Category Archives: Poetry

Take It – I Dare You.

You stripped me of my
rank in a crowded Starbucks
on dismal and damp Sunday
evening on your way home
from my war zone.
Your day had been calm
and joyful and you asked
me if it really had been all that bad.
Fuck you.

You mocked my scars and
turned off your ears.
You are done with me.
You don’t care about me, and
to be honest, the feeling is mutual.

But you lazy, incompetent fools:
you half-assed it, again.
You canceled my legal status
as a minister, as if my
ordination had anything
to do with you.

I am ordained, whether you
like it or not. God did that;
if you have a problem,
take it up with God.

Because so far, God has not
taken it away. I preach,
though my sermons are
now meted out in segments,
dispensed more often as acts
of love that don’t make sense
to the angry and selfish sheep
who frankly piss me off most days.

God still places me
with those who need counsel,
but not in my office
with cups of coffee and
planned responses, but behind
a truck stop counter, when she
told me she is terminal, or
she told me she cuts herself
to ignore her pain.

Rank is of no consequence.
Yours does not make you
a minister, just as losing
mine does not stop me
from it.

You took my title but damn
if you didn’t cock it up again.
Because you didn’t take
my ministry, my sermons, my
goddamned heart.
You couldn’t if you wanted to.

They were never yours to
give in the first place.

We’re ministers – even when we’re not. – BobbyJeff

Clearly, I was pretty angry when I wrote that. Some moments, I still am, and those moments are getting fewer and farther between. I’ve gone in circles about posting it, more because it’s just terrible. But it’s honest, and honesty is what I aim for more than anything else. If nothing else, hopefully, it will help in some way, whether it is that someone will understand me better, or will be able to relate and feel a little less alone. My most frequent emotion relating to the trauma that happened is a sense of outrage over injustice. The things that weren’t fair, the things that are overlooked now, the people who failed to do their job without consequence, the annoying prices I have to pay over and over again… It all adds up to a lot of annoyance. But days are getting better, I promise. 

Time is a Thin Veil

Time is a thin veil
that hangs between me and
my memories,

but if I close my
eyes and hold my breath,
it is thinner.

The November ocean
numbs and foams around my
feet and the peach

sky sets slowly
while dolphins play in
distant waves.

Brown shag carpet
under my legs while I eat
lemon drops,

my grandmother’s voice
telling me stories that I’ll too
soon forget.

The scent on his skin
when he moved in closer,
taking my face

in his hands,
so familiar, exciting, and
heartbreaking.

If I just stop,
still, hold my breath and close
my eyes, I

am
so
nearly
there

again.

But my eyes
cannot stay shut, nor my ears
strain to hear

the voices and
sighs and train whistles of
time gone by.

Time is an
impermeable veil, with new
oceans to

wade, stories to
live, and lips to kiss, and
I can’t wait.

Blame

She is merciless
As she stomps throughout her day,
Shouting her frustrations and anger
At me, blaming me for everything
That has gone wrong and
Pointing out every failure.
The sorrow in Sudan? Because I
Do not care enough.
The election of corrupt people? All due
To my apathy.
The recently puffy nature of my damned ankles?
If I wasn’t so weak and lazy, they
Would be fine.
I try to reason with her, but I
Don’t know why I bother anymore.
No matter how often I remind her
Of my redeeming qualities, and the
Lack of control I have over
Things like traffic patterns and Ebola
Outbreaks, she only uses them as reasons
To find more fault. More blame.
I’ve tried everything.
But the bitch in the mirror just won’t shut up.

Cooking: A Love Poem in Photographs

1607014_10100839226300967_2783017495446474500_nHeld long and smooth
in my hand, firm flesh and
thin skin, examining the veins,
coaxing out the seeds that
spill everywhere;
it is most definitely the star
of the evening, but only because
I know what to do with it.
Red pepper, chopped.

I didn’t hesitate to pull1380128_10100839226340887_4180434938949517361_n
back layers and display
everything that had been hidden
and speculated about, thankful
that I found quality, strength,
yet with quick movements,
I turned that nerve into bits.
Onion, chopped.

 

10712904_10100839226405757_7087650198388075323_nI pushed through people
to get to you, grabbed brazenly
with my whole hand, and took
you straight home where you
were swiftly disassembled and
crushed, for my benefit;
my need is all that mattered.
Garlic, minced.

 

10482073_10100839226515537_1719495179856291131_nSudden heat and corresponding
sweat, a dissolution of individual
identities until there was just
fragrance surrounding me,
clouding my vision, almost
transcendent, lingering on my hands
long after I was through
with the handling.
Medium heat, until tender.

1528685_10100839226485597_3423709291077621631_nDrown everything in unexpected
spice and ease, tightly lidded so that
nothing escapes, not the heat, not
the sweat; relish the anticipation of
flavor, the melding of particulars
into that which is something entirely other,
more beautiful and lovely than then its parts.
Simmer 30 minutes, blend.

10269440_10100839367018967_5201095481048835091_n
In a whir of color and motion,
it’s about damn time, hotter than
expected as it burns my lips too
swiftly to keep it from scalding my
tongue, a welcome pain drenched in
pleasure, and my eyes close
and I sigh, satisfied.
Serve with caution.

Free Lunch

They only come for the free lunch, I’m told.
Someone said they’re always high.
I’ve seen them come a time or two before,
But they usually don’t settle in.

They wore red when they came in today,
Heads lowered and eyes averted.
They sat in the back pew
As if stillness made them more silent.

I had just started preaching about light.
About hope and kindness.
He started brushing her long hair,
And I thought it must hurt to work out all those knots.

She took over brushing and they stayed.
They seemed to be listening this time.
Who’s to say they didn’t listen before?
By the end, her hair was smooth and tied back.

We sang and I prayed,
Asking for us to be refilled with light, love and grace,
Unable to offer anything in return,
Because when it comes to faith,

We’re all here for the free lunch.

Friend of a Poet

It’s a dangerous thing, this poetry business.

I read it because I like it. It is universal in its ability to connect us with one another. I was once stopped dead in my tracks by an Edward Hirsch poem about a moment with his aging father, wondering how my very personal experience was found on pages written by a non-religious Jewish man from another generation who lives and works a thousand miles away.

Poetry feeds my inner romantic, denying the dominant rational side of myself to insist that there remains passion, beauty, miracles and fantasies. A good Robert Frost poem about the mundane things of life turns those very things into something spectacular and worthy of wonder.

I write poetry – terrible poetry – because sometimes it’s the only way to get the words out. Forcing the meanings into the right words in the right places becomes the thing that unleashes the sentiment that won’t let go of my soul. Often, it doesn’t happen until very late at night, after I’ve taken my nighttime meds and crawled into bed, typing through bleary eyes.

The most vulnerable thing, I’ve learned, is not reading someone else’s tale and finding my own, or smearing my own words on paper and letting someone see what has been bouncing around my head. It’s being friends with a poet. Not because he writes far better than I do, but because he cannot help but write, and the mix of emotions and sentiments occasionally include my own. Years of English classes in school taught me to try to read between the lines and speculate about exactly what the poet is writing about, but nothing prepared me for knowing what the poet is writing about. When I don’t have to wonder what spurred the words and instead, I am aware of the back story. I never expected to be the pronoun in anyone’s poem.

That’s something that can knock you flat on your butt.

Occupations

My lips are bored
And my hands are empty.
Song lyrics and melodies are all
These ears have heard in months.
And you’re busy,
That awful four letter word.
My brain’s busy: endless frustration,
In anticipation.
Have pity, friend:
It’s to our benefit
To let our busy-ness rest; remind
Us how to stop rushing.

I am the Girl in the Little Yellow Room

I am the girl in the little yellow room.
“Not anymore,” you say,
But all I can do is cry.
“It’s time to leave, so take what you can carry
Because we have to go before we’re caught leaving.”
Again.
My school papers and books and games are everywhere,
Evidence that my queendom was ransacked,
And you shout at me to take what I can carry.
I want to carry all of it.
All of these things are things of me.
My brain did these school papers.
My hands did these paintings.
It was me who got Chutes and Ladders for my birthday,
But I can’t carry them all.
So I sit in the middle of the wreckage,
Unable to choose the pieces of me to keep
And the pieces to leave behind.
I am the girl in the little yellow room.
All of the things here are things of me.
“You have to pick something. Or nothing. I don’t care,”
You say as you pass my doorway,
“Or don’t take anything. But we’re leaving.”
We don’t have the money to stay.
We cannot afford to keep my little yellow room,
Nor to take all the things of me with us.
I give up in a moment of numbness,
Take some school papers, Curious George, my Chutes and Ladders, and a pillow,
And my legs carry some of me to the truck.
Not all of me, though, because many of the things of me
Remain in the little yellow ransacked room.

The Bitch of It

I have lost a second-grader and my
jeans are smaller than they have been in over
a decade but the
truth is I feel just as fat.

I have really pretty eyes and decent hair
and cute freckles but the truth is
I am insecure about my ears and
the round, puffy shape of my face
and on a good day, I feel plain.

I am a genius and learn faster than
most people but
the truth is I would trade it if
it meant the mocking stopped.

I am honest, loyal, and forgive
people for big things and more often than
they deserve but
the truth is I rarely afford myself the same.

I have a degree in studying
people and work with them all
day long but the truth is
I don’t understand people at all.

I love some people, and I love
them intensely and without hesitation
but the truth is I feel enormous
guilt for not loving as many people
as I should.

I am loved by people who believe
in me when I don’t and see good in
me when I can’t but the truth of it is
I cannot understand why they do.

 

Fans

“I like the sound of your fan.”
He said, with his eyes closed and head
Resting on my soft green pillow.
“I could fall asleep.”

“I like the sound of your heart.”
I thought, with my eyes closed and head
Resting on his soft, bare left chest.
“I could learn its song.”

“I’ll let you fall asleep here.”
I said, knowing it couldn’t be
And likely won’t ever happen.
“I won’t tell anyone.”

“I like his arms around me.”
I thought, mad at myself again,
Failing at a casual heart.
“Here we go again.”

“I wish. You know I can’t stay.”
He said, but we didn’t budge yet
Waiting for the other to move.
*groan* “I have to go.”

“It will be months ‘fore I see him.”
I remember, telling myself
Not to be a dumb girl again.
“Just be cool, alright?”

So I’m as cool as I can be.
As casual as old jeans and camp shirts while wearing dresses and lip gloss.

And then I wonder: why does wanting more make me the dumb girl?
I know the dice the universe rolled us.
Not an easy way to win, for sure, but I am a romantic.
Why not roll the dice again, and see what’s next?