Only For You

It's been an up and down
not quite right
everything scattered
everywhere
kind of a month

as usual
I weave my way 
through the chaos
not altogether gracefully
tripping over this
and a couple times
that

but I had a minute
and chatted with an old friend
and maybe it's because 
we travel in the same circles
or perhaps because
the universe saw fit
to summon you back
into my consciousness
we spoke of you
briefly

and I said
I wished we had never been together
because I missed
your friendship

that was enough of that
and I went about
my measured sprinting
in accomplishing
all the things
needing
to be accomplished

and then
the cruel joke
from humorless 
gods

a song
one I hadn't heard in almost a year
picked perfectly
its moment to
reemerge 

turning the still embedded knife slow in my gut a reminder that it was beautiful for a minute but also knowing with the heaviness of its truth it was not so glorious that it was worth losing a friend.

little by little

the wheels 
have been put
into motion

as the night goes long
and my fingers fidget
i laugh
small
short
soft

i've no ring to pawn
pass on
tuck away in a small box
pushed to the back of a drawer
to be forgotten
until it is remembered
during sad
solitary
sauvignon nights
no

so
contemplation continues

there was never 
a proposal
the 'big rock" moment
joyous tears
speech impeding shock
the announcement
and following picture
to the circle of friends
oohing and aahing
the phone call
to parents
sharing the same 
jubilant
surprise

no 

just an obligatory acceptance
of wedding
the mother
of his 
children

i would like to think 
he loved me
i would like to believe
i was more than a
live-in maid
nanny
chef
personal assistant
i would like to hope
that it wasn't all for 
naught

yet

i don't
i can't
i won't

instead
i will keep 
churning the crank
operating the 
cold 
and tired 
machine
rickety yet
integral to
and capable of
shattering
the shackles
which once
bound me
to him

yet again

one would think
I'd have given up by now
the hopes
of a union
where I was a person
not property
to be treated
the way 
I treat them
with compassion
empathy
understanding
to be loved
the way I love
with acceptance
and
kindness

but bumps 
do not deter me

the flaws and follies
of others
are not my responsibility
the coldness
and underlying
meanness
do not phase me
as I've dealt 
with far worse

I will simply
keep going
as I always have
I've a lot to accomplish
in so little time
and if another
stumbles onto my path
choosing to walk
along side me

I'll let them

until they, too
find issue with the direction 
I'm heading
the fact that I'm still walking
and not hailing
a cab
and when they start to pick away
at how I can be
getting to where I'm going
much more efficiently
(to them)
I'll listen
respectfully

and continue my journey
the way I see fit
whether they 
choose to be a part of it
or decide to disengage
is not
a concern

I'll not be pushed
to alter my course
or mode of transport
I'll arrive
when and where I need to
with or without
a companion





Tia Molly

I kissed two fingers  
and then
pressed them 
upon her 
cold
surprisingly smooth
forehead
my boys
kneeling beside me
kept quiet
no one told them to
they seemed
to gather 
the gravity of grief
all on their own

I didn't expect the tears
she and I weren't close
yet
there I was

crying

the heaviness
pervaded my being
I knew
immediately
I was heartbroken
for the ones
she left behind
friends
children
but mostly
her sisters...
just as tiny and frail
just as angry 
just as hopeful
just as loved
just as stubborn
in the face 
of lives 
which never came easy

I sobbed.

Here it was.
Mortality.

the blinding awareness
of my warm
two fingers
pulsing
while
pressed against
her cold
and surprisingly smooth
forehead





scrolling through

a photo of him
grinning with a friend
interrupted her afternoon
of apathetic
time wasting
doom scrolling
through
political soundbites
cartoons
status updates
announcing mostly
the mundane

and nestled between
all of 
the nonsense
there he was
a snapshot
he
next to a gorgeous gal
strands of his hair
catching the wind
eyes squinted against the sun
smiling for the selfie

and she was 
given the unwelcome
reminder
of 
the lost friendship 
the absence of
being seen
to the depths 
of her core
by someone
once considered
Real and
True

making her 
also feel
Real and 
True

she didn't linger long
the disconnect
the indifference
made this
an easy
pass

good for him,
living life...
she thought
remembering all the things 
she had wanted to do
to explore
to discover
to talk over
to dream about
with him

she kept swiping
through
knowing
they only loved
the idealized
versions they had created
of each other
and that
made it 
oh
not so bad

but damn
if losing his companionship
as a confidante
didn't still 
Sting
something Fierce



July 3rd and I can’t sleep

I miss them all

despite the tears
broken words spilling out 
into the vacuum of indifference
guttural cries
in the dark
alone

the cat dismayed
at such overly dramatic displays
of the 
Once Again
coupled with the
I'll Never Learn

i do miss them

not with the longing
of what is lost forever
nor the sentimentality
of all the previous love's 
hazy rosy eyed gazes

i miss the moments
that were brand new
sparkling
gleaming like chrome
before familiarity
before we disappointed
one another
when we were
unreal
not of this realm
this mortal plane
no
we were
celestial beings
odd outsiders
crazy puzzle pieces
fitting in a way
quite unlike
the others
i miss the stars
in our smiles
i miss the way
a small touch could set
our skin on fire
i miss the quiet breathing
of sleep
next to my awake
the songs we hummed to
the conversations 
during
long rainy afternoons
i miss
the hops in our laughter
every day being a better day
because we were in it

together

i find i miss them most
during the quiet nights
my solitude,
my haven
the silence
reminds me
that i am alone

so
i miss them
those who took my time,
my space, 
my love,
and nurtured it
until it was no longer
worth the effort
yet
i am made only that 
much more aware

i miss the Me
i always was
in the beginning
the most

Don’t Forget

"Don’t forget where you came from"
I haven’t
I won’t.
Every time my boys cry
I remember
My little brother 
Not even 7 
Quickly wiping away tears
Because he was being called a faggot
A sissy boy.
A “little girl”
Those last two words hurled with a sneer
Because we all knew, having feelings was relegated to the card carrying vagina members
And that was shameful
Pathetic.
Uncles and his own mother
MY mother
Drug addled and bitter
Insults as poisonous darts
Piercing my gentle younger sibling’s soul.
No.
I don’t forget where I came from
When I call them to me
My weeping children
Upset
Bothered
Sad
Angry
Feelings are everything and sometimes can only be expressed through tears.
I hold them close. 
I ask them to use their words.
Sometimes I am just as frustrated as they are.
But I’ll not shame them.
Ever.

"Don’t forget where you came from."
I fucking remember.
I learned how to swallow the torrents of pain which threatened to
Break through the dam of my lids
I’m tough
I’m untouchable
Crying is for the weak
You’ll never break me.
I am Stronger Than All Of You.
When my mother called me a whore after I had been raped at 12.
When my grandmother told me I “shouldn’t have been out that late” after being assaulted and almost gang raped at 16.
When anyone I had ever put trust in proved to be unworthy of that privilege.
Yes. I remember where I came from.

I came from The Vicious Cycle.
I came from the Women Who Accepted The Very Least And Counted It As The Best,
I came from the Long Line of Toxic Masculinity Disguised As The Norm
I came from the Over and Over and Over 
And Over AGAIN
Because That’s JUST HOW IT IS.

I remember where I came from.
My great-grandmother doing her best to shield me from the Bad Touch Uncles. Failing. Begging me to not anger my grandmother because she could not stand to hear her beat me. Shamed because it was a mirror of her past behaviors.
My grandmother crying in silence when she got the news her mother had passed. Becoming stoic in less than a second of being noticed. After all, she had to be “strong”. More guilt than grief for she hadn’t been kind to her ailing mother. 
My mother nursing wounds in private which occurred decades ago because trust wasn’t her strong suit. Self-medicating in the worst way; escapism was easier than the thorny shit reality left to face. Homeless, drug addict, write off.

I remember where I came from.
I came from a great great grandmother who was married to a 27 year old man at the age of 12. A woman who had her first living child of a dozen at the age of 14. A woman married to a man who liked his little girls a little too much, which did not exclude his own daughters. A woman who never knew an easy day the way we know easy days.
I came from a great grandmother who took her 3 little girls, left her husband and the boxcar they were living in to search for something better. A woman who started fresh in Chicago, working several jobs, never taking a husband until her girls had married on their own for fear of what they would suffer at the hands of a strange man. A woman who worked hard her entire life to leave something of substance for her girls. A woman who failed at being kind to her daughters, whose love and desire to protect became unyielding suffocation and unnecessarily harsh discipline.
I came from a grandmother dedicated to never being as cruel in punishment as her own mother was, yet failing because she unfortunately had her mother's temper. A woman who decided that after all the heartbreak, she would rather spend the rest of her days alone. No one could hurt her if she didn't allow them into her life. A woman who raised her grandchildren in hopes to fix the past mistakes she made with her own. A woman who was sorry, but had not any inkling on how to apologize.
I came from a mother with a heart so huge and compassionate, you’d never see it past her stony exterior. A woman with enough demons to stock a second hell. A woman who has not yet forgiven herself for things everyone else has already forgotten. A woman who could have been a good mother, had anyone ever given her the chance and  belief. 

"Don’t Forget Where You Came From."
People toss that around like it means money. Stature. Material Bullshit.
I remember where I came from.
A long line of women
Who could have been 
EVERYTHING.
Were they not women.
Women
Who were weak when they should have been strong, mistaking what it was to be either.
Women
Who loved and were never loved back
Women 
Who woke up every day… wondering… Is This Fucking It.
Women who tried. 
Who stopped trying because it just didn't seem worth it.
Women fierce and soft
kind and cruel
quiet and loud
Women who have taught me
albeit inadvertently
just how important it is
to live life with
compassion and forgiveness.
How important it is
to know my worth.


I carry a piece of each
In random memories of their grimaces, frown lines creasing foreheads.
Black & white photos of forced smiles.
Candid polaroids of true joy.
Spontaneous thoughts and ideas of how to be better.
Song lyrics out of the blue which they would hum during the 
few moments when they were happy
(a character trait of which I am happy has been passed down through the generations)

I'll never forget.
I am well aware 
of
Who I am.
Where I came from.

the Universe speaking – a true short story

there’s a lot of people who come through the corner bar. the neighborhood middle class regulars needing a break from the kids. labor guys covered in dirt and dust, always ordering domestic. the ones who NEED the drink, hands jittery, searching for the crumpled up twenty borrowed from a friend.
and then there’s the one offs.
the ones who stop in and you never see again.
the random passers-by who had a good day, a bad day, need to pass some time for an hour or so – i am always amicable and of service, but reticent. it’s my nature.
such is the way of the local watering hole…
i think as i clock in for my shift.
another slow night. more of the same banal small talk, random chit chat with the same people, repeating the same stories, retelling the same jokes.
and…
he walks in. a one off. older, 60’s maybe, quiet at first. kind eyes. i can always see the truest intent of someone in their eyes. i am comfortably friendly.
the night goes on.
he talks.
he likes to talk, he explains to me that he’s a first generation italian and an extrovert. i respond that i am neither.
“well, that’s a shame aaaand you’re in the wrong business, hon.”
don’t i know it.
i am tired.
the constant conversations with the crowd are draining me.
even the one off.
though we’re keeping it to a basic back and forth.
nothing too personal.
hobbies, dislikes, pet peeves…
and now the bar is emptying.
he asks to close out.
i hand him his check, he signs the slip, but before he goes – he grabs my hand.
“listen. i’m an empath.”
i am visibly cynical. there is no hiding the defenses going up.
he laughs.
“oh you.” he pats my hand with the other not holding it.
“listen, i’m an empath and i’m not telling you this for any other reason that i’ve known this about myself since i was a kid. and i can feel your hesitancy right now, but hear me out. as an empath, we can always tell when there’s another one of us. you, my dear, are an empath.”
i begin to disagree, but i am cut short.
“you can call it highly intuitive if you want. i get the feeling you don’t like labels. but i bet you probably know what someone is feeling before THEY even do.”
i am silent. he’s not wrong.
“the only reason i’m bringing any of this up is because i can tell you been through some things yet still remain a KIND soul. you have a good heart. and i just want to say that i think it’s wonderful that you haven’t let those things make you hard. your kindness, your goodness – are beautiful qualities to have. and to have kept them this long… *pause*… just be careful. there are people who will take advantage of that. know when to walk away.”
i think i mumbled thank you. i was a bit taken aback.
he stood up, fit his winter hat about his head, gave the smallest smile tinged with the tiniest speck of rue, and left.
were it not for the credit card slip, i’d say he wasn’t even real.
but.
he was. and his words landed.

lately, i’ve been second guessing decisions i’ve made… this was a needed jolt to the senses.
and i know i don’t always listen to the Universe. 90% never.

so.
okay, love. i hear you. loud and clear.

*paying attention… paying attention to the Universe when it is talking to me.*

Shadows

It hit especially hard this morning.
The Melancholy.
It’s been a a good long while since it has happened. The weight of the past crushing me while I sat in my car waiting for the light to change to green. All because I took a minute to examine my surroundings. The neighborhood hit with gentrification. All the old replaced with new.
The burger place was now a bank. The corner pharmacy now empty, a For Lease sign clinging to the storefront, dusty and tattered. I knew this area once. Long ago, another life, a homeless teen sharing a basket of fries with the other delinquents. Lifting bags of chips and hygiene products from across the street.
I drove past the alley I slept in.
Before I learned that my body was a commodity that could be exchanged for a night out of the cold.
All the independent coffee shops with the bottomless cups keeping me/us warm during the long days…gone.
I felt my eyes welling.
I tried to shake the shadows off.

I kept driving. Taking deep breaths. Fighting against the rising tide of panicked sadness. And then I saw the greasy spoon I took my first child to when he was still in diapers. Yet another version of myself that I couldn’t bear to be reminded of. A young mother who knew nothing of receiving unconditional love but poured herself into loving a child she could barely care for and knowing it. Letting him reside with his father because she didn’t have her shit together enough to provide for him the way he deserved.
Drinking until the guilt faded into the next sick hungover morning.
The guilt turning into feelings of being unworthy.
Being unworthy turning to multiple attempts of suicide.

I always failed.
Because at my core, I was a coward. I didn’t want to live. But I was afraid of dying.

The pall was enveloping me quick.

My cheeks were wet with tears. This city, which I had tried to run from before, was bombarding me with all the things I had tucked away so neatly. Or so I thought. My mistakes, failings, friendships, loves, heartbreaks – my heart was flooded, drowning. No use now. So I succumbed to the tide pulling me under.

Sobbing, I thought of you.
How we were going to “make new memories to replace the old”.
There is no such thing.
The old will always resurface. Intertwined, reminding of us of who we were. What we have been through. We can be grateful that we have progressed. We have transcended the previous models. I am Me, Model 273. Maybe. I don’t know, I’ve lost track of the many skins I’ve shed. I just know that I will continue to evolve and that soon, the places and time we shared together will eventually join the rest.

Another shadow following me until I stop moving.

Damned

I didn’t want to talk to you.
Receiving your messages before, I shrugged them off.
Curtly. Succinctly.
And I owed you nothing. Not a damn thing. I didn’t have to call you back.

But I’m not built that way.
I’ve spent far too many nights reaching out to empty bottles and lonely walls echoing my wretched breathing and the staggering pace of a sickened heartbeat.
I’ve played the part of functioning human while all were none the wiser to the inner cataclysm that just seemed to be on a never ending loop of emotional implosion.

No. I didn’t want to talk to you.
But I didn’t want you to be lost in that all too familiar gaping void of isolated solitude, either.

Begrudgingly, I did what I had promised myself I would never do again.

I let you back in.

Gods curse my caring heart.