Beige Violence

this abuse didn’t come
in black and blue.
his fists never ricocheted off
her veins as they spiderwebbed
into plum colored welts,
blood never bloomed crimson peonies
from the corners of her mouth
or rooted between
the cracks in her teeth.

but I saw
him feast behind her wooden ribs
(that he claimed she owed him),
planting thistles in her chest
and drinking up her Eden
until she became the apple
lodged in his throat.
her bones clung protruding from
her cellophane hips,
she swears that she’s never hungry
these days.

and he never hit her,
her bones were never shattered
like drywall against
her father’s knuckles,
they never crackled
like burnt embers
dancing in a lake of fire
or snapped like branches
trapped between a rainstorm
and a freight train.

but this isn’t to say
she wasn’t being crushed,
more subtly, like her heart
was made of chalk

and he held it too tightly,
slowly reducing her to dust
and making a bed in her ashes.
I saw him move into her body
and pack the bags under her eyes each night
while insomnia refused her sleep.

that is to say,
when i ask her why she stays,
her eyes search
her unmarked skin
for the reason.

 

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Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

Weapons of War

Things Change

I could meet you tomorrow?
That’s what I told him.
Wow! Is that clock right?
[A nervous laugh].
Can I come in?
Get. Up.
I miss you, always.
I need to quit soon…
I can fix that.
I think I’m starving for something.
I could look at your face all day.
Never mistake a soulmate for a lesson.
I’ll still be smiling in the morning.
I’m tired.
You’re worth it, I promise.
I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.
I’m your anonymous admirer!
I just want to be alone.
There’s a stocking with your name on it!
How could you…
You’re part of the family, now.
I can’t breathe.
That’s my girl.
You talk like you still love him.
Cinnamon swirl? I like that.
Get him off of you for good.
You redefined a word I thought I understood before.
I think our relationship is holding me back.
I’ve never felt so incredibly content being exactly where I am.
Keep my ring around your neck.
No one’s ever brought me water before…
I can handle it.
You’re always trying, so you’re always perfect to me.
You’ll never change.
I’m not leaving without you.
You deal with her, then!
You’re the best I’ve ever had.
I don’t know you.
Where have you been all my life?
I can’t even look at you.
I’ll always be here.
You don’t want to know what I think.

Maybe we could get coffee sometime?

 

 

 
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Beige Violence

Bound and Blindfolded

Weapons of War

Bound and Blindfolded

Deep in the fen, they came prepared to cut away at the rope,
undo the knots of the cloth covering your face
to lead you out of the spatha cage you made,
the door was already open.

When they came near, you raged—
sliced your skin, tributaries of blood,
staining the marshland you trapped yourself in.
Even then they tried to call you out
into a vast blooming meadow.

You are the sacrifice, the victim—
and maybe your god will rescue you
if you prove you are a worthy maiden.
After all, he helped you build this:
handed the swords to you one by one,
placed his palms over yours
and pressed the metal into the sand.
he convinced you that staying in this prison
was your destiny.

If you open your eyes, you’ll find
you can slip through without carving
your flesh too deep.

 

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Weapons of War

Weapons of War

I wonder about fistulas and how a pocket of flesh is made from violence / how a coin purse of feces and urine and discharge holds the effluence of rape / who holds the run-off of soldier’s semen’s  war-crimes / who holds girls’ hands’ tremors when the fingernails are gone / who is the animal in the forest / scratch that / who is the weapon drawn in bush and scrub path / machete / kalashnikov / murderous breathing eyes / say you are the daughter of my enemy / strike down beautiful things such as girls’ lives’ futures for a man-act. They are filling up coin purses so full / so fast

 

There is no candy to be had / this is a collection of God’s forgetting / remembering to make a pocket out of flesh / bad mistake not to tell girls’ bodies’ systems to drain the way men are killing spirits like pig meat / monkeys / & dogs / scratch that /  womens’ innocence / is pure / these are inner sanctums / do not forget God / that these are heavens

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

Some Language is More Equal Than Others

My no means less than your yes.

My no to you perhaps means yes.

My no is up for discussion.

My no can be persuaded or explained away

Or followed down the street.

 

It can be molded until it sounds like yes to your ears

But still no to mine.

 

My no can be worn down

With niceness and faux concern

Or violence from your tongue and fists.

Each belonging to the same masters:

Manipulation and control.

 

And after a time

My no’s become a yes from an exasperated mind and lips.

 

This is when I realise that language is not all the same

That some no’s are more equal than others.

 

 

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

Mindscape of a pregnant girl after the death of her lover

Paris, France 1920

AT last! They’ve left! They think that I’m asleep! They think that they can rest from their watch, but I know better, I know that they can’t stop me.

Here’s the window! Open the shutters, and there’s the street five stories below! They think I’m a coward, that I won’t, but I will, I will jump, they can’t stop me, God can’t stop me, He willed me to die, the same as Modi!

Mother says return to God, pray, but she doesn’t understand, I never left God, He left me! When God abandons you, what have you got left? I’m like the pot the potter made to smash.

They hate me, the world, the only one who loved me is gone … no one knows him but me. Now they will try to make him into something he wasn’t, a drunk, a wild man, and they’ll say he didn’t love me. He was desperate but only desperate for love, the love that only I could give. He was destroyed by other women before I came, and by the time I found him, it was too late, too late to save him, too late to cure his brokenness, too late to do anything but teach him what real love was before he died.

Beatrice Hastings! Now the “great writer” will try to tell his story. That witch, she did the most to destroy him, drinking like a beast with him and telling him that drinking made you an artist! Any idiot can see in the gutters of Paris, men who drink continually and their artistic capacity is nil. It is too late for me to write his story down, I have only a little time before I must fuse his destiny and mine forever.

If only he hadn’t gone out that last time … I told him not to go …. But his artist friends drew him, he really believed that he would never be great without them. They are revolting, men who squander their artistic gift and call it “freedom.” How can a man be free when he is starving?

It is all lies, all lies … Modi was not really one of them; he loved the people, anyone can see it in his canvases, men like Picasso love only themselves.

The man I loved was a genius! If only he could have stayed with me, I could have nurtured his gift, I could have bound it up with my own, we didn’t need them, now his artist friends will make him into a martyr, but they killed him!

If there is any proof that we live in a world gone mad, it’s the consumption, no, I think Andre’ is right, that there is no God, and Mother is wrong. How could there be a God and the world be like this? I rage mercilessly against any God who could preside over this catastrophe. God is easy to believe in for those who are warm and fed, but what about those who are starving? Do they call upon God? And does He answer?

No, He does not answer. I am a pot He meant to smash, but I will make one last gesture … I will prove that I am in control. Now, when the great artist I have loved is recognized, when the world, at last, sees how he stands out above them, beyond them, with his great compassion for the human world, I will be seen as his true love. I have drawn the picture of our secret marriage ceremony, how he bound our hands together with a golden cord and pledged himself to me forever. I told Andre’, I gave him the picture. Everyone will know. We will be buried together, I feel it. But for us to be buried together, there is one last step.

Here is the window, open beyond the blowing curtains! How the wind whips them back. I am sorry only for my child, but then, a world such as this, it is no kindness to bring a child into it, a fatherless child, at that. Modi should have thought of this before he died, how his children would be unprotected then. I am doing this for him and against him because he shouldn’t have died it’s his fault, it’s the world’s fault, this is the only action I can take to revolt against a million injustices.

My foot is upon the window sill! No one is outside. No one sees the crazy woman standing in the window with the curtains blowing back! I should laugh like a crazy woman, but I don’t. I am not crazy. Andre’ is asleep. He will be sorry. He need not have thought he could control me. I would murder them all, but then I would have to be seen as a murderess, to be placed in the dock, and hated by all, no this is better, though they deserve to die, everyone deserves to die, the artists of Montparnasse, mother, Andre’, that monster of an art dealer, they all deserved to die but they don’t die. If there was a God, they would all be dead already. I deserve to die; it is too late to hope for heaven.

The horrors I have seen, the screaming violence of birth, the moaning agony of death. It doesn’t seem possible. Dead, he who was once alive and the only meaning of my life and now he is gone, he who seemed like a God. No more paintings, for him or for me, I will never draw again, I will never eat again, I will never hold another man in my arms – that would be sacrilege! The world will know, that for love of him, I gave up a life I deemed not worth living.

I can still turn back! I am in control; I chose my ultimate destiny! But the memory of his dead face drives me on … he’s dead! And so am I … as dead in my mind right now as my body will momentarily be!

 

Jeanne Hebutuerne, the lover of Amadeo Modigliani, threw herself from the fifth-floor bedroom of her parents’ apartment on Rue Amyot. She was killed along with her unborn child and was buried first in the Parisian suburbs and eight years later next to him, in Pere Lachaise cemetery. Friends of the artist erected a single headstone, which reads, on his side, “Struck down by Death at the moment of glory.” while hers asserts: “Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice.”

 

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Things Change

How to Prepare

Good Girl

How to Prepare

Pull your hair tightly

into a high pony tail

Make it tighter still.

There is something to be said

for immaculate strands

and their fraying roots.

 

Memorize the story of King Solomon

and the baby so that the sensation

of being severed in half

becomes as familiar as breathing.

The stinging sensation should fade

as breath and cauterization become synonymous.

 

Learn to decipher biological code,

which shade of hair color, height, weight

or tone of voice combination is lethal?

Accurate? What patterns of behaviors

become red flags? How many indicators

of violence equate a report? Decide.

 

Learn the difference between Tylenol

and a Tylenol with codeine in it.

Notice the subtle alleviation

of a dull ache from swallowing water

You should have learned how to swim

away at a faster pace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

Volcanic Ice

It’s all lost in the fire
I can smell, see, touch every
emotion
Every Sensation heaving through
me at once
I’m Fire
It’s all Fire
Not the good kind of fire that leads
to rebirth
The bad kind
Volcanic Glass
Frozen fire
The dark crystal petrifying whatever
souls
died in that
moment
Unable to move on
Petrified Wood
No rebirth from
the ash
becoming part of all
Frozen
A snapshot of what was
Never changing
Forever frozen in death

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

dear shelley: (the one who says I’m a whore)

not shelley,
+++ the one I taught
+++as a 6th grader

not shelley,
+++the one I know
+++from chicago

but shelley,
+++the one from ohio
+++who says I’m trash

does it make you mad
+++to know your words
+++make my fire burn brighter?

your anger delights
+++my power, it validates
+++my self-worth beyond yours

did you hear my laughter
+++with each straight letter
+++and proud period?

shelley from ohio,
+++insults mean nothing
+++when you’ve already been through hell

words are made of mere letters–
+++they have no power over me
+++when I have power over them

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

She Still Stands

Stalwart she stands,
Vestige of an age-old battle.

Despite upheaval and storm,
She can’t be kept down.

The jealous threw rocks in her path,
Easily seen and sidestepped.

Haters threw stones at her,
They reverberated back to them.

They made pits for her to fall in,
She leapt them with a laugh.

They tried to knock her over,
And like a sapling she bent.

They twisted her branches of truth,
Yet the limbs grew straighter still.

A bed of cactus made for her,
She burrowed underneath.

Obscured by darkness,
Her light still shone.

Locusts swirled around her,
They dropped dead in the heat.

They nipped like wild animals,
Their bites were unsound.

Their hot wind singed her skin,
But did not burn through.

Their dry lightning strikes
Did not set fire.

Acrid dust filled her nostrils,
She covered her mouth to breathe.

They covered her with a mudslide,
The rain washed her clean.

When floods carried her downstream,
No water got inside.

The forces of destruction
In fact, create anew.

Earthquake, monsoon and fire
Fail against her will.

When the wildfires go out,
She still stands.

When the flood waters recede,
She still stands.

When the dust devils pass by,
She still stands.

When the earth fills in,
She still stands.

Whom cynics called worthless
She produced more than they.

They said she knew nothing
Yet she wrote a treatise.

Questioning her experience
Her travels rivaled explorers.

Wizened and older
She still stands.

Stabbing  the air
With a sting of sage.

 

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

The Color Code: Underwear, An Invitation For Sexual Misconduct?

“I see London, I see France, I see [child’s name]’s underpants!”
(unknown origin)

A familiar childhood chant, guaranteed to wreak playground-wide humiliation on the child, usually a girl, whose name was tauntingly inserted into the rhyme as she practiced perfecting her cartwheels on the grass, or flipped somersaults over the railings by the steps, with a flash-glimpse of her underwear fleetingly on show.

In Ireland, recently, an adult version of this ancient ditty played out in a courtroom. A female lawyer in court defending a man charged with raping a teenage girl gave a detailed description of the underwear the girl had been wearing at the time of the assault, in front of the entire courtroom. This was in an attempt to absolve the accused of blame.

“You have to look at the way she was dressed…” the legal counsel, Ms. Elizabeth O’Connell declared, “…she was wearing a thong with a lace front.”

As if that explained the whole incident…..

The words “what the fuck?” might be flying around in your mind now. They fly around in mine, every time I recall this news story and the outrageous comment quoted in the previous paragraph. The reference to the girl’s underwear was made during the lawyer’s closing comments before the jury broke for deliberation in the case. The man accused of raping the teenager was subsequently acquitted. Unsurprisingly. The woman lawyer had publicly implied that the girl’s choice of underwear was somehow relevant. This, after #MeToo. After #TimesUp. After Larry Nassar’s trial. As well, she undoubtedly brought further shame and humiliation to a young woman who had already suffered the trauma of a sexual assault. But the prevailing notion which underpinned the lawyer’s remarks, was her suggestion that ‘wearing underwear like that, well what did the girl expect?’

Of course, you can’t say things like that in 2018, right?

This case understandably sparked public outrage. But, despite the outcry and ensuing protests, which echoed around the globe in relation to SC O’Connell’s assertion – an assertion made in front of a court of law where it went unchallenged at the time – has any change been influenced as a result? Likely not.

As a mother of a son and two daughters, I would love the three of them to know that what we wear has nothing to do with how another human being might choose to violate us. I really would. My husband and I do our utmost to remind our children of such essential messages at every opportunity. But the press coverage about the Irish lawyer who described that girl’s underwear has sadly reinforced for all children and young adults that society thinks otherwise.

Society judges.
Society says what we wear can lead to our own calamity.
Society says our underwear communicates our sexual boundaries to others, and our words don’t matter.
Society says girls need to choose their underwear carefully.
Society says boys can use our underwear as a weapon against us in court after they have sexually assaulted us.
Society says that if girls and women don’t want to be sexually assaulted, they have to prove it.
Society says.

And society has a very loud and powerful voice.

Like too many other girls, I was sexually assaulted more than once growing up. By my late teens, I had acquired a few tactics in an attempt to steer clear of further sexual trauma. This was because, through social conditioning, I wrongly believed it was my responsibility not to get sexually assaulted. Among the various strategies I relied on, one centered on my underwear; more specifically, the color of it. A color code, of sorts. I believed an easy solution to not inadvertently give the “wrong” message (whatever that means….) to boys, was never to wear black or red underwear. Crazy, I know. But, I drew the conclusion that white, cream – or any color, really, except black or red, was a much safer bet. Don’t get me wrong – I liked fabulous underwear, pretty matching sets and the latest lacy, delicate treats from Victoria’s Secret in solid colors or floral patterns. I loved intensely dark colors like navy blue, plum, burgundy, but never black or red, feeling certain those colors next to my skin would definitely land me in trouble.

When I met my (now) husband, he pretty much moved in not long after we started seeing each other. Despite being in a safe, committed and loving relationship, it took over a year before I scrapped the “no black or red” rule. I never consciously questioned it for myself, and never justified my rationale to anyone. The news story from the Irish courtroom brought all that back into my mind, and my decision as a young woman to be governed by the fear of judgment, and ultimately the fear of harm when purchasing underwear.

So great was the dread of being ‘misunderstood’ – a man catching an eyeful of a black bra-strap, and thinking that was an invitation to help himself to my body.
So great was the drive to do all I could to avoid further sexual harm, and devastating invasions which take so long to forget.
So great was the weight of responsibility on my shoulders to make sure I was not unwittingly giving a message that I wanted to engage in a sexual encounter that I would not be consenting to.

Disappointingly, my plan failed me, anyway. Sexual harassment and sexual assaults still befell me, despite adhering to my color code where underwear was concerned. Fun floral prints in various hues were no deterrent for those intent on an unwanted kiss, a forceful grope, or worse, being imposed upon me either at work, or drunk at a bar, or while mingling at a party. Nothing was gained by my careful choices, apart from perhaps a false sense of security that I was safer by avoiding the raciest colors on the rack in the lingerie department.

These days, without giving too much away, there is no color banned in my underwear drawer. My choices are dictated by my outfit or my mood. Or whatever’s not in the laundry basket. As well, there is no color coding – of course, black and red are pretty and sexy, but they don’t mean anything more or less than any other color. Underwear shade or style should never be relied on as a key indicator in terms of communicating the amount of sexual contact a woman wants/feels comfortable with, or her level of desire.

At home, we discussed the Ireland case with our three children and were both relieved when they recognized the lawyer’s behavior as unbelievable. It is essential that children are enlightened, and learn to challenge such convenient, yet ludicrous stereotypes. We want our daughters to grow up free to wear whatever the hell color they like under their clothes. After all, it’s their choice. Just like consenting to sexual contact is – because, guess what? There IS no color code. There’s no code at all.

When consenting to intimacy, underwear is immaterial.

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Crocodile

Prize of Poison

Previvor

Good Girl

Go ahead mark me with your stain,
claim me as your own
Boisterous bravado,
you think you have it made.

I am a good girl,
never would my heart betray
the hand that strokes me.

I am a good girl,
here—
see my new lacy knickers?
They were bought just for you.

I am a good girl,
I gratify beyond what is comforting.

I am a good girl–
that is what I say,
what I believe.

And it is the façade
you won’t let me break.

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

Rumi Lovers

He can move in and out of her
as Rumi lovers do,
the type of lover
who knows your body
before he touches,

the sort that knows everything
by asking.
The one to please,
send you off with prayers
give you god pleasure,
madly
make sex turn to love.

Turn society to a foreign entity
in the sky of rich Canadian light
on a plane, behind the dreamy clouds,

an absurd projection from a dream,
you can touch ceilings, foreign skies
heights of such magnitude
that mountains become envious.

He makes the feeling of time slide,
unforgettable ungodly hours
the body is spiritual,
over-loved and not hated,
between brilliant fantasy and bird-chirping reality
the opening of her soul—

One with one another
for hours of sexy darkness,
hours of flesh
two spirits in one body
made to flow in love’s unity
as a perfect shape, one
from the first glancing moment, they knew

as Rumi lovers know,
how to navigate
each other’s thoughts, soul,
pink skin,

their bodies, one poem on a page

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

Mother

I am what she once was
She empties her hand in mine
grips the buzzing bee
hip and knee replaced
the bone cup that birthed us broken
this bone cradle fails her
eighty years spent in its hammock
bruises surface yellow and brown

A rat terrier snaps at my leg
tear duct waterfalls rage
razor-edged what-ifs take aim

Our mother of many mouths
rides a wheeled horse
aches for a plum breeze
We, her many
gather carrots and chrysanthemums
mend the broken water pipe
wash and fold
weed
wend aspen gold leaves

Slow bones knit
six steps out
six back
what-ifs flutter into fall
She water-walks winter’s chill

I am what she once was
fruit ripened and plucked
In spring her cane will bear
her barren limbs

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

The Cacti of Your Memories

I walk amid paths
strewn with cacti of your memories.
Which stay still, strong, silent.
But there. In my path.

So that if i want to go forward,
I have to go through them.
But when I try do that,
I get pierced by their sharp pointy thorns.

It is as if they do not want me to go forward.
And I remain stuck there, tangled in them.
With their thorns embedded in my body.

Where, once again,
I feel the poisonous essence of you
Seep into my bloodstream
And make its way to my heart.

Where upon reaching,
it hollers a shout of triumph
At the fact that the original owner
Of this bruised and broken heart
Has  finally returned home.

And this time,
I might not get so lucky
In banishing  it to the land
Of the forgotten and the lost.

Where betrayals walk in daylight.
And where lies hold their court at midnight.
Where truths are punished at dawn.
And where, naive hearts get trampled on
and served, to the bloodthirsty, at dusk.

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

Downfall

begin to constantly wear your disguise
crown of thorns dipped in red, dangling

above your head. no trace of purity or
sacrifice. your name will only be shunned
woven together with life’s thread but happier

— apart — and every time you try to achieve
the past slips through fingers like ribbons,
ribbons of water attached to a chemise

locked in infinite pirouettes, strings
constantly unraveling & shimmering in
fading light, after all

stars always burn brightest
before they implode.

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Beige Violence

Things Change

Bound and Blindfolded

CHRISTMAS: A SUMMARY REPORT

8:00 am 

I cannot believe I am showering, getting dressed, and putting on makeup at this ungodly hour on a Saturday. I would have had endless time to lollygag but my brother decided to move Christmas dinner to Saturday so one of his fiancé’s daughters and her family could attend. At the last minute, they decided to go to Disneyland. Best of intentions, brother–you tried. My mother’s friend recently gave me a Christmas sweater and I decide to take it on a trial run in spite of being averse to the whole idea. I always snicker when I see a rack labeled “Ugly Christmas Sweaters.” Aren’t they all?

9:00 am

Ran to Goodwill’s 50% off sale. Had exactly one hour. Very tight timeline today. Older grandma compliments me on Christmas sweater. That nailed it. Christmas sweater will be placed in giveaway bin and I’ll change into my ubiquitous black sweater. I was so rushed, I accidentally I left an incredible retro glass lamp at the counter

10:00 am

Run home to make hors d’oeuvre. Madly throw mini-hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls around the kitchen. My dog is in heaven because food is raining on the floor. I can’t remember. What makes them brown on top? Butter or egg whites? I go with egg whites and bake. Rapidly I place the Barbie-sized hotdogs on a tray and put mustard in a small bowel in the middle. It crosses my mind that I have not used this mustard in maybe a year. Can’t find an expiration date. Oh, well. Dump into bowl and toss the bottle into garbage. I don’t think I can kill anyone with mustard.

11-11:30 am

Pack car with presents for entire family along with food. I had also bought some Ugly Christmas Sweater gingerbread cookies from Starbucks. No, the irony wasn’t lost. I’m now en route to pick up my Moms in Fountain Hills. Note: Fountain Hills is approximately 25 miles north of me. I have Moms open up their presents while I’m there which I’m praying they’ll like. They have everything–very challenging to shop for. They appear to be pleased. Hurry, hurry, Moms. Time to drive to bother’s house. This timeline, oy.

11:30-noon

Drive to brother’s house. Note: Brother’s house is approximately 40 miles south in the opposite direction of the Moms’ house. Previously I had called Goodwill (so fortuitously on the route) about my forgotten retro glass lamp. To put it mildly, The Moms were not happy to wait in the car while I picked up the lamp from Goodwill. It took all of two minutes. I held it up like a trophy at the car and said, Pretty cool for only $2, huh? Deafening silence except for my mother muttering she had never been in a Goodwill in her life. I live to embarrass her. We arrive at my brother’s house where I tell Moms to just go in, I’ll unload the car (mistakenly) thinking one of my brothers will come out and help me. Nope. Two trips. But it’s okay. Paybacks are hell.

noon – 2:00 pm

A mighty battle begins to ensue between my social anxiety, attempting to say hello to my brother’s fiancé’s family whose names I cannot remember, and just being out of my safe place,  “Great to see you again” will have to work. I get The Moms settled on the couch with food and beverage. Mom #1 complains that my brother bought too small of a water bottle. Continues this rant until she leaves. We bring her three at a time.

I REALLY do not want to be here. I have wrenched my back and pinched a nerve from stupidly lifting too many heavy boxes the weekend before. Everyone is searching for ibuprofen for me to no avail. I take Tylenol which does nothing. The youngest of my brother’s fiancé, Hayley, is someone I’m crazy about. She recently graduated from the UofA and is smart, sassy, and makes me laugh so hard because she is completely unfiltered. She kindly rubs my back for a long time and in return I tell her a secret.

Her sister is married to a dweeby prosecutor for Maricopa County. Just because. Just because. I ask him what he thinks about the ethics of Jodi Arias’s prosecutor and defense attorneys publishing books about her case. I rile him further telling him I am anti-death penalty and that I believe that the only reason that the county attorney went after her twice for the death penalty was for publicity. And they lost twice–buah.

As I’m repeating this to Hayley, she tells me, “You do realize they’re never going to let you hold their baby?”

2:00 pm

We eat a dinner beautifully prepared by my brother who my mother still feels guilty about not sending to a culinary arts school. She should. I go outside with one of my nephew’s new girlfriend to vape. My nephew is an idiot and I’m dying to get the 411 on why such a smart, beautiful woman is with him. Driving home, my mother says he’ll find some way to fuck it up. Jeeesh, my mother and the F-bomb. So we go outside and I give her my standard interview:

How did you meet?
Has your mother met him?
What do you do for work?

Just the basics, although I was dying to say, Oh you could do so much better than this. But I didn’t. I was perfectly behaved all day. Without Xanax, mind you, as I was the designated driver.

4:00 pm

We did the traditional gift exchange. It did seem a bit awkward that each family only exchanged gifts between themselves, but perhaps we’re just not there yet.  I could see the baby’s father keeping him well out of reach from me. Don’t worry, Prosecutor Daddy, I won’t whisper Jodi Arias stories to him. It was strictly said to make YOU uncomfortable because you’re such a bureaucratic wonk. Thanks to my brothers, I now have some cash and scored a few Target gift cards. They know me well.

5:00 pm

I cannot possibly stay one more minute without having a silent panic attack or back spasms. Scrumptious homemade desserts have been placed out and the temptation to just rub my face in them is too overwhelming. Did I tell you I’m dieting? Or as I call it–a new eating regime. The Ghandi Diet. I had gotten away with so far with only eating a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes and a few brussel spouts without anyone whispering anorexia. No, no, no fudge for me. I herd The Moms out to my car. Mom #1 is cold and Mom #2, who has Alzheimer’s, asks every five minutes if she has all of her “things.”

5:30 pm

It’s dark now and the first part of the route from my brother’s house to The Moms is well-lit freeways. Then comes the Pima Indian Reservation with no lights which we drive on for 30 minutes until we reach Fountain Hills. To me, it’s a dark, deathly drive. I’m driving so slowly because of night blindness, everyone passes me.

6:00 pm

My mother does not like the roads I’m taking to her house. Nothing new. I just said, No worries, I’ll get you there. But I’m thinking to myself, crikey, I’m over there several times a week, how does she think I get there? My way takes us through a beautiful  display of downtown Christmas displays, redeeming my errant ways. Finally, F I N A L L Y, we are home. Alzheimer’s Mom asks if I have a garage door opener. Again, I’m thinking how on earth do you think I get here, ladies? But I say nothing. For I am now free. At long last.

6:30 pm

The Rez road is still pitch black but I don’t care. At the end of the road, a few blocks away, is my beloved safe place. I drive into the carport, open the door, and hug my doggy so hard. The cat just stares. I run to the pill drawer, find a muscle relaxant, grab the heating pad, and land on the couch with comfy pillows.

7:00 pm

I’m hunkered down on the couch in a pillow fort with the heating pad on high. Who knew a simple appliance could bring such comfort? I’ve ratcheted it up to high for a time, but move it down to the next level in case I fall asleep. Not sure I want to explain to paramedics how I got third degree burns on my back. I settle down to watch the original Sabrina. Humphrey. Audrey. Who ever thought they could replace you?

Christmas completed.
Check.

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All At Once

Epilogue: It’s Almost Christmas and I Forgot to be Sad.

A Honduran’s Christmas: Then and Now

All At Once

It was winter.
The boy…young man…child…
(he was all at once)
sat on the frozen ground in the middle of the football field looking up at the clear night sky. Black-blue background dotted with the white pinprick specks of stars. The moon was gibbous, waxing. The boy lifted his right arm and reached to the sky. He cupped his hand under the butt of the moon, cradling the baby in the palm of his hand.
The man in the moon was a baby tonight.
He held him for a few moments.
Then the earth shifted, the moon lifted,
and the boy knew what he would do.

Later, at home, he packed a bag and left.
It was time.
His parents…his first loves…his knives in the back…
(they were all at once)
would wake in the morning, find the note on their boy’s pillow, and cry. They would blame themselves.
They were guilty…innocent…right…wrong…
(they were all at once)
but the boy was free.

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Bound and Blindfolded

DRIFTWOOD AND BONE

bursts of summer and yellow-eyed butterflies and
a chiseled sculpture, worn down, flat like a stiff tuxedo cuff,
risen and engraved in the hearth of hard dirt wetted by rain
with wood stumps like starfish

be dazzling grey roses, dried and wrapped in baby thorn coats
winding round drooping oak trees colored ashy.
spanish moss in fat heaps draping gracefully down
to the jasmine suckled iron gate,  rusted bled mauve,
a woman’s birdcage made from driftwood and bone.

alone dangling off a cracked branch. the gutty belch of thunder,
like a hand, inviting inne, a gold knob like a hump shivering
sprouts out by rocks rounded perfect by ancient winds
softened gleeful by cool spurts of vivid june, bugs
hollow and stuck to froth webs, glued leaves to glossed dews

the spinal pickets quiver, begin to unbraid the itty door
swinging open, a ghastly glimpse into wind, a clattering mouth,
legs with winding limbs of stems straddling nests, eggs, rattling,
the blast of crisp distant lightning scything,
ocean smothered face, grappling the paling birdcage door

swinging open as the blackening nails of drifting evening
dampen wincing hedge stones, molding
an egret with an egress, stoned rose eyes unspiraling,
unearthed rods of rust gates despining, abysm unholing the
inne open, for You, to undewly pass.

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Chimera

tick tock
tock tick
awake
awake
always awake

writing
writing

no sun
no shine
no exit

chimera black
blacker
blackest

darkness
cloaks
the clock ticks
tick tock
tock tick

awake
awake
always awake
writing
writing

penance
a sentence

there is no sleep
for dreamers

 

 

 

 

 
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Alcoholic Betty

Alcoholic secretary
smokes a pack a day.
Hides in her car at lunch
puffing shame fags alone –

Hangover Betty – she is a sorry case.
Too bad to deserve a pregnancy –
God recognizes this type – this type with
veined and reddened face.

Pathetic fat Betty;
at thirty five it’s almost over;
at thirty six her liver’s blown;
at forty two cirrhosis comes.
Then emphysema… all done.

Wouldn’t you be drinking, and that much too?
Knowing what was coming – what was in store for you?

Oh, it’s so sad.
Oh, what a wasted life.
Could’ve been so many things

Horseback prodigy at twelve.
More recently, on her back
below a stranger’s balls

How does one type up a rich man’s
will with shaking hands and runny eyes –

How does one sit through law firm lunch
knowing one might vomit
upon the lap of senior partner

Then – exact it all again come drinking time at 5 pm.
This smacks of pain in cycles

Alcoholic paralegal knows her time
is nigh – to decide to live or rot in hell,
and if she lives, the rottenness of her

Former life will feel a lot like hell on
earth. What would you choose…
survival or more easily to die – just ask
Rotten Betty.
Drunk slut Betty.
Life of the party, funny Betty.

Your sister and your
daughter Betty.
Your wife and friend and mother Betty.

Just ask me –
Alcoholic Betty.

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Kiss Them For Me

My body is a temple, which I will not desecrate. The phrase “virgin blood” is misleading. It means blood that has not previously been used in a sacrifice, not the blood of a virgin. Even that explanation is misleading because isn’t sex a sacrifice? Do you not open up yourself and slit your own throat, bending backwards to appease a higher need? I read that the female body is like a wet open wound, always warm. If you apply pressure on the words, repeat: my body is a temple, the bleeding must stop. Will stop. Think Russian roulette with knives, stabbing the table in the spaces between your fingers so quickly that fear becomes adrenaline, faster and faster. Sitting in your cousin’s white Chevy and the air conditioner is broken and she asks Have you ever? You tell the truth, which is no. Which means I can sacrifice myself twice.

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A Trouble At Men

A trouble at men
is truly just a tickling of egos (turned Eros)

A trouble at men is the never still preservation
of evil breasts

A trouble at men is a wisdom

A trouble at men is a short leash
around necks thick like legal

A gracious at men is a like so pink and very so cloud

The gracious at men is a leash to hold fast the illegal bones
that are called brains
inside the erotic blush
that is called woman

 

 
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Mishap in St. Mary’s Parking Lot after 72 Hours of Marriage Classes

Pulling out, Johnny almost hits the old nun.
Her blue habit flapping in the breeze. The sun
catching the stubble on her chin, the deeply
etched creases in her forehead. Her mouth
is a dark oval of terror and time
stops. Her feet don’t move. I wonder, did she see
the silver grille of Johnny’s beat-up Honda?
Or did she see God? Did she think, Saints
preserve me, or just, Oh, shit! Did she feel her soul
float to heaven on a cloud? Or did she hear
brakes squealing?  For a moment, did she know
what everything means? Tell me, sister. Tell me,
why is it, in my dreams, your face
is no longer wrinkled, red, or scared,
but serene?

 

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Epilogue: It’s Almost Christmas and I Forgot to be Sad.

A friend recently asked me how I was dealing with holiday depression. Until she asked, I hadn’t given it a thought.

What a difference a year makes. On this day twelve months ago I wrote, “Can We Just Cancel Christmas This Year,” describing my Lemony Snicket series of unfortunate events that led to some serious holiday funk. Let me name the monster for you.

Depression. Boom chocka locka halt. It happened to me. It can happen to anyone.

My depression sometimes feels like an old friend and I know what to expect. But damn, this monkey snuck up on me and landed full-tilt boogey with very little warning. I was so out of practice. I had been stable long enough to forget how to BE depressed, much less drum up the cognitive skills I knew I was going to need to pull myself back into the middle.

These things are not easy to admit when you’re stable. Nope. You cavalierly think you own the freedom that zooms down the middle of your bipolar disorder and cannot even see mania or depression lurking–you’re zooming by so quickly. The superhighway of stable.

However, this story is not about last year’s holiday depression.

I did survive, yes. January 4th is my birthday and it always seems to be the magic elixir for me to end the sometimes treacherous holiday season and start fresh in the new year.

This story is an epilogue. It’s Almost Christmas and I Forgot to be Sad.

Until my friend asked, I hadn’t given Christmas a thought. But later, while I was getting my home ready for the annual onslaught called Family Thanksgiving At My House, I needed to cover up a mess of boxes I didn’t feel like unpacking. Yes, I did move a few years ago–but that is not the point.

I went into my storage room and eyed my Christmas tree where it stood in a corner wrapped up in a sheet. I decided to cover my unpacked boxes with a throw and bring in the tree.

While I was deep into the storage room, I dragged out a wreath and a few decorations. I started feeling a bit of a holiday buzz. My next door neighbor commented on my door wreath. I took a photo of my newly painted dining table for a friend and she dubiously asked, “Is that a Christmas tree in the background?” Yes, indeed.

On Thanksgiving Day, my family was a bit wary. My happy happy was appreciated and decorations duly noted, but these are the same people who have seen me unable to get out of bed.

And today. Oh lord, today. I hit a Christmas music station while scanning the radio in my car and Bruce Springsteen’s, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” was playing. A long, long time ago, in a marriage far, far away my husband and I used to say that it wasn’t officially Christmas until one of us heard this song on the radio. I smiled at the memory and cranked it up a decibel.

Yeah. It’s officially Christmas. And I’m Not Sad.

I still have days to go until December 25th and I suppose anything can happen. But somehow, I don’t think it will. The universe just might be tipped in my favor for awhile and I’m going to enjoy the ride. Because–you never know.

If there is a moral to this story, I believe it is this. Bipolar physics exists. What goes up must come down. Fortunately what is down is also going to come up. Wherever you are on this superhighway, I wish you hope and the belief that on this you can depend.

Because, “Sannnnnta Claus Is Comin’ To Town….”

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CHRISTMAS: A SUMMARY REPORT

A Honduran’s Christmas: Then and Now

A Honduran’s Christmas: Then and Now

Christmas – always bring back memories from my childhood, and one of those fondest memories is my father decorating the house while playing Jolly Old St. Nicholas by Ray Caniff’s singers in the background. This memory always makes me nostalgic as those times were simple and innocent, bringing greater pleasure and a lifetime of memories without any fancy presents, but with a great amount love wrapped in just one or two presents that were either an heirloom or something bought a year ago from some sale.

Times have changed now, and those warm feelings that used to come with the lighting of a Christmas tree have vanished in the smoke of hate caused by misunderstandings leaving everyone divided and not able to create that perfect picture of Christmas.

The perfect poetic image of happy memories has been taken over by another poetic image of a sad mother holding her two kids trying to cross over the border from under the smoke, not from the chimney of a fireplace but of tear gas, running away from ICE instead of enjoying making of a snowman with her kids. This image has become a common one these days as the older one was in the early days. After 9/11 and especially since the start of the 2000s, immigration is a subject that the US has been struggling with, as it has been misunderstood and mixed with politics.

Immigration has always been a part of USA humanitarian sections that are purely based on emotions and feelings, but politics is free from all this. I believe that politics is all about keeping things together not about leaving out, but meeting both these ends in today’s chaos has become unbearable. This is because the government is not based on feelings, rather it is based on rational decisions that are in benefit of every resident.

The matter of immigrants can be resolved by being in a rational state of mind but only when the higher authorities are thinking from their own mind and not being a puppet of somebody else’s school of thought.

Issues that are faced by people of Honduras are bigger than we think. They not only need to fight to make their existence felt but also they need to fight to stay alive. They need to keep their selves and family fed and clothed in a place that is covered in ashes and smoke. Even eating meat for a meal once a week or month is luxury. The new Honduran generation asks a question to their family that of whether or not the diet of their fathers was also only beans and tortillas?

Government is made for the people, and it is the right of the people to know why all the chaos is being created in their country. Why are they being kept away from basic needs? Why are their newborns not being provided with incubators? And where is all the money going that is meant to fund for their hospitals and not the president’s sister’s wedding?

This chaos is not a result of only one or two years of corruption, we are talking about decades, and all this won’t change until the old school of thought is changed which happens to be considered ideal. This ideal idol needs to be broken.

Are there any gang members involved in keeping this idol alive? Absolutely, you must be pragmatic about this issue. I have no doubt there are gang members taking advantage not only of the situation but of the people who are traveling along with them. The media on both sides have done a pretty good job on marketing the caravan based on their beliefs, at the end of the day it’s all politics, the humanitarian feelings are left out of this picture.

Social media has also played an important part, although I don’t believe posting political memes continuously helps the cause at all, on the contrary, it does, because when something becomes a routine either it makes you scroll down faster, or it makes you stop and see what exactly is being said. When you watch each and post again and again, it starts to make an impact either towards it or against it, in both cases chaos is helped. Don’t even start with the so-called “civil debates” on Facebook; they do not work, and it ends with a fight.

It’s time to open our eyes and read, yes, read about the laws the constitution. The Clash sang “Know your rights,” which should be done by every individual on their own, not by yelling but by obtaining knowledge of the basic laws that rule this nation.

There’s a picture, of me this time, being less cynical, decorating the house for Christmas while playing Ray Caniff’s old tunes and feeling nostalgic about childhood. Probably thinking how we as a nation escape out of our little self-loathing worlds and decide to make a difference, not only for ourselves but for the people that only want a chance in life. Meanwhile, I came across Willie Nelson’s saying “I think youngsters need to start thinking about what kind of world they are going to leave for Keith Richards and me.”

What will help us recreate the ideal picture of Christmas, is when love is wrapped in gifts, not things.

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CHRISTMAS: A SUMMARY REPORT

Epilogue: It’s Almost Christmas and I Forgot to be Sad.

10 Hopeful Hacks for Beating the Holiday Blues