“Be Safe”

Okay, I’ll admit it. I want to be safe in the sense that I don’t get shot in my house. I want to be safe in the sense that when I walk down my streets at night with my little dog, waiting on her to do her “business”, I’m not going to be attacked. I want to be safe enough that when I follow the road rules, I don’t get in an accident because others also want to be safe, or rather, unharmed.

But there is a part of me that doesn’t want to be safe. Being safe takes a chunk away from the loudness of life. It reduces the voices of exuberant laughter to polite chuckles. It sucks the genuine grief from our deepest fears and distills it into quiet murmuring condolences. It shatters the adventure of stepping one foot outside of your comfort zone by giving the illusion of safety.

But safety, like everything, is an illusion. It’s not real. It surprises us because we expect things to be the same. We expect to wake up, go about our day without incident, return home, eat the same meal we did last week, watch regurgitated shows with different characters but the same stories, and go to bed at the same time. It’s our expectation of safety that, pardon my french, fucks us up.

Chaos and change are the way of the world. If we could control any of it, we’d be reasonable in our expectations, but we do not. We can do our best not to contribute, by following the rules, obeying laws, keeping an eye out for ne’er-do-wells, but being safe is a lie we tell ourselves so we can live with minimal fear.

My Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Dave are driving a different route back from their vacation in Maine. It has places for them to stop that they’ve never been before which means the potential for a fantastic adventure. But in the commentary on their shared pictures, there were all the comments from a variety of people telling them to, “Be safe.” The comments are made with love and not as admonitions, mind you. They are meant with the best of intentions. But I don’t think I’ll wish them the same.

I wish them to be unharmed but in no way to be safe. I want them to have the adventure they’re hoping for on the new route. I want them to have experiences that will give them the best adventure with minimal difficulty. I want them to see things so spectacular it takes their breath away because they chose to stop somewhere they wouldn’t ordinarily get to see. I want them to experience every drop of grandness in the views, every bliss to be had floating on the breeze. I want them to taste the rain as if it were their first time. To have Ruby show them the newborn idea of life heroic in a way that brings them fits of delight. But, I do not wish them to “be safe”.

Cost of Living

Candle of Hope

How much am I worth to you?

Another theater, another school?

Another place where people gather

Out in public, or doesn’t it matter?

How much can I pay you for

your children’s blood on classroom floors?

How much is the fiance’ worth

if she’s wedding before the baby’s birth?

Tell me, because I don’t want your guns

you can keep them, I’m wanting none.

If you collect or if you hunt

I have no interest in killing your fun.

But any sane person should agree

that these “daily” mass killings are a spree

With romanticized violence the law of the land,

as responsible owners, please take a stand.

Show them what it means to be smart

Give us something, someplace to start

 

I don’t want to be afraid to go to the store

become another pawn in this domestic war

If it happens to one it’s a tragedy

but if it happens to more, a statistic you’ll be

Terrorism doesn’t have the brown skin like we’re told

It’s the murderer’s body count, sin chillingly cold.

Through the gate

A bunny in a garden

A bunny in a garden

The military straight fence posts stand sentinel against wildlife.

It amuses me when the rabbits squeak through to indulge in

the abundance of ripened fruit dripping from the vines

Ripe tomato juices blooding the hand-crafted stairs with their offerings

while the green beans are green together, envious of size

The wind sculpture shifts in time to the darkened rolling clouds

it startles the rabbits back through the gate to another buffet

I wonder if this is what beauty looks like when it is no longer imaginary.

I wonder why the voice I spoke to every day feels absent.

I wonder if I remembered to pack it or if someone else did it for me.

I wonder if it will return with barrels blazing with razzle-dazzle or

if it will slip in quietly through the gate to show me a different way to be.

My friend!

My friends

My friends, not my art

I didn’t believe you because I was sure you were a lie.

Nobody ever gave without expecting something of me.

But there you were with shirt sleeves pulled up to your elbows

Stepping into my dance of horrors with a graceful heart

You expertly guided my feet as I stumbled along behind

While I asked guidance, you answered me with elbows deep in the mire.

You didn’t hesitate. You didn’t stop. You gave without askance.

After the dervish had danced, I drove you home in the night

You didn’t turn into a pumpkin. You hugged me, told me you loved me,

vanished into your home with a step lighter than air.

Again you approached our friendship but I was skittish with fear.

How many times have I placed my faith in trust only for it to disappear?

There you were with jovial laughter, warmest hugs from open arms.

“This can’t be right. This doesn’t make sense.” I argue with myself.

You tell me what you like about me, what I do, who I am.

Nobody has done that without wanting something in return.

(Rarely so).

I test a limit. You laugh. I push a button. You show me the right way.

You get pissed but you work through it like I do, using words and humor.

I feel like I’ve been shown a rare jewel in a crown that belongs to the masses.

I feel as if I may be able to trust this friendship, but I won’t lie

It scares me to allow people near to me because they always leave.

But maybe I can give enough to our friendship where I won’t want to

because of what you’ve already promised with your actions

because of what you’ve already given from your heart.

Preying Hands

Preying hands

Preying hands

I took my vow of silence when I unwillingly walked the aisle

I knew that once sealed, I was lost. I hoped to be.

I kissed his lips knowing they were poison

I tenderly held his hands that blessed me with curses;

beat me, berated me, tore me down to the floor where

I prayed at his altar with bloody knees,

“Please! I won’t sin again!”

I genuflected my resolved acceptance

of my worth from his unholy blessings and unlawful prayers.

I lay prostrate, willing myself to Mother Mary

Falling short of grace;

denied her forgiveness.

With the community choir ignoring the sermon

of discipleship he insisted I learn,

fifth in hand

I begged physical communion

I knew he’d lay down the fists for lustful sins

grunting self-satisfied “amens” of self-approval.

While I lynched my own redemption

on the clothesline laden with our dirty laundry

begging silently with screaming stains of humiliation

Betrayal drip drying fresh spilled secrets

Everybody listened

Nobody came.

Everybody knew

but denied my name.

Until

I found my voice

Until

I left six bullets in the clip

putting them safe in my pocket

one still in the chamber.

I knew you were a crappy shot

I won my life in a daring public race of rushing roulette

As I ran among my neighbors that I’d shared bread with

taken their children on vacation, gifted with Christmas

Challenging them to shine a light,

to allow me one phone call from my personal prison

Each house darkened but one remained.

My prayers finally answered

by confused badges of protect and serve honor.

I surrendered my protection

my haven

my home

because his shame lied

lay bruises on my arms.

Hear this, Father of my ex-communication,

I am again holy.

I am true in spirit.

I walk in grace while you walk in your valley of darkness

I pray you find your way to your own righteousness

I pray you never feel the transgressions you offered to me

visited upon your person

I pray that understanding of your offense

be never washed in the blood of another.

Amen and Blessed Be

If I die before I wake

I woke up covered in sweat with the blade of a knife I didn’t own mere inches from the face of my sleeping husband. I’d just stabbed a brown and tan hairless creature, that was trying to eat my arm, with a vicious punch. A child of about two clung to my chest as I adjusted enough to skillfully (Where did I get that skill from?) hide the blade again. I was panting with exertion, as the large brown eyes of the little child (Why do I have a child?) stared back at me with complete trust. I sat up in my bed. The child touched my cheek with a tiny fist and slid from the waking world back into the mist.

My muscles twitched from unusual exertion. My legs, gimp foot, and arms felt like I’d been running for my life. I searched my naked body for the blade I’d held in my hands, I pushed and pulled blankets searching for something that wasn’t there. I looked at the clock on my husband’s bedside stand. In accusing red glare, 4:47, alarm still set, gentle snore and roll over from my husband.

I settled my breathing as my mind tried to sort through what had awakened my physical being. My little dog snuggled closer to my left hip. My cat paraded with pride up my body to curl at my right shoulder. But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the middle of a war I knew nothing about in the waking life.

The night before this happened, in the sleeping world there were three men, one a sheriff who had given me false hope that he would rescue me, chasing me through swamps. I’d hidden low tide in a bunker. There were so many dead bodies in this bunker. Across the rising water against the opposite wall was a girl who was long dead but her blonde curls, like mine, were still mostly in tact. She wore a pretty dress like an Easter one I used to get. It was blue and had a white lace “bib” on it. She was wearing Mary Jane shoes with most of the patent leather shine gone.

If I’d been wearing shoes, they would have found me, but I drowned in the water. I was mercifully gone before they discovered my body. I woke up vomiting swamp water, barely making it to the toilet before it launched.

Why am I suddenly entrenched in a battle? What mysteries are laying behind my dreams? I need to figure out a way to keep control of the violence before it wanders into this world.