Finding the safety

They can’t hurt me.

The words can’t kill the good things I have any more

The waves may keep me alone,

But at least I can breathe here on this island.

I put love and light around me like a force.

I keep everything from going under.

I keep putting more rocks on the beach.

I will never have to climb from the bottom again.

Because they can’t hurt me now.  Not anymore.

They can’t take things away from me.

I can see it now in my mind.

You trying to explain to a therapist what you have done and why.

What the look on his face would be.

Because I read your reasons.

I’ll always know.

I’ve known it for too long now.

Far too long.

It makes my heart feel ancient.

Like I have lived 10,000 years.

I’ve seen it all before.

But this time you won’t take.

This time the shore stays the same.

This time the words won’t stick and harm me.

This time your demands will be laughed at by all my friends.

And this time you will look the fool in front of everyone.

And this time you will not be respected just because you are an adult.

Because I’m too old for this.

My heart is too old for this.

And you won’t win through this.





Devil in the Garden

I have an anger that seethes

Rippling, skin-close scales

Slipping around my naked belly

Cool to the touch, my ground brother

Every notch rising higher to shed skin, emerging larger.

Slipping through the tree branches

Whispering the truth of the trees,

My eyes see clear and red and icy at once

My confidant, I whisper back to this the wrongs

Small new cuts and reminisce the old jagged dull daggers

Rusted and deep, broken off in the marrow

Forgotten surgical instruments, sewn over, scarred over,

Bringing back their infection.

Wary and awake, I speak behind the hushed veil of my smile

Under my breath, to my companion

The devil in the garden,

Beside me in the dew-laced grass and we slip along together.

And he rises undulating up my leg and between my breasts

Separate from me but clinging eternally until apples fall away

Until the tree dies and the garden disappears into desert and heat.






I have an anger that seethes.

It doesn’t lash out.

It coldly takes notes. Saves emails. Reports back. Observes distant and unfeeling.

I smile at you.

I pretend to be understanding.

All the while, taking notes.

My survival tactics I come by honestly.  I had to pretend to get this far in life.  I had to pretend at nice to survive childhood.  Had to take notes and save images just in order to keep the gaslighting from consuming my head.

I know who I am.  Outside all the bullshit anyone can say about anything.  I know Who. I. Am. And that will not shake.

Resilience scares the shit out of people.


You may have to do it alone…

Sometimes many people may fail you. You get to the end and realize that all those people who say they miss you don’t seem to make much of an effort to call or come around. You feel that you never have enough of something for them.

People who want to be around you make an effort to do so.

You don’t have to give them directions to your house 27 times.

You don’t have to keep making appointments and vague plans that never come to fruition.

You don’t have to worry about getting the runaround.

You Cannot Expect People To Behave Honorably.   A few people will, and they will surprise and delight you.  The mistake good people make is going out into the world expecting that of people, and then getting let down and jaded again and again when it fails to materialize.

You have to set your expectations high, and your rules for letting other people get close to you even higher.

You may end up doing it alone.  Taking the cat to the vet alone.  Waiting for the cable guy alone.  You may not have that person that you trust to watch the house and not go through your underwear drawer.  You may not.

It may be tough. It may be hard.

But you can do it. And it will be okay.



Eroded Parts

Some things in you don’t go all at once.  They disappear little by little, bit by bit.

Trust is something that is all but gone.

When I find a nugget of it, I protect it so fiercely.

What I do feel toward others is mostly just a CIA-level paranoia. And I have to not feel that in order to let my brain relax.  The trouble is that I can’t forget things.

Gifted, they said when I was a kid.  And I got stuck in a special class.

At my job it’s useful and at times a mildly amusing curiosity.  It has helped me pass tests.  It has helped me remember a vague reference I heard on a documentary five years ago and look it up in order to add scholarly bulk to papers nearly unheard of in undergraduate work.

But I can’t forget. Not even when I drink myself into oblivion. Nothing wipes away the erosion.

I had a dream last night where animals begged me for names and then proceeded to rather obviously lie to me.  So yes, I see it everywhere, even in a dream about a raccoon and some large rodent walking into a library.  My mind’s natural assumption is that they would lie, omit and tell incomplete tales.

I hug my relatives that have lied and manipulated and left things out, but I feel nothing toward them.  Like hugging one of those cardboard cutouts of a movie character or a sports star.

I think we teach people a lot of ways to effectively deal with things, but not about being stuck around liars.   Often in the workplace, you will (by those above you in management) be made to feel that the right thing to do is to diplomatically overlook obvious lies in order to further the job goals.

We want people to keep the peace, keep the boat from rocking.   If they don’t, who will sign off on that time report and who will come over for Thanksgiving?

Otherwise, we freeze it out and freeze them out. Create our spaces and walls of ice.  Hide money and resources from them.  Keep our free time to ourselves rather than get mixed up with them.

The problem is that when people lie, it is because they feel no obligation to be truthful to us.  And that hurts. It is a very deep cut that goes to the soul of our worth in that person’s eyes.  Your heart says, “The truth is, I wasn’t worth the truth.”

And it is harder and harder to lay down that inner part of you that is looking for a place to hide from it all.  That part can be ignited so easily.  A wrong look.  A sideways glance. A mistake.  You see nothing but gradients and shadows.  You become pleasantly surprised when the truth is there and someone doesn’t find some way to screw you over.   You weren’t expecting it.

There aren’t a lot of effective ways to just function. To let your brain rest. To let go.  We need to find better ways to call out those who harm. I know some ways that do work with some types, but for our own mental sanctity, we need to work on more.

Because … we ARE worth more. We DO deserve the truth.  We DO deserve honesty.   People who see otherwise are the problem, and they need to be made to understand that in a way that doesn’t make us, the truth -seekers and truth-knowers, into the ones who are told we are judgemental.  People who see otherwise are projecting their own lack of worth onto us.  And we don’t  need to allow that to happen or impede us.  We need better tools to address it.  To live with it without it taking over our minds, invading dreams about woodland creatures in libraries.  Mostly, we need more truth– but that isn’t going to happen.  To take from my evangelical upbringing, you are not able to “convict the spirit” if it is unwilling.

We have to find ways of letting the reality of that be and defending ourselves effectively and finding ways to call people out when we can.  Truth is a disinfectant.  We need to use it more often.

Solace, resolution.  They are beautiful ideas in stories, but may never happen in life.  Some will never change or be rehabilitated.

We have to find better ways to live with both outcomes.

Save all the receipts

When I was small, I would watch you say something,

And then change the story and say something else again.

I heard you try to make me doubt the things I knew to be true.

Things I saw, things I heard, things I read, they were are all up for grabs.

Anything to fit the idea that served you best.

And I learned, bit by bit, not to trust anything.

And you kept me around people who each had the same plan.

I watched them be cruel and desperate.

Unconditional love was something I would never see or understand.

Every pattern created would break

Every tale would turn upside down

Every time was a time for doubt

Everyone could be an enemy

And you would act like it was all natural, normal

And I was wrong for not wanting the same things as you.

And I was wrong for not wanting the same people as you wanted for me.

People like you.

People who make the truth out of the wind instead of the facts and reality.


And I couldn’t dive into love with my whole heart

Always holding something back

Always unsure of myself

Always checking the story again

Always listening to the tone in the voice for a fraction of a change

Debating what that might mean

I see me at 13, 14, vomiting before a date

With a harmless young man

I see me at 15, telling the truth about you

No one believing me

I see your angry hating eyes

Looking back at me, knowing that I would be my own person someday

Hating that you couldn’t control all of me forever

Hating that you couldn’t make me be like you

Not understanding why I might want something more


I see you and all the stories that I heard

I see you and what I overheard about you

I see you what you won’t ever know about me


And now I still double check every word.

I still verify everything I hear.

I still hold part of myself back.

I still can’t dive headfirst into love.

I still check everything again and again.

I doubt the very ground I stand on, knowing one day it may too collapse.

I doubt the stars in the sky because they fall.

I doubt the moon and the sun, snow and the rain.

I save every email and haunt just the right places in case someone tries to contradict themselves.

I mount up proof and evidence just to feel safe.

Just to know for once, it’s not happening again.

Any bump in the road is a sign that the bridge is out ahead,

And that I am an idiot for trusting anything.

And I sit and pray that I’m not an idiot for trusting.

And I carve out my insides and grieve.

I don’t know how to dive into love.

I don’t know how to trust myself enough to trust someone else.


My heart is littered with the thousand times

That I didn’t realize what I was trying to heal

When I trusted wrong because I didn’t know any better

Or when I heard one wrong thing, and ran like a frightened witness

Or when I dated the ones that you liked that were always so fucked up because you don’t know how to like anyone worth a damn

Running and pushing away, like the mafia was after me

Knowing how to sneak out of the party quietly

I see my 20’s, my 30’s…a series of self-destruction

Wasted time wasted heart

Dating men that I couldn’t truly love

Keeping myself safe, never playing the fool


Where does it end?

When do I get enough security?

When I do save myself?

Where is the ladder?



It’s deceptively fall
Fooling us all again
We hear the birds
Believe the warmth
Till the chill slowly creeps in
Feel the air lying to you
Feel the breeze wickedly singing

Carry your jacket
Your blood leaves your fingers
Slides back closer to your heart
Summer was a myth
Summer is a myth
Heat and warm and red skin fades
Memories of spring can kill

Put an ice pick through you
Coldness all around
Crunches of leaves on the ground
Rabbits go and hide
Warm blooded things look for shelter
What do the cold-blooded do?

Your heart will break
Slowly over time
A small crack here
Another crack there
And you begin to freeze inside

Small cuts can kill
The words can kill
Small incisions past the skin
Scalpels into your organs

Breath escapes
The hole in your lungs
You don’t even notice

Time marches on
Time marches frigid

Smiles are warm but shatter
Like frozen plastic

Nothing is real

Nothing is