Outcome

lungs of hte worldShe came into town

breathless with excitement

they were dying around her

but she wanted to go for coffee

to get her nails done, her hair, wax the city

burn the little temples of obedience

she didn’t think a swath of fabric

let alone standing apart like courting

birds

could slow the spread of something

fictional

she was young, though not as young as others thought

Botox took care of that

and a little filler

her heart was set on

kicking up her heals and the virus

was just a news cycle

nothing to take seriously.

Waking in hospital she

momentarily forgot to

smooth her hair down until

she felt her fingers brittle and cracked

her beautiful face marred with fever

“at least I survived” she smiled

with yellowed teeth, hot with flux

half joking at the scared nurse who

was working her second double shift.

They decided not to tell her yet

until she was out of danger, if indeed she ever

was

that her father, mother and little sister

were not going

to wake up again

and join in her

merriment.

Still so changed

lungsThought I saw you today

resting on the cream tile beside our silver fridge

a sign of my eyes seeing ghosts or fading out?

The doctor said; Watch for ink marks and sudden black spots

just like your coat, as you leaned in to clean eternal

not you, this time, or ever more

only my shoes and socks, black and white as

your fur

recalling when we traveled, back when we could

before lock-downs, before freedom was something nobody

took for granted

how in the arroyo of the desert we climbed

cactus flowers and box turtles, lazy sunbathing snakes

finding purchase of indigo rock

how my spirit felt released in that stark landscape

greater than any city, eclipsing us

as you searched for things to kill and torture

though you possessed a kind heart

a little metaphorical

a little incidental?

Our bid for escape, as now we are closed and shut up

you lying beneath red earth, turning to desert

I am still above ground

wondering at times, for what?

Another road trip? None would be you

nor would freedom taste quite as sweet

though I expect when released

people will emerge

dazed and half willing

shaking off their forgotten selves

staring about for stars and clothes

meaning and fireworks

just the same

as it ever was

and still so changed

and still so very

changed.

WHAT WE VALUE

Our society worships entirely the wrong animal, venerating them and reducing others to ash.

The news recently devoted a good portion of the sports coverage to how much money certain sports figures were going to be paid for kicking a ball across a field. And this in a time when our jobs are dissolving, our society is being wrecked, our economy may be irrecoverable and certain industries will cease to exist en mass. Put simply, there will not be jobs to come back to folks but apparently we still need to pay these guys billions for their service to humanity?

I cannot understand how ANY society and how any of us can tolerate/accept a sports figure being paid anywhere NEAR that sum for what they do when those who really do jobs worth paying, are dying in droves because they are not receiving enough personal protective gear to protect themselves.

When did we start paying someone to kick a ball millions and a nurse who saves our life, hundreds?

What’s wrong with us?

If I were an alien observing our planet, I would seriously wonder if we all were crazy in our assessment of VALUE. What we value. What we do not. If nothing else, Covid-19 has given us a chance to see this once and for all and try to do something about it.

We have marched for Black Lives Matter during this time because it was over-due and our raw emotions on the subject burst out of their polite shell and filled the streets with ire and a desire for equality but how many of us really want equality? Not all of us that is for sure, look around and you can see it in every facet of life, a desire to be above someone else somehow.

We still routinely under-react and permit by our inaction, serious hideous crimes like rape to go unpunished in this country and others.

It’s the year 2020 and we still think inequality for women is acceptable in some forms and fashion. Let us not forget what Maya Angelou said about wanting to vote for a white woman over a black man. She said – women were the original oppressed group, thus we should work backward until all oppressed parties are equal. I agree with her.

We still think hate crimes against Jews and telling Jews that Israel should not be their country is somehow acceptable, despite those Jews having descended from that country. Would we say the same to Black People about Africa. Of course not! So why do we say it to Israel? Because of the Palestine Question which Europe in particular has decided to side with, uncaring of the history of persecution toward Jews and their right to have some land of their own. Of course we shouldn’t persecute Palestinians either and of course, Israel has made mistakes but it’s now about what optics politicians choose and what side of the story is half-revealed via inaccurate news reporting. It’s essentially about which side looks right to support? Because Trump supports Israel, most left-wing supporters are against it. Yet it is not that simple and never should be. Lest we forget our history.

We still think homosexuality is unnatural and abhorant and that being queer isn’t natural. We don’t say it out loud because it’s not popular to say it, but we think it and we act it and gays know. They know.

We talk about slavery and how horrific it was, but half the time we just pay lip service to the deeper issues, because we don’t know our history so we don’t mention Native Americans and how they were exterminated en mass and continue to be disenfranchised. We’re so proud of ourselves for changing the Red Skins but we think that’s enough. Or how slavery has never really gone away, it’s just changed hands and outfits, but it’s still well and thriving in many forms.

So it’s never enough. Until everyone is equal and inequality and racism are a thing of the past. But will they ever be? With people who seem to thrive on discrimination and putting themselves ahead of others and putting others down? If people think wearing a mask is too much, is it any wonder they really don’t give a shit if you are sick or you are vulnerable? Don’t they just want you to die and bugger off?

Likewise with illness, with chronically sick people, it’s never enough to just have laws that allow them to not be discriminated against because discrimination comes in a myriad of differing forms. Subtle. Unreachable. Devastating. People of color have to put up with this EVERY SINGLE DAY as do women, as do gays, as do sick people. Just one roll of the eye says everything. Says; ‘we think you are pathetic‘ invalidates an entire moment.

Chronic illness is a little like amputation. Obviously anyone who has suffered an amputation will refute this and rightly so. But metaphorically it remains akin to the loss of a limb. You are left flailing, unsure of how to right yourself, and continue as once you were. A part of you is lost.

They talk of periods of adjustment. The stages of grieving: Anger for what you have lost. Shame imposed by a society who now judges you weak. Acceptance of a ‘new normal’ that includes intolerable things such as chronic pain etc. For many, those stages of grieving never really end, they cycle and you go through different dilutions depending upon how you progress.

But progress is perhaps not the right word. In our linear society where so much is expected. For someone to drop off and no longer thrive, in nature they would be left behind to perish. In our society they are carried along but reminded frequently, of their burden, of their ineptitude.

For many who suffer mental illness, physical illness, both, there is a lot of shame attached to their existing after this fact. Even as people do not come out and say it directly (and believe me, many do!) there is a thin veil that is easily penetrable. People know when they are treated differently, seen differently, worse, judged without jury.

Being ‘sick’ in any manifestation is seen as a ‘weakness’ by our society. This invariably goes back to the ‘dog-eat-dog’ notion of surviving. The weakest link perishes or is a burden to the whole. But these days, with our so-called faith and mercy in place, one might imagine a little more compassion? And if you did, you would be sorely disappointed.

Since getting sick in 2017 I have felt intermittently well enough to continue working and ‘accomplishing’. But as with any pendulum, when it swings deeply toward illness, I am right back at the horror point of when it all began, down on my knees, imploring the universe for healing. And for the most part I have done this alone, because as all those who have been sick for a time will attest, most people do not stay by your side. Even those you expect to.

You can’t plan any longer. A trip is a fear because what if you get sick? Then someone suggests; maybe it’s in your head, maybe you are making yourself sick? And no matter how many times you prove otherwise, they think maybe it’s a choice, just like being gay is a choice, right?

Wrong. You can’t rely upon yourself like you used to because you never know how it’s going to be, how you are going to be. And usually you could be relied upon 100 percent and now that’s gone and somehow you still have to plan a future, but how do you plan a future if you can’t rely upon yourself?

I try to take something from every experience I have, including negative ones. Without learning we don’t grow we just regurgitate and I would rather grow even if I’m throwing up and in pain as I do it. I have taken from this experience what is obvious, but I have also tried to take from others experiences, and have noticed disturbing patterns among those I know who have also been sick for a while or a very long while.

People leave.

People don’t care.

Poverty goes hand in hand with illness.

Anxiety and fear are natural outcomes for a plethora of reasons.

Loneliness can kill.

What I have come to see is this. Sick people are TRUE WARRIORS.

They fight the unimaginable that most of us never have to endure. They have to get pacemakers in their 40s, they have to struggle through taking 2 hours to get dressed and STILL MANAGE TO SHOW UP and this strength – this strength is what I have learned the most from my experiences and listening to others. Strength comes in many forms. We dismiss most of those forms but they are real.

I watch people who have seizures and brain tumors, fight and fight and fight and I realize, we’ve got it backwards. We should be applauding these people not marginalizing them. But we do everything backwards, because as a whole we are poisoned by false ideas of what is valuable and what is not. We toss aside those we deem un-valuable when they are perhaps some of the most valuable people in the world.

So if you are disabled in any way, be it in your head, or your body, remember that. You are some of the most valuable people in the world. Let nobody ever let you forget that. You are some of the most valuable people in the world.

This is written for my sister Angie. You inspire me every single day. You are that light in the dark that refuses to give up and because of you, I refuse to give up too.

Slothing prejudice in times of pandemic

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What do you say to a housebound suspended agoraphobe?

You hear Greek words in their diagnosis, the turquoise

hesitation of grasping fingers reaching punctured doorway

how even ordering take-out is

courage to face what cannot be faced opaque

the urgency of illness spreading her

mollified mystery beyond

we read Apocalypse books on the Berserker train

sleeping faces pressed against convex glass

the smear of skin oil, traces against trace, glutted

fingerprints even as we know not where we go

tampered before birth with the adultery of a universe.

what do we say to an extrovert cut off at the wing?

Sinning in the best possible way beneath vaporized bar table

licking salt off girls thighs and shooting glasses and powder

with a wink, shouting; How can you contain this shit?

Close them up and give them a key to be used in

a month? A year? Never?  After cataracts?

They burn with attention and fade without

fuel, here, there, is silence and they don’t know

how to be left alone.

What do you say to lovers who live apart?

She stays by her window watching smoldering emptiness

barren streets where once you would walk

up to her and tap on her cleaving shoulder

things were light and free, taken for granted

becoming closed and jarred, boxed in tinted cupboards

within houses shut down like sad faces, eating stale

cake, we try to lift our stinging, souring spirits

sometimes it feels better to binge watch

End Of The World movies and

eat all the bad things in the house, one by one

vacillating between giving a damn and not at all.

The feral cat outside hides her kittens, as if she knows

volatile is the word du jour

the birds sing less as if they can sense

death withers wild against the Oleander

feeling, our collective shutting down, end of

card game, square-jawed gambler has lost his

horse and boots.

Wasps build mud nests, otters chew through

phone lines, apple blossom stands in for

confetti at a wedding of creatures,

clinking wooden cups, the world breathes a collective sigh

animals take over, humans are

yesterday’s big thing, now forgotten

streets sprout trees, lemons fat and sour sweet

concrete, tarmac breaking open

hungry for repair, the long toiled earth

builds trellis’s and green space

from grey whispering ghosts of past

whilst we sleep and dream of

dancing in indigo pointed shoes on patent floors

to dead musicians in violet dresses

held wantonly by the nape of our neck

creatures quietly retake the planet

our savagery emptying like

the very mantle of earth has

shrugged it off, let it splinter, break

wide apart, asking for sexual healing

asking for change, burning the waxen lotus

stigma of our mistakes, time is up. Oh Goddess

have we come upon the end?

What do you say to a child?

Who has yet to know light or dark and asks;

why do we stay indoors, what is the purpose?

We can kneel down and remember, when we

cared, if sparrows fell from their nests and

scooping them up, would run to school nurse

who smelt of magnolias and iodine, our chant

“please make them well, don’t let them die!”

Remember the good magic? Bring it back,

when kids are released they will

not wish to run rough over green fields

tear down trees to make way for

metal and slag, in ten years standing there

smoking inhaling cancer beneath the whistled song

theirs will be a new time

if we learn, we can repair

what do you say to yourself?

When it’s over and it’s just begun?

When we make with every step

a choice

a consequence

a claim on this

delicate land.

For Earth Day 2020.

Isolation in the time of Covid 19 – published by Indolent Books

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