Ashes


my hands smell like cigars
and the cigar box smells like you
your fake Rolex has some tarnish
it’s charred hands no longer move
my lungs are full of tar
and white smoke fills the room

my hands smell like cigars
and the cigar box smells like you
your silver zippo lost its polish
as your fingers searched for truth
the photos all wear fake smiles
and the eyes are empty rooms

my hands smell like cigars
and the cigar box smells like you
my letter sits in folds
words unspoken split in two
my lungs are full of tar
and white smoke fills the room 

you slipped through my fingers
like the smoke that filled the room
my hands smell like cigars
and the cigar box smells like you
these memories are ashes 
and this cigar box is a tomb

-image via Pinterest

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True Joy

there’d been happy times,
even blissful moments in her life,
but when she held her baby in her arms that first time,
she felt color blossom and rise through her,
up from somewhere inside she hadn’t known existed

she felt the soft heat of true joy

*Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

I Am From

I am from Vick and Mussdog, Angela and Michael,
where kindness is valued and everyone is equal.
From coffee breath to trucker burps,
and ear rubs to fire farts,
my family is close-knit.

I am from a distant neighborhood,
where dogs are barking and trees are flowing.
From floral-smelling streets to haunted houses,
and motorcycles roaring to flower petals flying,
my neighborhood is lively.

I am from a traveling family,
where the sounds and sights of nature are like gold.
From birds chirping to waves crashing,
and flowers blooming to gravel crunching,
my visits are breathtaking.

I am from a food loving family,
where we make many inherited recipes.
From the smell of sauce to the taste of meatballs,
and the family bonding to the crackling of grease,
my meals are mouthwatering.

I am from a fortunate home,
where I am happy and healthy.
From family to friends,
and traveling to meals,
my life is a blessing.

-A poem written by my 13 year old daughter and shared with her permission.

Mirror Image

Tucked tightly beneath her chin, her favorite blanket created a cocoon around her as she lay quietly on the couch, everyone else going about their business around her. Sitting on the floor in front of the tv, her two younger half-sisters bickered over who should have control of the remote. Her mother worked in the kitchen, cleaning up from a dinner she hadn’t been able to eat.

More than anything, she wished she was invisible right now, and yet, she couldn’t make herself be alone with her thoughts. 

No matter how hard she tried to divert her attention from the hurt, she could not. It bubbled and boiled beneath her skin. It was sludge, heavy through her veins and a pulsing pressure behind her eyes, threatening release. It sat like a boulder on her chest, making it impossible to breathe deeply. She was afraid if she tried, she might burst.

She didn’t know what to do. How to feel. How to move. Her feelings were so huge and twisted, it seemed as if she’d never escape them. She had no idea how to go about a day without the weight of it pulling every thought to the pit of her stomach, into the darkness.

I wish I didn’t feel anything at all.

She’d hurt her boyfriend, Doug, and she felt terrible. Worse than terrible. It was revolting. But it was even bigger than the immediate hurt; it was much deeper than that.

She’d done something really stupid, sleeping with that other guy, and the guilt had forced her to tell Doug the truth. Well, mostly. The ugliness and shame had kept her from telling him the whole story. And the fear.

She tried really hard not to think about the whole story, because when she did, the loathing was so intense she could taste it’s metallic tang and smell it’s charred blackness. The fear would burn and churn in her stomach until she could feel the sting of bile in the back of her throat. The worst part was, it wasn’t even the first time. She’d done it before and let the guilt liquefy her insides all this time.

I’m just like her. 

It was her biggest fear. She could not let herself be just like her mother.

Her mother had been married five times already, and the sixth would no doubt be soon. They’d moved in and out, and in and out. All of them were men who were not worthy of her mother’s love, none who treated her mother with respect. Men who took. Who hurt. And it seemed as if her mother searched for carbon copies, over and over, leaving the good ones in her wake. She cheated on every one, and always seemed to be looking for a plan B. And it often felt like she and her sisters were just along for the ride, and the ride had no breaks.

How on earth will I ever be able to outrun that? Look what I’ve already done, and I’m only 17.

It took her by complete surprise when her mother knelt down next to the couch and stroked her hair. It was uncharacteristic; she was not cold, but she was also not really a huggy-touchy type. Vulnerability wasn’t in her wheelhouse.

“Are you going to be okay,” her mother asked, making eye contact.

“I don’t want to end up like you,” she replied, through quivering lips and involuntary tears while maintaining eye contact, the hurt ans fear vibrating softly in each word. She couldn’t believe she’d said it aloud, but it had been sitting right there, on the tip of her tongue, for so very long. And maybe, just maybe, her mother might understand. Maybe she could help. Maybe it would help.

But, no other words passed between them. No words were needed; her mother’s eyes had replied.

Hiding tears of her own, her mother stood and walked away.

-image credit studiojoslizen, found via Pinterest; edited older post

My Child

my child,
here you are

some will tell you your whole life is ahead of you,
they’ll draw you a map and tell you how to best reach that life,
and that may very well help lead you to some kind of fulfillment

but I won’t say those things to you –
your whole life is right now,
it’s in every moment you grasp with both hands and hold close,
it’s in every interaction,
every thought, both light and dark,
in every turbulent feeling

I won’t say those things to you,
because I’ve been gifted with all the best moments,
with witnessing you grow,
and watching you blossom,
while I grasped those moments to forever hold them close

I won’t say those things to you,
my child –
I see you grasping moments,
and I trust in YOU

I know you’ll find your own way

-image via Pixabay

Take It or Leave It

don’t be angry;
I haven’t become someone else
in front of your eyes

the problem is,
you don’t want this to be me –
you have always had some idea of me
that doesn’t exist,
some set of expectations I can’t possibly
live up to

you have constructed some ideal based
on something inside you,
and you have seen what you have
wanted to see –
you have refused to see my truth

but it’s been so very exhausting,
and not very fair to have to pretend
all the time

you don’t know me,
but I’ve been right here,
all along

here I am –
take it or leave it

-image via Pinterest, original source unknown

Summer

This is my first summer off since I began working 30 years ago. For 10 years, I worked long hours in the juvenile corrections field, which was so very rewarding, but also soul twisting. The last 14 years, I've worked 50-60 hour weeks with no sick or personal time, and until 2 years ago, I took only one short vacation each of those years. My soul is exhausted and in need of revitalization. 

For the summer, I am working 1 day a week, and the other days I do have many family responsibilities, but I also have free time that I've never had before. It feels so good.

As much as I'd love to use much of the free time to read and write, my heart is telling me I need to use it differently. My children are growing fast, and sooner than I'd like, they'll be gone. My husband enjoys outdoor activities and loves nothing more than for me to accompany him. The house we've loved and lived within for 20 years is being remodeled, amidst the process of becoming in unison with those who inhabit it, and my elbow grease is contributing.

My heart is telling me my home needs some love, both figuratively and literally. This summer, my heart and spirit are leading me home, and it is breathing in me new life. 

I will only be here sporadically, but I'll carry your words in my heart. Have an amazing summer, all! 

Angela

*image via Pixabay

Words Are Not Enough

how does one thank someone 
who puts our needs above his own,
who blankets us in support
picking up the slack while we grow?

how does one thank someone
who cradled my babies in his arms,
and always in his heart
as they face the risk of harm?

how does one thank someone
who leads with love and logic, too,
checking ego at the door 
while we evolve, always anew?

how does one thank the husband
who inspires us all everyday,
the father of my children, 
the epitome of love in every way?

a few spoken words could never be enough
to express what my heart has to say,
so I’ll keep showing my love and gratitude,
for this amazing man, every day

-image via Pixabay

Never End


she sat on the couch, 
the smell of freshly popped popcorn laced with a faint whisper of strawberry shampoo filling the air around her, 
as her youngest daughter folded herself into her,
arms wrapping years around her small frame,
holding them in

she glanced from one side to the other,
catching her oldest daughter in a throw-your-head-back giggle,
and her husband with his face all smile and eyes bright with joy

and just like that,
she felt them all blow through her chest, 
simultaneously filling her to all her edges,
and turning her to dust 

God, she was happy,
happier than she’d ever been

and she never wanted it to end

-stock image via Pinterest