interior ruckus…a poem about motherhood

interior ruckus—part one

i had no idea at twenty-nine
an unfamiliar inner voice
so bossy, persuasive
now, right now

hormonal messengers
working overtime
baby, baby, baby

OR so i assumed...

in my 20s, i knew so little about my biology 
youth doesn't ask many questions
baby, baby, baby

oh, to possess that blissful ignorance again

i understand now…
my ancient biology didn’t take over,
my private sociology did

interior ruckus of
age & expectations
my societal & familial programming
working overtime
interior ruckus—part two

period late
hopeful & cautious
baby, baby, baby 

a September birthday?
NOPE, not this month
my body sighed

moons passed
late again
my body whispered, YES
a winter birthday?
baby, baby, baby

my son arrived
late in February 
all giant and squirmy
and mine
 
three years later
that familiar drumbeat
my personal sociology 
our son needs a sibling

my body whispered again
maybe baby?
Saturday—NO 
Monday—YES, and...
babies, in my wife? 

baby A & baby B
gritty little homesteaders
inhabitants of my territory
overlapping claims
our complex symbiosis 

my daughters arrived
in the middle of May 
all tiny and squirmy
and mine
interior ruckus—part three

mothering through menopause
hormones tectonic
& not just mine

age and expectations
divergent boundaries
epicenters evershifting
interior ruckus

a lifetime spent studying the waves
vibrations recorded
push and pull
energy released
expected

motherhood's seismic shift
less vigilance now required
when monitoring underground movement
tremors are expected

if you give an insomniac coffee & predawn time alone…

This morning I remembered a thoughtful quote I heard recently during Vermont Recovery Advocacy Day. I made coffee and started searching. I often think of the children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff.

One thing leads to another and sometimes you don’t know how you got there. This happens frequently to me.

Today, I thought I would follow the trail. If you give me coffee and some time alone…

OK, the author of the quote, I think his last name was hummmm…Chesterfield. There were some real gems from him. I thought I must have the attribution correct..Lord Chesterfield.

“Never seem wiser, nor more learned, than the people you are with. Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket: and do not merely pull it out and strike it; merely to show that you have one.”

Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least.”

I kept reading and then this one popped up:

“Women especially as to be talked to as below men, and above children.”

Lord Chesterfield, you obviously were not the author I was looking for…and maybe kind of a prick, but hey it was the 17th century when you were writing, so I won’t “cancel” you—context is everything.

The sun is up now, it’s snowing and I’ve had my second coffee…I finally found the correct quote.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

—G. K. Chesterton

Thanks as the highest form of thought and gratitude doubled by wonder—so beautifully said. What other quotes about gratitude can I find?

I needed to know a bit more about G. K. Chesterton. He was an English author best known for creating the priest-detective, Father Brown.

Then, I next read on his Wikipedia page that his best friend from his St. Paul school days was Edmund Clerihew Bentley, inventor of the clerihew

I didn’t know what a clerihew was. Should I have? Do you?

A clerihew (/ˈklɛrɪhjuː/) is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The first line is the name of the poem's subject, usually, a famous person put in an absurd light, or revealing something unknown or spurious about them. (Here is a well-known clerihew of his.) Sir Christopher Wren Said, "I am going to dine with some men. If anyone calls Say I am designing St. Paul's."[1]

I wrote my own clerihew after reading Mr. Bentley’s example.

To the courageous people of Ukraine, I humbly offer my thanks, gratitude, and compassion for what you are against-all-odds bravely doing to protect your families and defend democracy around the world.

not even poets…

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.  —Zelda Fitzgerald 

You have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have. —J. R. R. Tolkien

original utility…

original utility by Lisa Lillibridge

walking Scusset Beach at low tide

we came upon a buried boat trailer

submerged and deserted

sadly, no longer transporting anything

no boat ramp nearby…curious

my sandy-kneed observations kept shifting

a salty adventure miscalculated perhaps?­

oh, the seduction of coastal fog

heightens my investigations

in ways sunshine just never can

later, observing my photos

what I could not see intrigued me

and my mind wandered

as it so often does…

America, personified

allegory, metaphor, or perhaps, punchline

in need of rescue and repair

while other nations

adapting to their shifting tides

ignore what’s beneath our surface

our nation’s collective principles

hopefully preserved

waiting to be exhumed

and one day

restored to original utility

othering/a transitive verb

by Lisa Lillibridge

to treat or consider 
(a person or a group of people) 
as alien to oneself
 
Merriam Webster

I want to blame
I need to blame
someone else
something else 
anywhere else
for my inner tornado

alienate
vilify
repeat

easy breezy
automatic, unconscious

our world’s challenges
far too complex
and exhausting
to metabolize 
entirely on my own

quell my fears 
confirm my programming
please just tell me who, what, and where
I should other today

my team’s constant drumbeat
deliberate, unyeielding
laboring 24/7 
to justify
their clouding of my inner knowing 

click, forward, like, share, and tweet
fair and balanced
the daily diary of the American dream
all the news that’s fit to print

immutable 
and distracting
like a howling airplane baby

poor mum
damn baby

damn mum
poor baby

othering

seductive 
like an ice cold beer
hot, salty french fries
or another slice of chocolate cake

how did I other today?

those people are not my people
that problem is not my problem
that place is not my place

alienate
vilify
repeat

conformity is obedient and compliant
far easier
than looking in the mirror
and down into my own heart

I know I should not utter a word
until I’ve walked at least 
ten steps in someone else’s
work-boots
sneakers
high heels
wing tips
flip flops
or bare feet

but I do
we all do 
and it’s destroying us

Thank you Title IV & Little Big Town!


I don’t know how this song wasn’t on my radar until yesterday.

I came of age in rural South Dakota in the 70s and 80s. There were a lot of mixed messages around gender roles, religious beliefs regarding women’s place in home and society and male privilege.

Thank goodness for Title IV.

On June 23, 1972, the President signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. into law. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.

Without middle & high school athletics, I don’t know exactly where my resilience would’ve come from. I was a creative, slightly above average student—I just didn’t (and still don’t) get any juice from good grades.

I remember how patiently my late father fostered my young girl inner athlete. My Dad used the intelligence most readily available to him to teach what he highly valued; practice to improve, leadership, resilience and team work.

In the 70s and 80s in rural South Dakota, that pretty much makes Dad a feminist. He would find that funny, but I doubt would disagree.

Definition of FEMINISM noun

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

(Merriam Webster)

Thank you Little Big Town!

horizontal mystery ship—for Dad

HORIZONTAL MYSTERY SHIP

when you leave at seventeen
rarely home
more than two weeks at a time 
months, years and decades
can be surprisingly unreliable markers of adulthood

only once
in the summer of ‘88
a recent college grad
wide-eyed and wanderlust-fueled
my tonsils required more
I stayed a whole month

once healed, packed, and in possession of necessary visas
off to the southern hemisphere
a young pioneer 
in search adventure
and different stars

now, when visiting 
after a lifetime lived elsewhere
grey hairs visible
no matter my efforts
I find myself
sliding into a peculiar second adolescence of sorts

driving Dad’s truck 
windows down, hair blowing 
mile after mile of expansive, wild beauty 
the prairie 
a determined cellular homesteader 
forever staking a claim in my blood and bones

I want to sneak out to the bar
play Space Invaders
sadly, no longer a standard
unlike 1982
drink beer, eat junk food
and avoid the endless expectations of being a grown-up

Looking back with midlife sensibilities 
I realize
those late nights in high school
tenth grade, I believe
laser focused, playing Space Invaders
provided a surprisingly valuable education 

initials entered, quarters stacked
protect the bunkers, defeat the aliens
monitor the horizontal mystery ship with vigilance 
my peripheral vision unknowingly trained 
to notice things beyond immediate scope
bonus points pinged
while friends waited impatiently

twenty more minutes, please

under a waning August moon
only one lunar phase ago
I was still my father’s daughter
a middle-aged, South Dakota teenager
pretending time actually plays tricks
wanting desperately to disregard reality 

one more visit on the calendar
one more phone call
cheeseburger or ice cream cone 
one more evening watching
Everybody Loves Raymond
M.A.S.H. 
or Mayberry RFD

twenty more minutes, please

quarters stacked no longer
Space Invaders
the nearly forgotten teenage relic 
of a heartbroken
fifty-something
fatherless daughter

once again, 
I am protecting my bunkers
monitoring a new horizontal mystery ship
paying very close attention
to what's just beyond my immediate scope

just twenty more minutes, please

in the ruins…my love story

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a rigid or fluid heart? choose.

 

I don’t want half of my heart to be stone-like.

Thankfully, we always have a choice between being rigid or fluid.

 

life is choices.

When I carefully choose what I want to pay attention to, my heart swells.

When I let the world be in charge of what I should pay attention to, my heart sinks.