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

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

SHE.

SHE.

“I exist, therefore I am, beautifully flawed strength, smiles and bravado. I don’t want to be considered just a girl. I want to be remembered as a kind, master student of life and art. An honest girl, warrior woman, and fellow sister traveler, leading with rainbow hues of courage shooting stars straight from the heart.” – Jacqueline Cioffa