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.

Tell me then

20150820121056_00001It’s not all about me.

We look up at the sky, wondering who is looking down.

It’s not all about me.

As we age, moments catch us like snags on

favorite cardigans

mended but never the same

too good for charity, too flawed to sell

value in sentiment and what was once

at first glance, flawless

as if such a thing matters after a while

too late we see this

after years of staring into mirrors thinking

if I were just a little prettier they would … love me, desire me, need me

it’s not all about me

or the holes we mend, attempting to recreate

but you find that out after many errors and so

is it any wonder the old will smile wistfully and proclaim

youth is wasted on the young

just as bras that are uncomfortable

are the domain of insecure girls like I was

clinging to images and totems

rather than digging my heels in and

staring upward at the sky

heavy with impending storm

so we left our youth like a shed skin

and not knowing of this wasteland stumbled

catching glimpses of who we were before

fear made us raw

the taste of elements on your tongue

every superstition a reminder

what you don’t know can harm

and then

letting go because the weight is

crushing you into absorbing mud

drying your scream

wondering

what did my ancestors feel? As they walked

witness to the stillness of night and

the unseen murmur of what could and is not

like a giant ships knot

impossible to pick

halts momentum

I stood like an ice princess

poised to act

and turned to fat

turned inside out and back

like a flipping cat will somersault maybe eight times

landing on his feet

my soles are sore

with the burden of myself

all those unlicked envelopes containing

individual tethers to places in time

experiences, terrors, lessons

and the well-worn knees of an ardent repenter

who throws down their sin

and still it sticks to him for one and the same

we become, with our habits and our movement

gliding through the years like ivory comb

will stick in tangled hair and pull

some loose

I dangle

from a mountain of my own making

all the aches, those childish glimmers

reflecting across the lake like

long fingers will create sound

we move to instinctively

tell me then

how to absolve myself of the penchant

for avoiding hard things

tell me then

how we live, in still life, arranged on a table

like hot watermelon, freshly sliced, drips its

sticky insides

tell me then

the exact mixture to eliminate that

terrible awareness you have

mastered easy ways out

only to find yourself

grown over with maze

tell me then

is it too late

when the hour strikes

and your reflection is almost unrecognized

to return and begin again

that clear, straight path

you once believed yourself on

before you lost courage

The fantasy held by someone else

il_570xN.690115987_nnkdNever been good at receiving, prefer to give, in all things …

I gave you everything I had left, it wasn’t much, a persistent hole, had formed long ago and I was seeping out.

I look whole, but that’s just mythology. I may outwardly appear, to stand upright, but in truth I sag, even in wind.

If I had more I would have given it. You believed I did, as many before you did. I call that the capture of delusion, you see in me, what you want to see, not who is actually standing there.

And if I were a pirate, I’d have a wooden leg and a parrot. If I were a dragon, well hell, I’d be a dragon (and yes, I really want to be a dragon).

The doctor said I had a flabby heart, and still you believe me an angel. But angels play the lyre with taut string, not my kind of slack gut.

It didn’t really surprise me, at ten years, on the gym mats I recall my calves like moon cows, soft and milky, against tight sun-honed legs of my friends.

I remember when he took my blouse off and exclaimed; have you had children? A euphemism for losing the fight with gravity (even then, so long ago). Or standing on a chair, in the student dorm, to see orange peel running its fingers down my legs.

You never knew these things, you built an image of me from Ralph Lauren advertisements and The Blue Lagoon. You added my French ancestry and your own penchant for leather, making me an exotic bird I never was. Though if I had feathers, they would be tropical-coral.

It was addictive, to be seen through your lens, though I knew it faulty. Whom among us, does not want to be special and rarefied, if just once? And like an addict, I couldn’t wean myself far, from your camera, I didn’t want to go back to being, the flabby-hearted, plain- faced fish in the sea.

Try as I might, reality never lives up to the dream, or possession of desire. These are self-fed lures and we,  the hungry carp, falling for our own tricks, being pulled from our refuge of water, lain out, gasping on shore.

As we lose the ability to breathe, in this strange land, oh how we rue our former vanities, and wish for simple love., laced, hand over hand, without deception.

The trickery we employ, to appear just fleetingly different, running from our truth. as the stowaway is always found in the storm, hiding behind bottles of rum, drunk on themselves.

I confess, I’ve never known how to be loved for this husk, the multitude of ordinariness. True then, it is hard to be loved if we loathe ourselves, we who are giving, sometimes do so, because we are trying to give ourselves away. Scrub the history of us, remake the self, becoming for a day, the fantasy held, by someone else.

Full

f64c917f731235b5604b2779ecb5e01bMy hand

resting a top yours

the same size in our shadow

you with little feet and longer ties

inheriting portions

 

I see in your eyes

the easement of life

as if you are in slow motion

falling gently behind yourself

going back in time

I think of the local cinema

being old enough to see over the railing

a film about a man plugged to a machine

all his memories flickering in retreat

until he is a fetus a heartbeat a blip

so far back he does not exist

 

is that you?

dissolving, reducing

I watch bread rise and moon’s sink

wonder at the circular motion of things

how I slept with a light on

now you remind me

not to close the door

my chest aches for what I long to give but cannot

 

it is as if you were born of me

my longing to love

I cannot make sense of why

but you were always the only one

my arms reach at night for your surround

 

I hear your voice on hungry chime of wind

all the pain blooms around me

like cancan girls frothing their scarlet hems

I remember bougainvillea climbing up the walls

can see you with your hair slicked back from the bath

steam rising in dark breeze

 

you made a circle of me and wore me around your neck

where I lay far too still listening to your heart beat

now we are divided by wire and thread

two half-made mannequins

no matter how far I stretch

I cannot reach your gaze

it stared listless at angry waves

as they build and recede

in the abyss of your memories

Winter glass

24469743_c58d88ae1e_m(l.)

Winter glass

is yellowed with old sun

mottled by bird claws

resembling stained relief

a mustard bath

enclosing grief

fields are reaped clear

left to darken

shaken fallow

like wands of sadness

where once they were bright

alive with mice and voles

claiming their hidden kingdom

ears of corn straining upward

unfolding as sun shines

we forget to wipe windows clear

when clouds descend and rivers

freeze

closing off air

closing off movement

we retire in our woolen worlds

tucking our chins against brutal cold

like robins closing their red breasts

and the light that gets in

is tainted

like long left cigarette

stains thumb and forefinger

betraying a little of the smokers emotion

as she holds it

sparking in darkness

inhaling her grief

like swallowing words

goes unseen

beneath the ice of defeat

(ll.)

we who clamor without tongues

who fill our mouths with knowledge

no one is there to listen

we who close our doors at night

to the sound of hibernation

keeping out those who would

tear us from rigid postures

make scarecrows in blizzards

of our rags and scoured bones

for who knows?

how another feels behind walls

or how it feels to be touched by

dirty light letting in the reminder

we are but fields of yellow

turning brown and beginning once more

each time a little less steady

in our long walk

Uncommon

c51e6bc5e98678539d061ac9c04667afNot afraid of the usual fears

obscurity

ageing

indifference of lovers

I bought a pair of scissors

snipped out the dead bits

threw away the glamor and beguilement

seeing through gossamer trappings

yet I am still fearful

of uncommon things

dissolution and repetitive days

adding up to waste

working in a cubicle

coming home to warmed up left-overs

hanging washing on weekends

mowing lawns iced with Ready Grow

chores belaboring chores

like sore throated choir singers

duck behind pulpit for a shot of whiskey

I do not fear wrinkles earned

or sagging parts hidden beneath thick coats

those were with me before they were

lines on my days as I sat

20 years crossed legged

eating chocolate from vending machines

watching others my age hurl themselves

from one moment to the next

like waves that meet and

turn ever wilder

I preferred to roll my own

invite the boy who couldn’t form

complete sentences

but wrote

pretentious appealing poetry

with tight muscled drummers arms

back to my whistling dorm

to break the wood we were born upon

and his idea

he was in control

back then

carrying in my linen womb

the next twenty years

I developed an inkling for scars

battle worn and tired before

my knitting bones caught up

now you can’t scare me with your rebuke

I’ve lived beyond the yoke and tenderness of youth

but put me in an office, tighten my straps

affix the gag reflex

and watch me come undone

like a latch that appears well adhered

will spring suddenly

contents spill out aborted

across washed floor

Off kilter

30853828_1_lSociety told the woman

at 50 you cannot wear jeans

nobody wants to see your saddle bags

you should either get yourself stretched

or hide in a sack

they call it “Laganlook” but the truth is

men over a certain age ignore women of the same

culture makes invisible an entire swath

sure, 70-year-old males can re-make action movies

their wobbling muscles and toupee jolting

nobody wants to believe a woman over 50

desirable nay formidable other than as matron

or crone

that’s how it was

they said the female poets over 50 were lost

for all the ones known

many more forgotten and wind tossed

society stuck on youth

like a tick feeding off

some kind of strange timer

stuck on the first 25

but if you stand by the fire long enough

you will not stay warm you will burn

when it comes your turn

to eclipse o’er the hill

what will you have created to sustain you?

Greater solace

651d3294ace9c6e46b0b18587904b847

There you are

picture yourself

standing in a vacated room

the walls are nondescript

from the window comes a little wan sun

hardly enough for warmth

you pull yourself closer

recalling how as a child

sitting on old iron radiators in winter

they’d say you’d develop hemorrhoids

in those days

the sound of scuffed shoes running for class bell

figuring you had a few moments yet

to stare out at brick and cement

stretch out reverie

a voice inside your head

surely this isn’t all there is?

you made a pact with yourself

to get the hell out

whatever it took

gathering your books

mindful of their ticket

you forgot yourself in dream

walking past the classroom

after all

learning is better in the mind

than grind of chalk on board

some boy kicking you in the back

with sweaty socks

you knew even then

this was but a stepping stone

though if asked you couldn’t say

what of the grim facade urged you most

to escape

 

and now

all these years later

more alone than that day

when covered by childhoods vigor

and the smell of something better

just around the corner

hope has been sore in her visits

silence too often your friend

as we fall one by one out of the egg carton

we are without wings

without safety harnesses

all the others found places

in busy lives, babies, families, jobs

the weave and knot of life

whilst you stood watching out of the window

glimmering

expecting to fly

 

now in shallow rooms

artifice has left her scent

they tell you the last one has passed over

you feel it in the curve of your chest

no more hands to scoop you back

from your leaning motion to find

somewhere to breathe

where trees are ever green

sunlight full on face

obscuring all trace of bleak homes

terraced and hollow

where you can hear the flush of

neighbors loud toilet

piercing cry of another

born into fitful times

where you never understood

your own role

just the fallacy of drowning sorrows

sundays in the bar

knocking back glasses of regret

nothing could spur you faster

toward wide open space where

no trace of sorrowful city remained

 

and wherever you go

there you are

still back against the wall

still with the locked door

school girl tights bunched in your mouth

hearing muffled voices

discussing your inability to speak

how long can you hold your tongue girl?

before the need to scream

unfurled

and in one howl you swallow yourself

all the disappointment

all the lost chances

breaking through cloud

fast diminishing in oboe sky

open the storeroom of your mind

clear out those long stored hurts

preserved in obscura

 

you may feel you have nothing

but in the sundering fall of flight

we find again our urge

never to quite escape

perhaps more a reinterpretation

carrying on no more alone than before

for we are born crying in singular pitch

in each step grow further to our end

it is in the humility of knowing this

we find our greater

solace

Beyond the quarter hour

ddddd

The Indigo Girls did not know

who Joan Baez was

a loam cried out

as first frost silenced the land

likening dawn

etched empty branches

she sang with an old voice

much used

like firewood

is best when properly dried

her voice was a voice of a woman

who had walked many years unseen

for after a certain age they say

women become invisible

she decided this was a wonderful way

her wings could remain outstretched

and not hidden as before

when she was sculpted and honed

like a cold statue

men would seek to touch

now her magic felt like a velvet glove

able to touch the mist and curling into a fist

summon spirits to her world

beyond the quarter-hour

no more obliged to purse

for onlooker

Once we were young

There

beneath the street light

fused over with dying bugs

there

our hands met, enfolding

in paper entreaty

what would they say

if given tongues?

the lost years whistling

a familiar tune

when once we were

young