Epitaph to a Cat Not Mine

No more than seven months,

she bore a coat of silver-blue,

and striking, honey eyes.

Sun will miss His dutiful queen,

who napped without fear, 

under warm embrace, and

ran recklessly. No more.

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Condolences

 

Thoughtless things that you did and said hurt me,
starting from when you discovered
that I was no longer a child,

assumed what I would do with my legs,

and told me not to marry my love because it
interfered with your beliefs of separation of race.

 

What was most terrifying was the lack of anything to be felt because you had been dead to me for so long already, and all that you could really do after you said that line was to find how unforgiving I am, firsthand.

 

Maybe you thought I had done it intentionally, gotten myself pregnant to spite you, or my parents, or life in general,
but even still, you drove someone who would have been your strongest ally away. You judged me for being unmarried. You belittled everything from my mouth. It is because of you that I truly learned to hate myself for things
I couldn’t have controlled in the first place.

 

And then suddenly I was the bad guy
for running away and shutting you out,
and what choice did I have? You had done so much already, by allowing things to get worse. I told you about the abuse, and how much I needed someone constant, and you told me that you couldn’t, that you’d prefer your space. It was as if you and the whole family conveniently looked away.

 

I don’t blame you for what happened,
but you shouldn’t have blamed me.
I’m not sorry we weren’t closer
because that’s on you too.
And if you truly wanted in my life
you had every opportunity to make
amends, and instead you decided to hold out, because we are both stubborn.

 

Neither of us yielded, and neither of us won.

 

LaVerne

Born during a thunderstorm, in a field

under the name of a Roman muse,

patroness of the ninth month of 

pregnancy, a name she never chose

to identify with, or liked.

She was brought into this world

with many siblings to protect her

from their mother’s wrath;

they would hide her in a closet,

and take the brunt of several beatings.

At sixteen she fell in love with

a man named Frank. He waited for her 

to grow up, away from the music and

dancing, in the driveway of her house.

When she turned eighteen, her father 

woke her to go to school, but she defied 

him, “No. I am going to marry Frank.”

And she did.

Grotesque

Could we take a moment to consider O’Connor,

maybe Welty, or Faulkner too? Where regional

works are absorbed into families, and deformity

is linked to the spirit.

Because that is my own dilemma.

Can I have a club foot, or a disfigured

face, a hand that never lets go?

What would they have said about

my spirit? What would the lesson be?

There is a theme among parable-like stories,

short and long, novels and poems,

and words that sound like home,

every page I turn.

Perhaps I am already grotesque,

and that’s why I relate

so well.

Although, I’ve often felt closer to Chopin’s

characters. To take my clothes off near the beach,

run into the the welcoming waves,

and become so lost in my own awakening

that I drown.

Condolences

Thoughtless things that you did and said hurt me,
starting from when you discovered
that I was no longer a child, assumed what I would do with my legs, and told me not to marry my love because it
interfered with your beliefs of separation of race.

What was most terrifying was the lack of anything to be felt because you had been dead to me for so long already, and all that you could really do after you said that line was to find how unforgiving I am, firsthand.

Maybe you thought I had done it intentionally, gotten myself pregnant to spite you, or my parents, or life in general,
but even still, you drove someone who would have been your strongest ally away. You judged me for being unmarried. You belittled everything from my mouth. It is because of you that I truly learned to hate myself for things
I couldn’t have controlled in the first place.

And then suddenly I was the bad guy
for running away and shutting you out,
and what choice did I have? You had done so much already, by allowing things to get worse. I told you about the abuse, and how much I needed someone constant, and you told me that you couldn’t, that you’d prefer your space. It was as if you and the whole family conveniently looked away.

I don’t blame you for what happened,
but you shouldn’t have blamed me.
I’m not sorry we weren’t closer
because that’s on you too.
And if you truly wanted in my life
you had every opportunity to make
amends, and instead you decided to hold out, because we are both stubborn.

Neither of us yielded, and neither of us won.

To My First Daughter

(This poem is somewhat inspired by Ben Jonson’s “On My First Daughter”.
I lost my own first daughter on April 25, 2012. Rest in peace, Xoe. As Ben says, “Cover lightly gentle earth.”)

Can I touch what isn’t there
feel some alternate dimension?
Can you feel me from your grave
wishing to just hold you?

I have so long hoped to relive
the day you had departed
wanting to say something more
than repeating my apologies.

More than anything I yearned
to know you as a mother would,
see you grow beside your siblings,
run with sunshine in your hair,
and crawling to my side when you
want comfort
like I want comfort, now.

Tell me Jonson did not weep
when making his children immortal.
Capturing pain is only part of the picture, learning how to weave it is the challenge.

Swallowed By the Beguiling Sea

The advice she gave me rattles through,
shaking the dust and cobwebs
from the furthest corners of my brain.
Such a strange thing, it is, to realize
you are dying.
Stranger still to watch it happen.
Pressed up against the glass,
we peer into your life
pouring hopes and anxieties
sobering our emotions.
Death is painful,
agony’s brilliance, sparking into
all of the scattered memories
felt but not seen.
Removing all but fear,
we grasp each other,
trying to come to terms with your
newfound truths,
whispering and hiding tears,
falling without our consent.
How odd it must be to be grieved
still living, watching as your family
and friends say goodbye.

Waiting for death to finally take you,
and he sits in a corner,
politely waiting for your sister to get here.
He tries to be unseen,
holding still as a statue
cutting the fabrics of time and space,
to collect the ones he needs.

Why do we pretend that life is full of meaning
when none of us really understand ourselves?
Each dogmatic, spiritualistic, and philosphical response
falls short, and few of us are ever
truly awakened.

I feel as if I have been cast
deep into the depths
of a monstrous sea.
Fortune guides me into the eye
and I watch the zypher and the storm
swirling around me, whipping my hair into my face.
I clutch to my small bouy,
upset by the tempest waves,
thrown toward the blackening depths, crushing weight of water, overhead,
and I struggle.
I fight for my life, my will to live, clawing at the water in attempt to surface, kicking furiously.
Lungs are burning, breath is lost,
and finally fatigue sets in.
Gravity pulls me down, further than
I would have ever imagined going
and I am helpless, sightless, and defeated.
I sit at the bottom and wait
and hope I am forgotten.
Nothing is more painful
than watching people you love
mourn.