Serenity (of The Smug)


(google image)

Serenity of The Smug

the breezy manner

that accompanies

Good Fortune

The knowing smile,

shared,

that says, “We have it all.”

(and you don’t.)

Untouchable

No surprises

Dark deeds

easily erased

Oh, it’s good to be us.

Such security

of the mind

Protection

of the body

Absence

of heart

We don’t abide

The have-nots

It’s their fault, anyway.

They didn’t work hard

enough

They are lazy

They don’t come from

good stock

We deserve everything

we have

God has smiled upon us

We are blessed

And you are f**ked

 

Shadow Self


(google image)

It’s all the bright I cannot see

when it’s right in front of me

Shadow Self

Bursts of light make it through

in spite of themselves

like a fragile shoot birthing through

the crack of a New York City sidewalk

The will to live

Remains

only altered, and strange

beautiful in a different way

Shadow Self

Survived Christmas

(google image)

No Christmas movies on TV this year
Caught “Bad Santa” on Netflix, though.
Enforced jubilation wears on the soul
inside I’m screaming, “No more!”

Wish I had a new brain
free of the pain
no trauma
to re-live
helpless, out of control

I sincerely wish you all “Merry Christmas”
and  a “Happy New Year”
though I can’t wait for it
to go

Don’t expect me to smile
though I know how to laugh
Surviving the Ghosts of Christmas
Present and Past

 

 

I Carry His Heart

Halloween was Lorin’s favorite holiday. He loved getting dressed up and greeting the neighborhood kids.

If Halloween fell on a weekend, we would get more inventive with our costumes since we weren’t getting home late from work.

On one such Halloween, Lorin dressed up as a hillbilly zombie or was it a “redneck” zombie? He was excellent with makeup from his years studying and working in the theater. He wore a torn flannel shirt, suspenders, old pants, hiking boots and carried a mixing bowl with blood (red food dye colored water) and eyeballs (fake, of course). He stirred the bowl with a wooden spoon while sitting on the stoop. He scared some kids, but one actually asked for an eyeball, much to his mother’s chagrin.

I dressed up as the “joker’s wife” (Heath Ledger’s Joker) in a housedress, torn knee-high stockings, big slippers, matted hair in a hairnet with rubber spiders in it, and white face paint with a jagged red smile.

We were quite the pair.

A neighbor took a photo of us, but I can’t find it.

I will miss Lorin at Halloween, as I do every holiday, and every day.

This poem is dedicated to him. I almost had my best friend read it at his memorial service, but I changed my mind. I would have preferred to have read it myself, but I wasn’t fit to do so.

i carry your heart with me
(by e.e. cummings)
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Zombie-Voodoo Dream


(google image, Night of the Living Dead, 1968)

A shadowy figure
coal dust-covered zombie in rags
followed me everywhere
reaching out his rotting finger
trying to touch me

I went into a hotel
telling them he would not leave me alone,
not to let him in
He got in anyway
I said, “What do you want from me?”
making a cross with two fingers in front of my face
as if that would ward him away

He didn’t speak

“I curse you,” I said.

I know he was trying to curse me

I woke up,  ready to do battle
with the zombie voodoo brigade

 

Powder

(google image)

Earth, moist from an earlier rainfall
impression of a body on the ground
where he lay

powder pink blanket with blue stripes
like a baby’s blanket
too short for an adult

I wanted to keep it
but it was taken from me
like everything else
that day

ground into dust

I am powder
no longer whole
only particles of myself
remain

I don’t recognize who I am

 

Let Me Breathe

(google image)

Pulling myself out of the earth
grasping at crumbling bits of clay
choking on each bit as it slips
through my fingers and
into my mouth

Let me breathe

two steps forward
three steps back

Let me breathe

Your opinions are not welcome
a listening ear will do

Have you been living in the dirt
with me?
have you seen your husband die
alongside I-95?
then shut up
and let me be

Let me breathe

 

 

I Am the Widow

(google image)

I am the thing that keeps you up at night
I am the thing that makes me sick
I am the elephant in the room

I am the widow not wearing black
I am the hands tied behind my back

Certain things are expected of me
I try to keep up appearances

the world is watching
ever watching

I am the one who dirties your dreams
I am the guilty Sophie’s Choice survivor
I didn’t ask to live
Who chose me?

I am the one you can pity
and despise
for not being who you want me to be
I am angry, angry, angry
wanting to tear off my own skin

I am not the Merry Widow
I am not the ever-mourning one either

I am not made of wax
but I burn

I want you to understand
but I don’t think you can

Rage at the Machine

(google image)

No one to blame
so let’s blame the machine
the machine that drove us to his death
the black Ford Explorer with champagne trim,
like Stephen King’s Christine

or we can blame lack of sleep
we both fell asleep–
not a Viking death
as Lorin had hoped for

death be not proud*

I am not proud

I am deeply depressed

I want to get over it
but I can’t seem to
so I’m trying to get through it
every day

but the days are long
and they don’t make sense

Let’s blame the machine,
the inanimate object,
not the humans who
controlled it
and lost control of it

the lives lost
the heartbreak

blame the machine

 

 

*Death, be not proud (John Donne)

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

 

Can’t Cook

oreos

(Nancy Rodrigo)

The oreos were screaming at me
from the aisle at Publix
Your favorite cookies
I kept seeing them
around every corner
as if they were the ghost
of you

Knowing I will never
cook for you again
is sometimes too much
you thanked me for every meal
even a frozen dinner

I can’t cook
for one
food doesn’t taste good

Can’t eat
what I used to
or buy the foods
you liked

Why don’t you appear
in the aisle
why don’t you
visit me
I hear stories of other deceased spouses
visiting their wives
Why not me?

I hear you in the chimes
on the back porch
in the TV that went on
in the hotel room
in the middle of the night
in the traffic, sometimes
I was never good at directions

I don’t even have an old
voicemail message
to listen to
we preferred to text

so much silence
so much left unsaid

I can’t cook, and
I don’t want to

 

*Artwork by Nancy Rodrigo.

New York-born artist Nancy Rodrigo uses her life experiences as a medium. “The media and content have changed and evolve to reflect my experiences. I see art as a means of expression and a therapeutic process.” She began her art career in 1981 under the name Nancy Weinstock, exhibiting in the East Village, Soho, Chelsea and Brooklyn. Her recent work of rich, colorful biomorphic paintings‒with vaginal imagery‒influenced by the Feminist Art Movement, including initiators Judy Chicago, Nancy Spero and Miriam Schapiro. In the 90’s she  did a series of works on canvas and mixed media constructions, the “Collective Memory Series.” These intricate pieces are constructed from found objects, organic and synthetic materials, paints and old photographs. Another project she is working on is the “Subway Series” hundreds of pen and ink portraits of people riding the NYC subways, all done without the rider’s knowledge and capturing most of the portrait in under 10 minutes.  This project has been a love letter to my city and her amazing people. Rodrigo’s work is diverse, expressive, and she is very prolific.