A Sense of Things–who we are

Rehashing things now at our same old table in the corner of this cafe for our monthly meet-up, same old insecurities, I asked why she always doubted herself.

“I may seem composed to an outsider, but I am not always competent. A client once described me as ‘not a genius but brilliant enough to get the the job done.’ I have always pegged myself in the above average intelligence, education and common sense category, but not overly. I have natural intelligence, a fair amount of luck, and a decent sized bit of emotional intelligence I inherited from my mother. The rest I supplement with stubbornness and tenacity–maybe a little intuition.”

I reminded her of her ‘wall of shameful boast,’ as she calls it: diplomas from Stanford and Berkeley, a Masters and a Doctorate. Not exactly slumming it in the competency department.

“But I am no natural when it comes to education. I’m not a quick-smart learner. I study and process long. Not sure how much is self-fulfilling prophecy or truth. I am simply a product of genes and messages from my cultural experiences, like anyone. My articulate, self-taught literary reader and critic mother and gambling good-with-numbers-and-rages father formed the most of me. I have my mother’s stubbornness and my father’s reckless anger that threatens everyone’s safety on the road.” 

I reminded her of the time we drove to Vegas, and I opened the door to the van going 90 plus miles an hour screaming to be let out, figuring my odds were about the same getting there in one piece at the same rate, one by ambulance and a hospital stay and the other by several days’ walk. We laugh, me with a twinge of intestinal grating.

“I have anger in me–sometimes deeply uncontrollable anger that threatens to drive me into the ground. Most days, I have balanced peace and calm, but speed bumps send me to the sky quickly. Perhaps I am fermenting into the real me, the older mellow me. Somehow the downslide feels a whole lot like the upswing–the breaking down as hard and incremental as the building up. It is a painful process, seemingly out of my control most days. The waves of resolve ebb and flow, taking a layer of the sand with each receding tide bringing more of the world into me than goes back out, sometimes with surrender, sometimes with struggle. And so it has been for a span.”

My thoughts silently nodded to her last dozen or so words floating in my brain’s air and swimming over my tongue. How do we separate the outside and inside worlds, delineating their boundaries, enough to know?

Barbie Nervosa

Every day.

She has to check daily.

Call me on the land line.

See if her world has changed.

“Are the flavors the same today?”

(All of my safe favorites still there?)

I nervously reply raspberry is now coffee.

The tiniest quake shivers her cheerful ‘ok’.

When she arrives in wide white tooth smile,

starlets gleaming in sky tan framed platinum,

a quiver tremulates pout-lush berry fleshy lips.

She forms turrets rather than swirls circles;

soft, firm, frozen layers sweet comfort most,

aligned to spun circadian rhythm, but not hers.

She builds towers tall enough to see over the walls

she maintains securely protecting hers and her own.

All colors should reach beyond the brim, peak and peer

over the fortress, showy containment, before consumption,

her life’s patch-quilt texture sewn so tightly no thread strays,

not an inch, and the pared tan arms and legs, plumped bone, lay

testament to the sacrifices she makes to keep a world’s seams intact.   

The Machine Smiled

The world swims along–get up, get dressed, get on the road, get to work–in a toneless hum.

My work entails a thousand unpatterned steps and hundreds of mindless arm movements a day.

But flashes hit, halting the me-machine, sudden quiet in chaotic movement that feels like a foot’s firm landing on the ladder’s higher rung–the one I climb ’round the clock.

Something short of an ephiphany but more than a realization. Like an incremental lift culminating from hours-a-day stuttering repetitive mantras: stay focused, present and observe. 

Today motion and mind melded in the dance called machine washing at the shop, otherwise known as surrender to the method.

When thrust into each step of the process from disassembly to reassembly,  acknowledged, full-felt respected, pleasant peace befalls the me-participant in the giving way to–

no resistance, no rushing and no disrespect for time and space yields a tiny nitrous oxide blast-like high in awareness of all is well and right and good–peace in the core, litheness in the limbs–and

confirmed in the machine’s smile.

She Walked Alone

Slip off my boots to a world teetering at the root, 

floundering in endless shift.

When anger is the coffee wake up, the split second fury,

there is nowhere to go from there–

escalation peaked at the start.

Chafing at my patience, she leaves the cafe wounded,

walks home to escape the noise, arrogance and

irritation incited by a felling crowd chopping pig.

Her stomach and head ache yet again.

She walks out, and I glower at my coffee.

She walks out, and I fail to trace her steps.

She walks out, and I grouse at you like a heat-seeking

missile finding the volcano erupted.

I did not find her.

Anger found me.

She walked alone.

Creative Constipation: Day 101

Belly bursting, bursting  bile,

God help me, like an Alien scene

only no interplanetary mission,

no gestation, instantaneous im-

plo-sion, ack! Not in, EXplosion.

Guts gone mad, spinning mad,

how long before the impact, the

reversal, stopper down, til brain

bit-splats paint walls splotched?

Constipated concentration cuts

in deeply, threatened blood spill,

but nothing comes, not a dribble.

Struggle, struggle, eking drops,

dripping platelets, life stuff til

death dries blood, water-plasma

to crusty nothing, like this spell-

dry, buds nipped, fount sprung-

out, nothing left but tensional

growth, crescendo killers ready to

pounce position, bow-arced-arrow

drawn, and still nerves fray-swell.

No celestrial tandos to write, no

rondos or gallyups to plug, ply, and

pen before nightfall’s dark clearing.

Expel, breathe, steam out, the moon

is pinched inside itself tonight too.


Human Nation


And the candidates lie while voters 

bathe in the light of soft memes

soaking themselves in pretty phrases

paired to poignant images sweet-wise,

and little girls in red, white and blue 

sequinned skirts twirl dizzyingly

mesmerizing masses of twit-whistlers

horning in on patriotic fear fervor

chords dancing adorable waifs a’spin.

Aren’t we all takers in the end,

sucking what we can get off and in

ourselves confined and conformed

to social patterns, strong-armed

cycles: do this or be stigmatized?

And so the world is just the world.

Life is just life, nothing more–

or less.



Yep, I read it in elephant journal today, the term meaning the state of sucking or being sucked back into a relationship that sucked.

Urban is more expansive:

1. v. To vacuum a floor or rug ;

2. v. Being manipulated back into a relationship with threats of suicide, self-harm, or threats of false criminal accusations. Relationship manipulation often associated with individuals suffering from personality disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder ;

3. v. Excessive consumption as in drug or alcohol use ;

4. v. Sexual term describing oral stimulation of the penis, vagina, or rectum ;

5. n. Derogatory term for taking advantage of others by taking more food, drugs, beverages, than paid for or borrowing things and rarely returning them.
1. I was hoovering the second floor bedrooms and hall!
2. After I broke up with my girlfriend, she tried hoovering me back!
3. Last night, Blake was hovering the cocaine as usual!
4. Last night was great, Tanya was hoovering me all night!
5. Alicia is hoovering her brother this weekend.

Say someone dumped you, broke your heart, and then walked away. Hoovering is that act or actions of the dumper coming back into the dumpee’s life to get one last buzz or rekindling solely for the sake of lighting up the dumper’s momentary lull in his or her life–a pick-me-up, if you will. So the dumper, knowing what makes the dumpee respond, tries overtly or pretextually to wedge his or herself back into the relationship without regard to the damage left in the wake of the dumping or outright wreckage by deception or other abuse. The hooverer is usually a narcissist, according to the ej article.

Now I am a logophile and enjoy words old and new. I like that there are labels to characterize the nuances of behaviors, like ghosting and hoovering, while I simultaneously despise labeling that lazily sizes someone up as simply a type–one behavior labels the person hooverer or narcissist.

Prior to the advent of psych-typecasting, we used to call ghosters, hooverers and narcissists the umbrella term: assholes. To me, foregoing the finer distinctions between one asshole and another is unnecessary. Bad behavior is bad behavior regardless of its personality phenotype (or is genotype?).

Does anyone feel any better saying “I was hoovered,” rather than “that woman was an asshole”?


credit: cei.org

Let’s get her a dog

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx.


She’s socially uncomfortable.

Let’s get her a puppy, another dog.

Let’s get the dog a dog.

And the cat. 

All the cats.

Another playmate to her posse.

To follow her up and down the stairs.

Like lambs to Mary.

As she convalesces.

Her brain and confidence bruised.

Boredom and inertia breaking her.

Fear in cycles deep.

Of never ever going back.

And the cold stares.


When she needs a true friend.

Let’s get her a dog.

credit: dogbreedinfo.com


Bhavana, meaning to cultivate or develop but commonly used as a word for meditation in Buddhism, filtered down into my comprehension pool of late, that place where I can see a term’s reflection and pair it with illustrative experience to flesh out the bones of the word.

Cultivating takes time; it slowly sweeps widespread across a large swath of reading, span of years and percolation time. Like when I first tried vegetarianism back in the 90s. I ran tons then and ate little meat to keep light. Thinking the natural evolution of cutting back on animal protein was a vegetarian diet, I took the leap but was unsuccessful. I craved someting, felt a huge hole in my diet and so gave up. 

Fifteen years later, without much thought, I just stopped eating meat. And never missed it. Like yoga and meditation, dozens of attempts over several decades and then one day it all made sense and was effortless to form the habit with full understanding of that seepage, that diffusion through mental pores of  cultivated disposition to bend not only body but behavior, to flex a will to become. Unfold. 

Sometimes conscious understanding needs time to catch up to that deeper knowledge, the stretch between knowing and understanding like the lightbulb lit with the words, “So that was what he was trying to tell me,” or “now I get how to play fifth position on the fingerboard”. Before, it was flat mystery like a hollow idea.

Bhavana is like a road trip uncharted and unknown at the start but so expected at the destination. As if you always knew where you were going after rolling back all the miles that you thought you had no idea where you were–an illusion, like your shadow catching up with you.

credit: wikipedia


It’s the nature of the beast.

To demolish all creative thought in a cliché, say

the sentence out loud without pause.

Don’t question it; don’t sneer. Don’t ask:

Does it mean surrender, resignation, acceptance,

withdrawal, wisdom, abidance or indifference? 

You already know the answer.

Code for trade-off, the things that cannot change

not by will or effort, not by demanding, wishing, 

hoping, foot-stomping, screaming, crying or praying. 

Laziness, perhaps, or exhaustion, one preceding

the other, most likely, at intuiting the insurmountable.

He’s always late, never checks his messages when

he’s made a date to meet me, and snores so loudly

most nights I can’t sleep, and counts on my inability

to hold on to anger time after time, til I wonder

if he’s just playing me, holding me down, keeping me

in the invisible stockades of pilloried complaints,

usual ones like taken for granted and love me enough.

“Look, if you want something bad enough,” my mother

always said, “you’ll find a way to get it and keep it.” 

That nearly always sounded like truth, like something

right out of the good book of cause and effect and

Newtonian physics or the natural laws of divine free will

or perception–on the little brain bits we have to depend.

The whole a-will-a-way combo, the tritest of them all.

Except how do I know if I have accepted in wisdom, peace 

and knowledge what I cannot change, made a fair exchange 

or simply ducked and run without a step in the face of the 

inevitable, my presumed conclusion befitting the fatigue 

of too many, just too many reasonable compromises?

“Better not to ask,” she’d sometimes say.