Thursday, March 10, 2016

Discarded Toys

I play with my rabbit
every day, sometimes twice.
Often, I wish it velveteen,

as real as the smack
of a riding crop
as I rock my mount,
ridden wet, and hard.

Not every toy was meant to be velveteen.
The streams never crossed,
left alone and solitary
in my toy box.

For you, I was only a plaything,
Never meant to be made real.

Bunnies can break.
Your mechanical heart needs winding.

You box me up,
your discarded toy,
that bored you,
displeased you.

My answers were always wrong.
I never learned to tell
the fairy tales quite
the way you wanted.

I'm just another locked toy box,
left out for whoever might want
a broken, discarded plaything,

a rag doll waiting for a new master.

Find it here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Take My Wings

Butterfly fragile,
my wings new grown.
I flew. I dreamed,
and I flew

right into your net.
Coaxed by a breath of words
fluttered into my susceptible ears,
Entrapped by my own desire.
to believe

that the intensity in your eyes
was more than the clinical interest
of a magnifying glass.

Pin my wings,
taking out your heart
even as I strip bare.

Mount me.
I helped you weave the net
so much thicker, so much tighter,
with my own indiscretions.

Bind me, wrapping me fast
into my cocoon.
Turn me back
from newly metamorphed butterfly
to graceless worm.

I let you experiment,
your gaze scientist cold,
forgetting I once knew

how to fly.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rape Culture

I debated a long time with myself about writing this post.   I considered deleting it.

It may be that I am over-reacting to a commonplace event.  It may be that I am feeling unusually vulnerable and emotional this week.

I have had this debate with my 18 year old son innumerable times.  He critiques third wave feminism, saying they are overly politically correct, are always looking for a reason to take offense.  He tells me that in America we don't have a rape culture.  In America, a woman can get on a bus alone without having to worry about being gang raped.  Women are empowered.  We can dress as we like, go where we please, say what we want.

I always disagree.  I know that in other cultures, women live in more oppressive regimes.  Generally, we're a little safer.  We have more freedoms.  I cannot deny those points, but I still believe that we live in a rape culture.

Unless you're female, unless you've lived in our skin, I don't think a man can understand what I mean.

Sometimes, I forget myself.  For the past seven years, I've lived in a suburban, rural setting where I've encountered minimal amounts of that feeling of objectification and powerlessness.

In part of my mind, I began to think I may have aged out of that feeling.  That turning 40 gave me some sort of immunity, a sort of invisibility from that sort of unwanted attention.

Of course, I was completely wrong.

Yesterday I had to go down to New Orleans to renew my occupational license.  That license grants me the legal right to sell my art in the New Orleans area.  It helps grant me my livelihood so it was something I absolutely needed to do.

I haven't been down to New Orleans alone, in a non-art market environment, in fifteen years.  I lived in New Orleans, visited New Orleans, love the city.  Of course, every time I've been out and about there, I always had at least one of my four children in tow.

Yesterday, I was alone.  I dressed in my everyday winter uniform of leggings, boots, long tank top, and slightly over-sized tee with a hoodie.  Admittedly, I put on one of my favorite pairs of striped leggings and one of my favorite tees in a lovely shade of pine green.  I put on mascara, blush, and lip stain, same as I do every time I leave the house.  My hair is a brilliant shade of radioactive red, and I like it that way.   I wouldn't characterize the look as particularly seductive.  It's just who I am.

I drove down to the city, found a parking spot about six blocks away from City Hall, and started walking.  The walk to the building was quiet.  I only encountered a few people on the way, nothing too extraordinary.  I man called, "Hello, Sunshine," to me from across the street.  A few men told me good morning, nothing jarring occurred.

I got to the main entrance and paused for a moment, trying to figure out which door was the right one.  Two men in uniforms walked up behind me and pointed at the proper door on the far right.  They gestured me ahead of them which on the one hand seems polite and gentlemanly, but I was uncomfortably aware of where they were looking when I walked ahead of them, but again, not that unusual.

I was directed to the right office.  I turned in my paperwork and, within fifteen minutes, had my brand new, beautifully crisp and unwrinkled occupational license.  Huzzah.  Mission accomplished.

I headed back out.  I walked about two blocks down Perdido Street, encountering a few people, here and there, but the streets were mostly empty yesterday morning.  I saw a man in uniform walking toward me.  He was pleasant looking, thirtyish.  He made eye contact and gave me a noncommittal smile.  I responded with a similar smile.  I've found that it never hurts to be friendly toward people in authority.  When he got within two feet of me, he said, "How's it going, sexy?"

I dropped eye contact and hurried on, suddenly feeling somehow powerless, extremely vulnerable, and objectified.

If he had said, "How's it going?" followed by nothing, or even something more innocuous like sweetie, or ma'am, the entire encounter would have meant nothing.  Instead, I came away from it shaken.

I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to remember where I had parked, taking at least two wrong turns.  A man emerged from a building a block ahead of me and kept pausing to stare back at me.  I was alone on the street.  I felt a growing sense of unease and paranoia.

Why was he looking at me?  Just how provocative was my outfit?

He turned into another building and I finally remembered how to get to my car.

All I wanted to do was get out of the city.

I lived in New Orleans for twenty years.  I can't count the number of times I was harassed on the street by strange men.  It never really use to bother me.

Maybe I lost my protective coating.  In his head, maybe calling me sexy was meant as an innocuous compliment, but it colored my perception of every encounter I had yesterday.  It reminded me that no female is immune.

Those looks, those comments, we don't like them.  Wearing leggings and a hoodie on a cool winter day doesn't mean I'm inviting that kind of attention.

The fact that it happened and I felt the way I felt reinforces to me that we still have a rape culture.

I debated a while about writing this up and posting it.  This sort of event happens to women of all ages every day.

The last time I posted about being sexually harassed on the street, a friend criticized me for not responding to the comments and ensuring that the offending man never did a thing like that again.

When it happened yesterday, I didn't respond.  I just walked away as quickly as I could.  Does that mean that he went on to call another woman sexy that afternoon?  Possibly.  Will he do it again today, and tomorrow?  Quite possibly.

Should I have stopped and said something?  Told him how he made me feel?  I'm not that brave.

His uniform gives him instant authority and power.  His gender bestows on him bigger size and more strength.

Maybe I am a coward.  My silence ensures that he can and will do it again.

Every encounter I have like that one where I walk away feeling powerless and objectified reminds me that I am not brave, that I feel paralyzed when confronted with that sort of attention.

I didn't invite it.  I walked down the street, alone.

Which is why I have to disagree with my 18 year old son who can walk down the street without being afraid of that kind of attention, that has never known what it is like to feel that powerless and that vulnerable,  I think we have a rape culture.

Until I can walk down a public street without feeling that vulnerability and subsequent shame, I am going to consider this a rape culture.

I'm sorry, son, but for all your objective brilliance and logic, you are completely wrong.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Killed It

I killed you.
Handed you the gun.
Loaded the bullets

that night when I ended
everything and anything
that might have been.

You voiced everything
I refused to give form.

You struggled to find
your way out of the cave
while I embraced the blindness,
huddled in claustrophobia.

How many bullets,
how many reasons did you need?
How many nights did you
play that game, uncertain
if you really wanted victory?

I voided your depression.
The unraveling of your mind
exposed my unfinished edges,
my own potential for madness.

Could I have counted
out your pills for twenty years,
pulled you back from sanity
every time you danced to the edge?

I was never brave enough for you.
Uncertain how to rescue a damsel,
I left you to fight your dragons alone.

I think of you every time
I bring the whip down on my own back.
I learned to wallow,
but never knighted up.

Put the gun in your mouth.
How many bullets did I give you?
Pull the trigger. Once. Twice, and
silence everything about myself
I ever saw, reflected back from

your beautiful, dead eyes.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Self Portrait Series

My long term resolution for the New Year has been to 
confront my tendency toward harsh self criticism and to try 
to be more accepting of who I am and the skin I am in.

So far, I've done a series of photographic selfies, but my 
friend Shiloh, who always was and still is, smarter and more 
insightful than I am, suggested that maybe I should be 
looking at this as an art project, a la Frida Kahlo.

I contemplated that idea. It makes more sense than merely 
staring at mirror images of myself on a computer screen. I 
don't know that I will ever love photographs of myself. I 
don't know if I will ever be able to view myself without 
focusing on my flaws, but I can certainly confront and fight 
against that tendency in myself.

I picked out my first selfie of 2016 and tried to alter myself 
into art. If the standard of success is to obliterate most of 
myself from the piece, then I think I succeeded.

Still, it's a new slant on an only slightly older project. I am a 
work in progress. Long live vanity!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Loving Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar, leading your flock 
of raven hounds,
could you smell it on me: 
despair and weakness
with a whiff of amontillado?

Do you possess a sixth sense?
Am I the low hanging body 
on your corpse tree?

Would you love me, 
then leave me, bury me,
mourning me with a proper lament?

Brick me in with your own hands,
whisper sweet nevermore in my ear.

Could we role play in a sepulcher?
Let me call you cousin.

Rise and fall for me, Edgar.
Swing your pendulum round and round.

Feel the tell tale beat of my heart,
served just the way you like it:
cold and seasoned with despair.

Find it here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cupid Set Match

I gleam from my neat shiny box,
rowed and arranged,
categorized and numbered.
Scroll, stop, select.

Touch my fire hot skin.
I promise the burn 
doesn't last.

Your detached heart
only beats for the unknown.
New is always better.
Love refreshed daily.

Keep your edge, 
your streak unending,
my song unplayed.
I don't know your rules.

I invite you to peel
my onion layers.
Your eyes ghost me.
You never learned 
how to cry.

Find it here.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Give Me Back My Voice

Anecdotal evidence is everything.
One in six. One in forty. One in one.
Your statistics and methodology
mean nothing to me.
Percentages lie.

Left powerless and muted;
disassembled and left in pieces
by hands, mistrusted, distrusted hands.

My frog skin peeled,
insides laid open.
My organs on view.

To reveal his Illuminati secrets
means exposing my own guilt,
my culpability in every evil act
he ever committed, after me.
20 layers of guilt,
my own pain a lump
under it all.
No wonder I can't sleep.

I would be seen through a filter
of my own victimization.
Your lenses are red, not rosy.

I cease to be me.
I become the thing that was done to me.
Pitied, vilified, probably both at once.
I become a sample in a kit.
I become a statistic 
to be skewed on a chart.

You claimed all my layers.
Thighs and lips and breasts and hair.
Even my bones feel wrong.

If I could just speak,
If I could spoil every plot
you ever conceived,
If I could take it all back,
reclaim everything you ever took,

starting with my voice.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


I offered you my heart,
plattered. You weren't hungry.
The silver was tarnished.

You bricked it in,
untasted, to your hollow chest,
bloodied and beating,
unconcerned that you
might be killing me.
I chose poorly.

Your vision was narrowed,
blindered and staring,
seeing only the inside
of your own skull.

I carved away my pound of flesh.
I could never slice off enough.
You taste nothing;
your appetite, ravenous.

Can I have my heart back now?

The buffet is closed.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Love of the Red Death

Bricked up.  Sealed in.
Your own Montresor.
Love and hate barricaded
in equal measure.

I slid in gently,
indifferent to the snap of bone.

You wore your gloom, unknowing.
Your beaked mask protruded,
limiting your vision

You stroked my inspection, 
heavy with ambergris and mint.
Your fingers were already blackened.

Gird your wall, Prospero.
Iron your gates.

I can feel the telling rash,
heated and heavy.
The infection is already within.

Find it here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Three of Swords

How much pain can the heart hold?

My Tarot Card series has been on the back burner of late, but the Three of Swords expresses exactly how I feel about this week.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


My reflection is worn and weary.
I check every day.
She never alters for the better.

The mirror cracks.
Alice stranded on the wrong side.
Impossible Alice,
flushed from her victory
over the Red Queen,
fresh and full of hot tea and cakes,
smoked and delicious.

I peel her apple skin,
round and round and round,
from bottom to top.

I wear her well.
She hangs a little loose.
I can make adjustments.

I left her lying there,
flayed and quiet,
cored and tasteless.

Dig the hole deep.
Six feet.  Twelve feet.
A nail through her forehead,
heart staked.

She will not grope her way out
of her grave.
She will not rise, to walk,
a zombie at rest.

I prefer my pie 
with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Find it here.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Why I Am a Ginger

And Why I am a Ginger in the brightest and most vibrant shade I can find.

Someone asked me recently why I dye my  hair.  "Are you looking for attention?"

I floundered for an answer, responding that I like the color and was completely bored of being blonde.

He followed up.  "Doesn't everyone want to be blonde?"

Not after forty years of it, they don't.

"Why red?  Why not purple or blue?"

Red seemed like a slightly more natural choice, I hedged.

He may have smirked slightly.  After all, the red of my  hair does not occur naturally on the heads of people.

The conversation moved on to other topics, but I was acutely aware that I didn't answer his questions; not fully, not completely.

I didn't just wake up one day and decide I was tired of being a blonde.  I did wake up one day to a completely different life, with a completely unplanned future.

My husband had died after a long, brutal illness.  In a sense, when I buried him, I buried a version of myself.

I buried that blonde girl of long ago, that version of myself ceased to be.

Now, I could have wallowed.  I could have propped up that empty undead version of myself, but I had children to care for.  Wallowing was never an option.

Instead, I buried her, even mourned her, but she was dead.  Life had to be for the living.

I was left with a stranger wearing the face of a dead woman.  

I needed to become someone else.  I wanted the new woman to be vibrant.  I wanted her to go out and live.  I needed her to be brave.

I found art.  It became my salvation, my healing, and my new beginning.  

That art girl needed a thick shell.  Rejection happens daily for her.  Self doubt is inevitable.  I chose a difficult path for her.

Louis the Cat wrote that caps lock is how he feels on the inside, all the time.

Which is precisely why I went ginger.  The vibrancy, the brilliant daring of my hair is how I want to appear to the world.  It's how I want to feel on the inside all the time.  

So maybe my friend was right.  Maybe I do it for the attention.  Maybe I do it because it's the easiest way for me to remember who I want to be, even on days when what I really want is to crawl into the back of my closet and hide from the world.  

But, that girl, the one with the brilliant, vibrant hair, she doesn't hide, not from anyone, not from the world, and absolutely, never from herself.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Kintsugi Illusions

I practiced the art of kintsugi.
I wanted to believe in flawed beauty,
that I could repair my cracks,
upgrade my broken bits
with veins of gold.
The paint never dries.

I wrapped the butchery
with gauze and illusion.
Adhering my mask,
hoping for my pound of  pretense
like so many layers of mummified sludge.

Your fisted flesh inside me
scraped my resolve.
My bandages slipped,
exposing my deception.

You manufactured 
the distance between us,
calculating the cost of repairs
for my faulty engineering,
The right angles wronged.

The paint, blighted and bitter,
Pipes had been cut.

I forgot to read the manual.

Find it here.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Dance with Death

The ground is softest behind the pond.
Ankles lost in the mud.
The shovel grows weary.

Your neat package of tape and plastic
is fraying around the edges.

I reveled in the calm.
I never had to answer questions 
that were never asked.

The loneliness ghosted my nights
until you oozed your way 
into my every crevice.

I waited and waded through calls
and messages of self doubt and uncertainty.
Scheduling became my master.

I longed for the lost quiet 
even as I enjoyed the rush of being
pinioned and over powered;
the gravity and the thrust,
the taking of flight.

I forgot my way,
and crossed the streams.
The cost-benefit ratio weighed
against you.
I chose the silence.

The neighbor has a new dog.
I need to dig the hole a little deeper.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Demon Lover

I knew you, but briefly.
Your words a flutter on my lips.
You boarded your airship to anywhere,
leaving me, altered and alone.

I peeled your skin
to make my own suit.
Curled your mustache.
Flowered your beard.
Bow tie or cravat?
Both suited you.

We waltzed in dazzling splendor,
strolled in the depths of the catacombs,
Our conversation balloons
followed in slow triumph.

Your phantom weight strained
even as your incubi fingers
found all my secrets.

Until, fleshed, you returned,
breathing in my castle.
Your weight collapsed 
all my architecture,
ephemerally perfect.

My demon lover imploded,
Xanadu, revisited.
The goo will leave a stain.

Captain, board your ship.
My port has closed.

Find it here.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Reflections on 2015 and Resolving to Love 2016 as well as Myself

I feel as if I should be writing something inspirational; a sort of pep talk for myself.

I realize that the New Year is an arbitrary date picked even as the earth continues spinning on its axis and it pursues its long orbit of the sun, but the day still rings with significance.  My ears have been ringing with well wishes and my Facebook feed is flooded with resolutions and good intentions.

Looking back on 2015, the year had its ups and downs.  My oldest children took more steps away from me and into the great wide world.  The quiet still surprises me.

My daughter will be starting her only little family in just a few weeks.  How is that even remotely possible?  My head is still spinning.

Career wise, I had some true delights this year, being honored to participate in the Chez Fab shows as well as the first Cru$sade show at the Spanish Moon in October.  

I enjoyed my trips out to the local art markets, despite far too many rain outs.  My holiday markets certainly ended on a positive upswing.  

I am feeling more confident in my work and more willing to self-identify as an artist.

I set goals for 2015, some of which I achieved.  I continued to trudge through my Spanish tutorials which I began in 2014.  I despair of ever actually being able to speak Spanish as I am more likely to substitute French words for the correct Spanish ones.

I have managed to maintain my blog, which I also began in 2014 so, this far, I did well.

I didn't meet my goals of exercising more often and eating more healthily so I guess they go back on the list for 2016.

I'm never certain where to post my blogs, my poetry, or my art.  On my business Facebook page or on my personal Facebook page?  I am my business and everything I post usually circles back to that in one way or another.  I suppose I will continue posting haphazardly on both.  Le sigh.

My one, brand new, fresh resolution is to learn calligraphy.  When I joined the Albright Players, back in 2014, I intended to learn but never did.  I didn't make it all the way to Faire season but I renewed my ambitions again in 2015.  

I made it through  most of Faire season this time but have finally accepted that I cannot shoehorn my love for the Renaissance fair and my work as an artist into the same frantic six week holiday season.  

Still, I think I owe it to the retired Millicent Sparrow, retired Village scribe, to actually learn calligraphy.  So, serious resolve face in place.

I pleasantly surprised myself this year by renewed interest in writing poetry.  Since I haven't picked up that particular pursuit in 25 years, I was delighted at how quickly it seemed to come back.  I cannot claim that I am any better at it now than I was then, but I am enjoying it.

I am still uncertain as to how combine the art narrative and the written narrative.  One inspires the other but how to meld them into one harmonious whole?

For me, my art has always been about that frozen moment in time and how the viewer interacts with it.  I think of my pieces as a bit of time from some unknown storybook, some half-forgotten history.  The narrative in my  head doesn't have to match the narrative in that of the viewer.  In fact, I prefer it if it doesn't.

My poetry works much the same way.  Can the two be combined?  It's an ongoing process.

I also made the decision to change my  hanging work from framed prints to mounted canvas.  Now I just need to learn how to mount my own.  

Perhaps my most important goal for 2016 is to learn to be comfortable in my own skin.  I've been fighting the same extra 20 lbs for about ten years now.  I just need to accept that maybe I won't ever be a size 8 again, and that, is perfectly fine.

I ended the year by taking and posting a selfie.  I never post photos of myself as I always hate every last one of them.  I need to learn to like, even love, my reflection.  

It's my skin.  I need to learn to love it.