what i have done this year:
  • regained full use of my right hand
  • written 28 poems in 28 days
  • put out a chap book (now for sale at mac's backs books, cleveland heights, ohio)
  • learned to knit better
  • taught jon to knit
  • followed a knitting pattern
  • read at a poetry reading
  • started an unschooling blog and maintained it okay
  • overcome drug addiction
  • gained back 6 of the pounds i'd lost
  • maintained my style
  • started starting a business
  • raised my consciousness
  • became a board member at the co-op
  • published 8 newsletters for the co-op
  • completed 11 pieces of art for an art show, which were largely praised
  • had 2 poems accepted by mothering
  • been published in 2 books with my six-word memoir
  • was randomly asked to be a magician's assistant
  • got the living room & dining room painted
  • threw a kick-ass, detail-obsessed harry potter halloween party
  • made some new friends
  • volunteered for b.o.l.d. ohio and cleveland birth network in 2 b.o.l.d. events
  • kept the money situation within reasonable bounds
  • knit a bunch of stuff
  • breastfed a two-year-old
  • done lots of crafts with the kids
  • kept the house pretty clean
  • done better at saying the right things to honor my kids' emotions and autonomy
  • with jon, started composting and gardening
  • read some good books, largely fiction
  • healed my body
  • gave thoughtful gifts to people i love or admire
  • managed to get the kids out of the house with some regularity
  • stayed connected to old friends
  • helped my friends through some especially rough times
  • mailed the holiday cards the day after thanksgiving
  • reduced our impact even more
  • read harry potter book 7 withing 26.5 hours, despite driving 4 hours for a double funeral in the middle
  • designed postcards for my new business
  • figured out lots of crap about starting a business
  • managed to work on the quilt a bit
  • sold 2 monster totes i'd sewn
  • sold postcards of a photo i made
  • made the domestic goddess picture
  • largely got off internet forums
  • threw a kick-ass blessingway (with help from my friends)
  • kept my kids alive & healthy
  • attended a world music festival in canada
  • got hit on by a french rocker
  • wrote an article for mothering's website
  • made tons of flyers for the food co-op
  • filled a journal
  • maintained my marriage, even making some strides in communication
  • saw jupiter
  • joined heavy metal science club


there is time, here, at the end of this year, for reflection, for taking stock of what the year endowed, what i have done. time for sitting still and thinking slowly on what it is that is going on right now and how i need to look forward. i need desperately at the moment to consider the future and all its promises. i need to create what it should be in the eye of my mind and fill my heart with the hope of all the steps from here to there. unfortunately, i know not how i feel. i am weighed down by the evidence of my distress without the key to unraveling it from its center. there is so much to be done, so much for me to do. a million tiny ideas bury themselves in my head and i must write them down lest i forget. but can i even do half the things i wish to do in the time allotted to me? is there space on this earth and in my life, in all my future to accomplish everything or simply enough?

i cannot keep these thoughts straight. i want to hope for my future. i want to plan, to envision it. i want to list it out for the new year and know where i am going. i want to do better than i am doing, than i have done. mostly, though, that is all part of the procedure for accomplishing feeling better. the lists of things to do, the generating of ideas, the picture of the future, of my path - it's all part of the plan to make me sense in myself that who i am and what i do is okay. if i can muster hope, then i can reduce the stress levels in my daily life through the action plan and integrated understanding of my life as a journey and each measured step as movement toward the larger goals. if i can just muster hope! then i will feel better and feeling better will lead to doing better and doing better will lead to feeling better!

this entire autumn has been a build-up of stress and pent-up frustration, seething out as anger. i hate it. i want better for myself and for my family. i want to do the things i want to do, to not worry so much and focus on the things i'm missing. i want to transform the worry and the obsession and the sadness into more productive ways of thinking - into hope and compassion and space for improvement. i want to shift my own perspective and i want to feel supported in doing so. i want to share it. i want not to live this life of treading water. i want to move. i want not to feel trapped by mud, by bad habits and pessimistic ways of thinking. i want to improve on everything. i want to accentuate all the things i've done in recent months and use that as fuel for being, not to dwell on my misfortunes or my failings, but to use my failings as evidence for knowing better, as experiences for learning.

i wonder if i set my sights too high, if i have somehow dissected it all incorrectly and made a wrong blueprint for which to go by. even still, these desires are but abstractions. they exist in the feeling world of my head and heart and are so difficult to quantify, to consider in a tangible manner, to articulate for consideration or for plan of action. so the plan is simple, yet there are no rules and there are no landmarks for recognizing where choices exist. it is a feeling thing, a walking blind, an imagining the unseen and simultaneously creating it. it is walking down paths of smoke, drifting left and right, sideways and rightways, forward and back, riding the way like water. there is no knowing it by logic and reasoning. it is a wisdom of unplottable intuition.

now i will make lists.


thinking about identity. wondered last night why these questions come in waves like this and determined that the seasons make it so. the perception of summer, for instance, is a time of leisure, of infinite time to do all the things to be done. this is because in summer, the days are long. there is lots of time to do and lots of time for doing nothing. during the fall, the days get cooler and shorter and the focus turns towards lots of creative projects. this is partly because it is a busy time - there is the harvest that must happen in traditional agricultural society, which created the pattern of our very lives, school begins in the fall, vacations end. the weather is cool enough for moving about at a speedier pace, our brains unfog from all the heat, the days are shorter, necessitating hurry.

in the fall, we begin to consider what must be done and who must do it. i have again the urge to determine who i am and what it is i do. the vacation of summer is over - the holidays will approach faster than expected and there are all the necessary preparations to be done for them. there's also the matter of considering schooling, what we as an unschooling family should be doing precisely to further enrich our children's lives. it is the rising and falling of the sun and the orbit of the planet that makes me do and think these things.

and yet - identity. i am always thinking of who i am, what i do, outside the context of my life and culture, as though who i am were somehow independent of everything else that exists; that i alone am truly an island. but i am not. the paths i have chosen have not been chosen for me, but the influence of a life lived amongst others creates the choices as they are. to not seize opportunities as they present themselves would be asinine. there is no controlling it all. there is hardly any controlling anything. there is merely choice, will. who i am and what i do certainly affect the choices that become presented to me, but the culture, the context, even the choices themselves also direct the path from one thing to another. there is only an infinity of deciding, which is beautifully simple and agonizingly complex. it gives the illusion of destiny where there is only direction. to affect is not the effect. to affect is merely the relative truth of existence. each thing that is relies on everything else that exists in an infinite pattern of interconnection. it is not predeterminance. it is simply interdependence.

where we seek to psychologically define and avoid co-dependence and exalt independence, we fail to recognize that neither really exists. there is only the interplay between people, between objects, between varying dimensions of being. you can decide to never choose, to rely solely on the aid and decisions of others - this is co-dependence - but it does not ever strip you of your will and you are always having an affect on the one that chooses - there is no vacuum! co-dependence only exists n a vague way where a person either illudes themselves or illudes another into believing it. everything is interdependent, whether chosen or not. everything not only relies on everything else, everything is everything. and yet it is not destiny - it is symphony! it is subtlety! it is infinance and elegance and the embodied god - the universe is the divine. no creation was necessary. there is no god before god because god is only a word we give to everything that exists. what people fail so often to recognize is that we are all god. we are all not simply elements of the divine, but the divine itself.

there is no transcending this realm because this realm is interwoven into every other. there is no escape but imagination. everything you think and dream is, if only thought and dream. the unseen is no less real than the seen. it all has its place and play in the universe, in our lives. it is all a giant web, as delicate as the strands of a spiderweb, yet infinite in number and connection. each movement made anywhere in the web moves across the whole by infinite degrees of subtlety. there is no divorcing myself from the context and no divorcing the context from myself.

in this sense, the world is not dependent on me, nor am i dependent on the world. i can define myself and change only so far as the universe allows it, which is to say by infinite degrees, yet moving through must come in a million tiny choices that are unseen. it is, however, at least emotionally difficult, if not physically so, to extract myself from out my situation and circumstance to try to create great changes in my understanding of myself in the world around me. to make dramatic change, i must relocate down the web, in some regard.

to discuss identity is to discuss placement within the world, a set of circumstances, my situation. to define myself, then - i can use words to describe it, but what i lack or perceive as a lacking is not mathematical - there is no remainder. growth is amorphous, it is organic. it is only precise and angular or crystalline on the smallest levels, those generally unperceived. i am - a writer, an artist, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. i work at the home, my children, on newsletters, crafts, websites, blogs, journals, the co-op board, friendships, all the million tiny things i do everyday. what i want, what i perceive as lacking, is the societal validation of paid work, independence.

i view my relationship in its economic sense, as undesirable based only on the cultural assumption that independence requires planning for the future, which must entail retirement savings, college funds, and avoid social welfare (only as it does not sufficiently exist). i suspect/hope/fear that as this current global climate is changing, by the time i am expected to be old and infirm, the systems which currently oppress people into working only for the future will not exist, through they do not currently really exist for anyone anyway. the system i have grown up in and live in still makes me believe that i must hoard wealth in order to survive with the same level of comfort i exist with now. it is an economic picture that reveals no truth about the nature of the universe. i think it would be better to have nothing but the support of my family rather than age always in fear of the future.

and yet, i cannot myself seem to embrace that. i certainly live with very little now, but i view it as only temporary. i know that one day, in the next few years, my husband will make actual money. i depend on it. what i fear is him not being there to depend on, however. i fear that either through divorce, disease, or death, i will have nothing left to depend on but myself. i fear this because the world tells me i must. a.g. edwards tells me, social security, medicaid, your money or your life, reality television, the evening news, michael moore, commercials, government, feminism - everything in this culture says that the ideal thing to do is prepare for the worst by declaring economic independence. it is not about digging out of the worst - it is about anticipating it, circumnavigating it entirely by becoming independently wealthy.

this all certainly prays or my fears as someone who has chronic anxiety due to Bad Shit happening. but there is no sense to it - it is the fantasy - the reason i fear it so readily is because i witness the dichotomy of it all in the media - on the one hand, i see the powerless, the oppressed, and the poor all victims of loss, hardship, economic despair. on the other hand, i witness the fantasy of wealth in movies and television shows where no one is poor, everyone has everything they need and more. everyone has clothing, health care, whether they have spouses or not, despite where they come from or what they do for a living, not necessarily because of it. this is the fantasy of the glossy magazines, of sitcoms, of celebrity gossip and decorating shows - this vision of luxury for all that does not exist without the oppression of whose who create the goods of it. the poor make the objects and props that the rich flaunt and sell.

the disparity is felt in my middle class life because i am torn between the two - while recognizing the truth of both and still knowing not what to do about it. the issue of identity is exacerbated by falling in-between. i know not what to do and the consequence of any variety of choices seems dramatic. what i want what everyone wants is to do something i am passionate about that is fun and profitable. this is the salve of disparity and being in-between. it is the only solution i really seek. there is also the fantasy of systemic collapse invalidating the need to decide. under the freedom of ruin, i can be who i am without the question - i can be what needs to be, do what needs to be done without the question of significance, validity, or passion.

as a mother, what i do is deeply necessary but not societally/economically valid or important AT ALL. people are always encouraging me to do more than just mother - take in babysitting, pick up outside work in at-home opportunities or part-time jobs. as an artist, i am not talented or prolific enough to be valid or important economically or socially. as a writer, i am not prolific/dedicated enough to be valid or important economically or socially. i write blogs, journal entries, and poems. i do not participate artistically in methods of production that are economically viable: fine art, usable or desirable crafts, journalism, long-format writing (books), et cetera. the question of identity is truly one of belonging and of Being Seen. i, as part of my cultural context, wish to be fully an accepted, even celebrated, part of it. i wish to be normal, even while intellectually understanding the intricacies of that desire and where it comes from. i wish to be seen by my culture in order, ultimately, not to prove my worth, but to prove within the context of my life, that i am real.


to be noveling. i am feeling obligated to begin and finish nanowrimo this year. the obligation stems from many things - one, to prove that i have a real novel in me thus making me a "real" writer (yet again), despite the recent publications of my "work" (one, two, and yet to come), and two, because i nearly sliced off the whole of my hand last year and didn't finish. my ideas for what i'm writing keep changing. i think to write about my proneness for the dramatic and the accidental and create a whole silly world of that centering around some girl. it could be some great, epic tale the likes of nightwatch and daywatch and whatever the 3rd is to follow - noonwatch? ah, no, thank you imdb, it is twilight watch. it is indeed, an excellent idea, but not the one i've been rolling around with the last ten months. what to do? i have but nine-and-a-half hours to finalize my decision. i was working forever on the planning, however vaguely it is my inclination to plan, for the novel i've been thinking of, but there is no spark there and i've no idea what i'll actually write.

additionally, i need to be working on so many other things, particularly the non-fiction book i plan to write one day that i have not yet written, as well as the ten pieces of art for the itty bitty shitty art show my friend patricia is organizing. i am at 9, currently, which leaves me a whole month to finish the last. there is also the matter of the business endeavor i am beginning and need to get off the ground. there is also fast-approaching christmas, which requires a holiday card to be designed and assorted washcloths and hotpads to be knit.

i want to write a novel if only to say i've written a novel. it was my dream, indeed, for so long to be a writer and now i shirk from it. i am terrified. i am afraid that nothing i ever do is good enough or interesting. i am entirely lame. i do things, but not well enough. i do not commit to things properly and with the energy required to be passionate and love well enough the things i do. i half-ass everything and there are many many things i do that are to be half-assed. i cannot seem to finish anything i start and it is the thing that propels me most after the idiotic and constant striving for perfection, which will never be grasped, never summited, never reached, never claimed. i look to the things that others do with such adoration and such melancholic longing, such self-depreciation. my husband is writing a dissertation and i cannot write but a word, it would seem. i tumble over and over myself, fighting myself for the energy to move forward and the syntax with which to do it. i go nowhere. do nothing. i cannot properly keep the house, raise the children, start the business, or finish the novel. i blame and scapegoat trauma and drug addiction and the inevitable stress of a spouse in a phd program and the constant itching of half-naked children run round making messes. is it merely that i am incapable, or do i invoke this self-paralysis out of fear, out of hunger? what is it to clear the hurdle? what must be done in order to do? and should i even try?


i am busy. overwhelmed. stressed out. all my life is all the things to be done, all the things that i am doing, and there is hardly time for thought, hardly time for the close call, or for sickness or for drama. my body better, i press on, harder than i should, for surely the weather has changed, is changing, and i will find myself under the spell of some cough i've encountered unknowingly. so i wash my hands just in case. i am the germiphobe. i am the obsessive compulsive. i am compelled by my ideas to invent things not necessarily uninvented (for this in the internet age we can encounter most ideas already idealed readily and apparently by means of a google search), yet things necessarily new to me and perhaps to my immediate surroundings. i seek to create the art, write the novel, and invent the harry potter halloween party like i was completely insane. but harry potter does something for me that little else does. it is a melancholic escape into fantasy wherein magic and elves exist and where, were i a witch, i might be able to make dinner with the flash of a stick of wood in my fingers. it is excessively silly, perhaps, but it distracts me from my usual brooding on ecological destruction - at least temporarily. and as for art - i am compelled by my usual boredom with my own domesticity to be something greater and more important (though i think, in my head, that nothing is more important) than mothering my exceedingly wild and usually naked children. i am the perpetrator of lists at this juncture: writing down and crossing off. i seek for the moment to be able to cross something off the list to feel capable and forward-moving. it makes me feel powerful, accomplished. and perhaps it is a sad statement about being a mother that makes crossing things off lists feel full of power and accomplishment. i never finished college, so i can only assume that i am intelligent based on my own knowing and whatever resources in front of me. i cannot feel the power of societal position, for i have none of that. i am only me, toiling daily, as i am apt to do. it is my position in life and the role of my choosing, to be sure. i struggle with the choices facing me in regards to my children - their upbringing and whether or not they should be permitted to play video games all day or not and the varying philosophical perspectives that each choice comes with, of which there are many, which may surprise those not embedded in this type of life and all the minutiae that it encompasses. i so want only to be me, though. to be myself, free of the expectations of the world and especially of my children and their incessant whining and needing of things to be got and done for them. it is harder than it seems and more intellectually challenging than i could ever have anticipated. in fact, there is nothing else to call it, but utterly and completely insane. my life is the running rapidly out of control and back again to some semblance of half-reality only to be destroyed and rebuilt perpetually. it is the couch and the toys and the feeding and the cleaning and so much more. and all the while, there is me, in the midst, trying desperately to feel around for myself and to determine what that is and what that requires in the moment and in the long term. is it merely the environmental ethic that we live by? that thing most weird to so many that in my head is simply the effect of doing better by knowing better? or is there something else here? is there more to me and can i ever hope to honor it while taking care of so many others, by doing so very, very much? i do not know. i do not know. it may be, in fact, the very question i have been asking all this time.


overcome with melancholy- it is inexplicable. it is sudden and draining. the feeling arises from books and from movies and from the fantasy failed. fantasy is the thing - an imagined world springs up in my head and the moment of return to reality, i find myself at a loss, with a hole in my heart carved from what i'd hoped and dreamed. the body better, i descend into my head. i try to create the world i want, envision the things i want to be doing. the melancholy rises in my throat and cuts off the inertia needed for forward motion. the things i deign to do seem uninviting, less interesting. my feet do not place one in front the other. my heart does not leap with action and joy and momentum built. i want only joy. i want joy embedded in my veins, pumping and coursing through my heart and brain. i want a life of leisure, of learning, of intense happiness. i want "my whole life [to] look like a picture of a sunny day." that's really all. does it seem too much to ask? can i just be at peace and think on things, move about my world doing, dreaming. the illness overcome me, sadness drowns me, and all the joy is drained out my life. with illness overcome me, to do even normal, mundane activities becomes a fantasy, and one so far from grasping. i see the world and wonder how people are able to move about their lives, doing things without aching limbs and aching bellies. how does the world become done with so much to inhibit it? how does the world even work with such illness and such destruction? i live in fear of aging now. i feel brittle, frail, elderly. i feel not full life, not plumped with the ability of momentum, of doing. i want merely to do and to feel at ease, to rest at times and at times to conquer. i want my brain to function properly and the words to come. i want so badly for the words to come, for not the words to fail me. i want and want and lack and fail. and so saying does not help in lifting the veil that inhibits me.


there is pain now in my tooth, in my hand, in my womb, in my legs, and in my spine. i ache. my meds have left me and in their place is the aching shin, inexplicable in its aggravation. the bones feel brittle, the muscles tense. i imagine the caffeine from breakfast coffee having leached out all the calcium. i do yoga and try to remember to take cal-mag. i shiver in the new cold, the fall air rushed in to chill me and tense these muscles tighter. i fear this as age itself, the decaying of this body. i feel weak, helpless.

what pills churned my stomach kept the pain from out my legs, though they were intended for the hand. my wrist just lies buzzing, tight like band-aids wrapped round the knuckles. it is fine and i suspect the pills are no longer needed, which is one of many reasons to leave them behind. yet these legs - they ache so! my spine cringes too. i feel a huddled mass, sick with flu, but i am not. i am but cold and tense with no reason. i feel as though i stayed too long in some ill-planned position and my legs stuck and my muscles kept the memory of it. i stretch and nothing eases. i take baths and nothing is soothed. i rub them and nothing. i sit and cry.

i imagine the bone cells dividing cancerous - huge ugly blotches discoloring the tibia like watermarks left behind mineral deposits; like the spots of spilled bathtubs or leaking roofs on ceilings. i picture me walking with cane, unable to chase my sons outside. i imagine every day ever after met with pain. my throat swells and tears come with the idea of never feeling normal again. i want nothing more than to wake without pain, with the ability to meet my day and do the things that i must do.


six years ago, i didn't have any children. this may seem like an obvious fact, but it underlines the changes in my life in such a short period. the years have gone so quickly and though the fabric of my life has changed and even my brain and my beliefs have grown and focused, i feel in so many ways like the same person, lost as ever. i feel the same questions i always had rattling around in my head and the same pangs in my heart in my memories and in my hopes. this is the same body. this is the same face, the same hands and eyes. yet so much that i see has changed. the differences in my life may in fact far outstrip the similarities, but at my core, i feel like me. i am the same emotional being i have always been.

and on the eve of september 11, i am forced to consider the changes in those six years. nothing can stop that i am reminded by the date itself and by the world around me of where i was and what i was doing six years ago tomorrow. i must then consider who i was then - what i thought and felt and how that has been transformed by years of perspective and learning.

as much as i confront the idea that so much has stayed the same, i am struck by how much is different. each is the inverse of the other - me then as me now, and me now as nothing like me then. they are two sides of the same mirror - staring into each other - the me's confronting that which remains true and that which has drastically altered. as i realize the differences, i am struck by the similarities, and as i confront the similarities, i am struck by the differences. conceptualizing this exercise into a spatial form would be like those escher drawings and the inevitable impossibilities of simultaneous being.

it is the way of the universe - while one truth is created, others are destroyed, but at the same time in parallel dimensions, the others live while the choice then not-made dies. it is the meaning of the word "is." to be is to imply the possibility of not being. what is true will always, elsewhere, be false. what towers that were destroyed, elsewhere still stand, and still elsewhere, never existed at all. those who died were never born, those that lived decayed. where this war rages, somewhere there is peace. and we hold in our hearts, all possibilities. peace remains or flourishes and the truth of who i was is the truth of who i will be. it is all there, doing its somersaults amidst my unmarked neural pathways and amidst those marked as well - this sense of being small and helpless and confused, and yet strong and confident and able. i am this and all things and this and all things, i am not. it is how i can be happy with where i'm at and who i am - i remain ever the ghost of myself and all possibilities are forever open to me.


lists make me and unmake me
build and unbuild me

my arms and legs
brought together,
taken apart,
wrapped about
and cast aside.

my eyes gazed skyward
and drooped with tears.
swollen shut
and snapped open.

forth and back
my mind wanders
and is lost.

i look for you there -
to find me.
i seek me out
unriddling the answers,
the unsaid truth of the thing.

but it is no bother to be,
the empty palms
fill only with questions.
and my heart
is left to break
and unbreak itself.


is there time to do the things i want to do? is there time before the world changes to see my children grow to men? will there be time for joy? time for peace? i exist under the weight of uncertainty and anxiety. i fear the pressing in of global change, of the world reduced from this mess to nearly nothing. i hear the reports - that the eleventh hour is upon us, yet see no decisive action really taken. i stand with many in my dissent, but many more are silent. there are moments in my day when excitement and ideas reach me, when i think of things that i might do. then trouble clenches tight my heart, and i grow silent and still, melancholic inaction taken its hold around me. all happiness is strangled out. my throat tightens in mid-sentence, the ideas stalled by dread. is there time yet to put into action what good i want to do? is it useless to sit troubling over whether i am good enough or not, when the world i seek to create for may soon not exist? my hands do not write, do not paint, do not stitch. my hopes that i have, the visions of my future and the future of my sons and family seem so improbable. what use is it to try? i am weighed down by my own negativity. i cannot escape the crushing fear that before me is nothing.


last night jon and i went to see death at a funeral on our date. i was at cedar/lee on thursday for becoming jane, but missed the previews. last night, we saw the previews. i was bawling at the 11th hour preview, despite the constant leo dicaprio narrative. i just can't take it. even before the previews, jon was telling me all about the book i bought him, the world without us, and what i've always worried about, the chapter, "polymers are forever," as it turns out, is the least of it. the depleted uranium situation is much, much worse because the half-life is as long as it will take for the sun to expand and engulf the earth. can you even imagine? and here i've been freaked about the damn ocean full of plastics, which is apparently just passive toxicity in comparison. this is my lead-up to the dark comedy - my husband detailing all the horrible things i dare not even dream, if i can help it, followed by a thirty-second montage of every horrible thing i can ever imagine.

and the war - the war! i grew up with that word that all the grown-ups i knew used with so many deeper connotations, "vietnam," and here are my children and this war and my heart breaks and breaks and breaks every day just worried about it. how i can even live this life, with such struggle and daily worry over clean clothes and credit card bills, when the ap changes the photo of each different poor family as it is ripped apart each moment, half a world away? How can i sit in movie theaters sobbing? how can i continue to attempt joy for these children that mean everything to me? so many problems, mounted so, so high. these trillions spent are our future as well as the past. these trillions are no health care, no safety-net, no clean air, no electric car, no social security, overcrowded classrooms, more wal-marts, less ingenuity, less pay, less food, less earth free of plastic, free for walking, for breathing and sensing what it means to stand in a meadow at dusk...

somehow, aleks and i started talking about the war in iraq this morning. i'm not sure how it happened. first we were saying the new bird-feeder needs to be filled up and put out, but in a different place than the homemade bird-feeders that the birds aren't eating out of. then he started asking about the dead cardinal we saw at aullwood farm in dayton this past may and insisted that i brainstorm ways that the bird might have died. he decided that it was a cat that stuck its claw into the bird, even though i figured the cat might have tried to eat it and there would have been less bird for us to see. then somehow, in all that talk about death, he started talking about army men and how they die and i said that they tend to kill one another in the war. all the while, there's this new poster in our kitchen glaring down at me:

so i tell him about the war in iraq - vaguely - and how the soldiers are there fighting, but that the army men aren't the ones dying the most, though they certainly are dying and it's all very sad. it goes on and on and he tells me how he hates army men, which i try to insist is not the way to go about it because they're just doing what they're told, but it would be nice if it would all just stop. he starts talking again about hating army men - says that he hates all army men in dayton. i tell him his babysitter, nick, in dayton, was an army man and was in iraq for a year and it made him really sad and he'll never be the same again.

then he mentions that 6 army men died today. i think back to the top headline on the ap - 7 dead in a bomb explosion, dozens wounded, but not soldiers, just people. i tell him there was a bomb, but that i didn't think they were army men - which is worse to say because i'm haunted by the image on the ap of what looks like a kid all bandaged and bleeding, hand outstretched and i feel sorry for myself about my stupid hand! - though some of them might have been and there were maybe other army men killed today because that seems to happen every day too. he says that they were killed in friendly fire and suddenly i remember when we were listening to npr in the car yesterday and that yes indeed, some british soldiers were killed in a friendly fire incident and then i have to try to explain what that means, and the best i can come up with is that they killed their friends, which sucks to have to say. i go back to making toast in the other room.

he comes in with is teddy bear, todd, and says that todd hates army men. i ask why and he says because army men kill people. i try to reiterate that we shouldn't hate them, but it would be good if they would stop killing people and come home. he leaves, comes back with his giant evil lego robot with one arm that's a gun and the other that's a spinning wheel of death or something and says that his robot, slammy, killed lots of army men. i ask why, get out of him that he kills them because they kill people, which i try to show the hypocrisy and convince him to just capture them. so slammy is going 'round the world spreading peace by using his special laser that puts army men in jail. sigh. eat your toast.


the final countdown is upon us. i am nearly through the summer. jon finishes his job in three days time, at which point the boys and i will flee to my mother's home for two weeks to allow him to write the first chapter of his dissertation. we are nearing the end of this long schooling process, even. and yet we are not near enough.

the boys just now are sick, both sleeping with fevers in this awful heat. i am fearful of contracting my own version of the illness, lest i feel unable to function more than i already feel unable, or unwilling, to do so.

the relationship issues have been looking up. we began to talk to someone else, which has greatly aided our emotional miscommunication that has followed us about, slowly torturing me, the last nine years. that, at least, is getting better.

i began my work serving on the board of directors of the cleveland food co-op, in addition to my duties as editor and writer of the monthly newsletter, which i've been doing since january. we shall see where that takes me. it feels good to have something to be truly responsible to outside the home, and i like that i have finally taken on the activist mantle of my family, at least now in a legitimized sense.

i also joined a consciousness raising group, which is proving wonderful, so far, and which will hopefully really serve those needs in me to feel a part of something larger than myself, as well as help to process the issues surrounding all that i am active in. i would like to spend more time thinking on things. more time, once again, spent exploring the conceptual in relation to the real, rather than simply utilizing my mental capabilities to create new modes of efficiency on the domestic front, that very, unnervingly real aspect of myself. though, at times, the domestic front seems indeed the only real thing in a world full of bullshit, of rationalizations of duty to the varying modes of capitalistic endeavor. it seems the only real doing thing left in this world. everything else is reduced to institution and limited by its legitimacy.

in some ways, my domesticity leaves me free to be who i am, accountable to no one but the society that raised me, echoing in my head. any guilt gained from my occupation is cultural conditioning, filtered through my familial upbringing, speaking in the sound of my own voice to me. this is still clearly entrenched in institution, but less so than everyone with a paying job who is actually held accountable to those systems in an overwhelmingly daily manner.

i am an artist who sells no art, a writer that hardly ever writes, and a mother, isolated by my culture, as well as from it. society will only ask me to report should a helpful citizen decide i have stepped too far outside cultural norms and notify children's services. i hardly exist outside of statistics, used so often as fodder from both leftist and rightist talking heads making points about what it is that we americans do or need and why.

i am only referred to, never engaged beyond the survey. in this way, i remain an outlaw, just beyond the reach of the hum of order, civilization, progress. in no way is it acknowledged that this work - this unending, arduous, deeply fulfilling, biologically impertinent work - which i do for free, is in fact the basis, the foundation, on which western civilization - nay, all civilization - rests. and i, as a middle-class white woman, am even less depended upon in this sense than the poor and mothers (and mother-figures) of color, because i am a member of a market, the only thing more "legitimate" in this capitalist state than being a worker-slave integrated into an institution body, mind, and soul. the fact that the economy rests on the bone-cruishingly unpaid work of women is thus ignored and the work itself relegated to the lofty fields of pricelessness and personal sacrifice. why not martyrdom as well, while we're at it?


i feel so void of happiness. all feels bleak and pointless. my head pounds. my heart is emptied. i cannot continue with these long days. it is too much. the hard days are too hard. there is no respite. the children gnaw at my side. my brain unfolds the ideal and tosses it aside, clinging frantically to the terrible, rushing emotion, that urge to say horrible things, to spit and flail, gnashing teeth and screaming. my patience escapes me, hides away in corners, unseen. i have so much to do and no energy. i rush and move about from thing to thing, but the moment i sit down, i'm lost. i grow tired. i languish. i have no desire to see anyone, yet feel the desperate call from out my chest that reaches for the phone, tries to think of someone to come save me from out myself. there is no one. there is nothing. the laughter of my children lifts me for but a second, and only slightly. the smile crept across my face turns with the source of the joke: half an inch of water spilled 'cross the bathroom floor, the crumbs of dismantled muffins scattered 'cross the sofa and living room, the objects knocked from off the table with loud crashes. their giggles turn into a hateful reminder of disaster and destruction and the million tasks ever before me. and there is no one here. i am all alone. the things i have to fulfill me do not. i am not moved by a need to create. i am not satisfied by my activities. i do not even long for others. a break is too short and offers but brief distraction, such a minor, childish act of avoidance. i cannot even muster tears.


a personal history of terrible things (not for the feint of heart).

last night, my husband came home later than i expected, shortly after i'd begun to worry. i spoke to my upstairs neighbor, trying to figure what to do. i called the police to ask about accidents. when he walked through the door as i was talking to the woman from upstairs, i excused my worry, apologized, and explained that we, or rather i, am prone to tragic accidents, and i thus have it in my head that bad things might seep in. these days i have been very lonely. jon has been working every day until 10 pm, leaving me alone to care for the children, exhausted by the heat, by their incessant complaint, the whining, the need to drive all over acquiring things, keeping them busy. i feel out of touch. i feel the absence of someone to speak to, to confess my life and process all my thoughts. i feel alone in my house, its empty rooms echoing when the children play quietly or nap. and this morning upon consideration of my fear of the accidental, i went down the list again, felt the weight of all the terrible things i have witnessed, and as usual simultaneously dismissed and invalidated the terror as nothing compared to the lives of others. it has been my friends who have dealt with terrible things lately, the people closest to me feeling the fear. my best friend suddenly lost her mother, which breaks a small part of my own heart. another friend sustained a loss i dare not even speak about. the terror is all around me. i feel it closing in amidst the silence and the echo of wood; the summer heat and humidity. i walk around with the sense that even more horrible things are in store for me, as if it were already written. i anticipate the loss of my husband like it were bound to happen. and when i do, i clutch my chest and sob whole-heartedly.

i decided to compile the actual events that have left me immovably stunned and terrified, for what reason i know not. i suppose it is to sit with it. it is a meditation. it is to consider my grief once more.

my son's first surgery, when he couldn't breathe afterward and was retracting very badly and the nurses tortured him by trying to suck blood out of his nose, which proved entirely unnecessary. eventually, they stuck a nipple in his mouth with the tip clipped off so he could breathe:
my son's second surgery when he became dehydrated and they poked him 5 times trying to find a vein, eventually landing his iv in his head:

the truck accident when i was 5 months pregnant with son #2, wherein a semi fell out of the sky and landed on my car:

the incident with the casserole dish, where i sliced through 4 tendons and severed a nerve in my wrist, trying to wash the dishes:
not pictured: jon failing the oral portion of his comprehensive exams for his phd.


it is nice to be appreciated, when it comes. it takes me off guard these days. i used to have such ego about my writing. i still understand that i write well, but feel so inadequate in terms of my rate of production that i hardly feel like a real or decent writer. i can make all the promises to myself that i want about writing more or writing everyday, but it still doesn't come. i have to take the small steps, make tiny goals in order to achieve anything at all.

my days are already so chock full of so much to do. i am running around in circles, trying desperately to do everything to be done, searching up and down, paying bills, running errands, zoning out in front of the computer. it takes such time to move. especially with small children - my own personal two-bodied demolition crew. i move frantically trying to get them out of the house, trying to post at my local board, trying to eat and do laundry. i plan things and go to meetings.

i am at this moment on the brink of joining the food co-op board, which will require that i meet once a month with the others to plan and discuss. as though i really needed more to do. i clean my house, knit, drink beer in the late nights when everyone is asleep.

my whole life these days is doing. what will happen to me when it is all done? i am trying to find a future in the cracks between activities in order to ensure that i am not lonely and languishing years from now when my eggs have fled the nest. i am attempting to plan out a memoir and a novel, finish a chap book of my february poems, write each monthly co-op newsletter, volunteer my time in the hopes that one day what i do can define me in a career. i create cards and bags, plan to finish the quilt one day, hope that i might sell something at some point, enough to furnish the rent should i need to. it is not likely to happen, but i have big dreams nonetheless. or perhaps they're small dreams.

i have always been excessively good at poo-pooing my ambitions, noting their improbability. it makes me so proud of my sisters and my husband to see them doing what they dream. i have far too many interests in too many directions to do much of anything at all. i become paralyzed by possibility. it is quite the lousy lot. i should, in fact, know better. but i don't really know what i want. i want too much. i want everything. i want nothing more than what i've got. i am where i planned to be. or so it would seem. perhaps this was the path of least resistance and it simply fit me well. i don't know. it is what it is. i do what i do.

i attempt to feign knowledge of the future, but really i'm just attempting to put anything in a place where a career might land that i may have something to put on a resume. at the same time, i have no interest in forming a career. i can rationalize all this crazy talk with this idea that what i do is explore my world and try things out, making me a more balanced, well-rounded, experienced person in the long run, making life my major and participating in communal systems my career.

and then tonight i was asked to come to a literary group after some folks liked my poems. it has been so long since i'd been to a poetry reading. this one was quite nice, filled with older people with quiet, non-slam poetry filled with meaning and beautiful imagery and exquisite language. i felt at home with my writing, like i belonged, like i was on par. and then the compliment. i hadn't the heart to tell her that there is no way i can participate in one more thing these days, my plate is already so so full. already there is hardly time to sit and think or to put those thoughts in the blog.

i had always intended this to be more interesting in terms of the writing than a regular blog, but i think i've fucked it up this go round and the incessant paragraph is probably more than overwhelming. perhaps it is time to break it up. there. i've done it, though i'm terrible at paragraphs.

long ago, i had a point. i had wanted to talk about all my confusion these days, how i feel this gap between my husband and i, how i almost think i'm making it up. but i forgot and didn't know how to get there anyway. i am too busy doing to think too much. i am too busy doing to understand the meaning in my life or to feel connected. i am out the door.


it is the thing driving me in circles and filling up my brain, weighing on my shoulders. it is the flow out of pockets, and deep in the crevices of my bank account. i account for it with the pangs in my heart, but fears creep in and uncertainty rises to the surface. i am waiting for things to be better, for the world to look brighter, the days to be warmer. i am sick to death of snow. i am entirely too full of chocolate and it no longer comforts me. the wet winter and all this darkness is wearing on me. the children are tired and have been cooped up for too long now. they go crazy, scream and whine all day. they need freedom too. i want nothing more than to be comfortable and free from worry. i have done the necessary time, i am convinced of it. this has been enough and i am done with wringing my hands attempting to determine the appropriate course of action when so many may do, but none will be the entire solution. i attempt to visualize great rivers of money flowing at me, fleshing out my cheeks, rounding me and fulfilling the needs of the family. i imagine us free from worry - i see me smiling and contentedly going about my life, my general struggle with the atrocities of circumstance that i've unwillingly been a part of. i envision me walking down the street pulling the boys in the wagon. is it only warm air that i long for? is it simply summer that will fulfill my fantasies? every year, it seems, this happens. there is the long freak out and the creeping discontent with the way things are. i am a full bud, waiting. i am in need of the overspill, the pouring into spring, into sandal wearing and sleeveless dresses. i am chilled and my hands ache from all my fretting. it is high time i abandon the blankets, no longer need the layers to keep me calm and comfortable. i need ease and lightness. i wish only for freedom from anxiety. i want to stop this soulful weeping. this has gone on long enough.


in need of something new, i long for babies when i see babies, long for puppies when i hear talk of puppies, randomly pick up an application to run for the co-op board. the moment i think logically, however, i remember why i have no interest in puppies, why i have my fill of children, and why my time is all spent up and there's none left to be on a board. there is something churning in my belly though, flipping my eyes from here to there looking for something to long for. what is it that i need? what is it that i want? what is it that i can actually do? i don't even know how to approach the questions - clearly - let alone find the answers. what do i want? what do i want? i pick at the pretzels, imagine myself doodling the words, scrolling pen marks all about a page, searching in spirals and flowers and doodled stars and images of dna that i always draw for an answer, for the mystical revelation. where is it? in my skin? in this world, this life, this neighborhood and city? is there something to be done? some direction to be pointed in? should i plan out my whole life or merely change the colors of the walls? i was listening to the npr station today and this woman was giving a press conference, it seemed, about women and sports and all her volunteering and the things she's involved in - ending poverty and whatnot - and i thought how nice it might be to become really so involved in everything that i believe in so as to be on boards and make real change and go to africa to see the things that others do not see, to not just sob at news stories and choke up every time i read a fucking magazine. i thought how good it might be to dedicate a life to fighting poverty, to have the energy and the resources to actually do something like that. but i don't know how that works. clearly, this woman, and george clooney, who i spent the time in the fluido in occupational therapy reading about, have the sort of resources to be on the elton john aids board or to work the un security counsel about its approach to saving darfur. last week i thought that maybe instead of having a baby we could bring a sudanese refugee into our home just like in i heart huckabees, only without the bullshit christian crap and all the nonsense spewed down his/her throat about how great sprawl and capitalism are, but merely a job and a place to live and food to eat and friendship and honesty. or maybe that's a ridiculous idea because look at us - we have no money, no means to bring a refugee into our home. we have only photoshop and questions and endless student loan debt. i think all the ridiculous things, spark crazed notions while driving in the car, search the bottom of my glass of water for clarity in my personal life. what is it? what is this? is it spring? turning twenty-eight? the silence of my partner, the screaming of my children, the snot poured down their faces? is this a searching out of myself from desperation or boredom? is it anxiety about the summer, the endless months looming ahead with no income, the barren lands of debt and worry? is it a searching to escape the weight of all this worry, a way to immerse myself in something as means of distraction? why is it that i must ask the questions of myself? why is it that i cannot look into my head and see plainly where my fears and worries and desires come from? i was reading cunt and thinking of cuntfear and how women fight one another needlessly and realizing truthfully that every woman i judge has something that i fear in myself - naiveté, arrogance, denial, laziness, annoying hyperactivity. i can face myself and know this - why can i not peer into the pool of other thoughts and know their source? what is it that i am missing? what am i attempting to avoid in finding the answers? is this simply fraught with complexity? is there nothing there beyond an urge, a feeling? what is this? why the anxiety? why can i not overcome this by way of information and exploration? i cannot learn my way out of my emotional confusion. i imagine myself writing, whittling down and down to a solution, of sorts; to a plan at the very least. perhaps all that is in order is making a list. or maybe having a long conversation with my husband, seeing if he can shed any light at all on what is happening here. he did seem opposed to the child, puppy, and co-op board ideas, so i suppose those are out. painting the house is going to happen anyway. i've been purging in hopes to free myself of all the weight of my household, getting ready for spring and the task of the treasure map (the setting out of all desires for myself for the year in collage form). i am digging through my life in search for what i want. and i just do not know at all what it is.


doing, doing, all day long. the self-challenge to write twenty-eight poems in february morphed into the self-challenge to sew and knit lots and lots in march. the week-long break at my mother's house resulted in the initiative to do everything on the to-do list (current and long-forgotten, present and long-term) in order to live come the spring. come spring and summer i pledge to write, to knit, to walk, to visit many places, explore the heights of rocky river again with newly-hiking two-year-old, witness the bulbs sprung open, the muddy puddles ready for jumping, the sandbox full of broken, winter-rotted toys, vacationing, visiting with friends, painting, stroll the street fair thursdays in coventry, prepare the midnight wizard meeting, brainstorm ideas for fall, brainstorm thoughts on a health collective, brainstorm and invent the method out of mommy-madness, and finish the creative projects long on the table. i am emptying closets, on the phone to lawyers and chiropractors, writing articles for magazines, creating chapbooks and newsletters, stitching diaper bags, knitting blue-on-blue checkerboarded dishcloths, checking off lists, storming theoretical castles. i am in the midst, in a swirl of activity, buzzed with accomplishments and extra-strong ethiopian coffee. i am not nice, per se, but most truly me. i advise that carpet is in fact toxic and thus suitable for hatred. i purchase things beyond my reach, but balance well the bank account. i watch movies and do not sleep enough. the thunder is pounding, the basement is wet, i seek to sleep, but move to type, to sate the hunger of dear, unknown, comment-less readers. the ice cream is empty. i've done well to begin to meet the resolutions i set forth for myself. my hand is much better; much better than expected. my thoughts for nanowrimo two-thousand-seven are brewing and beginning. my weight creeps upward. today i raised my heartbeat for a good twenty minutes and made my children happy to boot. i celebrate the successes and mourn the facts of my deficit health, my fears of the future, but do not dwell. i move onward. i go.


verse occurs

it happens that i am looking at my fingernails,
turning my head around,
humming to myself,
rubbing my hands through my hair and mussing it,
squinting and rubbing my head, urging the headache out,

it happens that i am language-less,
that i am attempting to do what i committed myself to,
but without a map,
without a guide,
and my steps become slow and my lips bitten
in search for a distraction,
for a method of escape

it happens that often there are many other requirements:
pajamas to be pulled on,
teeth brushed,
stories read,
tears wiped and tea made
laundry washed and folded and put away

it happens that there is always something else besides a dedication to writing
there is always work to do
and things to scrub
the poetry can always wait

it happens that in the waiting i live the life i write
and find the words folded amidst the towels
find the alliteration scrubbed in the grout of the bathroom tiles
recover the metaphors in the taking of pills,
the washing of dishes
i need not look around and turn my head too far
to find the meaning i instill in myself
and the method with which to articulate it.



the absurd visits me
in decided non-hilarity
it is unfunny
it sits beside me on the bus,
and sunken-lids
swallows hard with dry mouth
thin frail hands clutch dirty balls of tissues

the absurd talks in cackle voice
of webbed fingers
and dog faced children
whispers curses
and bites off the skin around its nails all the while

the absurd licks the cracked, white-powdered corners of its mouth
talks rapidly and unendingly
fidgets its fingers
rustles its feet
tells stories that sound of graveyards
and empty schoolyards
swings swaying in a late-fall chill like the intro to a horror film

the absurd's stories are filled with dark characters
and tragic characters
pussy stomach tubes
piss-soaked wheelchairs, wheels rusted,
the tenebrosity of old age and illness,

it is the spiral out of youth without the wisdom of age,
meaning never found, few truths uncovered,
it will end as it all began
it is the irrational step of a measured existence,
a futility in bloodflow.


yet to do

lists uncoil
at the touch of my fingertips
and the urge of my memory.
the mind wanders about rooms,
spreads the tongue about the mouth,
licking the lips for the taste of words,
the familiar spurred reminded requirement
eyes flash open,
memory installed,
the spark plugged appropriately,
the outlet let in proper positioning
and all my dreams
reduced to the pathetic eagerness of domestic minutiae.


regarding reiki

the magnet of my memory
pulls hands
toward and out my heart,
thumps trembles, noises,
and adolescent brain-addled endeavors

this moment shudders me,
frees blood for flowing,
the energy courses,
finds the path and plows it open,
something occurs to negate the numbness
something here interrupts the blockage
and i feel again,
sense the texture of my corduroy clothing
palm the ridges
ply the uneven winter woolens

the water poured beneath my skin
plumps it ready for the leveling of postures
prepares me for the regulation of each heartbeat
each moonbeam caught in the glass of my eye
becomes the sudden stillness
that standardizes my thought and action
balances me for new beginnings
rebirths me thinking and feeling,
the hands and body freed
from the constraints of complaint
and time steadily unearthed me
from the ill-kept tempo of circumstance.


painting the living room

the shade of paint he announces
excites me so,
i feel unreasonable
it is rare that something so mundane
as the tone of a pear
would make me smile
and continue to lighten
my face
each time i think of the matter again.


mended skin

the scars on me,
your yellow shine,
expanded and swollen
across the plain pale flesh
that regularly encases me

the scars on my brain and heart,
the imprints and impressions
left behind by arguments
by breakups
by months gone by without illumination,
without even the flash of lightening
to expose a hint of hope amidst the darkness

scars grow up the trunk of me
from my toes to the tip of my crown,
stretch as vines around me,
at moments smothering and overwhelming
sprouted down my throat
and to the pit of my belly

these marks scrawled upon me
smoothed over everything that pained me,
that broke me
and finally healed me,
holding me stiffly in its
husk-hardened embrace.



i can’t dig into the thoughts,
i can’t find the way into myself
to see the words form
across the back of my skull
to feel my mood shift
and the shiver echo over the cold of my skin
i can’t get in
i can’t remember the code
or find the hidden latch
my secret handshake has gone,
escaped the memory of my hands
the thoughts do not form
the words do not fit
my poetry unravels before it’s born
ends abruptly
and doesn’t answer when i call.


writing twenty-eight poems

the subtle churn of monotony
the focus of my symphony,
the mundane transposed against infinity:
the composition of this poetry.


treasure mapped

wilted lenses drip puddles
of hidden agonies
the truth is not here
it rests behind the skin of you
my teeth tightened
my wounds remain raised to the air
flesh peeled back, welcoming
i feel the shudder crept spineward,
unearthed fear and sorrow,
surely thicker than the moonlight.

the joys were not depended
the ordered not accounted
subtle pieces pasted
in obvious retarded kitchen wall glory
the tale of these sins
departed for witness
and all i am
is a faith-based mock-up,
a joke of excerpts and excuses for serendipitous exchanges
my hands emptied of responsibility
from the sum of this existence.


astonishment at the intersection of reality and intention

it seems, at times,
not possible
that i could be responsible for this existence
that i am the adult in this situation

it seems futile to assume
that i would not
should not
be the one screaming my head off,
my emotional well being sprung a leak
and steam pouring through in rageful glaring
and guttural shouting

it seems unreasonable
that i should check myself
become aware of my surroundings
sustain the worldly order
and let the abuses of all others slide
in their forgetful sock-thrown-aside manner
(that that should, in my mind, constitute abuse is equally asinine).

and where do i step over the line between resentment and guilt?
where is it?
i do not ever see it,
yet sense its immenseness in its indistinctness
its significance shadows its slenderness
it is there,
yet immeasurable.

i travel all about
in the emotional war-zones of my house
know not how to handle it
know not how not to.
my mind can see
but my heart is blind
i am selfish
and i wear on everything
leaving the impression of my sighs,
indentations of my rolled eyes and bit lips
in the carpet
and the furniture
and all over the faces of my spouse and children.



my limbs do not lift
my senses fail
my head sits in a cloud,
eyelids sunk

the day is slow-going agony,
no amount of caffeine propels me

the stillness of my body belies the movement of this world
my mind stirs in irritation
frustration with the dumbness of aching hands
that do not do
bloated numb fingers
all thumbs
thick logs attempting needlework

the shudder in me
is a shifting tension,
rising to meet my surfaces,
with no explosion,
no sudden sound,
just a gurgling,
and a growl
announcing this affliction,
this paralysis,
as reasoning enough to leave me be.


knitting sebastian’s scarf

fire twisted round bamboo stakes
tiny v’s unfurling,
lengthening into warmth for baby boy’s throat
a mode to hold the heat in
with all the elements of embers:
red, pink, orange, a sparkling hint of gold
to stave off the icy blue hues of this frozen landscape
to keep out ten below gusts
which shake and shiver him
his pinkened cheeks and nose
dried and dusty
his nostrils swelling watery protection
and mamas hands there to shelter him
when she herself is not.


friday neuromuscular electrical stimulation

electro amputation
muscle re-education
spasm, flex, atrophy
what's the next catastrophe?



your canned salmon stunk up the whole of the kitchen
darling’s veganness could not sustain it
he plugged his nose and clenched his teeth in fury
but luckily settled to leave you with the children
and scuttle up the middle of the icy street
to the japanese restaurant
to devour seaweed salad and miso soup,
sucking down hot tea in ceramic cups
to stave off the frigidness of blizzarded valentine’s.



i have always failed at putting precisely into words the whys and hows of loving you
there are no sounds sprung out my mouth,
no thoughts abuzzing to tell me what
the pages remain ever empty

i know it is there
it beats inside me with my pulse
the blood flowed to meet my cheeks
the scar of you imprinted in me
the scent of you emblazoned in my memory

knowing you has been like knowing myself
yet with mystery
always the mystery
i cannot say it
i know not how to speak it
my hands remain open, waiting for the words of you,

i know only how to love you
it is in my breath
in my every step
in my belly swollen and emptied again
the boys run all about the house,
their faces your face,

i know only your taste,
your touch,
the feel of your skin on my skin,
every moment of our lifetime together,
the sound of you in the kitchen
the murmurs you make in your sleep

i know you
i know you -
and i love you and love you and love you,
without the words, without a sound made or a notion whispered,
it is here, written all over me,
and will last until you and i are but dust,
words no longer necessary.



snow buries us
falls in heaps and in mounds,
traps all underneath

the landscape a blank page,
a clean canvas,
so much become nothing

then scribbles and scratches
of passersby and vehicles,
a cacophony amidst the silent whiteness

children bundled
eyeball to toenail
slide down driveways and hillsides

their laughter goes nowhere,
becomes trapped,
no hard surfaces off which to echo

i dig in deeply
in sweater and in blanket
bound home, awaiting the thaw.


psychic powers of the intranet

my computer seems to be keeping track of me
the google bar in firefox knows what i’m about to type
i suspect it also concludes why

the search bar in microsoft
has been alerted to my most recent workings,
citing “monthly news letters”
as the example for what to search for in the
elaborate cyberworld of ms office online templates
it read my brain,
or my type
concluded from just one word,
or perhaps the format of my publisher document
that i was writing the monthly co-op newsletter

i suppose that if i choose to insert a piece of clipart,
the image of a plastic shopping bag would appear,
the binary psychic in my pc tower
having inferred that the article i wrote was about
the toxicity of polyethylene sacks

go away fortune teller,
your powers are undoubtedly but for evil,
you want nothing more than to persuade me to buy something,
i am sure of it.


ode to kai ryssdal

you talk like a game-show host,
you beckon me to take you seriously,
to forget that the whole of your show is merely a vaguely liberal appraisal and applausal of capitalism,
as though America,
its politicians,
its celebrities,
its puppets
weren’t all jizzing all over themselves in celebration of money,
of the products they parrot,
in order to continue the moving of the machine
the march forward,
the growing of pocketbooks under the pressure of
consumption by housewives with amnesia
bratty teenagers with the cash they whined for,
and the hoards of poor
throwing away their lives at wal-mart

you beg me to forgive, turn a blind eye,
you do it with such swagger,
your voice tilted in a smirked grin,
you smarmy whore of a man,
celebrating and selling,
talking about the numbers,
from the frank stanton studios in los angeles
where the cars are always moving,
eating the oil, the fuel of the machine,
smogging the air
and emboldening the chrome dream of all its immigrants,
come to the city of angels
for the hope of a prayer,
searching for salvation in the supermarket,
as a good citizen should.

you let me down, kai,
your machinations are void of meaning
your ken doll voice asks no substantial questions,
seeks no fundamental truth.
you leave me empty,
feeling the hollowness of my bank account,
forgetting the importance of my heart,
as it is,
by family calling me to dinner,
asking me
to shut off the radio.


hormonal imbalance

my moods sway with the breeze
vary slightly, strongly, suddenly
and are never silent
i wear my thoughts out loud
curse and abuse,
applaud and, at exceptional moments, gush.
i laugh loudly,
weep openly,
purse my lips around clenched jaws
with great obviousness and intention
those who piss me off
know it.
i am never one for silence.
i am small and have
likely made up for it
my whole life –
trumpeting my voice like a lion’s roar
for no reason
and with little to say.



hot air burns fossil fuels,
blows across the bed from out the vintage ironwork vent right at head level,
sucks the wet from my open mouth,
turns the corners of my nose at the edges,
curling skin void of moisture into dust.
spinning in the blankets sets off flares in the darkness
the rubbing of sheets against nightclothes
creating static enough to spark starlight against my flesh.

the humidifier sits broken in the corner,
stunk of rose geranium
it may have been the essential oil
that clogged its tubing so no humidity escapes,
the aromatherapy intended to stave off anxiety,
now coating the interior of the tank to a dusty translucence,
so my dream wanderings are in an entirely arid universe,
no burp of steam to transform the desert of the bedroom.

outside the window
nearly waterless snowflakes twirl to the frozen ground,
the wind chills,
leaving the streets bone-dry in their salty glaze.
i wait for spring, for summer,
and long for the moment to declare that
it’s not the heat, but the humidity.


gender variance

you are the universe before the interpretations of science,
static and still
you are unchanging,
as if there were no earthly orbit
and the stars hung suspended
from the black cloak of the sky,
invisible roots in the soil

i miscalculated your silence
assumed your posture was passivity
that there was no progression
no thought marching you forward
in time and in space

i thought my heart broke all on its own
that the responsibility of our mutual endeavors
fell to me
that our existence lay upon my shoulders
to burden us home

the urgency with which i pressed you
eclipsed the truth
that in fact your holy mythologies
carry us in quiet,
though so slowly as to be unseen.


mad mommy

my fiery breath burns at the eyes of my sons
calls out the tears sprung down their cheeks
sends them huddling at my ankles
stabbing guilt into my soul,
yet never managing to puncture
the supreme sense of irritation
to which i feel so righteously entitled

i declare myself an unfit mother,
call friends to bitterly announce the fact,
then impatiently proclaim that without children
i’d be bored and more miserable
stuck yet again in some corporate workplace
with no one’s face to tape to the walls of my cubicle

i prefer, oddly, to emerge as hydra
when fresh urine has soaked my carpet
or hot soup decorated my walls,
with moments of calm in the storm and the pressure of necessity
severing the fork-tongued head lashing out
only for another to spring in its place
when the winds change
when the preeminently imperfect me
spirals out of control,
revealing my own horrifying humanity.

unbearable cute and giggles
try hard and fail
at the permanent amputation of the evil in me.
my heart breaks at my flaws,
but my brain fosters partial appreciation of the villain,
if only to model the grace of apology and acceptance
and the importance of knowing one’s limits.


random synchronicity

i have seen not my life flash before me, but my death
i have crept my toes into the muddy banks of the river styx so many times now
it astonishes me
the screams have risen in my chest
my heart has pounded, leapt to kiss my throat,
my blood flowed cold,
my brain full of the white noise of terror,
my ears sudden vacuums of sound,
my nose and mouth tasted the metallic burn of fear,
and all for naught –
each time, i survive outright and amazingly
death brushes my cheek with his bony fingers
and lets go
leaves me sobbing hysterical on the side of the road, the car crash behind me,
my belly full still of adrenaline soaked baby boy,
leaves me hyperventilating on my mother’s sofa, arm wrapped, hand numb,
the red gash searing upon my wrist,
my children rushed upstairs and the whole family staring dumbly

i have heard the distant sirens ringing, wailing the heroic call of safety,
suffered strapping to boards,
the prick of intravenous needles
morphine drips,
ultrasound and x-ray,
nausea and itching,
watching and stitching,
and the infinite waiting of hospitals,
their cold floors and invisible super-bugs,
the cruelty of nurses and semi-retarded residents, unhearing doctors,
i have cracked jokes at them, cursed at them, complained and whined and pleaded,

i have faced the cool aftermath of feeling pathetic and depressed,
anxiety ever after
the why me wonderings,
the tendons moving slowly and scarring terribly,
and the inevitable mathematics of figuring
the integration of my changed self back into my life,
that disorienting and alarming reentry into reality
wherein i remember and remember and remember
the moment -
realize it was not the stories of my life, not my loved ones,
not all the most precious happenings of my tenure on earth
that flared like lightening in my brain at the instant of impact,
but rather a version of my expiration,
the secret glimpse of what it feels like to end,
and now knowing, i walk around a marked woman,
scarred permanently, irrevocably with the empty wisdom of the touch of nothingness.



you crawled from out the dirt of mississippi,
inbred with perfectly set curls and impoverished but clean and pressed dresses,
gap-toothed and matte-skin, ever smiling,
had all your war babies,
maria in the soft grass and crisp white dressing gown,
maria ever the focus of your prayers,
the name of the virgin goddess,
maria forever frozen, two years old,
the water sucked out of her by the dust

war planes and war marches,
grandfather perpetually overseas,
crawling again in mud
mud of japan,
mud of europe,
mud of korea,
the blood-splattered flag with bullet holes
plastered in his prayers,
the mind full of holes,
eaten away by the terror of having done what no man should do,

coming back, the mind a mess,
full of smoke
and hatred
the anger broke your china and your finger,
francis in the bathtub,
the others huddled in their nightclothes
and every one of them
leaving leaving leaving you
running away and hating you for staying

then another daughter gone,
her darling d's left behind to have their bodies drilled with holes
there are holes in everyone
holes to fill up and always emptying again like a sieve
you filled your holes with prayer,
saying the rosary and reading your prayerbook all day long
in the easy chair
as you decayed
and his mind's holes leaked faster and faster,
growing bigger gaps between knowledge and memory
he died not knowing anything anymore,
not even the burn of war could singe his sallow skin any longer

you coughed and choked,
holes sinking into your throat
catching your words and skewing them

you died on a sunday, a holy day,
prayer bringing you to peace by drifting you off to sleep
and never waking.
they dug a hole to bury you and filled it up up up with mud,
sprayed it with holy water and singing prayers,
keeping you soft and warm,
moist and no longer dry or draining,
the holes of your heart, at least, finally laid to rest.



the intense painful passion of first love in ultra youth
was replaced by a failure to resolve conflict
and an equally intense method of argument

never wanting to have been a predictable statistic
fighting hard for every breath was necessary
and chewing at the air came naturally

hanging on determinedly
fists clenched around ideals
and never met expectations

dishes piled amidst failures and letdowns
while children circled underfoot
casualties of infinite rays of hope

now squashed by the barrenness of reality-based thinking:
food in bellies and shoes on feet
how to pay this month’s rent with next month’s money

wanting touch to be enough to speak the language of love
aching for deniable truths
and discussion based on real-life needs, understood and appreciated

instead of tilted heads and uneven laughter,
callous unhearing with eyes stuck to televisions
an inability to care the result of abject fear

how do i pay for the sins i’ve committed?
how do i place one foot before the other or breathe the air from out my lungs?
not see your face in all the mirrors, not sense the fingerprints left all over the entirety of my existence?

there are no holes in the scrapbooks
this is the truth of our endeavor:
though the pathways of our lives move in opposite directions, they remain ever and ever intertwined,

we are bound by the youthfulness of our indiscretions
we are tied at the helm of our mutual experiment
we are the parents of our progeny.



poised at cliff’s edge
no adventure to be got
no comfort to be gained
no promise of fortune
no suitcase in hand
no swell of music
no crashing waves
no laughter
no sweetness and starlight
no warm breath
no whispered love
no catch of breath
no burning jealousy or lust or rage

the turned look over the shoulder
reveals only the green of envy
the icy depths are silvery and silent
the flutter is not affection, not anticipation,
only the nervousness of stomach-churning horror
the heart aches with sobs stuck in the throat
all is dark and frigid.
the unknown
ticking clocks, decaying fruit,
the passage of time does not lessen,
but merely intensifies the wide-eyed wait,
filled with fearful blinks
muscles tight as rope,
clenched against bone,
no crescendo
no sudden shift
no end.


sebastian’s scent

munchkin breath,
sugar boot,
my squish,
the smell of you intoxicates me,
i sigh, long for you,
i breathe you in, your hair rising in my nostrils
the plump skin of your cheek
moves forth and back,
ears rising and falling
it does not react to my inhale
your brown eyes stare off
as your fingers twiddle
and legs kick lazily.

you are home as i cannot remember feeling,
my embrace your sacred feeding, weeping, sleeping ground,
soon enough you will outgrow me,
yet i will forever remain open to you,
i will hold you in my lap and breathe you in
when you are twice my size and the weight of you crushes me
when you are a man and have given your heart to someone else
still i will cherish the pheromones seeping from your scalp,
and hope to recognize the bit of you that came from me.


switching sides

baby boy expels the other breast from striped knit v-neck with tiny fat fist
tugs it by its nipple to agape mouth, tongue reaching
fresh milk
for continued sleep, for further dreaming
he flops, rest-deadened limbs hot and heavy across my chest and belly

for three nights straight he pins my left arm so the hand falls to aching numbness
on the third day it does not wake
remains a stranger to objects it touches
like a fellow commuter on the subway,
unknown hips pressed intimately, swaying with the train ride, earphones plugged firmly
never speaking or looking,
my fingers grasp and do not know
the whole of the arm twitches,
trying to shake off the irritation,
tries to wake the radial nerve

on the fourth night i move from the right side
of the bed where i have slept the last eight years,
mostly in rooms where this was furthest from the door,
an odd, unintended feng shui of my marital sheets,
a silent quivering mousy voice that wants the husband to protect me from intruders,
or the voice of my genes that says to last longest, to survive

in the home where this baby was born, the family formed,
the bed angles me closest,
summons my transformation into the mother bear,
putting myself between the nighttime killers and my offspring.

my numb limb forces me to switch sides,
to let the nerve plump again,
forcing the fingers to feel
the husband protects once more from the unseen beyond the door
and my arm straightens to relieve itself

baby boy notices not,
goes on with his constant back and forth dance,
preferring the furthest nipple at all times,
regardless of what it gives

switching sides is his envy of the other,
knowing that it too drops what he desires
his sleepiness craves it, craves me
drinks me in left
and drinks me in right.


in quiet preparation for that i nearly forgot, i sit and stew with half-formed phrases in my brain, nursing the baby to sleep. tomorrow is february. i promised myself that i would try to become a real writer by writing every day, beginning in the second month of the year with poetry. i chose february because it is short, which is something like cheating, except that i also chose it because it is soon, the better to hurry along this notion of becoming a real writer. will i then print these poems out and send them in manila envelopes, like once i did, off to literary magazines? will i try then to become pedestaled by publishing? to be a really real writer? i don't know. i likely won't have the time with all the other things i squeeze into my life like a mad collector, collecting things to do, places to go, people to see. i squeeze in doing yoga with my husband and folding the diapers, sitting on the couch and drinking tea. i write it down in my planner in my to-do list. i refuse to cross things off until they are completely finished, lest i jinx myself, lest i move the universe to move against me in all my optimism. i love to cross things off. today i crossed off two things: updating the photos of my children in the growth section of my website and cleaning out the silverware drawer. insanely and pathetically, i am quite proud of the silverware drawer. it is bizarre that i take to this life so well, despite my shouting and the moments where i'd prefer to throw the nursling across the room than take both breasts out of my shirt so he can suck on one while twiddling the nipple of the other. it is bizarre that i choose such a life. wasn't i born in the seventies? shouldn't i have gathered from my intensely feminist mother (she who showed the slide show of my homebirth at her radical women united meeting) that the last thing any woman ought to be is in servitude to children and men? i have been over this and over this of late, reading the bitch in the house and discussing it online, as well as engaging, or, perhaps more aptly, cornering my husband in discussions over dinner (vegan dinners that he cooked) about just how feminist are we and what exactly does our setup imply politically? i don't know that i've come up with any good answers. it is as messy as our life, this arrangement. it is what it is and we chose it for the reasons we chose it. so i am trying to buck the system further, to follow my dream, to understand everything and spew it all in word, in twenty-eight poems crafted at the dining room table after breakfast, once my children have run from their half-empty bowls of cereal or flax and blueberry toaster waffles off to their toys, returning briefly to me in form and perhaps also in written word, carrying some thing they wish to show me or dragging me off to see the lego construction or demanding both my breasts from out my shirt yet again, and i relating it all onto paper, loving them as i do, extracting meaning from their cries, pulling metaphor from their urging. or maybe i do not. maybe i merely run off with them to the lego starship with its interstellar weaponry or pull my shirt open and lean over my paper awkwardly, ultimately unable to continue with the poem, forced to participate in the subject of my life and work, against or with my ever-changing will. it is terribly terribly difficult, i know from even blogging, to form a thought with all this life going on about me. kai ryssdal speaks like a ken doll in the radio, my husband cooks an amazing south indian kale dish in the kitchen, and sebastian shouts at me from over his beans and rice beside me. i can't even begin to hold the thought that started this all. this is my life and this is what i write.


i am having a lengthy discussion in a yahoo crunchy mama book group about relationships. it has been illuminating and useful to me to examine what it is we do in my relationship with my husband, how we operate, the ways in which we negotiate our life and our responsibilities. i don't often speak of it here. i'm not sure that i ever really have. we are dedicated to ending oppression globally. we seek with our choices and our actions to do so. we want to fight it, we want to educate and discuss and discover. in so doing, we must first always examine ourselves and our relationship. we are in a very traditional arrangement. we married one another with all the hidden-meaning accroutements of western weddings: the white dress, the bouquet, my father walking me down the aisle (though not giving me away), feeding one another cake - all that crap. i'll never know what possessed me, what compelled me to do it. actually, i suppose i do know. it was this world, it was its magazines and its television shows, its martha fucking stewart. i was compelled by being raised here, by bearing witness and by internalizing all those messages to which i was exposed from birth. my mother had a white wedding and i'll never know what compelled her to do it to be certain (unless of course i ask). it makes no sense to me that she would make that choice when so many of her peers did not. she was radicalized in so many ways, and yet they made this entirely traditional choice. she and my step-father were likely pressured by their parents and he probably wanted to, though knowing him i doubt he considered exactly why. and here we find ourselves, years after that initial decision to stay in line with our culture, yet again in total keeping with the arrangements of the patriarchy. i know what compelled these decisions and they are decidedly not in keeping with the patriarchy. i stayed home with my children firstly because i couldn't afford not to (okay, so that's not very radical at all), but secondly because i made choices to do things that had been stripped from women by the patriarchy - the ability to nourish children with my body, the ability to give birth free of chains, the ability to make decisions for my children free of the demands of patriarchy-appointed experts, to teach my children free of patriarchy-established institutions, to self-govern, to have autonomy, to be a (gasp!) self-possessed woman and to pass self-possession on to my children. so how we got here was not what it looks like, exactly. we are trying, hard as we might, to follow our dreams and to support one another in so doing. i have been helping my husband to become a professor of history since first we met eight-and-a-half years ago. in turn, he has been helping me to figure out what it is i want to do with myself, which of course always comes back to this, to writing. in that time, i did many things i didn't necessarily want to do, but would have had to do whether he was in school or not. perhaps he doesn't always acknowledge that. perhaps his ignoring this feature has to do with his indoctrination by the patriarchy, or maybe it's just a feature of being decidedly human, of being caught up in what he is doing. maybe it's both. maybe we could do better to insure that our attitudes towards one another were free from the indoctrinations we received from society since birth. maybe instead of me sitting here, typing furiously as our children destroy things around me, considering this fact of life, this matter of our attitudes towards one another being in keeping with our feminist and leftist philosophies or not, perhaps it should be he thinking these thoughts, wondering and considering and trying to figure what better approaches we might take. and i go over it and over it in my head - when i come home at night from one of my meetings when he has been caring for our children who are decidedly insane and capable of such stunning destruction as to inspire us to change our leftist thoughts on matters like the death penalty, is his grumpiness towards me justified because he is human and the children are so difficult or is it not because he has been inculcated by a lifetime of sexist bigotry and is not at this time acknowledging and confronting it as perhaps i think he should, especially when one considers his profession, how he spends his time ruminating on historical matters from that leftist pedestal, giving weight to the people that formed societies and economies on their backs against those whose biographies are instead credited for shaping that history, those societies, those economies, those "great men" who we consider in those patriarchy-appointed classrooms that i keep our children from so determinedly? is he right or is he wrong? what more could he be doing to fight the dogma with which he was raised? what more could i be doing to encourage re-thinking it all? we are generally very open with one another, certainly me more so than he given my tendency toward talking rapidly and excessively, much like my typing, though he is open and honest. i am sure all it would take is a conversation about the matter in a kind, non-confrontational manner. but then, with children who destroy and all the things that we constantly have to do and deal with - the doctors appointments (four this week alone), the meetings (four this week as well), the work, the dissertation, the boy reunion, the environmental history conference, the co-op newsletter, the blizzard, the twice-daily yoga, aleks' rash, bastian's cold, selling books on amazon, as well as the typical and ongoing cleaning, cooking, laundry, grocerying, diapering, bathing, dressing, wiping, scrubbing insanity - when do we have time for a conversation about whether or not our attitudes are a result of dogmatic upbringing in a bigoted society? it would need to be such a lengthy conversation too in order to give it the proper time and to allow jon the space to contemplate the possibilities. it could go on for months. it could likely go on forever and it would be one of those things, like yoga, where we constantly evaluate and self-correct. it would be a practice, one which we are already involved in, of course, but which requires occasional emotional revelation (the result of constant self-reflection) and dedication to perpetual exploration and archeology of meanings and ritualized compulsions. at this moment, with my living room covered behind me in all the contents of the giant drawers beside me (envelopes, diapers, a keyboard, printer paper, a box of tissues torn asunder, dvds, stationary, a blank book, varied four-year-old scrawlings), the energy required to explore feminist theory with my husband feels a bit overwhelming.