a warning

i hold my pain
cupped in my hands
a wounded bird
my pain is a precious thing
i hold it close
protected.

i was reading “pleasantville” by attica locke which takes place at election time in 1996. the epilogue is then at election time in 2000. reading that brought back a sharp pain with the memory of that election–not so much how it took weeks to claim a winner–but how during those weeks, my democratic sister got married and at the rehearsal dinner, my republican brother went around asking everyone who they voted for.
when he asked me, i told him, “ralph nader” he said, “i have no response for that” (or something to that effect which made me laugh.)
2000 was the first major “stolen” election in the u.s. that i know of. my brother worked for the republicans, worked for the bushes, as an IT guy. it wouldn’t be until 2008, the day he was killed, that i would learn just how involved he was.
november is his birth month.
december is his death month.
all this came up in my chest, in my heart, just reading a work of fiction referencing that 2000 election.
and i marveled at my response to the pain.
i gathered it up, holding it close, making sure i could still feel it. i don’t want to lose that pain. that pain has meaning. it has significance. it is all i have left of my brother.

less than zero

it’s like when you’re waiting
for him to call
so you can break up with him
…but he never calls
& you realize
for how much you just
hate him
for breaking your heart
he barely thinks anything
of you….

i’m sad. going through a friend break-up. we have been friends for almost 10 years. we had a rough patch some months back when i freaked out & withdrew…from her as well as most of my life.
but then i apologized & tried to make it work, but she up & left me for another man…er…i mean, she left me for a man. a relationship. a whole family.
she left me. i’ve been cut right out of her life.
just like that.
you know what? it fucking hurts. it fucking hurts to realize how little you actually mean to someone….

i’m not sure why my illustration turned out so sunny. maybe i’m trying to cheer myself up?

day of the dead

drinking a whiskey
with my dead
listening to echoes
in my head
light a candle
pour the drink
leave the music on
it’s too quiet to think

for clear reasons, i rarely rhyme my verse. but this one just kind of happened that way.

remember that time i spent the summer living on the land of a member of the ho-chunk nation? a man named reykunami? he spent most of the summer complaining to me about my friend whom he was dating on & off. their on & off again dating cycle ended two days after i wrote this art journal page. she texted me to tell me he had taken her out for margaritas to celebrate the day of the dead. so i wrote this verse. two days later she texted me to tell me he had died. he just laid down on his couch on a warm november day and never woke up again.
the ho-chunks call this “walking on.”
reykunami walked on.
i have conflicted feelings. he was a bit of a son of a bitch & reminded me a lot of dusty in his manipulations…but he had a good heart & did a lot for the rights of nature… and he led such a colorful life!
next year i will make sure to share my whiskey with him.

letting go

we should be proud
of ourselves
that we gave it
one
last
try
we should not
be so hard
on ourselves
for failing at something
we had little chance
of winning
you & i
just do not
belong
together
we should accept
let go
move on
& just stop
fighting
a truth we may not
agree with
but a truth
nonetheless.

i wish i could say this to him. but i am at the point where i am not even able to talk to him. anything i say–everything i say, he finds a way to twist into something ugly & profane.
i find
i just have to say less & less.
which drives him crazy. that is not my intent. i wish we could have a conversation & work things out.
but after enough circles, i really can’t see a happy ending for us.

i’ve already cried over you

so my mom died in january
& i didn’t find out until march
& now her funeral is scheduled for next week.
though i vowed not to go to her funeral should she die, i am going. me, the minions, & the dad are trekking down to texas.

this “poem” is a string of things said between my mom & me. not really a conversation. i’m not sure we ever actually had a conversation.

my mother

almost one year exactly
after the death of my father
i found out
about the death of my mother
though she had been dead
almost
two months…
now i am
an overgrown
orphan.

heavy

when someone close to you
dies
it becomes part of your description
she has brown hair
a nice smile
and her brother is dead

birthdays are the hardest
his last one
I didn’t know
it was the last
his voice sad on the telephone
my pledge to keep in touch
this time

we live in a world
where I can obsessively search for
intimate details of his death
available in short video
burning plane
gray matter splattered on a playground
his last words, “oh, fuck.”

notorious IT guy for the other side
the Forrest Gump of stolen elections
everything reminds me
of him
the sound of a single engine plane
sad songs on the radio
politics, Christmastime, and charismatic men

I drink Irish whiskey this time of year
but it was Scotch at his wake
four years now
four years since the last election
four years since the plane crash
a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream
murder Republican style

when someone close to you
dies
do you let it redefine you?
hello, I’m Connell
a mama, a student, an artist
let me tell you
about my dead brother

(written in 2012)

death of a turkey…

when i was a kid
there was so much violence
so much abuse
so much animal death
my pets gone–just like that
that i learned to disconnect
to stop loving
to stop caring
to stop bonding
and as an adult this continued
this disconnect
i had trouble with relationships
sure that they would leave
or god forbid they had self-destructive tendencies
it was too much for me
i disconnected
i could not bond
and i would try to have pets as an adult
but it was easier to hate them then to love them
love is a fragile thing
so easily killed
i was repulsed by neediness…repulsed by being needed
i closed down
shut off
i often wondered if i could ever even have kids?
was i capable of love at all?
sometimes i still wonder….

shortly after the above picture was taken, a raccoon killed one of my turkeys and injured the leg of another. i named the injured turkey isabeau and took her into my house. i dressed her wound, fed her blue berries and honey and put apple cider vinegar in her water and bathed her when she got too stinky.
months went on. spring turned to summer. her leg healed, but she stopped walking. her non-injured leg became palsied. one wing became disfigured by her always laying on the same side. i would try to put her on her other side–or in a sling–but nothing seemed to help.
and while her brothers & sisters grew huge and mature

she remained frozen in her juvenile state, a third the size of them.

i felt myself turn off. i mean, i cannot pinpoint the exact moment, but it happened. i started being annoyed by her. frustrated with her. dreaming at night that she finally got up and walked again, while watching every day as she just kind of flopped around. i admired her perseverance…but in the end, she just gave up.

i just wish i hadn’t given up first.

i thought i would be relieved when she died. she had become a burden…a difficulty…one more thing to take care of on a busy day. i mean, i knew she would die eventually. there was no way she could continue on like that–what if she tried to lay an egg–that alone would kill her–painfully. she was so vulnerable….
and now she is no longer suffering….

so why do i feel like i failed her? because my heart shut down? because i could no longer muster the energy to care about her even though i was still caring for her?

i don’t like that i learned to shut down when there was danger of pain by abandonment (be it death or whatever.) i want to feel the pain & live through it. i want my heart to warm back up and not be so quick to disappear.

i cried today. i did not expect to cry over my dead turkey.
but, like most mourners, i am not crying for her…i am crying for me.
as i try to assure my kids we did everything we could for her…in my cold heart i feel as if i should have done more…i wish i were capable of having done more.

 

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