Wednesday, November 25

Thanksgiving Poem



More than a long weekend
or the kickoff to Christmas
More than turkey and pumpkin pie
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday
not because of the Macy's parade
or football on TV
That's all great,
the relatives too
all gathered together from near and far
and the music playing in the kitchen
as the mashed potatoes get beaten
and the feeling of satisfaction
passing over you like a wave
after that last bite
These are not the reasons why I love Thanksgiving
They're only the beginning
of explaining the privilege of
saying Thank You.

Sunday, November 15



Its all there...waiting for me
I stand at the threshold of despair
But they're just dishes!
Yeah, right
Just the dishes
Just the laundry
Just the groceries to be bought and put away
Just the toilets to be scrubbed and shined
Just chores
Just my life
Squandered away
in a routine of tasks
better delegated to robots

Shared at Magpie Tales

Monday, November 9

I never thought
I'd get this far
not by traveling by foot or car

But here I am
today I stand
where yesterday it seemed so grand

And now I know
It's not so great
it's simply life-without debate


Monday, October 26

photo: Daniel Murtagh

She finds solace in her sleep
biding time 
like a bulb in the ground
hidden below a crust of ice

Today she dreams of happiness
the joy of receiving a sweet
unexpected from a stranger
unaware of all the danger

Trapped in her slumber
she escapes the somber
notes of a world gone mad 
grating at full speed ahead

This is her sleep
which she clutches to like life
let her sleep
let her sleep.

Shared at Magpie Tales.


Sunday, September 13

Forgotten


Two years ago we bought the house
and made love and casseroles
until the sunrise was done
then we were left under a  bleaching noon glare
salting
I almost died, I thought I did
but was revived when the storm came
pouring life from its dark pillows of fury
I choked from too much rain
you threw your head back and took it all in
we were pushed apart and together
together and apart
by wave after wave of confusion and pain
I threw a fit
and a hammer
and a shovel
and a shoe
you took my hand and said "Enough!"
we left the house
abandoned with relics of our lives
strewn about like a lazy attempt at sowing
germination terminated
to start again what never was.

Shared at Magpie Tales

Sunday, August 9

Led Away



Led Away

I'm so naked
everything is stripped away
my clothing, my jewels, my will to live
a newt in the desert

I'm so blinded
swallowing death today
my eyes don't see the gas I inhale
poisonous vapors

You're so easy
to fool and dismay
follow my voice and my vice to the end
small green, fragile, frond

Shared at Magpie Tales

Saturday, August 8

The Trade-Off

Can you forgive me? 
Can you forgive me, friend?
Sister? 
Stranger? 
It takes strength to say goodbye, 
to weigh your choices like gold, 
never knowing if perhaps
there was an error 
of calculation, 
causing you to trade in your gold 
for bronze.

Monday, August 3

Quitting

It's early morning and I sit here alone. The hum of the refrigerator and the buzz of my laptop is my soundtrack. If this was last year, I would have been lacing up my tennis shoes to go for a morning run. But I've stopped running. I never liked it anyways and when my knees began to ache, coupled with a few jarring encounters with strangers, there was enough reason to quit.

If this was last winter, I'd be drinking a cuppa coffee. Dark roast with hazelnut creamer, sipped from my vintage looking glass mug, topped with cinnamon. I'd be savoring every sip. But when I began keeping my husband up at night with the constant jerking and trembling of my limbs, I said, "it has to go." I was stressed enough with my professional obligations, it didn't make sense to exacerbate my excitability with a substance known to provoke anxiety and psychosis. Away went the stimulant.

If it was last week, I'd be writing in my journal, not on the internet. There sits in my closet a large metal box. It is heavy, filled with an assortment of used notebooks. All mine, chronicling my life for the last 17 years or so. But today, I am writing here. I haven't quit writing. I can't quit. I've tried. I am a writer. 

Writers write. Dancers dance. Singers sing. I may not do it for you, but I do it for me. Its how I process the world. Its how I express my heart. Word after word, making sentences. I write. 

Sunday, August 2

Only Dreaming


Only Dreaming

I've fallen asleep on my dreams
these hopes with promises to keep
forgotten vows weep
when will I wake from this sleep?

Shared at Magpie Tales

Saturday, August 1

Why We Love Weddings



I woke up this morning with Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" running through my head. With the the flutter of my eyes came a smile as wide as the sun as I realized today was Wedding Day. Not my wedding day, that was 3 years ago, but my husband's best-friend's wedding. Immediately I was up on my feet getting everything ready for our part of the wedding. I ironed my husband's shirt, went to breakfast with the groom's sister, and wrote the ubiquitous well-wishing Facebook post which precedes the giving of the well-wishing wedding card.

Since R and I took our vows 3 years ago, I've taken to absolutely loving weddings. We've been to several in just the past 12 months, and I never tire of the details. There is something so special about being witness to the union of two people who have decided to commit to sharing their lives together. It is a moment of pure love and happiness and a promise of what's to come: two lives becoming one.

So, on this momentous occasion, I pause to really reflect what is it that makes a wedding so special. What is it that evokes tears of joy and rapture?

Could it be the sacrifice that each person makes? And I'm not talking about "forsaking all others." If you're still ruminating about that, please don't even think about getting married. I'm talking about the part of marriage which means that one is deciding to give of themselves to another in a way that begins to change you. It means getting vulnerable and willing to trust. It's done from the heart and it squeezes your soul.

And the love! Who can forget that weddings are all about love, which is by definition almost unfathomable? That love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (Corinthians 13: 4-7) The start of every journey of love is aw-inspiring and challenges us to love again with all our hearts.

May God bless the couple on their wedding day. What God has joined together, let no one separate ( Mark 10:9).

Sunday, July 26

Discarded



Years gone by
my supple flesh turned steel
I've grown a mask as large as the world

YET, I cannot carry this mask further
Its weight pulls at my temples

Today it must be shed
and with its shedding will come the tears
like a river fall
they'll descend

This is my hurt
this is my pain

it will fall away with the mask

Shared at Magpie Tales

Sunday, May 31

Floating Sorrows

photo by Toni Frissell

Floating Sorrows

Floating below the water, 
inches above death,
the promise of sorrows drowning,
tearing at my dress.




Shared at Magpie Tales

Sunday, May 10

Mary



Her mother was Catholic and her house was decorated in such a way that all the world would know it. A crucifix here, an altar there, and Mary. Mary was everywhere, with her hands pressed together at her chest and her eyes drawn upward toward the heavens. Mary welcomed them at the door and joined them in the dining room. I think I even saw her on the ledge of a rickety bookcase in the too-cramped kitchen, but I'm not too sure on that one. We weren't allowed in the kitchen much when her mother was cooking and it seemed like she forever was. Pressing masa for tamales or brewing horchata to quench our thirst on a hot summer's day.

It was two days before the Fourth of July when it happened. My last day at Patricia's house. My last day of being allowed to come over and play. We had just come from the park where some boys had been setting off firecrackers until the police came by and scared us all home. Firecrackers were not allowed at the park and a neighbor had made a call. Maybe it was the firecrackers and the police and the Fourth of July looming so near that gave me the idea. I was feeling patriotic and decided to carry that feeling to our dolls.

"Let's make a Fourth of July parade with our dolls"

Patricia loved the idea. We gathered all our Barbies and Bratz dolls and lined them up on either side of the hallway, pretending it was Broad Street in Bridgeport. Patricia found little chairs for some of the dolls who were viejitos and couldn't bearing standing for the whole parade and I drew little American flags for the people in the crowd to hold. When the crowds were set up it was time to start the parade.

"What are we going to have in the parade?" Patricia asked.

That's when we realized we had used up all the dolls for the crowd and they looked so good that we couldn't bear downsizing.

"Doesn't your brother have toy fire-trucks?" I questioned. "They always have fire-trucks at parades."

Patricia's eyes lit up. "Oh! He has police cars too!"

We dashed into Raul's room, grateful that her older brother had long outgrown his toy-box and now spent most of his time downstairs in the basement playing video games with his friends.

The toy-box was a gold mine. "Look! Soldiers! They can be veterinarians."

"You mean, veterans?"

"Yeah, whatever."

"What about this dinosaur? It can be a big float, like the one's at the Macy's parade."

"Perfect!"

We gathered up the goods and headed back down the hallway. Firetrucks, police cars, veterans, even a parade float...we had the makings of a good parade, but something felt incomplete. I wanted this Fourth of July doll parade to be the best Fourth of July doll parade ever held. I wanted it to go beyond imitating a real parade. I wanted the sun, the moon, the stars...an astronaut! Why not? And it was as this thought entered my head the unfortunate moment that I spied one of Patricia's mother's many Marys peering from her perch on a shelf. Quickly, I grabbed it and added it to the pile of toys on my arms.

We set up the parade and began the charade with pomp and fanfare. Gleefully, we took turns maneuvering the soldiers and sliding the toy vehicles down the hall. "Look, Mommy! A dinosaur float!" Patricia squeaked, giving voice to a Bratz doll.

"And now for the grand finale!" I declared in my biggest announcer-man voice. "An astronaut from outer-space!"

With that I began humming "Stars and Stripes Forever" while simultaneously pulling from behind my back the Mary figurine now transformed into an astronaut by one of those plastic toy capsules that come from grocery store coin machines pressed on her head.


"IN COMING!" I shouted abruptly, and then, for no reason at all, bar the impulsivity of being a child, I hurled the Mary through the air towards the head of the parade where she did not land perfectly on her feet, but instead broke in two sharp pieces, her body and her head, right at the feet of Patricia's mother, who was at this precise moment crossing the hall to put away the fresh, clean laundry.

"Ave Maria purisima!" Patricia's mother cried, hastily making the sign of the cross. "What have you done?You evil child!"

And after that day, I was never allowed to go play at Patricia's house again.

Shared at Magpie Tales


Saturday, March 28

The Men at the Bus Stop

A silver sky lights the way to work this early morning and I drive my car fast and prompt, gripping the wheel tightly.Traffic is pushy. A red Fiat cuts me off. The green Toyota honks the horn. I glance to my left and catch a young truck driver texting on his phone while going a solid 50 mph. We all reach a red light and I hold my breath, hoping he'll stop on time. He does.

Most people despise red lights, for obvious reasons. They slow us down and halt us temporarily on our path to our destination. Is it any wonder why a few of us will try to skip? But there is beauty in a red light too, and I'm talking besides checking your phone for email. They can be moments of reflection.

Look around, see the tired woman in the car next to you. Wonder where she is going, where she works and if she is happy with her life. Look at the coffee shop on the side of the road. The parking lot is full and you can't help but feel some pity for the poor baristas who are being verbally pummeled by the sorts of people who have the luxury to pay for 4 dollar coffees on a weekday.

My moment of reflection comes when I spot two men at a bus stop. They look like twins, same physical build, approximate ages, and identical dress. Both wear white coveralls- the uniform of blue-collar laborers. Despite their similarities, or perhaps because of it, I note that they are foils of each other as well. One sits on the time-worn wooden bench with his head between his hands, staring the dew-kissed ground forlornly. He is tired at dawn and looks like he has endured one too many tragedies. The other man, meanwhile, stands tall at the opposite end of the bench, looking up to the sky, cigarette in hand, carefree. He inhales deeply, as if trying to absorb all the possibilities lingering before him.

The light changes and I must move on, but the thought of these two men haunt me. Who am I at that stop? Am I the man defeated by life before the day begins, or am I standing up as I wait for life to unfold with all its treasures and skulls-so self-assured I am even willing to kiss death and laugh?

Which am I?





Monday, March 2

Friday Night Snapshot


Image result for pizza

This Friday night I went out with my long time friend, Melanie. It was sort of a push for me to get out there and go since I'd had a rough day and desired only to bury my tired head into a pillow and sleep, but when I got the text beckoning me to come out, I did. And what's to say, other than I'm truly glad I did.

We met up at an old pizza joint by my house. The place was packed. Every table in the main dining area was occupied and we were pushed into the overflow section right by the kitchen. A hurried server took our order, then scurried away, leaving us with nothing by conversation and time. So we talked. We caught up, telling the stories of our lives over our drinks, sitting at our sticky, rickety table. Eventually, the pizza came, and then we conversed over that. It was nice, to sit and chat while enjoying the crispy, mouthwatering slices of bread, cheese, and meat.

When the meal was over, we decided it was all to soon to head home and so though it was quite chilly for a Florida night, we headed toward's the yacht club. My friend and I strolled onto the desolate water-front pier and watched the waves lap with a glint of moonlight shining over them. We stayed there, watching, until the cool got to us and out fingers demanded something to thaw them up. "Want to get some hot chocolate?" I suggested. "Why not?", Melanie agreed.

By this time the hour was quite late (for Cape Coral) and all the known spots for a good cup of steaming hot chocolate were shut down. Hunting up and down the parkway for an open establishment that sold cocoa led us to McDonald's. Not my first pick, but why the heck not? We bought our cups of oh-so-sweet hot chocolate and for the second time that night, sat down at a table. Our eyes were drooping with exhaustion, but smiles were abundant nonetheless, knowing we were safe no matter what forms of chaos danced around us. It was lovely.


Sunday, March 1

Control-freak



The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, and I obviously have a problem with letting things go. 

I can't let go of not having control over certain aspects of my life.

I can't be at peace with not being the writer of my own destiny

Which is a terrible shame, because I know better. See, the World feeds this lie to us all over and over again:"you are in control of your own destiny." But that might as well be a line from a fairy-tale for all the truth it holds. Rain falls when it will and if you are outside, you will get wet. The Bible says,"The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble" (Proverbs 16:4). And all the plans I wrote and re-wrote? "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21).

So, what am I to do? All the craziness, all the bad, all the woe that I wish I could exude out of my life by sheer will power is beyond my control. Life has been ordained to carry on as it will. The story has already been written, and I'm just playing it out. This is worry sets in.

What if I don't like this story? What if my role is one of helplessness and plight? It is easy to fall into a pattern of panic, chasing desperately after a better plot line. But that is when Romans 8:28 comes to mind, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

Ultimately, things are going to work out for good. Sure my plans might be bust, but there are greater plans in store for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Everything is going to be alright. 

Friday, February 6

When I was sleeping, something was growing
pushing this way and that
somersaulting in my abdomen

a poem was growing
nascent lines and nascent phrases
forming, molding, building
out of my unconscious self

Words conceived from memories
from distant places traveled
from my homeland  of Chicago
from my residency in Florida

I awaken
the poem is still there
it moves, it shakes
I need it to be born

The time arrives,
and as an act of magic,
words come spilling
I write this poem

Shared at http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/