NaPoWriMo: The Birth of Your Art



Lady Cathy Gritter took me into her church

near her garden door that led only outward.

It had nine panes of stained glass

that guarded the treasures within the hall.

On the pristine white shelves

is where she stored centuries of art,

a sacramental archive of holiness.

I’d enter her church through the side door

withering looks from her husband William

glared resentment at my childish intrusion

I scooted sinfully through to gaze with adoration

at the hallowed scriptures

blessed gospels of

van Gogh, Picasso, de Vinci, Kahlo

offering sermons of:

Sunflowers, Girl Before a Mirror, Mona Lisa, and Weeping Coconuts.

I was allowed to peer into the eyes of holy angels

upon my confessional return of each holy grail.



It’s goodbye again

Purvi Patil; Woman sacrificed.

Purvi Patel; Woman sacrificed.

Put away the American Flag.

Set it down as it waves goodbye.

Do not worry about Democracy, Justice, or Equality,

we let those die a long time ago.

We buried them next to common sense and reason

under the false gods of profit/prophet;

the golden calf of a jesus

(not to be confused with the son of God)

that they gave up believing in because we asked with $$$.

We put God on money so we’d worship worthless paper

the most beautiful angel aka the devil

without realizing

we have already surrendered

to the greatest liar that ever lived.

We keep giving him CPR while claiming compassion.

We keep denying love,

embracing our things

our material things

that don’t keep us warm at night

that don’t ease our loneliness

things that destroy our hope in humanity

one sound byte at a time.

We’ve stripped the women down to bare bones

Shaming their bloody thighs,

Forcing guilt and hate on their skinny/fat/average/stunning

Holy vessels that bear immortality

While denying the necessity

Claiming their bodies as our own

without their consent or with.

It didn’t and doesn’t matter.

If you have little melanin and a dangling bit of flesh

between your legs,

“Welcome, my brother!

Here’s the buffet of aborted dreams,

chastised subservient minimum wage workers,

incarcerated doctors, lawyers, and physicists caught up

on a planted charge of illegal drugs

that wouldn’t be illegal if we could find a way to tax them.

While we watch from 250k houses at their 25 million dollar complexes

The destruction of the burning world

The loss of brown skinned people stacked like firewood

Into tiny cells of persecution

With our personal shame and guilt their oppression.

We’ll pat each others backs while drinking fine whiskeys

Made by child labor in some off-shore company of who gives a shit

Smoke cigars lit with extinct herbs from some country called never-mind.

We’ll prop up our feet on elephant skin sofas

Kick our pristine boots free of hard labor

Grin and congratulate ourselves on a job well done.

Put away the American Flag.

Set it down as it waves goodbye.

George gets burned

My young neighbors, George and Gracie. I love them.

My young neighbors, George and Gracie. I love them.

I stepped out my front door into the spring weather with the bite of winter nipping my skin, still hanging on to hope that it will last. George sat shoulder slumped on the concrete wall. He lifted his feet as Pumpkin the ever terrorizing Chihuahua let him know in no uncertain terms what she thought about his morose. As I tugged the yapping pup along beside the tubby pup, George hollered at me, “Mayor? I think I need one of those hugs when you put the dogs back inside.”

I nodded and smiled apologetically as Pumpkin continued her tirade against the world, Piggy chugging along beside her. Duties all done and accounted for, I placed the still overly verbose Pumpkin inside calling for the older canine to come. After a deep breath for some muffling on the shrill bark, I opened my arms and George ran around to accept the hug.

“What pain is on your brain?” I inquired as he broke the hug and dribbled to the ground in his pajama pants.

“We’re going to have to move again.” He explained. “It’ll be cool and all because we’ll have a pond, but I really wish we could stay this time.”

“Why do you have to go?” I asked. “I’m going to really miss you.”

“We can’t pay the rent any more.” He said like it was a litany he’d become accustomed to. It hurt to watch him curl up, knees to chest, tugging his hood over his face.

“What are you doing?” I asked glancing the parking lot to notice a Rent-An-Expensive Couch van pull into the broken parking lot.

“I’m hiding from them.” He said in a hushed tone.

“Why?” I prodded him further. Yes, as an adult, I’m hyper aware of debts, payments, bill collectors, and even rent-expensive-cheap stuff places. I shouldn’t ask because it’s none of my business, but I really like George and Gracie.

“They’re here to take away our couches. My mama said just to let them take the furniture already, but the babysitter won’t do it. We get woke up because they come too early in the morning and we hide so they don’t know we’re there.” He sighed heavily, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders. “I won’t have a place to sleep if they get in.”

“I’m sorry you’re experiencing that, George. If I could help you, I would. I don’t have any dollars either.” I leaned on my cane and watched the eight-year-old American boy hide his shame.

“Mayor? Can I ask you a question?” He pushed back his hood when the truck started to back out of the parking lot having not retrieved the sofas. I nodded ascent. “What did you mean when you said black lives matter? I’ve never heard a white woman say that before.”

I winced. George has a way of speaking his thoughts and ideas that, quite honestly, I haven’t seen in a child in a very long time. “It means to me that we are all human and should be equal, but we’re not. I protest against those people who want to keep us different because I don’t believe that’s just.”

“People don’t like me.” He confessed. Like a true questioner, I asked, “Why not?”

“Because I’m mixed.” He said pulling his hood back over his face. Then in a voice that is small, nearly broken, very fragile, he shares something so tragic it made me weep. “Sometimes,” He stated ever so softly. “I feel like I’m a mistake. Like I wasn’t meant to be here.” And he covered his face with his hood completely obscuring his beautiful honest face.

I had to breathe deeply because the mixture of anger, sadness, compassion, and longing to ease his suffering were so strong, I got the wellies.

“George, please stand up.” I asked gently. He complied and I took each of his shoulders in my hands and leveled myself with his true green eyes. “I need you to understand something, believe it and feel it deep in your heart, do you understand that?” He nodded so I continued. “You my beautiful perfect human friend are never, no matter what anyone else in this world tells you, are NEVER a mistake. You are a bridge between the two. You are a leader with an extraordinary gift for storytelling. You ARE the future of peace in this world. Do you understand what I mean?” I felt completely intent with my purpose. He looked up at me with such an open comprehension that I felt like I was looking into something way bigger than he or I.

“I understand. But people…” He started to say when I interrupted him.

“People can be nasty, vicious creatures, but so can they be humans who don’t understand the differences. Black lives matter because ALL lives matter. You are so important to me and to your sister and your family. Even if they say hateful words, they always, like me, will love you. Black lives matter, George, because you think I’m better than you because I’m white. I promise you, my beautiful friend, we are equals in spirit. We are equals as physical beings. Just because we have different melanin doesn’t…”

“What’s melanin?” He interrupted me.

“It’s what makes your skin darker than mine and because I have less, I’m more pale than you are.” I explained.

“That’s it? That’s what’s different?” He looked at me incredulously. I nodded my head. “Well that’s just plain stupid.”

“George, my friend, I couldn’t agree with you more. Want a cupcake?”

“After another hug?” He asked, his eyes no longer filled with tears.

“Absolutely. We’ll break bread together.” He grinned back at me as I went and got two applesauce cupcakes topped with green holiday frosting. We sat in the spring sun feeling the icy breeze sharing each others company, heart to heart, spirit to spirit.

These Are My People: Michele Ashbaugh

Nature's own at Brown Gap

Nature’s own at Brown Gap

I stared at the picture of Michele and her children.

She had sadness in her eyes, despite her obvious joy.

“I love being their mom,” she sighed. “I’m missing mine today.”

I took her honest face between my hands, staring into her eyes.

“You ARE her.

She lives in the way you tell them the stories of your childhood.

She’s with you when you smack your hands over your own mouth

because you said something to your child you vowed to your mother

you’d never say because she said it to you.

She holds your hand while you hold theirs,

her blood singing to them like yours,

reminding them of the generations that worked just so

to bring your children to the right now.

She is your beautiful soul wrapped in matriarchal robes

that you fit into far better than you believe.

You are the beauty and the sorrow of the tears she cried for you

as you struggled to find your own beauty.

You are the delighted laughter of her

when she witnesses your children pulling your stunts.

My dear, Michele, your mother hasn’t died, she’s with you always

You ARE her.”

These Are My People: Louis A. Coleman Jr.

The Human Mare:

The year was 1968. June 23rd, to be exact. My grandfather looked at my grandmother while they stood on the rainy Sunday Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. “My granddaughter is being born right now.” Or so the family legend is told.

I was madly in love with my Bapa, as I called him. He doted on me. He was my dad, my champion, my protector, my hero and the only man I ever truly trusted in my young life. He ate pepper on everything that didn’t have ketchup on it (sometimes both). He served in the Army as a chef, came home and married the other woman while his friend married the first intended. The couples were inseparable throughout their lives. He loved deeply and truly his children, all five of them (Linda, Louie III, Larry, Lizbeth, and Leslie). He taught faith, love, service, compassion, and had a punny sense of humor. On his dresser in his bedroom he had a naked woman barely covered with a pale green see through nightie. I admired that pinup posed woman.

When he laughed, he could shake the room with joy. When there were problems, he’d pull up a chair, put on a pot of coffee, and walk the troubled through until they felt peace. He was a gifted bass singer and a compassionate soul. Even when I turned ugly from events I had no control over, he loved me.

On the afternoon of his passing, I was on my way to work. Bapa had been put in the VA hospital after my Grandmothers valiant fight to keep him home, but Parkinson’s Plus is a nasty mistress that stole the love of her life from knowing her. Glenn Campbell’s farewell song of, “I’m not going to miss you,” gives me deep comfort now. But the day he passed, I was driving to work down M-131. I’d nearly passed the exit when I heard a voice say, “He is gone, you must come.” I dodged the two lanes of traffic and exited.

I parked, got in the elevator that I’d only been in twice before and pushed the button. A nurse entered on the next floor. “You’re one of the Coleman family, aren’t you?” She asked. “Yes I am, and I already know.” She looked at me funny. “I heard already.” I explained.

Just as sure as he knew when I was born, I felt him leave this plane. Today, I went to church (He’d laugh at me for this) and served safety. There was a young girl there drawing away. I told her I am an artist too. I told her also that if she listens to her heart, she’ll always have art. I told her to trust her heart, listen to it, feel it, and the art would come. A little while later, the little girl came to me with a picture replete with a top hat and the heart on it. A bit after that she showed up with a salt and pepper shaker drawn. I asked her which one did she think was my favorite spice of the two. She looked a bit uncomfortable so I encouraged her by saying, “Listen to your heart, what does it tell you.” She said, “Peper (That’s how she spelled it)” Indeed!

And just like that, I knew he was there. I knew he was letting me know he’s proud of me. I knew he walks with me in spirit. I love and miss him. I wrote this poem in honor of him about 6 or seven months ago. Every family member, before they knew the title, knew it was him. I am pleased to share this mountain of a heart with you today.

Originally posted on Mare Martell:

Louis A. Coleman Jr. aka Bapa Louis A. Coleman Jr. aka Bapa

I once knew a man as powerful as God who stood as tall as a mountain.
When he laughed, and he loved to laughed, the mirth poured like a fountain.
He fought great wars single handedly, always coming out the winner
Then he’d traipse the seas with single bounds and was never late for dinner.
In winter time he’d grow a beard as traveled as any road is long
but when the chill of air subsided he’d return to youthful song.
His strength was legendary, more than Hercules or Babe and Paul,
He knew the moment I was born a legend once and for all
was told to me in lore and stories for this yarn to the next
at campfires round and blazing hot, I was not perplexed
by the history that flowed through me from his bones to my blood
my only…

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These Are My People: Theresa Wiseman

A beautiful spirit cloaked in kindness.

A beautiful spirit cloaked in kindness.

There is a legend from the ancient fires

That when a body dies, the soul does not expire

But it continues through the ages, grace upon graces

Changing its location, wearing different faces

When two souls their paths abide

Return to gather in eras of needed tribes

The powers that be return them there

So they may uplift, gather in prayer

That they may break bread and commune together

Hold the umbrellas through storms and sunny weather

And sometimes it’s seen as a gracious boon

That one knows the other never too soon

They see the smile, the movement in grace

They feel the love returning from their own face

The one from where the legend of ancient fires sprung

And they know that the cycle has once again begun.

The heated battle

The Human Mare:

Oh the joys of discovering things tucked in the attic. How many of you are battling with what brings you the deepest satisfaction vs. what will keep you afloat financially? How many of you are struggling to manifest the artful life you know in your soul you’re destined to live while sacrificing that part of you for the sake of a 9 to 5? It took me a long time to realize that some of us aren’t meant for a dependable life, we’re meant to live like fireworks flashing glorious in the darkness, allowing others to ooo and ahhhh in appreciation. We’re born to remember where our ancient selves were formed, among the stars with accidental cohesion to this rock. We stumble around lost and abbreviated, but once that lamp gets rubbed to polish, we can’t put the genie back into the bottle. Since I wrote this, I’ve realized the Universe was trying to explain what it is to trust myself. I get it now, and man, what a ride it’s becoming. I am cresting the first hill on my roller coaster. Watch out world! You’re about to see an incredible show!

Originally posted on Mare Martell:

I am currently in a heated argument with the Universe. I am being sent omen after omen telling me to trust who I am and my vision for the future. However, trusting that hasn’t paid my bills in the past, although I’ve never wanted for anything and my heart has been happy, my husband has made many sacrifices for me to do that. We can’t afford me to say the words the Universe wants to hear.

How can I trust that what is in my heart is right? How can I let go of the need to pay rent, put food on the table, have internet service, and maintain my lifestyle. I don’t own a lot of stuff (except weird hats and odd eclectic clothes), but I like what I have including the less than stellar accommodations’ location.

I hear the Universe pulsing in my veins like a driving song…

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