all the jewels

It was his birthstone – and a color
he often wore. But,
all those years together
it was a stone in my hand,
a jagged crystal tower
on my desk.

When we ended — all the jewels
fell to the ground like stars
dropping from the night sky.
Since then
I have stayed away from
the power of purple and gray.

You can’t know these things
as you hand me a heart
stone of purple amethyst,
that fills my palm with cool
smooth weight —

The past never ends, it is
recycled and reshaped
into the Now —
that bouncing between
the three realms of
past, present, future
eventually ends:

Three becomes One.
The Trinity of Time
flows in One stream
knowing
the eternal
is all-encompassing.
This never ending
circular flow —

The heart I lost in blood and flesh
given back to me in polished stone.

You for Muse

Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All), a depic...

Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All), a depiction of the god of love, Eros. By Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, circa 1601–1602 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Love poems never suited
me. Too un-sentimental,
a realist, an artist. I
wrote of concrete moments,
never tried sonnets or
romantic poesy. One
must have unrequited
love for that — a permanently
present, happy love says
little. Lives content not to
speak — but, lost un-held
things demand words. Need
expression of absence. Loss
or broken dreams demand
a voice.

Love poems never called
to me. Too realistic, too jaded
for fairy tales. I need
to crave the unavailable,
must have gut-wrenching
deep-set pain to push
the words forward, out of heated
muscle, flesh, heart – the poet
in me found you for Muse –
this reminds me of Greek
mythology, love-hate
relationships with the Oracles.

You will be
like other myths, will
grow distant,
un-useable. With time
an old god no longer
believed to exist. Your
shimmering marble
covered in moss,
decay crossing cream,
old water stains and
some new graffiti
will color you unimportant.

April 2011

One American Soldier (I)


I am writing this a few minutes after midnight on September 11, 2011. The tenth anniversary of an event so tragic and destructive that it is known worldwide simply as  “9-11.”

Almost everyone has a 9-11 story to tell – a pivotal moment when their personal life came to an abrupt halt and suddenly collided  with universal differences, political-religious ideologies, and intentional terrorism.A simple fall day, colored by the blood of family and friends, now defines a generation and its place in American history.

The events of September 11, 2001 – the meaningless destruction, overwhelming loss, intense sorrow, amazing courage, riveting compassion, and dark anger – play through our minds like a Technicolor movie. That day remains frozen in the slow motion replay of my memories just like all other Americans. But, this is not about 9-11 and my memories of that day. This is about one American soldier.

1986: Laser Light Show at Stone Mountain, Georgia

I was listening to the radio a few days ago when the Lee Greenwood song, “Proud to Be An American,” started playing.  My eyes misted in tears as a vivid memory from twenty-five years ago played through my mind. In the Summer of 1986 I was sitting on the grass lawn at Stone Mountain, GA with my then-husband, my two-year-old daughter and my 9-month-old son waiting for the Laser Light Show to begin.

It was our first trip to Stone Mountain Park, following a move to Atlanta the previous year because of a job transfer, and we had a wonderful day visiting the park features and nature trails with the children. We settled down on a blanket on the lawn in front of the mountain and watched a beautiful laser light show (which was a big deal back then!) accompanied by a soundtrack of various songs.

The song, “Proud to Be An American,” began playing, the American Flag appeared on the side of the mountain, and fireworks exploded over our heads. It was a beautiful and inspiring end to the show.

My eyes filled with tears as I looked at my daughter, asleep beside me on the blanket, and then looked into my son’s eyes as he was nursing. I expected the fireworks to scare him, but they didn’t. He kept nursing and staring into my eyes as I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed by the joy in my life and the patriotic pride I felt as an American. I would never have imagined that, eighteen years later, my son would join the Army and go overseas to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan as a soldier.

 

On August 31, over seven years after the war in Iraq began, President Obama announced the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a withdrawal of combat troops. Obama emphasized that U.S. domestic problems, mainly the flailing economy and widespread unemployment, are more pressing matters to his country. The U.S. will continue to be a presence in Iraq, mainly with civilian contractors but also with a smaller military contingent of approximately 50,000 troops. The remaining troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

Read more: Iraq War Timeline, 2010 — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/iraq-timeline-2010.html#ixzz1XfYUxRyw

 

 

 

Artist: Lee Greenwood
Song: Proud To Be An American

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘ Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there’s pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

Fact Sheet: Iraqi War

  • Length of official combat operation, Operation Iraqi Freedom: March 20–May 1, 2003.
  • Deployment: More than 300,000 coalition troops deployed to the Gulf region: about 255,000 U.S., 45,000 British, 2,000 Australian, and 200 Polish troops.
  • Post-conflict peace-keeping forces: About 130,000 U.S. and 11,000 British troops were stationed in Iraq following official end of hostilities, May 1, 2003.About 49 countries have participated in some form in what was called the “coalition of the willing.” At its strongest, the coalition provided a total of 25% of the troops in Iraq. About 13 countries have withdrawn their personnel as of March 2006. Coalition forces remaining in Iraq in March 2006: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom
  • U.S. casualties: Deaths March 20–May 1 (official end of hostilities): combat, 115; noncombat, 23; total, 138. Deaths March 20, 2003–Nov.9, 2006: combat, 2,275; noncombat, 562; total, 2,837. 134 civilian contractors were killed as of June 2006.
  • U.S. soldiers wounded in action: 21,572 (Nov. 7, 2006).
  • American POWs: 8 (6 captured on March 23, 2003, in Nasiriya; 2 pilots shot down on March 24 near Karbala). All were rescued.
  • Coalition casualties: Britain, 119; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 17; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, 6; Slovakia, 3; El Salvador, 3; ; Thailand, 2; Estonia, 2; The Netherlands, 2; Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, and Latvia, 1 each (Oct. 24, 2006)
  • U.S. cost of stationing troops in Iraq: in the first years, it was estimated at $4 billion per month, by 2006 it was $6 billion per month1
  • Iraqi civilian deaths: over 55,000 (according to Iraq Body Count in Mar. 2006)

1. U.S. government figures

Sources: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), CNN, BBC, U.S. Dept. of Defense.

Read more: Fact Sheet: Iraqi War — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0908900.html#ixzz1XfpJ0xL8

 

 

Today we remember the victims of the 9-11 assault on our shores. Let us also be mindful that the number of deaths resulting from 9-11 continue to grow with each passing day.

It’s been ten years – it’s time to bring our children home!

Crumpled Sheets

 

 

I can remember
the way you walk –
a fluid movement
with erotic appeal.

The way your hair
falls a certain way
across your cheeks,
beside your eyes.

A slight lift to the right
whenever you smile –
the honey sweet taste
of your lips, of you
in a passionate kiss.

I can remember
the way your back
feels soft and muscled –
warm – as I roll closer,
snuggle into sleep.

Waking to feel
the length of your legs
entwined with mine,
the width of your chest,

the weight of you
shifting, above and within
me — your chest touching mine,
soft whisper of words
against the nape of my neck.

I can remember
the strength of you
holding me, taking me,
hot against my flesh –
filling me completely
all those long years ago.

~July, 2011 South Carolina

Photography Prints

ARTWORK: Reverie by Richard Young. For artist information, other available works, and further details on this piece, please go here.

Ritual

Ritual
~for Julia, in memoria

On this Lily-white
silent Sunday she
combs one hundred times
the strands of pony-grey,
streaked-aged mane
of ninety-two years,
pulls it back tightly
into an outdated bun.

Liquid-blue-petal eyes
shift, stare sadly down
at purple-viened hands
lain gently across cloth,
placid in a lap
of sagging flesh
and weak-white bone.

Old Southern sighs resignation
as generations gather
around the chair
to celebrate ancient,
another birthday.

Their debt of homage
paid in presence, ordered
by size and height around
the matriarchal chair.

Time-ticks every face older
into a mist of memory
becoming dreams —
as death comes
she remembers the future–

ball gown of tangerine silk
flowing, she dances
times distorted promenade.

The children will turn,
burn old candles,
forget,
and live forward.

~Summer 2011, South Carolina
Photography Prints

terra di sienna

Two tiny droplets
a morsel of medicine

Crayola-colored sienna.
A color from the box
with the sharpener
in the back — implying
grand accomplishment.
A budding artist, would, of course,
use them down to the nub —
. . . peel – sharpen – draw

Two miniscule pellets
of prescription medicine

Where else did you ever
hear the word sienna?
(We live exclusively in
shades of black and gray.)
Thirty-days, taken at bed time.
A few well-worn hours before
you pick another color, draw
inside the lines again a
new-born day of maybe —
. . . peel – sharpen – draw

Perception

 

I am
a question mark written
on the pages of your life.

You are
a melodic song
I will hum on lonely days.

We are a question,
a melody forever playing ~
water to thirsting strangers,
food glorious to starving men.

I am a child dancing
too close to the fire.
You are a roaring flame
licking the edges of my soul.

February 2011

7 years later

 

File folders clothed them,
alphabetically arranged,
in soft manila suits.

Their stories, each record
of submission, publication
duly noted in colored caps.

They wore published clips
buttoned at the back
like jewelry.

A wardrobe of time,
collected life, whispered secrets,
screamed epiphanies. Gone

in a moment of unintentional
unraveling, a thread caught
on life’s edges —

weak seams pulled apart until
the cloth gave way, the threads
broke
turning into a thousand tears.

composed January 2011

Impossibility

When you have said
all the words I need to hear
and told me everything
in warm whispers, except
“I love you.” It won’t be enough.

When you have given me
flowers, apologies, soft
sentiments and fresh hope
in softest whispers, but
haven’t said “I love you.”
It won’t be enough.

When you have told me the
truth about who you were
becoming who you are, and
have lulled my heart with
dream-songs. It should be,
but it won’t be – enough.

When you can tell me
in quiet-tones, face-to-face,
eyes-to-eyes that you love
me, I will know that you
see me clearly for the first
time. But, it won’t be enough.

When you can love me
across the miles of time
without hiding in the silence;
when the pain apart defines you
through the essence of my absence,
and your soul recognizes the loss —
then, and only then, will it be enough.

 

A Little Grey Eye Flutters

Gnatcatcher Bird like the one that died.

I came into work Saturday morning to find a little bird laying stunned and hurt on the cement outside the Showroom window. The bird was obviously hurt from flying into the glass panel (a common occurence) but was still holding its head up and moving its wings. It hadn’t died the quick death of a broken neck which is more often the norm. This little bird was still fighting to live, trying to move off the hot cement to the nearby shade of grass and flower beds. I watched it – fighting with myself over what to do. I understood I was going to try to help the bird even though there was little chance of it living.   

I found a clean cloth and gently moved the bird under the shade of the pompous grass at the edge of the flower beds. There wasn’t any blood visible, the wings and neck/head seemed fine, but it appeared to have damaged its legs and tail either in the hit against the glass or the fall to the hard cement. It still seemed stunned – I kept thinking it might be okay in a few minutes. It just needed to rest a minute, catch its breath. Any minute now, it would stand-up and shake-off the hit, straighten its tail, wiggle its feet and take flight…maybe?   

The salespeople walked by without a glance as they spread across the lot to put balloons on all the cars. Then, as they drifted back, each one came to see what I was doing and to ask why I was trying to help the bird. The general consensus was that I was wasting my time because “it’s just gonna die anyway.” I should take it and throw it into the edge of the woods, they said. “It’s not gonna make it.” I knew they were probably right and that everything they said was probably true, but understanding that didn’t make me less inclined to try to help the bird. I understood all the reasons I should walk away, let it go, accept it…but there was a small sliver of hope…maybe it could heal and be okay.   

I went online and read-up on helping injured wild birds, called a local animal shelter, and moved the bird into a makeshift nest of Shammy rags and shredded paper in a large box in my office. I put a small cup of water in the box. He drank from it and then snuggled into the paper pieces and went to sleep. If I could just keep him alive through the night I’d be able to take him to a wild bird care facility. Someone there would know what to do to help him recover. I did my research, followed the advice I’d received, and hoped for a miracle.   

I didn’t get a miracle. He died snuggled and perched in his makeshift nest later in the evening. The hopes and maybe’s didn’t pan out. Sometimes life works that way.   

~~~~~   

I tried to save a bird years ago. I was in first grade and found an injured black-bird outside during recess. I managed to get a box from the janitor and put the bird in it to take home. There I was, sitting in the back of the schoolbus, with a bird in a box and all the other children screaming to see. I made it home with the bird alive and squaking inside the shoebox.  

I don’t remember what was wrong with the bird, only that it was hurt and couldn’t fly. I do remember the anger and upset my grandparents had when I arrived home with the bird though. As I recall, they were very angry that I’d picked the bird up, were amazingly worried about all sorts of diseases I could get, and wanted to know why the teachers allowed me to do such a thing. It was a ruckus beyond anything I could have imagined or expected. I just wanted to help the bird.  

I don’t remember what happened to that bird. My grandpa took it with the promise of helping it for me while my grandmother scrubbed my hands with Clorox. I know…it probably died. But, I’m sure they told me it was okay and flew away…and don’t you NEVER, EVER pick up a bird again!!!  

~~~~~  

I’m sad today over the little gray bird I couldn’t save. It was an adorable and gentle creature. I know that one little bird isn’t a big deal in the real scheme of things…but, maybe it’s a big enough deal.  

I watched a huge, fat Robin sitting on my front porch steps as I drank my coffee this morning. There were dozens of other birds flying around, picking bugs from my flower beds and the yard, and eating birdseed from the feeders at the walkway. Birds everywhere – chirping, tweeting, preening, and singing the morning hello.  

I arrived at work and watched the two families of finchs feeding their babies in the nests under our store awning. There were Gnatcatchers, Wrens, and Pigeons across the side grass lots at the Dealership. More singing, preening, and rambling the lawn. There were birds everywhere this morning, but I kept thinking about the one that was missing. The one that died quietly in the sunset.  

~~~~~  

 Maybe…Hope…Maybe…Life happens…Death is part of life.  

Sometimes we get our miracles. Sometimes we don’t get them. And, sometimes, the miracle is different than we expect it to be…  

Two totally different animals look at each other. A little grey-eye flutters and a green eye meets its gaze. The two animals connect, a moment is shared, they are joined for a split second in time. Hope happens. Compassion happens. Unity happens. For a moment the world shifts . . .  

Maybe that’s the real miracle in the end.

funeral song

2001 Myrtle Beach, SC

ego-separation from the letting-go

is the last phase of loss.

solemn-silence is declared.

it will not lift, can not lift

until vision clarifies.

imagine the world as a new

place created and transformed by

the without, adjusted perception

looks for meaning

submerged in the pain.

seeks solace from a fragmented spirit

that clings to us in absence.

each lost thing claims

a part of our souls

perfection

unravels the lies we hide

inside ourselves

leaving us

bare and jaggedly grieved.

we becomes

the creation of losses

evolves into shards of recovery.

Stimulated by grieving

we acknowledge the mirrors

reflection of our souls love

for others.

©2001, Marissa Mullins

Regret

Regrets are bitter-bright emotional remnants that hit us with pain and sadness at each recall.

When I was younger, I ran around screaming that I would live my life in such a way as to be free of regrets. My image of the rocking chair on the porch did not have me sitting there feeling bad about the past. I perceived a more enlightened view – one in which I understood that the life I led was my own, built to create the individual I was intended to be. There was no room in the picture for sadness and regret over the past. The past was simply the pavement of the road to the future.

In that vein of thought, I quoted the catchword of the day, “Carpe Diem,” and determined that I would live bravely. I would attempt things I was sure to fail at, I would try things that seemed unusual and “not for me,” and I would be courageous when my instincts told me to fear. This philosophy led to some interesting exploits and adventures, especially during my twenties, as I rampaged through the world on my glorious mission.

But, I would “LIVE!” And, of course, I did live loudly, boldly, tenderly, and attentively for many years. I was very good about writing letters, remembering to send birthday cards, and doing minor niceties for those I knew and loved. I cooked Thanksgiving dinners for the neighbors, took in several stray and injured animals, and donated to numerous charities and worthwhile causes. I also lived vibrantly loud. My hair was the whitest-blonde available in a bottle, my magazine writing was a battle against injustice or a call-to-arms for the downtrodden, my poems spoke of grief and loss from the depths of my soul, and my relationships included people from every scale of life and living. I was trying new things, tackling new fears, overcoming old phobias, and living wide-open and unashamedly. (Dying my hair black was courageous, but BAAAD! And maybe I should have waited on the tattoo…and I probably shouldn’t have moved to Florida….) My internal fears became a propelling force moving me ever forward on the road to becoming…I was LIVING!

And, then, when I was in my late thirties, my grandmother died. It had been several years since I’d seen her. She developed Alzheimer’s disease right after our last visit. She was the second grandmother to experience the devastating disease. And, me….Miss. Courageous, I hadn’t been able to deal with the loss a second time. I had stayed away because the pain of who she had become in the illness overpowered my memories of who she’d been healthy. I needed to have the memories of the healthy, strong, wonderful grandmother she’d been. The only woman I’d ever known who I truly believed knew every answer that mattered. I lived at the other end of the state then, I was busy, life was moving forward – it was easier to pretend she was at home and life was normal for her, as it had been. She was frozen in a happy time and place in my mind.

Burying her was not as difficult as understanding that she was gone. There would never be another letter from her advising me to do the right thing and to trust God. She would never cook pigs-in-a-blanket for me again. I would never be able to drop by and talk with her about my confusion, or enjoy the beauty of her humming as we were hanging out laundry. Those things were over. In reality, they had been over for years, but they had remained a memory-possibility in my mind until the casket disappeared into the ground that rainy day.

Death has a way of ending the lies you tell yourself. It also has a way of reminding you of your own truth. I left her funeral with a sense of regret that I’d never known before. I was ashamed of my cowardice, my unwillingness to overlook my own pain to be there for her. The self-reproach was only made worse as I realized she would have forgiven me, would have understood and not been angry or hurt at my inability to see her so sick. She had a strength within that enabled her to love and forgive others unlike anyone else I’ve ever known.  I was her granddaughter, my mind screamed; I should have been that strong too.

And there it was…regret.

 

 

Time-Lapse II

A few more relationship poems from 2005.  ©2005 under Marissa Mullins.

Legacy: Untitled 6

I do not know the Truth you ask for.

It has no movement in me –

no belonging, no place of being.

The rivers of my mind flow

past the rock where you stand.

The stone beneath your feet

feels real to you, each rough-hewn,

jagged edge cutting

into the souls of tender feet.

It is sway and movement only –

To me. A place of displacement

so minor in my essence –

I am river – flowing, churning,

moving forward past the rocks,

moving around, in, across.

My Truth is a place of

moist current, trembling water,

that cannot make itself

a rock, a twig, a pond.

Why do you stand on that

which bruises and cuts you?

Can you not still swim?

Do you now fear the water,

that river which once carried you,

moved you, safely flowed you to

a new destination?

You have left the water,

cling to the jagged rock,

paralyzed and held immobile

by fear. You forget yourself.

The Truth – You are a river too.

You were born of Water.

Untitled 7

The answer that you seek

needs creating. It cannot come

to live in places of light – or

it will be changed, will lose

the darkness that names it.

We are always seeking what is lost.

Truth is that things drift

into invisibility, become

the essence of something else

because our definitions change.

It once meant “this” now “that”

or “the other” –

Truth will not be contained,

molded, shaped, limited

by our definitions.

It has a grander beginning

with the First and Only. Truth

does not betray Him as we do.