insomnia

silence outside
yet the screeching
grinding
gears of mind
protest
awake awake awake
fatigue
becomes a plague
shush shush shushing
rusty cogs
how do i oil
screaming memories
nail down squeaks and groans
when there aren’t
floorboards
or even solid ground
i should have found
by now
the resting place
instead returning
idiot-like
to industrious thought
solve it solve it
dis-solve re-solve
until nothing is
a solution

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

Charlie

one spring day,
not this one,
i took sweet Charlie to the vet
for the last time;
a small thing
we all do,
eventually,

she was special,
my Charlie,
who arrived to a Bad Marriage
and was Love incarnate,
letting toddlers pull her lips
and try to ride her…
so loved we got a second dog,
her younger sister…
running away in her older years
because she was deaf
and my voice no longer
penetrated her obsession
with food,

and then,
then…
old, and sick,
she was caught in the middle
of The End,

a marriage marinated in alcohol
battles for custody
manipulations grand and microscopic
and one little dog,
rheumy-eyed and stinking,
slowly dying,

until that day,
four-year-old crying
“mama kicks Charlie”
the usual denials,
the lack of proof,
my heart,
shattered,

i remembered all the times
in denial,
i had heard X muttering drunkenly
in the kitchen,
“i hate these damn dogs”
Charlie, as ever,
underfoot when food was at hand,

Charlie’s sister died of cancer;
a long process
of peeing blood and incontinence
doggy diapers
specialist visits
iv’s and needle aspirations
painful and, in the end
for nothing,

then, one year later,
in the middle of a war zone
Charlie started peeing blood
she became incontinent
“mama kicks Charlie,”
a small voice telling
a big truth,

when my week came
i took my little boys in my arms
and told them Charlie was sick
and soon would go to see her sister
they cried
they accepted
as children do,

i split my heart in two
one half strong and capable,
taking my sweet Charlie one last time
to the park,
the other half climbing a high tower
in an unfamiliar castle,
searching for a way
to survive,

i found a homing pigeon,
waiting atop the tower,
head cocked in perpetual question,
eye blinking at me

i had never sent a message
by pigeon,
but this pigeon seemed capable enough
so i pulled a red crayon from my pocket
and drew half a heart
on a bit of gum wrapper,
rolled it into a tiny scroll,
and placed it on the castle wall,

the pigeon took my burden
and spoke to me,
which also did not seem strange,
“i will find you in the future,
and bring your message home”

with the relief of feeling only half the pain,
Charlie and i made the final journey
where i dropped her off at the door
and did not accompany her
just a quick kiss,
and “see you later my little love,”
knowing i would not,

time passed
the divorce was finalized
life moved on
became more stable
the kids became happier,
and by some miracle
i found love,

perhaps it is five years to the day
but my mind won’t remember it
so i couldn’t say for sure
but last night,
i awoke to the sound of tapping,
and there was the pigeon,
head cocked,
waiting at my window,

she had come home to roost
bearing my broken heart
across time,
writ in crayon
on old gum wrapper
precious only to me,
i took the message in shaking hands
and cried,
feeling the full weight of guilt
and regret,
why had i not gone with Charlie,
to the end?

i understood at last
that survival sometimes requires
imperfect solutions;
Charlie, stoic as she was,
would forgive me,
and at some point,
soon,
i will forgive myself.

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

anxiety

do you feel the ticking?
time bomb in chest
egg timer clicking down
seconds to detonation
never exploding
just tic tic ticking
anticipating something
but what?
can’t think
brain muddled and,
anyway,
it’s too hard to know
what future to hope for
so breathe so breathe
the only sign
that little flicking
of the fingers

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

hidden

back to the secret spot
wind on face
whipping tears and mascara
into horizontal
fault lines
no use, sunglasses
inadequate to shield,
huge hipster frames,
screaming
“absurd!”
in this secret place,
she hugs herself
against the coming storm
back to tree
face to sea
watching stripes of rain on the horizon
the salty smell
seaweed and dead fish
wet dog shaking
gull crying
she knows something is about to happen
but, as always, her vision
is impaired
heart pounds
breath comes ragged and choked
sensing,
but not
grasping meaning
until only hazy memory
remains

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

frozen

today my chest tightens
meditation fails
anticipation like ice
creaks into blood and bones,
a meeting;
my gifted child
at five
contemplates the face
of god
at eight it’s punnett squares
for bedtime chatter,
so today, today
i will sit across from her,
the one who left,
the charismatic liar
the drinker
who stole more
than money
and discuss this child
and she will smile,
call me by an old, old
lover’s name
and pretend
like always,
to be human

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

in the long shadow of dawn

my heart
skips and flutters
pebbles across turbulent waves
then sinks
deep deep
landing in a hot pit
of
not exactly despair
but
foreboding,
heightened senses scanning,
nostrils twitching,
scenting predators,
legs
don’t fail me now
I am fight
I am flight
wishing for wings
to spread across the landscape
to shield my own
to fly us into the horizon
but escape is a fairy tale
I tell my children
as we crouch in the shadows
watching wolves
devour
decency

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2016

Mother of Pearl

Trapped in perpetual irritation
Fleeting thoughts fuel anxious
Adrenalin soaked nightmares
Lost children, slow-motion escapes,
Dead-end alleys, dark
And darker
Triggers
The mind dances nightly
Lurching and halting into dawn
Unable to form the write
Sentence
Structure
Damnit,
Theories scratch the cortex
Nano-particles racing to surround
And smooth,
A nacreous encapsulation
Turning ugly memory
Iridescent
I am full of pearls now,
Choking instead of speaking
Slowly turning to stone…

1Sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

i lie

writing pain,
like watching
scalpel slice soft flesh,
fascinates;
warm liquid oozing
surface-ward
surface-word
in the direction
of consciousness
making visible
the unpalatable
knowledge of weakness
of having not overcome
fear
even in the absence
of danger

my conceit
thinks me strong,
pats me on the back
and cries “skol!”

smiling,
i clink the chalice
and watch a spider vein
traverse the once-clear
skin of glass;
never mind
i have other skins,
a skein of catgut
and a needle

i lie,
i lie,
there’s only this one,
and i’m not done with it
yet

1Sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016