Thursday, January 17, 2019

Poetry Thursday, contemplating the quest

:: Searching for My Own Body ::
 ~Yesenia Montilla

Which is to say that like a good theoretical objectified body, my identity was created not by me but by the various desires and beliefs of those around me.
– Daniel Borzutzky

My body is a small cave door                   
it’s a slick whale  a jubilant
sea of tall grass that sways
& makes its way across countries       
& lovers             I love          love-making
I don’t remember a time when           
I wasn’t interested in touch
I have these breasts
& some          would want to come   
on hands                   & knees to worship them             
call me flower           or                    desert
Maybe I was only supposed to be
stone or a baby eel                 
long & layered                      a nun?
I don’t remember ever saying
             yes                   just     no
I am searching   for my own body 
not the one I was told is so                 
I want to be always  open             
             like a canyon
Maybe I was only supposed to be         
tree or temple           
In some circles I am
just an open gate       
a sinful  bauble 

Once someone said you are             this   
& I  never questioned it

I am searching                       my own body 
for                   God   

or someone like her—

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

history repeating

Ugh, somebody opened this piece from many years ago last week, and I read the title and fell into the same trap.  Or, maybe the universe brought me to it.

I wonder what kind of judgment I pass on myself.

Though, I will say this, I am battling (to no avail) against the rewritten history. It explains, in part, why it has been such a rocky few months.  If only I had a better attitude... since my father has seen fit to let me know that I have a bad attitude. Damn straight.

I am still trying to figure out how to have the appropriate boundary that allows me to hold on to the history I know and still exist with them in their rewritten history. I mean, I cannot force them to live in the history I believe any more than they can force their history on me.

Where is the fine line that I can walk where I am not hurt, even when they live out of their understanding of history?

Is that line wide enough to walk in safety, or will it always be like a tightrope?

Ok, need to go to yoga or do more meditation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

My thoughts move to Dr. King all year, and especially this past year. I have wondered so many times how he might have taught in the time of Trump.

We think of Dr. King as a leader, often, and as a pastor, for those who are more religious. But, I think of him as an organizer and a teacher.

So, for his *real* birthday, I decided to read a sermon that he gave, something new to me.

I chose the sermon about The Man Who Was a Fool.

He describes the issue the foolish man encounters, and how we are in danger of falling into the same trap in this way:

We must always be careful in America because we live in a capitalistic economy, which stresses the profit motive and free enterprise. And there is always the danger that we will be more concerned about making a living than making a life. There is always the danger we will judge the success of our professions by the size of the wheel base on our automobiles and the index of our salaries rather than the quality of our service to humanity. There must always be a line of distinction between the "within" and the "without" of life. [here, Dr. King footnotes The Parables of Jesus, Buttrick].
Dr. King's analyzes of the use of "I" and "my" by the rich man, and ties it back to our need to be more cognizant of our connections to the rest of the world/humanity rather than our own perceived self-sufficiency:
[The Foolish Man] failed to realize the interdependent structure of reality. 

And so often we fail to see this. Something should remind us before we can finish eating breakfast in the morning we are dependent on more than half of teh world. We get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for a sponge, and that's handed to us by a Pacific Islander. Then we reach over for a bar of soap, and that's given to us at the hands of a frenchman. And then we reach up for our towel, and that's given to us by a Turk. And then we go to the kitchen for breakfast, getting ready to go to work. Maybe this morning we want to follow the good old American tradition, and we drink coffee. That's poured into our cups by a South American. Or maybe we are desirous of having tea. Then we discover that that's poured in our cup by a Chinese. Or maybe we want cocoa this morning, and then we discover that that's poured in our cup by a West African. Then we reach over for piece of toast, only to discover that that's given to us at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention teh baker. And so before we finish eating breakfast in the morning, we are dependent on more than half of the world. [a footnote lets us know that this section is paraphrased from Leslie Whitehead's 1936 publication titled Why Do Men Suffer?]
Surely Dr. King would update these observations, our world is ever more interconnected and dependent within and without our national boundaries. We do less and less for ourselves in this world, and mostly have no idea how what we have in our hands had gotten there.

But, perhaps most important in this sermon is how Dr. King connects this issue to race relations in 1961:
For what is white supremacy but the foolish notion that God made a mistake and stamped an eternal stigma of inferiority on a certain race of people? What is white supremacy but the foolishness of believing that one race is good enough to dominate another race? What is white supremacy but the foolish notion of believing that certain people are to be relegated to the status of things rather than being elevated to the status of persons? There is no greater foolishness than the foolishness that accompanies our inhumanity to man.
Lest you think Dr. King was not considering all angles of this situation, see what he said immediately after the last statement:
And the converse is also true. Black supremacy is based on a great deal of foolishness. It is the foolish notion that the black man has made all of the contributions of civilization and that he will one day rule the world. I am convinced, as I have said so often, that as Negroes we must work passionately and unrelentingly for first-class citizenship, but we must never use second-class methods to gain it. We must not seek to rise from a position of disadvantage to one of advantage, thus subverting justice. Not substituting one tyranny for another, but we must seek to achieve democracy for everybody. God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men, God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race and the creation of a society where all men will live together as brothers and every man will respect the dignity and the worth of human personality. Whenever we fail to believe this, we indulge in tragic foolishness.**
He goes on to talk about our abundance and how we might help others around the world... but I will let you read on. It is beautiful and it very well might have made me more religious if the priests in the pulpit were preaching this kind of truth. *Might* because I have other unresolved issues with organized religion, but I digress.

You can read the whole sermon here. You can search for other things to read here. [Yes, they are published in volumes, but if you click through to the volume, you can also see the PDF to many of the documents.]

**And, yes, we would hope that Dr. King's use of "men" here would have been supplanted with "humans" or "people," but I have faith in Dr. King's sense of humanity.

Friday, January 11, 2019


I acknowledged the hunger. I wanted to say this morning, but it might have been yesterday.

It had to have been yesterday because I am five and a half hours into the work day, and the first food has passed my lips. (Full disclosure: I had TWO coffees.)

I acknowledged then, whenever that was, that the only sensation I have been able to feel lately is HUNGER.

I realized in nearly the same instant that I can barely remember eating something that felt satisfying ... or that didn't taste like cardboard.

All these realizations brought me back to the depressive state... the sense of overwhelm, the feeling of being swallowed by all the obligation. [I wrote about it a while back, but only in the journal, it didn't make it here.]

Now that I am thinking about it, I remember thinking early this week that exercising might make me less hungry. It often does, however strange that may seem.

But, the truth is that I am STARVING because I am so desperately unhappy and feel trapped and overwhelmed and and and...

Acknowledging the hunger helps to make me less hungry for food and note the need for something else.

Something else... ugh... I am going to go to yoga again tonight. Hoping that will also help.

I just talked with a friend, though, who was able to remind me that I have not even been home for 2 months yet, and had to deal with so many small and large crises. She reminded me how long it has been since I have been alone.

[I was wistfully remembering the "long layover" day I got in San Francisco -- where I splurged on a hotel and didn't call anyone instead of trying to meet up with folks. I felt guilty and yet I truly enjoyed not having to abide by anyone else's schedule, just for a day.]

I really needed that reality check.

Less than two months and I feel like I am drowning. I felt like I was drowning at less than six weeks.

I know this, I have to stop feeling guilty for taking a nap, doing my crossword instead of anything else on the to do list, and ask for help. I am really not sure who to ask for help, that is a bit of a sticking point. But the very, very least I can do is not pile on myself. That is a job that all the others in my life relish and do with gusto.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Poetry Thursday, life right now, adulting

Things Haunt
~Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

California is a desert and I am a woman inside it.
The road ahead bends sideways and I lurch within myself.
I’m full of ugly feelings, awful thoughts, bad dreams
of doom, and so much love left unspoken.

Is mercury in retrograde? someone asks.
Someone answers, No, it’s something else
like that though. Something else like that.
That should be my name.

When you ask me am I really a woman, a human being,
a coherent identity, I’ll say No, I’m something else
like that though.

A true citizen of planet earth closes their eyes
and says what they are before the mirror.
A good person gives and asks for nothing in return.
I give and I ask for only one thing—

Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. Hear me.
Hear me. Bear the weight of my voice and don’t forget—
things haunt. Things exist long after they are killed.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Poetry Thursday - oops, back dating

In the Next Yard
~Helen Hoyt

O yes, you are very cunning,
I can see that:
Out there in the snow with your red cart
And your wooly grey coat
And those ridiculous
Little grey leggings!
Like a rabbit,
A demure brownie.
O yes, you are cunning;
But do not think you will escape your father and mother
And what your brothers are!
I know the pattern.
It will surely have you—
For all these elfish times in the snow—
As commonplace as the others,
Little grey rabbit.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Poetry Thursday

~Aline Murray Kilmer

I can never remake the thing I have destroyed;
   I brushed the golden dust from the moth’s bright wing,
I called down wind to shatter the cherry-blossoms,
   I did a terrible thing.

I feared that the cup might fall, so I flung it from me;
   I feared that the bird might fly, so I set it free;
I feared that the dam might break, so I loosed the river:
   May its waters cover me.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Poetry Thursday - oops, back dating

While looking at photo albums
 ~Kay Ulanday Barrett

Before everyone died – in my family – first definition I learned was – my mother’s maiden name, ULANDAY – which literally means – of the rain – and biology books remind us – the pouring has a pattern –  has purpose  –  namesake means release – for my mother meant, flee – meant leave – know exactly what parts of you – slip away – drained sediment of a body – is how a single mama feels – on the graveyard shift – only god is awake –  is where my  –  family banked itself – a life rooted in rosaries – like nuns in barricade –  scream – People Power – one out of five – leave to a new country – the women in my family hone – in my heart – like checkpoints –  which is what they know – which is like a halt  – not to be confused for – stop – which is what happened to my ma’s breath– when she went home – for the last time – I didn’t get to –  hold her hand as she died – I said I tried –  just translates to – I couldn’t make it – in time – I tell myself  – ocean salt and tear salt – are one and the same – I press my eyes shut – cup ghost howl – cheeks splint wood worn – which is to say – learn to make myself a harbor – anyway – once I saw a pamphlet that said – what to do when your parent is dead –  I couldn’t finish reading  –  but I doubt it informs the audience –  what will happen –  which is to say – you will pour your face & hands – & smother your mother’s scream on everything – you touch – turn eyelids into oars – go, paddle to find her.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Poetry Thursday

 ~T. S. Eliot

If space and time, as sages say,
    Are things which cannot be,
The fly that lives a single day
    Has lived as long as we.
But let us live while yet we may,
    While love and life are free,
For time is time, and runs away,
    Though sages disagree.

The flowers I sent thee when the dew
    Was trembling on the vine,
Were withered ere the wild bee flew
    To suck the eglantine.
But let us haste to pluck anew
    Nor mourn to see them pine,
And though the flowers of love be few
    Yet let them be divine.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Poetry Thursday

Amid the Roses
~Alice Dunbar-Nelson

There is tropical warmth and languorous life
    Where the roses lie
    In a tempting drift
Of pink and red and golden light
Untouched as yet by the pruning knife.
And the still, warm life of the roses fair
    That whisper "Come,"
    With promises
Of sweet caresses, close and pure
Has a thorny whiff in the perfumed air.
There are thorns and love in the roses’ bed,
    And Satan too
    Must linger there;
So Satan’s wiles and the conscience stings,
Must now abide—the roses are dead.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Poetry Thursday, Millay's Hair

Millay’s Hair
~Ann Townsend
New York Public Library, Edna St. Vincent Millay archives

Because Norma saved even the grocery lists,
              it was no surprise to find a lock of hair

                             coiled and glued loosely into the scrapbook,
crimped and rusty, more weird

and alive than any calling card or photograph,
              letter, erotic or otherwise, sweeter

                             than the candy kisses fixed upon the page.
I shouldn’t have touched it, but in those days

I was always hungry. Despite the rare books
              librarian lurking, I set my thumb against it.

                             Weightless, dusty, it warmed at my touch.
By 1949, all the grocery lists affirmed

the same fixations: Liverwurst, Olives, Cookies, Scotch.
              Liverwurst, Olives, Cookies, Scotch, penciled

                              on squares of insipid paper. By 1950,
unsteady on her feet; by year’s end, dead at the foot

of the stairs. As I placed the book of relics
              back into its archival box, a single

                              copper wire fell from the page,
bright tendril on the table. I lifted it,

casket of DNA, protein, lipids, and still Titian red.
               Really, was I wrong to swallow it?

Monday, November 26, 2018

So it begins...

Full disclosure: life on the road got long and complicated and exhausting. And it turns out BLOGGER does not offer a free phone app. So my grand plan to keep posting while on the road was trounced.


Then, I got home... and that pit in my stomach that told me that I would walk into a mess was right, but, perhaps not exactly in the way that I expected.

I am really not ready to write about it, today, but I will, soon, because if I don't I am going to have to commit myself to a mental health hold.


So, this is my recommitment post.

I promise to start posting again, as close to every day as possible.

Writing is going to be a major part of my mental health plan.


But, so as not to post yet another non-post, I am going to also add in a little working definition here.

I have been thinking (read: worrying? fretting?) about the notion of being home with my parents. I will admit to only wanting to look at this picture through the barely opened fingers of the hand covering my eyes.

I am thinking about this book that I heard about on NPR the other day. Wondering if it is a good idea to read this or if it will give me nightmares.

I heard someone refer to her situation as a sandwich - taking care of parents and children. We used to call it extended family ... and it was no big thing. But none of my grandparents lived past 78.

Being back with my parents, but being the unmarried daughter with no children, one would think this is not a sandwich.  Maybe a low-carb sandwich with only one piece of bread. Since we spend all our time around here trying to explain to my father how the body metabolizes simple carbs, it just might be apt.

However, I think I would rather call it the open-faced sandwich. In mind's eye it is messier. No where to hide the state of situation... and, truth be told, my nieces and nephews need me as a not parent sometimes. And that is seriously messy as well.

So, there you go, my current state is somewhere inside that open-faced sandwich.

New adventure...yeah, let's call it that.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Poetry Thursday, Millay ... late edition for Thanksgiving ....

Afternoon on a Hill
~Edna St. Vincent Millay

I will be the gladdest thing
    Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
    And not pick one.

 I will look at cliffs and clouds
    With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
    And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
    Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
    And then start down!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Poetry Thursday, for Chila

A Little Bit
 ~Eileen Myles

It’s a little bit
true that the
hole in my jacket
the breast pocket
yeah all relaxed
has a hole &
pens keep
slipping through
one’s in the lining
but this one
now it’s a writing
silly black out there
wants to
tell its
song. Miguel’s
book was
in the air &
I was on
a train
my feet are cold
and you wouldn’t
be in the
air so
long it doesn’t happen
like this
there’s no climate
in a plane
and I was in one
but not on
my mother
is gone
each thing I do
is a little
bit wrong. I’m willing
to apologize
but they never
help it’s
just pointing
out the hole
& people
forget but I
won’t forget

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Poetry Thursday

My Love Is Black
 ~DéLana R. A. Dameron

You might say fear
is a predictable emotion
& I might agree. Whenever
my husband leaves
for his graveyard shift,
when he prepares to walk
out into the abyss of black
sky, I am afraid
tonight will be the night
I become a widow. I don’t
want to love like this. But
here we are: walking
hand in hand
in our parkas down
the avenues & he pulls away
from me. I might be
in some dreamy place,
thinking of the roast chicken
we just had, the coconut peas
& rice he just cooked,
& how the food has filled
our bellies with delight. How
many times can I speak
about black men
& an officer enters the scene?
I don’t want to love
like this. But there is a gun
in the holster & a hand
on the gun in the holster
& my husband’s hands
are no longer in his pockets
because it is night & we are
just trying to breathe in
some fresh evening air,
trying to be unpredictable, to
forget fear for a moment
& live in love & love.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Not Poetry Thursday ... VOTE!

Gitanjali 35
~Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
     Where knowledge is free;
     Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
              domestic walls;
     Where words come out from the depth of truth;
     Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
     Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
                          dreary desert sand of dead habit;
     Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening
                                thought and action—
     Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Dia de los Muertos

Take a look at this face. Her name is Evie; well, she goes by Evie.

See that feisty look? See that strength? She that twinkle in the eye that tells you she will go toe-to-toe with you happily.

For the past five months, she had been battling leukemia.

I don't know her, but I know her.

That is to say, I have been FB friends with her dad, who I also don't know personally, for several years. In those years, he has posted seriously funny stories about Evie. With each one, I became more and more smitten with this girl.

She reminds me of our Evie with her quick wit and feisty spirit.

When they announced in June that she was about to embark on this fight with cancer, my heart sank.

But my instinct told me to hope. To believe. To fight with her.

When they started looking for an out of family marrow donor, I did all I could to get more people sign up for Be the Match. [If you haven't signed up, you should, someone's life could depend on it.]

And I continued to hope, to believe, to fight with her.

When they found a match, I celebrated. And hoped and believed.

I thought somewhere back in my mind, for her to need a bone marrow transplant, the cancer has to be really bad. It is not first line defense. It is brutal ... painful for the donor but truly brutal for the recipient.

When they started the process, I hoped and believed and feared.

I watched on FB with each day to see if the graft would take. And it did. And I was relieved.

And then the rest of her body began to die.

It really is the only way to say it. Some month and a half after the transplant, the infections had turned to sepsis and the kidneys and liver were nearly shut down.

I raged against this reality. I wanted it to not be true. I wanted a miracle.

And then she was gone.

Despite the enormous grief I have suffered in the past six years (how can it be six years?!), I cannot imagine the fresh hell her family endures right now. I know that the road of life without Evie will be long and treacherous.

On this Dia de los muertos, I am going to add Evie to the altar. And I will probably cry some more.

Thursday, November 01, 2018


We are not supposed to apologize so much.

By we, I mean women.

But, now I have to... I meant to finish Grace and write at least three more posts.

However, the impending move, yes I am moving, and all the work and stress has just piled up unreasonably.

Sometimes there is so much to do, all I can do is stay in bed and pretend the rest of the world does not exist.

But it's November and I though I am not going to really try to do NANOWRIMO while I am driving cross country, I am going to try to post something every day.

The poems are already scheduled, so they don't really count. But you better believe I will count them when I am on the road!!

Hang in there, with me, I will be sharing much more...

Poetry Thursday, don't forget to vote!

~Patricia Spears Jones

Fruit from one vine tangles with another
Making a mess of the intended harvest, yet
the lack of calculation is welcome

that accident that shifts bodies from shadows
into a locus of light midday bright & caustic
wounds un-healed   newsreel cameras trap

this old & angry man in a bespoke suit lifting
white pages & refusing to read them, mumbles
unwelcome threats & thanks the nation

the nation kicks him out—finally defiant
after years of misrule, disruption, murder
and the choked voice youth terrorized

he wants more blood on his hands so that
when he enters his version of paradise
all will be red.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Poetry Thursday

 ~Claude McKay

Sometimes I tremble like a storm-swept flower,
And seek to hide my tortured soul from thee,
Bowing my head in deep humility
Before the silent thunder of thy power.
Sometimes I flee before thy blazing light,
As from the specter of pursuing death;
Intimidated lest thy mighty breath,
Windways, will sweep me into utter night.
For oh, I fear they will be swallowed up—
The loves which are to me of vital worth,
My passion and my pleasure in the earth—
And lost forever in thy magic cup!
I fear, I fear my truly human heart
Will perish on the altar-stone of art!