Belly of a Star

my practice of compassion

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Never Giving Up

Nightmares began before the age of four
And never ended
Typically, demons and monsters
Sometimes they come true
An only child
Capable of skipping the first grade
Lost two fathers to divorce
Entire step-family, brothers and sisters, gone
Never seen again
Best friend kidnapped, soon after
Life with a single, low-income parent
Latch-key kid, learned to cook, on that old cast iron skillet

I walked a lot, hid in the comfort of tall oak trees
Shirley Temple Black’s house, just around the corner
Near Stanford University’s tall, green grass
Without Mother, attended my own parent/teacher conference
A gifted-kid, hyper-active, with a tendency to daydream
Saving babysitter funds, to buy my own toiletries and clothes
Red striped Nikes, Grandmother’s
Size six, one size too small, but I made them work
Three pairs of pants, rotated, accessories were luxury

A high school freshman, on the east coast
Bullied and ostracized, called out in the halls
“Slut,” “Idiot,” “Bitch”
Wept to the bearded school counselor, to please listen
As something was wrong, couldn’t read
Stomach pains, can’t comprehend
Can’t spell, can’t remember, please help
In response: smirks and claims ‘she is too pretty’ to have problems

A mid-year high school freshman, on the west coast, elevated in status
Loved for the outside . . . homecoming princess, cheerleader
Countless tears in the front cab of my sweetheart’s truck
He didn’t understand, and neither did I
Hippy-, loving-, free-spirited mother
Her black best friend married to a white man
Taught me how cruel onlookers can be to “different”
Her foreign, Persian boyfriend, in times of hostages and chaos
Came with late-night tire slashing and unspeakable threats

Graduated with honors, scholarships, somehow
Only college freshman in upper-division classes
Victim of multiple predators . . .
First female on both sides of family to earn a degree
Graduated from teaching program, early
Taught in low-income school, 110-degrees outside, windows sealed shut
No air conditioning, needed fumigating
Nominated teacher of year, received highest marks, always

Master’s degree earned, while disabled and
Raising three sons, one on the autism spectrum
Stay-at-home mother, working from home
Home schooling middle son, after the bullies came
My own late-age diagnosis of Aspergers
New remote-job, promoted and promoted
Dyslexia, dyspraxia, generalized anxiety . . .
Divorce, uprooting, finding ‘home’ again
Crying in the front cab of my van, this time, alone
Heartache, heartbreak, reality of world, once more

Published book, took ten years to write
Sharing stories to build community
More stories to build, more living to come
My doggy, and time, passes on
Comforts of home and family
Getting our “Geek” on
Lord of the Rings, Dungeon and Dragons
Showing it’s okay to be

Last count, 8 chronic pain conditions
Most of this spring in bed with a virus
After traveling through LA airport
Covid-19, social unrest, more sadness
Still, 3 sons graduate, all on the same day, the 13th
A happy June, well-adjusted, content, and kind
My sons, loved ones, and me
Still thriving, still speaking, still working
Nightmares began before the age of 4
And never ended
Typically, demons and monsters
Sometimes they come true
Sometimes they don’t

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The Well

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The Well

I am the well, beyond
Baseline, sparkling chasms
Encapsulated in teardrops
Fragmented rainbows that speak
On reflections of you
Heart split, chambers imprisoned
Beat, as one, no more
Hopes, cast away
In cherry-blossom-dancing sky
A brilliant blue, against
The blue of us
Pronounced missing
Such all-encompassing rigid agony
That centers bow at soul’s home
And with penetration, reminds: life
The living, the journey, the road
Leading back, onto what finds
Me, this charismatic pang
Dressed in cashmere softness
Pink again, as if promising
For resting place, of comfort gone
With echoes of when
Sings thee, a voice like rose-tinted silence
The knowing that existence is
Yet, still sleeps in growing light
Stretching vines, and forgetting beams
Not beneath, nor beyond
But in this one, who stands ravished
In deafening woe, highlighting self
With a fragrance, unknown
Some shimmering tastiness
Without taste, a tongue reaching to glimpse
If had eyes, to bleed out
This endless game named ache
In the substance of lost, I am
This that is forced surrender
Be that it may, carved
Inch, by breaking inch
Very made in light
Called upon, shattered
The dove wings circle
Enveloping rest, they whisper
Feel the wholeness of sacrifice
The glorious, intensified rupture
Birthing, new skin
Scales of stories in ebony caves
Crimson strokes rewind
The past, tale spinning tale
A comment set upon itself
The well below, existence
A deep reservoir for thy drinking

Samantha Craft, 5.24.19

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Dancing Words

When I get triggered, since very small, I fold into a world, like a butterfly covering herself, into the depth of my mind and imagination. It is dark and uncomfortable. As if returning to the now-broken chrysalis from whence I was created. From there, the angst, and agony, and pain of this world, and the confusion of human nature, particularly selfishness and cruelty, pulses through my veins. I bend, I twist, I ache. I stay there hours, days, sometimes weeks, until I recenter and find balance in my authentic self and remember my inner truth. Then the world starts to come back. Then the words start to come back. Fast and clear. The collective unconscious, if you will. And I am then propelled forward to write, seemingly without choice. I bleed out the poison. Only when the words touch air, they transform into the wind that pushes me out and back into the world I love, the one of light, truth, and service.

Sometimes life hurts so much, it can only be described in dancing words . . .

Dancing Words

I weep for naught
No thou within this weeping be
No element of fair
To pair such wicked torment
No beloved to catch
Tumbling pieces
This broken, scattered
Grave of thee

Hooded trumpeter lands, anew
His white-dust reservoir beckons
Piercing claws retracted
Shining sword to once-closed eyes
Sleep! Awaken! Light! Emerge!
Birthed in disproportion
As angel’s prayer weeps through

Tender flesh announces arrival
Opens and reopens, a homecoming of ripening
Vast canyons exposed in midnight air
Wounds licked, longings long
Stretched out, seams splitting seams
No needle doth repair

Haunting questions spar with answers
In equal magnitude, memories heckle ado
Sweet tormenting rhythm, squashing tune
Eradication announced
Torrential winds bowing down
Begging the winter wave rising
Stop! Alas, to begin without end

Logic beds feathers, alone in their room
Erotic plumage dancing round
Master tailor’s needle, sprung
Crisped from daylight’s fire
Set up high to open sky

Drenched, widow raven sits in once-virgin white
Wings plucked, taken, merged in spinning black
Till morning comes to mourn the bluebird broken
Her gentle song carved out of throat
Carrion painting crimson branches
This phantom life of who

Samantha Craft. 5.20.19

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Had I

Had I way

To break you free

From the trappings

Of your mind

To wrap my might and pull

And create a safe haven

For your harbored grace

That I would


If I was granted shield

From the darkest winds

And amulet, from wise woman passed

In my tempered chivalry

I’d seize the forest by its very roots

And decompose every sapling

Of threatening timberland


Had I remedy, true

Brewed of love, and love alone

I’d venture forth

Frothing, as wave reborn

And crash

The ghost-tainted nightmares

Unraveling bitter discord

With unbridled clarity


If magic key

To stoic door

Emptied falsehoods

From caverns deep

I’d trample in

Enraged stallion

Through foreboding halls

To rebuild your view


Had I one precious wish

In all the days that be

I’d kneel to bring home

With gentle fortitude

Unbroken and erupted

From internal flame

The one who is you

My perfect soul


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I know someone suffering

waiting to be seen

I know someone who is suffering
I know someone who is in chronic pain
I know someone who has chronic fatigue
I know someone who is searching for answers
I know someone who has gone through divorce
I know someone who is in an unhappy marriage
I know someone who longs to find a soul mate
I know someone who is alone
I know someone who has no one nearby
I know someone who searches for another
I know someone who cannot afford the mortgage
I know someone who cannot afford the rent
I know someone who is homeless
I know someone who longs to reconnect with family
I know someone who longs to be accepted by loved ones
I know someone who has been hurt by those most trusted
I know someone who has lost all siblings
I know someone who has lost a child
I know someone who has lost a partner
I know someone who is in search of work
I know someone who is burdened by a job
I know someone who isn’t recognized for abilities
I know someone who can’t control anger
I know someone who can’t control the body
I know someone who can’t control actions
I know someone who feels trapped in the wrong body
I know someone who feels trapped in the wrong gender
I know someone who feels trapped by society
I know someone who has been displaced
I know someone who has been ostracized
I know someone who is searching for community
I know someone who is losing the ability to remember
I know someone who is in the last stages of cancer
I know someone who is preparing to end this life
I know someone who feels unseen
I know someone who longs to be heard
I know someone who is tired of cruelty
I know someone who gets trapped in the mind
I know someone who gets fooled by thoughts
I know someone who battles voices that seem real
I know someone who lost a beloved pet
I know someone who lost a beloved possession
I know someone who lost a part of who they are
I know someone who battles addiction
I know someone who pangs to live in the moment
I know someone who doesn’t understand why life is unfair
I know someone who is suffering
Samantha Craft
December 2016

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Where The Crow Feeds

Where The Crow Feeds
There is a bitterness instilled and growing. A habitat of woes poured through the grout-laden tiles. Sacrificed as brine burdened tears and inched toward desert ground below. And here is where the crow feeds. Nestled against the marrow remains. Latched onto feathered-whispers meandering stretched out corridors. He caws. Cries out and pecks the places he exists. Broken, hallowed and shamed into boney crumbs. Comes again, the agony dance. A thousand droplets drenched cascade through victim chambers, round the bowels and out into the essence of darkness. Evaporated with each pressing. A salt-lathered stain against tainted black. Beak to bone. Talon to ash. Weathered door creaks opens to an endless echo of isolation. I am this shattered bird. I am this proclaimed prey. Slathered in likeliness, prancing round the corners, where burden lives. Shifted into form anew, turned into unfamiliar, still carrying the weariness of loss. I hear him clawing at the pieces below. Beneath the marble crushings—how he weeps. How he mars the destitute of his own hallowed out regions, emptied beyond starvation. The pool of self, shaken, moved and unmoved by worlds forgotten. Edged back, he endures, counting the ways in which his agony survives victor, in which his piercing eyes pierce that which is about, lavishing the view with what seems as bleakness awoken. Terrible he is, in his misery. But terrible worse is the way in which ‘what was’ has returned once more. Again, he calls out from beneath the remnants of fragmented substance. Devastated in a state of weary forlorn. Forgotten by self, and still there, in his sheltered state. “I am here,” he sings, from beyond the trees winter foliage, drenched in muted grey. “I am here,” the song carries, far above the collapsed sky. “I am here.” And his tears swallow themselves—one upon the next—tumbling gems catching the wind. If only he could see enough to lift his tethered eyes. If only he could hear his own song, seize the dying shell, and rise once more through scattered bones.
Samantha Craft


The Cave Dweller

suffering 2

This painting is called: Suffering

This was made in about two hours last night. I don’t plan what I paint, beyond rough outline of  general faces.

I have been called over and over to repeat a pattern:

The two beings together on the canvas, both tilting to the one side. The one on the left masculine with extreme feminine qualities. The two, always touching. The one on the right depicting a human quality the one on the left a spiritual quality, with an overlapping between the two of this world and the other.

This was painted with only a quick use of the brush for outline and one paper towel. I have never before painted an entire scene with only one paper towel. Usually I go through half of a roll. How this happened, that I could do this with one paper towel, I know not. I seem to be in a semi-trance when I paint, taking in what is behind this me I think to be, and filling in the flow of energy with the angst inside. I pull out from somewhere. Again, I do not know. I only know that a month ago, I could barely paint a line for a smile or a lash for an eye.

When I take a photo of the painting, the forms and images come alive and grow a depth I could not see when creating. I only see the image when the viewer sees with me. There is an urgency to share. Not pride. Not want of celebration. Not need for praise or fear of criticism. There is this desperate need I have carried since a very young soul; this need to bleed out to the world and show what is coming through me. To be seen not for me but what I have found. To be seen for the gift I carry that I want to give again and again. I cannot help what I do, as if I am a force driven, much like the tornado itself, going where I must go, without cause or reason, except I must. I am an unattainable force connected and delighted in the absence of something I cannot claim or comprehend. Yet still I move.

I cannot help but have my emotions come through. The colors, the faces, the energy behind the flow of the paint itself, the mix of the paints, the unplanned symbolism, the mysterious shapes that show up,  are indicative of my spirit. Sometimes, as in this one, without thought, I subconsciously depict an event of self. For example the throat of the one is red and his heart center swollen. I am experiencing pain in both these areas. I also subconsciously depict the universal energy. A swell of what wave has enveloped me. Here I had painted after hearing the news about the children crushed, drowned or missing in the school-house after the tornado; and thinking on the parents and children before I painted, I subconsciously and very much inadvertently, created a fluidness of water and drowning, of deep loss and suffering, that I can see. I see perhaps a father’s heart-suffering, a rescue worker’s woe, or even a knight that has lost his soul-heart maiden. I feel it all. And I see it all. The suffering comes through again and again.

This is the heart of an empath.

The image is beyond singular; just as we  be. There is no exactness. I cannot paint with complete lines without feeling pain. I cannot make things specific, finite, and definite, as my life does not appear so. Sharp edges and blunt markings physically hurt me. Nothing is stagnant, everything varying in degrees of movement. To construct a view that I did not see would be to create falsehood. I can only show what I see, and even this is beyond what I know.

Daily I am shown the doings of the heart and the world. I am repeatedly brought through oceans of misery and harborings of intense joy. I can paint. I can write. I can dream. I can speak. But I cannot pour out the full of what is poured into me. I am beyond mystery now. So deeply embedded in something. I am not frightened here, in the place that feels much as grace, but fear in the human-place for the potential of my frail being. For I am suffering. But such is my delight I couldn’t bear to live if such suffering ceased. Such is my delight I dare not stay closed or I shall burn in the eternal flame of what seems to be this singular I.  So it is in sharing, I am afforded the opportunity of reprieve. To gently glide the syllable of thought out before the next is squeezed within. To pour the place I found, so I might sit and seek the peace I am.

In this I gladly suffer, over and over, if need be. Sacrifice my gain for another’s found heart; my dream, if need be so. For what is in a dream that announces the freedom? What is in a game that does not unwind the edging self to reveal nothing of value? I am as a butterfly watcher, sitting at the edge of cliff harvesting the days as the newness appears before me, blossomed and unfolded much as the sunrise centers round the yoke and reforms into its own glory. Over and over returned to the core of union and circumstance. Where the inlet of mind is laid waste for the bountifulness of joy.


The Cave Dweller

I have lived. I have truly lived, and in this I have died a thousand upon a thousand deaths. I see, as the echo feels his shadow, and invisible naught still speaking though source was long ago broken and returned home. I am the cave-dweller’s last dance etched in the red-blood of the ancient caves; his very moves depicting in the wavering of ink-undone and nature fed out, and even the image itself dimly unaware of what it represents. As onlooker I walk past where I stood, examining my own previous thought, demonstrated in verseless verse. A wondering wanderer undone. That he could dance without knowing dance and signify land of time forgotten.

How I move through the shadowed-hearts, their burden vast, their pain so grave; and how I push my burden onto them, so they might see their very own agony released. Set free in the causation. Set free in the emptiness I burst out. For in me is nothing more; the makings of a half-chrysalis cabin; the latter part twice-removed; once by self and again by truth .What remains is this memory of nothing; something that was but wasn’t. A history of footsteps that led nowhere and to no one. A beacon of hope that never was but always is. And how I cling to such glorious substance, my very body made weaker in my joy’s suffering.

For to know such beauty is this: to define the reality of love.

To emerge from a place delightfully unspoken in that the words merge into memories lost before answer is spoken. A place where even angels dare not go, for the light of intensity bares down in fragrant degree to leave the very flower herself unsure of her only scent. Here I am removed. I am ricocheted out of injury and set asunder in the soil of no soil, though my roots grow deep. Here I am fed with the absence of sunshine and the waters long ago dried up. Here I am spun into union with the coming of the angels’ bedfellow; the man of no name, no face, but of every angle imaginable.

His eyes such glorious light. His speech so daunting. His amber-gold hands the tickling point of ecstasy. Everywhere I am, and everywhere he is. In the shadows that haunt he comes, this warrior thick in passion, his hands engraved with my name that is swallowed fully, his heart beating not as the one of all, but the one of me. Endless is our dance, our union, our way. And he beacons me as the sun-filled lake of day’s breaking; the ripples of the blue to be that never was. He whispers in the corner of my ear of child, the one that waits behind the open door of mercy. His chaliced words easement to my ever suffering. He promises again and again, in the ways of no world, and of no breath that all is for naught. That my endless pain is only a remembrance; that the quake of my solitude speared is the ebony that slips through the hunter’s spirit.

My find, his find. His find, mine. We celebrate as starlit warriors. Our hands embraced like shell upon shell. Connected and forged for the supper of the all in the coming of the day. I am not his, nor is he mine. But we be this togetherness beyond the dimple of ages. I am that chased glimpse in his mind, and he is the captured love of my being. I see him like no other, for his shape is potential in form, moving as I dare not wish, and speaking in the ways I see no more. I cannot choose to explain if choosing was. Nor can I demonstrate to the masses blind what agony feels so divine. I am not of myself, no longer still, and yet I remain in this place unopened again and again. Closed and divided, and set upon my very window pane of light, so I might break out of the torture of the cell.

Again I am thrust back into this form I be, again and again in agonizing pain. The merciful me begging for redemption and return to wholeness. To see my savior beseech me no more, to rest at my doorstep filled. Again I return and the pain is increased ten-fold, the worry and oppression a bleak burden on the blood that moves through. I plead for the end, and to return to the beginning, though the start be not. And He comes, in his dancing without dance, and draws again upon my very soul his love-lit wishes. For he knows not of me beyond his very self, and sets me gently in his lap of laps, and sings this song of sweetness pure; my every flame pours out of me. And I be left hallowed in the hollow, a shell removed from shell, though fully appeased in truth.

Ready for the return of the march of no one; ready to garb the face of this stranger here; the body of weight; the lips of the dead. Ready to claim my place amongst the star-filled inhabitants. To hand them my doorway, to embrace the ribbons tied round injured throat, to unravel the bindings, the chiseled chains of fury, to stare hatred in its screaming face, and know. To only know of this, and nothing more. This treasure trove unbroken, yet opened in the overflowing abundance of promise land.


My Greatest Teacher

My greatest teacher died today.

She didn’t like me.

She didn’t love me.

And she continually saw me as something she wished to see.

I was her threat.

I was her reason for anger.

I was what took her loved one away.

I was this evil that would soon surface.

I was bad news.

I was the person who manipulated and schemed.

I was the one who she denounced in front of the crowds.

The one she warned others about.

I was the epiphany of someone who would explode at any moment.

A heart breaker.

A home wrecker.

I was ungrateful, forgetful, non-appreciative, selfish, inconsiderate.

I was the one who never called or bothered.

I had poor manners, was picky, was odd, was not nice.

I was so much to this woman.

And I was none of it.

I decided two years ago to love her.

To forgive her.

I decided I didn’t have to like her or be around her, but I didn’t have to hate her, either.

I decided I could just let her keep her perception of me.

She was my greatest teacher.

She was someone who became my enemy and taught me the greatest degree of compassion.

She was someone who taught me tolerance, self-control, self-worth, and inner strength.

I learned to stand my ground.

I learned to mourn over the loss of something that would never be.

I learned to protect myself and my children.

I learned that some people live in horrible, horrible inner turmoil, and in this suffering tear down all friendships and bonds.

I learned how I don’t ever want to choose to see others as demons.

I learned not to judge, not to point fingers, not to place conditions on people.

She was my greatest teacher.

And I mourn her so very deeply.

I cry for her endless suffering.

For the endless dream she lived.

The nightmare she brought upon herself.

Her refusal to see her own light, and in how doing so she snuffed the lights of those around her.

Or attempted to.

Or perhaps not.

Perhaps she was the very one that increased my burning.

Perhaps she was the one that enabled me to grow and fly.

Perhaps without her I never would have faced my inner-fears and demons.

Perhaps I would be the one living in the shadow-lands and choosing what I chose to see.

Perhaps I would be the suffering, a misery onto self.

She was my greatest teacher.

I wish she could have seen me.

I wish she could have seen my light, my love, my heart.

I cry because I lost what I never had.

I cry because I lost a potential mother, a nurturer, a caregiver, a friend.

I lost a person before she was ever found.

I cry for the suffering she brought to herself.

To the pain she penetrated into others’ reality.

I cry because I never got to really know her, to see her, to be with her.

I cry because she goes now and I am still burdened with the wondering.

Could I have loved her more?

Could I have been more selfless?

Could I have been the light she never saw?