Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Save A Fish (The Beginning of the End)

(Pre-Script: This post should be read as the song, "Crashing Down," #29 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song. Then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)(...still waiting...)

I saved the life of a fish today.

It was just flopping there on the shore, near the water, but just outside of it. I'd never seen that before, and I've been to the shore about 27,338 times. Not that I have been counting or anything. I was fascinated by the fish, so full of life and floppiness. Yet I knew it was dying. I knew it by the way he was talking to me, his mouth flopping open and shut, open and shut, like he was speaking to me in his ancient, native fish language about all of the things he feared and hoped...which were likely all of the things that I feared and hoped, too, and I wanted to say to him, "I know," because I did know. I had so much in common with that fish that I would have liked to have sat him down at the nearby coffee shop and done some lip flapping of my own, in the language he would not understand, either, but which would have mirrored everything he had just said to me back at him. I sensed he did not have time for it, though. I knew that the humane thing to do would be to throw the fish as far as I could out into the ocean. But I am not nearly that magnanimous. I could not stand to touch his slimy fish body, though I did admire the beauty of his rainbow scales and how they glowed in the sunlight. I noticed some nearby seaweed, still wet, so I wrapped that around the fish, the idea being to pick him up in the sea weed and throw the whole live fish burrito wrap into the sea. But the reason that the whole concept of the "live fish" burrito has never taken off in fish markets around the world, aside from obvious reasons, is that live fish just fling themselves right out of that burrito wrapper; they do not like to be contained, especially if their wrapper is itself wet and slippery. I will point out here that seaweed is quite healthy to eat, and the concept of seaweed wrapped fish burritos is actually a pretty good idea, so good, in fact, that I am surprised no one else ever thought of it before.

"But Michelle,

My imaginary reader interrupts here-
"Michelle, someone else did already think of that, and called it 'sushi.'"
"...and the fish is not alive, but raw, which is as close as you can get."

Oh ya.

So anyway, after the fish flung itself back onto the sand, having decided that my seaweed sandwich idea was not in it's best interest, I had to think of something else. And since I could come up with no other way to get the fish back into his desired ocean with my own two hands, I had no choice but to kick the fish back into the water. Only I also couldn't stand the thought of my feet touching the fish, either. So I sort of dug my toes in the sand right under where the fish was, and kicked the sand up towards the ocean. At the time I did this, the tide rolled in, so it ended up being a group effort, my self from one end, the ocean from the other. When the tide rolled back, the fish was still on the shore, though closer to sea, so I had to repeat this fish kicking process a few more times, and the ocean continued to help me from it's end of the bargain. Eventually, the sea rolled back out, and took the fish with it. I imagine by this time, the fish had regained his sense of hope, and started swimming on it's own again, no longer requiring the assistance of a random beach girl and the entire weight of the ocean. I imagine that he swam out with gusto, and that now there was a message in all of his lip flopping, and he was able to carry it on to his fellow fish friends. I hope to someday be done with my own shore flopping, my own open mouthed yapping to those who don't have a clue what I am saying, or how to save me from my own extinction, but who nevertheless put forth the effort and creativity to try, in hopes that something greater than all of us will catch me on the other end, bless them. I was encouraged by this thought as I watched the receding tide.

But most likely what actually happened is that once the fish got out to the sea I had helped him get back into, he was eaten by a fish much larger than himself, and that it happened so fast, as he was in mid "never give up" hope inducing speech, and he never saw his own doom coming. This is as it should be.


Friday, October 21, 2011

why i run

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, "Gravity," #20 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

because when I'm not doing it,
I forget how much I hate doing it,
which is the only reason
anyone runs.
Today I went slow, because of a busted leg
that sometimes I can pound anyway,
sometimes not, and today
was a "sometimes not."
Still, I ran what I could because life
is running up hill carrying the broken
aching thing.
We carry this pain up the mountain,

and wince.

I kept my eyes down just at the
next step in front of me,
since knowing I have more to go than that far
is enough to send me reeling,
and sometimes
even knowing that much is still too much to know.
so I close my eyes and pray my way,
by feel more than sight,
in faith that the next step
will be the one in front of my foot.
I heard a voice telling me to look out
over the vista point since I was here anyway.
I was not particularly moved by the buildings down below,
though it was an impressive view.


Selling Me

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, "Round Here, #36 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

"Don't try to sell me on you"

you said,


I have no need

to sell you something that

I already own.

That's why I am free to give you things-
rocks and books and pictures I drew, something
that reminds me of you or your shadow,
something that reminds me of me in the ways I
like to be remembered.
And you would look me funny
with your face slightly turned and your
body language temporarily frozen in mid
gesture of guffaw
when I tell you that,
your eyes would say "you are lying,"
then soften slightly, rise to actually meet mine finally,
and ask, "are you REALLY sure about that?"
by which point I have already moved on in the conversation
to saying the thing that is me being who naturally comes out of my mouth
which is me and not some
version who wants
to be proven by the thing I already know inside, even if
you don't yet know it.

It took me until this afternoon

to realize that what I do doesn't matter

half as much as why I do it,

and that my freedom in knowing

means that you are free to not have to.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Empty Shells

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, " Other Side Of The World," #33 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

Last night I had two dreams, both about being stuck in a shopping mall with a lot of levels and a lot of stairs. I remember the pervasive feeling of loneliness, and it was a huge contained space in which to feel so very deeply lonely.
So today, I drove to the most open space I know. All the way there, I sang loudly at the top of my lungs and imagined I was singing on a stage where people were listening and loving it-not loving my voice, necessarily, but loving ME, for being there, for doing it, for my moxie and willingness to stand before them and sing, anyway. It was overcast when I got to the shore, and I was alone, and I let the waves crash over me because that was where the glass was hidden among the pebbles, the treasure just there where the waves were breaking, so I let myself get soaked by them, I let them wash over me as I continued searching beneath.
Later, when I was cold and goose bumped, I drove away wondering where I was going. I was so tired and wanted a place to rest my head. Shivering takes a lot out of a person, especially the soul shiver of not knowing where I might exist in this world, but guessing that it's some place I have not yet seen, or that has not yet been discovered, or is not even a physical place on this planet. How many rocks and broken shells a person can turn over, shells that once contained something, that now when you hold them up to your ear you hear the rush and whisper of the lives they once contained, what they at one time housed. I drove back with a bucket full of beautiful, empty shells and wondered where I would eventually lay my head.


White Board

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, "The End of The Innocence," #40 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

We write the truth, our truths-
in red, purple and black,
bruise colors-
they are hard to read even
when you press down,
the ink is old and drying, but
we write because it is still our truth
still our bruises, ours
("if I didn't trust you,
I wouldn't let you write on my whiteboard,"
you said)


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Other such smallish things of delicious proportions

(Pre-Script: This post goes best with a side of 100% pure maple syrup and as the song, "Uncharted," #27 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

So I don't know about you, but I just spent about an hour and a half inventing a new recipe. I was craving pancakes. I almost just said, 'I was craving 'a pancake,' but that would have been misleading; I don't believe in eating only one pancake/cookie/cupcake/ or other such smallish thing of delicious proportions...I think that to eat just one is a form of torture heretofore not developed by warring countries against their prisoners. It is much easier to eat none than just one. I don't believe in portion control. I think that if you are going to indulge in the good stuff, go big, go large, go huger than gigantic. The only other option is abstinence; there is no sane in between place. Trust me.

My friend Vicki and I used to create these elaborate feasts for each other when we were hungry. We would scour the fridge and cupboards and come up with a smorgasbord of whatever looked delicious. Often, it involved Pillsbury Grand biscuits that we would dip in ranch dressing with a side of sugar wafers-the pink, white, and chocolate variety pack-which we would eat while watching some made for TV movie that her mom had recorded the week before. Often, if would involved finishing whatever variety of cookies were in the house. Man your posts, Oreos. Try to hold up a fight against us and our glasses of milk, chips ahoy!. We decided that it was most conciderate of us to eat all of the cookies instead of leaving just one behind for her sister. We discussed heartily and agreed that for her sister, or anyone else, to come home to a house that contained only one cookie would have been cruel, so we did not leave a single cookie behind. It was a mercy killing; it was the least we could do. Sisterly love has no limits.* I would like to point out here that yes, we were sober during these smorgasbord-athons, unless you consider the Ritalin that I was taking in doctor prescribed large quantities that made me ravenous every 3 hours, yet still caused me to lose about 20 lbs. And Vic was just thin because she was the kind of young toned thing that we all love to hate. And also, this was just about the time when Vic and I took up running as a sport, because we had heard that running was "good for us." I'm the only one of us who stuck to it, and I now run enough miles every week for both of us. But she has asthma as an excuse, having been born almost 3 months premature, so it is only natural and right that I would be the one to keep up with the running. But I digress.
So there I was, craving a bushel full of pancakes this afternoon, but not willing to invest in the carbohydrates. The only plausible solution I could come up with was to make up my own recipe, and so I did; in roughly 17 seconds, (but I wasn't actually timing it) I had come up with a no carb recipe involving quinoa and crushed flax seeds which was already causing my salivatory glands to work overtime, and I was already serving them up at a cute-ish, small-ish pancake and smoothie cafe that also plays live music various nights of the week in the quaint comfortable room in the back where the customers sit on mismatched easy chairs and plush couches with colorful throw pillows that sometimes get tossed around if the Friday night music is particularly rousing and the crowd is particularly randy. And then I went home and created my dream concoction.
It was delicious, and at the same time, not so much. In fact, it kind of sucked. I loved it, anyway. In my mind, I am already tweaking what needs to be tweaked to make the next batch better than this one. Like for instance, actually measuring the ingredients might sometimes come in handy. So much of life is about the pursuit of creating the perfect pancake. The thing is, you can never get it perfect all the way. I enjoyed the mother load of pancakes that I ate today because I had taken the time to make them myself, and because of the satisfaction that comes with that. And also because in the end, they weren't half bad; in fact, they were pretty darn tasty. I would toast to that, if my fingers weren't so maple syrup sticky.


*Except for when it does.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What you didn't know

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, "Somewhere Only We Know" plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)
You gave me a card with a picture
on the front that you unknowingly
pulled out of the dream I've been having
for 17 years,
the one image I had yet not figured out,
the one image I had not yet told you about,
at least not with words,
and then I knew.
Seeing in front of me on paper what I had only been seeing
on the inside of the bones of my skull
told me in an instant
what 17 years of analysis had not,
and I did not need to read what was inside-
there were words you had written
but they were someone else's language,
did not make sense to me, because
they were wall words,
and I was lightening, and what does lightening
understand of concrete,
except to illuminate the truth of it,
except to shatter it in two.
(Why are you so afraid that I
am not afraid of your truth?)


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alone in a room with a child

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, "Blackbird," #22 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

i am alone in a room with a clock,
and the clock has large red numbers.

Scratch that, i am not alone,
a child is in the room with me,
one so small and quiet and still
you could forget she was here for
half a second. I can hardly see her in
the dark pale light, she looks like a
lump of blanket; but then she sighs
in her sleep, a giving up of the last breath
she had been holding too long,
lets it out like finally.
If only waking hours could align in such a peace.
Tonight, a separate stillness,
as i stay awake
in a room where she sleeps


Dead Seagulls

(Pre-Script: This post should be read as the songs, "Other Side Of The World," then "If I Die Young," #34 and #38 on the playlist, play in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on those songs in that order, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

I guess I never noticed before today how many dead seagulls a girl can find at the beach. I swear I saw at least 5 seagull carcasses, and on a smallish patch of beach, too. This is starting to sound like some kind of ecological message about saving the planet, but the thing is, and this is what disturbed me about the situation today, seagulls aren't even pleasant when they are alive. Dead, they're good at decomposing and stinking up your airspace. Alive, they are good at crapping on your head and chasing around your potato chip clutching toddler. Either way, they are rude. Either way, they are only good at ruining your picnic.
I talked to a woman a few years ago who told me that because she was from Illinois, she had always thought that seagulls were really cool birds. To her landlocked mindset, seagulls seemed like some kind of magical, mystical creature, like something out of Greek mythology or something symbolic of freedom, so close they were to the ocean and the sky and therefore God and such. It wasn't until she moved her family to a California beach town that she understood the mindset of those who actually live among seagulls; that they are, more accurately, rat birds.
Unfortunately, by the time she and her family understood this, her daughter already had seagulls tattooed all across her back.
I don't mean to sound heartless; I am truly not pro-extinction of any species. Save the Seagulls and let's live together in harmony and give peace a chance and all of that. But it was clear to me, today, at least, that feathers and stink are all that that remains of a life spent squawking after the hopes of someone else's cookie crumbs.



(Pre-Script: This post should be read as the song, "Superman," #2 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

I remember being inside of a building that was exploding. The thing is, I had seen it from the outside, shining as the sunlight bounced directly off of it's walls, so straight and tall; I could see the first shiver in the shining off of one of the windows, the shift in the light, and instead of running away, I ran straight towards it; right to the very center of the building, and stood there as the structure exploded around me. This is a strange position to be in, or at least uncommon. Around me, things crashed, electric wires got tripped and there were sparks and color almost like fireworks, but all I could hear was the constant underlying hum and crash against crash. When I looked down, sparks were coming off of my fingertips-I had touched some electric current, and it had left me charged, a live wire, so everything I touched was made electric by my internal flame. Strange to stand in the middle of your own implosion, and feel nothing, and be nothing, except just a part of it, the heart of it, but that cannot be true can it? To know that you have become the girl with electric fingers? Yes, it can, and it is maybe not so strange after all.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Beautiful when you cry

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, "Closer," #35 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

It took a lot of courage
to place your bullet in my chest.
But what I want to know is how
did it feel
to remove it first from your own heart,
with no anesthetic, not even a hand to squeeze,
a shoulder to bite down on,
just your own raw bloody fingers pulling
at a thing so deeply lodged it was as if
you could pull apart your own center of gravity
and free fall forever.
("you're beautiful when you cry," he said)
I want to remind you that even if your fingernails
scratched your skin (or mine? Forgive me if I forget which

is which sometimes) in the process of raw surgery,
you were as gentle as possible
but a bullet in the chest is still a bullet in the chest,
you know?
There are so many of them in the world, and sometimes
we get caught in the crossfire
left to bleed out-
One should never bleed out alone, one
should have another heart, of matching intensity

to share the weight of all of our deepest bullets,
and you found mine
and did the bravest thing you could, even
if it was the only thing you knew how to do
or, more likely,
that nothing else was anything you possibly could do-
and you said, "you're beautiful when you cry."
you're beautiful when you cry.


(for my favorite donkey)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hopes Of Humpbacks

(Pre-Script: This poem is meant to be read as the song, "Arms," #34 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

On this much sand,

you stood;

the solid thing,

so I held on.
In front of us,

dolphins dove deep

our focus was the

horizon, our hopes of humpbacks.

Waves washed our feet til
i forgot or remembered or both
that the crashing in need not feel so tragic,
the shattering so sharp and jagged-
we'd followed the shell line to here this far;
my colored glass hid in your pocket.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cathedrals in my heart

(Pre-Script: This post, once again, should be read as the song, "Every teardrop is a waterfall" plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

I was looking at a picture of a cathedral somewhere in France. It was intimidating to look at, tall and looming like a nightmare or a question I have yet to answer. It was built with careful attention to detail, which took a lot of time, skilled craftsmen, industrial equipment. Some people build these kinds of things naturally, or almost naturally, and they go to classes to learn the part that does not come naturally to them. They spend years perfecting the engineering science behind the craft.

But I am not the kind of girl who has any large stones or stained glass lying around, or power tools, or even any particular skills. I don't even own a hammer. I am the kind of girl who gets distracted by the glue drying on my hands from where I was building a Popsicle stick house, of the "design-as-I-go" variety. At some point, my fingers get too glue sticky to finish the project, so I am distracted peeling long layers of glue off of my hands; it now has my hand prints imprinted in it; if you didn't know it was glue, you might think I was peeling off my own leprosy. This is like an interesting form of such soothing therapy that I don't even notice that my Popsicle sticks have fallen over, into a sticky shapeless mess that you would never know I had spent any time focusing on arranging.

Things crumble around me.

I do not take it personally,

though maybe I should

pay a little more attention.

Instead, I peel skin glue,

but what I really want is the cathedral,

the answer to my own question,

and a choir inside, singing in perfect pitch so that anyone traveling past will stop and marvel at the echoes enlarging it's magnificence.
This year, maybe I'll ask for a hammer for Christmas. Maybe I'll ask for some plaster of Paris.