Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grandma Thelma and Grandpa Kenneth celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in 1999 with the wedding cake Grandma always dreamed of having.
Last Friday my Grandma, Thelma Kees, died as I held her hand.  Her only daughter and my only daughter were with her as well.  In the blink of an eye and with one final breath, the family lost a great matriarch.  Grandma was 91 years old and she lived a good life.  She died the way she lived - peacefully and with a smile on her face.
I still can't believe she is gone.  Thursday I got a call from my mom saying that grandma only had 12 - 36 hours left.  So Chippy and I rushed to her bedside. 
When the doctors say something like that you have to take them seriously, but in my heart of hearts I didn't really believe this was the end.  It wasn't the first time I made a mad rush to her bedside only to have her bounce back.  Grandma was a strong woman.  Her life wasn't always easy, but she always managed to soldier on with a positive outlook.  So, I was more than a little stunned that she actually died.  Even seeing her body laid out in the casket at the viewing tonight, I couldn't believe she was really gone.  Her life force was just too strong.  In fact, her spirit is so strong, I still feel her with me.  I know she is with her husband and my father, continuing to watch over me and the entire family. 
When I was a child and my great-grandma passed away my parents told me that she would always be with me, watching over me from heaven.  This thought was both comforting and disturbing to my childish mind.  If she was watching me from heaven, she'd know everything time I told a fib or did anything I wasn't supposed to do.  I wanted her to be proud of me, but how could she if she knew all my frailties.  It was a hard thing for a kid to reconcile.
The last couple of days have reminded me of that fear.  Grandma feels so close to me, surely she knows my every move and my every thought.  I feel like there are no secrets from her now.  We all wear masks in life - we never really show our true self to anyone in this world. But I feel like Grandma can see me without my mask - that my truest, most intimate self is revealed to her and there is nothing I can do to hide the ugly parts.  Just as I was feeling my most vulnerable and exposed, it came to me... what if that's what heaven is all about.  What if heaven is a place where all our masks are removed and our most deep, dark selves are revealed but we are loved anyway. 
In a few hours we will be going to say one last good-bye to the body of my Grandma.  But I promise you - that's the only thing to which I'm saying good-bye.  Her spirit is strong and I feel her presence  with me, loving and protecting me even in spite of my imperfections.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Greystone is neither grey nor stone
But, I feel its weight on my shoulders
What was it like when Woody Guthrie walked these halls
When Robert Zimmerman traveled from Minnesota
When Huntington’s and schizophrenia were as one
Would the wind still have blown and the times a-changed 

Whispers nag, voices in my head
Brush your teeth
Do your homework
Don’t be late
Make your bed
The world’s most boring schizophrenic make I

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Feeble Attempt at a Sonnet

Oh what thou art hath seen with eyes so pure
And words hath spoken loud for all to hear
Wilt not thy heart and lonesome path endure
Wipe away all doubt, banish all thy fear
Alone, alas, thy spirit wonders nigh
Among the mass of people, ghosts of friends
True blue acquaintances with thee ally
In search of the peace that comes with amends
But peace shall not be your fate in this life
Abandon your grief from innocence lost
Release it, revoke it, avoid all strife
Find contentment inside, avoid the cost

So long as you live, so long as you breathe
Allow not your grief to ensnare and enwreathe

Headaches damn headaches!
Thumping, pounding, banging, boom!
Headaches really suck!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I have a cat – a Kello cat
A big, fat, orange, flabby tabby that jiggles like Jell-o
Kello’s a lovable ol’ man of a cat
Bonded to my baby, he lets her do what she will
Flip him, flop him, throw him, and cuddle him so tight he nearly goes splat
Kello pretends he’s a stuffed animal all for her pleasure

He’s sweet and clean and nearly a perfect pet
Kello has just one flaw
He’s a stoner cat and this is no joke
If there is cat nip to be had, Kello must have it and have it right now
I tell you the truth, this sly little guy is dumber than dirt unless there is nip to be found

The stash he uncovers is wrapped up in baggies
But he scratches and gnaws and he works without rest until he gets to his prize
Then he chews it and snorts it and rolls all around in that pile of nip
This silly boy gets higher than high
He rolls on his back, paws straight in the air, eyes kinda glassy
And I can't help but wonder if he’s dreaming of HoHo’s, Ring-Dings, and Doritos, too

Tears stream down my hot, sweaty cheeks
My arms, my back and legs sting
Burning, bright red welts rise
I rest my face on the cool tile floor
My hair sticks to my face, my neck, it falls into my mouth

The baby is strapped in her highchair
Crusted with strained peas and pureed chicken
She cries for her Sippy cup dropped on the floor
Banging her fists and banging her head
She cries, she shrieks, she kicks the legs of her chair

I see his feet dangle above the ground
She holds him up by his wrist with one hand
Her silver slotted spoon in the other
Swoosh-ka-thump  – a blow lands on his back
He writhers and twists in the air, unable to get his footing

Swoosh-crack – a blow lands on his elbow
Swoosh-thud – a blow lands on his thigh
Swoosh-ka-thump, swoosh-clunk, swoosh-thud

Crying, I push myself up on one elbow
I reach into the air
Stop, I cry, stop you’re going to kill him
Swoosh-crack, swoosh-thump, swoosh-thud
Please, please, please stop I cry covering my eyes

She drops him and settles into an overstuffed chair
We both lay on the ground, we can’t look at each other
She lights a cigarette taking a long, deep drag
The baby is strapped in her highchair, the Sippy cup on the floor
Feed your sister, she says, make her stop crying or I’ll do it for you

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mescaline and mushrooms in plastic sandwich bags stuffed in the back of drawers
Nickel bags in the pockets of suit jackets stained with beer
Empty bottles – Coke, Rolling Rock, and prescription – festoon the living room
Grey cigar ash covers the coffee table

Passed out on the sofa in dirty pajamas
A half-eaten ham salad sandwich in one hand
A Leica IIIf in the other
A stack of die-transfer proofs slowly slips to the floor

Bills and envelopes addressed to Resident scattered on the ground 
The mailman pushes more through the slot everyday
The cat scratches his cheek against a stack of thirty-three and a thirds
Brigitte Bardot purrs on the Serge Gainsbourg album still playing in the glow of the amp – or is that the setting sun

At the dining room table, she tries to do the work brought home for the evening
But stares out the window
She takes her anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, anti-feeling pills
And goes to bed – maybe he’ll feel better tomorrow

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

There was a time when I longed
To be on the road
To travel from Bear Mountain
To Denver to San Francisco and back

I dreamed of dark coffee houses
Thick with cigarette smoke
And an upright bass, bongos, poetry
And hipsters, beaten down, smoldering with rage

Where isolation, alienation, and Thorazine seemed romantic
Where potato salad and Dadaism intersected on the grounds of Greystone
Where thoughts were like yellow roman candles exploding in your mind
Where games of William Tell were played and justice was arbitrary
Where madness seemed synonymous with living, talking and being saved

Oh how the road beckons
Intoxicating and enchanting
Anonymous and senseless
On the holy road 

Sartre said, “hell is other people”
And I know I’ve had days when
Pounding my fists at the sky, I screamed
Hell yes! They certainly are

Misanthropic self-pity is easy
When things don’t go your way
I’ve been there a time or two
Haven’t you

But people are really hell – in the worst way
When you need them so much
Desperate for love

You’re left all alone
Fending for yourself
Unprepared, unskilled, and really not ready
Taking a drag off their cigarette, they smirk as you flounder

Of course, that’s not everyone – it’s just one or two
They cut you so deep
It’s hard to know what to do
Pick-up, dust-off, move on to the next

Most people, my friend,
Are as wounded as you
They’re desperate and dependent
And searching for you

Monday, April 16, 2012

There are monsters
There in the dark
Behind the closet door
No matter how much light shines in
They won’t go away
Persistent little buggers
Guard her confidence
Guard it well
It can be lost in the blink of eye

It may not happen when you say
No one wants to watch you play ballerina
But it could happen just that fast

It may not happen when you say
They only invited you for the present
But it might

It may not happen when you shrug off her efforts saying
Well, if that’s the best you can do
You just never know what will do it

So remember this
Your words are your legacy
And your gift or your curse

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Without further ado, I give you a poem by Chippy!

We’re all looking at the clock, three minutes, two minutes.
The teacher doesn't realize no one is paying attention.
One minuet, my heart skips a beat a grin on my face as I exchange looks with my friend.
5. 4. 3. 2. 1. RRIIINNNNGGGGG!!!! 
The class shoots up out of their chairs simultaneously
Grinning from ear to ear I scurry back to where my backpack is, ripping it off of its hook
The front doors bust open as everyone trampling over each other.
The hallways flooded, it’s hard to breathe but I push on.
And I’m there, in front of the same bus that had brought me to this prison months earlier
A few minutes pass, but it feels like hours
Summer. Has officially arrived

Friday, April 13, 2012

For Baby

How can I prove a negative
How can I show you that I won’t leave you behind
I see you tilt your head when I go to work
Your dark brown eyes can’t hide your questions

Sometimes it’s hard to explain why I do the things I do
Like hand you off to that lady in white
I wanted to cry when I saw how you shook
But she brought you back with much needed medicine

I wonder what happened to make you so scared
How many times have you been left behind
How long will it take for your fear to wane
When will your days be without worry

How can I show you that you’re safe
Sometimes I get mad, it’s a part of life
But I’m more often happy you’re here
Actually, ecstatic and blessed with your love

How can I prove a negative
How can I show you that I won’t leave you behind
How can I show you that I love you, too

Thursday, April 12, 2012


When I was small, I thought heaven held all the answers
Like why does God answer some prayers and not others
And was there a shooter on the grassy knoll (I really did care when I was eight)
Why did God decide to make the sky and the ocean the same color
And why had God made me

I didn’t really care what heaven would be like
Like what would we eat or where would we sleep
As long as God would tell me all the answers
Did Marilyn kill herself or was it conspiracy
Do aliens live on other planets and do they speak English

So now that I’m tall, at least as tall as God made me
I still don’t know all the answers
And I sure do hope that someday God will reveal them
But now when I dream of heaven, I dream of all the people I know there
The family, the friends, and teachers, too
That’s really all I need for heaven to be true