Incorporated

Smudges of blood against yellow linoleum

on concrete

on wood

Smudges of blood on paper

and dirt

smashed into metal shed walls

slammed into dashboards

Blood smudged knuckles

and faces

and bodies

Blood in the water

soaking the fields

streaking the rocks

Blood smudges on the alter

in the pews and the aisles

Blood smudged on the knees bent in fervor

Blood to wash the lost souls clean

Blood soaked bones

buried beneath secrets and lies

Bloody remainders for scavenging, blood sucking flies.

Blood money to soften the sounds of the cries

Bloody Big Brother-

Did coins flow through the veins of your mother?

Another Beginning

“Hey Cat?” Tony turned his blue eyes to the sky, leaning his head back, blonde hair shuffling and falling over his ear and cheekbone.  They were sitting on the picnic table in his backyard; an after school ritual.  Cat was perched on the table top with her legs crossed. Tony sat on the bench, reclined with his back against the top of the table, his legs stretched out in front of him.  Over the years, that table had served as many a different setting in their games as they grew.  When they were eight, it was often a pirate ship, or a space ship, a car, a covered wagon.  Last year for awhile it had been their stage during their lip-synced air guitar performances as a rock and roll band.  They’d gotten in trouble for playing the radio too loud and so… the band had to quit, man.  This year they’d both turned thirteen, and so far, the table had only been used as a table.  The tree it sat under, of course, was a different story.

“Hey what?” Cat was quiet these days, her dark eyes often glinting in a way that Tony didn’t recognize.  When she’d first moved into the house next door, she officially became the only girl on the block. The very first day she was there, she’d caught him lurking in the lilac bushes that separated their front yards.  He’d been spying as she helped carry boxes and bags into the house.  Truthfully, he’d been staring because he couldn’t believe how much she could carry considering how skinny she was.  He’d been lost enough in his thoughts about the subject he hadn’t even registered that she’d seen him and made a turn in his direction.  He’d almost jumped out of his skin when he realized that suddenly, she was standing right in front of him, holding a box of clay. She’d dropped the box and put her hands on her hips.  Then, seeing the look on his face, she laughed, reached through bushes, tapped his shoulder and exclaimed, “You’re it!”.  That game of tag had lasted six years so far.

“I haven’t seen Dane for a couple weeks.  Where is he?”  Tony liked Cat’s older brother; he was mysterious.  Dane had always seemed like he was only half present in everything, like part of him was wandering somewhere else.

“He’s in Great Falls with Dad.”  Cat tossed her head back and jumped up, latching on to a bottom branch of the tree with both hands.  In two fluid motions, she hauled her body up and curved it around the branch, coming to a rest in a sitting position on the skinny limb.

“Monkey.”  Tony said as he raised his body from the table and hefted himself up the trunk.  “I have to get on a bigger branch.  That one’s gonna break if I sit on it.”  Cat began to climb to the top of the tree, living up to her name.  She was a fast climber, fearless in that tree, always moving like if she fell, she’d land on her feet for sure.  Tony had gotten less adept at climbing. By the time he reached their spot at the top of the tree, she’d been gazing at the sunset for four minutes.

“Old guy,”  Cat said with a smirk.  He smiled and looked at her, as he’d done hundreds of times since they’d been friends.  Her long black hair always floated around her face as if there was a breeze even if there wasn’t.  Tonight, though, as the sun cast brazen colors into their tree top vantage before fading into a starlit evening, Cat seemed to be shadowed.  Tony quietly sat beside her, wondering what the secret could be.

Debris

Debris

Photo Credit: Ayres Photogragphy

When the wind died down

and the dust settled,

we sat looking at the disaster.

Sifting through debris,

promising to go back to better times.

Times during which complication didn’t mar our intentions.

Times when our needs were less like chains

and more like opportunities.

Now we know,

we should have paid more attention

when what we wanted for ourselves

began to steal from what we wanted for each other. 

Then came the storm,

created by our selfish misunderstandings.

It poured rain into our hearts,

day after day.

It wrought clouds to crowd our minds

moment after moment,

building doubt so thick

we could not see the sea

until we were already choking,

flailing, sinking.

And as we reached out,

aching for something to save us,

all we found was each other to cling to

and that was all we needed.

For Donna- We’ll see you on the other side, girl.

 

Donna-smile

So, it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted much other than poetry on this here little blog that I have.  I guess the truth is that when I started I had a grand vision of raising awareness and bringing a voice to issues that I care about, and so, I dove right in.  When I first started, many of my posts centered around my personal story and some of the struggles I have experienced.  I soon found that while writing the stories was cathartic, posting them for the world to see was intimidating.  My stories often aren’t pleasant, they’re rugged and humiliating- not only for me, but also for people that I care about.  I alternated between raw/fearless and insecure/doubtful with every post.

I had created a Facebook page to accompany my blog and started trying to get traffic, but I found that it stressed me out and made me feel like I HAD to get followers and likes.  I began to worry that I didn’t know enough about the issues I cared about to present them to the community.  Even worse, I began to realize that a very tiny portion of the community I live in actually cares about those issues.  Soon I found that I felt more comfortable with posting my poetry.  I deleted all the posts that I considered to be written like a diary entry.  I took down my Facebook page. I made myself a nice, safe, open-to-artful-interpretation, you-can’t-really-criticize-what-I’m-doing-here-on-a-real-level place to share my work.  I chose to stop trying to use this blog to bring awareness to others.  I CHOSE because I could.

That, my friends, is quite the luxury.

You see, my inspiration to begin writing again began with a foray into the world of blogging via a friend’s daily sharing of Donna’s Cancer Story in September of 2011.  I quickly fell in love and by the end of the month, my heart was a huge, smushy, battered muscle with Donna’s name written all over it.

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Donna’s Cancer Story is powerful.  It’s striking, and beautifully told.  Her mother, Mary Tyler Mom, and her father share their most terrible, haunting moments in a way that resonates through a parent’s heart and soul.  They don’t hide, they don’t pretend that it isn’t the worst experience of their lives.  There are moments when they express helplessness, incredible pain and incomprehensible struggle.  They also don’t ignore the moments of true beauty and inspiration, the countless times they marvelled at the strength of their daughter, of each other, of their opportunity to to scrape meaning and hope out of what could be a reason to run from anything meaningful ever again.

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Donna did not get to stay here with us in this dimension for very long.  Donna was not a warrior, a soldier or an angel.  She was a very small girl.  She endured 31 months of treatment for a disease that would take her from her family.  Donna is not alone.  Donna’s family must now live and love without her presence.  If you are a parent like me, your heart beat quickens if you even begin to let yourself imagine what it would feel like if Donna were your child.  Donna’s parents cannot choose to erase the images, the memories, the hole in the middle of the bed.  The trauma of what they went through will never disappear.    They could choose to let everything that happened to their precious girl take away their chances for happiness, for health, for growth.  They could choose defeat.

Instead, they choose hope.  Because Donna did.  Because sometimes, it’s the only way to make it to the next moment.

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Donna’s Good Things was established to promote the doing of Good Things.  Simple.  These things can big or small, financial in nature, not financial in nature, public or private.  Please go to the website and check out what they’ve been up to.  On March 29, they will once again be teaming up with St. Baldrick’s Foundation and shaving heads for donations.

Please click this link and donate.

Today is Donna Day 2014.  It is a day that bloggers familiar with Donna’s Mama and her family unite in raising their voices to speak about what they know of her story, to talk about how it has impacted their lives.  I almost didn’t write anything because I was scared.  Scared of not living up to the task, of asking people to donate, of sounding like I don’t know enough about  the issue to make any definitive statements.  Sadly, there is too much to learn about the lack of funding for pediatric cancer research.  The numbers in this study, conducted by the National Institute of Health at the request of Congress, lists amounts spent in 235 categories of research for disease in the US.  Only one of them is specific to childhood cancer.

While Government spending, waste and poor financial decisions leave sick kids and their families standing on the side lines waiting for answers, people like Mary Tyler Mom continue to advocate, raise awareness- and much needed funds.  They do this because it needs to be done, because they can’t forget,  and because they choose hope.

Today there will be amazing, beautiful, insightful blog posts written about Donna.  I wish that I had the talent to express how her story changed my views on how childhood cancer is treated in this country, instead I humbly ask readers to really consider this:

Don't look away

Swallowed

Looking over her shoulder,

she knows all that is chasing her

and that everything will catch her.

Swallowed by a swell of blinding swirls,

Photo Credit: Ayres Photography

she has already disappeared.

Her present is lost to the past.

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It’s Open Link Night, Week 133 over at d-Verse~ Poet’s Pub.  This is my submission.  Go check them out, lots of great poets!

Love Words from Turtle Island

1491s are doing some of the BEST stuff. And also weird stuff- but mostly hilarious and thought inspiring! I admit- I’m a big fan and would probably act like a weirdo if I ever got to meet them. Anyway, here are some words of love- in many different languages.

Label

Tired of being told what to call myself.

Don’t say Indian, say Native American.

Don’t say Native American, say Native.

Don’t say Native, say Indigenous.

Don’t tell me what I am.

Entitled mouths come in every color.

I know what I am.

My children say mother.

My husband says lover.

My father says daughter.

My work says educated.

My friends say humble.

My skin says brown.

My face says Northern Plains Tribe.

My blood says Assiniboine, Sioux, Cree, Navajo, Apache.

My heart says that no one, not one person, can take away what made me.

Enrollment says associate member only.

I am not a label.