There is a depth of love that is most easily noticed by the way it breaks your heart. Not in a bad way but in that breaking is a way of being fundamentally changed. I know exactly who in my life I love to that depth. It’s a gift of middle age to be honest. Not that I didn’t experience it when I was younger but I didn’t really know what it was or how completely that love exists regardless of almost anything…it just continues to exist. There is almost no rhyme or reason to this love, it just is and it takes my breath away.
Author Archives: Mona Bliss
They say I’m a beast.
And feast on it. When all along
I thought that’s what a woman was.
They say I’m a bitch.
Or witch. I’ve claimed
the same and never winced.
They say I’m a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
but I like the compliment.
The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.
Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I’m in.
I like the itch I provoke.
The rustle of rumor
I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my little house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.
I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and success-
I think of me to gluttony.
By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I’m Pancha Villa.
I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I’m la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.
I strike terror among the men.
I can’t be bothered what they think.
¡Que se vayan a la ching chang chong!
For this, the cross, the calvary.
In other words, I’m anarchy.
I’m an aim-well,
I’m Bitch. Beast. Macha.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.
This is poetry…and whether you like it or not, whether you agree with its point of view or not, it is doing what art should always be doing…it confronts and it declares and it should make you think and think hard. Because none of us knows every truth and if you want me to see another point of view, maybe your point of view, show me a poem as passionate and courageous as this one.
Today I am 30 years sober.
That seems completely impossible since I only feel about 30 years old inside my head but in truth I’m 52 years old inside and out.
A friend of mine used to say you had to be pretty damn sick to get sober right before the holidays (she had done the same thing) and some years I know she was absolutely right.
I’m grateful for my life today. I’m grateful for my family and friends who are shining miracles of light and love and absolute saints for putting up with me. I’m grateful for all the amazing people who walk through this life with such courage and joy showing me how it’s done. I’m grateful for the people who walk through it all with me as we find our way together.
I’ve been struggling with some broken heartedness recently. A dear friend is in a brutal battle with cancer and despair is lurking around every corner of my heart. She’s fierce as shit so I’m trying to be too. I can’t afford despair and she deserves much better than that from me. So today I’m taking it heartbeat to heartbeat and I’m leaning on the warrior women in my life so I can send all our love and magic and support to my friend. Staying out of the future, even the future of later today. Right here, right now…making sure that my cracked heart is letting the light out, not letting the darkness in. Because broken isn’t shattered.
I read this morning that Steve Dillon has died. You might not know that name. To be honest I wouldn’t have recognized it if he hadn’t been identified in the headline by one of his more well-known books, Preacher. He was a comic artist who worked quite a lot with Garth Ennis. They worked on Hellblazer together, another favorite of mine. I’m not a dedicated reader of comics or graphic novels but I do like the ones I like, even if I haven’t read them from beginning to end. Years ago a friend of mine who works in the comic industry suggested I read Preacher. He said he thought it was something I would like considering something I was writing at the time. So I picked up Book One which included the first twelve issues of the comic. It was gritty and darkly funny with a foundation of anger and melancholy. That appealed to me. So when I had to fly up to Oregon to visit my parents I took the book along and was happily reading it on the plane. One of the flight attendants stopped by my seat at one point and quietly asked what I was reading. I smiled and told him and he gave me a conspiratorial grin, telling me it was one of his favorite series. He then told me a story about a flight that Garth Ennis was on and how he was the only person who realized who Ennis was and totally fanboyed out. We laughed and enjoyed connecting with a fellow lover of comics in an unexpected place.
Steve Dillon adapted Preacher for television recently and the first season is out with a second season having been ordered. That’s a wonderful bit of unexpected success for a comic regardless of what you might think from the giant Marvel and DC movies. Books like Preacher are deserving of the same level of attention and respect but they are not quite as mainstream ready if you will. I haven’t watched the show so I don’t have any opinion about it but I had this quiet little feeling of happiness for the book creators that it was made at all. These people are astoundingly talented and they work so freakin’ hard for very little monetary success and often not a lot of public credit. Clearly it’s changing but most of them are still living pretty tight and only known within the subculture of comics (yep, still a subculture when you compare it the world at large).
According to Garth Ennis in the NY Times Steve Dillon died of a burst appendix. This is absolutely tragic and heart breaking. He was only 54 years old. A bright and creative light has gone out.
I’m in the middle of reading a New York Times article about Michelle Obama. It’s titled “To The First Lady, With Love: Four thank-you notes to Michelle Obama, who has spent the past eight years quietly and confidently changing the course of American history.” I had to stop after reading the first one to write this because with one line it brought me to tears. Sometimes a writer manages to put something into words that is one of my most deeply held thoughts, hopes, wounds, resentments, and fiercely fought for beliefs. These words made my heart stutter, made my breath catch and I had to work hard to control the tears because it showed me I am not alone in these thoughts even though I live in a world that insists this belief is not true and worse than that…it’s hateful, it’s sinful, it’s blasphemous, it’s so wrong that in some parts of the world we would most definitely be punished for speaking it out loud possibly killed for it.
But you know what? Fuck that!
Here’s what connected me to someone I’ve never met today and reminded me that if there is a God…a God that deserves to be called God…then It certainly has no issue with this truth written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
Michelle Obama was speaking. I felt protective of her because she was speaking to an America often too quick to read a black woman’s confidence as arrogance, her straightforwardness as entitlement.
She was informal, colloquial, her sentences bookended by the word “see,” a conversational fillip that also strangely felt like a mark of authenticity. She seemed genuine. She was genuine. All over America, black women were still, their eyes watching a form of God, because she represented their image writ large in the world.
There’s a whole lot there but what got me today was the ringing truth that the amazing woman who has been our First Lady for the last eight years is absolutely “a form of God”.
Woman as a form of God, much less black women as a form of God, is an idea that makes the big three Western religions squirm and whine and get very, very angry. Their efforts to erase women from their rightful place as an equal image of God has unbalanced our society in a way that we may never recover from in my opinion.
Michelle Obama shines one of the brightest lights of fierce, intelligent, powerful, thoughtful womanhood ever to walk the public stage. She does that as a black woman in the face of intense opposition to both her womanhood and her race and yet she continues to shine.
She continues to show us the face of God.
I tend to write about or mention my Dad quite a lot. My Dad did some really amazing things in his life and he was a pretty brilliant example of the kind of person I hope to be on a daily basis. But this weekend I was thinking a lot about my Mom. See in our house growing up Dad was the acknowledged Thinker Of Big Thoughts and Mom was the Doer Of What Needs Doing. Now that doesn’t mean that Mom didn’t, doesn’t, think big thoughts or that Dad didn’t do all manner of things that needed doing. But they had their specialties and respected each other’s dominant talents. Mom’s thinking abilities were, are, just as good and deep as Dad’s but she tended to focus them in different ways and areas…and thank all the gods she did. Otherwise I’m not sure we’d have grown up with as much safety and security as we did. See Mom was the person who insisted we live within our financial means. Mom was the person who insisted that if the roof needed fixing then we’d just have to fix it ourselves. Mom was the person who refused to buy new living room furniture because paying for music lessons and dance lessons and ski trips and theatre tickets was more important. I’m pretty sure I was out of college before my Mom bought a piece of new living room furniture and she is still using some of the bedroom furniture that she’s had since she was in high school. My Mom was in high school in the early 1950’s.
Now this isn’t because Mom is super crazy thrifty, though she sort of is…but it’s always for a purpose of paying for what she thinks is important. So when it came time to buy a house it meant she and Dad bought a house they could afford without being broke all the time. So we didn’t live in a fancy new house in the fancy expensive neighborhood. We lived in a fixer upper (and trust me when I say it needed some fixing when we moved in to it) in a decent middle class neighborhood where people drove Fords and Chevys and eventually Toyotas and Hondas. It meant we didn’t eat out except for VERY special occasions. It meant we did our own car repairs to the best of Dad’s abilities (I was QUITE good at assisting with fluid changes and brake pad installs on a 70’s era Chevelle). It meant holiday weekends were camping in the local mountains and vacations were spent camping in the Sequoia National Park. It meant that Mom and Dad did without a LOT of things they would have liked to have so that my brother and I could grow up having a lot of really amazing experiences.
To be honest Dad would have had a hard time making those kinds of decisions consistently on his own, but for Mom it was just what you did, you prioritized what was truly important. New carpet or sofas or clothes or a fancy car was just not important when stacked up against having enough money to pay your bills and still be able to take your kids to the theatre and rent them a trumpet and a flute. No one appreciated Mom’s ability to keep Dad in check more than Dad.
I didn’t really realize what an amazing gift all of that was until I was much older. I didn’t realize how little I had to worry about as a kid simply because Mom was willing to be the Doer Of What Needs Doing. You never doubted that you could depend on Mom to show up when she said she would and would do exactly what she said she would. I have thanked her for that because I realize now it’s not so easy to be that person in a family. It often makes you a bit unpopular. But Mom could take it. Eventually you get old enough to put the pieces together and realize exactly who it was that made sure there was always enough of what was needed and a shocking amount of what was wanted.
Now, the other thing about Mom…she was, is, the Bringer Of Courage, Play and Imagination. So if you were trying to figure out the meaning of life you’d go to Dad and have some long deep chat about…oh you know…stuff. But if you were trying to figure out what to do with the life you had…in the microcosm or the macrocosm you went to Mom. So…bored on a rainy day go see what Mom can suggest…usually reading or coloring or playing with the Lite Bright (she would join you in ALL of those). Not sure if you should marry the person you are engaged to, go see Mom (she’ll give it to you straight and love you no matter what you do). Not sure if you can really do that thing you really want to do…well to be honest both Mom and Dad were pretty great about encouragement. But Mom is the absolute best about helping you keep shit in perspective. She’s always saying things like, “Well yeah maybe it’ll be a bust but won’t it be fun trying?”
I’ve always felt pretty damned blessed to have the parents I’ve had. They gave me a fine solid foundation, they let me screw up which I did plenty of and in some pretty serious ways, they loved me but didn’t incapacitate me by fixing everything for me and between the two of them I’ve learned to keep my feet on the ground and my heart filled with hope and humor. So guess as much as I hope to be like my Dad I also hope to be like my Mom.
Some days are harder than others.
Some days everything makes you cry.
Some days it’s impossible to breathe.
Some days I can’t see the way out.
Some days I can barely keep the screams behind my teeth.
Some days I despair for us as a species.
But then I remember my Dad telling me that giving into despair is a cop out.
I remember that I have a responsibility to care for my head and heart and spirit because if I don’t stand up and shine a light in the dark, then I’ve betrayed every good thing in the world.
I remember that we are only as good as the good we do when it’s hard and terrifying, when all we want to do is curl up on the ground and vomit because the horror is beyond imagining.
I remember something I learned in the early days of the AIDS crisis…
SILENCE = DEATH
So many gifts of age
Some of them dubious,
But gifts nonetheless
For you and me
With truth and sadness
On yesterday and tomorrow
On today and today and today
For all of it, oh my yes,
Absolutely all of it.
This is something I wrote back in 2010. For some reason it’s much on my mind today so I thought I’d share it again.
You have to make a commitment to heartbreak to do certain things in this life. If you are going to volunteer to reach out your hand, your heart and your soul to those balancing on the edge of a long slide into oblivion you have to know that most will refuse; many won’t hang on hard enough; lots will, once standing on solid ground but still in view of the depths, simply turn around and dive right down; some will get confused and lost and go back to the only place they know well enough to find in the dark; and a very tiny handful will continue to walk the path away from that oblivion with you. If you become hardened to it all you won’t actually be able to do it anymore. If you become broken by it all you won’t actually be able to do it anymore. So…how? How can you make a commitment to heartbreak and not be hardened or broken by it? Well from my experience I only get to keep what I’m willing to give away. I’m not talking about my stuff. I’m no Mother Theresa and get your eyes off my books! I’m talking about my spirit, my heart, my very essence. I have to be willing to expand spiritually beyond my fears, beyond my insecurities, beyond my certainty that there isn’t enough. Because every now and then I look around me and I see these sisters, walking with me, who know what it is to stare down into the depths, who know what it is to want to succumb to that darkness but who, instead, held on and walked away and who in turn have made their own commitment to heartbreak. That is how. Most of us don’t make it, that’s why we do more than most.