Friday, October 31, 2008


Naked lengths knee to knee,
our bodies warm
while winds gust.

You scootch lower.
Lips, tongue to navel,
seeking heat.

How well we fit-
each limb fierce,
held, holding-
we ignite.

Our forms defy, protect, reel
in sublime time.
Then knee from knee
we separate. Lives wait.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grief is a Sneaky Bastard

Grief is a sneaky bastard, isn't he? You think, fine. I'm off to get my oil changed when whoa the universe takes a 60 degree downward slope and you're hanging on to a street light to keep from sliding into some crater you know is there waiting because you've already made one or two visits and it's damn hard to climb out, once you're down there. Then too, if you are at all inclined to note the thoughts streaming along with the emotions, you'll be aware that they are all selfish. All about why did he leave us, leave me, just now, now when I wasn't the least bit ready? No one was. And why that horrible way? Alone? In a trailer, for God sakes! Not even a double-wide! Bottles everywhere. Although it did look like he was trying to taper off with beer. Not his roommate. His empties were all squared off heavy glass. Bourbon, I think. And the wanker, the roommate, was gone--never a trace of him again. Did he know my brother was dead before he left? Dunno. Ah, well. It doesn't matter, I guess. Maybe he could have dialed 911. Maybe the bleeding in my brother's brain could have been stopped. Can they stop that sort of internal bleeding once it's begun? More to the point, maybe, is whether Ric would have wanted them to save him one more time. Yes, of course, he would have. He would have wanted to return to us eventually. After one more excruciating detox, fighting hallucinations and sweats, chills and shakes, hauntings and cravings, remorse and self-loathing. He would only have had to make it past that, start with nothing again one more time, try to keep some food down for a while, work day labor before he could stand on his rubber legs properly, and he'd have been all right. Back in the world, coming to Sunday dinner, grilling steaks, using a linen napkin to wipe a blob of ketchup off his face. As it happened--he didn't have to do any of that this time. He fell, made it to his bed, and his brain, which had hit the back of his skull according to the autopsy, (there had to be one because it was an unattended death), started to bleed. They told me he had probably been dead over 12 hours when I found him. That's why he was gray. It's okay that I found him. Somehow I always knew I would be the one to do that. Funny how that, at least, worked out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Poem about these days

Time Change in Florida

Used to be I’d keep busy.
Dreadful the time I spend sitting, standing,
staring. I lose track, now.

I believe it’s because he died.
It gets hold of me.

I’ll see him half on half off his bed,
a plaid blanket angled over his back and legs,
held tight in his gray fist. I might stop to think
about his being cold on an August Sunday
or I guess Saturday because he’d been dead a day
before I found him.

Time slides by while I rock or sway a bit.
Think about things.

Wonder if I’ll stay slow like this?
Feels like it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


If you don't happen to know where a sural nerve is, or what it does, don't feel alone. None of the swarm of friendly, kind, people in our good hospital's outpatient surgery staff knew about it either. I could hear them discussing it. Didn't bother them-they just kept asking each other until someone knew. I had to laugh at how determined the staff was to get the correct ankle biopsied. Even though the surgeon came in to write a big yes (in permanent marker) on my left leg, they kept checking with me anyway. The whole business went fine and I was home be 1 o'clock, ate a big piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream, and slept the sleep of the heavily drugged all afternoon. I'm fine. I have needed my cane to remain upright, but I was so afraid my heart would act up and they'd keep me overnight, but I was a good patient and got to go home.

Now my little piece of nerve is in Atlanta to be muttered over and tested. I see a new family physician tomorrow and hopefully she'll be the kind of doctor who will read her reports from other doctor's and have some means of knowing which patient is which (or at least good at pretending she knows.)

My brother Peter took me and picked me up. He was talking to the nurse about my "unsteadiness" and he said, "Oh, she's always like that now. But she used to be a ballerina and went to Juilliard." I swear the nurse had tears in her eyes.
You know, it was a moment. xxoononnie

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Big Plans


Jane was propped up on her elbows, eating a slice of pizza and trying not to get sauce on her friend’s bed. Caroline, sitting at her computer with a slice in hand, complained yet again about submission guidelines.

“They all say the same thing. So boring. Twelve point type, no fancy fonts, word counts need not include the title, blah, blah, blah. Editors are all the same. I’ve discovered a brilliant font. I swear it’s art in itself, but it’s not one of their blessed regulars.

“Really? Did it come with that font software you bought? What’s it called?”

“Yes, really. Yes, it did. And it’s called ‘Mondrian Whirl.’ Totally cool. Here’s my new poem printed in it.”

“I Felt so Alone.” Hey, wasn’t that the name of the last poem you wrote?”

“No-o. That was called, “Loneliness is Misery.”

“Ah. My bad. But you do write about feeling lonely on Sundays in both, don’t you?”

“Yeah. So? Poetry should be about revealing deep shit, shouldn’t it?

“I guess, Caroline," said Jane. “I don’t read much of it. Fushia paper? I hope you’re going to submit it on white?”

“Nope. That’s one of the submissions. The guidelines don’t mention the color of the paper, or of the ink, for that matter. I used shades of green. Show’s up okay, I guess.”

“You’re out of your mind, sweetie. I can’t even read this font, and I want to. Why would an editor struggle with it?”

“They’ll think it’s daring, creative, attention-grabbing. They’ll think a poet who goes this far out on a limb must have something totally cool to say. They’ll think I’m eccentric and interesting without having to read a word. I’m sure that all the editors I send this to will be eager to publish whatever I’ve written.”

“It’s hard to tell, but I think you’ve got a typo here. Maybe.”

“Oh, that. Don’t worry about it--they’ll never notice.”

“You keep saying “they.” How many are you sending? Are you keeping track?”

“I e-mailed it to twenty something places. I pretty much have them all in my head. I hate record keeping. Maybe I’ll start keeping track when I get an acceptance. Like I said, it’s bound to happen soon. My mother always told me I wrote very expressively, and with complexity.”

“Are you writing a new poem, now, while we’re talking?”

“Sure. I can write poetry anytime. It’s my gift.”

“Jeez Louise, Caroline. Sometimes you sound more like a pre-teen than a college sophomore. But what do I know? I’m into math. Thank God.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Crossing the Little Styx

Not long after crossing the Little Styx from "young" to "middle-aged," I started having health problems.  Over the years little has been explained to me about them, I have not been given succinct causes, and I have gotten tired of hearing, "You know, as you age..." I've been stuck with a a growing list of parts that don't work well due to widely unknown reasons, and I've learned to adjust with ill grace and a gnawing sense of guilt. Why guilt? Why, because, we all know that if we had eaten properly, exercised, avoided destructive behavior, undue amounts of stress,  dealt with our emotions constructively, and of course, watched our BMI from birth, our Boomer bodies would not be acting out of spite.

I am, as of today,free of this guilt.  One kind, empathetic, doctor of humanitarian bent, assured me that many of my symptoms originated in my spine, and that arthritis, a pinched nerve, and a herniated disc all presented themselves clearly on an MRI. The news settled in the pit of my stomach last night, probably an unhealthy place for it bed down, but today I woke up feeling better about my poor old self than I have in ages.

When I was four, I saw a ballerina on television. My career choice was made. I started on the path to professional dance that very day. For the next twenty-seven years I did all of the horrible, gorgeous, thrilling things that a dedicated dancer does to her body with a true Scarlett O'Hara attitude. I had to do horrible, painful, fairly demented things to my body and feet in order to accomplish as much as I was able to in my art, and I'm happy today with the memories and glad as hell I "went for it." No regrets. And, by all that's holy (I guess), having a bad back is completely understandable and acceptable to me. So are the tingly feelings in my feet and legs, the fatigue, and the general difficulty I have persuing daily pursuits. If I owe these things in some way to dance, then fine! I wouldn't have skipped a single arabesque.

During a performance, when I was thirty-one, I tore an Achilles tendon. It refused to get better, and after floundering in depression for a few years, I became a teacher of emotionally disturbed children. I did this for fifteen years and during that time I ate-on-the-run, exercised but improperly, did not avoid self-destructive habits, had an undue amount of physical and psychological stress, swallowed tons of emotion, and had a dangerously low, then suddenly a risky-high, BMI. And guess what? No blame there, either. I'm glad I did that job for the years I did it. I hope I did the children some long-lasting good, but I know I did myself good that far outreaches the aches and pains, yes, even the "bad heart," that I'm saddled with now.

In short, (not my strength) the slings and arrows that brought me to this creaky place were invited by me to do so, and I will not be a hypocrite about them. I didn't exactly live the life of Jack Sparrow, but, as I believe would be true of him if he were real, I can say with honest fervor, that I'm glad my "young" and the young part of my "middle" years went just the way they went. Thank you Dr. Crayton.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Monday, Blessed Monday

O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay! I have found my treasure and I am grateful. Grateful, I say. It doesn't matter really to whom; maybe it's to the spirit of Lewis Carroll-or, more likely, my Mom. But the treasure reappeared, and I believe I had help. Can't convince me otherwise-because I won't listen.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Did You Do This?

Did you ever lose a treasure? Not in a disaster, a flood or a fire, but just on a regular Saturday evening? Something like a diamond chip and gold cross that your father gave your mother for her high school graduation in 1938? And now she's been dead for a year and a half and you've worn that cross every day since she died-not because it was a cross but because it was hers and it became your talisman? Something she had given you for your Juilliard graduation, but took back years later because she was afraid, when your drinking was bad, that you'd lose it? And now you have? Have you ever lost something like that? Felt so bereft, that at the moment you're not sure you'll be the same woman from now on that you were only a few hours ago? Wouldn't you keep looking, even though you feel that it's gone from your neck, wrist, finger, wherever your treasure had its home? Wouldn't you be unable to stop and examine each sparkle or flash of gold that you see out of the corner of your eye? Sometimes in ridiculously unlikely places? Impossible places? Or maybe your treasure was a paper, or a picture, and you are doomed to scan all the paper, picture fragments you spot? In spite of yourself? Did you feel guilty? Even though, of course, it isn't really proof of your carelessness, lack of discipline, lack of feeling? Then, at some point, did you think, maybe the priceless object will continue to have a life, will have meaning you can't imagine, to its finder? Did you find some small comfort in this thought? I wonder, did you?