These Are My People: Sue Cline


Participation Ribbons

The ribbons that bound me to you
with generous abandon,
tied up in knots of
“I want you and need you”
have unraveled into muddied rainbows

puddled on the ground
I can no longer cherish them
because they serve no purpose
when my heart looked forward
instead of tick-tocking back
into the mess we created together
with scissors flashing
through the complicated maze
we’d woven together
then destroyed with guilty hearts &
shameless blame
of who was actually at fault
for our conjoined festivities.


Small Wishes

I wish a special someone
had a song in them for me.
Some music they just had to sing
with my heart the melody.

I wish a special someone
had a dream in them for me.
A waking place, built on grace
a feeling like reveille.

I wish a special someone
had some words for me
a declaration of their love
that would last for eternity

I wish a special someone
had a picture in them for me.
One that captured their emotion,
from the brush that set it free.

I could wish a million lifetimes
for something as rare as this
and still quite never find it
the love that is lost and missed.

These Are My People: Louise Palm

This is not a picture of my dear neighbor, but this was her occupation.

This is not a picture of my dear neighbor, but this was her occupation.

She sat across the room from me

on a faded floral armchair.

It covered in plastic,

wrinkling when she leaned

forward to encompass her cup

lovingly filled with tea.

Sipping silently the sugary mix

she turned her waxy face

towards the picture window

as if she could pull back

the curtains of time.

She smiled yellow at me

when she brought forth

her past in faded words

like old photographs

taken from the box hidden

under the stares of cobwebs.

Sometimes she’d tell me

stories of her youth and

her determination to teach

physical education which

mocked and giggled at her

now frail body wrinkling

in the faded floral armchair

covered in plastic

sitting across the room from me.

Sometimes she’d fart

as people sometimes do

She’d laugh and say,

“Pardon me, I’ve had a

passing of the wind.”

My eyes would water

my shoulders would shake

my snickers could not be contained.

Together we’d sit there

chortling over bodily functions

relinquishing control of time.

Jedi Garden

Your sugar-coated violence was used

to coax my sympathetic heart back

from where I felt safe

from where I felt protected

from where I felt alive

from where I could be myself

instead of a role that you glued on my back

a role that I allowed to be superimposed

a lampshade to dim my light which shined anyway

Did it ever occur to you

that once you punched me

that once you slapped me

that once you pushed me down

that once you pulled my gun on me

that maybe, just maybe,

you shot me alive

by demonstrating the very reason

I could no longer stay by you

because you’d have destroyed

the very me I’ve become,

a light to guide others through

the loss of their power.

Had you succeeded

the skies would have gone dark

My tears of mourning would have drowned me

I gratefully would have rejoiced in the absence of me.

The Battle of NOW

NOW is when courage gets strapped on like armor
with the buckle of character and the belt of strength.
With the grieving already completed
nothing left to lose but the chains of slavery
perpetuated by the blind by choice monarchs
of an antiquated sense of royal entitlement
I will heed the trumpets of battle calling me to arms
I will join those who require justice, balance,
My sisters and brothers united.

NOW is when the shadows should be fearful
for the Light is coming, I carry it.
Until the last breath is drawn from my lungs
with a battle cry as fierce as fire
I will hold my torch aloft without discrimination
but with mercy unknown to those ignorant of truth.
Know that the moon is my shield, the sun is my guide
The clouds themselves won’t allow dark to hide.
With my sisters and brothers I will unite.

NOW is when the warrior voices of those who survive,
covered in battle wounds, scars, and bruises,
raise up their outrage against the injustices.
Swinging axes of love and beauty against the darkness
Slashing red ribbons into pretty bows to enhance life
Encouraging the young to speak violently
words of compassion, kindness, and dreams
Reminding everyone of the language of their soul
United with my sisters and brothers, I fight.

NOW is when we band together
under the warrior’s banner that reads
with the sword of truth gleaming glittery
with freedom released into the air from the cage
where it stagnated under the weight of oppression
where it strangled under the lies of darkness
where it remained every hopeful of rebirth
Only we can be the midwives of this bloody mess
Only we can set the cries of the newborn into the world
with a swat on the buttocks of bad behaviors
apathy, disinterest, rejection, bigotry, anger
Only we can swaddle our neighbors and communities
in the dawning of a new age with baby steps of joy.

My brothers and sisters hear my please!

Come, oh come, oh come to me!

NOW is the time to refuse division of our spirits.
NOW is the time for progressing our peace through love.
NOW is the gift we’re given to make a difference,
you and me and the faceless stranger.
NOW is the time to be present in changing our future
one loving gesture at a time.
NOW we can recognize one another openly
know that it is not just your burden, but OURS.
NOW we can pull up our shirtsleeves,
honor our hearts, our minds, our hands together.
NOW we can continue the work of our ancestral souls
that are bound to our blood as we are bound to one another.

My brothers and sisters hear my please!

Come, oh come, oh come to me!

Dude, your pants are too small

On white people it's called plumber's crack

On white people it’s called plumber’s crack

If a white man had not done it, there would be no attention to it. It was fine and dandy when it was just “those” people. It wasn’t an issue either when it was with “those” people, weed and the old west gunslingers with AK-47’s. Eminem said, he wasn’t wrong, that it wasn’t a problem until it hit middle America in reference to the epidemic of drugs, but add in a tiny addition that includes fashion trends, particularly I’m referring to sagging.

Although I do not personally wear it and I’m not fond of how it looks, that’s a petty thing to pass a law against like they did in the backwards one horse town of Pikeville, TN. What a waste of time, taxpayer’s dollars, and a reversion to the 1950’s ideals of what “those” people are allowed to wear, be, do, and where “those” people are allowed to roam (but not after dark).

This is not difficult. If you’re going to get all outraged and up at arms, why not try being upset that your neighbor is without food? Or a job? Or comfort? Why not be upset about abuse, rape, people with drug addiction, homelessness? What? Oh. Those don’t affect you directly, so we can ignore that. Besides, “those” people need to be kept in their place, bless their hearts. Nobody taught them manners or propriety because we all know that’s our job as the good KKKrischins we are.

Walk down the street nearly anywhere and suddenly the biggest problem you have is someone’s clothing? Not the Veteran on the sidewalk with a cardboard sign that dives for cover any time a car backfires? Not the woman with her children huddled next to her on a park bench where they clearly live? Not the neighbor who sits alone without company because nobody visits?

What in HELL is wrong with you? Pull that plank from your eye. Use your eyes to see a problem. Use your mind to find the solution. Use your hands in the name of your God to improve the world. I’m not claiming to be perfect. I’m not claiming to be better than anyone else. I want that clear. I’m not throwing any stones. I’m holding up a mirror.

P.S. Although I’m using the term “those” people, I do not wish to have this taken out of the context it is intended. This is meant as a mirror towards people who think skin color is something to use a divider between who can and who can’t do something.

Real Time

desertoasisI don’t want to write only beautiful things
because that’s not how I see the world.
It’s pretty disgusting and horribly lovely
all mixed up and swirled.
The ugly parts that get sucked in
around strangers in public places
demonstrate our need to hide
our fearful, shameful faces.
The ones we keep, sometimes, even from within.
It allows us to judge ourselves harshly
for having typical human skin.
I don’t want to write only beautiful things
because that’s not how this world is.
But I will seek out beauty
because that is how I choose to live.

Lumpy Bumpy boob job?

We all look the same on the inside, ladies.

We all look the same on the inside, ladies.

Tonight I went to the gas station to get an energy drink for the morning. On the counter was a large baby bottle with the words, “Help Jenna get a BOOB job” in glittery stickers. It was for the girl behind the counter. This young woman has the most sparkling eyes, kind spirit, and white straight teeth that light up her face when she smiles. I’ve not heard her ever say an unkind word to even the jerks that come into that place regularly.

When the store was clear, I asked her why she wanted a boob job.

“Well I kind of want it, my boobs are too small. And my boyfriend wants bigger boobs.” she said with a shy smile.

“What’s the matter with your beauty now?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I guess I just don’t see it. It’s a carry over from childhood.”

“You can choose not to buy into that any more, you know that right?” I inquired.

“I don’t know. It just followed me into adulthood.” She said as she waited on the next customer.

When she was done with the customers I stepped back up to the counter. “I do speeches on body image,” I stated to her astonishment. “I don’t understand how you can’t see your beauty.” She actually blushed. I described her kindness, her friendliness, her smile, her compassion, her vibrancy to her. She refused my compliments with a gentle hand set up in front of her.

“So I, and everyone else that compliments you, are liars?” I asked.

“I think so.” She answered me plainly.

“Don’t you think it odd that so many people would tell you the same lie, but you still can’t believe that it’s true?”

“I didn’t think of it that way.” She said while helping someone else. After the customer left, I stepped back up to the counter.

“Your body is just a shell,” I tell her with passion in my voice. “Who you are is not what your boob size is, or what size pants you wear. Beauty is found in the love, compassion, joy, and kindness found within your shell. You are beautiful just the way you are. Nobody can change that about you but yourself. A boob job isn’t going to do what you think it will for your self esteem. If you find love for others, then you must love yourself first. You can’t give someone an empty plate and tell them it’s a steak dinner.” When I realized she was shocked, I stepped back and said that I would see her another time.

What is wrong with women? Seriously? Your body, your temple, your shell, whatever you want to call it, is going to die. It’s not real. The labels of mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, cousin…professional anything…those are just titles given when you’ve unlocked a new level (geek speak there). The truth is found within, not on the outside.

Think of it this way, I read a quote that asked the question, “Of all the thoughts that race through your head, who is the one that observes those thoughts?” Who are you really? You are perfectly you. That’s who you are. Love yourself. How? By looking past what you’ve been told or how someone spoke to you you can find the truth in yourself. Everything that has happened to you is your history. It doesn’t have power over you unless you give it power.

I was told that my nose was too wide. I was told I had kind hair; the kind that belonged around a dog’s ass. I was told I was a slut. I was told I was pregnant all the time. I was told I wasn’t worth anything but sex. I was told I was worthless. I was told I wouldn’t grow up to be worth anything. Lessons of my imperfections repeated over and over again. For many years, I bought into that pack of lies. I believed myself to be a bad person. I hated everything about who I saw in the mirror. I began a cycle of self destruction trying to quench my own spirit.

Here’s where the cool part comes in: I woke up one morning and thought, “Mare, this isn’t who you are or how you need to be living your life. You will no longer need anything like that.” And I quit everything, just like that. I just didn’t need it. With the help of a kick ass therapist, I waded through the bullshit pond that had accumulated over my true self. I found the plug, let the water of sins wash down the drain. Then I began cleaning up the mess I’d left behind myself.

Those words I was told so many years ago no longer hold any power. I forgave the people who hurt me with them. Until I see another woman where I was, I don’t even think about them any more. The problem is, I keep seeing women who think that having the perfect nails, tan, car, or whatever is going to bring them the happiness they need. There is nothing in this world that will make you happy but yourself. You are responsible for your own happiness. If you’re not happy, change what you’re doing, get rid of the negative talk in your head by hearing your spirit. How? Just be still. Listen. Let the rest of the garbage flow down the drain. Allow your true self to shine through. Find peace. Find love. Find compassion. Find joy. Revel in your perfection and imperfections that are truly unique to you.