steady, steady
the air
is rich
and stout—
and if we laugh
the air
goes rushing

steady, steady
the air
is hungry
and if we weep
the air
comes rushing



Originally posted July 2012.

AUGUST IS MY MONTH FOR RE-POSTING (though this month’s poems will be new to quite a few of my current readers.) Β The official national expiration date for poems is yet to be determined, so it’s quite possible these may stand up to a second reading.

77 responses »

    • Very true, Cindy, and isn’t it interesting how the breath changes when the feelings change. Thank you, as always , for being such a kind blogging buddy, and for your comment.

  1. This is superb! And I tried it! It’s so very true! And a perfect reading! I am learning from you Cynthia. You are not afraid of reading very slowly. I know we need to. It gives us much more time for expression. I still read too quickly to get it over with! 😊. This poem was even more full of meaning when I heard you. I should live next door; you could coach me! 😊

    • So you tried it, and it worked! Isn’t it fascinating? I was amazed when I first noticed that gathering versus giving out dynamic of the breath. And based on what I heard in the video of your book launch, I’d say your reading aloud is just fine. πŸ™‚

    • A real treat to know that you caught that truth, Hilary. As I said to Chris, above, I was amazed when I noticed it and inclined to hypothesize, but decided to keep it to this simple little thing.

  2. I too was mesmerized by your slow, tantalizing reading. Simple binary truths are powerful. There are days and there nights. We laugh and we weep–and our breath tries to keep pace. Simple truths. Sometimes we needn’t seek more.

    • “Sometimes we needn’t seek more,” indeed, Prospero. But I did enjoy your referring to this, in another conversation, when speaking about being caught breathless between the Scylla of laughter and the Charybdis of weeping…

      • I love how you are embracing intertextuality.

        Between the rock of laughing and the hard place of weeping…

        And speaking of intertextuality, I was thinking Ibsen while concocting Nora’s toaster.

        • Aha! A clue about your new book on the ontological significance of household appliances. Of course! These are to be teeny-tiny appliances, small enough for a Doll’s House. The toaster will be, perhaps, like one of those little girls’ “Easy Bake” ovens, (in this case, a toaster oven) made by Hasbro, with an incandescent light bulb for a heat source. The light bulb burns out (or, mentally, turns on) and Nora hits the road. I knew there was something Ibsen-esque about it! And so one cannot tell, in the end, just who is the appliance—Nora, or the toaster.

          • Exactly. Nora leaves her husband. And maybe this has nothing to do with toasters (other than inviting the prerequisite ontological discussion on small appliances and mythical sea monsters, who laugh then weep).

            • No, it really has nothing to do with toasters, in the end. Ibsen, when confronted with the feminists’ adopting of him as a speaker for the “emancipation” of women, found himself between the devil and the deep blue sea, in trying to disassociate himself from them. (There’s that Scylla and Charybdis again!) He was a poet of truth and the liberation of the human soul— whoever, whatever, wherever.

              • A poet of truth, certainly, but did he read slowly–and tantalizingly–about breath and laughter and sadness? laughing and weeping–the marmalade of emotions. Thank you for always being so thoughtful, and for sharing with us your poetry gemstones, which scintillate in a cavernous den of dull and drossy words.

                • And now, thanks to that marmalade, I am stuck without words. (Unbelievable, I know, and likely just a temporary aberration.) Thank you, my dear friend.

    • Yes, it’s so automatic and natural we don’t think about it. (My sister, a respiratory therapist, would not agree….she thinks about it all the time, working with people who also have to think about it all the time!) But this little truth about the sad-in and happy-out could give rise to a bit of speculative thought about human mind/body connections. Thanks, Lisa.

  3. Thank you for reposting this. A enlightening poem to wake up to. I am a fan of yoga (done calmly) and pranayama is a big part of each class. Yoga introduced me to the poet Rumi and some timeless prose on the same subject. I have much more awareness of breath these days. Lovely Cynthia.

    • Rumi is a great favorite of mine, Karen. I don’t practice yoga but used to practice Tai chi (before arthritis made that impossible) and studied Qigong until it became a natural part of my days. Breathing is automatic, but attention to breathing opens up whole new vistas. I’m happy to hear we share that awareness.

  4. The simple and natural act of breathing Cynthia and yet you bring the drama of what we never think about through your words. That is until I’m jogging and can’t catch my breath, that’s when I realize I forgot the simple act of breathing. I love your work ~ have a beautiful Sunday.

    • Did you ever notice how you breathe when you are painting, Mary? When I was first learning calligraphy strokes, many years ago, I remember how we were taught —especially when we had to draw a particularly long line, or one with many thick/thin turns, with one stroke of the pen or brush—to breathe slowly several times before making it, then to just do it, always on the exhale. It worked every time to produce a perfectly smooth stroke!

      • Fascinating Cynthia – I never really focused on my breathing while painting. I have two underpaintings finished, so when painting later today I’ll pay attention and see about any effects on certain aspects. Interesting about the calligraphy, I can see how the strokes would be smoother though from a quiet, steady and relaxed breathing cycle.

        • Now I’m laughing…I suspect if you focus on your breathing, you’ll forget to paint! Better focus on painting, and let breathing take care of itself! (Except for those moments when you stand back, look at your work, and say ahhhh…..!)

          • So funny, my husband caught me standing back last week evaluating (while painting) the Apple Tree, and did he ever laugh. He hasn’t seen me take a step back to see what I was working on before – a first for everything.

  5. I know it goes without saying that I love it … but I have to take issue with this little epic’s second verse, Cynthia: I found, during those years now behind me, that when I wept the air went somewhere else. And I had to go and find it.

  6. I think of sobbing as the release of something powerful and find it ironic that, as you point out, the air required to do so is thin, almost like we don’t want to let the feeling go.

    • Yes! And did you ever notice the phenomenon…often seen in children, but not only children….that the sobbing will pause, at some point, as if to check whether anyone or anything is listening? Funny creatures, we humans.

  7. I remember it! and enjoyed it once again. I am practising some breathing techniques these days, so the poem fits : )

  8. An excellent observation! It seems in crying we need a little more air to get us through it. It’s funny though, because I always feel as if I’m letting something out when crying, and yet it’s true, we draw a lot of air in. Laughing feels like something very tickly has invaded!! πŸ˜€

    • I take it you’re back from your “hiatus”, Suzy. (That’s what movie stars call it when they take a break between films.) Yes, it is amazing how the breath is tuned in to emotion, but it was a discovery for me when I noticed how sadness gathers it in and jollity sends it out to the world. “Something tickly has invaded” is a happy, memorable phrase! πŸ™‚

      • Haitus is a good way to describe it! And yes I am back, but it’s taking me a while to get back into the swing of it all (perhaps not the best way to describe it!) putting it plainly…I’m behind myself with everything – I shall get there in the end! πŸ˜‰

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s