No Disney Mermaids, Here No Disney mermaids, here, in a predawn net of dreams that won't let me go. But that's not quite true. I hold onto them, too, over reality because life is the nightmare that's real. And so I drown, at long last, in tangled water, choosing the insanity, where water becomes a hand. And I hold onto it, too, because I'm also scared to drown, even in this wonder of dreams. We're not Disney mermaids; not svelte, with lovely voices, and it's suddenly fine that we are our real selves. The ones battered by storms and rocks, that have many scars, and that we drown together in this space between worlds. Because that is the love we need. A something real one. A strong one. But our waking thoughts try to rip us apart. I feel your hand in mine, still, and I don't let go, but it's hard to make the tea that will bring me back to the world I hate. But it's that world that brings me your message in a drowning bottle. And I'm glad I haven't let go.
I am sorry that you have to follow so many rules and restrictions that may feel onerous to you as kids with lots of natural energy. Some of them I agree with, like not hitting or bullying, or even not being mean to yourself. I would not want any one of you to get hurt, even though you are just being kids and playing around, or feel bad about yourself because of what someone else did or said (including a teacher or a grownup). Some I like, like the indoor voices rule, as a means of self-preservation, as my ears ring at the end of the day from all the noise, even though I prefer a noisy, chatter-filled and laughter-filled classroom. Even as a substitute teacher, I want you to feel safe and respected, and if that means this challenger of the established order has to enforce the school rules, so be it.
I want to tell you to hang in there. Soon you’ll be a grownup too, and you will have the choice not to live by any of those rules and restrictions. You won’t have to walk in a “Four-S” line (for those of you who don’t know, it’s “Silent, Smiling, Still, Straight”). As one of us adults, you’ll have the perfect right to walk side-by-side and take up whole sidewalks with all your friends. Even on narrow sidewalks, even if it means pushing someone (walking single file, or by themselves) into traffic, so that you don’t have to be inconvenienced with walking single file, or interrupting the conversation with your friends. Although I would imagine the sounds of tires squealing or large metal vehicles crashing into each other to avoid the person you just pushed into traffic might also be a rude disruption to your conversation.
Speaking of conversations, you can forget all about that silly “indoor voices” rule. You can talk as loud as you want, wherever and whenever you want. In restaurants, in malls, in movie theatres, in libraries, at presentations or lectures, during plays or other performances, at zoos, and in wildlife areas. Animals, especially, love it when you yell at them, at maximum volume. And, even better, you can talk when others are talking. And, when you get bored or tired of talking, you can get on your phone at any time you want. Even in we grownups’ version of school, the workplace.
You’ll also have the perfect right to throw a temper tantrum if you don’t get the flavor of drink that you wanted, or the food that you wanted to eat. Even better, we adults can ask to speak to the manager if our white chocolate mocha came without whipped cream and probably get a free drink out of it, or some other reward for complaining about the food or drink we ended up with.
Even though it’s against the law, you as an adult can get away with throwing trash wherever you pretty much want to. You can also leave messes in restaurants, in malls, in public bathrooms, in landfills, in the ocean and waterways, and all over in nature and the outdoors, if you want to, because “someone’s getting paid to clean it all up.”
And let’s talk about destroying property. Largely, us grownups have gotten a free pass on that as well. For thousands of years, actually. And not just a desk, or someone else’s work. A whole planet. Especially if you’re a big corporation. Yes, I’m talking about pollution, pesticides, and any of the million other ways we are “allowed” to destroy the environment, resulting in irreparable species loss, and point-of-no-return climate change.
So, kids, you, too, will soon be a grownup, faster than your family wants, as time flies faster and faster for us when we get old. I only hope that you don’t follow our example, that you continue to make “good choices”, as they say in some schools, and that you become a better grownup than many of us that are currently out there, right now.
And, I am so, so sorry we’ve left such a mess for you to clean up, and have significantly destroyed the world that you are to inherit. I tried to make good choices, myself: using eco-friendly products, not using pesticides, cleaning up after myself, diligently recycling, eating a largely vegetarian diet and avoiding foods with GMOs. I don’t fish or hunt, but I do continue to drive my car.
I only hope that you’re able to fix all of us grownups’ bad choices. Because, the way things are going, you won’t even be able to get paid for cleaning up the mess we grownups have left behind.
I’m not asking for forgiveness, or even that you accept my apology. Because no matter what kind of grownup that’s out there, we are all hoping you will be the generation that can fix the damage we’ve done to the world. Maybe that’s why we are so hard on you. And why there are so many rules–we grownups are trying to fix our own mistakes, and you kids have to bear the brunt and the burden of our bad choices.
From what I’ve seen of kids today (like kids suing the federal government over climate change), I have no doubt that any choice you make will be better than any we’ve made over the past tens of thousands of years.
Go out and take back your world. Make it into the world that you want to live in. Demand the education and the school that you want for yourself. It won’t be easy, but you also don’t have to wait to be a grownup to create the world you want to live in. You don’t need anyone’s permission but your own to begin the process. It will be tough to change the system, and overthrow the established order (don’t give up!). But do it with kindness and heart and compassion and respect and love. Because, as a kid, those are your strengths.
In the Unknown Space
In this imagined space,
you are the hardest to believe
that you aren’t real
just a ghost among all the other unknowns.
But I still meet you here, playing among
unicorns and fairies and a lost-forever
garden of childhoods never had.
And this poem fails to capture what you are.
Stilted and awkward but always hopeful
for the day I wake, and you are here,
dreaming me into something known.
Of the Heart of the Storm
Madness swirls, here
this world of paradox and confusion
where ravens are kind, and
On their wings, I fly into the eye
of my storm, where
in ice and shadows and all things secret,
your light softly shines,
bringing me home
for the last time.
In this maze of dreams,
we are both lost and found
chasing each other like ghosts
up and down corridors and
I follow lipstick’d messages
that blaze scarlet in this
Sometimes I hear you crying
in the looking-glass
I can’t leave you anything
but smeary hand prints.
Your rooms, caretaker,
are gathering more dust
with each passing year.
I want to find you,
bring you out of this madness, our ancient storm
into a world without walls and shadows
where we dance on rainbows
and fly away on butterfly wings.
My lovely holiday newsletter is ready to send out!
Even better, I decided to create a wishes-come-true contest to go with it (A signed copy of my poetry book to eleven lucky winners!). Details will be in my email newsletter, so sign up by using the link to the right on the widgets sidebar (MailChimp), or go here.
Good luck in the contest!
Happy holidays, and have a lovely winter season to all my follower friends!
So, as if I don’t have enough to do, I’ve been hit by the inspiration muse for my next book of poetry. At least for the overarching theme of it (like how galaxies/alternate dimensions/astrophysics/time travel was for the last book). I was thinking maybe the paranormal/unexplained/ghosts, but have the poems revolve around lost people/opportunities, especially since I have been pretty chimerical throughout my life, and a lot got jettisoned and left behind in the wake.
“I liked you the way you were. I liked your walls. I liked being the one to bring them down.” Hook, Once Upon a Time
Here’s a sample one:
The Secret Life of a Chimera
you were one of the ones
I had little regret about
and didn’t count you
among my secrets-to-the-grave.
There was zero nostalgia there
except maybe that time
we went to another dimension
with the help of…synthpop, was it?
Whatever it was, it was a beautiful step
out of time, on that Vermont road
clean and pure and transcendental as ice
that, luckily, wasn’t also on the road.
That’s how I remember you.
I will never admit that I think about
the play you wrote that saw the
me no-one else did.
But last night, out of nowhere,
out of years bygone,
I dreamed of you,
with a unicorn heart
full of rainbow love, just for me.
And I let you hold me, prickly pineapples
and prickly me and all.
I don’t know what was more confusing
that I let you in, or that I let you go.
And I wished another impossible wish
(they’re the only kind I’m allowed)
that you were the one to break down my walls.