Life’s not hard enough,
And even though we call on everything we know
We may summon the gods, too.
I am from my mother’s bed in a Glasgow tenement and walls
thick with coal dust.
I am from Saturday confession and identical Catholic school uniforms
and unflinching patriarchy.
I am from melancholy to the marrow of my bones.
I am from not up to it but showing up anyway.
I am from faking it so very well no one ever knows.
I am from a lifetime of hard-won lessons of when to shut up and
when to kick doors down.
I am from finessing the difference
I am from reading the room the way all women must.
I am from puffers and steroids and Prozac and poetry.
I am from squamous cells and ovarian tumors.
I am from kicked to the curb and too tired to care.
I am from returning home scared to death.
I am from swallowing bile.
I am from too many calm downs and too few stand ups.
I am from too smart for my own good.
I am from you’ll never get a man that way.
I am from childlessness.
I am from bartending and short order cooking and cold calling and
traveling the world alone.
I am from 36,000 feet up serving cocktails in turbulence and
high heels and tight skirts and never spilling a drop.
I am from 30 feet down in dank basement apartments,
I am from a Glasgow tenement.
I am from losing what mattered most.
I am from survivors.
I am from optimists.
I am from unbridled love.
I am from a place called I’m still here.
For all of the girls and the women who trusted too much… those found and never found, the lost ones, the lonely ones, whose stories go untold, their heartache entombed alongside them.
Last Text from Gabby Petito
No service here, but at least I’m free
from the cage bars of my body;
remember what I’d blogged in observation
of birds, chipmunks fattened on the scraps
left in abandoned campsites in the cold
after the fires are snuffed out, and the stars—
oh, these stars—how they’re arranged
without number, and how they disclaim
the disappearances inferred of them,
but instead declare the secrets upon
which all darkness preys. Insects
I doodled on notecards
and sent home already will testify
of my whereabouts—imagine the how,
the when, the why revealed in the
caricature of the dragonfly—
I’ve lain looking up so long,
the windswept grass retains
the shape of my body, moonlights
as my spine; after the rain,
the sky in some parallel agony
soaked out of me some heavier
silence I’d always felt in the earth,
and to it, a kind of mooring far more
real than the live honeysuckle
and wild licorice I could almost
smell; and the caddis with their assorted
thoraxes retract into clipped
thumbnails and cut
grass; their buds—my own
body—are, to the pile of ants,
a worthy and contrite fodder.
What astonishing weight
my own thoughts make
at the moment, the unravelling
of many ropes set to anchor;
think tie-dyed everything,
the clasping peppergrass
and what lies in the green water
under algae, what sloshes through
the culverts mixed with sand
and gravel. Please know I was not
gunned down or knived in half,
but cast on a spit; I was spun
clay on the wheel of a potter.
He created the soul of me.
He loved me, then hated me.
He hated me, then kissed me.
He kissed me, then hit me.
The ocean of him swept
over me, a certain, undocumented
upwelling, of all the places we’d been,
cheap-shotted and piece-mealed out
to sea; and even here I am writing
in my mind that knows nothing but
to feel my heart leap out and breathe
into me everything that had died
in it before.
~~ Susan Doble Kaluza
The test results we await from teachers and doctors
are neither good or bad –
But we give that time away in worry,
the between time.
The tent posts of our lives, ever the attention whores,
the limelight stealers.
But it should count for something.
The dense weighty bud of the peony, its tight, shy secrecy
before its brazen unfolding.
Anticipation can be delicious,
the finale but a part.
Your wait for the bus at dusk in the cold
when a stranger mentions the bruised light in the sky.
That’s what he called it:
Pay day, two days away,
but while you waited,
those delicious dollar store finds.
Your long destination drive,
so full of discovery all on its own.
The café owner in Alameda with his Hollywood memorabilia.
And wasn’t Joan Crawford a firebrand.
I am always amazed when any of us are asked
what we value most
and we don’t say
AFGHANISTAN IS YOUR FAULT
and also my fault, the way I pretend the world
isn’t happening, organizing my closet by color, by
season, touching the soft fabrics instead of reading the news.
The way I’m back at my window where I watch
the neighbor’s pride flag’s colors reflect the mood
of the moment, how it was twisted when the pandemic
started, how it has been twisted since the pandemic
continues, but right now it is flattened, faded
in a late summer light that aches with coming autumn,
its stripes of many colors pulled taut by the wind
like a dress set to dry on a line, while the people of Afghanistan
are rushing the airports, they are swarming the tarmac,
they are surrounding the airplanes as if they can leap onto a wing
and be lifted away from what’s happening to their lives,
the way the women are facing a terror bigger than tears
or the death of the earth, looking into a hole where the sun
had just been blooming, wrapping themselves again in their black
that had gathered dust in the back of their closets, the way their black
is mourning for the textbooks that will be burned, the way their black
is mourning for being walled again in their homes, the way their black
is mourning for the sun as it dims and the earth grows cold
and all the birds give up their plumage to die beneath the folds
of their colorless wings.
There are absolutes.
Not just in physics, dogma.
Untrue is stronger than not true.
It seems the cat didn’t come back.
All boats do not rise.
Dreams trump wishes.
The light of a late November day prompts a very particular longing.
I always wish I had said something wiser.
I will never stop missing the mere sound of your voice.
None of them ever read fiction
as far as I can remember.
If asked collectively they would no doubt respond
it is a waste of time.
It’s unlikely any of them read poetry
couldn’t name a poet besides Longfellow
to save their lives.
The men that have come in and out of my life
leave me wondering what they saw in me.
Pragmatists every one,
I realize now.
Not one of them ever ached at a sunset.
Come and see it,
I would plead to each of them,
their unified voice calling back
wearily to me
from other rooms:
It’s just a sunset, Tricia,
There’ll be another tomorrow.
I received this framed portrait in the mail today from a friend of mine. She combined a photo of me with a poem written by my friend the writer Tia Finn. I will treasure this, always, as it was a gift that came straight from their hearts.
A tendency to sadness.
Fetal position sleep.
The way you dealt cards, precisely.
Turned the wheel of your car, hand over hand.
Things as microscopic as
The way you washed your face, methodically,
Patting it dry, never rubbing.
Staring intently at yourself in the mirror for a brief moment
Before folding the towel perfectly in half and returning it to the rack.
I stare too, fold the towel, thoughtfully.
I hear myself coughing when I rise.
I could be you.
She was impossibly beautiful, astoundingly poised. She was, on that summer evening as she stood by the camp fire, perfect.
There are moments in our lives that change us and how we see ourselves forever. There are also people that have that same effect on us. Yvonne who I write about here, was one of those people in my life.
Here is text of the poem:
A barbecue and swim after work had brought us together
around the campfire that summer evening,
An impromptu thing teenagers do best:
You bring the beer. I’ll bring the chips.
I watched her run up from the water laughing.
As I write this her name comes back to me: Yvonne.
Fresh from her swim she stood close to the fire
in her tiny yellow bikini
drying her waist-length sheet of onyx-colored hair with a towel.
She seemed so utterly assured of herself in the task at hand,
so composed for a young girl,
tossing her head languidly from side to side
then taking a large hounds tooth comb and slowly
pulling it through
that glorious hair of hers.
She must have known we all followed her every move,
couldn’t help but know it by the silence
that had enveloped her ritual,
the flames casting an unreal glow on that hair,
that perfect form and face.
The men particularly stared in awe
at this goddess from Okinawa
who’d ended up in our backwater
of all places,
in their midst.
I watched the men’s faces watching her
knowing even at 16 I would never possess the audacity
that was Miss Yvonne Tsubone’s that night,
and for as long as it lasted,
that which comes from sheer and absolute
a calling card that says,
I am perfect just as I am:
what I am is