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Tag: poetry

Safe to Create

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Picture says: You are beautiful

You are strong

I’m glad you’re still here.

I know it’s an uphill battle trying to feel safe,

But you’re home now.

You can create with what you already have.

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Oh, I remember this feeling.

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That fraudulent feeling,
That impostor syndrome,
That “look at you, all narcissistic with your fancy words” feeling.


This is why we stop writing,
Or at least why I did
Even after struggling to begin.



If you’re struggling with this,
Please, remember that you don’t have to quit



You’ve come so far already. And I am so proud of you.



It’s all part of the process.



So, how do we get through it?


We let it be.


We stop attacking ourselves.
We explore the feeling,

Tip-toe through the moss
Brush aside the cobwebs

Of the long-abandoned mansions
In our heads-

Without breaking beneath the weight
Of our own inner critic.

By realizing that avoiding the process
Of being shattered
Does not spare us pain after all.

Acknowledging that we will always break
But we will always be back for more

But this time I’ve got you,
And you have me.
To open these forsaken doors
And we’ll eat that key, eventually.


We will not be abandoned
If we do not abandon ourselves.


This time we can heal on our own
But with each other, if we choose

This is a safe place to experience those feelings
As artists and as humans

To just be together
Sitting with our insecurities,
Sitting with our monsters

And not judging or criticizing each other
By how deep the creatures roam
Or by how prevalent they are

Our afflictions need not be a competition.

Our perceived atrocities 
Do not have the mouths to ask us
“Please, look at me.”
And we call it ‘anxiety’.

And the more we run,
The scarier they become.


Only to find that what we saw as protruding fangs
Is actually the arm
Of our shadow companion
Extending to us
The other half of a jagged wishbone.

An Ode To My Grandmother

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My grandma remains etched into my heart for these reasons: she is compassionate, her prayers never cease, and she always sees the best in others.

Her hair looks as though it has always been grey; she has eyes that resemble the juxtapose of life, bittersweet.

Happy, inviting, but also somber.

Greener than rural pastures in the Springtime, the safest place for the livestock to return home for a meal.

She smells of a woman who has only known home – Worcestershire sauce, dish soap, damp wrung out dishtowels, and the faint scent of flowers to balance things out. If warmth had a smell, she has it.

 

A voice that is soft yet convincing, the kind of voice where any question she asked no matter what it was, always resounded an “Are you okay?”.

 

We played games like Go Fish and Stealing The Pile (though maybe this was a name easiest for a child to comprehend, as I have never heard it anywhere else).

 

She let me win quite a bit.

When it was time to for her pray, she sat me down with a notebook and scissors and I’d cut paper into shapes I had made up, or draw a house with the triangle roof where smoke was billowing from the rectangle chimney;

She taught me to draw when I was three.
I’d wait for roast and do things toddlers did.

 

Safety was not scarce back then.
Rosary in hand and roast in the pot, she paced as she prayed at three each afternoon.

The pads of her fingers were tinged bright pink atop her light skin, like Saint Nick’s cheeks in Winter.

They donned tiny craters from being pressed firmly against the rosary’s beads.

Meticulously they crept from one bead to the next, not quite pouncing, and not gliding.

 

 

Repetition never looked this much like art, not even the Louvre could captivate me as much as my grandmother praying did.

 

 

Novenas and pleading whispers of love and well-wishes, devout fails to encompass her in her entirety.
In the NICU, she sat by my incubator day and night doing the very same pleading she does today.
The doctors told my family I would be deaf, dumb, blind, – invalid.

On to her knees, she dropped and refused to accept that. She tells me of the day when she bargained with Christ, The Virgin Mary, and His Disciples on my behalf often.

As fate would have it, in the NICU, there was a nurse who dropped an item made of glass within earshot and lo and beholds; it scared me!

This was her sign from above, that yes, I could indeed hear.

 

Though I have no memory of this, perhaps this is why her praying looked holy to me, for it was probably my first image of her.

As I grew older and lost my mother, I lost myself and so I lost others. Where others were quick to suggest foster homes, even as she aged she would say, “No, I can take care of Carla.”
She loved me through every cuss word I hurled in frustration.

She remained calm when I bared defensive fangs and rabid snarls.

She accepted my apologies quickly and then forgot that she had any reason to forgive me in the first place. I was undeserving, yet she never condemned me; She loved me, anyway.

She prayed and she was warm, and slow to blame if she ever did.

To me, she is love. It is with the same compassion that my grandmother extended to me that I shared her with you.

My grandmother is still living, steady as a slow gong, but she is somewhere else inside of herself due to dementia.

If she does not already have a first-class ticket to Heaven, it will look like less of a place to be.

Categories: love poems

Tags: , , ,

Adversity Is A Gift

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In the words of Viktor Frankl, “What is to give light must endure burning.”

Over the years, I have come to learn that the adversity I have experienced is a gift to me. Without it, I would be able to help no one. Without it, I would not know what it means to be thirsty due to adversity. I would not know my own strength. To pass through life without an opponent is the real tragedy.

On February 2, 1993, my teenage mother was being notified that I had had three strokes and would be deaf dumb, and blind. I spent three months in the NICU before she could even take me home. I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy shortly after I was born. Yet, even as an infant, I was blessed with a fighting spirit. Today, I can hear, speak and see. Although I cannot walk, a wheelchair is not enough to defeat me. It is easier to bring giants to their knees when you are sitting down. I consider my beginning quite fitting for the life that I would eventually lead. In a sense, I was born with boxing gloves.

My mother was a beautiful woman who taught me altruism, compassion, and is the reason I have never met a stranger. She passed away when I was 10 years old. I still remember the day my relatives sat me down to tell me the news. My grandmother put my hair up in a ponytail, while my dad seemed to be searching for a way to say the unthinkable. I remember looking at the lamp that was near me as my dad said, “Your mom went to sleep on her birthday, and she never woke up.” I said, “You’re kidding, right?” My grandmother told me that they would never joke about something like that. The last thing I remember was hearing myself wail for about two seconds before I wiped my tears and watched cartoons.

I was given a day to decide if I wanted to go to her funeral, as I was still very young and my family was unsure if I could handle it. At the tender age of 10, I remember thinking that I would instead remember my mother the way she was; I knew she was not the body in that casket. Fearing that I would regret it later in life if I did not go, I went. The funeral is a blur; I remember not wanting to sit near the casket. I remember being afraid to say goodbye. I remember being afraid of her lifeless body. It was odd to feel afraid of your mother.

People have always said that when someone dies, it looks as if they are sleeping. It did not look as if she was sleeping. She looked more like a painting that evoked a surge of emotion, too much emotion. Still, I could not look away. Oddly enough, I think the thing that bothered me the most was that I could not see her feet. The top of the casket was open while the bottom was closed. So, I just kept asking, “Where are her feet?” I suppose, in order to make sense of the reality, I had to correct the picture. I did not cry that day. I have spent many years questioning whether or not I was a good person because I did not shed a tear in my mother’s funeral. Some have thought ill of me for it, while others have said, “You did not cry because she didn’t want you to cry.”
It rained that night. My family told me of how in some traditions, that when it rains at a funeral. The person is there with you. Today, I am still comforted by the sound of rain.
After my mom’s death, I spent a lot of time in foster homes. I also spent a lot of time thinking I deserved to be there. I realize that I can go into more detail. I could tell you all the horrible stories of what happens to children in foster care, but I do not wish to allow anyone or anything to steal any more of my life from me. They no longer have the power to do that.
The bright side of being in foster care was that it taught me to see people as human, always. One girl had cut up and down her arms but helped me to get dressed in the morning for school. She was an artist. I met a little boy who had fetal alcohol syndrome. He had been left on the steps of the building after his adoptive parents found out they were pregnant. He would often ask me, “Carla, do you love me so much?”
I met another little boy who was mute and had not spoken a word in the three years he’d been alive. I would often ride in the backseat of the car with him. To this day, I still remember him blowing me a kiss. This was the first time he’d ever done that.

When I recall these people and these memories, I often wonder where they are today. They are part of the reason I would like to be a therapist that specializes in trauma. With the right tools, I plan to do that. I know that those children are thirsty for love in the same way that I was once. I wish to be water for them, though I would never fully extinguish their fire. I know that it would also help them give light to others.
As of right now, I work as a volunteer Crisis Counselor. It is because of the past pain that I was able to calmly talk with multiple people who are on the brink of ending their life. A few have even thanked me for helping them live through the night. I wish to use my education to give back. With the help of others, we can all live to see another day.

Toothless Grace

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Losing everything is devastating.

teeth

Losing everything when your resources are already quite limited can feel as if life’s just shoving you in a locker for fun. The times that we feel as though we’ve had our teeth kicked in seem to go on and on with no end in sight. No matter how pretty the lights are or how slow the carousel spins, we’re bound to get dizzy.

We’re stripped bare, with our egos exposed, ashamed of what we find; forgetting that our insides are beautiful. We forget that we were born naked, vulnerable, and helpless. This did not make us any less valuable. In fact, our innocence was embraced. 

carousel

Maybe you’re experiencing this season of toothlessness at this moment. If you are, I’d like to gently remind you that dentures exist for a reason, and I’m more than happy to pop those bad boys right in there for you until your adult teeth feel safe enough to push their way through your cotton candy gums.  Let us not forget that toothless grins are innocent and beautiful.

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If life is kicking your ass and leaving your smile bloody, grin as wide as the Cheshire cat. A little blood won’t scare love off. Love after loss is the building block to rebirth. Love cultivates that which has been untended and overlooked. Love is stronger than the vines that grew over the soul. 

Love is the foundation that makes starting over worth it. If the pain of life and the loss that will inevitably reach all of us is the price we pay for strengthening the love that surrounds us, then with all sincerity I say to you: grow, my friend. Grow and pay no mind to the dirt. 

growth

You may have been buried alive for a long time. You may have eaten dirt and mistaken it for fudge, simply because you desired it.

truth

You may have packed your truth so deep down inside because you loved them. You loved them so much that you’d devour the soil that was meant for your growth just so they could heal. You tried to heal them. That is why you are worthy. That is why I know you’ll grow just as you were meant to, and now you’ll have more love left for you.

Instinctively

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If I witnessed sweat dripping from your palms at the sight of me,
I’d assume my face did something weird
Before ever assuming you could possibly be in love with me.

Categories: poems

Tags: , , ,

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