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.

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

Women Who Shape Us

Women Who Shape Us

She won’t hesitate to call out a bully, misanthrope or liar
She will stand tall, pull her shoulders back while sobbing, heaving hysterical for the plight of another
She’ll dance crazed and belt out a tune just to hear the stereo beat and guitar riffs and drum solo
She will love a man or a woman on a whim from a sweet smile and soft whispers
She’s unafraid to get broken
Her brokenness owned by the cracks she boldly dared step upon walking chin up towards the sun
Pride, she’ll swallow it every time for a cause
And a saving grace melody
She wears leather or lace
And loves to play dress up
She needs to look pretty not for others
Nah, man
For her glorious, unique, mysterious self
Because she is all woman, all day
And one of a kind
Clever, neat, messy and soulful
She’s not a feminist
She’s a humanist who happens to be a girl
In love even when it hurts with this one life – 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

 

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

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

Sunflowers and Sticky Tape (some years ago)

We built a house out of a dream

10 minutes turned into a life of sunflowers

and wooden porches

and Etta James

and Ella Fitzgerald

and thrift stores with old record players

and bread makers

and a light bulb on a string over the kitchen sink

and a couple in Sante Fe

and their gallery

and an old book of pictures of Texas from 1961 or was it 1959?

and a white Cadillac convertible with burgundy leather interior torn from age

and a steering wheel with sticky tape

and a motel with purple lights

and cactus in the desert

and a white bathing suit

and a black and white TV

and the same movie playing over and over

and Tequila with a worm

and the sunrise on the dunes in the desert

and the dark and the yellow line in the road

and the fork up ahead

and it’s all in my mind

and my heart

and I did care

It was a lovely dream

I saw you today and paused short of breath

We had drifted away and apart

I wish you all your dreams of wooden houses

and dunes

and beaches

and bandanas

and cutoffs

and Hanes v neck t-shirts

and flip flops

and all

Take care and I do care

It was real for me

For a moment

and it was so nice to dream

 

– Jacqueline Cioffa

 

On my column, “Bleeding Ink,” Courtesy of Feminine Collective