existence of gratitude

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life


Dear Dad,
You inspire me to remain. To acknowledge that sometimes we inhale breaths that are sour. That are tattered and raw. You tell me that there is a reason for all this…that definitions sometimes arrive long after we learn the words. You called me a writer far longer than I could pronounce that word myself. You remind me to give away my words. Remind me to keep carrying ink even on the days I feel like there is nothing to drip out. Thank you for existing. Thank you for continuing to exist.
[happy birthday]

how grateful.

Remember when.

We stormed garage sales with handfuls of bargain’d breath. I collected books & clothes cluttered with stains & stories. You found that grandfather clock, which still chimes on the hour.

You were there when I received my first rejection as writer. Collected slips into green folder that kept getting thicker and thicker. You were there when I received my first yes.

Remember when.

Eleanor Roosevelt impersonations in car ride and old time radio shows, which stirred up our imaginations.

Getting kicked out of West Hartford bookstore for copying recipes into notebook.

With each break-up, you were the one I called to remind me that there will be another.

Coney Island in April to remind us both the power of the Atlantic, as I collected salted shells. You remained even as I attempted to scratch myself away.

Remember when.

That trip back in time to Williamsburg and that bridge that replaced your home. A tour of your childhood when penny candy cluttered pockets and memories were just beginning to form.

Wednesday open mics at Peaberry’s Cafe and each drive you made to hear me perform in theaters or tiny bars.

Remember when.

Always encouraging me:     to travel my way through Amsterdam; to follow my dreams as poet; to cross this country to Colorado; to follow love even when it hurt in its end; to believe in magic.

To inspire me as you wrote your stories outTo mentor me not as father, but as friend. And as survivor. And as a human who has fallen but continues to remain.

The realization that within me, the roots of my identity as writer, grew from you. And continue to grow.

My gratitude that we do not choose who are genes connect to. Regardless, I would have chosen you. My friend. The one who never lets me down. The one who has never judged me even when I deserved judgement and scorn. The one who never reminds me of my past; instead, you tell me to look toward the future and prepare for all the rainbows to come.

Remember when.

Remember when.

Remember when.

Happy Birthday, Dad.



how to love without forgetting where it came from

west, all salty and real

Did you look up tonight?

See that thick moon, curving itself into the sky?
Notice it because it will go away if you forget.

Notice the smell she leaves inside magazines.

Notice the shape she makes when pressed against red-linen’d mattress.

Notice her bone structure. Eastern European lineage.

Notice her thumb slung into bent silver.

Notice her appetite. She forgets to eat lunch sometimes.

Notice the dent against her skull.
When those boys pushed her down because she was too dykey; she got back up and left the mud there.

I thought I could handle someone else’s trauma, but I can barely pronounce my own.

Notice her heels, frozen oceans cracked against feet.

Notice her hair, detangled due to boredom and persistence.

Notice her hipbone.
Her chin.
The freckles that gather in the summertime and worry the cancer genetically taunting her.

Notice her push, press of salt and blood against western earth
grow into thunders