Organic Chicken

I wanted to build something with my brother, to create a piece of art. Since I’ve put my mind to building a flock of city chickens, I decided to keep true to my recent obsession. So, I sent him a picture of a donkey I found on Reddit, but explained how I saw my vision. He asked for a sketch which I delivered and he built my base.

In the meantime, my SIL and I went on congruent missions to make our projects come to life. I found “feathers” plus some possibilities.

When we got back to their home, my Bubby had built up the base just right.

There were a few skeptics because they couldn’t see my vision yet even with the first hours of “feathers” being applied.

Shay and I played a great game of possibility and came up with the top hat feathering technique as well as the stacked buttons for the comb and wattle.

With some river rock I completed the piece with EGGS being spelled out. From start to finish it took longer to find the decor than to build or apply it. I also got a one of a kind piece made with love by me and my family.

Designed by Mare Martell

Woodwork by David Looney II

Collaborator: Shay Looney

1 1/2′ W X 2 1/2′ H

Wood, rock, buttons, and one googly eye.

Allowable Relief

I am rising from the depths of your sorrow

I am the waves of your grief

I have heard every tear and every beg for relief.

Just as your mother has called out my name

so has her mother for they are the same.

From darkened corners their silence bereft,

The lowering of hearts into the earthen depths of death.

I rise around them as their heartbeats move on,

to greet the new morning,

the coming of dawn.

Victory at Home

I was standing on Fulton street waiting for the Number 15 to take me to the corner near my home. The wind was brisk with an occasional chill, but the lifting of the hood of my sweatshirt over my head blocked most of it. This particular stop homes three buses headed out and about town. It feels quite familiar as all three round the corner coming out of the transfer station down by Van Andel Arena. I switch feet. I look across to Veteran’s Park where I danced with wild abandon at a Thursday night drum circle held after the Jazz concert at Ah-Nab-Awen park. The Main Library is behind that. I spent hours of research in those rooms. Everything I was looking at seemed familiar, but with a dream-like quality.

I came to the conclusion that I was but a drop in the puddle in their eyes, but in mine, I was so much bigger.

When I moved away from West Michigan in 1989, I had no idea who I was; broken, discouraged, full of lamentations. I had no direction or purpose. I molded myself into the ideals that I believed I was supposed to be. I became a fair wife, a devout church goer, a preacher of God’s love, a model citizen in every way. I provided Christmas for impoverished children, took them on camping trips, advocated for their protection always seeking approval from outside sources. I was miserable.

After the loss of Jordan, I began rethinking my life and the choices that had brought me to a point where I could no longer stay. My marriage was a disaster, my friends were there but they were all much younger than I so their freedoms were different. I still had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be or do. At 25 years old, I decided to find out who that woman looking back at me in the mirror was. I left everything behind. I cut ties with family, friends, acquaintances, and moved back to a small studio apartment in Kentwood. I married again but it crumbled basically from day one. I moved around the country for about a year, using Greyhound as my means of travel.

By the time I ended up in Arizona I was a disaster. I married for a third time. I found a group of friends that, for the first time, not only saw me for who I am, but encouraged me to be everything I was meant to be. I felt like a toddler whose parents delight in the antics of the little one, but at the same time, I was an adult. I radiated humor and enthusiasm. I decided I was strong enough to move, so I did. I moved across the country again to Tennessee where I lived with my father for a brief time. He was a miserable human being that rejected me just as fast as he embraced me. It was constant mixed messages from him which led to uncertainty and instability.

I found God living in a little church tucked away behind a natural shade of trees. I was told to go there and I’m glad I obeyed. It was like coming home. It was the first group of collective people that not only appreciated my wildness, but saught me out for companionship, help, and entertainment. I imagine it’s what being a rockstar feels like. What’s even cooler is that I adored every one of them right back. I couldn’t help it. I’d waited my whole life to know what it was to be me. I learned it at their knee. It was the most difficult day when I had to say goodbye to them and return to my hometown of Grand Rapids.

Only, it wasn’t my Grand Rapids.

It wasn’t the place where the broken little girl made up ridiculous fantasies of being the President of the United States or curing cancer with a brightly colored cardboard box and a stick found on the playground. This wasn’t the city where I dealt with childhood tragedies with self destructive behaviors. Nothing was the same, including the absence of the monsters that didn’t live under my bed but were under the same roofs as me. The dark secrets were held up to the light until their power whimpered into submission.

This city doesnt know me, power in my words, body thick with laughter, hair demonstrably wild, my secrets laid open to the beauty of rainbows once forbidden from my fingertips. This city is unaware that within its limits, there is a woman with courage as deep as a wristcutters truth, but as furious as a hurricane battering abusers with education. Grand Rapids has yet to understand that I, that had all along existed but had been nearly crushed by history, rose up to find my feet.

I’m standing in the middle of Division and Fulton in my mind, screaming with laughter at the pure wickedness of possibilities to be reached. This may not be my Grand Rapids, but it is my home.

Aprons mingle

food-pizza-kitchen-recipe.jpg

When the aprons mingle, women clucking like hens

discussing ancestral wisdom from way back when

The ancestors live in gestured words

the matriarchal echoes of blood’s songbirds

Strum the butter pat to the rhythm of snipped beans

lower the babies down from the hips of Queens

biscuits on the table, floured dough, cut rounds

the mother’s mother’s hands knead risen dough down

No family recipes laid writ in tattered tomes

each muscle memory “how to” made the house a home.

Where the aprons mingle clucking women like the hens

granting the ancestral wisdom from times long spent

Fifty year drought

babydoll

I had a baby.

Her name didn’t/doesn’t matter.

She lay in her stroller with her arms outstretched.

I smiled down at her, cooing gentle words of love.

I swaddled her a bit tighter against the chill.

As each car passed on the nearly vacant street,

I’d sing a little louder so they’d know I was a mom.

It’s all I ever wanted to be.

INTERLUDE

The MMR wasn’t created when I was born.

When my brother came along and got his,

nobody thought to inoculate me.

At twelve years old, my throat and neck hurt so badly.

My mom gave me a dill pickle (LOVE THEM) but I couldn’t swallow.

Diagnosis: The mumps.

Aged and married: Clomid, Pergonal, temperatures, acne, painful periods,

nothing. nothing. nothing.

Failed adoption. Ectopic miscarriage, failed adoption

GUARDIANSHIP x two!

Rejected for violence. Rejected for drugs.

nothing. nothing. nothing.

PART TWO

ultrasound

You can’t possibly know how many times I’ve been gracious,

how many times I’ve oohed and aah-ed over black gray blobs

What it’s like to see beautiful mothers holding their beautiful babies

while my arms hold back my sadness, my longing, my relief.

I’m not resentful that they have my dreams wrapped in their love.

I’m not angry that their wishes came true. I’m not even upset.

PART THREE

birth-control-1

Am I less than a woman for not showing proof of fertility?

Am I less than a woman for my body’s refusal to carry life?

I feel betrayed each time blood flows from my barren womb.

All of the pain, emotions, heating pads, and carb stuffing…for what?

Another reminder that I’m not like the others. Another storm trooper miss.

 

 

Leaked Material

I approached the advertising door that beckoned liquid promises from within the belching bowels of the aged establishment. The sign above the door used to have a name emblazoned on it, but the only clear remaining word is BAR in crinkled red letters. I pulled open the squalling door, pushed past the sour scent of drunken spills.

Rusty people wilted in the semi-dark while they sat on uncomfortably broken dreams that smell faintly of piss, farts, and painful yesterdays. I tucked into one of the two booths in the corner which garnered an eye roll from the overweight but still attractive bartender. Her bleached blonde hair required a touch less hairspray and a bit more dye. She rested her cigarette on the edge of the ashtray she shared with a hunched old man in graying overalls. He blended in with the dust as if he purposefully wore camouflage to hide from himself in the large mirror he sat across from.

“What’ll it be, sweetheart?” She asked with red lipstick staining her front tooth but not her lips. There is evidence of why on her cup and on the filter of her temporarily left behind addiction. She half attempted a smile.

“Beer, whatever you have on tap.” I reply as I skinned my coat from my shoulders. “And a bag of those chips.” I pointed at the display behind the bar.

“Honey, you don’t want those. I’ve worked here for twelve years and those have never been changed. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever sold a one in here, ain’t that right, Bob?” She called over her shoulder. Bob takes a drag of his cigarette in reply. “I’ll just get you a beer.” She sauntered away.

Neon colored misspelled signs flicker reminders that hope comes in brown bottles and icy mugs of temporary happiness. A middle aged business man at the far end of the bar tapped a cigarette from the pack on the bar in front of him. He punctuated his inhale of the silver blue smoke with a cough; a slow suicide sparked to life with a touch of fiery death.

A pair of younger men, blue collar workers discussed the murmur of sports flailing in the air. The scores trickle across the screen with occasional hoots from the duo. The only thing that changes in their conversation are the names of the players and scores depending on the season.

The bartender slings a double shot down to the businessman, tops off the sports duos mugs, cracks a bottle of cheap beer for Bob, delivers a frothy mug of ale to my table which she rests on a cardboard coaster with the worn face of a woman holding mugs. I pay for the beer, give a generous tip so she wouldn’t roll her eyes at me any more, and settled back in the booth to wait.