Processing

I almost don’t dare speak of the

all-consuming darkness, the voice that 

utters “Liz killed herself,” at my lowest.

It remarks as if a taunt, past tense 

to show I have no power over it,

trying to force me into submission,

saying death is my only fate.

I fight this voice with arguments

strong enough to make it slither

back into the shadows where it lurks

another day.

I come from a history of suicides. 

My mother’s father was a boy, waiting

for his mother to come home. 

She called him on a telephone 

from California

where she’d been studying art,

and told him that she was coming for

him. 

This would be the last time

he heard her voice.

He waited on the front-porch

steps, not daring to miss her arrival,

with his little sister, my great aunt,

Anne. Just the image of a small boy

holding to a promise, 

like a melting popsicle, 

waiting all day long

in front of a house 

full of people who did

not want him–his family, my family.

I think about my son, my ginger boy, 

sitting on my porch steps, 

aglow with freckles and 

knock-knock jokes,

bouncing with the excitement he

shows when he sees me,

waiting for me to pull into

the driveway, his sister

bossing him to quit fidgeting.

Any notion of a 

one-way ticket out

is forcefully rejected from my 

thoughts.

I think about my great-grandfather

who only saw one way out of

the treatments for cancer, and

didn’t want to become a burden on

his wife. 

He will never see how

she carried the burden of him taking

his own life in a chair, where she

told him to wait 

so she could get a drink

of water. 

She described the trickle

of blood down the left-side of his face 

to me when I was six.

I think of my friend, whose mother

killed herself when she was a child,

how it darkened her soul, and made

my friend question her own worth.

She had to relive it with

her stepmother, 

who we’d seen, spoken

to, hugged, been comforted by

and cried on, not

two weeks prior to her final act.

It was a shock to know someone,

and realize 

we really didn’t.

I recant these happenings, not to guilt,

but to consider the repercussions

of a single bullet, 

and how fast it undoes everything.

It isn’t selfishness, it’s a battle,

and not everyone will understand.

These accounts keep me alive because

I have a strong sense of duty,

and I learned to use it for myself, against myself.

I know how to stop me.

How do you stop yourself?

Self-invocation

What perpetuates my faith?

Drawing on what is unseen, comforts

like soaking in sun, 

after illness confined

one to bed for a week. 

I put a crown on reason, left

my intuition a pauper, despaired

each time that tiny voice was right,

displaced its wisdom for a condition

parallel with my malady, 

and discouraged it

from speaking to those robbed

of spiritual awakening. 

I included

myself in that 

ignorant group, 

inclined 

to dissuade the fire from burning

into vivid nightmares, 

and mindless daydream,

unsteered by conscious knowing.

I say all of this to remind you:

I don’t know why I do it, myself.

This voice no longer whispers,

but screams above reason’s cutting

claims,  

stirs those small embers, 

such notion un-predisposed, 

univited, by any calculation, 

to assert that chaos

overrides linear judgements.

I have seen my intuition beat medical

opinion, 

faith removed of religious

practice, feigning casualty at

being questioned. 

Piety is unquestioned when 

the matter is self-belief, 

and to that end, 

we risk challenging

modern mindset: we are nothing, can

become nothing, and will be forgotten 

as quickly. This is a lie.

Despite insecure

claims that tell us not to strive

for the impossible,

we are not chained to

fate. If given foresight,

we are to believe it,

learn not to trust logic 

above self-truth.

Perspective

All anger aside, I tend not to put stock in

an opposing view 

when it has been expressed to me

ad nauseam, and with little

evidence to support, against my claim. 

It’s like having a severe

allergy to something odd, like apples,

and someone keeps pushing that you

aren’t really allergic, they try to trick 

you by sneaking it in your meal, randomly,

hoping to get the reaction of

“Wow, I really loved this,” so they

can confess they put

the allergen into your food, 

and be right.

The reality of your throat closing,

swelling, as you gasp for air,

and they hover above you helplessly,

asking you what’s wrong, is a strong one.

The poisoner can’t understand the allergy

since they don’t experience it as you,

don’t feel sick when they eat apples,

don’t think past what their own experience

allows them to.

Whereas the poisonee is so aware

of the allergy, they keep vigilant

of labels in supermarkets, checking

jams, jellies, juices, candies, and 

baked goods, before they buy the product.

Likewise, when arguing with someone,

who has taken the cardboard cutout

of their specific argument,

and they get mad because you

“won’t hear their opinion,”

remember to listen to yourself,

and only you: not newscasters,

public opinion, nor thought professed

by higher minds. 

You are not less than adult for

backing out of a heated argument when

insults have been cast, nor are you

bitter for your pain, but wise.

Trust your experiences, and your

intuition. Love, if you can manage it,

trust if you dare,

and wrong no one, not even

in a most passionate moment.

When a Boy Gives Me Advice for My Depression

I don’t understand how you think 

that you can give advice 

without understanding my battle.

You state what I know, 

and what I felt

aren’t possible.

Don’t you know?

I am impossible.

My imagination is so vivid,

sometimes I want to escape

into it, and ride my thoughts

like unicorns.

Other times, I want to shut it

out, hearing ghosts of my past 

screaming at me, and asking

why I didn’t do it better.

I see demons in a person’s

smile, interactions laced

with feigned friendliness,

and the constant question:

whether the colors that surround

them, taking up their negative

spaces, are correlated, in any way,

to their basic alignment.

Mine is a bright green today,

swirling around me like a sentient

fog, a miasma of tendrils that curl,

and twist into pleasing, circular

shapes.

Telling me that I cannot have

been, when I was, is denial,

and what you deny me

is acceptance, and I’ve

told you before that it’s 

more important than 

understanding.

I try to understand myself. I feel it first, 

and then discover: I am happy, sad,

angry, emboldened, giddy, somber,

guilty, or any other multitude of emotions

in combinations that often contradict,

or strengthen one end of the spectrum,

or the other.

I reflect and try to understand the

cause of my stirring, and probe at memories

to see if I can understand how I might 

start to fix it. 

And you ask me if I was still her.

Yes. I am her, she is me, we together

make up who I am. I won’t pretend 

I fully understand in my creation of characters,

who they are or what they mean to me,

but when you ask me if it was her,

or if it was me through her,

I say both. 

You don’t get to tell me 

it isn’t possible. Any artist puts

themselves into their work, even

when they have no part in the story,

it just happens that way.

I learn about myself 

through what I create:

reflect, edit, reshape,

understand, and make better.

Musings with Morning Coffee

This week, a woman was shot

in my city. It happened but a few blocks 

from where my children, and I, sleep.

This morning, her ex was found

in his car, on a road I cross every day,

four months after their

relationship had ended.

His suicide is thought to be 

his admission of guilt, 

his resignation

of what could have been.

I will not condone murder,

and love is only love if it is mutual, 

otherwise, McCullers explains it best.

Between lover and beloved, lover

is the more favorable position,

but intoxicated with fantastic notion

of what this person makes you feel,

beloved becomes victim,

playing with fire, like a fearless

stuntman, risking more,

everytime they interact.

If lover cannot handle pain,

bitterness will take over, and fester

in that broken heart.

Beloved, let me love you

by letting you go. 

There will be

no coercion  of my own will

over yours.

I would never bring about your end, 

and I believe the fact that 

a man takes his own life, after robbing her

of her life,

shows that even lovers

know their plight. Not having

to hold, is not the worst thing,

if the other does not wish

to be held.

What matters is when we realize

to let go.

I’ve been in far too many situations

where someone wanted me to

be, for them, what I was not,

and I didn’t have the courage to

speak against them. 

It is just as frightening

to be beloved,

as it is painful

to be lover.

Lighthouse

There is scant light on this stormy

morning. No dawn has edged on

that blind horizon that seems to

break the starry reflection 

in monstrous swells, and foamy crests.

There was no destination planned,

a tiresome task to run away,

to find some new world for my

eyes to single out purpose, or excitement,

yet, in a fortnight, I’d forgotten.

I lost my way in open sea, and searched

for that flash, that glimmer, that

ends itself and repeats.

The constellations are my only

companions, no rowdy crew to drown

my introspection, and my small

vessel, little more than a raft,  

tosses back and forth, a

thrall to antipathic nightmare.

Without an inkling of 

the nearest land, at the mercy of

the tempestuous sea, 

there is no beacon of lighthouse,

no sanctuary, nor prayers

uttered for me.

Anima

Dark, and headed to what I then called

my apartment, I barely noticed

a flicker of movement,

and tip-toed my brakes,

staring face-to-face with a surprised fox.

I had just spoken to my father’s girlfriend,

at the time, and was deciding if I

should run, or stay with a man

who tampered with my birth control,

and locked himself in a room

filled with my possessions,

to keep me his.

I’m not sure what transpired in the 

thirty seconds fox and I held gaze,

soul meeting soul,

but when it decidedly turned 

to slip into the brush,

I realized what I would do.

Grey muzzle, and a dark stripe

down its back, a tint of

dusty orange, and yellow eyes,

I wasn’t even sure what

I was looking at, at first.

And when I needed to move

from my toxic in-laws,

vulpes vulpes blazed across

the field between our house and 

the woods behind it,

a red-orange comet telling

me to make my own way.

Again, after my baby, 

my three-day-old daughter

died in my arms, 

within six months I was pregnant

with her sister, and afraid

of suffering the same fate.

Days before delivery, a grey

fox darted in front of me,

and somehow I knew that

everything would be okay.

So, when I saw the silhouette, 

creeping through the unlit parts

on campus, after a free lecture

I attended,

I paused. I waited. 

The animal looked at me, eyes lit 

eerily, look of wild magic 

and ancient knowing,

filled with more questions than my own

mouth could think to breathe,

it stilled my heart.

It was right after someone I love

had shut the door on me,

and my care. Was it strength, 

or curiosity that held its gaze 

to mine?

Now, I have accepted my own feelings,

and have slowly begun to mend,

but just yesterday, I saw again

my trickster of a friend,

who didn’t even pause to look back.

Each spotting seemed so significant,

a connection of spirit, animal within,

and I put reason aside on belief 

that held a message for me,

every meeting.

There is no affirmation in 

its sighting, no answer in his

lanky gait, nor knowing stare

to pierce my heart and make me

decide at that moment.

Perhaps I must wait to meet

my advisor again,

or perhaps this time, it wants me

to figure it out for myself.