Today was a day when rain poured against shattered hearts
Breaking pieces like a drumroll, sinking droplets upon surrender
Thickening air against chest conpressions, loss of breath
Gasping for relief from this winding road, where footprints are lost
Gathering the strength to be strong for the battle
Yet tears flood palms, black stained cheeks of sorrow
Screams fill the mind of weakened prosperity
This load to carry, being pulled down by gravity
Now that the storm has passed, I look up
As night pushes up the day, I will take you by the hand
I will hold with all I have, here where we stand
I will not let you die, and be left there
Where God knows where…..
If I could, I would, wish it be me
To take it all away, to take this pain
Give it to my body – oh Lord – hear my plea
I will sacrifice myself for her to be free….
Burden of shifting cells, ripping away the soul
Making the thoughts become uncertain
Shaken, taken, and left out to dry
Just don’t close the curtain
Red velvet strands, dripping from incision
Tubes of filtered forgiveness, clotting memories
The great depression, lies upon whispering winds
The storm is here, pouring out clouds of confusion
There will come a time,
When the storm brings it’s rainbow
Across your heart,
Bringing sunshine, from above
On my knees, without a word from silent lips
But a loud scream, against my soul
Tears falling upon the floor, puddling
Then I saw you, there, a shining light
Sigh no more, mother, cry not a tear
For God is there to make your dreams better than hopes
He has his arms around you, tightly
Sigh no more, mother, he will help you cope…
Lost and Found
Balboa Park reminds me
of my grandmother’s lawn in Queens
It reminds me of the cattails
by the swamp in New England
where my brother and I caught tadpoles we brought home to Mother, by hand re-arranged with rice paper flowers
cut with Noguchi precision
standing tall in a Japanese vase
Balboa Park reminds me of
our old black cat
as I watch a feral beast watch me
steps out from the bushes to sniff the day then disappears back into the woods like God The feral cat reminds me of the time
the black cat broke the Japanese vase
into a hundred shattered pieces
glued together by Mother, by hand
the broken side turned forever to the wall
Balboa Park reminds me of things I used to love:
a ruffled black sweater, a boy too young to marry me, a sparkling silver pin.
The Maori women gave me a pin of a pugi dog
when my lover died, and they held my hand
and said te kio ora, na, na, na…
A pugi dog looks back at its tail because,
the Maori women said,
sometimes you have to look backwards to go on
I used to love a place
where the Southern Cross stretches
across the South Pacific sky
Places with names like Milingibbi, Yolungu, Woolongong below the belt of Capricorn
that vast hole of night
absorbs the daylight of New York City
Balboa Park reminds me of the dogs
in Central Park, where well-heeled dog walkers
read me the creed:
IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT HERE GO BACK TO CALIFORNIA
Balboa Lake lies like a curl in the arm of the San Fernando valley
shimmers with shards of memory lullaby waves that call, recall, recede
Tressa Brittin Berman
They wake me and stand at the foot of my bed. Sometimes one, sometimes two or four, depending on the day. Lately they’ve been showing up at the same time, like 3:27 a.m. They stare at me waiting to be chosen like a team in P.E. class. They talk amongst themselves, fight for attention, argue, whine, and fidget. A couple of them wander off. These are my relatives, the Worry People. Today must be a convention, the room is crowded and I can’t breathe or hear myself think.
I do a roll call: “Money,” “here,” ”Stomach pain,” “here,”…”Plumbing problem,” “here,”… , “Friend with Cancer,” “here,”…“Overdue bill,” “here,”…Impending death,” “here.” All here, together, like one big happy family. I dread these mornings and these visits, but I realize I need them as much as they need me. Me. The Solitary Creator. A slave to my people.
I try to do the meditation thing, you know, clear mind, let go, watch my thoughts pass like images on clouds, but there aren’t enough clouds to catch them all and they collide into a huge cluster fuck of words that circle back around. It’s only eight a.m. and I’m exhausted, but the day must go on and I set out for the city, just me and my never-ending To-Do list.
Cell phone store doesn’t open ‘til ten. Off to Bed, Bath and Bullshit to buy a new dish drain. That’s all I really need, but I leave with six large bags of crap that I’ll most likely return next week and that will take half a day. Two hours to fix my busted cell phone. Two hours at the Post Office. Seven hours to do three things from the long To-Do list which is somewhere at the bottom of my bag.
Take shower, brush teeth, remove contact lenses, wash dishes, swallow supplements, study a new wrinkle, look for keys and that To-Do list, lights off, doors locked, downward dog, child pose, take throw pillows off bed, lie down next to all of my ex-boyfriends, think about clocks, stare at the meaning of life, count the parking meters before my relatives wake me again.
It could be a dream or am I still on hold with the DMV and Time Warner and T-Mobile and the Alarm company and Blue Cross and my Mechanic and Amazon and my Attorney and my Mother who can’t find a pen and I stand in line and I stand in line and I stand in line and I stand in line.
Within winged messengers
I burnt all Theories on the stake
I soared on sapphire feathers
I pledged allegiance to my beloved
I dived into drunkenness
Drunken by the pearls of wisdom
I built a bridge in silence
trailed by the holy grail
I weaved a nest with saffron threads
Inside the eternal rose
Seeds of love grew wings
as I slide into my beloved.
Now, I and my beloved dance as one
“Yellow Brick Road”
He is flawless and I will possess his heart, but he can’t know the truth, not yet. How I like a cold, fresh stick of butter, no crumbs, no residual jam smeared across the corner. I need my toast crunchy, and if it’s slightly burned, I start over. I like my bathroom sink dry, no splashes of water or toothpaste stains on the mirror. I don’t wear earplugs because I can hear my brain working, the crunch of bones and the echo of my swallow, throat clearing and nose sniffle is deafening, more deafening than the sounds I’m trying to cover up on the outside. When I sleep, the pillow between my lower legs has to fit from just above my knee to just below my ankle. It’s not the chalkboard or the dentist’s drill, but the excruciating sound of a paper napkin or a dry towel rubbing between fingers. My peace of mind comes from an empty trash bin or a sandwich cut evenly, no tomato slipping out the sides. No stains. No blemishes. Put it right. Straighten the stacks and layers. I hear my neighbor flossing his teeth again. He’s not doing it right. There are 59 black gum stains on this stretch of sidewalk. A homeless man is sitting in a pool of his own urine eating a hamburger. Don’t make eye contact. Hold your breath. Knock on wood. Wipe it off with alcohol, All of it. Wash my yellow brick road with Murphy’s Oil Soap all the way to the temple that is mine, where I sit cross-legged, quiet, focused, and perfectly clenched inside. Flawless man takes me in his arms like they do in the pictures and whispers something in my ear in a foreign language I don’t understand. He smells like cotton candy. Suddenly his voice is drowned by a galloping in the distance as he vanishes like they do on the transporters aboard the Starship Enterprise. The big sky opens up (sigh)…not him again. That Knight in unpolished armor keeps showing up. Take a number. Press eight if you’d like to hear more options or remain on hold for the next Unavailable man. Unavailable. Unclean. Unhitched. Seriously, I know he’s out there, but he can’t see me buried under these filthy loads, behind the clutter, over the heaps of things, through a thick coating of muck and 2.6 trillion pounds of waste in a massive landfill.
“The Artichoke Man”
When I was eating dinner last night, I got served an artichoke.
I don’t like artichokes so I started playing with it.
I had other vegetables that I did like
and I started playing with them, too.
My mommy said, “Don’t play with your vegetables, sweetie.”
but I didn’t listen so I used my artichoke as a man,
my peas as eyes, my carrots as arms and legs,
my corn was off the cob so I used it as a mouth,
seeds from my tomatoes as nostrils,
finally I used a red pepper as a scarf,
a green pepper as a hat
and a piece of tomato as a feather in the hat.
“Go deeper, Go deeper, Go deeper”
He told her.
He questioned her.
He begged her.
He pleaded her.
Not her. Him. Him Him. Always him. Deeper into her but never into him. What did he want from her? WHat was he excavating inside the mine field of her soul?
Entering through her womanhood and moving in.
Out…out. Out! She wanted out. She wanted him out. Out in the open. THat is where she wanted him. No longer insider her. In front. Standing. Staring. Revealing.
He was no longer allowed to hide in the Woman.
She forbid it. Gave him no respite. Gave him no solace. Gave him no home until he built her one first…
And let her go inside. Go deeper and deeper and DEEPER into he man.
All the longing in her soul craved entry within.
How does woman enter a man?
How does she penetrate and plant her seeds?
How does she build a life within his love?
Serious now. She meant it. Meant it down to the fibers holding her together suspended in time.
“Leave me. Leave me be. I want you to go. Go far away. I can no longer be your home. You must find your own. I cannot replace what’s been lost in your soul. You cannot infiltrate mine and play parasitic host to mine either. Be yourself for once, you slob. Be Man. Not A Man. Be Man. I need Man. All of Man. In one man.
Let me enter into that.”
She cried in her pillow.