I had the craziest dream.
Sweet Gardenia blossoms grew immense enveloping firestorms and chaos, masquerading all traces of ash and burn.
The intoxicating scent of sweet perfume permeated the clean air, creating nursery rows of safety bubble greenhouses.
A young girl’s innocence remained pure and virtuous.
Flowering freedom rained dewdrops of kindness.
There were no guns, no mass graves, no starvation, no rape, no death.
No dead children.
No hate. No hate. No hate.
White rapids filled the streams replenishing and purifying waters.
Dirty DNA was washed clean.
Gardenia, Fig and Jasmine were the new currency whilst greed, power and ugliness got strangled, suffocating.
In the dream state, time was no longer a linear concept, and bountiful floral gardens grew happy.
Everyone had their own space to paint rainbows, waterspouts, and imaginary firestorms.
Humanity bore green buds of fragrant possibility where wishes and dreams flourished, fruit bearing trees.
Gentle desires on the wind of a someday, some glorious day, and a somewhere different.
Sweeter than here.
Where Gardenia, Fig and Jasmine blossoms grow through the cracks blanketing away all fear.
I had the craziest dream, and wrote it on the petals adorned in her hair.
Whispering wishes of a new pathway to love.
Floating away, and landing in a stranger’s thoughtful ear.
Believe that you are better than
Believe that if you haven’t lost someone you love
To Mass Shootings
You are blessed, the lucky one
Pretend it won’t ever happen
Pretend it’s impossible
Pretend doesn’t work much these days
It can’t happen?
Not today, not in your town, not in your house
The one safe space
And then indulge me
Close your eyes
Feel for a baby’s hand
A small child, maybe your child
So innocent and pure
The hand feels wet and cold and you cannot stop the chaos
The screams are all around you
You hear them as if locked in
Stuck in a nightmare
You cannot wipe the blood from your hands soiling your jeans
Pretend is only one day away
Reality states there’s a dark tomorrow
Believe you care enough to make a difference
Believe you can make a difference
Citizens of this great nation
Believe you have the right to say
NO MORE VIOLENCE
NO MORE VIOLENCE
NO MORE GREED TURNING A BLIND EYE
I pray, I do but my prayers seem futile and nobody hears them
Until I remember
To be beholden
To believe in the toil and dreams fulfilled by our forefathers
Believe in your legacy
The past is our great teacher
And the present needs a new healer
Believe in the peaceful resisters who are protesting the ugly regime
The reign of terror
Believe in your gut
Believe in your voice
Believe in your heart
And stand up
Do the right thing
Let your conscience be clean when you lay your head down
Believe your life matters more than an AK-47, hatred, or idiotic, ignorant opinions
How you live is up to you
How you die well that is the disturbing, frightening question of the times
Believe that humans are inherently good
Be a good human
And stand together for everyone’s right to an honest, purposeful life
Precious heart you don’t fool me
Not everyone is good, not everyone is kind
Precious heart do not worry your sad little boombox beats
Or tragic flatlines
It’s a half hearted day like all others
For better or worse
I’m tired and my head hurts
I’m not a good person some of the time
I’m blood sour and thick
Precious heart, you’re just a pump
You feel me
The most perfect machine ever built with your valves bivalves arteries veins and groovy bloodlines
My heart is clogged by the grease and black tar pettiness of mankind
Fucking humans can be so selfish
Selfish as fuckity all fuck
Busy bees leave stingers under the skin
Drawing red welts and bumps
There was a time my precious heart beat smooth and melodic
Is there a rewind?
If and when my heart quits
Please do not revive me
No heroic measures
Let the music of my time die
Ever so smoothly and serene
Ba boom ba boom ba da boom
Ba boom ba da boom
Ba da boom and goodbye
I am not a good person but less of a swine
I’ve said it two times
I am not always kind
I can be quite selfish
Ya dig it
The precious heart holds grudges
forgets and forgives
We are all just listening to the crickets waiting for the dark
And the church bells gong
Gone in an instant
No, I do want an ugly cry pomp and circumstance
Unless it’s a sexy good olé
Louisiana Bayou second line
Go fuck yourself Father Time
Hearts beat the countdown same as mine
We’re pedestrian peasants
Dressed in fine lady and gent linens
Hanes tank tops and ripped jeans
Dirty ashes consumed with so much stuff and greasy money
Why can’t we be happy with this fifteen seconds
In sunny sequence
Drum drum drummer
I don’t know maybe I need an oil change
Unclog the lines
Oh precious heart
You don’t fool me
The soul is ethereal and the eternal optimist
Limitless in its devotion
Funny still how much it can hurt
This precious heart
Working hard pulsating overtime
Without segregating or wanting
Asking any old thing
Mankind can be be so silly, stupid, eager, greedy, hateful or adoring with their foibles and folly
The precious heart asks nothing in return
Not one single solitary demand
It just beats
It just beats
It just beats
Life until it sighs gently goodbye
And a newborn somewhere in a parallel world’s heartbeat cries joyful
As if for the very first time
I look back on the road with no regret, humbled and in awe of where I have been, and the horrible days lived. I look cautiously towards the future, with trepidation, anticipation and hope. I would want no other me, no other life. I walk the path alone, without the ghosts and fantasy.
Just a girl, a simpleton, beat up and worn down by a mind she can’t control, dancing jazzy blue.
I do not care about the minor details; I’m counting on the bigger picture. I’m counting on God, faith and the blue people to see me through. My puppy and I wander aimless and free, the future mapped out by the gravel laid down before us. I bask in the simple. A drop of golden, yellow sun warms my pant leg as I sit on the bench, thinking about nothing. Nothing at all, except how good the heat feels.
The gap poetic, the blissful quiet that I have worked hard to find. I am present. I am here; here I am right now. The red bench and I molded into liquid steel, solidly put back together.
Tomorrow will come, or it won’t. I needn’t remind myself of that. I mustn’t worry over the minutiae.
THE RED BENCH
I am told the brain feels no pain, no pressure. That is only half-truth. I have experienced a different reality; never exposed to screaming silence quite like this. I’m scared out of my mind imploding from the inside.
I make ballsy, hasty decisions to beat down the bullshit, chemical imbalance. Humiliated, I lie alone on a gurney, port in my arm, the tacky acrid green plastic band too tight around my forehead. I wait for the inevitable, the blackout cruises my veins, leaving me in the dark and the thirty-second aftershock. I am in a room filled with know-it-all professionals scurrying to and fro; as if this was the simplest routine, like the morning dump after a cup of coffee.
A dude in white and a turban scolds the nurse crudely, “hurry up, he’s late and has to be somewhere,” the words so cold and nonchalant as if administering a simple shot.
How can that be?
When this was the singular, most critical, crucial brain saving moment for me?
It took years of back and forth indecision, yes, no, to and fro…
A barrage of loud, invasive machines and needle preparation, a whole lot of courage, desperation and moxy to get here. On some cold, anonymous, colorless, could be anywhere hospital floor, waiting for the ‘pros’ to press reset, a fresh start, brain back to zero.
The mood swings forever too high, and hauntingly low.
“Are we going to an operating room?” I ask the nurse, trembling one tear. I let only one fall down my cheek, white knuckling it. My aged, wrinkled and broken-hearted mother waits somewhere out there on the other side of the wall.
”No, we just pull the curtain,” she responds curtly to my embarrassment and dismay.
I know my mother; my resolve and courage are waiting. Anxiously waiting, somewhere out there, and away from this bone chilling gurney.
Thank God, I have not forgotten this vital piece of information. My elderly, fragile, disillusioned mother has lived this hell before. My father endured electric shock a long, long, bad dream, time ago.
Yeah, but that was twenty years past. They have come so far. They have come so far. They have come not so very far at all, motherfuckers.
“You won’t feel a thing, it’s a breeze.” Liars and thieves they are.
Crying, confused, mind-raped, beat down, my fucking skull bursting as if bashed against a wall. I can’t speak. I cannot escape the excruciating pain, pulsating through my jaw, my throat, neck, over, under and all through my head. No, this cannot be anything. This is something unlike I’ve ever felt before. My fucking head is imploding, unrelenting, unforgiving suffering and it’s day six after shock.
I’m in shock. Violated, dehumanized, traumatized and violated some more. Confused, betrayed and abandoned.
Countless pomp and circumstance, arrogant specialists have said this is the norm the first time round.
I resist, fuck you, fuck you one and all.
Give me back the manic depression. At lease I can handle the accommodations down there, deep inside the black hole vortex. I’m not sure what to do with dazed, hazed and nightmare uncertainty. Quick somebody hand me a pad and pencil, to dabble and scribble notes, the jumbled thinking. Buzz, the incessant ringing. No, I do not want to kill myself; I’d gauge your beady eyes first with the led pointed weapon and my fury on the page.
The fuzzy, dream haze state where everything certain, even the tallest Evergreen sways to and fro in a strong, gust of wind. I am shaken to the core, awake less me. Less the intricate, puzzle pieces of my person. I cry real big salty tears for my mother, her bruised, defeated heart. Her exhaustion and reassuring ways rock and lullaby my bleeding ink broken heart.
She loves me time and again, and helps put back the broken parts.
Hers, and only her love anchors her daughter’s gypsy Mustang, wild free spirit.
I am told it went well. Oh, so very well. I am an excellent candidate. I must not rule it out, stay open-minded. Fucking douchebag oxymoronic, my mind is wide-open mood swings.
I just want to hang in the dark and quiet awhile ’til the pain subsides, and I regain a small piece of my pride.
If I had cancer would you still look at me with your pity? Don’t. I don’t want it. I need your strength and resolve. Keep your pious pity for yourself; it won’t serve me at all.
Would we stay friends or would you write me off the embarrassment, the nuisance, too busy with your own chaotic life to bother with the nutter?
I am strong; I am a goddamn warrior child of God. I have endured all the various shit storms thrown at me. I have let them do inhumane, controversial things all in the name of insanity. I have the will, fortitude, and the want to beat this. But, try as I may, the various tricks and treats, I can’t quite find the right medical potion.
I am lucky, I believe in the shamans and Angel spirits who whisper my name on the wind.
Child, walk barefoot on the earth, dig up the dirt, let your fingers feel the grooves in the heavy rocks, and crystal healing trinkets you carry deep in your pocket. The spirit is sound, and safe. They cannot rape your soul, sweet girl. Remember, they cannot mind fuck your brain. Only God and the stars that came before you are real. The invisible illness is an exotic blessing, and proper curse.
Fuck the professionals, I live on the land of Indian nations where shaman healers left buried treasures, right beneath the surface.
I am eggshells’ uncertain in autumn, but the smell of promise and spring will be here.
It is my favorite season, an exceptionally warm and beautiful time.
Did I get me right, or did they do me all wrong?
Me, I’m alive and whole. I’m going to buy a badass, trucker treasure hat, some timberlands with steel toes, and go deep into the woods, where my Onondaga Indian Nation ancestors, healers and women left treasures, spirit gifts, trinkets, wisdom, artifacts, and pieces of their spirit guide souls.
I am nothing if not my word and the stories are my powers of observation.
Fuck off, quacks. I’m traveling down the “Good Red Road.”
What difference do the mad genes make when everyone is running? The speed of my thoughts makes up for the snail pace of the body. I pray one will balance out the other. The monotony of the same old, boring tedious routine gives structure to the wandering head. The walkabout has come to a screeching halt; words escape me, unsure of the new pace. Diamonds dance and stars sparkle the sky at night, wet grass tickles my feet, and I gaze up dreaming an entirely different life. The moon lights my way, as I spin around and around in circles humming alone in the dark, the five-year-old undamaged by defeat, calling on bliss and blind purpose. I reach down to touch the cool, green blades of grass, blowing a wet kiss towards the infinite, the stars and dead angels far from this place. I carry on. I must walk, wandering about and pray for smart, clean thinking lines.
– excerpt from THE RED BENCH
“Pet Friendly” on Bleeding Ink with Feminine Collective
I am not a patient person and yet, somehow I find the patience, for her.
Maybe it’s because she needs no words to show me what she wants, just a tilt of the head to the left or the right. Her gold and grey swirls of fur glisten when she sees me, a smile lights her face accompanied by the back and forth velocity of her wagging tail. I understand she gets all the colors of me, the sliding scale blacks, blinding whites, kaleidoscope greens, envious purples, indigo blues, muddy yellow, envious green, sherbet pop orange and the griege in between.
Some days I don’t want to make the trek in the heat, the rain, the bitter freeze, walk the same block after block, be pulled and yanked in this direction or that chasing some unfortunate cat across the way. Some days I’d rather not walk at all, too tired of the monotone. I do it anyway, in spite of myself. In sub-freezing temperatures, sweltering unbearable heat, in all climates because she is my responsibility.
I’m grateful I didn’t have kids. I fear I would’ve been an inadequate parent and grave disappointment, too quick to lose my temper, too consumed with worry, too selfish probably.
Truth be told I don’t particularly get most humans, but she does.
They expect too much, disappoint too much, ask too much, or maybe it’s me. Maybe I do. We are the rare breed of misfits and misunderstood.
My girl, my spirit animal loves everyone. She does not discriminate, so I let her stop and say hello. Sometimes, I surprise myself with a smile and hello; the corners of my lips curling upwards like an emoji before I realize it. Sometimes the smile turns upside down when she sees a cat pulling my arm out of the socket. Sometimes I’d like to strangle her, she can be stubborn and doesn’t always listen, come to think of it neither do I.
She knows I’m not always 100 percent, and she couldn’t care less. She loves me anyway. Maybe that’s the beauty of mutual pet-friendly understanding.
If only people were so kind.
When she snuggles in between the crook of my legs for an afternoon nap, and I feel my breathing slow I understand what selfless love means. Her heartbeat calms the storms, the anxiety, and my forever-impatient soul. I’m a better person in that singular moment when she’s sound asleep without a care in the world.
The house is too quiet when she is not around. I missed the pitter-patter of paws the umpteenth days I did not see her. She could not visit. All the days I was committed, locked in a hospital ward with no air. I’d press my forehead to the glass trying to teleport myself the two blocks between her, me and my family. Two impossible tiny blocks from home, and later sixty miles farther away, but it would not matter. No matter how hard I tried, I could not escape the locked windows and doors. Walking out wasn’t an option.
At the least, the night sky still sang for me, and the stars shined brilliant the same for her and I. Lighting the way back to my humans, the ones who love me unconditionally, waiting on the other side of pane. The precious ones, who made sure she was fed, cuddled and loved while I was absent. I drew a map with a sharpie on the window in my room, so I wouldn’t forget my way or lose my mind deep inside the blacks and greys come morning. I wasn’t supposed to; I couldn’t give two shits. Eventually, they took all my pens away, my weapon of choice. Talk about writer’s block and cold, cruel punishment. Someone handed me colored pencils as if I was a five-year-old playing outside on the sidewalk. Give me a break, life is complicated and chaos lives outside the lines in a coloring book.
So what if I’d gone a little insane? I missed her warmth inside the cold, cruel sterile environment. The scratchy sheets inside the empty room where she was not allowed to visit. Too bad, she would’ve brightened everyone’s day. It was not a warm place, dog-friendly or inviting. It was indifferent. Twenty plus days is a really, really long time to miss being outdoors, oxygen, and the daily routine of a quiet life.
The simple task of walking the dog.
I’m home now, passing the grotesque, uninviting, terrifying inhospitable building, pausing short of breath questioning was it real or was it all a bad dream? I steady my footing, let out an amen and a great big “FUCK YOU, fuck the whole lot of you” under my breath while speeding up my gait.
My girl, pet-friendly crooks her neck way back, and her eyes tell me all that I need to know. I am less selfish, less mad, and more me than yesterday.
Dairy Queen by Jacqueline Cioffa
I’ve devoured endless books, “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,” “The Tao of Health,” “Sex & Longevity,” the Wilde’s, the Beckett’s and the Eliot’s searching. I’ve gazed at the stars to align my planets. I’ve burned white sage along the perimeters of my house to keep out the dark and unwanted. I’ve slept with amethyst under my pillow, seeking calm and center. I’ve grasped tight to pink quartz holding out for love. I’ve picked up a rune to map out my path. I’ve called on the dead to feel better in spirit. I’ve suffered the fool. I’ve been one. I’ve been all wrapped up in it, crazed, sane, rich, poor and famished in an instant.
But, I’ve never stayed the course. I’m resolute. I’m firm like desert dirt. No excuses, I want well living.
-excerpt from THE RED BENCH