The heart of the heat is upon us in SW Florida, when the natives come alive, albeit with beads of sweat on everything from toenails to forearms, just from walking to the mailbox. A good daily detox if you walk, work or play in the great outdoors. When the gulf and pools feel more like a party spa, with temps pushing 90, prime hurricane waters.
With summer comes skin, lots of skin, and some skin you would really not rather see…which brings me to today’s poem Keeper of Things (probably considered rated R). It’s a common sight, and you all know what I’m talking about. I mean no harm, I can’t help where my writer’s mind takes me, just enjoying the journey.
keeper of things
i could see his pooch
as he stood without his shirt on
sweat band ’round forehead
i in cut-offs and tank top
neither one of us wore a bra
80 year old man-breasts
similar to my chest
after teenage pregnancy
and nurturing babies
and 33 years age difference
but my nipples
have been tugged on
by little mouths of hunger
eager lovers and mammogram machines
its amazing how far
they can flatten these things
now, they hold keys
my cell phone
hell, they could house this
between these monuments
now house my personal belongings:
ID, money, memories of honeys
i wonder what he keeps in his valley
evidently nothing, ’cause i can see his
(not that this guy is poochy or 80, just thought it was a funny pic)
there’s a glow about those
that are graced with a halo
your light before you goes
there’s a recognition
our spirits know
we are of one another
i share your glow
our love is comfortable
our friendship old
when you share a soul
so rest assure
where ever you travel
i’ll be there with you
you are never alone
we share a soul
I wrote this in early 2011 for my friend, Kris, who was leaving Venice, FL and moving back home to Missouri, feeling apprehensive at leaving her grown children and the town she now called home. I hated that she was leaving us, her friends and poets who loved her so deeply, but she needed to be close to her family (parents, siblings, cousins) and for that, I couldn’t fault her.
Kris was diagnosed in her 30’s with Young-Onset Parkinson’s Disease, a shocking life sentence to this vivacious young mother. Her life changed in ways in which I could never understand.
I met Kris in 2004 at a magnificent coffee house in Venice called Stir the Soul, oh, how I loved this space and those that drifted in and out of those doors. I no more than landed in Venice and found my way into Stir the Soul in search of poetry, and it happened that the owner, Mr. Daney Jelley was looking for someone to bring poetry to life in his space. This was synchronicity in all its glory! So I began hosting open mic poetry on Saturday nights, and there was this girl (she looked so young) that had the sweetest spirit about her, who would get up and kill it at the mic. Her words were moving and real, inspiring and charged with emotion. Occasionally, we’d pause, while Kris would tolerate some moments of several tremors, then pick up right where she left off. Perseverance. At that time I didn’t realize she had Parkinson’s since I wasn’t real familiar with it, just that I thought older individuals were more apt to have it.
Through the years, we continued as poetry buds. Kris was writing her book “Dancing with an Elephant”. She knew I liked to dabble in photography, so she asked if I would mind taking pictures of her for her book. Of course I said YES. That lead to me designing her book cover, but more than that, it lead me to an even greater closeness with this remarkable woman. She asked if I would mind video taping her preparing for an average day, in case she wanted to use that to promote her book. I have several hours of video that leaves me speechless every time I watch them. Makes me thoroughly ashamed that I ever complain about anything!
My Earth Angel passed away last week, with her beautiful daughter by her side, and her family nearby. A strange mix of gladness and sadness came over me. Glad that she is finally still, that she has shed the body that tried to trap her, but you see, she was bigger than any disease. Her spirit can finally soar. But my human self is sad, for entirely selfish reasons.
So on the days when my body feels like its dragging behind me, when I want to lay on the couch and lick my wounds or satiate whatever whim I feel I need, I’ll look to Kris…to the woman that taught me more than I even know at this point, because it’s often not until someone is gone, do we remember the wonderful moments, the soothing and supportive words, the sheer physical and mental will to keep on going.
Fly high Earth Angel. Until next time~Rest in Paradise
that hindsight is 20/20
but on this situation
i am bug-eyed
i know why the signs
were so obvious
and i clueless
i’ve paid for the consequence
of choosing to remain deaf
pretending i didn’t hear it
feel it, know it
damn the ego and what it
thinks is good for your soul
how could it possibly know?
how could it know the lesson
bestowed on that independence day?
how could it know the impact that
that decision had made?
how the psyche likes to cling
and bring up the very things
you scream to let go of
A month after high school graduation (June 1976), I had a whole life ahead of me. Hoping to get that nursing degree so I could provide a better life for my young son and myself. Life was going to be grand!
But as we all know, life sometimes has other plans for us, for reasons we may never know. Choices are made in every moment, and I was not making some of the best, at the time. Even though my heart was right, my priorities were not.
One such choice was to ride with friends on motorcycles to enjoy a fun-fueled evening at Delhi Park in Dexter, MI. I made a very conscious choice to override my intuition that told me to spend my day with my son and family. It was July 4th, 1976, the Bicentennial of our country.
I opted for the motorcycle ride (damn the ego). While traveling outside of Ann Arbor, the driver and I were broadsided by a car and the rest is merely what I’ve been told, since I only have vague memories of the next 3 weeks.
1 week in intensive care, 5 surgeries and 2 months later I left the hospital. It was horrid, gruesome, torturous, and horribly frightening. There was internal bleeding, a closed head injury, 10 broken bones and near amputation. There were many uncertainties for the future.
The greatest pain of all, was the pain I caused my family, it was so difficult on them, particularly my mother. I hold no ill feelings towards the driver of the motorcycle, they call them accidents for a reason. He had a broken leg and a couple surgeries and spent a month in the hospital, he paid his dues.
I’ve carried this around for 40 years, it’s hard to avoid and with age PTSD has raised its ugly head..I’m tired of it all.
So I write this as a release, a way to publicly say that it has ruled my life for too damn long. I no longer want to live with this memory. I have learned the lesson and it has changed me deeply, where only trauma can touch.
I am grateful every day for my leg, my great teacher, that we didn’t part and that we have learned over the years to coexist in this human body, albeit difficult at times, but nothing in this life is perfect. I am peaceful with that. It’s our imperfections that make us unique.
I’m letting go!! This is MY independence day!!!
Today, I’m sharing 3 different versions of the same poem. Two of these poems were recorded in studios; one with my beloved Upthegrove Reynolds Project that I performed with in the Ann Arbor/Detroit areas (more on that in another post), the second of which was a CD I recorded with the help of music producer Michial White Jr. (no relation). What great experiences they both were.
The third is just me, recited the piece without music accompaniment…just me and the instrument I was born with.
I hope you enjoy all three versions. My words run deep and so do my feelings, so be kind, if you don’t mind.
Here is Defiling Heaven…
above, the never before heard version with the Upthegrove Reynolds Project, recorded in 2003 in Ann Arbor, MI at the Solid Sound Studio
this is the version produced by Mechiel White Jr. (aka the Groovematist) in Dexter, MI (turn up your sound a little)
I’m taking a break, for the moment, from my normal everyday routines, to honor those that have been brave enough to serve for our freedoms and our often self-centered selves.
Words are hard to come by for this poet, so I will share with you a poem written by a dear friend and fellow poet, the late Joseph Porter, aka the Mountain Man. He asked me years ago to record this poem as a gift to him, and I was honored to do so! This is Old Pilots…
In loving memory to Joe Porter, Dan McHenry Hickey (Poet Laureate, Madison GA) and Robert White. Salute~
To my daddy, John, and my brother, Mark; i love you and thank you dearly. To Bill Barrington, granddad to my daughter-in-law, hugs.
To my new friend Ed Clary WWII Veteran from Bradenton, FL
And the countless others that have served with all they have/had!
(sorry if i didn’t mention you by name, there are so many to thank)
Here’s another audio for your enjoyment. You can view the photo and words to this poem on my earlier blog by clicking the link below:
Hope everyone is having a fine day.
Hey, I learned a new trick. Videos may be next…
This audio is me reciting butterflies on our shoulders.
You can revisit my prior post at