High Tide

                    Rough Atlantic surf near St. Augustine, Florida

 

The wind is up and the surf is rough

I need its roar to quiet my mind

quell my sinking thoughts

(It’s a daily occurrence)

I am seeking peace and clarity

and finding it to be a rarity

Can you hear them again?

The thundering hooves of despots and the pandering peacocks

with  painted smiles

promising

protection

A return to greatness and glory

Making the nation “theirs” again

They’ve created a turbulent uncertainty

and a typhoon of terror

They fracture freedoms of the disenfranchised

Revoke rights and restrict access

Rape Mother Earth in the dead of night

This is not my beloved country

I am not in the land of the free

But there’s still time to be brave

I am swimming with the riptide

Rowing with one oar

( I’ve been here before)

  and racing into the headwinds

in search of a safer shore

Day 18: Part of an undated entry in my writer’s notebook, rediscovered.

My Body, My Self

-FASHION STYLIST & CREATIVE DIRECTOR-

Image courtesy of: http://elizabethajomale.tumblr.com/post/106274743769

“Embedded in the American Constitution was the right to privacy. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well- meaning but without understanding.”  ~ Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

What is women’s fundamental freedom?

PRIVACY

Our stories are personal and parallel

Reproductive and Sexual

It is my mother’s in 1962: Age 24

Whose kidney disease left her unable to bear more children

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER

When abortion was illegal

No option for a tubal ligation

Instead she was placed on medication

THE PILL

It is my mother’s in 1981: Age 43

A missed period and a pregnancy scare

When abortion was legal

An inevitable decision she would have had to make if the results had been positive

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER IF SHE DIDN’T

It is mine in 1998: Age 37

  Mother of two beautiful boys

Abortion is legal

BUT

Loud, violent, deadly protests

Fierce and frightening gauntlets

form to block entrances to care

I fear a failure of birth control

An accidental pregnancy

I want a permanent procedure

The experience felt like a Prohibition speakeasy:

sordid and secretive,

a place of secret codes and knocks.

Why is it that we vainly celebrate,

freely flaunt,

and strongly sanctify,

men’s sexual freedom and prowess

without risk of consequences?

They have unconstrained access to

inexpensive condoms,

erectile dysfunction medications,

and vasectomies.

 While women’s vaginas and uteruses

are held under lock and key

by legislative laymen

intent on keeping women either virtuous or vilified.

WE WANT A SENSE OF OUR OWN AGENCY!

A woman’s right to privacy begins and ends with her body.

A woman’s body is her house.

She has a right to stand her ground

against all unwanted intruders

whose sole aim is to take away

her freedom, safety and privacy.

 

Day 9: Much of this poem has been lifted from a speech I gave before the state Constitutional Review Commission last spring. There had been an attempt by the Religious Right to amend the right to privacy.  All State Supreme Court cases involving abortion had hinged on this fundamental right. Thankfully,  the  Commission decided not to take up their attempt at an amendment. However, this legislative session and new governor are bent on restricting access to care for all women. As I write this, bus loads of advocates have driven to the state capital to lobby against proposed legislation related to further restrictions. Interestingly, the quote from Justice Brandeis was from a case about Prohibition!

The Road to Consecration

Image result for authentic self in art

                                      Image courtesy of: Jenny Grant

She turned to face him:

Which mask to wear today?

It was hard to gauge his mood with the thickness of sleep still bearing its weight on her body

Her mind is murky

  She lets out a sigh

Feeling safe only if she lay on her left side curled up and in her own embrace

Much better to fall off  than brush against the beast

How long could this charade last?

Lately she had matched his deceit with her own

Not out of some need to enact revenge

She wasn’t even sure how far he had gone

But he wore his lies like an ill-fitting suit

The pants dragged beneath his heels

The jacket was two sizes too small

And the buttons were askew behind his lengthy tie

When she would point out the mismatch between one tall tale and another,

he would insist that he was misheard or misunderstood

Keeping track of  his dirty deeds became a game of survival and self-protection

His self-involvement and vanity distracted him from noticing her wily ways

Still, she was weary of feeling undone

Every encounter exhausting

Every conversation calibrated

Today would be the day

Holding her breath

 She slipped out into the early light

Suitcases already packed in the trunk of her car

The papers and house keys lay on the kitchen table

  Woman!

We have lift off!

She exhaled and let out a silent cheer

She had no compass

Just her authentic self 

The only true guide to the road within

Day 27. The word is authentic drawn, from a conversation yesterday with Emily- although the subject matter was different. I hadn’t expected this as the outcome but certainly the theme of freedom is on my mind these days.

What Kind of Woman?

 

Related image

                               Image courtesy of: Anarres Natural Health

You’re not one of those women, are you?

A question posed thirty-one years ago

A poster hung above my office desk

Hues of red, gold and blue

Women of the World Unite!

The question surprised me-

It was 1986 after all!

I answered with a question

What kind of woman?

His discomfort and unease exposed

He stumbled

Mumbled a response

To him

Women were sexual objects

Conquests to be won

Goods to be sold

Tasted

Then discarded

A future concubine for his progeny

The refrain is sung again in the larger houses of white men

who wield swords of archaic laws

and regressive religious beliefs

To them we are nothing but a body

A body to be controlled

Control the body

Control the woman

Sell the body

Strip the body

Sacrifice the body

What kind of woman then?

Day 21. 1 day late. I started this yesterday but it needed the gift of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Withering Vines

Image result for unraveling

                                            Image courtesy of: Pintrest

A Reflection

A Pleasing Woman

A Magnificent Mind

A Soft Spirit

Working hard at denial

and unconscious obfuscation

Practicing the art of avoidance

Folding within herself

 A verdant vessel for a vacuous seed

  Hoping for a change through sweet offerings

While gritting your teeth and conjuring a smile

You’re building a gilded cage

 Your tongue bleeding with the words you wish to say

Your feet tiptoeing

When they  want to stomp in frustration and irritation

Is it easier to acquiesce?

What is it that you fear?

  In time your ebullience may ebb

Your smile may turn into a sneer

And the hard work of keeping it together may exhaust you

And then your unraveling will begin

 

Day 11. The daily prompt was Unraveling. I am far removed from my former life on so many levels. But today’s prompt had me thinking of women who sacrifice so much of themselves, buying into the fairy tale, afraid of being alone and staying too long because of fear of looking like a failure or fear of poverty or something much worse. The chance to regain yourself and build a better life is out there and worth the fight.

Tenacious*

huda

    Image from Wild Woman Sisterhood Facebook page.

I tell myself  I’ve been here before

Then, the battle was mine alone

An initiation

A test of  my integrity, my character, my strength

I remember the manipulation of facts

And the twisting of my words

Days spent in the grip of  fear

Would I would lose it all?

Because he made me nearly lose myself and my mind

A decade hence

A million women strong

  But Now as Then

 I am a  force to be reckoned with

But Now as Then

I refuse to relinquish my rights

But Now as Then

I need to dig deep

Remain steadfast and resolute

Our opponents pound us with their corrupt power

But Now as Then

We are stiff necked and rock- ribbed and pure of heart

But Now as Then

Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned…..

 

                      Image from Wild Woman Sisterhood Facebook page.

 

*Day 9. Thanks again to WordPress for the prompt: “Tenacious“.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Energy speaks louder than words… WILD WOMAN SISTERHOOD™ #WildWomanSisterhood

In the Name of Love*

Picture

Save others so you can Sanctify yourself

 Help others so you can Heal yourself

Live for others so you can Liberate yourself

In this tempest tossed time

it is necessary to remember those whose lives were lost

Those who desired- not special treatment- but equal treatment

Access and Admittance

  Sacrifice without Servitude

 A place at the table and a room at the inn

And choices without the taint of self-righteous judgement

Day 4.  Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. *The title is inspired by U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”- one of my top favorite songs from my favorite band. They continue to rock on in my heart and soul!

 

Miss Liberty is Weeping

Image result for statue of liberty weeping

Image courtesy of: AmericanIconsTemple – WordPress.com

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Can you hear them?

The thundering hooves of delusional despots

Faces with painted smiles

in a heated hunt

like hounds headed for their prey

Hell-bent on holding down the humble

Heaving them into hovels to hide-away  

Can you see them?

The circling sharks, self-serving, selling and seducing second-rate safety

Can you smell them?

The pussy-footed pustules and pompous panderers promising protection

Make no mistake, the nation will not be “ours” again

 No return to “greatness” or “glory”  

The tide is turning

The disenfranchised

The degraded

Thrown into a rip current

to be drowned

dismembered

and dismissed

While those with the skin of the founding fathers

All mighty and white

Fracture the freedoms of  females

and others lacking fair faces

We are not mere birth vessels

Your slaves and servants once and again 

We cry for our beloved country

We are gutted but not defeated

Speaking Up and Speaking Out

Image result for speaking up images

Image courtesy of: WritersCafe.org

Thanksgiving. A favorite holiday and this year a welcome respite from the cruel vagaries of the world. I had many conversations yesterday, of course. Two stand out because they are the inspiration for this latest post. In an exchange with my oldest son, he asked me if I had been writing lately. When I told him that I have been too overwhelmed by current events, he encouraged me to express myself. Later, after dinner, I was talking with one of our guests and sharing my fears. Wisely, she reminded me that those worries would be released into the universe. Instead, I would need to remain hopeful.  I hope this latest musing is a positive beginning!

When I woke up this morning, I made my usual cup of coffee and then took it back to bed with me. Instead of reading the news like I have done every morning for years, I read a few chapters of a Louise Penney mystery (http://www.louisepenny.com/). Lately, I have straddled the line between the need to stay informed and the increasing anxiety, the nerve racking fear and the crushing depression of national shifts that I cannot stomach. I have been wanting to write posts for weeks now, but I have been afraid that I may slip into overwrought opinions about the presidential campaign, the resulting election, and now its early aftermath. These days, taking any public stand is risky business and an invitation for uncivil discourse and cruel judgement. But this is something I cannot avoid; I feel as if I might burst from lack of self-expression! Admittedly, I want my opinions to be thoughtful. Perhaps this is why I have kept quiet in my posts lately. I feared being less than meditative. Plus, I refuse to be categorized, stereotyped, or labeled as a particular ” kind of woman” when I openly state my feelings or express ideas that may be considered “non-traditional”. But I also refuse to bow to the obscene practice of the monolithic grouping of people. This idea has been publicly played out in order to stoke fear and to provide a false sense of renewed power to those who have felt marginalized and silenced for decades. I believe the cause of this splintering is based in the unrelenting greed of those whose silver spoons are still in their mouths. The ancient practice of Divide and Rule has cultivated a sense of distrust and hostility between and among our citizens in order to lay blame on -take your pick- feminists, black and brown people, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ, etc.

Hate, condemnation, suspicion, and negativity are easy paths to follow. They hold the deceitful promises of a return to the “good old days” (to which my stepdaughter once queried: “What do they mean, segregation?”). It is hard for me to fathom a return to a time when laws suppressing the rights of others in any and all forms will become the new normal. I have seen it being chipped away in seemingly harmless ways (i.e. new voting rights laws, women’s health care), and it is up to us to remain vigilant in the face of further future repression.

I believe that our purpose here on earth is to make it a better place to live. To not only raise up and help others, but to also take care of our precious resources in order for future generations to enjoy its unique beauty. We cannot dismiss other people as less worthy because of where they’re from, how they  choose to worship, or whom they choose to love, or because they don’t look like us. It is simply wrong.

They are many people that I have met and know in my life who do not share the same viewpoints as I do. We agree to disagree and can also thoughtfully engage in discussions that help further an understanding of each others’ perspectives.  We may hope to change another’s mind but no one is interested in changing laws that would suppress another citizen’s constitutional rights. Everyone has a story or two to tell that has helped bring them to their own set of beliefs.  These personal tales of tragedy and triumph are essential to listen to and understand if we are to grow together and make the world better and more free for everyone.

I’ll close this piece with the grace I shared at the Thanksgiving table. Many thanks to Mary Luti, UCC Pastor and seminary educator (http://www.ucc.org/devotionals_by_mary_luti) for this gift to my email ‘s inbox yesterday:

for it’s an immeasurable gift to say grace with one eye on your neighbor, to give thanks with joy complicated by concern, to count your blessings while repenting your sins, to know yourself in a muddle, trying to be good. It means you’re awake and not sleeping, alive and not dead. It means God is poking away at you, and you’ve let God in.

A Stella(r)Story

Credit: www.astrologyforearthrenewal.com

Stella knew for certain that she would never really miss Mick; only the idea of him. She was relieved when his piss stopped showing up on the toilet. He was once a stunner of a man in that rough around the edges sort of way. Compact and short, his presence loomed large whenever he entered a room. She liked his vehement attention at first; his passion for her was electric. Stella was stunned by his voracious appetites and his seemingly unending attention.

Stella wasn’t what you’d call a classic beauty. Kinky ashen curls decorated her cupid-like visage. Petite, with hips that swayed enough to turn heads and breasts that Mick compared to buttercups. He’d come home from work at the pit, shine himself up and lose himself inside her.

The ride was high for years.Two bountiful boys kept them on their toes and further fueled their passion for each other. And like a fast speeding car that encounters one hairpin turn too many, their affair flamed out. Mick’s craving for cards and the accompanying vices soon got the best of him and them.

The arguments and the silences that followed only got more fierce. Money got tight and then nearly nonexistent. He lost himself in the drink now; his once alluring bearing shrunken. He lurked where he once pranced. And then he seemed to just disappear.

Stella rose up. She wasn’t one to snivel nor shrink from a tough situation. Working the lunch crowd gave her a boost; her tips paid the rent and the hard work fueled her rather than leave her wasted. Months went by. The boys grew strong and steady under the tough but loving gaze of their mother. They would not mess around.Their fear of her disappointment outweighing any possible consequences brought by teenage temptations.

She had grown into her own woman. Stella-Bella all the men called her. Each one desperate in their desire for her. But she would have none of it. “Been there. Done that,” she said. Stella was sure that real love would knock on her door eventually.

And in a sheet of downpour on a windy April afternoon, he did. Soaked and battered and need of something warm, Jack slipped out of his drenched jacket and into her life.