Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity


Who keeps your stories?
Will they know to pass them on,
These fragile dried blooms?

Who knows their wild hearts?
Who will seek out hidden grief,
Cup hands to help hold?

Who will mourn with them?
Who knows to let loss come break
In waves unending?

Who finds the best paths?
Who sees how to sculpt the world
And will share that skill?

Whose eyes find beauty?
Who will crouch down beside them
And say: "Ooh! Look, there!?"

These are the questions
Not schooling and bank accounts
And other parched earth

Don't let those consume.
The bulk of your plans must be:
Who would mother them?
My mom loved lilacs.
She would have been 71 today.
Losing her at 13 means the May 18ths spent craving her exceed nearly twofold those spent in her arms.
In some years this rests more easily than in others.

Medsless Morning

This morning’s adventures aka what can happen to someone with ADHD when their regularly scheduled 9am activity gets cancelled…


Ghosts of Scars

How does it feel
When your scars are all gone
Bleeding into nothingness
Like darkness flees the dawn
Plucked from the board
Sacrificial pawns
Ghosts no one else can seem to see
Drifting along

How does it feel
When your scars fade away
Leaving skeletons languishing
In their unmarked graves
A debt you still owe
Even though there’s no one left to pay
The ongoing consequence
Of choosing to stay

How does it feel
To no longer see scars
Connecting your freckles
Like small shooting stars
Lands once etched by hooves and claws
Paved over now by asphalt and tar
Trading in the tangled web of life
For straight lines and shiny cars

Out of sight is not out of mind
Not out of heart, not out of spine
Healing progresses jaggedly in parts
Often elusive, all fits and starts
Scars become triumphant
Placards honoring that pain came and went
Now, without a visual display
The memories are what feel elusive
(most days)

How does it feel
To no longer see scars
Fingertips tracing skin
Bizarrely unmarred
How does it feel
When your scars fade away
And nobody knows
What you carry today

Soaring birds and undertow
A joyful shriek, a keen of woe
The thuds of fists and beating hearts
A cry of rage, an inhale sharp
Fallen leaves, eroding stone
A death rattle, a blissful moan
Slash and burn and butterflies
A cruel laugh, a newborn’s cry

How does it feel
When your scars are all gone
Traumatized, fragile
Resilient and strong


If you want something more satisfying than
These tidy canals
We can open the floodgates upstream
But there’s no telling where all that water
Will choose to go.

It might rush down the existing riverbed
On its path to the sea
Or it might branch out
In a thousand different tendrils
Or reduce the entire landscape to mud.

Once open, the gates will not close easily
The new trajectory may cause
An explosion of shared abundance
And you may find your garden
Suddenly borderless
Your water rights non-exclusive.

Rage Bathing

I furious-cried in the shower today
Over all the things.
“I hate everyone” was my mantra
(But I didn’t mean you).
I channeled my inner Pippi Longstocking
Clenched my fists
Anchored myself as hardening iron does
Allowed my face to choose its contortions
And raged under the water
Forcing every bit of breath out
With fierce near-inaudible ghosts-of-screams.
It felt horrible. It felt glorious.
Afterwards, I was able to wash my face
And resume my day.

Cast Love

When loneliness sneaks in
Like a teenager past curfew
And past boundaries
And past vegetables
And past deadlines
And past the archaic mentalities
Of sticks in the mud

And scrambles my heart
Like a toddler revamps the art supplies
And the bookshelves
And the nearly folded laundry
And the silverware
And the baking cupboard that was
Somehow left ajar

I cast love out like a fishing line
And it comes back as energy
I cast love on like alpaca yarn
And it wraps me in warmth
I cast love round my broken heart
And it knits back together
I cast love like a vote in a local election
And it changes my day-to-day life.

When insecurity threatens to consume me
Like a bloodthirsty crocodile
Or a lion
Or a t-rex
Or a black hole
Or a vortex
Or a novel of improbably epic proportions

And leaves my mind tracing circles
Like a nightmare of a go-kart
Or a spirograph
Or a hulahoop
Or a tethered dog
Or a revolving door
Or a rationalization of capitalism

I cast love like a shadow
And it soothes my anxiety
Like a grandmother tree
In the afternoon sun
I cast love in the leading role
And it sends chilly ripples
Of frisson along my arms
Through my hair, up my spine

I cast love as electromagnetic waves
Of my purest intentions
I cast love like a magic spell
Done to cast aside doubt
I cast love in a glance
Carrying my wordless adoration
And (most of all)
I cast love like it’s molten bronze
Making statues of who we are
In this fragile, curled, birchbark thin
Sliver of time.


So… do I get to wait less when I weigh less?

Am I suddenly witless whenever my weight increases?

When I weigh less will I finally lose my way less?

Why is everyone else so compelled to witness, bless, stress, digress, obsess, oppress — just because I come to weigh way more or weigh way less?

What’s it all for?

Is there some kind of threshold with a magic door?

At exactly what point do I become worthless when I weigh more?

Numbers rocket to the ceiling and they hit the floor, can’t be sure what’s in store so why not tie all my hopes and dreams to the firmness, size, and shape of my core?

Can you please lend your weight to this boulder I’m already pushing with all of mine so we can get the fuck away from this

Autumn 2020 in California

It began a long time ago
With a little extra gusting in the wind
And nothing was changed on purpose
Which clinched the change that came

In the graves and saplings planted in grief and hope
All of which
Graves, saplings, grief, and hope
Cannot be carried forward
Must be left behind

In minds that blanched at what was written in the ashes in the cobwebs in the trees that have not yet burned.


Sometimes I’m thankful I’m not old enough to be both kinds of weary.

The type that gallops in on extenuating circumstances is bad enough.

How do the elders manage to wear the one that blooms like a corpse flower after time has eroded all the missed chances?

The promises they made to us
And we made to the babies

(Will they even have a chance to make promises of their own? One decade left to find out.)

Are dying on the vine.


Impermanence inevitably resurging, reclaiming by force what ought have been willingly surrendered.

I will not miss the step that creaks (sullenly, reluctantly, admonishingly, like a wheel on one of those canvas slathered ships and wagons that delivered my ancestors and the demise of this sacred land) and is covered in ugly carpeting.

The jasmine and rosemary that invited us here
To our gardens painstakingly carved from clay
And just now finally coming into their magnificence
Anchored by marigolds, sunflower stalks, runaway oregano, and the exuberance of four leaf clovers and volunteer daisies that chose to share
Our circle of sky with its quiet murmuring of home

What will become of hummingbird and dragonfly? Who will drop enough food for the ants to feast and guard each swallowtail chrysalis? Will my youngest daughter’s friendly bed spider know when to evacuate?

Inhale hills golden, black, and green
Exhale ocean singing tirelessly of sun and fog
And always in the pause between
The stillness of redwoods.

It was not a mistake to come here
It is not a mistake to mourn now
It will not be a mistake to go
Though my breath may cling to the trees in despair a moment longer first.

Way Back When

Cria (age 4): Mama, way back when it wasn’t smoky and there wasn’t a pandemic…

Me: Mmm-hmm?

Cria: It was the best time of my life.

See Color

My kids see color.

They are learning about the real history of this stolen land and the way innocent BBIA* children are treated as guilty adults while law breaking white peers are given a free pass and our responsibility to at minimum bear witness to injustice, to document it if possible, and to see if there is an effective way to intervene. I try to explain how white privilege blinds us and how challenging but vitally important it is to face and remedy our own ignorance without succumbing to denial or excessive guilt.

Just as important, we place equal emphasis on the wide variety of BBIA daily life experiences that are not centered on race: innovation, gentleness, wisdom, humor, familial ties, artistry, expressing a full range of emotions, facing universal challenges, coming of age. They see normalcy in color because of input from friends and classmates, musicians and actors, books and movies.

I haven’t always gone at allyship effectively, deeply, or frequently enough. Right now there are undoubtedly awkward gaps in my own knowledge and firmly held convictions I’ll look back and cringe at later. But I feel waiting to achieve ally perfection before addressing race with kids would be squandering this irretrievable window of time I have to positively impact their world view. And if course watching me try imperfectly and revise and do better is its own important learning experience for them.

All kids see color whether we want them to or not. White parents have a responsibility to unpack it with them (the way BBIA parents generally do) so they don’t just inhale the dominant cultural narrative.


* BBIA stands for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian and was created as a preferred alternative to POC by Brandi Waller-Pace of Decolonizing the Music Room.

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