Poem: be aware


Short excerpt from the new book-length erasure poem, BAD THINGS HAPPEN.


31m2vqk1gvlthe evil
in this world

troubled
human history

call for help

LISTEN

in confidence ask
begin to understand
discern wisdom

LISTEN

open your eyes

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

be aware

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

they have been
deluded
they bought into
deceit

words
deluded them

LISTEN

you were captive
to traditions

you were buried
you were dead
you were hostile

you judged
defrauded
your mind

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

your freedom
distressed people

LISTEN

you learn
significant truths

BAD THINGS HAPPEN


Ready?


The First Time at the First Place

But I’m not ready to go home yet.
“But you can’t stay here forever.”
I know. But I’m not ready.

I don’t even know what ready means, or what ready looks like, or how ready feels. I just know that this is not ready. Thoughts of returning to the same circumstances that sent me to the hospital in the first place bring on panic attacks. I don’t think that’s ready. When I can’t stop crying whenever I think of going home, I don’t think that’s ready, either. When I shake so much I can’t eat, I suspect that’s also a sign I’m not ready.

“All, right. You can stay for one more day, but only one more day. That’s the best we can offer. You’ll need to use that day for preparing to go home. Can you do that?”
Yes. Okay. I understand. I will.

I do understand. I do. But even so, I don’t think I’ll be ready. At least they offered me one more day. One more day of safety from myself. One more day to breathe freely without fear that I’ll give up on life again. One more day to think about the thinking that led me to thinking that I needed to be in the hospital. One more day to accept the reality of life on the outside. One more day to steel myself for returning to the grief and loneliness. To return to the reality of pain and rejection. Of never-ending sadness. Of emptiness. Of hopelessness.


The Latest Time at a Different Place

The last time I was in the hospital, they sent me home before I was ready.
“We do things differently here. We won’t send you home until you’re ready.”
But last time I was told I just had to get myself ready and I couldn’t stay any longer, even though I was afraid to go home.
“If you feel afraid to go home, then you’re not ready. We won’t send you home until you’re ready.”
How will I know when I’m ready?
“You’ll know when you’re ready. We’ll know when you’re ready. We won’t kick you out, we promise. You can stay here until you’re ready.”
Oh. Okay. Thank you.

Is it weird to say I cried when the doctors told me I wouldn’t be going home for a while? I cried from happiness. I cried from sadness. I cried from sheer exhaustion. I cried from releasing the fear I’d been carrying. The fear of having to return home too soon. Perhaps this time will be the last time if I’m able to stay for enough time to finally discover what ready looks and feels like. What ready actually means.


Upside-Down World


upside down hanging lamp

This is a short excerpt from a project I’ll be working on during the month of July for Camp Nanowrimo. This work currently has no name.  It will be a cross-genre work of fiction blurred with non-fiction, poetry, memoir, prose, stream-of-consciousness, epistolary forms.  And whatever else may work its way in there.


Upside-Down World
by Debi


Friends become enemies. Lovers, exes. Families, estranged. What the hell’s happening? The world is upside-down. My world is upside-down.

I’d lie on my back, hang my head down over the edge of the bed—down over the edge of the world—and the ceiling of my childhood home became the floor. The floor, the ceiling.  Magic.  This was Upside-Down World. A charmed world peopled by people similar to my people. But altered. Different. Stronger. Bolder. I was younger. Ceiling Girl older.

Upside-Down World was sparse. The only décor, an occasional floor lamp (the hanging lamps of right-side up world). The floor (my ceiling) was white, flowing-from-room-to-room. White. Always the same. Uniform. Level. Steady. I sensed something serene about those sparsely furnished and simply colored ceiling spaces. I knew nothing of Zen. But felt the truth. Less was more.

Lying on my back in this house, this home of my grownup years, the ceiling’s slanted. Unsteady. Yes. So is grownup life. No level surfaces. No easy answers. No sure footing. An upside-down world.

Dear Ceiling Girl …

You’ve watched. What did you see? What do you see? Does it make sense? You’ve followed me forever, looking down. A witness. Seen the highs. The rockbottomness of rockbottoms. Can you trace the path, the twisted journey, that led here? I’m lost. I’m here, but lost.  Confused.  I miss the surety of childhood’s future. The hopes. Dreams. Imaginations. Magic. Witchcraft. Wishcraft.

Are you still there, Ceiling Girl? Or did this upside-down world shake your footing, too?

~Me


Poem: at fault

by Debi


I sat alone                with them all
my greatest fear        realized
.

alone

 

I would’ve been
.                              less alone
if I’d stayed
.                              home alone
.                              brokenhearted
is it
.                   my       fault
.                   no        fault
.                   his        fault
.                   her       fault
.                   their     fault

 

when     everyone’s
.                 at           fault
who’s    to                  blame?

 

I would say
.               our            fault
but there seems to be
.                               no our

 

is it no one’s fault?

 

I’ll take the                blame
sometimes                 it’s easier to be
.                               perceived as
.                               the one wronging others
.   rather than             convincing others
.                               you’re the one wronged

 

if it keeps the peace

.                               then

 

it’s my fault

 

(does this make me a doormat?)

Writing Prompt: The Freezer


This was written in response to a writing prompt given in an MFA class last year:

“Write from the perspective of a common home appliance.”

I found that if this is read without knowing who or what the “I” is, it’s quite unnerving.  Serial killer, perhaps?  I stumbled across this on my computer today and had forgotten I’d written it, or even what it was about.  Creeped me out.  It brought to mind for me “Psycho” and someone a bit like Norman Bates.


The Freezer
by Debi

Darkness, total and complete.  Bone-chilling cold.  Stacks of frozen carcasses.  Solid ice.  The never-altering, eternally freezing, condition of my life.  Waiting.  Always waiting.  Quietly humming tuneless songs. Wondering when a flash of light and heat will signal the entrance of The Family, disturbing my solitary, frozen existence.

My downstairs neighbor receives frequent visits from The Family throughout the day.  Although my neighbor’s darkness is also complete, the blackness never lasts as long as the darkness I live in.  His cold environment isn’t enough to form ice or frost.  The fluids are chilled but still liquid.  The carcasses are preserved for a time, but not eternally frozen.  The Family worries when the small glass bulb which provides light burns out in my neighbor’s apartment.  My living space has no light source of its own.  Only when the door opens do I see the contents of my own interior.


Notebook Cento #5 – now is a now and this is a this


Sometimes I go back through my notebooks from Graduate school and make centos (collage poems) from phrases I find in the pages.   This is the fifth of a series of centos from my notebooks.


now is a now and this is a this

Notebook Cento #5
by Debi

a now is a now is a now
creating space
.                        between self and outside
.               inside and out
1st person and 3rd
disjunctive
.                  disruptive
find a place, not a position
not an either/or
.                    but an and and an and and an and and …
respect the thing itself
this is this, is this, is this—
.                 rather than this is that

Poem: The End of the World

This was written in response to a gallery exhibition at the University of Washington Bothell called “Particles on the Wall” which had artwork and poetry created in response to the Handford nuclear site in Washington State.  I wandered back through the gallery a second time and wrote down images and phrases that were either inspired by the work, or seen in the poetry, thus creating a response to the totality of the exhibition.


The End of the World
by Debi

I forgive
I forgive
I must forgive

Shall I show you how we dressed our wounds?
downwater downriver
terminal winds
leaking glowing circling dying

someone launched
someone drove
someone fished
and never knew

easy to bury
in the late afternoon
dragged home
bedded down
the rest of us slept
in the river’s shadow

half a million years til Spring
what fossils will the future find?
we have gone blind
we are blind
the desert eats dust
a rabbit digs its own grave

obsolete history
drafted history
voided history
closed history
engineered history

restart
by dawn’s light

origami made from living flesh
unrecognizable
graying

the children unborn
carrying on the family business
cleaning up the waste
from the death beds of their fathers

this is my blood
a chalice of death
the last power
the final cover up

Notebook Cento #2

Sometimes I go back through my notebooks from Graduate school and make centos (collage poems) from phrases I find in the pages.   This is the second of a series of centos from my notebooks.


Notebook Cento #2
by Debi

justify the story
what will serve you
formal constraints
dialogue
punctum
multi-faceted narrative
help us
guide us

fiction’s fuckin’ gone
facing the end
walk off the grief
behind the tear duct


Experiment: An American Story


by Debi


My first word was boat.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the Coast from Coos Bay.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the Coast from Coos Bay near the spot their family landed after sailing the Plains in a Prairie Schooner.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the Coast from Coos Bay near the spot their family landed after sailing the Plains in a Prairie Schooner who were descended from Puritans who crossed The Pond on the second boat to Plymouth.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the Coast from Coos Bay near the spot where the family landed after sailing the Plains in a Prairie Schooner who were descended from Puritans who crossed The Pond on the second boat to Plymouth whose ancestor was a second son of royalty who came across the North Sea from Sweden.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father had been a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the coast from Coos Bay near the spot where the family landed after sailing the Plains in a Prairie Schooner who were descended from Puritans who crossed The Pond on the second boat to Plymouth whose ancestor was a second son of royalty who came across the North Sea from Sweden who was descended from Vikings who circled and settled the Norwegian Sea from Norway to Iceland to Scotland to Ireland and possibly Greenland and even America.

My first word was boat.