can’t

 

I can’t even enjoy the rain anymore.

I’m always pacing, reaching for the door. 

I can’t even savor my meals anymore.

I’m always eating while standing; 

hurriedly chewing and choking. 

I can’t even stand my showers anymore.

That water hurts my burgundy 

striped shoulders.

I can’t even stand to stand anymore.

The gorilla on my back just keeps 

getting older. 

I can’t even love my words anymore. 

They just sit here pretty like, 

as a constant reminder that 

I just can’t anymore.

 

 

 

mask

she is so perfectly agreeable

with her fading eyes and lost smile

they only see her bravery

looking past her hollow words, her slowing breaths

how she longs to not be so perfectly agreeable 

yearns to not care 

get lost in her own storm 

twirl, get tangled up with the wind

and prove you wrong

cause remember, you think she’s so strong

but if you listen, you’ll hear the subtle quake to her voice

the whispery sound of her words

she’s had lots of time to practice not being heard

cause it ends so badly, her being around

so she glides around the house

without making a sound

and she’s fed up, did you notice that?

she is so perfectly agreeable

as her antsy soul waits and waits to be born

but she wants to get lost like her smile and fading eyes

till she is no more 

gracefully, forcibly

yet unnoticeably slip away, but even in that

she would be so perfectly agreeable

blame

Frysta, 

why are you so cold?

Are you sad that your story 

has been told,

over and over to a 

world tired of listening?

 Frysta, 

why are so tired?

Did you not get enough sleep 

last night,

after you told that story the world is

so sick of hearing?

Frysta, 

why are so sick?

Are you not stronger than this?

Poor baby, suck in your bottom lip

and cry no more.

Frysta, 

it’s you that he abhors. 

Blames everything on you!

The hurt, the isolation,

the illness. 

Frysta,

why are you freezing?

You tell me it’s the meaning of your name.

But Frysta, we’re tired of listening,

we’re bored with this game.

crestfallen

that sadness always hits us like a brick

hear its calls louder when there are fewer

distractions to keep our dull minds at bay

sadness that wears on us like blankets

heavy, smelly, making us suffer and smolder

stifling, because it’s always summer here

 

you say you want to feel it though

swim in it, surrender to it

hear its taunts that test you

so you’ll grow, you always do

you’ll defeat it, and like its own season

it’ll pass

 

dear crestfallen one,

I’m proud of you, I’m grateful for you

as I try to feel hope instead of this weight of despair

that sadness just seems to hit us so hard

each and every time

as I count down the seconds that I can call you mine

 

 

the year

figurative tale of living with a beautiful soul that has a brain ravaged by tuberous sclerosis complex…

The day he turned 15, she was attacked by wolves in the parking lot of her son’s therapist.  The drive had been long, and when she looked in her rearview mirror, she found her son staring out the window, holding his hands praying.  She stepped out of her car when the wolves overtook her son.  Men were fixing tires and changing the oil in the nearby lot, but they couldn’t hear her cries over their noise.  A woman waited in her car but didn’t appear to want to help.  People were ordering their lunch in the McDonald’s drive-thru but didn’t seem to see.  

The biggest wolf, the one with the pale eyes, came from behind her and snagged her shirt while the other two clawed at her arms till she bled.  She danced around the lot for what seemed to be forever, but they had just wanted to play with her, they were bored.  Or maybe one had heard a voice and convinced the others of its scheme.  Perhaps they just had their usual bad thoughts.  

She walked into the therapist’s office holding her bleeding arms.  Her face collapsed into her trembling hands, and she cried out of exhaustion.  She left forty-five minutes later and drove north to eat crap food while her son sat next to her and turned 15.  The year where most young blossoms are getting permits and going to movies with friends.  The year of growth and possibilities.  But she sat grieving as he turned another year older yet seemed to stay the same.   

The year he turned 15 – every sound hurt her ears.  The lawn mowers, the closing of doors, that chip bag, her spoon against the bowl slurping up Rice Chex.  Even the gorgeous birds had a way of gnawing at her brain.  Some of the bird calls would make her wince and moan.  One day she chased blue jays out of the coconut palms; their territorial sounds stabbed at her eardrums.  She watched them soar up to the clouds with their excited calls.   Good riddance.  Then she’d go back to her hell to make her coffee and there she could even hear the sound of her forming tears. 

The year he turned 15 – they made it a habit of keeping shoes by their back door for sudden escapes.  Run quick, they did.  The neighbors probably thought they were playing chase, but they were running from his frenzy, his fury, his fuming, his fists.  Those fists that always landed on her arms.  Arms that became swollen and purple mixed with an odd charcoal gray.  But she had stopped reaching for the ice.  It was the year where toasters flew off the counters and where doors were torn off hinges as if by Hulk himself. 

She’d listen attentively and say all the right things, but she’d still get new marks by the end of the day.   What was wrong with her?  Would she ever get it right, this business of raising her complicated, miserable, yet beautiful son?  She still loved him though, and on a good day, she would play with the back of his hair.  Golden, wispy, slightly curled up hair.  She’d think.  Why is it dread instead of joy, looking at this man that’s still a boy?  And wonder.  Is love even enough?

And then mid-way through the year, he came after her with such rage, her arms abandoned her.  They were tired of the pain, so they just simply ran away.  It wasn’t her choice, of course, she had loved her arms.  It was all those desperate words and his sheer brute-force.  So she stood around with no arms, and when he went ballistic, he had no choice but to go for her face.  And by this point – she wished she was far out in outer space, floating about only hearing the sound of her heartbeat.  It would be a familiar sound.  

That year, she went half dead and was almost unrecognizable.  She stopped marveling at the black butterflies that slowly fluttered past.  And when the swans tried to drown each other, she didn’t interfere; she didn’t shed a tear.  She stopped buying orchids; they just didn’t take her breath away as they had.  She lost her spark – the whole damn world made her mad.  She chose to swim with the sharks than heed the lifeguard’s warnings.  Watch its shadow cruise past then place her broken hand on its fin and tell it to swim.  Look up to the blazing sun, be amazed and give everything up to Him.

 

 

she’ll be right

Please forgive my wandering mind, but I want to go to Australia.  Forget about the long flight, and watch the kangaroos with their dangling arms cross the street.  I want to smile at the way they say my name, Sheila.  Have an old Aussie take my scarred hand  and whisper, “How ya goin’ luv?”  Nod back.  If you only knew.

I want to go to a place where I can drink wine at lunch guilt-free.  Tour a vineyard near the coast and dream about buying an old villa.  Befriend the locals and whip up a mean spaghetti alla carbonara.  Watch my prosecco sparkle in its glass, and toast to the year I never had.  Listen to them laugh and think.  Isn’t this nice.

Go to a place where I bow to show respect, and I’m admired for being tall.  Drink loads of green tea and feel uber-relaxed because of all that L-theanine.  Touch the translucent screen with my fingertips, close the shoji.  Slip in the futon and sleep like never before.  Learn how to play the shakuhachi and delete the Deuter station on my Pandora.  I don’t need your music anymore.  Be so relaxed that I’ll defy gravity, so I’ll float and swim in the clouds.  And I’ll feel sorry that you can’t join me.

Go to a hidden forest and have the moss stain my vision green for days on end.  Hum the song “The Misty Mountains Cold” as I walk around for hours in sacred silence.  Go for a month-long stay in Bora Bora.  Be greeted with fresh pineapple, and then graciously tell them that I’m allergic to pineapple.  But I’ll dream of eating pineapples when I sleep over the water and grow delirious with their sweetness.  The glass sea will be so breathtaking that I’ll forget how to cry.

Go to a red house with a pink door bathed in sunlight.  Walk inside, leave the door open, and not faint when I marvel at its beauty.  Flowers will adorn the counter and tabletops.   Heavenly bulbous flowers that would make the Queen of Hearts jealous, or at the very least, she’d want to know my secret for growing such massive flowers.  I wouldn’t tell her though.  She’d have a tantrum, but I would only laugh.  She wouldn’t; she couldn’t ever phase me.

I want to walk through the house, and run my fingers along the patched gossamer blue walls.  I’ve missed you.  Smell the lavender you sprayed a moment ago.  Hear the cardinal that always pecks at the door.  Poor thing, he’s confused, because the house is red.  Notice how much the carpet of pink around the pool has grown.  Wonder how the flowers fell so gracefully in the laps of the worn ballerina statues, and I’ll admire their patience.

Please forgive my wandering mind; I just want to be hopeful.  It’ll be different this time.  I close the pink door and pray.

here

I feel like I’m on an island

all alone,

in this stupid paradise

been here 5 years

since we ran from the corn and ice

but I was happy then

it wasn’t perfect but we had a life

 

I miss people, I miss talking

in that wonderful coffee shop

you know, the one next

to the bookstore that looked like a vault

instead I’m here

placing blame, saying, it’s not my fault

 

Now surrounded by palm trees

and endless sun, I’m here

crestfallen, and jumping out of my skin

when the coconuts fall

stopping fast when the lizards zip past

having baby panic attacks in the shower

when distant door slams sound like blasts

 

But I’m trying – here in paradise

missing your laugh, missing mine

while fixing my margarita or

pouring my wine

I’m here regretting the years

we’ve lost to Old Man Time

 

I feel like I’m alone on an island

and

I’ll remember the golden aura

around the moon

as you go your own way

I’ll remember all the wonderful

things we wanted to do, someday

here, alone on this island

I’ll remain, I have to stay

 

 

mercy

please forgive him,

he does not know what he is doing

and will not understand

not ever, even if explained

a thousand times a thousand times

can I even call them crimes?

please forgive him,

he is always sorry afterwards

after the fury,

after the torment, after the pain

after the harm, after the hurry

after the anger scurries

when the sadness buries

he says, “Please forgive me!

and asks, “Does God forgive me?

without hesitation,

without looking at him, I reply

“Yes,  He forgives you.”

and I do too,

I always do

she told me

She told me in confidence that she thought she gave birth to a monster.  She looked to make sure that nobody was near; her eyes darted down and she whispered it.  “A monster.”  The odd thing is that his birth had been so peaceful that January evening.  Quiet room, dim lights, hushed voices late at night, and he just slipped out.  He just slipped out.  Absolutely no pain, it’s baffling.

She told me that when he was born he looked like a little alien.  He hardly slept for 2 years, and his hunger was insatiable.  When he cried, her heart would race and her eardrums would go numb.  She would catch him staring in his crib at things she could not see.  Stare so long, his eyes would drip water.  But he would twirl her hair when she nursed him and when she draped his warm body over her shoulder to burp him; she would feel the softness of his cheek against hers so intently, she’d fall in love with him all over again.  She’d forgive him for all those sleepless nights and all those staring fits that would leave him unsettled and clingy.

She told me that the time after he became adorable, he learned to walk.  He walked a little late.  He took to the habit of running from things that weren’t there and he would fall and scream into her bosom.  He would look up at the ceiling with a face of horror until Zonegran stopped the infantile spasms.   He said the fan blades were covered with blood.  He would see pizza on the walls and see shadows move without light.  And when they were trying to be good Catholics, he would say the inside of their church smelled like old people’s burning flesh.  But he looked so cute when he played on his wooden airplane and when he wore that adorable Janie and Jack puppy sweater; she’d fall in love with him all over again.  She’d try to forget all those odd images he put in her head and those strange things he whispered in her ear.  She tried to forget her anxiety over all the tests he had and medications he tried.  She’d try to crush the panic that would wake her in the middle of night.

She told me that when school started he had a hard time paying attention,  hit the teachers, and would play chase without their permission.  He would cry for an hour before school would start and his dad would have to carry him to the car while he put up a fight.   But he would draw her pictures and write,  I love you Mommy.   He’d ask so sweetly, “Do you want a hug?”  She’d  fall in love with him all over again.  She’d forgive all those meetings she had at the school and tried not to grow jaded when explaining his situation.  She was always explaining the situation.

She told me about one day in March when she received a phone call from the school to pick her son up early because he had lost control in the classroom.  She walked tall into the special classroom and apologized for all the books and chairs strewn all over the room.  “Really, he knows better,”  she’d say while looking in their eyes brimming with pity.   She reached for her son’s hand, walked out of the building, and made it to her car before she collapsed and cried.  She cried for 2 straight hours and couldn’t even make dinner; she was too full with sorrow.  She was exhausted and felt helpless.

She told me that he could dream of the future and have night terrors that haunted him for weeks.  He’d get up at odd hours of the night to gather and cut up his clothes.  He’d sprinkle cinnamon all over the house 2 days before Christmas because he liked the smell.  And dump baby powder all over his room because he said, “I miss the snow.”  She looked surprisingly good for being awake all that time.

She told me that when he got older, the monster in him evolved.  Taller than her – in some ways smarter than her.  He was moody and sad,  happy and mad.  Up and down he went.  Around and around he went.  He was always able to lure her into his trap.  He would even catch her eyebrow twitch and it seemed that he could read her mind before she spoke.  He was always inches from her – never far.  Circling around her – this way and that way.  Pecking at her, laughing at her, chasing her, clawing at her – this human that had just slipped out into the world.  She took to the habit of wearing long sleeve cardigans in the most humid of conditions and would think, it just isn’t fair.

And then she told me that, overnight, she became incredibly fond of the drink.  One glass at dinner, then another before bed.  She’d wake up with headaches and become so depressed that she’d wish she were dead.  Her entire being was filled with fright and even her soul, her aching soul, would mourn for it to be over.  And she felt betrayed because she asked, “Isn’t your soul supposed to be stronger?”  Traitor, she’d call it.  She said she felt empty and blank.

How much can one vessel hold?”  she’d ask.  And with every night that she went to bed thinking she was done, she’d wake up and start it all over again.  Each and every night, each and every day.  She then told me that when the best place in the nation said, “Your son is a candidate for our inpatient program,”  she was surprised to be hit by grief instead of relief.  A few moments passed and then she just stopped.

She told me in confidence that she wanted to tempt fate in a sea of aqua glass full of teeth and feel the wind rush past her face.  Witness the brown clouds get taken over by the foam.  Feel the pull toward the moon and float.  Revel in that and not talk about home.

 

hidden

there’s a suitcase in the far corner of my closet

the older one with the worn brown

checkerboard pattern and a faded luggage tag

can’t make out the name any longer

not going anywhere anyway

and if I pretend

the flattened leather handle still feels warm

probably from when you used it last

back when life was happy and our souls were stronger

sometimes when things get loud

I want to place a blanket in that suitcase,

in the far corner of my closet,

crawl inside, zip it up and lie

quietly, silently

will he find me

I want to say aloud

but I don’t dare make a sound

these days, these long days

after the first door slam, I want to bolt

run far before the terror takes hold

but no

I have to stand there and take it

stand there and stand there

stand there and fake it

place my trembling hands in my pockets

ignore my heart pounding in my ears

taste the rapid beats, choke them down

why is it getting so difficult

I’ve been doing this for years

every time I enter my closet

I give that suitcase an extra glance

maybe one day I could do it

run quick when I have the chance

when I’m first warned

place a blanket inside, make it cozy and warm

crawl inside, zip it up

lie quietly, silently battered and worn