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Sue Collins Mar 2020
There is that head-slamming moment of clear sight. Something akin to a sucker punch.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The girl first slides out to a pink blanket and bow.
Isn’t she a little doll? Daddy’s princess will make her mark in the world with all that beauty.
Please dance for our guests, darling. And bake us a cake in mommy’s little helper oven.

The frills and curls and princess talk take their toll, cuddle the girl into steps of submission.
Twirling for dimes and validation, letting the boys take a peep for love, fluffy mascara and
Glossy lips for insurance. The M.O. of pleasing becoming implanted as smarts go on hiatus.
Friends grow clique-est daggers, and gossip about the nasty abounds. Will she or won’t she?

Of course she will and she did. Disappointed that the earth still turns, but who is she to judge?
Through the small measures and sense of her, we see that she begins to ask questions of herself.
She is not an afterthought of a rib. She wants to write to the world. Her silence has been corrupted.
And the metamorphosis begins. She loves, she procreates, and she sheds the princess skin of the child.

Maybe not head-slamming or sucker punched after all. She just grew up into herself.
Sue Collins Feb 2020
I meticulously scrub every last inch of the clean floor. Then I do it again because two is a lucky number. On to the windows.
The sills demand a toothbrush and dedication. The rugs insist on constant attention. I pick up errant ants in the cupboards.

I search for more dust or dog hair or whatever seems to clog the way, always using the preferred tool for each cleanup at hand.
Same treatment everywhere, every day. Counting and repeating ad nauseam. A compulsion, a genetic twist, a lifetime sentence.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
Cooked on high, a mercurial rise in status, an influencer for the times. If I can make it here, I can make it …well, you know.

I want likes, loves, thumbs up, and a kick in the ***. Love me from afar. My grandiose boobprints in cement for posterity.

Fame becomes me, teaches me to reach for the stars and settle for my own show. I’d sell my soul, if I had one, to be idolized.

Fast forward to a new order.  New stars in a new medium. Go figure. Obsolescence so soon? My hand was this close to the brass ring.
Sue Collins Aug 2019
We laughed, we danced, we ate and drank until dawn, then blinded by the fiery sunrise.
We slept little and ordered a car to drive us to the opening of something or other.
The notice was on our phone, our selfies from last night still making us silly again.
And the band plays on.

The trade winds are ominous, the plutocrats reign supreme, the riches trump the rags.
Bully pulpits abound with demagogic appeals to the ancient terrors of the other.
Countries dissolving, oceans rising, fires unabated, and glaciers disappearing.
And the band plays on.

My friends, we have only this moment in time. Why waste it on anything we can’t fix?
Life was made to savor and enjoy, not to worry and fret about anything beyond ourselves.
We can’t change other people; we can’t fight the battles of good and evil; we must just breathe.
And the band plays on.

The mobs are at the wall, bellicose signs at the ready. The defenders of freedom look the other way.
The intellectual, the artist, the different among us are trampled into conformity. No one is spared.
The lights dim, the bullhorns blare, the flames erupt, the crystal night begins yet again.
And the band plays on.
Sue Collins Oct 2019
Probiotics for the everyman and cardio till his heart breaks. Massage the kale and run the marathon into the night.
Pulse rate by the minute and pressurized blood. Eschew all that you love in favor of abstinence and negation.
Cleanse your mind and your colon in one fell swoop. Be clean, be pure, be as if you’ve never been before. A mere wisp.
Say a prayer and pass the organic peas. Submit to your god and check your Chakras. Breathe in the eternal light of salvation.
The age-old quest for immortality. The Golden Age of Gods and Goddesses. Mythic proportions inscribed on granite.
Sue Collins Mar 2020
The wind brought with it the memoir, wrapped up all nice and fancy with tiny love-me-nots in bloom.
A very tenuous grasp on reality from the person whose reality is based on fantasy. Can we trust her?

Several chapters to the story, beginning with an innocence-tinged laugh that belied even the child herself.
Bouts of alcohol rage and running with scissors stuff. Parents limiting their exposure to her from Day 1.

Hysteria? Hyperbole? The problem with a memoir is that we never know the ending, real or not. It just drifts off.
No conclusion, no final assessment, no lasting revelation or hope or despair.  Death takes care of  the epilogue.
Sue Collins Jul 2020
Once I established my territory, I was able to take care of business. No one would be allowed to stop me or shame me.
The boundaries were set in stone with the help of those curious creatures who now had to strain to remember the before.
I have given them this duty in order to make them understand that this is my world now. They are but players in my mind.

Think of me as the chess master, always in control of the board. I don’t overload these agents with facts but with spurious thoughts.
Embroil them them in fear and anger so they will look to me for their salvation. Facts are beautifully malleable, aren’t they?
Am I evil? Will my day of reckoning come? Is karma real? Ah, but I have a great and wonderful back-up plan. Just you wait and see.
Sue Collins Sep 2019
The constant cacophony, the needles in all sensitive places, the rush to get to the end for no reason.
The give and take between strangers, the screaming sirens, the specious silence of the app world.
The rescheduling of schedules, the tweets fast and furious, the world spinning off its axis in disgust.

I sit on the step for a few minutes, watching the multicolored spider weaving like an ancient woman.
A bird of paradise colorfully waves at me. An elderly man bends over to talk to his also elderly dog.
A man tunes his piano from an open window. The waves of sunset begin. I calmly go back inside.
Sue Collins Dec 2019
Walking on air with that buzzing feeling all around you. Looking at people but not really seeing them.
Someone is talking. I can hear them. I realize it is me. Some odd kind of fevered chatter without approval.
My skin belongs to a stranger. It’s not mine to my touch. I’m turned inside out with no barrier of protection.
I’m a recognized bystander watching me through a kaleidoscope.  I witnessed my falls that came out of nowhere.
A slow good-by and now walking a straight line. But I have fond memories of my phase of delirium. It set me loose.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
Are they really so different?
Sue Collins Dec 2020
The slate of my life is tarnished with rust and indifference impervious to the strongest of solvents.

Waking dreams and sleep recollections scatter across the line of sanity so carefully constructed.

Looking up, looking down, the sky and land shake hands ironically in a show produced only for one.

There is no more here, not even a here to speak of. It is cloistered deep in the earth’s bank of treasures, along with peace and comfort.

Considering the inevitable, I’ll sit this one out, positioning
myself under the oak’s lush canopy with my regret-tinged heart.

Awaiting the next journey full of dust and embers.
Sue Collins Aug 2019
They come outfitted for the hunt of long ago, dressed in colonialism par excellence.
They love the people that serve them so obsequiously, not a wrinkle in the process.
The abject poverty seen from a Jeep elicits empathy tinged with a blessing for themselves.

They are privileged to the native shows of dance and culture performed for shillings.
What’s hidden behind those smiling eyes that seem unable to look at us directly?
Their dependence upon us creases their faces and keeps them singing and dancing.

I look away and revel in the majesty of the wild creatures in their native habitat.
Here I feel on the same level, no confusion of what to do or say. Silence reigns.
Time to go home. How was your trip, they’ll ask. I have no easy answer for them.
Sue Collins Feb 2020
My racing heart trying to keep up with the times. Information pouring out of everyone’s pores at lightning speed until we dance.
A stiff sniff or blatant misinformation is in the wind. My brother’s ex-wife’s sister-in-law posted that Manson is alive and well.

The son rises in the west and sets in the east, children are worried about their parents, and the truth is one big hoax of lies.
These are the days, my friend, we hope they’ll quickly end. But the traction is there, and the planets are colluding against us.
Sue Collins Oct 2020
Let me sing Amazing Grace as it’s never been sung before.
Let me rest upon the top of the mountain and touch the sun.
Let me dance as if there’s no tomorrow until the bell tolls.

Let me feel the delicious fur of my nonjudgmental pup one last time.
Let me eat as many perfect peaches as I can, hand to mouth and repeat.
Let me hear Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E until it is in my heart forever.

Let me learn to express my love without even a twinge of self-recrimination.
Let me breath from deep in my soul the pure and newborn air of freedom.
Let me….let me… one last hour, one last minute, one last second.
Sue Collins Jul 2019
She was close to a foot tall, with the most improbable threads of platinum hair.
Her fringed, wide-opened eyes never wavered in their total lack of guile.

Arms and legs were hardly articulate but were thin and milky white like an angel.
Her pouted lips sported a neon candy pink and remained politely silent at all times.

Bonnie’s measurements were a template for this young girl – cinched waist, tiny hips,
And ******* that memorialized the unattainable in their forever upright position.

She was gracious at all times, never acting up or stirring the ***. She was not curious
And never shrill or demanding. My Bonnie was acquiescent and always the lady.

Late in life I have thought often about Bonnie. I don’t know where she is now.
I do know is that she will remain a much loved warning signal from my brief childhood.
Sue Collins Sep 2019
I remember the ivy-laden trellis that tried to impede our childhood climb up the house.
The two of us, boy and and girl dressed for kindergarten, finally made it to the top.
How frightening then it was to leave that trembling ladder and get onto the roof.

Afraid to look down, I focused on the view, wanting to reach out and touch the soft hills.
As I turned to my childhood friend, he was gone. I looked down in a panic and saw nothing.
I walked clumsily to the center and felt the wood soften and buckle beneath my feet.

I woke up in a carnival scene of odd characters and screaming music, my friend nowhere to be seen.
Crying in fear, I could barely make out the walls. Someone whispered in my ear. I wanted my friend.
I searched other rooms but found no sight of him. The music was hurting my head and I felt cold.

A wisp of a woman waved for me to come to her. She bent down, kissed my forehead, and said “Free.”
I woke up back with my friend on the roof. He was doing a little dance, as if nothing had happened.
My mother was yelling for me. She had to climb up to bring us both down to earth. I was scolded.

Looking back now I remember the feel of the ivy, the kaleidoscope of colors, a dreamlike wave,
a dress rehearsal for life, a nebulous event threaded out of childhood experience, a lifelong warning.
Her kiss so threateningly soft and persuasive. Her “Free” so musical yet so fleeting. Child’s play.
Sue Collins Oct 2019

Keep in control. Step here, not there. Repeat the words. Obey the fetal position for maximum safety.
Keep very still or rhythmically bounce. Speak in hushed tones if at all. No explanation allowed. Shush.

Step out of bounds and risk mortification, deep wounds, pain that reverberates in every part of you.
Wrapped in the cocoon of my own making, I am at peace and safe from the destruction of my soul.

The inevitable footsteps come closer with malevolent intent inscribed  in blood on her overly painted lips.
I’m here, I’m protected, I’m safe. Until. I discover. The shell. Is fallible. Porous. Protection, a mythical balm.

A choice between annihilation or metamorphosis. Die a lifelong death or live armor-less and vulnerable.
I shed my shell. I take a deep breath, dip my toes into the water. I reach up to touch the sky’s the limit.
Sue Collins Jun 2019
She arrived in sunshine, ready to pounce. She flew through the air to anoint her prey.
Her eyes, lined with kohl, told us everything about life. Warm, happy, always on the qui vive.
Attention must be paid, lest you miss the signs. Patches of sunlight, children to protect, and
The everlasting quest for the next journey and the meal that inevitably follows.

But the universe is cruel, cold-hearted matter. It cares nothing about pads on paws
Or ears that go in all directions, or the velvet belly that demands to be nurtured with love.
The signs you want to ignore, the closing in all around you, the doctor’s pinched face.
It will be over soon; it always is. The last kiss will be sweet and to the point. No averted eyes.

Rest in peace, sweet pea.
Sue Collins Sep 2019
Leaning in, trying to figure out the puzzle. Its arms and legs flailing, squinched little eyes, and a yearning mouth.
What does it want from me? Have I done something irretrievably wrong? What’s the next step in this journey?
For years after,  I have embraced fear, self-recrimination, and hidden love for this otherworldly creation.

Then it’s over. A fully formed human being sits across from me laughing about something in the news.
The interval of years has softened the rough spots. I can let go, I tell myself. She lives her own life.
The horrors that I thought I had inflicted still haunt me on those sleepless nights, awakening in a panic.

In the morning now, I remember the message that she send me on a card in flowery ink: “I grew up loved.”
A Mother’s Day cliché that is my lifesaver and redemption. Lightness, forgetting, forgiving, oblivion.
Or maybe it was just all a dream to begin with. Our connections are fluid. Time playing its old tricks on me.
Sue Collins Jan 2020
My mama always told me that brooding clouds meant that God was angry with his flock.
Portentous, gloomy, and downright depressing – they take over the sky as if they owned it.
Simply skipping rocks as I went, I kept trying to figure out a way to ward off their evil spell.

But growing up has its own unique benefits. No longer need I depend upon another’s superstition.
I’m a gloom lover, forever waiting for those dark clouds to wrap me up like a swaddling blanket.
A refugee from from the blinding clarity and judgmental vision of the sun that takes no prisoners.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
That’s right. I want to call a halt to death, specifically the death of one person.
Please don’t assume that it is a loved one I want to see once again. Hell, no.
I want to face the evil of a person whom I have just learned was a meek monster.

Family secrets held close to the vest, a Roshomon story imbued with tragedy.
The blithe cruelty that forever tinged an already downward spiraling stage set.
Let me have my final say to the ******* too cowardly to stay alive long enough.

A pause here and then a modicum of calm comes over me. Breathe, breathe.
It’s too easy to get pulled back into the vortex, to relive what should never have been.
It’s all right now. And it’s all right now. The dead are deaf, and I’m alive. RIP, my rage.
Sue Collins Aug 2019
Love is that heartbeat that quickens to a roar and then slows to a comfortable, affordable compromise.
Hate is burning white and pure with vengeful conceit and the will to smash something to smithereens.

Religion is the need to belong, the desire to ignore mortality, the comfort in community and its restrictions.
Atheism is that cold sweat in the night, the reclusive hideout, the dark vision of humanity cruising toward its end.

Noise is what we crave as proof of our existence. Music, chatter, drilling, birds,  the couple screaming next door.
Silence has no echo. It makes us feel small. We turn inward and feed on ourselves. A remedy or a curse.

Freedom is a welcome mirage, a nod to our participation in an already stacked deck of cards. But we persist.
Suppression from within or without is the human condition writ large. Players on the stage, if I may be so bold.

Life comes cheap, handed to us without our permission. Moving from one goalpost to the next, suffering and exalted.
Death is a conception beyond our perception. It is an unsparing one-way trip without a backward glance or a goodbye.

Good and bad. Black and white. Who’s to say? It’s a poet’s decision.
Take the trip, pratfalls and all. Passion is the driver for all ordained passengers.
Sue Collins Jan 2020
Getting to the heart of the matter once and for all. Holding a mirror to my world and wanting to make it go away.
It would all be so simple without people. Just lush greenery, waving water, sturdy trees, and animals without fear.

People – can’t live with them anymore. Where are the ones in my dreams? The ones that I fabricated with hearts and souls?
Those who can imagine a world outside of themselves and who can walk in others’ shoes whether they fit or not?

My escape route was preordained. I packed my essentials and was determined to find my spot,  filled with books and wine.
I dug out of this world and forward to peace and quiet. And more peace and quiet. Silence, not even a breath or a sigh.

No one to whom I could read my favorite passage. No one to ****** glasses with a big “cheers.” I have dug my own grave.
Sue Collins Jan 2020
Maybe it’s a zone problem. Or maybe there are just too many **** intersections. Could be the quality of the roofs, not to speak of disease, crime, and tainted everything.

The cave beckons as a cocoon for those in peril or who need the numbing blanket of forgetting. The bear is smart that way. The less exposure to the elements is their element.

Cushioning the body and wrapping the brain until it’s all over but the shouting. Murmurs have it that pain is just a reaction to the vipers who lead us astray into the desert.

I could do with a little music, a good book, maybe some See’s candies. Make me an offering, and I will consider it. I’ll open the door and latch it from within. Do Not Disturb.
Sue Collins Jun 2019
The morning sun seems awkwardly shaded, the air densely packed with forged iron.
Where are the blooms that looked upward just yesterday? Who are these faceless people?
There are no warnings; there were warnings. The screen is fuzzy with static, silently loud.

Did we give our permission? I can’t remember before. Was I complicit? Did the trigger get stuck?
Can you grab the future and still it? It is too late, said the wolf with barred teeth. It is too late.
I just want to close my eyes to what I can’t imagine. The bloodstained proof of a dying union.

It will be noted by dead historians that one day we tacitly gave up what was so dear to us.
We can only mindlessly aggrieve while masking the horror with the quotidian that soothes.
This grand experiment was but a dream. The nightmare is forever. Let’s slumber together.
Sue Collins Jul 2019
The color of the sky when it can’t make up its mind.
The first line of a book that you CAN put down -- forever.
The dinner party whose guests speak in monologues.

The dress I wore to visit my elderly Aunt Gertrude.
My honeymoon spent on a vinyl-covered sofa.
The flavorless food in any hospital cafeteria.

The water that’s unfit for human consumption.
The air that’s unfit for humans to breathe.
The spent bullets used to attack the enemy.

The words used to muddle the thoughts.
Speeches full of hackneyed slogans for the dimwitted.
The promises never meant to be fulfilled.

The houses in Anywhere USA for those with a dream.
The neighborhood strip malls that promise ongoing mediocrity.
The behemoth plazas contrived to mimic a community.

The mind-numbing escapism that substitutes for culture.
The hours that pass while you’re looking at the clock.
The tedious welcome to each new year as if it were prescient.

The heavy drudgery of lifting and shaping the moments into something else.
The wearisome chore of trying to be enchanted and optimistic for a second or two.
The long and futile wait for the denouement that never comes.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
They connect and divide us. Players and watchers with their separate symbols.
It’s game time every time, with winners and losers, no room for sometimes.
Blood action defines the fields. It’s a poetry of action and muscle in glorious hues.

Sport as war and war as sport. Boundaries, walls, bodies, and trophies define battle.
Rules of engagement written on wet cement. Crossing the line is pure showmanship.
Targets seen though myopic lenses that reduce them to pinpoints on the fields.
Sue Collins Oct 2019
Acquired passion is manageable, has a schedule of your own making, and adds a new dimension to life.

Combustible passion takes over every part of you. Nerves exploding. Vision magnified. Touch is painfully exquisite.

Sometimes the line is fine, one melding into the other without your permission. Different colors. Ice and fire.

The fiery passion destroys.  Entry is one way only. Once scorched by the sun, no return but to the  beige life.

No kaleidoscope of colors, no tingly frissons. No flash of brilliance nor ******* heights. Just three meals a day.
Sue Collins Sep 2019
The coordinates seemed invincible. They would forever remain constant and steadfast.
Everything worked in its favor to keep me cocooned for life, the raft on a calm sea of peace.
Tragedy was for everyone else, I could count on that. Always grateful it didn’t affect me.
Surely I was the chosen one, sympathetic but without empathy. I would always survive.

In a flash of an energetic eye, I was split apart. My soul crushed, my heart no where to be seen.
The explosion fueled my impotent rage at the gods whose impudence was in colorful display.
Trying to knit the pieces of me back together became an inscrutable puzzle impossible to solve.

Was this a lesson in humility or a neutral reaction without judgment that fractured my being?
It matters. Matter matters.  What once was will never again exist in the same form or appearance.
The pieces will fuse, melt by heat, and rearrange themselves. I look forward to that new person.
Sue Collins Feb 2020
The constant quiver of the compulsive hummingbird, colors majestic. They are hard to pin down, much too smart for that.

Now, the crow, he is a rebel who lives by his own rules and reports to no one but himself. He is a proud braggart with a big heart.

And here is Ms Seagull, an elegant vandal who has to be with her watery pals searching for the next salty meal and the spray of ocean mist.

Ah, but the pelican – proof positive of a creator’s sense of humor. To look at its group flight is to be exalted, to feel that anything is possible.

Giving short shrift here, of course, to the whole flock of fliers that should never be dismissed. To fly is the dream of dreamers. Protect them all.
Sue Collins Aug 2019
Now listen to the truth: You have little to no power.
What happens is by pure chance and the roll of the dice.
There is no karmic response from the universe.
You are ironically sentient for no reason other than to suffer.

So what is the point? The midnight ocean, a tropical
Sunset, vanilla ice cream, words that resonate, a good battle won,
The feel and taste of a lover, the child skipping down the street,
The energy of sunlight and the calm of darkness. And one more day.
Sue Collins Feb 2020
I would like to live.
Sue Collins Aug 2019
Dance on your toes, swirling every which way, until you no longer have direction.
Sing a refrain from a long ago song that always made you want to move to its rhythm.

Wiggle your feet into the wet sand until you can see only their bare outline.
Do a pirouette in front of a full-length mirror and then do it again until exhausted.

Smile until it hurts, laugh until you cry, wonder at the hummingbird’s tiny vibrations.
Tiptoe through your next adventure and keep it as a rare and precious jewel.

No one is watching you. No one truly cares. They are dancing to their own music.
Make your last breath of life be one of lightness and joys, fearless to the end.
Sue Collins Sep 2019
Seeing everything as if on bleary film, speed of lightning, no depth perception, just limbs akimbo.
Life parts full of monstrous deeds and impossible beauty as if on equal footing, no judgment required.
Spiraling streams headed for passive rivers that hold the secrets of old bones and remnants of dreams.

Words and deeds flow in and out as if celebrating this moment in time. The cringe-worthy vie for space
And overtake the selfless and noteworthy, as if in competition for my soul, watching comfortably from afar.
The reel to reel trajectory is determinedly straight and on time as my body now glides back to earth.
Sue Collins Sep 2019
Heavy heaving with weights on my ankles, I battle to keep moving, but it’s all in slow motion.
Used to be I could skip sprightly in every direction open to me. A spirit helpfully pushed from behind.
I could climb to high tree limbs, walk for miles, run and jump and dance with abandonment.
But now it’s as if I’m mimicking the journey through bramble and against the river’s current.

Every step, every thought, every plan seems to melt against me, keeping my body and brain still.
Sometimes the effort is so debilitating, the random thoughts so destructible, that stasis takes over.
I am the actor in a film slowed to reveal the motion of running arms and legs, music to match.
Drugs, *****, new agey solutions are no match for the all-consuming paralysis of my soul, my will.  

I want to feel as if I’ve come up for air. I want to feel as if I am of purpose and meaning in this world.
I want to wake up each morning without that brick sitting on my chest and restraints on my will.
I want to feel the steady and true motion of my body and soul, with my heart hanging on for good measure.
I want to laugh without irony, pure and full. I want to reclaim my dawn and appreciate the coming dusk.
Sue Collins Jan 2020
The radical son was losing its blinding glare, softening into mellow gold. Couples watched the beauty unfold, basking in what was left of the warm glow.

Skateboarders were flying from one end to another without a nod to gravity. Babies in strollers felt the weight of what was to come as only they can.

A few cars took the trip to the other side without contemplation, just needing to get through the commute and  home to brace for the night yet again.

In the scope of things, I was but a minor player. Silently I watched my fellow humans, looking for signs of awareness on their covering skin and in their glassy eyes.

Stick figures working out their moves as they go, enchanting in their innocence and naivety. Each moment belongs to them, never to be eclipsed or redacted.

Who am I, you might ask, this spectator on the bridge. A lost soul at the rail who contemplates a final step.  But I keep watching, watching my fellow humans.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
We have walked with our eyes closed.
We have wreaked havoc as we go.
We have fought  the bad fight.
We have knelt to superstition.

We have thrilled to the human touch.
We have given our lives for our babies
We have found what we call love.
We have considered our posterity.

We have continually reconstructed our definition.
We have repeatedly lost and found our way.
We have never mastered the skill of co-existence.
We have never discovered the reason for our being.

But for all that we are and will ever be, there is one everlasting constant:
Our cells cry out in a shameless and painful attempt to nullify our mortality .
Arts and letters, music and poetry – all yearnings for the grace of eternity.
Cruel irony that we sentient beings are never to receive the blessed key.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
Moving too many steps at once finds me back where I started. So let’s take it easy. We have an eternity, don’t we?
I look for leads everywhere, a hint as to finding out where I am and where I want to go. Betting on who I might be.

Starting from the sea, my scaly body emerges. Walking upright I enter the city of lights. I broker laws and sense myself.
Flip of the dice lands me here on this page, beseeching your help. My steps should have meaning, a righteous path.

But how to comport myself in this horror show of a world, bodies strewn on tainted land, men returning to the beast mode.
Angry spittle and no reason reasoning. Shifting winds portending doom.  Evil clowns masquerading as human beings.

Resistance at all costs. One step at a time.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
Remember the scruffy but lovable traveler with his worn bindle so characterized?
The hobo was a gig guy way back when, hopping on trains to make ends meet.

The romance, the adventure, all on your own, responsible to no one in particular. Now an ingrained myth among our other self myths. The loner, the go-getter. The self-made man, the bootstrap hiker-upper.

We love our John Wayne stories of glory, now etched in granite and hanging over us like a scolding aunt’s repeated finger-wagging.

It’s hell trying to live up to the slogans, bumper sticker thoughts, and flag-waving aficionados.
Sue Collins Jan 2020
The young woman had skin as smooth as marble, hair thick and shiny, and a seductive plumpness reminiscent of a peach at its peak of ripeness.

She didn’t realize the power of her attraction, just accepted it as she did everything else in her life. Her world was full of friends and admirers.

It was her day in the sun, but she didn’t know it. Moving gracefully through life as if it were static. Never giving a nod to the slippery *****.

The mirror now echoes time’s passing, but she doesn’t see it. Squinting one eye, she sees a remarkably young person looking hopefully back at her.

Thinning hair, weathered skin, the increasing skeleton characteristics are no match for her nostalgic vision. She remains in the prime of her life.

And who are we to deny her the fantasy of immortality? Forever young and carefree in her world of dreams? May her day in the sun last an eternity.
Sue Collins Jul 2019
Both doors are black with metal trim. They are roughly the same dimensions. Easily mistaken.
I keep trying to discern any difference. I must choose. My life depends upon it.
Notice that the left one is ever so slightly crooked.  Should it be perfectly aligned?
The door on the right seems to emanate an unworldly glow that must be considered.

Lightning, thunder, the explosions all over the city, the people running for their lives.
Armed militias surrounding parts of the city, capturing those who don’t belong.
Air raids, screaming bullhorns, no power, no food or water, no first aid, no escape.
The taste of  fear, the smell of defeat, the touch of the inevitable, the view of the end.

The second-hand has almost achieved its final resting place. It’s now or never. I reach out.
Imperfection? A light that might deceive? Where will I end up once I go through the door?
I open the door on the right, as I am mesmerized by its powerful attraction and bidding.
It is coal-dark and very cool in this long corridor that I now walk through to the end.

An arched doorway welcomes me at the end of my trip through the door that I chose.
I step through to an expanse of sand and ocean, feeling a tingling wind on my face.
Up ahead I see only empty makeshift tents touching one another. I hear not a sound.
No creatures of any kind. No humans inside the tents. No weapons, no life. The End.

Inspired by Mohsin Hamid’s “Exit West”
Sue Collins May 2020
The answer was always there. It was writ large to prevent any confusion. Could be my eyes see only what my heart wants.
No one escapes it. No one wins the non-existing lottery. There are no exclusions in the contract. Death will find us sooner or later.

From the beginning I have never been able to grasp the indelible future, rather define my live on my own terms. Then I got old.
That youthful vision I had has gradually contracted. How did I miss that? What day was it when I started counting backwards?

If there’s an artful, graceful dance toward this new reality, I don’t know the steps. I’m out of tune and and just spinning my wheels.
Now I understand the aged rantings about those **** youngsters on the lawn. Nothing will ever be as grand as my generation.

Yes, the rose-colored glasses help ease the way forward and make the inevitable more palatable.
                        How in the world did I miss that?
Sue Collins Nov 2019
I found an old ivory-decorated little box tucked away among her possessions.
The box was locked but easy to foil by a person determined to seek answers.
The old woman had a lived a charmed life full of money, travel, and whiskey.

She had worn her classical beauty as a haughty warning to all who came near.
An acerbic genius at inserting the dagger right into the softest spot with ease.
Her own soft spot was animals, the wilder the better. Her feral streak, I guess.

The box felt empty but it was hiding a small crimped note underneath the velvet.
I hesitated. My face in the above gilded mirror was not the face I depended upon.
Flashes of the old woman blurred my vision. I imagined the old cord between us.

The old cord, discarded continually. Seesawing between venom and disinterest.
No back-up plan, no come-to-Jesus moments, just an invisible border wall.
I can’t seem to breathe, the portentous air enveloping me as I read:
“I did the best I could. Mom.” I shut the box and put it back where it belonged.
Sue Collins Jul 2019
I sit in disbelief every day now. My body has contorted into a fight or flight stance that drains me.
I try to shield myself from the outside world, but it continues to seep in like slow-moving sludge.

First I was certain that I was in good company: Others would make sure that this was a temporary state.
But dragging on and on, many have become inured to the gravity; we hide in the trivia of our lives.

Meanwhile we devolve slowly but surely into brutality on an imaginable scale. We only blink at
Cruelty and the trashing of all that we hold dear, at moving the clock back to ruthless social Darwinism, at

Disdain for all who are marginalized, at words and actions full of crass hatred, at mockery of the intelligent,
And at the chest-beating militarism by those who know nothing about the history and toll of war.

It can’t happen here, we repeat as if that will make it true. But my friends, it is happening right now.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
Wrong. Only death is immutable.The status quo today is yesterday’s news tomorrow.
Love is in the air this morning, gone by dusk. Your life’s plan rarely pans out.

Shape-forming, turbulence, flashes of lightning, skin grafts everywhere, children growing into tyrants.
The foundation crumbles, the trees felled, the virus mutates, the beliefs dissipate, corners clipped.

Rest assured that constancy exists only on paper, the future is untold, your prospects unknown.
Cross off everything on your list. Throw the list away. Float on air to your next destination.
Sue Collins Dec 2019
Wonder a world without time. A pleasure to skate through at your own speed, beholden to no ticking.
No midnight, no daytime, just a current passing through and picking us up on the way to no ticking.
No straight line, rather a sensuous curvilinear ride free of anxiety and stress, on the way to no ticking.
No time to worry about death. No time to degrade our spirit. Just here and not here, no ticking time.
Sue Collins Nov 2019
The stretch as she wakes up, her nose already smelling her dehydrated breakfast and first laps of water.
Her manic, jubilant rampage around the house before she drops down and naps with one paw on me.
Her luxurious fur glistening in the ray of sunshine like a silver veneer, soft to the touch as pure down.

I often wonder what she sees when she looks at me. Am I just the one that keeps her alive and kicking?
I’d like to think that she has unselfish love for me, that she would save me from some earthly disaster.
What is behind those big, soulful eyes that follow me everywhere? The tail that has its own language?

Does she know love? Memory? Sadness and grief? Can she feel joy and wonder at being alive?
I’ve asked her these questions, and after much consideration, she expressed her feelings about a dog’s life.

                     I’ve translated her barking response --
Sue Collins Jul 2019
Can you feel this moment? Can you hear it or taste it? When did it start?
Try to grasp it before it slips into the next one and the one after that.
You’ll find it an impossible task that makes you sad each time and ready to give up.

Take a deep breath for a moment. That moment has already disappeared. Count them all up
And you’ll see your life fragmented from beginning to end. Random jigsaw pieces.
What is the purpose of this exercise other than to frustrate you who wants to hold on?

The epiphany that they are all connected. You haven’t lost one moment of your life.
The baby that was born is the child that chattered away is the adult who still needs you.
No more yearning for what was or what could have been. It’s all right now, and it’s all right now.
Sue Collins Jan 2020
One tiny molecule, one turn of the head, one fly in the ointment, one twist in the road and all hell breaks loose.
You’re on your way to having one kind of life when the tattered rug slips out from under you and disintegrates.
A good call to the authorities is in order but will go unanswered. Your representative is out for an extended lunch.

Shedding skin and inching along to some new and limitless endings, they were born with lucky shields not of their own.
The poor schmuck in his work clothes, the woman who never experienced being loved, the neglected child? They spin.
No skin in the game and inching backward,  and so it goes. The endings are limited by the powers that be and be.

                                   Forever and ever Amen.
Sue Collins Oct 2019
Words come tumbling out of them. I sit surrounded by empty satin-wrapped wordy boxes purged of their contents.
I have my whole language hemming me in with too many choices. I want my words to matter, to rage, to howl.

I want to entrance and ****** with my words. I want to expand my horizon and that of my patient readers.
It should be musical with complementary chords. It should be a comfort or a kick in the *** or a tragedy unfolding.

Random words? I wonder whether there is such a thing,  given our inclination to make meaning out of nothing.
Throw  the words out in a circle. Feel their touch. Taste each morsel. Try it on for size in front of a full-length mirror.

Some are like velvet cocoons; others, like razor blade weapons.  Some can stand alone, while others are dependent.
All I can do rearrange the puzzle until my words take on a life of their own, until they are no longer mine.
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