Flue Rules


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You will spell it flu and not flue because it’s the flu but you’re not really 100% sure so it’s interchangeable because when it’s the flue anything goes…

You will remember tiny steel cans of apple juice you drank in kindergarten. You will remember clean, shredded towels that came from your mom’s apartment. You will remember Dad in his bed and his legs and everyone around him and the moment he departed and you will look at his picture right there young, smiling in a suit from you don’t know when, and you will remember tomato soup and grilled cheese tucked in on the couch, mom ministering.

You will sweat sweat sweat in your hoodie not wanting to breathe on the Walgreens employees who are tracking you in the aisles ‘cus it looks like you got stealing on your mind as you wander with your hood up but all you really need is a thermometer you can’t find (which you really don’t need to tell you you are farked) but you pay for little cans of 7-Up and saltines and cough syrup and the girl behind the counter who knows you says “feel better” and you give her thumbs up and you float away.

You will walk out to your car like a drunk, concentrating one foot at a time, conscious of every movement, planning your route back home sweat trickling down your scalp, beneath your breasts, body aching wishing you had someone else to take up this chore, but when you exile yourself you only got yourself to make shit happen, so you drive home like you been drinking all night, hoping not to weave and you make it back to “your” parking spot, you drag yourself upstairs gasping for breath, sipping water, fearing food and your bed and all you got is sitting sideways on the couch watching NYPD Blue.

You will cough all day and night and your neighbors will take out a contract on your life because the coughing is keeping them up but you haven’t slept a true sleep in ten days and you figure by now if someone comes in and strangles you on your couch it would be a relief.

Your earlobes will turn into golden raisins because you ain’t got water in your body. You will be a fool for not forcing water or broth or saltines, but it’s all you got.

You will wake up on the couch and wonder where you are. You will wonder at everything and not care about anything and pray for sleep sleep sleep.

You will have that song stuck in your head, that phrase, it won’t go away and you’re good with that because nothing really matters.

You will wonder if you will ever sleep again and who will do laundry and if you will ever eat again.

“Don’t you love her madly…”

You will desire rain, hard rain, wind.

You won’t be able to breathe for a long time, but when your breath returns it will be unbelievable.  You will be able to lie down and cough often, but maybe not so much, but a dream will slip in and that means you’re not crazy anymore, or less so, anyway.

You will be able to speak in full sentences with your brother without gasping for breath (not like before when you told him “I really have to go now, sorry.”) You will take a little bag of garbage out.  You will sit upright longer than you have in a long time, the fog of flue receding. 

You will return to Walgreens to buy some frozen veggies (covered in cheese) and toilet paper. You will apologize to the counter girl for not speaking to her earlier as you were afraid to spread the flu and kill the world.  God bless her pretty cotton-candy blue hair.

You will sleep and dream.  You’re still not poised to journalize, you’re still not ready to make gourmet meals or walk five miles, but you’re in the 4th turn now and headed for the finish line, tissues filled with phlegm in the garbage can, one load of laundry done, and your bed made of clean sheets.

The flue no longer rules you. How will you celebrate? How will you give thanks for the sweat and ache and loneliness and perseverance thru a shitty flu?  

December Fog


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I heard rain was coming this week.  I was so excited. I love rain when it comes here, particularly the pounding rain on the roof I can barely hear because the building is built well and my ears don’t hear so well, but there’s just this something that tells me it’s rain and I run outside 20 times a day to see it hurling down and dripping from long, green pine needles.   

I waited up stayed up wanting to hear the rain and all we got was less than what I wanted, a fuzzy drifting wet, tiny things you couldn’t even call drops, more like midges circling the lamp post jostling for the best mate, only a little damper.  That was no rain.  

But fog did come.  When I finally caved in to the tired I stripped and rolled in and watched the orange sky (the one that tells me we’ve got weather, otherwise the sky is mediocre blue) but heard no beating rain. The trees beyond the window didn’t gleam with wet, but the one significant sound was white fog and one calling horn.  The foghorns did not sound all day, it was more like off and on, and mostly the horns are loud from the back bay, not the ones in the channel who tag team “horn” and “horn,” the lowing that I love.  

I slept eventually and the sun rose and moved but you wouldn’t believe it because the sky was white, mother of pearl white, drifting from north, damp, feigning rain, cloaking the sun but the horn keeps calling from the back bay. 

I am in love.  But the persons who pilot ships would not speak so honorifically of the white gray mother of pearl steel fog I uplift here, watching drift. They have reason to care.

A Hymn for You.


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No one was looking for you, but I guess I was meant to find you. 
It happens sometimes when you’re adventurous, curious, 
spelunking in roadside limestone caves or shuttered buildings
nobody has any business being in, but we go. 
Dare, we go. 

I want to believe that if I sprinkled water onto your bloodstain
shadow on the cement floor I could reconstitute you,
I could bring you back to us so I could know your name. 

No one was looking for you, but I guess I was meant to find you. 
Somebody’s daughter. Maybe somebody’s mama caught up in 
the life. They brung her down here for trade, 
you can tell because the torn condom wrappers say “ribbed for her pleasure.” 

The reconstituted you tells me you don’t know why things went wrong,
it was supposed to be a simple cop, but it turned into
something else she hardly cared about,
it would be over soon
and there was no reason to bring out the knife
she assures me. She was only fake fighting back, after all. 

She slides back down into her bloodstain 
her body taken wherever they took, quiet again. 
She bears no wounds of the holy martyr, pierced in the side by 
fated centurion, followers capturing the flood in a cup
prepared to write hymns for her future. 
She was only ribbed for your pleasure. 

I gathered wildflowers whose names I do not know. 
I knelt in a field and…
Maybe I’ll let you know when I’m ready to let them go. 

Backspace Delete


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After much thought and personal debate because it’s been a long year of night I have decided to give thanks.  Everyone is giving thanks for something right around this day, right up until they pass the gravy. How could I resist thought, debate, and gravy? 

The “winner” of my thanks is three-fold:  The backspace bar, ctrl+backspace bar, and the delete button.  (Note the Oxford comma there?) 

This year (and I am not kidding) I am grateful for the ability to backspace or delete.  I would rather remain on a blank page with a blinking cursor tempting me to “go on… go on… you know you want to say it!” than saying it, the satanic cursor that wants me to puke out every last thing I think or feel and make it public with the push of a button! “Go on… do it… it’ll feel so good, it’ll be okay….”  So I took up the keyboard and wrote terrible things, damning things on long pages of Word documents or little tweets or other social media platforms that zoom past where we are always in danger of being pushed off into an oncoming train. I wrote missives and critiques and opinions no one asked for while dabbing lukewarm coffee I spilled on the tablecloth or sucking Chinese food sauce from my fingers and (allegedly) from the keyboard from which I write this thing, the letters “j” and “g” are sticking…. 

I am grateful to be able to scream to the holy high heavens that everything sucks and I hate everything, that I am a miserable piece of shit and nothing matters, but the backspace button gives me space to take it all back before you see it. It allows me to wail and whine and cuss and be so damnably politically incorrect. I get to be petulant, pedantic, sexist, racist, ageist, uniformed, uneducated, illiterate and worse–boring! 

You don’t get to see that I still hit the @ key when I meant !  and that’s because the blessed backspace button exists. You don’t get to see my exposed private parts that disclose rage and horror in favor of vanilla and pablum.  (Somebody who reads this might know where that came from.)  

So, thank you, backspace and delete for allowing me to tailor my thoughts and words to be delicate, kind, favorable always.  I guess it’s what I believe everyone needs.  Thank you for giving me space to scream and throw things and give you a piece of my mind and then deleting it all because the world doesn’t need another angry woman. How could that be helpful in any way? Thank you for helping me sort out tornado thoughts from surgical words and maybe that’s not the right thing after all, but today is a day for grateful, for sharing, for embracing those we love who we haven’t seen in a long time where we keep our real words in purses on the floor in the bedroom and we don’t open them until we get home and we weep.  

Thank you, backspace delete for helping me figure out why.  

Morning Was


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4am. Cold floor. Warm baja shirt and a little jaunt to see if the raccoon’s tail was still hanging out of the tree. Nope. He’s on his way. I wonder if I’ll see him again?  A neighbor walks past my window and tips his hat hello to me because he knows I’m up at all night. He’s on his way to the Navy base. I watch more Navy people leave their homes and head out and they do not allow the door to the parking lot slam, and I want so much to thank them for not letting the door slam. 
Purple. Blue.
Balcony rail heavy wet with dew.
A container ship passes through the channel, moving like a small city or an island, one wonders how any of them fit through. I can hear its engines, or maybe just the throbbing of, as it obeys the nautical speed limit.
Sky pale purple like a pen running out of ink. 
The maintenance guy’s cat saunters and I pssst she wanders over and I stroke her back, tentative, because she’s not for sale, she is marshmallow white, toasted, burnt, tail flags straight because she wants some and I give her some, and I walk back upstairs while she stands guard over sand sculptures. 
I watered my plants and observe they are overtaking the windows. I will need to move soon because there will be no room left for me. I thought it was funny but my brother doesn’t think much of it at all. 
A person, hooded, walks on the sand as if she is avoiding landmines, careful, careful, step here don’t step there. I wonder contemplate her posture this close to land. 

Hallows Eve 2018


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It is said that today, this evening is when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, those who have passed may walk among us.

Today I think about the recent talk I had with my son in the waxing hours of night. We talked long about my Dad–his grandfather–who we both love and miss. He had questions and worries and pain and I answered best I could, and those answers said aloud reaffirmed my beliefs. It all felt right.  Perhaps he went back to sleep, but I stayed awake then slept in the middle of the day, my heart ringing with memory.

This morning I close my eyes and remember Halloween of the past, when me and my brother were kids. Mom got us our costumes at the store, but I do not remember which one. The cellophane came unglued from the cardboard boxes they were packed in by the time we got home.  I am 100% sure I tried mine on and played with it before Halloween and got yelled at.  We lived in a large development, apartments galore, and you would think we would come home king and queen of Halloween candy, but no. You would be wrong.  Mom told us every year we could pick one. ONE. apartment house outside our own to trick or treat and that would be it for the day. Oh? Did you not know that we only trick or treated during the day? Yep. Too dangerous at night we were told. So we donned our paper-thin costumes, slipped on our masks, and knocked on our first door.  It was exciting! Neighbors answered and tucked candy into our plastic pumpkins, a ritual that was wonderful outside the usual nod as we passed each other on the stairs, and I got to peep inside where they lived!   One year I was Lady Liberty, another Cinderella, and my brother was a Firefighter and Chewbacca, if memory serves. Most neighbors gave us a good haul, and some slipped us pennies instead of candy. Our marauding ended at the kitchen table where Mom let all the air out of our tires: She picked through every piece of candy and threw out just about half of it because she said it didn’t look right.  In those days there was fear of razors in candy apples and LSD on paper candy, so anything that looked open she tossed, no negotiating, THAT was the real horror!  We clanked the pennies into our matching glass piggy banks which have gone I don’t know where…  I used to eat candy corns color by color, first the tip, then the orange, then the base, one small bite at a time, because I’m really not sure why.  And once we used to have a contest to see who could make their candy last the longest, and I think we both hit the “Thanksgiving” target.

One thing we don’t remember is Dad being with us.  It was always Mom shuffling behind us down echoey dark hallways with us.  I’m pretty sure it’s because Dad was working, or he was sleeping because his shift was in the middle of the night.

Dad moved us from the city filled with apartment complexes where Halloween candy and pennies and neighbors and friends were abundant to a field in the middle of nowhere, darker than hell and nobody around.  Trick or treating became dead to us because there was no way Mom and Dad was going to pile us into the car and take us into “town” where the rest of the kids were trick or treating. Halloween died when we moved upstate.

When I became a Mom we used to keep a bowl of chocolate treats for kids who might come to visit us on a route that is used for fast-moving traffic. One kid came. Probably the best part of Halloween was Mike making elaborate costumes for the kid–he was Halloween king of the cul-de-sac!  Okay, maybe the giant tarantula the guys stuck up on the roof was pretty cool, too. Cool but icky as it bobbed in the breeze.  But that’s Halloween, eh?

Last year I had a bowl of candy ready but no one comes to this apartment complex. Nobody came so I gave it all to the realty office across the way.  This year I have nothing to offer but hope and protection for anyone who comes by.

My how the times change.

Thoughts of Laquan


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Four   Five  Six



Ten.    Ten.   Ten.




                Fourteen                                         Fifteen 



I’ll bet you’ve had sixteen kisses planted on your face when you were in the middle of something by a little kid who loves you, rapid pace, out of the blue, the moment when your child’s cup overflows and they must kiss and love the joy is so much and you might have been annoyed for breaking into your busyness, but sixteen pecks on your face. Pixels cannot hold that moment but a heart can.

The number means something different to me today. It means less because I am not his mother, I am not from his community. I don’t know what she knows. But still, I think about him today, and yesterday.

I don’t know what 16 bullet holes looks like in my son’s flesh, or even my own.  I could draw little dots on my body to see how it looks but that’s dots and this is flesh that will write junk today and junk tomorrow. I just need someone to know that I won’t forget. That her son matters. Justice matters. And I don’t want to play this numbers game anymore.

A Daughter Floats Away


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My eyes open in my dark room. Moon white through window blind slats illuminates the garnet underleaves of the prayer plant. Breathing the last dream I had.

A small girl wears great, wide, long sails of black velvet. Asian flower blooms edged in gold float on her capes that she wears on her tiny shoulders. She is to be my daughter soon. Everywhere we walk there is wind, no, strong breezes, the kind to fly kites in that won’t be pulled out of your hands. She spends all her time trimming and gathering her “sails” so her capes will flow out beautifully, so the flowers can all be seen and be pretty.

We are in a small room, antique, ornate, silent. The room is crammed with mirrored shelves with cups and plates on display, cups and plates edged in Asian flower blooms and gold. The room is difficult to walk in, there is little room to move about without bumping into a display, and there is a woman in here now. She is the girl’s cruel mother, and she won’t give her to me.