Domesticated Abuse

 

kansas became a state january 29th, 1861.
i was raised partially on
celebrating re-runs of the Wizard of Oz,
quietly whispering song of being lost
somewhere
over rainbows,
trudging through the tedious task
of construction: foundation of concrete and constant conflict;
mother was nomadic, not with gypsy blood
father had deep roots, none had ever dug that deep, stubborn
for survival’s sake,

early childhood lessons in tough love.

we watched yellow brick roads become walls
housing our counted sorrows on
a television set, centered between twin windows
blinking like eyes that squinted through the early morning sun.
we’d begin our mornings with great expectations,
returning with pockets of lint and disappointment

in our house made entirely of echoes everything was always displaced,
water rings sat on night stands, stains from sleepless weeks
insomniacs hammered peep holes in farmhouse wall paper,
showcasing everything but naked ladies dancing,
that’s what 80’s horror flicks were for, misogyny was reel
and real was the fear that filtered
my walks
from the bedroom to the bathroom
during late night rituals.

mother kept tall tales on dusty shelves, thick spines
of stories softly read to a tribe of children they’d learned to love hating;
raised on splitting atoms and siren songs,

reminding me women can also love with hard kisses and furious rage
consuming, father wore his anger like medals of honor,
heavy on his chest. if the flies on the walls of our house of echoes
could scream they would tell you everything.
those years
slipped through rotten floorboards,
mixed by tiny fingertips into mud pies
pushed back into earth, pressed into plots
spots deep under our feet, watered seed
sprouts to feed future
need-our house of echoes will always be rebuilt
over and over again,
passed on to
future generations
like heirlooms.

Capital Hill briefing on Violence Against Women Act in Indian Country

IN the link above you will find current information regarding the Violence Against Women Act, and resources for Indigenous Women in Indian Country.

 

 

When You Were Raped

State fair summer rape memories, rushing in, uninvited-you were fresh
nothing more than thirteen, your tear ducts burn and fizzle with heat

remembering little more but the button
on your denim jeans digging into the skin on your lower belly.

Carousel wheel teetered at the top, kettle corn
warm on your breath, curling fingers around iron lap bar.

Later there will be gravel cutting into your knees,
someday you will be able to sit with your mother

over early morning coffee, black with no cream,
correcting her on pieces of your own memories.

They dangle from your hippocampus, from places you can’t see
drip dropping down, the moon hung high in the sky, starless black.

remembrance; like murky winter wash breaking dam gates, floods, drowning
your tiny seahorse with busted lip, bent backbone, fractured rib

wicked hands, clumsily stealing, they pull you back
to a carousel wheel teetering at the tip top.

You are always engulfed in partial pasts, teetering
at the tip top, teetering on the brink, balancing on the ledge, falling of the edge.

I wrote this poem for myself, it’s been over 20 years and I’m just now coming to terms with the way my rape was handled; by an officer, a school, a community.

Here are some statistics and research, at a glance, along with quick facts. It takes a collective, not just one voice, it takes all of us. We’re allies. Let’s stop the violence. It’s not just the rape, it’s how everything after is handled, forever. It’s the flood of self-doubt that lingers after weeks, months, years, decades, and feeling as though you might never be lovable…at least that’s what it’s been for me. I think we can all change this, together.

CDC Sexual Violence Data Sources.

Ugly

 

Hold This For Me, Please

life

“Never pack more than you can carry on your own.” My grandmother’s words of wisdom became my mother’s words of wisdom, have become the ringing in my ears. At the tail end of July I packed a 10ft moving truck with only part of the contents of my former Illinois residence and spent twenty-four hours driving to the East Coast. As I was packing boxes, sorting books, folding clothes, trashing my collections of horded junk I realized that I’ve packed more than I can carry on my own. I’ve crammed my heart with regrets, unlived moments, accidental confessions of love, stale rejection, and my head has been full of foggy memories, unresolved issues from the past, and so many What Ifs that there’s barely room for any more life.

There have been times where I’ve ignored that, taken it too literally, or not had a firm grasp and understanding of what, “never pack more than you can carry on your own” truly means. At thirty-six, single mother, with two kids, full-time student and part-time mental health professional I almost understand why this is an important life lesson.

The ritual of disposing of unwanted life contents is something so commonly practiced, yet rarely thought of, at least that’s my personal observation. I began noticing this more when I packed my bags for travel, when I worked with youth in foster care it became more prevalent and something that sat at the forefront of my mind. The treasures we carry and the meanings they hold for us, such personal emotions attached to what we allow to linger in our space, what we surround ourselves with, the symbolic significance and how that shapes what we believe of the world and how we fit in it. Some people have healthy attachments to tangible items in our consumer world, and others connect to inanimate objects, cultures collide, worlds merge, we become…less or more human. We’re gifted precious objects, we adorn ourselves with symbols of romantic ownership (rings) and other jewels, cover our bodies in ink, link ourselves to property that ultimately, we cannot take with us when we leave. After my eldest sister’s unexpected and untimely passing from this world I became ever again, more aware of what we carry…

Out of respect for her, and my family I won’t share the experiences of disconnecting her from this physical space, but I can share my personal experience with my maternal grandmother’s passing. I’m sure that you can think of a loved one who has passed and reflect on what happened with their worldly possessions, perhaps you yourself were in line to inherit something that’d belonged to them, that had traveled through the branches of your family tree for generations, maybe even a small trinket that was part of an inside joke or held personal meaning for the two of you. Maybe you’ve been heartbroken by a soulmate, perhaps you’ve held on to their personal affects, a child’s milestones, your own evidence of history, the accomplishments you’ve made, at some point we separate with all of these possessions, with what we can carry on your own. What we obtain can accumulate to be what we carry with the families we build ourselves, some choose to soar solo, and some go through this life leaving no imprint, they follow the spelunkers rules; take only photos, leave only footprints, and kill only time. I personally would like to move more towards this way of life, becoming more of a minimalist. But what will that mean for what I carry with me? Will it be easier for others to forget me when I’m gone? Will I be of less value because I have fewer possessions?

I felt owned by too much while I was packing, maybe I’m just realizing I still have some commitment issues, but I found I had so many things I didn’t need. Most of what I packed were my kids items, family heirlooms, and books. I donated clothes and things we’ve outgrown to churches, community programs who help those in need, and threw away very little. I don’t want to consume junk and trash in this life. I want to consume the things I can take with me anywhere and everywhere I go, or things that I can pass on to someone who is willing to take a piece of me with them. Sorting and ridding myself of “stuff” offered the opportunity to perform a midlife review, at which time I was able to reflect on who I was, who I am, and who I’m becoming. In looking at the things that own me I was able to see some foundation of the little girl who was born in 1979, on a stormy autumn day in the Midwest. I have found I value art, human history, relationships, love, I have collections of oddities, I like shoes (*insert love struck emoji*), and adore family, nature and milestones are of value. I found memories that it was okay to let go of, finally. I had boxes packed, which allowed me to reflect on the fact that last few years were not permanent and it was only a moment in time, a transition of what would come. Which is where I am now.

I feel that unloading some of what I’ve been carrying all this time is allowing me the opportunity to live new life. And what I’ve chosen to hold on to is hope, family, love, healing and faith that what life comes along next, I will have the wisdom and strength to know what I can carry, on my own.

 

 

“Go For A Drive” They Said

admiring the delta along the eastern shore is mandatory,
just as mastering the art of acceptance, none more than
the acceptance of loss: loss of love isn’t as bone breaking

as the loss of self, you were there….now you’re gone.

your sternum has been cuddling your heavy heart,
your ribs bend closer to your core, warm and full of
marrow, full of life, you’re so full of life…and loss.

a library of flowers open at your shins,
the shins that are bruised
your legs are still covered in mosquito bites,
areas too tender to shave-
there is no excuse for your armpits,
you’ve just felt lazy, felt empty
a contradiction, an unsolved riddle
petals press against your skin like pages,
begging to be read, endangered languages
speak in pastels and flowering fragrances,
the sun drips down, soft and slow like honey
to an unforgiving shore line, the color of candied pecans
fingers make way to pocket, car keys make way to ignition

lights flicker on your dash; mental note to check fuses
fuses consist of elements, cross sections compare themselves
to circuit conductors, electrical terminals…your mind is mistaking

anatomically correct hearts to fuses in a car,
two things you know nothing about
the bruise on your shin aches, the bites
on your legs itch, the void in your chest
expands, shrinks, expands, shrinks, expands

some days it’s just so hard to breathe.

Below is my playlist for today’s drive:

Matches to Paperdolls

Wolf Sister

Cynic

Mute

Burn Fetish

Tree of Knowledge

Cross Countries

Optimist

We Begin

…longer list exists, here’s a few songs and artists I recommend. sometimes it’s hard to listen to music. today was one of those days. I’m kind of broken right now. Lame, I know.

Untying Woman

woman defined by creature with two legs,
woman constructed by images on screen becomes:
woman defined…

woman defined by the man she keeps
woman defined by maintained silence, this is dignity
woman defined by cum stuck to sticky sheets
woman defined by fairytale fantasy versus tragedy
exhausted frame, filled in with shadow and light
reflecting off of curves and thigh gaps
androcentric grid, belly and breasts
mirror images of western society farm lands,

woman defined as a lie; a fruit fly lands
on a tree of knowledge, the defiant one
who swapped secrets with serpents, cringes
even as a piece of the past she understands
what is to come, she sings songs;
leads the man with the cracked rib
astray, and to this day

woman defined by association of political party
woman defined by trust issues, fashion icon strong
woman defined by cup size, how much woman are you?
woman defined by owning a womb, happily ever-after
constructed by a series of stereotypes; soft hues
symbolize virtue, alluring eyes to pull and push
escapism, lust from arm’s length, hips with no waist
enticing, this is inviting, woman defined by skin tone

woman defined as sinner turned saint; matron
to the monarchy, crochets verses to republican
motherhood life vests, bulletproof ideas to shape
the kids, raises shame and guilt while she breasts
feeds in shadows, woman as luxury; redefines
what that means: love becomes burden, conditional
a chore, unless woman is of course, defined as whore

woman defined by how many times she says no
woman defined by how far she’ll go after she says no
woman defined by the skin show, defined by a hashtag:
arched back challenge; survivor of violent storms
that’ve ravaged the ribcage, sternum’s backside contains
a bone breaking beat, keeps up with being a survivor of defeat
over thinker extraordinaire, grows long hair
to hide the feelings crafted by the woman defined

woman defined by cliff notes,
woman cannot be defined, other than
a creature with two legs
woman constructed to be defined
slowly becomes the woman we’re untying.

Island

turquoise broke across the doorstep, over forest moss
rusted hinges cringe, but give, heavy to your touch
-everything is so heavy

experience is human,
what we wouldn’t give to change our minds
decades too late for such bone density, yellow marrow
rich with vibrancy; vivid memory
mama pushing beef bone between little brother’s lips

glass beads spread over stairs,
spilled down each one, like song bird’s song
you barely heard the tune, your clavicle
held them, so heavy
everything is so heavy

rust matches the copper threads in her eyes,
mirrored movements, imitation is flattery
you tire of this, to be sister is heavy,
everything is heavier, now that you’re home

among family, among wolves was light;
light on your feet, it was sound as movement
song birds fell silent in brittle night, unforgiving is nature
breaking open sky to see twinkling eyes
constellations full of stories; of seven sisters

turquoise touched horizon, a lightheartedness tugged
at the hem of your skirt, ribbon work flowers
hand-me-down silver, stretched and beaten around turquoise
scattered at your feet, copper threads woven through sap colored iris
you’re heavy, so heavy right now

your silence speaks volumes, you’re
stepping into autumn light, it’s coming
you close your eyes, listening for familiarity
nothing…you bend at waist

scooping what’s left, tucking short hair behind ear
grown weary of explaining your mourning,
song birds rise with a dewy dawn,

one leaf falls
rests at your soles, in a lake of turquoise beads
between silver boats-it looks like an island.

The recording of “Island” being read by Sarah Perrote.

The Gifts We Give Those We Love

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

-Mary Oliver

Sometimes a bone crushing heartbreak, other times a soft throbbing pain triggered by scent, sound, soft light in the morning, or the brittle darkness of night. Some heartache you learn to live with, it shapes you into a new, bitter version of what childish fantasy of humanity once lived in the vessel your spirit has borrowed, other heartache destroys you. It shakes you to your core, a great fear of experience and future take up residence in the broke down palace that lives between your ribs. It turns you against yourself, every moment is your enemy, and you are dead to the possibility of happiness, too far gone to see we are intertwined with a forever that’s full of bittersweet. We were designed to survive all of this, and more.  We tend to believe those few heroic persons who love, unconditionally, who some label “stoics”, who turn the other cheek and fill the void with pure light to swallow the darkness are weak, they’re stupid and beneath us. But are they? Is it stupid and weak to realize this is all temporary? That we will all be let go of? That these moments and movements through one another’s lives are brief stops along forever? Is it weak to love regardless of the inevitable loss? To break the cycle of bitter, of jaded, of rough around the edges? To be a common cynic? Either road you choose to travel,  you linger in a grey area, with static, white noise, even breaths between heavy sighs, and replay every moment that existed before the fall from a graceful life, a hopeful love. Some stay longer than others, some loss becomes life events instead of brief moments, we make these decisions to be, or not to be. Some take roads less traveled, some wallow by the open sea-I do it all. But as they say, “time is of the essence”, or whatever.

Time passes and you reinvent yourself, you become. We can leave it at that, if you’re alive and you can read you’ll understand this thing, this “becoming”…perhaps it’s fair to say that everyone I have ever loved has given me a box full of darkness, maybe it’s appropriate to point out that I’ve become a box full of threads of light, of darkness and twinkling stars. We create great expectations and crash when we’re let down. We, collectively, exist in a harsh reality, with brief moments of breathtaking happiness, the struggle is hella real. Hella real. Some of us build walls, break open gift boxes to those we love, in a horrid attempt at self-preservation; we know the inevitable let down is coming, it’s there, everyone will break you, if you allow yourself to be vulnerable….

But what if you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable? What are the options? To become jaded, rough around soft edges, a thing made of sharp corners, metal against metal, inhuman, a harsh light, a screen made of a multitude of personalities? That’s so lonely, that’s giving into your fears, that’s perpetuating the cycle, that’s what got us where we are now, as a whole humanity.

We created the idea that love is weak, and maybe it is…I don’t want to wait for years to see that the box full of darkness is a gift. So I won’t.

I’ve survived love, and the heartbreak that comes with it. I’ll always have my pockets full of grand expectations, sometimes I’ll wear a sad smile, but I would like to be a victim to the full human experience for as long as my spirit inhabits this borrowed vessel. And to all of those I’ve loved, who’ve gifted me a box full of darkness, thank you. Sincerely and from the bottom of my sweet, sometimes tired and misunderstood heart, thank you.

How alive we get out of this place really truly depends on our ability to become something bigger than the sound of a heartbreaking, probably…