THANK YOU LORD THANK YOU, a poet’s prayer

2014-01-28-17-29-31For the consideration of rain, and, too, thank you for trees, and too, to have thought of dew on a just-mown lawn under evergreens next to just so-placed midwestern lakes, dolloped blue, and too for sending us the thunder last night, for putting the internet on the ‘fritz’ on one of the last of summer’s eves, everyone of a sudden  without their screens, and, by George happy to ‘hang,’ play board games, like the old days — before screens — because You had solved the puzzle of what to do, what to have for dinner – had divined already the idea of dinners — delivered — had made clean-up a snap with Your thought of dishes made of paper — how kind of You to have made life easy. Too, the sheer brilliance of You to have thought ahead into forever, to have filled my car’s gas tank into perpetuity to “full.” Best, yet of all Your inventions, to have created the blessed angel in charge of sound. The air lock one, the closed airplane doors sound, and me, on the inside, by celestial surprise a gift.  Me, bumped up to first class, alone, the charming ‘bing-bing-bing,’ the ‘no going back bell chiming’ — a wry touch by You.  Oh, You.  And me — your ever-humble servant — leaving in minutes on an all expense paid trip won at the grocery checkout.  The millioneth customer.  My reward from a scratch and sniff game card at Ralph’s as I paid for chicken parts – organic — oh, what delight I had won a trip away for the next few weeks — or more — should You so desire – from all this domestic bliss.  That, when and if, You should think to send me back home to ‘chaos central’ from my trip of a lifetime, say, around the world, that You might allow me one teensy weensy request, that I may fit into my jeans — my old Jordache jeans from college – and, that then — when, and if — my dear Lord – upon my return — after Paris, after London, after Carpi — that, going forward you might find me ample parking infinitum mid-Wilshire — at high noon – henceforth, maybe too, please find me someone to file my god-damned taxes forthwith – maybe with a more substantial refund in the mail — a six-digit-sum multiplied by twenty — from the last twenty years – so I may once and for all redo this hovel and that You might see to it that the tree trimmers up the street in the neighbor’s trees for the last six weeks might bust a saw — or two — or, better yet be sent on permanent hiatus for the rest of the year.  Signing off for now, so help me God, your friend on earth, me.  Amen.

Quixote and Me

images-1Image by Elizabeth Kelman, 2012

By the time you read this the caballeros of Altadena will long be done. Done leaning back on their homeward mounts, done clip-clop climbing the too narrow sidewalks north of Lincoln near the stables toward Castillo, done stomping code of crisp days coming.  Clip clop, clip clop, the sound of clocks, clip clop, a knock-knock joke, clip clop, a slow castanets, hoofs on concrete, quarter horses, half-bloods, the chestnut mare with wild eyes, clip clop, dusk dropping into chaparral baskets, under cover of crimson sky.  Mexican wedding cookies, crusted bread, churros, callouses, chores, tradition, pair of tan hands caressing trust, squeak of shifting leather, dungarees, chaps, changing directions.  A “Chk-chk” kiss catching back of cowboy cheek and chops, smooch between amigos, chums, confidantes.  Quixote, time you and me headed home.

IMG_0586.JPG

The Post-Adopt Crawl

Image

The speaker tells our packed meeting room, “Best use for the baby’s “Exersaucer Sit-n-Spin” is — first — taking the baby out — put saucer on drive, back car up. That, if you know a kid who used one, was in a jumper, has ADD, ADHD, math or reading problems, or, autism-like behaviors, probably he or she didn’t crawl enough.

“A kid cannot crawl enough,” a woman named Bette Lamotte says, “Nothing like a baby squishing his or her hips through the birthcanal, then on the floor.”  Bette says, jumping, rotating, wiggling in front of our group.

“And,” Bette says, “Don’t prop your baby up.”

This, akin to parking your child on the street like a Honda.

“Babies need to crawl, crawl, crawl, creep, creep, creep.  The floor, she says quoting someone quotable, “is the athletic field of your child.”  And, about that, “Wear your baby, up close and personal, so he or she can feel your feel, feel your heartbeats, smell your calm, your passing fears are not worry ones, gazing into your eyes, building left to right brain connections – his or her inner securities.  And, parents, this means, no strollers, no joggers, no walkers, no kidding, or else,” she says, “learning problems.  Nature has prepared us in increments for all.”

Oh, is that all, me thinking about my biological son’s ADD, dyslexia, my second son’s adoption, a built-in formula for loss, how I never considered his apparent ADHD, dyslexia, autism, ongoing tantrums relative to his not crawling much, my using an Exersaucer with our first child, the high chairs, the cribs, the carseat. I thank God at least I “wore” my kids, though I could have done so much more. Anyway, I’m awake now.

“Go back to the beginning,” Bette says, “start over, no matter your child’s age, your age.  Reconnect.”

But, how, I wonder, can I do it like he grew in me?  Like how he went through the birth canal, wasn’t a “C” section baby, wasn’t picked up from his birth mom per hospital protocol, set in an incubator for three days, prodded by doctors, nurses, left with us, baby-hungry strangers, ready to pounce like he was theirs all along, their bio babe, not someone living out of a hotel far from his birthright familiar, not with his birthmom and birthdad who seeded him beyond our reach.

“Turn on the switches,” Bette tells us,  “Do your work.  He will mend,” as she relays the story of a town near her where 17 out of 23 kids were labeled ADHD, how the learning problems went back to the baby jumpers at daycare.

Body, then mind, the day’s speakers say.  Yoga.  Spine, body, brain.  First, crawling.

I spend the next day, the weekend, near fetal, integrating a tsunami.  The learning what I missed and started to appreciate at the Celia Center Adoption/Foster healing conference, from word go about the adoptee “Sarah” and her journey to West Africa to the “Bio-Mom One Show,” what I could not stop reading, writing about in my journal, trying to retool my head — articles, parent, parenting, doctors blogs, Webinarjam, how my journey, my children’s differed.  I felt the riptide.  Today, I promised myself to renew bridges, our commitment to our sons, my son’s birthmom, how open dare I be?  Can we both be?

I can do it.  Yes, we can. We’re all in. We do our Brain Gym calmers, his taekwondo and swimming waiting for our Bette appointment in January, building on our daily special time. Today a train store with dad, tomorrow the beach. I buy The Body Keeps The Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk.

“And speak to your child’s sleep,” one blogger says, “to his angels, his sorry, scary, sad places, ‘holding’ his experiences about the loss of being adopted, talk to his sleeping self, that something scary happened back there, he was powerless, tiny, that I don’t smell right, heartbeat right, am not her, him. How two of our triad are irreplaceable.  But don’t “talk it to death” — even if he’s sleeping — that that’s “TTD Syndrome.”  Grow bigger shoulders Mom,” a blog doc says.

I flashback, remembering our son’s “Gotcha Day,” the very name, not mine, aggressive, reminding me of my thin veiled greed, at the sight of our infant son and us, the pile up of tough days since with all these labels, his flight fight brain, the doctors, the schooling, the programs, camps, therapists, the questions, work. So far come, so far to go.

Today I promise myself to soften up on myself, on us all, my love language toward our challenges, not to walk away, ever, reconsider even the minor walks across the room, around the corner, the next room, as I’ve been counseled when I am trying to recover my cool, to communicate a line crossed.  Walk toward him, with him, walking away feeds feelings of abandonment, triggering more fears.

Be safe, him, me.

“Build permanence,” a Celia Center Conference doc says, “healing in the family setting.”

Create emergency plans for the big emotional stuff.  Typical kid, or not, they have, they will come.

I promise myself to be compassionate to myself when my kid says, “I hate you Mom,” this, might mean is, “I hate feeling this way.”

There is time, I tell myself.   Take a minute, or five.  Lighten up.

“Parents have 72 hours to revisit issues.”  A friend says her son’s talk doc told her. She suggests over dinner “Maybe get your need for him to show up a certain way out of your dynamic.” Ohm….my, that too? Was I projecting again? I loosen another expectation.

“Twenty minutes wires us for the good,” another speaker doc says.

Good or bad, I promise to get on the floor more, play with my son, play trains, crawling, rewiring our relationship for the long haul.

I laugh when I read this one on a blog, “Lay down.  It changes the body’s dynamic, our mindset, quieting our defenses.”  Maybe buying a mom or dad the time he or she needs lest one say or do something regrettable.

“On the kitchen lineo if you must,” I read.

By Saturday afternoon, I am an open cruciform, where I lay on the edge of my son’s soccer field, promising myself to pull over later in my car on an as-needed basis — on (but, not in) the road. My son a statue in the middle of the soccer field, unenthused, in a med fog, until he sees his dad and big brother step onto the field. “Look my brother, hey Dad look at me!” I sit up.

Webinarjam Kathy Gordon, an adoptive mom parenting counselor working with Bette says, “Make special time.  Set a timer, one on one play time, listening to your child with intent, asking a friend, neighbor, comrade be your “Listening Partner,” calling him or her, once a week, once a day with no idle chit chat, holding your time and theirs, sacred.” Crawling on the lineo if you must.

Don’t Text and Hike-u

Like, what was I thinking this morning on my clear out of the blue get with it hike. One cliffhanging thought before the other on the side of a mountain no less. One smartie word wising up the other. A look mom no hands no helmet moment, stepping back so the trail bikes coming downhill don’t hit me. My knees shaking a finger at me at this brand new ‘new start day,’ saying, “let’s start tomorrow, let’s sit and have a listen up to the birds.” So I listen, sitting on a niche carved with the perfect shape of my imperfect, I’m thinking, this is perfect, time to wonder, time to enjoy. All the time in the world wondering, wondering deep and wide, wondering how’s it gonna turn out. Wondering God, are you out there, are we gonna be okay? No one answering me, me talking all the talking just the same, wondering should I maybe take some extra underwear in the great beyond? Will there be somewhere to wash out a few things? Maybe an electric outlet no one’s using, so I can keep up with Mad Men, tabs on my kids, up with my was-tow-head one, Mr. precious all 18 all grown up already, my second chance at pretty good, Mr. I’m not so sure about, he not so sure either, Mr. Between bi-moodals, Mr. So so, so afraid of being six.

Like who’s gonna put up with this set of petunia kids I got going on if and when I check out? This kid racket double sink full life, who gonna teach them to call home, separate the shouldas from the couldas, the whites from darks? From the do it now’s cuz I said so. Like who’s gonna remind them these are the good old days? So welcome home, shut up and eat your organic kale before it gets all commingled, cold, alpha omega 3s don’t grow on trees, and pass me the milk while you’re at it, and, thank God while your at it, thank God us being so lucky, us being us, thank God us being so well shod standing on gods green warming, us standing on someone else’s dime being so alive on the peeling back I’ve wanted to change all my granite years, thank God and bless Him, bless my own mom and dad while He’s at it, me, myself and I while He’s at it, and bless the mister, the mister kids, bless this head, this heart, these hands, until forever, until the 10th of forever, until the 10th of forever wondering.

Are the kids brushing right? Are they flossing and whining between meals?
Today, like all the rest, I quit it. Quit it about being lost in the lost in found, say ‘I love you,’ first and tell my kids there’s no more, no more better than this, no more there there, never was anyway, all smoke mirrors, no thing as lost, no thing as found, unless you decide, (no Oz, no Auntie Em, no clicking heels, TV for you.) I tell my kids, this would be a good time to write something down so I can remember I had half a brain once, somebody got a pen? I’m telling you what I knew too late to save you the google of it later. Mom, Dad, if you can see my face I love you, if you got one, I’m ready for it, I’ll take one, give one, I’ll take a hug for the road. 🙂

20140524-124250-45770773.jpg

20140524-150218-54138364.jpg

 

20140524-155426-57266806.jpg

 

Moon Wolf

The color of the midnight fell into my lap just now,
filling my fear places,
my irises with the color of fire,
a moon wolf racing ahead,
my bloodline remembered in a moment’s flare,
the color of reckoning,
a redux later at the make up counter,
the color on my lips,
a torch secret,
of here and there,
staining your cheek, collar,
a neon wretch letting loose on your flannel cheek,
flaying,
knifing,
the color of spent,
spent,
spent,
the color of cherished,
the color of sup, the color of nocturnal,
eternal enough for me.

20140523-091523-33323542.jpg

Hambone Hammett aka Pecan Bill by Thom Smyth

Pecan Bill who knew?

Pecan Bill who knew?

Regarding Bill, a dear friend of my brother’s passed years ago, this, a note written by my brother today, alas, another poet slash creative (T., the greater) in the family)….a commemoration:

“Aka Bill Clyde Benton the third (and several affectionate labels only close friends would dare to utter) today a funny thing struck me, this is the anniversary of his passing, and my becoming focused on acknowledging to myself publicly that this terrific guy friend lover partner was REALLY here 22 years ago and that we made a difference . It occurred to me how silent I have become about
this and decided to find a ribbon – symbols are so powerful and this one
has been in my life very personally since May 22 1992. Funny thing I didn’t have a ribbon anymore and, as I was passing a “notions” shop ( what are the chances on Madison Ave in the 50’s near Bloomies) I went in and there nestled atop all kinds of ribbons striped laced and taffetaesque was a spool of the most perfect red ribbon $1.35/yd could buy. What happened next took me by surprise. I told the counter matron that I wanted a small piece. At first quick to outline the parameters of 1 yard minimums she paused as I said I would buy the yard and take …..( I folded the ribbon around itself to form that all too familiar symbol of a pinned ribbon) . Before I could finish she clipped 4 inches and gave it to me , thanking her I said I lost a very special man 22 years ago. Without saying more she took out a pin came around the counter and asked if I’d like a pin. She folded the ribbon and placed it on my jacket lapel. Thanking her as I left I was touched by this act of kindness from someone to help me witness that I knew a man by the name of Hammett and today I remember. Xo you all and cheers to Bill. Treat yourselves to a L’ll cocktail or piece of pecan pie today -Bill would like that!

Bonsai Love

One grand room is all I need. 

One part possibility, one part stage.  90, 10.  80, 20.  60, 40.  50, 50 days.  A day’s worth of downy air, downy quiet in downy light. A Bic lighter fuse to straw. 

An ebb whimper blend whirl of summation conflagration of you, me.  I, thou baby. When we pull the cage drapes, strike the tent, stow the chicken wire meant to keep critters out, tame our critter tempers, no stopping a rat’s lust for berries, give the day its take in filler flowers, every good arrangement mixed with precious, cherry blossoms and rhubarb and music. I will save the scene for a science reduction sauce to study the brain neurotransmissions, micro density weights trying to understand the importance of frozen rodents brains in a sausage slicer per the Sunday’s Times. Of mice, of men, of women. 

An idea I (and science) cannot get close enough. to see why weirdo rats pulse like we do.  Why we all ebb, flow, dance, weigh our thoughts, chemical feelings swabbed under glass, one column of unmarked territory connecting to another, the usual suspect constellations. Scientists in lab coats figuring formulas for the resurrection of sex, cashing in on a longer pharma forever, a Vegas flush, short, long, of temporary ecstasies, a better than sex sex with strangers substitute, some kind of bamboo bridge between species, as far as China from here.  Bottom line is: absence and fondness figure in on love, on desire.  An absence of fondness with too much togetherness. 

I wonder about my fondness for absence.  Ones requiring my being more absent with criticism, absent of self, my being less of me is more, more kind to you, my fullness of fondness sometimes absent, my being so full of my angry dad and mom. They, not so much liking your’s.  My tit for tat not fitting your tat for tit tattooed on our forever DNA codes.

to times like that I say, let’s break the fast fast baby, break the love fast and redefine love without borders like doctors do.  Let’s offer love to each other, others on the street, in the park, in the dark, on a train just the same, overseas, in the air, birds and bees.  Let’s see what happens if we let light tickle us awake as we learn the Swahili secret ways to tango in rediscovered love caves. Us spelunking, caving in, reading caveman/cavewomen graffiti paintings on the wall, learning the best way to float a kite in high winds under cerulean skies, staying away from the high blame wires, the high up trees.  The sooner we get okay with getting older, not so much wiser, tossing judgment, quitting that old habit, and feel the wind the better. Yes that. I want to learn to be like the wind more.  Smell the gold in air caressing fragrant hills, not worry about owning so much anymore.  I just want to get chill enough, quit the fence talking kind of thinking, quit the looking over greener hypothese scenarios, my flowchart on the neighbor yards.  I know, ditto.  Ditto.  Ditto.  Ditto for you too. 

Let’s quit the merry fairy go round running round the house outside.   Part of love the little lies we tell ourselves when we get quiet enough, reframing things when we see we’ve got love enough for the both of us and then some, enough for for all the world.Enough for the invisible people, the gasman, the grocery clerk, the teachers, nurses, cleaning lady.  Love the bonsai of love. Love the gaba gaba tea leave love, ignore the uptick regulators screaming something’s wrong all the time. 
Call the doctor, the medics. The technopyroannoyances between us, AC DC folks, leave the sex pantomines for others. Whatever.  Let’s forget the approach to the familiar, maybe do some porch sitting for a change.  Not use the bait hooks so much, look where its gotten us so far, instead let’s drag the fishing pole behind us in the stream from the boat until the trout says, “Enough.  I’ve had enough of seed, small fish, and algae.  I’m going to take that hook and jump in.”  Then we’ll eat well for the night.  We all got choices.  Fish too.

The Middle

My middle aged middle, getting too big to ignore.   A black hole in space on my sofa now, taking my body over, surrounded by asteroid blinkers.  You know, stars.  Like constellations gone Broadway pointing at my marquis middle, my thighs, like some melting pot junkyard in the Pacific, or creeping on earth fingery thing like the junkyard twenty minutes from here taking over the good earth, like the crazed duplication of found-agains, so many God-soaped faces in one place, so lost, so found, so lost again in so little time, like pom-pom pinks in rock gardens, stuffy straw hat garden parties way out of my league.  Showhouse gals, sipping tea, some flying high on morning cocktails without a net, no pain, no gain, pains in the arse, to be or not to be a somebody, to do so or not do so, to not die all pummel meat done in the end.  To do the day’s exercise or not.  Aw, the heck with it.  I roll over, roll the die again, then get up and go.  I just do it, walk first, then write my first line.

Hold On World

Image

Hold on, don’t jump, slow down world, let me brush your wild hair, let me brush your teeth, let me gag you so I can skid the house, the world quiet.

A knot of candy hair hit, and off he soars, reeling.

What was between hands now all run away.

The whole world foaming at the mouth, unkempt, unclean, half-dressed, half-naked, in knots.

My own tiny world too dammed up, too damned behind thin skin, thin heart membranes, too thin protections.

Ahhhh, I sigh, I weep, for him, for her, for Boston, for the ache within, for the lost souls, for our innocence ebbing,

Ahhhh, I breath, ohmming for the unfeeling, ohmming for the feeling too much, ohmming for the breaking inside, for the too much that got’s a hold of the world at the minute, a hold on me.

Wait for me world, wait one minute more,

hold me world, hold on lover world, hold on lover boy, lover world, hold on and wait, wait, wait, hold on with me,

and I will hold you too.

It gets better, got to get better, wait with me world, and let’s just breathe.

Breathe an I’m-not-done-yet-breath, a-neither-are-you-breath, neither of us licked,

holding on together breathing, each of us warming the air between us,

holding on, lighting candles, breathing, holding, waiting.

Saturday Morning Alarm

Saturday morning I tell my seventeen year old, “Might as well take your meds, since you’re awake.”

The alarm clock, his five-year-old brother, just run past me, past my was-sleeping teen’s door, down the hall, slamming noise.

Back, forth, back, forth.  Four times four.

Boy, is that kid ever revved, working some old battery he’s found, some old faithful in his never gonna break down five year old car.

Blog at WordPress.com.