former

must have been a thousand years old,

those scars on her hand

when she forgot her looks and

her dreams ran out the door

yet

that yellow still makes her dizzy

and her tongue still prefers what’s fizzy

maybe her soul hasn’t lost its spark

maybe she hasn’t lost her life

just yet

friday

the beach was littered with red that night

near the end of September

the sun was mourning the end of its reign

the fact that he’s so blazing here year-round

was little consolation

he gave himself a pity party

I just remained and enjoyed the constellations

miss

been so long sometimes I forget the color of your hair

miss the way you meandered through our home

much like those ghosts with tambourines around

their ankles and faraway thoughts in the air

 

been so long sometimes I forget the way you cared

miss the vision of you with gold around your neck

much like those spirits with the sun at their backs

their warmth and faraway peace in their prayers

 

 

 

passing

once they removed their monstrous

parasols and offered the sun with all its

glory, I was able to see for miles,

see past the stains and all its gory.

walk past my long-limbed friends,

feel their gentle boughs crack upon me

and

wonder if that west window still

offers the view of diamonds and trees.

then without time to think, to blink,

they decide my time in the warmth

is done. parade their parasols atop

of me – flaunt like they won. close my

eyes quick and capture the burn, bid

the orange blaze to stain my gaze for days

and

weep over how much I’ll miss the sun.

 

 

 

shower

you’ll never know what secret thoughts I think,

entertain; as my eyes match my fogged up

window.  catch myself against the side to

keep from falling; falling from all my damn

sobbing.  secret thoughts to make this hell end.

awful thoughts, selfish thoughts.  the banana

leaves try earnestly to shake me from my

disturbing trance.  those distant violins

try to keep me awake.  they beg me to

follow their sorrow, but they have no clue

what’s in store for my crazy tomorrows.

you’ll never know what secret thoughts I think;

dark thoughts that would make you run, make you sink.

watched

watched you burn our mouths with gooey, orange

marshmallows; the sting made us close our eyes.

cringing, watched you sprinkle Tang on the floor.

it stuck to my feet as i envisioned

so many bangs; my dumb brain felt the heat.

watched the smoke rise above the green buds with

pink tips while rubbing my arms; damn arms felt

whipped.  watched you tear through my muscles just like

they were cotton.  watched you forget all the

sweet words i spoke; good life, it’s forgotten.

 

 

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

the year

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.

 

 

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

momentary

Do you remember the seashore?  Do you remember the water?  How it cooled us, held us, renewed us that day on the shore.

That day where we escaped what we’re going through and just focused on the crests of foam breaking down as it came in twos, chasing each other; only to be crushed by the bigger waves that almost always followed.  It always seems to follow.  But for those few hours – we pretended that it would not.  We closed our eyes and felt the sun soothe us, we calmed our trembling brains.  We breathed in the salt air – tasted it on our lips.  Breathed it in again and held our breath.  Is this what peace feels like?  Stillness.  Roaring in our ears.

Opposite of  being lost in the fire where our whispers turn to shouts.  Remembering all the battles, but the scars we’ve lost count.  Fleeing from the panicked, pale creature with the crazed blue eyes and drowning out the threats to die, his sighs, the cries.

Perhaps that is why I liked it there,  I’m nothing compared to that vast place.  In that place, I was only between the sand and the sun;  I wasn’t an emotional stress ball for my autistic son.

That day, I reclined and watched you play in the water.  The sun sprayed off your back and you looked happy.  The possibilities were endless and you sang with the mermaids in my dreams that night.  I watched the seagulls choreograph a flight to the violins that played in my head.  Those beautiful violins.  Is this what mercy feels like?  Those moments, that place.