It’s a blog! … I think.

As of yet, I haven’t really decided on a definitive format for this “blog.”  What I do know is that when ideas come, they will show up here.  It has taken me many years and much convincing by fellow writers to work up the courage to “stand up in front of the class and share.”  The pieces on here will encompass all and everything that comes to heart and mind.  I’m taking the leap and putting myself out there.  Thank you in advance for all who take the time to share what I love with me and experience my ideas, thoughts and feelings.

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For Lily

I’ll admit, I felt pretty bad about waking her up at 6am.  She was fast asleep, head in the clouds, dreaming about princesses, dresses, puppies and anything that is pink.

 

She followed behind me, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, still in a fog.
She climbed up in the bed next to me, using the blanket like a rope hanging from a mountainside and we cuddled.  She kept thinking about princesses while I thought about how these few moments I have seem to run, forever dodging my grasp.

 

I buried my face in her soft hair and breathed in the cupcake shampoo that she insisted I use.
I wrapped my arms around her tiny body and tried to lie perfectly still so I could feel her breathe.
I watched the minutes on the clock change and almost physically felt her getting older with each one.

I almost cried at the thought of having a 4-year old.  No more diapers or bottles or midnight pacing and singing her to sleep.  I felt relief and longing all in one sigh.

I know I’ll blink one day and she’ll be sitting at the dining room table, brushing her caramel hair from her face, chewing on a pen cap, filling out college applications.

 

Juice boxes will become wine glasses
Pink scooters with streamers will turn into first cars
Holding hands with friends on the playground will turn into
kissing and carving initials in trees
Protecting her from monsters won’t always be enough.
She will change, and so will the monsters.

I won’t always be her hero and sitting on my shoulders won’t always make her feel invincible.
She will dream of days when the pain of a skinned knee replaced the pain of a broken heart

She will faintly recall the days when goodbyes were only until tomorrow.

 

I will want to steal her away and make everything safe, soft and warm.

 

Time is such a poetic injustice.

The one thing that makes up everything, and is everything is the only thing we never seem to have enough of.

The one thing that takes too long to arrive is the only thing that is gone too soon.

 

Leave your head in the clouds as long as you can.
Wear your princess dresses and slippers.
Wave your magic wand and spin with pink streamers.
Sing songs from movies and make up your own words.
Dress up your dolls and practice sad faces in the mirror.

 

Moments, smiles and innocence elude us.
Promise that you’ll keep them and lock them away

 

One day you’ll be too big for me to catch you when you run and jump into my arms
but I will still hold my arms open just the same.

 

One day you’ll realize that daddy will never think anybody is good enough for you.

One day someone amazing will come and steal your heart.

One day you’ll realize this is all because you stole mine first.

17

Only 1 hour of school left

1 hour that lasted a lifetime

 

Warm sunlight exposing particles of dust

Dancing in a confused swarm across the window ledge

Pierced and moved to their final resting place by bursts from the AC vent

Warm sunlight exposing pink arms and legs

Dancing in a confused swarm across the hallway

Pierced and moved to their final resting place by burst from the rifle

 

Boring class, struggling to stay awake, hoping for plans with friends after school

Shattered glass, struggling to stay awake, planning a wake for friends at your school

 

Death cannot kill what does not die

But innocent souls or not, it will try.

 

Familiar smells from the cafeteria try to calm your panicked mind

Mixing with uncomfortable smells of burning sulfur and iron.

Bodies clinging to life

Bodies clinging to each other

Sunsets left to see

Breezes left to feel

Kisses to stumble through

Dresses to zip

Ties to adjust

Families to hold

 

Innocent bodies turned into a tomb

Birds of hope lay in crimson pools, wings clipped

Flames of hope extinguished

Smoldering embers clinging to fresh air

 

Baby is crying

Daddy loves you

Brushing hair out of eyes

Wiping tears from cheeks

Tying socks for tourniquets

 

What am I supposed to do?

There is still too much love to give

Advice for you not to listen to

Locked doors to knock on

Shoulders to cry on

Tests to take

And too much makeup to wear.

 

Tomorrow will start without you

But it doesn’t mean we forgot about you

 

Blue like her memories of the ocean

Blue like her eyes

Blue like the buttons on her cardigan

Blue like the sky I scream at for answers

Blue like the lips I blow breaths across while she fades in my arms.

 

DE OPPRESSO LIBER

Growing up, you got called lots of different things, some mattered, some hurt.

As you got older, the names became more important.

Hubby, daddy, sir, friend, Sergeant, hero.

All at once, called up, packed up, suited up, saddled up and flown away.

Driven forward by Humvees, shitty coffee, pride and fear.

War was the hardest thing you ever had to endure.

Until you came back home, that was worse by far.

 

2:42am, woken by your own screams.

Sheets soaked in a whirlwind of tears and sweat.

Pillow clutched in a rear-naked choke

Staring down your own reflection in the bedroom mirror

Screaming in Arabic, “GET DOWN, DON’T FUCKING LOOK AT ME, GET DOWN NOW!”

You’d already been “home” for 2 weeks, so Megan knew the drill, she was fast asleep on the couch

A week ago, she was the pillow.

 

Ava is 3 now, she won’t let you hold her unless mom is around.

You cleaned up and shaved, hoping it would help.

You can’t ever remember wanting to sit in a tiny pink pony chair more than you do right now.

Lips parched, thinking about sipping air out of a chipped Care Bears tea cup.

 

Every few nights, Megan wakes to the faint sound of your cries, prayers and screams flowing up from the basement, through the maze of pipes and out through the vent at the foot of the living room couch.

 

Support group is good.

You feel understood.

You belong.

You don’t have to speak.

You can communicate with a look.

Your silence screams louder than any words.

 

You’ve been home 16 months.

Life is good again.

Ava let you practice French braids today

Then you got to push her on the swing.

Your new outlook lets you soak in the beauty.

Eyes closed, head tilted, arms to the sky.

Straight, strawberry-blond strands flowing over her shoulders like a river.

Every push making her feel like letting her go would send her forever into the cotton ball clouds.

 

Megan missed you, missed her partner, missed her husband.

You sleep much better pressed against her hips, legs intertwined.

You still can’t quite sleep through the night, but it’s ok.

Her hair cascades across the pillow, touching the tip of your nose.

The scent of her shampoo reminding you of soaking in the tub together with the lights off.

The time before Ava, before deployments, before drill, before 4a.m. runs with a 70lb rucksack.

 

On this day 18 months ago you never truly thought you’d feel “good”again.

You touched down on the runway after a 19-hour flight and sat in your seat until they made you get off the plane.

The crowd holding signs welcoming you home while you scanned them for weapons, body language, eye contact, anything suspicious.

 

Fast-forward, all of it a memory.

Sitting in your favorite armchair

Sipping on the Johnnie Walker Blue Label you finally decided to open.

Cleaning your Sig Sauer P320 9mm pistol.

Smiling as you looked at your wedding album while you had the basement window cracked so you could hear Ava singing all the songs from Moana for the 100th time.

 

Me and 2 of the other guys from the support group spent just over an hour on the phone with Megan early that morning.

She couldn’t stop talking about how much you’d healed, how proud she was.

Always polite, you remembered to place the empty glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label on the mantle.

With a sharp, shuttering breath, you painted a red mosaic on the wall.

The work of an artist who had all the time in the world but was in a rush, wet paint still dripping, staining the chair.

Ava went over grandma’s house for lunch and a tea party.

A 9mm shell casing resting in the binding of your wedding album

Megan held the phone while she lay across your lap in the chair.

 

The battle is over.

The war still rages.

Sleep well.

 

 

The Final Cut

I was 12, or maybe 13.  While looking for a screwdriver to help my mom fix some stuff around the house, I found a huge stack of my dad’s old vinyl records in the basement. They had collected more dust than playtime in the almost 4 years since my parents split. Having always been a bit of a tech junkie and geek, I had finally gotten my dad’s old 1976 Pioneer SX-1250 receiver, 1980 Yamaha P-450 turntable and 2 no name speakers working. I had enjoyed music for as long as I could remember.  That wasn’t why I fixed all his old stereo crap.  It was there, it was broken and it was a challenge.  Also, for some subconscious reason, I needed the finality of task completion and satisfaction of taking care of all of the shit that he never had.  The only thing he ever got done was make promises about getting things done.  I reached into the massive box of vinyls and grabbed the first one I could blindly reach. “Pink Floyd – The Final Cut.” The first (title) track grabbed me by the heart and balls all at once.  I was wrapped up and bound.  I stayed up for hours, floating through a timeless ether, the tops of my ears tingling, perpetual goose bumps up and down my arms until it was almost time for school the next morning.  I arranged the albums chronologically, listening to every Floyd album in the case.  I loved the crackle, static and studio noise when you first dropped the needle down.  I spent all night, sprawled out like a starfish on the concrete floor.  Every time I heard Gilmour play, I couldn’t help but close my eyes and picture his face and emotion while playing those notes.  To call Waters anything but a lyrical genius immediately became blasphemy to me by the time I was half-way though “The Wall.”  For me, it was the evolution of everything I had listened to up until then.  It was story-telling, they were novels, they were each a saga.  Skipping over tracks would have been like reading a book with random blank pages and missing chapters.  That was about 21 years ago.  Now I find myself driving in the car, my “FLOYD” playlist on shuffle.  I sing along way too loudly and peek in the mirror to make sure it isn’t too loud for the kids.  I look to find my almost 4 year old looking out the window, eyes darting side to side and bobbing her head.  My 7 year old is drumming his heart, filling up his thighs with red handprints while singing every other word.

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut

*ME TOO* -(for Lucy)-

Picking out eye shadow

Matching the color of a bruise

 

Looking for a scarf

Her belt didn’t work as a noose

 

Be strong for your baby

What’s the use?

 

Driving down the highway

The wind playing with her hair

 

Every mile marker is a small victory

Her destination is anywhere

 

She wakes up, the pillow case is crimson

Fresh cuts stuck to the soft cotton

 

She came back to this house

She won’t use the word home

 

She feels guilt and fear

But most victims return

 

That’s it, today is the last day

Put that record on repeat, press play

 

Left with a feeling of coming undone

A mind full of empty sentences

A heart full of empty words

 

She looks at Savannah

Six months of life experience under her belt

She can’t build a home out of fear and broken bones

 

She packs a bag in the middle of the night

He’s passed out, sleeping off his liquid dinner

 

She finds herself sneaking out of the house at 25 the same way she used to sneak in at 16; heart racing, mind full of potential consequences, and fear of the unknown.

 

Savannah is in her car seat staring out the back window, as if she knows what’s happening

Flying down the interstate

The fear and doubt slowly subside around every bend

with every subsequent corner turned and exit passed

Her mind racing

“will we be ok?”
“how will I make it on my own?”
“who’s gonna help me?”
“I need a job and a babysitter”
“will I be enough for Savannah?”

 

She wakes up to the sun dancing through the curtains as they blow in front of an open window

Everything is going to be fine

Stop worrying…the fear causing a knot to form and swell in the pit of her stomach

The tears swell in her eyes as the slow build of reality comes to a head

 

Savannah turns 13 today, I have a teenager.  A happy, beautiful, assertive, gentle teen girl woman.

Today begins the long task of guiding Savannah on her journey through adolescence and adult-hood while still navigating her own.

Because don’t know it’s all going to be OK until it’s all OK.

 

 

Forlorn

Slow dancing a Waltz

Our path dictated by avoiding the minefield of broken glass at our feet

Your hair waves like a streamer as I spin you around

It looks just like when you imagine a scene from a book in your mind

Your eyes look like waves crashing into the shore as the hues of the sand and water mix

I love being alone, I just hate the feeling of being lonely while doing it.

There’s that one picture I took of you on the back porch in January

Fuzzy boots, pants that were too short, a sweater that was too big

Sipping on cocoa, trying to fish out the marshmallows

Staring out beyond the horizon

That’s when I knew you had bigger plans than us, here, now.

We talked about it, smiled through it, stumbled through it

Lying to each other to make the other feel better about it

Real eyes realize real lies

You have no idea how much I needed you

You pulled out of the driveway, down the street

Your dad pressing down harder on the gas

Your face glued to the back window

Tears ruining your make-up, making a mosaic on the glass

I wanted to follow you

I wanted to kiss you

I wanted to hug you and bury my face in your hair

I was lonely, and it was awful

I was alone, and it was wonderful

I haven’t danced in a long time and I love to dance

But to be honest, I really hate dancing

I hate the cold

But I miss going to the park in the winter

The early morning sun bouncing off of everything  that was frozen

Sailing on the swings, watching shards of ice break off of the chains

Laying on the roundabout, making it spin with our feet

Kissing while we spun around, the cold air hitting our faces

It was good timing and a perfect disguise while blushing

We kissed until we were dizzy

Lips cold and dry, tongues warm and wet

Opening our eyes to catch each other peeking

The park is lonely

But I love sitting there alone

I hate the cold

But I miss winter

I have a car now, I should come visit

I love driving alone

But the drive there is too lonely

You could visit too

You haven’t yet

But I haven’t called you about it

Probably because I like being alone

There’s lots of reasons I should call though

Like, probably because I don’t like being lonely

We could meet at the park

I want to drive there alone

We could swing on separate swings

Lay on opposite sides of the roundabout

And sit back-to-back and talk about how we used to kiss

I hope you’ll say yes and come meet me

I also hope you won’t stay too long

I really hope I’ll get to see you

But just for a little bit

I’m just tired of being lonely

I just wish people would leave me alone.

Echo

Feet planted, tree roots

Hands outstretched, dodging clouds

At the bottom of the ocean

A perfectly good heart, wrapped in chains

A cinderblock attached

 

Breathing in and feeling like someone is squeezing the air out at the same time

Breathing out with a low hum, feeling the vibration in your chest from shaky breaths

Eyes looking out to the horizon, blurred by constant tears streaming from each corner

 

5 years old

Life is joy

Life is simple

Life is the colors of summer

Life is worry-free

 

Mouth open, catching rain drops

Jumping from the stairs, feet falling like jackhammers

Perfectly into the center of a puddle

Flying down the highway

Hand out the window

Dancing with the wind

Curling fingers outward

Like a fighter jet

 

12 years old

Life is friendship

Life is complicated

Life is water-color

Life isn’t worry-free, but it’s close

 

Mouth open, yelling at friends across the field

Jumping from the stairs, everybody else did it too

Flying down the highway

Hand out the window

Trying to catch the wind, it almost feels solid

Curling fingers inward

Like a bear-trap

 

17 years old

Life is love

Life is dramatic

Life is made of pale red, purple, and pink

Life is high-school

 

Mouth open, lips pressed against hers

Jumping from the stairs, running to open the door for her

Flying down the highway, racing towards the beach

Hand out the window

Funneling the warm, salty summer air into the car, mixing it with her perfume

Curling fingers outward

Like I’m waiting for a hand to grab mine

 

34 years old

Life is a child’s love

Life is poetic

Life is her warm, cocoa eyes, and his thick, raven hair

Life is hard, life is beautiful

Mouth open, catching rain drops

While I pretend to be a bear, chasing them barefoot in the grass

Jumping from the stairs, their feet falling like jackhammers

Perfectly into the center of a puddle

Flying down the highway

Hands out the windows

Dancing with the wind

Curling fingers outward

Like fighter jets.

Repose

I smell your sweet perfume

Mixed with the salt from two beads of sweat that met on your dimpled chin

And dripped down onto my lips as you hovered over me

Holding on, one hand digging into the sheets

The other into my chest

As you sway like a gift in a claw machine

 

You breathe, heavy and determined

A fly-away strand of strawberry blonde hair waves rhythmically back and forth

In front of your olive eyes

It reminds me of a pendulum as I feel the minutes with you flee from me

 

Your eyes tracking mine as they dart

Taking a million snapshots of your outline

As it glows against the half-drawn blind

Defining the curves of all the weapons that took me down

They stop to watch your thighs

Shaking and gliding upwards

As if the suspense is killing them

 

All at once, you collapse on top of me

Half of me is too exhausted to hold you up

The other half was waiting for your warm skin to cover mine after

We kicked all the blankets to the edge of the skewed bed frame

 

Your hair falls over my face like a veil and overruns my senses with

The smell of fresh strawberries from the shower earlier

Instantly reminding me of where our encounter began

Simultaneously reminding me of where we are now that it’s over

I made the same mistake again this time

I waited too long to kiss you, to touch you

Too long to tangle our arms, legs and tongues

Heart racing, I roll over quickly

I turn off the alarm clock

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

 

Andromeda

I am so tired of talking about it

I watch us tangle

Grab each other to fight

Grab each other to embrace

Witnessing an endless spin

 

We lifted each other on the wings of our

Smiles, caresses and strong hearts

Endless plummeting into the ether

Pushed up against the glass ceiling of our own private universe

Falling forever with a trail of smoke chasing our tails as we burn

Through the atmosphere

 

Pointed toes and closed eyes

Mortal frames embracing the inevitability of terminal velocity

Pushing ourselves further down as we try to lift up the other

This is poetic cruelty at its pinnacle

 

Screams and cries drowned out by cold air rushing over your face

Sucking the air from your lungs

Blowing back, mixing the salty sweat from your brow with

The salty tears on your cheeks

A testament to the combination of equal parts of effort, fear, hope and sadness

Brutal reality and sweet, gentle dreams

Trapped, racing towards earth

 

As you approach closer

Accelerating faster still as times slows further and stretches wider

We find each other at the end of our descent much as we did at the beginning

When we started our climb through the atmosphere

Locked together by fingers, lips and gaze

 

We end our journey the same as we began

Two souls who don’t know anything about each other

Unsure, and afraid of our next destination.

Afraid of impact

Hopeful for the best.

Trying to be graceful

While falling through love.

Mélange

You haunt my hours

Your hands cling to mine as we spin

Like faces tangled in intricate spider webs

Hanging from the outstretched tree limbs.

 

I hang suspended from the ceiling

Looking down on your sprawled frame

Your hair spread and laid out like a road map

Sunlight bleeds through the curtains

As they wave in submission to the breeze coming through the open window

The light dances off your cheeks like tiny shooting stars

 

Escape my dreams and come to me

Your feet barely grazing the cold tile floor

I look to a window that I can’t see through

Fog overcomes the horizon and I need you

I need your slender, elegant fingers to raise up and

Guide me in the right direction

 

Whisper in my ear about where you’ve been

Your voice sounds like what honey tastes like

Your eyes are muddled with a whirlwind of grays, blues and green.

 

Take note of all the things you’ve done

Take the best ones and etch them on your heart

Take the worst and carve them into rock

You can leave those behind and run far away

 

There is no end, no need to tell me goodbye

I’ll watch you disappear into the night

Smiling again the next morning when you rise

My hopes are closer…

Or the skies have lowered

 

It feels like your face has disappeared for eternity

I can forever re-draw it from my memory

I still think of you

I still wait for you

I still leave roses for you

 

Please find your way out of the dark.