I heard the news today, oh boy…

And you told me everything is going to be just fine, to give a MAN a chance,
without jumping to judgment, so very early in the game, but
this game started generations ago, and has been brewing ever since,
brewing in our ranks, rumbling and chugging a path, around this game board,
time and time again, yet somehow we never passed Go!
and never collected our gender equality,
much less $200.

And if you asked me how I feel today, I would answer this: smug.

Smug because, I am frighteningly aware for the first time, just how far
you have come, have fallen, have given up what you claim to be your
moral compass. Yes, my republican, conservative, christian comrades,
you have relinquished so much more than you are capable of realizing,
this dreary, wet winter morning. You have celebrated and defended
that which I have listened to you speak against for my entire 43 years on this earth.
Your smugness, is now mine to wield, mine to toss back in your face,
at every turn, and every argument you make. You have made yourselves clear,
you are NOT the party of family values. And I thank you, for that admission.
I thank you, for giving up on your visions of moral superiority.
We will ALL be better for it…

You see, I have listened to you all of these years,
listened closely, with my ear to your religious ground,
I grew up in your ranks,  went to your churches,
studied your beliefs, and read your bible. I sat at the knee
of your rigid viewpoint and tried to understand. I gave you
the benefit of every doubt, that while I could disagree
with you, I could not disagree with your convictions, your
faith, your commitment to your religious code. These strong values,
you held so high above the head of anyone that you perceived
as falling from that grace, that you held so dear.

And now, here we are, January 2017, and it is YOU that have fallen
from that pedestal you so happily built, from that grace
you so ruthlessly defended, from that upper tier of morality.

You following me?
Please, I beg of you, for the love of your god, just admit it.

Admit it, own it, take pride in it. We are all get it wrong, at some point
in life, and it doesn’t make us bad people, it just makes us, well, wrong.
And there is no shame in that, there is no shame in being wrong,
as long as you admit.
Otherwise, you are a hypocrite.
Stop! before you freak out and your blood pressure goes up,
before you start screaming sound bites and campaign slogans.
My intention is not to shame you, or belittle you, we are, each of us
guilty of this at one time or another. Today, is just your day.

Here, is the standard definition of the word hypocrite, as listed
in the Oxford dictionary:

hypocrite (noun)
1. a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion

2. a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

I have heard a lot of talk, straight from your mouths, about the decline
of family values and morals, in this fair country of ours, I have heard it
at a near constant buzz, throughout my lifetime, sometimes it buzzes louder,
than other times, granted, but it has always been there. Buzz, buzz, buzzing away.

For the past year, I have heard you lament about transgender folks, and the danger
you feel they pose to your children and yourself, by sharing a public bathroom.

I have heard you lament on the loss of innocence your children will endure,
from seeing two homosexual people hold hands or kiss in public.

I have heard you lament about a lack of decency in our society, most often
linked to the lack of modesty you feel women have shown in their attire.

Yet, you just proudly, and I might say rather loudly, elevated a man into
the highest position our country offers, that once made the following statement
in regards to women:

“Grab ’em by the pussy.”

I will repeat it for you.
“Grab ’em by the pussy.”

And before, you make the utterly ridiculous argument, that I know is brewing
in your head, that this was taken out of context, I ask you this?

What the fuck possible context could this statement be acceptable in?
What conversation could possibly be underway that would rule this acceptable,
in your definition of morals and family values?
What would your Jesus, your God, your Holy Ghost say if confronted
with such a crude statement?

I know you want to defend, feel the need to cite other examples, of other men,
behaving in a way that you find morally unacceptable, it is part of human nature,
this need to fight back, but, I wish you could see, I am not fighting, nor am I attacking,
I am, honestly, at a loss, because I just do not understand. I cannot fathom
any of this, I feel like I am wandering through a hazy fog, that never lifts.

I know, you feel this is too simple, and that I am omitting so much from these past few years, that you feel you based your decisions on so much more than this one statement,
that you saw past it, and persevered regardless, because you felt it was your best option,
I have no wish to argue your choice, nor your right to make a choice, I only question
your silence on this statement, and for some of you, your defense. I stood by, speechless,
as you chose to not address something so morally low, and offensive as:

“Grab ’em by the pussy.”

You, morally superior, christian conservatives, have thrown me for a loop.
It’s like being on a roller coaster that never pulls back into the docking station,
instead, it just goes and goes, spinning upside down and spiraling into itself, making
me giddy and nauseous, at the same time. As much as I admit, that I wanted you to fall
from that moral pedestal, now that the day has finally arrived, all I feel is sick.

This is why: as I grew up in your ranks, I took a few things from your teachings,
through my years in your christian based schools, from my countless sunday mornings
sitting in your pews, to my teenage years that marked my heaviest church involvement,
with your  youth groups and work retreats, I had thought that I had gleaned, at the very least, a few basic, yet important principles. A certain goodness, a sense of the right
and, yes, the wrong way in which to carry myself through this world.

Honestly, I always felt a little intimidated by you. You seemed so steadfast
in your convictions, in your sense of decency, your sense of propriety.

It seemed my beliefs, my code of conduct, was always just a bit shy of the
rapture that was your belief. You seemed so content. So calm and collected.
So utterly certain, of everything you preached. So morally sound.

So, I thank you, my christian friends, for finally revealing your faults, your hypocrisy,
your lack of conviction, because it sure makes it a lot easier to exist alongside of you.

Not to mention, a hell of a lot easier to accept you, and someday, perhaps,
even like you.
So, go ahead, celebrate today. I am celebrating as well, I am celebrating
the final nail in the coffin of the idea that you, and you alone are the gatekeepers
of all that is morally right in this world, that you are somehow the protectors
of these elusive family values that you feel are so in need of preservation
in our modern day society.

I, eagerly, look forward to future discussions, on how to handle the issues
that our great country faces, without having to navigate the trappings
of your religious beliefs. Because, as of today, those trappings,
have no relevance. They are inconsequential, and you have only yourselves,
to blame. And we are better this way.

We are equal in our amorality.

And I will make you a deal. I will promise to get past my smugness at your fall
from moral grace, if you agree to admit to your lack of moral conviction.

Admit it, own it,
and change your dogma.

We will all be better, for it…

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for my writing desk— with love and squalor…

I bought you a new chair today. Dark wood, to match your own rich grain,
with a cane back, and red velvet seat. I offered it up, slid it’s sturdy legs beneath you,
and sat down. You are not impressed. But, you seldom are.

I have moved you about the house, so often, it seems you would be able to find at least one place suitable. I kept you in the attic, for years, under the skylight, or next to a window that looked out on the river, or tucked securely into the crook of a corner. Thick green carpet beneath you, and a slanted wall of sky blue, above.

I visited you daily, brought you flowers and books. In return, you collected dust,
refused to allow your front drawer to be opened, and began to sag in one back leg,
as if you had gone lame, from my lack of productivity.

I carried you down two flights of stairs, on my back, around corners,
through narrow passageways, and stood you at the dining room window,
a Rose of Sharon blooming just outside, and the morning sun dappled across you.

I gave you a small fish tank, with a soft light, sapphire stones, and a fat, little
goldfish, named Henry. He was bright orange, he did a sort of swim wiggle,
that was rather charming. You killed him within a week.

I placed you in the center of the house, at the center of attention, and
commenced to having my breakfast with you, careful to use a placemat
for my toast, and a coaster for my coffee, which alarmed the kitchen table,
left empty each morning.

In response, you shorted out the electrical socket next to you, and scratched
the floor with your spindly legs. Also, you tossed the tiny gold, tinsel
Christmas tree I gave you to the floor. Which was promptly eaten by one
of the dogs and cost quite a bit in veterinary bills.

I moved you to the front room, to a window that looks onto the street,
with wooden shutters, that can be opened when you want the sun, or
simply desire some fresh air. I wrote every day for months. It felt, as if,
I had finally reached you. At last, appeased you.

To celebrate, I brought you a marble hourglass, and a lamp shaped like
the Eiffel Tower. An antique handle for your drawer, that now opened easily,
and a small bookcase, to relieve you of the burden that is my vast dictionary
and thesaurus collection.

The next day, you broke out in splinters along your front edge, and filled my
forearms, with slim, sharp pieces of you. It took an hour with a pair of tweezers,
and much cursing, to rid my skin of your sharp daggers. My arms were scratched, red
and itching. To the eye, it appeared as if I had lost a fight with some particularly difficult, shrubbery.

So, I bought you a new chair. Dark wood to match your own rich grain,
with a cane back, and red velvet seat. Make no mistake, this will be my
final olive branch. My last attempt at reconciliation. You see, today
I didn’t just buy you a new chair.

I bought an axe, as well.

 

 

 

 

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Midtown in November or How I gave up my so called right to vote…

They’ve elected Donald Trump’s penis to the presidency. They’ve elected a man for simply being a man. I am standing in the garden, grinding my teeth. I can think of little else to do, with such news. I feel stopped in time, caught in this moment, this one single moment, that nothing and no one can make subside. Wind tosses the tree branches, above, as if to say, we are still here, the world still moves, you can move too. But, I cannot. I am stuck. A statue in a dying,  November garden. I am turned to stone. An icy granite, absent of arms and legs. I am the Venus de Milo and my teeth hurt.

My mind wanders, though, it is ever active. A family party from my girlhood, my mother’s brothers, in a group, swigging beer and discussing women in the workforce. They shouted and laughed about women trying to be men. There were so many words, words I had never heard. Broad. Dyke. Bitch. Cunt. It seemed that the only thing worse than being a woman, was being a woman that wanted to do a man’s job. It took a penis to run a company or drive a truck. To fight fires or write a paycheck. It was the first time that I realized, that my body was turning into the most dreaded of things. A woman. Men whom had doted on and adored me as a little girl, would grow to dislike me, to distrust me, more and more, with each year that my body sprouted further into womanhood. I had a fleeting feeling of wishing to stop my body’s metamorphosis. To slow down the growth process. To be loved, freely, just a bit longer. I have little contact with those uncles now. I am a woman. They have little use, for the likes of me. Aside, from seeing me at the occasional family gathering. And telling me my hair looks pretty.

In the garden, over thirty years later, I think of them. I think of how happy they must be to have defeated a woman, again. To vote for a man that says all of the things publicly, that has been unacceptable for them to say out loud, for decades. The freedom they must feel, to finally vote for a man, just because he is a man. That women have gotten away with usurping their god given right to jobs and power for years, and they could help stop them from taking over this last job, that has always belonged, solely to men. I think, they must feel smugly on top. Smugly, in charge. Smugly, superior. That it has been such a long time, for them, for them to feel, as if they, the older white men, have stood their ground, and defended their status in life, the power they were promised as boys, that they would grow up one day to inherit. Simply for having a penis. I unclench my jaw. Unlock my knees. And drop myself into one of the metal garden chairs.

I muse over my first job, in a large department store, from high school, through my first college years. I was a good employee. I ran the department when my manager was away. I worked hard, and was paid very little, the minimum to be exact. My last year there, a young man was hired as my co-worker. In the stockroom, as I stood atop a ladder, I felt his hand snake up the back of my skirt, it startled me, and I slapped him away. I can still hear his laugh, as he walked out of the room. A cackle. A chuckle, really.  In human resources, I lodged my complaint,  the manager shrugged, shook his head, and said that my co-worker seemed like a good kid, probably had a crush on me. I made three more complaints. Three more hand up my skirt incidents, before they  transferred me to a new department. Six months later, that good kid, with the slithering hands was promoted to department manager. I questioned his promotion, my being overlooked, my years of experience with the company, his blatant and unchecked sexual harassment. It seems I was too much drama, those slithering  hands, were in my file. I was not a team player. I was too much trouble. They couldn’t risk it. During lunch, I went to my car and cried, then quit the following week.

And here, in the garden, on an overcast November day, there is a chill that reaches deep inside me, grabs at my bones, throbs an ache right behind my left eye, and makes me keep very still. If no one speaks to me, I am safe, I will not scream, nor cry, nor spit in the eye of any man who dares look at me. Two little girls, occupy my mind, ages six and seven, the daughters of my aunt’s daughter, influenced by a mother and a grandmother that proudly voted for Donald Trump. Being taught, that it is better to give a job to a man with no qualifications, than a woman with many. Their little girl heads being filled with the same words, I once heard. Broad. Dyke. Bitch. Cunt. I wonder if they will feel as I did, as they pass from girlhood into womanhood? Will they be angry or complacent? Will they believe that how a man treats women is less important than having a male president? Will they carry the burden of womanhood in a male dominated world, or just accept it, believe what they have been taught and continue the cycle?

I haven’t a clue, but as we rip out the pages, and burn the chapters, of the progress we have made, eradicating the first chance we have had at true gender equality, perhaps for generations to come, perhaps in my lifetime, I respectfully give back the hollow gift that is my right to vote. It is meaningless to me, the choice of voting for one old, white man over another. Limited options, to keep women in their place. Limited options, that are a slap in the face to every qualified woman that loses a job to a man, simply because he is a man, and she is not. Without a woman on the ballot, my conscience keeps me from punching that button, that green light of a vote, because none of them can truly represent me, only lead me, and I am fed up with being led.

Otherwise, it is just a choice, the same old worn out choice, between two penises. And they are all the same to me. Every goddamned one.

 

 

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Ballad of Freeloader

This is complete nonsense, and we both know it, even you, in your polka dot dress and pink hair, with boot heels clicking, back and forth, back and forth, across the wood laminate flooring of my front room, pacing in front of me, as I drink tea on the sofa, from my favorite cat mug, curled under a blanket, the dog in my lap, finger tucked into my book, to save my place, not giving a damn about the monologue, you refuse to abandon. You take my silence for weakness, for acquiesce. In truth, I have little to say, on the subject of your conscience.

I think up words, instead. Single word summaries of your argument. Balderdash. Hoodwink. Tedious.

Your chopped logic is puzzling, at best. Skidding across the coffee table, it lands in my lap, with little more weight than a loosened feather. You quarrel and quibble, all on your own, leaving me to decipher that I, somehow, owe you something. A burying of a hatchet, a clean slate, a get out of jail free card.  I smirk. You puff and preen like a peacock, blathering out your fingle-fangled tale of my reactions to you, being our largest hurdle, our worst dilemma, an issue that only I, can overcome. I thank you for the diagnosis, you call me cold. I don’t react, because reactions are wrong, inaction is preferred. Meekness our goal, here.

I think up words, instead. Single word summaries to describe your personality. Opportunist. Trickster. Changeling.

I tell you what I learned years ago, that I don’t anyone a thing, not my time nor a home, not a reaction, nor non-reaction, as seems to be the desired outcome of this little interaction, one in which I am cast to play emotional, toss aside my favorite cat mug and pacify the temper tantrum, on display before me. I don’t owe you a clear conscience, or even a fresh pair of rose colored eyeglasses through which to view yourself, or to flatter yourself. Your vanity is not my necessity.

I think up words, instead. Single word summaries to describe my mental state. Disillusioned. Unresponsive. Stiff.

Opening my book, across my knees, I trace the lines with a finger, each word, a light at the end of this tunnel, each sentence an end to this story of us, I go back to what I know, always, back to the pages that explain this feeling, this release, an honesty that I cannot put into speech. A way to tell you what it is I am thinking, what it is to connect, then disconnect. To walk softly, into the next phase, without urgency, but purpose. You emit a muffled shriek, one screeching sentence, “the answer is not in a book!” Then, the door slams behind you, just as I put my finger on the correct passage. “But, it is,” I say to the empty room, ” it is…”

 

“The bonds between ourselves and another person exists only in our minds. Memory as it grows fainter loosens them, and not withstanding the illusion by which we want to be duped and which, out of love, friendship, politeness, deference, duty, we dupe other people, we exist alone. Man is the creature who cannot escape from himself, who knows other people only in himself, and when he asserts the contrary, he is lying.” Marcel Proust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Because I hate weather poetry

Because I hate weather poetry, I am awake before the dawn
shuffling my mindless body through this winter house,
suffocating thoughts about blizzards, and wind, icicles and

the lengthening of daylight.

Because I don’t wish to write about snow, now littered
in dirty patches on my front walk, melting alongside the house,
where it seeps through the brick, to puddle itself, musty

upon my basement floor.

Because I have this wild adversity to weather synopsis,
parading about as verse, with feathers on display, proud
as the peacock, that nipped my heels, every chance it got,

in an uncle’s garden, one childhood summer.

Because it is almost February, dreaded month,
the shortest month, that takes a lifetime, it seems,
to survive, watching for signs of life, ignoring the obvious,

that all groundhogs are con artists.

Because the Christmas flowers stand dead in their vases,
throughout these rooms, crispy brown heads, displayed
precariously on rotted stems, staring resentfully at my back,

as if it was me, that cut their pretty, green lives short.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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winter poem

Depression makes for an odd bedfellow.

It’s waking up, happy and looking forward to the hours to be filled, only to find yourself in the late afternoon, having accomplished nothing to mark this day in your life.
A morning spent, trying to sort out just what it is you wish to accomplish , only to   come up empty handed.
If you cannot come up with a list of things to do, how are you actually supposed to accomplish anything?

It’s feeling like these shorter days are the longest of the year.

It’s waking up at 4am because the words are flowing through your head, chanting and pounding, begging to be written, only to look entirely different on the page, mocking your inability to make them stand in a line and behave coherently.

It’s realizing that January has passed, with February right on it’s heels, and all you’ve done is write one decent poem and kept up with the laundry.

It’s rearranging all of the books in your house, because you don’t have the attention span to read them, and believe any interaction with them is good, even if that means merely carrying them back and forth across the room to different shelves.
Worrying over feuds that predate your life. Should you place Capote
alongside McCullers, once friends, before a falling out, left them
with a distaste for one another, that followed them into death.

Would you want to spend these grey days next to a onetime friend,
that broke your trust and never apologized?

It’s not finding a reason to leave the house for days, and when you finally do, only feeling let down by any outside encounters. The world having changed so much during your seclusion, that you have become a stranger, to even yourself.

It’s staring out the kitchen window, at your ugly, snow filled, winterized garden,
and worrying over the fate of your hyacinth patch, that had just gotten up the nerve,
to poke their tiny green heads out of the thawing earth, before the last snowfall
buried them in certain frozen death.
thinking if only you could go outside and play in the dirt, perhaps this feeling to,          would pass.

It’s having a love/hate relationship with winter. The snow, the coziness of a fireplace, and the cocoon of hibernation.

Yet hating the malaise and melancholy that is February.
When every year, you plan to handle it better, to be productive during this shortest (but feels like the longest) month.

And every year, you fail.

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For my mother in law, at the holidays

My womb is not barren, to spite you.
However, it is a perk, of which there are so few,
in being your childless daughter in law.

Though, I cannot deny the satisfaction

with which I stunt
your yearning to spread your DNA,
no matter how diluted,
that bloodline would run,
before it dropped from my uterus,

and into your greedy hands.

My womb does not sit empty, as an
affront to your delusions. Your desires.
Your need for the children,

you can no longer bear, yourself.

It is not me, that brings that cross to
every holiday meal, upon which you climb,
and stare sadly across the dinner table,

at my vacant womb. As if each day that I let pass
without a fertilized egg, was just another nail

hammered through your palm.

I did not choose you,
anymore than you chose me.

Nor did I choose the path of the daughter in law,
that came before me,
carved from deception,
a pavement laid in lies, abandoned at your son’s feet,

with a child he was no willing participant in creating.

Perhaps, if I had, I would have been welcomed,
into your family, over my nearly twenty years
of marriage?

Would I have at least once, been sent
a goddamned birthday card?

No, my womb is not barren, to spite you.

Spite, would have been to intentionally fill that womb,
mix together a petri dish of cells, that
would incubate into your grandchild, the future
of your precious lineage, your perfect family,

and abort it.

 

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