Charlie Mackesy

This has nothing to do with Japanese Death Poems, even though it kinda does. I’ve made it into a have-to which means I’m commitment shy. I want to read them. I nearly made it through the introduction but found Charlie Mackesy instead at a client’s home.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse was sitting on the coffee table. It has a sketch picture on the front which is what caught my eye. The rough edged raw that showed beauty in loose lines with suggestive coloring. The inside cover filled with music that rippled in waves of tones coming off the printed paper. I was pulled in by simplicity in paradox.

It looks as if the print in the book were carefully calligraphied to demonstrate a deep caring sense of connection to the reader. Although there were parts (like the author’s name) where I had trouble discerning letters (Where’s my glasses?), the words were crafted with care.

“Life is difficult but you are loved.” Simple truth brought to life in a tale of loving friendship in a makeshift family. I identified with wanting to belong, seeking other odd creatures, befriending them in the way family could be, and walking them home. What a deeply sensitive place to balance; on the edge of tenderness.

Dive into the depths of light-hearted conversations rich with wisdom. This made my heart deeply happy.

Japanese Death Poems, II

Grief

One of the things I dislike about my time management skills is that I tend to attend to whatever coal is the hottest at the moment. Crisis in lane three, meltdown imminent! Wherever the smoke and mirrors of daily life are flashing the brightest, I find myself drawn to its spectacle.

And there sits the book. Judging me with not an ounce of its former tree self. I’ve caressed its pages more than the other many books on my shelves lately. It’s hard to concentrate when grief feels perpetual, even comfortable.

I experienced and mostly know what to expect with a normal bomb of grief. I understand that there is a loss of some sort, people get together and feel sad at the celebration of life, then, although time seems to stand still closest to the death/detonation, time continues to move forward whether we do or not.

I’ve been in grieving mode for what seems like decades, but lately, I’ve noticed a shift in how I deal with it. Maybe it’s because more people are experiencing the isolation, anxiety, anger, frustration, weariness, loneliness, and trauma that has punished my existence but now as more people are talking about it as the new normal, I got this.

I’m so familiar with grief’s handshake, that I, considering the pandemic, can only greet it from a social distance which means this is alien grief. This is not the grief I know. This isn’t that familiar.

Oddly, this feels like the moment I’ve been training for all my life. Because I know what it’s like to have your life ripped away because of an event beyond your control. I comprehend the feeling of “differentness” that suddenly sets you apart from everyone else by just enough to feel like an outsider. I really see the ones who think they’ve covered the gaping wounds sufficiently but the shock of life, like now, is just enough different to feel tragic. Almost like an imposition of force against one’s will.

These words aren’t meant to be analogous to any event in particular, but to demonstrate the way I’m hearing the quarantine be talked about regarding mental health. People are struggling to function by feeling the same things I feel every day. I’m hearing people feel hope slipping through their fingers like water. I know the depth of that well and yet I’ve never touched the bottom despite my efforts.

It hurts my heart to know how many that are talking about it are obfuscating the ones who won’t ever or don’t ever recognize the grief that comes from trauma, restriction of life, or the anxiety that comes from the fear that you may become ill among many others; the ones of the silent voice. I know for every voice that speaks, many tell the same stories in their hearts to their secret keepers.

I’m here. I see you. I feel you. You’re not alone. It will get better.

So, the book. I haven’t cracked it open, nor the other. I’ve been dealing with some pretty hefty events both positive and negative as well as inevitable. Things are, in my world, normal. I’m sorry. I’ll do my best. In fact, tonight I’ll bring it to bed with me and read.

A Willow’s Lament

The willow boughs in comprehension

Lose track of the wind

on the mirror surfaced lake

christening the sky

with clear intent

Where is the offin

but sky and earth

the heavens ornaments

of universal praise

And yet, in the kitchen,

where life is rebirthed,

there gathered the women

pottery deep into breakfast

the labor of reassurance has begun

the calm center of the maelstrom;

change the only constant

There is light

Light in the darkness

Light in the chaos

So is life with death

Born when it’s time to be born;

die when it’s time to die.

It’s movement, a process

where peace with time is in repose

there is an order of things

neither joy nor sorrow may take hold

Yet, Spring, herald of rebirth

has abandoned blooming,

it feels like Winter

Like the depths of the ocean

have suddenly become thick air

Upon this fleeting dream-world

Dawn is breaking

Even though some trees are bedecked

The willow boughs in comprehension

Acknowledging the bond

and where

the direction of love is not lost

the deeper treasure of sweetened time

will reap its own reward.

TAMP: Looney II Crew

I love people who frame their puzzles

and hang HOME upon their walls

I love the people who are never quiet

even as night-time falls

I love the people I call family

as right as any blood

I love the fam’ly of my heart

who love me like they should.

Dearest Mama 2020

I’ve thought about your chronological timeline of our relationship that you wrote with such attention. I wish I could see it like that. The absence of our relationship during the lean years of our emotional lives burdens me to this day, but not how you may think.

With your guidance, perhaps I’d have avoided some of the pain I endured because I refused your matriarchal wisdom. Without you, I kept myself small so that others, undeserving/saints, could shine their sins/lights through me, the prism child. The magical being you brought into this world. With my life reborn here, you’re not losing me, you’re gifted with the light’s rebirth in my spirit. It burdens me because I couldn’t shine for you like I shine here. Know that in my heart of hearts, I am but a reflection of those around me, and around you, I’m at my most glorious.

You wrote of us breaking apart in our relationship, but Mama, this is how I roll. I realize this with Ben and my marriage. I love that man ridiculously. I wish him not a lick of harm which is why I’m away from him. He couldn’t give me what I needed right now.

This was not personal against you, although I recognize how it could feel that way. Perhaps feeling like you’re not enough to keep my heart. As I stated above, it’s because of you that I felt brave enough to step out into the world. It’s because of you, I felt the confidence to face my darkest fears. No ordinary person could love like you, my mother, my heart, my love. You make mistakes, but man, so do I.

This, my beloved mother, is how I want you to know I love you. You’re not a saint, but you’re an angel in a meat suit. I think the world of you even when you’re doing what I call mundane things. Things I’ve seen you both do for a million years; Things that make me want to have a more musical life (like a real musical, not just singing (Hit song quality)). Ones where the true feelings pour out of the mouths of people like you and me in a harmony that is strictly our own. Like the Loon song you sing with Dad, the familiar feel of three-word arguments and ribs with deep gouges from elbows.

Please read this with an open heart so that I can snuggle up inside and feel the safest I ever feel. Allow me to cuddle up against your memories like when we’d watch TV on the couch and I’d get the knee because I was the oldest. How I’d fall asleep on your hip and don’t ever remember waking up. I want to remember how it felt to know I was protected like I feel now.

I know I’m not what you expected or maybe even hoped for. I’m loud, cuss a lot, think nakedly, don’t filter frequently, but I’ve tried so hard not to break your heart or disappoint you. It’s a reason I stayed as long as I did. It’s a damn good reason to stay. That’s not blame, that’s recognition for the truth you showed me through your calming words when I freaked out over stuff that, truly, should never have happened or been said, but there it was and there you were with the dustpan to help me sweep up another mess.

As I sit here in my living room writing this on the computer I’m still paying for, I can’t help but be grateful for the many things you’ve allowed me to achieve with your generosity. You’ve helped me commit to things I was busting buttons proud to do. You helped me realize I’m okay and worth it even when everything went south before I did. I don’t know the right words to express how deeply I adore your generous heart. You are far more trusting of your intuition now that you’re older. I admire the growth I’ve seen since returning as a significantly different person than I knew.

I want this to be a letter that you cherish. If it’s anything but, please let me know. Every intention of these words on the page are to convey to you how very deeply, truly, and completely I adore you.

With deepest devotion, your daughter

Mare Helen

Liberty Stolen

My body, this I be (My country tis of thee)

Peace, Joy, Affinity, (Sweet land of liberty)

Youth’s fountain springs (Of thee I sing)

Blood on my mother’s thighs (Land where my father’s died)

Gifts of our sister’s sighs (Land of the Pilgrim’s pride)

At every hearth reside (From every mountainside)

“Hestia, we sing!” (Let freedom ring!)

The Traveling Heart

My soul was lost, floundering without purpose

Gypsy feet wandered human nature

The Sedona Red Rocks of Arizona

Showed me the intense beauty of desert isolation

Reflecting my sun glared eyes

Sunburned skin – husk of an old life shed

Revelation of the raw and openly scored spirit

My feet turned towards the forest loam

I walk deeply, mindfully, into the Ponderosa stand,

Dripping regrets onto needles that violate

My feet and legs, creating a tenderness

That feels like Christmas morning

I climbed mountains to witness the freedom

Of flight

But found the rocks resistant to my wings

Forbidding me entrance;

With courage forged in the fires of trauma

I ascended.

Flinging myself into the swirl of eddies

That couldn’t hold me

I plummeted into the icy, unforgiving river

Where I forded from embankment to water’s edge

Directionally challenged as I

I fight against the rushing waters

Until I’m exhausted and finally relent

To the inevitable flash flood of grief

It washes me onto the shores

Of the roiling ocean waves

Under a full moon gleaming

In sacred silence

I left immediate footprints of ideas,

Beliefs, and yet more solitude of a different depth

The winds of change hurricaned me east

Lessons abandoned, like me,

At the foot of the Great Smokey Mountains

Phoenix-like, I refused my ashes

Reconstituting in my power

Hear me, my friends, those who feel outside

Those who feel forgotten or invisible,

Those who feel created to endure tribulations

Those who arrive precisely on time

Into my company: exhausted, panting, sweating

Sopping in voracious victory

With reciprocal love we bond

Dancing with wild abandon

Intermingling

Pressing our heartbeats together

In loving embraces

With you I’ve found my way home.

Call of Gift

Mother God, benefactor of all that is holy.

You have led us to this place together as a community and bound us to one another through faith.

In the beginning of this Advent season, may we remember your unexpected appearance among us in the birth of a child.

You make yourself known to us again and again but we sometimes are deaf and blind to you. Help us to clear our ears and open our eyes to your word

God of Peace, whose ways are not our own and whose coming among us cannot be predicted, we dare to welcome your surprises, seeking to be awake and alert, and to fully embrace the unexpected. That we might be changed by your appearance and transformed into loving vessels with radical acceptance.

Now let us feel your presence as we live as you taught us and pray as you taught us: Lord’s Prayer

Left-hand turn

The loneliness isn’t in the silence, it’s in the absence of commentary.

My “Silent but Deadly” litany chants in my head

“Don’t open your throat, let the demons be fed”

I want to reach out. I want to be heard. But…

Reality isn’t where I want to be disturbed

My brushes lay colorless, lifeless as corpses

My observances from the corner, bodily divorces

I’m running like hell hounds know my name

The bridges start smoldering in fingers of blame

and they all return to me. Their rejection is plain to see

If I’m not them, I’m never good enough as me.

Not Old Enough

Turbulent Life

I won’t mourn you while you’re still here making choices;

choices of where you’ll breathe last when the time comes

decisions that are yours, and only yours, to make. Always.

I will, however, laugh with you until you can’t any more.

I will support your choices, defending your life at its last.

You’re not old enough to go, but I know that’s not up to us.

I won’t mourn you while you’re here, but I will love you,

my friend, brother to my sister-in-heart, brother of my brother.