Revision

Rolling down the road before

Been there, done that, know the score

Crossed that bridge, then burned it down

Trapped myself in my hometown

Ghosts of me walk laughing by

Anger driven, cocaine high

I barely know the face of then

But I wear them as my diadem

Broken heart lay broken wide

Spilling love from what’s inside

Trains of childhood sing forlorn

Don’t chase those tracks. Don’t heed those horns.

Meat Loaf

Did you know meat suits come with fragile halos and fierce wings?

You know, the ones hung on ideals, beliefs, but rarely on faith?

The halos may as well be bent together like pipe cleaners

fuzzy and limp if not woven together to be fuzzy or less limp

You probaby don’t even realize you have anything divine

in your very being

You lay around on the couch after an average dinner

watching programming so you become programmed

You walk the dog, feed the cat, check the kids, go to bed.

Alarm goes off, take a shower, wash around the halo

which mostly is a pain in the ass, but it remains.

Then, around half past ten, while heading to get coffee,

a young man steps from the curb while deeply involved

in a conversation on his phone that holds his attention fast.

The fierce wings spring from your average back, halo blinding.

Without thought or personal consideration, you grab the man.

The bus barely misses him. He grimaces at you for contact.

You apologize for saving his life un-sarcastically. Wings and halo gone.

Later, you lay around on the couch after an average dinner

watching programming so you become programmed

 

Into The Otherwhere

There are times in my life where I felt so much weariness just maintaining my facade that I couldn’t bring myself to explode. I mean strip down to the bare bones and rebuild myself into my birthright. The very idea of destruction to create something real seemed counter-productive, but without truly understanding, I invoked Inanna, Goddess of Love, Fertility, and War. One of the Ultimate Mother Goddesses that I embraced with great fear but deep trust. I had no idea what I was doing, but in the core of my being, it was the right thing to do.

Gate of Authority

I removed my crown. I released my prayers to a God I didn’t believe in, or rather, doubted his existence. I surrendered my name that identified me by birth and allowed it to become dust of the earth. I gave my power to the winds of change, the solid earth, the fires of passion, the waters of emotions, the edge of the Universe clenched tightly in my abandoned fist. I allowed myself to become whatever would become.

Gate of Perception

I took off my rose colored glasses to allow any vision of the new world to manifest. I needed to understand the rawness of reality. I required it because I could no longer make my mind see what wasn’t there. I had to face the illusion that I’d created; safety, love, comfort, stability. I couldn’t lie to myself any longer. I opened my eyes and felt shame for what I’d allowed myself to be fooled by because it was truly obvious.

Gate of Communication

For every time I justified words that weren’t my truth. “Oh, you just have to get to know him. He’s not really that bad of a guy.” or “You don’t understand. He’s not like this at home.” or my favorite lie, “He didn’t defend her because he was defending me.” All lies.

Things I told myself because I wanted so desperately to be loved, to be worthy of love. I needed to speak a truth that nobody seemed to want to hear. If I raised my voice, deafness fell on my audience. I became (to cross pantheons here) Cassandra, the soothsayer that could see the future with 100% accuracy but nobody would believe her.

When I realized my voice was aimed at the wrong people, I let it go. They didn’t need or weren’t ready to know me at that level. Onward!

Gate of Compassion

For so many years I was groomed to be the perfect victim. So much so that it never occurred to me that I was one. Even now, at 50, I still have difficulties thinking of myself as anything other than me. But world events or politics such as they are, remind me on a deep level that I was bred to be consumed by men like popcorn, until I found this gate. I had to find a way to love every broken piece of myself. I had to discover that the words I was taught to destroy myself by people that sought to destroy me, were theirs, not mine.

My words were those of a mother caring for a sobbing child. My words were ones of comfort and reassurance that I was worthy of love, capable of love, in fact, I AM love. This gate held me for the longest time because centuries of anguish had to be unwoven, stripped, and remade into my light, not into their darkness.

Gate of Personal Power

At this point I realized that I was harming others with my shards of broken edges and broken promises. I released deception of myself. I released deception of others. I had no reason to manipulate others to suit my needs even though I tried constantly. I allowed others to take from me because if I gave it, they couldn’t steal it.

I returned the power I had stolen from others and set them free of me. For example, I had to walk away from relationships that no longer served me or my companions. I gave up drugs, abusive relationships, alcoholism, nicotine, and the acceptance of violence against me.

I no longer gave sex away willy-nilly (I know). I found more power in holding my core strong. I mean, I love sex, I won’t lie, but there’s something different when it’s given freely and not coerced or forced from my loins. Now, you may think, “Well, duh, Mare!” but I again point out that I was groomed to believe that my vagina was my worth. I didn’t understand the power because it was not seen as power but shame.

Okay, so I also learned that telling my truth to large groups of people was extremely cathartic. I was allowed to say what happened to me and my family lived. I was safe when I walked the stage and spoke of the gun violence I’d experienced at the hands of someone I once loved. I learned at this gate that my personal power was more than who I am, it’s what I am to myself, to others, and to the world. It is my light of LOVE that will not ever again be dimmed.

Gate of Creativity

I found new ways to value myself. I had to believe, from top to bottom that I was created with a purpose so Divine and sacred that only by walking deep into my belly could I find the earth in which I was planted, the water which nourished me, the air that I knew so intimately, the fires that cleansed me, the spirit which guided me. I had to eliminate anything that contradicted that balance of perfect love.

You may hear me joke about my body size, but it’s my shell. I love every inch of this meat suit. It’s kept me moving forward for half a century. It’s weathered so many stormy seas and still sets sail each morning. How could I discount one inch of this glorious being I am? I love me. I love my body. I love how I feel. I love how I look. I love who I am. I had to accept me to love me with no conditions. It was hard work, but baby, look at me now!

Gate of Manifestation

So at this gate I stand Naked. Bare bones flapping in the breeze like wind chimes. Flesh stretched over shells to make drums, entrails stretched into harp strings, and nothing of my former self remains. There isn’t a door or an audience to applaud this place I find myself. I can’t even stand to be around people at this point. It’s not that I’m afraid, I can see them as they are. I see them for their lost paths and misguided anger. I’m not different than them, but I’m not the same either.

I want to step through and see myself reborn. I want to become what I’m meant to be. I’m ready. I have nothing more to lose. Seriously, nothing. Every material good is vanquished. Everything I thought I knew is scattered on the side of the highway between there and here. I have so much lost blood that I’m crusty with scabs of things I’ve torn from my body that didn’t belong there. Leeches of my energy, parasites of my love, rapists of my body, shamers of my spirit are all released into the mud I’ve created in tears cried zig-zag across the country. I am ready.

Gate of Death

And there she died. The part of me that couldn’t love. The part of me that was so devastated she hated the sound of her own name. The knife-like pieces that stabbed anyone that got too close, that wanted to take anything from me, that needed anything from me, that wanted me to be happy or not. I had to allow her to die. I had to lay her to rest with a fancy wreath of flowers in a cold field under the ever-watching stars where the milky-way sang a dirge and witnessed the sacrifice. I was finally free.

Rebirth

As I write this, I realize that for many years I struggled to find my footing. I had many people along the way that helped me even when they didn’t have my best interests at heart. I had to trust the journey. I had to reach out to people that I was deathly afraid of, but found them to be some of my strongest allies. I’ve trusted some people to my error, but they taught me to be cautious with whom I interact my power with because not everyone has my heart.

I still have years to go in this life, Lady willing, but I want to know what it’s like to find that peace of mind. I am strong, I know that, but I’d like to help others find what I’ve found. I’d like to show them the way to love of self, others, and the divine spark within. Here’s hoping for another fifty years!

Today vs 355 Days Ago

Today I watched an emergency vehicle roar

followed by a chorus of five more

the hymn they sang was not for me

but I found myself unable to breathe

I started to panic, filled with fear

as if they were suddenly going to stop here

I wear her shirts and her ashes

as if those would conjure her

breathe, ironically, life back to her

to us

to the moment in time where we were

all of we, together, being happily.

It was a feeling of holy

a feeling of communion

as we broke bread together

The laughter we shared

reciting our ancient tales

filled us faster than food

She just at fifty, me at 49

We’d spent a love-time of life

but never enough time

The chaplain at the hospital said,

on the day Bean really died,

Maybe you were the face of God

she had to see before she could

finally be at peace.”

It was the most comforting words

because I often think of them.

I often think of Bean’s face in that same way,

the face I needed see before she went home

Aprons mingle

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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

Two Strips of String Cheese

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There have been many times in my life where I’ve been food insecure for whatever reason. [Couch surfing, ditching an abusive husband, barely making ends meet with 12 hour days] By default, I find myself counting and re-counting the dollars I have to spend at the grocery store. I’m hyper aware when dollars go missing from my pocket.

At the grocery store this evening, as I browsed the produce section, I noticed a young man whom looked a LOT like my friend Rocky. Hair, gait, style of clothing, even the way he was talking aloud to himself reminded me of Seabuurd. He also looked quite distraught.

“Are you okay? You seem upset.” I asked.

“Yeah, I just…I just lost $10 somewhere on the floor. I’m retracing my steps.” he replied.

“Well I sure hope you find it.” I continued on my way giving a short glance around the area hoping I’d be the hero that found the missing currency.

A few aisles later, I see the young man again.

“Any luck?”

“No. Someone probably found it already. I really needed that.” He fruitlessly searched the barren floor.

“I’ll keep a look out.”

“Thanks.”

I checked my pocket where I only had $7 left until Friday evening. I decided if I saw him again, I’d give him the dollars. I headed to the pharmacy area to see if they had an OTC sling to put my arm in because my shoulder is really jacked up right now. As I searched the pharmacy shelves, I heard a loud ruckus coming from the checkout part of the store.

Three women were taunting the young man with the $10 they found in the aisle. At first he started to explain himself, but they kept on going. Bragging about their good fortune loud enough to be heard, literally, half-way across the store. The other patrons joined in to defend the young man, but the young women just wouldn’t let it go. Finally, the young man, nearly in tears tells the women that he hopes they get pulled over and have to use his money to pay the fine.

Not finding what I need, I head over to the checkout lane. I select the one with a high school friend of mine as the cashier. As I approach her, I ask what all the noise was about. She tells me the story. While she’s talking I look over my shoulder where the Rocky looking young man is packing his groceries into bags. He’s obviously shook up. I reached into my pocket and gave him my dollars.

“It’s not the full $10 bucks, but it’s closer than you were.” I smile at him. At first he refused, but my high school chum tells him to take it.

“She won’t quit. You’re better off taking it.” She tells him.

“Oh, well do you like string cheese?” He asked me with sincerity. “Here have a piece.”

He gave me a piece which I peeled at the register and we ate together in the middle of the checkout line. “Have the rest of it.”

“Nah, I’m good. I can’t eat too much of that.”

“Please take a couple pieces at least.” He offers them earnestly to me. I accept and put them into my grocery bag. At that moment a tall well-dressed man enters the store, walks up to the young man with his hand extended.

“I approached them in the parking lot and asked for the money back. At first they were all about keeping it, but I told them I’d call the police because they were assholes. They gave it up.” He chuckled richly.

“Aw, man! Thanks, dude!” The young man reached into his pocket, retrieved the dollars I’d given him, attempted to return them to me.

“No. I already gave it to you, they’re yours. You now can pay it forward better.” He looked astonished. He kept telling me what a beautiful human I am. Even as I walked away from the counter he was continuing his praise.

You may or may not believe me about this, but I do stuff like this all the time. I don’t do it for the compliments or praise. I’m not even telling you this story for positive feedback.

I’m telling you that when you do something equally as kind, it spreads like a California wildfire. When you put yourself out there by an act of kindness bigger than the moment, you’re doing what you are born to do. You’re born to shine. You’re born to be the beacon of hope, love, and joy in this ridiculously cruel world. You get to be the hope someone sees by your actions. Like lighting your candle off your neighbor’s at the Christmas eve candlelight service, it spreads love.

Preaching all day long does nothing but give you a sore throat. ACTIVELY living loving is a practice in mindfulness; a revolutionary awareness of the world around you. It is a true mark of courage to be the light in the darkness. It is a badge of honor to set aside some wants you have (like giving up my breakfast tomorrow morning) to give someone else that light. I’ll keep doing what I do, regardless if you follow my lead or not, but we should practice this kind of radical kindness every day.

The House of Flushing

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The first fish in our story was named Five. Five died trying to live out of water because Claymore insisted, as a goldfish, he could do it. Five believed and leapt from the water. Goldie tried to stop him, but Five wanted to believe so badly, nothing Goldie said could dissuade the ambitions of the follower. Five flopped for a bit on the tank stand after his leap of faith. After a several minutes Five expired and began bloating.

This all took place in and around a small aquarium, in a small apartment in a large building in a big noisy city. The walls of the apartment, where the fish could see, were dingy gray except in the bathroom where the walls were a soothing green-gray. The toilet sparkled cleanly from where the sunlight streamed in from a small window that wasn’t visible from the tank.

The remaining fish in the aquarium were: Claymore, a beautiful maroon Betta fish, Goldie who shone like the sun, Flipper who had black fins, and Tipper who had a black tipped tail.

Claymore was an intelligently charismatic Betta fish. He loved to coax the unintelligent goldfish that lived with him in the aquarium to believe in silly things. His nemesis, Goldie, a voice of reason, couldn’t be convinced of the nonsense. Goldie never believed anything Claymore said because Claymore was always wrong.

When Five died, Claymore held a meeting.

“Tonight, when the human comes home, we’re going to watch as Five is carried away in holiness. He will be released into the water where he will become baptized as a new fish, then sent to a better place. Behold, the holy fountain filled with rejuvenating water!” Claymore gestured with his fin towards the porcelain stool visible in the bathroom. Hanging above the toilet was a beautiful wall hanging with a human woman wearing a blue robe and pointing to a rose encircled heart on her breast

“I can see it. I believe it. Oh, Claymore, you’re so smart. Will I be sent to the fountain when I become like Five?” inquired Flipper. “I do hope so.”

“Of course, Sister Flipper.” Replied Claymore with false wisdom. “If you follow me, I’ll make sure you get there. The Mother of the Holy Fountain will guide your way if you only believe.”

Tipper, the follower, decided that if Flipper was going to do it, so would he. He wasn’t very good at coming up with ideas of his own anyway. He depended on his friends to show him what was right. If he ever felt like he had an idea, he’d just talk to Claymore or Flipper and they’d set him straight.

But Tipper knew that if he went to Goldie, all that fish would tell him is, “Think for yourself. Don’t be a follower.” Goldie made it impossible to get anything accomplished.

That evening, their human returned to find Five bloated and quite ripe next to the aquarium. Claymore called Tipper and Flipper to the worship service.

“Just as I predicted, our human has discovered the failure of Five to survive his leap of faith.” Stated Claymore in a stage whisper which caused Goldie to burble angrily.

The female human set down her belongings with a frown on her face. She disappeared into one of the rooms that couldn’t be seen, returning with a pair of long slender tongs.

“See how the human won’t taint the body with her flippers? She is using tools…”
“What are tools?” inquired Tipper.

Without allowing the interruption, Claymore continued, “As she carefully lifts Five, watch as she transports him to the holy fountain. Pray with me.” He intoned as the human dropped Five’s body into the commode. “Dear Mother of the Holy Fountain, accept the body of our brother Five. Rejuvenate him into a whole and living flesh.”

The human pushed the holy fountain’s silver button, a whoosh of swirling sound, and Five’s body was carried down the tubes.

“And now, my dear brethren, we wait. In three days, a new living Five will return to us.”

If goldfish could blink, Tipper and Flipper would have been in rapturous prayer. As it was, Tipper blubbed a bit, imitating Flipper. The wait began.

During the period of waiting, Goldie spent a lot of time swimming around, thinking deep thoughts. Like Claymore, Goldie taught himself to read by observing anything the human set near the tank. He could even proudly recite his address, understood there was more than just the aquarium they lived in, and despised Claymore for toying with the others of his kind.

As predicted a new fish showed up on the third day, a fancy-tailed goldfish with white tipped fins and tail. Tipper and Flipper rushed to greet the new Five.

“My name isn’t Five. I’m Gardita,” flounced the newcomer. “Why do you keep calling me that?”

“Because! You returned to us, just like Claymore told us you would, Five.”

“I told you. My name is Gardita, not Five.”

Gardita hid in the plastic plants near the bottom, avoiding contact with the two lunatics. She and Goldie watched as Flipper and Tipper followed Claymore around the aquarium as if he were a God. She watched as two of the others gave up extra shares of food. Claymore grew larger.

The two leaders of the aquarium approached the new fish at the same time.

“My name is Claymore, welcome to our place of holy pilgrimage.” Articulated the Betta-fish. Tipper and Flipper swayed behind him with pure faith seeping from their scales. “I apologize for the ardent fervor which my disciples are enraptured by, but they just saw you resurrect as the new Five.”

“Don’t pay attention to him. Welcome, Gardita.” Interrupted Goldie. “I’m the only sane one around here, it would seem.”

“Why do they keep calling me Five?” probed the pretty new fish. “No matter how many times I tell them.”

“That,” said Claymore as he slapped his flipper over Goldie’s mouth, “is because I showed the way to holiness to my swimming friends.”

Goldie bit Claymore’s fin.

“No, that’s because he lied to them. He told the last fish here, whose name WAS Five, that he could live outside the bowl. He convinced him to jump to his death.”

“No, I showed him the path to righteousness.” Countered Claymore.

“You killed him just because he believed you.”

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” Disrupted Gardita while swimming between the fighting fish. “Claymore, you killed Five?”

Tipper and Flipper swam in front of the large Betta-fish. “Not at all. He showed Five how to become holy by taking a leap of faith.” Chorused the submissive fish. Claymore merely watched as his two faithful followers described the rousing tale of Five’s glorious death and subsequent resurrection into Gardita.

“But, I’m not Five. I’m Gardita. I was hatched in a giant store among many other fish. I was chosen because I was the prettiest one of all of them as you can tell,” the pretty fish fluttered every so prettily. “I am a girl, not a boy.”

“They can’t hear you. They believe anything that idiot tells them,” urged Goldie. “You’d be best to avoid them.”

“I think you’re right.” Agreed Gardita.

But her promise didn’t last long with Claymore constantly whispering in her ear. She fought valiantly against Tipper and Flipper reassuring her of Claymore’s holy message. Gardita couldn’t take it anymore. She committed to Claymore’s message. She became Five.

Five died trying to live out of water because Claymore insisted, as a goldfish, she could do it. Five believed and leapt from the water. Goldie tried to stop her, but Five wanted to believe so badly, nothing Goldie said could dissuade the ambitions of the follower.

Five flopped for a bit on the tank stand after her leap of faith. After a several minutes Five expired and began bloating. The cycle continued.