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. 

Lucky in Loss

This picture popped up in my memories today on Facebook and made me smile. Michel and I fought, a lot. He thought I was spoiled. I was. We argued, a lot. I’d only learn in time and the passing of years what he meant. I learned so many lessons from him. How to live a simple life, to love and respect nature, to take long walks everyday, (like ten miles burn your ass and legs walks), how to laugh at yourself and others, how to work out, how to eat clean, and how to be here now. How to love. People, animals, life. The basics. All of it. Sometimes when I walk the nature trails with Lupe I can hear him, “hurry up connasse” and so I pick up the pace. And thank god for the days spent in his company in the sun, the fondest memories that a person shares with you are the ones that sustain us. I do the dishes, make my bed and celebrate another year (however hard, tragic, and chaotic) around the sun. Lost loved ones leave open wounds that become stitches in our hearts, scar tissue and eventually leaving room to mend. To grow, and to learn. The heart expands even when broken by time and circumstance. Love lives on the wind that blows frigid and in an instant, Spring appears changing her course once again. Nature’s seasons were Michel’s happiest, simplest magical place and I am still learning how to be present like him. My New Year’s wish for you is that you never give up, even when the physical pain of losing a loved one or perhaps even yourself feels impossible, keep on pushing the boundaries, stripping away all the nonsense, the baggage, the noise, and trusting you will fill the empty spaces with love, and relearn to walk again. To die young is not the natural order but a life lived full, simple and serene is a gift to be opened with gratitude, compassion and humility. Go ahead make your mistakes. Like the worst, wildest fuckups you can dream. And if you’re lucky they’ll be a person, or persons who will challenge you to get up and walk tall again and again. The nostalgic pictures help us remember we were here, and life was good. I forget sometimes reverting back to that spoiled girl, only for a moment. And then I remember how lucky in love I have been. 

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

 

Pruning Mad

I thought the words and thoughts escaped me, but the mind is perpetual movement and the physical change of space a welcome opportunity. Granted it’s a backwards return to an old familiar. A place filled with deep sorrow, craziness and rerun memories. It’s a half empty house that holds a far away happy and lost together times and sparse family. I’ll take it. It suits me better than isolation and the sad exhausted faces in the big city.

We are a people in search of a nation. We lost our tribe, our values, and our rhythm. I don’t want to be reminded of the labels stamped on our backs. I don’t care about the tube and the lies, the affairs and the misguided wannabe celebrity. I want authentic personality. I want Chagall and his torture and color and art. I want to be moved and inspired by individuality. Call me crazy. He makes me to want to walk away from the glamourous life. I am convinced I will not find my way out of the dark if I am not prepared to live for a time in the empty. I’ll squirm and slither, giving in to a forgotten town where nothing happens. It’s a stand still place where nature is your best bet for entertainment.

I say bring it on motherfuckers. Throw me more shit to swallow, give me the pills, I’ll take the drugs, hand me the rage and I’ll run with it. I’ll make a goddamn mish mashed masterpiece. I will not hurl things, I will shout through my fingers. This place, this twirling planet is unfit. Burn it, drown us, and wipe it out. Eradicate the greed, me included, the ego-driven and self-obsessed. Forgo the fast and over processed. It’s a bullshit new millennium.

I am going simple until something shifts.

I bury my distaste in the physical task of cutting back the hedges. Every whack of the saw loosens my muscles and frees my thinking. I trim the grass until the sordid is no longer. I work determined and with purpose, like my ancestors.

I want to dirty my knees and bury the hatchet. I will plant flowers and feel the dead working beside me. Today I will shed no tears, I will not cry out in despair. I will grit my teeth. I will find projects that need doing and complete them. I will listen to the wind and wait. I will thank the sun that I’m still here. There must be a bigger reason.

The repetition and tradition quiets the squalls and rough seas rolling around in my head. What is my purpose? Will I lead a life with meaning? Why doesn’t God hear me? Where are the motherfucking signs? What am I supposed to do? Will I survive these worst of times? Do I even want to?

I sit outside on this unusually balmy November afternoon shrugging my shoulders. I wonder if anyone out there feels this pain and doubt with me? I worry where have my dead gone and question why can’t I go to with them? Was there ever a point to the borrowed minutes and sweet nothings?

Turning the corner is a matter of opinion. I never made that choice. Everyone leave me the fuck alone please until I find what’s waiting. I want no part of this fast paced, over stimulating, hole- hollow, simply filling the borrowed time mad existence.

excerpt from THE RED BENCH

The Paradox of Our Age & a Beatbox

The Paradox of Our Age and a Beatbox

By Jacqueline Cioffa

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I’m not going to spin the crooked ways the world disgusts me, fueled by greed, and selfie look-at-me affliction. I’m not going to ask why the hell we’re celebrating, glorifying, mystifying, ridiculing, opinionating, posturizing, and Glam-O-Rizing Reality TV wannabe Celebrity with million dollar ‘99 problems but the bitch ain’t one’ bad behavior? I’m not going to rant and rave graphic, go on and on and on and on and on about fabricated circus ponies, farce bullshit, false niceties, lies and innuendo. Bad, bad PoliticO’s.

Rappin’ box beats…

Nope, nah, forget it man.

This bullshit, twisted, wake-up-people rant ain’t about greed, ain’t about you, ain’t about me.

Shit, Player, I’m a foul-mouthed-fool checking myself, too.

I’m gonna spin this prophetic, profound, and wax poetic

To a true, old school melodic moment of gangsta’ rap radio wave silence.



THE PARADOX OF OUR AGE 

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We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees but less sense;
more knowledge but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines but less healthiness.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,
but have less real communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;
Tall men but short characters;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window but nothing in the room. —The 14th Dalai Lama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a Picture, or Not

Take a Picture, or Not

By Jacqueline Cioffa

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This face.

This face has been scrunched and smothered by new new talc scented infant kisses

This face has been covered in mud, dirt, blood, open-wounded, stitched, patched and put back together

This face has been brave, kind and stubborn pout five-year-old defiant

This face has been bullied and attacked by mean girl high school drama and self-important syndrome

This face has been pummeled, scarred and attacked vicious

This face has been glorified, mystified, beautified, and plastered on billboards

This face has worn one million types and varying hues of chalky sultry makeup

This face has known privilege, spoiled riches and possible envy

This face has rested her cheek against a sterile cement floor curled in fetal position lying beside the hospital bed where her father has died

This face has been on the receiving line of sweet, melodic nighttime sexy soft forehead kisses from momentary star-crossed lovers fleeting and delicious

This face has felt rejuvenated immersed in sea salt and sunshine encapsulating and inviting Miami oceans in wintertime

This face has burrowed deep under a pillow dark, terrified, tears and snot escaping all orifices

This face has been bronzed and sunny

Filled with Angel kisses and brown spotted freckles

This face has been the recipient of 450 V currents sent to an exploding brain through wires attached to her scalp, voltage dialed up to maximum

This face has been overly expressive, exuberant, surprised and giggly

This face has been grey, pallid, aged and wrinkled

This face has been acid burned to obliterate Squamous cell carcinoma riddled blotches

This face.

“The camera is a save button for the mind’s eye.” — Rodger Kingston

This face is tired, exhausted, despondent, devoid of Vitamin D and defeated

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

Raw and unfiltered

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

 

Take a Picture, Or Not 2015 © Jacqueline Cioffa

Originally featured on Paperbacks and Wine