Lest We Forget Who the Monsters Are (a poem)

LEST WE FORGET WHO THE MONSTERS ARE

Even the stars were asleep when they came in the night

splintered oars lapping with the waves.

Only the moon saw the shadows disembark

creeping the streets like soldiers from Troy without honor.

Dog’s warning barks quieted by swift, silent arrow

watchmen bound and fed to the hungry sea.

(And the audience cheers)

It was the unwashed stench that woke the people

as filthy hands ripped them from their sleep.

Screams of terror broke the stillness of the night

sharp blades slicing fleshy throats, swords plunged into bellies

gurgles as unarmed men choked on their own blood

while reaching for weapons.

Tawdry laughter as the invaders stroked the soft skin of a frightened young girl

as one might admire the pelt of a fawn.

Shredded nightgown, bruises—tender, innocent flesh ripped and ripped again

her mother’s cries ignored

until the girl was still, and the beasts turned to the next.

(“More!” cries the audience, rising to their feet. “More!”)

Their expert fingers searched between wooden floorboards

turned over chests and beds

pocketing gold, gems, the silver candlesticks handed down through the ages

nothing sacred, nothing missed.

Boots chased after a woman round with child

heavy hands throwing her to the cobbled ground, lifting skirts

muffling her sobs as they took, and took, and took

then left her in a nest of blood.

In the final act, orange flames rose toward indifferent skies

erasing where children once played and husbands once held their wives

burning away memories of church bells and markets and neighborly greetings

and green gardens that once nourished lives.

Thick, choking smoke smothered all who remained

all who could not run

all who fell, prostrate, crying out for mercy to a god that turned his head

as the invaders loaded their booty, guzzled stolen wine

and sailed away in the dark to some other unsuspecting shore.

(And the audience sings of the thieves. “That’s who I wish to be! That is the life for me!”)

DEAR PHARISEES

We both say we’re Christians, but we don’t agree 

On everything you say a Christian must be 

Your church is a building of brick, glass, and stone 

My church is creation; I worship alone 

You say God’s a man, like it says in the Book 

But God’s everywhere if you know how to look 

You follow the rules, you keep protocol 

I follow the rule to love one and all 

Love to my family, to haters, to jerks 

Want proof of my faith? Just look at my works 

It’s fine to be focused on things from above 

But always remember – the greatest is love 

Question and Answer (a poem)

A kiss is not a contract 

nor a promise of more 

It is a question and an answer 

A key that opens the lock to a new path 

still clouded by ifs 

Hesitant mouths meet like first time lovers 

Unsteady walk across flaming petals 

Fire and silk 

that burns and soothes 

satiates and stokes 

Ancient dance of lips and tongues 

A taste of something more 

waiting just beyond the curve 

Brush of bird’s wing 

just before flight 

The sunset of yesterday 

as today awakens 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pregunta y Respuesta

Un beso no es un contrato 

ni promesa de algo más 

Es una pregunta y una respuesta 

La llave que abre la cerradura de un nuevo camino 

todavia nublado por los ¿y si? 

Bocas vacilantes se encuentran como los nuevos amantes 

Un paseo inestable sobre pétalos llameantes 

Fuego y seda 

que quema y alivia 

sacia y aviva 

Baile antiguo de los labios y las lenguas 

El sabor de algo más 

que espera a la vuelta de la esquina 

el roce de ala de un pájaro  

justo antes del vuelo 

El atardecer de ayer 

cuando hoy se despierta  

Where Once I Lived (a poem)

I left my hometown

driven away, like cattle, beyond the borders

of all I knew and cherished

Behind me, streets lined with quaint shops

flower gardens where bees hummed, honey flowing

shrinking in the rearview mirror

and I, lump in my throat

stumbling toward the unfamiliar

new cities that rise like mountains toward the sky

Time drifted and spun

until one day

with lump in my throat

memories echoing in my mind

I revisited my stomping grounds

but found only empty streets lined with faded shops

that sold goods I no longer needed

stench of old bourbon and cigarettes

tangled, thirsty gardens

and houses I’d long outgrown

Shriveled faces peered out from behind closed curtains

stubborn fists shaking at changing weather

So I left again

leaving old bricks and yesterday’s dust

heading nowhere in particular

waiting for no one

for I had become the new city

rising like a mountain toward the sky

Photographer (a poem)

Silence

the wide gap between us

as you stare straight ahead

mouth flat

listening

answering

your silence a language I haven’t yet learned

(is it me? is it you?)

I fold my hands in my lap

pray that you will find the tools

to build a bridge

I tilt my head, concentrate

turning your every word into music

offering you harmony

until the record skips again into silence

I prod your defenses until you smile

and I see you

You!

peeking out from behind the cloud I want to blow away

so you can shine

You laugh at something I say

and I become a pioneer

crossing these wild, empty prairies

to chase that gold

Gray House (a poem)

Gray House 

It was really blue

not gray

but that didn’t matter

it felt lacking 

washed out

pieced together at the wrong angles 

the scribbled drawing of a child 

who’d never known a home 

only a house 

uneven levels 

rooms that made sense until they didn’t 

unfaithful to any one era 

trying to be modern, but laced with the kinds of antiques 

that no one buys 

(not even at a yard sale) 

ancient carpet hiding graceless plywood 

disappointment stacked in boxes against neglected walls 

mismatched expectations around the table 

windows streaked with someone else’s tears 

Why did I expect the homeowner 

to be any different? 

The Guy Who Saw Through My “Never” (aka: Something Very Good)

You know how, when you find something really good, you just can’t wait to tell someone?

It’s been my habit for so many years now. Whenever something wonderful happened to me, I couldn’t wait to share it with the whole world. The perfect sunset sky, smeared with salmon pink and the deepest indigo, deserves an immediate photo, complete with poem, on this blog. A hipster coffee shop who makes the perfect almond milk latte gets a shoutout on Yelp. That funny movie that made me laugh/weep/think? Instant mini-review on Twitter.

Good things are even better when they are shared.

But recently, something very, very good has happened to me. I met someone who is very special to me, and we are now an exclusive couple.

I know, I know. Shock! Amazement! The girl who said “Never” did a complete 180!

It took me by surprise, too. I could never have guessed that someone could waltz into my life, see right through my “Never,” and break down the walls of fear I’d built so high around myself. It took me by surprise that someone could make me see colors that didn’t even exist before he came along. That someone could become the yin to my yang in such a complete way, that I am not even tempted to look back at what I lost before.

But world, that is all I can give you. It is all I can share. I have found something so wonderful, and so pure, that for the first time ever, I don’t want to share it with all of you. I want to keep it to myself, safe in my heart.

Also, I’m never going to say Never, ever again.

Whoops. I mean, I am going to be very careful about using the word Never from here on out.

Temperature

Never

was a hard, cold rock

and I, encapsulated inside

tensed when you appeared

But you

with fire in your heart

with flames in your eyes

and a voice filled

with blazing heat

you persisted

until

rock crumbled, melting away

into a river of magma

and you

and I

a shower of

bright, hot embers

reaching for each other

setting the world

on fire

Party of One: aka How to be Okay with Being a Total Loner

Today, someone else’s blog post title jumped out at me: HOW TO GET OVER LONELINESS. I scanned through it, and quickly saw that it contained all the usual advice. Join groups! Know and love yourself! Talk to people!

It’s well-meaning advice. It really is. I’ve read dozens of other blogs and articles (not to mention self-help books, and studies, and news reports, and podcasts…) that gave very similar, well-meaning advice. But it doesn’t work for everyone. I have joined a number of groups and attended regularly for years. I engage in small talk at groups and at work. And I love myself and know myself so well, that i can genuinely say that if I were someone else, I would love to be best friends with me. I’m kind and cool and funny and smart and genuine and totally into accepting people and mutual respect and stuff.

But I am alone.

Okay, not 100% alone. I have three kids, ages almost 15 through 19. But they’re kids/young adults with their own lives and interests. I’m just the mom. As they grow and venture off into jobs and college, I find myself with more and more free time to myself.

Anyway, I already decided some time ago that I am done trying to make friends or seek intimate relationships, whether platonic or romantic. It’s really not worth the emotional turmoil, anxiety, or suffering when someone I’ve grown fond of and attached to decides that they are bored with me and disappear from my life. That has been the inevitable ending, no matter how much I give, no matter how caring, or generous, or open, I am, no matter how un-clingy I am, no matter what I say or do or don’t say or don’t do. So, fuck it. Who needs it?

I have learned that being a total loner can be pretty fulfilling in a number of ways. It certainly doesn’t have to suck to not have friends or relationships. In fact, there are quite a few positive benefits from doing your own thing:

  1. You can almost always find good seats at the movies, at concerts, at live sporting events, and plays. It’s amazing how many single seats there are scattered around arenas and theaters. Last minute great tickets? Yes, please!
  2. You get seated faster at restaurants. It’s much easier for hosts to seat a single person at a table for one than to seat a group. And the extra bonus? You can read a book while eating, and it’s not even rude.
  3. Your cell phone rarely interrupts you with phone calls or text messages. In fact, hardly anyone sends you text messages or responds to yours. You could probably cancel your cell phone service, and you wouldn’t miss anything important.
  4. You can schedule your free time however you want. Feel like working out at 5am some days, but 5pm other days? Want to be impulsive and take a day trip to the seashore, or cancel plans to attend one of those group Meetup events you signed up for? No problem! Your time is yours, and you can do whatever you feel like doing without disappointing or inconveniencing anyone else.
  5. You can take long runs while listening to your favorite music, or take long walks while listening to great audiobooks. No need to try and hold conversations while panting for breath.
  6. You can Netflix-binge all you want, and you don’t even have to wait for other people to be ready before going to the next episode.
  7. You never have to be afraid that someone you care about will be cruel to you, or be secretly annoyed and wish you’d just go away, or will leave you. You can wake up every day knowing that you are fully loved and accepted by someone who will always be there for you — yourself.
  8. You can be fairly confident that your ideas and opinions are truly your own, as you are less likely to be influenced by groupthink.

Fewer social obligations means more free time to explore hobbies, workout, discover interesting new places around town, find new music and books, meditate, try out recipes, sleep…Of course, being a total loner can suck sometimes. Especially when you have exciting news to share, or crave human connection — another person’s opinion, or perspective, or fist bump when your favorite team just scored a goal. Even the most dedicated loner can occasionally get lonely, with no one to turn to. When that happens, I look for healthy outlets, like Twitter or blogging, or I escape through exercising or storywriting or playing The Sims.

Of course, being a total loner can suck sometimes. Especially when you have exciting news to share, or crave human connection — another person’s opinion, or perspective, or fist bump when your favorite team just scored a goal. Even the most dedicated loner can occasionally get lonely, with no one to turn to. When that happens, I look for healthy outlets, like Twitter or blogging, or I escape through exercising or storywriting or playing The Sims.

Being part of an intimate relationship or group can suck, too. Honestly, I’ll take the sting of loneliness over the anxiety of wondering if today is the day that the axe will drop, and your friend or romantic partner will abandon you, and the never-ending pain that you’re left with afterward. In fact, I’m starting to forget what exactly was so good about having a friend or a boyfriend. Those good memories have been almost entirely swallowed up by the suffering of after.

I choose to continue focusing on that which is within my control. Being a loner means complete freedom to be oneself, to pursue one’s own goals, to be free of meaningful criticism of one’s life choices, freedom to choose, rather than the prison of being subject to the choices of another person.

Just a Typical Sunday (a Spoken Word poem)

Just a Typical Sunday

They say it’s Father’s Day

a time to celebrate

the man who raised you

praised you

taught you to be strong

and right from wrong

but they’ve got it all wrong

because to me it’s

just a typical Sunday.

Who were you?

A man with my name

once married to my mother

obsessed with my brother

I was a nobody

quiet, a girl, too smart

for her own self

too smart for you

saw right through

your lazy intentions

and useless inventions

and get-rich schemes

chasing money like a dog

after a car

but it slipped through your fingers

like water

while your daughter

did her own thing

no need for a king

no need for anything.

I learned to survive

in a state of starvation

isolation

no need for attention

so used to desertion.

You ignored my good grades

my sports and school plays

didn’t subscribe to my life

Abused wife?

You took his side

‘cause I must have earned it.

After all

I was nothing

too quiet, a girl

with my own mind

which you never tried to know

and so

nothing I say has value.

Now you lie

in your nursing home bed

stroke-damaged head

and it’s said

that I owe you

attention

my love and affection

long conversations.

But Daddy

when you live your life

in starvation

how do you feed

another?

I never know what to say

or the new rules to this game

you and I just aren’t the same

a shame.

I don’t know who you are

and you only know that I’m

quiet, a girl

not as good as her brother

whatever else you see

through your closed eyes

so don’t be surprised

if my visits are brief

a card, maybe

quick kiss on the cheek

and maybe we’ll speak.

Then I’ll be on my way

not much to celebrate

‘cause what good are fathers anyway?

Father’s Day

is just a typical Sunday.