My mother called me the devil child
Because I was loud, destructive and wild
I found out years later I was born with ADHD
No one wanted ever to spend time with me
Parents didn’t know of ADHD and why I was different
They didn’t understand and they were very intolerant
Parents told older sister I was bad and she didn’t have to be around or play with me
So much of the time alone was really no fun, however for some help I did make a plea
I heard my mother double dog dare my father to hit me
Mother would refer to me as a turd in front of the family
All my cousins were smart, while I was failing all my classes in school
Got in to many fights with bullies and teachers who were always cruel
My family would all make fun of me, call names bully and tease
I was the loser that anyone could do or say what they pleased
None of my cousins was I ever allowed to play
I was always much of the time was alone all day
I lived in a strange house my dad was very to the T religious
And my mother was always drunk and of course blameless
She’d drink when home from work on the weekends or holidays
And could always hide it from all her friends and the relatives
No one believed me when I told them that she had been drinking
They acted like I was crazy by then I knew what they were thinking
My mother took me out on Friday nights to eat and buy whatever I wanted, after work
Her last stop was always the liquor store for drink and smoke, I was left in car like a jerk
She bought games and toys that took two or more to play, but she nor did dad never have any intension
Of spending anytime with me because I was in there way. I was a bad child that needed intervention
Wasn’t the perfect child I admit; I ran off when I was 16 did things I regret parents put me
Away, they came for counseling I complained about moms drinking and she felt angry
She said that her drinking wasn’t my problem and she’d be back to see me when I could face the truth
Never could mother admit to her or dad doing wrong, everything was always because I was a youth
Came home from school one day mom was passed out on the living room floor dead drunk
Called ambulance for her Dr blamed me and said no visit, and he called me a punk
My dad would come home and find she was throwing up while passed out always in her bed
I’d watch him take bowls and put them near her mouth to catch it, was something I would dread
He’d walk to the bathroom to empty the bowl and go back to get the next one to do the very same
And replace the unfilled one and repeat the process. I was told by her doctor that I was the blame
Sometimes mom would go running down the hall to the toilet bowl to throw up my heart would race
Because I always knew mom would do this and then she’d come to my room to scare rant and pace
Since I was a bad spoiled child who had parents with money, nice house cars and good jobs
And I was not willing to help out or be responsible, was told I made the family look like slobs
My sister let her boyfriend talk her into letting him take me to the dentist, instead he molested me
But no one believed me because in the past I had lied about things, and the truth no one would see
Since I was different all the cousins, my aunts and uncle could blame me for when things went missing
Or went wrong I was then and still am now the perfect scapegoat and yes about it I’m still babbling
My father ran out the back door, when he heard me wake up and come out of my room
So he didn’t have to bother with me, I wanted to spend time with him he’d assume
Somehow I managed to graduate from high school and I then would move
To a different city I felt I might have better luck and my life would improve
Married two very bad guys both who beat, threatened me and verbally abused
Divorced them both and had one child and how I’d raise this child alone I was confused
Tried to work and go to school never was competent enough to follow through
Each time I would start either I did not have the ability of completing anything new
Am not proud of this but I had 30 jobs that I lost in 10 years and even tried going to college
Unable to remember how and when to do things, my head from years of abuse was in a fog
Filed for SSI and Social Security, got on section 8, food stamps WIC and other government aid
I needed a home for myself and my daughter so I had to depend on things like this to get paid
My daughter grew up, became ill with a repeating debilitating disease
I dedicated myself to getting her well, and nothing about it was a breeze
Had to take her in pain weekly for Doctor visits many times she’d cry and wished she were dead
This broke my heart with no family help, just her and I to face things in the days and years ahead
Unable to attend school for years, the Doctor signed permission to stay home
School system assigned a teacher who was mean nothing about her was tome
School Social workers interfered
And my name they smeared
She finally one day went into remission
And now the nephrotic kidney condition
Seems for now to have forever gone for good away
For years it’s been don’t want others to downplay
For a while I homeschooled her and the first semester back in the public school
She was on the honor roll things seemed to be looking up and I felt like I was the rule
Then one day she lost interest in classes, homework and attending
And the principal of the high school was calling and threatening
Pulled her out and put her in to get her GED
Soon she was out within month of three
A year before she was supposed to graduate
I knew by then that I was doing things right
Enrolled me and her in community college we made the Dean’s list and acquired no student loan debt
Last may she and I graduated have started a new life and now I don’t feel things in my life are a threat
But alone I’ve raised a good child, self-published a book and kept things together
I’ve published some poetry and stories in magazines that will be on web pages forever
Even though my parents have helped me out once in a while financially
I feel lack of respect since they helped family who treated me crummy
I’m still feeling and have most of the hopeless thoughts when I was young
But I still try to steer my daughter to be different from me and hold my tongue
Those cousins with the high degree
Don’t seem to have too much on me
Both lost their jobs within a year out of college from being snobs and dishonest
But the parents just think that it was because others were being so glibbest
Both stuck alone in life working in their old age
That just mostly pays a low minimum wage
My sister divorced her husband for molesting her children still won't speak to me, told her kids I was bad
She lives in my town and over 20 years she’s never visited so by her I've been for life had
Most of all I think it's because my parents never would face reality or admit
To any wrong doing of years of abuse and neglect, something I couldn't forget
Why am I talking about this after all these years still?
Because I think that it may just possibly help me to heal
I want to be the abandoned house you snuck into every other night
because there was nowhere else to go.
Slam my trembling frame against the wall like an old vase
and smile as every organ inside me crumbles like books off their shelf in the midst
of an earthquake caused from the faults inside your knuckles
and underneath your tongue.
I want to be every bad habit that you can't break. When there are no more walls to punch, you can leave holes in my bones instead.
When there's a pit in your stomach that you never can fill,
you can shove me in your mouth with both hands and eat fast
and feel me run down your chin.
You can savor the nausea from overindulgence
and grab the crumbs from off the floor.
You can tip me over and lick me up.
When you can't bite your nails anymore, my throat is welcoming your teeth.
Don't be afraid because this is your last lack of cigarettes;
You can always light me up instead, my love.
I can assure you my screams are more addicting
than what any nicotine can give you.
And me? I'm just addicted to the way 'good girl' rolls of your lips.
I'm addicted to being the reason you can't stop, won't stop, don't stop.
I want to be the response to your calls of desperation.
Listen closely to my hips and answer every question they could ever have with your tongue. Tell my neck things that you could never confess to any preacher,
and beg for forgiveness to my thighs until they've giving every ounce of their blessing
to your neck.
Don't worry about collapsing
I will catch all of you and swallow you whole.
Tell me I moan like an angel, even though I feel like sin.
I love the way my ribs creak when I hear you say my name.
Simplify what is.
Sell your house and belongings.
Become a gypsy.
Holding me firm, I can feel it incarcerating me.
With my ankles bruised from carrying the same heavy chains, day by day.
Chains, that will keep hurting my ankles with every step I take.
I can hear them squeak, tearing my tympanum with every drag.
Reminding me remorselessness that I am one more slave.
Working under its rules, shaping my life with my every breath.
Punishing me with all my memories and rewarding me with an unknown future.
At night it laughs spitefully seeing that it has caught me in its timeless web of an insomniac hex.
And in the morning it plays the same joke seeing that it has caught me in an eternal doze.
I wake up , following the ritual it has for me, slapping me in the back with its whip declaring its power over me, as my owner.
At 7:00 am I wake up indoctrinated by a false faith" Thank You 'God' for this new day ( I thank a 'God' I do not know a 'God' I do not follow)" I suddenly feel confuse.
7:30 am; I shower.
7:40am; I choose my outfit, one in particular that will disguise my insecurities.
7:50am; I have breakfast. My palate already knows the taste, and it protests intensely for a new tang.
8:00am; I walk out of my house, feeling the wind through my body silencing the cacophony of the chains and the beeping of the time clock they hold.
With every beep, I realize I can be late. I rush.
9:00am; I start my ritual, managing papers in an office full of sick people, just like me. Moored by their own chains to their own sorrows, with different time clocks and slaved by the same owner.
4:00pm; I plead it to go faster, to show me mercy. It laughs.
7:00pm; It frees me from my work routine, I thank it before it slaps me in the back again.
8:00 pm; I'm home the chains feel looser now, and I have a break.
9:00pm; I eat dinner same flavor, my palate prepares to taste the same.
10;00pm; It orders me to go to bed, to laugh again about by insomnia and wake me up with no pity.
It doesn't care about what I need, I go under its rules.
It threatens me everyday with my memories and it frightens me with an unknown tomorrow.
And, I only have 24 hours each day,60 minutes in each hour and 60 seconds in each minute to do what the calendar of life has for me .
I was convicted with a human felony, and I am currently serving a life sentence in this time machine.
I am cursed by time and my challenge is to defeat procrastination and monotony.
Time is something that is always changing; yet it always moves at a constant pace. My story includes such a small period of time. In one day, there are twenty-four hours, and somewhere in those few hours of January 15th, 2011, my life changed in the blink of an eye. Within seconds, someone I love stopped breathing. It changed everything. But, my story begins a few hours before that.
Wake up. I always have to tell myself to wake up. I wake up and it is a beautiful Saturday. I walk into the living room of my house, where the sun is shining bright through all the windows and I feel like it is going to be a good day. I usually wake up on the weekend home alone, but this time I walk around until I find my dad and my little brother, Phillip.
Dad: “Phillip and I are going to a Valdosta State basketball game later today, if you would like to come.”
I immediately think of my best friend James. James is a part of my family. He got along with my dad and brother better than I did. The basketball game with them would be a lot easier to endure if James went along. He is the older brother I never had.
I pick up my phone and call James, to invite him to join us. He doesn’t answer. James always answers. His phone goes straight to voicemail. I remember a time in the past that I called James with a stupid boy dilemma. James was in the middle of football camp, but he called a timeout. He picked up the phone for me then. I am always James’ first priority, so something seems wrong. I call Drew, James’ best friend, and his phone goes straight to voicemail as well. Something definitely seems wrong. I try to convince myself that I’m overthinking. I always overthink and I always worry too much, so this could be nothing. James is just busy. He’ll call me back later.
An hour or two pass by without response from either James or Drew. As I am cleaning up my room trying to keep my mind busy, I receive a text message from my friend Emily.
Emily: “What’s wrong with James?”
Emmaline (me): “What are you talking about?”
Emily: “I see on Facebook that many people are writing on James’ wall, saying that they are praying for him. Why are people praying for him? What happened?”
Little did she know that I was asking myself the same questions. What in the world is going on!?
Emmaline (me): “Umm, I’m not sure. He hasn’t been answering my calls. I’ll try to find out.”
James was a huge part of the church community. He was the first person that brought me to the church I’ve been attending for the past three years. He was a mentor to me; if it weren’t for James I would not have found the faith that has saved me. After those texts messages, I decided to call someone from the church to see if they knew what was going on with him. Mackenzie answered my call.
Mackenzie: “James and Drew went out duck hunting this morning at a place called Ocean Pond, and James is missing. Drew is fine, but he doesn’t know where James is.”
My heart immediately dropped to my chest. The gut feeling I had been experiencing all day that something was wrong was rapidly increasing, and I suddenly couldn’t keep still.
My thought processes jumped to visualize duck hunting. I thought, when you go duck hunting, it is a little different from hunting ground animals like deer. When you hunt ducks, you spend the entire time on a boat. You don’t go missing on a small boat. James wasn’t playing hide-and-seek. James being missing meant that he was lost somewhere in the water. The odds weren’t looking very good. Maybe I’m worrying too much, but I’m being rational. Right? I put my phone down and slowly slid out of my chair onto the floor. I lay on the floor for hours, crying. My brother came in from outside and just stared at me. My chest was on fire; I have never felt so much pain in my life. The amount of emotional pain transformed to a physical pain that I felt in the pit of my stomach. The sun that made me happy when I first woke up now began to burn my eyes. I felt like I was sinking, but in reality the only person sinking was my best friend, drowning in icy water.
When I could finally stop crying enough to talk, I call my mom. My mom was not home this weekend; she was at the beach with some of her good friends from college. She did not take the news as heavily as I did.
Mom: “He’s just sitting somewhere in the marsh where the water is really shallow. Someone will find him. He’ll be fine, I know he will.”
I begin to feel somewhat better. I tell myself that this does not have to be a death sentence. James could be fine. I decide to call Mackenzie from church again and invite her and her mom to my house to keep me company while we wait for news.
Hours and hours pass by, yet still no news comes. The church and community decides to hold a prayer session at a local park for all the people worried about James. Mackenzie, her mom and I drive out to the park. Hundreds of people were at the park. All of them were there for James. All of us stood in a circle, teary-eyed, and prayed. I have never seen my community come together like that. Rival schools and teammates, people old, young, and teenage. Teachers, preachers, friends, athletes, fathers, mothers, so many people were at the park for James.
We went around in the circle and each person told their story of how much James meant to them. James was a brother to many. He was a mentor, a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a pal to laugh with. James was the one person that convinced a girl to graduate from high school. James was the friendly face that ate lunch with a boy that was alone and contemplating suicide. I had no idea that James meant so much to people other than me.
All it took was seconds, maybe minutes for James to drown. The water was below freezing. The gear that he was wearing was built to weigh him down in order to be able to wade in shallow waters. In deeper waters, he would surely and quickly sink. He drowned quickly, and within seconds he stopped breathing. However, it took search and rescue a month to recover his body. Days of worry and prayer turned into weeks. I had to return to school and try to go on with my life, as if I didn’t feel like it was all falling apart.
Finally, one crisp February morning, a search dog found my James’ body.
I was in my Advanced Placement Environmental Science class, and my phone rang from a number of different people. I went to the bathroom to return a call and found out that someone found my best friend’s dead body. I knew it wasn’t smart to hold on to any kind of hope that he was alive, but knowing he was actually dead made the situation suddenly very real. I tried to return to class, but I ended up sitting right beside the door, crying harder than ever. I had to go out to Ocean Pond, where I spent most of my time for the past month watching divers search for him. I had to go out there and see it.
By the time I arrived at the site, there was nothing left to see. James’ body had been recovered and I would never see him again. All that was left was a teary funeral, and abrupt good-byes that I wasn’t ready to give. To this day I don’t know how to say good-bye to James. I visit his grave, and I don’t know how to leave the picture of his face.
Losing someone you deeply love so quickly is probably one of the most difficult things to experience. I am so thankful that James left behind such a beautiful story, and such a wonderful legacy. The first day I met James, he told me, “Hey girl. You know, I love you. I really do. I would take a bullet for you.” When someone says those kinds of things to you without even knowing you for twenty-four hours, it feels strange. But, James knew time meant everything. He knew that all it takes is minutes, seconds, to change someone’s life forever.
The thing that is so astonishing about James’ story, is that he understood how quickly everything can change. When James was alive, a fellow student of his died in a motorcycle crash. James was devastated that he had not reached out to this boy before it was too late. That night, in a note on Facebook entitled “The Clock is Ticking,” James wrote a short paragraph that showed the depth of his understanding of life. He wrote, “Take time to love someone. Today, Tomorrow, For the rest of your life. Because when that unexpected day comes that they pass on, you'll be left wondering what you could've done better. How you could have made them feel more welcome, and show that you do care for them. Don't wait until it's too late like I did. Show the love that Jesus has for you to everyone you see. Let your heart break for what breaks His. Christ is enough. Let Him show you life. You never know who He may touch through you. It is so sad that it takes a tragedy like this to comprehend how our days are numbered. Only He knows. Keep your faith in Him. He will bless you beyond belief. Our job is right now. This very second. So often, God gives me a little nudge towards someone.. and I put it off until the next day.. and then the next and then the next. Stop stalling. God put us on this earth for HIS glory. Not ours.. and so many times, the things I do always point back to me and my stupid self righteousness. So do something with me. Everyone. If this just touches one person, I will have done my job. Don't stall. Judgement is a heart beat away.”
My addiction is spelled out in iron:
Words have been stomped into my fate by elegantly gargantuan feet of Greek goddesses and
in the metal lies every pretentious metaphor and ink-soul-splatter that will define the rest of my existence.
There is no going back
The poetry is here to stay.
the changes the letters have wrought are now normal.
I have become used to looking in the mirror and seeing none of my features for the quotes clumped across my forehead
knotted around the contours of my cheekbones.
My morning coffee will never again just be caffeine and warmth,
but a complex metaphor for love-("being burnt by what you also cannot live without").
Now, I only know what my soul looks like
after it has been typed into pretentious metaphors
and ever since that shivering Thursday afternoon I first picked up a pen-
I look at the whiteboard and cannot absorb the continuing inadequacies of various white men because the stanzas are scattered too thickly across my vision.
But I have adjusted.
I accept that every chemical reaction my brain sets off will have words, a story, line breaks, and lonely Friday nights spent editing my soul into prettier pieces
Working on poems and homework will forever struggle against each other on my priority list
And there is simply no denying the fact that behind everything is words and in front and after there are letters and when glancing sideways and upside down you will find quotes and little sayings and poems,
but it is all perfectly fine.
I will breath in each linguistically-caused tragedy with grace and gentleness
because words are the only way I feel at home in this madly spinning world.
I have never felt cozier snuggled with any human or bed than when I am nestled in the dips and dots and curves of language.
"So," you ask, "what seems to be the downside?"
well, dear reader;
if we are being honest poems aren't real therapists.
and they lend themselves well to madness and isolation
But I cannot bring myself to care...
If words were alcohol I would be that horrible mother they whisper about at the PTA meetings who comes home after work and chugs biccardi on the couch, ignoring her children as she runs around the house screaming and throwing things descending into a state of such lovely and intoxicating madness that she cannot resist another page, another pen, another shot.
If words were meth instead of meth sores I have little holes all over my organs where I have drilled down as deeply as possible, hunting for even the smallest hint of feeling just so I can lovingly string letters together like pearls and polish them until they shine with the brilliant lights of tragedy and love and hate and sadness and nostalgia and anger and lust and frustration-
all of these chemicals we fuel our pens with
because numbness is not an option.
I engage in this substance abuse because I am bloated with so much longing, filled with a desperate ache for all the beautiful things I have not yet experienced,
for those brightly lit 2ams and screaming laughter and being drunk and high and kissing and yelling and the because in this moment we are young and alive and breathing and crossing lines and who gives a shit about anything else?
I write in half-crazed scribbles, wondering,
"Maybe writing about friends and laughter at 1 in the morning as I am surrounded by only netflix and tumblr will make me feel better?"
I am always wrong.
It only makes it worse.
My words are glorious escape and icy blades of stark reality.
Clarity and obfuscation.
Pancreas-cracking pain and model-tall joy.
So if words cause me to ache, beat the world into pieces, sob, and ignore my responsibilities,
why am I so goddamn in love with them?
Because my words are mad
but people are too-
so one cannot look down their poorly-described noses at poems and smugly snort that it "doesn't make any sense"
as if they have brilliantly solved and debunked an art form.
They would be quite wrong.
The words are just a reaction and reflection of the world their letters were conceived in-
and so this fevered world and the expression of its insanity are inextricably linked.
(at least for poets).
the difference between poems and people is that humans are
in addition to the insanity,
horribly unreliable and capricious creatures.
They never stay.
They never stay
But metaphors will always be there to cuddle me in their warm arms on lonely weekend nights
Why writing? you ask?
Because when everyone is gone, annoyed, asleep, or dead and the whole earth has been blown apart;
every city destroyed and great moment reduced to nothingness,
I can still trace poems in the ashes.
Shouldn't we all be studying?
dedicated to M M Jones from Montana,
where I guess big skies make people think
about big questions and young poets thrive.
the butterflies of child-awakening
to the certainty
that school and
shame and embarrassment
were only minutes away,
is as fresh as
the flowers my love
buys every Friday,
fifty plus year later.
I would awake,
climb into bed with my mother,
telling her I did not feel well,
stomach felt gray.
I could not tell her that
the mocking I received by
my richer classmates at the
multiple lines in the fabric
of my corduroy pants
where she let my pants down
made me cannon fodder
for what we call now
I could not tell her
of the heartbreak
when somehow the parents
of my supposed suburban friends
pick me up for the weekly swim,
leaving me to watch
the sunset fall as I sat
on the stoop of our old house,
tucked away in an out of the way,
the shame still wet.
I could not tell her
of how two bothers tortured me
as I sat in the back seat
of their station wagon,
on me like curses.
Their older brother died of cancer
when that was still unusual,
and the mother wrote
a beautiful book
about his life.
I still hate them, those two,
fifty years later and it gives me
unusually great pleasure to
announce it to the world.
So I studied.
Not my schoolbooks,
but lovely and junky literature.
Friday afternoons, three children,
me the baby brother,
(anonymous, for they nicknamed me
brother as if I was nothing but
checked off category)
to the library went.
Five, five was the max
they the austere librarians
and their coda of holy silence,
would let me withdraw.
(god I can see my library card still).
By Friday night,
I had finished one or two,
ruining my eyes in
the lousy lamp light
in the living room,
falling asleep on the couch.
this, reading addiction,
which afflicted the entire family,
I did well into my teens.
I have stopped reading
which amazes the very few
who know and care.
do let us re-pose,
let us repose,
Shouldn't we all be studying?
the answer of course is
yes and no.
my studying blue period
is long since ended.
now, my biographer,
will call this my red period.
for red are the memories that my remembrances
come back to me.
crystal is the clarity
of the indignities
I recall, though red,
is the anger
at the shame and
abuse I took.
now I can write what I have always held in my heart.
those two awful brothers,
who loved to torture me,
I was glad their
wonderful brother died.
so this is my red writing period,
when the studying of a kind,
has long since ended
but the smell,
the memory of
fresh textbooks still can
make me nauseous.
Yet, I still study life around me,
as I clean countertops,
walk deserted beach isles
in early September...
is the product of years
of studying the inside out
of me, and turning that study
fruitful into poetry.
why am I writing this at 2:00 am on a Sunday morning?
I did not pose the question.
but it posed me,
and the dialogue in my mind came
sugarcane fresh and tumbling out
and will be both
recorded and recoded
("in the truth will out eventually" file)
after a fashion.
these days I sometimes study
my older poems,
whose titles I recognize,
but whose content
I cannot recall.
so double digit delight
meet again old words,
wondrous and trite,
that make believe
that all my studying
somehow paid off after all.
If we lived in a non-judgmental world,
where social norm was a blank slate
free of preconceptions and expectations,
a world in which it was traditional to be liberal,
what would you do?
Would you work this hard or drive fast cars?
Would you read 50 Shades of Grey in the train?
Would you still cry in the rain?
Would you be outgoing or spend more time alone?
Would you laugh at funerals and never mourn?
Would you wear your pyjamas for Sunday mass?
Would you identify yourself with the working class?
Would you use two forks or wear socks with flip flops?
Would you avoid dating jocks?
Would you take up smoking or marry young?
Would you tattoo your face and pierce your tongue?
Would you work as a stripper whilst being a nun?
Would you form a jihad against wars and guns?
Would you become straight, forget how to pray
or wish your first born son were gay?
Would you ever fake an orgasm
or admit you like it rough?
Would you follow the stars and lucky charms
leaving all life's decisions to luck?
Would you believe in evolution and gravity,
or argue we're heavy people with sticky feet?
Would you avoid salad or order tofu?
Would you try to go up a dress size or two?
Would you give to charity or take up a sport?
Would you sell your house and by a boat?
Would you order expensive wines or
write poems that did not rhyme?
What would you do?
Perhaps you simply wouldn't have a clue,
for we appear to have forgotten how to be true.
So when ever a Miley comes like a wrecking ball
we unite to share our disbelief and loathe.
As we did to Snowden and Jesus Christ,
we mock and torture and crucify.
The UN, CIA and the Vatican unite,
to teach us how to lead our lives.
For when someone somewhere breaks a norm
that someone somewhere has formed
it has become a universal priority
for the former to be conformed.
Perhaps in this non-judgmental world,
we might decide to start judging each other...
I didn't want to do anything today
I did our laundry
And the dishes
I tried to write
But was uninspired
I watched a good movie
And smoked a lot of cigarettes
I didn't eat anything
But never got hungry
It's Saturday night
And I'm sitting at the house
I didn't care about that
Until it was pointed out
I didn't mind being alone today
Which is unlike me
But I did miss you
She took the flower that she loved,
Planted him in the burning sun,
A desert formed around and the morning dew,
Were tears the flower cried,
It nearly died.
She took the flower that she loved,
Brought him near, into her house,
Her house was cold and dry, with no light to see,
The flower could not leave,
It nearly died.
She took the flower that she loved,
Found the place where he belonged,
Without walls, in shade of sunshine, where flowers bloom,
In peace they bear no pain,
And rarely die.