Dig It Out

The universe gifted me a gorgeous poem from Amanda Lovelace.

Gifted is my attempt at levity and positivity.

And not being so much of a face-down mess.

I was trolling Instagram and drowning in the thick, dirty seas of jealousy and I saw her post.

I love this poet.

I love her work. And her truth. And her anger.

Mostly her anger.

This one reached out and grabbed me.

It speaks about the truth of knowing that no one else can dig out our sadness.

I was hit in the heart with the proverbial blade of that spade.

My vision of that is that no one can take away what another person left behind. That rancid trash has been heaped, and it’s staying. No new neighbor is going to help haul that away. Your mess now.

Another take, is that can the same person return to the site where they dropped hurt and heaviness and take it away.

One they’ve left it, they’ve left it. Roots are set.

Their removal tools will never be as sharp and quick as their planting rig. Your mess now.

You need to fire up your own chain saw to tear that fucker out.

Dig it out

The shit and sadness left

Let them lease the land

Tender and toiled

Turned over and

Spread with shit

To make the hardest thick.

And now I play farmer?

I kill things that depend on the ground.

I don’t cultivate them.

So what do I do with

This stony fill?

Mound it intro a gravestone,

Leave it for dead?

Play house and

Put up a foundation?

Lug it around for days

And days

And days

Until you forget

What it was like to walk around

Without the weight of a corpse

In your soul?

I can’t recommend that.

Too fucking hard.

I’m old and my joints

will not oblige.

They won’t haul it away.

And you can’t take it with you.

So leave it.

Dig it out.

Make a messy, gnarly pile.

Let the maggots and the beetles

Have their day.

Dig it out.

Leave it there.

Don’t look at it again.

But take the shovel.

Would Just

Thinking a lot about not fitting.

In place.

In arms.

In hearts.

How we say we’ll be happy if we “would just” …

We lose so much light in the cave of

would

just.

Would Just

You are

You would be

So perfect

If you would just

Adjust the smallest

Turn of your phrase

And the cut of your dress

Dress not for me

It’s for them

But so that I can see

See how much you could

Accomplish

Could if you would

Just attend

To the bends of

My will

Will you be available

Asking out of

Expectation

Not anticipation

Because the answer

Is no

Taking back you

For

I

Know already what I have to do

Who I need to be

Because that’s not on

Your list

Mind

So I persist

Me

And my heart

And my dreams

Fixed on our shelf

Because yourself

And your matter

Are what matters?

Time to scatter that

Shelf to the floor

Remind

I

Eyes to see and remember

The parts of me

that would

just

Make magic and

Absolution

Fulfill and

dissolution of fears

And defenses

Cause applause and

Reverence’s if you

I

Would just

Believe that

there isn’t perfect

If you would just

But there is beauty

And awe and

Spectacular love in

I

So if you

I

Would just

Trust

In me

That

Would

Just

Be

everything.

And I

I would just

Be

Perfect.

Thirteen Steps to Christmas

 

 

Steps to Christmas

 

To be a child alone at Christmas

Waiting on a step

For a parent,

For a present,

For this day to sparkle like

The songs and the lights

 

On two trees

One real and substantial

The other

Oh-so-artificial

In its attempts to

Mimic real

Function and beauty.

 

Must be so frustrating,

Waiting on those steps.

 

My thirteen crooked,

Dusty, thread-bare ones

To their twelve evenly

Planed pine planks,

 

And later

Alone in the back seat of cars

Mine, his

 

Looking at the decorated doors

Down the road

Back the same again.

 

A different Santa

A different holiday waiting at each end.

 

Sitting on opposite steps

Staring out opposing windows

 

Dreading goodbye

Eager for hello

 

So when the last is opened

And no one is playing

Around your tree

And your steps are empty,

Except for you,

 

And you just might stay there

Until December 27th

Because that when you get your Christmas,

You want to burn

That fake plastic tree

To a melted mound

Dense enough to choke a reindeer. .

 

This happens every holiday

Every season

Every day.

 

Lovers

Fighters

Families

Chosens

 

Separated by steps

And steps

Climbed up

And fallen down.

 

Every one

A mile

And a ragged breath

Until the next one.

 

Where I don’t have a leg to stand on

Because he’s a year older

And there is no Santa

And he’s ascending beyond

 

So, I sit on the steps

Waiting.

 

I’ll bring g a pillow next time.

 

My carpet is old and thin.

Maybe bring coffee.

Or better, wine.

Some yarn to tangle the time

Until my Christmas.

 

And this year,

Maybe a gift.

Maybe someone to wait with.

 

So I’m not waiting.

 

Living.

Step

By step.

 

Letting the

weight

wait

be taken on one leg

before pushing off on the next.

 

If he’s willing.

 

If we’re willing.

 

To take steps.

 

Steps toward.

 

My steps.

 

My new novel Drowning Above Water is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon. 

It’s Always Something

Like many women of my rapidly advancing age, I loved Gilda Radner. I watched old SNL skits on VHS, while eating popcorn with my dad. He and Gilda helped me learn what funny was. 

When I later became a reader, I devoured her memoir “It’s Always Something”, probably still while eating popcorn. The book was funny and heartbreaking. A passage always stuck with me. 

When Gilda was advancing down the floor, dancing with cancer, she told of lying in bed at night with Gene Wilder. She relayed her memory of once again crying, being scared and needing someone to hold her and make it all okay. 

She revealed, to my teenage disgust, that on one dark and lonely night, Gene could no longer do those things. He too was tired. He was scared. He needed someone to rub his own cheek with words of solace, and make it all okay. 

How dare he! I spat and eye rolled and huffed as only a disappointed privileged teen can. How could he ever consider not being there to the very last curl of his hair for Gilda Radner!

I didn’t get it. 

Now I do. 

I watched my own dad die of cancer. I watched my mother care for him as he slowly did. My father needed the physical care. The mental care. 

But so did my mother. 

It’s not easy to be the caregiver or the partner. I know that. Sometimes, it really is easier to be the patient. As hard and callous as that sounds. 

I watched her do it before for him. Before cancer. She laid with him through anxiety and mental illness. I know there were nights that she didn’t have any more to give. When she was bone-tired from her feet to the end of pin-straight hair. When she needed someone to tell her it would be okay. 

There was no one. 

Last night, I lay there like my dad. 

I was the one hurting. 

Again. 

And I was the one who asked to be held and comforted and coddled. 

Again. 

And I never thought for a moment to consider if the one I was asking might not need some care, too. 

They did. 

I forget. I avoid. I neglect. Not on purpose. Not at all. But because while anxiety and depression hurts. And hurts. And then hurts even more. To have your own brain and body rebel and scream lies. It hurts. I was too busy hurting to see. And remember. 

It hurts to be the one watching. 

It hurts to give and give and never get any return. To reaffirm and encourage and try to lift up someone who seems to only want to drag themselves as far down in the pits as their claws will carry them. 

And that’s what I do. What many of us with unquiet minds do. And sometimes we bring the ones holding us down with us. 

Because it is always something. It’s work. It’s a kid. It’s a bill. It’s a failure. It’s a successs that’s not success enough. It’s a wonderful weekend of love and magic that your brain tells you to fight against for no good reason, only that you can’t believe it actually happened. 

Today, I want to remember. To be thankful for the love I take that is so freely given. Again and again. Even when I don’t see or believe it. To see, really see when someone is watching me and maybe hurting too. I want to go into the pit alone if I need, but alone. And I want to have strong, free arms to grab hold, to keep them from going into the same dark. 

That’s what love is. 

Being there. 

Seeing. 

Believing. 

Remembering every little something.

Empty Egg (or how to make your own coffee)

I have a problem with jealousy. It’s not a small problem. It’s not an idiosyncrasy or a cute quirk. It’s a looming, strangling flaw that has suffocated more relationships than I’d like to admit. Most of them, to be honest. Okay. All of them. And the ones it hasn’t killed, it’s prevented. No one wants to be new friends with an asshole.

My therapist (yes, I’m that girl. I’m starting a paragraph with “my therapist”, but come on. Look around you. Maybe more people should be doing this.) gave me a metaphor. He’s big on them and they tickle me.

This one involved brunch foods.

He really gets me.

First, we talked about coffee. The gist was that I’m an empty coffee cup. It’s my job to see that there is coffee in my cup. Not the cook’s. Not the waitress’. Mine. Others cannot be my coffee. They can be my Splenda. They can be my half and half. They can be my light soy foam. They can enhance, delight, make more aromatic and delicious. But other people cannot be the coffee. I have to be the coffee.

Next, we talked about eggs. My therapist described me as being a beautiful painted egg, artistic and engaging. But most painted eggs are hollow, the innards blown out through a tiny hole in the bottom. This makes them veneer thin and fragile. The slightest tap can shatter them. They are gorgeous. And the slightest wind will eradicate them.

That’s what happens to me. I want someone else to fill my mug.  If I encounter the slightest contrary force, I’m a mess of splinters. I’m a failed breakfast.

To get through life, I need coffee and eggs without the shell. And I need to be the one to order and make them.  I can’t let other people be my happy. I have to find or if I can’t find it, manufacture my own happy. If I can do that, fill the space with substance that sustains me, maybe I won’t be so easily broken.

Here’s the bug in that particular batter: when you are a parent, you rarely get to chase after your own fulfillment.

Now, I know that sounds awful. It sounds callous and selfish. As a parent, aren’t we told we should be filled with indescribable, ever-mounting daily joy, all the time, just because we have a child?

What if you’re not?

Don’t get me wrong. I love my son. With my entire soul. I love being with him. His laugh lights up my universe. When he’s not with me, it feels like my heart is bopping around the world without me. It’s crushing to go to sleep knowing he’s not in the next room.

But, the contrary is equally as strong and true.  Because I am a mother and I am committed to that job, and to raising a strong, capable, happy kid, I am usually unable to pursue my own happy.

Because simply being a mom isn’t enough to make me happy.

That’s horrible. It sounds horrible in my head and it’s horrible to see in print. But that’s what it is.

It hurt when I had to give up acting to be a mom. I resent that I can’t buy a decent camera to work on the photography I love because I have to pay for braces. And I am as bitter as that coffee I expect someone else to pour me every time I miss an opportunity to make a piece of art because I have to be at a school meeting or sit at an unending baseball practice.

And I’m not even good. It’s not as if the world is minus a master because I don’t have the time to put out another poem. But I feel it. And every time I see a friend or even my wonderful, generous partner succeed at their crafts, my own envy over takes me. I become as dark and toxic as yesterday’s espresso. It’s insufferable. I hear the words I say and I want to tear out my own tongue in disgust. That’s not me and I hate that woman. But she appears almost every day. I’m want to kill her.

The bleak reality is that there’s no good fix. I won’t spend less time and effort on my son. And I can’t put any more time into me. Therefore, I will continue to fall into deep caverns of rage, sadness and fuming jealousy.

And I know these are uptown problems. I can’t begin to even pretend I know what actual struggle is. If I was faced with the horrors people across this world are dealing with, I’d crumble. I’m not brave. I’m silly and vain and weak. I’m the woman Ruth Bader Ginsburg orders for brunch and spits out into her perfect napkin because goddesses like her don’t have time for slimy, fatty  omelets like me.

So, here with the computer and the silly words it is. Putting something out. Trying not to fall apart. Egg in the pan. Shells in the compost. Coffee in the cup. Trying  to add some light to the darkest  brew. I have to make my own coffee. Somehow find a way. I have to fill my egg with something. Because I don’t want to be a shell. I want to hold a life. Mine.

 

 

Alyssa Herron is a mom and author. The caliber of either is up for debate. Her new novel is available at Amazon.

 

Sitting Out

 

Sitting Out

Hello, Friend

I see you’ve come around again.

Was beginning to wonder if you

hadn’t forgotten your way here.

 

But I knew you’d remember.

I remember.

That time in fifth grade, when we first met,

when I wrapped you around my waist,

tight and knotted.

Because I was afraid I’d forget.

To hold in, to hide,

to stay the way I was,

when I was small and good.

And I remember when that boy,

the nice one,

wanted to steal his dad’s car

just to try and help.

He didn’t.

He couldn’t.

I remember.

Trying to jump off the chair.

Trying to hide them beneath my socks.

Trying to hide, and then hurry.

Trying to hide within a story,

because you can’t tell that tale

the first time,

if you ever want there to be a second.

All it took was a second.

Trying to fit into a box that wouldn’t have me.

Letting people fit inside that didn’t really want me.

 

I remember trying.

I remember fighting.

I remember giving up.

 

It’s easy when you’re here, friend.

We know each other.

Our cells know the steps of the dance

and we move together,

without needing music.

Because we’ve rounded this room together

for a long time.

And I don’t know how to move

without you.

 

But I wish I could.

 

Because you’re not good, friend.

You’re not a good partner in this

collapse of two.

Because only one of us ever falls.

 

You’re possessive and clawing,

You take over my soul and I can’t breathe.

When you fill my head with your thoughts

of not good enough,

of she’s better,

of he doesn’t love you,

of you should just give up,

 

I can’t hear the music

and despite rehearsal

I can’t remember the steps.

 

I don’t know where to go.

I don’t know where I’m supposed to be.

The spotlight is blinding.

 

I’ve lost so many days with you.

Lost people.

Lost myself.

 

And every time you leave,

the sun comes back,

I say, no, not again.

Because the gloaming

might be dark and cold

but it’s honest; and at least

it puts the shadows where you can see them.

But when you knock, you bring a

a flare of bright and heat.

So hot it chills.

So cold,

I answer,

swept into your arms again.

Sweating in an icy room,

being asked if I have a fever.

 

Because I know these false-caring arms,

I know they are not arms that hold,

to return life.

But ones that suffocate, to bring

Stopped breath.

And then

nothing.

 

So yes, hello Friend.

I see you’ve come around again.

I hear the music coming from behind you,

and I see you holding out your hand,

asking for another turn,

around our wooden floor.

nicked with heel marks,

worn smooth from years

of spins and shuffles and falls.

 

I’m turning off the sound,

even though it’s still rattling in my brain.

Probably always will.

And my feet will tap

to the ghost tunes of

the waltzes I can’t forget,

that left me gasping,

tired,

and bleeding.

 

But I can’t let you in.

I’m not dancing tonight.

 

I’m standing,

arm across the threshold,

giving myself a chance

to stand.

For me.

With me.

Willing to say goodbye.

For a chance at

an awkward, unsteady,

but real

hello.

 

To a life without you,

Friend,

For a life with me.

 

(Taking a break from the novel to consider my next work of a poetry collection. Stay tuned. And of course, the book Drowning Above Water still lives at Amazon.)

 

If You Can

Photo credit: C.K.

Let me know when you get home-

if you can.

I’d like to leave by 5 so get here by 4-

if you can.

It’s cold out here. Grab my sweatshirt from the chair-

if you can.

Just hold me again-

if you can.

Maybe can is too much.

Always asking for one or another
and then qualifying…

if you can.

And you don’t even hear it.

Of course they can-

can call and come and grab,

if they want.

Maybe they don’t want.                                                                                                         Maybe they can’t.
Maybe they’re tired ,
of calling and coming and grabbing
because you ask for it all the time,
expect it every time,
and never consider,                                                                                                                              for a time,

if they want.

Maybe that’s why-

why this whole tangle started,

opposite us at opposite ends of it,

the bite and the working ends of the rope,

knotting, twisting,
getting farther apart
with the same length of thread between us.

Because
if you can,
they can.

But You wouldn’t.
You don’t want to
You won’t ever want to.

But that doesn’t matter
because if you can,
they can.

Even if you don’t want,
they want,

and you not wanting,                                                                                                                   doesn’t make them want less.

Neither has anything                                                                                                                                 to do with can.

The converse, it has only to do with want.

Maybe doing so many cans
makes their want
that much more acute,
makes the want so much brighter and sharper,
and makes it ache so throbbing
and incessant that it veers from

can…

to want…

to need;

that space to
see and feel that

they can
so they will.

And you did.
You made it through
like I made it through
that messy war we made together.

Then you found it,
the real it,
not that make-believe
shit we heard about.

And I love that for you ,                                                                                                                    not you for that,
but there is still                                                                                                                                something that
is  loved
together,
which is irreplaceable
even if means crying
a lot
and smiling
a little.

We can do both.

But I do want.
This.
Don’t need.
Want.

And I’ll be here.
If you want, or don’t want,

Want, if you do.

Need, if you must.

And please stay-

if you can.