Back to life

What is this place that one returns to?

for some, possible, easy even

to put aside a person, shelve them with other memories

like a box of postcards growing yellow

whilst I was always the girl who climbing on top of boxes

found the postcards and brought them down

splayed like restless tarot on my lap

try to fathom, walk back into time

absent people, love letters sent to

girlfriends now married, unrecognizable

childish handwriting, burst of emotion scored in yesterday’s colors

I have always liked stories and wanted

to read the secret histories of those

who would not share them with me

so your letters I had to put

in a green river one by one

for fear if they were not wet and destroyed

I’d read over and over til you came back to life

finding myself

running lonely highway to your home

knocking on your still familiar door expecting to see

your living breathing face, cheeks infused with color

smiling in that way only you did

when I stood before you.

When someone has died

they steal air from the room

leaving behind closed windows

rattling against wind and chill

you have to go in with heavy shoes

make noise, shake cold from your bones

open them wide until pure sunlight

blinds primal darkness

I recall

how your hair looked when

sun stroked it in streams of light

how unbroken perfection of your skin

resembled fruit, summer time and children

lolling about in gardens upsidedown, tongue out

though you were older, I always felt

protective in that way I imagine a parent may

reaching for their child, smelling joy and motion

of their life laid out ahead in patient sillouette

I have always been remote and stood away

from frilled crowd with hidden daggers

content to observe and only participate

in flung arms of dancing and those raw easy things

not requiring sustained inspection

it takes a lot for me to wish

to share myself with another

to open up those parts of me, I struggle to reconcile.

unceasing criticism can close off even the thirsty traveler desperate

to sit by warming fire and stoke shadows to divination.

With you, we were two unsupervised kids

sitting on the dusty floor of my attic

opening boxes of memories with fearless hands

we talked without fear, then as

day began to show her pink slip in sky

I’d take your slim arm and lead you

into my bed where

light enveloped our heads like halos and we tasted the rapture of undisturbed acceptance

see in the eyes of one born of me

part of you

our mingled DNA taking lilac wing

in the electricity of love making

I could smell you on me afterward

and loathe to bathe

stayed writing by the window

watching you cycle away

the strong muscles in your skinny legs peddling like

knock-kneed urchin

turning the corner

always leaving

the circumfrance of you behind

radiating on the road

like a mirage

and in my hair and on my body

a ghost or whisper of

someone absent and close

if I could have kept you safe

or stopped time

but the heart is a closing flower

once damaged she ushers her dancers

fold into velvet, trap the dream

we were strangers, then siblings

of sorrow and laughter

like night and day play

on the fringe of their fading

your dusky skin against my pale

never enough time

to say what I wanted to say

in language untranslatable

to mortal minds

we existed as pollen

carried on high wind will

strike new life into that which sleeps

drousy and given over to liquid day

and I have never returned to that place

without a throat full of pain

wanting to call your name

hear your return

the indent of your existence

anything but

silence

Election Day

vote

Do you get bored hearing about it?

I’m sorry.

Only … I’m not sorry you get bored and glutted on the subject

I’m sorry you’re that kind of person

Because it makes you like so many others

I wouldn’t wipe my shoes on.

The other week I met your doppelgänger in a bar

we were sharing a corner and I made mention of

the recent killing in our town of a gay person

the roll of your eyes reminded me of all the times

I tried to talk to people about matters that were important

they said; Yes, yes, I’m listening

and desperately sought a way out

but when it comes to your time to talk about what you

find vital

I bet that bar is well-worn and you sit deep in your drink

discussing and pontificating your subjects

like the right to shoot deer out of season and why

you must always have an AKA 47 in your arsenal

despite the fact it would spoil the meat

on such occasions I am tempted to enquire

do you believe in zombie apocalypses is that why

you are a prepper or

do you just want to shoot people who

don’t do and think what you say?

Someone like me perhaps? Come on I see it in your

tempered dislike

I keep my mouth shut most of the time

just like your wife who tires of your drunk

jokes at the end of the day about how a good wife

should give head

she’d stand up to you and throw your ass out

if it weren’t for her fear of being alone

as if some big lug of meat and venom would be any loss

most of the time you miss the toilet seat on purpose

and you stash your porno mags beneath pizza boxes

in the freezer, that’s kinda disgusting really

just like you when you eye underage girls coming

into Starbucks for a latte in their short grey school skirts

and wank in the communal bathroom

pretending nobody knows what that ammonia smell is

whereas the young woman who was killed

stabbed in the chest 30 times

by unknown assailants

did no more than walk on a trail path

one afternoon to get some sun

it was deemed a hate crime because someone heard

them shouting taunts of DYKE DYKE DYKE

but you wouldnt’ care you’ve done it yourself

any time a woman said no to your

tragic advance

it matters more that you can own guns

keep immigrants out who you think

will steal your job

drive your big ass truck

even if your taxes are going to wars that never finish

walls that won’t do anything

hate that only begets hate

groups of our population are being vilified and denigrated

like it’s a sport

you’d join in if you weren’t sitting drunk off your ass next to me

rolling your eyes at my words

there are some things you cannot change

and you are proudly one of them

which is why I never fail to vote

in the hope people like you and your voice

do not drown out the others

if we fight for rights and win

it’s our duty to never abuse that right

by apathy and not going out

because it’s raining and boo hoo I’m

tired I’ve had such a long day

how about another bigot instead?

I’m much more fatigued by minds who care not

about those they trample on

so vote, vote, vote

and you won’t even need to

change his mind

your words will be heard

I don’t like you

A little girl

With golden hair reaching her tan

Told me, tongue to one side, half-licked lips

I don’t like you.

Afterward I asked

A disinterested person

Who was paid to iron my dad’s shirts and begrudgingly

Watch me until he returned

Why would someone not like me?

I hadn’t said this with some inflated belief that I deserved universal liking

But rather, an innocent question

That first time

Branding with the word knife

The girl with flax hair

Didn’t include me in hopscotch or skip rope

Ring a ring a roses, a pocket full of posies, a-tissue, a-tissue, they all fall down

She was the most popular and they chose her for Mary in the school play

Whilst I played a donkey, braying when gift bearing wise men arrived

The local woman who ironed my dad’s shirts

Begrudged making me a canned supper

I was a nuisance, playing in her dour house until 6pm every day

Throwing dirt on drab paving stones, pretending to be invisible

I don’t know why

She crossly replied

Her forehead wrinkled with steam

Curly hair rising, sleeves rolled up, sweat stains coloring

Maybe you’re a nasty little girl.

The next day when my father dropped me off on his bike

At the school gates

I walked the other way

I have been ever since

Learning to salvage myself

From unexpected spite.

If I met the peach-kneed Danish girl today

She’d likely have track-marks and bruised eyes

Turned out she was beaten beneath her starched frocks

Turning the wickedness back into the world

Isn’t that what hurt children do?

Perhaps it’s not wise to always listen to your elders

I’d warn the five-year old me

Playing with empty hands on the stoop of someone else’s street.

As an adult, when someone doesn’t like me

Which happens like storms and rain in May

Their voice reminds me of that first loneliness.

Children who stop believing in a kind world

Feeling sharp thorned scorn

Grow into adults who keep themselves sheltered

From the humans in wolf skin, prowling outside

Like castaway cries of surprise

When we think we are safe and

Still, we trip and fall.

Equality

The day I came out … all my girlfriends took one step apart

it can’t be they collectively agreed

she’s too pretty, she’s too feminine, she’s not a dyke she’s one of us

didn’t she enjoy sex with that boy in the garden? you know that party the one where

they turned the lights on and saw them straddled in tall grass?

What happened? Did you get raped? Was it because you grew up without a mom?

What happened? Did you get bewitched? Is she a sorceress? A genie? A devil?

Soon after the invites to go out on the girls-nights

dwindled

the newly minted lesbian sat alone with her shadows and her eye make up

growing stale in their plastic boxes

virile boys wondered why they hadn’t kept her straight

cleavage girls wondered if she had looked at them in the shower the wrong way

why didn’t you try it on with me? her bi-curious mates inquired, offended

as if loving a girl was loving the entirety of the species and jumping

from trees on the first female she sees, du rigor

sparkly gay boys annoyed her with their primping and their bitching

clique gay girls alienated her with their cold eyes and their own brand of judgement

you can’t be one of us you’re too long-haired, too shiny, too voluminous

they played pool and ground the chalk into the cue with the ire of exclusive groups

who don’t want those ill-fitting and new

soon she began smoking things in glass tubes because

only the druggies the desperate and the dead would let

her be

and on occasion when she was really crushed into ice and fire she’d try to cure herself

with someone unknown and faceless, grinding down with fervor and lust

neither of which she ever felt

like a poison the awakening was not Kate Chopin but

a black box with no lock and no key and still no way out

her family said …  well we always knew you were obtuse

liked to stand out, be different, not fit in, it started with

left-handedness in the cot

we just hope you won’t try to give us grandchildren

think of the shame, think of their difficult lives and step away

she didn’t even have love so how was she going to fill her womb?

at a club a gay man pushed her against a greasy wall and said

there’s something molten about you girl, you’re not gay you’re a hot bitch

and his erection pressed into her dress like a knife

you’re not supposed to want me, she whispered as he pushed harder

you like boys not girls

boys will like anything given a chance, he replied, staining her with ammonia and denial

walking home one night a homeless man grabs her from the bushes

holding a blade to her neck he tries to impregnate her

she thinks

careful what you wish for

as the slice of him burns her empty

the officer at the hospital while they gather the rape kit

all the swabs like brushes with unwilling paint

told her; try wearing pants not skirts

you’re too beautiful it is like a flower

the bees will come if you let them

and she wondered, how is walking down the street permission?

well it’s your life style you see, it causes problems

how would anyone choose a life style of alienation?

you’re good-looking enough to get a lawyer, he winks

before leaving her naked beneath paper gown

blood on her thighs, horror in her throat

to consider and condemn

herself

this is the life line of a girl who wasn’t linear

or bold or normal

or able to run with the swarm

she almost

tried to set herself on fire

to become one of those paper lanterns

lifting off the water into inky night

there were no hands to press her back to earth

they had been crossed and turned away

she didn’t fit into what they expected

what they needed her to be

were it not for you

with your wings and your fearlessness

on the day you told her

it’s okay not to be a stereotype

not every heterosexual woman will treat you like

you’re going to molest her

nor every straight man try to

put his hands beneath your panties

not every gay woman will

scorn your existence and push you to the corner

nor every queer boy loathe you

for being prettier than he

there are among us you said

people without definition or binary

who exist on the periphery of distinction

and we

will not

let you down

she wished she could tell

the pretty girl she tried to befriend who

always treated her different because she thought

you want me don’t you? you desperate lesbian

if you think you are free of bias and you believe yourself unjudging

stop and think about what you do unconsciously

with every favor to others over me, reminding

I have less worth

that is what happens without words without governance

the mistreatment almost invisible

like a paper cut

hurting more than it should

for the side-ways slice of discrimination is

often deeply sewn

wake up

wake up

she could be

your daughter

your best friend

careful how you step on this earth

without much you can

crush the fragile who only need

your equality

Mental Health Month Day #9 “Suicide”

Crossposted

The first time I was personally touched by suicide, a friend’s mom took her own life, her kids found her in the bath, I heard about it second-hand around the age of eight. I remember thinking how I would feel if I found a family member dead, and I tried to be nicer to my friend whose mom had died. I remember other kids said things about how the mom was selfish for doing it, I didn’t join in, there was even then, a part of me that didn’t see it that way.

The second time I was personally touched by suicide, my grandfather took his own life. He overdosed on Valium and was found the next morning when he hadn’t come down for breakfast. He was an artist and a long time Depressive, but despite that, everyone was shocked that a man still in his prime would consider death a better option. I remember people saying; “What a waste, he was so talented” and “How selfish, he had two children and a wife.” Although I didn’t think it at the time, I now wonder, does that mean it’s not selfish if you have no one? Is it more understandable or acceptable if you are not talented? Again, how things are phrased can stick with you.

At the time I saw my grandmother trying to come to terms with it. She ended up drinking the pain away, and developed an addiction to drinking for many years before she joined a cult and through this new-found sense of belonging quit drinking and became happy once more. Whilst we didn’t particularly like her being part of a cult we were glad for her restored peace of mind, but when I think back on it now, I also think we were relieved, we didn’t have to look in the face of grief anymore, everyone wanted to get on with things.

And that’s the hardest part of suicide, how people cope or do not cope after the fact.

Who is left behind, what fall-out carries on sometimes for generations.

One of the first questions a therapist asks is if anyone in your family has committed suicide, there is a reason for that. People whose family members commit suicide have a far higher risk of committing suicide themselves. Some have postulated whether this is ‘learned behavior’ or ‘permission granted’ or biological/in our DNA.

I can definitely see why people who have relatives who commit suicide would go one of two extremes. They are either going to be the last person to commit suicide, because they know first-hand its fall-out, or they may feel that because someone close to them did, it gives permission for them to follow suit. I can also see how some people are genetically at higher risk because something within their DNA makes it more favorable than for others. This doesn’t seem so very different from say, the God Gene.

There definitely are, as with addicts, two camps, the person who just won’t kill themselves under any circumstances and those who will. We may never quite know why, there may be many factors that go into that, but the people who are ‘at risk’ versus those who are not, are often hard to distinguish because in many ways they may both exhibit the same symptoms.

Many times I hear people say that those who commit suicide are ‘weak’ and ‘selfish.’ I have never thought they were. I see no good coming from condemning someone who was sad enough to take their own life. If we do it to discourage others, well it’s not really working, and whilst I would never advocating encouraging anyone to commit suicide or over-justifying those who do, I see no good in criticizing them after the fact. They made a decision, they chose to do it, who are we to say they are weak?

At the same time, we all hope someone will find the ‘strength’ or conviction to keep living. Nobody really approves of suicide except in extreme cases such as euthanasia for those who are suffering and in agonizing pain. Even then, in America, this is a very divided subject with those against, believing no murder is justified including the taking of ones own life, whilst others, often those who have seen it personally, can attest, some terminally ill people have the right to end their suffering.

So if we look at suicide of ‘healthy’ individuals, where do we place the depressed and the mentally ill on that scale? In some Scandinavian countries there have been people who have petitioned the Government to be euthanized based upon mental-illness. This has sparked outrage among those who believe this is tantamount to murder, and in no way qualifies as a terminal illness. Technically mental illness is rarely terminal although many ways, mental illness accompanies terminal diseases and exacerbates their symptomatology.

But even without being terminal, can mental illness ever be ‘bad’ enough to warrant or justify the taking of ones own life? And if we open that flood gate, how do we close it again?

I don’t claim to know the answer, I’m not sure anyone knows the answer yet but the side of suicide we don’t consider as often, isn’t just prevention or reason(s) behind suicide, but the aftermath.

Another friend of mine lost her mother to suicide. If I had to say, without hesitation I would say she became a more responsible, compassionate person as a result. But that doesn’t negate the extreme pain she still feels with the loss of her mom. Given a choice, every day she would wish for her mom’s return over any compassion she may have. The positives cannot outweigh the negative reality of losing someone you love.

If her mom had been deathly ill maybe she would have held a different view, I have never asked her, but either way, it is hard to imagine being ‘okay’ with someone’s suicide. That said, when Brittany Maynard committed suicide (euthanasia) in Oregon a while back I was profoundly moved by her videos and writing on the subject prior to her choice to end her life. Still very young and with a beautiful family, Brittany was terminally ill and knew in a matter of months she would be in excruciating pain and there was no cure and only awful suffering.

Many people condemned her for ‘taking the easy way out’ or ‘going against the will of God’ but I recall admiring her so much for her resolve and strength. I simply could not imagine making that choice, let alone going through with it. Her family moved to another State where Euthanasia is legal in order to be eligible and she made her plight and story public in an effort to educate people on the right to die. I believe in the right to die in part because of her efforts to show it is not the same as suicide.

With depression and other mental illnesses that are not responsive to treatment, it is not hard to imagine why people can be pushed to the brink and wish to end their lives. Should we consider euthanasia for severe cases of mental illness? Currently I don’t think we should but I recognize I may change my mind as more information becomes available. When I stop and think about living with say, Schizophrenia and other illnesses your entire life, in misery, without respite, and medications not working, I can definitely see why someone may wish to end their life. So why do I hesitate in condoning suicide or euthanasia in those cases?

Maybe because whilst we see mental illness as a disease, it’s not terminal and until something is actually ‘definitely’ going to take your life, we have this belief that there is hope, and we should not end our life based on feeling badly. Is this dismissive? I would say in some instances, yes, because there are chronic pain conditions that may include mental disease, that it could be argued, are as devastating to someone as a terminal illness. Perhaps we should give everyone the ‘right’ to choose if they live or die, and I would agree with this except for a worry that sometimes in certain mind-sets we don’t have the right objectivity to ‘choose’ without bias.

Mental illness is one of those biases. When you are mentally ill you can really see the world through a different lens. If you have not ever experienced that, believe me when I say, one day you can feel hopeful, the next it’s like the color was sucked out of the world and the pain you feel inside is unbearable and often without any cause. When that goes on for a prolonged period of time each day can be agonizing. It is definitely understandable that when people feel this way they may contemplate suicide.

The argument against this is – people typically commit suicide or attempt suicide when they are panicking or have calmly given up (the two extremes) they either panic that they will never feel differently and ‘stop the pain! stop it now! stop it any way you can!’ or they feel reconciled to their fate, they do not believe it will ever change, and so they give themselves permission to let go.

Perhaps that is why the very young and the very old are the two groups most likely to take their own lives.

As mentioned earlier, there are many who no matter how bad it got, would never commit suicide. That isn’t necessarily anything to do with personal fortitude or strength, it may be a genetic proclivity, or several factors, but they often perceive those who take their lives as inexplicable. They cannot and will not understand, and they feel understanding is condoning. I would argue, understanding is NOT condoning it’s understanding. We need more understanding.

Mental illness is not always visible, so we often do not know someone is suffering from it until it’s too late. Signs to look for include giving away what we own, a sudden sense of peace and feeling good, high anxiety and stress and the bequeathing of things previously withheld. Of course that’s not going to ensure you accurately predict whom among us is at risk, because just like in the film 13 Reasons, so many people exhibit signs and so many do not, and that’s no guarantee of anything. Additionally suicide can be a sudden choice, you literally realize in a moment and bam, it’s too late.

One population aside teenagers that I believe will increasingly be at risk for suicide is the elderly. More so because our grandparents social security and pensions were more robust than ours will be with some exceptions. It is simply more expensive to live nowadays and the money we will need to live even relatively well in old age, is often more than we can save and invest. Poverty and loneliness are two of the main reasons the elderly choose to take their lives. The third is illness. This can include mental illness. We sometimes believe the value of a person’s life diminishes with increasing age, but every life should have the same value.

The elderly have less resources than teens and in a way, less hope, because they are ageing toward death, whereas a teen has their entire life ahead of them. Sometimes hastening ones death can seem a good choice, to end suffering, loneliness, worry, financial concerns. The elderly can feel they are a burden, they can feel they are not wanted in our ever busy society that highlights youth. Additionally, are we ready as a society to take care of the many who will devleop dementia, which often carries alongside it, chronic depression? Is loading an eighty year old with heavy duty medications and antidepressants all we can to do help them?

Caregivers of the elderly will also experience mental health issues as a result of the hard work they do. Presently elderly patients are over medicated and have less resources for talk-therapy or other treatments. It is deemed simply easier to stick them on a lot of medications and hope they’ll die than treat their suffering compassionately and with an understanding their lives, however long, still hold value. Is it any wonder then that so many elderly are at risk of suicide and premature death? As long as we judge people based on their economic ‘worth’ and believe the elderly ‘had their time’ we will never improve this and rates of elder-abuse will grow.

So whilst we can do more to look out for people, we will never prevent someone from committing suicide if they are absolutely set on doing so. What we can do is save the ones who do not wish to and need a reason not to. It may seem absurd that anyone should really want to die, but there will always be people who do, they find different ways, they take risks, they drive their cars too fast, they may join a terrorist group. Often very unhappy people choose suicide by proxy, by putting themselves in danger and waiting to see if it will take them.

Suicide and mental health are always going to be interrelated and there is a lot the people around those people can do to prevent a successful suicide, but ultimately the best we can do is not judge those who die, for what possible good comes from that? Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to try to understand why someone did what they did. Sometimes there is nothing to understand. But with understanding we can learn, whereas if we simply condemn, we learn absolutely nothing.

From this day forth

I’ll be careful. Today someone I’ve read and followed 2 years on WP sent me the ugliest response. I had written on their page “well done posting about the kidnapped girls being released who were returned home I wish more was said in the media as they ignore it but at least some of us care, glad you do.” They wrote back ” I didn’t see you posting about them so it’s stupid you say that, don’t speak, act.” Then they said ” and stop lying you troll I’m not your friend.”

I was being genuine and appreciative and friendly. Sorry if calling someone a “friend” and saying good post leads to character assassination. For the record I DO tell the truth, and i DO ACT.
Sick of assholes whose mission is to put good people down. From hence forth I’m being less friendly, less honest and won’t dare call anyone a friend. Yes i know the difference between an online friend and a IRL friend, sonetimes people can be both, sonetimes just an acqaintance. Too many truly shirty souls out there. FUCK this.

Choice

thHere’s to you, a sterile woman

for your children will not

inherit the earth

whilst underneath your sweating arms

tired with empty burdens

you hold up the belief

less is more and more

is not always best

if that ruffles a few feathers

puts a nose out of joint

causes a skirmish

so be it

you will stand

among the tall old men with their placards

of ‘don’t kill babies’ and headless dolls

throwing fake blood at women

who enter the sanctum

you will stand and spread

your merciful wings

shining they stretch

to cover even the fearful

do not be afraid you say

I will see you safe

murderers! murderers!

the tall old men shout

rattling their signs and faux uterus

rot in hell!

the words of a good Christian

spat on her dress a glob of hate

you feel nothing no damage

you are the light who guides

these women have decided

and it is their right

not an easy choice

but one they alone should make

not governments or men

with signs and garish photographs

of bloody murder as they proclaim

swearing hate with

bible in one shaking hand

where lies

their mercy?

 

she sits here

in a quiet kitchen

without children underfoot

longing

empty

sad

and is still

and is yet

glad

to protect the ones who can

choose

as she cannot

for her womb

is absent and if they knew

the haters would

say

this is God’s doing

you deserve to be barren

damn you

such is the gentle heart

of a believer

 

Many women I encounter say they would never have an abortion because of their personal beliefs but equally they would never take away the option for someone else. That is what this is all about. Choice. Personally I have noticed  a shift toward restricting/banning abortion, swings-and-roundabouts, in 20 more years it’s going to shift the other way. Point being, abortion is never ideal, but the right to make a choice is an ideal worth striving for, worrying that this is being ignored. When you search for pro-choice online there is not as much as pro-life, giving the impression we’re shifting radically. I’d say it’s more the vehemence of extremists scaring others to speak out, thus I speak out, as a woman who cannot have children and would love to, but believes others need to make their own choices about their own bodies. Will be interesting how many followers I lose by the days end. And that’s okay.