Black Sheep

You should try falling from grace, it feels better than staying neat and acceptable inside that empty outline our lovers draw for us—
The thin shape of our childhood by accident.

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Black Sheep

I see you there with that fat, dumb baby of hers
and something in your eyes…?
That should be enough, except you have to win this don’t you?
I would rather swim through an ocean of mistakes than settle for a world like yours.

Is this what makes us enemies?
When you fall to your knees I stare at black branches.
I am transfixed by how they reach across the sky like wild arms waiting to hold me—
It’s funny falling in love and failing miserably every time.
It’s funny over bottles of beer.

You should try falling from grace, it feels better than staying neat and acceptable inside that empty outline our lovers draw for us—
The thin shape of our childhood by accident. Who knows? Perhaps you have already fallen and landed in front of me half dead, blind to your own ruin.

It’s ghastly when the air stops moving and the smell of everything fills my head and I’m suddenly screaming without sound.
You could never understand that.
While you’re out in the world I can see the fat girls with too tight shirts and too tight bras
and too tight gazes.
I pity them.
I pity you sometimes.
One had blue ruffles like a doll’s dress all down her front,
mascara eyes leaking.
Why this sad reality without explanation?
She was like a stuffed bird—
It made me sick and I had to stare deeper,
past the pretense because I can’t ever let go of the lies people tell each other as if they believed them…
Like a platitude that brings joy
despite an unalterably human condition.

I would rather shrink to almost nothing than fill a space with the absence of what I could be.
I would knock my bones against bars of the cage of my body.
I would press my tongue hopelessly against the teeth that grin rudely keeping words stuck high in my head.
I would fight to eclipse the ballast of you and your enormous face that won’t leave me alone.
I don’t mind floating.

If I left myself as a watermark on paper would you understand then?
No, no, not you and I couldn’t even have that.
Because death is never what it means to be except in movies. Where no one really dies.
It comes down to submitting and God knows I can’t stand that.
I’d rather drown.

You’re a believer in boxes and pieces of stupid little love songs!
You know nothing of love and I tried to teach you but you threw my words away without hesitation.

Regardless—
And still—
My joy creeps up despite all of this. Despite you and your facades.
It weaves through the pores of my skin.
It lives in a different sort of woman staring back at me.
A woman without fear, her heart like a steam train—
Brown eyes like wells as intense as mine.
I am a child again!
This is my space and there is a lock on the door protecting her and I—
Just we,
No pretenders allowed.
We laugh like magicians, like poets…like little girls.
You become a pest.
She’s made you as small as you were all those years ago—
And the relief is almost unbelievable.
Buzz off shit fly!
My time is fleeting and I’m saving my moments for moments without you.

Kimkoa 2012

Seasons of Change

The weather connects us to our past. It dictates our days and nights. It holds us hostage when it chooses. It sets us free at a whim.

 

Seasons of Change

We are between seasons in this part of Alaska. The mornings hold a fall chill while the sun fights against the oncoming winter by surrounding the afternoons in warm rays. Children throw off their jackets and scamper delightedly in damp grass that is still cool from the previous night’s rain. The end of summer dances with the brief kiss of fall. From the tops of mountains white snow looms, threatening to cover the earth in a blanket of white. “How long?” we wonder, looking up at fat grey and white clouds. How long until we must stuff our children into snow pants and boots? How long until the days recede into mere moments? Collectively we hope for a drowsy, wet October, warm enough to unzip jackets and show off Halloween costumes. Warm enough for cider sipped in sweaters on back porches amidst not yet barren trees awash in orange and yellow leaves.

The weather connects us to our past. It dictates our days and nights. It holds us hostage when it chooses. It sets us free at a whim. Long ago we assigned Gods and Goddesses to the wind and rain. To the Sun and Moon. To the earth and its many complex happenings. To the birth and death of plants and animals. We even created a deity responsible for our very souls that would measure our worth and design our eternity accordingly. Still the weather guides and defines.

Norse Mythology describes a Hell referred to as Helheim ruled over by a giantess Hel, half living, half dead. The region is described as generally cold and lifeless; A place of eternal winter.  The Greeks also assigned Godly personages to the changing seasons. The myth of Persephone and Hades explains the seasons through desire, capture and enslavement and an agreement between the deities that resulted in the seasonal patterns we have now.

As Persephone was stolen by Hades, King of the Underworld, from Demeter’s, her mother’s, life giving, fertile bosom and spirited down to the underworld with him, everything above it began to die. Tricked into eating fruit from the underworld Persephone would be forever tied to Hades as her husband.

Ultimately as the story goes, in order to appease Demeter Persephone would spend part of the year above the earth with her mother and these would be the spring and summer months when life on earth would flourish. Flowers would bloom, people would harvest their hearty crops and the sun’s rays would shine down in a delicate balance with spring and summer rains, gentle enough to coax the most fragile bud into a blossom. Then when Persephone would sink below to spend her time with her husband Hades and rule the underworld beside him as his bride, fall would come as the air cooled and the flowers and crops began to die. Winter for the ancient Greeks marked the same lifeless frozen world described in Norse mythology. People were forced to create warmth for themselves with fire and blankets. They prayed to the Gods to survive the winter. This was no guarantee.

As a child I reveled in winter. I dug forts, made snow angels and threw snowballs at my friends. I loved the snap of cold air into my lungs. I loved the way icicles formed on my eyelashes. I loved the taste of a snowflake falling straight down onto my waiting tongue. My daughter also loves the snow. She finds it magical. However she struggles with January and February as do I, the fierce cold overwhelms her. The oppressive darkness and unrelenting cold of those months do indeed invoke images of the Hellheim described in Norse Mythology and the Greek desolation of a world without its maiden Persephone.

This year I plan to hang lights in as many rooms as I can in our house. I’ll have well-placed lit candles, the fireplace burning, two Christmas Trees; one upstairs and one downstairs. My daughter and I will make snowflakes out of paper and hang them from the ceiling so they can swing gaily as we pass by them. The appearance of my sons will fill her with joy. Lighting up an otherwise dark and dismal time. She is already making plans for her brothers. They will make a snowman. Pelt each other with snowballs. She wants them to eat the snow with her. “But not the brown snow,” she clarifies.

We will make our way through the winter taking comfort in the festivity of December. We will hold each other close, as in the last months of winter the season tightens its icy grip in defiance to its eventual melting and disappearance from the surface of the earth. Eventually we will rejoice as we jump in puddles between melting piles of crusted snow and call forth the blessed spring and the promise of new life. We will grow and thrive with all life on earth, nurtured by summer’s golden grace until the circle once again stops its spin and the needle rests in winter’s icy palm.

For now I’m content to relish in these last days of summer. The roses still bloom from their pots on the deck. The tomatoes still grow in the greenhouse. The lawn still needs mowing. And my daughter throws off her jacket and runs barefoot in the yard. These are the times we wish would last forever. At least one can take comfort in knowing that even though it will leave us, like a devoted lover it will return.

Perfection

It is.
This hideous beast inside pretending at destruction
that releases glory suddenly
like a storm cloud that reveals
a single perfect ray.

It is.                                                                   My obsession that keeps me up long past the turning of keys and the clicking of lamps
and the rustle of sheets on a bed
that misses the weight of me.

It is.
An omnipresent loneliness that swallows me whole and deposits me— undigested,
Slick with self loathing and causeless fear
into a place I’d forgotten about.

It is.
A pulling up and out of myself the guts of me and spilling them onto computer screens and sheets of paper while unoriginally searching for meaning, perhaps even absolution.

It is.
That cavernous space between my lover and myself full of pit traps and mines only recently discovered and not yet admitted to.

It is.
The nobility of happiness despite the mundane death after death of all aspiration.

It is.
One life with all of its small joys and deceptions—
fragile, perilous, unrelenting and ultimately unavoidable.

It is.
Perfection.

Kimkoa 2018

 

Cars

There are quiet moments when tears spring—
burning enough to remind me you’re unattainable.

 

Cars

So.
I am disabled as you turn me inside out, that being your pathology.
And yet I dare to think you suffer knowing I’ve caught you as well.
Fantastic, gleaming sea creature with see-through eyes
helpless on the end of a hook.
Like any little fish.
There is something deliberately perfect about the way you remember the details of my countenance…
and grant me entry into your secrets,
fidgeting like a small child would.
But doing so seductively.

It is obvious how I’ve crashed at your feet
and beyond the embarrassing truth of it there is solace in knowing I am not alone in this heartbreak.
In this realization of not being desired expressly, in fact—
filling up the honor of second choice.
The way my son prefers corn to carrot sticks.
He’ll eat both however.
I would say the same of you.
There are quiet moments when tears spring—
burning enough to remind me you’re unattainable.
I am not clearly, distinctively able to let go of the chain we keep wearing and forgive you for stealing my presence of mind.

I need to get to the place where you are not—
and only I exist passionately,
my true nature no longer concealed and the days that remain a neverending orgasm.
Cheaply executed and completely mine.

Not friends you coward!
They know I see marigolds where your eyes would be and lightning bolts around your face.
Oh unspeakable and nameless shape shifter!
I wish you were real always.
Instead of just stolen moments in cars.

I think I just said it all.

Kimkoa 2012

Easter Baskets

We think we know what defines joy and yet we run through the days at light speeds missing each occurence.

 

Easter Baskets

I kissed you today-
And for a moment it was as if nothing had ever broken.
The sun was all around your face and I felt like laughing.
I wanted to stay there- fixed, encapsulated, unchanged.
The heat of my happiness set off  explosions in my brain and I remembered you- drunk and smiling, dropping the Easter baskets all over downtown.
That day you were beautiful…you even pissed your shoes!
We think we know what defines joy and yet we run through the days at light speeds missing each occurence.
You’re sleeping now and I check and check
and check again, to see dark hair strewn across a pillow,
and one foot out of the covers,
While the stretch of your arm reaches out over my absence.
I want to pull you out of the bed and onto the floor.
I want to hold your face and cry out now!
It is now and we may not always have it!
Just today the cymbals were crashing and I’ll stay up all night to feel this in love.

Kimkoa 2010

 

Banana Milkshakes

I will read you every word so you will know I’m smart like you are will you stay with us I won’t be loud I need you even though you have to go

Banana Milkshakes

Foam the milk with fruit it’s not as sweet as I was hoping can we add some ice-cream please I had a dream that you were gone don’t ever leave us pink and red I wore the shirt I know you like and maybe if I watch you closely I can stop the clock from ticking I will read you every word so you will know I’m smart like you are will you stay with us I won’t be loud I need you even though you have to go I’m still not ready it’s ok I know you love us give me reasons to accept the way it is and has to be I need a hug don’t change or grow I love you mom I love you mom I love you
just
the
way
you
are.
Kimkoa 2010

Happy

It was when I watched you laugh when you weren’t expecting to- then I was held hostage.

Happy

You spread through me like a cancer.
I would be lying if I said I stood my ground when you started misleading.
All of your words are bullets or pearls.

Our friends could see through the pictures we’d been painting like the man and his muse.
It’s a soundless death I stand here facing.
Of course you’ll be okay.
It’s some combination of defiance and ignorance that keeps you safe.
And you are so young.

It was when I watched you laugh when you weren’t expecting to- then I was held hostage.
A prisoner of love and war.

You knocked me back child!
The army of inscrutability.
And alcohol…?
When you considered my words!
And then decided me,
I set my hounds on you.
My voice is my militia.
I use it despite your protests.
I know what my heart will tell me.
Why would anyone run from love?

You’ve left me totally useless.
Yet I wonder if that was God’s work??
In a completely non-patriarchal, western thinking kind of way.
Even when life pins you down there is the shouting
and the why should I give a fuck?!
I would say because mercy for me is synonymous with pain.
I wish I had your moxie.
One day you’ll wish for my patience.
I know for sure they’ll beg me for answers-                                                  Crying what did I say?
And then what did I do to you??

But watching you laugh
when you weren’t expecting to,
still gets me off.                                           Like the sun in my face                                       and that makes me happy.

Kimkoa 2010

Sing It Loud, Say It Proud

I don’t do this for myself. I do it for my children. For my daughter who will have her own children one day and may suffer as I did.

You never know what will happen when you reach out to someone. Not everyone is ready for a true friend. It’s taken me a long time to realize this. I still don’t understand it and take it personally more often than not.

I’m a transparent person. I have hurdles I have to overcome, battles I need to fight and I am an imperfect person something I don’t try to hide. I worry sometimes I come across as a toddler yelling “I make mistakes!” with a wide sunny grin as though it were a gift. Perhaps I do come across that way sometimes however I don’t think that’s something to apologize for. One thing about making mistakes is at least you know you’ve tried to DO something. You’ve tried to make a thing happen even if you bungled the entire operation from start to finish. Some mistakes are worse than others obviously. Still we learn from them, however hard the lesson.

My continual need to reach out to other people and share my story with them and hear theirs is just part of me, it’s who I am because of how my life has been. The joy I’ve experienced when I share what I’ve been through and someone else shares what they’ve been through with me and we each accept, forgive and love each other despite those scars is nameless. It literally cannot be touched. Because of this however, when I see an opportunity for that level of happiness and my attempts are met with a firmly closed door, or worse a mere dismissal as if my olive branch never existed I am so crushed, I feel so rejected that it’s hard to LET IT GO. I can’t MOVE ON. I want to know why I couldn’t reach them. Why they wouldn’t let me in.

The truth is, it isn’t about me. It isn’t about me at all. There are a million and one reasons why someone keeps the doors of their life closed and the shades of their heart drawn even against the brightest, most beautiful days. It’s their right to take solace behind a locked door. Just because I want them to feel the sun with me doesn’t mean they have to and it doesn’t mean that sunlight is any less beautiful. It’s just the way of things. It’s the way people are. For someone who is used to hiding, used to pretending to be “perfect” my openness and consequent awareness is off-putting. What? They say. How do you know me so well? Only because I am you I think. Only because I used to try to hide too.

This is how it is battling bipolar disorder. Battling anxiety, depression, self doubt. Battling any mental illness really. Once you accept that you need help and you ask for that help and you receive it, you want to share it with everyone else. And you become adept at spotting the same illnesses, the same broken pieces in others. You want to help them too. Even when they don’t want anything you have to give. Because part of the struggle is learning to break open that rusty lock and connect with others who feel the way you do.

I’m on a journey. I used to take a multitude of pills just to stay stable. Things are different now. It’s important to note I have been working with medical professionals and no one should ever EVER just stop taking their medication. I just happen to have a big mouth and a refusal to accept a regimen that isn’t working for me (restless legs, 50 lb weight gain, the inability to write, etc) So I used my big mouth and about a thousand phone calls and I now take one pill for my bipolar (lithium), one (will likely become two) pill for my raging ADHD (vyvanse), two for the anxiety brought on by OCD (gabapentin & klonopin) and one for sleep (lunesta). I actually tried ambien and had a psychotic reaction to it so if this has happened to you you’re not alone. I took the pill and 30 minutes later I told my husband- “The eye told me you have bodies buried in the yard.” Needless to say I never took it again.

Sleep is so elusive but my God it’s so vital especially when you’re battling mental illness. But who can sleep when there’s so much to do, so much to think about and everything whirls around in my head like a carnival ride you can’t get off of. It’s important to note that sleeping pills are EXTREMELY dangerous. The wrong one can change you into a psychotic mess. And if you’re extremely depressed, in large doses they will kill you.

I wrote in a past blog about how lucky I was and how much I loved my doctor. Well as usual nothing lasts. This is what we as people who suffer these illnesses go through. I put my entire trust in her and our last appointment she told me that although she was reducing her case load she would never drop me as a client. A week later I got a phone call from her office saying she would no longer be seeing me, I was referred to a new doctor and the earliest appointment would be in three months. I thought well of course that happened. So for the last two and a half months I have become best friends with the certified medical assistants who have been my bridge over this doctor-less sea of side effects and dosage problems. Insurance issues and complete frustration and loss of faith. If you ever see a CMA give them a hug. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

All is not lost however. I found out that this new doctor is an osteopath who specializes in treating people with psychiatric conditions using a combination of traditional western medicine and alternative natural remedies. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! I may have hit the jackpot! I have been praying for this since I got sick. Because there are not just these diagnoses that hang over me like a witch’s cloak. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. At the time I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 I was suffering extreme postpartum psychosis, WHICH can last UP TO THREE YEARS. I also have uterine prolapse so I only ever go two to three days maximum without bleeding like a stuck pig. I also have cysts all over my thyroid so prominent you can see one of them sticking out of the side of my throat! Hmmm. How many conditions could the side effects of what I am going through mimic? How many doctors would want to throw pill after pill at me clueless as to why they don’t work? I’m not saying I’m not bipolar. I really don’t know where I fall on the spectrum of mood and mental disorders. I’ve learned that a pregnancy can shift a mild case of bipolar 2 into a severe case of bipolar 1. I do have many of the symptoms. I also have many of the symptoms of the other conditions I’m suffering. So who knows and really I HATE labels. We’re all humans dealing with different levels of hardship and whatever you call yourself, judgment and stigma must be erased from our vocabularies.

What I’m trying to say is that there may be more ways of treating your condition whatever it may be, beyond just pills. On top of pills. On top of pills.

I know I’m not alone. That’s why I’m speaking out. In the Netherlands their schizophrenic people remain integrated into society. People treat them with kindness. The reorient them into reality as a whole, as a group, rather than locking them away. Studies show they get better! They regain their grip on who they are and what is real. Now I can’t say that would work for everyone. It would be amazing but this society is so diversified and disconnected I have a hard time believing what works in a homogeneous social system would work here in the melting pot that is America. But the lesson is in their lack of judgment. The person is sick. Not evil, not gross, not to be shunned and avoided. Just sick. That’s all. It’s so simple.

When I was hospitalized I went on social media and asked for visitors. I asked for flowers. I let everyone know where I was and that I was lonely for companionship. One loving couple came to see me with flowers and a balloon. My aunt Nycki and Uncle Tom. They brought a card for Alice. Do you know why they came? Because their son suffers from a mental illness and they were not afraid of the behavioral health ward. Which by the way is calm, clean, full of loving nurses and good people. People who are ill just like anyone else. There are children and husbands who come and spend time with their mothers. They bring games and cookies. They bring the freedom of the outside. Their are girlfriends who come to see their boyfriends with paper bags full of sweatshirts, headphones, love letters. They hug each other. Long embraces. Everyone looks away as the tears roll down their cheeks. Usually one of the older female patients will bring tissues. Sometimes a tiny carton of juice. Of course there are the patients who sit in their rooms during visiting hours. Because no one is coming. That was never me. Even though none of my friends came, my aunt and uncle did. And my family was there for every visitation. I even had a birthday cake with real candles in my room surrounded by them. Another Aunt and Uncle sent flowers. A dear friend from high school sent flowers. He was in Hawaii and unable to visit. But he made sure to let me know he cared. But none of my friends came. Most of them ignored my obvious distress. I thought to myself here I am in the hospital, having been diagnosed with a disease deadlier than cancer and hardly anyone seems to care. But that’s how it is. People hear the word bipolar and they want to get as far away from you as possible. Women hide their postpartum conditions out of the very real fear of judgment. And then they end up in the hospital crying over why it has to be this way while their visiting babies fill up the ward with their sounds of new life.

For all of these reasons I sing out my story. I tell anyone who will listen about what I’ve been through, what I’m going through and what I have yet to overcome. I don’t do this for myself. I do it for my children. For my daughter who will have her own children one day and may suffer as I did. I do it for all the other people struggling under the weight of their diagnoses, their medications, doctors who don’t listen, friends who don’t care. I will never be quiet. And maybe just maybe things will change.