To Die Young

To die young

Means

To be forever youthful

Never aging

Always viral

Always beautiful

No wrinkling skin

Or whitening hair.

Always lush

Always full.

*

To die young

Means

To be always full of promise

No failures

No disappointments

Always possibilities

*

To die young

Means

To die pure

Untouched by a world that jades

And tarnishes the soul

Unworn by time

Always wise

Always bright

Always fresh.

*

To die young

Means

To be locked in time

A freeze-frame of a moment

On a journey

A picture of someone in movement

A chapter at the climax of a story

Forever captured in memory

*

Monroe, Dean, Morrison

Winehouse, Phoenix, Ledger

Cobain, Lee, Holly

Always beautiful

Always full of promise

Always frozen in time.

*

To die young

Means

To be taken ripe

Like a flower in full bloom

Plucked at its peak

To be shared

And enjoyed

Before time ages it

And sucks it dry and brittle.

*

To die young

Means

To be mercifully freed

From a world of pain

Anger

Hate

And disappointment.

To be ushered into the undiscovered country

Of pure peace

To become one with the light

And know full enlightenment

To be one with the world

Nature

And the Universe

To transcend time and space

And be a being of true energy.

Honors saved for the elders

And the shaman

And wise crones

Given to one

Who died young.

*

To die young

Means

To be remembered by the many who remain

And to never grow old.

To die young is to be forever

Immortal

Pure

Beautiful

Untouched

Timeless

Boundless

and

Infinite.

 

-Michael, June 6, 1978-Septmember 20, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

“Perfect”…Or, What I Wish I Said To The Mother Who Commented On My Son

A number of years ago, while my SPD son was in the midst of his therapy and regaining his hearing, I took him to an amusement park wearing a “child leash” attached to his backpack. I was always against child leashes, but I relented for his safety, so he wouldn’t get lost because if he did, he had no skills to help himself be located. A mother looked down at him and whispered a comment to her daughter regarding my son just loud enough for me and my daughter to hear……Here is what I wish I said to her……

I’d never put your brother on a leash!”

I hear you judge my parental decisions

And attempts to keep my son safe.

 

How lucky for you

That your child is perfect.

Perfect hearing.

Perfect behavior.

Perfect neuro-chemistry.

 

How fortunate

That your child was born

Without imperfection.

Without disability.

Without anything to cause you concern

Or the need to provide extra security

To keep him safe.

 

How nice for you

That you will never know

The fear that your child

Will not be able to help himself

Cannot communicate his need

Cannot hear you call his name.

 

It must be comforting for you

To judge other people

To believe your way

Is the only way.

To offer advice

Unsolicited

Passively

Aggressively

Because your child has been raised

Perfectly.

 

Does it give you confidence?

Joy?

To know that I envy you

Not needing to secure your child to keep him safe

Not needing special passes to avoid crowds

Or quiet areas to de-escalate

Or devices and sign language to communicate

Not having to tell ride operators to look for your signal to stop the ride if needed

Not enduring the stares and judgements of others.

Being able to enjoy your perfect child

Without fear or complication?

 

Have you calmed a sensory meltdown?

Explained your child to a group of children?

Taught yourself sign language?

Applied for handicap access?

Been up all night providing deep pressure to muscle joints?

Counted seizures?

How good for you

That you have not.

 

I guess that makes you the perfect person

To comment

Stare

And judge

My non-perfect

Son.

 

 

 

 

In Defense of Literature

One day,

I fell in love.

An affair that has lasted

My eternity.

I fell in love

With literature.

I fell in love with Hawthrone

With Twain

With Austen

And Shakespeare.

With Dickens, Alcott, Frost

Dickenson, Emerson and Thoreau

Wharton, Hughes, Whitman, Harper

And many more…..

Silas Marner and Ethan Frome

Moby Dick and Hester Prynne

Darcy and Dimmesdale

MacBeth and Prospero

I entered a brave new world of literature

Of which I still remain.

As Bach and Beethoven

Compose a symphony

With carefully aligned notes

And a dancer

Becomes art in motion

With a combination of music, choreography, form, and expression

Or Monet and Renior

Chose their colors

Their shadows

Their perspective

And frame it on canvas

So does a poet

Chose his words

To create beauty on the written page.

Imagery and theme

Language

Flowing

Creating

A character

A conflict

A scene

That transcends time.

Gatsby and his green light

Atticus’ closing argument

Ahab’s obsession

Emerson’s advice to trust thyself

And poet’s plead to the virgins

They call us to “carpe diem”

Or carry us away to Neverland or Camelot.

They are the stuff that dreams are made of.

My loves –

They die out.

Are attacked

And called vile words like

“Archaic”

And “complex”

Too “removed” from the experiences of today.

And irrelevant in a world of ipads, kindles, and audible

Apps.

As students sharpen their #2 pencils

To regurgitate back what politicians proclaim

Is vital for them to know

And do

And decide the pursuits

They should pursue.

And medicine, law, business, engineering,

these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.

But poetry,

beauty,

romance,

love,

these are what we stay alive for.

Said Keating.

And so I live

In defense of my loves

The art

The beauty

The soul

Of the written word.

‘Salem Towne”

Author’s note: This is my favorite, most personal, and most emotional poem that I’ve ever written. I wrote it after moving to Salem during a particularly turbulent period in my life. I always intended it to be a song, but I know nothing about writing music. I have the melody in my head and have for about 15 years, just waiting for someone to put it down on paper for me….

It’s raining now

Down

in Salem Towne.

The pavement’s wet with rain.

I’m trying to escape a past debt

And tryin’ to chase the pain.

I’m trying to forget a future

That I seem forced to live

I’m giving all

Down in

Salem Towne

To give.


Night’s fallen now

Down

in Salem Towne

It chased away the day.

I’m healing wounds and bearing scars but seeing

Redemption’s far away.

My dreams were killed on the highest alter

In desperate sacrifice.

It was wrong but

Could Salem

Make it right?


You’re laughing now

Down

in Salem Towne

But tears are showing still.

I see the strength that you use to mask your

Complete loss of will.

Your grey blue eyes they tell a story

That some would shun to hear.

Tell your tale

Down

in Salem Towne.

I’m here.


We’re both the same so you needn’t hide it

There’s no need for shame

Just tell your tale

And let me do the same

I understand you

Down in

Salem Towne


Dawn’s arrived

Down in

Salem Towne.

And overcomes the night.

Searching my soul for resolve that’s needed

To begin the fight.

My prayers were said

Till my fingers bled

Upon my rosary

I’m still not saved but can

Salem Towne

Save me?


See me now

Down in

Salem Towne.

Lady Luck and Chance Encounters

The red convertible sped through the barren highway that weaved through the red and tan landscape of the dessert. I was young, perhaps too young to take such a trip on my own. A 27 year old girl far from the rocky coastline of New England, exploring a land that she was enchanted by.

It was my first time traveling totally on my own. I had been here briefly for a conference a few months earlier, but workshops prevented me from seeing all the state had to offer. And so, much against the wishes of my parents, I booked a flight, rented a car, and returned, wanting to fully enjoy the sights and take in the energy this land promised me.

New Mexico.

I drove though the deserts outside of Santa Fe and was awe struck by the beauty of the mesa that sprung up above the flat landscape. Every now and then, I pulled over, got out of the car, and just took in the view, breathing in the air, the sand, the heat, and the incredible energy they produced. “If I die today, I will die in complete happiness,” I whispered within my head.

Despite my being enthralled with the land, I was very much aware and cautious of the fact that I was in fact a single young female traveling alone across the country. I had only a map to guide me in the days before GPS, and the archaic cell phones worked on reception that was limited at best. It was probably very foolish of me to venture out on my own so far from home, and looking back, I’m probably very lucky no harm befell me. The speeds of cars on the desert highways scared me as they wizzed by at what seemed like the speed of light, and as night fell and no street lights to illuminate my way, I became more and more timid behind the wheel.

It was when a torrential downpour hit that I became too frightened to continue my drive. The monsoon blinded me and my windshield wipers couldn’t keep up. Cars sped my me so fast that my car shook as I crept through the sheets of rain. Snow I could handle, sleet I could trudge through, but this diluge of water was more than I could handle. Fortunately, I soon saw my destination, a casino located in the middle of the desert. When I first saw the advertisements for the place and found it on the map, I had no idea it was so far in the middle of nowhere, stuck there as if it had fallen from the sky and landed there. My approaching the tiny building in the middle of the vast expanse reminded me of when Janet Leigh first saw the sign for the Bates Motel through the rain pounding her windshield in Psycho. In my mind, the memory of my driving into the parking lot is even in black and white.

I’m not a gambler, but the casino seemed as good an excuse as any to ride through the desert. At least I could say I had a destination. Now, however, it was also a shelter from the storm.

The casino was amazingly small and crowded with slot machines and table games. It was a single room, a warehouse really, and I later found out that many of these types of casinos were all over the state. It was far different than the Vegas style casinos we have on the east coast, like in Atlantic City or Foxwoods. It was like trying to compare a university to a single room school house. The machines were jammed together with little breathing room between and people sat so close they often knocked elbows as they pulled down the levers of their slots.

And so I sat down at a machine with a theme that appealed to me, and dug into my cup of coins. After a few momentary glimmers of success, my luck began to run dry as the machine ate my coins and was miserly with returns. As I was playing with the last of my silver pieces in the bottom of my cup, the man seated next me cheered in triumph as his machine once again clanged, whistled, and lit up.

“You are my good luck charm!” he proclaimed to me. “I wasn’t winning until you sat down. Please, don’t move!”

“Glad someone is lucky,” I said.

The young man was about my age, donning a worn tan baseball cap. He wore tattered tan pants and an old beige tee shirt with its sleeves cut off. The design on the front of the tee was faded and unrecognizable. His long blonde thin hair continued to his neck when his cap ended.

As I began to get up, he implored me to stay seated. “Sorry,” I said. “But after this I’m out.” I showed him the last two tokens in my cup.

His response was to put more quarters into my cup, again begging me to stay as his “lucky charm.”

A smarter girl may have been very suspicious of a stranger who puts money into her hand, and to be certain I did question his intentions, but something in his voice convinced me that he was just a man looking for company on his travels. I protested and attempted to give him back the bribe he gave me to stay next to him, but he insisted, saying he was “doing very well” and giving me all the credit for his good fortune.

So, I sat there, although I didn’t play the coins.

He continued to hit, the machine continued to sing and spit out shiny new quarters. We cheered his good luck as if each hit were a home run, and we lamented the loss of each coin that died within the belly of the metal beast, yielding no profit.  After a while, he got bored of the slots. I saw he was a thin man, and just a shade taller than me as he stood up and began directing me to the tables in the center of the room.

“Ever play roulette?” he asked me, hands deep in his pockets and his winning tucked beneath his arm. When I responded I had not, he said he’d teach me.

“No, I couldn’t.”

“Oh come on,” he urged me. “I need you to sit next to me. You’re my good luck charm.”

I took a seat next to him and soon my resolve faded. He handed me some chips and instructed me how to play, walking me through it step by step. I placed a chip on  the board and soon was caught in the excitement as the wheel spun. His winnings continued for several more hours, and with each victory he handed me more chips and asked me to pick my numbers. I cheered, we laughed, we won, we lost. We watched the spinning. It was like a scene from any Vegas or mob movie you could name, a guy with his lady luck on his arm, handing her over some of his winnings to better their fortune and thank her for good mojo. My “mobster” was wearing a baseball hat rather than a fedora, and lady luck was wearing a tank top instead of a feather boa, but the feel of the scene was exact.

It may have been 2 hours, it may have been 8, I don’t recall. Eventually, however, his luck began to run, and once he felt the tide turning against him, he cashed in his chips and walked away from the table.

When we walked out of the clambering casino into the quiet warm damp desert night, I commented that the rain had stopped, although it was obvious to both of us that it had. The parking lot pavement was shiny and wet with the remains of the shower. Once again he walked with his hands deep in his pockets, his shoulders slumped, his head down. We spoke, although I cannot recall what we said, but I imagine it was small talk. Whether it was because we were “talked out” or because we noticed the late night hours were turning into early morning, it was apparent that the time had come for us to part ways. For a moment, there was awkward silence, like the anticipation a new couple feels as their first date comes to an end. I wondered what would happen next. How would this wonderous night end? Two strangers, meeting as we did, in a desert – this is the stuff great stories are made of. Would we share a magical kiss? Would a romance bloom? Or  was he really Norman Bates to my Marion Crane? I was awaiting the end of our story tonight….

“Have a nice night,” he said, extending his hand for a handshake. “Thanks for sitting next to me.”

We shook hands, and I watched as he got into his truck and drove off.

As I climbed into my rented convertible, I exhaled as if I had been holding my breathe all night long. Driving back out toward Albuquerque, I replayed the night in my mind, trying to remember every detail until I could get back to my hotel and record it in my journal. It was a classic tale of strangers who met one night, shared a moment, and then unceremonially parted ways.

I never did get his name, nor did I give him mine, yet I can remember every feeling from that night, even if some of the menial details are lost in the fog of time. And on occasions life finds me in a casino, I always make sure I play the roulette wheel, and I think of that rainy night in the desert of New Mexico and the stranger in tan who made me Lady Luck for a night.

“Words From A Mother”

In your eyes

I see the wisdom of the ages

You have secrets to tell

Of past lives

The mysteries of the gods

Heaven and earth

Intertwined

In your old little soul.

If only you could speak of such things

Before you forget.


Give me your pain

When you hurt

Are confused

Frightened or saddened.

Give me your pain

To bear

So you do not have to.


I am always watching you

Even when you cannot see me

Even when I’m not there

Even when I’m gone

I am always watching you.

I have my ways

To see you,

To watch you

To have others care for you

As I watch them.

In school

At play

Asleep

I am always there.

Watching over you.

Keeping you safe.

“For The World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched The Sky”

For the world is empty

Full of walking dead

Disease

Rot and decay

Wandering

Aimless

Searching

For sanctuary

From the death.

For the world is hollow

But I

Have touched the sky.


For the world is harsh

Shelfish

Absorbed

With self-preservation.

Those engulfed in sorrow

Are alone

Unassisted.

For the world is hollow

But I

Have touched the sky.


For the world is barren

Hungering

People tearing at each other’s flesh

Clawing

Thirsting

For power

To govern all

And rise above the herd.

Climb up

Out of this world.

For the world is hollow

But I

Have touched the sky.


You –

I have found

Strength

Direction

Will

To survive –

A grove

Away from the

Empty

Harsh

Barren

Hollow

World.

I look up

Blue –

Peace –

Calm –

I reach up

And touch the sky.


The world is unforgiving

Fight we must.

With you

Friend –

Family –

I rise above

Transcend

This dark land.

For the world is hollow

And I have touched the sky.