I write because it feeds my soul. Because I’m curious about what will emerge. I write to express myself and make sense of my feelings and experiences. And I write because I love the power of words. I love language and want to grow as a writer, and most especially as a human being. There’s a moment during the writing process when I realize that I’ve gotten out of the way and the words come through me, sometimes completely unexpected and fresh. I revel in those moments.    


See, There He Is, a memoir of 85,000 words, explores the collapse and rebuilding of hope I experienced when my son died. The chapters, each named for a street or place in the story, create a framework for the reader to share my remembered experiences.

Could I save my son? If not, could I go on? I wasn’t going to find the answers in a book. I had to look deep into my heart. My life as a single mother had taught me to confront challenges and to fight, but they had not prepared me for what I faced in those years and the years since.

When nothing is familiar anymore, the stakes for truth-telling are raised. I found within myself a fierce will to live and came to understand how nature continues to renew itself even after great destruction. Inevitably, new life arises. Readers of my memoir will understand how the possibilities for true self-recognition are created.

The title of the work comes from the following passage, “See, there he is with his freckled face, his tall thin body, his lopsided grin and goofy humor. There he is, big-hearted and gentle, standing in the doorway with his hands in his pockets, calling the dog Butthead.”


Bless the Ice Cream

from Writing in Circles 

Bless the ice cream, the sacrament of our time together.  Bless St. Ben and St. Jerry and Jerry with his Cherry.  Bless the nights on the couch hanging out with my children in Sea Cliff, each with our own pint softening before us.  Jeremy’s was chocolate chip, each chip slowly dislodged from the frozen cream, popped into his mouth.  Jenny preferred mint Oreo, holding the frosty container as the ice melted and pooled in her lap, and me, New York super fudge chunk, savoring every bite, holding it in my mouth until it ran cool down my throat.  No one talked as we sat on the couch, dipping spoonfuls of joy and licking the spoon, eating until we could hear the scrape of metal against empty.  Blessed cows, with their rich cream and, oh, yes, chocolate which takes away all pain and nuts crunching between my teeth, releasing their flavor.

Jenny sighed, put down the spoon.  “Remember when you brought home ice cream and the tops of the containers were already melting?  Remember how you ate the soft top layer on each container before you even put it into the freezer?”

“After hours of shopping, it was my reward.”

We had an unspoken rule in our house.  Whoever didn’t finish their pint in two days was just about saying, “It’s up for grabs.”  Most of the time, it didn’t last the first day.

Also from Writing in Circles,
read Breakdown and Sloan.


Exact Change Speeds Trips

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from Embodied Effigies 

That final night before I took my kids to my parents and fell apart, I knew I was in deep trouble. I had kicked Larry out a week before and stopped taking any drugs. I hadn’t been able to sleep or eat much since. Jenny had been going to the corner grocery, buying eggs, milk and bread, and making French toast for Jeremy and her.
My mind wouldn’t shut down. It kept rolling out scenario after scenario—a litany of all the ways I’d screwed up. Without any drugs to keep me numbed I realized how precarious my situation was—no job, two kids to raise alone in a sketchy neighborhood. I didn’t know how we would survive and tried to come up with solutions. Anything. I was losing my grip on the world. Flailing. Nothing made any sense.

Read more...


Sweat

from Stone Voices
Shortly after the first anniversary of my son, Jeremy’s, death, I had a healing. Many pursuits that in the past had filled my days now seemed empty and irrelevant. Although still grieving, I knew spiritual growth was the only reason compelling enough to live for. The following week I met Archie Fire Lame Deer, a Lakota medicine man. His coordinator took me aside at a party, and asked if I wanted to coordinate Archie’s visits when he came to Long Island four times a year. She asked if I would talk to my boyfriend Tony, suggesting we partner so there would be a balance of male and female energy. Most of the participants knew the rituals, but I had no experience. She suggested that Tony could help since he’d participated in many sweat lodges.
Read more...


Blood

published in the Great Smokies Review

My people lived behind Ellis Island lowtide mudflats. City spires rise east
through cattails      waving seed grass.

Poland's dust still under her nails. Childbearing     scrubbing halls
nourished on crumbs remaining after her children fed.

Husband robust, square as Khrushchev    stale beer garden smell     sawdust
like broken dreams covers piss-stained floors. 

My mother searches the forest of saloon legs    pulls him home.
another birth

Three maiden aunts gather behind curtains crocheted around open windows.
lesson learned

stories at the kitchen table...

My grandmother's hair loosed from the knot at her neck.
Hollow eyes pinpoint sorrow.

I crawled the quilt path of her sickbed, beckoned by her toothless smile,
gray bun low, haloing magic wrinkled face.

Alone I carry her memory


Shed                              

published in the Conium Review

The skin contains echoes

       imitates a surface

the memory     the loss

 even still?

inside time crumblessplitsmelts

insistence drags back the hours    refuses to loosen its jaws

 

snake 

              hisses    

                   coils

    cells 

pulse

   pinpoint 

       eyes 

                   grab 

                     mine 

 

this is the edge         the thin blade     the balance     the road ahead

 

the sun fades      the air is cool         I didn’t need the scarf

place is a red square or black

life is a living thing or dead

the skull is white    smooth        unseeing

bone pure as sleep

 

have I stayed long enough?      

 

tell me        I have forgotten the

stones and where they lead