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

Dancing Jazzy Blue

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

Paper Dreams

To never forget the page. The page carries me when I cannot stand, crouched in fetal position on the bathroom floor. The page dreams the big dreams when I see nothing through misty eyes. The page promises hope when I have exhausted all roads and left dreaming behind. The page holds my hand and guides me towards the words that are a wee bit brighter. The snow has lost interest in this corner of the land and gone off to find glaciers and ice hills, more appropriate temperatures to visit.

The earth is damp and sloppy. It is the perfect, moist soil rich for spring planting. I choose perennials in fantastic rainbow colors, planting them with love and reassurance. I cure these plants with care and attention, with the humanistic, egotistical hope they will return many years after I have gone. There is sad, sweet unbearable love in the choices made over the course of a lifetime. My choice to continue the cycle is highly personal, in spite of all the uncertainty that lies ahead.

 I love the sweet smelling purples, the sultry inviting reds, and the tropical fuschia buds rising from the earth. I cultivate my garden with deep love for spring and the seasons that follow. In my magical garden, I am not too sick to plant, to feel young and giddy with shock and awe each time spring bores hope in glorious color. It reminds me of all that has come before, the gorgeous, carefree, happy, healthier time, the easy existence and the odd, kooky characters that make up a life. The real, unimaginary ones that I have loved far too much, way beyond any possible earthly explanation. Those responsible for cultivating all the sappy, sweet, fun flowering pieces of my heart, curing them with care and healing devotion.

The page finds my robin her perfect nesting ground, granting sunshine, cloudless days and warmth, where round, warm eggs grow healthy babies. She is pleased; I am pleased as I watch from a chair by the window, dreaming of a world I once lived in.

The May snow magically disappears, melting away all worry into wet earth. I leave anxiety on the page and get on with the day, planting and tending my garden in rebirth. The thunder roars and the rain trickles down never reaching planet earth.

The seasons however unpredictable are funny like that. The sun shines from behind the thick cloud cover, mixing up the day with emotion. I laugh at the impermanence and the three-second mishmash storm from the heavens, a reminder of how fickle and fast it is.

We are ordinary beings, meager matter at a small percent.

Another storm looms overhead, I don’t fret about the daunting black cloud cover. I welcome the cool, fresh breeze instead.

excerpt, THE RED BENCH

Off The Cuff

Off The Cuff – Jacqueline Cioffa

That’s pain.

That’s JOY.

That’s courage, baby

That’s the high cost and the low maintenance

And this is my honest-to-God get out of my face, in your face, brace yourself best shot

Potluck

Be brave, be bold, be loud

Make some quiet noise

Maybe tomorrow I’ll post some cheery, colorful, feel good quote

Perhaps, maybe not

One never knows how hot she blows

How high the highs and low the lows

These unfashionable, sufferable modern ties burn crimson

Disconnected, traveler

Still, it’s nice to see pretty colors and happy faces sometimes

Smile at a stranger, turn up the tunes and dance man

Travelin’ down the good red road

In Fucshia

“They don’t want you to think for yourself, they keep you preoccupied with electronics. They’re excited by the control concept, creating a nation of drones.
Soon enough we’ll all be wearing uniforms in stiff purple. Don’t do it. Walk, against the grain. In Fuchsia.”
– Jacqueline Cioffa

Rain

Rain.

“You and I are only human, overwrought with emotion. We will be forever duking it out with the sassy sun and silly moon to stop running with scissors, for just one breath. There is beautiful stillness under a gray, cover-clouded downpour where the rain washes away the old footprints leaving room for a blank slate and tomorrow’s sunshine.” Jacqueline Cioffa

This Face

Image Jacqueline Cioffa © Chris Fanning Photography

This Face

If I only show you the photoshopped, concealed, makeup pretty me

You’d never understand the underbelly

The crunchy grit, rawness hidden beneath

The really good stuff, the honest kind that matters

This face is not the who, how, or where

This face is not the who, how, where, or when

This face is not the who, how, where, when or why parts of me

It’s cellular skin alive, hazel eyes, pointy nose, scarred forehead, potty mouth lips and cheeky cheekbones

This face cannot carry the weight of a life nor mask the beauty

It’s just a face like all others

It’s mine though

This face

Authentic, snotty nose

From the off-key tears I have cried

This face is at the highway, halfway mark
Raw and unfiltered

Scribbling notes between the lines

It gives a fuck less about herself

And more about the Bluegrass roots beauty

The lyrical tones

Of other faces poetically similar and ugly foreign at times

Jacqueline Cioffa

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ―Ansel Adams

Wake Me, I’m Dead Dreaming

Wake Me, I’m Dead Dreaming By Jacqueline Cioffa

I rip you to shreds with my bleeding ink spot leaking heart pride

I hate you, I despise you with the bitter guts and boiling blood that festers inside

It’s all a waking dream and I’m suffocating

Where, so where do I place the fear I carry so heavy too heavy to mind

I’m quite sure my heart will give out long before the scattered, tattered jumble paper mess memories dry brittle

I scribble fast the fury not to forget

The memories are disappearing fading fast wadded paper cedar trees, football field lengths between me and me

 

I’ve forgotten how it feels to hold you in high esteem and tempting melted milk chocolate covered tongues

 

Once upon a time I cried, screamed, howled

 

 

Joy

 

I believed wholly and eyes closed, the whipping wind white puffy fluffy sky free ride

Liars and petty thieves, humans

The sun doesn’t shine bright on my sullen skin anymore and I’m knee deep in muddled pride

I loved you once I surmise

 

I believed the silly unicorn light up the night notions

 

Feeding frenzied Coyotes circle dense fog forest grey days

Threaten tempting black empty nothing bliss

 

Ripping tearing shredding gutting smiling puppy dog faces

The lines blur

Are you awake, dead dreaming

Misconstrued misaligned misperception hazed out of focus

Are you real or are you dead

 

Well for fuck’s sake, what are you really?

 

Tell me, I’m screaming inside with knee jerk clenched fist death wish jumping jack out of my skin beanstalk

 

Shh, I can’t hear my own running in circle cries

 

Quiet now, hush now pretty pretty pretty

Three times not twice rules are made to be shattered glass smashed

So what am I

Tell me now before I sink deep and deeper

Losing quietly ever so gently lovingly my beautiful chaotic mind

Write it all down love, quickly and with a certain kind of steadfastness

Star stuff flurries go poof and disappear before your eyes

Questioning the knighted crown jeweled worthy existence

I’m not ready, fading, falling

Shh, darling

It’s all a waking, mystical magical nightmare

Dreaming awake, I scream silent

 I love you, I hate you

I hate you, I love you

I love to hate you, I hate to love you

Makes no difference under the veil

When buried behind a double blurred vision am eye

Carny Days

dusk-hour

 Carny Days

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

“Pet Friendly” on Bleeding Ink with  Feminine Collective

lupita_

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Friendly

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.