Thursday, May 9, 2013

How To End

The parting gift was not
of softness and silk
there was no card attached
certainly not a love letter
except the one I penned
to myself in a journal
to be rediscovered
and set free in flames
a few years down the line

It was not a sweet sorrow
but a burning rage of
redemption song
confusion giving way
to clarity in the eye
of a storm that drowned
out the thrumming
electrical bite

When lightening strikes
it leaves a beautiful scar
on dead girl walking
on the splitting trees
a landscape on fire

When fire consumes
all of your pretty little
offerings mean a whole
lot of nothing, a wake
a flood, a drowning out
painfully clear is less
painful in the long run
than mildly debatable
what-ifs and maybes
and that is the gift

If you are going to kill
something, kill it dead
be swift and certain
in your swing of the ax
don't leave it thready
of pulse and shallow
of breath, clinging
to slender hopes
a clean kill is a kindness
a parting gift of peace

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Neurotica, A Nation's Guilty Pleasure

The body always asks for what it needs. When we ignore its cries, it gets louder and louder, until it eventually behaves in the same way as a baby left to cry it out. It shuts up. Not because the need miraculously ceased, but because it has given up.

Why, as a society, do we embrace ignoring our needs? We don't just embrace it, we elevate it as a measure of worth. If you pull all-nighters on a regular basis to squeeze in extra work, then hit your daily grind running on fumes, you get bragging rights for your work ethic and commitment to your future (that thing which is always somewhere other than where you are).
If you go on and on about how hungry you are because you are denying your body fuel, you have willpower. If you are holding yourself hostage in a shitty relationship,  you will get lots of kudos for all of the crap you put up with, your ability to stick it out for the long haul, especially if there are children involved.

The body may have stopped making a lot of noise about what you are doing to it, but it hasn't forgotten. You are angry and don't know why. You cry at the drop of a hat, or worse still, can't cry even when you feel like crying. Headaches are just a part of your day. Eventually you get sick, or crazy, or you simply drop dead prematurely.

No wonder the self-help industry is a multi-billion dollar racket. In one of my local used bookstores, this genre, which I not so lovingly refer to as neurotica, occupies more shelf space than any other. I wouldn't feel such irritation with it if I actually believed most of it did anything to actually move people towards helping themselves, but that seems to rarely be the case. How many people buy just one, read it, apply it, and then move on with their new and improved life? Maybe once in awhile. Usually what I have seen is quite the opposite. I see people read one, try some of the techniques for a few days or a few months, go back to what they were doing before, buy another, repeat the process, on and on until they have a nice little library that cost them a nice little chunk of change... and a life that looks exactly the same.

Would all of this be necessary if we stopped jacking each other off about how fantastic we are for abusing ourselves? What if we stopped praising people for these things and called it what it is? Alarming. Masochistic. Fucked up. It may sound harsh, but I think it is actually much more loving.

If you are tired, go to sleep. If your body is hungry, please feed it. If you need more hugs, or sex, or help around the house, or to be spoken to more respectfully, spend the time you are inclined to gripe to people other than your partner working with them to improve the situation. If it is beyond that and you know it, leave. Just stop. It isn't working, it never has, and it never will. Anyone who tells you otherwise has an investment in your suffering. Is that really where you want to go for advice?

You already know what you need. Get honest about that and you can burn the books.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cul-de-sacs and Alleyways

We once drove through a neighborhood unlike the sorts we lived in, slowing, as though to catch a glimpse of the snowflakes dancing in the streetlight. To gawk at other. Other people living other lives, shadows behind blinds in illuminated windows. We took long draws of Tazo Chai lattes from Starbucks. A toast to our surroundings and blending in.

I remember that I was wearing a woolen navy blue blazer, which went away at some point in time I can't remember. I have no idea why this stuck with me when I have forgotten so much. For instance, I don't remember a thing about what you were wearing. I do remember how your hair smelled, though.

We made up stories to go with each house and its occupants. You, ever wistful of what you imagined yourself lacking, wove tales of six figure incomes, one mom, one dad, 2.5 kids and a dog. Everyone was always happy, and they had either just returned from a vacation or were about to leave for one.
I'm sure the children never complained about dinner and bedtimes were a breeze.

Me, ever the cynic and wary of facades, spun yarns revolving around credit card debt, affairs, having not been fucked properly in over five years, and boring poly-blend business casual wear. Lots of golf, probably. Lots of Advil.

We were two sides of a coin, tossed and still in flight, tumbling head over tail. We were young and seeking, embodying restlessness. Everything was changing. We were trying to figure out how to come down, unaware that we already were.

Time changes everything. I stopped looking through other people's windows, eventually. I developed a strong appreciation for window treatments and front doors. I started flirting with contentment. Contentment returned my coy smiles and not so accidental hand brushes. It awakened my senses in brand new ways.

I packed some boxes. I set dates on a calendar, which I kept hidden and only pulled out when I was alone. Commitment came slowly, but once it solidified, I knew that I would never turn back. I would never again slow down to contemplate things that were falling and melting away, visible only for a moment due to artificial lighting. I was ready to come home.

Friday, May 3, 2013

One Well-Lived Life

A few days ago, a dear friend sent me a text. She wanted to let me know that she had made a list of 100 things she was grateful for, and I was one of them. It made my day. In honor of her list, here is mine for this morning.

1. The text that prompted this list.
2. A care package from a friend, filled with handpicked treasures emanating love and the deepest sort of being known.
3. Last night. Yesterday was painful. A friend sensed that and showed up at my door with a bottle of wine, two packs of cloves, and the offering of a couple of hours of good conversation in the yard.
4. Helping hands who aided a sweet soul I love in getting help she desperately needed.
5. A beautiful, sunny morning with a cool breeze.
6. A walk with my daughter on this gorgeous morning.
7. A stop in a neighborhood coffee shop for a perfect iced vanilla latte.
8. Lots of street art to admire and photograph.
9. A phone call from my fiancee's daughter. All about braces, teleporting, dinner, and buying a private island together.
10. A woman who loves me more exquisitely than I ever imagined possible.
11. My eighteen year old daughter calling me during her lunch hour just to chat, ending with, "I love you, mami."
12. My Brenna-girl singing nonstop.
13. A friend refusing to waltz because it is just going in circles, being led by a man.
14. Cinnamon gum.
15. Living in a neighborhood where people talk to each other, and say hello in passing, even if they don't know you.
16. The art community in my 'hood.
17. The women of Mujeres Del Sol, for support female artists and keeping it local. Oh, and for inviting me to perform.
18. Sex.
19. Having enough to eat.
20. Airplanes.
21. Electricity.
22. Teachers who never try to teach me anything.
23. Especially the ones who aren't afraid to point out when I am acting like an asshole, and do it in such a way that I don't feel like I am an asshole.
24. A coffee table on which I can comfortably prop my feet.
25. Silence.
26. Music.
28. The sounds of birds and traffic blending together.
29. I love you.
30. The cop who would hate me if he didn't like me so much.
31. The homeless man who trades me a joke for a candy bar.
32. And the one who runs a scam I don't like but kind of admire.
33. Mornings I wake up in her bed.
34. People who shock me into remembering not to think I know their values by their appearance.
35. People I know so well that nothing about them ever catches me by surprise.
36. People. Just people.
37. The evolution of ugliness into beauty.
38. Change.
39. Good dogs.
40. Plants. Oh my god, plants.
41. Spring.
42. Autumn.
43. Birth through age six.
44. Puberty.
45. Teenagers.
46. Old guys. I think I was born an old guy.
47. Brilliant lyricists.
48. The subtle nuances of vernacular.
49. The word vernacular. I just like it. A lot.
50. My typewriter.
51. Storytelling.
52. Bacon.
53. Backyard chicken eggs.
54. Ranch Market.
55. All of the shit I don't understand.
56. Birth.
57. Dirt.
58. Blood.
59. The sound of a heartbeat.
60. The smell of rain on hot concrete and creosote.
61. Farmers.
62. The Ocean.
63. Railroad tracks and trains.
64. Old maps and compasses.
65. Steamer trunks.
66. Antique stores.
67. Old photgraphs.
68. Love letters.
69. Coffee.
70. Sensation.
71. Sensory memories.
72. Scars.
73. The way my muscles feel after manual labor.
74. Waking up.
75. Moments of complete clarity, so rare and lovely, even when it hurts.
76. A history that gifted me with the ability to appreciate the profoundly wonderful miracles of mundane things.
77. Forgiveness.
78. Awe.
79. Gratitude.
80. Honesty.
81. Humor.
82. The way someone I know (who is still learning English) says, "You're welcome," when I say, "No thank you."
83. Easy.
84. Doing the dishes.
85. Cooking for people I love.
86. Barter and trade.
87. Thrift stores.
88. Hugs.
89. Holding hands.
90. Kissing.
91. The reliabilty of my $700 beater.
92. Perfect timing.
93. Serendipity.
94. Reciprocity.
95. People who are better than me at things I want to be good at.
96. Tree pose.
97. Being a great fence climber.
98. Tools.
99. Hardware stores.
100. My life.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Time For Goodbye

When I moved to Phoenix nine years ago, I had assumed it would be a brief stopover. A sort of midpoint between here and there.

Things happen. Life happens during stopovers, and brief is a relative thing. In this nine-year exhale I lived in eight homes, made a lot of friends, formed a nonprofit, became a licensed midwife, got divorced, lived on my own for the first time in my adult life, accepted a lot of help, offered a lot of help, greeted many, many babies making their earthside debut, started performing poetry in public, hated Phoenix, made peace with Phoenix, grew to love Phoenix, had a couple of one night stands, a business that tore up my financial stability, a relationship that tore up my emotional stability, recovered both, handled a daughter's chronic illness, got engaged, and much more.

Over the course of nine years, I have taken a lot of airplanes in and out of Phoenix. Sky Harbor knows me by heart. Every time I have circled over Phoenix in preparation for landing, looking down on the city has held all sorts of strong emotions, different each and every time.

Last night's landing was no exception. It held the strong certainty of wrapping up and unraveling, and endings turning into beginnings. I stopped in the bathroom to trade out my sweater for a t-shirt. Still, when I walked out of the building, the night air felt stifling to me. It was like cocooning in a heavy blanket when the weather has grown too warm to warrant its comfort. The season has passed. It is time to move on to lighter coverings.

This morning I woke up at dawn, quickly threw on a pair of dirty jeans, pulled a baseball cap over my unbrushed ponytail, and headed out the door. The walk to the gas station for coffee and a donut felt like goodbye. I walked with intention, soaking in every last thing. The changing light, the broken beer bottles next to the palm tree that smelled like piss, the graffiti I love, the neighbors who said hello, the gardens and objects in each yard, the VW Bug painted with enormous flowers, the birds competing with the traffic to be heard, what it felt like to open my front door and sit down on my couch.

I am glad I landed here. It has been a beautiful walk. I am so grateful for every step. I have always had an innate sense of when to take a rest and when to get moving. I can feel the end of a road before it comes into view. When it is time for me to walk in another direction, I will make sure to remember that I could only get there from here.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Continuum

Stop. Don't even think about it. Think about anything else but that. That one thing that leads you in tail wagging the dog circles. Encircling your common sense and decency. It is obscene to throw away the days on account of the hours. It is good and true and right to move on. To let go. To say no. Not anymore. It's in the past. Actually, I think you must have misunderstood. I was making a statement, not asking for advice. Actually, this is my life and I would like to be the one to live it. Live the one you were given. Throw your arms around the whole giant fucking mess and give it a kiss before you sweep it out the door. Take responsibility for how you allow yourself to be treated. Throw a farewell party for victimhood. Take a walk, take a drive, head down the one way streets until you are all turned around and dizzy. Call it the scenic route to nowhere. But here you are anyway. Imagine that. Here you are.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Polite Society

She told me she found it offensive
So much power bestowed on one
little word
the origins of which are still debated
Kunta seems the most
clear cut and beautiful to me
I love Cunt

Latin being ever so reverent
the correct term?
If you find it less offensive
to refer to a part of
your an anatomy as
a sheath or scabbard
than a woman, a queen
a Mother Tongue
or Kundalini
go for it

Stay out of my
and I will stay out
of your