Toni
prefers to stay out of the spotlight. However, when she steps into the light,
the strength of her words and images blow people away. Just the other night, I
watched her kill at a gig where several people (including the host) rudely
scrolled their smartphones throughout the reading. It didn’t matter; Toni’s
enthusiasm and poignant social commentary won them over. When we traveled to
Auburn for the Auburn Days festival in August, she came home with the first
prize in their open mic poetry contest.
Toni and I are
very different writers, both in our approach and our content. Still, we have
learned from one another, and we support one another, cheer each other on to
move forward and improve.
I am also blessed
with a family who supports me, even though we are far away from one another. My
parents may not always understand everything I’m into, but they have always let
me know that they support me, and that they are proud. Each one of my brothers
and sisters is a good person who has built an amazing life. I marvel at all
that they have accomplished. I am so happy that each of them has managed to do
this and also be kind. When we were growing up, we fought a lot. When we got
into our teens and twenties, we began hanging out as friends. I was quite
surprised that they admired me, rather than resenting me for getting to do
everything first. The gift of their friendship is one of the many blessings in
My best friend
Barbara is an honorary Luna. She had a tough year, and still managed to be
there for me, even though she had close friends and family in crisis. Barbara
is a healer. She actually lays hands on people. She doesn’t take any shit from
anyone. She’s hilarious. And she’s one of the most open-hearted people I have
ever known. She is my most loyal and oldest friend who still talks to me. We
have known each other for almost three decades. I miss her every day. I don’t
know what I’d do without her.
Christopher and Angelo Luna at the Tardis Room
Father's Day 2014
My son Angelo is
a marvel. I could not be prouder of the young man he has become. He is smarter
and more stable than I was at his age. He is a gamer who enjoys anime and
Doctor Who, and he wants to be a psychologist. He is a Wiccan who sings and
writes beautifully. Most importantly, he is still sweet. We are surrounded by
negativity and hate; it is challenging to hold onto the lovingkindness that
exists within all at birth. When he was a child, I asked him to stay sweet,
because we need more love in this world. I’m proud to say that he took that
advice to heart. Angelo started high school just a few days ago. I can’t wait
to see what new experiences life has in store for him.
We watch a lot
of movies together, and take walks. He really opens up when we are side by side,
in the car or on the trail. He is very tolerant of my circular thought process
and monkey mind. Even after all these years, he insists upon the Socratic
method of communication. If I want to know anything, I have to ask questions.
While this is not how everyone communicates, it is great practice for the
artist. In my opinion, the answers we receive are not as important as asking
the right questions.
My big mouth can
get me into trouble. I have hurt people over the years. It can be hard to balance
my principles with the need to be kind and compassionate. In my twenties, I
alienated and drove away three of my best friends. I said things I shouldn’t
have. I was self-righteous and judgmental. I was an asshole. I don’t blame
them. I miss them. I think about them every day.
I still have
trouble dealing with the passive aggressive form of communication that is
preferred in the Pacific Northwest. I still rail against the terrible drivers
out here. I am still frustrated by people who do not do what they say they are going to do. I still miss New York every day. Still, there are many people and
places to appreciate.
I love the
poetry community, despite occasional ego flare-ups and inconsiderate behavior.
I love watching people come alive at the mic, as they bask in the love of
fellow word lovers. There is nothing like making yourself vulnerable before a
room full of people who actually want to hear what you have to say. People who
desire to know the contents of your heart, and will not judge you for them.
I have enjoyed
all the new people I have met as Poet Laureate, and all the interesting places
the position has taken me. I am grateful to everyone who has supported my many
activities, and everyone who has come out to my performances. I am grateful to
the many musicians who have played with me this year; talented professionals
who were willing to show up, have fun, and make me look good despite the fact
that there’s no money in poetry. Reading my poetry with musical accompaniment
is my favorite way to present my work, and I look forward to doing more of it
in the future.
I love the
Vancouver poetry and arts community. I am inspired by your work, and the beauty
you bring into the world through your dance, stories, poems, paintings, and
songs. I will continue to seek ways to better serve you, to make Ghost Town,
USA safe for poetry.
I am a rich man,
and I am surrounded by beauty.