my mind wandered as the knife sliced clean thorough efficient through the pungent onions the stubborn carrots the sound of the blade brought satisfaction crisp against the celery i readied the stove flames medium the aroma of care permeating my home the once solid bacon drippings melted in the cast iron pot small bits missed from sieving sizzled crackled my heart sang the song of the women before me all the heartaches the miseries the mistreatments dissolved like animal fat over heat the ballad of my forebearers fell on me and i felt it as i had before this was love a calming daytime lullaby a melody only heard in my kitchen and i thought of you in the peacefulness of that moment what we had spoken of laughed about agreed upon intention every dash of salt shake of spice slow stir of whatever was bubbling simmering coalescing a rhythm notes being played subconsciously and through intuition i could dance all night to the music i cooked and for the quickest blink of a millisecond i missed you
A Kind of Naked
my eyes grew smaller by the minute i should have been sleeping instead late night conversation next to you side by side in my bed fully clothed head to toe while we stripped down to the vulnerable nudity of our souls the soft cushions of the longed for hopes strewn haplessly unorganized dusty but present unearthing past dreams hidden under blankets in the corner my secrets and your demons whispering to each other co-conspirators partners in crime tendrils of one coiling towards the curls of the other linking intertwining unifying and i should have been sleeping yet there i was naked in my truth marveling at the stark authenticity of yours modesty is overrated
I don't believe in god or give credence to any religion created by fearful men in efforts to oppress and subdue those they felt were beneath them instilling the thought process that all were unworthy except for themselves no religion is not for me yet I still pray my boots smoothly pack their prints upon the snow covered walk my breath soft, steady, serene it would be silent save for the gentlest sound of my steps as I head home the prayer is small a quick word with the Universe a telepathic memo to the stars a devotion to the moon once I'm home I light a candle white for cleansing I hold the wallet-sized black and white photo of my great-grandmother so close to my heart and whisper to it as though she were right next to me hugging me consoling me reassuring me loving me and I murmur an invocation "give me strength give me patience give me kindness" I do not believe in God But I believe in the woman she was Mighty Imperfect Determined and filled to the brim with all the Love and Fortitude only a cruel life could gracefully gift as penance No weight has been lifted Problems are problems I know I am still wavering However my faith certainly isn't After all I believe in the Universe The Stars The Moon and my Bloodline. And those are far more real and powerful than any variation of what is being sold as God.
The Universe Sent A Memo
This morning, my ex-husband came to pick up the kids. Ever the hospitable host, I mentioned I had one croissant left. Would he like a breakfast sandwich? Never mind that I had not eaten myself. Of course, he said yes. There I went, off to the kitchen as he sat at the dining table with the boys. And as I idly tended to the cooking and plating, I felt the strongest sadness in myself. This is who I am. This will always be who I am. It doesn't matter how shitty someone will treat you, you will never complain. Never fight. You will always care. You will always err on the side of kindness and consideration, like a chump. And I hated myself for that moment. I wished with every molecule in my body that I could be the spiteful and vindictive type, but I couldn't. I can't. I fed him. Made small talk. Hugged and kissed my kids goodbye. Felt the emptiness set in. I thought of all my exes right up to the most recent. All the men I've loved more than they ever loved me... you're fucking pathetic. You will never be enough. I buried myself under blankets and tried to hide from my own self. I didn't succeed. I went into work later that day, devoid of spirit. A fraying husk of a person. The whole evening, nothing but a handful of people. One regular, going through his own relationship woes offered commiseration. I was on autopilot. I smiled and responded with the most generic platitude I had at the ready. "Oh, you know. There's somebody for everybody. I just wasn't his somebody." I was ... blank. At some point, I realized I hadn't eaten the whole day. It was going on 9 pm. I forced myself to have a slice of pizza knowing that if I didn't, I'd get sick. The cook was rightly worried - I wasn't eating. I was always eating. Why wasn't I eating? I think I ate that one piece more to appease him than to put something in my belly. Another regular asked if I would do a shot with him. I usually don't. Drinking behind the bar isn't my gig. But I said yes. Out of spite for myself. I messaged a friend two short sentences. I am losing my defiance. I am losing my will. "You are stronger than that." I am not. "You. Are. Sure you're allowing yourself a moment of weakness, but you are." I didn't feel that to be true. But I knew arguing would lead nowhere and didn't bother to message back. Then, I once again stewed. I ran through all the times I had met adversity with my chin up. Shoulders squared. The countless instances I turned the other cheek. The ridiculous amount of pain and heartache I had suffered through thinking that in the end, it would be okay. As long as I continued to put good out into the world, I would be okay. What a fucking crock of bullshit. I felt the war within myself. The battle against becoming who I once was, who I strived to never be again. Cold, cruel, indifferent, unfeeling. Stone. By this point, everyone had left. It was just me and Johnny. Not everyone cares for him. He's a talker. In the grand scheme of things, he's not an angry drunk, he's almost always polite, and despite his tendency to have an opinion about everything under the sun, he has a good heart. There are far worse customers. I am not bothered by him. He called to me as I was cleaning, said he wanted to gift me something. He pulled that something out of his wallet and from where I was standing, it was square and shiny. For a second, I thought, There is no way this dude is trying to give me a f**king condom. Still, I was curious and walked over. It was a flattened chocolate wrapper. It had obviously been sitting in his wallet for quite some time. "Now," he started, still holding it gently in front of me. "it's not what it is, it's what's written on it. I'm going to show it to you and I'll leave it up to you if you want to take it. You can tell me 'No thanks, keep it' or you can have it. No pressure." He laid it down on the bar, some cheesy inspirational quote. On a tiny piece of foil that he had been carrying with him for who knows how long. And in that moment, I felt my eyes welling. I swallowed to clear the lump from my throat. Quietly, "I needed this. Thank you." He gave me a hug. Through a muffled sob, I managed to mumble, "It's been one hell of a week." There it was. The good grace of the Universe reminding me that kindness is necessary. Compassion is key. I remain soft. With no intent on changing.
Always the Bridesmaid
the world is small and people talk it is the nature of the social beast the want the feeling to be a part of something that being said it came as no surprise when the idle neighborhood gossip the game of telephone reached me almost immediately it didn't take you long did it... going back to the one you wanted in the first place what can i say? nothing except that i cannot find my shocked face perhaps because there isn't one
I would once become angry so angry fits of rage manic phone calls hours upon hours of making myself clinically insane I would show up drunk on a doorstep at 4 a.m. screaming crying tiny mascara rivers painting my cheeks black snot bubbles above a snarl no sense only scorn I could feel my heart being wrung twisted and contorted burning in agony from its mangled state A particular kind of torment one never forgets or hopes to endure again and I recall the panicked and confused stares eyes darting left right making sure the neighbors weren't witness to my psychotic scene I only wanted answers Why wasn't I worth the effort? What made me Less Than? Why was I bending like the reed and there they stood, unfeeling oaks? Well. Years have come and gone ticks on a metronome keeping time for no one listening except myself I'm older Much. I no longer pitch fits dramatic displays are beneath me and more importantly take up far too much energy of which I have less and less One thing... the years have done nothing to diminish the corrosiveness of lost love's affliction The ache of my heart's suffering isn't reduced No It all still hurts the same It is only more familiar An unwelcome unavoidable guest I am forced to entertain every so often The difference now is I am much more aware of my worth despite the accompanying wretched emotional injury and no amount of tears wails impassioned pleas deranged theatrics and/or any and all will make a dent in someone else's minimal perception of my value It doesn't lead me to madness not anymore I am only burdened by sorrow for what the other person lost failed to grasp refused to see what could have been so. I mend what has been fragmented Allow myself the solitude to heal And in the quietude of another long night the metronome ticks ticks ticks
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
my love has always been quiet paw prints left new on freshly fallen snow shadowed cutouts upon the gauzy glittered mat the chill waft of the incoming storm-soaked wind cooling the beads of summer sweat on the shoulders of the worn the sizzle of the kindling feeding the small fire constant and dependable the gift subtle yet generous perhaps this is why i am flummoxed peace meets peace... and the world turns upside down the passion ensuing the blizzard brilliant and dangerous phenomenally blanketing all in crystalline splendor paw prints lost tenderly forgotten during kisses long urgent and soft the warmth of hearts colliding thunderous crackles the branches shaking to keep from roots dislodging as torrents pelt the peasant ground we splash in muddied puddles laughing in hysterics because why not your hand in mine flames flickering upward and outward silver slivers tinted white golden blue sparks splintering the darkness there is a blaze and we are the old the dying curling into smoke burning to ash ultimately rising anew my love has always been quiet until with you
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 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.