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?

Poor Man’s Camper

My dad used to tell me and my brothers that patience is a virtue.  As an adult, I have come to view this saying as a both a truth and a tactic.  It’s no coincidence that he would impart this nugget of wisdom on us during times when HE needed patience to deal with our antics, I just didn’t notice that as a child.

Looking back, I know that he lived by this saying for a number of reasons.  It’s a good mantra for people who are poor or struggling.  And for most of his life, my dad has been poor or struggling or both.  Sometimes people get offended by the use of the word “poor”.  Trust me, it is not a description that my father would hesitate to use for himself.  Ever ridden in a Poor Man’s Camper? Not a recognizable term?  Probably because it is one of those things that my father invented out of desperation.

Poor Man’s Camper defined:  A refrigerator box in the back of a pickup truck, filled with kids and about to travel a few hundred miles on MT roads so that transport of the entire family would be possible in the one vehicle we owned.  Also known as a box of potential death or, to my brother, Sonny, the box of torture where he was forced to lick chicken Mcnugget sweet & sour sauce off the cardboard walls. Forced by me. Because he spilled it and I didn’t want it to get in my hair.  It was fine, he could see the gross spots with no struggle; we were child geniuses and had poked holes through the cardboard for light.

My father is a highly talented sculptor.  He can paint and draw too, but he loved sculpting.  His sculptures are breathtaking- and not in the “I can kind of relate to what the artist is doing on subconscious level” way… more in the “holy &%$&^, that is so beautiful I can’t believe you made it” way.  I truly believe that if he had more administrative skills and less children, his career would have been much different.  He never gave up with his work, even though it meant months of travelling, going to art shows all over the US and long stretches of having no money at all.  My childhood memories are riddled with waxballs, foundry tailings, paint specks and art pencils.  He believed in following his dreams, he wanted all of us to believe in our following our own dreams too.  My mom tried not to give up, she really did- but years of near isolation and being almost solely responsible for the daily tasks of raising four kids eventually took their toll.
Of course when the marriage ended, I blamed her- because I was 12 and dumb. Romance and dreams just don’t feed, clothe or diaper children and you can’t stay in love with someone who is always gone. He was running around the country as a hip, starving artist (ok, he probably would say that is not as glorious as it sounds, and I know it wasn’t). She was the “welfare mom” dragging 4 kids around Montana towns where she knew no one without a car. I can understand this now that I’m almost 40 and a little less dumb.  Mom only had to wait for about 10 years for me to come to my senses and cut her some slack.

Still, my brothers and I idolized our dad.  Remember how when taking a solemn vow as a kid, you used to say “I swear to God” because you really, really meant it?  It seemed that the consequences of having lied in an oath including God’s name were bad beyond imagination.  Well…my brothers and I used to ask each other “You swear in Dad’s Name?” to ascertain whether the truth was being told.  I know.  It’s hilarious and sad and we’re all cool with that because sad is always easier with a little bit of humor.  Those who have done some real suffering in life know that this is a truth of surviving tragedy and hardship.   The divorce between my parents was long, truth be told, it pretty much consumed my life after the age of 12. By the time I was 16, I was thoroughly convinced that my parents would hate each other forever and I would never be allowed the privilege of planning an event with my future husband and kids that wouldn’t include having to keep my parents separate.

That was true for a few years, but thankfully, patience is a virtue and grand-kids change everything. I think the reason for that is because grand-kids mean your kids are full grown and you KNOW how fast it happened.  You realize that time with them while they are little really should be a high priority and you’re willing to work through your own personal issues in order to soak up that time. By the time my parents came up for air from their custody battle, two of their kids were old enough to decide who they wanted to live with.   These days, my parents easily hang out with eachother at family functions and, actually, my brothers and I get totally creeped out if they spend any amount of time alone. No, Mom & Dad, you can’t go outside and share a smoke, we’ve had enough of your antics, thank you.

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.