Connie’s Flowers

•August 30, 2014 • 2 Comments

They sat on the right side
of my desk
quietly hauling water up their stems.
Connie gave them to me.

These wild flowers were not beautiful;
their mustard-colored petals
collapsed dramatically around a blood-red interior
as if to smother an obnoxious scream.

Connie thoughtfully plucked
the five wild flowers for me
during her lunch time walk
on the narrow dirt path in the field
behind Candlestick
Her thank you gift to me
after I’d found her in the company bathroom where
she sat on the sink ledge with her
head in her hands

And wept.
I was her only friend
she told me
Everyone else in the world
her family, our other co-workers
Everyone hated her.
“I’m thirty-six,” she wailed. “THIRTY-SIX!”
She needed money, she said suddenly, to pay her cable bill.
I thought of the office gossip
And how Connie always wore long sleeves.
As I reached in my purse and brought out thirty dollars.
No one could accuse me of being judgmental
I handed her the bills
and went back to my cubicle.
I had a presentation to prepare.

By late afternoon, the flowers began to droop
The mustard color wilted into a burnt orange
Like little Buddhists engulfed in flames.
And I thought of the picture from Life Magazine
of the monk calmly sitting in his Lotus position
as he ignited himself to let the fire consume him
Using his body so brutally
to make our parents see
what they didn’t want to.
Now we ignore the soldiers, young and tired, forced
to march through sandstorms and
into crowded cities to find an enemy with
no description while the president
sits with his advisors shuffling the deck of cards
with the faces of America’s “Most Wanted”.
CNN slaps on a slogan
Shock and Awe
So when the bombs fall
We can watch them as if it were a Blockbuster rental.

Soon Connie started missing work
a day here, a week there
until she stopped showing up at all.
And our efficient office manager hired a new
receptionist with bright blond hair and shiny teeth.
Connie was forgotten.
Discarded like the flowers that once sat on my desk.

One evening
in my apartment putting on the last smear
of lip gloss getting ready
to meet friends at yet another trendy club
with ten dollar pints
The phone rang.
It was Connie, a forced lightness in her voice,
but a slight catch, too.
She needed money, she explained, she’d lost
her ATM card
and wanted to meet friends for dinner.
Of course, I said.
No one could accuse me of being stingy.
Twenty minutes later, I handed over two twenties
as Connie gave me a quick hug.
Her frail body barely able to raise itself.
I knew, though she didn’t say it,
She was homeless
And I thought about those flowers —
those five weedy martyrs —
that once slumped over
in the makeshift vase on my desk
as I raced off to the downtown club
Where my girlfriends and I drank
cocktails with fancy names
toasting ourselves,
As a teenage soldier spits in his blistered hand
and regrips his gun
while flies hover like miniature vultures
over the bodies left in his unit’s wake
As Connie’s delicate arm receives
another puncture wound
adding to that awful track of her anguish.

So much that can never be undone.

And I thought of Connie’s flowers
straining…
A last gasp for sunlight.

Mother May I

•April 20, 2014 • 1 Comment

I don’t want to hold grudges — the kind that just keep expanding inside you like an angry red balloon.  We’re running out of time, I fear.  That is why I picked up the phone and dialed, instead of running once again to that place with no thoughts, just people everywhere controlled like puppets by the strong beat and really loud music.   

You always let the phone ring five times before picking up.  I know your habits better than anyone, because I pay attention to details.  You answer just before the sixth ring, and as soon as I speak I hear your fingernails — which I know are pink and perfect — begin to tap impatiently. 

I don’t want to fight, I insist, and you reply that you’re not in the mood to talk about “unpleasant” things. That is how I know nothing will be resolved, and the angry ball grows inside of me, because I know that it ultimately doesn’t matter. You’ll never change: you’ll always remember the thorns and not the flowers; the storm and not the rainbow; and, the labor but not the birth.

True or False

•April 16, 2014 • 1 Comment

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray

                                                                                                                                                                -Rumi

 

I both love and loathe this quote by Rumi. Obviously, it’s hard to argue with this statement, because everyone wants to validate following their heart. But, really, you can’t always do what you love, and, furthermore, sometimes what you love conflicts with something else that you also love. I recently went to see the animated Mr. Peabody movie, when what I really wanted to see was “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. I couldn’t really take a young child to an R-rated film, but it was more than that: he had his heart set on seeing a talking dog raising a little boy, and watching him laugh throughout the movie really became much more precious than traveling back in time to a mid-20th century Europe.

But that’s not what I set out to write. I’m struggling to remember whether I am writing truth or fiction. Isn’t all fiction, I suppose, just the truth in disguise? And the truth is often shaded with what we feel should be truth or what we want to be true. So….I am still lost. Am I writing fiction or a memoir?

I guess all I really want to do is make sense of everything as the years begin to spiral inward shortening and accelerating. As I do, I keep coming back to that quote by Rumi, and I wish I could kick his ass, because he makes it sound so easy. Anyone who has reached adulthood, however, knows that it is not. There are many, many pulls on your heart and soul. I’ve allowed myself – rightly or wrongly — to go in many directions, and I can guarantee some of them did lead me astray, so the great Rumi doesn’t know everything. But when I get too mad at him, I remember another quote: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

Now, I’ve got enough truth to write fiction…

Go With The Flow

•April 2, 2014 • 4 Comments

I can’t believe that I only now realized that I am at a point in my life in which I can’t just go with the flow.  I have too many things loaded on my back to follow the current.  It’s not just about me, because now I have a husband and two children that desperately need me.  I thought that would really bother me, but now that I’ve said it out loud, I am fine with it.  I really am.

But what I have to realize, too, is just because I can’t pick up and move clear across the country, or pack my bags and head to Europe, doesn’t mean that I am stifled.  The flow these days runs through me, and I can’t let anything back that up. 

Written on a Sleepless Night

•March 23, 2014 • 2 Comments

How you deranged the delicate

 composure of night

 lying there spitefully breathing

I was thinking

 You

 You

 Night went viciously round and round

As I turned from side to side

 

Before you

 I journeyed easily

 into my dreams

oblivious to the wide

 throat of the future

 that now swallows the present

Just Wondering…

•March 23, 2014 • 2 Comments

…Whether a person can be creative and productive at the same time.  I feel creativity running through my veins right now, but as I try to turn it into something external, something to share with the world, it stops as if some unknowing force has built a colossal dam.  My energy dissipates and my mood shifts.  I shush my thoughts of failure and tell myself that it’s just not the right time.  But is it ever?

Unity

•July 30, 2013 • 4 Comments

I have been pondering the word

 Unity

 and I suddenly realized it is utterly incomprehensible

 like infinity

 and eternity

 and perpetuity

 all things endless which also means there is no beginning

 a glimpse at a falling star

Again, I’ve veered off course

and I’m tired of wandering

But isn’t life constant movement?

A chasing after the soul

floating above like an elusive butterfly

changing colors without warning

wings suddenly beating against the wind

 while a piece of me stays cocooned

 behind a veil of trepidation

These shifts are universal

 even the earth is trying to shake itself apart

 violent quakes

 and the sea’s sudden rising to reclaim land

 I can’t explain it

 perhaps the power of a million jilted lovers

a convergence of revenge

Isn’t punishment always the force behind change?

Some days I want to hush the whole world

 to a strict silence

but then peacefulness is so oppressive.

I know you see my

contra-

 dictions

 this awful teeter tottering

 between this way

 and that way

There is a rift within myself

My life used to be so neatly compartmentalized

How many lives have I sliced away?

But now I’ve merged it all into chaos like the LA freeways

 this unreasonable tangle

 of lives

 constantly breaking away

shattering my soul into a million pieces

that I’ve painfully glued together

cracks straining

and this

for now

is

Unity