Sunday, January 30, 2011


It is a chilled and serene hymn that finds me laying here,
Tired and drooping like a birch branch in springtime.
I have played the day gently with steady fingertips,
the ivory and black keys of my heart roll again.
What melody echoes? Who will I play for, and when?
A composer of melancholy songs and unfinished lines,
I have come to ask of mercy from this unhinged work.
Stillness, solitude and reflection mirror in my eyes
as tears of the music passed sings to cradle my soul.
I will hum softly upon the snow to wait for the thaw
Until sorrow melts to the warming bird songs of hope.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Loves I & II

We met on a greening campus lawn
Just once we made love until dawn
We’ve shared a bathroom and a bed
You were in my hands but not my head
You couldn’t bear the cross you wore
On your back, that inky black sore
Scripted vows echoed in a glowing barn
Heart seams stitched with strings and yarn
I jerked us around and you hit the ground
You screamed ‘til I was nowhere to be found
Your anticipated child hung inside my gut
When it slipped away I didn’t give a fuck
Now we’re happily sad and estranged
You’re depressed and I’m deranged
Don’t believe me if I say I never loved you.
Don’t believe me if I say I’ll never forgive you.
I knew love and forgiveness on a campus lawn.

How’d we plunge through those icy crowds?
Painted nails, higher than painted schemes,
We rocked and puffed and hung from clouds.
Black and silver rides drove our rock star dreams
To dark alleys with darker men, we barely escaped.
Though we slept on basement couches and gutters,
Our cunning left us never slapped or raped.
We raised hell with fathers, teachers, mothers.
Do you remember the swings next door?
We flew and screamed and fell away.
Do you remember crawling on the floor?
We shifted and lied and crept away.
You found your love and I found mine
We left them both and found better ones
You live your life and I’ll live mine,
The times we’ve had will lead us to better ones.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It's never a good sign when I wake up still spinning. When my eyelashes barely separate enough for me to see anything because my glammed- up mascara from last night is still caked on and the sparkles from my eyelids have fallen into the pooled corners of my puffy tear ducts. And, when I finally do see something, ugh. Three variously full bottles of beer on my cute bedside table, which is entirely too quaint to have un-coastered bottles of beer on it. So, that morning I rolled over, shirtless, and groaned because "I really should have just thrown up last night."

What's was an even worse sign? It was New Year's Day. Nice. Happy "Monumental Rest of My Life Day" to me. I thought, "I'll re-assign this occasion to my birthday this year." Everything seems better in July than it does in January anyhow. "But, wait, it's Thirty this year. Scratch that."

I looked around, as well as I could considering that my frizzed and nappy head was pounding. Where was he? Out for a cigarette? No, the silver case and lighter lay neatly on the desk. In the shower? There was no splattering sound of lukewarm water. I laid back down. Confused and more than likely, still drunk. I closed my once-beautifully made-up eyes and they were thankful for the dark cover. I shivered and suddenly felt as though I would die without his arms. Disgusted, I caught myself wallowing in that that mire of shitty, sappy sentimentality and nearly threw up on my pillow.

There was a faint rustling in the next room. I squirmed and attempted to peel the twisted sheets from my mess of a body. I did and then teetered noiselessly towards the next room. He was there, dressed and i could smell in the air that he had showered. His back to me, he stood over two ominous, gaping suitcases and a pile of mismatched clothes. Then, it all came back to me in a rush of tears and alcohol and wavering words. He was leaving. He turned around to tell me that I was beautiful but I was already crying and puking all over the floor. Beautiful.


When I woke up I could feel that I was warm and clean. I smelled like flowery shampoo and his soft tee shirt was draped over my small frame. My eyes opened easily this time and my head felt light and clear. He sat there quietly, just looking at me with a gentle glimmer in his green eyes. He saw that I was awake, and smiled his gorgeous smile. Brushing the hair from my forehead, he kissed me the way a proud groom kisses his glowing bride- unabashed and tender. “Happy New Year, beautiful.”

I smiled without laughing, without makeup, and without reservation. I wanted to tell him that I loved him. That he had just saved me. Again. I wanted to say thank you. I wanted him to kiss me again. I wanted him to stay there on my bed forever, staring into my eyes through his comforting green halos. But I said nothing while one teardrop tore away from my brimming eyes and slipped down its salty slide to my shoulder. He kissed away the wet streak it left on my cheek and told me that he would always love me. And before I could allow another tear to escape, he did. He was suddenly through the door and I was in his powdery white tee shirt- a small, heartbroken lump of feathers on the bed.


Walking past my mailbox the next morning there was a morning dove sitting on the rust of my porch railing. It only had one foot. Its balance was impeccable. It wavered just a little when I got closer to inspect its stump. “You okay buddy?” I asked. Without warning, it flew with a coo into the air. Completely gracefully. If I ever lose a foot I can only hope to move that elegantly. It had returned to the same rusty landing when I returned home later that day. This time it just tilted its head as I crept closer. I was pleased that I was allowed such proximity. Closer still. I raised my hand to do god knows what- pet it? Suddenly, its wings arched and it leaned to one side and spiraled to its death in a pile of snow. A lump of feathers in the powdery death.

Monday, January 24, 2011


you say that you miss me terribly, too
but you don't still sleep in that bed
like i do
you've left these warm blankets
for cool sheets
tumbling out of snow embankments
into the hot streets
heaters to fans
blue gloves to bare hands

i say i can't handle the missing
like you do
so i'm smoking again on highway 2
but wild highways don't lead to you
i'll leave snow filled boots
for small bare feet
frozen tears
for love's heat
these plummeting blue eyes
fall for poetry from the skies

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Cleaning Up the Mess: Key Lime Pie

And so I found myself yet again in the middle of my pale blue 6x6 kitchen. Elixirs poised in my hands, the full bottles twirling like loaded pistols. My compadres Jack and Jameson. Mixing bowls shining nobly and Kitchen Aid tilted back rearing like an old trusty steed, preparing for a gallop across my frozen Midwestern countertops.

I'm sure that my Dad was already drunk for the night. Granted, the time difference was on his side. Granted, it was 5:00 not just somewhere, but sixteen after five here, too. So, I cut him some slack. Hell, I would have cut him slack regardless, since I was also pleasantly buzzed. I was home from my afterwork- workout and freshly showered, with a freshly opened bottle of High Life. It had been another eventful trip to the mailbox, which is precisely why I was warming up with a beer and flipping through muffin recipes. Not because I was hungry, of course. I can never eat while my brain is gluttonously consuming the thoughts of the day or the recently opened contents of the letter from my father.

I hadn’t heard from him in a month. Not because he was a jerk, of course. He was in hiding. Again. I was his only confidant, his only daughter, his only source of sympathy. Since he had run away six months prior, I could rely only on my monthly letter. It was more than anyone else he knew received, and so I felt auspiciously smug when I easily slipped my finger through the envelope. Of course because of this, I had become the family’s crisis hotline for those concerned about his health and whereabouts. I never heard much from Wives #2 or #3, naturally. But my mother, Wife #1, did periodically slip in a sly question regarding his wellbeing into our conversations. His mother, brothers, and sister were the most relentless trivia seekers. But, I only shared selective amounts of the Dad Data which I received carefully penned in his letters. Mostly because, as was his notorious custom, he supplied me with very little actual information concerning himself. We limited our correspondence to exchanged fictional stories. I didn’t even know where he was exactly. Somewhere in Florida. I never really ventured to check the postmark. I liked it better that way. Details have always been unimportant in the face of the history and love and enjoyment of being this man’s daughter.

So, when I was finally freshened up and sipping on a beer at 5:16pm, I sat down to read the latest exquisitely told tale from the tired fingers of my Dubious Dad. I was surprised to see only one sheet of paper inside. One sheet of high quality parchment and a plane ticket.

dear distanced daughter,
I have decided that now is as good a time as any. I would like to see you. I am sorry that it has been so long. Well, if “long” is how we would like to define eight years. Incredibly long? Embarrassingly long? That’s more accurate. Also, sorry about your divorce. I have enclosed a plane ticket for you. Sorry I am such a mess. I hope that you come to Key West, regardless. I think I need you and I certainly love you.
Ps: pack your summer clothes. Do you even have summer clothes?

I set his letter on the coffee table and smiled. I glanced towards the north-facing window in my living room and looked at the wild, icy lake. I got up, pulled on my puffy coat, mukluks and wool mittens. In much the same way that I'm always looking for that handbag which will change my life, I was on nearly-as-meticulous hunt for the most idyllic set of key limes.

Therefore, that night at 7:54pm, I was abandoning muffins. “Ed Abby” had been packed and gone for days and I was left blissfully to my own devices (cabinets full of baking supplies, a stocked liquor closet, and a playlist packed with old school hip-hop and punk rock). And it seemed fitting to let the kitchen become a disaster, to let myself become a disaster. To let the flour poof like clouds of magic dust from my carefully manicured and enchanted fingertips. To abandon the Muffin, who had for so long been my Knight in Shining Batter. I no longer needed his security. I was going to attempt to face my arch nemesis: the Pie. Pie is unpredictable and elusive. The various crusts and enumerable filling options. There is no base recipe, so it is an ever-changing list of options. I would whip and stir and splatter while battling my way through the turbulent mêlée with this Key Lime Pie. It would turn out perfectly. I would drink and dance and sing while wrestling with what I would do with the invitation from my father. I prayed that this sloshy, scattered process with the alcohol and the oven would allow enough warmth into my fingers for me to begin to clean up our messes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Alone. The feeling is emancipating. It’s never lonely.

When the weepy August sun smeared across the red walls in my living room, I just breathed. Closed my eyes. Like a penny drop in a well- deep and hollow and beautiful, I just breathed. Somehow I could feel my way through the chaos of the inland humidity and broken manners of lewd, uneducated people. I started to untangle the wadded mass of laughter, manipulation, relaxation, frustration, great sex, awful sex, summer and winter, contentment and the stir crazy rattles- I managed to piece it all together. Just for a few fleeting , courageous moments. This clarity is what I was chasing, but it was always just inches from my trembling fingertips. But that afternoon, it was nearer than ever. I could not allow it to recede again and be swallowed by the frigid northern cavity of desperate waters. I was terrified that, even if I managed to grab it, I would ruin or misplace it.

This was why I had to break the liquor bottles into disarrayed shards on the sidewalk and head back in a blur to the house to quickly pack my bags.

When I walked back through the front door into the living room, he was standing there- fucking up the beautiful red, sundrenched portrait of solace. Ugh, I should not have disposed of all that alcohol. I contemplated heading back out and carefully licking it off of the green and clear glass. I had anticipated that he would have stayed away longer than twenty ridiculous minutes after the enormous, screaming blowout we had just endured between the red walls, hardwood floors, and jittery cats.

I had anticipated being long gone by time he returned. But, there we were. He gave me his disgusted, lip-curled sneer, and a roll of the eyes that said “You are such a lush.” I didn’t want to let him get the first word out. I knew, judging by well-known sneer and the pungent scent kaleidoscope of vodka, coconut rum, Irish whiskey, gin, raspberry brandy, Bailey’s and lemondrop schnapps and god-knows what else. So, I had to say the only thing that I knew would send him directly back through the back door and buy me another twenty minutes. “I didn’t want to have that baby, okay? Just deal with it.” As brutal and grim as it sounded slipping through my uncouth lips, I felt a surge of power going through my cheeks.

Just as I had calculated, his face paled and he traced his steps wordlessly towards the backdoor, just barely mumbling, “Bitch” under his defeated breath. Maybe I had wanted that baby. I didn’t care about it right now. He was gone and I was throwing my bag over my shoulder and heading out of the front door and kneeling on the sidewalk searching through the broken pieces for a few drops of relief.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chapter fragment

There are no beautiful sunsets in this season of darkness and greedy chapters. The snow. It hurts the warm soul, causing it to crack and break between the lines of sanity and reason. I felt it's icy sting even more after I kicked my husband out, and sat beside myself trying to soothe it with hot tea.

I had felt it for so long. I began to feel the freezer burn in my throat again once I knew he was feeling it, too.

The week he arrived back to the Midwest he was arrested. There had been an outstanding warrant for his arrest, and they got him right way when he entered the state. After fifteen years, it seemed as though I was just here waiting for his return. Of course he sacrificed and endured arrests and the shit weather and the stains on the front of his coat to be near me. But, he didn’t know that yet- he didn’t know why he was putting up with it all. It was just too damn cold here. Very few can actually say that they enjoy the bitter cold, really. I mean, besides the massive snowmobilers and their fat wives who serve them chips and beer during football Sundays. It was not a place for either of us. But he trudged here unknowingly into my arms, into the snowbanks of this sad town. Despite the snow, stains, and sunless Sundays.

Searching for some semblance of sanity I stepped outside for a cigarette and saw the snow angel in the front yard. He stumbled to that spot in a drunken frenzy the night before. He was gorgeous and awkward in the whiteness, in the glow of the streetlight. There was something more to it and I knew what was next. And it was okay. At that moment I was not what I needed and I was not what he could endure. Not what he needed, either. And that was okay, too.

He required circled sunlight and longer days. I had felt his gravity for all of my adult years and it had gone from me but it returned all at once when I saw that snow angel laying gently on the frozen ground. I was not what he needed- not now. I knew it and said it again and again in my mind. All at once he was just barely more than a blurred photograph on what used to be my husband's bedside table. It’s not always what he would be. He would again be a warm and tangible tee shirt against my bare back.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

observance of a revelation: an anniversary tribute to my journal

Dearest Formulated Love,

I feel as though this is the most intimate and romantic anniversary that I have ever celebrated. Today, as it did exactly one year ago, the ice covers the windows as delicate lace. The sky is cobalt and the light slips wearily into the frigid mouth of the Big Lake. Back then, I felt small and enraptured watching the ancient cycle of night and day, as the pretentious bite of the Bohemian winter nibbled seductively at my ear. But then you arrived. Though I was afraid and reluctant as you approached my fingers, I inhaled and allowed you to move them. With the clicking came liberation and with the liberation came tears and with the tears came a sense of worth. You have given me all of this.

I do not like you every day. But I do love you. You hold me calmly here, whispering songs of my childhood and past loves and doubts and secrets which only you know. And when the clicking ceases, you still love me. You still know me. When the time passes and I do not give you the pleasure of my presence, you wait for the next moment, hour, wait for me to return and pour out the waters of my regrets and triumphs. You float peacefully in the stories that trickle from my fingers and splash from my tears.

One year ago I was broken. Encompassed by thoughts of a far away city and a far away soul. Today, still broken, I am in repair. But the distant city now sleeps atop my mantle and the soul sleeps wrapped in my bedsheets. My stories have sprung to life. My black and white canvases have become brilliant shades of grey and my secrets are no more.

Next year on the sixth of January, I will give you something more than a collection of fragmented poetry and brazen story lines.

Yours Completely,


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Almost Alive- chapter

In my winter white ceramic bowl sat absolutely perfect muffin batter. Fluffy yet slightly lumpy. It's a damn shame that it ultimately ended up in a bloody mess all over the front yard.

I am not usually one to accept a compliment. In fact, I have been told that the screwed up look on my face after receiving any sort of praise much resembles the look a baby makes the first time she licks a pickle. However, I can state with complete empiricism that I make excellent muffins. It doesn't even matter what kind, I have perfected my "pinch of this and that" base recipe and the rest falls into place. Even my mother (the Great Queen of Pastries) herself has crowned me the Quickbread Queen. I don't argue. And when someone tries one for the first time, I can tell by their thin- lipped smile that I am indeed gifted.

Over the years that I was married, I used these little breads as a means of stress relief and self-affirmation. Therefore, I developed my own concoctions for catharsis such as: Honey Oatmeal, Tomato Basil, Peach Raspberry, Vanilla Rosemary, Dark Chocolate Cherry, Strawberry Rhubarb, Lemon Mint, Almond Poppyseed, Apple Cinnamon, Rum Raisin, and of course Blueberry and of certainly many more that I haven't yet documented, and definitely many more that have flopped terribly. None of these flops, might I add, have ever occurred while I have been one- handed, toting a glass of whiskey or wine. Well, not until frigid, Northern afternoon, while i was under a deep, drunken spell due simultaneous over-consumption of these two elixirs. Not until I had come home from the gym, collected my mail and opened up the envelope from my attorney. There they were. The signed and finalized divorce papers. I had been expecting them any day. But the hot fuzz in my stomach sunk deeper and I headed for my liquor closet and box of recipes.

Once, I purchased a beautiful little apron for the sole purpose of muffin making. It was completely quaint with ruffles, bows and French scroll pattern. I only used it once, because well, I deemed it too pretty to use. So I would spin around in tiny circles with dashes of salt and sugar in my hair and flour on my un-aproned knees, mixing woes with alcohol in my pretty white mixing bowls.

I loved to tear around my flyspeck kitchen. Even though the lid of the garbage and the top of the refrigerator had to frequently serve as extra counter space. I did let Fitzgerald, my fluffy mutt of a cat, sit on the counter while I cracked eggs and splashed unmeasured amounts of various extracts into flour wells. He would huff and sneeze sometimes when the baking powder plumed like dust from my clapping hands. And, sometimes, I would pretend like I didn't see him lick the gooey spoon. And other times, I had a bit too much wine while whisking around and, I am sure, genuinely oversaw his sneaky spatula licks.

At first I was only trying to smash the unwelcome, grotesque spider as he swayed from the door frame, sneering at me. Taunting me, even. Well, taunting in a three fingers of Irish Whiskey and 3/4 bottle of $35 Cabernet sort of way perhaps. "Get out of here, you bastard," I slurred. "You're not touching these muffins." Like he was going to anyway...

Guarding white bowl of muffin perfection under my arm, I calculated my steps across the minute kitchen. I stood next to my cat, who was now greedily lapping up batter drops from the counter. I stared profoundly into his huge green eyes. "Fitzy. You're the man around here now. Go get that thing. Eat it. Do- whatever." He stared lovingly into my eyes and I could hear small rumblings of a purr and he just laid himself down on the floured surface.

Cat in one arm and precious bowl of Orange Pecan muffins- to- be in the other, I marched gracelessly nearer to the eight-legged terror. I shoved Fitzy's face into the hundreds of swinging eyes. "Get him, babe." The cat just hung there over my arm, purring.

I don't usually eat the muffins. Certainly I follow the Baker's Creed and taste part of one before serving them, but I make a great effort to distribute them to co-workers and friends as quickly as possible before they magically and maliciously float from the tin onto my thighs. But, on that particular snowy afternoon, I did not need to worry about burning the muffins off on the treadmill. I was at least safe from that prospect as I lay there covered in blood and batter and snow in the yard, while Fitzgerald sat staring inquisitively at me through the window.