No Tears Today

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Imagine you are sitting on the porch, feet balanced on some empty boxes, elbows propped on the chair’s armrests, hands pressed together just under your chin. It’s dark and there’s a cool breeze causing wisps of hair to dance around your face.

You leave the porch light off, letting the darkness embrace you. This way no one can see or hear you and you almost become part of the darkness yourself. Almost.

Tears stream silently down your face, creating pools around your collar bones, dripping rhythmically off the tip of your nose. You don’t really know why they are falling, I mean you do but, at the same time, you don’t. You know it’s foolish to be crying, again. But you can’t stop yourself for the life of you.

A box of tissues sits on the ground beside you but there’s really no use for it because as soon as you dry the tears and wipe the snot, more come. So you let it all run down your face, down your body.

You have no idea what time it is or how long you’ve been sitting here. The street lights blur together with the shadowy tree branches and your thoughts with them. If only to melt away…

This is what it feels like sometimes. There are days I spend lots of time sitting and crying or walking and crying, stopping only to lay down on my bed or in the cool grass and let the tears run down my temples and pool in my ears. I shame myself, knowing it’s foolish to feel the way I’m feeling but, at the same time, feeling like I have no control over it.

“Maybe I’m not really depressed,” I tell my sister over the phone. “Maybe I’m just really bad at managing my emotions.”

“You know that’s just the depression talking,” she tells me gently.

“Yes,” I say, “I know.” But I still have doubts. Maybe it IS all in my head, the prospect of which terrifies me even more than having depression itself. At least with depression I have something to blame it on, It’s just faulty wiring, not a cacophony of character flaws.

A few weeks ago, while in an especially low spell, I wrote an email to my parents and sisters, trying my best to explain what I’ve been experiencing. The last few lines read:

“I’m not looking for anything profound or hopeful from you. Just wanting to let you know I am here and trying, even if it seems like I’m not. I’m trying to try, really I am. Hope is harder than you know.”

Trying to try. Trying to hope. It’s a daily practice, one I’m coming at from different angles: reaching out to therapists and friends, journaling, posting sticky notes on my mirror that say things like, Life is never as serious as our minds make it out to be and You are strong, confident, capable, and worthy, and jotting down things I’m grateful for on scraps of paper and putting them in a bowl so I can revisit them.

Are these things trivial? Perhaps. Are they helpful? I think so. I hope so.

I like to imagine that one day soon I’ll be sitting on that porch again, feet balanced on some empty boxes, elbows propped on the chair’s armrests, hands pressed together just under my chin. It’s dark and a cool breeze causes wisps of hair to dance around my face. Thoughts flutter in and flutter out, nothing too serious, nothing too heavy. Just thoughts. I close my eyes and let a smile play on my lips for no other reason than it wants to. No tears today, no tears today.

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The Spin Cycle

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I’m sitting and watching the clothes spin and twirl in the sudsy water, sloshing back and forth, back and forth.

I wish I had brought something to write with, I always seem to want to write when I have no tools. I rummage through my bag to find a pen and ask the older woman who works at the laundromat if I could trouble her for a piece of paper. She gladly obliges and beckons me to follow her as she shuffles to her office.

It’s tidy, with rows of metal shelving full of laundry supplies, clothes, and towels. She opens a large metal desk, revealing pens, pads of paper, and other odds and ends.

“I like your coffee pot; it’s perfect for one person.” I tell her, pointing to the one-cup automatic drip pot, one of the few things on the desk.

“My husband got that for me about five years ago,” she recalls. “I didn’t want him to come all the way down here to bring me coffee in the winter because he would have.”

I smile, “He sounds like a good husband.” He reminds me of mine.

Her name’s Birdie, she tells me when I ask. I thank her for the paper and return to my seat to write, feeling hollow and filled to the brim all at once. Nothing to say yet everything to say.

14 minutes left on the washing machine.

The water rushes. I imagine it rushing over me, washing away all of this dirt and grime that’s built up around my heart, weighing me down, clogging the arteries to peace and joy. I see myself lying on my back in the river, my face the last to submerge under the current. Release.

It’s amazing how alone you can feel even when surrounded by people, people who love you. Like that mate-less sock someone unknowingly dropped in the middle of the laundromat floor. People notice it, think to themselves, Is that mine? Realize it’s not. Shrug. Keep going.

I’m weary in ways I can’t express. I feel it in my bones. I could have probably washed these clothes in my tears had I gathered them up in a bucket. But salt water doesn’t clean clothes well, only wounds. And it doesn’t heal beyond the surface abrasions; I need something that goes deeper.

This is stupid. I think, reading over what I’ve written. Stupid bullshit, trying too hard at expressing myself.

I recently read somewhere that if you don’t feel like you have to write then don’t bother. I don’t know if I have to or not but right now it feels like telling a piece of paper is at least some kind of release, to get the thoughts out of my head without burdening those I love. I would burst if I didn’t.

Some friends I can’t talk to about this. Most live far away and I don’t want our few sacred, cherished conversations to be taken up with my depression and darkness. It feels selfish, wrong somehow.

I’m shaky again, in my chest and limbs. I feel like more tears could spill over at any second. Is it the coffee? Doubtful.

I hid in the bathroom again last night, sobs racking my body until he knocked at the door to ask if I was ok.

“Yeah,” I feebly tell him. Truth be told I’m fucking embarrassed and ashamed and I know I put him in an uncomfortable position.

“I want to help you,” he tells me softly, rubbing my back. “But I don’t know what to do. How can I help you?”

I tell him I don’t know because I really don’t. Put a gun to my fucking temple, I want to say. But I don’t. I already texted him that I want to slit my wrists but he knows I’m just seeking attention when I do that so he doesn’t give those words much weight, doesn’t respond to that part of the message. It’s good that he doesn’t, it would only feed the demon.

I want to scream until my lungs burst that I’m not ok. I want to curl up in a ball and wail. But what good would it do? What good does anything do?

Some days are worse than others. At least once a week I collapse into tears for the better part of a day. It used to make me feel better but now it just makes me disgusted with myself. Fucking pathetic.

I wish I was stronger, like my sisters. Why can’t I fucking shake this? Why do I always sink into this pit when things are hard or unwanted? Why can’t I just suck it up and do what I need to do to survive? Normal people don’t imagine suicide when seas are rough. But what’s a normal person anyway?

The click of the washing machine door jolts me back to the present moment. I gather my wet clothes and mindlessly toss them into an empty dryer.

Birdie is doing the same, cheerfully chatting with another patron as she works. My work clothes gently dance in the dryer, waiting for me to don them this afternoon.

I slip the pen and paper into my bag. I’ve reached the end of the page, after all.

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Farewell to SIT: I now have a Masters degree!

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For new followers and those who don’t know me very well, I’ve spent the last two years at SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont earning my Masters of Arts in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation with a focus in Social Justice Training; and I just graduated this past weekend! It’s been quite the journey, wrought with lots of self doubt, self discovery, and self acceptance.

As my fellow trainers and I debriefed on Friday morning after a long week of capstone presentations, I took our reflections and created a spoken word piece. (Some words and acronyms are SIT and training specific so I will define them at the end). Enjoy!

To this cohort,
these co-conspirators in co-creation
embracing complexities
as we flex these new muscles in our foundation.

Grounded in theory and reflection
emboldened by Friere, hooks, and connection
we’ve found a new direction
rooted in teaching to promote transgression.

With the banking model behind us,
experiential learning to guide us,
engaged pedagogy now defines us,
it’s our love for learning that drives us.

We’ve practicummed and capstoned
and honed in on our PGOs,
and now, moving forward,
where we’ll go from here, who knows?

The learning spiral is never ending
continually ascending up and out,
and part of this lifelong journey
is figuring out what we’re about.

As CLCs with new Masters degrees
we know what we need to do,
reflect on the old, embrace the new,
and see this journey through.

So reaching to the cohort that follows,
it’s our hope on you we bestow,
experience, learn, reflect, redirect,
plan like hell and go with the flow.

 

Definitions:
Friere: Paolo Friere – Brazilian educator and philosopher who advocated engaged pedagogy.

hooks: bell hooks – an acclaimed intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist, and writer.

banking model: defined by Paolo Friere, refers to the traditional method of education where teachers fill the students with knowledge similar to depositing into a bank. Here, learning occurs in one direction and students are not empowered to take ownership and initiative in their learning.

experiential learning: defined by David Kolb, an engaged type of learning rooted in experience, reflection, abstraction and application. Here, all participants are students and teachers and can learn from and teach one another.

PGOs: Purpose, Goals, and Objectives – utilized in training courses and trainings

CLCs: Course-Linked Capstone

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The beautiful view from SIT’s front lawn.

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Me with my Masters degree.

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My husband, Chris, and I. Could not have done this without him!

 

 

 

The World Needs More Dreamers

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This is a poem I wrote last year for a group of middle schoolers.

* * *

So many people in this world
have fallen asleep
they keep their eyes shut
their doors shuttered
their hearts that once fluttered
beat softer than words muttered
from beneath their sleepy breath.

So many people in this world
are burnt out and tired
the fire that once burned in their bellies
is now a well that stands empty
though plenty of work remains to be done
they’ve come undone
and no longer feel the warmth of the sun
on their sad faces.

So many people in this world
used to dream and scheme
of how things could be different,
better, stronger, if they no longer
held themselves back
with all the things they think they lack
and all the reasons and ways
things must stay the same.

So many people in this world
have given up
have tucked away
their unique array of colors
because one thing or another
has caused them to cover
instead of discover
their own true selves.

But these are not all the people in this world.
There are people who are awake
quick to shake off and shake up
people who break up
the monotony of how things “should be”
and dare to dream of what could be.

There are people in this world
who join together
to make the world better
because they know ideas grow best
when they are shared
and invested in by others.

There are people in this world
who are full of light
shining brightly in the dark night
of the soul
who are bold in their visions
but not too set in their ways
to not make revisions.

There are people in this world
who dream big and bigger
who have the drive to figure
out what life is all about
and shout it from the rooftops
never letting doubters stop
them from believing.

There are people in this world
who love others because
they are able to love themselves enough
to realize the uniqueness
of their own gifts and creativity
living life vividly
as only they can live it.

And this doesn’t mean
that because your sheen
also shines that it outshines mine
we all have something to bring
to the table
if only we are able
to make room for us all to bloom.

We are all people in this world
and we have a choice
to add our voice to the fray
joining in with what others say
is the only way the world can be.
Or we can choose to see
a better world, unfurled
in our dreams,
our hearts bursting at the seams.

We can choose to be the change
we wish to see
to open our eyes to what could be
and to live boldly as schemers
because what this world needs
is more dreamers.

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Image courtesy of Flickr

Spring Time Blues

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It’s that time of the year once again
when the leaves are sprouting from the trees
bees buzzing on the budding blossoms
and the weather has me feeling awesome
until you come along.

Sometimes you’re with a group of friends
in the park or the end of my sidewalk
gawking at me as I cross.
Other times you’re coming out of a store
or lurking on the corner alone
it really doesn’t matter though
because your tone
is always the same:

“Hey baby, looking good.
I wish you would
sit on my face,
give me a taste.”
Or you make some perverted sound
with your mouth
some grotesque gesture or movement
with the intent to get my attention.

Or you yell from across the way,
“Hey beautiful, wanna make my day?”
and you expect my dutiful
reaction to be, “Awww thank you.”
And maybe I’ll throw in
a few giggles or a grin
just to prove the state you put me in.

But if I choose to ignore you
or worse yet, reject your advances
your stance is no longer sugary sweet,
it changed to anger and hate in a heartbeat.
“Bitch. You’re ugly anyway.
There’s no way I’d fuck you.”
Aww well now I’m really upset
because the whole reason I got dressed
was so I could walk down my street
and hear you say shit to me.

You think you’re a man because you stand
in the street yelling obscenities
to any piece of meat or ass
that happens to pass by
all just to prove to your friends
that you really can
get the attention of a woman.
Or may it’s to compensate for–
wait, let me not stoop to emasculate you
you’re doing that own your own, boo.
Or maybe your intention is just to work
so you have something to jerk off to
at the end of the day.

But it’s all a just a power play
and, anyway, we see right through you.
You really think your catcalls
make me want to do you?
Honestly, when you ask me
to sit on your face
you really expect me to say,
“Sure, name the time and place?!”

No, all you want to show me
is that you own me
and that I owe you gratitude
for your attitude of “sweetness.”
But get this,
I owe you nothing.
You don’t own me
any more than you own this street
or this air or this sidewalk or these stairs.

Grow up, have some respect
women aren’t objects.
You should have learned that by now
and, anyhow, what would your grandma
or mom or sister say
to hear you speak to women this way?

So next time you see me coming
and you really want to something,
swallow your words,
savor their bitter flavor
do us all a favor,
and don’t.

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An image from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art series Stop Telling Women to Smile.

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An image from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art series Stop Telling Women to Smile.

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An image from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art series Stop Telling Women to Smile.

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An image from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art series Stop Telling Women to Smile.

Save the Apology

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Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness month I am going to share a couple of poems I wrote last year regarding my experience with sexual assault and sexual harassment. This month also marks nine years since my major suicide attempt which the assault played a large role in. You can read the fully story of my assault on Our Stories Untold (OSU), as well as watch a video of me performing this poem last April. OSU is a wonderful, supportive space where survivors and allies can share stories, cry together, love together, advocate for one another, and hold institutions and individuals accountable. Love, light, strength, and courage to all you survivors and supporters of survivors. You are not alone.

* * *

“We’ll do better next time.”
“We’re so sorry.”
It’s the same apology after every
heavy indiscretion, forced confession,
by one of their own comes into the light.
After nights of lurking beneath the surface
the lip service they now pay
is a way to diffuse the “issue,”
“Here honey, have a tissue.
But please don’t ask us for empathy
or accountability, assistance,
in this instance our hands are tied
we had no idea the monster he was inside.”

Nobody wants to admit fault
when it comes to sexual assault
and the ways in which its downplayed,
displayed, smoothed over, pushed under
the rug, “Oh she was on drugs,
wore something too short, too tight
she’d been drinking that night.”
And so what if she was,
so what if she did?
Let’s stop the shaming
that is victim blaming by naming it
for what it really is:
your own fear that you may have just fucked up
or been found out
so you raise doubts
about her character and actions
in hopes that the factions
it creates will shift the focus on her
and not your bogus excuses for the abuses
she suffered at your hands.

You bet on your friends and institutions
to come up with solutions for your absolution
and you counted on her silence
to somehow equal compliance
with what you did.
But you didn’t count on this.
You didn’t count on the power of her voice
to rock the earth to its core
to toss waves onto the shore
her emotions calling up a tide
as deep and wide as any ocean.
You didn’t count on generations
of her people to create a nation
from every corner of creation
to undergird her, surround her,
ground her in her truth and boldness,
they hold this
with her when she can
and for her when she can’t.

You may not ever admit or even say
that what you did was rape
but that does not make
my truth any less sacred or true.
I told you “no” and you chose
to silence me with your vocal blows
and the power of your body over mine.
And when I confronted you that time
to find out why you did it
your response was,
“How could I have raped you if I didn’t even finish?”
The fact that you raped me
is not dependent on you cumming
or not
on whether you enjoyed it
or not
on whether you thought
I enjoyed it.
It’s about what I consented to
and you knew
that you didn’t get my yes
which is why you choose to profess
and protest the rape you committed
in such rage and lividness.

And I hate to admit to me
that I have to see your humanity
is somehow connected to my own
but, my God, my being groans
at the thought of it.
I’m enraged and I want you to know it
and I show it because I’ve held it in for far too long
it doesn’t belong inside me
where it festers and burns
turns me into someone I don’t recognize.
Your lies will not bring my demise,
oh I’ve thought of suicide
on the worst days
and been dazed and depressed on the best
but you won’t get the rest
of me
I’m setting you free.
Be gone.

And for those who hid your actions
and caused distractions
from the truth,
I have words for you too:
I’m calling bullshit
on your counterfeit lines.
Don’t do better next time.
Do better now
so next time
won’t be allowed
to happen.

We can do better

Where Were You? (When the World Was Ending)

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Where were you when the world was ending?
When the world was ending,
where were you?
When people were dying,
their waterlogged bodies drying
out on some distant shore
while scores of others crossed the sea
all fleeing, desperately
believing,
hoping,
beyond all hope,
that leaving home,
or at least the bare bones
they used to call home,
would lead them somewhere warm,
somewhere safe,
any place to place their feet
that would greet them with open arms.

Where were you when the world was ending?
When the world was ending,
where were you?
When the sky burned red,
as red as the blood from dead
bodies clogging distant streets
whose names you would never read
whose faces you would never meet
but you would treat
as if they were monsters
or terrorists, the lists
of their sins and the sins of their kin
spill from your sanguine lips,
you hypocrites who applaud bombs,
saying those would bring calm
and peace,
ignoring peoples’ most basic needs.
Need I remind you that bombs
are no balm for these wounds,
spoons full of remains
cannot sustain hungry screams,
streams of blood
are no flood for dry mouths,
mouthfuls of prayers
cannot repair what you’ve done.
And who can say that good has won
when one and all
are responsible?

Where were you when the world was ending?
When the world was ending,
where were you?
When the cracked, dry earth
produced no water for thirst,
no food for the worst
hunger, our earth no longer
a home for us
because we failed to trust
what she tried tell us for so long.
How wrong we were to deny her
and now here we are,
clinging to her scarred remains
and all that remains are wars
for what little spoils are left
and whoever has kept score
knows we have all lost.

Where were you when the world was ending?
When the world was ending,
where were you?
When all the world’s ills
spilled onto your doorstep?
Did you step around them,
send them elsewhere,
pretend they weren’t there,
declare them not your problem,
cling to your doctrine?
Did you push it all away
until the day you
became one of them,
their problems turned out to be yours
and it was you knocking on doors
that no one answered?
It’s easy to keep the world
at arm’s length
when you feel your strength
is unmatched, unsurpassed,
and that you all amassed
will keep you from succumbing
but your time is coming,
and it won’t be until your world is ending
that you’ll finally start remembering
where you were.

boat refugees

Image from The Telegraph’s A Refugee’s Christmas Carol.

True Beauty

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I remember being a child
with wild and wide eyed imagination
in utter fascination with my mother
and all the other mothers
and grown women in my life
who I wanted to be like.
I couldn’t wait until I was old enough
to wear deodorant or makeup
or, most important of all,
an actual bra.
But the day when I could shave
would certainly mark the next phase
though the little hair on my legs
was barely displayed
I begged her to let me start shaving
because behaving in that way
was something grown women do
and for all I knew
a smooth body was the sign of womanhood.

I remember being in sixth grade
gazing in the mirror, elbow raised
where wisps of hair splayed
from under my arms.
Armed with a blade
a pit in my stomach gave way
to what must be done.
Just earlier that day
at rehearsal for the Christmas play
a classmate who had the part of an angel
lifted her angelic limbs
and the sin of having underarm hair
caused classmates to stare
and snicker, laugh, point,
anoint her with nasty words
that couldn’t even be heard by her
from where she stood.
By I could.
And I would remember them.

I remember being sixteen
still a novice at the dating scene
and barely comfortable in my own skin
let alone with who I was within.
I wore a bikini that summer
for the first time in years
finally overcoming the fears
of what others may say or think
of my body,
what I knew of as a commodity,
for the visual consumption all who saw it.
I remember the flush of red
when he pointed at my upper thighs and said,
“Eww you don’t shave your bush?!”
The whoosh of embarrassment I felt
pelted me like summer’s first rain
and the pain of realizing his disdain
drained me of any confidence
or self-worth I thought I had unearthed
just moments before.
It had never even crossed my mind
that anyone would find
the hair down there to be repulsive
and, after that moment,
shaving it became compulsive
my body became a source of shame
and the game of modifying
and commodifying it
took on full reign.

Growing up it was so rare
to see women proudly displaying body hair
that we would call them revolutionaries
or anarchists,
gender bending nonconformists,
or eccentric artists.
The very notion of an unaltered physical form
being so far from the norm
we had no idea what to make of it.
And maybe they were those things
which is great
but why do we associate or speculate
that unmodified bodies
represent some sort of oddity?

And I can’t forget to mention
or bring attention
to the hair adorning our heads
and the ways society has said
what is considered good hair
enough hair
too little hair
too rough hair
too slight hair
the right hair.
So we look at what’s there
and loathe what we have
and crave what don’t.

A friend asked me recently
if we have ever even seen
what our bodies really look like
without any of the plucking or waxing,
the tweezing or other means of extraction.
Have we ever taken a moment
to simply look at our bodies in utter awe
and atonement for all the
groans of growing
for all the ways of knowing
that live inside our bones,
the microphones of our voice box,
the tick tocks of our heart’s clock,
the softness of our bellies and thighs
the windows of our eyes
the sighs of our breath
and the rest of our glorious figures.

When will we get to the place
where we could not care less
if we or someone else was hairless
or hair full, careful not to assume
based on what we presume
to be the standards of beauty,
or hygiene.
It’s not our duty
to assess someone else’s body.

So at the end of the day
it’s not really my place
or the place of others to say
which way is the right way
but what I can say
is that your body is yours
to adore and explore
and what you choose
to do with it is up to you,
not society or propriety
or prying eyes of girls or guys.
It’s what makes you feel good
and that should be understood
as true beauty.

Drawing of a woman in a skirt with leg hair

Courtesy of artwhoring’s Instagram page

Drawing of a woman shaving her face

Courtesy of New Women’s Movement tumblr page

An Open Letter to My Period

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Menstruation,
the red current,
that time of the month,
dripping with red honey,
painting the town red,
riding the crimson wave,
a visit from Aunt Flo,
whatever name I call you,
I want you to know,
I hate you.

Now, now before you start crying
(no, seriously, I’m still drying
out from your last visit)
I must insist you hear me out.
It’s not about you personally,
It’s me.

Fuck it, I can’t lie, it’s you.
I remember the first time you showed your face,
it was in health class of all places,
and I rushed out to the bathroom
feeling utterly doomed and dismayed
too ashamed of what someone might say
to ask for a feminine product.
So I stuck a wad of toilet paper
in my underwear
and staggered back out there.

It took me several years to figure out how to stop you,
contain you, and I still can’t help but blame you
for every time I’ve checked the back of my pants for stains
for every basketball game you interrupted
for every eruption when I thought you were done
for every one of my underwear you destroyed
for every joy you turned to perpetual fear
for every tear your cramps brought full force
for every intercourse opportunity you blocked,
shall I go on?

Period, you embarrassed me one too many times
like when I first tried to insert a tampon
on that camping trip with my family
and, calamity of calamities,
I had to tell my mom I couldn’t get it in.
And instantly she asked me,
and I quote,
“Are you putting it in the right hole?”
Period, she asked me if I put it in the right hole!
How many holes are there?!
Do you know how terribly embarrassed you made me?
Even more than when she
made me talk about the birds and the bees!

Now, let me calm down
because somehow
someone will try to use my distressing
as an excuse to accuse me of PMSing.
And the only thing I hate more than PMSing
is someone accusing me of it.
It doesn’t matter if I actually am
because, dammit, that nonsense
is sexist and I will not stand for it.

And speaking of things I won’t stand for,
men who refuse to get me tampons from the store!
“Oh you’re embarrassed to be seen
with my feminine hygiene products?
You poor thing,
and here I thought I had it rough
having to shove said products up my crotch
about twenty times a month.”

And speaking of monthly,
you have to know how unfair and disparaging it is
to bleed out of my vagina
once a month for decades
on the off chance that I may one day have a baby.
Why can’t you just be like a kitchen sink
that I just turn on when I think
I want to become pregnant?
But no, that would be much too easy
and appeasing
and we both know you’re a tough woman.

But so am I, Period.
And I guess I owe some of that to you.
You taught me that blood
is a flood stronger
than most any force on earth.
You taught me that I am the earth
because the blood from my womb
is connected to the tides and the moon
and the wombs of other women.
When we live in close proximity
we begin to bleed in community,
a sisterhood of beauty,
synchronized and dignified
and ready to supply the next generation.
Women are the arbiters of creation,
and ain’t that some kind of power?

And, Period, I have to thank you
for reconnecting me to my body.
Oddly, I’ve separated the physical
from the emotional
from the mental
and it’s been detrimental to my health.
But you’ve brought me a wealth
of knowledge by showing me
that all things are cyclical
and that my cycle links me to something biblical
and holy.

You taught me that while I bleed
freely from my nether regions
enduring legions of cramps
and waves of nausea and tears
with fears of leaking on my clothing,
I can go out without anyone knowing
the fountains flowing within me.
That’s why women are a mystery,
a form of poetry,
we hold the secrecy,
of a thousand moons
within our wombs
and still do what we need to do
making it true that women are master jugglers
and multi-taskers.

And I have to ask,
why do we even call you Period?
There are a myriad of other punctuation marks
like comma or semi colon or parentheses,
any of these are much more fitting
because you are not an ending,
you are a beginning.

And I realize that you’re a force
that cannot be ignored,
a metaphor for the woman I want to be,
freely me, uncontained,
unconstrained, unashamed, untamed,
naming my truth and plotting my course
with a force so unstoppable,
it’s not possible to control.
Yes we find ways to hold you up,
like with my beloved Diva Cup,
but those are only temporary measures,
that you’re sure to get around
and find your way through.
And I guess what I’m trying to say to you
is that maybe the reason I fight you,
why I insist I don’t like you,
is that I am more like you
than I want to admit.
There, I said it.
I guess when it comes down to it,
we’re like sisters, you and I.
And that means we’ll fight and cry
and try as I might to deny you
you’re part of me.
After all, you and me, we
are related by blood.

 

Red ocean wave

The Rush, The Whisper, The Reckoning

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It never looks the same
yet it remains the same
at the same time.
At times it starts slowly
the way fog preys upon the night
creeps over the deepness,
undetected,
until by daylight
it’s collected
everything into its damp, dark clasp,
grasping greedily for more.

Sometimes it sneaks up on me
the way a chill rises up the spine
one vertebrae at a time.
It arrives without warning or a heads up
and before I know it I’m down
and out, unsure of how I got here
or there or how I even got out of bed.
Instead my head is inundated,
saturated with the ever hated
echoes of worry, doubt, fear,
tears threatening to resume
the familiar trails and mazes
they’ve blazed down my face.

Sometimes it takes the form of a gentle whisper
stirring beneath the surface
of my conscious mind
finding its strength and power
with each hour that it feeds upon my own.
“You could end it all now,” it sings,
brings a calming peace with each
breath, it etches, sketches
“suicide, suicide, suicide”
into my very bones,
coincides with my own
desires to take that blade
and score my flesh, pores,
the voice implores me to consider it
like I’ve considered it so many times before.

It shows up as the distinct memory
of that time someone called me
those God-awful things
the wound still stings, aching,
the pain keeps pulsating
I feel like a small child
swirling slowly on the swings
wishing for wings
anything to take me away
to keep reality at bay.
Dazed and confused
intent on making dusty circles
with my shoes in the dirt,
the hurt rising in my throat
like a boat on the ocean
the emotions hard to control.
And the familiar refrain
replays in my brain:
“You are nothing,
you are nothing,
you are nothing.”

It comes and goes in spells,
inexplicable wells
of sorrow and grief
no remedy or relief
can begin to assuage.
Instead it pervades every inch of my being
seeing any opportunity to pounce
any ounce or thread of hope pulled
until it completely unravels.
It travels the routes of my veins
making a dark map of the pain
as it moves inward and outward,
words cannot begin to pinpoint
where it began
and when it will end.

And then just as quickly as it comes
it goes, departing like the ghost
that it was.
It’s finished its haunting,
its taunting for now.
The fog begins to lift,
drifting once again into the abyss,
making space for the light to resume its place,
dry the tears on my face,
replace the aches and groans in my bones.
I reach down into the dirt
to retrieve my weary wounded soul
hold it softly between cupped hands
that land at my heart’s center.
All the while whispering,
“You’re safe now,
you’re safe now,
you’re safe now.
Come home.”