Drowning Above Water

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Turbulent waters soothe the gypsy, calming and evoking blue myth mystery. The maudlin, tumultuous sea, her wishing wells of fragile glass trinkets, forgotten treasure, and pools of sunken love, long discarded. The ocean and her black ink mystery whisper in tongue, tales only I can decipher. The beach house perched precariously on a bluff, is blurred and out of focus. Drifting farther and farther from reach, I am flailing and kicking. I scream sea bubbles trying desperately not to be pulled under. My weary eyes close, muscles go limp, as I surrender to the serene beauty. I am weightless. Drowning, I am finally free to listen to the sounds of quiet. Chimes dance and sway in the wind, calling me home. I know this place; I have been here before. She beckons. I am not unready, the flesh is not willing. I know I cannot stay here in the darkest, sublime solitude corners of the mind. With sea legs unsteady, I kick hard, resolute. I must embrace the riptides of imagination inside the forbidden, profound Mariana Trench depths of the mind I cannot fully comprehend. The sea is bound blue, white and grey urchin green, hauntingly transparent, and overly persistent.

I must stay, here, for now. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Drowning above water.

 

 

Buried In A Beach

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Buried In A Beach

By Jacqueline Cioffa

I didn’t start out like this. I was a goddess, a fearless warrior eager for the unchartered. I was happy at birth, an easy smiley baby; always trusting, overly naïve. I took for granted that kindness was around me.

I grew up, acquired the hate and problems and stuff and distraction. I do not want to live in any old house with four walls, filled with rules and regulations and misconceptions. I don’t want to be shallow, undisciplined, unaware, indecisive and unforgiving. I don’t want to be the enabler. I have not added the characters to this story because they don’t count. I prefer to stick with the simple, the animals and the trees.

I look out at the sad, pre-conditioned faces and am returned to the lost feelings. I taste the screams building up in my throat, the hurling accusations. I immediately remove myself from the physical, and loose the same old, same old. I practice deep breathing and kind thinking.

I grasp onto the red bench, the red robin, the positive forces rewiring my thoughts and I walk across the page releasing it all.
I don’t care if you see the weakest part of me, the ugly truths. I am imperfect, diseased, damaged and pre –conditioned, but so are we all. I am aware of my misgivings, and the surface. I am face to face with the short temper, the judgment, the fears, the Venetian masks I wear for your fancy. Right now, I am checking out.

I will not allow you to judge me, I will hand you all my unholy on a silver platter.
You may do with me whatever you please. I have begun; I am the walkabout. I have mulled it over on a red bench for days and months. I have sat and stirred and worried over nothing. I have worn down the rubber soles on my shoes. I am convinced that certain is nothing. I am loosing the broken record.

I am fearless, a fairytale princess young at heart, serene and at home on the beach. In my most perfect, well lived in modern, sea-legged, sturdy house. I am a deserted beach at sunset, with no timetable in view basking in warmth and color. I am healthy and mind free, delighted to casually wander about.

The Red Bench excerpt © 2009 by Jacqueline Cioffa. ‪#‎Prose‬ flows.

Looking Glass and The Windowpane

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Looking Glass and The Windowpane
By Jacqueline Cioffa

Let’s face it; there’s no fooling. The sagging skin, the wrinkled face, the ridiculous forty something woman in short skirts and bottled-up Botox. The gravitational pull and the eventual flight back home were booked in advance. You already hold the winning ticket. I recognize the faces in the street, the fear, the familiar grimace and disgust at the sideways glance in the shop’s windowpane. I see the doubt, the two-second pause, the roll of the eyes in the rear view mirror. I’m going to rise above it, be the lady lit from within. I’m going to honor this body that works, that walks me from place to place. I’m going to love this heart that beats and eyes that see the sun and feel the heat, and arms that sway to the rhythm and ears that hear the beat. I’m going to resist the tug; I’m going to dig the features and the sum. I’m going to take the very best care. Every so often, I’m going to eat eggs with buttered toast and pancakes dripping in maple syrup. I’m going to drink beer without the guilt. I’m going to love a man head on without flipping the light. Sooner or later, I’m going to want to play the parts. I’ll be mother, daughter, sister, lover, and feminist right on time. I’ll want to write the appropriate words that answer the meaningful questions. I’ll get the joke. I’ll laugh out loud without bringing my hands up to cover my face. I am timeless, ageless and the perfect temperature. I will not grimace at the sight of a beautiful young woman. I will nod and offer her a secret, knowing smile and familiar glance. I will put away the minis, the boots, and the crazy forms of self-expression and store them deep in the back of my closet. I’ll hold onto them for a younger version of myself. I no longer have any use. I’ll walk the walk with conviction. I’ll talk the talk and hear the discussion. I will listen, with a mind that is open. I will wait ten seconds to answer. I’ll have a well-thought out appropriate response. I’ll take an interest in the world around me. I’ll be empowered, insightful, bright and impulsive in an instant. I will mellow out and leave fear, jealousy and rage behind. I’ll do all the things that a grown up does. I will act like a curvy, sophisticated, well groomed woman. I will see the face and body; I will embrace and endorse the beautiful. I will tuck away my first class ticket in the back pocket of my favorite pair of ripped, familiar blue jeans for a later date. I will remember where I put it. I’ll keep my head on straight, high upon my strong, beautiful shoulders. I will put one determined foot in front of the other. For now, I’m just going to walk. And face the window without the pain.

Waiting on Oprah: Never Quit Your Dreams

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Waiting on Oprah

I close my eyes and can almost see the perfect fairytale life I envisioned in my wildest dreams.

Dear Fantasy (Oprah), “I feel that I am a very fortunate person …”

I was fifteen. Fifteen, gawky, wickedly uncomfortable in my so called ‘model frame.’ Somehow fifteen was the perfect age to concoct wild fantasy adventures and the fastest way out of a stifled, small town. There was a kaleidoscope world waiting for me, exclusively.

Strangers, intoxicating places and new faces I ached to see.

I guess Oprah never received the letter or maybe it got shoved to the bottom pile. There were one billion other worthy dreamers, perhaps more worthy than me. Maybe it got filed away, who’s to say?

I barreled ahead out on my own and concocted the fantastical dream anyway.

I had my picture taken, a lot, wearing expensive, sequined designer gowns. I lived in far away lands. Swam naked in cerulean silk seas with infinite sparkling black diamond sandy beaches. I stood atop glaciers touching the clouds where the landscape was breathtaking white, and the earthly humans invisible below. It was lonely and cold, and I felt nothing but numbness. Decades and decades past, I was stuck bone cold.

I could no longer picture my paralyzed, frozen feet on solid ground. Be mindful, careful, and specific before dreaming.

I woke up. No longer a child, no longer a pretty pawn, no longer me, no longer an identity, just a jumble of misfiring neurons.

I had freedom, for a time. Airplanes, buses, pre-packed duffle bags ready, lavender mister, passport, baby pillow became the two ton heavy, overweight baggage. I could not lighten the load no matter how much stuff I discarded. The heavy barred down on my brain, burrowing deep under my skin.

Change is so excruciatingly difficult when you’re living the dream.

Oprah never told me dreams can shift, that there can be more than just the one.

Or maybe, I wasn’t listening too busy running scared. Maybe I had to live through the dream to get to the here and now. Maybe I grew up, a little. Maybe the dream plain wore out.

Shivering, dizzy from submersing my head in the clouds surrounded by foreign tongues I did not understand, the physical me grew bored and misplaced. I dined on spicy and sweet, savoring cuisines that were taste bud delicious yet soured the stomach.

I was grinding, squirming, picking, pinching awkward, drowning inside the fifteen-year-old expired notion of bliss. I think when one is asking for a dream, one must be specific.

I’m sure being kicked to the curb no longer the prettiest, youngest, skinniest ‘photo op’ of the day did nothing for my already damaged low self-esteem and defunct, busted aspirations.

My life has been filled with love. Looking back and forward, my life has been filled with love.

That must be the first thing I cling to while reminiscing. My life has been filled with heart swelling, shattering, terrifying, emotional, easy breezy, destructive, goose-bump alive love.

The heart is a muscle it cannot possibly feel yet it does. Bizarre but so blazing sun, crescent moon, silly stars, perpetual movement sea elements comforting.

I am loved; even on the days I forget how to love myself.

It has not been easy, my middle, it’s been split open, fractured; please God let me end the crucifying. That, and all that mess that is my life are for a different tale. Perhaps when we have a little more time.

I’m back home now. I’m not fifteen anymore. My dreams are simpler, quieter, not half the screaming loud as before. Home, that’s what I’d been missing all along. Not the physical dwelling perhaps, although that helps joggle the mind.

Sensory memory.

The giddy anticipation of my mother’s White Shoulder’s perfume, her lips brushing against my forehead, the charms on her bracelet jingling and dancing on her wrist. Giddy elation alive.

“Go to sleep, sweet child of mine.”

I’d pretend sleep, twisting and squirming awaiting her return. Back from a well deserved evening out way past midnight to stroke my hair in the dark. I was sugary five not smart mouth saccharine EMO fifteen, not biting sarcastic know it all twenty, not disillusioned complacent crazed thirty, not even bitter shattered fragmented forty.

I was five.

I was living the dream.

Dear Oprah, “it’s okay.”

I think I’d like to give this living thing a shot, keep the next dream nestled close.

Readily accessible in my front not back pocket.

Dreams change.

And me, I am transitioning.

I’m not waiting on Oprah, not this time.

This dream is waiting on me.

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Gypsies and Pixie Dust

92_1Gypsies and Pixie Dust By Jacqueline Cioffa

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 neighbor hood 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.

I miss my friend. She was 90 years young and taught me many life lessons. I started visiting her out of duty and obligation and continued out of delight. She once said to me, “I wish I had known you when I was younger, we would’ve been great friends.” And I replied, “You know me now.” I only realized the weight and validity of that statement by her passing and what it truly meant. To spend time with another being and listen to their choices, the many paths and winding roads. 

I love all kinds of travels, roads carved out by dirt and gravel, uphill wood and branch covered trails, 6 lane freeways that go nowhere in particular, route 66 and the generation beat and all that trip meant.  I adore white finite sandy beaches with no end in sight, and enjoy the lazy comfort of a trip taken in old woman’s living room filled with black and white pictures and endless stories of a life well spent. 

There were many days when I didn’t want to get on the train and make the hour-long commute to her tiny modest east village apartment.  She’d tell me about her life in Italy, the seven brothers and sisters and the father who worked for the rail.  How much she loved them and how there was always food on their table and laughter in that house in spite of war.  She told me how scared and sad she was when she left home and made the trip to America with this new husband towards a fresh start.  She’d remember with remorse how she’d stay with an abusive Italian old school man who came back from America to Italy to fetch her offering dreams of a promised land.  She sighed as she remembered his gambling and the cancer that would ravage him and caring for him and the mess she endured out of duty for 50 years long. 

She’d ask me every week, “why didn’t I have a boyfriend for I was such a pretty tall girl?” Then she’d smile and shake her head saying it was better and smart.  She’d tell me to wait for someone who had dignity and honor and settle for no less. And I listened and nodded my head, a smile on my face. I believed her when she spoke to me, for I could see the pixie dust and the angels flying all around.

She could hardly speak without a tear as she showed me a picture of her dead son and the pain would creep up as if she was discovering this story for the first time.  I’d watch her face, the lines sketched deeply over time and listen to her travels and I’d love her all over again. I knew the journey downtown was worth it. And our voyages were forever melded and meshed and she was no longer a little old lady that was alone. She was a storyteller who was deeply loved and admired and respected and an old woman who had 9o years, but was forever young in my heart. When I would leave her apartment she would give me a hug and say, “Get home safe.” And I felt giddy and well and loved. I was a journeyman who’s life had a purpose. She made me miss my mother who is still here, but far away enough.

You don’t really have to go anywhere to be a traveler if you stay alert. Sometimes others make the journey for you. I remember curling up under a crocheted blanket with my mother on our cozy couch in wintertime. I was five and we would magically cover our heads and end up in Ireland.  The land of County Cork and the Blarney stone and dumb Irish luck. The land where her father left the only home he knew at eight and crossed the seas towards a new beginning. He would live stoically and walk tall throughout life.  He would make a family that would prosper and procreate and live on. His would be a life filled with honor and purpose and the quiet elegance of simplicity in a rural American town.  It would be a small village, a no place in particular, but his journey would be filled with substance galore.

Stories have been the essence of my life. Since I was old enough to recall I’ve been asking my mom about her stories so I could get the tales right. I would travel back in time with her to her youth and the trip made sense. That’s how I’d grow into the gypsy with a love for words and new undiscovered lands in her heart.  

I’d travel the globe.  I’d walk the Champs Elysee in Paris savoring a chocolate crepe.  I’d smell the age of the earth rise up from her streets and admire the Seine by its yellow lights and the dark. I’d fall in love with Chagall and the Pompidou and grow to appreciate Brie and Sunday afternoons and La Tour Eiffel from the park. I’d scour flea markets in search of the perfect vintage leather coat.  I’d fall out of love with a man and cry real tears and learn to hate the person lying next to me. I’d wish I was anywhere but Paris with this lover who had outstayed his welcome and squashed my zest for adventure with every beat of his soured heart. The days would become long and the streets would appear dirty and food would lose all flavor as I lost my appetite. Summer would feel like an old maid and I would silently pray for wintertime when he would pack his bags and leave me for good.

A finality that would lead to a different kind of voyage, a much needed repose from an outdated life.

Spring in Paris would magically reappear much like the Easter bunny and I’d fall head over heels in love with a different kind of man. He’d make music in the rain and Paris would come to life again. His would be a short visit, but long enough to renew my broken heart.  Paris would appear pretty again and she was soft like talc and every bridge oozed new found sex appeal.  Sometimes love appears for a mere mille- second, yet your journey is changed forever and your lives are intertwined. You remain not together, no. However bittersweet the visit, the gleam of admiration in his eye and his presence in your world is felt. His trip makes your trip valid and you feel the sparkles and except the magic and gladly move on.

Steadfastly, you recognize your good fortune and tuck it away in your hope chest and you walk straight and tall. There are many beaches to visit and stars to count and fish and sea turtles to swim with. There are wooden bridges to be crossed and mountains to trek. There are fears to be faced head on. There are dreams to be realized and cards to be dealt and bags to be packed and unpacked.

My good fortune has always been the ability to see myself through others. The voyages I have taken would lead to life changing lessons, affirmations, a needed hug, an unexpected caress, and a knowing nod.  There would be trips made out of duty, filled with sorrow and grief.  Perhaps those were the hardest kind. Yet, they were definitely the most rewarding. They showed me the kind of stuff I was made of.  I was able to face death and sorrow and not be ripped apart. I would find the strength to continue on the trek.

I’ve loved all sorts of travel. Trips to exotic lands in first class, the ripped leather seat of a beat up bus on my way back home, a road traveled so frequently I know every sign, every rest stop along the way.  I love the endless possibility of a new road, but as I grow older I learn that I am a deep lover of the familiar journey and all the comfort she holds.

A shared look, a glimmer of hope, pixie dust and perpetual movement. I exist now. I am present doing nothing in particular. I am ok with that. I am full. I am a traveler, a student of art, and a lover of the human condition. I want to be pliable; I want to bend like the next road I find myself upon. I want to savor the journey; I need to remind myself to look up. Remember to keep looking up.  It’s there, the pixie dust. I know it is, I’ve seen it. It’s the infinite possibility that a battered old duffle bag holds hanging in my closet whispering my name.

Originally published via Frame Lines the magazine 

Gypsies and Pixie Dust by Jacqueline Cioffa

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Training Wheels and Little Blond Curls #StolenMoments

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From time to time you’ll see Stolen Moments show up on the blog. Words forgotten and misplaced, poetry, anticipatory memories, prose, joy and sorrow, pensive emotion, random and not so random thoughts scribbled in tattered notebooks. To not forget but remember the precious, fleeting stolen moments in time. I’m a writer trying recapture on paper how it feels to be alive.

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Training Wheels and Little Blond Curls

Jacqueline Cioffa 1998

Oh little girl

Stop for a minute

Let me enjoy your youth

Your radiance

The sheer innocence of fearlessness

Can I ride with you just one more time?

On your bike with training wheels

Let me float free on your back

As you learn to glide without safety wings

Don’t fret and don’t be afraid

Your youth will never leave you

She’ll grow on with you

As you and I both grow up

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“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” – Martha Graham

Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle.

I’m tired.

Wiped, discouraged, caput, worn down, exhausted.

I am not winning this mammoth battle with the mind. I can no longer distinguish between mania and anxiety, thoughts race ahead anyway without definition. Oxygen depleted and unrelenting physical pain does not let up.

No, no, no, no way. There’s no way I can keep up with this living thing. I am not strong enough.

Am I?

Just when I think I have used and abused every single resource left with no reserve, a timely reminder appears.

It’s not about me, it never was. This life is not mine to begin with. I am circular memories, sand granules stolen backwards in time.

Precious quartz that most assuredly slips through my fingers returning to earth how it began.

So what if I can’t see clearly when the angels can?

So what if I can’t see clearly when the angels can?

“Your time stamp is 2:22 which in angel numerology means, “Don’t quit before your miracle occurs!” 

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“Newly planted ideas are beginning to grow into reality. Keep watering and nurturing them, and soon they will push through the soil.”

I believe in angels, pixie dust, numbers, crystals, and dark/ light matters we cannot see or comprehend.

To dream wearing a featherweight light suit of armor while speckles of  gold, violet, teal, fuchsia and indigo angel dust flutters abound.