Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Thursday, December 31, 2009


to my sponsor...
I thought it was time I let you know how much your support and guidance have meant to me over these past few years. Why it is that year's end seems to evoke this urge in me, I have no idea. You above most can attest to my lack of sentimentality and my ruthlessness when it comes to self honesty. And yet....here I am letting you know what your insight and care mean in ongoing ways, even though we both speak of not speaking of it, you claiming that I do as much for you as you do for me and I insisting that your talent at camouflaging kindness is crucial to how my dignity is maintained.
I like this dance of ours. It's not like I'm at risk of losing my hard fought sobriety.... it's been, as they say, a few 24 hours. Clean and sober are not the battlegrounds they once were. Now the battles are fought in the heart, in the gut, in the mirror. Give me a good old fashioned shit-knocking any day. Now you warn me off my vindictive fantasies and negative self talk, as if someone was actually going to get hurt. You are, you would say. And then you would warn me about dismissing that out of hand because it is a swift slide down into the bullshit pity pot. I resent that, and you know that, too, keenly aware as you are of how neither one of us goes that particular route, it being the easier, softer way.
So, yes, lots to thank you for. And this year especially, when you assure me that privacy is not deceit, but a right-- a boundary that I ought to cultivate with as much tenacity as I cultivate service; that preference is a behaviour, not only a feeling, and that it is also mine to enact, that one word or the other will do : yes/no.... without offering reasons; that 30 minutes of boredom continues to be the challenge you hold out to me.... and when I ask, cumulative or consecutive, you smile and tell me to exercise my best judgement on that one...
my best judgement..... and here's the best part of that... you believe I have it as far as these three mundane life- saving skills are concerned. And so I shall exercise it.... so I shall.
I won't finish with love or warm regards
I'll wish you what each of us values as much.... another 24 hours.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Autism camp encore: rites of passage

I decided to bring back one more gem before year's wintry end sleeps.... actually, that should be before year end's wintry sleep. Ahem.
I 've written here before about Victoria, my oldest camper. She and I have had lots of ups and downs together. The summer in question, she obsessed about her personal space even more than her usual 10 foot radius tactile defensive zone. We knew how to give her a wide berth. New campers are always interesting, however. Victoria is their rite of passage.
Andrew was a scrawny little 13 year old with overactive hormones and underdeveloped impulse control. He also had a thing for breasts.
"I'm gonna punch that fu#$@ng little weasel in the face if he comes close to me again " Victoria announces this to me as we walked into the gym on day 2 of camp. I do all the appropriate re-directs. She backs down, knowing I respect her. Andrew manages to make the rounds throughout the day poking and grabbing and pinching, not so surreptitiously copping a feel every chance he gets..... he is a teenager and after all is said and done, he is autistic, he's not dead.....
the day end de-brief has numerous accounts of his transgressions. The task of addressing Andrew's touchy-feely tendencies falls to me, the camp alpha.
" Hands to yourself, Andrew," I prompt him all through day 3, then down the scale to " no touching" and finally to blocking him from grabbing me. He's got that squirmy kind of strength I hate. " Andrew" I say as I hold his two hands away from my chest " some day you're going to touch the wrong person."
" So what" he says " I can't help it.... it's an impulse control problem ... "
I look right at him and he does not flinch. I release his hands and he backs off.
Victoria continues her rant on day 4. " I'm gonna punch out his fu#@&ng lights" she warns me " if he keeps on poking me..." she is pacing and breathing heavily, clearly agitated.
" How's your impulse control today " I ask her, looking up and smiling into her green, wild eyes. She stops moving, her stillness as frightening as her rage, considers me, evenly, and puts her huge hands in her pockets.
" Not good" she says.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ascribe to me a body

ascribe to me a body
easily broken
that I might bear a story for every scar

assign to me a body
hurt so deeply
the only way to cry would be
a howl

ascribe to me a body
shaped by moments
so time with
into my craft

author me a body
honed by longing
that I might write
of smoke & spark & flame
blissful fire...
sweet pain
timeless twilight
graceful dawns, easy waking
thresholds, moonscapes
oceans, shorelines
hope's wilderness

ascribe to me this body
changed and grateful
that I might die
with you
as my last thought

Monday, December 28, 2009


My friend and colleague Richard is an internationally sought after semiotician. He studies cultural signs and codes, language and other forms of communication and representation, verbal and non-verbal. One of my favourite sayings of his is : Once I know your code, I no longer have to listen to your message.
This is not to suggest that messages are not important.... messages can contain hints of code, misdirection of code, can even be presented or believed as code by the sender..... but they are not code.
I thought I'd provide a few examples of code/message relation from a few insiders who were nice enough to share them with me....
... and we're off...
This is one from a gal who works at my bank : Let me see if I can find someone here who would like to help you with that
This is one from my sister who is a teacher at a " high risk demographic " elementary school in response to a colleague's query, "so, how did it go ?" regarding an interaction with a parent : about how you'd expect
This is one from me when I have to inquire after why something was done the way it was: I'd like you to walk me through your decision making process on this one

now, see if you can match the code below to the messages above

what the hell were you thinking
you're an asshole and no one here wants to deal with you
I figured it would go badly and I was not surprised ( you eedjit)

These are somewhat mundane and humourous examples; code can also be quite serious, deadly serious in some contexts. Not to be taken lightly, and not to be dismissed. Teaching me about code and ways to read it have been some of the best gifts Richard has given me, in addition to his wonderful friendship and mentorship.

of course, I welcome message/code examples others would like to share....

Sunday, December 27, 2009


is not luxury

Audre Lorde, Chosen Poems, Old and New; 1982

Saturday, December 26, 2009

irreverent review

As soon as you enter the reception area, you know that something singularly special awaits you. You might even feel breathless, your emotions all aflutter. It's not every day that a gal will be able to say that she had an experience that was memorable ( unforgettable, even? ) across so many dimensions of self.

The warmth of the encounter is foreshadowed by the care invested in the decor--steel grey on charcoal grey on dove grey, a homogeneity of carpet and drapes that screams tranquility and comfort. This is further underscored by the almost blissfully impersonal neutrality of the efficiently multi-tasking woman you encounter at the check-in desk who adds to your anticipation with her excrutiating deliberateness, the focus she gives to the rhythmic phone chimes rivaled only by her ongoing fascination with her glossy, French manicured nails. These she also taps to punctuate the meaningfulness of the interaction. Once you have been sufficiently groomed and processed, she then ushers you into the inner sanctum. This is what you have been waiting for, after all, and any behaviour you have encountered thus far has doubtless been administered in the service of the fullness of the experience. This space offers a dramatic contrast to the reception area, with thoughtfully arranged stools and counter tops in stark creams and polished chrome, an artfully saucy changing area and an even more enticing black leather examining table, nestled lovingly within a circle of foot rests and trays of stainless steel utensils. Nothing is left to chance, however, and your sensory needs are further nurtured by the crackling and wrinkling of paper sliding around under your butt and an equally crunchy cover sheet which you grasp tightly under your chin. The room temperature, just cool enough to stimulate shivering, completes the effect.

The lights dim gradually as the maestro arrives, sits on a stool and slides towards the table, the tails of his white coat swaying even as the sound of vinyl gloves snapping into place signals the beginning of the performance. Mere words are deemed superfluous in this arena; rather, he ceremoniously places his helmet on his head, turns on the light and leans in....
Bracing yourself, you believe you hear the word " relax" (m)uttered with all the dispassionate interest the situation calls for, and you realize he has spared you the indignity of a wordless first act and instead has gone straight to the main attraction.

Here, dear reader, I pause to give you a moment so consider the scene in all its glory before bringing it to its conclusion and denouement. You, on your back, swaddled in squeaking paper, feet anchored in stirrups, the maestro in his miner's helmet, unseen behind the paper drape suspended by your hastily and obediently bent knees, leaning slightly to his right, rummaging for instruments.... scene set? just exhale, now, and let it happen. While it is unseemly to do so, you gasp out loud as you are pierced by what feels like a spatula shaped icicle. Maestro lingers over the positioning and adjusting so as not to rush you through the exquisite agony of the moment...
and then.... with as little ceremony and as much speed as is humanly possible, the instrument is withdrawn and the sounds of dismissal ensue with a sequence of noises as inhuman as they are efficient: steel crashing into a dry, shining sink, gloves swishing with tissue paper whispers into a yawning waste receptacle, helmet thudding onto the tray and stool wheels whirring towards the dimmer switches near the exit, click of door..... full lights, you blink and shiver and slowly straighten your legs.

A few words to guide you should you choose to attend another performance. Since these experiences will likely have recurring patterns, exercise control where you have it....
* lower your expectations regarding eye contact and courtesy from pre-event staff
* choose a maestro with small hands and no sign of a refrigeration unit in or near the event arena
* leave immediately at the mention of any references to matching carpet and drapes
* and gentlemen, if you'd like an empathy experience, ask your proctologist or GP to store the surgical gloves in the deep freeze overnight before your next prostate exam

Happy Trails, fun seekers !!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yule See

here on the rock
the wind howls and the waves crash
sparse and wild
jutting out into the unconditional sea
my home
fills me with longing
even & especially when I am here
on the rock
Funny how that works, longing...
I love how it fills me
& I love how it teaches me
to give way
even when old ghosts are insisting
the willows are scarce, here.

Scarce they may be,
yet those that thrive have learned
to yield with a vengeance
I'm learning to admire
how love has
changed everything
sparse & wild

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

into the wild tangled places

I never met a philosopher who didn't
( secretly ) want to be smoke
taoist non of non-action
pure thought drifting
unencumbered by the dirty work of words

I never met an addict who didn't
crave ( resolution)
one moment of glorious free fall quiet
celebrating torment's disclosures

I never met a cat who couldn't
survive a brutal fall
only to be broken by a lesser one that offered
no time to surrender to that
instinct of waiting
for the world to open up in front of her

I never met a poet who didn't
care about words
carrying the load
& feel the ache of that
deep in his own bones

I never met a story that couldn't
find a poet
willing to take the hits
longing to be summoned
into the wild tangled places
where bodies hurt
stones cry
moonlight bears witness

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


on this longest
winter night
cold is an old friend
bearing unguarded memories
feet circled around an open oven
hot sugar bread
thick, too sweet tea
yarn darned socks
too patchworked to be worn
but home
wearing a coat to bed...
awakened by a too bright moon
every sigh visible silver
with swirls, worlds and faces
in frost and lace
I remember smiling into the darkness

Monday, December 21, 2009

Free verse

Early on I remember talking to her
about hate
oblivious to her admonitions
that it was a bottomless pit
of wasted energy
I argued for its benefits and applications
insisting that it took
no effort
at all
an easy agenda item--
as hell....

coldness became my camouflage
helpful, enduring
more neutral than it seems
on its face
a logical consequence

Later on I remembered the first time I loved
not realizing how rare that would be
the gifts it would bring
the toll it would take
the memories it would leave
how much they would matter

A lifetime later I'm yielding
to what it means to love without holding back
having felt it once before
I knew its sweetness
when it awakened
unpredictable overpowering tenderness
tougher than anger, sadness or hell
helpless as water
older than time
always more than words
always seeking words

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fear .... ( a not so short prose )

The line of traffic extends for almost a city block. There is a car, sitting, idling, its driver's door wide open, that seems to be the problem. Other cars are doing their best to get around the open door, still others are slowing down, rubbernecking, so see why things are slowing down.

A police vehicle appears out of nowhere, the cop strides toward the offending car, assessing the scene; he glances at his watch and squints up at the sun. What the hell. Flynn would rather do any other law enforcement responsibility than traffic patrol duty. It was so....pedestrian. He sighs to himself even as he continues to turn around, slowly doing the 360. He notices a woman crouching on a grassy patch across the street from the car. Her ankle length black skirt is wrapped around her legs and she is further swaddled by the tight hug her arms have around her knees. There is a briefcase nearby, with papers that appear to have been haphazardly thrust inside. It yaws open, like a mouth with large uneven teeth protruding. Paper fangs. Flynn is not sure why he finds this unnerving and while he is here feeling slightly off balance by the whole thing, traffic continues to back up.

Does anyone know anything about this car, Flynn hollers over the traffic. The woman has been resting her forehead against her knees and now she lifts her chin and looks right at the cop. He looks right back. She nods, and stands up carefully and dusts the grass off her skirt. She collects her briefcase, pausing long enough to arrange the papers so that none will fall out. She tests it, briefly, with a slight heft and swing, and something about her posture alerts Flynn to the possibility of a foot chase. Swiftly, he glances at her shoes, his instincts jangling now. The woman walks steadily, deliberately towards him. I own the car, she says, looking up into his face.

Jeez, ma'am-- it's always " ma'am" beyond a certain age--Jeez, ma'am, you've got quite a bottleneck going here. He cocks his head and gazes down at her, doing that fixed stare into the eyes cop thing.

Are you sick or something?

No, she says, not sick.

Not sick....stoned, maybe? high? Flynn runs through the mental checklist; a trick gone bad.... nah, couldn't be, the look and the briefcase don't match up... maybe a head case....

He's looking at her more closely now; he's noticing how she keeps him between her and the car.

Anything you want to tell me here, ma'am?

He's looking at the car more closely, now, too. He's sweating; she's not.

I can't go back in there until you get rid of it, she days. Her voice is a little shaky.

Just show me what the problem is, he says, taking her arm and guiding her towards the car.

Oh, no! she cries, and pulls back, shaking him off. Her movement is startling, forceful and agile; her eyes are darting back and forth.

It was on the window, she says quietly, just get it out and I can get back in there.

Flynn puts his hands on her shoulders; he wants her to stay put. He feels her stiffen in that way that women do when they're warning you not to keep doing that. He backs up and gives her the shitIsurrenderwaitrightthere gesture. He turns away and approaches her car, glancing back to make sure she 's not going to take off. Flynn never thought he'd see the day when he wished he had back up for a traffic diversion. He leans in and examines the windshield....
.... the wasp flies up into his face, he rears back, wrestling with the space; he falls onto the horn, it gives a loud blast; he hits his head on the door frame, hastily backing out, bum first, swinging his hands in front of his face..... holyshitmutherfu.... Flynn curses instinctively, bobbing and weaving, all thoughts of dignity abandoned, avoiding the thing buzzing wildly about his head and shoulders. He manages to swat it away, abruptly stopping his flailing dance in mid-gesture, glancing around a little sheepishly. He lifts his chin and rolls his head, smoothes the front of his shirt. Ok, Ma'am, he says, it's gone.
The woman walks past Flynn and cautiously approaches the car. Thank you, she says, and hugs the briefcase close as she climbs back in.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Journal entry: Resolution or folly ?

Here is a quote that grabbed me by the throat:
" You can't talk yourself out of problems you behave yourself into"

it's attributed to Stephen Covey; however, regardless of the source, I cannot get it out of my head. Perhaps it has something to do with my returning to full time duty at my workplace after a six month sabbatical. Perhaps it is too close to the bone, an inconvenient insight better left unearthed.... even though I am not one who's inclined to shirk self honesty.
The upshot is, it's got me thinking and reflecting about the problems I have behaved myself into, and how talking or thinking about doing things differently will not suffice if behaviour is what got me up to my neck in water in the first place. At least it's water and not some other substance that is equally applicable.....
Obviously, I have to behave myself out. Sounds simple enough..... but like so much that appears simple, it's not easy. Perhaps that's what will be the appeal...
you see, it's not the nasty stuff that calls out to my over-commitment gene ... it is the fulfilling stuff , the tendency to plan like I'm going to live forever and to live like I'm going to die tomorrow.... and now, more than ever, I have so much in my life that deserves my being present for moments that I only hoped would happen.

I've said it elswhere: if a thing does not gladden my heart, I am going to have to lay it down.
I've said it elsewhere: yielding is the hardest work of hope and craft.
These, then, will be the touchstones; I will trust them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spock on the Rock: fan fiction #2

Darlene Hickey has turned out to be one hell of an ambassador. She got them set up with warm clothes, she got them set up with transportation, and she found a buddy with a great basement where they could " crash". If there's a down side, Kirk mused, it's that Darlene is the transportation, so the crew have to be talking in code all the time. Darlene is a quick study, though, and it's only a matter of time before she figures out that Spock and company are even stranger than she already knows for sure.
Kirk still can't get over how Spock and Darlene hit it off. Spock's been quite the space cadet since he re-integrated.... at least McCoy is much more settled since he got Spock out of his head... still, Spock seems too damn comfortable here in Newfoundland, even with the awful wind and cold, the strange language and not one piece of flat land. Spock claims that it is so much like Vulcan it is uncanny, actually nurturing his re-integration, feeding his soul. That comment raised everyone's eyebrows and, according to Uhura, " just warmed their hearts". Right.
Kirk looks out the window of Darlene's van. She's taking them to the Marine Lab in Middle Cove, apparently the site for ocean research on the east coast. Darlene insists that it's the best place to talk to people about whales and any other marine life ya might have a hankerin' to investigate. Not bad for a girl from Torbay, Kirk smiles to himself, whatever the hell that means.
Whales....all the sound analyses point to whales as the solution to the horrible situation they left back in the future. With vibrations from an unknown alien species creating turmoil and disaster in all the oceans of earth, Kirk and his crew defied the odds and travelled back in time to find the earlier forms of the species in earth's late 20th century oceans. Newfoundland was as far from San Francisco as they could get ... how they could have overshot the mark by a whole continent remains a mystery.... and, Kirk thought ruefully, it looks like a moonscape.
Yes, my son, Darlene assures him. Kirk startles; he hadn't realized he had said it out loud. 'Round 'ere we dig our basements with dynamite... Darlene continues, we don't call it The Rock fer nothing!! She deftly pulls into the parking space outside the Lab, a round, squat structure with porthole windows and water all around, crashing madly. Darlene gazes out over the wildness with pride; she gives a little lift and turn gesture with her head and chin that Kirk has seen frequently among many of the natives since he and his crew set down a few days earlier. Quite the culture. He glances at his crew and they all pile out and follow Darlene into the steel bubble.
All hands seem to know her. Pardon me for sayin', lass, Scotty speaks softly, but you're not exactly a stranger here....
I should say not, roars a tall, shaggy man in jeans and a plaid shirt. Darlene's our youngest PhD in marine biology in two decades. He beams, clearly delighted at Darlene's embarrassment. Ah, jaysus, dad, she says, and does the introductions. Dr. Aloysius Hickey, Captain James T. Kirk, here on ... research, so he says.
Atcher service, says Dr. Al. I'm the chief cook and bottle washer around here. I've got the one associate, Noel, here, and Darlene, of course, and four graduate students...
Scotty, Sulu and McCoy share a moment. Not bad, says Sulu, for a girl from Torbay.
The group follows Drs. Al and Darlene to the viewing tank, gawking, then murmuring about the noise of the waves and the silvery motion of the swimming creatures that surround them. Then a cry of shock from Chekov: Kepten!!
Kirk follows the pointing finger. There on the other side of the tank, in the damn freezing waters of the north Atlantic ocean, is Spock, stripped down to his gitch, cavorting with the seals and the fish, seemingly oblivious to the cold. Everyone is pounding on the glass wall. Spock is impervoius, melding with his new found fishy friends. Finally, his reverie is broken, and Al sends his grad students to help him in. To his other colleague, a man as bald as Al is hairy, Al hollers, Noel... get the rum and put on the kettle. Noel tears himself away and heads for the back office. Darlene leans against the tank with arms crossed, shaking her head, and declares ..... much longer out there, Spock, and anything stiff and pointy woulda been falling off, and I don't only mean yer ears, if ye get my drift....
... the ears comment stops everyone is his tracks; Uhura is helping Spock towel off and she, too, pauses. This is an important moment.
Did somebody say rum ? Scotty asks.

to be continued....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Grave Humour: epitaph

Here rests the body of Eliza Devine
for her, life held no terrors.
Born a virgin, died a virgin....
no hits, no runs, no errors.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Sea Gulls

For one carved instant as they flew
The language had no simile--
Silver, crystal, ivory
Were tarnished. Etched upon the horizon blue,
The frieze must go unchallenged, for the lift
And carriage of the wings would stain the drift
Of stars against a tropic indigo
Or dull the parable of snow.

Now settling one by one
Within green hollows or where curled
Crests caught the spectrum from the sun,
A thousand wings are furled.
No clay-born lilies of the world
Could blow as free
As those wild orchids of the sea.

and, now plundered....

one carved


against a



For one instant
wings stain the drift
of snow

one by one
within green hollows
a thousand wings are
as free
as wild orchids