It’s Not Black and White, It’s Gray

IT'S NOT BLACK AND WHITE, IT'S GRAY

It’s Not Black and White, It’s Gray
Birds twirl in the sky like sheets of loose paper
As raindrops fall in the absence of my footsteps.
The clouds marbled and wispy
As I whisper,
That I’m wistful.
New trees arch toward their spotlight
While dewy kisses plant on my cheeks
From the darker side of the sky.
I like getting wet, getting muddy
The raw grit of the Earth.
Pour down in buckets
To cleanse and to coat
Leave me soaking and silent on this street.
I’m happy here, alone and cold with you.
I found the place you wanted me to,
Where it’s okay to be gray.
For just like the sky,
So am I.

Painted Ladies

PAINTED LADIES

Painted Ladies
Painted ladies brushstroke by
As the ink sets in to dry
Truth sets you free,
But where are you, and where is he?
Softly stepping on the sidewalk
As men sleep in driveways
Under the slowly warming sky.
These ladies broke through their cocoons
To migrate and mate
As I’ve done.
Both heading towards the Pacific Northwest
Somewhere with trees
In hope of creating families.
I’ll float alongside you, little butterflies
I’ll take each step with closed eyes,
The tiles may be falling off the walls
But I’m outside now
In motion, and in love for no reason at all.
Brushstroking by
Underneath the still warming sky.

You Are Stronger Than You Think

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK

You Are Stronger Than You Think
When everything is quiet
And you’re nowhere to be found
I begin to blacken pages,
Writing to sages,
About girls in dresses
Walking alone in sunsets
And butterflies silhouetted by moonlight.
We’re all just homesick.
Touching trees and one another
Getting one step closer.
I’ll see you all there
But right now, I’m in repair.
I’m glad it’s warm out,
My sweat reminds me to release
With every breath, I feel a little more at peace.
I close my eyes and walk on ledges now.
My heart is louder than it used to be
Seeing rainbows on my skin previously unseen.
So go ahead little girl,
You have what you need in this world.
You want new words?
Then write to them.
Put jasmine in your hair
Gift love and lightning everywhere.
They might have stars on thars,
And you might have scars on yours
But Jesus, you are brave.
You never wanted normal anyways.
A pang of hunger and curiosity fit for a Queen.
So conquer, love harder and stand up in your dream.
Dance with your own shadow
Kiss your weak knees
Fill your lungs, wraps your hands, stretch your muscles that aren’t yet sore.
Look up to your home and say, “Please,”
“Give me more.”

Craving Connection

CHINESE NEW YEAR

Craving Connection
The nameless old man walked slowly down the street.
Purposefully he placed each foot
Like a gentle kiss on the Earth beneath him.
Walking towards her
A beacon, on the sun-drenched stoop.
Her golden, red hair and head in prayer,
Quietly he approached her.
Not to break either meditative concentrations
But with thought, he asked,
“Why are you so sad, little girl?”
The sleepwalking sweetheart only raised her head.
Like a buttercup humbly accepting the first amber glow of day.
Her arm extended like a morning stretch
Moving through water,
Breath low in her belly.
She simply touched his arm in connected relief.
Without breaking any code of silence,
He heard her unspoken words.
His body a bristlecone pine,
A living witness to more than a million sunrises and sunsets.
The ground became a symphony of economy
And her, the conductor.
Stillness lowered the gravity of the air around them.
And just for that moment,
The only two people in existence
Were the nameless old man and that sad little girl.

A Dying Man’s Last Breath

A DYING MANS LAST BREATH

A Dying Man’s Last Breath
As the ripe November moon rises
The not yet old man lays dying.
Not on his bed, nor on his floor,
Somewhere in between.
Discerning his last breath,
For only a moment, with gravity and importance.
Fragrant childhood fields of tiger lilies
Begin to bloom in his married room,
And the smell of old red and rotted barn doors.
Fantastic is the taste of a sweet and plump tomato,
Round and robbed right out of his mother’s garden.
The only background music,
A soft hum of Indianian wind through cattails.
Endless sunshine soaks his skin which now is filled with absolute youth.
Thousands of unreserved sunsets
That turn to a lifetime of coruscating evening skies.
66 years of first kisses grace his lips,
So does that bitter bathtub gin from senior prom.
Accomplishment arrives in his chest,
Inflating with words from his father, “I’m proud of you, son,”
Awakening in his fading ears.
Then he sees her.
In a form of remembered innocence,
With fiery hair
And a fiery soul that burned his taste for anyone else.
Anyone else but her.
Looking down, now dressed in his bridegroom clothes.
And her,
In a springtime of white and wonder.
Hearts hopeful with promise and eager to begin
His hands idle to build something.
A home.
Seemingly no time passes before she is quick with child.
And then he sees her.
With fiery hair
And a fiery soul that burned his adoration for anyone else.
Anyone else but her.
Feeding her watermelon with salt sprinkled on top
Just to watch her little nose crinkle.
The smell of fresh-cut, summer-kissed and dewy dawned grass
And her little toes.
How could anything ever be so tiny?
His arms warm with heavy bodies of wife and child.
A warmth that cascades
A warmth like a waterfall of tenderness over steep rocks of stoic features.
Seemingly no time passes and yet another miracle is delivered.
Then he sees her.
With fiery hair
And a fiery soul that burned his thanksgiving for anyone else.
Anyone else but her.
Pink satin swirling in his room,
His girls dancing in princess costumes.
His hair, now, a black and white photograph
As his girls all shine with vibrant hues of tenacity and resilience.
Flying and soaring over his perfectly manicured landscape
He planted over 100 pine trees,
His living picture frame proudly displaying what he had built.
Hands now lined, scarred, tattered and weak
As they grasp the bedside table in preparation for his last exhale.
His final act as a husband.
His final act as a father.
His final act as a man.
As millions of others have done before,
But not quite like him.
No, not quite like him at all.
He stood, so very tall,
Overlooking his kingdom,
On the sanded, stained and decades-old porch he built with his own two hands,
And the hands of his wife,
And the hands of his daughters.
Gentle snow or ash or princess glitter falls, tingling on his not yet old skin
As he smiles,
Welcoming the warmth of a new day.

THE OLD WOMAN AND THE OLD BICYCLE

THE OLD WOMAN AND THE OLD BICYCLE

The Old Woman And The Old Bicycle
The breeze is cold and sharp and honest on my walk without you.
Confusion wells up in my eyes
As I sit uncomfortably in the patience of universal design.
I feel lost, as I usually do right before I am found.
Cars blur past,
Some rattling with age
While others flaunt their shiny newness.
My idle hands crimp and fuss.
Absent is the hand that held them steady.
Touching my face to remember I’m here
And I’m real and I feel,
As the crisp air blowing on my sore neck wasn’t enough.
The marks of my strain and stress now visible.
Between my vacant family,
My lost husband,
My insurfuckingmountable depression,
And my god damned dead dad
I want to step in front of that shiny new car and stop it.
Stop the 30 years of abuse
Stop the nightmares
Stop the tears
Stop the loss
And stop the unheard, maddening loneliness.
I tried to call so many people and no one answered.
I’m reminded of the time I told my cousin that when no one answers
That means it’s time to call to the universe.
So I called to her.
Please guide me to joy.
Please carve a lighter path.
Please take pity on my tired and bruised body.
I’ll stay!
I’ll keep walking!
I’ll walk night and day and day and night
Just please stand beside me.
In all your warmth and rapture and rage
Show me some kindness.
Show me your mercy.
My trembling hand pulled a card from a deck earlier and it said, “Power.”
Was that meant for you?
For I cannot see mine, but yours is surely in the air.
Is mine hidden in the hand behind your back?
Or is it in my footsteps?
Maybe my legs will grow stronger with every mile.
Maybe the rhythm of my movement will steady the equilibrium of my breath.
Maybe my hands will effortlessly fall to my sides as my head dizzies with quietness.
And then, maybe, I’ll hear her.
In the lemon tree,
Or the hazy far off police sirens,
Or in the melting background hum of rush hour traffic,
Or in the soft paddle of an old bicycle wheel.
And as the street lamps flicker on,
And the dusk settles in,
And as the misty Olympic clouds blanket the Pasadena mountains, maybe,
I’ll hear her say, “take another step.”

Her

her

Cry for the little girl whose mommy always cries
Cry for the little girl whose daddy is never home
Who overhears loud fighting
And crashes in the middle of the night.
Cry for the little girl who stopped getting lullabies.
Cry for the little girl who had a nightmare one night
And who crawled into her mommy and daddy’s bed for comfort.
Cry for the little girl whose daddy touched her between her legs
Cry for the little girl who didn’t want to hurt her daddy
but she was getting hurt, too
So she hit him
And hit him
And hit him.
Cry for the little girl who went back to bed
Cry for the little girl who woke up confused, wet with urine,
And no one talked to her.
Cry for the little girl who made herself believe it was just her nightmare
The nightmare that she will have for decades to come.
The nightmare that will come back
Again, and again, and again, and again.
Cry for the little girl whose mommy started drinking
Whose lungs are burning and aching with smoke.
Cry for the little girl whose sister began to get angry
Who was placed in a dryer and had it turned on
Who was locked in a meat freezer
Who was electrocuted
And drowned
And beaten with a rock
And still has all the scars to prove it.
Cry for the little girl who slept outside one night
And no one noticed she was gone.
Cry for the little girl who slept outside for three weeks
And no one noticed she was gone.
Cry for the little girl who lost her virginity
And then he broke her rib
Cry for the little girl who was spit at, beat up and locked in lockers at school
Cry for the little girl whose mother threw chairs
And thought she was branded by Satan
And choked her daughters if they got out of line.
Cry for the little girl whose father was home now but too drunk to care.
Cry for the little girl who was drugged by boys
Again, and again, and again, and again
Cry for the little girl who started fantasizing about her father
Who loathed her own sexuality and was disgusted with her skin.
Cry for the little girl who fooled around with an older boy in a hot tub
Only to realize his friends were filming nearby
And what about that boyfriend that uploaded that video
The one of her going down on him to that porn site, cry about that too.
Cry for the little girl who was called a whore, a slut, easy, a piece of pussy, trash, loose, a bitch, a cunt, and such a fucking tease.
Cry for the little girl who had six,
Or was it seven
Fraternity boys attack her, rip her clothes off and throw them out the window.
Who went back home and had no one to tell.
Cry for the little girl who was raped by the neighbor boy
And still, 13 years later can’t drive down his road.
Cry for the little girl who was brave enough to leave and never look back.
Cry for the little girl who was raped again only one month later.
Remembering his piercing cold blue eyes, but was a total stranger.
Cry for the little girl whose doctor came in without gloves and forced himself inside her
Cry for the little girl whose masseuse went too high up her thigh
And wouldn’t stop, even when she cried.
Cry for the little girl who was assaulted three more times.
But can’t remember.
A silhouette of a person, an outline, a negative space cut out from reality.
Cry for the little girl whose memories began to evaporate from time
Cry for the little girl who was convinced by an older man that he could save her
Who just wanted to play with her
Who just wanted to use her, abuse her, degrade her, defile her, torture her and scar her
Again, and again, and again, and again
Cry for the little girl who was brave enough to leave and never look back.
Cry for the little girl who sought recovery.
Who faced her suicidal tendencies,
And her instincts to hurt and to hate.
Cry for the little girl who finally found her voice.
Once meager and weak
But now she could speak,
What a beautiful sound.
Cry for the little girl who learned about trust.
Not just in others, or herself, but in all of us.
Cry for the little girl who wanted her family again
And realized they were in more pain than her
So she cried for them.
Cry for the little girl who learned about love.
For the first time, feeling genuine care.
For being fearful of what she owed in return,
Realizing love is not a debt.
Cry for the little girl who learned how to make love.
With her spirit, her mind, her conscious body and her ever-grateful heart.
Cry for her joy, her returning childlike wonder, her intrigue with life.
Cry for her rejuvenation,
Her renewed sense of innocence
And Her resurrection.
Cry for the little girl that learned how to forgive.
Who prayed and cried for those who hurt her
For seeing clearly their pain like mountains over Her calm valley of water.
And once the tears have fallen, once they have rained into Her river
Watch them drift back to the sea
The vast horizon that is Her love
Not just for you, but for everybody.
Do not cry for the little girl, not anymore.
She does not want your tears.
This little girl has now lived for many years.
Cry for the sick, the disturbed, the tormented and weak.
Cry for their souls some refuge to seek.
Cry for their reflection, their need to introspect.
Cry for their lack of empathy and their inability to connect.
Cry for their healing, their cold and confused hearts.
Cry for our sake, for without their health we’ll all be pulled apart.
Our people are a hurting one, place your weapons down.
Speak up, trust, love
Only Her peace will be found.