When I was a child I only ever wanted to be strong.
I wanted to be able to compete with the boys
and when I foot raced them at recess I won every time.
They called me ‘She Hulk’ because of my muscular frame
and from the way I only ever wore soccer t-shirts and sweat pants.
After that nickname was implanted into my brain like a growing weed,
I’ve only ever wanted to be feminine.
I started wearing skirts and dresses
and in middle school they shrieked at the site of my makeup and done up hair.
But that weed inside of my mind only grew, and grew, and grew
until I became a mixed drink cocktail
with one part anorexic and two parts lonely,
because I thought that the definition of feminine began with the word frail.
No one ever realizes how greatly words affect us,
how a simple nickname can turn a pretty girl into a skeleton.
I stood at five foot two weighing seventy nine pounds,
so cold and frozen,
yet I still considered myself a ‘She Hulk.’
You could see my ribcage through my t-shirt
and my spinal cord protruded loudly through my weathered skin,
as if somehow my bones were dirty knives
just trying to cut through the flesh of judgment.
As I grew older I became the girl that was never enough.
Not good enough to speak poetry.
Not good enough to lay paint on a canvas.
Not good enough.
Not tall enough.
Not big enough boobs for them.
Not primped to perfection.
Not undeniably straight.
Not smart enough.
Not dumb enough.
Not ditsy enough.
Not cool enough or fun enough.
And I began to believe, too, that I wasn’t enough.
I never told my mother that I had been in madly in love with a girl.
I never told anyone about the night we first kissed
because I was too vulnerable for the judgment.
And parents always justify saying that ‘kids will be kids’
But when we are kids our brains are still growing
and the smallest of seeds that get planted will one day bloom
into one giant regret,
will one day affect the choices that we make,
will one day influence us about the clothes that we wear,
will one day shape us into the person who we thought we would never be.
I only ever wanted to be strong,
and as a child I thought strength was only about being able
to lift a bar stool above your head.
I thought that strength was only about being able
to beat the boys in bare foot running races.
I was told that strength was something only
a man could have.
But as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that strength
isn’t about muscle at all,
but it’s about weakness,
and the ability to overcome the social anxiousness.
It’s about carrying around a lifetime of baggage
on your broken back
because the ones that kicked you when you were down
are going to be the ones that were ultimately wrong.
I thought that the definition of woman
began with the word disappointment.
And I became a mixed drink cocktail
with one part freedom
and two parts Sailor Jerry
because every girl needs a stiff drink once and awhile.
We are not disappointments.
We will never be the ones who gave up on hope.
We will never be the ones who gave up on each other,
or our mothers.
We will always be enough;
enough for the ones who shunned us
enough for the ones that cursed us
enough for the ones the hurt us
and destroyed us
and beat us when we were covered in bruises.
But you see, bruises fade
and the scars of our flesh are only stories
things we have overcame
and there are things out there that we will overcome.
When I was a child, I only ever wanted to be strong.
I hid my vulnerability.
I hid the parts of me that were true.
I never told my mother about my girlfriend
because I was afraid she wouldn’t understand,
kind of like all those people who never understood
just how much words effect us.
I can’t say that I can beat the boys at foot races anymore,
because, well, I smoke cigarettes now.
And I can’t say that the nickname of my childhood didn’t affect me.
But I take that name now and embrace it.
Because I am strong.
I am the ‘she hulk’.
I am a mixed drink cocktail
with three parts greatful.
Love was in the air when he laid eyes on her.
Childhood; elementary and even high school with her.
Walking towards her, he greeted her.
Anxiety spiraled as he hugged her.
Conversation grew deeper as he sat with her.
Wanting to get closer because he was falling for her.
Another woman called pausing the time he was having with her.
Knowing he had to answer; he stepped away and spoke to her.
She stated that something wasn't quite right with her.
She said that her stomach had been bothering her.
Now he's thinking back if he came inside her.
Thinking if she lied to him about her tubes being tied within her.
Does he blame himself for listening to her?
Knowing right from wrong and yet he can't blame her.
Does he blame the devil for allowing him to be intimate with her?
Is he not a human that makes mistakes just like her?
Begging God to make a way for him and her.
Asking God to forgive him for committing the sin with her.
God said, "relax my son, you were only dreaming of her."
I hold three magic rocks, in my hand. Rolling them over and over and over. Leaving this
reality behind, far behind I stepped into the magic mirror and there I was back in 1959. It
was the same month, November. I looked around and it was the same as I remember it had
been then. Mom looked so young and beautiful and said, "The school bus will be here in a
few minutes." I looked at the calendar and saw that it was November 25th, the day before
Thanksgiving. I said, "But mom, I haven't been in school in forty years." I got this strange
look from her but she didn't say anything. Walking toward the door I caught a reflection of
myself in the hall mirror. I was so young. My hand immediately went to my face and I
stopped and stared at myself for a few minutes. I said, "Mom, can I stay home and be with
you today?" Again I got that strange look from her, then she smiled and said, "Sure, it's
your last day before Thanksgiving anyway, why not?" She and I sit down and talked for
hours. Then I said, "Do you mind if we go next door and visit with Maw Maw and Paw Paw?
I haven't seen them in so long and I've missed them terribly!" Again another strange look
from mom. Next door I saw Maw Maw and Paw Paw as they had been in 1959. I wept and
they all looked at me so strangely. I hugged them and kissed them all and we talked for
hours. Dad finally came home from work and I ran and hugged him so hard. "Dad why did
you have to leave us in June?" Again I got strange looks from everyone. My tears were
falling. I saw Aunt Frances and Uncle Bill who lived beside Maw Maw and Paw Paw. "I've
missed you both for so long." Strange looks again! They didn't understand because to them,
it was just another day in 1959. The day grew late and I knew my time was soon ending. I
got near the magic mirror and mom and dad were standing there so young and healthy. I
said, "Mom I'll see you on the other side of the mirror, but dad, I'll see you another time,
another place." They didn't understand. I stepped back through and my reflection was as it
had been before. Mom was sitting in her chair at age 84. I said, "Mom, do you remember
the day before Thanksgiving, 1959, when I stayed home from school and we spent the day
together?" She said, "Yes, it was so strange that you could never remember anything about
it. It was as though you had amnesia.
Primose path leads to the slaughter of American
dream delete pause proficiency with internetty
webbegone after thoughts of yahoo googleyed
interred intracacises that shed benign capsules of
mom entary apple pie delquiences cooling
the soul shopping for the next alias avenue of
pointless me procurement mauling an ongoing
onerous dildodate vis a vie meme.com/me in
an engaging omnipresence of sextext no tact
spell ckeck chicshicshakplak no sense tic tac.
Talk? Walk? Balk? Chalk? Sue? Sulk?
Dinosaur diligence posse with the senior
gestages gestulating, we r forevre 21 and ying yang
dung. Yes, good f ing luck with that!! Look at your
petridish parents and see what box u check to lid close
and abscond with the lost liberal leftovers. That
is you in reverse in a few carnal years after Hilter youth
children decide to screw us as the new
generation which skewer post present parental postulates
to the oldster outhouse outlets so u can be "youf" free. Little
do they notknow as they cumulatively co opulate
that they set the stooge stage for no thanx ahole actions.
The DOS does'nt fall from the Apple tree. Leave it,
love it, learn it while ye may, the kid crisp cosmos of
offspring social dicktates are biting at your heartbeatbit
empty elmo enterprises. Pause parenatal prenatal
preferences prepearing perinatal persons pretasking
postnatal practices, in which you have veno papa preparation.
Think before you For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Analyze
your ass-incarnate initiate. Borrow berofe u basterdize,
condomize before u copu culminate, decide before
u dicktate, envision before u envy, fail before u foil,
grasp before u germinate, halt before u hinder,
illuminate before u illerate, jump before u jinx,
kill before u keep, love before u lay, meaning before
moaning, neutralize before u now, obilerate before
u ooops! presence before predicament, quit before
quake, resilience before ridiculous, sanity before
sexusensuality, thinkth before u thumpth, utilize
before u unionize, victory before victimization, we
before want, xx nor xy, zen before zeal. Pocket
passion files fly in the face of ruined reason residules
to the point of pronounced perplextion plagued
prominantly with no recall references to problematic
protocals for near north normalicies in my buckeye
life measures of simpatico silly symbiosis sublime
of mini me monophile mucous made misdemeanor
milktoast memories. Pass go, collect $200.
Under her guidance, we stood at attention
forming a row for the national anthem
"Oh Say, Can You See?"...those familiar old words
We would sing, not in unison
but with avid enthusiasm
out of tune, out of rhythm
with our childish delusions
that we were quite good!
As we stood in the room
she would move down the line
with a frown in the lines
of her brow, then would bow
till her ear matched our voice
and her hand would be poised
with two fingers ensued
keeping time with the tune.
She would grit all her teeth
bite the inside of cheeks
Such a serious task!
it was all that she asked
that we please..do our best
When we mastered, at last
She would gasp, then exclaim
as we sang each refrain
Mixed with tears, she would clap
I remember it now...
Here I stand in this row
with my hand on my heart
as the first strain imparts
Yes, I know those old words...
they'll remain part of me
'til the day that I die
"O Say, Can You See?"...still familiar to me
But no..............I can't see....
There are tears in my eyes...
For the Project UFO Contest: Sponsored by Robert Heemstra
We had missed five days in
The last two weeks
Due to the ice and snow.
Roads and streets had been impassable—
Freezing rain, blowing snow and black ice.
We started the day late at 10 am.
I greeted them at the doors—
Worried about attendance.
But, ninety-five percent made it.
They were wrapped in hooded jackets
And wore toboggans with rainbow colors.
Mothers had stuffed them with oatmeal,
Hotcakes and sausage.
One carried chocolate milk
And powdered sugar donuts,
Along with tousled hair and a big smile.
I was glad they made it.
We didn’t need to lose another
Day of instruction.
The day went smoothly, too.
In spite of the frigid cold that pushed
The mercury down to two degrees.
Frozen feet tracked salted snow
Onto brightly buffed tiles.
One carried an icicle two foot long—
I convinced him it would keep outside.
Then came lunch.
The short day was ready made for
Corn dogs and sloppy Joes—
A menu that might have been invented
But they hardly touched either one.
Today they served
Golden Meadow Orange Dream Bars—
A dessert that was surely made in Heaven.
Ice cream on the coldest day of the year.
And the February freeze was forgotten.
The orange circled smiles of kinders
Beamed a warmth from within,
Making the remainder of the day brighter,
Marking an end to winter.
I first saw the hen as she flew
Up to the raised bed in front of the school.
I thought it was odd she was there,
With so much activity at the entrance.
The second time I saw her,
I decided to see what she was up to.
Imagine my surprise when I found
A cleverly hidden nest containing ten eggs.
I questioned her choice of location,
But, what do I know about building a nest?
I watched closely from the window for a week.
But now, so did others.
The kids were bright, and nosey.
Soon, several knew the secret.
When I came to school on Monday,
I found the eggs had been thrown
About the drive and against the brick.
The efforts of the expectant hen and drake
Had been spoiled by someone.
I could almost understand if it had
Been a skunk or possum that
Needed the eggs for survival.
But to be wasted…was senseless!
If you know anything about school and kids,
You know that someone came to me with a name.
And that person gave me another name.
Soon, I had three kids in my office.
And a choice to make…
Should I break them like the eggs
They had strewn and spoiled?
Or, should I protect them and watch
Them grow as I would the duckling
Had they hatched?
And then, on cue, the pair flew down
From the nest and waddled away
From their loss.
I watched with the children,
And after a few moments,
Made an observation.
“They’re just like parents… walking away
From the spot where they lost their
Entire family…Every child…
Imagine how they must feel!”
Their eyes filled with tears.
They left my office with compassion,
And, a newly acquired appreciation of nature…
The nest was not a total loss.
She sat by me in class
She wore glasses
She was beautiful
She crossed her legs
I dropped a piece of paper
I leaned over to move closer
I touched her foot with my leg
I did not move my leg
She did not move her foot
She blushed and pressed it close
She had sweat on her brow
She had a boyfriend
Who asked her to go steady
Who gave her a ring
Who married her
Who will never know…
you pick on the innocent
pray on the weak
leave the unwanted in your dust
harming all in your path
they go home
bruised and beaten
filled with tears
a lump in their throats
still a love in their hearts
yet they have more strength
than you ever will
the ice cream truck
do you remember in fourth grade when it was the end of the school year?
kids running around in class, volunteer parents planning for field day events, teachers grading tests.
a year's worth of crafts and colorful displays filled the walls like wallpaper.
you can hear singing from the kids in room 4b, ms. mcdonald's class.
the weather outside was a balmy 80 on this june day.
text books, paint brushes, and the obligatory pre-chewed bubble gum filled the desk cavity.
the assistant principle announces something inaudible on the speaker system.
and we are fast approaching the anticipated summer break.
summer. that's when spring lovers finally kiss and the butterflies leave their cocoon.
birds singing and the flowers are saturated with their red, blue, and pink hues.
the last day of school is finally here and the children ride the bus for the last time.
vacations. swimming pools. ocean city. the smell of hot dogs, grass and humidity.
jersey summers are hot. really hot where i grew up. you sweat just by looking out the window.
then one day, the familiar sound of circus-like music faintly approaches town.
louder and louder until everyone knows its the ice cream truck turning the street corner.
the famous mr. softee, or good humor truck, or some local self employed bearded man.
whatever it was, ice cream in all kinds, flavors, colors, and shapes was 25 yards and 25 cents away.
the music kept playing as children seemingly sprayed out of their homes in rapid succession.
a gathering soon followed with parents and children standing all against that delicious truck.
chocolate. peanut butter. vanilla. strawberry. cookies and cream. cookie dough.
sandwiches. bowls. cones. smoothies. sundays. sprinkles. nuts. oh so yummy!
i miss that ice cream truck. i miss those days...
...and i miss you just as much.