Yoga: Just Follow Instructions

Yoga is the blocking of mental modifications so that the seer re-identifies with the Self.  – Sage Patanjali

Inhale chest arms up,

Don’t think about the phone call

arms down exhale, bend forward into ragdoll,

the tin plane you have to board,

drop down into plank, then downward dog,

your sister’s voice, the audible shake beneath her words

chaturanga into upward dog

your own fear, freezing you into statue when you hear the news

back to downward dog

until you force yourself to cling to this routine, to get moving

smooth glide into table, then dolphin pose

to kill time until you can get there, reminding yourself to breathe, to flow

then dolphin pushups, forward-back, forward-back, breathe!

to feel your own body struggling

until you are told slide back all the way into child’s pose

to feel something you can control

then back into table, then plank, then up

outside your emotions, you can do this

into warrior one

you are strong, you’ve always known

and warrior two

you get it from him, from dad,

then reverse warrior

who is now on blood thinners, still sleeping

wind-milling arms back down to plank,

after the stroke left him standing in the living room

and repeat on the other side, warrior one, warrior two

trying to check email with a tv remote.

you sweat, you push, cycling through,

Don’t think about how good or bad his waking might be.

then table, then stretch into frog pose. It hurts.

Think only about this simple muscle pain

“Try to relax into it,” the yogini says.

to avoid the other kind of suffering.

“I used to hold this for twenty minutes,” the yogini says.

You know you can’t hold it that long.

She says, “Come to seated, easy crossed legs.”

You feel opened up, elastic,

Inhale chest arms up, reach, lengthen,

yet more vulnerable than ever before

exhale arms down, hands together

knowing what may come next

right at heart’s center.




We bicker all the way to the
trail, you saying: She’s just
a friend, leaving me wondering why
every time you say her name
I hear edges sharp enough
to cut through things. You say it’s just
jealousy building a shrine
to the past, to perspectives
slanted and completely made up
which makes me question: How
much of all trust is just a tribute
to blindness, to keeping eyes shut?
When we arrive we
glide like separate gusts,
lizards around the bases of boulders
while you keep saying things like,
In a way it’s like Stonehenge, Babe, look!
No, it isn’t. Not at all. But maybe
you are trying to create
a common ground for us meet on
and make up, which in this moment,
I want so much. So I compare
the massive stones to giant prairie dogs
peeking out at us and watch
your shoulders shrug as you laugh
among a circle of strangers
who’ve stopped at my remark
to check it out for themselves
before going back to their own dialogues.
You touch my hand for a second
as they disperse and break away in knots.
The rest of the afternoon is just us
staring at the jutting rocks intently
as if they’ve become milestones
we can rest our opinions on, alternating
hands from chin to hips, trying to see what
new whole these rocks could be remnants of,
feeling the size of the obvious sinkhole
we walk upon increase beneath our feet,
the sudden weight of acceptance
identifiable in the crunch of gravel
under our heels as we step towards the car
like we don’t even know we are separating.


Making Mistakes

If only there were actual branches

and bushes blocking the way,

if only we could mean it


when we say, I don’t know how

I got here… I just remember a tornado,

ruby slippers… an oil can… then nothing…


But we do know the steps,

the order taken, the view along

the way:  jet plane scraping


exclamation points in the sky,

the sunset, so sweetly pale-faced,

the shocked incessant buzz of phone wires,


heavy, magnetic, ominous in hindsight,

the entire panoramic movie set,

each detail now Technicolor,


vibrant with clandestine gestures.

Didn’t the curling skin of the birch

tell us to turn back before night?


Didn’t the stones pinch our feet

trying to warn, push us back,

frighten?  Didn’t we hear


our mothers’ voices zing out

from childhood doorsteps like rods

trying to reel us back in?


But something beckoned harder

despite the barrage of omens.

Didn’t it. A cloud, a rainbow,


a stunning field of poppies.

That’s why we choose this path,

this compelling escape.


So what can we do with

the choice now that it’s made,

mitigating circumstances


like rust breaking us down

slowing us until we’re stuck

still in this frozen landscape.


And after the witch melts,

when we’re out of the woods

and out of the night,


are there ever enough heel clicks

to part the thick green curtains

we’ve been hiding behind?


About the poet:

Monique Gagnon German is a graduate of Northeastern and Northern Arizona Universities. She is a wife, mother, former Technical Writer for a laser manufacturer in San Diego, CA. Currently, Monique works as a Content Developer and document QA Specialist for a small Veteran owned company in TX while continuing to write poetry and stories in CO. Her poems have appeared in over 30 journals/anthologies including: Rosebud, California Quarterly, Tampa Review, Off the Coast, and, The Wayfarer. Her micro-flash, flash, and short stories have been featured in: Kalliope, A Journal of Women’s Literature & Art, The MacGuffin, and Adelaide Literary Review. In October 2017, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for poetry, so she is actively crossing her fingers as you read this. Website for Monique: