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.

Notes of a common waiting room

The woman with one breast is friendly
She jokes about feeling lighter
We nod grimly

Gallows humor
Palpable energy shift from 20 year old gamer wearing graffiti hi-tops, and 60 year old with deflation in her eyes
The ravage of time and effect, painted on women of different shapes, scars like badges of honor except when they’re not


The old lady is marked by a blue gown to our uniform pink
She exudes weariment without lifting her head from its downcast slump
Her limbs look like they have been pickled and left in hot Texan sun
She has an old ring on her wedding finger
I want to say something
But the lump in my throat and her shuttered aspect stay my hand

Instead I nod to the New Yorker and tell her there’s a free seat
Nobody really wants to sit

They want to run
Be anywhere else
Anyone else
I miss the days they just told you that you could go
Says the tall woman with a burgundy hair band
The woman cooked in black garb might belong to a cult
She had an accent and glowers

She says she drove from Eagle Pass because they don’t have good medicine there

Simmering rage in her balled lacquered fists
The hiss of some impossibly expensive machine out of sight

everyone meets eyes over masks, the unsaid being
Is this good medicine?

We play occidental musical chairs

The magazines are gone because of the virus, we hide our faces behind our fabric hoping for modesty that has long fled

Nurses walk their daily steps in the shiny lino corridor, their hair gleams like peacock feathers, they are harried but kind eyed

I get a young woman tech who has quiet jazz
She talks of wanting children. Her brother is sterile. She’s afraid to get tested.

I urge her to try. Thinking of how not long ago I stood in her slightly less comfortable shoes
Imaging a future

How they unfurl and then dry up and close, ready for the rush hour drive back
Mascara lines running like train tracks on masks of horror

A scrawny woman with platinum hair asked me how to do something on her phone
etiquette is said to save us
Not in the time of Covid, I think

A high school had blossomed in the pit of the waiting room
Some have been here two hours
They divide solemnly into temporary allegiances
Some like the loud mouth
Others roll at the waiting and click their dry tongues
It reminds me of paper flowers put in water

Her grandchildren are visiting. The mute girl in the corner looks young enough to be one

I ache for her fledgling fear
Knowing

None of us are safe
From the words
Come and discuss your findings with the specialist

Fur coming off in patches

Look at me

I mean really observe

Seeing me you’d think I’d be most in love with

my high heel boots, the length of my hair

the silver rings on my fingers

the feel of a woman pulsing beneath me

the heartbeat of dancing when well

the rejection of banality

and you’d be right of course

but not nearly as correct

as the love I possess

for my old ted

his head mangled with smother

fur coming off in patches

his sad cotton eyes

seeming to tell me

everything of myself

in one slow gaze

Dear

Often I imagine, when you open someone up, peal away their layers, inside you find this pomegranate, bright in the way only nature can create. So many people have these rich lives; children, grandchildren, homes, adventures, careers, compassion. Beauty and abundance of life in so many forms. Social media exemplifies this which is why I need to limit myself, a bit like eating a box of chocolates. If I indulge too much, I feel overstimulated, lost in the sari’s of color from so many lives, people, worlds, thoughts. It’s not even the emotions, those I can relate to, it’s the living in technicolor.

When I think of what resides in my inner most self I see my old worn much loved penguin and little ted, I see me running into my grandmother’s arms. It is as if I am possessed by the past and not even present.

We are taught to live in the now or for the future. But never the past. Why? Because living in the past isn’t living, it’s remembering, it’s regressing. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t honor the past. But we must also move on from it.

If there were a house fire, it would not be the expensive things I’d seek to save. It would be my green Kermit The Frog, the pressed flower from the meadow my grandmother and I walked. It would be trying to save the past from flames, even as they climb nearer.

Occasionally I wish to lose it all, so I would be forced to start over. Without the weight of the past on my shoulders. Some people say we’d be better off if we didn’t recall the past, we’d be free of it, and able to be whomever we wanted.

The funny thing is, if I were a blank slate, I think I’d go out and start looking for much cuddled toy penguins circa late 1970s and patchy, lost fur little teds and green frogs with crayon on their eyes. I think I would climb right back where I came from. Because nothing since, has ever, ever been as dear.

Stand in radiance

I think of you as I might

the collected soil outline of a beloved plant, died in Wintered frost

slow the creep toward perish, I hold back, I do not want to enter that room

with its antiseptic smell, lolling tongues of linoleum stretching like vast desert

here nothing thrives

not you, in your beige iron bed with metallic purr of machines overhead

nor the sucking out of sight sound of life being apportioned and gentle knock and brush of clutter off stage

I have learned to manage my desires, like labeled things put away and forgotten

they seem inconsequential in the gravity of this moment, elongated into a maw, disabusing itself in perpetuate howl

the green eyed girl who sat astride you devouring your skin with the hunger of the famished, is just a filament of memory, drowsy with being taken out and examined many times

what is real feels false, we fall apart with rules, we are well behaved in chaos

as rain falls, drowning response, we are free briefly, to call for Gods who are sleeping against their fatigue of us

I look down at my fingers entwined in memory, carving the halls of you with journeys taken to your very core

wish I could write like a girl who didn’t need to rinse her eyes of salt and her mouth of violence

there are no mirages in this sterile land, only the abundant hygiene of fear, roasting itself on impotence

here even you, are forgotten to yourself. I wonder if you recall how we were or if

this eclipsed reality, so suffocating and tightly arranged, is your only memory

occasionally I want to do something vulgar and wrong, to break the dreadful count-down

call an old lover, meet them in the broom closet for some rearranging of clothes, we don’t know how to handle things, so we explode quietly inside ourselves

just to feel I am not plummeting alongside you

faithless for sure, my brand of lusting for life and wellness, anything but encroaching perishment, we fear dying even as we seek it

apparently I am not alone in this

strangers will swap bodily fluids in desperate snatching, on top of folded doctors overalls. That strange, nameless brand of green we all loathe

I was a false girl before we met, learning to reign in her impulses against a backdrop of damage
thriving under the rental of youth with no care for those far-off dates waiting in distant wings

life was already its own brand of unbearable, it felt yet, too searing to imagine decrepitude or bad luck

instead, thrive on the daydream, liquor up the inside of your nightmares and send them galloping and sweaty into the abyss

rest in the drowsy arms of indifference, for everyone wants something and nothing is as it seems

stop caring

until blinded or crippled, you crawl to your date with the inevitable

hearing your ancestors crow their dissatisfaction at your cliched rejection of fate

compassion doesn’t cost, but as I stare at the vacancy in your eyes I know

i’d say yes to the proffered ease of escape

yes to anonymous lovers and things to someday regret

but not now whilst we stand under the radiance

when life still reigns and I know how to squeeze from it, that ounce of pleasure

not hedonist but survivor. Some survive in the calm shallows

I want to wade waist deep in warm water, feel your touch bringing me back to life

not forget what it was to circle the varied heavens and their demands

nor the feeling of my heart in my throat, birthing color and chaos in equal order

I imagine you as you were, impossibly alive, bright in ways that hurt my eyes

our dance around the mandala of us, ever decreasing, unawares of our own diminishment

your last words lingering in pre-storm humid air, like fruit left a little long in sun

sticky and soft we meld together and break apart with the astringent sting of broken clay

turning again to earth, as if it had never, not once, not even in dream

held water.

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.

All they saw

All they saw were moments left by those who came before

Not knowing what they meant or who they were

Lain in their waterpainted graves like matryoshka dolls

Did they grieve like us, whetting their knives on totems?

To understand those things that cannot be understood

A child breathing her last, in dimmed swaddling

The ache of old age, enveloping once limber athlete

Love crumpled like fallen leaves, forgotten beneath

Did they yearn to be special? Noticed? Relevant?

Or glide invisibly through spun sheets of glass

Like early morning bakers rising their bread

Grown stale by afternoon, becoming food for birds

Such circles clasped in ever decreasing circles

Worn as sea pearls on mermaids smooth throats

Were they kind? Merciful? Fearful? Incomplete?

The sight of tilled soil and ruined land cleared of living green

Did it bury the same arrow in their quincing conscience?

Will time gently lay a wreath of forgetfulness?

Over their efforts as if never and not, their lives

Extinguished in a long roll of time and bundled up

To lie beside other oxidizing keepsakes and memories

Til the last person who remembered, was no more

So much existing, lost in favor of the clamoring now

All they saw were moments left by those who came before

For survival is found

We looked at the bright box

Lighting reproductions of your brain

You made the inevitable joke

And I wondered how many had

Sat like us, closely squished into single seat

Faux leather gleaming with accumulated sweat

For humor seems solitary solace

When the world goes to hell in a hand basket

Leaving behind folded gloves with bitten tips

Back then I was untrained, in navigating pursing hallways

Pushing wheelchairs, your head horizontal, stapled

Youth’s strength saw us over the sanitized hump

Out into the car park where we ran, loose gowns and trailing bandages

Afterwards felt like climbing out of hell, without traction

Floundering to understand the submersion of health

I told you, even nightmares have to wake up

And with each removed staple, pulled from your sore skull, you found release

Near did I guess, my own oily cavort with sickness

Lay silently sheathed, like store bought bread, just around the corner

I should have worn those pinching purple shoes and danced

You should have run the glow foam 5k and eaten vegan tamales

We should have visited Kavik River Camp in Alaska and climbed jagged cliffs

Tried the new Japanese restaurant with pastel tea lanterns

Wrung out from quick glimpses, thimbles of life

Instead I borrowed on my new found strength

Worked long hours, forgetting to look out the window at passing moon and sun

Putting off tomorrow, building futures without living now

It is our mistake when shown a lesson, not to stop and be mindful

For survival is found in, the smallest moments

Ode to the antipoet


I told the cheongsam wearing beauty

You are very kind

But I’m not sure there is such a thing

As humility

When our world is made of capital

For only recently

I heard a conversation

On the end of poetry 

The deceivers, sharp, pointed folk

Trussed in their certainty

Poetry was neither vocation nor career

But some beast of the very idle

Something retired people and students dabbled in 

Not a grown up or grown down job but

Proof of latter life impressionist indolence

Yet, like land auctioned off and trees torn down 

We cannot know of the beauty once standing

Without the witness of a scribe

For more roads without direction we take, employing compass

Without translation, our journey remains an enigma

Like redheads, freckles and those left-handed

Doomed to scorn and ostracized days

They paint the world with much needed alternatives

As poets write out everything within us we couldn’t see, lending words to universal feeling

Yet, relegated by the long tongue of capitalist decree

Those who configure feelings shall never be 

The vaunted or the high priest, followed in obedience

It is our nature to ridicule what we do not understand

Absurd yet with mis-hap sense, justifying how we turned out

No choice, no desire for question

Some grow up longing to be dentists, chartered accountants, bankers, zoo keepers

And those of us who from earliest moment

Wrote what others dismissed or feared to touch

Carry a strange torch

Maybe the value is not always clear

Surely easier to pour scorn upon, the role of poet 

Than to give thanks

We have not in our collective greed

Forgotten the art of being

When frail turn reminds us

Being human is more

Than cast off rind

But the potency of citrus

In a land that had never before known

Tropical fruit