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?
I lived in the long shadows
of the Wasatch Mountains
the first 22 years of my life.
The fault lines always
bubbled below the surface
bounced somewhere beneath,
like a moth trapped under a glass.
On a spring day in middle school,
rumor ran rampant —
a major earthquake would happen
the next afternoon.
Predicted not by scientists,
but by conspiracy theorists.
Those who typically foresee
natural disasters and the end of the world.
“The Big One” never arrived.
When I moved to Nevada,
the first fissure felt
was my mistake-of-a-marriage —
dissolved and crumbled,
thin layers of heart’s crust
pulled away, delicate as snake skin.
I was several months pregnant
and awoke during the gray hours.
The pictures on my wall rattled,
ever so slightly,
and I peered out the window
to the eerily empty street
where only lights on the lampposts
indicated any signs of life.
My bed swayed
just enough to rock me back to sleep.
The next morning,
I figured it may have been a dream,
because no one in my family felt it.
But the news confirmed I was correct.
A fault in the California desert,
hundreds of miles away,
cracked and shifted
during the night.
No one was injured.
No one was deceased.
Broken jars of spaghetti sauce,
fallen from store shelves,
the only casualties.
And my baby girl
leapt in my womb,
elbowing her way to comfort,
lacking amniotic fluid,
fighting for her life.
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.
“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.