Solid Quarter

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 4 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

Megan Burns' Poeticsofbone&city project on Tumblr

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


she says i remember air on my skin
the scent of being embodied
that i wore clothing
the taking for granted of each small bit
memory once you return to ether loses solidity
hard to embrace
it’s not being dead that is hard
it’s that there is no hard

hardness falls away, gleaming
to be in a particular hum of sound
the energy shift required to be human
contained vortex of anything is possible manifest

you are created out of nothing it seems
a receptor sounds the echo of the dead
& so inside the pure echo
like radio waves never picked up

is anyone listening
singing for the dead clears space around
it burns you free of fear over time
the seraphim see & burns right through you

detaches iris to see clear
you see both/ both seraphim eyes
to hear underneath where truth accumulates
to be remembered

we carry it inside us
we pull it up the seeds
why calculate or keep track of any of it
there are no horrible beings
just souls in terrible cages of suffering
forgotten of love, we are made to be filled
and imagine a lack, we feel a lack so deeply
we believe separation is real

i went to the dead
to talk and there in the trees
deeply rooted, translates
palm to bark and listen
to centuries of changing seasons
deep in the core of the trunk
a ring of memories about how the world
has moved, do you recall what it was like to be a seed
inside the shell, do you recall that smallness before vast
branching under soil/ reaching deep into mother’s skin
do you recall more than the trunk of yourself so beautiful
it shatters & the shattering & the beauty get confused
they are wrapped, veil thin
no here or there but always here
i put my hand against the trunk of her
i put my hand against the bark of her
rough and hard and soft and fierce
i thought of the word ‘god’ and the smallness of us all
i put my hand against the skin of her
her coat bristled, i put my hand against her and was sorry
i put my hand against her and we spoke
called me down singing into my cells
how do you word forever & everything
can you follow she asked
outside the body & into an eternal
the trees become the dead and the dead become the trees
there is no excess of form
we spoke and the doors swung open
& you take what you can hold

i felt such shame when i was caught admiring
the tree, standing with her
the fir of her pressed into my face
sweetness & i did water them from my body
they into me memory and song
and me into them, the only word left is mother

to spare just one being from suffering brings
grace into the world
hold on to that she says
we heal as we heal as we heal
a type of magic of moving in & out of our lives together
always we are answering a call if listening
what kind of wandering dog will you be

we stop the flow of fear from coming into the world
that is what  you can do with love
you can stop the flow of fear spreading between us

we are all poor judges
forgetting bliss is available to all
once distinction falls, that no one thing is better
or worse than another then we see the universe clearly

a source of unlimited energy

we all wake up from the dream together.

that is when it ends.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Mantra of Avalokiteshvara


“the jewel of the lotus is in the heart consciousness”

OM: represents generosity/ purifies pride/ ego, color is white/ trait is wisdom

Do you remember the number of beliefs you let go as you grew older and began to organize the world around systems not of your choosing?  The most interesting aspect of choice is not that we can choose, but from where do we believe we make choices. What I’ve learned most in the last year is the number of ways I reorganized my world to match the world around me like medical text books where the transparent layer of the body is laid upon a foundational mapping lining up the circuitry: Nerves, muscles, skeleton.   I tried to lay down in the outline assigned to me and keep within the parameters which I read as a type of safe, which I let fear read to me as a type of safe. I never understood why I was a poet, but poet is another four letter word that can hold you.


I was writing a book about attachment and romantic love, and for some reason it wasn’t evolving: There is a bottom to grief, but how to not land there permanently.  I was meditating daily and doing yoga nidra and for some reason signed on to do a Reiki 1 training class. At some point when suffering, you hit a point where you submit because you have nothing else to lose. I learned this at 25 in rehab in one sphere and again at 39. Life spirals as much as we attempt to linear it. After my first Reiki training, I weaned off of antidepressants that I had been taking for over a decade for suicidal depression. This isn’t about medication or mental illness as much as it is a story about how patterns can be traced. For six weeks after Reiki 1, we were encouraged to meditate, chant, cut cords and practice self Reiki at least once if not twice a day. Thanksgiving fell shortly after I completed training, and I spent the day alone writing and meditating. As I sat at the table, this poem came out of me changing the whole shape of the book. After I wrote it, my entire body broke out in a damp sweat, and I was sobbing hysterically. Sometimes, we hold things inside of us. I say sometimes but what I mean is all times. All times we hold inside of us what we barely know.

break against

image of my brother’s head blown to bits
way a skull can’t contain what we are
way bones splinter and fragment
like a stone covered in cuneiform
speaks to us across time, how you will save yourself
heart’s seat, indestructible drop
how quickly you flew from us, birded
skull threaded in a womb where I too was threaded
lacuna in a life sentence
and then here too, firstly to step beyond this veil
and hold us as we come along
back & forth: souls
crossing near enough to touch
when you look into that book, can you read
what is written, can you see
last time I saw you
my anger kept me from speaking
I am lost, can you find me
I can’t tell whose grief
there is so much illusion
how can I ever hook you
I did not love you well in this world
my brother I did not know how to love

and I do not know why I can forgive you anything
but I cannot forgive myself

MA: represents ethics/ purifies jealousy/ color is green/ trait is compassion

Because I was writing about attachment, I tried an experiment of sleeping with strangers to observe how I attached to other people. I watch myself sometimes make these decisions cloaked in the veil of “art,” and I marvel at the fiction of safe it provides. I told myself I was doing this Reiki stuff in the same vein: Learning a new skill for writing my book. See how we slip accountability. I invited a man over I had never met and after we had sex, he told me suddenly that his mom had committed suicide and he found the body. He told me she had taken drugs he kept in the house, and it was his fault. What I haven’t told you yet reader is what I am. I call myself a poet.   

The BHAGAVAD GITA is a love story told on a battlefield; for how else does one approach questions of faith?

When I was younger, I could see clearly into people. I grew up in a house of secrets where the adults said one thing but the truth was different: I learned there are two worlds, the world said out loud and the world underneath where the truth lies. If you know things you can’t explain, it scares people. If you can read people’s intentions and energy and feelings, it scares people. If you know what comes next, it scares people. I spent all of my childhood learning to be a safe person, shutting out and turning down the volume of what came through; and then I learned to be a poet. To slip what lies in the underneath into a container called language, called art: I learned how to survive by defining what I am as an artist and then I couldn’t stop. I’m an addict.

When this stranger told me that story, I realized two truths: It was not his fault and it was not my fault my brother killed himself. Being a poet didn’t mean I had the words to save him. Knowing he was going to die didn’t mean I had tools to divert his path. This isn’t a story about suicide. It’s about patterns. If you watch close, life folds and if you mark the creases, you witness how the story keeps at it till you see. How quickly do you want to surface?

Megan: I thought, don’t do this. Then I did. I put my head against his heart chakra and I listened, I asked his dead to speak to me. I invited in suffering: chalice, vessel, channel.

Two weeks later, he told me he loved me. Then he abruptly left the city and moved to Florida. He met another woman and fell in love. All of this is coincidence, perhaps. When we broke contact, I texted him and said: You should know it’s not your fault. We don’t have that kind of power over others. We can’t keep them here. I wonder often when I speak or write, to whom am I talking? And it makes sense to me that we are all the same, because most of what comes out is meant for me. For you. For us.

NI:  represents patience/ purifies desire/ color is yellow/ trait of mind/ body/ speech/ action

I realized in Reiki II training how much intuition I had let waste away. I ignored my instinct and used reason to make choices, to keep safe. I invested in being helpless, powerless and let others take care of me. I was suicidal and sad from a very young age, so I thought this is I. This is normal. It never occurred to me, and I was never taught that what I was doing was absorbing what was around me, that I was born into generations of suffering and abuse and addiction. I thought I was the entire puzzle missing a piece. But I was just one piece. I began to see the story of my brother and me in a very particular way, and to understand it you would have to know how often we spoke of death. You would have to know what it feels like to have no fear of death.

The story fits on top of other stories; it is not new. It is a spiral; we are caught in its net. Once upon a time there was a sister and a brother who chose to come into the world together, one was a receiver and one was a transmitter. In order to shift great amounts of energy, a sacrifice is required. We can’t undergo great change without letting go of all we knew before, except by not being afraid to give up all of it: All that we love and all that we hate. Duality itself is what we sacrifice, and that is the trickiness of it. When my brother suicided, he set in motion a choice to go on one side of the veil and I set in motion an intention to find him. This is how channeling works: You have to be able to lock onto a reception. You have to be able to find a transmitter, blood of my blood, DNA of my DNA, memory to my memory as much myself as I am, I would know you anywhere. I would find you anywhere in all that can be imagined. And here we are?

The Egyptian myth of Isis is a story about a sister who goes into the underworld to bring her brother/ husband Osiris back. Isis is framed as a great healer, champion to women and children; she is a channel ferrying between death and life; so we, so we.

PAD: represents diligence/ purifies ignorance/ color is blue/ trait is equanimity

I thought I was losing my mind. There have been times like this in my life. The best way I can describe it is as though being unplugged like in The Matrix. It’s watching the world around you, but it registers different as a code perhaps more than as a coherent space.

I started doing this meditation where I visualized going down 108 steps, one step for each breath where I could think of nothing more than the numbered step I was on in that breath. If I lost count, I stopped and got off the mat. It took weeks to get down to 108 without losing concentration and then when I reached the bottom I realized I had no idea what to do once I got there.

Inanna goes into the underworld to meet her sister, and she is required to hang her skin on a hook. These myths, these stories, they are guidebooks for travel. You must learn to remove your skin, to find the hook, to hang your skin on the hook once you reach the bottom of the stairs. You must not be afraid that you will not be able to put your skin back on once you are ready to ascend. Who would choose this?

ME: represents renunciation/ purifies greed/ possessiveness/ color is red/ trait is bliss

Each chakra of the body has a specific megahertz at which it resonates; the chakra can be balanced simply by listening to the vibrational sound. What is the function of sound? Why speak? Why poet?  Often when the dead speak to me it is just an echo, a whisper; and other times  I speak out loud and realize I am not talking to no one, that in fact I am not talking but being talked to about what I need to see. Sound moves around us, vibrations of energy make us a never type of alone, but oh, I hunger for touch.  It is a lonely life to be populated by sound, to be haunted and distracted by unsaid.

HUM: represents wisdom/ purifies aggression/hate / color is black/ trait is compassion

I read a description of grief by William Dadarrio last  night in his book, To Grieve, in which he stated that love felt during grief is like a lighthouse shining the way to point out that there is danger but not able to navigate the ship for you. Grief is like that, a body of water you must traverse and no matter how many maps you consult, the truth is the journey has never been taken until you take it. That is the sacred key of life, for all the same stories, there is only the journey of you in the traveling. Around us, we choose to see and heed the lights shining on us great warnings, great desire for our safe passage, but whom do we champion to steer? I poet because of all the sounds I can create, there will always be a last sound. That is the only light I have to keep in line of sight: To let go in love. Which word will I choose of all the words for love when it is time to say: Farewell for now. Om Mani Padme Hum.

It is very good to recite the mantra Om mani padme hum, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast …. The first, OM … symbolizes the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha…. The path is indicated by the next four syllables. MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the … altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassionate and loving…. The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom…. Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable HUM, which indicates indivisibility…. Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha….
— His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Straight No Chaser


no one will tell you & how could they anyway, but still you'll feel deceived
no one says, one morning at 41 you'll wake up and your first thought
a memory from 15, and maybe it's because your daughter is 15

or were you 16, doesn't matter except            funny
how time exists but doesn't, the point             really being
what did you know --not much about life or other people

the sharp slap of days hurled across your body
that would later be called "refrain" and you
get so drunk one night, someone's boyfriend rapes you
in a back bedroom, you don't remember anything

it's true that you were too drunk to say no, but that's not it
it's three years later when another boy who was there says
over the phone, it was a bet & that's when you understand

the value of your body in a house of boys you called friend
and here is the part no one knows, the deepest secret you keep,
is i fucking won: you bet against my life & you, one of you ended
up dead and you, a string of jail terms, addiction and misery.

you never got out of that place where we strained to grow
broken shipped island of lost toys & i fucking escaped b/c i bet. i bet. i bet
i can survive anything. you'll tell yourself next to the body
of your 8 year old daughter and your dog as the sun rises again over new orleans.

Monday, August 06, 2018

what kind of person are you

what kind of person are you

empty or is that the way fullness feels to you
soft landing place where i lay my head
or pushing me out kind of person
do you say one thing and think another
tongue sharp, knife embrace
slipped in while i look into your eyes
what are you made of
the cruelty of other lovers

dripping from your hands
the ones you put around my throat
gently you say, let me be inside you
long enough to default back to panic
where there is light
what are you made of

the sound of what others have said
when i speak can you hear me

when i fall, i fall for human touch

the graze of your palm down my forearm
when you say soft and i think
about the hardness i’ve learned under men’s hands
how to survive when you grab me
by the back of the head

will you force me to my knees
out of love or will you not even see me
a warm mouth & my heart nameless
what of the little abuses that cut
a person down to nothing

when i say it is my fault
it’s because i want to own it
even if it’s not mine
this rented entwine costs me
i want it to spill out whole

this way i can reach you
like i could say don’t hurt me
& instead of responding

you just wouldn’t