Godless

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.


My home, My heart

As I'd been tossing the old and unwanted
parting with the objects 
which no longer served me
did not bring joy
were not useful
had no purpose other than
taking up
much needed space

I remembered someone saying
or maybe
I read it somewhere
but

A person's home is a reflection of self.

I stopped
took a moment
The books
the plants
the comforts
the oddities
the weirdness
the normal
the art
the pictures
the colors
   the colors
      the colors

the kitchen still fragrant
from the previous night's dinner
stems rooting in
plastic water filled
shot glasses
on the sparse countertop
coffee pot
half full
still hot
splashes of bright red
dried chili peppers
microwave
mixer

I took a seat
at the hand-me-down dining table
canary yellow tablecloth
with the floral print
greens, blues, purples,
complementing the artwork ridden
walls
and mirrors
all the mirrors
to reflect
to deflect

in the stillness of the waning afternoon
splashes of the setting sun
upon shelves
filled with cookbooks
horror novels
rocks collected at parks
clay dinosaurs
molded by
children
young and inquisitive

I appreciated the warmness
and assurance
of the small space
I had created for myself
of myself
A brightly pleasant
curio shop
of the soul

I know
maybe 
it's not for everyone
but the right one
will find it to be
a haven




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.

coping mechanisms

when i was younger
heartbreak
devastated me
in the worst way
i'd slip away into late night
dives
drinking to forget
picking up strangers
just to feel
wanted
pretending they gave a shit
even though
i knew they didn't
never being able
to stand my own reflection
the morning after

fortunately
times have changed
i don't find solace
in self-destruction
the way 
i once did

i suppose i've evolved

lately
i like to read old love poems
the ones i wrote
when the future
seemed certain
and promising

i read them 
to remind myself
that it has happened before
it can happen
again

just because
i've always been
slow to trust
when the time came
to lower the 
many bridges
to my soul's heart

i did and
i have continued to love
unconditionally
truthfully
loyally

always kindly.

while my stomach is sick
with the churning chaos
of another paramour
removed
i take the time
to acknowledge
the moments
where it all felt
real
new
forever

even if it doesn't feel that way
at the present

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

Keeping Time

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







their indifference, my shame

i am always embarrassed
when i miss those
who don't care to 
even give a thought
of me

it's like ...
excitedly babbling
about a subject of interest
only to find
that no one is listening
or even cares
caught up in
their own self-contained
bubbles

so the words,
exploding
glistening
once rainbow bright
with vivacity
slowly lose their vibrancy
colors sad
wilted
with losing life
bleeding away
into gray silence

that is what it's like

my heart hemorrhaging
prismatic poetry
to an audience
stone-faced
indifferent
unmoved

that is how i feel

i have to 
remind myself

if i knock on the door
of a house
with no lights
i shouldn't be surprised
when 
no one answers

it does not lessen my shame

Untapped Potential Gone to Waste

He claimed
to be 
"deeply in love"
while continuing
to ignore
the concerns of the 
object of his supposed 
affection
hurting her
with inaction
inflicting pain
through 
purposeful neglect
attempts at gaslighting 
when she 
came to close to shining 
the light
on the darkened corners

He
specialized in 
self-delusion

She knew this.
She was not fooled
by the facade
She came from a family 
of people like him
Yet,
She chose to see 
the goodness

So
She gave chances.
She offered patience and 
kindness.
Because, 
as always
she saw the potential
in the person.
She believed in
evolution
progress
growth

But 
She never lied to herself
the way he 
managed to 
avoid self-truths
day in and 
day out.

And she knew
in her heart of heart of
Hearts
recognizing what Could Be
didn't make up for 
What It Wasn't.

And it Wasn't Love.





Truth

They love you when its convenient
When you are smiles
and sunshine 
glittering across the softest waves
a blooming bud
opening its petals to the world

They love you when it looks good
When there's an audience 
Envious of the affection
and attention
wishing they had what is displayed before them
A fancy overly priced
Bauble
behind a polished pane
"Look...
Don't touch"

They love you when it's easy
When you don't ask questions
When you allow mistreatment
When you stay silent
while the screaming inside
reaches crescendos
which would
shatter glass

They love you when you are an idea
When you fit the mold
They've set for you
You do not exceed the parameters
You are contained
In the box
You are a picture
Of Perfection

A picture
Not a person

All of this 
Is to say
In short...

They
Don't 
Actually
Love 
You



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.