The trumpeting herald

Trumpet Swan

Trumpet Swan

I drew my face of happiness upon my colored mask

I hobbled down two decades of steps that led into my past

I touched the ground at mother’s knee with my wings reborn

Straight from devil’s flaming pit stabbed forward by his horns

But I arrived with soul intact despite the battle fought

For I was embraced in cherished state, learning as I taught

With patient hands on comforting arms, I heralded the news

There are always both sides of the story that always comes in twos.

The fading mask falls to the floor in porcelain jags and breaks

To see my own reflected back challenging age old fates

Have I truly conquered the demons that once hunted me down?

Have I earned my place once again in this familiar alien town?

What will be the price I’ll pay for rebuilding from my past?

Will it be worth rejecting anything that ain’t kick-ass?

I know who I am now but I’m curious to see

if the world to where I physically birthed, is ready to meet the real me.

Walkers of the Sky

The Force was strong.

The Force was strong.

The pitch of cloudy moonless nights are harrowing

Despite the switch-back trail chosen to navigate

Maneuvering childish thoughts jagged and narrowing

You said, “Bring the child back home.”

The misty breathy wisdom cites a frightened wraith

With parental patient guidance blessed wisdom

Exhuming trust, from brittle bones, from a wild-haired waif

You said, “Return the child back home.”

With coward’s yellow pungent stench un-protecting

Winter’s breath of springing fallen truths disarming

The summer child sees comfort’s spirit connecting.

You whispered, “You’re safe. Come home.”

A quick lesson on feeling good about being you

Lady:   hi there, nice to meet you too, sounds interesting you talk about image

Mare Martell:   I do indeed. I’m very comfortable in my skin and several friends couldn’t figure out why. So I started by talking to them about how I do it. They invited me to talk to one of their groups and I get to talk about once ever 3 months or so. Qualify that. I’m 5’4″, 208lbs

Lady:   So what’s your secret to feeling good about yourself ?

Mare Martell:   Everybody else. I looked around me one day and realized that everybody around me was constantly talking badly of themselves and others. I’m too this or too that. I’m fat, I’m thin. My nose is too big. It bothered me. A Lot. Then I started to reflect on why I felt badly about my fat rolls and my…well mostly weight. No, that’s a lie. I hated my nose. I hated my butt. I hated my knees and I thought my upper arms were disproportionate. But then. I realized maybe it wasn’t the body at all. Maybe…

I started to look outside of myself at the humanity of others. Every person I meet has a dark secret. Every person I meet has had tragedies galore. I dig people from car accidents with bright vivid scars because they wear theirs on the outside. What if…what if those deep dark secrets we keep to ourselves for whatever reason, what if they were as visible as a car wreck scar?

What if we do it to ourselves to keep love from healing those corners that we hide under cobwebs? Just like that. Just seeing humanity in others and realizing they’re dealing with the same stuff in different packages and I was cured.

Lady:   Out in the light?

Mare Martell: Yes. We see through different eyes, but the stars still shines and the moon still wanes I see through my disguise. Naked as the day I was born. Running wild with my spirit streaking out behind me in lovely colors. It’s like…you are me. I am you.

Lady:    why don’t we want love to heal us

Mare Martell:    If you think of your deepest secret, the one you don’t even share with your best friend. If they knew…if they only knew what you did…It’s like the (sorry about this reference) Garden of Eden and feeling shame and wearing the leaf

Lady:   So when the spirit is strong it shines through the physical shell

Mare Martell:    Where else is it going to go?

The more love you give, the more comes. The more you share, the more is given. The more you see the beauty in yourself the more you see the beauty in others. It’s like…Man, I sound like a heavy duty hippy and I don’t even smoke!

But I’ve been trying this particular strain of my hypothesis for over a year and the changes in my life have been…wow

That’s the other cool part. It’s like getting on a train as it pulls out of the

Started out slow and bumpy, picked up and is now cruising. Take care of you. Peace

Discovering Death

NOTE: Some of these details may have become foggy over the years although the feeling of profound has not. If I’ve erred in my memory, it is not meant with any disrespect, but depicted to the best of my personal recollection.

Death is a religion with a universal name. It wears shrouds, platitudes, religion, and tradition to ease the minds of the living. It is a great Truth. It is indiscriminate and unavoidable. We create rituals to bring order to what we have no control or power to stop. Although we have first-hand knowledge of the results of physical death, we are ignorant of what we witness because before the body has even grown cold, something happens that we don’t understand. It’s not a journey any have taken that lived to tell the tale of what happens after we die.

When I was in Junior High at Iroquois Middle School, Aimee Mann, a pretty girl in my math class died from complications of diabetes. I’d experienced death before with goldfish, kittens, and even my Great Grandmother when I was four, but Aimee was the first time I realized there was an absence.

I wasn’t her best friend. I wasn’t a close friend. I just knew her and had spoken to her a couple of times after class about mundane things. I didn’t know she was struggling with a disease. I just thought she was nice. The day after she died, I heard about it all over school like an infection spreading rumors at an epidemic rate. One said that she died because she wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom. Another said she died because she hit her head. Some were so far-fetched that even in my ignorance I knew they weren’t true.

When I got home from school, I told my mom about Aimee and asked to go to the services. I wanted to see for myself what death looked like up close since I had no point of reference that I remembered solidly. We checked the obituaries, found out when and where, and I dressed to attend the solemn wake.

The funeral home was near where I’d lived as a young girl. It was a plain white and brick single story building with an ample parking lot in the back. There was a lot of people of every age and color lining up to go inside. Their outfits ranged from black and solemn to bright Skittle colored dresses with wild hats. I felt intimidated and awkward in my clothing choice of a plain black skirt and a white blouse. I wasn’t sure what to do. My mom got out of the car and walked with me. I remember dragging my feet. I wasn’t sure how to act. I was even more afraid to discover what death looked like up close.

I entered the vestibule where a nearly full white guest book rested on a podium with a feathered pen locked into the holster with a ball chain. My mom picked up the pen and signed her name. I followed her example and did the same. The hallway smelled like slightly rotting flowers and armpits. It made me wrinkle my nose. My mom put her hand on my shoulder and guided me to the room where my classmate was dead.

The whole room was lined with massive bouquets of flowers. Lilies, roses, carnations, and a variety of flowers filled the room with a strong perfumed scent that, although wasn’t unpleasant, wasn’t exactly a smell I’d like to remember.

Just like in the movies, the crowd parted and I could see the pale tan coffin at the front of the room. Aimee’s mother sat in a chair sobbing while various, I assumed, relatives attempted to console her. My mom guided me with her hand on my shoulder.

“I’m so sorry for your loss. My daughter was her classmate.” My mom offered her words of comfort. I mumbled something and couldn’t meet the grieving mother’s eyes. She thanked us for coming while sniffling back another sob.

My mom guided me to turn to face the coffin.

The pale tan of the outside and the pristine white interior looked odd to me. The inside lid had diamond shapes patterned into the lining. A spray of flowers lay on the top and I could just make out the top of her head from where I stood. My mother guided me closer and whispered to me that we had to pay our respects.

Walking up to the edge of the casket, I peered into the face of death. Only, it didn’t look any different, really, than the girl I talked to. She looked like she was sleeping. Her face and hair were pretty as always and her hands were folded neatly on her chest protecting her heart. I didn’t know what to do. My mom tried to guide me away but I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to understand.

I got the idea of death. I knew that when someone died they no longer got to hang out or talk or any of the things living people do. But there I was, face to face with it and I wanted to wait until it was done. It didn’t seem right. She was my age. She still had things to do. Why was she laying in a box at (I think) 13 years old?

That was the first time I remember realizing the permanence and absence of a person from my life. I knew that she would no longer be in my classes. I knew that after the mourning period was done, her friends would go on to live their lives, grow old or not, have kids or not, go to church or not. They had choices that she’d never have.

I cried. I cried a lot for the girl I barely knew. I cried because I knew that someday I would lose people that I was close to and that scared me. On the way home, I stared out the window at the passing houses. There was probably some classical music playing from WOOD-FM that my mom liked to listen to when my dad wasn’t in the car. There was probably traffic lights, cars, and other such ordinary things. People sitting in their living rooms as I rode past catching a fleeting glimpse at someone reading the newspaper not realizing that my friend was dead. Life went on.

Over the years, many people I’ve loved have passed away. I’ve attended funerals, paid my respects, gone through the many different rituals of their family and my family traditions. I’ve used boxes of tissues mourning their death and my losses.

“There is a wisdom holy that I must pass to you and give

There is truly only one life you have, one life for you to live.

When your eyes drop down with despair, the tears they freely flow

Remember in your heart and soul that you already know

That love is the only answer, that giving is its boon

Gyrate your hips to the music you hear, spiral the cycling moon.

Lift your maudlin mourning eyes for love isn’t found beneath

Don’t believe that you’re not worthy, don’t heed whispers from deceit.”

From the poem, “What You Give Up” by Mare Martell

From death, an ultimate truth, an unavoidable circumstance, comes a valuable lesson to each of us that, if embraced, creates a comfort in its own. For every person that you’ve loved and lost, live your life with your heart wide open, grateful in your spirit, and filled with the knowledge that you’re taking that part of them, that you held so dear, with you for the ride. Make it a great one!

Lost Sunday

Go away.
He sat in the back seat using his hands as a rosary
praying to holy mother Rosemary his sin not be discovered.
The violation of my air space undetected by his stealth
suddenly had air raid sirens blaring loudly,

“HOW DARE YOU?!” upon my radar screen
while I drove away and prayed the guards were adept.

The Mute Woman

How to make a daisy crown

How to make a daisy crown

I made daisy crowns and dandelion necklaces.

I climbed trees with my knees scraping bark

to see what was on the other side of my neighbor’s fence

or down the hill, or off in the distance on a sea of treetops.

I drank water from the dog bowl to see if it tasted different.

I tried cat food to see if they liked things the same as me.

I wove elaborate stories, like plays,

that I repeated until I had them memorized

then performed them to blank-faced audiences of dolls.

I became a mosquito scratching relative legs until they sprayed me away.

I watched from my window, every day through winter to see the first robin of Spring.

I dashed wildly, madly through the scented Autumn leaves.

I splashed loudly in puddles

when I didn’t have on rain boots and when I did.

I drove a pedal car up and down the sidewalk in front of my home;

Mine was green, my brother’s blue.

I rode my bike as fast as the wind

skinning the ends from my toes for riding barefoot.

My baby doll became a real child needing care

right down to being walked in a baby buggy, pampered and cuddled.

I sang songs when there were people around

and when there wasn’t.

I wore the brightest clothes I owned with pride

but refused to wiggle my fanny at school for embarrassment’s sake

foregoing the envied bunny tail.

I dreamed of long hair like my favorite Aunts

but my hair was wild, unruly, and never behaved appropriately.

I played race car with the electric socket and a key

learning just how many people I could scare at one time.

I saw my world as beautiful, wondrous, and awe-inspiring.

My memories have not been muted, although faded a bit,

Dog-eared around the edges, notated and rewritten with crayons

reversed into a parking spot reserved for each one.

I take them out and drive them around adult conversations

but they get dismissed as comical fancies

disapproved of as childish rubbish.

But they’re wrong.

My childhood held many terrifying horrors.

I don’t think these wonders I hold in my memories are comical or rubbish.

They represented my soul unfurled like a battle-worn banner

proclaiming my liberty from my aggressive oppressors.

They were a time of exploration, learning, and comprehension.

They were and are my life boiled down to the simple things

that so many struggle toward, but I hold dear to my heart.

When we were addresses

I remember when we were addresses, not numbers. The generation before me remembers when people were people, not addresses. The generation after me is all numbers, although I do participate, I am not truly a part of that group. I remember before we were numbers when the only question that mattered was, “Where do you live?” I remember next the question became, “Where’s the phone?” Followed by, “I paged you several times and you didn’t call me back.” The questions of communication that have allowed us to have less connection to where we live and more anonymity while contradictorily being more exposed by social media than ever before in my lifetime.

When I was growing up, the most crucial part of a conversation was, “Where do you live?” It was a question that was dictated by locational reference what type of person they may be. If I lived two blocks north of my childhood home, I would probably be a member of an African-American family. If I were to go two blocks to the south, I’d probably be an older white woman, more than likely widowed. If I journeyed three blocks to the west, more than likely I’d be a blend of Hispanic or African-American. Four blocks to the east primarily Dutch middle class white families with American flags on the porch.

We knew the boundaries and most of the time accepted them without question for “our own protection.” Most of the time we did follow the rules, but it was a struggle to do so. When we didn’t, it usually wasn’t long before going where we didn’t live was firmly corrected by threats or actively rejected by mild violence.

We followed the codes set down by our histories. We learned how to behave in a society that was not accepting of people outside of the boundary.

Again, it was all about where a person lived. We had communities that were based on a respective leveling field of either economic means, or by employability. There was a carefully balanced ecocosim that existed only because, as children, we didn’t understand how it worked. We mostly went with the flow. It’s what we knew. It was our normal.

What's your phone number?

What’s your phone number?

In our house, we had a main phone located on the kitchen wall. Because of the cord, we could reach the sink for a drink of water, but if we got hungry, the fridge was just out of reach. We wrote phone numbers in tiny letters on the dining room wallpaper. We hid around the corner in the kitchen and spoke as if we were at a funeral in fears we’d be told to get off the phone. After a family emergency, we finally got a second line, upstairs in my parent’s bedroom. My parents argued for years whether or not to put in a third line in the basement, but that never happened.

When the portable phones first appeared as affordable, we, as a people, felt the freedom to roam the house away from prying ears and eyes. When the phone rang, members in our household would call out for the location of the phone. When one person, like me for example, hogged the phone, we were chastised and grounded from using the portable phones.

As we grew accustomed to being able to roam, we further became accustomed to the caller ID which allowed us to preview the incoming calls and screen out the ones we didn’t want. We were able to sort out the people we wanted in our lives by their phone numbers. Our neighborhoods expanded when we could freely communicate with portability. But those phones never quite reached far enough. You couldn’t be but a short bit away from the base and although it was farther than just the kitchen sink, it wasn’t far enough to go to the end of the road.

When you were out and about and had to make a call, you stopped off at a phone booth, that for a dime, would allow you to call anyone in your local area, and for a bit more allowed you access to a long distance party for as long as you kept feeding the machine. If your call got disconnected, you could sometimes get a refund by calling the operator. That operator was a real person with a real job directing people where they needed to go to get connected. I miss that tremendously.

Now, I can use 411 for number search only. I can’t ask if a double yolk egg messes up a recipe at three in the morning. I can’t speak with a human being. I have to pray the voice recognition software hears me clearly when I ask for business or residence or government entity. I can’t get to know anyone because there isn’t anyone there to get to know. Even information is disconnected from who we are.

Pagers came along and were first used for business contacts to keep informed by phone. If a pager went off, people looked around to see who was so important they had to be reached at any time day or night. If I heard a pager go off and saw a well dressed man or woman get up and leave to find a phone, I thought they had something really good going for them. Then pagers became affordable enough for anyone to have one. The good side was that communication grew with the people who could page me, but got lost because I still had to find a phone from which to contact them. We were still tied to the house phone mentality that kept a person in their respectable place. Boundaries were still strong but weakening.

When I got my first pager, I felt so self important. I believed that it made me appear to be more prestigious. I believed that I was more important than someone else. It created a prejudice for me against those who couldn’t afford 20 bucks a month. I held onto that until they started to get even more popular and everyone had one. My balloon popped and I was back to being average again.

Cell phones, when I was younger, were only for the Wall Street people. They were the only people who could afford the daunting fees of paying for minutes. When I’d see people with cell phones, I’d think, man, they must really have made it. They must be somebody. I aspired to own one so I could go from being “normal” to extraordinary. I bought into the number mentality. I believed I’d be more successful once I had one. In fact, I wasn’t very successful at much, but I wanted to believe I was.

When I got my first cell phone, I called everyone and informed them of my “accomplishment.” I was so proud and self-important that I really believed I was better than everyone else. Until they became affordable enough for everyone to have a cell phone easily, that changed the field again. Then it was a battle to have the best phone with a vanity number, perhaps. The more features, the better the phone. The better the phone with its many features the better of a person held it. Or so I believed.

Then, one day it occurred to me that we were becoming numbers. We no longer had to remember where people lived because we could meet them anywhere they were. It was the perfect way to lose the base of community and for people to universally accept it. “Can I have your number?” Changed into, “Can I get your digits?” People became numbers and didn’t question it any more. We accepted the fact that in order to “be” somebody, you needed to be within the circle. You needed to have a number. I bought that too.

More recently, I’ve discovered, although it’s been a feature for years that your closest people don’t even get to be ten digits. They get shortened, usually by order of importance, to speed dial. On my phone, number one is pre-programmed to my voice mail. I can’t change that. Number two was held by my best friend, three by my husband, four by my son, five by my mother, six by another friend, seven eight and nine are all friends as well. I don’t remember their phone numbers any more, just their speed dial number. I don’t have to think. I don’t have to be actively involved in which number to dial after the first digit. I can stay connected by disconnecting myself from having to be a thinking person.

My son said to me, “If I don’t have my phone with me, I don’t exist.” After I checked my phone for the third time during the course of our conversation, I realized that his statement is accepted as the norm. We no longer exist unless we can check our phones to verify that we are an active member in our selected social circle.

If I forget my phone, I feel lost and disoriented. I’ve become that dependent on having it nearby. My son, on the other hand, knows the language of the Internet youth. He understands the importance of late night texting to build his own group of digits. He gets that some people’s conversations with him are imperative to his happiness, and so asks permission to walk the path he is on with technology while still hanging out with his parents.

Sometimes I balk heavily at his usage of his phone, but today, it’s more important than ever to have a strong identity via which number is assigned to you. The phone was all important until social media took over.

I am a self proclaimed Facebook addict whom checks frequently on the people I care about to see what’s happening in their lives. I’ve watched Cancer take people I love. I’ve watched divorces and breakups. I’ve seen weddings and birthdays, births and anniversaries, and graduations celebrated. Even when I couldn’t be with the people I love, I feel a bit like a stalker/participant. But this bothers me as well because even though I’m watching this occur in video, chat, posts, or pictures, it’s not the same as living in the same house, hanging out with the same people, going to the same places as a group, having an actual community that puts hands in the soil together and grows something spectacular.

It’s not the same to see a picture as it is to be right in the middle of it. It’s not the same to read a book and imagine festival through the perceptions of the writer. Events of life demand participation in such a way that sweat and dressy clothes get over worn by the weather as much as the laughter and camaraderie does the same. It’s not the same to watch a video and catch that tiny snapshot into the bigger picture. It’s not enough to want to see it.

Everything on Facebook, MySpace, yahoo, CNN, FOX, anything .com are compilations of 1’s and 0’s. Nothing that is seen on the web, on videos, in articles posted, or even graphics that offer snippets of political views or causes we find important exist. They are all 1’s and 0’s. It’s not real. It is propaganda designed to make us think we are more important than we really are. We’re digits with names that identify us down to the picture of dinner last night. We’re numbers that matter only when someone finds fault in our illogical thinking or erratic behaviors.

I remember when we were addresses instead of numbers. I remember when it all began because I lived through it. I remember when exposure to other cultures, races, or ideals, went against everything I was taught to believe. I remember when where a person came from meant more than what they did in their bedroom or what they believed publicly. I remember. You should remember as well.