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.

No

NO

PREFACE: I used to think it was important to only share recovery, and on that same wavelength, I used to think only love poems were the kinds that were important to share.  Today, I am reminded of the process and how I had to hear experience, then strength and hope in order to heal.  Knowing that you’re not alone is key to releasing the power that traumatic experiences have on the mental, emotional and spiritual states of the person who has been disturbed.  I am reminded that both light and dark exist together.  The following might be triggering for some assault/rape survivors.

My dream last night was about James.  He was the sweet neighbor boy who lived around the corner from my house growing up. We would ride our bikes around the dirt roads together.  One day he “forgot” his bike, so we had to walk, and he grabbed my hand and held it all afternoon.  We would go swimming in ponds and pick blackberries and on one evening, he gave me my first real kiss when I was 13 in the back of my mom’s car.

I remember wearing his football jersey to school on a Friday to support him for the game that evening.  Feeling important and trusted, I wore it like a badge of my status, popularity and commitment to my new and first boyfriend.  After the game, he kissed me again, this time in front of his friends.  I was amazed at his confidence and bravery in liking me.  He was a year older at 14, and fellow friends envied that an older boy was dating me. It gave me this image of “maturity” where locker room girls asked for dating advice.

James and I didn’t date long, however, age differences at that time of puberty made a big difference.  Girls at 14 were starting to make-out with boys, get felt-up, even play below the belt.  But I wasn’t ready.  Nervous to even french kiss him, that didn’t seem to be enough for his current appetite.  However, we remained friends all throughout junior high and into high school.

We went to parties together often, although he typically would socialize with the more popular, athletic crowd.  Whereas, my group was a little more rough around the edges.  He was never judgmental, though.  When I wore too much makeup, or a shirt too low, or when rumors began to spread of my sexual conquests (apparently I slept with an entire football team at another school and got 7 abortions one summer), he remained my friend.

I often thought he was one of the kindest, truest men I had ever met.  I trusted him wholeheartedly and even thought that one day we might end up together when life balanced out a bit.  I could see us on the farm raising a bunch of babies, working the soil and having too many animals. He loved dogs and I loved pigs and we both already had at least 5 cats between us.

Within a single evening, those tender daydreams turned into rocks that were thrown into my perception and shattered my reality.  Parts of me broke all while I slept.  At 17, he raped me in his dorm room when I was unconscious. The once sweet boy who I shared so many memories with became a horrible nightmare for 13 years to come.

I got very drunk at a party one night. I knew I had overdone it and was worried about my safety.  As a smart girl, I knew that boys could take advantage, so I called James to come get me since he lived in a dormitory nearby.  It was no secret that I was fall-over drunk. I was young, still trying to figure out my limits with alcohol and as some children from disturbed childhoods do, I was self-medicating. Even as I write this, I find myself justifying.

I don’t remember much after returning to his dorm room.  Just laying in his bed and trying to fall asleep, my shirt coming off and telling him I was cold.

I woke up the next morning completely naked beside him. Confused, embarrassed and sore. I got dressed and left knowing that I didn’t want to have sex with him, but I had, or he had with me. Feeling like it was my fault – for years to come. Scared if he had or hadn’t used protection.  (He hadn’t). If only I hadn’t drank so much.  If only I could remember what happened.  If only I was awake long enough to tell him no.  If only…

I drove home missing a part of myself.  I drove home never wanting to see myself naked again.  I drove home with my skin tensing with disgust and anger.  I drove home to a place where I was not safe to tell anyone about what had happened.  I drove home in silence and alone.  I drove home looking at a sunrise and feeling like nothing would ever look beautiful again.  I drove home empty and numb.  I drove home passing his house.  I drove home.

That night, I was given three things: an inability to get close or trust men for nearly a decade, a tendency to disassociate with myself that spawned many more years of abuse, and I was given chlamydia. Which my parents nearly disowned me over.  (Back then parents were notified of sexually transmitted diseases if the child was under the age of 18.) Fortunately, one of those things was treatable with a tiny little pill.  Unfortunately, everything else wasn’t that easy to overcome.

I wrote a poem that day, it later won some prestigious thing that’s not even worth mentioning – but here it is.  A poem I haven’t read in 13 years that all of a sudden today, on the eve of 2018, somehow feels important:

No
Hold my heart out on my sleeve,
Take a breath and watch me leave,
Caught in passion that I didn’t want,
Act as if you’re nonchalant.
One can’t be after such an assault.
The heart is in remorse and life comes to a halt.
Hide my tears and never tell a soul,
My body is numb and my love is cold.
Never regain consciousness from this perdition I’ve been placed.
My life is over.
I’ve been erased.
Not so fast, this isn’t my fault.
Don’t ask why, one could never understand,
Why this man could have laid his hand,
His hand upon myself in an outraged way.
Don’t ask why, for on that day,
You will take your life away.