Maybe it was the full moon that cinched
me around my throat to remind me that
I am not in control. It does that, you know,
to the tide. The moon, a manic puppeteer,
operates water at will never even touching
a tear, never asking for permission. Just
takes command. As I slip away, am set aside,
ignored except for the wildfire glowering down
illuminating my emptiness, that great hole
in the middle of my being, unable to seize
a breath to bellow, I am left to cower
under the conflagration, to rest and ache.
But it will wane and fade once more and
I will gain perspective in its shimmer.
The first time she saw him, he was digging ketchup out of a bottle with a knife.
Andy parked her car next to a blue van in the Denny’s lot. She was driving down the interstate and realized she needed food. Andy didn’t always eat when her stomach told her to. But she always ate when the gas gage on Raven read almost empty. It was her way of remembering to eat. Food wasn’t important to Andy. She never craved anything. She didn’t understand the fascination of cooking shows that sucked up people’s time.
The gage on Raven was nearing empty and Andy knew there were few stops between where she was and where she would be in a few hours. So she stopped.
Andy always chose her parking spot with an eye for quick and easy departure. She was once caught in a traffic jam trying to leave the scene of a robbery. She was stuck in the parking space and no one would let her out. Cars kept pushing by and she feared the next one would contain the thieves and their guns. She was afraid she would see their faces and they would have to “blow her away” as Harry Bosch novels would say. But they didn’t and when she was finally able to take the cup of water the police officer was trying to hand her to calm her down, she filed away in the back of her mind a plan to never be caught in a spot where that could happen again.
The parking space she found was at the end of a row near the street. She backed in pointing the nose of Raven toward the outlet ready to zoom away at a moments notice if need be. Andy also always kept her keys in her hand, only placing them down on the table when she cut her meat when two hands were needed, you know. She was now ready for some food.
Andy walked through the doors and plunked herself down at a table nearest the exit. She sat where she could see who was walking through the door. There was nothing feng shui, as her sister would insist, about it. It was simply smart planning.
The waiter with pimples and a squeaky voice handed her a menu and smiled at her. Andy wondered if that was his way of flirting or maybe he was just being nice. Nonetheless, Andy never returned smiles. It opened the door to conversation and conversation led to familiarity and familiarity led to friendship until the whole thing crumbled into tiny particles much like those that covered the sticky rug beneath her feet.
It was then that she saw him.
He was sitting at the counter with a bottle of ketchup in one hand and a knife in the other. Andy watched as he scraped and dug the ketchup from the sides of the bottle.
He was in no hurry. Each time he slid the knife out of the bottle, the tip was tainted with just a bit of red much like the end of a thermometer. He methodically wiped the knife on the edge of the hamburger bun he had turned over and placed in the middle of a napkin next to his plate. The plate was overflowing with french fries, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions that left no room for an upturned bun.
The process went on for a few minutes. Andy didn’t take her eyes off him. The waiter returned and asked Andy a question. She ignored him. Pimple Face stood watching Andy waiting for a response that she was never going to give.
Then the man finished with the ketchup bottle. Balanced the knife across the pile of french fries and slammed the bottle down onto the counter
“Who the fuck thinks this is good service around here?”
That got everyone else’s attention.
“How does anyone expect to get a decent amount of ketchup out of this fuckin’ bottle? Who do you think I am Houdini or something?” He grabbed the bottle off the counter.
Andy watched as the man threw the bottle onto the floor. It bounced with a dull thud. Then skidded toward her, her foot bringing the bottle to a halt. All eyes were on Andy. Pimple Face stepped away from her table.
Meeting the waiter’s wide eyes, Andy snorted and shook her head. Yeah, he’s a catch all right, she thought.
Looking at her table she picked up the ketchup bottle sitting in the middle of it. The bottle was newly filled. Her fingers noticed a sticky drip down the label. Holding the bottle in front of her, Andy walked over to the man.
He didn’t notice.
He was too busy staring at his ketchup bottle spinning on the floor. Andy accidentally kicked it as she scooted her chair back when she stood up. It was as if they were playing Spin the Bottle. However, Andy knew she would never, ever kiss either him or the pimpled face waiter.
“Here, you can have mine. You’re much more patient than I would have been.”
The man took the bottle from Andy’s hand, removed the cap, flipped the bottle upside down and began pounding on the bottom releasing the thick red paste onto his bun.
Andy returned to her seat as the other diners returned to their conversations. With shaking hands gripping his order booklet and a blue Bic pen, Pimple Face cleared his throat to ask his question for a second time.
Tonight at Sunday Afternoon Writers as A Church of the Holy Family we use a prompt from Bonnie Neubauer’s The Write-Brain Workbook.
We started with the word “craven” and made words from it for one minute. We then had to use all the words we made in our writing.
Then we chose one of two prompts: The first time I saw him, he was digging ketchup out of the bottle with a knife. Or: The first time I saw her, she was teaching third graders that ketchup is a vegetable.
We always share after a half hour of writing.
My words from “craven” and I didn’t get to a few.
a woman becomes
the Lead Player
and now the sensibility
can be no other way
how far is it I am willing to go
to be extraordinary
or am I already
finely crafted well enough
just not aware
that there will always
be those in my imagination
waiting for me to bite
taking me astray
there will come a time
when I must thrust
the stake into the ground
stand in refusal
no longer matching my life
to someone else’s rules
I am no longer afraid
to rewild myself
the road will not be clear
until I act with beauty and courage
to acknowledge that helpless something
deep inside me needing to be loved
I take the first step
and in each
the road appears
that much further from
the fog machine and fire rings
I wait no more for others to lead
I reach down and find bliss
gifted to me as to no other
and the yellow moon
peering three quarters
from behind earth’s shadow
casts enough light tonight
for me to see my way
Tonight at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts I saw the touring production of the Broadway revival of Pippin, forty years after I saw it for the first time on Broadway.
It was 1974 and our high school drama club took a trip to New York City. Pippin was the first Broadway show I ever saw. Also, the night we attended was the very night Ben Vereen returned from a severe accident. We didn’t understand the excitement. Afterwards, we did.
The show has been retooled to be set within a circus, with a few updated references, and a new ending. It has been polished to an even brighter diamond.
My poem is a found poem using some words and ideas from an interview with Stephen Schwartz, Pippin’s author. Also from Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, Rumi, Rilke’s Letter To A Young Poet, Wendell Barry’s A Timbered Choir, and from Facebook, the folks at Evolver Social Movement, The Spirit That Moves Me, and Goddesses.
I am going through what I might say is a transformation right now. I needed some strong words, images, ideas to help me find the courage to take that first step. All of these fine artists and souls are reaching out to me and guiding me right now.
Photos of the Galleria from the balcony of Auditorium Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
It began with the full moon, a Super Moon
someone named it, as if it wore a cape.
Invincible of all except for one solitary
element alone in the evening sky.
Then rains began to fall. A mist mixed
with low slung cloud. A thick swirl rolling
down hills, filling space where summer
sun once nested.
Now full bloom gardens bulging with
rainbow hues and verdant greens of every
shade will bow and curl under icy breath
this callow autumn eve.
A blanket wraps round my shoulders,
I would it be your arms. The quiet sigh
of first frost fills my ears, I wish it your
whispered words just for me to hear.
It’s September 11 and it’s cold outside. Really cold. It will frost tonight and we may get a light snow. The mountains will definitely see snow. Crazy weather. It’s too early for snow. Or at least we always thought so.
Here is a photo of the last harvest of my garden. Saying goodbye to my treasured friends until next year.
Shake off embroidered
robes disguising your shape.
Peel away the gilt blinding sight.
Melt golden goblets too
precious for fingerprints.
Let fall cathedral headdress.
Silence inflated ritual.
Disentangle the ruling class.
May dogma of the martinet decay.
Our Holy One has gone missing.
Our Love has been bricked
over in a wall of self-indulgence,
a show of pomp and honors,
But my soul yearns to rest in the
arms of my Beloved not covered
in brocade but unadorned,
incarnate and gentle.
My soul sings with a Tender
Voice sighing in my joy,
whispering my name in dark
of night, holding me safe.
My souls walks with the One
who stays by my side not
altared on fussy chairs wielding
spiraled crooks, untouchable.
It is in simplicity I want to
dwell with my God, not
prostrate in submission
but surrendered in ecstasy.
I cannot find your heart when
it is so deeply disguised, florid
in its covering, raised so far
above me I am not to touch you.
It is not a ring I need to kiss
on a hand offered in dominion,
but a soft cheek that knows
my tears and sorrow.
He came to be fully human
just like us, not a maker of
rules, a tribune robed and
ornamented in anything but
Let the grand facade of god
fall away. Pause in Grace, the
only embellishment necessary.
When I left the Roman Catholic Church, I didn’t realize all of what I wanted to leave behind. I can no longer accept the pomp. Not the ritual, but the glossy, overindulgent showiness of wealth and power.
I have come to a time in my journey where I now want a simple way of church. But it’s more than just simple, it’s a move to authenticity. Real. Not one of boastfulness. I love the Mass and the consecration of the Eucharist, but it doesn’t need a lot of “stuff” surrounding it.
I long to see our clergy in simple dress, closer to regular clothes with just an elegant and simple statement of some piece of something to recognize their light that shines a bit differently with wisdom than mine. That is respect.
On the other hand, I long to see the gold cups and the fancy robes over more robes and belts and stoles thickly embroidered and hats that look like something at a fancy KKK ball, gone from site. Surrendered so that the chasm between clergy, especially the higher-ups, and us is leveled.
He did not come to make classes of religious worshipers. He came as you and me and lived as a real person with real feelings and emotions and fears. He wanted us to know that if he could do what Our God asked him to do as a real human, then we could also. Dividing us into classes of worshipers was not on His agenda.
What is this I see tonight in your Old Moon face,
not the sly wink of witnessing what we’re about.
It’s not your Familiar Beam taking note of a stolen
kiss behind the bleachers or the All Knowing Moon’s
affirming nod to the perfect pairing of two lovers.
Tonight I see, Harvest Moon, you are a Keening Moon.
How is it that I never noticed your O shaped mouth
before, a copycat round to your hanging frame in the
indigo sky. Oh, Sorrowing Moon, your O lament
surrounds me. I watch a thin grey silk sweep across
your moaning face unable to brush away sadness
falling from your mouth, wipe away heartache
dripping down upon us on this night of praise. I
cannot polish away your pain, wipe it clean with
a thin grey silk no more than clouds can change
Moon’s visage. I want my O arms to gather you near
me, unfurl the scarf from my shoulders, wrap you
inside to rest until laughter encircles you once more
under a May Bright Moon.
Tonight was filled with sadness. Lots of pain shared. Lots of prayers requested.
Driving home I noticed the moon’s face. I always see two eyes, a mushed nose, and a mouth. It was tonight that I noticed the mouth was shaped not like a smile but someone keening, moaning, lamenting. Has it always been that way?
It wasn’t supposed to be pretty,
it was revolution.
Status quo had to go.
It wouldn’t serve to continue on.
Change is frightening.
The phoenix rises from ashes
to capture life on its wings
pushing into the vault of heaven.
He came to wrench us out
of comfort and canon.
And it wasn’t new rules
He let flow from his human soul.
It was the voice of the Divine.
This love has no tenet but revolution.
is blanketed in guidelines
Holy Light is extinguished.
It cries out for dissent.
Rip away the heavy cover,
release Radiance once more.
His throw down
was to let go.
Cut loose clinging fists of certainty,
madmen’s fear tactic
Open palms receive Grace.
He came to us as we are,
with sorrows and despair.
He learned from mistakes.
He asked to be released.
He knew us from within
our carnal senses.
Only then could He bring us
to absolute revolution,
understanding our pain,
feeling our joy.
In revolution He
didn’t serve us
a pretty God.
In revolution He
championed us to
In honor of Labor Day today, I offer a different way to see His job. I am looking at my “job” in a new light today.