AS SIMPLE AS THAT

 

AS SIMPLE AS THAT

my man is away
i am quiet
left behind
with coffee and the cats

i remember back
when i was young
left behind
with drama twisted sheets
an empty bed

like jane
the girl with one eye
and lopsided perspective
she is young
swimming in the pool
of sex
thinking
analyzing
determining
figuring
strategizing
preaching change
blaming
left behind
with the why of it all

she doesn’t know
what being young
is for, to dive
into drama
and love it

to feel the water
thick with scum
coat your skin
to digest
each swallow
each blow
each thrust
each wave
with conviction

i watch jane
kick flail
cry against the current

– move with it –
i say
-before him
i moved with it, let
it snap me about –
she isn’t listening

i don’t tell her
that i let the rock
smoke sex whatever
pull and push me
whenever
wherever

my man
he didn’t come
to me
the current
delivered me
right up
to the empty
barstool
to his right

i looked over
saw his hazel eyes
shaded
with thick black lash

i spoke
he answered
it was as simple as that

**This is a poem from my book, as simple as that

 

Apology

Photo credit Carolyn Ziel

Merriam Webster defines Apology as an admission of error or an expression of regret. This is not the type of apology I receive all that often. And mainly I don’t receive this type of apology from women. Girlfriends.

This morning I made a list. On it are two A’s, a B, two C’s, and two D’s. There are more than three J’s, two L’s and two S’s. There’s an M, and even a Y. The Y for Yvonne. She and I knew each other for a short time in the 90’s.

“Justin said you left this at the apartment,” Yvonne said and plopped a bulging white trash bag on the floor by my desk one morning. She and I worked at the same medical software company. I was the executive assistant to the president. I sat in a cubicle outside of his office in the executive suite. Yvonne was an admin in human resources.

She and I met the weekend I moved into the one bedroom apartment in her building. I shared that apartment with Justin. “You sleep here,” Justin said when he showed me the bedroom. “Where do you sleep?” I asked. “Sofa,” he replied.

It was a big apartment. I was looking for a job. I knew I would find one soon and that during the week I’d be at work. On weekends outside, away, busy. At the beach. By the pool, which was steps from the front door. I was sure I’d never see him. The building was on the alley that butted up to The Cow’s End Coffee shop. I once counted 150 steps from my bedroom to my morning vanilla hazelnut cup of coffee and just 150 more to the sand. To be this close to the beach, I could make it work. “Don’t worry,” he said and smiled “I’m hardly home. And I have a girlfriend.”

Not only was Justin home all the time, he seemed to sleep during the day and cook pork chops in an iron skillet at 2 in the morning. Smoke from his burnt meat hung in the air. He kept the shades drawn day and night. It was like living in a dungeon.

5 1/2 months later I signed the lease for a bright beach front studio on the Esplanade in Redondo.

I didn’t remember leaving anything behind at Justin’s. In fact, I was careful to leave my room in good condition. And if I did forget anything, it couldn’t have been so much as to fill a trash bag.

“What is this?” I said to Yvonne and reached for the bag. It was too heavy to lift from my seat. The white plastic was stretched tight around it’s contents.

“Justin said you left it at the apartment,” she said.

I opened the bag. The smell of rotten-alley-behind-a-restaurant-on-a-busy-Saturday-night filled my cubicle and pushed up into my nose and down my throat. I looked inside. I saw two empty milk cartons, a stick of butter, an open carton of broken eggs, papers, envelopes, a car magazine, empty tuna and sardine cans. I reached in the bag and pulled out an Edison invoice from a bill paid months before. I held up the stained damp paper. It was dripping with egg yolk. A glob of coffee grinds fell from it onto the floor. I looked at Yvonne. This girl had just delivered a bag of garbage to my desk in the executive suite of a 100 million dollar software company. What the fuck?

“Yvonne, can’t you see this is a bag of garbage?” I said.

“I didn’t look inside,” she said.

“I don’t drink milk,” I said. As if that mattered.

“Justin said it was your stuff and he asked me to do him a favor. He’s my friend.”

Yvonne and I were friends. We tripped around Venice together, shopped at the boardwalk, went on long bike rides, lay by the pool on Saturdays and went to the C&O Trattoria with her fiancé Mark. We drank too much from the honor bar, sang That’s Amore and clinked glasses. It was Yvonne who told me about this job.

“Aren’t we friends?” I asked.

Yvonne never apologized.

I’m sure at the time I was upset about it. I might have called Justin. I might have said something to the girls I worked with. I might have, but the truth is, I don’t remember. It’s not as vivid a scene as you might think. I don’t even remember that much about her. We were friends for what, six months? I remember she was pretty in a nondescript way. I don’t remember her being intelligent. I mean this is a girl that delivers a bag of garbage to someone at a place of business. Who does that?

I moved on. I do that, I move on. I fold the experience, tuck it away, file it and store it in the back of my closet. I didn’t plan on pulling it out today, but I stumbled over it on my way to some other story about some other girlfriend who did some other thing and forgot to apologize.

Delivering garbage to me at work isn’t the worse offense. It’s stupid, yes. It’s a nasty thing to do. She could have said no. The normal person would have said, ‘Uh, yeah, I can’t bring a bag of garbage into work, sorry dude.’ I have a feeling Yvonne might not have been that type of girl. I have a feeling she was unhappy. That she and Mark might not have made it as a couple. He might have cheated on her. Maybe they never even got married. She complained about him a lit. He didn’t buy her flowers. He didn’t want to plan set a date, plan a wedding. She hated his stack of Playboy and Penthouse on their coffee table. He flirted with other women. I think he flirted with me. Maybe I was a threat. I’m not saying I was, I don’t think I was his type. I have a feeling Yvonne wasn’t his type either. I didn’t think much of Mark. Guys with stacks of girlie mags never did do it for me. Besides, I was dating Lasher at the time. He was good in bed, although I’m pretty sure he was gay.

Trash is easy. You clean up the coffee grinds. You throw it away. It was a long time ago. It’s just a thing that happened. A story. An incident that didn’t leave a scar. The Y in a long list of letters.

Here’s another definition of apology: something that is said or written to defend something.

That’s the type of apology I receive most often. The “I’m sorry but…” The apologoy that implies it’s my fault. That I made them do it. As if I’m the devil.

Blood Spatter

I have always liked a clean floor. It might have something to do with the way I was raised. When I was growing up our floors were spotless and the carpet was vacuumed each day. You could see paw prints from our 8 pound cat indented into the plush carpet.

IMG_20151023_072907737 copy

Mahalo

I ask that people remove their shoes before they come into our home. I placed a ceramic plaque I bought in Hawaii by our front door that reads: “Maholo for removing your slippers…(But no take mo’ bettah ones when you leave!)”

I know people make fun of me. That’s okay. I know where their feet have been. They’ve been to the alley behind a favorite restaurant to get to that secret parking place no one else knows about. They’ve been in the restroom at the airport or worse, the toilet on a plane. They’ve been to the doggie park, the gym and the gas station.

Most people are good about taking off their shoes. They’ll leave them outside at the front door or step onto the doormat inside and take off their shoes.  There are those individuals that will walk in to our home without thinking and wander into the living room. I have to remind them to ‘please take off their shoes.’

After a dinner party I’ll grab my Commercial Grade Microfiber Dust Mop from the hall closet, secure a clean mop pad to the Velcro backing and polish the floors. You’d be surprised at the number of crumbs that drop from an Hors d’oeuvres on the way to someone’s mouth or the particles that fall from dinner plates and forks onto the floor.

There are exceptions to any rule, of course, and I’ve had shoes-on parties. These are usually catered events. We set out tables in the back yard, set up a bar on the driveway and let people have the run of the property. We leave the doors open and lock the cats away in a back room. Once we even had dancing. Someone wore black rubber soled shoes that night. After the last guest left, I went through the house and rubbed until each scuffmark was erased.

I like walking on clean floors with clean feet.

These days I spend a lot of time on my hands and knees cleaning droplets of blood from the floors. Our cat has a tumor growing inside of his mouth. It pushes against his teeth and his tongue. After he eats, blood pools at the corner of his mouth, drips to the floor and leaves droplets smaller than a pea, the size of a blueberry or as big as a nickel.

Blood isn’t always red. It can be crimson, or maroon or rosewood. Blood clings to things. I clean the floor by the cat’s food dish, near the back door where he sits and cackles at squirrels and crows. I clean under the kitchen table where he naps in the late afternoon. I clean outside our bedroom door where he guards us at night.

There is blood splatter all over our house.

I use a mixture of Murphy’s Oil Soap and water to spray each droplet. I wait for the molecules to dissolve, I watch them loosen their grip. Then I wipe. Sometimes I’ll wind my way through the house following the trail of blood, stopping at each cluster to spray. Then I’ll loop my way back around and rub each spot clean.

I’ve been called neurotic. Maybe I’m compulsive. I don’t care.  Every day I clean my floors. I’ve perfected my process. Cleaning blood has become an art form.

Fred the Beautiful

My Red Bench

This morning I brought my coffee and my journal to the porch and sat on my bench. I love my bench. Not long after we moved in to our house I saw that the neighbors two doors down from us had a bench and I wanted one too. Their bench was honeydew green and had two white canvas accent pillows. It sat on the front porch under, what I assume to be, their kitchen window.

My Red Bench

My Red Bench

I wouldn’t call our neighborhood modern. In fact, except for the trees and a few over-the-top remodels, if you were to drive down our street, you might think it was 1956.  Most of the homes on our block have grass and maybe a brick pathway that leads from the curb or the driveway to the front steps.

The house with the honeydew green bench had curb appeal. One of the two women that lived there was rumored to be a landscape architect. She designed her front yard in sections with rock borders and exotic plants and a winding slate path that led you to the front of the house. When Bill and I first moved in, we’d walk over and take pictures of their plants so we could buy them and plant them in front of our house.

“I want a bench,” I said to Bill. We were standing in front of their house. I snapped a picture of their bench.

“I don’t know why they have that bench.”  Bill said. “I’ve never even seen them sit on it.”

“You don’t know.” I said and turned to Bill. “They might sit on it when we’re not looking.”

“We don’t need a bench.” Bill said. He was standing with his arms crossed staring at the house.

“It’s curb appeal.” I said. “I want a bench.”

Bill turned toward me. “You probably won’t ever sit on it.” He said.

“I’m buying a bench.” I said. Bill rolled his eyes. He turned and headed back to our house. I followed.

He stopped at the foot of our driveway and crossed his arms. I caught up and we stood there for a few moments looking at our home.

“I’ll go on line to that garden store, Smith & Hawken.” I said. “I bet that’s where they got their bench.”

“Don’t.” He said. “I’ll build you a bench.” I reached up on my tiptoes, kissed his cheek, and walked up the driveway to the house.

Bill built me a sturdy pine bench. I helped him paint it. We chose candy apple red. She sits at the end of our porch under the kitchen window. I bought two black pillows with white piping and lean into them as I write and sip coffee in the mornings. In the summer, our neighbors Susie and Jerry join us for cocktails or beers. Bill and Jerry stand in the driveway and talk about boy things like boats and the weather and motorcycles while Susie and I sit and page through the latest Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn catalogue. Bill and I sit on our bench and watch the rain. On warm nights, sit and we’ll look at the stars and talk. I love my red bench.

The two women have since moved and a couple bought the house. He’s tall and she has platinum blonde hair. I rarely see them. The lawn is dying and the plants look tired and thirsty.  The porch is empty.

The View From My Bench

The View From My Bench

We’ve gone drought resistant. Our gardener planted lots of colorful dwarf trees and shrubs like Dwarf Day Lillies, California Redbuds, Dusty Millers, Evergreen Current and Fairy Lilacs.  What once was our lawn is now river of grey sand and rock with blue grass accents that runs through pea gravel the color of the beach on a rainy day. When Bill gets home from work, we’ll sit on our red bench and watch the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds drift from flower to flower.

This morning I brought my coffee, my journal and one of my black pillows with white piping outside. I sat on my red bench. The air was thick. The clouds hung low and heavy in the pink and blue sky. A woman walked by with her dog and waved. I waved back.  A man jogged pass on the other side of the street. A white Toyota slowed down in front of our house and stopped. I noticed the driver lean toward the passenger side window and aim her phone at our front yard. I think she was taking a picture.

A View From My Bench

The View From My Bench

LOVE


love rock pink

I’ve been swimming in love’s Caribbean blue. Diving down to explore. I’ve found a huge living breathing love reef. I explore the complexity, what clings to my coral, grows on it, decorates it, burrows into it. Yes, that’s me teeming with love fauna. Every piece of my soft underbelly that might break off with time skitters and pulses with love, with life.

The deeper I dive into my truth, my love and my self, the easier it is to swim.  I don’t need to come up for air as much. I frolic. I’m like the Whales that have been playing and eating in the ocean off of Redondo.

I dove a little deeper on Friday.

I dove and drove way out of my comfort zone to UCLA. (Have you been down Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood lately? Yikes!) I took a deep breath and swam through the sculpture garden and came up for air in Public Policy.

I was invited to guest lecture. I spoke to 70 + students who majored in Business or Econ.

The class was engaged and asked a lot of questions.

The professor invited me back.

Someone from the humanities department took me to lunch.

She asked if I’d come speak to Humanities, English; if I’d participate in a panel.

YES

YES

YES

Ahhhhhhhh

As I left North Campus, making that familiar right turn onto Hilgard, I felt a wave of emotion move through me.

I had stepped into a greater appreciation for myself. I realize that for fear of bragging, I’ve diminished some of my accomplishments. I didn’t want to sound like so many people I meet. “And then I did this and then I did that and me me me me me!”

I know that harsh tinny blinding glare–the sharp, pointed light of someone trying to prove something. I read it in newsletters every day. They’re trying to sell me something. They’re me-ing me.

I used to have this friend. She would analyze me. She’d come to my house, step into my office wearing a tool belt complete with hammer, nails, a yellow highlighter and a Freudian textbook. She was ready to analyze, diagnose and repair. Once she told me that I was holding onto extra weight because I was insecure, that I was afraid of intimacy. She was incorrect. I was holding onto extra weight because I had just had a miscarriage.

Here’s the irony, that’s her issue, not mine. Projection.

Interesting. I see her posts on Facebook. We are still “friends” there. I’ve read some of her newsletters. I watch as she bobs on the  surface of herself.

My wish for her would be to dive deep. I know that diving deep isn’t all colorful fish and blue waters. Sometimes it’s dark and scary. I’ve gone down and I’ve wondered if there was any life force down there at all. Our strange creatures, anglerfish, and giant squid live deep, their tentacles reaching. Evolution has shaded their eyes

Dive down, come back, open your eyes, see and feel.

I own it. My mistakes. My faults. My history. I take responsibility. If you’ve read my poetry, you know some of it ain’t so pretty.

I think if that old friend were to analyze me today, I’d have a different response. Or I might not respond at all, because sometimes people can’t listen to what might be true. It’s too hard and so they reflect and deflect and project. It doesn’t matter what she’d say or do now or then, that’s the beauty.

All that matters is love. Love of self so you can Love others.

Ego=fear

Light=Shine=LOVE.

Valentine’s Day Wish

May you turn on your light,

May you dive into your glow

May you shine

May you shine

Baby SHINE!

From the inside out…

From you heart, not from your head.

 

Love yourself

Love love love

Wrap your arms around yourself and LOVE!

Wishing you a LOVEly Valentine’s Day,

Happy LOVE LOVE LOVE!

 

Write on,

 

carolyn first only sig

Unedited Sunday Morning Musings

 

today

when i was walking

sand slipping between my toes

heels sinking

and lifting

legs moving me forward

people lined up in pews

eyes closed

hands clasped

throats thick with hymn

and they prayed

 

while they sat

surfers AND dolphins

sunday morning redondo beach

in the white and blue

steepled building

down the street from my house

i watched

neoprene clad surfers

wait on waves

i watched

dolphins flip

through the gleam

of sun

a flicker-dance

on the water

i watched pelicans

and gulls dive

for their breakfast

 

i know it might be corny

to make such a simple

comparison

my church

to theirs

 

sometimes truth

is just that simple

 

Hello Moon**

Journal Entry:  August 11, 2014

 

full moon morning

Full Moon Morning

I stepped out onto the back porch this morning and looked up to see the moon, still full, setting in the sky. I don’t recall a full moon ever on an August 11th, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t ever happened.

Today is my birthday.

“What a nice surprise.” I tell the moon.

“Sure thing!” He says.  “Happy Birthday!”

“Thank you.” I say

That moon-man smiling down on me, greeting me on my special day, makes me think about how long I have been here. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve looked up and smiled at him in my five decades and one year.

I had my coffee, my vanilla protein shake with an organic peach and I wrote in my journal.  I left the house happy.  I drove through emptier-than-normal-for-a-Monday streets and parked in the almost vacant lot by my spinning studio.  I was greeted upstairs with smiles and birthday wishes.

During class, our instructor Mandy said, “Grab your water and grab your breath.” I don’t know if she meant to say grab, but that’s what I heard.

I looked over the parking lot, to the palm trees and couldn’t help but think about the word.  Grab.

What have I grabbed for in my life? What else will I reach for and grab? I grab a ripe Meyer lemon from our tree in the back yard — twist and pull.  I pluck opportunities as they ripen on their vines. What will I reach for next?

At 51, I am still like a child that picks and chooses what to discover and explore next.  Although, I haven’t had to grab for that much; the important, life-changing things come to me.

I get clear.
I ask.
I let go.
I receive.

It seems easy and in a way it is, but there is the work of getting clear and letting go, sometimes it can be a challenge. Although, at this place it isn’t as much work as it was when I was in another place.

That’s what happened with Bill.  It’s not that we didn’t reach for each other.  We did.  It’s how we came to be within each other’s reach, in that particular instant, that I find interesting.

I’ve written about it many times, it was as simple as that.

Why does the moon smile down on me?
Why did Bill and I get swaddled together in that moment?
Why am I blessed with this life?

I don’t know that I have answers for these questions.  I may never.  I’m good with that.  I’ll unwrap full moon birthday wishes, and magic instead of answers.

Happy Birthday to Me!

 

** Excerpt from the book that I am currently writing.

 

 

Submission Guidelines

 

“No poems about your morning coffee.”

But I love mine.

It’s organic,

French Roast,

expensive.

I prepare it the night before.

I think about how

the black liquid

will turn tan

when it mixes with the ½ and ½

on the bottom of my mug.

How I will stand at the kitchen sink,

look out the window

purse my lips

and sip.

 

Maybe that editorwoman-drinking-coffee_300

doesn’t understand

the hint of jasmine

on a spring evening,

the brush of your lover’s

finger on your thigh,

or the perfect cup

of coffee

kissing you full

smack on your lips

each morning.

LIP GLOSS

 

LIPGLOSS

My new year’s resolution this year is LIP GLOSS.

More shine
More sparkle
More glitter
More smooth
More softness
More satin and silk and suede
I love me some suede
More leather like butter
What the hell
More butter
Sweet creamy or salted
More open
More writing
More reading
More books
More of my words read by more and more and more people
More of my poems published
More of me published
More of my pieces published
More of my books sold
Even more love and joy and passion and happiness
Even More sex
More sex
What the hell
More sex
–You know it is the cure for the common everything
More grace
More gratitude
More appreciation
–Given and taken

 over exposed

So far, so good
We are three weeks
into 2014 and I leave the house
Lips Berry Beaming and Glossed
I’m Ginger Sensed and smiling Origins

My new years resolution this year is LIP GLOSS

What’s yours?

Let It Be Me

 

September comes and the days go tight.  Tentacles grasp, snatch, twist themselves, vines rooted deep crawl through my toes, wrap around my ankles, up my legs.  I watch the greens and pinks slip away to browns.  Slow hurries into quick, rushes about, reaches for dreams, planted from the year before.

Time runs click tock.

All those things folded and tucked away for another day.  All those things that have to be pulled out from underneath the brush, all those things in rooted under beds rotting in corners of bed rooms and offices and kitchens.  All those things to be dug out from the back of junk drawers, unearthed in kitchens to be tilled and spread, seeded and separated.  Thank you’s, happy birthday’s, congratulation’s, good job’s, rsvp’s, broken promises to be studied, analyzed, organized, donated, tossed, remembered, burned, ritualized, scrubbed clean. Stapled, paper clipped, rubber banded, shredded. Candle burning sticks and stones may break my bones and what about the Elmer’s Glue from years and years and years and those years so long ago?

Time is winding down.

Leaves change and let go they fall fire red decompose yellow. Die transparent.  Crackle crisp under the boots of plaid skirted pony-tailed schoolgirls that carry pink and purple backpacks and text on their smart phones.  We wrote notes on lined loose leaf that we  folded into triangles and passed back and forth at recess.

In September my skin catches fire.leaves fire

It reminds me
I have been attached to grief.

Rattled. Shingled. Raw.

I remember.  I feel back into the pins and needles and numb of twenty-five Septembers ago.  I remember winding my 280 ZX through Laurel and Mulholland and Cold Water.  I remember swerving and skidding and the squealing breaks, let it be me, let it be me, let it be me, let it be me… slicing through thick canyon on heavy Autumn days.  I remember careening into Beverly Hills. Let it be me.   I remember white piles, powder dumped from brown glass onto dirty mirrors sniffed from pinkies and thumbs and tiny spoons and keys, the razor clicks divvy out lines to be snorted and sucked up and smoked and the rolled dollar bills, used and smelling acrid sweet. Absolute bloodied white light late night Marlboro Lights rock line shots and Hendrix till sun light .  Let it be me.

Hot fire harvest moon shines.
I remember
that dream.

Time brands.
I itch.
I scratch.
I pick
I irritate my scars.

Meanwhile, September speeds up, plows through October into November and burrows under the white winter blankets of drift for hibernation.

I am awake
I remember a dream.

Let it be me.