Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Origins of Daisy Love (Unmentionables, 28)

[Editorial comment: Because of various things that happened during the month, I’m running a bit behind and have a few more poems to do to complete this series. Therefore, even though April is over, and NaPoWriMo is officially over, this poem series will continue on for a few more days. Stay with me folks!]

i. Girl

Teeny. Tiny. Little. White flower stars.
They’re pretty. See how the wind makes them bounce?
They’re bouncing in circles! Now I’m dizzy.
I like to bounce. Do you like to bounce? Me, too.
No, no! No tickling. Tickling’s not allowed.

“An array of common sleep related problems in infants
and toddlers, including bedtime, wakeup time, and frequency
and duration of wake during the night.” “Dark-enhanced startle
was increased in children whose mothers survived childhood abuse.”

ii. Her Mother

I don’t know. Daisies are just happy things!
Especially for people raised when I was.
We invented smiley faces, flower
power, and all that. How can you not smile
whenever you see daisies? So happy.

“After controlling for maternal psychopathology,
it was maternal trauma that predicted children’s response.”
“These data show parental trauma exposure need not have
occurred during the child’s lifetime to affect the child.” “Children
of women trauma survivors were likely to experience
traumatic events; this suggests why this crosses generations.”

iii. Her Grandmother

Careful! That vase is special. Don’t break it!
Why? Because of the daisies all around it,
I guess. The milk glass might be worth something,
but really, this one was my mother’s, so …
she liked daisies, white, with a yellow heart.

“Of course, trauma is rarely, if ever, all by itself. There’s
usually preexisting childhood conditions that happened.”
“What comes to mind when I say traumatic? What does it mean for
you? What kind of events can cause traumatic injuries? What are
the consequences of trauma? Is it a common thing here?”

iv. Her Great-Grandmother

Daisies grow everywhere. Sometimes being common is lovely.
The summer after my mother died was a hard one — hot, dry,
nothing grew very well. There wasn’t much aside from daisies
for me to put on her grave. Daisies bloomed early in the spring,
and were among the last in the fall, bright against the browned grass.

“Like the question of death and its consequences: bereavement,
parentality, transgenerational transmission and
organicity often linked to illness.” “We organized
these themes into four categories: causes; consequences
of injury; risks & protective factors; barriers to care.”

v. Her Great-Great-Grandmother

Sometimes I wish we’d kept going out West,
but this is far enough, with so many
small ones. A farm, cabin, town not too far.
Daisies to pretty the table. Sometimes
they’d even last a couple days. They’re tough.

“There’s energy behind every trauma.
There’s energy that’s involved in it. So,
that energy can be seen physically,
but it’s very difficult to see it
spiritually, on a person’s mind and brain.”

AFTERWORD (added May 2, 2015)

I have been asked to add the citations for the quotes (and paraphrased quotes) embedded in the poem above. There are a lot of them, which is why I didn’t do it at the time. Here they are, in alphabetical order by first author.

Auxéméry Y. [Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a consequence of the interaction between an individual genetic susceptibility, a traumatogenic event and a social context]. Encephale. 2012 Oct;38(5):373-80. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2011.12.003. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Bassett D, Tsosie U, Nannauck S. “Our Culture Is Medicine”: Perspectives of Native Healers on Posttrauma Recovery Among American Indian and Alaska Native Patients. Perm J. 2012 Winter; 16(1): 19–27. |

Bosquet Enlow M, Egeland B, Carlson E, Blood E, Wright RJ. Mother-Infant Attachment and the Intergenerational Transmission of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Dev Psychopathol. 2014 Feb; 26(1): 41–65.

Hairston IS, Waxler E, Seng JS, Fezzey AG, Rosenblum KL, Muzik M. The Role of Infant Sleep in Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma. Sleep. 2011 Oct 1; 34(10): 1373–1383.

Jovanovic T, Smith A, Kamkwalala A, Poole J, Samples T, Norrholm SD, Ressler KJ, Bradley B. Physiological markers of anxiety are increased in children of abused mothers. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2011 Aug; 52(8): 844–852.

Roberts AL, Galea S, Austin SB, Cerda M, Wright RJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Koenen KC. Posttraumatic stress disorder across two generations: concordance and mechanisms in a population-based sample. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Sep 15; 72(6): 505–511.

Short Stories (Unmentionables, 27)


In last night’s dream, my father is
time-shifted, twenty years younger,

and listening, but trying to look
as if he’s not interested.
I see them talking, but can’t hear.


She collects recipes for “sides.”
Who needs a main dish? Chickpea crepes.

Almond crusted eggplant. Ginger
cilantro sweet corn. Oven fried
green tomatoes. Pickled scapes. There’s

something different about making
side dishes, and being made one.


Did he go home to his wife
afterwards? When he finally
left, insisting on one last kiss,

both hands shook shoving the door bolt
home, everything revolting, strange.


One finger. The left hand’s index.
The fingernail polish was pink.
Light baby pink. Peony pink.

Too thin, it cracked at the ridges
and wore off, chipped at the edges.

It was a map, a mystery.
There should be a painting of it
big as a wall, huge as a house.

Ice Woman (Unmentionables, 26)

Piebald, perhaps, or bicolor,
she’s a yinyang squalor scholar,

transparent and two-faced — well set:
One side crystal, the other wet.

She can’t tell. They’re the same inside.
But one eye glitters and stares wide

while the other just trickles,
one solitary drop, fickle

and silent. Her ears, not much use,
one frozen shut with cold abuse

sports a stunning sharp stabbing point,
while the other melts and anoints

her neck with a shrinking tickle.
Don’t shine sun on the icicle,

you’ll mess up her hair if it melts.
The long sleeves, high neck, hide her welts.

Pumice & polish the glacial
cheek, and carve the floating facial

grimace into something serene.
No rouge, no color, just a sheen

highlights the curve. Almost enough.
Hoarfrost gathers into a muff

beneath her chin, clasped with grey pearls,
snowy threads in spiraling whorls.

Oh, now she’s got it — calm and still,
a whisper to abate the chill:

“As I now lay me down to sleep,
I pray my dreaming eyes to weep.”

Flashbacks, Take Two (Unmentionables, 25)

The priest wore
red robes and a smile.

I’m crouching
in the shadows
at the top
of a dim
gray stairwell.

The sermon
sparkled like stained glass.
I didn’t hear it.

No, it’s not.
I’m at school.
It’s finals.
There’s a test.
Almost time.

he exclaimed,
we have recovered
the True Cross.

I’m watching,
and waiting.
And hiding.
He’s coming.
He’s coming.

Speaking in Code (Unmentionables, 24)

It’s all about getting to first base, third base, sliding into home. It’s all about you, and nothing about me. It was never about the money. Of course it wasn’t, it never is. It’s about choices. Making choices, having choices. It’s about the details. I don’t think it’s funny. It’s all about shoulders, tied in knots. It’s about now. Right now. It’s about changing what “now” is.

This isn’t what it’s about. Tibet. Thailand. Tokyo. Tunisia. It isn’t about singing, elephants, thieves, late night neon lights, the moon that eats up the stars. It isn’t about having a big impact, like being scared in Katmandu when the ancient temples fall. It isn’t about blessings, or grace. It isn’t about how many hands it takes to do it. And we’ll never have Paris. Never.

Hawaii, where I’ve never been, but still I steam in the hot words; cradle fragile nuggets of juice that stain my arms lime. I am smeared with mango, scratched with blackberry, streaked hot pink with ōhelo ‘ai; aching for a sky the color of my bruises: violet, magenta, dusk. I buy awapuhi at the grocery to scent my dreams, mourn its scaly heat, brew a cup of jasmine comfort.

Underground tunnels are slippery with seepage, curved with the logic of water, carved with the stiffness of stone. There are rumors of desiderata in the darkness, but with the awkwardness of the misplaced, we know that intention alone will not discover the scattered seeds. Dragon’s teeth. It is the distant echoing. Lost, lost, long lost, the veins of gold bleed ice.

Remember that flashback we had? Where Sonja beat the evil wizard? Why didn’t she just feed him to Ryu-Wo? It was all about her. It was all about her hair. It was all about war, revenge, art. It’s all about art. It’s all about cutting out the heart. Let’s have another round before you go. I’ll pass. I’ll pass out. It’s just like you treat her like a human. Go figure.

This is round two. Don’t kill this person. This boy. This bed. This thing that cannot be pried out of my mouth. We need this to release the most powerful fighter who will ever exist. We need this to catch the mouse and cage it. We need this in black. We need this urgently. This is three. This is she. This is what a hero looks like. This is subzero. This too shall pass.

Sunflowers. How they embrace the searing sun. Open themselves to it, divide each spear of light into mathematical precision, the elegance of multitudes, rapacious hungers sated by their slick delicious oils. Or, perhaps each one being different, there is an opposite, flinching from fever, cringing from the moonlight. It’s about the sun, the sun shine. Where the sun never shines.

It’s all about Alice, tripping down the hole, the hole that grew to be large enough to hold her, and her world. It’s all about doing the time warp again, with the knees clenched tight, and the pelvic thrusts. It’s about love, hate, and big hair. It’s about making beautiful music. It’s about the team. It’s about taking one for the team. It’s about winning, taking control. Taking it.

Fragments (Unmentionables, 23)

[NOTE: We’ve been without network for 2 days, so I’m running behind on NaPoWriMo duties. I’ll try to catch up tomorrow.]


There was a laughing mouth,
but it wasn’t mine to wear.

A stormy night stuffed
with false fathers, who
(like some real fathers)
turn away when you
turn toward them, and then
poke you when you don’t.

I have the portrait
of her rapist, framed.
It was an heirloom.
I thought someone (me?)
should have it who knew.

Death wraps the dead
in forgiveness,
bathes them and us
in surprising
sweetness. Let go.
Let go. It’s time.

Like kittens no one wants
dumped in a grocery bag
under a broken bridge,
I’m trying to set free
a story no one wants
to hear, no one wants told.

Saying No (Unmentionables, 22)

“Consider the duty of saying No; to what we should say No;
and the difficulty and examples of saying it.”

But I did say no. I did. Or did I?

“No peace, no excellence, no safety, without being able to say No.”

When he pounded on the door, I said,
no, I’m sleeping, go away.

“Even inferior creatures have this power of saying No.”

When he said let me in, I said
it’s too late, go away.

“Saying No grows easier every time you do it.”

When he said he was thirsty, he’d been out running for miles,
when he dripped sweat and asked for a glass of water,
I said get real, let me go back to sleep, I’m not a water fountain,
go somewhere else.

“A saying No to them deliberately, honestly, and finally.”

When he said it was too late,
all the bars were closed,
I said then go home.

“But stop your ears, — refuse the thoughts and urgencies, — say No”

When he said home was too far away, I said
he should have thought of that sooner.

“This ‘saying-No’ and ‘saying-Yes’ is in his case
a veritable Paraphasia vesana, or insane language”

When he said, just a glass of water, just one glass of water, I said,

“But have we this power to say No?”

You promise? One glass of water, and you’ll leave?

“Lose no time by saying No, Let us to the green woods go.”

And then it really was too late.

“Whereas, if you say Yes, yes, you open the bulwark,
and it is like the letting in of water,
hard to stop, and always increasing.”

NOTE: Quotes mostly from:
Milne, John. “When and How to Say No.” Christian Treasury, December 1, 1868, v.24, pp.565-567.

Grace and Lace (Unmentionables, 21)

A pause. Interject grace.
Insert beauty. Because
this is not beautiful.
Because this had no grace,
no gratitude. There was
a window. A small one,
its curtain made of lace.
The lace was light, and pale
as cream, pale as my skin.
I’d made the lace myself,
with my own two hands, with
a crochet hook so thin
and sharp it could have been
a needle, a weapon.
It could slide into silk
and hook a single thread.
It could tie knots in one
solitary hair. It
could slip sharp in my skin,
and I’d hiss at the red
welling from the spot. I
wish I’d been crocheting
when he came. Instead of
sleeping. Being woken.
The lace was light. The lace
was full of holes. The holes
were dark. Dark and light, dark
and bright. After midnight.
Even later. After
the bars close. Full of holes.
The lace cascades from hole
to hole. Liquid. Frozen.
He moved so fast. Oh, yes,
that’s right. I’d forgotten.
There was grace and beauty.
In his flushed skin, thick beard,
the arc of his muscles,
the graceful way he moved
(like a dangerous beast).
It was what he did next
with his muscles that was

The Seduction Sonnet (Unmentionables, 20)

It began with Fritos, Cheetos, something
like that. It began with a helium
balloon in the shape of a dance, floating
barely above grass, the dangling string numb.
It began with a girl who thought she was
an egg. Her cracked shell was invisible,
fractured edges shivering just because
they flinched whenever touched. “Nibble, nibble,
little mouse, who’s that nibbling at my house?”
It began with, “How are you?” So simply.
It began, “Who’s that nibbling at my blouse?”
It began with a promise. And a lie.
“No one should ever be hurt like you were,”
he said. Eyes wide, she shivered her sleek fur.

Faces (Unmentionables, 19)

* 1977 *

There must have been some sound, a noise
I don’t remember. Why else look?
The face at the basement window

seems blurred, out of focus. Cream lace
makes a real world pixelation,
In the dark, I can’t see the hair,

the beard that erodes the edges
of the white, what must be the face.
The only parts visible are

the dark within the light, yin yang
of the face, blurred black dots against
the white: two dark eyes, huge; nostrils,

stretched and strange; mouth partly open,
breathing harsh and eager, then gone.
He moves so fast, so fast. Was it

even seconds later the fist
on my door made me jerk into
a startle-scream choked back in breath?

* 2007 *

The face at my nether regions
seems blurred and distorted. A mask
muffles the mumbling mouth, obscures

the light curses. Dali-esque, the eyes
warp into something inhuman,
or so it seems to my drugged mind.

What’s wrong with his eyes? I don’t know —
glasses? A visor? Whatever
it might be aside from surreal.

The eyes seem to twist while I look
at them, my eyes feel the twisting
in the looking. Not the arms, though.

They are crisp and focused. The white
cotton jacket-like gown, the cuffs
cinched in at his pale bone-thin wrists,

the surgical gloves. Other ghosts
move around and behind the man
hunched on the stool between my legs.

He moves so fast, so fast. It hurts
each time he moves. Tug and jerk hurt.
Twist and pull hurt. Ow, I cry, stop.