The Rescue Bird


I walk into the classroom
where my second grade self sits in her seat
with her face pointing at the desktop
one hand on each little knee.
She had been in the hallway all day.
Another teacher just yelled at her
for lying in front of the classroom door.
Her underwear is filled with shit.
I walk up to her desk and crouch down
to look up at her pink profile.
She sees me. She’s scared.
She doesn’t know what I’m going to do.
I’m crying and choking on the outside,
the therapist’s hand between mine,
but in the vision I’m calm and smiling.
I take her hand between both my of mine,
like an egg embracing its yolk.
I say “You didn’t deserve any of that.”
And her head turns a little as if to be sure
a real person has touched her.
“You don’t have to stay,” I continue.
“Do you want to leave?”
And she’s around my neck with her nose
and open mouth pressed tightly into my shoulder
her legs hooked around my hips.
I lift her out of her desk and we stand for a moment
a single overwhelmed girl.
We are shaking with need and relief.
Then I turn around, with her hanging from my neck
gripping my blouse like a bird in a hurricane.
I turn around without acknowledging anyone else –
not the student in the desk beside hers
or the one behind hers or the one in front
or the other girls staring and crinkle-nosed
or the nearly invisible teacher, frozen
like block of ice to her desk.
I turn around with my little girl
and walk out.
And away.
Far far away.


After the Loneliness Leaves

This headache woke me up at five in the morning.
A firm pinching in the temples,
and I won’t go back to sleep.
I think my insides are still digesting the sadness.
Not from loneliness. Not anymore.
That comes just before sleep
and leaves before morning.

I don’t know where the sadness is from.
It could be from the room’s darkness
and the sound of the air vent
or the dimmed computer screen
or bird chirps and rain on YouTube.
It could be from not dreaming all week –
from the relief of simple sleep.

It could be Kelli Potter looking for a new place
in Utah county, where housing
isn’t an equal opportunity.
It could be Alfie Bowie, a man
I’d like to know better. I want to know
how he survives in a free market
that seems to ask for his soul.

Maybe it’s Faith McCausland or Mandie Hicks
or Samantha Richardson or MJ Fields
and Jacqueline Campbell-Michels
who wander the unnamed streets in my brain,
who hear the cats crying
like children before they’ve learned how to speak.

Forgive me, friends.
Mornings like these I want my solitude.
I’d like you to all go home for just a few hours.
You can come back later for coffee
or tea and we’ll think up ridiculous puns
about wishing we had the spoons to spoon.

But right now, at five in the morning,
your lives are like too many birds flapping at once
and I can’t tell which one is which.
I can’t hear the one from the other,
and I’m still learning the songs
that would help all of us sleep.

The Joy of Being By Yourself Among Friends

I went to a friend’s place around 11 this morning, (MJ and Raj), just to hang out, do some drawing, clean their kitchen. Whatever. But it’s weird. MJ went with her mother to get some X-rays done and Raj is chatting with someone on her phone. So I’m just here doing my own thing.

And it’s pretty awesome. My whole life I’ve felt like you’re supposed to go to a friend’s house to do stuff with them. Which is why, lately, I’ve felt kind of pressured – not by my friends, just by my own self – to go and do stuff. But really there isn’t anything I want to do. I just like to be around friends. I like to be in the same apartment, maybe the same room. And if they have things to talk about, or want to watch Netflix or whatever, that’s cool, I can do that. But I’m really happy just doing my own thing. Writing, drawing, listening to my tunes, thinking about what to do for work, inventing things in my head.

I like doing stuff on my own. But not alone. If that makes any sense. I can feel the presence of other good people. MJ and Raj fill their apartment with really good “vibes” (don’t know what else to call it), and I like to just be inside their “vibes.” It feels good. It calms me down. It makes me want to clean their kitchen and cook and whatever else that may need to be done.

I have just discovered this about me and it’s wonderful. Now I know what to do about my depression. Or at least I know one more thing I can do: hang out at MJ and Raj’s place. They can do what they like. They don’t have to entertain me. They don’t have to talk or even be awake. Just let me be in the same area with them. Occupy the same space-time. It’s wonderful.

The Affection of Birds (a revision from the last poem)

For you who have misplaced the birds
that once filled your pockets, and their music
has emptied from your ears,
come sit with me a while.
I’ll make you tea, and while you drink
I’ll go out to the garage where my crows are kept
and the kinglets and flycatchers and solitaires.
And we can enjoy them together
as we drink and let the oceans in our eyes
surge and retreat, surge and retreat,
because that’s what oceans do.
You can stay as long as you like.
Let the birds become accustomed
to your presence and begin to show
the affection that allows their feathers to flex.
See? Their throats have already filled
the room with notes and chords and arpeggios.
Already the kinglet has entered your loose fist
and built its nest. It’s shock of red head feathers
rises like an open wound.
Take him home with you. Smooth
the head feathers down. Stroke his back and belly.
He will sing to you at night.
He will trill in the morning.
He will press his fluffed self against your neck
when the oceans surge again.
He will fill the rooms in your head. He will replace
the emptiness and self accusations
with a sound you knew before your mother was born.

Worthy of Love

For you who have misplaced
the love that once filled your pockets,
come sit with me a while.
I can make you some hot tea,
and while you drink I’ll go out to the garage
where all the excess love is kept
and wrap it up for you
with this little poem tied to the top:

Cherries will taste sweet again,
your lips will remember to grin again,
and the oceans in your eyes
will retreat. And when they surge again,
because that is what oceans do,
remember to drink some tea,
eat some cherries, open this package
and read these little words again.


I’m sitting in their livingroom
as the medicine begins to put them to sleep.
I can hear their breath become steady
the agony dulled just enough
to keep them from clawing at the wall.

I’ve never had chronic pain.
They have never not had it.

I don’t know how much more
their mind can take, or when the body
will quit or which will go first.
I don’t believe there’s reason
or purpose for everything.

Odes and Elegies for the Displaced (please share this link with anyone.  once you read the post you should understand why)

The photo on the left represents an Ode.  The photo on the right represents an Elegy.  Click on each image to get a more detailed definition of each.

I have recently created a Facebook page for those whose voices have been swept under the rug, stepped on, shoved into a junk drawer, or in any other way ignored and devalued. The following is a more specific list of my purpose and hopes for the new page.

1: People need a place that validates their unique existence. All my life I have never had a place where I felt safe to express my feelings, ideas, imaginations. I always felt out of place, kind of homeless in a way – although I did have a loving home with loving sisters and parents. And yet, I still felt like I couldn’t say or think what I was really thinking. So I hope with this page, people can feel that they are heard and valued.

2: I want to know how you feel (you meaning anyone who comments or visits this page for any reason). And I want you to be honest. Are you happy or sad or angry or suicidal or anxious? There is no such this as a “good” or “bad” emotion, only emotions that we like to feel and those we don’t.

3: I want to know your story. In what way do you feel “displaced”? For me, as a trans woman, I feel displaced because I don’t fit in the standard gender model and find it hard to relate to a lot of people – people who likewise have a hard time relating to me. I often feel like an alien who’s been left to fend for herself on an alien planet with alien customs and alien social norms. I want to know your story. Tell me about you.

4: I chose “Odes and Elegies for the Displaced” specifically because I am a poet, and I believe so much of our lives need to be praised (an Ode) more often. Our displacement, our alienation makes it easy for us to feel that there is nothing praiseworthy about us and that is not true. I want to encourage those of you who visit this page to find something about yourself or someone else to praise, to love, to not toss on the trash heap of society’s judgement. We are beautiful people. But that doesn’t mean we can mourn (an Elegy) those things that we have lost – friends to suicide, family who has deserted us, an old sense of self that has dissolved in our attempts to live a genuine life. It is just as important to be allowed to mourn our losses as it is to celebrate our beauties.

So if you find yourself perusing this page, feel free, feel encouraged to add a bit of yourself. Your name if you like, but mostly a bit of yourself that most people might think of as “wrong” or maybe just “odd”. Something most people don’t know what to do with.

This is your space. Our space. This is where the alienated come to find fellowship with other aliens, others who have been marginalized and not allowed a voice, or denied their existence for whatever reason. This is a space to be with our own kind, and to appreciate and be enlightened by new lives and new thoughts, experiences, troubles and joys.

On this page you are valid. You will be heard. And you will be valued for who you are, whatever and whoever you are.