Monday, July 6, 2015

Five Day Poetry Challenge, Poem 2: Coming Full Circle

They say the surest way to make God laugh is to tell her your plans.  Remember last week, when I said I was jumping into a five-day poetry challenge?  I triumphantly posted the first of what was to be five new poems written in a week, Mother's Face In My Own Mirror.  Then, I got sick.  Seriously sick.  Hospital sick.  I was down for the count for most of last week and spent much of the weekend asleep.  Today is the first day I have even attempted to work.  So I have created poem two for the challenge, Coming Full Circle.  This one is about my dad, a complicated man from whom I have had to distance myself in every possible way.  Dad is bad for my well-being and bad for my family.  I am sure I have relatives who wish I would not confront these truths so publicly.  I tend to think open wounds heal faster when exposed to fresh air.  

Here is Coming Full Circle.
Read it below or listen to it on SoundCloud.  

Coming Full Circle
by Stephanie Mesler

There are constellations I would not see and cries I would not hear,
had I not learned to live with my insides always turned out,
exposed and bleeding, open
to life and experience, to knowledge and pain and joy and fury.
You made me who I am.  
Sometimes, I think that’s a good thing.

You were the daddy who built swings and filled my sandbox.  
You tied my rubber raft with rope so I could not drift into waters above my head.  
You made a chicken wire playpen, so that I could crawl on lush bluegrass
while you read the world’s great books, sometimes out loud,
and sang me opera and spirituals and talked with passersby.

You were the unpredictable dad, who sometimes went awol,
who was quick to rage, impossible to please.  
Sometimes, you hit.  Often, you bullied.  
You were competitive for me
and against me.

You were the father everyone envied
because I did not tell them what might have made you look less than…
I tried to be one of your accomplishments
It was never enough.
You did not love
the daughter,
the girl,
the child who could not be molded in your image

I tried to get it right,
dated men like you,
men you mostly hated.  
You saw yourself in them and could not look in the mirror without flinching.
That is, I suppose, a sign of...something.  

Through the decades of my life
I have fallen again and again into the trap of happy memory,
allowed the danger of relationship to be outweighed by shimmering, gooey, optimism.
Last time ‘round, I said I was done, and I am.
Now, we do not speak --
having hit a wall too high for me to climb again
(I’m not young anymore myself, you know)
I slammed a door shut behind me so that you can never again walk through uninvited.

When I think of you, it is mostly in shades of yellow and blue, happy thoughts that tell half the tale:
the Christmas of 100 books,
singing together from a balcony,
watching live ballet,
the way you cooked white fish in red sauce when Mom was away,
how we made up fantastic stories about complete strangers to pass the time on long trips.  
I remember the charm and humor, the intellect and art.  
There are dreams I would not have,
stories I could not tell,
songs I could not sing,
had it not been you Mother chose, though no one will ever know why.

You will be dead soon.
For better or for worse, that will bring relief.
Then, I will dispel the somber murk of darker memory and
create a vast and glowing void to be refilled with more of what made you Daddy.  
In my fantasy, it is safe to be your child,
safe to open the door one last time before it’s too late,
safe to say goodbye, face to face.  
I will one day write that scene, though it will never happen.
I will give myself the gift of coming full circle.  

"Coming Full Circle" is (c) 2015 Stephanie Mesler.  All rights reserved by Stephanie Mesler.  No portion of this poem may be performed or copied in any form without express consent from the poet.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Five Day Poetry Challenge: Mother's Face In My Own Mirror

A few week's back, my friend, Judy Cullen asked me to follow her in a challenge to produce five new, complete poems in five days.  I watched as Judy did a marvelous job with her five poems and I felt inspired.  Unfortunately, the timing was such that I had to delay accepting her challenge until now.  

I have decided to treat these five poems as a tool for, A., brushing up my writing turn-around skills, and B., clearing out some emotional gunk that, from time to time, needs clearing.  All five poems will address personal issues and personal feelings.  Yes, a wee bit of navel gazing lies ahead, but I hope it is productive navel gazing that can be useful to many people in addition to myself.  

The first poem, completed about an our ago is addressed to my mother.  I miss her every single day and am actually surprised to find that to be the case.  At the time of her death, we were estranged.  I wish I had known then what I know now.  Hindsight being what it is, I realize how she must have suffered without me and why she punished herself and those around her.  It took more than a decade after her death before I could even begin to look into the pain she and I caused one another and the pain, caused by others or by no one at all, that we shared.  It was another ten years before I could write about her lovingly.  Now, I am so grateful she was my mother and so very grateful for the many gifts she gave me.  

A few days ago, someone on Facebook posted that old noggin thunker-- "If you could spend one hour talking with anyone, living or dead or fictional, who would it be?"  My answer came back before I'd even considered other options -- "My mother, for sure."  Being a writer, I am lucky in that I can have that conversation even in Mother's absence.  I can put myself in her mind and create a conversation that should have happened 25 years ago but didn't.  

Here is Monday's poem:  
Read it below or listen to it on SoundCloud

Mother's Face In My Own Mirror
by Stephanie Mesler

Someone asked, and I answered:
It is you with whom I would spend that magical  extra hour,
the one that can never come, about which we all imagine -
you, whom I did not understand while understanding might have mended our breach.

You saw my future.
You’d lived it all yourself already.  
You knew my future because it had once been your own.  
The hopes, the dreams,
the fears, and the anger -  
they were yours long before they became mine.
You understood my tears when that first boyfriend stood me up.
Decades before, you’d watched sadly from a window, waiting for one who’d never come.
You understood my fury when chosen last or chosen not at all.  
You had also worn gym suits that did not fit because they only came to size 14.  
More articulate even than Jesus, you lived your life misunderstood,
trying hard to be heard, clear and strong and true.  

You were a “people person.”  You knew how to make people feel warm and welcome.
I saw you wrap strangers in immediate acceptance and friends in absolute safety.
I also saw you crush the souls of the sanctimonious,
send glaring daggers into the hearts of fools,
and lose yourself to well-earned self-pity.

When I speak to my daughter, I hear your voice
Your words come back to haunt me and I know it makes you smile,
not from cruel pleasure in my pain, but from righteous satisfaction.
Validation is a good thing.

There are days when I say, I want my mommy,
and it’s true - I would like to lean on you now,
knowing what I now know you knew,
knew all along.  
I have avoided saying to my daughter, one day you will see and then you’ll be sorry.  
I’d like to think I learned from your mistakes even as I did not accept your wisdom.  

In my mirror now, I see your shape and your mother’s shape  and her mother’s and her mother’s and so on, a throng of broad, bright women, who survived through one another...
I see your smart humor and permanent sadness in eyes that aren’t coloured like yours at all.  
I see hair that curls at certain lengths, my grey appearing where yours first appeared.
I can see you reaching for a bottle of dye as I do now.  

I feel your arms around my shoulders
your breath in my ear.  
I hear you hum, in your bar-room rusty tenor,
Though you’ll roam, a minstrel lonely,
All through the night,
Mother love will guide you only,
All through the night.
When your dreams are crushed and plundered
Mama’s love will ne’er be sundered
Love will bring you still more wonders
All through the night.

"Mother's Face In My Own Mirror" is (c) 2015 Stephanie Mesler.  All rights reserved by Stephanie Mesler.  No portion of this poem may be performed or copied in any form without express consent from the poet.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

FREE Audio Book If You Purchase Ebook or Paperback of Escape From Pig Hill

It's not a professionally created audio book.  I made it myself using Audacity on my PC in my living room.  I am NOT a sound engineer, but I did my best with I had on hand.  I think the sound of my dog barking at the mailman adds color and makes this recording extra personal and extra special.  If you want one, you could buy one from me for $19.99 or you can buy a copy of Escape From Pig Hill (either the paperback or the ebook) and get the audio book for FREE.  All you have to do is send me a picture of yourself holding the book and I'll send you the ebook.  Easy Peasy and all that, huh?  So what are waiting for?  Get out there and buy your copy of Escape From Pig Hill today!  Then do whatca gotta do to get your audio book FREE.  Email  

Get the book HERE.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Steph's Bowl of Cherries: Wisdom From Woofy Woofster

I am working on a new book, starring WOOFY WOOFSTER, who is based on my own Jack Russell Terrier. Rexalicious, Dog of Love. Rex really does get sad when I -- uh -- dress -- to go out.

Steph's Bowl of Cherries: Wisdom From Woofy Woofster

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Finally! *Escape From Pig Hill* is released!

Escape From Pig Hill is the first volume in The Ballad of Donny Granger.  Donny is a sweet, smart kid from West Virginia who is surrounded by men who think he is too prissy to have around. Donny's best friend is Mean Margaret Adelbaum, who has major daddy issues.  Together, these two will face a lot of nasty obstacles before finally making their Escape From Pig Hill.  

BUY Escape From Pig Hill Today!  You can get the audio book free just by sending me a picture of yourself, holding the book!  

Keywords:  Young Adult, Coming of Age, LGBT, Fiction