Crumpled Sheets

reverie-richard-young

I can remember
the way you walk –
a fluid movement
with erotic appeal.

The way your hair
falls a certain way
across your cheeks,
beside your eyes.

A slight lift to the right
whenever you smile –
the honey sweet taste
of your lips, of you
in a passionate kiss.

I can remember
the way your back
feels soft and muscled –
warm – as I roll closer,
snuggle into sleep.

Waking to feel
the length of your legs
entwined with mine,
the width of your chest,

the weight of you
shifting, above and within
me — your chest touching mine,
soft whisper of words
against the nape of my neck.

I can remember
the strength of you
holding me, taking me,
hot against my flesh –
filling me completely
all those long years ago.

~July, 2011 South Carolina

Photography Prints

ARTWORK: Reverie by Richard Young. For artist information, other available works, and further details on this piece, please go here.

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Divorce

Broken Love

We talk
and there remains
a tension, friction
of what we
once meant
to each other.
More in common
now than then –

We share
two children,
four grandchildren –
a silver chain of being
links us still –
Regrets obvious
as we talk
while
the children watch –
shocked by the lack of
argument.

Did we really hate
each other so much? Or,
was it more about
how deeply
we hated ourselves?

Oil and water
from two different worlds –
Shared stubbornness
our greatest commonality.

Married once, in love
with the idea of
each other — the cold reality,
that we were just children
haunts me still.

We’re growing older
and it is easier
to talk about
what we never were,
things we tried to be,
all we had to kill.
That mutual cold death
of ending
that set us free.

~written February 2011

Photo Credit: Broken Love by analil.deviantart.com

Meditations on Mortality

sweet-william-barbara-moignard

Sweet William by Barbara Moignard

 

Springtimes have needed you.
And there are stars expecting you to notice them.
From out of the past, a wave rises to meet you
the way the strains of a violin
come through an open window
just as you walk by.

~ Rainer Rilke, from the First Duino Elegy

 

There was a graveyard I visited regularly with my grandparents as a child. My grandmother would go tend the graves of loved ones (possibly her parents) while I picked Sweet William in small bunches and put on the graves without flowers. I loved the delicate beauty of the petals, their velvety texture and intricate patterns. It seemed the most natural thing in the world to pick them from the edges of the cemetery and place them on graves that seemed lonely and untended. A child’s belief that putting something pretty there would make it all better.

The cemetery was a beautiful and peaceful place to me (other than the painful annoyance of the little sticky burs that always found a way into the side of my sandals or down into my sock). The quiet stillness enthralled me as a child before death or graves held any real meaning. Visiting the cemetery was one of my favorite things to do.

It’s been a long time since those cemetery visits – I turn 46 tomorrow and I was not even school age back then – but I can remember what it was like when death was just another word that meant nothing in my mind and heart. A grown-up word that made people sad and nothing more. My child self living free and joyful without the understanding of mortality.

 

^~^~^

 

I worked as a property-sales manager for a small local cemetery from 2003 to 2005. I was responsible for all facets of the business operation – designing advertising, making product sales, solving customer issues, meeting legal requirements, overseeing burials and entombments, and maintaining good relationships with the mortuaries and their staff. I took the job expecting to be “creeped-out.” I ended up loving the place and becoming friends with the clients we served and the morticians with whom I worked.

I listened to all the personal stories of my clients and attended every funeral service on our grounds. I was a quiet presence, standing nearby at graveside or sitting in the last row of a mausoleum service, listening and watching, making sure everything was as perfect and well orchestrated as it could be. This was the respect, the care we provided to those trusting us in their final rite of passage. Honoring that trust mattered deeply to me.

Two years in the death care industry gave me a new understanding of death and dying. It also provided a glimpse of the actual job of professional body disposal carried out by morticians and cemeterians. Overall, death care is a business much like any other, but there is a level of respect and compassion present in the workers that is seldom found elsewhere.

What did I learn?

At every burial there are people crying, but their tears come for a variety of reasons – as many due to regret and self recrimination as for love and loss.

 

^~^~^

 

Twenty-two days ago a harsh, burning pain developed in my left shoulder and armpit. A random “share” on Facebook with pictures of example breasts showing cancer signs sent me to the internet to look up my symptoms. What I found there terrified me into a hospital visit…

I was in the E.R. five days after the first symptoms appeared with a swollen left breast, a “mass” of unknown origins, and a great deal of searing pain. The diagnosis was Mastitis of unknown origin, and I was given high strength antibiotics and a referral to a local surgeon.

Today – the infection is gone, the swelling has diminished, and the pain is much duller. I go for a mammogram and ultrasound tomorrow to start the diagnostic process. I am hopeful that it is something small and easily solved, prayerful the word cancer will not apply to me. I’d like a little more time, please, to experience this thing called life.

 

^~^~^

 

My first thought was that out of all the panic scenarios and insane phobias I’ve imagined in my life, out of all the ways in which I have feared dying, the thought of possible breast cancer never even crossed my mind! How like life to throw something at you from left field!

My second thought was of not wanting to leave my husband, my children, my grandchildren. Worry that I needed to teach the kids more, maybe I haven’t prepared them as well as I should have, and a myriad other things having to do with all of them being okay or not.

My third thought was the shock of realization that I might soon take my last breath, that it could end so unexpectedly, the lights go dark, and thought – emotion – feeling – sentience just STOP.

Awareness becomes the split-second adrenaline rush of panic, fight-or-flight in a state of indecision, anxiety…and then quiet. Then, thoughts of all the stupid and important things you’ll miss: McDonalds pancakes, the way a breeze feels, the way your children call you mama, sun on your skin, books on the shelves you haven’t read yet, grandbabies in your lap, poems you’ve only half-finished, snuggling beside your husband at night, the dogs always underfoot, the projects still half-done and disorganized, you and you-you-the you that is the personal I-the I that has likes and dislikes, cares, loves, needs, gives, feels…. living.

Life in all its deep complexity. The small moments and the large that make up a life….that make up your very unique and personal life.

 

^~^~^

 

You recognize the fallacy – you have been living all this time as if you were immortal, but you are not. Your specific time here is finite. There will be a last day, one day.

Suddenly, so many daily things become unimportant. The core relationships in your life and the core things in your personality become everything all at once.

You realize you will not miss your job only your calling. You cannot justify money as a motivator for anything that matters only the hope, safety, opportunity it may buy.

You wonder at the speed of days, how they have passed you ticking like a rush of water over rapids. You reach to capture them, slow them, but they drip through your fingers and out of your hand. ~

 

 

Your Hands

Harvey and Irene Gosnell
(My Maternal Grandparents)

After all these years,
a quarter-century past,
there is a printed-off copy
an old black-and-white photo
holding your images,
sitting framed on my desk.
I pick it up —
So genuinely the two of you
in looks, posture, characteristics
that I am
brought to heated tears —
as I hold you in my hands

Three generations
of daughters grown to life
in the house with a garden,
tea-cup roses, gladiolas, daffodils,
and tiger-lilies painting
the vast-long days lived
held in your hands.

I’m the last
almost-daughter
of your ancient, dark days —
(One born of blood-love,
One born of mercy-love,
One born of sorrow-love.)
Fifty years of little girls
becoming women
becoming lost — slipping
from your hands — but you

planted the seeds becoming traits
that would manifest and bloom
over time
like the much-loved roses
down the side of the yard.
We were all cultivated
in the same love,
the same soil.

I hold you in my hands
suddenly notice
that your hands look worn
old and tired
from all the years spent
planting and harvesting.

~May 2012

In the Dark of My Soul

Dusky non-dark lightness 
the kind that comes only
in those no-name motels, 
secret places of meeting
where the darkness
of strange rooms is muted by
lined-orange curtains, 
where parking-lot-lights caste 
ethereal shadows: 

you come quietly to bed 
like nothing uncommon exists 
in my being there drowsy 
head on your pillow,
clothed in your shirt. 

Your body, stiff in the act 
of lying down, carefully 
trying not to wake me 
from my almost-dream-state 
sleeping. Your 
warm-volatile 
spark-laden energy 
forced 
into submission -- still atomic: your skin, chest warm, 
hips touching -- 

rolling, turning, wrapping 
myself around you -- 
normal-necessary touch, 
like a moth to flame -- 
the burning-shock 
epiphany moment, 
in an old motel room --you, 
a bright-white imprint 
in the dark of my soul.

~May 2012

 

ky

Nellie

white dove snip

white dove snip (Photo credit: oddsock)

Grandmother —
Title, position, duties.
I never knew you
wanted to travel,
went overseas once.
A missionary trip
you longed to make, and
you did. I never knew
this small truth of courage
until your funeral.

How did you carry that
cold-heavy weight
of us on your shoulders
all those years?

Those dark-strong hours,
spent taking care of everyone
as we grew into non-children.
Solicitude, sympathy, tolerance.
Love always the deepest river,
lessons of giving-over everything
almost; and then

there was your God,
some stories you’d written,
a few trips taken —
the talented individual you were,
but all we ever knew
to hold onto
was a name, a presence,
the designation —
Grandma, Momma, Nellie – Love.

~February 2012 

 

of Broken Rooms

~for P

{Art: Isolation by Ina Mar (c) Adagp, Paris}

 

There is deep silence here ~

Forlorn-magic once spoke
whispered kisses, your name
crossing my lips, a breath only
against the skin – soft, taut, strong skin
of your neck, arms, chest. In
the dark shadows of broken rooms,
building a home of – destruction first. Then,

building a home of hope of – the sheets were clean,
the warm-blood-wood walls
holding secrets, ours and earlier, generations before us
these walls were closing in on the hearts beating rapid,
percussion, the sounds of fluttering clicking time
in a dark house beside a church. Sacrilegious – passion
burning, life burning  death — in the graveyard
at the edge of a hill – a ghost-memory whispers, soft
edible cries, choking, sobbing – whisper, whisper
of wings. Forlorn-angels once walked

in the soft dew-grass, wet droplets clinging
to porcelain animals, mysteries, dead flowers.
This sweet-heated moisture, muscle, brushing
of skin against skin – the sheets were clean,
destruction, chaos building – building
into ecstasy, into orgasm, into ending.
Our secret,
our bodies – so deliciously warm, wrapped, entwined
in a space of time
where forlorn magical angels sing, wing-beats
lifting our names above the graves.

There is a deep memory here ~

~October, 2011

Artwork: Isolation by Ina Mar (c) Adagp, Paris. Please visit her website at:  http://www.redbubble.com/people/ina-mar/works/6081284-isolation

Yesterday

~for my Sister

The door
to yesterday opens —
creaks at the hinges.

In another time
we are sitting, playing
in burnished sand —
barely-born, fresh presence,
two toddlers, laughing

into growing, into years later
we will run
past the familiar
in search of more.

***

The dilapidated bridge —
the one we walked
across into freedom —
still stands.

Straw-thatch, mud-glue
built across
dangerous-deep
ravines of memory —

We agree
never look down
never look back
march forward

Forget
those long dusty days
when we
were still children.

Forget
every smile we lost
every tear we cried.
It’s only water across skin,
nothing more.

October 2011

Artwork, Final Destination, by Photodream Art. By Den Bosch, Noord Brabant – Netherlands. Please visit here to see more about this artist and to see other artwork.

One American Soldier (I)


I am writing this a few minutes after midnight on September 11, 2011. The tenth anniversary of an event so tragic and destructive that it is known worldwide simply as  “9-11.”

Almost everyone has a 9-11 story to tell – a pivotal moment when their personal life came to an abrupt halt and suddenly collided  with universal differences, political-religious ideologies, and intentional terrorism.A simple fall day, colored by the blood of family and friends, now defines a generation and its place in American history.

The events of September 11, 2001 – the meaningless destruction, overwhelming loss, intense sorrow, amazing courage, riveting compassion, and dark anger – play through our minds like a Technicolor movie. That day remains frozen in the slow motion replay of my memories just like all other Americans. But, this is not about 9-11 and my memories of that day. This is about one American soldier.

1986: Laser Light Show at Stone Mountain, Georgia

I was listening to the radio a few days ago when the Lee Greenwood song, “Proud to Be An American,” started playing.  My eyes misted in tears as a vivid memory from twenty-five years ago played through my mind. In the Summer of 1986 I was sitting on the grass lawn at Stone Mountain, GA with my then-husband, my two-year-old daughter and my 9-month-old son waiting for the Laser Light Show to begin.

It was our first trip to Stone Mountain Park, following a move to Atlanta the previous year because of a job transfer, and we had a wonderful day visiting the park features and nature trails with the children. We settled down on a blanket on the lawn in front of the mountain and watched a beautiful laser light show (which was a big deal back then!) accompanied by a soundtrack of various songs.

The song, “Proud to Be An American,” began playing, the American Flag appeared on the side of the mountain, and fireworks exploded over our heads. It was a beautiful and inspiring end to the show.

My eyes filled with tears as I looked at my daughter, asleep beside me on the blanket, and then looked into my son’s eyes as he was nursing. I expected the fireworks to scare him, but they didn’t. He kept nursing and staring into my eyes as I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed by the joy in my life and the patriotic pride I felt as an American. I would never have imagined that, eighteen years later, my son would join the Army and go overseas to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan as a soldier.

 

On August 31, over seven years after the war in Iraq began, President Obama announced the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a withdrawal of combat troops. Obama emphasized that U.S. domestic problems, mainly the flailing economy and widespread unemployment, are more pressing matters to his country. The U.S. will continue to be a presence in Iraq, mainly with civilian contractors but also with a smaller military contingent of approximately 50,000 troops. The remaining troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

Read more: Iraq War Timeline, 2010 — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/iraq-timeline-2010.html#ixzz1XfYUxRyw

 

 

 

Artist: Lee Greenwood
Song: Proud To Be An American

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘ Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there’s pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

Fact Sheet: Iraqi War

  • Length of official combat operation, Operation Iraqi Freedom: March 20–May 1, 2003.
  • Deployment: More than 300,000 coalition troops deployed to the Gulf region: about 255,000 U.S., 45,000 British, 2,000 Australian, and 200 Polish troops.
  • Post-conflict peace-keeping forces: About 130,000 U.S. and 11,000 British troops were stationed in Iraq following official end of hostilities, May 1, 2003.About 49 countries have participated in some form in what was called the “coalition of the willing.” At its strongest, the coalition provided a total of 25% of the troops in Iraq. About 13 countries have withdrawn their personnel as of March 2006. Coalition forces remaining in Iraq in March 2006: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom
  • U.S. casualties: Deaths March 20–May 1 (official end of hostilities): combat, 115; noncombat, 23; total, 138. Deaths March 20, 2003–Nov.9, 2006: combat, 2,275; noncombat, 562; total, 2,837. 134 civilian contractors were killed as of June 2006.
  • U.S. soldiers wounded in action: 21,572 (Nov. 7, 2006).
  • American POWs: 8 (6 captured on March 23, 2003, in Nasiriya; 2 pilots shot down on March 24 near Karbala). All were rescued.
  • Coalition casualties: Britain, 119; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 17; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, 6; Slovakia, 3; El Salvador, 3; ; Thailand, 2; Estonia, 2; The Netherlands, 2; Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, and Latvia, 1 each (Oct. 24, 2006)
  • U.S. cost of stationing troops in Iraq: in the first years, it was estimated at $4 billion per month, by 2006 it was $6 billion per month1
  • Iraqi civilian deaths: over 55,000 (according to Iraq Body Count in Mar. 2006)

1. U.S. government figures

Sources: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), CNN, BBC, U.S. Dept. of Defense.

Read more: Fact Sheet: Iraqi War — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0908900.html#ixzz1XfpJ0xL8

 

 

Today we remember the victims of the 9-11 assault on our shores. Let us also be mindful that the number of deaths resulting from 9-11 continue to grow with each passing day.

It’s been ten years – it’s time to bring our children home!

Conversation


I don’t
think
it’s supposed
to feel
this good to
talk to you

* * *

It’s like Roses
in the morning
covered
in dew, too
important (beautiful)
for words.
Or, it’s like
the feel
of soft-warm
sun touching
your skin
on a cold
November
day — just
perfect and perfectly
amazing.

* * *

You
are a shadow
love haunting
my memory
like
a deep,
cool breeze
on a
blazing-Hot
day.

~July 2011, South Carolina

 
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ARTWORK: Gentle Woman by Svetlana Nivikova. Read author Bio and see more work by this artitst here.