Confessions and regrets (Poem)

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(Photo by Soren Astrup Jorgenson)

I used to love you
God, I used to love you
when I was starving myself
and craving affection
I can’t even list the names of
the men i took to bed
wishing it had been you

Or maybe I remember more
than I’m letting on, maybe I
should give the world your number
so’s they can ask you what in the world
were you thinking being so cavalier
with a hungry heart lying prostrate at your feet

I used to pretend that once
the veil was lifted from your eyes and
for the first time see me as I was
and you’d say
“Oh, there you are, I’ve loved you forever.”
and time would lay down and be still
as you loved the feeling of other men’s
hands off my thighs

There was that time once in a restaurant
when the man you were talking to
what you thought was behind my back
came and sat caddie corner from our table
and that place where I used to pretend you loved me
died tragically between Hors Devours and
our main course
and I swallowed all of it down

I used to love you
God, I don’t think you can understand
how thirsty my soul was for the taste
of what contentment would feel like
you used to think you were so slick
but you weren’t – it was me, afterall,
sleeping with your best friend.

Til my lover comes back home (poem)

 

 

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(Photo by Taylor Durrer)

I can smell rain soaked earth
at five thirty in the mornin’
have my headphones in
two steppin’ to merry mystic music
as the night-wind is still
tangible  around me

Leash in hand, dog at my side
I mouth the lyrics as I walk
counting the footsteps as I step
in cadence with the Rhythm
its the replacement beat for the absence of my lover
who’s gone to work before the sun breaks over the horizon

I’m the king, however
Fred Astair nor Ginger Rogers
couldn’t hold a candle to the smile
slipping on my face this morning
I am the headliner, dog walker extraordinaire
present half of a heart half missing
catching cadence to Rock n Roll
til my lover comes back home

Time and Love (Poem)

April is national Poetry month and before I turn in, I was thinking about the relationship between love and time.

So I have this.

Love is an act of defiance
against the truth of life sweet and bitter realities
that says this person i will hold steady
here with me – with all that I am
and that will be enough
 
Exquisite in its mercilessness
this feeling invades our bodies down to
our finger tips
infusing us with strength and hope
and promises of a million tomorrows
 
But Love has a Rival
stoic and still and ever present and cool
to the touch as a washrag on the brow
of someone burning up with fever
rational and constant is this thing
called Time
 
Constant in it’s vigilance
Love rails often against its ever encroaching presence
sending sparks high up into the night sky
like a cowboy’s campfire that burns hot
at night but cools by mornings gray breaking dawn
 
when Time comes to touch
the inferno of our hearts with a steady careful hand
Love whimpers with each and every caress
but time also feels the deep cuts along
the molten heart now turned to stone
 
and respectfully acknowledges the fight
for each and every single beat as it
feels the remnant warmth echoing its truth
and for the briefest of moments Time loves
the way Love loves before settling back in its cool contemplative ways.
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(Photo: Jiyeon Park)

I remember (Poem for the Lost)

 

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(Photo by I’m Priscilla)

April is National Poetry Month and I had made a request of my friends to give me prompts to work with so I can write a poem for each day.

My friend Becky gave me a prompt that read, “Finding the strength to go on after our loved one dies.” She’d tagged several of her girlfriends who they themselves had lost spouses.

This was daunting. But I hope I did okay. Here’s the Poem.

 

I remember

I remember when you got down on your knee
When you held a little box out in front of you like an offering
To God above.
I remember the look of hopefulness and vulnerability in your eyes
And when I said, ‘Yes’, I remember holding your sweet face in my hands
As you cried.

I remember – when our first child was born
The panic in your face when I told you that time was fast approaching
I saw the blood drain from your face as the pain in my body
Cranked up into ungodly levels
And I remembered the awe on your face when you held our child for the first time

I remember the first time we got into a terrible fight, the hurt in your eyes
Slamming doors, both of us throwing words like daggers
and cold shoulder moments both of us wounded and suffering
relieved only by the lovemaking when we submitted and admitted that the fight we needed to have
was had, and the fever broken

I also remember the little things –
The way you smell, the way you felt, the way the bed springs groaned when you awoke in the morning
And the way you took your coffee.
I remember looking at your sleeping face, in the wee small hours of the morning
and smiling just a little
And kissing your warm cheek

And I remember the day you died
The shock of It all, whether a long illness or a sudden disappearance
Like a whiff of smoke that nothing could prepare me for.
I died along with you or at least that’s what it felt like
And I couldn’t figure out how such an exquisite pain wouldn’t
Allow me to lie down next to you for your final approach
To the throne of God
How was it that I was still able to breathe?

For the next several months – like a ghost I wandered
Half here – half there with signs of you abounded
In the pictures, and the clothes that you left in your closet
And the phone calls from your family, your friends, and your colleagues
“Yes, I’m fine.” And “The kids are okay.” And “Sure, I’ll see you at Christmas.”

But what hurt most of all is when something would happen
And I would turn to say, “Hey, love you’ll never guess who…”
Only to catch my breath as I suddenly remembered
I was speaking to an empty bed, chair, room.

After the initial shock of what I was doing
Left me sobbing and half out of my mind
I finished my sentence, “…. I ran into.” And proceeded to
Describe to you the scene like I’d done a million times before.

And there you were smiling, in my mind – still only half listening
Nodding here and saying, “Ah,” at exactly the right moment
So – what I really mean to say and I’m sorry that I waited
That it took me so long to figure out that you were here all the time

In the faces of our children, in the things you left behind you
In the friends and in the memories, that line the walls of our home
But the sweetest thing you gave me was the life we lived together
And the things that I remember – I remember all the time

Grey November Prayer (Poem)

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(Photo by : Todd Quackenbush)

https://unsplash.com/

November falling rain
with the leaves as slick as oil
the air crisp and clean burns my lungs
as the air is heavy with rain

a gray sheen lays wearily on the trees
and on the grasses, turning the lake to shale with white caps
wrapped up in loneliness a seagull cries out
it’s voice piercing the day like a dagger

I’ve come to the water’s edge
to breathe in the holiness of my surroundings
and feel the cold world seep through my shoes

there is no warmth but the warmth of my body
wrapped up and caved in on itself as I brace from the cold
my ears turned pink as if the wind has embarrassed me
as if the day knows my reasoning for being here

what is it I seek among the rocks and high grasses
another lonely soul
another figure with his hands shoved into his pockets?
his body emerging from the treeline?
or maybe a pair of brown eyes as warm as the inside of my Carhart with a jaw as firm as the concrete I stand upon?

And his hands, what of his hands? Warm and calloused? Will he smell of peppermint and something warmer? Will he be relieved to see me?

There on the lakeside, I pleaded
with the gray sky above me
for answers to unasked questions and for tenderness and mercy
I am answered only by the cry of the gull as the skies open up with a misty rain falling on the lone soul
as I stare out on a freshwater sea.

Between Us – My first foray into the World of Self-Publishing

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I am super excited about this.

Back Story: Last year, I think, I wrote a short story called “The Scarecrow” for Halloween and posted it for free on my Facebook Page, Goodreads Page, and blog. I really loved the story, I loved the freedom of writing something short and not having the pressure of sending it off to a publisher to wait the 9 weeks or so before I got word on whether or not it was approved.

I also liked the idea that I could be as crazily creative as I wanted to be without feeling the urge to have to explain myself to an editor etc.

This year, I wanted to do the same thing. However, my husband asked me ‘You work so hard on the stuff that you write, you spend hours plunking away at it, so why are you just giving it away.’ I guess he’s right. So this year, I decided to write another short story and self-publish it to Amazon.

And I realized a couple things

  1. I really appreciate the work my publisher puts into putting out novels. I had people volunteer to edit and volunteer to make cover art for me and I love them dearly for it. However, mistakes were made and some stuff was missed. It’s an imperfect book.
  2. I’m probably never going to be a J.K Rowling. And I have to be okay with that. I write a niche subset of a niche genre. And while my books are good (All above three stars in review) they don’t call to a large audience.
  3. This is something I think I am going to do every once in awhile. The Amazon experience is pretty painless. Load up this, fix this, do this, hit this button TA DA! And so, once in a while when I feel a short story going on in my head, I’ll throw it up on Amazon perfectly imperfect. Because, let’s face it, Amazon lets you do it for free, but editors, cover designers etc. are expensive. And for some, prohibitively so.

 

Anyway, if you like gay romance and spooky stories I have one for you. I am totally excited about this little story and look forward to writing more. Here’s the blurb:

When Jeremy, a tall, hunky, ladies man begins to explore his bisexual attractions, he realizes he loves his best friend and college roommate Roger.
Roger secretly loves Jeremy back but is holding on to a secret of his own. A terrible one.
On Halloween night both men are invited to a party where the truth of each other will be revealed in a horrific way. Will they survive a night of terror? Or will it rip them apart forever?

Buy the book by following the link. Thanks!

And most of all, Happy Halloween!

F.E.

Message in a bottle (I don’t know how many at this point…15, I think?)

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When love touches our lives for the first time, depending on the circumstances can be light as a feather, as concentrated as a pin prick, or as devastating to us as being t-boned by a semi truck.

Love can be on one hand the break in the clouds after a terrible storm when the clouds part and the sun’s golden rays break through in shafts of heavenly light, and it can be the storm itself.

Love can hurt. Nazareth was right. Love can be brutal.

And like Nadi Bolz-Webber in her book Pastrix makes clear, it hurts in the places in our lives where we didn’t love, or where we should have been loved.

This blog thing hasn’t been some fluffy ‘its been a journey of self-discovery crap’ thing although I was and am and continue to be on a journey of self-discovery, this blog has been a way for me to work through the problems in my head and put them out on paper. And most of the stories I’ve told, the small bits of my life that I’ve talked about, have focused on fundamentalism and my father.  But that isn’t the entire truth.

Last night after watching Tim Burton’s Sweeny Todd for the first (and last thank you very much) time, I walked away feeling terrible about the show, terrible about the theme, and terrible about having sat there and watched all of that tragedy unfurl in the midst of song. To me there was something foul and maybe even obscene about singing like that and then slitting someone’s throat. And then the pies.

But while I was in the shower ruminating over what I’d just watched – a lightning bolt struck me square in the chest. An aha, moment! I was t-boned by a semi of truth and not love.

((spoiler alert))

Sweeny Todd had help getting to the insane and musically talented serial killer that he became. And all in part because of a lie. His wife was not dead and his daughter wasn’t far away and even though terrible things had befallen all three, the worst was the betrayal of the woman who loved him. She lied to him. And because of that lie, he became the dreadful demon of Fleet Street.

And the little kid she rescued from the ‘Italian Barber’ and ultimately from Sweeney Todd himself, loved her. He figured out what Todd was, and wanted to protect her. And she was going to betray even him to his death.

I’ve been hyper focused on my father and the Fundamental Baptist Church and all of its excesses. But what I failed to do was love myself enough to allow myself to be him by that semi-truck a long time ago.

See, like that little kid, I loved my crazy mother. I wanted in my mind and in my heart , to redeem her. Sort of like she’s the wilting flower in the story and in need of rescue. That I sang to her, “Not while I’m around.”

But I wasn’t around, am not around, and she doesn’t need saving.

I did.

Because the truth of it is that yes, my dad beat me. The church reinforced the necessity of those beatings. But through it all, my mother liked to watch. And she often encouraged it to either happen or be the cause of it being made worse.

Suddenly a string of memory launched in my head, scenes I know too well, and behind the raised voices and raised hands was an encouragement for the voices to rise higher as well as the hands.I was overcome.  I had to call for my husband to help me out of the shower.

Yesterday I made the decision I should have made a long time ago. I blocked their phone numbers.

I have to love myself enough, now, to say goodbye. And it hurts. And I’m scared. I am now an intentional orphan.

Today I woke up not like I’d been hit by a train but feeling the feather’s touch of love, this time. Knowing that I have it in my life and in myself. It’s a strange feeling. I feel lighter somehow.

I’ll write more when I can

 

Message in a bottle (Part 5)

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The world is so beautiful. People are so beautiful. The ability for human beings to connect to each other in their shared humanity moves me to no end.  And it’s that connection that I have always craved. That moment when, despite our differences, we come together.

These things happen through music, art, poetry, – when someone professes their truth and work hard to show the tender most parts of them. When the observer or listener hears or see’s this effort they have a moment of “I get that.” And bingo, just like that, a connection is made and that’s a powerful thing. It’s a human thing.

I’ve been to concerts featuring Meatloaf and Tina Turner the latter was the greatest moment for me between father and son. I remember listening to her voice, listening to her rendition of The Beatle’s ‘Help’. It was slowed down and more gospel than rock and roll. And as her voice crescendoed I found myself floating away closer to heaven when she sang, “Help me if you can I’m feelin’ down. And I do appreciate you bein’ ’round. Oh, help me get my feet back on the ground. Won’t you please, please help me?”

And when my sister gave me my first CD of Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell 2, I found myself swept away when during Objects in the Rearview Mirror (may appear closer than they are) Jim Steinman tore through the piano after the second verse – and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. This song, this album, would follow me all through my life wherever I went and the song Objects, would be the inspiration for my second novel of the same name because the lines of the second verse spoke directly to me.

But it isn’t just through art that we find these connections.

When I was studying political science and history – I was coming across Supreme Court cases that touched my heart. Statements that were so shocking, in a pleasant way, to the senses, that Justice’s past had made in regards to Civil Rights – which should just be called Human Rights to get rid of such ambiguity – that I was amazed. And when Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Obergfell he wasn’t just speaking to America’s consciousness. He spoke to its soul when he said:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death (Emphasis Mine). It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right (emphasis mine).

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

This language while coming out of the Supreme Court, which reinforces an Aristotelian Conception that is our United States Constitution complete with a Supremacy Clause (and not based at all on The Bible) , while in a nation that separates church and state, still conjured up images of Eternity. This idea that Shakespear wrote about in sonnet 116 when he spoke of time’s bending sickle compass, “…. love alters not with its brief hours and weeks but bears it out even to the edge of doom…” concepts of love that endures even beyond death. Love that the Greek named in an effort to nailed down just what it was. This language, reinforced in my mind, what Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin once said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” And those spiritual beings will strive always for love, and if God is love, and wherever love can be found, God can be found, then all human beings are not fundamentally bad the way protestant fundamentalism would have you believe. But quite the opposite. They are fundamentally good and while flawed, still strive to reconnect themselves with the source of creation.

Even before I walked away from fundamentalism, I found myself obsessed with love. And I still am to a great degree. But I realized at the earliest points in my life I was starving for it. I was thirsty for it. I wanted more than anything to be surrounded with it. Possessed by it. And I am not talking about simply romance, fluffy nonsensical notions of love but passion and concepts of a family and all that entails. And I find it was that search for love that propelled me forward in life. Knowing that it was out there, having witnessed love in other people’s lives, I wanted love – I wanted to connect to it, to be a part of it, more than I wanted anything in my life. Not success, not education, not riches or fame.

And the interesting thing that convinced me that love’s profundity, was in Gospel Music. These songs dedicated to a universal being so benevolent and merciful are numbered too many to count. But the distance between what the congregation just sang and what the preacher preached…existed a great gulf fixed. As Cardinal Martini once said in his critique of Christians, “You love the music, but you hate the lyrics.”

And I think that critique can be expanded on Fundamentalist’s view of Christ. They like the idea of him. They like what he can do for them. They profess this great love for him. But in all actually, as The Gospel of Matthew 7:16 points out, “Ye shall know them by their fruits..” They don’t love Christ. To love Christ you have to love who he was, what he did, and would have actually had to do what he said to do. And that was to love. Because while man may, in fact, be flawed -it wasn’t his righteousness that brought Christ to earth- it was mankind’s flaws that Christ was attracted to. And Christ never held those things over the heads of the people he helped, he didn’t shame anyone for them, didn’t use it to blackmail anyone, didn’t dangle their souls over perditions’ flame,  and he most certainly didn’t beat people because of them.

Fundamentalism made Christ a bigger jerk than they were. Someone, no one would hang out with. Someone who was more like the devil than the devil was. And effectively stripped Christ of his passion and motivations. In short, they paganized him, and made him a tool to bring people under their thumb and cutting them off from what John 3:16 made so clear, “For God so LOVED the World…”

He loved it because the world is beautiful and her people are inherently Good and are capable of such greatness. And Tina Turner and Justice Kennedy, Meatloaf and Father Chardin, are all doing their best to connect humanity to each other. Cutting people off from each other is an atrocity.

The world is so beautiful. I’ll never take it for granted again. And fundies, listen to the actual words of the songs you sing. Maybe you’ll find Jesus. Find love. And then find each other in the process.

It is so ordered.

 

 

Lighthouse (poem)

 

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In the midst of tempest raging
When the wind and waves crash constant
And the night is filled with flashing lights and rolls of thunder
When the rain lashes a thousand needles against the skin
A proud lighthouse stands in the midst of it all

Even when the world trembles
From the celestial cannon fire sounding
And the periods between electric light are as dark and deep as the ocean
And the sailor has lost his way
A proud lighthouse stands in the midst of it all

With yellow lights beaming, round and round its promise goes
Warning sailors of imminent danger while at the same time guiding them home

Though the waves may hide jagged rocks jutting upward
Ready to take apart ship and limb and life
The steady knowledge of someone watching, always vigilant , always ready
Encouraged the sailor to keep on fighting til the wind gives up the ghost

That’s how I felt the day I found you and i knew to come and speak to you
When life’s cruel waves did force me from a life I’d always known
And as that cannon fire through the night did rumble
Blinded by the lightning’s angry forked limitations
Though hot as the sun’s surface was too brief to guide me safely

But those days tempest-tossed are far behind me
And even though the wind and waves grow higher
The fear of going under or dashing against the unyielding rocky shore
Isn’t Much of a worry for me these days
For I’ve given up my ship, now Harbored just inside the bay
And now I bathe in the glow of the lighthouse which has now become my home

Jesus and Me (A Christmas poem)

Silver lights all aglow
In window sills and bows
Decorations through the trees
The three Wisemen praying on their knees

Before a manger on the lawn
In front of homes lit up till dawn
And here I am just waiting to see

What Christmas time bring this year
Will it be full of cheer
Will I wake up in a bed
With the one I love so dear
Will I sing amazing grace?
With a smile upon my face
Or will it be just Jesus and me?

Decorations of blue, red, and green
The prettiest lights you’ve ever seen
Adorning homes so warm and bright
On these cold December nights
Children sleeping in their beds
Sugar plums dancing in their heads
And here I am just waiting to see.

What will Christmas time bring this year
Will it be wonderful, my dear
Will the world be at peace
Will there be joy, and enough to eat
Will someone pray, will someone sing?
Peace on earth for every human being?

Or will it be, just Jesus and me?

Here I stand in my bare feet!
With barely enough to eat!

Will it be just Jesus and me?

 

My mother taught me a song when I was a young kid called, Pretty Paper, written and performed by Willie Nelson.  And every year, I listen to it. And every year, it reminds me that there are those who are less fortunate than I am .

It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of the world. It’s easy to get isolated into your own myriad problems and get tunnel vision over things like the Holidays. And sometimes, even though this is supposed to be a joyous time for people, we can kind of get the blues.  Sometimes we can’t afford to give the best gifts. Sometimes we can’t afford to get very much at all.  But if you can read this, if you have access to something that allows you to read this, then perhaps we can take a moment and be thankful for what we do have.

A warm bed.

A roof over our heads.

Food in our bellies.

Maybe you’re being pulled in different directions and your frazzled. Or maybe like that Carrie Underwood song goes, “It’s been a long hard year.” And maybe this year Christmas isn’t as sweet as it’s been in times passed. But maybe we can take a moment, and stop, and consider what we do have. And be thankful for it.  And maybe we can remember that this holiday is one of giving.

But wherever you are and however you feel. Remember, you are not alone.