Tag Archives: poetry

Tangerine

Dipping my toes into reverie and free writes and peach ice cream on this beautiful summer day, and wishing each of you a day just as beautiful. – Christy

Tangerine Sky by lislazuli (via)

Tangerine Sky by lislazuli (via)

Stop.
Dry your eyes,
go sit on the porch
in your favorite rocking chair
The one that reminds you of
tangerines and peach ice cream
of Nina Simone and mandolins
of her.

Drink in your sorrow from a paper cup
and watch as the sinking sun
slips away into an infinite pool
of cloud and sky
Streaks of orange and red as rich as the
over-ripe peaches you would pick
with her
for ice cream.

Look into your cup
See the deep orange swirl of the sorrow you drink.
Notice the taste on your tongue
Sweet like a juicy tangerine.
Feel the evening breeze against the fine hair on
your bare arms and
on your sun-kissed shoulders.
Breathe in
and then let it go.

See the breeze blow specks of orange and gold
like tangerine dust
into the world around you.
Look into your cup of sorrow
Once full, now empty.
The air smells sweet
Like Tupelo honey and sunshine
Like mandolins and peach ice cream
Like tangerines.

Does she still remember times like these?

 

Tangerine” by Led Zeppelin

Reflections on Grief: Observed (for my dog Spot)

Dear friends,

It’s been a sad and difficult week. Spot died at home on Monday, March 17; the vet came to our home and Spot went so peacefully, on the sofa, surrounded by love. It was time. Her work here was done. Today, March 21 is the third anniversary of my mom passing. She too died on a March Monday, at home, peacefully.

What follows is a lengthy anthology of grief and love. It’s long — even for me. It may be difficult to read, especially if you have lost a loved one. I understand if you’d rather not read, it’s okay, truly. But I believe so strongly in the healing power of words. I believe we find peace and healing in sharing them; I believe we find peace and understanding, even healing, in reading them.

“Suppose you are depressed and you read a poem about sadness. If your feelings overflow, if you find yourself crying, then your own sadness is reduced. You realize that others have suffered, and the communion of feeling is helpful. It is like being able to share your grief with someone else, someone who understands.” –Smiley Blanton, The Healing Power of Poetry (1960).

I did not, however, want to publish piece after piece on grief and loss. Even I know that gets old after a while. It takes what it takes though. So my week is captured here, in one post. If my words can help you, I hope they do. I know I was helped in the writing of them.

Thank you. I love you. -Christy

***

1.

Tonight I want to howl at the moon
I want to wail like a banshee
once and for all.
For all the good stolen from my life and
replaced with pain and
graveyards and
bone fragments and
tails that wag no more.

I want to scream and shout and
rage, rage, rage
against this swallowing night.
I want to bellow
why, why, why!
into the vast darkness.

Tonight I want to howl at the moon.
Tonight I want to wail.
Tonight I want.
Tonight I want.
Tonight I want.
Tonight I . . .

3/8/14

***

2.

The hurt continues.
It will never go away.
I am a wild animal in the woods
My leg caught in a vicious snare of
agony.
I howl and I wail.
My soul slams against walls
banging its head over and over again
wrought with pain.

My life is defined by loss.

My dog is dying.
I see it in her eyes.
Her days are numbered.
Aren’t ours all?

I choose this pain.
I choose this pain.
My pain is a choice.
The alternative is to drink, to numb.
I choose this pain.

I’ll take this pain over his.
I’ll be a fucking martyr in my head.
I choose this pain.

3/9/14

***

3.

Death rolled up in a white Explorer
followed closely by a black Avalanche.
She was a full hour early.

Death knocked at the door
not accepting the quiet of our response
for a “nobody’s home” or a
“not today, Death, not today.”

No, Death was persistent today.
She walked around the side of the house to the backyard
“There they are.”
As my baby wagged.

The white dog woofed in surprise
but my spotted girl wagged in glee
and ran up to Death,
wiggling and happily saying,
“There You are, I’ve been waiting for you.”

We all walk inside
Death, her aide, us
white dog
spotted girl
All through the same door

“Where?” Death asked.
Spotted girl jumped onto the sofa in response.

Death sat on the coffee table–
as I have done so many times before
and stroked my girl gently.
“Oh yeah, she’s ready.
She’s so ready,” said Death,
Not cruelly or darkly or maliciously
but lovingly.

One shot in the front leg.
“She should be hearing Jimi Hendrix soon,”
(excuse me, while I kiss the sky)
Death said, about the narcotic shot.

Between Death and her aide
I kneeled on the floor
as my girl and I looked in each other’s eyes
and sent each other prayers of gratitude and love
(there are a million ways to pray and kiss the ground)

Thank you, thank you, thank you
I love you, I love you, I love you
Thank you, thank you, thank you
I love you, I love you, I love you

the second shot

Thank you
I love you

A life departed,
gently, quietly
following the spark already gone.

No rage
she left that to me.
She fought so long
without anger or violence
She raged with gratitude
and love
and grace.

I wonder what Jimi was singing to her
or if he was just strumming on a weeping guitar.
Jimi Hendrix, an angel for death,
playing his Pied Piper guitar.

“Fly on my sweet angel,
Fly on through the sky…”

The sun is shining
And the wind blows gently
the final whispers of winter

“Will the wind ever remember
The names it has blown in the past?”

And the wind whispers and cries and screams.

We stand at the door and watch
Death roll on down the driveway
with our baby girl.

The white Explorer follows the black Avalanche
A mini funeral procession
as the cows and donkeys graze
bending their heads in prayer.
As the white dog watches stoically from the window.
As I feel myself sinking slowly
to my knees again
in angst and gratitude

Thank you. I love you.

For life’s stolen moments
For death, cheated again and again.
For mercy and peace and the ultimate persistence of
Explorers and Avalanches.

The quality of mercy.

Thank you. I love you.

Death knows this.
I saw no joy, no elation, in Death’s eyes.
Only tears.
“It’s time, it’s time.”

Death is a god, ’tis true, but maybe not the only god.
She holds the answers
in her plastic Ziploc
With Jimi Hendrix beckoning drugs
and white cotton balls and alcohol.

The gravel crunches.
The gate swings open.
The gate swings shut.
The caravan makes its way.

“And the caravan is on it’s way
I can hear the merry gypsies play
La, la, la, la…”

This is the natural progression of things.
This is the timeless order of the universe.

Death arrives in white.
Life leaves in black.
Or in a blue mini-van.
Or a big yellow taxi.

This is the way of the world.
The wind cries.
This is the way of the world.

***

4.

Grief is like playing Statues.
You move throughout your day
Until grief yells, “Freeze!”
And you find yourself staring blankly at the carpet
the dirty window
the half-filled coffee pot.
At chunks of time –
lost now –
never coming back.
Lost.
Like your love.

You think beforehand that there’s no way you will get through something like this.
No way you will survive.
But then it happens.
And you do.
And you feel queasy. Nauseous even, that part of you is glad it happened
how and when it did.
You survive.
But your love does not.

***

5.

“Not today.
Not today, Death,” you say to me
over and over again.
I indulge you,
for, contrary to what you may have heard about me,
I am kind.
I am merciful.
Unlike Some.

“Not today,” you say
and I oblige.
I know what will happen.
I know one day, you will call me.
And you will say,
“Today.
Please.
Come today.”

And because I am kind
and merciful,

I will oblige

today.

And you will thank me.

***

6.

And what now?

(as I scold the cat to stop eating the mail
to get off the kitchen counter)

And what now?

(as my husband asks where I put the new phone book.
Under the counter, in the laundry room.
On the right.)

And what now?

(as the heater kicks on
and the clock ticks tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock
and I see my now cold cup of chai tea
sitting forgotten at the coffee machine.)

And what now, life?
What now?

(“The vet came here,” says his voice to someone else.
“Oh, she could walk, but she couldn’t breathe.
Eight.
Yeah, it is pretty young.
Yeah. Yeah.

It’s what we had to do.

She’ll eventually get better.”)

Yeah.
Yeah.
And what now?

***

7.

She loved to sneak into the cat’s room and eat cat food.
She knew it was wrong, but couldn’t help herself.
I knew that feeling, that compulsion,
I never got mad.
She thought she was a cat.

She was only half cat,
so she only got half the lives.
What? Four? Maybe five?
No matter.
Enough to make a difference.
Enough to matter.

***

8.

Thursday, she was knocking on Death’s door.
Monday, Death knocked on ours.

Friday was a good day though.
Swelling down. Energy up.
She even chased a squirrel
running fast and furious
as only dogs chasing squirrels can run.

Saturday was good.
Even less swelling.
We walked to the mail box – twice even –
and fed the cows,
the crunchy corn of cattle cubes – her favorite treat.
Less energy, but hungry, for chicken and snacks and love.

Sunday I could tell the light was going. I had hoped she was fatigued from the chemo working so hard.
No mail box walk – too cold and windy – but she sat on the back porch, in a sun spot, while I walked on the treadmill.
After I walked, I came to her side and laid down on the floor beside her.
I looked to the yard to see from her view.

Birds and branches and puffy white clouds against an expansive blue sky.

We laid side by side like that
savoring the view
savoring the company.

((my heart hurts))

A friend did Reiki on her Sunday afternoon.
Said she was not in pain.
Said she was just tired, so tired.
Said many hands were holding her.
Said to keep water nearby.

((I moved a water bowl to the living room, and she drank sips out of my open hands.
Taking water, giving kisses, at the same time.
Her soft little tongue felt warm against my opened hands.))

She fed cows and ate cubes and
Sunday night she ate chicken off a fork and from my fingers

Monday she greeted me with labored breathing.
Gurgly like fluid had built up in her lungs or had caught in her throat.
Her tail wagged to see me, her person!, and she went to the sofa
and I sat on the floor and petted her
her eyes looking at me, but mostly not.

Her throat swollen to a softball
overnight. So fast! So furious!
Like only relapsed lymphoma can.
Like only relapses can –
speeding down a dead-end road.

And I knew, as did she, that we had come to the end of the line.
The end of this line, anyway.
There will be other lines for her now,
of this I am sure.

I asked her to send me a sign. To come back and see me when she could.
What could her sign be?
Chickens? Birds? Bacon?
I said she would think of something, and I would know it.
I would know it was her.

Less than an hour after she had gone
a cattle cube
a piece, not full, a piece, like she would eat
found on the back of the feeding cart, beside the buckets
Where no fragment had been the night before.

She thought of something
and I knew it was her.

So sad. But so grateful for her short purposeful loving life. She was the most determined spirit I’ve ever met.
She never quit.
She would put her head down – eyes up – like a soldier
and carry on.
Like a solider of love.

And she was so smart. Soulful. Her head would tilt when you talked to her, and she would listen.
Truly listen.
And every morning she would sit beside me and help me eat breakfast — Belvita cookies – even when I was not hungry.
Even during chemo when she would eat nothing else, she would eat Belvita – blueberry – with me.
A bite for me, a bite for her.
She loved me so much, and I loved her.

Outside in the Monday morning sun, standing with my girl
before the white Explorer arrived
early
I said this is a beautiful beautiful day.
And it was.
The sun shined on her back – her hair glossy and smooth and warmed from the sunlight
and I sang to her …

“Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Girl
Darling, darling, darling, darling Spot.”

Full of mischief and determination
and spunk and sass
and tail wags and frenzied kisses
and the sweetest Buddha belly ever.

Her name was Spot.
And she was my beautiful beautiful beautiful baby girl.
And I miss her terribly.

“Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old — or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.” –Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

***

9.

I often wonder what C.S. Lewis meant by “a grief observed.” He wrote all about it, I guess I could re-read it.
It’s been a while.
But I know my grief-addled brain would simply look at words, without comprehension.

I look in the mirror, today, at 10:40 pm.
12 hours since my Spot died.

And I understand.

Grief is a puffy face.
Red cheeks that sting when touched
A nose that perpetually drips.
Dried tears and salt stains on my cheeks.
Eyes, red and weary
Dark circles that look like black eyes
to match the red, slapped cheeks.
The corners of my mouth try, but fail to rise.
My eyes, so tired, yet won’t close.

I move – no, I shuffle – room to room.
Either staring blankly at walls or mirrors
or putting up dishes, microwaving food I won’t eat, or some other programmable, robotic, rote action.

The house still and quiet as I listen
for a snore that doesn’t come.

3/17/14

***

10.

Dear Mom,

What are they doing in heaven today?

Please pet my little girl for me.
She likes bacon, but she likes chicken more–
chicken baked all day in the crockpot, so tender you can cut it with a fork,
and chicken jerky too
(but not the kind from China)
and blueberry Belvita — broken into little tiny bites.
And she likes when you sing to her
and will sometimes join in.

Please kiss my girl for me.
Thank you.
I love you.

-Christy

3/18/14

***

11.

It’s a process.
A new beginning
Each morning waking,
rising into this new world
this dystopian barren landscape.

A world where I am a daughter
without her mother.
A mother
without her little girl.

I hunger for what I can never have.
I will never be quenched.
I will never be satiated.

3/19/14

***

12.

The white dog and I shuffle step down the long gravel driveway to the mailbox.
The south winds and the Spring sunshine doing their best to snap me from my sleepwalk.
It almost works except as we turn to head back I absent-mindedly say,
“Okay, Spot, let’s head back.”
The white dog looks at me with a look that is part surprise, part hurt feelings.
“I’m sorry, I said the wrong name.”
She decides to forgive me and stops to smell a patch of grass where she and her sister had often peed.
I think, well maybe she is here. Just act like she is.

“C’mon Spot girl,” I whisper to the empty space beside me.
“You’re doing good little girl.”

The words echo in my mind
as if it were not I who spoke, but
as if whispered to me from beyond.
And I think of my mom,
leaning down and petting my hair,
“You’re doing good, little girl.
You’re almost there.”

I tuck my head down,
ignore the ache in my chest,
and trudge forward.

3/20/14

***

13.

And still.
This “new” normal feels alien,
like a foreign parasite.
A virus trying to invade,
my host body rejecting and refusing.
This new skin suit of leather,
hard, crisp, unyielding.
Chafing, blistering, uncomfortable.
Like new shoes.
“They’ll break in,” they promise. “They’ll fit.
Wet them.
Let them mold to you.”

I am running out of tears.

3/21/14

***

14.

“I haven’t told Jan yet.
I don’t know if I should text her or just wait for her to get here.”

How would you want to be told if you were Jan, he asks.

“I don’t know.”

A text seems so short.
“Just wntd to let u know. We put Spot down. K, thx. CU.”

No, if I had my preference, I would want to read …
I would want a poem …

something long, something I could digest and process
something I could cry with or maybe even smile.
something I could turn back to time and time again.
something I could hold on to and know I was not alone in my grief.
something I could pull up to my chin, like a crushed red velvet blanket, and look out the window, to the heavens and the trees, and feel

“Death is just so full, and man, so small.”

That’s how I would want to be told.

In a poem.

“You know, this feels devastating to us, but, you know, others …”
his words hang in the air,
“They won’t feel the same,” he says.

I want to say that yes, they will. They loved her too.

I just have to open.
I just have to unfold.
I just have to write them a poem.

Instead I say, “We’re closer to it.”
And he says, “yes.”
And I don’t hear him
because I am already writing the poem in my head.

I am writing something I can turn back to, time and time again.
I am writing something I can hold on to.
I am writing something so I can remember.
I am writing you …
no, I am writing myself …
a poem
for her.

3/21/14 – World Poetry Day.

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?” –Emily Dickinson, The Letters of Emily Dickinson.

***

15.

And this is what grief looks like.
As I look at my reflection in the mirror.
This is what grief looks like.
As I look at framed photos on the wall —
gone, and gone, and gone, and gone, and gone, and gone, and gone.
This is what grief looks like.
As I write words that flow from pits of despair and dark corners and sleepless nights.
This is what grief looks like.
As I look at photos of my girl.
This is what grief looks like.

As I look at the last photo of us together.
This.
This is what love looks like.

Spot 2/11/06 - 3/17/14

Spot
2/11/06 – 3/17/14

***

16.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

***

17.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

***

Full playlist of referenced songs HERE.

***

For a special tribute to our lost dogs, don’t miss Words for the Weekend tomorrow, March 22. This is the post link; though it won’t go live until 8:00 am central on Saturday.

~~~

Leaves (Free Write)

* This is part of my “free write” series — posts that are streams of consciousness. Often raw and disorganized, messy, like a leaf pile in a tornado. I usually don’t post them, but given today’s “Leaves and Trees” theme on Words for the Weekend, I couldn’t resist. Hope you enjoy, Christy

Falling Leaves (via)

Falling Leaves (via)

Perhaps they are not leaves that rain from the sky like the first electric snow.
Perhaps each leaf is a person.
And in this season of dormancy, life calls each leaf, each spirit, home.

It is not a dance then,
it is a funeral,
this final hopping and stepping and twirling each leaf performs
like a pig-tailed little girl showing off her new Easter dress,
pastel green with pink ruffles like tie-dyed eggs,
as she swirls and twirls to her grandparents’ delight.
Each leaf that falls,
that dances to its death,
is hurtling to its next journey.
Spirits departing this earth.
Their final dance
as they twirl and spin
much to the delight of their maker
who welcomes them
home
with glee.

Meanwhile the mother tree looks down at the leaf piles,
her limbs bare and empty and cold,
Like the nursery of a child who died in her crib four nights ago.
And she cries.

Meanwhile the leaves continue to fall.
Each spirit dancing – joyously twirling and spinning
Some falling hand in hand as they waltz into the after world – reunited at last.

They end up in heaps on the gravel driveway.
My car will run over them
crunch, crunch, crunching
their bones
My dogs will run and chase each other and jump in their piles,
and amongst the spirit remains,
they will stop to pee.

Leaves and bugs and ants and pee and worms and cockroaches and caterpillars and elephants and last night’s macaroni will all eventually merge into one.

Little piles of left-over-life meeting death–
composting
to form anew.

Meanwhile the tree stands there
helpless to move
She can rattle her arms
but that speeds along death
and she drops more of her babies unable to catch them.

She watches the ants marching
the cars crunching
the dogs peeing.

And she shivers – I am so cold.
And she cries — her falling leaves like falling tears

She could cry forever.
But she knows she must get busy growing new leaves.
She mourns and hopes her next batch will live longer.
She hopes this each year.
And some do last longer – she has held on to some even through the change of seasons.
But they have already died –
crispy and crunchy and dry and brittle –
like over-cooked bacon.

They don’t know how to let go.

They hold on too long.

And that makes her sad too.
To see them decompose,
to rot,
in her arms.
Because neither of them could let go.

Sometimes after leaves have dropped,
their spirits float and fall,
they are not ready to go home.
They refuse to pass.
They spin and spin and hurl themselves closer to the mother tree trying again – in vain – to hold on.

“No one told us what to do! What do we do?
No one told us it would feel like floating.
We don’t want to go!”

So they stay
and they play
and they visit their tree
and they visit my car
and go for rides on my windshield.
They play with the dogs–
“No, you’re not peeing on me!” they tease,
and jump up to slap the puppy on the nose,
puppy jumps up and snaps back at the leaves in play.
Sometimes she catches a leaf and chews it up in her mouth
victoriously.

Her tail wags.
So happy!
A successful hunter – proud!

And the leaf is happy.
And so is the tree.
And the puppy.
And god.

And me, I’m happy too.

Dog in Leaves (via)

Dog in Leaves (via)

***

“Last Leaf” by Tom Waits, from Bad As Me

I’m the last leaf on the tree
The autumn took the rest but they won’t take me
I’m the last leaf on the tree

Posted in tandem with Words for the Weekend: I’m the Last Leaf on the Tree – Vol. 19.

Do you like the idea of reading my Free Writes from time to time? Would you rather read them here or at Words for the Year? I’m open to ideas. Have you ever written without a roadmap? Try it–sit for ten or twenty minutes and just write without stopping or editing; see where your mind takes you. Mine obviously wanders toward dog pee and bacon. Where does yours go? -christy

Mine (Happy 8th Birthday, Spot!)

Northern Lights via telegraph.co

Northern Lights via telegraph.co

Mine

I have a sweater hanging in my closet.
It’s gorgeous and reminds me of the ocean.
I found it on sale, marked down from its designer price
–I thought I’d hit the sweater jackpot.

But still it hangs, worn but once.
To be honest, it itched and made me sweat.
It gave me a rash along the right side of my torso.
–but even if I wanted to, I could not take it back, all sales final.

But god it’s pretty. Did I mention it looks like the ocean?
Aquamarine, like the Caribbean, not the Atlantic.
In the soft lighting, from afar, it even looks like the aurora borealis,
–glowing green and teal like heaven in neon Technicolor

The one time I wore it, I photographed myself;
I covered up my sweaty forehead, my red itching neck and the welts on my torso
and made myself smile, standing in the sunlight,
–glowing like the Northern Lights and dreaming of the ocean

The photo hangs on the wall, the sweater in the closet
both gathering dust.
I’d rather wear my old t-shirt with the mustard stains and sweat marks
–I wore it to the vet last year when she said “prepare yourself.”

And I wore it when I held you as a puppy
to the cottony softness of my chest
as you looked in my eyes and said
I am yours and you are mine

And maybe I don’t feel like the ocean or the glowing sky,
but I feel like home,
as eight years later, in my arms, you kiss my face and say,
you are mine and I am yours

And I know no sweater nor
ocean nor glowing sky
will ever feel as complete or colorful
–as the love I feel for you.

***

***

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***

Happy Eighth Birthday to my little girl, Spot. I am hers and she is mine.

Mine

Her eyes are the only Northern Lights I need

And I don’t see how you could ever be anything but mine. ~ Kenny Chesney (video)

***

I am so excited to welcome Michelle from MamaMickTerry and Jennie from Daisies From Dust as special guest-posters on RoS. Michelle will host a special monthly(ish) series on “Bravery” starting next week. And Jennie joins us in the coming weeks to host a series on addiction from the family perspective. I hope you’ll welcome them warmly.

Lots of reasons to celebrate. Bacon (or veggie-bacon) for everyone! Have a great week, Christy

~~~

Mirror (Daily Prompt)

Wright, Bing. Broken Mirror/Evening Sky (Anscochrome), 2012. Archival Inkjet Print.

Wright, Bing. Broken Mirror/Evening Sky (Anscochrome), 2012. Archival Inkjet Print. Source.

If I stare long enough
Will I finally see
Someone else looking back at me?

Gazing inward
I almost see
The me you fell in love with

Staring at the lines on my forehead
Jagged roadmaps connecting point ‘a’ to point ‘b’
All directions of my life

Sorrow
Like candle wax
Hardened in my eyes

If I look in the mirror
While walking backward
Will I see you coming back to me?

I keep stealing glances
I am not narcissistic
I am merely looking for you

Time and time again
All I see is me
Missing you

The two halves of my face
Are not balanced
Since you left

The mirror reflects
My broken heart, my uneven soul
The mirror never lies

The basic truth reflected:
I am all I see
I am alone with myself

I smash the mirror
Pieces shatter, scatter at my feet
Each shard reflects your absence

I stand at the window instead
Beneath this graveyard western sky
When are you coming home?

***


Inspired by “Time and Time Again” by Counting Crows from August and Everything After.

Written in participation with The Daily Prompt: Mirror Mirror. (Photographers, artists, poets: show us MIRRORED.) You may view other posts on this topic and more at The Daily Post at WordPress.com: Daily Prompts.