Thursday, December 1, 2016


I've been Marie Kondoing the crap out of my life.

I used to want to be a Franciscan.  Give everything away.  Travel the roads of the world with just my boots and a toothbrush and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Epic.

And then life got scary, so scary I had to keep it at bay by surrounding myself with circles of stuff, rings, till I couldn't see over the mounds of clothes and mountains of books and fortifications of papers that were keeping me safe, keeping me from the Things In The Dark that could break down my walls and make me Feel too much, make my Sad too big to keep under wraps and mounds and fortifications, make it grow and break out and destroy everything in its path.

They were helpful then, those fortifications.  They kept me from going crazy.

And then they weren't any more, and it was time to get rid of them.

So I did.

And I started feeling like the me I was years ago, before life got so scary that I had to hide.

When my Dad heard about it, he said I was healed.

I'm not.  I'm a mess.  I think that a dozen times a day at least.  You're a mess, Clare.

The physical mess is going-going-gone.  The fortifications are down.  The internal mess, the Scary and Sad that might have drowned me once upon a time, it spills over now without restraint, without anything to stop it, like watercolors.

A hundred different clashing hues stream and pool around my feet, crazy and frighteningly beautiful.

I don't want fortifications now.  I want my colors.

Bring on the mess.

Monday, October 3, 2016


it may not have been
those years ago
there were too many voices inside just waiting
for a reason to destroy you, too much
darkness waiting
for an opportunity to drown you
but now, soul
it is
there are new voices now, ones that
have learned to speak soft words instead of curses
and the darkness
is confined to its shadows, long in some hours but still
blunt-edged and definite
it can't spill over
won't fill your head and throat and lungs till you can't breathe or speak
you can breathe, you can
so look around, little soul
look down at the darkness, even when it is long
look round at the voices, they are
look up safe and

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Rain, a hundred thousand pinpricks,
Seeps in tent and heart and skin.
I've walked a hundred thousand steps,
A thousand more just to begin.

Night prowls inches from my pillow,
Live and weirding, thick with thought;
Pain in limb and joint and muscle
Croons a lesson I've forgot.

Wind with cloud and tide is singing,
Witless of me, or innocent;
Grace, like a strange contentment,
Seeps in skin and heart and tent.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


My mind is grey.

Grey-white with wisps of salt smoke curling ghostlike from a driftwood fire;

Grey-green with the living long incoming surge of sea, a steady beat;

Grey-blue with metal clouds foreboding rain like woman's pending ire;

Grey-speckled with the shifting not-quite-solid sand beneath my feet.

Grey-bright, grey-burning, grey-soft-shadowed with the endless day.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Will It

Can You rejoice in me?
In my heart clogged
With pride, self-pity overfogged
Can You see?

Does this make something bright?
Push back blankets, stand,
Take a blank day firm in hand,
Is this right?

One step again and more:
Outlimp fog, if I dare,
Wrest back the will to care,
Beat down the door

With blows milk-weak--
Enough, and it may fall.
Let sag the wavering wall
And try to speak.

Is this my voice?
Did I say I would try,
And in that lie
Did You rejoice?

Friday, September 16, 2016


she said
i looked like i was just hanging on by my fingernails
but i think
i have no fingernails
i do in real life of course, i paint them
but in my mind
my fingertips are bare and
scraped and sore from hanging on
so long, so hard

i don't need fingernails
(except in real life, to paint)
in my mind, maybe
my fingers should be bare and soft
and sore, so when i touch somebody
i remember to be gentle
or if i forget
it hurts me more than it hurts them

maybe, someday
my fingers will be scarred and strong
soft, and so used to being gentle
they won't need pain to remind them
i'll be kind without thinking
and maybe then
i won't need to hang on
so hard it hurts, or at all
only to stand
on my feet

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


The paper, folded in fourths, was damp.  "From worry," said the priest, his soft Indian accent resting on the r's.  He was small and slight, dignified in his Benedictine habit, and kind enough to make a joke of the fact that the nervous sweat from her palms had made it impossible for him to write--the pen ink just slid right off.

Since he couldn't write them, he said some things about meditating on the love and mercy of God.  She was still shaking too much, and trying too hard to stop the tears, to take in the words very well.

"None of the thing you have just told me are mortal sins," he had pronounced, a few moments earlier, when his face was still obscured by the confessional grille.  That was when she had started crying.  She had deliberately avoided specifying which ones she thought were capable of sending her to hell, and which not--because weren't they all, at least potentially?  But this kind dark-faced, brown-habited man had said none of them were, not the yelling at her parents when she was angry nor the thoughts about boys, and kissing boys, which she could not seem to help.  None of them mortal.  She was not going to hell.

He left the chapel.  Before her palms could soak the paper through again, before she could finish murmuring her penance, doubts were already swilling at the bottom of her brain.  Perhaps she had not been specific enough.  Perhaps she had made some sin seem less bad than it was, made it seem venial when it was really mortal.  Perhaps she had done so on purpose, and that would mean she had made a bad confession, and that would mean she was going to hell.  She tried not to listen to the thoughts, to say her penance in peace, but perhaps that was a sin too--wilfully to ignore her sinfulness.

If only she could go to confession again.