Tongue-tied 

NOTE: Depression is insidious. A dark and ravenous locust-cloud, it can arrive without warning and strip everything bare before you are able to find your wits. Warring with depression in myself can also become the battle of watching it attack those I love. These current writings are about that fight.

We are getting help.

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She once held her cup beneath the faucet of my mouth and drank deeply seeking understanding. Lately my words are clumsy incantations chosen with worry and whispered with care at the keyhole of her mind’s door. I keep getting the order wrong, mispronouncing the dialect. When she flinches, my own mouth floods with the acidic taste of smoldering ink and paper. I used to be the poet with the agile and well-oiled tongue — a skeleton key. But the locks are changed, there’s a secret code. I do not know the language and can’t remember how to conjugate the verbs.

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AUDIO FILE:

Wallflower

NOTE: Depression is insidious. A dark and ravenous locust-cloud, it can arrive without warning and strip everything bare before you are able to find your wits. Warring with depression in myself can also become the battle of watching it attack those I love. These current writings are about that fight.

We are getting help.

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She’s flirting with ghosts
who are stealing her soul
and all I can do
is tie my own hands,
sew my own lips
into a fake smile,
watch her fade into fog
a little more each day.

I am the rope tied to her ankle.
I am the Polo to her
distant cries of Marco.
I am grey and thin,
a beating heart resisting
my own evaporation.

She waltzes in a graveyard
while I sit this one out.
She’s borrowed my dancing shoes.

AUDIO FILE:

Suddenly – a golden shovel poem, after The Lumineers, Ho, Hey

I wasn’t searching for you
didn’t know I needed to belong.
Life had taught me — be content with
whatever love had come to me
or hadn’t. Don’t you do that when you’re
older, wiser? I had learned my
lesson well — then you called me sweetheart!

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POETIC FORM:

golden shovel – Take a line (or lines) from a poem you like. Use each word as an end word in your poem. Keep the end words in order. Credit the original poet, ie. “-after (poet)”.

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AUDIO FILE:

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To My Several Loves

I have a non-exclusive heart and it beats to love more than one. I wouldn’t be surprised to find its voices are several, throbbing in a syncopated harmony.

When certain love songs come on the radio, I feel my chest tighten, my mouth stretches into a smile and I remember. Those memories are of more than one… they overlap and coexist in his oversized standing-room-only heart.

You see I’ve had so many first kisses first dances first make-up-make-out sessions, after first-lover’s-quarrels… I’ve loved in messy, muddy, mixed-up puddles and those who know my love and share it, are happy to celebrate the others. They understand that my love spills out into many cups.

Still, in this heart, oh my lover, are things that only belong to you. There are kisses in my mouth, hidden beneath my tongue, that are yours alone. I don’t touch anyone else the way I touch you — I cannot — because they are not you, and you are not them.

No relationship looks like ours, and that is as it should be. We are the only two who could build these memories and recall them fondly, in years to come.

There are plans, fantasies, wishes, and dreams only we two can share. There are no parts of me you to which you do not have free access — your key to my heart fits all the doors, and there are several keys.

At the same time there are things in me that only you can own, and I cherish them. I protect them like a fiercely monogamous lover — it is a dichotomy I cannot fully explain.

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Penance 

Give me your eyes
so I may see
from your perspective.
You take from me, mine
–so you won’t be blind.

Give me your heart,
so I may feel
it’s broken places.
You carry my heart–
let it bleed in your hands.

I’ve been beating fists
against your walls until
I’m numb and bloody.
Repenting the sins
of youth in my old age.

Forgiveness must be
in a closet somewhere
with a rusty lock
and a long lost key
in a forgotten hallway.

It could save our souls.
But my prayers pool
in blood on the floor,
and you’ve taken
a vow of silence.

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AUDIO FILE:

Floating

On days when my heart
feels like just shutting down
–I sit with the stillness,
make almost no sound.

On days when my heart
feels like locking its doors
–I wear your old t-shirts
and sit on my floors.

On days when my heart
feels like going to ground
–I breathe in the earth and
I feel it’s heart pound.

On days when my heart
feels like it’s fighting wars
–I let my tears carry
me back to your shores.

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AUDIO FILE:

Changed

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain
“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

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Recently, I spent a week enjoying the family vacation of a lifetime — on the island of Saint Martin — with my Dad, his wife, three siblings, their spouses, and mine. I feel indescribably fortunate for the chance to experience several firsts, thanks to the generosity of my father. I’d never traveled outside of the U.S., and it was a pleasure to find that whatever the language, whatever the culture, people are more similar than we are different. I enjoyed conversations and stories with several really beautiful souls; and I was reminded that the world is truly smaller than it looks. 

I had never been sailing before, and was a little nervous, but ultimately thrilled to share a sunset cruise — on a catamaran — with a delightfully funny and friendly crew, where I got my first taste of salt-spray, racing seagulls, and the rise and fall of gorgeous, blue-green ocean waves. I’d never swam in the ocean, and not only was it incredible, it was exhausting, in the most challenging and wonderful ways! The sand was gorgeous, the water clear, and in order to remember this first, for a very long time, I gathered a tiny handful of sand and bits of rock and shell to bring home with me. I’d never eaten lobster thermidor, or snails, or several of the delicious vegan dishes my brother whipped up during our stay in a luxury, open-air villa — with breathtaking views of the water, the distant volcano, fiery flamboyant trees and other lush vegetation, two gorgeous, wild kestrels nesting in the corner of the dining patio, and a very loud, wild parrot that greeted the day — and all of us, at five a.m. — with a dozen or more hellos.

There were some things I have wanted to do for many years, like having my passport stamped, swimming in the sea, and experiencing island dining at it’s finest. However, there were other opportunities which I’d not imagined I’d ever have: 

I opted out of the extreme sports experience with the water jet propelled boots. I’m not that crazy. But, I did go with my family on a speed boat day trip around the island. We waded through the ocean up to my chest, to eat delicious mahi and drink pina coladas on another beach, and when the option came to get into the water, with fins and a mask, and swim with gorgeous fish and majestic sea turtles, I was nervous. However, there was a wolf’s voice in my head… the same voice that has pushed me and cheered me for nearly a year, to hike and climb, to stretch and challenge myself. She reminded me that I’m stronger than I used to be. I’m braver than I think, and I might never again get the chance to snorkel with my strong and courageous, seventy-one year old father. She wouldn’t let me stay seated and let this opportunity pass me by. So I stepped off the end of the boat into the ocean. I put my feet in flippers, and strapped on a snorkeling mask. I ducked my head into the water and swam.  Within a couple of minutes, I was watching a school of bright blue and perhaps yellow fish, and a few minutes later, three different sea turtles! It was an amazing experience, and one I know I’ll remember for the rest of my life!

The opportunities for courage didn’t end there.  Because I realized it was time for my husband and I to step out on a limb and tell some of my family about my amazing, wonderful, polyamorous world, and specifically the two people who’ve become such a huge part of our daily lives that we’ve become one family living in two homes. I did sit down with my brother who lives in L.A. and share my happiness with him, and then later we spoke both to my dad and step-mom.  They were surprised, and incredibly loving. Mom had a few questions about jealousy, and logistics. Dad wanted to be sure we were happy, and though he doesn’t agree with our choices, he supports our right to make them our own. It was both a scary and wonderful set of conversations. When we returned home, Dad called and invited the four of us to come to dinner this weekend, and I was amazed at how wonderful it felt to share my whole truth with family. I’d never expected to do that, or to really want to as badly as I did. Our little quad is part of the family, and at least two of my parents are welcoming and glad to get to know them. I can’t imagine being happier with the outcome of this chance to take a risk and be vulnerable.

I knew when I boarded the plane to leave the country for the first time, I’d come home a little different. I hoped to have my pale-and-freckled-skin version of a tan, a little more salt in my blood. I expected to come home a lot more relaxed and refreshed, with beach hair and a suitcase full of laundry and souvenirs. What I didn’t expect was to come home changed, stronger for having been vulnerable, for having challenged myself to do things that were scary. This week that I’ve been back has been punctuated by trips to the pool and the creek, in a relentless search for sun and water. It’s also been accented by a growing realization that I am made better, stronger, and happier by the relationships in my life, and the people who make up my family.

This gypsy, wanderer, part island-girl poet is grateful, and that, so very much.

islandgirl (2)
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