If I Could

I cannot walk through the grief for you. I would if I could.
I cannot cry the tears that pour like a fountain. I would if I could.
I cannot understand the pain, the weight, the fear and the messy emotions that consume your broken heart.
Grief is yours, and only yours.
The love never dies, no one can take that from you.
Loss.
I would carry that burden,
I would if I could.
All that is beautiful in you, all the shared memories can never be erased.
They are sacred. They are theirs and yours, one intimate legacy.
And no one, not even life’s ugly tragic circumstance can steal them away.
Now, what would they tell me to do, to help mend your broken heart?
I would do anything, so I sit silent and wait with you for easier days.
When somehow, someday far and away from today you realize you are stronger than the pain, and the tears.                                                                                       You are tough, just like them.
Not today, no no no. And not tomorrow. Not even next year.
So, we wait in sorrow and silence for the seasons to bear the heavy load.
Time becomes the sweet and sad reminder of how very much you were loved.
The physical longing mysteriously grows lighter.
I cannot walk through the darkness and your grief.                                                                 I would if I could.
The one thing I can do is be an ear, on solid ground, sitting silent with you.

On Bended Knee

You don’t have to like my politics, my opinions, or me
Even my race, gender, social status, mental health
That’s fine by me
All I ask is that if my views on the world, my liberal, “everyone should be treated equal” views
Leave your stomach sour, pause before you judge me
My artistic ideals might be so very different from yours
Could you try to stay open minded, not bitter or jaded?
And I will too
Once we’ve crossed the blame and shame line into the great divide
It is happening to us all
Because one man is leading
With hate, pride, and posturing
That’s where I draw the line
And take a knee
In prayer,not any specific religion or another
But a general protection bubble of light
For me, and for you
For all the bad sour experiences you endured that were uglyor skewed
How was your childhood?
I’m truly curious
I hope pieces were magical, and joy visited you
Was it privileged, sheltered, did you even have a roof?
Did you know love intimately, really feel it in your bones
Did your mother tell you it was okay to be different?
Actually, a mind of your own and kind heart was desired
Did you have freethinking, strong willed, compassionate mothers and fathers who loved and adored you?
Who taught you the awesome responsibility of respect?
Or did they try to shove their redneck, one-sided backstoryon you?
Did they give you ample space to grow?
Were they present and kind?
Were you the outcast, bullied, gay, straight, black, purplefaced fat child
Hate is not our natural state, although it is the easiest enemy to fall back on
Guilty, I’ve done it
Hate takes so much work and energy
Hate is learned
Just let it go
So on bended knee
I ask you please
To understand
I am no different than you
I bleed too
Call me crazy, and they have
Many times
I don’t care most days
Because I have a voice and strong heart with the best intentions
Put down your pride and smile at a stranger
Someone perhaps who has opposing views
Respect them and make up your own mind
Free will, baby
Conversation
Take a knee because you believe deeply in others right to express virtue and value
And the power of unity
Even when you’re different from me
I may not agree with your views
Whatever your politics
Freedom means
Standing up for your beliefs
And that, is all you come and leave with
Using your voice takes courage, resolve and moxy
You were born to be kings and queens
Not slaves to hate
That makes all the difference

Awake

Please do not underestimate the fragile girl who has been broken. The grown woman inside has climbed the barbed wire, jagged and cut, bleeding deeply shrugging off the scars. She is woke and not immune to the swirling, selfish world around her. Simply living the beautiful and worst kind of misery humanity throws at her. The best soft shoe tap she can muster. The soul dances firelight loud and quiet, solemn and ernest, near and afar.

SURVIVOR

When life throws shit at you, and most assuredly it will, remember this. I see you. You are stronger than you think. You are kinder, graceful, brighter, smarter, funnier, richer (and not monetarily), and unique. On the days I forget, and think manic depression will most definitely kill me, I dig deep. Who the hell knows where or when life’s reservoirs will dry up. I don’t, neither do you. Then, I remember. I am a goddamn, strong ass warrior and there are people who need, support and love me, same as you. It’s okay to feel down, overwhelmed, anxiety ridden. We all do, even the ‘normal ones.’ It’s okay to feel all the feels, cry, scream and curse. I understand it is a hell of a lot harder living with a mental illness. I was normal once, too. You know what? I’m no different than you. You have your own set of problems and heartache, so remember – I got you. I see you, I feel you and I’m rooting for you. In this shiteous, chaotic, beautiful place that is the world right now find a little piece of joy in your heart, take care of it and watch it explode. There is beauty in pain, and healing in holding on. Surviving, thriving, living. That’s life, that’s me, and that’s you. You are the miracle. Rinse, and repeat. Hate, resentment and anger have left the room, SURVIVOR. – Jacqueline Cioffa

 

Chasing the Sun

Chasing the Sun

Don’t look down at your feet
The answers won’t magically appear
On some tiny telephone screen with videos buzzing megabytes and wasted seconds
A billion unknown faces
The unfamiliar bizarre millennium
Scrolling fast and furious
Thunderstorms and lightening threaten
Look up and out and dig deep
Go ahead look all around
I dare you
Eyes closed
Lift your face to the sky and cry
Right into the sun
Filling caverns of regret and sorrow
With sunflowers seeds and poppy go lightly emotion
No one is ever only happy
No one is only ever sad
The sun shines through your ratty tattered secondhand sweatshirt and the clouds warn Your heavy, sighing shoulders
There’s an autumn chilly breeze
In the air
Rust colored leaves fall one by one
Slowly
Almost there
But not quite really
Turn around and crook your neck
In the opposite direction
Like the yellow sunflower stretches
Dancing dawn to dusk jumping ahead of her shadow
The fresh mango delights and uplifts the salivary senses
Summer sun is my absolute favorite gasp of breath
Chasing away the dreary blues
Leaving behind all the frigid heart-heavy feels
I am
Forever and always
Chasing the sun
Chasing her golden hues
In search of longing, warmth and wonder
Chilled under the spiteful clouds that cover the mood of the day
The impending rain
Go away now
Each drop a tear moistening my face and stiffening my bones
I will not let go of her brilliance, prematurely
Forever in search of a new yellow dawn
The blissful revolving and swirling reminder
No one is only ever happy
No one is only ever sad
Seasons come and go like it or not
Even in tropical temperatures
There is flooding waters and peril
Danger of drowning
Quietly mostly, and sometimes screaming
I am
Forever and always
In love with a beach and her ocean
Palm trees, wading pools and blistering heat
Her star shine warms the soul while the moon hums away the night
With the promise of a new dawn, blue sky and wide open spaces
I am wild and wistful and free
Under the glow and summertime glisten
I am now and forever just a girl
Somber in autumn and chilled to the bone come winter
I am forever happier under the warm rays
In love with the light
I am only ever mostly happy
Chasing the sun

Indian Red

Hate has no place in the home, on the mean streets, or the man-made war zones.
Of this ugly 21st century that is so unkind.
United as one, we are not.
We are not even close in these chaotic, heartbreaking times of epic, earth shattering cosmic shifts and distorted evil proportions.
Terrorists, murderers and violent, you are most assuredly unwelcome.
The time has come to become one voice united against all that has come undone.
You are your mothers and mothers and fathers and fathers only daughters and sons.
There is no do over.
Become something better, something way better than this bloodshed battle red.
Strong, confident, educated, kind and able.
Human.
Unclench those fists and do the work.
Peacekeepers with Statue of Liberty steel spines.
Gatekeepers of a new and improved united nation.
Dump the bad man and his arrogant posse of abhorrent greedy bastards
Stirring violence and divide.
Funny how fast we forget
Green is flimsy paper and cannot till the seedlings of a good, honest life.
One voice united will not be silenced or denied.
Lead with purpose, with love, with brothers and sisters on your mind.
Hearts wide open like our ancestors.
Indian red, backbone straight, oh so pretty, honorable and dignified. 

Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror

This body of mine carried me through days of sophisticated lies and ambition. This body of mine has been home to shame, trials and tribulations. This body of mine has known love and felt all woman. But, this body of mine cannot and does not coexist without the messy, chaotic, beautiful, strong mind pushing forward walking her through a new, more experienced chapter. Onward in these bizarre times, and an overtly strange millennium.

This body of mine carries the weight of an old soul whose mind and body are held high. – Jacqueline Cioffa

If I Was Your Child

If I Was Your Child

Would you cover me in a coat of armor
So my blood didn’t weep
If I was your child
Would you shield me from the dark
The boogeyman man that wiggled my doorknob whilst I sleep
If I was your child would you smother me with sweet scented well-meaning kisses
If I was your child would you teach me all the adventurous things I needed to be
Brave, bold, fierce, fearless and kind
If I was your child would you grant me an open-hearted curiosity and gypsy spirit
If I was your child would you fill my belly when it gurgled and hiccupped with hunger
Everyday ups and downs
Life’s Pains
If I was your child would you discover the planet with me and all her beauty with purpose
If I was your brave child that got broken with bruises
Would you share your coat of kindness and mesmerizing colors
If I was your child, but not yours to hold onto
Not for too long, too tight or for a million kisses
If I was your child would you prepare me for a cold, greed filled world where other children were not born into luck
Or Love
If I wasn’t your child would you even bother to look at me
To open your eyes and be braver than your peacock feathered roots
Mother Earth and Father Time
Do not desire any cloak or dagger swagger
They carry the keys to infinity
Where words like kindness, grace, beauty and bounty succeed
Where all children are born
Brave
Surviving and thriving free from lock and key
Smiling in prosperity
A new sweet smelling earth
I shall believe because
If I was your child or another’s
I dared to dream

 

Gypsies and Pixie Dust

Gypsies and Pixie Dust

I exist therefore I am, mistakes and imperfections one and all. I don’t want to be considered an artist. I want to be thought of as a student of art. I want to ingest the human condition, live and breathe it. I want to eradicate all traces of ego and relate.

I want to roam the globe and hear the stories, while not missing out on the neighborhood tales right next door. I am a traveler and connoisseur of fortune and mishap. I am a believer in fate and love and a hopeless romantic at heart. I have fallen in love many times over; sometimes reciprocated while others not. I am a gypsy leaping joyously headfirst into the new and unknown forever anxious for a fresh start.

So much of our lives are spent in the world of what if, instead of the place that is right now. I am present, I am now and I am looking up towards the sky and watching as the pixie dust falls. For today I will repeat that statement over and over, every time my mind starts to wander to a different road. I am present, I am now and I am looking up to the sky. Watch for it, you might miss it if you’re not looking up towards the heavens as the pixie dust falls.

Highfalutin Sequins & Glitter

I must get moving I suppose haunted by a past and future, overly cautious and wickedly sentimental. I must walk in the present decked out in sequins and glitter in honor of the brazen one. There is magic brewing in these parts and honest living in the routine. Small town life is fine, filtering the air with H2O, and hyperbaric clean, 100% pure, brain oxygen.

Just when I think I am no more. I’m proven wrong. Just when I think I have absolutely nothing, to give, to fight, and to live. Not one piece worth living. Just when there is not one breath inside and my veins have dried up and turned purple. Just when there is nothing except black hole, bottomless tar pits and green-eyed pond scum monsters, my dreams shake me from a trance. My spirit guides dust me with just the right amount of determination while I sleep. I awake shaken, yet refreshed from the pretty rainbow, mirror ball glow of sequins dancing across my ceiling. Pinching myself, the night fairies are the miracle enough to keep on living. I get on with the daunting task of getting up, out of bed, dressed, and greeting the new day.

Is it all a dream? Did I imagine this? Which piece is the reality to hold onto? Was I ever really here? Am I living? Who can say?

My dead don’t speak to me now, so I can’t be sure of anything. The where I came from or the direction I am heading. I can only sprinkle the earth with kindness, fondness, and graceful living, learned over time and with age. The talking parrots fly above me now in bouts of beautiful memory and happy colors, the life reminders that unexplained, mystical beauty remains.

Maybe, some God gave me this curse on my head so that I would be forced to stop, slow down and listen, taking in all the enchantment around me. I would not be this kind, sensitive, flawed, gorgeously imperfect or caring without the slight touch of insanity. I would have stayed the small-minded selfish, ignorant young girl never bothering to look up to take in her surroundings. That is the only way I can justify the horrific pain and suffering running through this broken brain and body.

And the joy in knowing, that one day I will no longer be bound by the minutes, the blue planet a faded memory. I will no longer be labeled the lunatic or crazy, but will be ananta happy, safe and sound.

I won’t have to fight the spinning, dizzying head, the out of nowhere panic attacks leaving me doped up exhausted, or the unbearable despair pulsating my blood and my veins. I will no longer silently scream inside from pain and anxiety, the spinner top raring to explode.

I will be free to roam unencumbered by the weight of time and space. 

I thought if I went way back in time to the glimpse of a young, healthy, happy, carefree young woman floating effortlessly on the waters, you might take pity on me. One never knows which murky waters they will find themselves thrashing about, life spares no one the suffering. The ripples shift and shape as they see fit, taking us all on our own personal journey of hardship, joy and grace. My struggles came a bit sooner than anticipated, leaving me grappling with a sickness I was ill prepared for.

Still I swim float and sink, always fighting my way back to the surface for breath and a bit of fresh air.

Clearing the cobwebs out of the way, I brace myself for the walk. I make room for smooth take off and safe landing.

 

excerpt from THE RED BENCH