Tag Archives: pain

Papers of Pain


Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.

Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.

“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never.  Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?

Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.

And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.

Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag.  He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds,  and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.

Five a.m.


It’s five a.m.


and an instant awake.

Jumbled overlays of THINGS

Spill across the mind at whirlwind speeds

Heart begins to race

Stomach heaves

Focus, focus, focus…

and that just doesn’t happen

So you pop another one

first daily dose…

try to close your eyes

your mind

your racing heart

and that just doesn’t happen.

The darkness surrounds you

Is inside

deep inside

and it feels like there is no where to go.

Silence, Leading To…


For fear

Aspects of  horror to hear

Words that one refuses oneself

Does not still the malignancy that eats away

eats away


Until what is left is nothing.

For fear

Leading to silence

Leaping from silence

Causes a deepening hole

That can’t be crawled out of.

Silence, Leading To



A hole.

No one else can listen to that silence

They can infer


Walk away

Brush off

But, the silence widens



Leading to…

A to Z: The Complete Swan Rise Series


Open House: Trespassers Welcome

Swan Rise Apartments went out like an exploding lamb; it came in like a sleeping lion… but the building, and its inhabitants, did not always remain so. They lived lives that were hungry, playful, sleepy, lusty, fearful, agitated and on the prowl; they reared their young, and did what they needed to survive in this vertical village.

Welcome to… Swan Rise Apartments


…and so, the story unfolds. 26 interlocking stories set in the world of Swan Rise Apartments, all written for the A to Z Challenge that ran throughout April 2012.

You’ll find links to all the stories below; each one stands alone, but many have roots and connections in other chapters.  As a whole, it tells a story of the lives that swirl around apartment building life.

Each Sunday, I’ll re-post these links in case you missed any and for your ease in finding them.

The stories will remain up only for the month of May. As of June 1st, I will be taking all of the stories down from Tale Spinning so I can work on a larger second draft of the work. Some of the earlier pieces need fleshing out, and discoveries I made along the way need their roots dug deeply in the beginnings.

May 30th will be your last chance to read, and comment, on these stories. Hopefully, you’ll eventually hold an expanded version in your hands.

Comments are always welcome no matter when you read the story.

Week #1: A to G

All, Tumbling Down

Basement Boogie

Children in the Hall

Doggie Doings

Equivocation Elite


Ground, Breaking


Week #2: H to M

Holidays, Haunts and Hearts

Imaginings of Love

Jung, @Heart

Kindred Spheres

Laundry Room Mafia

Mrs. Beatty


Week #3: N to S

Not What They Seem

One Man’s Ceiling…

Pollination in the Parking Lot

Quack, Quack

Retraction of Gravity

Super, My Super


Week #4: T to Z

Thieving Ways

Underneath It All

Vertically Challenged

Weather Man, Oh


Yeah…Life Goes On…

Zenith: Arising

The Path Away From Love


Mother was crying. She took me in her arms, hugged me tighter than she ever had before, and continued to weep in my hair.

“Mother… What’s wrong?”

She  held onto me. Her sobbing continued for just a short while, but it felt like forever. She finally eased up and moved away. Taking my hand, she took me outside the house not saying a word. We sat down on the stoop, finding a bit of the late day sun still warming the steps.

“Miranda…a story. I’ve been meaning to tell you, for a very long time. I could just never bring myself to do it. I’ve closed this part of myself off for a very long time.

This trip you are taking for work, to Italy… Your agenda… It parallels a huge hole in my heart.

Your father, know that he and  I love you so love very, very much… He is not your real father. That wonderful, lovely, brilliant man that helped bring you to me, my Angel… He is long gone. We met during my first year at University. He was a year older, and he was introduced to me because of a mutual love of literature. This is the world that he lived in, that he breathed in, that shown through his eyes, his smile…it captured me within minutes.

We were so very happy. We had visited all the places that you are now going to: Sirmione, Florence, Rome, and Venice. It was a college trip and we fell in love all so completely… I think really loved before we even went there. But it was the sunset in Sirmione that we knew it was true.

It was in Venice that we first… Oh, Angel, Venice… What can I say about the magic of that time? You’re going to see for yourself.

It’s so hard to describe this complete knowing that I was with a man I’m supposed to with. It wasn’t just teenage hormones driving us, but a true sense of being loved. Completely.”

” What happened to him?” I asked, it barely coming out as a whisper.

Mother grasped my hand tighter, bringing it to her lips which she then kissed gently.

” When we got back, we were married immediately. I was 18, and you were on the way.

We were together for a year and a half. I can’t even tell you what a glorious and loving year and a half that was essentially – except for you – the whole my existence. I don’t bring it up… I have never brought it up… Because I had to put it away, or it would have destroyed me. Your father, and yes, I do consider him your father… I have never mentioned any of this to him, and he is respected my wishes to let it lie where it is. He is a good– no, great man. You know that, and I never want that to change.

There was a car accident. We had gone back to visit where we discovered love and you. You were with your grandmother, safe and sound. He did not die immediately, but it was a fatal crash. I buried him there… So close to where our path of love came from. Except for you… there was nothing that I can keep of him.

It’s was just too painful. It is… Too painful. I can’t even say his name. Yet… Yet, I do keep something of his.

You. You are everything to me and, without knowing it,  you embody everything that he was. Is.

You have his grace, his wit, his love art and beauty, you even love Shakespeare way that he did, if not more so. You have his eyes, his smile, his goodness. If I can’t have him, that I have the next best thing. The most wonderful thing. You.

Miranda… You are my angel. Our angel. Never forget that. Never forget how loved you are, have been, and always will be.”

We sat there until the sun set… And sat for a while longer while the night sky took over.  It was too much for her. She was weak; the chemo treatment was ravaging her body. Hugging me tight, she got up and went inside the house.

I sat there alone for a very long time. The stars were blanketed by sheets of night colored clouds. I know I cried, but I’m still not sure how much I cried for what I was missing, or what she was.

The Arc of Pain


Danielle stripped off her clothing and threw them all into the corner. Fuming mad, she slammed open the shower door. A crack appeared around the handle, not shattered but tainted glass.

“Damn,” she said. “Damn. Damn. Damn!”

Turning the hot water on high, the bathroom steamed up fast. It scalded her the second she stepped into it, but the burning only mixed with the pain she was feeling inside. Her skin turned lobster red as she scrubbed herself further raw, soap and sponge, heat and the pounding of the water.

She turned it off, and stood there, holding onto the wall, bent over so her long hair hid her. Mentally, she felt so numb that she could not even associate all that was going on with the damage she had inflicted upon herself. She was panting, body clenching in waves of spasms. Danielle’s legs would no longer support; she crumbled onto the tile floor and laid there.

An hour passes, and the ambulance went screaming through the streets. The EMT was administrating saline to her, keeping her body damp and cool, but Danielle was burning up. Horrendous pain from the water, horrendous pain inside. Crying happened, and she just let it flow. The EMT tried to sooth her, knowing only of the damage done to her body.

Later…more saline and ointments, compresses and more. Danielle drifted in and out, not knowing all of the administrations fully, only knowing something was constantly going on. Drugged, she slides and flies, dull but throbbing, and time has no meaning. Nothing has any meaning, and Danielle doesn’t even know her own name for a while. It floated away.

The next morning, and Will is there, holding onto a part of her arm that is not burnt. He tells her she’ll be all right. It’s bad, but she’ll be all right.  He found her in the shower stall unconscious. Will asks “Why? Why did you do this? Why?” over and over, but she has no voice to tell him.

How could she tell him she hated him? About the affair she had that her lover just ended? About knowing of Will’s own affair?  About never believing he loved her, she loved him, that they had promised to cherish each other forever and it was all a lie?

About not caring about anything, nothing at all?

The pain continued, in it’s dull throbbing way.

Can’t Bleed No More


You took my hand
You took my mate
I was used by all
Now just full of hate
Won’t bleed no more
Can’t bleed no more
I bleed for me
I bleed for my
I can not cry
No outside tears
I look away
While you destroy
I bleed for my
I bleed for me
I bleed for my
I bleed no more
You can not take
From me no more
You tore and rent
My soul is gone
I bleed for my
I bleed for my
I bleed for me
I bleed no more
Ground into the dark dirt
Ground into the mud
Ground down by the boot heels
Ground down in blood
Ground into the nothing
Ground into the sky
Ground down by the awful cries
Ground down in blood
You took my hand
You took my mate
I was used by all
Now just full of hate
Won’t bleed no more
Can’t bleed no more
Can’t bleed no more
Can’t bleed no more

“Female Indian” (2006)    Artist: Sam Durant (c)

 While I was writing this, I heard EmmyLou Harris in my head singing this, her particular phrasing and voice was a part of this creation, so Thank You EmmyLou.

For those interested in how I create, I saw this work of art at The Bronx Museum.  I was going to be performing there, and I knew one of the things they liked was for the storyteller to find a piece of artwork that spoke to them, to tell in front of. I kept being drawn back to “Female Indian” but had no story to tell…at the time.

The poem just came to me really late at night. I was thinking about the piece: the look she has, the missing hand, the abused nature of her arms, the naked torso. I did my best to capture the feel of what I do know of the plight of Native Americans, as well as the millions of others who have suffered severe oppression and hatred.

Face The Flame






When a ball of fire hits you in the face, time stops.

In that moment, the surprise outweighs the massive heat. Pain, too soon, too fast to register. The formatting of the nerve endings are leaps behind the mental acknowledgement that your face is on fire. You hear a scream in the distance, and can’t grasp that it is you.

You are lifted off your feet by the force, reeling backwards into the table that was behind you. Stainless steel, hit hard. You know this only because, later, as you were being wheeled out, you saw it toppled over.

Running feet, yells. You are lifted again, but this time by others, not flame, not the shock. Except, a new shock hits you as ice cold running water is sluicing over your face, your head. Your glasses are gone and you are sputtering, drowning after being torched. The water, it’s own torture, continues it’s pouring. You are half in an over-sized sink, with the icy water soaking and choking you. You mutter and mumble thanks, and what you think happened, and you’re being told “shh, shhh, we called the ambulence” and you only want to be absolved for undergoing the forge, the anvil of fire that was one with you, in that space where time had no meaning whatsoever.

Time is running again. It has been all along, you just not being aware of it. Pain like this allows no time. It’s all one. You feel hands on your shoulder, a new voice, telling you it will be all right, come with them. They are packing creams on as they lay you down on the stretcher. Your assistant, one of those who threw you in the sink, and kept on dousing you, brings your glasses. They are slagged. Your eyes are fine. The glasses are slagged, your eyes are fine, the glasses are slagged, and your…

Your assistant shakes you, bringing you aware, and quieting you down. The ride out of the kitchen, down the hallways, through the doors, to the waiting ambulance are uneventful. The pain that starts to grow overwhelms all else. There is little they can do for you they tell you. You think they say this a few times. All you know is your face is on fire, the flames are alive and singing along your nose and forehead, and it danced inside your mouth and up your nose, and you did not want to be partner to any of this. The EMTs kept squirting a cold solution, moving your hands away from touching. You are aware of a rocking and siren, but it’s so far away.

The next bit is obscured. Water, cool down, warm up, water, cool down..and again, over and over. Finally, they release you. A Zinc cream based bandage becomes your new face, and somehow you are home. Pain killers take the edge off, but…

Fire visits you in the night. It shimmies and beckons, and it has this VOICE that is fire, pure and volcanic as it calls to you. The feel of the heat is dredging over you, kneading into your pores, inflaming the follicles.  You wake screaming, often, and she says “shh, shh..it’ll be all right” each time. She can’t hold you to comfort you. She is a furnace.

So, three days later, you are fired for negligence, even though you reported the equipment faulty. Even though you know you would have had to quit. There is no way you can face the flame. You’ve had nightmares and shakes and even the distance of fire on a TV show sent you into such a spin of terror that you blanched to pure white. She panicked when she saw you like that, getting in the way of the screen but not your scream.

You could not turn on the stove, light the oven, be in the presence of a candle (even when it was her birthday), and you could not do the job you spent fifteen years of your life slaving over. You went into complete melt downs with the slightest “wooosh” of a striking match, the sound alive and cloying, calling to you, laughing at you. You walk into a Chinese take out, and have to carry you out, because of the panic and melt down you experienced when a grease fire on the top of the fryer went off JUST as you got to the counter. You break a bathroom stall, bending the door with your foot as it kicked out, trying to rid you of the flashback of advancing fire.

She stays with you, but the fire creates a chasm that is never really filled in. It’s too deep, full of tendrils that want to drag you down and burn you to a crisp. The holidays with fireplaces and cookouts and all that has ended for you. Movies…you never realized how many movies have fire shooting out of the screen, reaching for you. It all becomes too much for you. You want to hide, but you close your eyes and plug your ears. You dont’ see, but you can hear. The fire’s voice. It is calling.

Time passes, and the effects lessen, but they are still there. Fifteen years later, and you can just barely tolerate a candle on a table in a restaurant, and you have to explain again and again why you sometimes have to blow out the candle, or hide it with a menu. This is always to a new date, as they don’t last long. She didn’t last that much longer. The chasm of fire engulfed what they once had. She crumbled, and as ash she blew away.

You have not lit an oven in all these years. You have a new career, but you still suffer from the old. What wasn’t crisped then still is burnt around the edges.

Today, you turn to the oven. You light the covered stove and stick a long kitchen match in to ignite it. Opening the oven door, you start to bend down, your face level with the insides, black and charred. You bring up the flame, and you face it.