I hope you hear music when you see me.
If I’m to be your woe,
I want there to be a chorus of voices
Fearfully announcing my passage.
There should be *Sephiroth* levels of drama!
I walk in slow motion when you see me at a distance.
You feel your throat open subconsciously when I look at you,
Brain preparing to suck in the needed air for flight.
If you’re choosing me as a nemesis,
Put flames on my fingertips.
Put me in a powerful outfit – whatever threatens you most;
A 90s era coat and a scar, or Lululemon pants and a latte.
I want my eyes to be a color that make me better than everyone else.
If I am to be your unforgivable.
You better make me goddamn unforgettable.
Because I do not play parts lightly
And as the saying goes:
You’re only as good as your villain.
I don’t think I have any good enemies like this suggests. It occurred to me, however, that if I was to be cast as someone’s evil, I would want to be a good, strong evil, you know? Why be a weak villain? No one wants to to be the second tier goon…
Apropos of very little,
Prompted by the need for a historical, declarative, emergency statement in the event of my capture,
My mind builds a vignette
Molly and Thomas.
A grey tabby lady with a calm demeanor and a thin tail,
A grey tabby boy with a white chest and long whiskers.
Sitting next to me on an ugly brown couch, Dad’s favorite.
We’re watching “A League of their Own.”
I get so frustrated at the end I slapped my hand down and sent Molly skittering.
My mother scolds me for my temper.
I wonder – will this mise en scène be so clear when the camouflaged men stand over me and ask me authentication questions? “What were the names of your cats in 1990?”
Will I remember that raggedy brown couch?
Will I feel that tuft of white fur?
Or will I simply stutter out in fear their names like anchor points
Holding my mind down in chaos?
The crystalline historical certainty of Molly and Thomas,
Reaching through time to verify me as their human.
Every Sunday there is a man screaming at the sea.
At dawn, I hear him yelling,
Voice straining violently
As the low tide waves do nothing
To drown him out and let me sleep.
I want to warn him that this weekly ritual is probably bad
For those fragile little threads in his throat.
I can hear them break over the surf,
Especially when he reaches the top of his register.
It sounds like losing one’s balance.
At first I thought he was drunk.
After the third time I thought it was rage,
Then grief after the fourth,
And then back to alcohol-induced.
I went to yell to the man,
But saw he had headphones in and could not hear me.
“Madam, il le fait pour chanter mieux,”
The guard says at my shoulder.
He grabs his throat in his fingertips
And makes a gesture that suggests strengthening.
I nod as though I understand this logic.
“C’est le sel – c’est bon pour la voix.”
If I wanted to sound like beef jerky
I too would scream at the ocean.
The salt would cure my throat so that it never got tired.
In front of us, just out of earshot
The man keeps sing-screaming to the endless ocean
Off-rhythm and Off-key
Hoping to have a voice as tough as the surf.
I see us express our sadness
Only to be told told we are sad about the wrong thing
Or that our grief is misplaced
To the sense that a perspective is skewed
The wool has been pulled over one’s eyes
Leaving them to weep as babies do
When mommy leaves the room.
How lovely, to be smart enough to know
The best use of other peoples’ tears.
Grief is not a zero sum game,
Nor is empathy.
There is no scale of proper sorrow.
Her dead cat and his dead faith are allowed to coexist.
If anything, since neither exists anymore,
They are more alike than they were before.
Pause before you kick out a pithy reminder
Of how misguided those tears are.
Allow for personal mourning.
At least for forty-eight hours, please.
I found myself really bothered by the backlash on my social media about those of us sad for Notre Dame. One post in particular drew my attention – a smug little tweet assuming that the people weeping for Notre Dame were blind and callous towards the immigration crisis or other tragedies. No. No! Grief is not a zero sum game (the inspiration line for today’s piece). I can recognize tragedy regardless of where it is.
(I know the backlash is more towards the Church / obscenely rich people – fine with that. But don’t lump all the mourners into an ignorant glob.)
4.12 I cannot find the rhythm in the day (A sonnet)
I cannot find a rhythm in the day
As gentle fingers probe along my skin
To coax the rotting problem on its way
I cannot stand outside and reach within.
A tiny discontented grain of thought
As light as finches dancing on a bough
Is traipsing through where it should not
And leaving little cracks along the brow.
Now blood does not move merry in the vein
Pulsing angrily beneath the eyes
My fingertips work circles, but in vain
Then defeated reach out for supplies.
When headaches think they’ve just secured the win
That the is the time to take the aspirin.
I can hear the busker approach across the sand
I’ve heard his tinkering from up the hill
And prayed he was luncheon entertainment only.
Sadly, he parks next to our umbrella
And starts to sing Bienvenue, bienvenue
Bienvenue a Guinee
I want to be lulled to rest by the crashing incoming tide
Not by an improvisational musician Bienvenue a Guinee
Bienvenue a la plage
It’s not an unpleasant sound, the guitar
Metal picks suspended over a gourd-like belly Bienvenue a la plage
La plage est jolie-eh-eh
But it’s tin whistle plinking
Plink, plunk, plink, plunk Bienvenue Monsier
I sit up abruptly and shove money at him
It disappears instantly and slyly into that big-bellied instrument Merci, merci Madame
Atop the granite stone I sit down hard.
The climb up has been long.
Hassan, our guide, smiles and squats down gently near me
“Are you tired?” He asks from his ledge.
I nod with as much honesty as I can muster.
He cups his hands and claps them in front of his face
Pushing the air out through his four strong teeth.
I stare at him, dumbfounded.
He looks at me, confused.
Don’t I understand?
“It’s to give you power!”
He goes back to clapping his hands at me,
his air echoing through the canyon around us.
And I desperately search for whatever power
I’m meant to absorb.
Finally, out of guilt towards a grandfather figure-
“It worked!” I announce, standing.
I cannot disappoint Hassan.
Indulgence is a kind of power.