Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prompt Tell a story of when a fictional narrative - changed you

Today's Sevenstages story writing session reminds that fiction stories can create realities that could have been-with truths more clarifying than real events. The book Mr. God this is Anna – may or may not be fiction and represents this sentiment quite uniquely in the elusiveness of its implied truth of Anna’s existence. And for me it is yet another story shared under a pseudonym; Fynn.

Based on public reviews and personal sharing Anna’s authentic voice is not elusive with words that widen any reader’s personal journey of belief. In this webbed world there are related stories of readers compelled to seek out the story behind the anonymity of its author; Fynn. Some print editions of Mr. God this is Anna do have a preface by religious broadcaster and theologian  Vernon Sproxton who remarks that he has seen Anna's drawings and notes and that he believes her to be real.

Many years ago I gifted Mr. God this is Anna to my precocious young son. Nearly decades later his social media ‘About Me’ information presents it has his favorite book; quite a declaration given his multitude of over stacked cases of well fingered books. It may be my favorite as well; because when prompted to write my own story about a fictional narrative that changed me I connect immediately with the audacity of its questions, the open charm of its characters and mostly the uncertainty of its truth and a phrase about connectedness and hope that I owned more than I realized before today.

The inquisitive Anna dies at age eight. She lived a poetic life as a friend and helper of Mister God whose revelations through her voice ‘roll around the mind’ of her accidental caretaker, Fynn and any reader of his anonymous sharing of their four years together. Anna had an astonishing ability to ask--and answer--life's largest questions, and to feel the purpose of being. At her gravesite Fynn says "Anna is in my middle".  This exclamation has been described as Fynn’s release of his angst against God as he prophetically connects with one of Anna's big answers "God is part of everybody and everybody is part of God"; more simply it is finding hope. 

My son and I express the depth of our connectedness with the phrase "you are my middle". It can be a standalone text, the close to a follow-up message or a murmur shared during a deep in person hug which I am still learning to lean into. I too have a psuedonym: it is my middle name and his.  When our lives had to keep many secrets I reached deeply into the middle of everything and found poems.

the most beautiful lessons are plain to see
by Adele Houston
listen up, the most
beYOUtiful thing in this here world
is you
being yourself.
My pappy taught me this truth.
Pappy knows many things about
fixing and making things do what they
are meant for, but
like he says, fixing what was
broke in him was the key.
I'm here to tell you
that man was ugly to look at
but he was beYOUtiful.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Perfection is rare; so when is settling right?

It is so easy and quick to slip back into habits that stress rings the bell for. I have regained the 5 pounds I successfully lost and truly stabilized to as off after 6 months. And then there is the sharing of food or sharing over food that presents itself when you want to get out of a funk and you say, "Sure." which is not a whole hearted "Yes".  Losing my daily walks to a broken ankle did not help the cause but that is a crutch excuse and new Yogurt shops in town provide plausibly healthy sharing opportunities.

I know I am not at the place I expected to be but I am challenged to define what I expect. The words that do surface to describe the intangible are comfort and flexibility. But the reality is too much comfort food and paralyzing sense of unproductivity within the flexible hours.

But the biggest challenge is the loneliness. I think I imagined a collective of artists and thinkers and innovators to do out of the box, artsy projects that make a difference with.  I have had hints of this life along the way -- but the collectives are broken stories of people and time, the thinkers outpace my memory and talent and the innovators need day jobs, as do I.

I got some deciding to do.  But in my immediacy I have technology to untangle.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

High School English - Eliot and words for Tripathi

It is never too late to be who you might have beenGeorge Eliot
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. T.S. Eliot

I finished reading A Sense of Direction by Gideon Lewis-Kraus today; but I have not finished digesting it.  It is due back at the library on the 29th.

Serial memoirists. When I allow myself luxury reading, reading that is other than technical or news, that is what I read. I conclude that it is a love hate relationship with the might have been. Conclusions foil me. I assume they are needed for a story and they are; but they do not need to be as conclusive as I imagine. 

I have yet to get fully lost in Wasteland 
APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

but have scanned searchable by Internet Quotes and a few poems by T.S. that elude my conclusively elusive memory. I know that it was taking on of a man's name that got me to read MiddleMarch and other works (Silas Marner, Adam Bede) of Novelist Mary Anne Evans. Ironically the indefatigable reading of Middlemarch peppers  Gideon's pilgrimage story - finishing it via iPhone while in a taco line in New York (p.332 ) and citing the enduring Dorothea Brooke. Perhaps another irony is that Virginia Wolfe's examination of George Eliot decries her life to be a pilgrimage and that is how my younger self saw her "daring and achieving" as she endured aspiring in a man's world. And I still wonder how choosing this writer to explore for my Senior English Paper in 1971 could not be seen as laudable  So in 2009 when I was newly enthralled with a writer from CT Gina Barreca whose books I bought, laughed over, loaned to extended family and never got back wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education: "Would You Trade T.S. Eliot for George Eliot?  - I felt redeemed. 

There is so much unexplored in this distraction of writing that once I had imagined to be my real life's work including the fact that as I wandered through the new downtown campus of a local community college I saw among the granite interior wall inscriptions from both Eliots. It made me ruminate and smile full bodied and think about writing, but I did not write.

On such days as this I would put pencil to paper and attempt a poem.  This week I realize that this poem is the news made new in Boston. This poem needs a reprise - for  Tripathi.  I would be proud to find those words.

Powder Puffs
followed the red hot dots
stone to stone, poof & play escapes
roll, pull, caps, pop, roll

Popular culled
taking out vinyl, TV, movies, microchips. Afghanistan smolders,
imbued. Land mines, queerly puffed spheres, maim
riddled children as life goes on. Taliban ban
implodes. No one saw the danger.
Hollow powder poofs over a land-scape
a genuine Islamic Militia - 1996

Toy gun powder
took out the janitor and 2 or 3, 9 to 5 guys
for life.  Gone the anonymous presence, opinions
held by one who disinfects bathrooms.  A cap gun factory
explodes.  No one saw the danger.
Cap powder poofs over a life-scape
a genuine news story - California 1997

indulgence denied
shrieks prevail which parent-child, stress cleaves
the dark. “Kill the TV! Wipe-out video game! Wrestle this
Get a LIFE!”.   Fingered.  Suckling technology
erodes. No one saw the danger.
Baby powder poofs over our net-scape
a genuine break with sanity - 1998

Sharia looms
unpopular, an emergent evolution veiled of darkness
women, children - like wet men, not afraid of rain
numb to terror. Pakistan knows what can be hidden
in stone.  No one saw the danger.
Talc powder poofs over a judeo-scape
a genuine threat concealed -1999

stone upon stone, poof into sinister dust
a genuine terror changes a city-scape

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ROI on steps: FLAT

The price of anything is the amount of life that is exchanged for it.” Henry David Thoreau

All choices exact time, energy and produce memory artifacts.
It has been said that I have projects not people in my life. That view is held mostly by people who themselves find distance a comfort or depth a risk or options plentiful. All of these conditions apply to my stepmom relations.  All the children are now adults, thus the day-to-day dependency is gone. It is time to assess the ROI and the moving forward investment.

A step relationship is a consequence of marriage. I the case of my three stepchildren the decision to marry was hastened to meet their needs as defined by their legally responsible parent - health insurance, housing and access to an affordable education that would match their dreams of becoming.

I ask myself “Would this marriage have happened without the children factor?” It is impossible to disconnect.  This leads me to deduce that it would have been less likely.  This was number three for me and I wanted a family which is more than a husband.  Truth be told; I wanted a daughter.
From past alliances, I was keenly aware of how the extended family would contribute to, or rob, the health of the family.  I tried to assess the long-term potential of interpersonal dynamics and there did not appear to be any smoking guns as was literally the case in alliance one. I knew blended would be challenging but I thought the outcome could be ‘near normal’ by most standards and that was in large part what I wanted for both me and my son. This choice of partner was more like my blue collar roots. And there was irony in the fact that we shared some extended family making the prospects of vacations in Vermont – my most favored childhood memories – possible.

So I found an intelligent, handy blue collar guy who was comfortable down to the smell and feel of his skin with kids and  Vermont connections and’ what I had’ could stabilize his family so BINGO.   My 10 year old child within had ‘the potential’ for the idealized whole family and I would be back on course with my life. Success! And like I said me & he “we” felt good together. I had comparative life experience here and the difference was often magical – so I assumed this was Love.

“People will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
It has been said that I have hurt the feelings of others with my actions, tone and look.  Got to love how ‘my look’ has been so devastating. There is some irony in that these hurts have never been disclosed to me nor can I recall anything that could be devastating – again my life experience has within it perversion, murder and madness so my barometer may be skewed.

Adding to the illusion of ‘project, not people’ my focus was on keeping things paid for and available and to enable the father of these children to have lots of face time which means I was behind the scenes. I was not all work. Community Service was a cornerstone of my life which I re-established with my new family and community.  I needed to both walk-the-talk and to support the evolution of the talents and interests of all the children.  We were in the community as a family working on projects and their talents concurrently.  
Anonymous-like seemed best along the way as it gave the dad credit for the providing for their needs as each arose or extras as they were decided upon. He got a constant and immediate return on ‘Our’ investment.  We are now in ‘YaYa’ mode - his family name for ‘grandfather’ and guess ‘who’ is still is getting the ROI and who is anonymous.

So it has been fifteen years and a very different span of life than the prior fifteen, and the fifteen before that. In this span I recall raising my voice about a dozen times in frustrated anger – and maybe thrice blurting out-loud that this “marriage” was a mistake that needs to come to an end. In this new and loud family getting to the same decibel level was of itself a challenge that I was rarely inclined to meet. They chatter loudly. It is not arguments or fervent discussion – merely exuberant chatter.  
The rare arguments were very values based which was a ‘me| them’ dichotomy. I can without reserve say that all discord has been over the children and one child in particular.  My concerns have been (still are) about self-interest to the exclusion or harm of others or themselves and if there was an appropriate ‘parent’ intervention to take.  I wanted transparency which required conversation with all parties at the table – but outnumbered I sometimes eventually responded from a place of hurt which typically creates more hurt and thus the mutual cycle of justification and distancing. I did not wish to support behaviors that I did not condone.  Discovering secrets, or lies, could become major in my eyes.

So as the ‘other’ I had choices. I choose my values every time because they were real and the relationships were too suspect. Resent disclosures seem to suggest that what I have said and done pales in comparison to a few ‘made them feel’ seeds ironically nourished by the lacked of light and context, in other words absent conversation.

Love the questions themselves.”  Rainer Maria Rilke
Uncertainty is a permanent state that is more fragile if more conditions are subject to change. The advice of Rilke is to learn to love the mysteries of life which is much easier to contemplate; than to live.
So back to the question “How would I assess the ROI on being a stepmom? Outcomes are assessed based on some expectation of results. For me results are values based adding to the complexity of this question whose answer has three domains:  First, what is the status of the relationship that created the ‘step’ condition. Second, by societal standards in addition to my own values, where did the children land?  And, do I feel the marriage|parent choice was worth the time and life energy expended?

I believe that strong values provide for stability even if they become what teenagers rail against. They help us make choices and understand the choices made. In a blended family they help level the playing field and guide resource constrained life choices.
My most bedrock principle is that within my means I invest in each child to the extent that they invested themselves. This is in reaction to, and a build upon, a striving for fairness that was the underpinning of my father’s parental worldview and “fail, better” lesson from my own experiences. And from my grandfather, I was instilled with a ‘world’ view which he exemplified through is love of the land and service to his community. Distilled his life lesson was “Try to do no harm (avoid harm by intent), and be a good neighbor”.

Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. C.S. Lewis  To be either young or old enough to have a relationship of wonder and awe in the world. 
All of the steps are 21 years old or older now; so as projects (not relations) it is time for Lessons Learned and a Results Summation.
I am supposed to be in a place where I can start reading fairy tales again. But even as a child I was more of a non-fiction reader. Wonder and awe are illusive. I have the ball & chain of responsibility still within my DNA and a lack of clarity on my wants befuddled by the actual ROI on my most recent life investment in family.

Assessment: Faulty Benchmark. Flat return.
As regards where they have gotten to, “They are consumer-centric and not one is concerned about their impact on the earth. The observable measures of their world are stuff, glitter, costumes, and games.  Each was educated to the extent they chose to be and all are living comfortable by American standards.  So the results ‘as projects go’ are within a high range; but as a mother I am not brought to a smile. I believe there is significant bio-mom influence here so there was not much I really could expect as an outcome.

With my world view as a lens the results of blended family life are less than satisfying. I do not find my steps to be very interesting or even nice people -- but I reiterate the world view is mine. Others coo and giving kudos to each of them over their babbles, baby extensions of self and entrepreneurial adventures. When I ask "Why am I wrong to  respond based on information and values, the answer is "to ‘preserve’ the relationship." I wonder what relationship means in this context. I thought real relations were based on truth and trust and adults can exchange meaningful ideas and feelings.
The child most prone to self-destruction and addiction has not changed.  She is not at her lowest word slurring, drug consuming ‘all about me’ state but she still “all about me”. What has changed is the all about me now includes her three children. I call her the other wife. She has lists of to-dos for her father and expectations that the check will still always be picked up. She does not say thank you because she is entitled to all that is given her.

Exemplifying stories on current status: Oldest child and reason for nearly every argument. (I no longer have a name just a moniker "the wife"). When she is interfering (usually getting her father to do a list of chores or pay for things) I refer to her as "the 1st wife".  This is a simple way to establish that what is going on is not setting well with me --- but it never inhibits the process she gets the chores done and stuff paid for and I need to fit into their schedule.
My advice to a pregnant step-daughter in relationship number three is “Do not get a dog now”. As always I am dismissed with condescension.  A frisky Chocolate Lab, Reilly, becomes a member of her newest family. Then the baby comes and within less than a year the strain of responsibility is too much. Reilly must go. I offer to care for Reilly until she can be re-united with her family (a.k.a. estimated 6 months when step daughter gets her shit together enough to manage being a stay at home mom with one child). Four years later, Reilly is reunited with the family by “Ya Ya”. He sees it as a way to meet the needs of the second baby, now 2. I am merely told the dog will be visiting VT. I have inferred enough to know that the dog and grandchild will be good for each other and this was the reason Reilly was with us, so of course. I hope it is decided that Reilly can stay. But initially it is too inconvenient for Reilly to stay because the family is going to Aruba (all expenses paid by the in-laws). Reilly goes back the following month. Not much is shared with me, so I probe. I get told that they want Reilly but she can visit every year when they go to Aruba that is if “I am not going to be a bitch and keep her”.
Both the dog and grandchild are now displayed on FB and called dumb, or fat or stupid by the Mom to the LIKES of others, other than me. And No I am not going to dog sit for Aruba.
Assessment: I see a picture of her and her oldest daughter getting matching haircuts and my gut fills with worry that she may become like her and I think it is scary. I do not keep this secret.  Negative return.

Exemplifying stories on current status: The talented son
He is in a fairy-tale of his own making and is consciously delaying the creation of his own family.  He is creative and capable but after short very infrequent visits my ears ring from the all the nesses: loud-ness, judgmental-ness or shallow-ness. This child was the most socially out of step in the world. As he did with all relations with girls, he abandons his family and embraces hers. He is now living with his in-laws when an equally affordable, more independent and spacious option is available to him based on the investments I made with Ya Ya. Slap.
Again no conversation just lots of inference that I am too evil to be around. Me who paid off 2 years of car payments as wedding gift, subsidized the last minute air conditioning for the wedding,  gave them a gift of local food weekly as an engagement gift instead of stuff, forwarded job announcements and other resources as I come across them.  I am not told to stop sending job opportunities but I catch wind of a life change on Twitter. We, his Dad & I are not invited to a meal. He lives 2 miles away. Even strangers are compelled to behave differently with food sharing.

My Holiday: Let me preface that we are not practicing Christians but this Holiday is pretty ubiquitous.   I buy a few things that I think they each may need (like kool ties for the new teachers) and ask for 5, maybe 10, minute time together to exchange gifts in our home. It gets postponed and then it is not important enough for his wife to participate.  This was to be my only time with family to exchange gifts. This fact does not seem to have import. I am upset and show it – I do not want to pretend.
Assessment: He has achieved his potential as a talent and has some redeeming qualities. I am in zero wedding pictures. Flat return. 

Exemplifying stories on current status: Now 21
The youngest child was hidden away in a computer or TV isolated from others when I met her at age eight so is it not a surprise that she chooses online college and is an entrepreneur creating ‘fan art’.
She is observant and smart and snide and comfortably married to what appears to be a good match for her. As a teen she had a live in boyfriend, no expectations of contribution to family life and a constant relationship with bio mom. She navigated the “I wants and gets” well from the start. In our home she still has a room with heaps of stuff not needed for more than 2 years. Most likely all in there was never needed.

Her dad chooses to chat with her on Sunday Morning instead of having quality time with me on a weekend we had dedicated to “us”, or so I thought. He is not willing to even share with her that his choice, and hers, upset me. He was ‘in the dog house”.  She now knows of how this 30 minute conversation about nothing urgent was felt and the outcome is morning text messages with snideness: An I interrupting something. What  am I to take away from these events and responses?  

I decide that all my blended family  “relationships are too fragile for truth”. Depression follows and this blog post.   
Assessment: She is the most independent and maybe the brightest of the children. Conversations can be held with her about other than stuff. She is still navigating. Flat return with blip of optimism but maybe that is misguided because I see some hint of truth in her snideness.  

All three are back to the place of their childhood where they have a birth mother that lavishes ‘stuff’ upon them and participates in their adult creation and acquisition of more stuff. They do not seem to be conflicted by their sidebar conversations of derision, judgment and comments about her alcoholism.  Does she know? If she did, would it hurt her? Would she still be compelled to buy her relationship? Is she getting more from being their mother than me in this illusory relationship?  Each is willing to visit and connect with Bio-Mom based on the ‘stuff’ exchanged. Visits at our home are totally based on convenience and need. 
I assumed I did not even merit side-bar conversation but recently discovered that the oldest regularly and fervently suggests to her father to leave me.  

So it is a lack of transparency that informs my place and considerations of relationships going forward.

On Saturday I was told that I have written off the children. That I can pretend and participate and make nice but I choose not to. 
I think "What will pretend give me: more things to pay for and an illusion of family. That sucks" I know this excommunicated living makes the marriage unsustainable.  What I do not know is how to invest in the future because I truly was not expecting this last investment to yield just unsatisfying results. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Prompt: childhood, snapshot

There are images we take from childhood, snapshots of ourselves as a fully formed character. Sometimes even at the smallest age, we knew we were destined to be ourselves. Share a story of the child you were, and where that child still resides in who you have become.

I found a white plastic pail nearly half my height and filled it with water made sudsy by pouring in lots and lots of gel green dish cleaning soap.  I needed to find a very, very  big rag as well because I had made a HUGE mistake. I wrote in bright pink colored sidewalk chalk on the street near the bus stop for us younger kids “Jill is a cripple”. I was so mad at her - the reason why is not in my memory at all; just the feeling that I was invisible and Jill was not. Always 1st in line. Always lifted on her brothers shoulders to get a better view. Always getting pretty dresses. I was the oldest child, she the youngest. I seemed to have so many more 'responsibilities'. A big word that adults used and one I had already learned to spell. She had a club foot. It was the excuse for being special or so I perceived. I suddenly knew the words in my head now carefully printed in chalk were wrong. Well right, in fact, but wrong in how I used them. The eraser I had in my jacket pocket to fix my printing if I made mistakes did not seem to work on the asphalt road. I could not let anyone see this and drawing flowers was not going to disguise my finely crafted boldly printed letters. 

I lived in the house farthest away. Jill's house was much closer though off into the woods. I needed to be fast to make the evidence of my anger go away before anyone else could see that it had emerged.

"What are you up to? You have enough soapy water to clean an army" said my mom.
I mumbled, “ I have lots to clean-up”  and I dragged my pail for what appeared to be an eternity to the pink words chalked on pavement. I was too late.  I could see her older brothers reading the road as I approached the scene of my crime.  My heart pounded out of my T-shirt.  I wanted to become smaller so they could not see me. Jill's brothers screamed cruel things at me. What they actually said is not in my memory at all; just the feeling that I wanted to be invisible and the even louder voice in my head  saying “you deserve this for your meanness”.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. My arms drenched with darkening water where my tears got lost.

The words faded in to the pavement but there was not enough water to cleanse away the pink truth of confusion, hurt and the anger within.

Reflect on a moment of darkness before a shift to light or perfection

What is light or perfection? My gut response is that “Moving on moments” are hard to find today. Then I wonder, is it today or is it how I live - stuck? 

I am feeling inert in the darkness that hangs above my eyes like the allergy headache of these same days overwhelmed by the incompatibilities of technology and blended family.  I feel best after a rain storm and wish for a hard rain to take away the pollen. I was recently reminded by an expert in lighting that cloud cover helps capture images better – diffused light often key to good quality images. So I close my eyes to see-k the perfection moments in my darkness.  

The only perfection I can claim is the birth of my son: but not in the moment.  Before the birth there was planning; food to prep, one of a kind announcements to design, invitations to childless pastor & neighbors and extended family to decide upon. Then amidst the timed pains of labor there was the unplanned talk of cameras and cigars; we passed both shops on the walk to the center. 
The center was downtown. No doctors just midwives. I was to be standing over a three legged birth chair. Planned was the walk, my 1st ever whirlpool bath and lots of post birth carbs. But I twist my ankle and all plans to stand were challenged and I do not stand until moments before the birth push past the wall of pain from my middle into perfection.

I once owned a perfect birth picture of neighbors holding my son moments after his birth. I had wanted to give them a birth gift as they were childless at the time - adoption in process and we had shared fertility trials & tribulations for a few years. I assumed they would be friends for life, not so, just another story with an ironic twist. This picture of neighbors holding my son minutes after his birth has an appearance of perfection. It hung among family photos in hallway of my former home. Now this picture is a memory and reminder of stolen perfection; gone like the lasagna I had so looked forwarded to post birth. There is a cigar haze over the day.

Cigar Blues
You know the ones i mean.
White patent leather shoes, matching white
belt, a polyester suit with wide stitched
pockets that cigar wrappers peek
over like fat displaced fingers.
They linger against door sills
where 24-hour coffee pours into
dawn. They came
frequently for services best rendered
by dim light.
You know the ones i mean. Lean cigarillos
classic styling, a latino flavored virility
A slim itchy slough to bite off and
spit. How i wanted to - spit
at quick - no accounting
for pleasure pistols that could and
would fit just about anywhere. They came
when their women got religion or feminism,
same thing.

You know the ones i mean.
Slothfulness defined in their girth
and shirt-tailed memories long faded
as their knees of corduroy, laid bare
side by side, balls and prick, sans cigar
unsubstantiated. They came
convicted -- opportunities elsewhere
bought disease.
and picture this
a voice as high as rump round -- throngs would kneel
in delight boasting. Aromatic blackness
turkish wrapped, disguised with peacock struts
and bon bons for the must be fair damsel. He came
laden down with want me white lady.
and then
there are dough Johns. They tip off
at the greens and pad their expense accounts
as regular as clockwork. Just need a get away
free jump start -- pendulous without
self-flagellation.  They came
when breasts heaved with hardness
of ebbing menses below their nostrils.
But the one I will never forget left 
a Titan stench lingering with dustballs and spider webs. His glare fixed upon his desired
out come
clumped like Elmer's glue on my fingers.
Performance rated. The anti raised. Fertility swollen in petri like ash trays. Sperm samples
cultured by the hour, emulsified rubber
effacing smoke curls blue, the air
ringed with mildew.
Its a boy. Surprised?  Have a cigar!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Body - Seven Stages Prompt

Prompt 1 Share a moment in your life when your body taught you a lesson

Hold it. I need to hold it. It was a common phrase of the voice in my head. I remember it starting about grade 6; when hall passes were needed to go to the bathroom. Sometimes 'the holding' made my legs twist so much that I imagined my insides twisted like shiny metalic fish guts. This very squirmy image came to me the night I faced off with a shiny metal toilet in an intensely glaring white “holding cell”. I was again holding, squeezing tightly because all my movements could be seen on the monitor by uniformed MEN in another room; my fingers still inked black so I dared not soothe my tummy with a rub. I imagined squeezing hard with the whole of my body and praying, for that is what it seemed, for morning. Suddenly the Hold and twist was interrupted by a strong desire for a pencil for the poem untwisting inside my head - about redemption. And I kneeled and focused on remembering the words not the feelings because I would not get a pencil here.

I did give birth to a very visceral poem that night. The next day I was free from more than the holding cell - I was free to control my urges to Piss on the World.

What does it take to respond to basic human need?
You know that feeling you get when you succumb -- to cold, coffee, or fatigue; your urine recycled – reaching that urgency, numbed without the benefit of pissing feeling? You know how the next urge demands your immediate attention? How your mind goes to your knees pressed closed, tighter -- hold on, keep you together, begging -- that need for a tree urgency.
Let’s start here… begging, silently before a stainless steel toilet-water fountain. An ensemble. Everything less than a full-step away. Every being in constant view, monitored by human-bodies elsewhere in the building.

What did start there…where I could not sleep or drink or piss freely. I was arrested.
I thanked the man who knew procedure, saw Me, then did the decent thing.
Knees together, hands folded what came next was unrestrained.

Do you know that feeling you get when you pass the you can't even count them, person on the street who has no place to sleep, to drink, to piss and compassion demands your immediate attention?

PROMPT 2 Reflect on a Scar
What the idea of scarring means to me is that time has passed and there was an attempt to fix a wound that decided to remain visible. But many scars may not be visible or is that a rationalization because maybe they are visible in ways we do not wish to admit. Not enough pretty language here so I will merely declare that I do not get my fingernails polished nor is a true manicure a habit of mine. My nails may often reveal that my last shower was 2 days ago but the threat of the teacher’s assessment of my hygiene is long gone.

Sometimes when meeting someone new I look at my fingers and see how ragged they are and that like Sylvia Plath 'Cut" that I have had a thumb onion experience, many layers of eyes tearing and opportunity for poems.

What a thrill -
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of hinge

Of skin,
A flap like a hat,
Dead white.
Then that red plush.

Prompt 3 Select a Body Metaphor to start, end or just muse upon
To Keep Abreast...
In general it is impossible to keep abreast, more so if it is not clear what it is that you wish to be informed of. Serendipity abounds and there are tweets, chats, feeds, and occasional face time that distract.  A slow reader, I feel compelled to ingest so I scan much. I see patterns and connections and want to transform data into information, into understanding ,and therefore - story.  And all this is somehow tied to the quest or question "What do you wish to become when you grow up?

On the precipice of growing old I recall this as a common intergenerational question among near strangers; often posed by distant relative at equally distant gatherings of family – and the older men leering at my breasts as they asked. I was approaching thirteen when an elder who I can to see as some old guy rudely blurted; “Obviously she is made to be a mother”.  It was not so obvious to me who planned to be the 1st college bound member of my family.  But there was an echo in the remark that I shared with my generation.

This echo ebbed and flowed throughout my life. It was uncanny how much of my life quest became to create an uncommon yet perfect family. One that resonated in the world like the Helen Doss story "The Family Nobody Wanted". I was excited to find a copy on the Library discard pile for a dime. More eager to share it with my step-daughters than they were to embrace it.
It was an inspiration for many 'penny for your thoughts' moments during my emergence into womanhood and assumptions of leering men.

I felt such deep dissapointment on so many levels when I found it discarded by them. It took me years to realize that creating a family was not the same as being a Mom.