On Cable Bills, Woman to Woman, and Grieving Before Death

old black and white tv

It’s so time consuming with medicines and visits and the day to day physical needs that I sometimes “forget” she is dying, and sooner rather than later. Sister’s TV/ cable turned off for nonpayment. She lives in a basement apartment and we TRIED a TV with every kind of antenna possible. No channels. Cable is needed.

Since she cannot read due to vision issues and is living alone (that’s another issue), I thought of the cable TV as a comfort issue and paid for it to be turned back on. She cannot use the internet anymore due to cognitive issues, but she can listen to TV shows and she has followed some for a long time.

I understand all the arguments against TV, but in her case, it is a comfort.

As I was speaking to the person at the BIG nasty cable company, I just broke down crying, after they kept asking me for information I didn’t have. I just want to pay the bill for my sister who is passing too soon, I told them. I just want her to have some human voices and some old friends with her.

And a young lady who told me she was in India right then but that would it be okay if she prayed for my family and put the payment through ASAP? And I was crying again. She was kind, said let’s forget the cable company for a moment, and woman to woman, she told me how sorry she was and that she would pray for us.

And then we both hung up. And my grief about all this just poured over me and I cried and cried.

Because I cannot take away her pain. Or her multiple terminal diagnoses. And since I have been injured, I am limited in even visiting her–I have to get a ride and then help myself to get into her apt, down those awful stairs.

I guess I am saying that the grief doesn’t start at the time of death and that we can help each other in small ways. Just that lady in India who took my payment but took the time to say she would pray for us? Her kindness was much appreciated.

Wishing you all gentle kindnesses.

 

(Photo from the creative commons. And this is what our first TV was like so long ago.)

 

 

My (not so?)Humble and Not So Scientific HSP/ Trauma Raised Declaration

       speechMy Humble and Not So Scientific HSP/ Trauma Raised Declaration (I’d say Manifesto, but this term has taken on a nasty connotation)

Those who feel they know all about me are wrong. There are many issues, many  memories not spoken about to anyone. And that’s okay, since it’s not my duty to do so. Freedom of speech, I believe, also means freedom to not to have to share a traumatic past.

The research findings that trauma can change your genes has impacted me greatly. Things I cannot write about even yet–I know they have changed me at the most basic level. Period. I don’t want to hear that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Save that platitude. Sometimes that which doesn’t kill you changes you in profound, basic, even cellular ways depending on the person you are. I don’t talk about a lot of things because people tend to judge–oh, just get over it. Aren’t you over that by now? It didn’t kill you; you must be stronger.

No. Not me. Take a very HSP (highly sensitive) kid to start with and add decades of certain things and no. No, those didn’t make me stronger.

They did help make me more compassionate for I know I was deemed smart, competent, friendly but shy during these years. How wrong they were, but how well I acted. I know that others can be suffering greatly and appear all good.

They did help me realize how complicated life can be, how many issues people face, and without adequate resources and guidance, people can make unwise and unhealthy choices.

I don’t want to hear that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Don’t go there with me.

This is my declaration: let people heal and deal as best fits them. Don’t belittle or dismiss. Don’t be disdainful or snarky. Or sarcastic. Choose kindness.  You don’t know what others might be going through, for no one knew what I was going through–I was and remain a terrific actress.

That which doesn’t kill you can change you on a basic level, I believe.

I don’t want judgments about this, I don’t want platitudes or pity or a pat on the back.

And when I wish to, if I ever wish to, I will write about it. It will help me with deep rich and dark topics to write about–when and if I choose to write directly about them.  I am a poet and fiction writer, and my past traumas do very much inform my writing, so I am already “telling my story” in my own way.

One last thing. That which does not kill you can sometimes help you see great preciousness in love, which I’ve found to be the great helper of healing. And nature. And beauty. And literacy. And learning. And a profession.

Those who feel they know all about me are wrong. There are many issues, many  memories not spoken about to anyone. And that’s okay, since it’s not my duty to do so.

 

FACE STORM —very rough draft

Oh how I hated to close the window!

FACE STORM

The Smell of rain

Through an opened window

The sound of thunder

Awakened her

at the beginning

week five

Of recovery.

The excitement of a

late summer storm

The sky turning gray green

the raindrops falling

down, straight down

Towels around the window

soaking something splendid

summer storm, found a small way

blessing way

fresh onto her face

On a Sunday morning

On the first Sunday

dreamed for week 5

Of recovery

Rain, the smell of rain

Awakened.

Rush Hot Now (rough draft)

Found from an old site, part of a 30 poems in 30 days challenge.  This is from ten years ago.

Just a few snippets from that time ten years ago, since I am submitting a revised/ edited full version for publication and don’t want to have this considered published.

#13 /List poemSummer Things I Forgot

i did not rush, hot, now.
i forgot how.

i forgot poetry would end
coffee at midnight, phone calls
in the middle of the night
would all end

i did not rush, hot, now.
i forgot how.

Selected Publications

 

pexels-photo-997721 Publications, Laura Lee

Some of my poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles are included online and in print books and magazines published in the UK, Greece, India, New Zealand, and the United States. Many thanks to the staff at these publications. 

“Devastation,” a poem, August 2019, in Headline Poetry.Details to follow. 

“Havishammed +1,” a poem, August 2019, online and in print edition available through amazon.com and at High Shelf Press.

“Where You Are Not,” a poem, June 2019, Esthetic Apostle.

“Swamp Pearls,” a poem, May 2019, here at: Prometheus Dreaming.

“Not Sleep,” a poem, in Cagibi: A Literary Space, April 2019, here: Cagibi.

“The Professor and the Gravel,” a poem, 2019, at Wingless Dreamer.

“Saltwater Faces,” an ekphrastic poem inspired by paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, High Shelf Press, 2018, https://www.highshelfpress.com/saltwaterfaces.

“Click,” “The Night is our First Language,” and “They Left the Bed,” poetry published in The Poetic Bond VIII print issue, December 2018. Available at Poetic Bond VIII.

“Moving Gravel” a short story at Crack the Spine – Themed Anthology Submissions, “Routine”, print edition, 2018. Available at Crack the Spine Anthology.

“Walk with Child” at https://www.snapdragonjournal.com/  September 2018 Issue, “Here and Gone.” http://pub.lucidpress.com/9b90935e-82ec-4edd-a09e-725a9cf574b8/#Vu72fBijlewR

Coffin Bell Journal,2018, “Herstory,” October 2018. https://coffinbell.com/herstory-lesson/

Spillwords Press, “Stopped,” 2018, http://spillwords.com/stopped/.

Tuck Magazine, June 2018, “Teach to Kill” http://tuckmagazine.com/2018/06/06/poetry-1528/.

Tuck Magazine,  May 2018, “Refuge,” http://tuckmagazine.com/2018/05/29/poetry-1511/.

 Southernmost Point Guest House (UK), poetry.

Journal of Modern Poetry 21 (Volume 21), “Hell, No,” a poem at JOMP Volume 21 Dear Mr. President.

Journal of Modern Poetry 20 (Volume 20), “Moonlit Awakening,” JOMP Volume 20 Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Journal of Modern Poetry 18 (Volume 18), The Official Poets Guide to Peace, two poems: “Open” and “After Poetry Class.” 2015. Purchase here.

Journal of Modern Poetry 17 (Volume 17), JOMP Volume 17. 

Cram Volume 12: “White Board Clown,” 2011. Chicago Poetry Press 2011.

Magazine (New Zealand) , Raewyn Alexander, Publisher, nonfiction and poetry.  Raewyn Alexander NZ.

Fiction in: http://staxtes.com/2003/ “Between the Sunlight and the Skipping” in English Wednesdays

Poetry in: https://poetsagainstthewar.org/ archives.

Illinois English Bulletin, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, nonfiction article about teaching in an alternative education program.

 Poetry in Marginalia, Elmhurst, IL.

Poetry as Gift

   This has been a touching day. A former colleague reached out and asked me to join/ read her blog dedicated to her brother’s memory. I waited a while, then read…about a missing brother, found dead after 62 days, and what that meant to her family.

A nightmare… missing, dead… found dead by my friend. Her mom doesn’t know anyone saw the body… in that condition… so much more I don’t wish to say.

I don’t know why she reached out to me, but social media let her find me.

I remember my friend L as a kind, witty, hardworking science teacher. I was the literacy coach in the building, often a hated person. But L was kind and worked with me, let me into her classroom. And then I got transferred to another school and we lost touch until recently.

After  read her blog, I was stunned and also very aware of what a privilege it was to be trusted with this knowledge.  How should I respectfully reply?

I asked L if I could write a poem about sisters and brothers for her, and that while I don’t know her situation exactly, I am old enough to have known much grief. L had a broken heart, and I know about broken hearts.

I thought of the many years I looked for my brother in different ways, estranged due to our father’s many violences. All the longing to find him over the many years. The late nights, the silent mornings. The bird songs that found me still awake.

I gave L the poem, knowing there is nothing good I could say that would make any of this okay. Brothers don’t go missing then get found… like that… but of course they do. In real life, horrible things happen.

L liked the poem and posted it on her blog so her family members could read it as well.

I am very happy that literacy could help me reach her, that reading led her to find me, that poetry helped me reach her. It’s a small thing, but I hope positive.

And this is a small tale of how literacy can help lives and how literacy can help us reach each other, heart to heart, mind to mind. And the special place of poetry to be personal and universal at the same time.

Nine Month Sentence ROUGH DRAFT. To edit. Revise.

ROUGH DRAFT. to edit. Revise.

Just a few snippets from that time ten years ago, since I am submitting a revised/ edited full version for publication and don’t want to have this considered published.

The Nine Month Sentence

Stunned. Nine months of

little sun, closed streaked windows to follow.

We had not

used our summer well.

We had not slept

under the June blue sky,

toes curled in fresh green.

 

…We might

flee with them.

What do You Call Your Father?

42694360_10155800587148499_7360350429420453888_n FROM THE WRITINGS SNIPPETS RANDOM AS I THINK OF THEM FOLDER

 CNF STARTER:

I Never Called for Him

Being older, I sometimes find myself in the “remember when” conversations with family, friends, colleagues.  And sometimes those conversations turned to our childhoods and what did we do, or watch, or dress like, or listen to, or call…

Or call. Yes.  Lolo what did you call your father?

Indeed. What did I call my father? I could not remember calling him anything to his face.

‘What did you call yours?” I might ask, trying to avoid the question.

Daddy, if I wanted something.

Sir, Yes, Sir.

And then she laughed, the kind of laughter that meant love, trust, fond memories.

Mitter, another friend said.

Da, another said.

Papa.

Pop.

Dad.

DAD!

HEY!

Old man.

OG.

Pops.

Lots of laughter, lots of smiles.

Me, oh I don’t remember.

Me?  I don’t remember calling my father anything.  I don’t remember calling him at all.

I never called him on the telephone if I could help it.  I never called him anything to his face.

But writing was different. In writing in those spiral angst filled journals, I called him my father.

With my siblings it was He or Him.  What kind of mood is He in?  Shhh… Him one of us might whisper, pointing with our chin to another room where He was. Or sometimes just among ourselves we would call him by his initials, LW, and later The Weird One. If we said That Bastard, we knew we meant our father.   Or if we said that mother fucking cocksucker son of a bitch we knew we meant our father.

Perhaps it was our way of identifying our father while keeping him at a distance.

I did not share these family secret of what we called my father at any party or any gathering ever.

But if I were honest, I believe this–I never called for him.