Leaving WordPress – (but you are coming with me)

After numerous appeals to WordPress I did not get my ability to follow other WP authors reinstated. It was horribly unfair and ties my hands on WP, as part of my job is discovering and publishing talent. I’m disappointed, but I want to move on positively. In order to do this, I have decided to leave WordPress rather than condoning them.

One of my best friends built me a site. I have WordPress Reader and all those whom I follow (before I was banned from following any more) and all those who follow me (and you can continue to) will be exported with me so I can continue to read you. www.thefeatheredsleep.com

If you are not following me, you still can. When you go to my new page it gives you a way to follow me by email (Subscribe to Blog via Email on the right-hand-side of the page). If you subscribe, I will show up in your WP-Reader. www.thefeatheredsleep.com

My best friends online (although I’ve met many in real life by now) were found on WordPress. The caliber of people on WP is outstanding. I literally have met people I adore. If not for Mark, Philip, Tremaine and Susi, I might never have survived the worst of my illness and those people and others, are life-long friends.

Recently, we had a big loss in the WP community when Sue Vincent died, she was widely respected and I respected her deeply as a colleague. Her bright spirit infused everyone. Her life has touched myself and others deeply in many ways. It was actually the non creative writing that touched me the most. The her in herself. The woman she was. The process of her life.

A few years ago, we lost Paul, and many of us still remember him and think of his face. I have a photo of him that comes up in my memories often, and I never deleted his last message to me. He was one of my first friends on WP aside Eric, Rita, Tony, Pelgris, and Monique and we all knew him and cared about him. His death was tragic and senseless. Monique and I talk of him every time we talk. He walks with us.

When Natalie Scarberry passed, it was gut-wrenching. She had fought so many battles in life, and was such a rare human being because despite being in her 70’s she still had TIME for people, she still could talk about ‘a bad day‘ or empathize with others, and often life beats that out of you, but it didn’t with her. Despite having difficulties with her own mom, she was a surrogate mom to many of us. I keep her photo in my room and I think of her a lot. She will always be with me. Not in the pithy sense, but the truest sense.

Even when sick, Natalie was encouraging and loving. She wrote this on one of my posts;

You know how a pin ball machine hits all those things that make noise; when you write like this one that is so honest and raw it feels like a pin ball is hitting everything that has ever hurt me or touched me deeply and I have to wonder how that can be. And I feel sure others who read your words are impacted in the same way. You have an incredible way of understanding all the sham of life and the betrayals, we as flawed and broken humans, are subject to. Reading this was heartbreaking and at the same time spelling binding in its profound insights of existence in a fallen and flawed world.

We should never forget the value of true support and selflessness.

With each person lost, I have felt such emotions that have taught me more value and a greater understanding of the most enduring things in life. I have literally grown in my heart and soul because of knowing these people and being briefly connected to them. I shall never, ever forget them.

I am so proud of every single one of you who has been in an Indie Blu(e) anthology and as our company gets larger and more successful, we hope to have more breadth to share the works of such talented writers and artists – whom we have mostly met via WP. What a sad story then that WP would ban me from following new talent, because of an algorithm? That said, I am determined to continue to support those talents in whatever way I can and balance my day job alongside my Indie Blu(e) work, because it has literally been one of the most meaningful things I have done in years.

Thank you all. I hope you come with me when I go. Because I have learned, in going, you never really leave.

RIP Natalie, Paul, Sue & all our WP friends who have passed, but stay firmly in our hearts. We see you. We love you.

Please consider following me if you don’t already, at www.thefeatheredsleep.com

Also thanks to: Tara, Christine, Derrick & Jaqui Knight,, Jane, Erik, Mark & Chris Renney, Merril, Cordelia, Holly, Monique, Dorlinda, Bob, Aakriti, Sarah Doughty, Devika, Little Charmer, TGFJ, Philip, Helene, Mr Militant Negro, SonofaBeach, Basil, Raili, Crow, Megha, Laurie, Sunshine Jensen, AND SunJesper, Kindra, LIB, Nicolas, SuddenDenouement, Nicole Lyons, Dev, HastyWords, Black Duck, Cyranny Skye/, HMS, Henna, Braeden, Carol, JaneB, RobT, Anya,
Contoveros, Charlie, Nathalie, Sabrina, Em, Richard, Jaya, SNTC, Bjorn, Sue, John, Audrey, Rpoetry, Wallace, NFW, Chris, Peter, Teti, Mani, Amitav, My Jewish Sister, Lunar, slpmartin, OP, SHL, Lamar, SFD, ELR, Tanya, Forrest, Sol, Sheldon, JAGL, Keith, KMF, NFW, MSP, TCFC, GhostWriter, Janet Wright, Vidur, Joseph, Jacqui, Ashley, TRP, Andrew, TBP, Ken, Dawn, YOU, Betty Albright, Ivor, Ogden, TBFO, Penny, EOB2, Smita, Willow, Petru, Earthwalking, David, HLR, Perditus, EFTDN, Poet Pas, Jude, H&R, Carol, Eric, Jonathan, Krissy, EDCW, Ali, robertgoldstein, Merbear, Jasper, Annette, Meg, SliceTheLife, CODS, GC, Vic CigarMan, Bethany, Maureen, Emma, Ameena, BCB, Maria, S&B, Morgan, Kim, Eugenia, Day, ChrisR, Usha, Melissa, mylifeandme, anitabacha.com, Samyra, saynotoclowns, Spiritkeeper, Jade, TTT, PFTP, TH, EOL, SageFemme, Amir, and everyone else.

WordPress #2

I feel discouraged by WordPress (WP) banning my personal site (this) for life from following other WordPress sites. I have written letters of explanation to WP, explaining if I ‘followed’ 30 people’s sites in one day, it may be because I’m not on WP often (I pre-schedule posts) and follow handfuls of people at a time for the purpose of garnering talented writers. WP banned me FOR LIFE from following any further WP sites, and has refused my numerous appeals. It behooves them for people like myself to promote WP authors through publications, I did no harm but am treated like I’m Trump and it’s Twitter. After 7 years on WP it’s disheartening. I cannot leave WP because I’ve built my site and contacts there. The bigger picture discourages me. To work so hard and get slapped down. I feel social media can do this with us writers/editors/publishers when it ignores the hard work we do. I hear this from FB folk all the time whose personal pages are ignored. I wish there were some way to push back. When all we are doing is creative work. How is that in the same ballpark as spamming? Would any of those who I followed really have objected my following? When it gave them a chance to find out about publishing opportunities.

WordPress

I have been given a life time ban of ever following any site on WP. This because once I was temporarily stopped from following other authors because I followed 25 WP sites in a day. Then they banned me.

I did that because I schedule posts and am not on WP every day. When I come and see comments from new authors and go to their sites and like their work, I want to follow them.

WP told me I couldn’t possibly read the number of sites I follow (700). But that’s not for them to decide given I read periodically great numbers and SIXTY percent of some books I’ve been part of publishing/editing are people we have met and read on WP!! Maybe higher.

I regularly promote OTHERS. How is this spam behavior? How does my behavior justify a life time ban of following people? It cripples me. I cannot change to another site because I built here and have many friends and colleagues here.

So it is not justifiable. Nor was it respectful. My job here is finding talent for our work. How is that spamming or undermining WP?

In fact, WP should be glad we highlight WP authors. Isn’t that the point of platforms like WP?

I’m not Trump. I shouldn’t be banned for life. I asked them what is a number I can follow without being barred from following? Instead of giving me that option they just banned me for life.

People may follow me and wonder why I don’t, when I want to. I won’t see their posts because I’m not able to follow them. I understand rules. But this isn’t right because it was wrong of them to assume I followed a writer for likes. I’ve never cared about likes that much, as anyone who knows me can attest. This is about doing my job. And highlighting work including a book of my own, I have coming out. How can I promote anything if I cannot freely follow anyone ever again?

I’m dealing with a very serious issue right now so I haven’t been able to act on this yet but I do intend to protest this legally when I can. Rules are great but they must also make sense and be intelligent.

Am sorry if you follow me as I cannot anymore follow you. I will fight to be treated fairly.

What’s is remembered, lives.

When you die

people will talk you up

fatten your totem pole into fierce faces

of defiance

because you were strong, because your blood carried

the weight of your legacy and your ancestors

when you die

I will wear your ring on my finger if I am still around

and every sunset will pull the moon down

her mauve redolence

aching in my chest

to hold you against me

for when you die

memory will become a marriage

between us, and the ether

I will live in the past ever more so

recalling the days we spent

living our life in each other’s gastropods 

it is my belief we carry within us

the seeds of ancestors and loved ones

blood and violets, oshibana in focus

and each step we make on this earth

we walk alongside the invisible ones

who hold us up when the going gets tough

recently, the going has been very tough and I have

beseeched the stoicism of those who are not here

to see me through

I don’t have their solidity, you know

nor their earnest lust for life

at times I think a brawny wind could

carry me off

I have at best, one foot on the ground

the other is hurtling in a rêver

a dream of less grief, less pain

where we can unfurrow our sails

and drift on burnished water

I was asked not long ago

what I most wanted out of life

and it seemed such a banal question

when struggling to survive

but really that’s the point isn’t it?

To keep putting one foot in front of the other

staring at the setting sun as it blooms

fattened orb of life

just as capable of destroying

a metaphor surely …

for our riddled

minds

(homage to Nomadland)

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.

The Late Colonialist

rochaMany years ago when her ancestors wore

petticoats

white skinned women like herself were considered

in shallow groups of weak-chinned groups

the ultimate prize.

She recalls the stories she’s read

racism tied with a daggered bow

servants without souls or so

they liked to judge and damn

whilst still they raped and plundered behind

their wives fine china sets

the ‘help’ though slavery is more accurate a term

for no choice was made nor proffered.

Years ago and still present

people swerve away from black men

in hooded tops

when really they ought to be looking at

white men in high rise buildings making

corporate decisions

as the enemy of us all.

She looks in the tall mirror, her hand on a DNA report

the wonders of 21st century finding out too much

seeing her ancestors gallop

through the thick red wine of French blood

how much do they have on their hands?

What side on the Revolution did they stand?

She sees how fair skin is more prone

to stretch marks and ageing

she carries hereditary thrombosis throbbing in

her thin veins and the genes of her light colored

eyes have cataracts to look forward to.

At least she doesn’t have Celiac Disease

roiling in her belly, rebelling against

the abundant wheat field

instead she realizes

she is alive in the wrong colored body, in a too late era

to matter much anymore

where now women of ebony and brown and russet

conquer the rhetoric in their claim

finally the prize after decades of denial and she

ordinary, flab, drab, pale, wane, yesterday’s news

they say it really isn’t about that

when they pass her over for someone from

Uganda or Iran but she knows better

Kardashian or Iman Bowie

she knows the enticement of dark eyed girls

their thick hair and beautiful skin

she is just a late magnolia weeping

waxy and left too long on the branch

maybe she is paying for what ancestral harm

was done

back then and still now, depending on what

part of town.

Men tell her; I like your slim ankles

you look fetching in that blue dress

but their eyes betray their digression

it is not her they will ever want

she has nothing of the difference they crave

imbued with rainbow continent

spiced with unknowns and becomings

the raven always the raven, ever the ebon bird

who with her glorious chiseled features

captures their unfurling lust.

She is relieved in a way

nobody comes calling for her

existing behind glass in her pressed skirts

although still young, she feels she has

lived too long and it is better

in the vapor of silence

watching her reflection get lost

in the setting of the sun

over Africa’s

weeping trees whispering karma

to turquoise and orange

land.

Don’t have that kid

xrays-for-hearts

The therapist leaned back in her chair

light from the window framing the space in-between

“Your mother didn’t leave you now, she left you at six, many years ago

you cannot grief for, what you have never had.”

I thought of this as the clock wound its message of time

always against us, years apart, years unlearning reasons to love.

“What purpose is served in trying to reconcile when you neither know

why she has never loved you, nor what you did to cause this latest eruption

and given the certainty of it, perhaps consider, it’s the other way around, not

whole then broken, but always broken and never fixed.”

I tried to remember the last time I saw my mother. For a moment

I could not recall her face, or what she was wearing that last time

and my chest felt tight with anger at myself until it came and she

was real once more. I reached out in my mind, the way I have been

doing since childhood and tried to touch her, the image as always

grew dim and receded.

“The history as I understand it is, you never resented your mother

for leaving you at six, you defended this action when others condemned her

because you just wanted her to be happy, that was always more important

than your own happiness.”

I nodded dumbly. Silent and unable to articulate any further

response.

“She clearly did not wish to have children, that is no shame upon her,

however she did have a child and she left that child, with little regard for

that child afterward.”

I thought of the brief lunches, the walks down shopping districts, my

wanting to carry her bags even when smaller than her, a protective

fierce desire to do something, anything to win favor. How time seemed

so very, very short in those days, of fleeting moments built on years.

Want being the predominant emotion, desire for, longing, missing,

apart from, that continuation of chasing shadows.

“She had her own life.” I replied. Thinking of one of our last conversations

where she said; “Candy I don’t understand this need you have to be close

to your parents, I was never close to mine, you are an adult, you should

have your own life, when I married my second husband he became

my life. That is how it should be. We should not hold onto our parents like that

it is not healthy.”

As much as it cut me, like that metal string used to carve cheese blocks

I knew a part of me agreed with the part of her

who spoke of practicality rather than ‘duty’ and freedom over

the slavish obligation to ‘feel’ a certain way about people whom

many times we did not have connection with.

I recalled how much she disliked her mother, who was gauche, and

could not spell and only wore trousers and sensible shoes, who laughed

a lot and could sing bawdy songs and may have been unpolished

but also did not really defend her daughter against things

unbidden in the dark.

“My mother saw me as being like her mother, whom she

was not fond of. I was not the sort of daughter she would have chosen

had she had a choice, I had some things going for me, that she was proud

of, like my ability to socialize and make friends, she was always quite

cerebral and found it fascinating. She liked how I was good at gymnastics

and physical things, but my mind was not her mind, I didn’t inherit

her abilities, I was too emotional, too needy.”

“Perhaps it’s human nature to have a favorite child, to see yourself in one

of your children over another, to have preferences, but

if you condemn a child just for being different you are

instilling a life time of approbation and it seems, she was

treated very well by her grandparents who thought highly of her,

even her parents, building an ego and self-confidence, something

she never did for you, instead knocking you down, where you

didn’t have the ability to be so egocentric even if you had

tried.”

I recalled the time she told me she had never forgiven me

for my past crimes, I could not recall what they were, I do not

think she could either, it was more of a sour feeling she had

which I reminded her of, a mistrust, we both have that in

common, an inability to trust anyone, we do not sleep

sitting up, we take a long time to switch off, I found this

similarity comforting, she did not know it existed or the other

things we had in common, there were many.

“If I believed in myself as much as her, I would surely have

gotten a different response. But it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, if

you taint the ground water, the flower never thrives.”

In her garden, she grew roses, her mother grew roses too, one

Birthday I bought her many plants, she said they died because

of the weather, I knew she had not watered them, I did not

know how to reach her or please her. Lord I tried.

“She made it clear to you she did not need you or want you

in her life, she said she had not forgiven you for past trespasses

suggesting the woman who proclaimed not living in the past

held grudges from the past toward her only daughter

quite thoroughly.”

I knew what the death knell was, I knew it was a combination

of speaking out about my grandfather, her father, what he

was guilty of doing, and this, not out of malice or a wish to shame

but a desire to move beyond, to save, to love. It was the worst

idea and despite not being from a place of hate, was taken

as a betrayal, she is a lot like me, she finds it very hard

to overcome betrayal, it stays with her a long time, she

may grow used to pretending she is okay with it, but

at the back of her mind she seethes.

The second death knell was when my father, who

most of his life gave the text book definition of impartial

uninvolved, stood up for me against my mother not

wishing to destroy anyone but due to my illness and seeing

how much I had endured, thinking kicking me when I was

down was not right, he said so, and she never, ever

spoke to either of us again. My father who had lost his

brother decided this was okay because he said, life is too

short, although in truth, we were

all more than that, far more than that, our blood was shared

in a maze of snakes, I wished so much it had not come to

this place of emptiness.

“Your mother knows how to love and protect herself and that is

about it, she may feign love for others, but the truth remains

she is mostly concerned about surviving and whatever it takes

and that does not include you, never has, you are really an

after thought or something to feel guilty for.”

“I didn’t want her to feel guilty.” I said, thinking of

our conversation when she left, I am six, I sit in bed, my toys

are watching in the dark, their glass eyes gleam, she is crying

I have not seen my mother cry but maybe twice, I sense

she is on the edge, I want to help her fly, it doesn’t matter how

I feel it matters only that I save her, I tell her I love her and she

must do what she needs to. I meant it then, I mean it now, and

yet she thinks I am her enemy

which destroys me, every time I think about it, with her

father, the true enemy of us both, but she cannot allow this

truth to exist, as he is her maker, she must venerate his memory

even as he caused this breakage, even as we pay him homage in

our exile, she would choose him over me, the daughter whom

despite her belief otherwise, has never betrayed her, has never

been against her. I hear her say to me; “You must talk badly about me

as you criticize your father to me, you must equally condemn me to

him when you speak, you are two-faced, I have never trusted you.”

Words can be knives, they can be sharper than nightmares

piercing our armor, our very life blood, the sustaining force

we try to hold together with rags and pins, I wanted to scream and

say; “Please do not see me this way, you say I scared you with my

illness and you can not handle me calling upset, or afraid, yet

your husbands ex wife called regularly with just the same, you did not

banish her, and your husbands daughters did nothing of what

I did all those years, yet they are never wrong, how can this

double-standard exist when you know the truth?” My last

words; “I will always be here for you.” Asking her to speak to

me, be in my life, give me nothing but that, and she has

that power to say no, which she uses.

She would not hear because she has her version

although truth has no version only truth

I wish so much she could see how things really were

how beautiful we could be in those moments when

it worked and we laid down any grudge in favor of joy

life after all, is so short, so very, very short.

When you don’t matter to your own mother it is

hard to imagine why you should ever matter to

anyone

this is probably what I have struggled with the most

all of my life, though that is my fault for not being

stronger

feeling I am not worthy and there is no reason anyone should

want me or love me, or not betray me

I try hard, but I fail, again and again

it does not help that nightmares come true, you fear

and so it happens, she walks away, she does not

look back.

I hear her laughing somewhere, I hear her

living her life without me until one of us is gone for good

and then it will be forever too late

“She told me she read a poem I wrote years ago where

I wished that she was dead, but that was not the poem

I wrote, I wrote that I had felt the loss of

her all this time as if she were not alive, because when you lose

someone who is alive, it is worse in some ways than

when they are dead. That is what I meant, but she chose

to see it as my wishing her dead, which is the opposite

of every prayer I have ever had. As a child I would beg

the God I did not believe in, to save my mother

to keep her from harm. And the God I did not believe in

would not reply. Angered maybe that I did not, could not

believe or have faith,

in anything.”

The therapist remained silent, I knew from experience

a mixture of wishing I could just get over my goddamn

childhood and grow the fuck up, or is that me talking? Is

that my mother? I hear her voice often, sometimes she is

singing at a piano in the bar where she met my father

and I am as yet born, I go up to her, I am wearing a black

jacket and it has piping down the sides, I ask her not

to keep the pregnancy; “Take it from me lady, it’s better that

way, if you believe one thing, this is it, don’t have that kid.”

And I have a Southern Drawl which of course I have

never possessed, but how I wish she heard me and

I was never consummated, even as friends decry this, with

platitudes of; “Oh but think of the difference you have had

on this world!” Oh give me a break, none of us really matter

and if we could undo our existence, is that so bad? Is it as

wrong as taking an overdose? No, of course not, so get

over it.

I recall once she said I would

never be as talented as her and I could not write and then

I showed her my novel and she actually liked parts of it, yes

she cannot help condemning and criticizing, it is who she is;

The Editor, someone who knows and has a red pen

the very opposite of her parents, her weak mother who

did not stand up for her, her father who loved her the

wrong way, but what is wrong between blood? A lot I think.

When she liked a part of it, much as she tried to say it was

all irredeemable, I saw the surprise on her face and that

tendency toward hurting me and I felt happier than I ever

had just for a moment, before it was lost, thinking she was

proud of me. “You can’t take that away.” I shout up to

The Fates who have decided we are not to be together

in this life time and since there is no other (life time)

this is it, a separation, every day I live knowing she lives

and we are apart, it feels like someone has a hot iron

they are pressing it against my heart. Maybe it makes me

who I am, someone who cares too much, not everyone’s

cup of tea. Some people hate me on sight. Just like that.

I wonder, did she? Did she? Did she?

She said; Don’t lie about who you are,” but

we have all done it, it’s part of our fantasy, especially

if we hate ourselves, the only choice, else we’d not be able

to do anything and that was my father’s choice, one I

didn’t want to emulate, I had to find a way to function

without excuses, she couldn’t understand, she has a lot of

self faith, I had none, she abhors liars, but she lies too, only

better.

You see, I looked up to my mother

she used to say; “Never have idols, they are unhealthy.” She also

told me not to drink orange or apple juice, I did listen and

now I have no cavities, that is her doing, many things are

her doing, good things along side holes and pits. But

she was her own idol just as she was mine, so really

that’s a moot point, for a little child, watching her mother

who is always out of reach, I hear myself say; “Please. Please

don’t go away, don’t do this again.” Maybe that is

why she did, because she had the power, over me

who else would ask her to stay? Who else wants her?

Or any of us? Who? Foolishly I thought as we grew

older she would need me, that was a really stupid

thought, I berate myself, I never did predict her,

she is quite wild and untamed, a good thing, my heart

has loved her unwaveringly all these years

it has made me who I am in so many ways

good or bad, such as it is, I have grown on

a mixture of pain and loss, like a thin weed

can make life from between two stone slabs

but usually come the first flood or drought

it will be the first to

wither. She said; “You caused yourself to get sick”

I could tell her what the doctors said about smoking

during pregnancy or how my stomach has never been

okay, how can a child cause their own sickness even

before they get sick? No. No. It wasn’t me.

She is rarely sick, she has the fortitude of someone

who would will away sickness, I believe it. I try, I do not

succeed. Many times daily I speak to her in my

head just like when she brought me a marzipan frog

from a trip and I could not eat it, as it would mean

losing something of hers, so I coveted it, and she said;

“that’s so pathetic, you always do that, look now it’s spoiled and you

did not even get to taste it.” I could not tell her

“Oh yes I did, every night, when I looked at it, I thought

of you and hoped you loved me, and this gave me

so much joy, I was literally grown fat with it.”

What kind of lesbian would I be if I were born today?

two women kissing while wrapped in rainbow flag
Photo by Karina Irias on Pexels.com

I see your pictures on social media

a part of me is envious

of your freedom

even though women many years before

either of us

had absolutely no freedom and only those

with enough money could consider taking

a woman as their lover

it is hard to imagine

each generation I suspect

forgets the sacrifices of the last

cannot envision a time when

it was illegal to love

my experience was never that awful

I had freedoms many women still do not possess

and I am grateful for that

but sometimes when I see your

youthful face and the grace with which you accept love

how natural and easy it feels

I recall how I began

hiding in dark bars, trying to fit in, failing

never one to play endless games of poker face

I didn’t fit in with my own kind then

but if I’d been you

born in the sun with your turquoise eyes like the Donovan song

I might have had on my arm

a whole host of dreams and not

dabbled in boys for a few futile and unhappy years or

felt I couldn’t have had children and let

my fear and my constraint decide for me

the future

you are the age my daughter might be

and I would like to think I’d have

done all you have done had I been born

in a time of greater acceptance where

women who love women can grow their hair

and not have to cling to stereotypes or subterfuge

carrying knots of shame and confusion

like blankets never stretched out and slept on

I would have gotten a tattoo and maybe

been less shy and apologetic

I remember at 18 that’s all I seemed to do

sorry to my family for not having turned out straight

sorry to my friends for being the odd one out

sorry to the gays on the march who thought

with my dresses and my long tresses I was a weekend

lesbian

if they only knew

what it took and what I sacrificed

maybe they understand now

but we’re all a little older and

you don’t recapture what you felt at 18

you remember it like a language

I spoke the language of trial and error

I suspect you speak the language of love

just a little freer

so forgive me if I envy you as you walk past me

hand in hand, laughing, the edges of your hair

hitting your waist

like a Summer tidal wave.

SMITTEN – This is What Love Looks Like – Poetry by women for women – an anthology of poetry published by Indie Blu(e) will be out OCTOBER 2019 and available through all good book sellers. Please consider following SMITTEN’s FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/

If you are interested in supporting this project in any way please contact me @ candicedaquin@gmail.com. All LGBTQ projects are a little more challenging to succeed and we want the 120_+ poets who have work in SMITTEN to be read by many! Indie Blu(e) and their submissions rules can be found at www.indieblu.net69885770_486778818770380_803119555336470528_n

14 YEAR OLD BOYS AREN’T THE GOSPEL – For Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week (this year the focus is body image)

14 YEAR OLD BOYS AREN’T THE GOSPEL

The year we held a Madonna competition I was flat chested
Boys said; Asprins on an ironing board
Girls said; You can’t dance with us
The exclusion felt … hot pink and slimy
I wore black elastic bands on my wrists to hide the snub

The year he asked me out because Zoe had said no
He said; Zoe is taller than you, you look quite SQUAT
He said; Zoe has tanned skin, why do you always BURN
He said; You give good head but it’s a shame you aren’t Zoe
I threw up in the bathroom to hide the shame

The year my best friend taught me how to binge and purge
She said; You’ll soon have a waist as small as mine
She said; When you feel sad put your fingers down your throat
She said; Skinny is the new superpower for girls
I quit dance class because I didn’t have the energy anymore

The year I tried to stop giving a shit
I said; Fuck it. I’m me. I can’t be anything else I WAS BORN THIS WAY
I said; I may never love myself enough but I’m damn well not going to destroy me
I said; Hate the image in the mirror, at least love the inside
I said; Someone will always want to put you down, don’t give them the power

The next year I still didn’t wear bathing suits, I still walked with my shoulders rounded
But I didn’t have raw knuckles and I didn’t survive on the opinion of 14 year old boys

A decade later at an art show we meet again, he’s going bald
He said; You look fantastic. I don’t remember why we broke up
He said; I always thought you were the hottest girl in school
He said; Want to fool around behind this Van Gough?
I quit listening and wished I’d learned not to at 14.
What you think is important then, usually is not.
Try to love who you are. Perfect is an illusion and 14 year old boys aren’t the gospel. We don’t all have to be Zoe.

Compulsion

I just watched the amazing film Bohemian Rhapsody. Let me ask you something … if I begin this post with; “And I wanted to talk about being gay” How many of you would stop reading? Ask yourselves, what does that really say about you?

I want to talk about being gay. Watching the story of Freddie Mercury it struck me (again) how the tiny minority of people who are gay (not bisexual) still struggle. You may ask why or point to more worthy causes to talk about …

Imagine being 1/2 percent of the population. Maybe you already are. That’s how many women are lesbians and men are roughly 2/3 percent. Bisexuality is far more prevalent, however 85% of women who are bisexual end up married to man, which begs the question, is there such as thing as ‘true’ bisexuality’ or is there just a desire to play both sides until you settle down, invariably with someone of the same gender?

Either way, ‘true’ queer women are rare. For men, those who are bisexual tend to end up being with men. It begs the question – do these stats indicate being a lesbian is not a life style many people choose or want to adopt? Or simply, that most women have a tendency toward heterosexuality as their preference?

My unscientific viewpoint for what it’s worth is; Men who have sex with men tend to be with men maybe because to ‘go there’ is almost indelible? Whereas sexuality for women is more fluid, and whilst they may like having sex with another woman and find her attractive, it’s not enough of a hook. Is sexuality and gayness a preference? I don’t think so, which means the ‘true’ number of gays is smaller than we even credit.

I personally don’t understand why more men are gay than women, as I am biased and see a lot more to be attracted to in a woman than a man (although they are harder to go out with because they are more demanding and selfish and less romantic). Irrespective, a man who is attracted to men, doesn’t go back and forth as much, a woman who is attracted to women may well end up with a man as other considerations come into play. To me, this isn’t being gay – it’s just having fun. Maybe I’m saying being gay is massively different to being bisexual.

I would imagine the negatives about bisexuality are; judgment from both sides, and that’s about it. If you are totally gay then the negatives include persecution, ostracizing, not fitting in, having no role models, no representation and most of all – feeling weird because 99/98 percent of the world doesn’t ‘get’ you and where you are coming from.

How many times have I been told by a woman that they find other women attractive but they can’t really understand wanting to be with a woman for any length of time – interestingly not because of sex, most women like oral sex, but because of the high maintenance being with a woman entails and how nice it is when a man romances you. It is true, it’s rarer and finding it with a woman, well you often end up having to do all the work and while men are good at that, women aren’t as much.

Hence why of those relationships that last, the classical butch/femme roles tend to work out best because the lesbians who are butch want to imitate a man and romance the woman and the femme is happy. I realize that’s a negative stereotyping of female-female relationships but there is also some truth.

Thinking about the AIDS era (which has never entirely left us and now that there are new drugs that people can take to reduce their likelihood of HIV exposure, where’s the incentive to continue to practice safe sex?) and how many gay men (and others) died and the terrible things that were said about them and how generations exist now that know nothing of this and how it will be forgotten …

I remember I was very young but I heard people say things like; “AIDS is killing the queers its divine justice” That told me early on that gay people were not equal and would never be treated equally behind closed doors. At one point in my life I was in the closet because it was easier and unlike a person of color, a gay person can often be in the closet to avoid prejudice. I’d not been in the closet before and suddenly I was privy to the things straight people said about gays when they didn’t think one of them was listening. I realized that this had all been said of me when I wasn’t in the closet but behind my back.

Then the other aspect to consider is the gay community and how judging and excluding it can be and how for many queers, fitting in with their own gay ‘family’ doesn’t always come easy or at all. I personally tend not to get on with gays, I have found them to often possess the worst traits of heterosexuals which deeply disappoints me. Lesbians judge you for not being queer enough, or act like swaggering men. Gay men can be such divas that they own the sarcasm and bitchiness in the room.

Does it mean you’re a ‘bad’ queer if you don’t feel in with ‘your people’? And yet … why assume just because you share one thing in common, you’ll get along? I’m sure I share something in common with Trump as well … point made.

The female gay world is divided into sections, either you’re a successful, educated career person in which case you go to exclusive things and judge those who are not on your level. You only date those who are like you, and you have high expectations as well as demanding those women you date are athletic, social and above all, status and financially successful.

The other group are the more neighborhood based gays, and the clubs teem with liars, frauds and fakes alongside players, druggies and alcoholics. If you imagine being heterosexual and reducing the number of options you have from roughly 48% to 1/2% you probably wouldn’t find someone you liked either. And let’s for not forget, if you’re straight and you see someone in the street or anywhere, you can essentially flirt with them without fear. But how can you tell when someone may be gay? Contrary to popular opinion, the gay-dar doesn’t work THAT well. So you are further restricted to mind-reading, falling in love with heterosexuals or going to gay clubs where the worst reside.

Boo Hoo right? A hard life. But not nearly as hard as many others. Combine that with a co-morbidity of higher rates of depression/anxiety (no wonder) and all the accompanying aspects that may accompany homosexuality and a life time of being shamed, ridiculed, the odd one out, and it’s not simply one issue, it’s everything.

There have been times I wished fervently not to be gay. I got fed-up of having a crush on my straight friend who wouldn’t like me if I were the last person standing, I saw how well men can treat women, I envied the heterosexual world. That’s why being gay is no choice, as most who had one, wouldn’t choose it.

That said it’s not all negative. Some of the best parts of my life have been as a result of being gay. Watching the film on Freddie Mercury really affected me profoundly because it reminded me that only a few years ago in my city there were stickers condemning gays having the right to marry, that my own life has been severely disrupted/destroyed for several reasons related to being gay, and how many gays have suffered over the years.

I may not be a huge fan of this modern world – 2018 onward – and I may hark beck to ‘better’ eras as I perceive them, BUT I know things are improving for gays and I hope one day, being gay is not something that will pull you down and give you pain. It will be what it is meant to be, a natural minority who see things differently but are in every other way part of us all.

Spare a thought for gays even as you think they have all their rights now and should stop complaining. It is not as simple as possessing rights. Gays are still more likely to commit suicide, have addictions, mental illness, be ostracized from family and be beaten up and murdered. Gays can often be very isolated, their pain not taken seriously, and feel alone even among ‘their kind’ and it really does make a difference to us when someone, irrespective of gender, befriends us and likes us for who we are, without being uncomfortable around us.

A friend for a gay person has twice the value because we never take it for granted and we always feel so lucky. After all, most of us living, remember a time when admitting you were gay would guarantee nobody would be your friend. Therefore, thank you for all who show kindness to us, and remember, compassion is the only thing that compensates for the erstwhile damage human beings have historically wrought, both on minorities of all kinds and our planet.

I dream of a world where it will be okay to walk down the street and not worry about holding hands with the person you love, when it will be comfortable to kiss someone you’re with, in public, without fearing being beaten up. Just as women worldwide, dream of walking down a street without being raped. I believe this day can come, if all of us have the patience to see the value of talking about this and not saying ‘I’m so fed up with the gay agenda or the feminist agenda’ and switching off. Until we have true equality, the only thing we can do is bring awareness and hope in turn, it produces change.

Oh, and to those bisexuals? Yeah. Sorry. But on the other hand, I’ve got a point. Can’t you sometimes choose the girl? 😉

Go see Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s incredible.