"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hung Up

I've hung this prayer like wallpaper
lining up the seams
pasting the trailing vine against structure
and stepping back to check my work
for completeness and rigidity.

Everywhere I turn
this my vision
until it lost all sense of the familiar...
as foreign as another's hand
at the end of my own arm.

I've recited this invocation so often
I became an actor within it
the sentences coming loose of the script
and nouns stepping out of character
to confer with one another.

From the fallen word, letters
wriggled away like souls
departing in legion, but not free
caught with their work undone

I watch them reassemble into song
hauntingly familiar, the score of which
papers my walls.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I guess I need the meds

(Prologue - I am fine. This was a mental note. This was me off my medication for two weeks and the bottom dropped out. Quickly. It dropped out quickly. Today you have no cause for concern. The fact that I want to hide this mess is all the more reason to shine a light on it.)

Is it suicide if you just write the note?
Lusting is equivalent to adultery. So....
I must be dead.

I lied to myself for a vague moment somewhere in yesterdays window. I guess I am depressed. I've quite the talent for talking myself into things. Such a pity my talents do not extend to talking myself out. I suppose it's unfortunate how well I can fool you. But don't fear your gullibility. I used myself as practice and I really did think it was true. I lied when I consoled my shaking hand with a preemptive strike against what was surely coming. As sure as the sun sets, hopelessness rises.

I lied when I told myself I had choices, but you'll be happy to note I've been set straight. I have no choices. I have no rights. As surely as I read it, it must be fact.

I lied when I said I'd seen the limitless bottom, for today I saw how hungry it was, and that kind of appetite is never satisfied. It will return again and again until I lay myself out as a banquet. Submission and surrender are so highly praised! Thereby, I will be praised.

Do not fight for yourself. Happiness is irrelevant. The most content among us will tell you...it isn't even biblical. The blood from your battles will only alert the wolves. In the end they will chant the familiar lullaby, "you are wrong you are wrong you are wrong." You can hardly fault them for it! Truth is truth, and "I know" will be the last thing you whisper before they eat your heart. It's some kind of sick joke to have your feelings be wrong. There seems no choice but to lie. Who the hell wants to be wrong all the time?


It's taken about twenty minutes for the meds to kick in, for the calm stepford wife of reason and sense to take charge.

"Which Annie ARE you?"
Hell if I know.
But the one I was
pushed "publish"
before the one I am.

(That was the darkest place I've been. So far. I am deeply disturbed by the contrast but I want to remember and logically look at these feelings in a different moment.)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

She Helps

I feel as much a rescue as the rest of these animals. There is an unwed mother of three, a half breed, a cross breed, a pedigree larger and heavier than I, and several previously homeless beggars. A total of nine, including myself, settled in this country kitchen. There is a fire roaring, and the poor little Chihuahua is as small as her milk ducts are large. We joke that she is not even a year old and her figure is ruined. Those breasts will NEVER be the same, and damn...she missed the prom altogether! She warms her saggy baaah-baaah's on the floor tiles in front of the fireplace and looks anxiously towards the pen where her three babies sleep. There were four, and I watched last month as she nudged and sniffed at the dead fourth, her mourning and grieving not done until she pushed it out of the pen. She's a good mother.

"Is your meeting with me a secret?" I ask. Despite her assurances, I am unsure she is at ease having me there and I have no intention of being a secret kept, or a compromise. She assures me that this fact is as known as all the rest. I am always tearful in her presence, for she is the hand out...held, until I take it. I know I am unworthy. It's a judgement that I cannot rectify yet.

She's good with animals. "Not so good with people" she says of herself...but I know different.  I can see how some may not know what to make of her directness and candor, but I knew I wanted her as a friend the very first time I met her. Somehow, it happened. Her mothering makes me cry. I am mourning mothers as well as many other things right now. She is intent on feeding me and says I look thin. I shrug. I have no scale. She says, "No...really...like too thin. Here (she touches my neck). Here (her hard working fingers at my cheek)." I tell myself I really need that facelift, but it's nowhere in the near future (it is a thought. i let it go. there is nothing I can do to fix it today). She never tells me what she thinks I want to hear. She tells me what she thinks I need to hear. That is the mark of a true friend.

She says it seems like I "spew vitriol" on my blog. I tell her it is that scene from 'The Mummy'. Open mouth...the dust of poison escaping with my words. It is release. The darkness I carry is one of the hardest things for people to come to terms with. I've stopped attempting to explain. It is at odds with their daily experience with my flesh person and I can understand the discomfort. "Which Annie ARE you?" Hell if I know. Both, I imagine.

We watched 'The Help' and I cried through most of it. I am off my medications and I cry a lot. I don't think it's a bad thing and she agrees. I don't feel depressed, I just FEEL. This particular movie has me face off with my grief of mothers and fathers, and childhoods. ("you is kind, you is smart, you is important"). I wanted to recreate childhood within my own children, which in and of itself put too much pressure on them. I wanted to do it right. I had no model of what right was. I feel like I should apologize daily. "I don't know what I did, but I'm sure I did something and I'm sure it was awful and I'm sure that down the road you will realize all your problems were all my fault." Ah yes. The adult child of an alcoholic at work. The rational mind rolls "I did the best I could" around on the tongue like a roulette wheel.

It was a good day. It was an exhausting day. She is kind. She is smart. She is important to me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Say Cheese

I am the new person.
I am unknown
shy, even to myself
a mystery
I am all knuckle and blood
elements or elephants
separated from the room.

Everyone seems to know someone
everyone is met
the couples in step, the children supervised.

In my glass house
a hawk waving with both wings
casts its shadow puppets on my roof...
rabbit to wolverine with the tilt of a feather.

I pantomime,                        
              There is nothing left to shred
as the onion cries out with a chortle of recrimination,
it's many layers mocking.
               We've only glimpsed the Alpha.

I have felt the limitless bottom
and the memory is fresh

Dive anyway.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Living It

It's a little scary here. There are six people that like to sit and smoke on the steps leading to my apartment. They use "fuck" and "shit" and "mother fucker" as if they were "and", "the" and "um". I like profanity in it's place. But the children are small and it's almost as if the parental vocabulary is so truncated that they've lost their choices. They are young and they are loud and they think nothing of letting their children run back and forth and back and forth and shake the windowswallsdoorsfloorglass. They smoke tobacco and herbs, and their beers litter the lawn while they BBQ in the common area between the three wings. They roll down the windows of their cars and MAKE me listen to their rap music at full volume.

I am afraid, and it makes me hibernate. I've never been a particularly fearful person, but suddenly I am as unsure of others as I am of myself. This is no time to hide. I hide well. Why practice that more?

I went out on the small balcony to fill a small pot with soil. I have seeds from Marion that I am suppose to plant in Spring. (It is 80 degrees. Does that constitute Spring? I don't know when to plant. Help me Marion.) Four men come out onto the adjacent balcony...it is their women littering my stairway. BE BRAVE BE BRAVE BE BRAVE. Just like a kidnapped victim who tries to let the captor know they have a name, they are a person, they have children.

"Who actually lives in this apartment?" I ask over the balcony.

A man's smile fades. He thinks I am going to lecture, or critique, or judge, or complain. I can tell. I am learning to read body language better than words.

"I do" he says.

"My name is Annie. Nice to meet you" I say, holding out my hand. He shakes it. His name is Greg. He is smiling broadly now and missing a tooth.

I walk out front onto the steps. A woman spans the entire width of my stairway. If she did not move, I would not be able to get from my apartment to my car.

"Which of you actually lives in this apartment?" I ask again.

"I do" smiles a woman.

"I'm Annie. I just met your husband Gary."

"Greg" she says. I tell her my memory sucks. That I have a hard time listening. I am rarely present. She moves for me. She smiles. She asks me if I know her daughter. I do...she was the first person to say hello here. She is seven, likes flowers and the color pink.

The guys are swearing like sailors on the balcony. I cannot drown it out. Their music is not to my liking. But...I am less afraid than when we were all nameless.

I want them to be quiet.
I have no control.
It's hard for me.

Friday, January 13, 2012


We are all so crushable, some of us eloquent.
And that's not even the right word.
The pulse of every beat,
joy, peace, loss, grief
the unbearable, the unimaginable
our one.true.life sustained in letters.

Sometimes we get it just right, nick a jugular,
raise our hands to the drenching of blood rain

or we are dry,
the words of our bones

Monday, January 9, 2012

According to Facebook

According to Facebook I am smoking pot
According to Facebook I have left "the church"
According to Facebook my friends are of ill-repute
According to Facebook I am the latest newsworthy black sheep
for there is no greater pasture
than to drag someone else through the none of your business.

"Facebook is of the devil" she says
and I tend to believe her.
I don't go there
I don't even dare
because the grocery store isles are more filled with Annie
than any $2.99 per pound special on tri-tip.

I have a mirror
I have a soul
and God holds me beyond my push.
I have a heart that hurts just as much as yours.
And when you dwindle in your darkest hour...
those times when the sky and the earth meet as one inky blackness
enveloping a forgiveness you cannot find...

that's when you will realize I have learned something.

This egg splattered door will be your knocking place
and my knee the rest for your head.
That's when my Refuge
within His immutable echo of ancient truth
will be your harbor,
and some measure of grace and mercy
(perhaps more than I allow myself) will be served
until you can eat.

The black sheep have much to learn.
The white sheep think they should share all they "know".


The Interior Age

"The child of an alcoholic has no age. The same things hold true if you are five or fifty-five. Children of alcoholics simply do not have fun. Life was a very serious and angry business. There was no place for fun in your household. You gave it up. It just wasn't a workable idea. The spontaneous child got squashed and struggles to be released. The pressure to be an adult keeps the child repressed. You are at war with yourself."  ~ Janet Geringer Woititz

I put my age in the pocket of my jeans
where it mingles with other minted years
those silver dollars feeling superiority
over coins as light as communion wafers
transparent and broken

their ashes though filling the grooves of dimes and quarters
foundation on the faces of Lincoln and Jefferson
knowing they belong and hanging on
through change

I swing my feet from an over sized chair
mindful, but not moved, by my unkempt laces or lopsided pigtails.
A moment ago I was pouring over a budget in my power suit
managing a department with a drivers permit and acne.

There are no digits to my thoughts
no category of defense that a number can blame.
She is only 5!
She is only 15!
She is only 50!
She is ageless, and stuck there

but determined not to be.
It just isn't a workable idea.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Richard and Michael. They are father and son, Portuguese, loud yelling door slamming gruff loving caring people. I like the work I do for this small company. I like the hour and a half of work I do there on Friday mornings infinitely more than I like the work I do 40 hours a week. I watch this family arguing with their mouths and hands. Their passion is equally as evident in their anger as it is in their love and devotion to one another. They have no patience, but since neither of them do, they don't realize it's lacking. They howl and bang around without a thought to any notion that anger diminishes love in anyway. It is part and parcel to love. I think I would like this in my life to some degree, although it seems ridiculous to desire anger. I guess I want anger to be safe. I wonder if it can be. It is safe between these two men and so I examine it. Anger was not safe in the household of my childhood. It was out of control and there was no love in it. I think I have erred too far on the side of civility and it has harmed my relationships.

The people in my life are being practiced on. Unfortunately for them I am like a ten year old deciding to take Dad's Lincoln out for a spin with no idea how to steer. I run over mail boxes, into garbage cans,  near miss a cat or two and nick a fence over correcting. I have asked one thing of Michael, to be in the office by 7:30 so I can do payroll and get to my full time job on time at 8:00. In the two years I've worked there I can count on one hand the times he actually has been. I'm always late for my next job. I am enabling him to be irresponsible every time I stay past the time I said I would because he won't arrive on time. Today, I practiced a little.

Michael: Sorry I'm late.


Michael: What?

Annie: What? It's the same gig every Friday, that's what! It's the same late as it always is. You're killing me Michael! (I put my arm on his shoulder.) Michael, we need counseling!

Michael: Oh God. Now you sound like my girlfriend. You have no idea...just like her.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Weak Link

The old woman bent to her task, gnarled hand trailing the chain
her fingers longing over each link
as if an instrument she played,
and each note out of tune required an effort greater than she felt she had.
But to discontinue was to begin again.

"What are you doing?" asked the boy.

"Looking for weak links" she replied wearily.
It was back breaking work, though it looked like a stroll.
There were those who assumed she just wanted to walk
and behind their hands they whispered conspiracies.

"Looks fine to me," said the boy.

"Does to most," replied the old woman
annoyed at the intrusion
for every derailment added to time.

"Then why don't you just let it be?" asked the boy, chewing a hangnail that would require a bloody freedom.

The old woman sighed, turned to the boy..."Because things are getting in which should stay out, and things that should stay out are getting in. Nothing knows its place anymore."

The boy shook his head. "Old woman...you're wasting your time. Everyone who sees that chain thinks it's strong enough."

She put her hands on her hips. "Which is exactly the problem. Everyone stops and requires an explanation for something they simply cannot see. It only delays the task. Leave me to it Boy, I need to do this alone."

"Why alone?" asked the boy as he turned to go.

"No one else believes in the mission" she said quietly.

He did not hear. He was not meant to.