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Artwork By:Sad Girls Artwork by Tess Emily Rodriguez: http://tessemilyart.tumblr.com/
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As I write this my daughter has not seen or heard from her best friend in three months. If you’ve ever been around tween age girls you know this is a life time. There are many tears. Many, many tears.
Sunshine did not move away. Nor is she mad at my daughter. I miss her too. I miss how I could leave those two girls in my house and not worry. About how they’d make and decorate cupcakes together. Share plans to leave this one horse town. How they’d dance around in my daughter’s bedroom. Do each other’s hair. Make plans. Go swim in the lake or dip in Indian Falls.
Sunshine is nowhere to be seen. She’s missed every town festival. She’s never at the town pool. It’s as if she’s disappeared.
We live in Plumas County. A small county of 20,000 people. We live in Indian Valley which…
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I have not lived in the town of my birth consistently since perhaps six months in 2002. Nevertheless, it calls me home in some sort of a reverse Persephone myth (my mother alas lives in the mountains near me).
And as I’m headed to the home land I realize it really is also the home to so much of my work.
On June 15th I’ll be reading here with many people I have not met. I’ll be reading a weird bizarre-esque story that seems appropriate for the evening and I finally get to meet Laura Lee Bahr in person! At King Harbor Brewing Co. In Redondo Beach at 7 pm.
On June 24th I’ll be reading with one of my favorite Los Angeles poets V. Kali! I LOVE HER WORK! And she has a full collection out at the moment. I’m kind of an out of print girl at the moment but I will be reading from my up and coming chapbook. The reading is called HITCHED and I’m part of the JUNE HITCHED. It’s hosted by the lovely Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo –a fantastic poet as well. HITCHED happens at Book Show at 5503 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, California 90042.
On June 25th I’ll be participating in another one of my favorite poetry series LA PALABRA in Highland Park. Come see the ungentrified.
2 pm at Avenue 50 Studio hosted by the haiku master Karineh Mahdessian.
There’s more I’m up to of course–an afternoon artist residency with another LA writer (yay Wendy C. Ortiz!) in her backyard. And I’m having a few of those LA lunches. And this mountain woman is hitting the ballet, museums, the Hollywood Bowl and Trader Sams amongst other places. I will fill up on this Hades despised by the great Northern lands of California before I head back to the dull , placid heaven.
So come out to one of the shows…
A story of mine up on Rabble Lit today! Thanks.
They must keep them somewhere, these fathers of sad girls. They are locked Mr.-Murray-tight in a column somewhere, on dark distant planets far away à la Wrinkle in Time. Or perhaps we hope they are. They are trapped somewhere, maybe under falling debris from earthquakes, maybe under the weight of their freedom.
They’ll need three kids at least to rescue them, these fathers, like Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin. These fathers who are often missing need us, we are sure of it. If they could live with us day in and day out they’d see how much fun we are, how we could take such good care of them. We could make them like being in a family; we just know it.
We don’t want to need them. That would just drive them away, in their old beat up cars, with their newer girlfriends at their sides and her…
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So far so good. Or so shitty. Does it matter as long as you get down a poem a day?! April 17 and I have 17 poems to show for it. Today’s is pretty horrible but I’m also in lots of wisdom tooth pain so I’m going to give myself a pass on that one. Here’s some raw unedited poems written this month.
Enjoy? Don’t judge…
Poem # 2
April 2: # 2 Poem:
I wake up sore legged
as if I ran marathons
in my sleep
My mind kept on that race
even after midnight
even in the morning
which brought train whistles
in the distance
First train stop and you
are not here. My body still
and restless, not trained for
such sorrow as comes
from too much movement
that leads us nowhere
and still no words from you
Poem # 3
April 3: Day 3 poem.
She said you are the
Right kind of fat—
She grabbed the woman’s hips
In the middle of toddler pick up.
She said I just love you big ethnic women
And patted her belly.
He said you look like one healthy girl.
He said you look like you were raised on a farm.
More cushion for the….
She said at least you are an hourglass.
You know, you can wear things.
She said men still want you.
He said, you know, you’re too big
You’re lucky to have me.
He said, other guys might not be
As tolerant as I am.
She said you have a nice, big ass.
They’re sure to love that and tits to match.
He said, I don’t mind.
He said, I know you want me because what
Choice do you have?
And then the woman started losing weight.
And then the woman said wondered why any one would come up to
A stranger and touch her hips and comment on her figure if they didn’t know her
What is this thing that tells them that it’s
Okay to touch you?
If you are a big girl—
He said, so what you gonna leave me now that you’re small?
She said, just make sure you’re being healthy about it!
He said, it’s not like you can do better.
She said, are you trying to prove something.
And the woman just walked away.
Poem # 4
I never know what to say in public
Is this the time? The place?
The moment when I reveal to you
The things that shouldn’t be revealed?
That cannot be revealed?
I try to stick to hallmark
To the ease of kittens and flowers and springtime
But I never stay there. My mind, my memory.
Before I know it I am giving voice to
The litter box and the broke stems and the cold
Sludge of rained out earth and all that’s buried beneath.
The girl is beautiful
No, I mean that.
You aren’t seeing it.
The curve of her mind,
The shape of her heart,
The way it all comes together
In kindness and thought
and a messy sort of defiance.
She’ll learn, of course, she’ll learn.
But in the mean time—
In a small valley
In a smaller house
In the smallest of understandings
A switch from the tree
A vein in the forehead
Your truck barreling down the highway
Like an invading tank
This is what you leave her
Poem # 6
Standing in the tall grass that afternoon
The green of Technicolor
The nerves of the young
when no one has yet
to leave a mark of trampling
You were with me
I watched you work
The methodical muttering
Of a man left alone
Concerned only with the light
And I could have been the trees
What was it?
How you answered the question
Perhaps how I asked it
How wide my eyes became
Knowing I was looking at
Not a mirror but someone
Who perhaps saw the world
With the same focus, different lens
How you moved in as if for a kiss
But instead just watched my mouth
As I watched yours
I remember you
When it rains heavy
Like blood, like that autumn
When the leaves were bright red
Against our gray bodies
I remember what you did
How you were going to save me
By making everything worse
And all those grooves in the wood floor
Pacing, splintering, stuck into my bare swollen feet
It was the last time it rained like this
The last time I ever felt helpless
Against a sky full of darkness
and wind and rain.
Tethered by frayed rope
The boy pulls and pulls
Gets another foot or two beyond
Where the rope can comfortably hold
He does this now, daily
Always asking to go beyond,
To be let loose even though
You need a ball and a rope to play.
He can do it on his own terms
This rope, this ball, the whole thing
Being an embarrassment.
What if someone sees? Sees the strain
The fadedness of the rope
The discoloration of the ball
What if someone knows it’s not the best
He hits and misses hits and misses
I want him to win
Whatever there is to win
But without pulling the rope to break.
Poem # 10
He comes home late
And we stop mid-thought
mid crash on the couch
for him and the game
april and it’s always the game
which ever game
I pray all lose quickly.
Poem # 11
You have left for your day
Shared your dream this morning
A chuckle with morning coffee.
Things are changing here
There is no need for a fire, the heater
Our climate simply is what it is
With the damper of endless rain
Lush and green and young
Impossible to walk through
To touch unscathed
So I sit here with the cats on either side
The coffee cooling not unlike us
Thinking of summer fires once more.
He called me Beautiful
As if it were my name
As if those three syllables
Didn’t carry the weight of my world
We drove them passed the city lights
The still holding hands and whispering young
And for a moment
The city didn’t feel like exile
Didn’t feel like abandonment
Impossible and out of reach
Down to the Palace of Fine Arts
Up to Coit Tower in the moonlight
In the back light, into the magic of a night
In a majestic city they have yet to know
Poem # 14
Confessions are uneasy things
I remind myself this as I pick up
The bits and pieces of me
Scattered about the room
I attempt to clean up quickly
Pretend that I haven’t stripped bare
Before the bright lights, before the scrutiny
Prepare the wooden box for the hunter
To take my heart;
for the hunted to bare her chest in dare
but there it all remains
that I cannot take back
Poem # 15
We’re too old for that now
When I asked if they wanted to color eggs
Or hunt for eggs in the front yard
It’s that time between the worlds
When the boy child is still Legos but also girlfriend
The girl child still snuggling but reciting hip hop and rap
Full curse words and gyrations
I gamble on the move towards adulthood
Until their crestfallen faces wax nostalgic
Their empty baskets nudged towards me
Before they go to sleep.
In the morning, for a brief moment
It is old times and they are up at dawn
Eating jellybeans and chocolate
And hunting in the yard for eggs
And me wondering if its one last time.
Poem # 16
All is forgiven.
For the renewal.
For that moment
when we can forget just enough to move on.
He says such words
and I want to believe
That they are words
That could quite possibly
Belong to me.
Poem # 17
It’s too late in the morning already
A day left undone
The head pounding
The bed calling
It’s enough to be here
And that is all
It’s been a year since I heard her voice.
It was straight and sober for a moment.
But, It wasn’t hopeful.
I said, Happy Birthday–
may you have a better year.
There was a chuckle
A heh heh.
Yeah, you can say that, she said.
It has to be.
That was a year ago today.
There’s been time and space.
Some days I don’t think of her at all.
Some I think of her too much.
I came across a box full of
photos of her: childhood, teens, the early 20s
the times not quite sober but not quite gone either.
In that box was a child of mine. A sister. A friend.
A memory. Without anger. Without the fear.
Without the tic twitch of the not fully recovered.
Sometimes I wake up wondering where she is
Hoping if she’s alive whom ever she’s with
isn’t overwhelmed; isn’t leaving her.
Side of the road. Side of my head.
The Vagabond is still roaming.
I read this poem I wrote at a rally today:
The Wearing of the Red (on International Women’s Day)
I am the color of …
Anger…of red in the face blush and shame
Of things perpetrated against us that we still cannot name
I am the color of…
Passion…of my own satisfaction…of a longing and desire so deep
that only I have the power to fill and execute the dreams of my sleep
I am the color of…
Heat…of fire and warmth, of rage and indignation
Against the ice and cold shoulder misogyny of our nation
I am the color of …
Good Fortune…a symbol of good luck, the possibilities unbound
With support and education and opportunity found
I am the color of …
Blood…of ancestral remembrance, the cycle of our bodies
Coming round to remind us, that we are not commodities
We are flesh. We are cells. We divide inward.
Our lives, our interiors, as important as any battlefield.
Our struggles the hard muck and guts of daily living
As vital a fight as anything thrown at us.
I wear red. I wear red like a bridal veil. I wear red like a promise. Like a weapon. Like a lover. Like a sister. Like a mother. Like a daughter. Like an honor.
Listen to Your Mother Show Plumas County show is underway. First rehearsal in the bag. Find out the cast of characters for our 2017 show.
I’m proud to be back directing the LTYM show in Plumas County one more time! It’s getting harder and harder to write about the kids as they get older. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it too.