Wednesday, December 28, 2022

I don't know
what is or is not my responsibility anymore.
I don't know
what the fuck it is I keep fighting for.

I don't know
why every effort ends up on the cutting room floor.

I don't know
what the fuck it is I keep fighting for.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Seeds In Rocky Soil

Media made it easy
to find and follow
Your babies and white picket fences-
You're not the man I knew.
Guess you grew.


Or did you?

Tell me, dear, are you still drinking?
Random coke use still your thing?
A bottle a night - red over white

No matter

'cuz there she is, wearing your ring.

Tell me, dear, you still play music?
In need of the constant applause?
Making movies and marrying models
all masks just to cover your flaws...

No matter

On music, and movies, and models
I've long-since hit pause.

See I'm not big on babies and fences
And I'm glad that you're in my rear view.
So if we collide in the future
you're not the man I once knew...

Maybe you grew.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Net Zero

How do you account for the sum of a life?
Experiences and actions add up... to what?


They say that in three generations
all you did? It will be forgot.

So is it all for naught?


How do you sum up a life?
And who is held to account
when the final count...down is done
what becomes of the one that left?
What becomes of the bereft?

How do you account for the sum of a life?
What counts and what fades away?
if we all disappear, who's to say?
Ask Osirus - what does it weigh?
Does it up the sum if we all pray?

If we all disappear, who's to say?
What counts and what fades away...
all you've done
it adds up to none
What's the sum
when life
is a zero sum game.
and no one remembers your name...

Time Served

Letting it go would free me.

You put me in this prison,
but I can walk out at any time.

Yet I stay
to remind you of your crime

but I'm the one doing the time...

Letting go would free me.

The cell door has no lock
Still, I bang on the bars...
outcries for the lies...
a clang for every scar...

Who am I making all this noise for?

I'm winning battles, yes
but losing the war.

And I'm the only one who's keeping score

What's it all for, Erin? What's it all for?

Letting it go would free me.

Oh the relief that would bring!
To once again walk with the living
instead of reliving everything...

Yet I stay
to remind you of your crime.

but I'm the one doing the time.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Bellamy Jar

I kept your shoes and wore them
at least a decade past the time
I shoulda thrown them in your face.

But then you've never known your place
and I never knew my place
with you.

Because it wasn't.

Saturday, September 3, 2022


The house is empty
echoing the cavernous loss.
I thought we'd have another day
another day with you.
aother day, then maybe
I'd get through.

Your bed is empty
it used to be so full
like the heart you shared completely...
In the end I hope you knew,

that our lives are lost without you
that we'll never be the same
that we'll never be the ones we were
in the years before you came.

That your love had healing powers
and your smile the brightest light
that you'll be with us forever
though we lost you late last night.

If ever there were angels
you surely were the best
and I pray gods real or imagined
grant you peaceful rest.

And if there is a Heaven
I eagerly await
the chance to see you smiling
waiting at the Pearly Gate.

In the mean time
we will bide time
until we meet again
When I can hold you close to me
you perfect, precious friend.

You have our hearts completely.
and never will there be
another day upon this earth
where you weren't the world to me.

Suppose I should be thankful
for the time we got to share
for the year of smiles and laughter
for the perfect love and care

But I admit that I'm not there...

I'm just not there...

I want you here.

I want you here.

I want you here.

Friday, September 2, 2022


Ask the Buddah - Life is pain
Hindus say we'll live again
Christians that the Son will save

I believe the grave.

Ask the Jains, and they might say
the soul can and will return some way
Let Osirus weigh
the merits of the heart.

I believe the grave.

Muslims have their Akhirah
And Jews in Gan Eden.
I believe in men -
craven, broken, brave.

I believe the grave.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Panther Pride

My greatest fear should be dying. Or - worse - being buried alive.

Fuck it. Yes. THAT'S my greatest fear.

But rounding out the Top 10 is Athens, GA.

I went to undergrad there, and I fucking hated that place.

While everyone else was partying, pursuing their passions, discovering themselves, I was nursing a daily nervous breakdown.

Even as an idiot 18 year old, I knew I didn't belong there.

Thing is though, I was an idiot 18 year old with a fragile sense of self and a nonexistant support system.

So I stayed.

I stayed because I had no idea where else to go.

Other than taking Cipro, attending UGA and not having the direction or the help to leave is likely my biggest regret. And let's sit with that knowledge for a moment - the worst thing to happen to me outside of being systemically poisoned was attending the fucking University of Georgia.


Now you have some semblence of an idea the damage that decision caused.

I still have nightmares about it - and I graduated in 2003.

Perhaps even more haunting than the suffering I endured there is the knowledge that, had I gone somewhere where my talents were nurtured, maybe some things in my present day would be different... Better.

Maybe I would've played Sally Bowles somewhere...

But we cannot undo the past. And I like to think I changed some things and made better choices around age 30, when I went to grad school at Georgia State University.

I loved it there, and had professors who offered me the opportunities and nurturing support that the idiot at 18 lacked.

I met some really incredible people, some of whom remain my friends to this day.

As long as I live, I will be forever grateful for that time, and proud of myself for learning, growing, and making better choices.

And as long as I live, I will get a knot in my stomach when I think of Athens, GA.

But we cannot undo the past.

We can, however, never go back there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022


Thought this was over
thought you were gone
you were in my dreams last night...
guess the pain lives on.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Pain

Wanted a wave -
was there even a ripple?

Mighty waterfall?
merely a trickle.

The sound and the fury
no louder than crickets

Mere seeds, remain buried
in forests of thickets

Brambles blocking
names etched in stone
blurred and reclaimed by rain.

Incessant silence
fragments of bone
are all that attest to the pain.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Oedipus Complex

The story of Oedipus always bothered me.

MacBeth, too. And for similar reasons.

Namely because, when told by an oracle or some witches what their futures were, both Oedipus (or, more accurately, his parents), and MacBeth do everything possible to avoid the prophesied Fate.

And, in doing so, they therefore assure said Fate comes to pass.

In each case, the Fate prophesied never would have come to pass if Oedipus' parents and Macbeth hadn't heard the prophecies to begin with.

It's maddening.

And it happened to me...

Many of you know the story - the bare bones anyway - of how I got sick.

What you probably DON'T know, however, is that it was the very fear of contracting Parkinson's Disease that led me on the path to developing it.

My grandfather died of Parkinson's Disease.

I watched him deteriorate for years, and it was the most horrifying thing I've ever witnessed.

At the time - and even now - I truly felt and feel that Parkinson's is one of the most terrible Fates that can befall someone, as one has to endure one's innate bodily functions abandon them, all the while cognitively knowing what's happening and knowing it will only get worse.

Knowing that you will suffer endlessly, and likely eventually die by suffocating on your own saliva.

I swore when I watched this happen to my grandfather that I would never let this happen to me.

And thus, when the gastro prescribed me Cipro AND a medicine whose warnings included medication-induced Parkinsonism, I decided to cease the Parkinsonism medication, instead of discontinuing the Cipro.

The Cipro gave me so many symptoms, I ran to doctors again, where I was given more antibiotics and iron - a combination known to science to cause lasting damage to the body - and was put on my current path that is mimicking Parkinson's Disease, and, can indeed cause it.

I have been sick for 7 years. I was a few years in when I discovered the literature that shows that overexposure to antibiotics has been found to be a cause of Parkinson's Disease.

I was a few years in when I discovered the literature that shows the epigentic changes that Cipro causes in the susceptible can lead to Parkinson's disease.

So, like Oedipus and MacBeth, I was running from a Fate I feared, and ironically that run landed me in the very spot I'd been striving to avoid.

Yes, I've always hated the stories of Oedipus and MacBeth. And now I am living them.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Remembering the Confederacy

Saw a post today, heralding the Confederacy.

There was a moving, mournful poem.

It was somber...and even beautiful.


But here's the thing - those folks aren't really "remembering the Confederacy." Or, more accurately, they are not remembering the lessons of the Confederacy.


So, at long last (because I probably should have articulated this in a public way sooner) here it is - my thoughts on the Confederate legacy - as written by myself, a woman whose love of "Gone With the Wind" and Southern culture are well known, who had relatives who fought for "The Cause," and whose family owned slaves:

While it's always sad when poor men have to take up arms because rich men screw things up (which is pretty much always how war works), we're better and stronger as United States than we would have been if the Confederates had won.

An economy based on slavery was destined to fail, regardless of how the Civil War turned out. Europe was already abolishing slavery at the time of the US Civil War. It was only a matter of time until the USA decided to do the same.

It's tragic that it played out this way.

It's tragic that so many died for what they perceived as an infringement of their rights.

It's tragic that the South didn't come to the conclusion on their own that slavery was a catastrophic injustice, and take steps to right the wrongs.

It's tragic that the KKK and Jim Crow were established and continued to negatively affect a group of people who did nothing "wrong" but be born with African heritage.

It's tragic that the South chose to fight to maintain a sullied past, rather than adapt and change to ensure a bright future for everyone who lived here.

It's tragic that, to this day, there are those who continue to think there is nothing for which the South should apologize.

And we're dealing with similar issues NOW because, apparently, we've learned nothing.

Even as I write, poor men are being harmed because rich men screwed things up.
Attempts to control, punish, and subjugate those who question established institutions are featured 24/7 on the nation's news networks.
Racism continues.
The world is changing and an entire group of people are vehemently fighting to stay in the past instead of adapting to thrive in the present and future.

THAT'S the pity of claiming to "remember the Confederacy"... those who do so unfailingly forget the lessons learned by its loss:

Adapt, change, and do better to thrive.

Cling to the past?
Wither and die.


And no number of epic movies, statues, or moving poems will save your legacy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Cage Fear

I was raised by fearful people.

Caution, not exploration, was praised.

Ours was not a family for chasing waterfalls.

And even the rivers and lakes we were used to
had, not lifeguards, but police.

Exposure is always "up to the parents."

One cannot deny
that there are things that children should not encounter,
at least,
not encounter too soon.

But, as with all things, there is a line -

a line between protection and prevention

a line between instruction and endoctrination

a line between 'don't touch that, it'll burn you' and 'don't aim high, you'll only ever get burned.'

Clipped wings -
were they to keep me safe? Or to keep me caged?

A canary
allowed to sing
behind the bars
of Fear's cage.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

For Better Or For Worse?

What do you believe?

Sure, in the context of God... but also about the universe?

See, some folks feel the universe is fair. Or, if not fair, per se, that everything more or less works itself out in the end.

The people who believe this seem - at least from the outside - to lead pretty nice lives. Generally speaking - again from an outside perspective - shit tends to work out for these types of people.

But is this chicken or egg?

In short, do these people believe shit will work out because it usually does work out for them, or does shit usually work out for them precisely because they believe it will?

I watch and listen to a lot of Louise Hay. To boil her teachings down to a soundbite - "Change your thinking, change your life."

Is it really that simple?

Can mindset really make people who previously shunned you, embrace you? Will it bring jobs and money and relationships and every other human desire your way?

I've tried this on the micro level. Sometimes, I can make it through a day being pretty positive, and, the days I manage to, tend to be my better days. Sure, nothing huge happens. I don't win the lottery or get discovered by Steven Spielberg. But, on the days when my mind is in a good place, I smile more. And, as a result, other people smile more at me. Perhaps they see me more favorably. Perhaps, given time, this would manifest in more opportunities for me.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

But such positivity does not come naturally to me.

Hay would say this is because of programming I received as a child - messages and behaviors I saw and subconsciously adopted as "the way life is."

And to my mind, life is a lot of struggle with little - if any - gain.
Life is giving it your all just to see someone who's prettier, smarter, funnier, or who just knows the "right" people, swoop in and take what you worked so hard for away from you.

In short, "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

But is this chicken and egg?

Do I believe this because life has treated me this way? Or has life treated me this way precisely because I believe this?

I don't know.

The only thing I do know is that this whole "Change your thinking, change your life" thing makes me feel really powerful - for better and for worse.

One the one hand - if changing my thinking can make my world better, that means I have the power, in this very moment, to make my life better and change my trajectory. How exciting! How wonderful! This promises better days ahead, should I but choose to "think better."

The flip side is, of course, that if I have this power and don't use it (or don't use it wisely, or don't use it frequently enough) - every bad thing that happens to me - every cosmic slapdown that I previously attributed to bad luck and/or "being born under an unlucky star" - becomes my fault.
I had the power to manifest a positive outcome, and I failed.

Fault, fault, fault.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

But even now, I recognize as I write, how I am framing this argument.

I hear the fear and frustration in my tone.

It's this very fear and frustration I seek to master.

Thank God I am my own Master!

Oh god... I'm my own master...


Monday, February 21, 2022

Log Off

Waited by the phone
waited for the ring
waited for meaning
but you don't mean a thing

Sure, everyone knows you
but you feel like they owe you
well, baby, I don't

Want me back?

I won't.

I'm tellin' you, I won't

Sure, you've got the birthdays,
the parties
but I won't be party
to the destruction
you've wrought.

With you? Everything's for sale
but I won't be bought.

No, I won't be bought.

Sure, you may be
the one that we
ran to with all of our thoughts -
Lost in a sea of comparison, we
reaped what we sewed
but you oughta know
that you gave us the arrow we shot.

Are you proud of yourself
for this Hell for this wealth
for all this destruction you've wrought?
With you? Everything's for sale
but I won't be bought.

No, I won't be bought.

No more phone
No more ring
No more caring a thing
and just don't
try to get me back
'cuz, I won't

I'm tellin' you, I won't.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

I'm letting you go

It's happening.
At last it seems
I'm letting you go.

Read between
every line,
every rhyme
and now I know
I'm letting you go.

I cannot spend
another day
letting my life
slip away -
mired in my desire -
for a future
whose time has passed.

This is the last
I give up
my time
to you.

I'm through.

It's happening.
At last it seems
I'm letting you go.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Neshemah. For Joel.

Why can’t we hold back the rising tide, like Moses long ago?
Or at the least, like Aaron, with his rod, lead you safely home?
With cloud and fire to guide you -
Safely to Gan Eden -
Can you hear us, as we mourn you?
Can you take us by the hand?
Let us walk you to the Gates, Joel.
See you to the Promised Land.

Oh descendent of the Covenant
claim your inheritance
for you bore the Breath of God -
neshemah -
and it’s to Him you have returned.
The Mourner’s Kaddish says rejoice
but still we mourn.

Still we mourn.

Why couldn’t we hold back the tide?
Or bear the rod like Aaron?
Why can’t we behold your entrance
to the Gates of Heaven?

And soothe our souls with images
of you
among the “blooms
and almonds” by the score
in this Paradise, as promised
in Torah days of yore.

May your memory be a blessing, Joel
and - once the pain subsides –
May we watch the Braves and, yes, the Tide
with knowing little smiles

May we drink a toast at holidays
and every Yahrzeit celebrate
the Man Bernard remembers
as his favorite – his best Mate.

Oh descendent of the Covenant
though you’ve claimed your inheritance -
neshemah! - The Mourner’s Kaddish says rejoice
but still we mourn.

Still we mourn.

Why couldn’t we hold back the tide?
Or bear the rod like Aaron?

Just one more day
to see your face
to hear your laugh
feel your embrace
to reminisce
on good times past

On hot dogs at The Battery
On all the things you meant to me
From Heaven can you fully see
your impact, engraved upon our hearts?

My god, Joel – where to even start?

Where to start?

The childhood that you shared with Beth and Stevie in Ozark?

The bachelor life with David before Nancy came along? And took you in and fed you – the Miller house: a second home

The godsons, Lane and Scott, that you loved as your own?

Or on our special bond?

On Churchill and that time you wandered off
in England

On “delicious meats” at Harrods…

Or the beach at Normandy…

On everything you meant to me?

They say you went peacefully…


You went gently
into that good night

which is some small comfort.

The Mourner’s Kaddish says rejoice -
to revel in what was
But how do we experience the joy of what was

with what is?

Why couldn’t we hold back the tide?
Or bear the rod like Aaron?

Is it because Joel’s miracle
was reserved for Heaven?

His miracle, a table set with Joel Gott wine
and a meal he’ll likely question (Nancy: “It’s brisket.”)
Joel, will you remember
all the times
you ate so well you’d mention
at every meal to follow?

Is there memory in your miracle?
Across from your miracle table, a miracle a 72 inch tv,
tuned to ESPN or MSNBC.
So you can talk baseball with Scott and Billy
or politics – he’s meshuggah! – with David.

Joel’s miracle: easy-to-use electronics
that he doesn’t need Scott to fix
so he can care for Stevie
check in on Beth
catch up with “Dr. Miller.” (“Y’all heard from Lane? How’s he doin’?”)

But perhaps Joel’s greatest miracle – he had those things in life.
At least the best, most important parts.
And his miracle continues as he lives on in our hearts.

And perhaps that is our miracle
that we received the gift
of Joel Elliot Schaffer

We’ve been blessed.


May he rest.
May he rest.

For Joel

Picking through
the archaeological pieces of you

to parse to the closet
or display on the shelf
Trash bags and trash bags and trash bags and trash bags full

of your pieces of self.

Picking through
the archaeological pieces of you

- for tidbits of the man we knew -
to live on
after you're gone...

But how do we live on after you're gone?

How do we carry on?

Picking through
the archaeological pieces of you
what we wouldn't give to trade
the pieces for the whole.

We fucking love you, Joel.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Problem with David Bowie, John Lennon, and, like, most of the Presidents

I love David Bowie.

He's nothing short of a fucking prolific musician, a fashion icon, a pioneer, and a pusher of many needs-to-be-pushed envelopes.

He also had sex with young teens.

As an adult male.

I vividly remember when I stumbled across this information. I was crushed.

This trespass, though I never met Bowie personally and the teen victim never had anything but positive things to say about him, colored my love of Bowie ad infinitum.

I cannot hear his music or watch "Labyrinth," "The Man Who Fell To Earth," or "Extras" without that blood red stain marring the experience.

So now, I guess you could say, I love David Bowie's art. But the man, himself? Coulda used more than just a drug intervention.

That seems like a cop out though.

I mean, is this how we deal with our "flawed" (an admittedly too tame word) heroes now?

By pulling a Middle School Church Camp slogan: "love the sinner, hate the sin?" Or, rather, "love the art, disavow the artist?"

Or does moral code require I distance myself from all things Ziggy Stardust because the man who personified it knowingly had sex with at least one underage girl?

I recognize that morality is determined by many things. That the age of consent differs depending on where you are in the world. That there is no 100% consensus on what behavior is deemed "acceptable." Even something like murder isn't universal, as many human civilizations considered human sacrifice A-OK.

But I also recognize that, just because there is no infallable morality, that doesn't mean lines shouldn't be drawn somewhere. And sex with children who cannot even get a driving learner's permit seems a good line to draw.

But then there are so many other "lines."

John Lennon is widely regarded as a musical revolutionary, a legend. He was also a spousal abuser. So what do we do with his music? Listen, but with an asterisk? Burn it in a pyre?

Michael Vick was a gifted athlete. He also slaughtered dogs. Keep his jersey or let your dog defecate on it, set it on fire, and throw it at Vick's doorstep?

Some politicians did great things for certain swaths of the country and frankly apalling things to other swaths. Keep them on statuary and money or ditch the lot?

Is there an in between?

And even if there is, should we live there?

The list of transgressors here is pretty long.

Heroes across all spectrums have done some pretty heinous things, and, in many cases, gotten away with them. (Aaron Burr fucking killed Alexander Hamilton and never saw a day in prison for it!?!?)

There are statues in our nation's capital of slave holders, avowed racists, sexual predators.

And for some fucking reason we're still allowing Chris Brown to make music.

So where's the line?

I don't know the answer. I'm asking:

"Is love the art, disavow the artist" good enough?

Who gets cancelled? Who doesn't? And why?

Is there a point at which you're just so talented at whatever that anything from sex with minors to spousal abuse to flat out murder is just kinda...accepted?

Because I'm not gonna lie - I want to have a crush on Jareth again. I want to listen to the miracle that is "Life on Mars" again without the fucking asterisk.

And I guess that's something I shoulda taken up with David Bowie.

But I'm a bit too late to that party.

And speaking of death - many of these folks are no longer with us. They therefore have no time to "make up for" whatever wrongs they committed in their lifetimes. And could they ever?

Again, I don't know. I'm asking. I mean, what does one do to make up for having sex with a child? To make up for beating one's wife? To make up for a lifetime of racist beliefs and behavior? To make up for harming animals or human beings?

How many hours of community service are we looking for here?

Would it matter anyway?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Mine Field

Saw a story
about a live bomb
in the ground

for some
to come around.

I tend
to divide
my life
into Pre
and Post.

But what if
I was always
the mine field?
the predestined

And it wasn't so much
a question -
of if
but, rather, when?

Perhaps the bomb
was always there
given endless chances
I'd hit it again
and again.