Every day at 5:30
I turn on the television
and watch the evening news.
I am a glutton for punishment,
as I rub my eyes and mumble,
Will today be
a new tax policy
that will help “everyone”
(i.e. those making more than $1 mil. per year)?
Or perhaps I will see 18-month-old
babies being torn from their mothers
in attempts to escape gang violence and
be welcomed in “the land of the free”?
Or will today be another black teenager
shot dead in his own yard because he was
holding a cell phone in a threatening manner?
Surely I will see his royal highness
showing off an executive order,
freshly signed with a fat Sharpie marker,
and looking like the daily specials
at a restaurant, as he holds it up, proudly.
it is all of these things.
I realize how weary I am
of all the hashtags,
and I am not even on social media anymore.
But I have to stay aware and ready.
I must be resilient and angry.
There are more fights to be fought.
More bubbles to break.
What world will my daughter and her generation inherit,
if I give up now?
Did I lock the deadbolt? What’s my favorite kind of cheese? Whatever happened to that cast member from “The Real World Hawaii”? How many books have I read this year? That moonrise in Alaska was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen. What does it take to become a Canadian citizen? Small talk has completely died now that everyone has smartphones. I hope my daughter gets financial aid, a couple scholarships, and doesn’t let losers take advantage of her once she’s in college. My nephew is the most adorable toddler on the planet. Mmmmm…a bagel with cream cheese sounds delicious right now. No wait! A chocolate Croissant from Starbucks. Why is anyone thinking we can live on Mars? That’s the dumbest idea ever. Scott Pruitt pisses me off. Betsy DeVos too. I need to make a donation to The Committee to Protect Journalists. How many licks DOES it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Should I get up and shower now? What book do I want to read next? Why do so many artists and actors OD or commit suicide? The next time I organize the closet, I have to get rid of that quilt. It’s bulky and takes up tons of space. “Garden State” is still one of my favorite movies. It would be amazing to hang out with Mike D and Ad-Rock. Does David Sedaris have a reading coming up soon? I am stoked for the Kings of Leon concert. Why is summertime such a waste land for TV viewing? How old would John Lennon be if he were still alive? I wonder if he would have reunited with Paul McCartney to sing duets. What’s on my to-do list for today? I am going to need a nap. Can’t sleep. Clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep. Clowns will eat me. Mmmmm…donuts.
The summer the Idaho potato fields
lay spread out before us
and the world was ours for the taking,
we met the tall one in the mall parking lot.
There were no smart phones or Google maps.
We didn’t even have a paper map.
Talking Heads was on the radio
and it was the summer before our senior year.
I should have had sights set on the dark-headed boy,
with the slight lisp and sincere eyes.
Instead, my focus was
the broken-hearted, harder to crack veneer.
He’d been my mission since day one.
We spent inordinate amounts of time
in his basement that trip:
listening to music,
making each other laugh,
cuddling on his water bed.
We didn’t know where his parents were,
and we didn’t ask.
Even though it was innocuous,
it felt like we were pushing boundaries.
Doing something daring.
We went ice blocking down Simplot hill,
a vast swath of property in the midst of Boise
with a mansion perched atop.
A city conquered.
Security must have been lax,
because the more we slid down the hill
with our hair flying behind us,
and the more trees we climbed,
the freer we felt.
No sign of a reprimand.
The river flowed around us seamlessly.
Our inner-tubes bobbed along,
like Halloween party apples in a bucket.
But there was an unspoken surface tension,
that I mistook as the thrill of being on the river.
Your first kiss
should have been with someone better,
someone who didn’t claim to be “rebounding.”
Knowing the situation now,
the pictures speak volumes.
I often think about the innocence
of being oblivious
and frequently wish that was
a more recurrent state of mine.
In the mid-1980s,
my mom professed her
crush on George Michael.
Being quite young,
I was certain
my middle-aged, Mormon mother
was going to leave
the suburbs of Utah,
her three children and my dad,
move to England,
and set up house
with George Michael.
I suppose she would have
been in a relationship with Andrew Ridgeley
of Wham as well)?
Knowing there are others
who feel this way,
think this way,
and want the crush of madness
to stop, is what wakes me up most mornings.
I don’t have news alerts turned on —
I don’t like being reminded
about what’s coming next.
Yet I read voraciously,
like it’s my job.
The words of reporters and authors
are my lifeline.
They say “the struggle is real”,
and many days, I know it has just begun.
I am glad I didn’t turn 40 in 2016.
Last year was filled with death,
Taking on another decade
would have overwhelmed instantly.
My heart felt stretched in January,
again in April,
and by November’s end,
my lungs headed for collapse.
Put a star on the wall for me.
I was one of the casualties
of the soon-to-be prophesied “American carnage”.
I rose up, bandaged,
a resurrected, bettered zombie
of my former self —
and this one isn’t putting up with any shit.
Forty is the new 1984.
“I say there is no darkness/but ignorance.” — William Shakespeare
for the first time in more than a decade,
I dislodged The Riverside Shakespeare, Second Edition
from it’s prominent place
on my bedside table,
and blew a collection of dust from its cover.
Its primary use over the last few years has been:
to prop up my oil diffuser,
make a stand for the Kleenex box,
and create a handy shelf for my smaller book of “Shakespearean Insults”.
I had a love/hate relationship with this behemoth
all through college.
The love part came
during the late nights of reading
“Macbeth” and “Twelfth Night”
while taking copious notes
in ragged college-ruled binders,
while dreaming up ideas for my next
The hate part came when I had to lug the
15-pound volume across campus,
up several flights of stairs to the classroom.
(I’m sure I have curvature of the spine to this day.)
I’m re-reading “As You Like It” for the one-hundredth time,
as I will be seeing the play at the Utah Shakespeare Festival
in a few weeks.
I have a stand-alone, sparse copy of “As You Like It”,
but something from the bowels of The Riverside Shakespeare
called to me.
As I cracked its well-worn binding
and leafed through its vellum-like pages,
all the notes and underlining
came back in a flood.
I used a silver gel pen
and the markings are thin and precise.
Hanging on Will’s words (and play on words) was a hobby of mine.
Only two Shakespeare classes were required for my major:
one tragedy, one comedy.
I took at least three additional,
including an independent study course
on the plays no one wants to read. (“Troilus and Cressida” anyone?)
Delving into Shakespeare’s meanings and teaching them in a concise way
was an expertise of my professor who had her own volumes of knowledge.
I’d been to her home previously,
where guests were greeted in her entryway by a suit of armor.
Her house was a living testament to the finer parts of the Middle Ages.
Reading Shakespeare plays is a difficult fete.
Understanding them is not easy — especially if you haven’t seen the play.
But in the end;
we know Macbeth’s wife cannot get out the damned spot,
we know Romeo & Juliet are destined to die,
we know Puck lurks merrily in the woods creating mischief.
However; I figured out more about myself from Shakespeare
than from any other classes I took in college.
In many ways,
even though Shakespeare’s era was more than 400 years ago,
I feel an indelible connection
to his snark, his wayward characters, and those he makes lovable.
Yet, all the while,
it reminds me of a period in my own life less than 20 years ago,
which was also riddled with
and in the end, the brightest light.
Recalling the person I was
all those lifetimes ago,
holding the red Solo cup
surely sloshing a sweet liquor
I would regret consuming
the next morning.
You chased me.
I allowed the pursuit,
confused in my teenage brain
about where I belonged among
At the behest of my parents,
we married (living in sin is a sin).
They paid for the Vegas wedding,
but did not attend.
Probably best that way.
We wore vampire fangs,
because it was Halloween.
My dress was a paisley-print velvet material
and my feet blistered
from wearing dull-but-new Mary Jane shoes.
It feels like yesterday and 20 years ago
and all those lifetimes ago.
You didn’t have a lot to offer.
Your mom never read to you when you were little.
You’d done drugs and dealt drugs
and drank and drank and drank.
We lived in an 8×8 foot room,
mis-matched dressers stacked on top of each other.
Mis-matched desires trying to stoke the same fire.
All those lifetimes ago,
you told me you wouldn’t be able to get anyone pregnant.
Said you’d taken a steel-toed boot to the groin.
Within two weeks of casting aside my prescription,
I was growing a life.
The only productive, worthwhile thing that resulted
from our broken-down, wrecked-18-wheeler of a marriage.
It always felt like full-speed ahead,
because we will die someday?
If we don’t drink this case of beer now, who will?
It was a hostage situation —
me being held by the Insane Clown Posse and their juggalos.
You were never home,
and when you were, you weren’t present.
I missed my Granny’s 85-birthday party,
because you didn’t want to make the 70-minute drive.
Time slowed when you left.
I was glad to grab every inch of the sanity,
and give myself a few miles of this final lifetime.
I long for 1991 —
before Bill Clinton
stained a navy dress
in the Oval Office,
and a narcissist had taken
the oath to become President.
<Hand on the Bible,
it didn’t catch fire
as his hand touched the leather.>
I wanna listen to Jesus Jones
“Right here, right now/
There is no other place that I want to be…”
And E.M.F.’s semi-snarky,
I want to sit at the coffee shop
across the street from my art-deco high school
and eat chocolate chocolate chip muffins
without gaining a pound.
I would even do calisthenics on the football field
while Coach Parrish barks his orders
if it means I can go back to 1991.
Give me my R.E.M. t-shirt.
My Depeche Mode S&M poster.
My locker mirror.
The three-mile walk to a friend’s house.
Cleaning our above-ground backyard pool —
always a little more chilly than was suitable for a swim.
Take me away from the misogyny.
The Russia investigation.
The deregulation of the EPA.
The Mitch Turtle McConnell.
The de-funding of Planned Parenthood.
The world as it currently exists.