let us soften

September 22, 2016 § 1 Comment

Fear, anger and uncertainty are escalating, and lately, I find myself caught between extremes of being scared shitless, profoundly sad, and trying to hold onto enough courage to stay present, listen, and take action.

But this I am certain of:

Abusers and misogynists and bigots count on our silence. They count on our fear. In our silence and fear lies their opening for greater intimidation and exploitation.

PLEASE do not allow yourself to be silenced. We have struggled to claim our voices and no one has the right to shame us for having found them. In telling our stories and claiming our voices we’ve had an epic impact in claiming equal rights and will continue to do so until equality holds all our names. Please let us not become divided against ourselves and retaliate with assumptions, combative words and aggressive actions. Please let us go out of our way to help each other and convince each other we are resilient and extraordinary. Please let us stay the course, however uncertain, and raise each other up with gentleness, sensitivity, and love.

PLEASE let us soften, and trust our fundamental goodness.

 

 

 

 

 

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alchemy

August 17, 2016 § 1 Comment

                                                    pen on journal

 

Sometimes when I write, form insists itself upon content

with such confidence and grace,

I can’t help but feel I’m part of a sacred thing.

 

Mouse Trip

July 25, 2016 § 7 Comments

                                                                   mouse

 

Years ago, I wrote out a list of my strengths with the misguided notion that if I reviewed the list often enough, I could actually rewire my genetic tendency toward perpetual self-doubt.

One Saturday, a week after my fiftieth birthday, I’d felt imperfect as hell and pulled out the list. I’d had a hard week. Among other things, I’d forgotten my address while filling out an AARP form—it was as if touching the form itself, had flipped off my hippocampus and I was now forever chained to the sinking ship of memory loss.

I stared at my list of strengths and felt anxiety rather than comfort. The problem was not that I knew these words were actually reframed flaws—pigheadedness disguised as confidence, indecisiveness spun into flexibility. The problem was that most of my strengths required my mind, and I knew where that was headed.

Mid-way down the list I noticed the word compassionate. Aha! There we go! A trait that evolves from the heart—an organ I was still feeling pretty good about. Empowered, I strategically moved “compassionate” to the top of my list, and committed myself to deepening its development.

My shit shield now sturdy enough to re-enter the world, I headed out to the farmer’s market to feel the love. The sun beamed enthusiastically, so I cranked down the roof of my VW bug and cranked up Marley’s, Love Is My Religion.

I’d driven maybe a ½ mile down the road, when out of the slits in my car hood, a small rodent emerged. We made eye contact. He stood stock-still for only a second before leaping onto my side of the windshield. He stared straight at me. I could see the tiny pink suction cups between his sharp little nails and then—scritchscratchscritch, he began to climb up the windshield, his quivering nose in the air.

I knew what he wanted.

He wanted to bite me with his pointy little teeth, his secret rabies injectors. He didn’t seem the type who cared a bit if he caused an accident, maybe even a death. His predicament was making him irrational and I could see it on his face.

“Holy shit!” I yelled as he climbed higher and higher up the window. I couldn’t bring the car top up because I had to be stopped to do that, and I couldn’t stop because there was a ditch to my right and a line of cars behind me. And then, I had a brilliant idea—the windshield wipers! I flipped them on– but what does the little vermin do? He grabs on with one hand, ok claw, but god those claws look like the kind of tiny horror story fingers you’d see in a Stephen King movie.

So there he was flying back and forth, back and forth, across the windshield like a trapeze artist receiving a good day’s pay and fulfilling a life’s dream. I switched the wipers to hyper-fast mode. He accepted the challenge and grabbed on with both claws, his legs and tail flailing out behind him, and his face stretched out tight as a Kardashian’s.

“Alright you little Willard wannabe,” I shouted while trying to stay in my lane and wondering if this was how I was going to die—fighting off a mouse in my car. Time to get serious. I pressed the window washer button. Through a soapy blur I saw the flying fugitive release the wipers and land back on the windshield directly facing me, blinking the water out of his eyes in such a sorrowful way that I turned off the washer, wipers and Bob Marley. Clearly, love was not my religion.

I watched as the mouse, a glaring metaphor for my absolute lack of compassion, slipped backwards on his hairless tummy, his drenched body sliding down the hood, neck and arms stretched out wide as he tried to hang onuntil finally, he disappeared over the edge.

I arrived at the market and sat in my car. Guilt and doubt taking their rightful places. What kind of monster had I become? I used to be the one in the room who would catch a wayward fly in a tupperware rather than smash it with a swatter, who would fling the winged creature out the window calling, “fly little fly, fly!”

Then, on the ground in front of me, I saw the mouse standing on his hind legs with his back toward me. He cocked his soggy head side to side and ran straight for the cheese booth.

That’s when it hit me. This wasn’t about me. It was about the mouse. He probably had persistence at the top of his list.

This Is Who We Are

June 13, 2016 § 8 Comments

who we are

(in response to the mass shooting in Orlando, Sunday morning, June 12th, 2016)

This is who we are:

WE are thousands lined up to give our blood to the wounded.

WE are first responders, grief counselors, doctors, nurses and friends who carried dying friends and lovers out of a bloody nightclub.

WE are millions of human beings who cried and screamed and raged and hugged and spoke up yesterday as if we’d lost our own children, friends and lovers.

We are millions who love our LGBTQ sons and daughters and friends and lovers fiercely and don’t you dare hurt them again.

WE are the president who declares WE WILL STAND TOGETHER IN SOLIDARITY, NO MATTER RACE, GENDER, RELIGION OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION.

WE are millions who are profoundly sorry we didn’t’ wake up sooner, who are only now recognizing the sleep in our privilege, the blood on our own hands.

We are millions signing petitions, calling legislators, voting, protesting, writing, painting, filming, creating, and speaking up to stop the bleeding.

WE are millions who won’t stop loving each other hard, until everyone is safe and sound.

We are survivors desperately trying to find a language that might somehow bring us all a little closer together.

THIS IS WHO WE ARE.     -anna

american dream

June 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

torn flag

 

nobody can hear anybody anymore

everybody blade sharpening

 

and i am running to saltwater

bleeding point of origin

receptacle of memory

ears lips heart hands arms legs

woman wide open

 

and the cutting edge goes hush-hush

 

waves

 

 

 

 

 

poetry workshop

April 25, 2016 § 11 Comments

                                   

poetry sign

 

 

 

 

 

note the syntax and nuance

the shady overtones

threatening to expose

your hiding places

 

take away anything that doesn’t bear critical weight.

 

strike the palms together and feel the beat

of letters shaping words, shaping musical notes

it’s not only what a word means

but what does it sound like?

 

consider this hyphen-

this em dash—

this comma,

the way                       white                          space

 

controls

 

time

and generates moments of                                      suspension

 

sometimes, images talked to death

the beady eye of a whale

the wheels of an old Chevy

water split open

 

wind your way,

toward a unified purpose

drift into a riff

but when a poem goes off tangent                                     so goes emotion

 

Ezra Pound said to go in fear of abstractions.

 

you can’t touch freedom

but you can touch a ripped American flag

and smell its bloody stripes

and hear a soldier weeping for his mother

 

“At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet,” said Neruda.

 

there is strength in not knowing

what the poem means

not pretending you understand

its source, its heat, its inherited tongue

 


 

trust your writing

March 30, 2016 § 2 Comments

girl writing

 

trust your writing.

 

even if you don’t want to go there

even if you don’t know where the beginning is

or the middle or the end

 

even if it’s hard

because there will be days

when it’s fucking hard

 

that thing you want to censor?

don’t

 

that’s where your art lives

 

writing is a a powerful thing

allow it to take you somewhere

allow it to care for you

 

trust your writing.