Madam or Madman

Photo captured at Black Forge Coffee

Or both. 

It is exhausting having a foot in both worlds. 

This week I was a therapist and a patient. (Humble plea: Yes. Hospital workers can be brusque and harried. I know and I’m sorry.  But please try to be gentle with us. We sometimes come to work as sick as the patients.)

Sunday I sat at home alone begrudgingly doing housework and later I was a partner, far less begrudgingly listening to jazz and story idea and fears over wine. He was much a far better partner to me days before, making sure I had food and wine (there are commonalities in both my worlds) and love and rest. 

Saturday I was a single mother and a performer. 

I watched my son accept an award for his art. 

It is a better drawing than I will ever accomplish as I have zero artistic capacity in this realm. I was as proud as if he’d stood up and criticized a Congressman. Surrounded by conservative values and history, I stood observing and silent. 

Hours later, I was on stage myself, performing a movement and poetry piece I created entitled Bare. I stood among an incredible collection of  women, femmes and female-identified artists. They opened their souls and bled poetry and performance art about feminism, gender roles, heartbreak, self-abuse and body positivity. We loved naked bodies and what they can portray. I spent the night alternating. Attracted then repulsed. Laughing then crying. Unable to look away then covering my eyes because there were moments that were simply unbearable  to watch because they were so raw and real and pained. 

I don’t know if what I offered of myself on stage was any good. It know it hurt. 

And that’s usually a good sign. 

I know I was honored to share space with these mavens. 

The day reminded me of how much I try to keep myself in two places, be two people, fulfill two roles. 

Straddling worlds means I am trying to keep a grasp on everything between my legs. My thighs may be thick and strong but they can’t maintain this tonic contraction forever. 

Metaphorical muscle fail also brings to the brink the eventuality that as these two worlds shift, I won’t be able to bridge the gap and I’ll rip down the middle. Torn into halves. Unable to make meaning in any plane of my existence because I’ll be in pieces. 

I want to pull the worlds together. I want love and inspiration. Bedtime stories and burlesque with fake blood. School projects and hearing my own plays read. Kisses with passion and quiet handholding when the fears come. 

I want to be madam of my own house. 

I want to be the madman that brings the wildness in so the ones I hold close can see the feral beauty and learn of bravery. 

Madam and Madman. 



What’s The Difference?


What’s the Difference?

A mile?

A minute?

A Saturday out?

A look?

An imbalance?

A whiskey, then a stout?

What are the chances
across that table
among that smoke
and sound
that we found
what the other wanted.

of a kind
of a pair
both at the table,
cards to the chest.

We finally showed them.
And they were…



From different houses.

Of course they were.

and spades.

and blades.

Shouldn’t you
when the cards
don’t match?

Isn’t that how
you save your skin,                                save yourself

if you have any hope
of playing another day?

When you go in,
and in, and all in
and there’s nothing left
if you leave it behind.

If you lose,
you can’t always start again
because everything
is everything
and you don’t even get
to keep the cards.

You want…

You want…


Why did you toss your coins
and pull up a chair
in the first place?

What were you hoping to win?

Or were you just playing,
to see where they fell?

Smile and shucks
and flick the ash,
pick another gamble,
round up your cash.

I think it’s more than chance.

Because we don’t match.

Or maybe we do. 

It might be we’re the same

faces worn off

from the heat of the 


Under the varnish,

under the belt,

suites, signs and numbers

embraced as they’re dealt. 
But I don’t think so
We are the difference
that seems to make
all the difference.

What is the difference,
if we aren’t?

Is it rigged?

Up our sleeves and

behind our backs?

Can we still play?

Can we win?

Can we lose?

What’s the difference?

For Katherine

We send our girls across the water.  They deserve more. Change is coming.  New is coming. A new moon. A new season. A new day. A new life. It’s there. Beneath our cold, our death and our forgotten. A new chance. 


For Katherine

Across the water
to marry a king.

Across the water
to lie down for a man
and another man
and another
as they are made.

Bought for a crown,
bought for a pound
of flesh.

Sold to the first son
and then consigned
to the second.

Returned to her
to wait
and when the sun comes up

One job.
Make a prince

The only job.
Make him happy

Strange girl
a hood over
her eyes,
covers her hair
without words
she can hear
without words
she can say
no other way.


Rigid flesh.

Emptying her bowels
her sickness
her sin
in a pot
painted with
delicate lavender violets
in the corner of the room.

In the corner
of the rectangle.

That is her queen’s chamber.
That is her prison.

The water under her
becomes the bed under her
becomes the new green
on the grass
catching what is left
to fall.

The next day,
the next sun.
Always new.

In her old world,
she knew St. Brigid.
Witches in a dream.
The turn of the dial,
the turn of the moon
and clover sprouts

Then she remembered,                                                                                         in her new world.
In another place,
with another name,
as another girl
that she didn’t know                                                                                           the seasons anymore.

Are we still buying and selling
each other?

A girl
for dowry
for a boy playing soldier?

A girl for
a coin
for her virginity?

When neither ever
owned it herself,
couldn’t broker the sale,
and couldn’t own the
profits if she did.

Changing her name,
sometimes with a K,
others a C,
depending on whose
tongue is curling
around the sounds.

Changing her body,
changing her nightmares
changing her life
that was never

Because she was
Only her.
Never her.
These girls on the water,
wanted so much
and not cared for
at all.

Hundreds of years
and we are still
sending our girls
to drown.

Enough have sunk.

They will walk
as their own,
with their own,
on their own

Feet on the sand,
going home.

Make their path.
They’ll travel.

Drain their seas.

They won’t merely
trod on the dirt.

They will fly.

Be Nice, She Said

Be nice, she said


flailing, pushing

Hands flat, open, extended

In avoidance

Wondering why
He didn’t come closer. 

Be nice, she said

Cried as she brought up

imaginary, claimed forgotten

Perceived slights

From a year and a lifetime ago.  

Which never were,

But damned if she won’t use them

As an excuse to bury herself

In the dirt of hurt

Than she’s planted and tended

On her own 

Better than any lover. 

Be nice, she said

Hid behind her own 


Asking for kindness

Despite, undeserved,


That she begs for

Without words. 


In her ice. 


From her homicide

And her crucifixion 

To her own cross 

I can’t be nice, she said. 

I forget. 

I locked it away. 


Be nice, she said. 

Forget with me. 

Help me remember. 

Be nice. 




Good evening.


Come sit down.

No. Thank you.
I’ll stand.

here we are.

Did you want to-

Okay. That’s fine.

I’ll start.

Are you-


Are you okay?

I don’t know.
Doesn’t seem…

I’m okay.


How are you?

No. Thanks.
I’m fine standing.

I’m still
and I’m happy
It’s a lovely stand.
And I don’t want
to go anywhere now.
But I know
you’re not one
to sit.
Unless you’re
and I’m afraid

I’m not entrancing.

And I’ll stand with you.
But I’m not good
at standing.
Better at standing
than sitting.
Not a sitter.
But not good
at standing.

I need to move.
I like a path
sprinkled before me
to find me
And I see too much
to find the straight line.

You’re a sprinkle,
a splatter,
a far and wide,
see what you can
where can you spread
your colors.

I want to spread
and I can’t
keep up
with your chaos.

A gift to watch
a joy to inspire
to muse
to see
as the first spectator
past the ropes.
But there’s a rope
and that means
I stand on this side.

My colors aren’t
ready yet.
Where we stand.

Where do we stand?

If I can’t get beyond the rope
I’m standing alone
at your beauty,
careful of
the taped-off edges.
at descriptions,
I don’t understand.


I stand.

Staring across the rope.

Applauding on my feet.
Begging to be seen.

From where
I stand.



My novel Drowning Above Water is now available through Amazon. 



Money where your mouth is.



In the seats, she sits
muscles close,
covered with
layers against the fright
of exposure.

She can’t do what
they …

Where do they hide
the view inside
from the back of the room?

The seams are all
she has
for protection
behind her seams
she seems

She holds the words
and directs the steps.

She says when they

And she pulls her knees
as the other she arches
from her
and they both
wish they had the words

to take away every word

she’s piled on
on top of
thin on top of
that isn’t deep enough.

Not enough to hide.
Not enough to…
Don’t take that off,
don’t take that away.

She moves like that
in her mind.
she gathers
the tokens,
the flattery,
the anxious
for the brass
she knows them to be.

She’s cold.
Her mind
She stops moving like them.
Starts not moving
like her.

She binds herself
constricting love,
breath, belief, trust;
where those dig in her ribs,
but al least she’s the one
pulling at the stays.
And that won’t hurt
as much as
a vacant chest.

for another dance,
another chance,
to care enough
to let even one
see her.


My new novel about vulnerability, exposure and regaining ownership of ourselves Drowning Above Water is available now through Amazon. 




I had every intention to handle this like a warrior.

A paint-covered, ladder-climbing, putty-knife-wielding warrior.

That’s not exactly how it all went.



Yes. That’s the after. I couldn’t do any more.

It looks like a preschool class painting their first flat for a school play.

But it was the best I could do. Multiple trips to fetch supplies I couldn’t afford. Almost as many panic flushes. I was done.

My best is not much. Obviously. I can write you a poem about patching a ceiling but I can’t do it in practice.

Was this mess at least better than when I started?




I don’t know anymore.

The biggest hurdle was that I was going to handle this myself. And by handle, I meant just getting on with it. Not whining and whinging and lambasting my self-worth with the same enthusiasm that I used when wielding the blade of a paint scraper and the sanding block.

That hurdle, I instead smacked and took down with me as I tumbled to the ground. I sent endless texts begging for encouragement. To the point where I was disgusting myself, so I can’t image how pissed the receiver of my depressing messages must have been. I was so furious at myself that I didn’t know how to do this, how to fixed this, that I failed at something else. I

I do this every time. Every time. No matter what bobble or hardship or uncalm sea I encounter. Every little thing. Every time.  And this wasn’t even a crisis. When I came home to find this, now that was a crisis.

(For texture and amplification, it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit at the time outside the house.)

Did I handle both of these problems?

Sort of.

The heat now works and there’s not as much of a crater situation on the ceiling.

Did I beat myself up about my complete buggering of these projects?


Did I deserve that?

No comment.

Did I then beat myself up about my weight and my complete lack of musical or artists talent and my shit parenting job and…

Fine. You bet your sweet ass I did. Gave myself a proper run down.

I really need to stop this. It helps no one. It makes me feel worse and by doing it again, and again, and fucking again, I will push away the precious few that are willing to support me when I have legitimate crises, not just a few floating flakes of glossy enamel.

If I can kinda fix paint and more or less manage a broken furnace, why can’t I give myself a break?

That should be the easy part. Just taking away the labor I swing day in and day out that effectively chips mw down to a rubbled pile of nothing.

Even if I have nothing good to replace the absence.

A  wrong act continually enforced to the detriment of all is worth the struggle to repeal it.

The floor is open to motions.


Floor…does that look like a hole in my floor???