My First Found Poem

I found that tape you made me

that first summer we met

and  I had to go away to camp.

I listened to that tape over and

over and round and round

 

It still plays.

Can you believe it?

If only we believed in ourselves

the way we believed in each other.

 

You see me cryin’

writin’ this part of my life

about the days when I was sweet sixteen

and you left me for someone else’s dream.

 

Voices screamed. Nothin seemed

real’s a dream

 

I got my head shrunk

so it took a long time to remember what you said.

 

when she cried at night, no one came

and when she cried at night, went insane

and lost the Magic Man

 

You see me cryin’?

They took away my little helpers

Even when I cried at night

They wouldn’t give ’em back, so

 

I’m back to the found

And you’re lost

(or found)

 

What’s the weather like outside your window now?

I pray it’s nice.

 

Some days I see Magnolias and all color roses, and think of you.

Some nights, I still cry

But not as long,

or as deep,

or as loud,

just a drop

of rain,

just a Ripple

 

Crazy 8’s

Last night I dreamed I woke up in my old bedroom in LA as a five-year-old. My closet was flashing green-blue and rocking back and forth. When I opened it pieces of black plastic and little “yes,” “nos” “maybe’s” and “8’s” fell on top of me.

“See what you did Little one?

“Mr. Owl!” I was excited to see my old toy-friend. “What are you doing here?”

“This is where you put me, remember?” he sounded like Tucan Sam in the old Fruit Loops commercial. “But never mind that. Look what you did?”

I looked down around the shivering blue and black pieces around my feet.

“Careful–it’s glass,” Mr. Owl warned.

I looked up confused moreso by the fact that I could feel the underbite I had over 40 years ago. I got scared, “Mr. Owl?”

“Honey, you broke the 8-ball. You have to let it rest and stop asking it so many questions about so many remote possibilities that God himself doesn’t even know about yet. You have to stop giving away all of your answers to other people. That thing in the forest was a long time ago–trust me, I was there. Let it go, my dear. Let it go, please for all of our sakes.”

All the animals on the top shelf of my closet lit up chattering, “please, missy, please, let it go.”

“Granny Wolf! Red Riding Hood! Bently Bear! Minnie and Mickey and Donald and Bentley Bear? . .  . Mr. Owl is my Mommy here?”

“No, child, this just a dream.” He handed me a Buster Brown shoebox. “Remember that when you open the box, you hear?”

“Ok! I sat on the sharp pieces of Mr. 8-ball.

“Not yet, child, Mr. Owl said. You must wait until we’re gone. 8 get yourself together and get back up here.”

All the pretty turquoise, silver, blue pieces elevated themselves to the top shelf. Mr. Owl interrupted my thoughts. “No, Child.  Leave 8 alone now. We will tell you when the time is right. You must be patient. “when the rain washes you clean you’ll know. Open the box once we’re gone and remember, once you see what’s inside, remember dear, your karmic debt is paid and you are free to chase your bliss, start your life, however you phrase it, remember, your karmic debt is paid.”

“Ok?” Once the closet settled back down to normal, I opened the box. Inside I found one new shoe (for a five-year old) and a stuffed cat –what do I do with this? Mr. Owl? Mr. 8?

“Back to the gypsy that I was to the gypsy that I was” (Fleetwood Mac)

The night before my husband left me, the night before the winter solstice, I dreamed I was in a tent in the middle of a big circus in Birmingham, AL helping the Rolling Stones revise their songs–although I don’t remember which ones! :(–it was my job to keep their location top secret. I kept having to go in and out of the tent and fight off the crowds trying to get in. I was dressed like a gypsy and my long hair got stuck in the zipper of my coat ’cause it was freezing outside and I was barefoot, but I kept trying to find my first love in the crowd because I knew he would want to meet the Stones and they said they would like to meet him after I told them what a big fan he was.

I knew he was in the crowd but I didn’t know where and it was like trying to find the needle in the haystack. Bill Wyman was rejoining the band for this one-time only performance and Rod Stewart was accompanying the band on a song I had written–again don’t remember it. I finally climbed a street lamp on the corner of Royale (yet still in B’ham) downtown to get a bird’s eye view. I spotted my first love giving pink and blue cotton candy to his wife and kids. I hid my head in my coat so he couldn’t see me–he couldn’t have anyway because I was miles away. I looked again and they were laughing and twirling pink and blue cotton around.

The wind blew my motley skirt up and someone whistled from beneath my feet. I looked over at the tent and the flap was open. I had to get back. I looked at my first love again and he looked happy. Suddenly the Stones and me seemed small in comparison to how happy he  seemed to look. I climbed down the street lamp and ran shoving my way back to the tent to make sure the band was safe. They were. I sat down by the fire, stared into it, and cried. David Lee Roth kept trying to cheer me up with different renditions of “Ice Cream Man” but I wanted to smack him

The next day (in real life–not a dream), my husband woke me up to tell me he was leaving. He was going to a microtel to get away from me for a week. I called him. I texted him. I would have sent smoke signals and telepathic messages if I’d thought he could’ve understood them. He never answered me. I never heard from him again. It’s been almost two months.

I’ve been lucky to have felt love like fire and insatiable hunger and ice and crazi-as-a-loon-in-heatness. My first love always made me feel like an angel and a queen and the only woman in the world.

My second love made me feel like a doormat as many times as he came and went into my life.

At first I called my husband GE, the Light Man, turning the lights on in my heart–until the dead babies turned it black.

From time to time, I google my husband’s name to try and find him. I even google, from time to time, “what kind of man leaves his wife?” Invariable all the results say something or other about the “fact” that there must be another woman involved for a man to leave.

I never worry about other women. They’re the easiest things to fight. Mere mortal me can’t fight a heroine addiction or Rabid Bipolar II or whatever my husband’s problem is–dead babies, dead dreams, dead rabbits–I can’t fight that either. Another woman would be a piece of cake compared to these other things that get in the way of my love. Give one back to me completely, one free of all the stupid things that get in the way of love and turn it into hate, so I can love freely and purely again, but not until I’m firm enough in my own boots to be able to love another unconditionally and not need them to complete me.

This blog/website might disappear soon–my husband set it up and I don’t know how to pay the bill on it, even if I did have the money. No matter. I’ll start another. I’ll begin again. I’ll get out of this “middle of the road” and “empty heart” climbing the street light to the moon

My New Boots

I asked God for rain; he gave me  eight inches of snow that’s stuck below freezing for the last 5 days. My cats and I are scratching up the walls. Yet, after two days of shoveling (snow and other things), I finally rescued my car and Halelujah! It started and ran me slipping and sliding up to the drugstore for some Mucinex D and cat food.

I talked to my aunt in Houston yesterday–she was on her way to Costco for toilet paper and saw a rainbow–I took it as a sign that God will never punish me with another snow storm. My aunt doesn’t believe God uses weather for any other purpose than weather–neither does my therapist. They have a valid point. Weather and other cataclysmic events probably don’t happen just for my benefit or any other person. Some Christians and Jews and Muslims can be so narcissistic that way.

I saw pink clouds of dusk coming out of the drug store and thought of the pink clouds several years ago in Tennessee when I begged for help to quit smoking. And I did. I’ve also learned to shovel snow (and other things) and herd cats and what else? What else have I learned in all these years? Have I learned how to have a female support group? No. Have I learned how not to get taken for all I’ve got by a man? No. Have I learned how to forgive? no. Love? no. Am I better than I was then, five years ago? 10 years ago? Yes. and no.

I did drive in ice today–which I’ve never done, so, yeah me! I plunged the toilet and reset the disposal. I quit smoking and lost 50 pounds–not in the same day or year or two years–one at a time.

Funny the songs that pop in your head when your husband abandons you out of the blue for no apparent reason–although time alone offers the unfortunate opportunities for recall–crystal clear the memories of exactly how and when we inevitably set ourselves on this irrevocable path of solitude and, praise God, some solace.

For awhile I had Johnny Paycheck “Take this job and shove it”–is that Johnny Paycheck? I wanted to just up and leave too. And who was it that sang that damn “You left in the rain without closing the door. I didn’t stand in your way”? And the one about nachos in the grocery store? Used to come on KEEL radio every morning waking me up for another retched day in junior high. Chicago “If you leave me now . . .” I thought about turning on the sad station but decided not to as being shut in in a snow storm was bad enough without the soundtrak.

Driving home from the drug store tonight I wasn’t going to turn on the radio but my elbow accidentally knocked it wedging me and my foot of  snow clothes in between my steering wheel and me. Scared me at first until I realized what was playing–“You got another thing coming.” Which made me think of “Dirty deeds done dirt cheap” which made me excited I can wear my new cowboy boots tomorrow when the snow melts, which of course makes me think of just what these boots will do–not walk all over anyone–just walk away home to Texas. I am grateful to my husband for ripping off the band aid, tearing up this two by four situation I’ve been complaining about all these years. He had more guts than me   in that regard. Silly me was trying to see him through what I thought he wanted–how silly, silly, silly, silly! I’ve been wearing three chains around my neck since he left: one has a cross, the other has a St. Catherine (patron saint of artistic creations) medal, and the other is my coin from graduating from the program last summer. Wish I’d been able to divorce, sell the house, and move home then–but no matter–little by little”with love with patience and with faith, [I’ll] make my way.”

So what is this blog’s theme song? Hmmm? Oh, I know . . .

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout 

Down came the rain and washed the spider out

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain

And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again

Walk on boots

And I think it’s gonna rain today

Rain for a real long time

Rain til my blues get carried away

And my hoodoo sins no longer a crime

Rain on me

Rain

Rain on me today

Break the levees again

Water

Rain on me today

Wash away my Sins, Lord,

Take my Love and my Hate back to the scene of the crime where they were born

Take that Man out of my Soul Lord

His Evil ways got to go

Wash my Sins away, Lord,

Rain on me some more

simplicities

“And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”
—T. S. Eliot, The LoveSong of J. Alfred Prufrock
Well, dear me, I am so disappointed. I had so hoped to accomplish everything and more before sundown and yet here I am still in my shorts and ponytail, unshowered and unshaved, late for dinner.
Did I say I was going to lose 20 more pounds? Heavens to Betsy! I thought I had written that I was going to gain 20 pounds. What on earth will I do with the big tin of popcorn I just bought–all kinds too cheddar, caramel, white corn–and all kinds of jolly, red-faced Santas all over it. Plus the family size bag of chex mix, cheddar and Bold flavored–my favorite. And lets not forget my signature lasagna and lemon chocolate pudding cake everybody loves and noone knows I get already made at the grocery store but no one knows where.
Alas, it has been fun eating like crap these last few weeks–or I should say, eating like I always used to eat back when my metabolism could afford it, the old binge and purge diet straight from The Guidebook to Southern Womanhood: nothing all day except caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, and maybe if handy, a couple of Vicodin and Ativan or Klonipin. Then all night, apples, potatoe bread, pot pies, mexican food or shells and cheese, or and more of these from mini wheats or chex mix or pretzels or beer or bourbon or rum and cokes and dancing even though I can’t dance or singing even though I can’t sing and a half of this and a that plus tequila or maybe a little more of a his or a that.
Alas. This is not the right diet for a woman in her mid-forties–or, at least, to avoid the politically uncorrect generalization, I should say my metabolism is no longer able to outrun all of this junk and crap and so I’m mentally preparing myself for gym time.
I don’t like gyms though. Treadmills are sooooo boring. I can’t stand the smell of sweat and artificial lights. Even if I see the person in front of me wiping down a machine with cleaner, I still have to wipe it down again and maybe again and maybe one more time with my own germ-x and wet wipes, which interferes with my work out, so it ends up not being so good for my heart–but no excuses, I will go and get this 20 pounds off again as soon as I have properly mentally and physically prepared myself.
Ooh dear. A great gust of wind just blew through my attic loft where I write scrambling all my papers all over the floor and hopefully not out the window on the other side.
I received a nice text message from biker navy guy. I used to look after his cat when he was offshore. He wanted me to know she had passed away and how was I? My first instinct when I read his text was to think I needed a shot of something or other to text him back, which caused me to have to implement my healthy coping mechanism of sitting on the couch until it passed, which happened over the course of the sun moving from about high noon to sunset. “And that is why I sojourn here alone and paling loitering late for dinner” to paraphrase Keats.
But the urge passed as did the compulsion to even respond to him in any manner. I don’t have to respond just because he contacted me. I am an adult. I am neither a helpless child under someone one else’s control, nor am I an old cat lady passed my prime. The hairdresser said in all likelihood my hair was falling out because of a weather change like the cats. That made me feel better. He also gave me some great tips for getting rid of the dark circles under my eyes. Now he and I both look ten years younger–I’ve got the selfie to prove it. I also got mistaken for a teenager today as I greeted students for the Teen writing class filling in at my local writing center today. My husband invited me over to dinner. I was going to stress and dress to go–now I think I’d rather go collect my papers out of my neighbor’s back yard and curl up in front of my tv with my wooly mammoth Siamese and my jolly Santa popcorn tin–and what the hell, I think I’ll treat myself to a Coke too–it is after all the simple, little things in life that can bring the most happiness. Rock on!

HEART

And so, Donald Trump is President-elect. And so, as Walter Cronkite, used to say, that’s the way it is this Saturday, November 12, 2016.

Yes, like most Americans, I was shocked. I was “painfully” disappointed. I was confused. I was dismayed. I thought of emigrating to Australia.

And then, I thought, “well, hell, why not me too?” Clearly Trump saw something the media and majority of Americans did not. He trusted his vision, his audience, his platform, his bullshit, and he made a nation of idiots out of all of us. Now I can either sit around whining and bemoaning; or, I can go out and violently-peacefully protest; or I can fix my blinders to block out my peripheral vision and go full-steam ahead with just exactly whatever it is I want to do with my life, just as I have been trying and planning. I just have to decide what I most want, the best way to get it and go for it. This is the reason I don’t have kids right now–nothing or no one to stop me. Again I say I’m free. {I’d love to know what women do in mid-life crises because I sure have no interest in red sports cars or mistresses.}

I do have right now a sense of urgency standing on a great precipice of something that’s either WWIII and the end of the world as we know it, or, not. Either way I know I’ve got to go soon and I will. So long I will be going–as soon as I see my vision, platform, and audience come into view.

I’m not being anti-feminist or anti-humanist in trying to see the bright side of Trump’s election. I’m simply trying to survive and adapt to reality, figure out my place, and succeed as best I can. I hope America’s fundamental misogyny is finally clear to us and the world. Maybe women will rally together again in a fourth wave–that would be cool. But, if not, there’s always France.

After all, it was a brutally, domestically-violent environment that gave rise to my feminism, my strength, my guts, my determination, my spit, my fire. I can’t love no matter how hard I try. I can’t risk the kind of vulnerability true love requires–not anymore at any rate. No matter how many resolutions I make to try and approach my husband with that kind of openness, honesty, tenderness, and compassion, I close up seconds before and pick a fight with him instead, then run to the bathroom, or down the street and cry at my isolation and loneliness and blackness and depression. The next day I might resolve to try and bare myself again but I always seem to prove too much a coward to go through with it.

And so I think I’ll probably end up forfeiting the marriage game. I do believe I am just about done with that phase. Now in hindsight I see that 99% of the reason I did get married was because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. True, I was 37 years old and I wanted kids of my own after I’d gotten the tenure-track job. 12 miscarriages and one resignation later, I’m left with nothing much but the shirt on my back, but that’s all I really need to make my move.

There’s really only one thing left that I want to do with my life–my book, maybe books, that would be cool, and my academic, intellectual life. I’m back to wanting to bury my soul in work and academia. I want to believe in my writing and my books as much as all of the men in my life have believed in themselves, but with my own fierce spirit. If I can just get the view and the means in view, I’ll be set. So help me God, please. Forgive me my trespasses and whatever else I did to deserve the blackness. Help me out now, please. Tell me it’s almost time to fly, to Aufhebung, to transcend, to set myself free. I am sorry for my husband’s grief. I do pray for peace, for inspiration, for light, and liftoff.

Today’s anthem is from Heart. God grant me the strength to live these words as I have intended and been trying to do–tell me now it’s time and I will with your help.

“Quite some time, I been sittin’ it out
Didn’t take no chances
I was a pris’ner of doubt.
I knocked down the wailin’ wall
Ain’t no sin
Got the feel of fortune; deal me in
Comin’ straight on for you. You made my mind.
Now I’m stronger. Now I’m comin’ through
Straight on, straight on for you
Straight on for you.”

“Back in the Saddle Again”

I was going to post this yesterday. I didn’t because I felt still too shaky in my boots. Then I went to a writing workshop and realized I am tired of hanging around the quagmire with turkeys.

Time for me to fly. Time for me to get some balls, breasts, whatever the fuck I need to publish and sell my memoir and be a famous writer and professor. Time to play the Mama and the daddy–time in short to get over it and move.

It still astounds me how much smarter, more intelligent and more well read I am than even some of my former colleagues with seemingly the same degree that I have–the difference, though, is I go the all-out distance. Summer of 2008 I spent reading every “how-to-write-a-memoir” book I could get my hands on–my PhD taught me how to pick out the best ones–I found Betsy Lerner’s Forest for the Trees, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones–I had already read Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation (and thought ‘oh shit’ that’s my book)–then I read every other book Wurtzel wrote and Tobias Wolf’s This Boy’s Life, Rick Bragg’s All Over but the Shoutin, Dorothy Alison Bastard Out of Carolina, Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club, Go Ask Alice, The Basketball Diaries, even Nikki Sixx’s memoirs–I learned how to write a memoir 1,000 great books and three short months later.

However, eight long, painful years later, I still lagg behind. Why? I’ve been waiting all this time for some other dumbass to tell me how  great I am while I burn with anger inside (that’s why my skin rages with eczema) at how the men in my life have taken everything I gave and used me, and while I throw my private pity parties over my age, my looks—

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah–Shut the f— up! Yankees here don’t understand that “Thank you” really means “Shut the f— up and go away!” It’s time to say it straight. It’s time to stand up. To walk the straight walk and talk the straight talk.  I shouldn’t say this publicly–it could ruin my career–but the point is I have been so misguided I was seriously considering voting for Trump out of anger and disappointment and due to the saying “vote your paycheck.” Even if my benefactor supports Trump, Sting is right–I don’t have to put out the red light. Thank God those days are over. I am not a Rag Doll anymore.

Quite simply, I forgot who I am and what my own shoes and the souls of my own feet feel like. A commercial on Instagram reminded me–the Lord may indeed work in mysterious ways. The commercial showed a mother crying in a car. The daughter asks, “Mom, what’s wrong?” The mother smiling through happy tears says “I just voted for a woman for president.”

It was that silly commercial on social media that shot my life through my head in one split second and turned me into my real self again. I’m not naive enough to think that a black president or a woman president will automatically heal all the racism and sexism in our country. The point is Susan B. Anthony. The point is Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. The point is Charlotte, Emily, and Ann Bronte. The point is Florence Nightingale,  Amelia Ehrhardt, Joan of Arc, George Eliot–the point is standing in my own shoes, on the shoulders of all the women who  paved the way for this once in a lifetime opportunity and for my professional, personal, legal, economic, educational, spiritual freedoms and for my figurative daughters, for future generations.

The point is, it no longer matters how frightened I am or how insecure or hurt by rejection or all that other crap. The point is, I’m back . . .

“Baby Blue”

I wish tonight I could write something as beautiful as this, but alas, my head can’t concoct anything but poetry lines or songlyrics. I just now watched the last episode of “Breaking Bad,” so I’ve got the Victorians and “Baby Blue” swimming in my head. I soooooooo think I might play hookie tomorrow—I need a “mental health day,”/ a me day. My nerves are shot and I’m afraid the sound of one poor innocent person’s voice might send me over the edge into postal territory.

 I haven’t written sh+t in several weeks which is also kind of bothering me but I think what’s really bothering me is that I’m at the point of being ready to get my agent querying materials together and suddenly the tiny dust specs on the baseboards are so much more interesting and terribly important to wipe away before I get started on my synopsis and chapter outline and summary.

 Isn’t it funny, though, there is always more cleaning to do first.

 I am clearly afraid of something regarding this agent querying stuff: what?

 If it would only stop forming those damn heavy clouds over my head like Linus when I sit down to write, I’d be fine.

But not so.

This song reminds me of my husband and the biker navy guy I met my first night in VA—he drove me back and forth over the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel all night long as many times as I wanted—

Thanks, Babe. Sorry Dear.

Love you, Baby Blue

 

Baby Blue

Badfinger

Guess I got what I deserved
Kept you waiting there too long, my love
All that time without a word
Didn’t know you’d think that I’d forget or I’d regret
The special love I had for you, my baby blue

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C53QAuOoSgc

 

La Belle Dans Sans Merci:A Ballad

By John Keats

 
I.
O WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
  Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither’d from the lake,
  And no birds sing.
 
II.
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!
        5
  So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
  And the harvest’s done.
 
III.
I see a lily on thy brow
  With anguish moist and fever dew,         10
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
  Fast withereth too.
 
IV.
I met a lady in the meads,
  Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,         15
  And her eyes were wild.
 
V.
I made a garland for her head,
  And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look’d at me as she did love,
  And made sweet moan.         20
 
VI.
I set her on my pacing steed,
  And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
  A faery’s song.
 
VII.
She found me roots of relish sweet,
        25
  And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
  “I love thee true.”
 
VIII.
She took me to her elfin grot,
  And there she wept, and sigh’d fill sore,         30
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
  With kisses four.
 
IX.
And there she lulled me asleep,
  And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream’d         35
  On the cold hill’s side.
 
X.
I saw pale kings and princes too,
  Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—“La Belle Dame sans Merci
  Hath thee in thrall!”         40
 
XI.
I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
  With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
  On the cold hill’s side.
 
XII.
And this is why I sojourn here,
        45
  Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither’d from the lake,
  And no birds sing.