From a PIP (poem in progress)

C5438C4D-7EFC-4B03-8398-D253E9D9DDE8Line breaks, wording, so much work needed. A much longer poem, but I don’t want to post complete poems here. And they are MISSING GIRLS, which is important. And missing small ones… hmm.. Lots to consider.

Middle of the night
moon casts
umbrella shaped shadows.

Soft light of night
I’d hoped would help
find the lost (missing?)
(??find the missing
small ones?)

 

**  Word Press doesn’t like to format poetry, it seems.

C5438C4D-7EFC-4B03-8398-D253E9D9DDE8I’m playing with language, tone, line breaks, meaning.  (I don’t want to post a complete poem here, since I will submit for publication.)

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Little Sister-Rough Draft

img_1235-1

Just something I found on an old flash drive.  Will edit, revise, see where it goes.

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.

Little sister
you are not alone
sometimes I am
in your dreams
purring
a pink cat who speaks.

And sometimes
I am at the top of the stairs
thrusting
limbs forward
as a shield.


Little sister, sometimes
I am in between the lines of
words from decades ago
straight to your mirror.

 

 

 

img_1235-1

Conversation with the Woods

“You said good-bye already.”

–I know. I thought I’d risk it, because–because–

“You need me. Go ahead and say it.”

–I need you.  It’s because–

“I don’t need to know the reason.  Just don’t expect me to ask the insects to leave you alone like you did last year.”

–I won’t.

“Better get your sunglasses.”

–I won’t need them.  I am feeling better.

“No, you are not.  I don’t care if you weep in the woods because I hear death all the time.”

–How did you know?

“I hear death all the time.”

Caught

“You didn’t get out of the car at all?” he asked, returning from his walk.

“No,” she answered. “There’s too–just too much out there. And I don’t have my sunglasses.”

“You’re not talking about the woods,” he said.

“No,” she said.

 

The Surprise of Coreopsis, a prose poem

coreopsis  Will I change once the pre-dawn robin songs return? The songs are late, yet the mud crusted opaque ice is too long staying and will the chorus frogs under the ice survive? They should be singing as well, but they are silent, I am silent but for the hissing inside my head, and can I, will I, should I feel spring fever again, if spring ever returns? Will I feel that regret and joy spring brings, the feeling as if all is possible and yet that all has passed us by simultaneously?
If the flood of spring sun does not return or at least the surprise of coreopsis, I cannot be opaque dirty ice.

I just cannot.

Fifty-Five Years of Gratitude

img_1235-1(From a work in progress)

 

The heart knew it was 55 years ago that you last went to that restaurant with your uncle. Do you say something to him?

 

Probably not because back then you were a child who was too small to even look out of the backseat of his car and see the snow covered streets, streets with no one but children who had been forced from their home during another Sunday night alcohol fueled rage. Do you say something, hoping he would remember?

 

Do you look at him and realize that back then he was barely more than a teenager himself, so young and proud of his red 1963 Chevy with back then unheard of features of automatic windows and doors. I drove all the way from the city to pick up the kids, your uncle said, so they wouldn’t be walking in that empty field or the swamp.

 

You look at your uncle and realize he’s nearly 80 now. You look at his hands that have had dozens of operations from damage done during the lifespan of a laborer.

 

Yet he still has that boyish smile, the quick wit, the quick temper.

 

But he’s 80 and you’re not eight years old anymore. You have a career, an education, a loving kind spouse.

 

But this is a gratitude 55 years in the making , for taking a child off the street that night, making jokes, buying hot chocolate, anything other than spending a cold winter night alone outside.

 

You can’t say thank you for that to an 80-year-old uncle. You just can’t. You’ve never spoken about it.

 

You reach across the table, take the check, walk to the counter and pay.