Sunday, October 31, 2021

Día de Muertos

Growing up, I visited this place nearly never: it was too dark, buried too many bones, sang of too much death for a spirited soul to appreciate; except on the day before All Hallows, when with rice, rum, coconut candies, Bachata music and belly laughs, my life would celebrate my blood.   

bare branches rustle
food and song in the graveyard—
to honor the dead

photo by Attila Lisinszky, on Unsplash

 - when I was a child, my Halloween season was full of papier-mâché and candies, of decked up crosses surrounded by candles, of the very young listening to the very old tell stories of departed souls. I miss those days… and lately, I have wondered if in my family this kind of celebration will end when I do. Sigh.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Writers’ Pantry #94: Ends and New Beginnings.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Books, Nuts, and a Hammer

My memories of the sea are book scented
chants that sing of hammers
promising treats.

Weird? Of course, it’s weird—
I am a weird woman
sprouted out of the wild heart
of an even weirder child
who, on Fridays, fed a hammer
to her schoolbag.

But don’t you fret for me—I grew up
in a magical time and place,
where the thought of a metal detector
in school
would’ve brewed a riot of disbelief-
infused laughter.

So, I smuggled my favorite hammer to class
(well, perhaps ‘smuggled’ might not be the right thing
to call it—since no one ever said to me,
“Hey girl,
you aren’t allowed hammers in school, bus,
or in the Biblioteca Nacional!” for that matter)

My hammer waited almost patiently
in my schoolbag,
through math with señor Gustavo,
through natural sciences
with Sor María de la Piedad,
through social studies with a terrible teacher
whose name I can’t quite care to remember

(but know everyone called her Sor Mumm-Ra).

So, when school ended, on Fridays,
I would take two buses to the library,
where I would delight in books

(mythologies and dark fairy tales and garden
grimoires were my favorites)

After the bookish fun, my hammer and I
would go to El Malecón
(which isn’t just a pier
but a whole street glancing into the Caribbean Sea)
Between the street and the beach,
out of sandy soil, grew tropical almond trees.

I would sit on the ground,
not caring if my uniform got
My hammer would come out of the bag,
I would reach for the best almond,
hold it against a flat rock,
and hammer it until it split in half
to present its nutty treat
to my mouth.

My memories of the sea are book scented
chants that sing of hammers
promising treats.

  - originally, this was a prose piece, titled “A Hammer in My Schoolbag”.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #93: Kid Stuff (where we are asked to “write about something we really enjoyed in childhood.”    

Saturday, October 23, 2021

In My Dreams, You Drown

Had you not violated Her shores,
the cute curl in my hair might’ve been stillborn;

but if you had never plagued Her soil,
my heart would have more
than just dreamed
of feathers on my crown,
of driftwood necklaces
dancing areitos on my breast.

Some have argued that
had you not come when you did,
then an entire people would have missed
the arts and horses and blessings and gifts
birthed out of La Santa María’s belly.

I’ve tried to see things as they do,
searched for ways to celebrate your alleged good;

but there are no blessings to be found
in the burning of Hatuey,
in your rape of my Quisqueya.

In my dreams of Discovery,
your chicanery drowns before reaching India.
Yes, I would miss my darling curl,
but never enough to wish you
a happy day of breath.

Decolonize Your Mind
, by Eloy Bida

- just in case the poem’s lack of subtlety is not subtle enough, I’d like to let everyone know that I really, really, REALLY loathe the way history has portrayed Christopher Columbus and his so-called discovery of America.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Writers’ Pantry #93: NaNoWriMo Anyone?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Wheel of the Year

Autumn takes
buzzing bees, butterflies on blooms,
and so many birds.

October brings
festive gourds, grinning skulls,
and grows tiny gardens in my hearth.  

Winter is coming… spring and summer too.

One of my favorite bits about the cold months is that my living room becomes a wee jungle. I enjoy seeing Halloween decorations and making pumpkin chili, too. But the terrace-garden-to-living-room-jungle conversion is by far the best.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #92: Forward Movement (where we are asked to “write something on the theme of ‘Forward Movement’, in whatever way [we] choose to interpret that.” My muse and I focused on the constant movement of the seasons, on what is lost… on what is gain… and on what moving with The Wheel of the Year offers.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Celebrating New Seeds

“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt” ~ John Green

not-quite Journaling, 21

10/6/2021: Getting slightly radioactive, while reading Khaya Ronkainen’s From the Depths of Darkness, can leave a soul glowing.

10/7/2021: When you live with chronic pain, or with any chronic ailment that causes significant amounts of agony, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself interacting with other people going through the same thing. Often, one of those people says, “I understand”, and the exhausted look in their eyes tells you that it’s true, they do know just how much it hurts. Then, comes the other side of that coin, the one inhabited by people convinced that if you aren’t screaming as loud as they are, then you’re obviously not in as much pain as they are.

Yesterday, I had to endure a creature in the second group for nearly 90 minutes. I was cordial, listened to her irrational rambles. Then she said, “You’re so blessed not to feel the kind of pain I do. I guess some people are just lucky.” Since my arm hurt so much that I expected it to explode at any moment, I said nothing to the idiot (I was too afraid my words would turn into a smack in her teeth), so I just walked away. Sometimes, when one is faced with blatant (and presumptuous) stupidity, walking away (and sharing the encounter with people who aren’t brainless) is the best (and probably the only non-violent) option.

10/10/2021: Some posts ago, I said that autumn feels like spring in reverse. These last few days, I’ve been transplanting plants that have self-seeded, repotting plants that were container bound, and enjoying how spring-fresh they look after all is done. 


instead of fighting
the fall of leaves and petals,
celebrate new seeds

10/15/2021: Today, the orthopedic surgeon told me that the collection of tears in my shoulder might not demand more surgery. Months seeing pain management and physical therapy haven’t noticeably improved my range of motion or kept pain from interfering with my sleep. The cyst inside my humerus remains a problem, but I’m choosing to celebrate my small maybe-no-surgery victory.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Writers’ Pantry #92: Better Than Normal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Letter to My Pre-Breast Cancer Diagnosed Self

Dear Two-Breasted Magaly,

June is as hot as jalapeños in a Sahara mood, and you’ve just received a breast cancer diagnosis. You aren’t scared. You aren’t crying. You are no stranger to serious illness. Still, I must warn you that this flesh-eating beast is going to be different from any other disease-demon you’ve had to kick in the teeth before now.

No, I’m not talking about the riot of side effects breast cancer treatment will brew (what you’ve read is brutally accurate: it is going to hurt, it is going to alter your flesh and feels, it is going to seriously suck for a while). This disease will change how you’ve always felt about certain social concepts (i.e., labels such as “breast cancer warrior”, wearing the pink ribbon).

Right now, you are wondering if calling oneself breast cancer warrior and wearing the pink ribbon are just fads, or symbolic ways to fight against something too ugly to face uncloaked. I’m writing this—three years after your breast died so that I could live—to share with you what I know now: I claim the label and wear the pink ribbon, because awareness is a caring weapon most warriors are grateful to share. I have also added a skull to the mix, as a reminder that even after our flesh is maimed or gone, at our core were as hard as bone, and will keep on grinning even after being stripped to the bone.

With a Whole Lot of Love (lively cackles, and at least 13 skulls),

 One can’t stay sillily-serious for too long while wearing such a cool hat.

  - for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #91: Personal Symbols (and Changes to P&SU).

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Memory and Bone

It seemed the plum trees
were already in bloom
but when I picked a branch
what fell—so much like flowers—
was snow.
~ Izumi Shikibu

January snowed gently under the Wolf Moon. My Human watched her garden through glass, her eyes swollen with recent loss.

“She needs to see me.”

No, said the voice that turns life into memory and bone.

“Let me show her that I’m here.”

Humans see nothing.

“You don’t know my Human.” My words were a growl that shook snow from branches.

The world won’t be changed for the sake of one.

The Universe was pulling me away. I pulled back, held on to ropes made of love and tears, turned myself into memory, pushed it into the Universe. “See my soul. See her.”

From a snowy garden, a lifetime away, I see my Human for the first time. Her mouth says, “Our house isn’t big enough for all this energy”. But her soul, the truest part of her, sings,
She’s an angel—alive, happy, family.

Years after, I’m falling from a boat. Water hits my belly, fills my mouth, steals my breath. But my Human’s arms embrace me. We struggle, but she makes things right.

Then, I show the Universe my Human and me around the house, living and doing, being the shadows of each other’s souls. Together… always.

Enough. The Universe stopped my memory reel. If you are to her what she is to you, she will know you never left.

“She knows. I just want her to see me.”

You are snow and breath and moonlight. She won’t see you.

“She will.”

The Universe sighed.

I sprouted as a snow tree in full bloom. 

My Human ran to the garden, reached for a snow blossom, I crumbled. She sobbed.

I told you.

“No,” I said to the Universe, after my Human began to laugh through tears, her warm fingers tracing Angel on snow that used to be a tree, that used to be me, “I told you.”


photo by Kristine Cinate, on Unsplash

 - I wrote this short tale a handful of years ago, for a friend who had just lost part of her furry family. Since October (and All Hallows’ Eve) always leaves me thinking about loved ones who no longer breathe in our world, sharing it today felt just right.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Writers’ Pantry #91: Musing on the Factual and the Imaginary.