an ocean made for drowning

August 17, 2017 Leave a comment

This is a peculiar darkness,
a humming thing
made of low magic, a creaking
heart that betrays itself,
limping through a song of shadow,
until everything is different,
and there is no going back.

Sometimes, silence
is an ocean
made for drowning,
a tide of conflicting
forgiveness,
the rush of hands
receding,
the taste of salt
on sin.

The truth is often fashioned
out of secrets, tucked
like a quilt
so that no one looks at it
too hard, a pretty wreck
of what was
and what-might-have-been,
reframed by what is,
longing threaded through
with too steady a hand.

No one can unmake time,
and that is love, ticking
fast with each passing second,
unnamed
and faceless, beneath
the doubt of past mistakes,
unmoored
and set lost, not free.

Everything is a consequence
of something else,
sometimes it’s an echo
of old, familiar ghosts, a mourning
that speaks beneath the din,
purposeful in the quiet,
begging not to be seen,
open hands
that tell too many stories—
the bang of a door
no one ever walked through.

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Hitting Rewind on the Heart

August 7, 2017 6 comments

 

Today, it’s been five years since my mom died. The strange thing is that it feels like yesterday and, somehow, a lifetime ago. I suppose that there’s some truth to that last part. There’s no way I could be the same person I was, before. And while there is no rewind button on the human heart, it sometimes hurls itself, unbidden, backward. This is one of those times.

 

It’s funny, but no one warns you that it will be like this. No one tells you that your memory will be sharp and full of things you’d rather forget. No one lets you in on this damned little secret: you will wonder what if I had…, even though it’s cruel and pointless. The smallest detail will float to the surface, all quiet and claws. The smell of a hallway. The face of a stranger. What someone was wearing. The grief and fear and panic that swirled in a moment that hangs, before everything suddenly stops.

 

I think about what happened that day. And then I think about the days that followed. The people I spoke to. The people who reached out. The early morning phone call. The genuine care and love. It’s those things that got me through. It’s those things that made me stronger. And no matter what, I’ll always be grateful.

 

Because when everything is horrible and the world feels like quicksand, what matters is who shows up—however that is. What matters is those who can sit with you at your worst and not run. It’s easy to be around someone when things are great. But that’s not the measure of a person, relationship, or heart.

 

While I miss her every day, sometimes in expected ways, I’m grateful for that lesson. I pay more attention now to how people behave, how they step up, how fiercely they love when it is difficult or inconvenient. And yes, I pay attention to who stays and who vanishes. Who slips out of sight when there’s a lull or a hurricane.

 

I’m a different person, now, but I am still my mother’s daughter. If you come to my house, I will feed you. This is not a question. You will eat. There will be coffee. I will absolutely burst into song at some point. If it has four legs and a tail, I will hug it. I recite poems and nursery rhymes from memory. I do not suffer fools or meanness. I will get between you and your worst trouble. I show up when everything is a wreck of stupid. I love beyond all reason. And while I will hold a vehement grudge against someone who has wronged someone I love, if I love you—I will forgive you.

 

This day is always hard, but the way it’s hard is always different. There’s not set expectation or rule for getting through it. But it’s definitely something to get through. People call things like this an anniversary, but that’s too happy a word. This day was the last day of Before. That’s it. That’s all there is too it.

 

Sometimes, I can’t help but think about what my mom would say about certain things, if she were here. How would she react? What crazy face would she make? She was never one to be able to disguise how she really felt, ever. When I do something she taught me, I imagine she’d do it better, either effortless or with her trademark calamity. I mean, it was never Halloween if she didn’t burn herself at least twice. And forget a neat and tidy kitchen on a holiday. Inevitably, there would be food on the dog’s head and a mess on the stove.

 

But that’s the beating heart of life: the mess. Not the pristine way in which we straighten the house for company or purge a closet of its clutter. The madness, the chaos, the detours, the chances, the changes, the raw and unexpected moments. This I know as surely as I’m breathing. Too often, I think, we try to live inside the lines. Try to behave a certain way. Try to keep things orderly, neat. But I think, perhaps, that’s only good and healthy for pretenses, not a soul.

 

So, starting now, take more chances. Don’t tidy up your heart. Don’t take the easy way. Don’t be smaller just to fit yourself into someone else’s puzzle. Miss someone? Call. Have a dream? Take a single step after it. Love someone? Say it. See someone do something cool? Tell them. Make art. Kiss passionately. Sing along to a song at the grocery store. Dance in a parking lot. Let go of things you shouldn’t be carrying around anymore.

 

If you do one thing with this life, live. The pieces will fall into place. And the next moment is always uncertain, so don’t waste it.

 

XOXO

A Trickster God

July 21, 2017 6 comments

Time passes, and things get better. Time heals all wounds. That’s what people say. For most things, this is true. I no longer care about the dumb thing I did in fifth grade. I am only mildly embarrassed by those memories of early adulthood stupidity that cling like vindictive spiderwebs. But time doesn’t heal everything; it can’t fill in a hole where a person once stood. It can unravel all the memories like tangled thread. It can’t restore or absolve. Time, as much as I’m loath to admit it, isn’t magic.

Loss is a strange thing, a malleable ache, a trickster god no one wants to worship, but everyone does, eventually. It’s been years now since my mom died. And there’s a new normal, a solid restructuring of life. There’s been a lot of wobbly starts and having to figure out unexpected things. But the foundation has settled, so to speak. And life goes on. Change happens. Things get rebuilt.

I don’t miss her any less, just differently. And it starts to feel almost, strangely, safe. As if all the difficult parts have been confronted and put to bed. Not that it’s easy, mind you, but that it stopped catching me off guard. It’s a manageable pain, like a knee that aches when it rains. There’s no more bursting into tears when a song comes on the radio. There’s no more sucker punches. Practice makes perfect, after all. And there’s been time enough to practice.

But the other day, I decided I wanted to dye my hair. I’m in my 30s, but I’ve never done this. It’s such a foreign concept to me, something I always meant to get around to learning about, but never did. And I realized I had no idea how to go about it. Do I attempt it myself (by which I mean, enlist my best friend to help me) or have it done? And then there’s the matter of color. What if I screw up? Pick something terrible? End up looking awful?

I had a few choice meltdowns over hair dye, and I felt like an idiot. Because who stresses out this much about changing their hair color? It’s just hair. It grows back. Color can always be removed. It’s not a tattoo. It isn’t permanent. So why did I feel like I was spinning out?

I couldn’t talk to my mom about it. I couldn’t get her advice, have her walk me through it. I couldn’t argue about the fact that I want purple hair, watching her roll her eyes and shake her head. I couldn’t ask if she’d go with me to have it done, only to see her roll her eyes and tell me she’d do it.

So, I panicked at the details, because that was easier. Because some things fade, but don’t stay buried. And maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe it’s a reminder of how well we loved, when we feel things like this. Maybe pain is just an echo of what was there before. I don’t know. But this caught me by surprise, and it’s held on with strange tenacity. And I’m objectively fine. This is another tally added to the list of things my mom will miss. That list is long, and there no way around it.

Loss is a creature with too many heads. Sometimes, it sleeps. Sometimes, the simplest thing wakes it up. One thing I know is that you can’t prepare for everything in life. In fact, there isn’t much you can brace for, although we convince ourselves otherwise so often. Life is an array of spinning wheels and kaleidoscope colors, whirling mischief and songs just as unexpected as silences. Maybe the trick isn’t trying to always brace for the pain or sidestep it. Maybe the trick is pulling the beauty out of the dark, difficult parts.

But certainly, the lesson is to remember to live. No excuses and few, if any, regrets.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Lorelai Sings

July 17, 2017 Leave a comment

These are all the ghosts I’ve loved before,
their delicate bones, neatly arranged
into new mistakes, bright
and blanched like stars,
a history lit up
and unexplained,
hearts unexamined
at the roots,
careless in the quiet
shadow of maybe.

There’s the ache of space
between one rib and the next,
a breath of hesitation
crowded by what-ifs
and moments that linger
too heavy with empty,
the trembling
possibility
of familiar footsteps,
a wrong turn down
a forest path, hearts
full of wolves
that howl at a false moon—
fear is the worst companion.

Ghosts always have too many hands,
an endless reach of wailing
memory, an old song
re-varnished
as a thousand secrets,
all gasping for attention,
a kiss so full
that all the rules break
and time separates
from reason—
an unforgiving split.

This is what it’s like
to live at the center
of a labyrinth, heart
wild as a monster,
waiting for what will wing
itself around the last corner,
unannounced as any madness,
a graveyard of old promises
firm in its teeth,
and me with a cracked mirror
for a soul—
there’s nothing left to do
but sing.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

When the Believer Begins to Doubt, A Prayer

June 20, 2017 Leave a comment

When it happens again, I try not to play the old game
of habit over reason, but I fear I am losing everything
the way light loses itself
in winter. Still, I leave the doubt
between my teeth, try not to bite down,
try not to let all the old ghosts out,
but they are always howling,
even on nights
when there is no wind.

This is the way every nightmare starts:
a crack spiderwebbing the glass,
a splinter of dissent,
a key with no lock
and endless questions.

When it happens again, I try not to hold my breath,
knowing it’s just as easy to drown
on dry land, in the middle of a crowded room,
I know
that this is alone as it gets,
but I’m still smiling,
and that’s careful enough.

This is the way I remember
all the places in which
I don’t add up, from hip
to rib to heart, weightless
as a laugh and twice
as easy to lose—
somehow, an ordinary magic,
somehow, an aftermath,
a wreck of a wild thing,
a ruin of red lights
and missed calls.

When it happens again, it’s all train tracks
and wolves, but I stand there anyway,
defiant as a hurricane, a mouth
made of prayers, a gathering of red,
a tumble of what’s most vulnerable.

This is what I am:
a symphony of impossible
want, flowers dancing
in miraculous places, the feathered
promise of maybe,
the way love shatters
all other expectations—
sometimes, the old fears
slink back into the dark,
sometimes, not everything
is a mess waiting to pounce,
sometimes,
things work out—
sometimes, the soul speaks,
and the brave listen.

And Sometimes, I Sing Her Lullabies

The truth is, I am trying to tell you something
in a language I don’t know how to translate,
and it’s like there’s an ocean
where my heart should be
and I can’t remember how to swim.

The truth is, you cannot put joy
in a box, and getting lost
is the only way to find
what you never knew to look for—
but sometimes, you don’t
come back, and always
you don’t come back the same,
and it’s okay
not to recognize yourself
in someone else’s mirror.

The truth is, there is a monster
in my chest, and sometimes,
I sing her lullabies,
but she doesn’t scare me
as much as everything I want,
a need that is its own dimension,
rattling like a wind chime
in a hurricane, and I think:
I made this,
so, now what?

The truth is, you are standing on a bridge
with a lit match, and maybe
my bones are gasoline, maybe
my hands are tinder, maybe
my kiss is the friction
of the night sky
and new constellations—
but you can still go back
to where it’s safe,
there’s solid ground
and old miracles,
and it would be alright.

The truth is, instead of safety,
I would rather drown
or burn, throw all the windows open
and laugh in the rain, meeting
like ink clinging to fingers,
unexpected, a beautiful darkness,
like laughter trailing
through a kiss, unhindered
and insanely free.

Categories: poem, Poetry, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

I Believe in AMERICANS GODS

 

 

When I heard that Bryan Fuller was tackling Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for Starz, I did a happy dance. For one thing, I have adored all of Fuller’s work, with literally no complaints. That is rare as fuck. For another, Gaiman is my favorite author. And while Gods isn’t my favorite Gaiman book (that’s Neverwhere, thank you), I was insanely thrilled at the prospect of seeing Shadow Moon and Wednesday and Bilquis come to life.

 

You could say, if you wanted to be clever, that the premiere (“The Bone Orchard“) made a believer out of me. And, as worship sometimes proves without a doubt, that faith was rewarded when I watched it last night. It was, no exaggeration, flawless—the use of light and color, the brilliance music selection, the razor sharp dialogue, and the astounding performances. I wondered how Bilquis’s scene would be depicted, and holy hell in a handbasket—Yetide Badaki was flawless. Ricky Whittle’s turn as Shadow was nuanced and powerful, even when there was no dialogue. My heart broke for him at the funeral and again at the graveyard. In that garden full of dead people, his best friend’s widow (Betty Gilpin crushed it) was a hurricane of grief that was so raw and yet so real. Betrayal does strange things to a person, and in that frenetic explosion of pain, there was no false note.

 

Jonathan Tucker’s Low Key was a barely contained tidal wave of mischief and misdirection, a stream-of-consciousness maelstrom, a clever contrast to Shadow’s steady and unwavering nature. There’s an undertone of madness there, as he bends Shadow’s ear in flashbacks, giving advice that plays perfectly into the future.

 

Not to be outdone is Bruce Langley’s Technology Boy, who is menacing as all hell. There’s an edge to him that I did not expect. But the limits of his power are tested, when Shadow’s nearly hung, but  he’s saved by an unknown force. Given the immense presence of technology in everyday life, what would be strong enough to stand against it? Who, or what, saved Shadow?

 

My guess is Ian McShane’s Wednesday had a hand in that particular salvation. Wednesday has invested in Shadow and his future, a winding and strange journey so far. McShane, for all his manipulation and bluster, stole every scene he was in. He shapeshifts to fit the situation, but he’s always in control, always in power. McShane’s delivery was always pitch perfect, sly and subtle, but no less powerful for it. I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.

 

Fuller’s distinctive style and attention to detail (“Fuck god and cum hard” etched in the bathroom mirror—McShane mentioning one eye) are in full force. The bar and the ensuing brawl with Mad Sweeney (deliciously played by Pablo Schreiber) was perfectly done, giving a nice glimpse of what happens when Shadow is pushed too far. The overlap of past, present, and well beyond into the Twilight could have been tricky. It easily could’ve felt stilted or disjointed. Instead, the clash of past and present was like the striking of a match: brilliant and unmistakable.

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready and willing to worship next week.