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 fear of others, becomes the dismissal

Long before now

there was a time I did not write

could not write, would not write

I danced, I moved, I climbed, I painted

with our heads together like arrows, friends and I

toy rabbits, ladybugs, a glow in the dark star

would entertain ourselves with crayons and pastels

plasticine and Lego, wooden blocks, old socks, foil and glue

I built fortresses in the woods near my grandmothers

house where she looked out occasionally, a glass in one hand

erected camps in trees fallen in the storms

or beneath protesting furniture that wasn’t meant to be moved

turning into a gypsy tent, bedding, blankets, string

anything the imagination could seize and shake out into magic

I did not write

even then I felt

words were just words

so glib and easy

words like; ‘have a good birthday’ from

people staying absent

words like; ‘you know I care’ from

people not caring

I couldn’t spell, so I didn’t reply

I didn’t enunciate, so I didn’t call them back

the phone would ring in the distance, mournfully

if it got too loud, I turned the music up

all this by the age of ten

I was free of words, they were not my language

a song and the movement it encouraged was

an elongation of expression and urges

and later, a dance club, even at 14, seemed safer

than three sheets of echoing, empty paper

rubbing shoulders with strangers who sought like me

to raise their arms through the strobe lights in search

of something missing

not seeking drugs or sex but the fury and beauty

of dancing away their sadness

I didn’t know it then

acting upon instinct

the instinct to run, when you cry

dance when you want to jump

push away those who clamor for attention

stop feeling the pain you do, every single day

whilst some of my friends who were depressed

listened to The Cure and other sorrowful LPs

I scorned anything sad and

stepped into the light of disco, rock, electronica

in time I found there were other things you could do

to turn off the hurt

and I did them ALL, every damn one

There is an honesty to admitting to yourself

I don’t know what’s been happening, but I’m in pain

everything I should rely upon has gone or never been

I am alone and I am scared, I haven’t yet grown up

nobody will help me so I have to help myself but

I don’t know how

I learned it felt good to lie in bed with someone

even if they were nothing more than warmth and key strokes

I learned it felt good to give rather than receive

because you protected those parts of you, rarely revealed or wanted

I learned drugs were not a menace but a street form

of antidepressant for kids who couldn’t tell their hurt

didn’t know where to begin or how to heal the

emptiness and anger growing in their bones

I learned if you are crushed badly enough, time and again

you grow a skin of fur and you become a feral creature

not human anymore

but living for the night, pulse of music playing

brief flicker of excitement, when you forget being yourself and all that comes with that

the disappointment, the heartache, the rejection

you’re just a shivering wretch, gaining admittance into forbidden light

you’re just a body that can move and shake and vibrate

beneath the waves as they engulf the roar and scream

every morning I swam 25 laps

every night I ran in heels for the bus

every stroke of midnight I transformed into anyone but myself

it felt good, it felt more real than trying to

inherit the mantle of despair and unwanted closing walls

I climbed out and didn’t go back

I never wrote down a word

not even when I received

another letter stating things that were never real

words were lies, words were lies

I’ve always been drawn to truth

Somewhere in those years, something changed

maybe you get lazy, maybe you forget your way

or the pain becomes something you think is who you are

or the hurt is a coat you wear without knowing you do

I stopped swimming in the mornings

I quit dancing in the evenings

in my blood lay a virus of dormancy and despair

it grew and grew like a wild flower teasing out of concrete

until I’d forgotten my way through the elaborate maze

I was just another lab rat, waiting to live their life, turn to ash and regret

Now the irony is, I’m writing all the time

I write how I feel, I write how you feel, I write out

the hollow cries kicking from inside out

but words are fickle, they are not your friend

words convey what you mean, and equally they contradict

words don’t get things done

words are on pages, often unread

If it would work I’d burn my thoughts

watch them light up the night on the 5th of November

put on my running shoes

go to you

take you by the shoulders and shake

all my words out of your head

run with you down the highway

find the place we can be in my mind

get on the dance floor, pull you with me

try another communication

another way of getting through

anything but the languages that leave us empty

mistrustful, doubtful, not waiting for more

we’ve both been there before

at the end of a letter

shaking our heads

for all that was done, versus said

is often quite the opposite

you tell me, if I knew you, I would not like

the person I came to know

but you are wrong, so very wrong

it is in the imperfect there is wonder

I’m used to people backing off, going cold, erecting walls

it’s what I experienced every day

the fear of others, becomes the dismissal

there is another way

let me show you

but not like this

let me show you

in between words

with every gesture of my soul

give me this

Erasure

When

You used to cover your mouth and blush

At my ability to be frank and scathingly honest

It was not a quality and you were not an admirer

Yours was the shamefacedness I didn’t feel

Whilst you, were a well of loneliness

A secret not to be discovered.

When did I become

A crass innuendo girl?

The kind I’d be ashamed of

Was it the first time you turned away?

Or removed my seeking hand?

Or the fiftieth?

Therapy Chronicles; The Upstart

The man- boy with drainpipe trousers

Talks too much

He claims the title of “empath”

And we know

So often narcissists hide behind a kind face

His is transparent and whorls with hipster beard

I hear the rub of his insincerity

Like familiar chaff

How easy to see the game pieces

When from the stage you step back

 

I am tired and old

I am young and quick

I am neither witness nor undertow

But some approximation of emotion

Observing sand-dial without taking turn

Til his upstart urges ego

To fill space with his lust to be seen

 

I let him know

You may have some fooled but I hear you gobble

Fat as Thanksgiving goose

Sucking all the air from the room

Hungry in unsalted desire to hear your own voice

Like a spoilt little boy, thin on holiday treats

And I long to switch you off with a flick

That others may speak and consider

Instead of your incessant bearded drone

Convinced you are humble prophet

why are the least, the ones who believe themselves the most?

Such delusion winds your faulty key

No words can find together to fabricate

The proof of your concave mouth

Slurping sound like a tin penny whistle

 

In years to come you may learn

When you meet a young version of yourself

Less is more

Save the pompous for Charades

Cut the roast, Pat the dog, be thankful for not

Gloating on naught

Purple


Where did you learn

Your need to pull 

Away?

Burying truth behind

A visage of clay

And where did you start

Believing distance was safe?

Or ice over warm, each time you’d take?

I wished I met you

Before

You learned in reverse

Drove with eyes closed

Radio tuned to conflict and silence

If I had the power

I’d rewind you

Like a China doll

Breakable and yet

How hard your ceramic stare

You penetrate any pretense

Even as you hold your own secrets

Tighter than a rubber band

Turning pinky swear

Purple

Wounded bird

IMG_0920I tried with you, I really tried, and then I let you go

you flew out of the window even as it was closed

panes securely fastened

latch tight and unyielding

because you had never quite been

 

it was you see, a failure of mine

to find you flailing beneath yourself

with a few choice words you could

nourish from my adoration and mend

your rapid fast airy heart

containing only string

for what you need and not

enough for love

 

I was a clay maker

thinking fitfully if I put enough into shape

if my structure were sound and whole

if I poured water to prevent cracks

moistened over the thin spots

despite not being what you wanted

despite being a girl

despite having tired fingers

you would relent and

let me hold you in my lap

as crickets drowned the rush of air in hot melt

 

you were after all

used to mistreatment, I reasoned

surely a bird who had been injured

would long for peace?

the passion of sincerity

a terribly naive hope

when we all know

those who like the wound

will return to their abuse

not the arms of one who

is boring in her devotion

I never thought I should become

that very tedium

you strike against with mended wing

the one you answer last

when bored or idle

not they, who burn in your throat

wakefully lusting

whilst I feel already the part

of spinster and milliner

hemming your spare parts

 

it would be easy for me to

dress like you, smell like you

gather a flock of admirers

play midnight dalliances with

camera and music

cue ..  lights ..  pose ..  fizz

and now that you have shown

your true feathers

I see a little of why you prefer this slovenly approach

it suits your downturn

your denial of yourself

and I feel embarrassed that you had me so hot

as you pulsed beneath my wonder

with practiced charm

so used to hearing the false words you live for

 

I do not own

a penis

though my strength and my passion

would have surprised you

I do not possess

a penchant for games or

the worship sufficient to be

your follower

your worshiper

so little bird

when you escape

please do not

return when the skies fall

and he stops calling

or insults your honor

because my fingers are burnt dry

from believing myself

needy of you

 

 

(Daquin, 1997.)

People 

samantha-sophia-195015People

May rifle through your life

Like pick pockets

Climb inside your privacy

Invade your quiet

They may leave traces

In your life line

Becoming family

Or staying just a season

You will wish many times

Not to answer their call

Tend to their needs

Spend your time building vines

From their vineyard to yours

But solitude

Is a hard

Endless

Winter

Only the most robust survive

Sometimes when you think

You’re better off

Isolated

Drifting off the main land

You’re over estimating

Your ancestors only got this far

Because of family

Relationships

Strangers become friends

To give you the privilege to choose

How much of a social animal

You

Want to be

But never forget

Yours is not the soul

Of a white snow leopard

Stalking endless silence

Cut off from her kind

Your kind were monkeys

Chattering noisily in trees

Yes it makes you blush

Wishing you were less a creature of gossip and small talk

But without snow boots you cannot

Hope to wade the drifts

They will consume the bravest heart of almost anyone

As searching in nothing but ourselves

We find less than expected

Consume my hope

If we leave the letter unwritten 
saying nothing

deer leaning in the window salvaging for morsel of night 
grimacing when we stir, wind chimes with pointed feet 
dancing awkwardly in ill-fitting clothes, vindicating a 
suspicion of absurdity

turn from me then, until you stop being and I sit alone
watching faceless walls communing with plaster
you shape my days and can as easily, burn me standing
waiting for a word, a finger-tip, a smudge 

for when you strike, you are a panther, encased in skin
charboiling my heart over wilting blossom 
it is not possible to deny you
the switch of myself shivering electric 
in that, we are alike, the one who loses her hair in bunches and you
who cook longing on high flame 

hang yourself up on the back of my hook, let me catch you wriggling 
in my wet fingers made into a cup
like rounding moons with promise will become fairy circles 

when you emerge, dry-eyed and hot-skinned, let me lick the burn 
ringing your throat like the words you will 
strike out again and again in every ink
catching river stones in your mouth 
under my tongue
stretch out, beckon me, consume my hope 

We believe

Use your long words

describe the smell of memory

antiseptic

there in your transparent igloo

born to incubate

smoke before it’s legal on your mother’s habit

bequeath me the tendency

to live without need

from pockets we pull

the nurture the seed

sprouting in defiance

when everything else died of frost bite

against the ire of a late Winter storm

gusting itself into white rage

through the glass you see

yourself being re-made

in the eyes of old women whose wrinkles

make a universal puzzle

and the swell of hills

cast over with violet

a heaven of sorts in setting light

glazing countertops

for foot prints of unseen beast

leading off into nearby copse

could we will ourselves

another go around?

stepping backward into

infancy, chewing the umbilical

surrounded by potential like

a wet firework strains to explode

would it be any different?

your hands, molding my shape

DNA

the type of pasta eaten

over Lake Como the day

of conception

holy was the love that bore the wish

lost in steepled weather vein

glistening against straining light

a mockery of control

just out of reach

there she is

eighty years from now and

just re-born

in unfurled leaves and first sprouting

green a forbidden thing

among the white ushers and

dark flitting ponderable

marveling we can be conscious

of ourselves and of nothing more

than a stream aching to unfreeze

creep closer to living

inch by inch

two warm bodies without a thing between them

aside the shame of knowing

we live both futile and richly

worming our way into the meat

and tender bruise of absolving

those things we believe we need