Monday, August 5, 2013

postcard: tonglen tanka #2

I don't know these words
grace and mercy. forgiveness.
I wish them for you
to be kinder to yourself
and to the hearts in your care.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

cursory crime

Peter, Peter booming screamer
Has the wife, but he won't keep her
Georgie Porgie prepped the pie
Kissed the girl and made her cry
Mary Mary so contrary
Tends the garden, ever wary

Monday, June 17, 2013

postcard: skeleton in your closet

From 5th grade to 8th grade I was a bit of a kleptomaniac. It likely started in TX with my sister & a friend thinking it funny to have me walk out of a store with something. But then in MN, I stole money from my grandmother, shirts and cassette tapes (yes, tapes) from my aunt and cousins, clothes and tapes from stores... I recall stealing an Ocean Pacific tee from a boutique clothing store/tanning salon (BouJous? Terrible name.) where my friend went tanning. I stole sunglasses. I stole silver rings and jewelry from the local crafts fair. I stole someone else's birthday gift while at a birthday party. That time I got caught. It was in middle school and it could have gone badly and stayed with me, but they mercifully downplayed it. The last thing I recall stealing was $ from the till at my first job. Then I just stopped. It felt gross and dishonest, and I didn't want to be that.

Friday, May 31, 2013

own the mess

Tonight, I was tired. And frustrated. And overwhelmed. And a little pissed. The minute I got home from work, husband went (escaped) outside to mow the lawn, and I sat like a pathetic, sad lump with two children wanting my attention, wanting a lively response, and using more and more extreme ways to get it. I needed something interactive for them to do that would also get me engaged (even though I wanted desperately to lie down on the floor and stare at the ceiling)...and not a flashy screen, touch screen cop-out.
The house was an intimidating mess. Clothes and toys and toy related debris. Everyfuckingwhere.
Target: locked on.
I tried several attempts (polite requests degenerating into threats) to get my son to help me clean up. No dice. (When will I learn?)  And I could feel myself getting really pissed and Son could feel his manic success in getting a response.
Finally, I just started plowing all the shit, everywhere into one ginormous pile in the middle of the floor. Everything that had been pushed to the perimeter and the corners and under and on top of furniture. Then, after that satisfying exertion, I sat on a chair and calmly told Son that we had a pretty big mess here. We wouldn't be able to do anything fun together until we cleaned it up. Maybe he could think of some ideas of how we could work together to get it all put away. What could he tackle first? Say, stuffed animals?  And what should I tackle first? Blankets and pillows?
Next the big things with wheels.
Then the things that go in the play kitchen.
Then action figures (he stood them all up along the bay window).
Then cars (lined up along the ledge).
The final challenge was the contest: who could put the remaining miscellany into the toy tub the fastest. Of course, he won.
The other approach I've witnessed too many times to mention is to demand that Son pick it up by himself, yell and punish and get increasingly loud loud loud and angry, and get Son increasingly angry/sad/frantic until everything falls to shit and everyone feels wretched.
But this, among other things, completely misses the fact that it wasn't just my Son's mess. It was our mess. I played a role in it getting to where it was. I let night after night go by without setting limits or working with him to make choices and take responsibility and clean up. It became this daunting, scattered thing that no one could get a handle on and no one wanted to touch. So I piled it up. Got it all into view. And it became something that could be sorted and dismantled.
Tomorrow, I'll tackle the kitchen in a similar, though more glassware friendly fashion.
Maybe next, one of the other several overwhelming clusterfucks that I've assisted in creating.
And boom! There you have it: a metaphor for life.

Friday, May 24, 2013

us chickens

Whatever sense of life one has, it seems to me qualified by the literal biological thing we are, and by the fact that, though we may presume differences between us, we're basically, like chickens, not a wildly various life form. Our repetitions are bleakly notorious in every sense. But a world is, as it turns out, in the very word that says it, a "vir (man)-eld (age)," the length of a human life--and what one takes that as being, and what relations one feels it to have or works to accomplish: That's it entirely. If there is a world of insistent pain and poverty and despair, it is a human one. That I have never been able to forget.  
Robert Creeley in Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two [Thank you, Ms. Popova]


I just caught myself thinking, "I need some motherfucking chamomile lavender tea."
Yes, I think I do.

postcard: in the year 04000

I have a terrible sense of history which makes envisioning the future really, really difficult. Lessee...  Continents' edges will have submerged leaving less room and less arable land and less potable water. We'll lose a lot of beautiful creatures. Beautiful beings. People will suffer. People will be kind. Arrogant, self-serving nations (wonder who?) will have fallen and new, more global nations will rise. I hope that the folly of eleventh hour thinking and reacting will have prompted a more collaborative approach to governance and resource sharing. But that would mean that the human race would have begun learning from history. People would have to be nothing like me and most people I know; to wake up from distraction; to recognize the sacred in each other and all things. Or maybe humankind will be wiped out by the after effects of the Great Asteroid of 03011, and Earth will be dominated by intelligent, self-aware descendants of the cockroach. Wait. Evolution can't happen that fast, can it? I suck at this.
In my view, people get to get together to form a society not because they're afraid and they want to strike a deal for mutual advantage, but it's much more out of love that they want to join with others in creating a world that's as good as it can be.
Martha Nussbaum, Examined Life

Thursday, April 25, 2013

postcard: nostalgia

Things that brought me joy as a kid, mostly in Texas and between 7-10 yrs old: Learning Roman numerals (voluntarily during the summer) with a workbook given to us by I can't remember who. Being at the top of any tree, but especially the live oak in the neighbor's pasture. A wristwatch with a red leather band and a tiny beating heart on the face. (I broke the crystal while climbing the oak.) Sound collecting expeditions with a tape recorder and my brothers. Running full-out to the farthest reaches of the playground with Maggie. A little white plastic purse from Micah who was awkward and goofy and so sweet. Scissors gifted by a mortician that were sharp and pointy and probably not a wise choice for a child, but could cut construction paper with gratifying precision. Coloring and coloring books. Stacks of mimeograph prints of coloring pages I nabbed from my 2nd grade teacher's garbage can. The realization that adults could be wrong and I could be right.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


got those
shriveled in upon myself
wicked witch's shoes
bent out of shape
curlicues blues
quadruple double triple take
snake eating tail eating snake
snack break
round again bend again
snap, crack, pop and wend again
defensive reflex send again
low down dirty crazy eights
got no good sense to set it straight

torsion just begins the woes
tension will reap what it sows
when wiggled toe scratches nose
catches slip,
purchase stripped
hips wrists whiplash twist
frenetic kinesis lays its claim
levels, not enough to maim,
decimates it all the same

recompense clearly due
for me
          not you

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

postcard: what spring brings

Spring is the light from a star pouring in my window, causing me to stop mid-stride, turn my face...eyes closed, see the pink of my eyelids and feel warmth soak into flesh and bone. My huddled, clenched body softens, loosens, recalls movement and flow.
Neither cold nor heat holds sway. It's the bridge between; the balance before the scale tips. It's remembering and marking the transition. No longing. No denunciation. Just appreciation of the contrast.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

postcard: who loves you, baby?

Lots of people out there love me…and sincerely, I’m sure. But with most I’ve—we’ve—had years to muddy the waters. So much in suspension that makes love difficult to feel and see. So, though this is terribly cliché, the only exceptions I have to offer are my two children. Why do they love me? Well, because they’re hardwired to. Because I radiate imperfection. Because I acknowledge when I fail and say I’m sorry. Because no mistake they make is bigger than my love for them, and I think…I hope they know this.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

postcard: always look on the bright side of life

You can't have a Happy Life. There are happy moments and crap moments and meh moments...and a million other moments. I try to embrace them for what they are, not give extended influence to any one, and then move along. I try.
I also try to tip the happiness balance in my favor by
...spending time in the company of funny, smart, and kind people whenever possible.
...expending as little energy as possible on walking, talking black holes.
...carving out something for myself that keeps my brain active and forces me to create.
...knowing that every rough patch is just a string of crap moments, as fleeting as any other. Nothing crap can stay either, Ponyboy.
There's my bright side for you.

postcard: i still don't believe it

A slight majority voted for optimism and compassion.
But 47.8%, almost half, voted for fear. That's what I can't believe.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” - Yoda

postcard: out of place

I have eczema on my hands, and in recent months it was bad enough that I took to wearing cotton gloves--glaring white, no less...they don't come in any other color--to protect my skin from germs, from my own scratching and picking (sorry: truth), and because, well, nobody likes to flaunt hamburger hands.
So, these gloves are eye-catching, and I get no shortage of questions and comments when I wear them at the library.  One individual seeking out some automotive-related books asked about the gloves and, tempering my response based on a sixth sense (a weirdar?) developed out of necessity in my line of work, I replied simply, "I wear them to protect my hands."
The back and forth continued as we sussed out exactly what sort of automotive information he needed and I walked him to a shelf in the 629s to see if something might fit the bill.  Out of habit, I reached up to straighten some books on the shelf [WITH MY WHITE GLOVED HANDS]. It was clear to me early on (weirdar) that he was distracted--unable to get past the white gloves and some burning need to know more AND stricken by knowing there is no smooth, socially acceptable way to broach the subject again. The fruit of his mental labor?
"I've always wondered what it's like to handle books with gloves on."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

postcard: favorite line

I'll be the one to break my heart / I'll be the one to hold the gun


"I Feel It All" by Feist
I remember in the beginning
A dream:
I was at an airport restaurant with my love and couldn't keep my hands off him. No ravenous make out attack. Just hands on...a need to feel physical warmth and connection.  I feel it in my chest as I write. I've always, always felt the closest and most connected through touch.  My heart on my skin.
And now,
he sleeps on top of the blankets
a strike without contact.

postcard: 1234...5

you doggedly, patiently strive
and in the meantime, in this
strip mall shoe box, make community
remember names, swap stories
enable pursuits of happiness

postcard: self portrait

What do you get when you cross a persistent, idealistic 20-year-old prone to indignation with the pragmatic version almost twice that age? Me.
I am not the woman my younger self envisioned. I am so much better and so much worse. We cohabit my brain, alternately disappointed with our spineless ultimatums, and impatient with our simplistic if-thens.
Writing helps the truce building. Beyond, because of, or in spite of all this (and depending on the realm), I'm a catalyst, a buffer, a connector, a cleaner, and a creator.