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

Blueberry Pancakes

I love blueberry pancakes.

the ones my dad makes for me

when I get to spend the night.

They are emotions spread into 6″ rounds

with bubbly edges stained purple.

It’s how he tells me

“You mean so much to me.”

or

“I love you berry much.”

That’s not him, that’s me.

It’s the connection with a father

MY DAD that worked hard

so she wouldn’t have to.

It’s the flavor of buttered syrup

a modicum of sweet drizzled

over bruised blueberries

bubbling more

than some battered fruit

The stacks of his generous heart

tower over the platter

that he places on the table

solid, like him, dependable,

sturdy as stock he stands

I accept his gift as he tells a joke

with the punchline

strategically placed

in middle the middle

These Are My People: Lorraine Couch

Lorraine the Warrior Queen, multi-media, canvas SOLD

Pull up a pew, step up to the pulpit

Church with Lorraine is true; no bullshit

She’ll dip you in baptismal waters

Correct our sons, respect our daughters

She a woman of God fearing faith

a warrior healer with a transcendent face

She kneels to no one and you’d better be true

Because she doesn’t care who you are

but she knows what you do.

TAMP Matthew (Seth) Fox

This young man died on January 6th of 2020. He was my "future husband" and as best friend to Matthew McBee, a true blue all the way. He was 24.
Matthew Caine (Seth) Fox

Your hair should be gray

when they lay you to rest

not dark on your brow

with a babe on your chest

What brings me awakened;

startled upright in the dark

‘Tis only the dawn becoming

on the lilt of morning larks

They promise a new day

frigid with winter’s chill

To rest you in the January earth

upon that hallowed hill

The Winter Baby

These Are My People: Lydia Khandro

Dried brown leaves and gray branches of solemn cycle

ignite to become golden lakes of wild hip-deep depths

The Blue Ridge Mother bears twice the ritual witness

standing cool, wrapped in the garment of her ancestor,

cradling her Divinity with skirts raising winds of power.

Her hair halos with the light of life, love, and nurturing.

She is the Great Mother bearing her Winter-born in holiness

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

Your friend for life, Bill

Bill Busing was a well respected man in Oak Ridge, TN. Heck, anywhere he went he was thought highly of because of his chemistry knowledge, his humanitarian efforts, and his advocacy for people with mental health issues. He was a positive ask-anyone-about-him type of fellow. Because of this, I don’t want to tell you about that. I’d like to tell you about my friendship with him.

Each Sunday at ORUUC (Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church), I would seek out and find those that needed hugs. It was my thing. Some people, like my dad, for instance, bring candy to church for the wee ones. I brought hugs in abundance. I hugged the old, the young, the feeble, the in-betweens, but I always sought out Bill. Not because I preferred him above others, but because he was born decades but days from my birthday. I felt a special bond with him that I can’t really explain.

When he didn’t show up for church, I’d miss him something awful. When he gave me his phone number so I wouldn’t worry about him, I felt like I’d been given the golden ticket. It wasn’t long before we decided to go for coffee. He seemed both pleased and genuinely surprised to discover that I really did seek his company.

We arranged and met at Starbucks on the Oak Ridge Turnpike. I got there first and I scored the corner seats with a table in between them. When he arrived he insisted on paying because he bought special fund raising cards from the church and he wanted to make sure they got used. I thought that very philanthropic, he thought it very practical.

Coffee in hand, we sat down in the corner and chatted for nearly two hours. We covered topics such as family, life events, careers (mine far shorter and less stellar than his), marriage and faith. He was not one for easy laughter, even with me. But when he did, it was rich and full-bodied and worth the effort to coax it from him. He was quite serious but not really; more like a human paradox (like we all are).

After that initial meeting, we met frequently at different venues around town. Sometimes we’d go to Panera Bread where he’d bring his close friend Cherie with him. It was always a delight to see the two of them interact because she was far more vibrant than he, but he seemed to find her antics amusing. Our conversations never stayed on one topic for very long. We’d cover a gamut of issues from politics to religion. He never shied away from anything. He was a brave conversationalist in that aspect.

Once, after I’d moved away, I had returned for a visit. After I walked him to his car, I hugged him extra tight, his hunched shoulders seemed to melt as he held me warmly.

“Bill, I’m so glad I got a chance to see you again. I want to make you a promise.”

“Oh, you don’t have to promise me anything. It’s okay.” He rebuffed me gently.

“No, really. I want to promise you that as long as I’m able, I’ll write to you every time I get a letter. I won’t forget you.” I said with earnest and sincerity.

“Oh, I thought you were getting serious on me.” He chuckled. “Then I will promise you the same thing. As long as I’m able, I will write you letters.”

From that day on, a card would arrive about once a week, most commonly bi-weekly. I replied as soon as I got one as did he. His favorite way to write letters was on the inside of various greeting cards. He talked about his daughter, Lesley, and his growing concern for her but also his joy that he could have dinner with her during the week. He told me about his adventures with Miss Cherie and the people he helped along the way.

During a particularly rough patch of grief, I wrote to Bill and lamented my despair. “I’m lost. I just feel like giving up some days. I miss my people. I miss my tribe. I miss my home.” Those aren’t the exact words, but they are close. His reply was gentle.

“Knowing grief is just a part of life. It comes and it goes. There is only one way to deal with it, just keep living. Being sad all the time isn’t going to make it better. You have to live. You have a new place to be with your husband and family. Don’t give up when there is life to live.” (again paraphrased).

At that time, I remember just crying harder because he, and people like him, are the very reason I was grieving in the first place. I held on to that March letter, in essence breaking my promise, pondering the words he’d written. By early April I’d decided he was right and I was not going to give up easily. I wrote him a letter telling him as much. I wrote the letter up and sent it out on Monday the 11th of April. He got the letter on the 12th. He passed on the 14th. No letter returned.

As I sit here on the first of January 2017, I think about how many times I’ve cried about giving up in this past year as I’ve battled a scary bout of depression. Even with people I love cheering me on, how he signed his letters is one of the key elements that keep me going. He really did teach me something better than chemistry.

Your friend for life, Bill.

 

These Are My People: Aunt Lizzie

The turning of the Wheel is honored in her space

the breathing of the seasons accounted at her grace

With eyes the color of summer sky she observes the holy

Appreciating each season as its revealed so slowly

Her hair is the color of bonfires, of cider mills or pumpkin pies

When she laughs, I mean really laughs, it could make you cry

She sees the world in music, notes upon a page,

Not a moment passes by that she’s not fully engaged.

She can make a piano dance a jig or an organ sing to God

But she believes, somewhere inside, that she is somehow flawed.

When she gives the gift of her, in whichever way she does,

There is never any doubt in mind, that you are truly loved.

 

Community Prayer

My neighbors,

We are gathered here today in peace

We honor the truth of the word love

We strive together to build a better community

To promote and create our neighborhood

That takes care of one another through

Respect, compassion, courage, and vision.

For anybody that would not honor our covenant

We will lead them by our actions to the light of love in your name.

Hear our prayer so that we may be one people, your people.

Thank you.