wake up call

I had a dream not long ago.

I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

In my dream, a tree had fallen on me.

I remember it slowly bearing down as I wriggled.

I remember the squeezing sensation of my skull approaching its cracking point.

But, most of all, I remember the horrible flight of hope.

The certainty that someone would rescue me melted.

My cries for help caught in my throat.

Then came the irreversible knowing: a freak accident death, a random unfinished end.

My life had no special purpose.

I was embarrassed to realize I’d always thought someday I would do something significant.

Whatever that means in a temporary, unfeeling universe.

I didn’t matter enough for any entity in the cosmos to intervene.

I breathed deeply, trying to glimpse the sky because I would miss it the most.

I woke up relieved, and in horror.

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the god of now

You want me to describe my god to you?

I’ll make an effort.

When I was a child, I was given many things.

One was a picture of god as a father and a ruler and a punisher.

He helped me, in those early days, to feel safe and behave appropriately.

But later, when I saw more of the world, I realized he was too small to answer my questions, or infuse my spirit, or quell my true fears – true, by virtue of being grounded in reality, in the horrors and injustices all around me.

When I was older, but not yet fully myself, I resented and gave him up, knowing I could never get him back.

I lived alone.

I tried to fill the emptiness of his loss with people and ideologies, wading through several pools but staying ever in shallow waters.

These pursuits led repeatedly back to a familiar place of disappointment and hopelessness.

Later still, I realized I had never grieved for god the father, god the tyrant, god the security blanket.

So I mourned.

And I wandered alone again.

On no particular day, during no particular crisis beyond prolonged fatigue and sadness, I encountered the god of now.

Only a flicker of a glimpse of the god of now can I hope to convey.

She is she to me and anything to you.

She is the best things in my mind, the essence of authenticity, small delights, enormous joy, gratitude, empathy, and kindness.

She is ineffable but articulate.

She is connection to more, to others and to the earth itself, to the stars beyond, to the memory of my ancestors, to the honor of heroes and the tragedy of lost souls.

She is whatever I need her to be, when I need strength or resolve or courage or compassion.

She allows me to pray but needs no worship.

She is a construct of my mind or an unfathomable external force.

She does not ask me to find out for sure.

She only asks me to live as my full self.

So I try.

 

Pennies

I don’t know why people throw away pennies,

But I love finding them with you.

 

Since I met you, nothing feels insignificant:

not pennies,

not words,

not blinks,

not breaths.

 

During the past few years, my goals have simplified:

do my best,

be here now,

make you smile,

enjoy our time.

 

We continue collecting memories and pennies:

pretty penny, lucky penny,

penny dreadful,

shiny penny, honest penny,

penny wiser.

 

But we cannot pinch them.

Just like time, we can only spend them well.

Trickery, trickery, doc.

Mary had an Instagram, Instagram, Instagram.

Mary had an Instagram that nobody followed.

But everywhere that Mary went, Mary went, Mary went,

Everywhere that Mary went, the camera sure did go.

Jack the symbol,

Jack the dick,

Jack dump and dismantle chicks.

Ice cap ridges melting down, melting down, melting down,

Ice cap ridges melting down,

Ignore daily.

Trickery, trickery, doc.

The mice work round the clock.

The clock strikes five, the rats race home.

Trickery, trickery, doc.

Grumpy Stumpy used to be tall.

Grumpy Stumpy’s friend went awol.

All the prescriptions and all of the gin

Couldn’t put Stumpy together again.

Jack and Bill left from the Hill

To find a future daughter.

Jack went down,

They broke Bill’s crown,

And Jill stayed with the orphans.

Who killed black bobbins?

I, said the police,

With my badge and this piece.

I killed black bobbins.

Who saw them die?

I, thought a guy,

Was just passing by,

So turned a blind eye.

All the thoughts and the prayers,

And the trying and sobbing,

Could not return to home

Little black bobbins.

There was a posh woman who needed more shoes.

She passed homeless children; she didn’t know what to do.

She gave them some cloth without many threads.

Then whistled to herself and bought bags instead.

Word Value

Value of Words

1.

Hate isn’t a strong word.

Think about how casually everyone uses it.

No words are strong anymore.

Phrases might be strong, sometimes.

If I say, “I hate you and I hope you die” and you know I’m not being sarcastic, then it might be considered strong phrasing.

Give me a word, any word, and I’ll show you how it has no strength on its own.

“Love.”

Said while staring at a new model of iPhone!

2.

Well, I think you’re going about this all wrong.

Words are strong

-not simply because they are the building blocks of phrases, just as individual breaths are what compose our lives, with few more significant than others, though some may be deeper-

But also because words are concepts made tangible: symbols and sounds that can create shared understanding between otherwise separate minds.

Put two strangers, who barely know one another or who barely speak one another’s language, in a tense situation and one word can become all that matters.

“Peace.”

A single word with the strength to convey between two unfamiliar psyches both “I intend no harm” and “please do no me harm”.

turning 30 soon

You say, “You must feel so old!”

You’re right. I suppose I must.

Certainly I cannot feel “young”.

I wear compression socks and like to drink hot water.

Besides, I did not navigate painstakingly through

infancy,

toddlerhood,

childhood,

adolescence,

and early adulthood

to be called “young” now.

It was hard work, aging.

Maturing was even harder.

My life has not been long – yet.

Still, I am old.

Too much has happened.

Ages have come and gone in my lifetime.

Identity crises, among other demons, have arisen and been slain.

A respectable career has been built up slowly and, later, traded back in for the gambler’s pursuit of true fulfillment.

People have died, physically and in worse ways.

Beliefs have shifted, like slices of glitter in a kaleidoscope, maintaining core components but morphing in perspective with each twist.

Irreplaceable pieces of the world (at large, and mine) have crumbled away.

And I have had to heave the dead weight of myself towards resurrection from the kind of nothingness from which many never return.

Twice.

If you’re seeking commiseration or embarrassment, you’ve come to the wrong old lady.

“Old” isn’t a synonym for tired, or unhealthy, or disappointed, or boring, or resigned.

Old simply means “I have lived”.

And I have lived well so far.

Happy birthday dad 

I love the story mom tells about when you refused to take a break. You were doing what you do best: building homes.

She had important news, so she yelled her words up. And my dad -my big, strong father- nearly toppled down.

I love how much I amazed you, just as an announcement. Barely a concept. Not even a name.

It took longer for me to return that sense of amazement. You were many other things to me first: familiar, funny, smart, supportive.

We have always been close. But I had to become myself before I could realize how much I got from you.

Thank you for patience. Thank you for a strong work ethic. Thank you for perseverance, friendliness, and silliness. Thank you for your wisdom and honor. Thank you for my life. It’s a good one, like you.

Happy birthday dad.

I went searching for meaning 

I went searching for meaning. 

I looked under a rock and I found nothing. I looked behind a tree and I found nothing. I looked between flower petals and I found nothing. I looked inside a seashell and I found nothing.

I read books at school and I found nothing. I worked hard at an office and I found nothing. I spent money on things and I found nothing. I loved with all I have and I found nothing. I looked within myself and I found nothing.

I told the wisest man alive everything I’d tried and asked him where I should go to find meaning.

“It was under the rock,” he said and smiled.

So I did it all again – and I found everything.

Missing Things

I am missing things.

I’m missing birthdays and showers and parties and fun.

I’m missing phone calls and messages and politely timed responses.

I’m missing regular exercise and time to properly assemble myself in the morning and an unchaotic routine.

I’m missing car keys, shoes, and that thing I just had 5 minutes ago.

I’m missing spending time outdoors and reading and dancing.

I’m missing quiet, unbusy moments.

I’m missing so many people.

But.

I am working round-the-clock on what I need.

I hope it’s worth what I’m missing.

10 years later

I wish I could say I forgot

But I thought about it all week

I remember you said I couldn’t be gay

But I still am

I don’t remember much of the day

But I, of course, remember exactly what I was wearing

I don’t remember much about you either

But I remember what you did

I don’t know how I got through it or how anyone ever does

But I am still here

I don’t want to know about you

But I am doing quite well these days

I may never manage to forget

But I have healed 

I try to help others now

And I can write about it.

More Storms

I have always dreamed of storms.

For years, I’ve seen them approach. They were unbearably colossal; I feared their size more than their wrath. Sudden and dreadful, they closed off the sun. I was always alone, my insides full of defeat.

I dream of them still.

But they are different now, as am I. I dream of struggle; I dream of escape. There will be survivors and we will be two of them. You are always with me. And within me churns determination.

I hear it now

The perfect calm of early morning silence.

The symphony nature produces when uninterrupted by mundane talk.
The divinity of mundane talk when murmured by a good companion.

The jingle behind authentic laughter.

Capable, wise discussions between intuition and knowledge – and nobody else.
Unending echoes of the triumphant roar after defeating demons.

Confidence; she’s loud.

Perspectives, as overlapping melodies, clashing or harmonizing, but always real.
Right Now, over the clamor of Before and Later.

My own voice.

Don’t bitch, don’t boast, don’t quit.

For the past month

I go back and forth
between
being proud of getting so much done
and
wanting to slack off.

When I manage the myriad of daily goals,
I want to shout about it to the world!
When I tire of plodding through the routine,
I want to whine about it too.

Slowly, I’m learning
to say less
and
just do it again tomorrow.

Don’t bitch, don’t boast, don’t quit.

I’m going to write today.

I’m going to write today!

I’m going to write as soon as I wake up.

I’m going to write once I make the bed.

I’m going to write while coffee is brewing.

I’m going to write when the caffeine kicks in.

I’m going to write after a few chores.

I’m going to write after breakfast.

I’m going to write as soon as I’m caught up on emails.

I’m going to write during my lunch break.

I’m going to write after lunch.

I’m going to write at the end of the workday.

I’m going to write after dinner.

I’m going to write once I get a few errands out of the way.

I’m going to write before bed.

I’m going to write in bed after brushing my teeth.

I’m going to write tomorrow…

Something Else

I begged Imagination to be something else.

  • Be hand-eye Coordination.
  • Be test-taking Proficiency.
  • Be Luck.
  • Be Charm.
  • Be Marketability.

Be not artistic, not vulnerable, not risky.

It refused to be anything else (because it wanted to be everything).

  • I tried to put it away.
  • I tried tried to bury it in a box.
  • I tried to drown it in alcohol.
  • I tried to bore it to death.
  • I tried to ignore it to death.

I tried to leave it behind.

Eventually, there was nothing else left.

  • I didn’t need better grades.
  • I didn’t need more money.
  • I didn’t need popularity.
  • I didn’t need a comfort zone.
  • I didn’t need approval.

And Imagination was still here waiting.

The Urban Wilds

Outside near my office in the city, another tree just quit. 

When I arrived years ago, there was one dead tree. I remember thinking it looked odd amongst the healthy, manicured ones that lined the sidewalks within perfect squares of dirt.

The landscaping surprised and delighted me at first. It just makes me sad now.

The trees, whose roots grow in cramped knots under cement ceilings, stare at me while they whither. Their shuddering, struggling leaves almost say, “I could’ve been more. I could’ve been wild. I could’ve stretched my arms to the heavens.”

There are a handful of dead ones now, with many others showing signs of an untimely and ill-favored faceoff with mortality.

First they all grow weird, with thirsty leaves thrusting out all over branch and trunk alike. Shamelessly, their appearance grows as shaggy as neighboring (and, actually, well-pruned) bushes in the futile attempt to sip more sun from behind buildings that scrape the sky.

“I’m so sorry you cannot grow here,” I think.

The dead tree was no outlier. One by one, they fail to conform to their restrictions. And one by one, they martyr themselves trying to do so.

I don’t want to witness the last of these trees putting down its fight. Or be around when property owners’ budgets allow for an aesthetic improvement project to euthanize the final public eyesore.

“I’m so sorry,” I think again.

We, the wilds, cannot survive here.

Silent and Still

I turned my phone off.

Did they think I don’t care?

My mind had to rest.

Very rarely do the needs, though.

Best case, I worry too much; worst, I coddle and stunt.

And without experiencing the consequences,

It cannot follow that they’ll learn from their nightmares.

Failed good intentions may have paved the way there.

But they made their beds, with agonizing deliberateness.

All the while, I begged them not to lay down.

I helped them out again, too.

Can I just rest in mine a minute?

Do I sleep well at night?

Is it wrong if I do?

Try to spend a lifetime awake.

Harder still, spend it fretting.

Now I’m tired.

slack

I wrote this some time ago, but did not publish it. I think a friend may need to read it now though. I promise it gets easier to put your insides back together, Sherri. <3

slack

you never wanted to hold hands
so we walked with a ribbon
tied from my waist to yours
when you ventured outward further
I gave you more slack
and bound myself more tightly
the pressure brought me no closer to you
but I felt tugging sometimes
(and mistook it for affection)
incrementally rending my core

you were so far away
I didn’t even notice
when you dropped your end
or that mine had slid through
until you walked back
to tell the halves of me
that you’d been too tightly tethered
as you left
my unheld hands
scooped guts and began stitching

parts of speech

You say you hate your voice and that makes me sad.

I love your voice.

Its uniqueness is one of the first things I noticed about you.

I said I didn’t want to forget what you sound like but we both hate the phone, so we went on the first date.

You know, you actually speak in several different ways.

You’re typically soft-spoken, especially when you’re thinking about it. You speak warmly, but quietly

-like every word needs considerate care-taking throughout its delivery.

(And you’re right; they all do. Everyone else is doing it wrong.)

Other times though, your voice brings life to the party, boisterous and playful

-like you inhale charm, but exhale friendliness.

(You’d rather be goofy and kind than sultry and alluring; the paradox is that I do find that alluring.)

You have a million forms of laughter

-like you create a whole new way of bringing light into the world every day.

(Which you do, with or without audio; and I want to hear every single one of them.)

“When you sing, it brings sunshine and happiness into my heart.”

-like your need for fun so far outweighs your need to look cool that it morphs your car into a karaoke bar.

(Yes, I stole that line from a movie we just watched. And yes, I treasure each Taylor Swift and Mariah Carey song you’ve shouted at me on road trips.)

Please don’t quiet yourself. Your voice gives you words to speak yourself alive and teach me about you. I want to hear it every day. I prefer your speech to any other sound that has ever shaken the atoms of existence, even ducks quacking.

I’m listening.