me and ezno
I hate dogma, but I love dogs.  This one is named Ezno. 

I’ve said it before, and in the interest of being utterly redundant, I’ll say it again. I’m a deeply spiritual person. (We all are, I believe, but some of us are more consciously aware of the spiritual pursuit than others.) I keep the particulars of my spirituality pretty close to my heart, not because I’m “ashamed” of it, but because the deeper I step into the reality I have been guided into, the more personal it becomes, the more I know I can never teach anyone anything, nor can anyone really teach me. The best I can do is point at someone’s heart and say, “There’s the door. Walk through it.”

I believe no two paths are the same, because the path to truth is about undoing your own bullshit, and you have very different bullshit than I do. Your bullshit is your personal hell. My bullshit is my personal hell. To leave hell, we must walk a path into ourselves, and out again, through the other side, into freedom, and man, it has taken me years to even begin to unravel the mysterious mess of me. I can’t imagine taking a stab at you.

So I said all that to say I’m very hesitant to put pen to page to try to express some of my path to people. I don’t want to give people a formula. Formulas are bullshit. Dogma becomes a thread in the noose around a person’s neck, binding him to the illusion of unbelovedness and death. Anytime you take a living truth and turn into a fixed fact or rule, you have performed a sick alchemy. Living things move and breathe. Dead things stay the same and rot.

But. I like to think about the nature of reality, and I also like to talk about it. I think it’s really exciting. Frankly, I’m bored by a lot of things these days, but the reality underlying “reality” is endlessly fascinating to me. I like to read religious texts and quantum physics. I like to think about the things other human beings have postulated about the nature of reality. My heart beats faster when I read about the things scientists are discovering now. So I write about it and then never show it to anyone, for fear of adding to the burden of dogma that is busy suffocating this planet. But today, I’m writing for love and interest in sharing, not in the interest of creating dogma or setting anything in stone, saying, “Hey, from one fucked up person to another, let’s chat.” Please take it in the spirit which it was intended.

I’ve spent my morning thinking about lack. Jesus said, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” I think there is a root at the root of the love of money, and that is fear of lack. We believe there isn’t enough. We believe it is possible to be worthless, not just financially speaking, but holistically speaking. We believe we are nothings that have to fight for every bit of love and sustenance we get, and so, this becomes our reality. We believe we are finite beings competing with one another for a finite set of resources, so we create haves and have nots, go about the business of oppressing and killing one another so we can be the “haves.” We become grasping, desperate, hateful things.

I know there is a better way. I’ve by no means perfected it, but I’ve seen it in action again and again in my own life. We are, in fact, creating this “reality.” I see people who hear this and then try really hard to “manifest” wealth (or love or power or whatever) and get nothing and say it’s not real.

If some of the very rudimentary science that links human emotion to the creation of reality is to be believed (and I think it is), our realities are affected by a very basic belief system, something that produces genuine emotion in us, not a conjured, drummed up, desperate grab for wealth. The emotion underlying the act of grasping for wealth is, in fact, a deep seeded belief in lack and worthlessness. That is what “reality” reads and manifests–the profound desperation underlying the grab. And I think as long as our first response to this kind of knowledge is a grab for physical wealth, or physical anything, we are operating from the place that says we don’t have enough. And whatever results we get, they will be a twisted, crippling manifestation of our belief in our own worthlessness.

I think growth into beings that can manifest something outside of this limited lack reality (limited by our collective minds) takes years and years of un-brainwashing, of coming to understand one’s own worth, of coming to see that so much of what you’ve believed about your value and the meaning of life is flawed. It has nothing to do with a grab for money because once you begin to scratch the surface of your own belovedness, you also begin to understand that you are utterly provided for, and although we have all worked very hard to create this “reality” of lack together, and although we are all born into it, and brainwashed by it, and begin feeding into it very early in life, there is a way out.

And that way out is written on our hearts. We have to listen to them. We have to override the decades of conditioning and brainwashing we have undergone since our arrival on this planet, because truth does live inside us. Not outside. Inside. When you start listening to that still, small voice within and taking the tiny steps of truth-telling and courage it asks of you, you start to notice that the world around you is conspiring with it. With you. You start to see that none of this has ever been random, that you have always had way more power than you believed. You are not a victim of fate. You are not worthless. You are not ugly. You are not a reject. You are a dazzling child of the divine. And underneath all of the years of hardened black earth ooze coated on your gorgeous mind, you are unbroken.

And if ever I’ve seen a really wonderful way to “manifest” good things, it’s by starting to express gratitude for the good things I already have. When I make a list and say, “I’m grateful I had enough to eat today,” I might not feel much gratitude when I first start that list, but if I keep going, by the time I get 20 lines down, and I’m saying, “I’m grateful that I have two beautiful, loving, amazing children,” I’m really feeling the “thank you.” And every time, when I feel that “thank you,” good things start to happen.

Conversely, I’ve noticed when I start making lists of reasons my day was shitty (“I got stuck in traffic,” “the Fed Ex guy was a jerk,”) the bad stuff starts swirling, and viola, I have a super shitty day on my hands. So I guess I think that if you want to break through some of your own bullshit without rerouting your entire psyche, making lists is a good way to start, because eventually, you’ll build up some true emotion, and it will manifest.

And I know there are people reading this getting angry, saying, “What about the babies that are abused? What about wars? There are true victims.” I’d say yes, I absolutely agree with that. And I don’t have easy answers. I am by no means am claiming to be a guru that understands all things. On my best day, I’m fifty shades of fucked-up. I am only observing things I’ve noticed in my own life. I do believe we are all victims of the reality we are creating together. Our collective bullshit has produced some truly horrific bullshit, and we victimize the hell out of ourselves and each other.

But I do think that the way to start changing that is by changing our own hearts and minds. If we all have been given a plot in the garden of existence (our own mind), we can control what goes into our plot. I can weed and fertilize my plot, or I can fill the ground with arsenic. If I do fill it with arsenic, it will leach into the soil of the plot next to me, and maybe the one next to that, and on and on and on. But if I feed my plot well, yank out the weeds, fertilize it, that goodness will leach out too. We don’t have to have all the answers to begin. Maybe all we have is questions. But we can begin, right? And we have to start at home. We have to start with the messy, mysterious mind we can touch.




When God called, I answered,

though I didn’t hear him ringing at first.

It sounded like sand in my ears, or pavement,

stone streets gone rogue

wetting my dreams with concrete.


But I answered the next day

gave him my back

said, “Strap those wings on tight.

I’m ready to fly.

Eve’s fruit was underrated.

Feed that apple to me twice.”


God obliged, said “Your flight to Eden is booked.

Show up a day late, in style.”

Tonight, the moon hangs heavy

a weight around my waist

dragging me down through the slick slog of modern mundanity


but when the sun comes up tomorrow

I’ll soar.

By the time the moon opens her one white eye again

I’ll be in another world

licking electric lips

dancing with the light.


The night is heavy.

God, wait for me.

I’ll probably be drunk

and unprepared

for an encounter of this magnitude.

If it pleases you, adopt an attitude of compassion.

Laissez-faire seems fair.

I haven’t pedicured my toes in months.

The soles of my shoes are shot.


I threw the dice twice, bought a ticket to your promised land.

Take my hand.

I’ll be waiting.

Like the fabled City of God,

I’ll be awake from dawn to dawn.

I’ll host 777 ragers.

I’ll never sleep again.








We all want wings. I’ll buy mine, sinewy, made of steel, lifting me high until men scuttle below,

bees on fruit sucking up juice, spinning honeyed magic.

I’ll become a bee myself, settle on the big apple’s skin, sleep curled in a cocoon of Times Square dreams and spotlight beams. I’ll skitter along the seam that lies between the Atlantic and the land, find the hand of the man who was born to die to live again.

I’ll take his fingers on my tongue.

Tarry sands have damned my ocean of gold. This river runs thin. Twenty-two angels have turned their coats leaving me with just three pennies and a note my father wrote me:

“Stay strong until the end, and when The Man calls you’ll know it’s time to soar.”

So I wait for the phone to ring. Winds roar, threatening the walls of this cabin in the woods. Day-of-directions are no good. I must be given the time to rise. I’ll do anything to find God. I’ll scale the Empire State Building, but tickets to heaven are twice the price when you don’t buy them in advance. I don’t have cash to chance it.

My eyes burn with a billion calendar suns. Moon phases phase me. I want numbers, man, the day the hand will slide into my mouth.

Monday? Tuesday? Wednesday?

God, rig the game in my favor, you dig? Dot my dreams with specificity.  If you can’t speak yourself, send a saint. Peter knows shit. I listen to the secrets scribbled behind his smile. He was always the rock, and I knew it. (Who knew The Son’s #1 wore flannel?) I haven’t seen him in a while. Tell him I say “thank you.”

Also, say: “St. Peter, the queen wants a fortune teller, a crystal ball, a string of tarot cards. The whys have been scribbled in the space behind her eyes for centuries. She has the where. She wants some whens. Send her a clock, a calendar page, and then she will deign to offend the river, lift what’s left of her gold to her lips and drink it.”

We all want wings. I’ll buy mine, gossamer webs of spring.

I’ll trade him seven strands of the Magdalene’s hair for a divot dug in the side of an hourglass, marking the week a goddess dons a disguise, wanders across the land, licks electric liberty’s torch, drains all that’s left in her dwindling stream

for one last chance to drink from the hand of God.



Tawni flask mouth open, final

I miss you the way I’d miss my toenails if they were pulled out by the mafia, or the way I’d miss my eyes if I stared into the sun until I went blind.  I miss you the way a madman misses his mind, achingly, in starts and fits, almost forgetting I ever had you sometimes.  I miss you the way Jesus missed his skin when they flailed it from his back. Call it blasphemy, but I won’t lie. I cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” on the daily, but what I mean by God is you, even though you’re not gone, just locked up in that matchbox with a newborn swan, a few hairpins, and a bag of rocks.

Whales un-blue themselves, flinging their great, heaving bodies on the beach, tails thrashing, reaching for your wonder.  Pirate ships give up their plunder, renounce their lives of crime, go straight. Tectonic plates shift when you sneeze.  When you pass, lampposts bend, hissing yellow breath into smog tainted breeze, to ask if you’re shamanic.

You drift to me like incense through the air conditioning vents of every rented room I find.  You say my name in braille sometimes.  You teach me to see in tongues.  Once, I ran my hands over the rungs of the ladder of your rib cage, and I climbed a thousand miles.  Your smile has become my anchor to this world.  If not for you, I’d melt away, and I wouldn’t care.  A reverse Rapunzel, I’d follow the rope of my hair down, down, down, to the ground, then under.

Just now, mist you hovers over that chair in the corner, invisibly missing me, whispering the secrets of God in the rasping language of rattlesnakes maraca-ing through the window.  Reptiles always shake after the rain, the way trains always blow their whistles when Nina Simone plays.

Last night, as stars cast pulsing purple over low-hanging clouds, I plucked a dream from your head, saw me in a subway. You were there. You smiled, and shards of moonlight hung from your hair, slicing your skin ‘til it glowed.  You took my hand and towed me to the other end of the world.  I can’t dance, but I followed you, and it worked out fine.  My spine tingled when you touched my back, turning me.  You had feet enough for two.  I wanted to tell you I loved you, but you already knew, and anyway, you didn’t have time for small talk.

You laid me on the rock of Gibraltar, made an altar of my lips.  I laughed, took the miracle of you on my tongue, swallowed you whole the way a starving woman downs cool milk.  The nighttime licked me alive, silk on my skin.   You sang in the sinless language of Christ, and thrice, the train running past wept, so I knew Johnny Cash’s ghost was on board.  Roosters crowed in reverse, so I knew St. Peter had un-denied. I tasted your salt, so I knew I’d died and gone to heaven.

“Capiche?” you asked.

“Capito,” I whispered.

Prufrock measured his life in coffee spoons.  I measure mine in the bumps on your tongue.


pink skyI drove a million miles to find home today, newborn spring sizzling the skyline pink.

I found God, a muraled man, white braids, brown hat. He didn’t shine, but behind him, a blue sun burned like it meant business.

I told him, “I’ll be looking for love in all the wrong places every night, hanging out across the street, eating lemon cake, drinking coffee, watching you do your thing.  It’s a shot in the dark, but what’s a girl supposed to do?”

“Spring forward, fall back,” he proclaimed. The words seemed to have a deeper meaning, cartwheeling from his tongue.

“I’m not dumb, but I don’t get it,” I whispered, wishing I spoke fluent God.

He smiled, or tried, but bits of bird wing and clotted paint kept him from moving his eyes. The grin didn’t even touch his teeth.

I asked him if he liked my heart. He said it smelled like rain. A train trundled by, or a trolley.  It was hard to tell in the dark. He handed me a wad of cash, said, “Wait for your miracle.  I’m trying.”

My heart banged against my ribs, a crazed rat in a cage. I wandered past a drunken frog. It didn’t want to talk.

(God told me that I should let you lead. Step slowly. I can’t even see your feet.)

I eat my weight in snickerdoodles

leave you flowers on the sidewalk

seven shreds of butterfly wing

buckets of acid rain

three strands of graying hair

two bolts of rusty lightning

a wad of gently used gum.

purple graffiti that says your name

so close to God’s toes, he’d kick it

if he wasn’t frozen like that

his feet buried deep in asphalt.

I showed up.

God tried to smile.

I rest my head on the tip of His oil paint thumb

and wait.



Last night, I sat at a coffee shop and sipped wine while writing.  The logical/editing half of my brain has been in overdrive for weeks, so I needed to engage the other half before I went nuts. To help my students get in touch with their subconscious minds, I often encourage them to write whatever comes into their heads without stopping or censoring themselves in any way, so I did what I ask them to do. This is what I wrote.  It makes no sense, I know. (Well, Freud might have a field day with it.)  But I thought it was kind of bizarrely pretty anyway.  So I’m sharing it.


Beloved, I tried to ride to you.  All my horses died.  The apocalypse is upon us.  Wells of holy water have dried, leaving me stranded in this desert, cold and alone.  I wait on my father’s mountain, chant mantras on his grave, eating cactus fruit, doing my best to stave off Armageddon.

Last night, stars fell, and so what? As if the death of everything was any match for love. As if darkness ever once shoved light down so far it never came back up.

If I can’t ride, I’ll walk to you. 

I’ll find you four days after the birth of spring, in the place where a newly painted sun Lazaruses, murals out over concrete, echoes of Diego Rivera casting blue Chilean glow. Ra blazes. The broad gaze of God burns the way clear. Already, six sentinels, mountains made of tin cans, stand near the street, rattling to let you know

your queen comes.

I’ll send you a message in a bottle, written in the language of doves. Our love is the strongest, longest song I have ever known, the only thing I sing.  In my dreams, bees sting me, impregnating pores, changing skin to honeycomb.  I’ve always known the secrets they buzz. I just forgot for a millennium.

I’ll graffiti the sunlit wall,

unwrap crumbling maps, untrap carrier pigeons, set them free. The missiles tied to their toes will read:

Deep in the heart of spring, I’ll wait by the ocean before Saint Peter’s song is done, 24 hours before his drums have dwindled to nothing, praying that you, sweat drenched and smoke soaked, having coached a team of demons, maybe a little drunk, escape the hazy House of Hades. Leave behind its grease laden tables stretching for miles. 

As the nearby city sleeps and its angels fall, crashing into the sea, boiling it, soiling it with seeds of God, I’ll watch the horizon, dreaming of you, reading Louise Glück’s Firstborn, celebrating her birth, mourning our deaths. I’ll cry your ghost’s name, 92,629 times, until Ra hears me and resurrects you. At a crested park where graves made from the bones of long buried shipwrecks upend themselves, goddesses once sleeping will lift aloft at last their golden lanterns. Under her widow’s garb, Isis will be naked. The moon will bear witness. Divine Dana will point the way.

The playground that once rang with the shouts of children will be deserted, swings hanging slack.  But I’ll sing, slipping down slides, making sand angels, listening to the tide roll in the distance. I’ll ring church bells at midnight and beyond.

Beautiful boy, if you are ever lonely, I’ll hurricane my way to your bed. The place where I live in your head will sizzle when I am close. Listen for cannon fire. Keep your eyes peeled for smoke.

Heaven broke, knowing unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it lies forever fallow. We were buried. We are risen. I’ll wade to you in shallow water, a full-fledged daughter of Poseidon, a sister of the sun.

I’ll serve myself up to you on the half-shell, Aphrodite-style.

Spring came early this year. Pomegranate blossoms erupted and shattered behind the clear glass of your eyes. You saw me coming. I watched you waiting in the waves. The graves of prophets gave up their dead. The Queen of Heaven crooned herself red.

I married you in my dreams.

Our wedded tongues gave birth to newborn gods.


I feel like since it’s St. Patty’s Day, I should totally drink some green beer.  Or whiskey.  And that’s one of the things I appreciate most about St. Patty’s Day.  It’s the one holiday you celebrate exclusively by drinking copious quantities of alcohol and pinching people.  There are so many people I want to pinch today.  Some of them, right on their fat, smug faces. (One of the faces I want to pinch really, really hard, so hard it leaves a welt, is conspicuously orange.)  I desperately want to pinch one person gently on his cute little tushy.  But yeah.  St. Patty’s Day legitimizes desires that would be antisocial any other day of the year.  And for that, I love it.

Also, I love it because I can wear a “Kiss me, I’m Irish” pin and mean it.  I am Irish.  My dad’s father was named Hugh Hackett.  You don’t get more Irish than that.  My dad’s mother was named Carmen Sanchez.  You don’t get more Hispanic than that.  My mom was mostly French.  LeBuff.  Or LeBouff.  Or something really Frenchy that starts with “Le”.  I can’t tell you the exact spelling, but I can tell you it sounds like a meat dish I would get glared at for trying to order in Paris.  (Parisians don’t like you when you order meat dishes with an American accent. In fact, if you have an American accent, they would prefer you shut the hell up altogether, or maybe dissolve, like a bad guy in a vat of acid, Breaking Bad style.)  Anyway, that French word was my mom’s family name.  (Fun fact: both of my mom’s grandfathers were French Canadian, which means she can become a Canadian citizen if she wants.  I’m pressing her to do it so we can all move to Canada before Trump blows up America.  In lieu of that, I’m emigrating to Mars.)  To complicate things, we found out Grandma Carmen’s ancestors actually left Spain fleeing the Inquisition because they were Spanish Jews.  So once upon a time, my family was Jewish.

When people ask me what my race is, I always say, “I’m Irish, French, and Hispanic.”  They look confused by the Hispanic part because I’m the whitest white girl you will ever meet.  So I always helpfully add, “The Irish won.” Mathematically speaking, I am Hispanic enough that I could get grants and other things reserved for people of Hispanic heritage, but I don’t try because those programs are in place to make some small attempt to compensate for the racism many Hispanic people have to endure on a day-to-day basis.  I don’t have to deal with any of that.  Anyone looking at me assumes I’m white, white, white.

But no one ever has trouble believing my brother is Hispanic.  He’s this big, dark-haired, dark-skinned dude, and when he walks into a restaurant, people step aside because if you are into racism (and we all are, whether we mean to be or not, raised as we were in this racist cesspool of a culture), you subconsciously fear that he will drag you into a dark alley and shank you.

me and bry
White me and my brown brother

Which is funny because if you knew my brother, you would vote him “Least Likely to Shank Someone, Ever, In the History of the World.”  Also, “Most Likely to Take a Serial Killer into His Home and Get Chopped Up While Trying to Rehabilitate Him.”  (That last title used to belong to me, but then, I actually came too-close-for-comfort to getting chopped up by one of my charity cases and realized the whole Mother Theresa thing was overrated.  Now I’m meaner than I probably need to be.  If you look at me funny, I will deem you a potential serial killer and refuse to be in the same room with you.  Can you say “over correction”?  It’s a problem.  I’m working on it.)

But I guess because I come from such a colorful family, I’ve gotten to see, at least a tiny bit, the difference a little melanin can make in a person’s day to day interactions.  My gorgeous Grandma Carmen was acutely aware of this. She dyed her hair blond and didn’t teach any of her nine children Spanish.  We had traditional Mexican foods at Christmas, but that was as far as the exploration of that part of our heritage went.  A tamale here.  An empanada there.  A bowl of nice, hot posole.  I remember watching people be afraid of my Hispanic-looking dad when I was little and wondering what it was all about.  My dad was the nicest man I’ve ever known.  But strangers would sometimes cross the street to avoid him.

I won’t lie to you.  I appreciate the fact that people are scared of my brother.  If I’m going somewhere dangerous, I take him along, and people step the hell aside.  I think, “Yeah, that’s right, bitch.  Walk away.  Dude’ll shank you.”  I just hope he won’t open his mouth because if he starts talking about quantum physics and God and pacifism, the whole jig is up.  But if you think about it, it’s weird that I can count on people not messing with me when my big, Mexican brother is walking beside me.  I have a 6’3”, 220 pound, very white son.  He doesn’t get the same reactions, so it’s not just a guy thing.  It’s a melanin thing.

Race is weird.  The further we move through history, the harder it gets to pin down.  But we can’t pretend it’s irrelevant until it really is irrelevant, until people don’t think my dark-skinned brother is going to shank them, until our prisons aren’t chocked full of brown people and our legislatures aren’t brimming with white people (mostly men, but that’s another essay for another day, maybe Women’s Day).

Race is hard to define, and yet, it defines everything about the way we exist in our current, screwed up world.  I long for the day when we are all just mutts, when nobody remembers that skin color was ever a thing we worried about.  (Another fun fact: the Romans didn’t give a damn about skin color.  They persecuted all kinds of people, for all kinds of reasons, but none of it had to do with the color of their skin.  We’ve just picked this criteria for our oppression because we needed our own special brand of asshole to set ourselves apart in history.  And we’ve done a bang up job of it.  Go us!)

But yeah.  We need to stop.  However, we can’t make it be over by pretending it’s over any more than we can make St. Patty’s Day over by pretending it’s Christmas.  (Try pinching someone for not wearing green on Christmas, and see where that gets you.)  Until we’ve actually got this shit figured out, we need to face the fact that we are all a little racist, and it’s probably not even our faults, raised as we were in this racist cesspool of a culture.  We need to be actively aware that we have, on some level, been brainwashed into believing that brown is bad and white is good, and when we feel those things rising to the surface in us, we need to acknowledge them and say, “Slow down, Kujo.  I’m not going to be a dick because of some deep-seeded racist bullshit going on in my subconscious.”  (By the way, if autocorrect tries to change “bullshit” to “vulkshit” one more time, I’m going to throw my computer through a window.  Vulkshit?  Is that an oblique Star Trek reference?)  And act accordingly.  Because pretending racism isn’t there, and blaming people who say it is, isn’t really fixing anything.

Just ask my brother.  Or don’t.  Because if you talk to him, you’ll find out he’s not even close to bad ass.  And I need you to believe he is.  Because no one, and I mean no one, is afraid of a translucently white, female poet, no matter how mean she tries to be.



Today, this came up on Timehop as a post I had made on Facebook four years ago today.  I was struck by how much a life can change in four years. I remember the despair I felt as I wrote those five words: “What if I never publish?”
I had been working for decades to publish a novel, beating my head against a brick wall that never seemed to budge.  I’d done everything I knew to do to make my dream happen.  I’d gotten an MFA, graduating with distinction.  I’d submitted everything I’d written (four novels and six jillion short pieces) hundreds of times.  I’d published in newspapers, journals, anthologies, and magazines. I’d won a major contest with one of my novels, got it agented, and been rejected by every publisher in America.  Which was demoralizing, to say the least.
And then, in an act of epic self-sabotage I have never spoken about publicly before, and I still don’t fully understand, I had been on the verge of signing my rock-n-roll novel with a big New York agent.  He loved it and me.  Long story short, I had what therapists described as a seven-day-panic-attack, but what felt like a nervous breakdown or psychotic break to me. I had always thought of myself as someone with a powerful mind, but I had absolutely no control over what was happening to me.  In the middle of this hell, which I will write about in depth someday, I wrote the agent and fired him.  After which I realized something was very wrong, after which I went to a hospital, after which I was prescribed medication for acute panic disorder, after which I felt way better about signing with the agent, after which he wasn’t so excited about me anymore.  (I have no idea why.)
I’ve always been so humiliated about the acts of gross self-sabotage I committed during those seven days, I’ve never spoken about them publicly to anyone.  (Don’t worry.  Firing the agent was the worst thing.  Nothing but my career was harmed in the making of my meltdown.)
But I guess I’m ready to talk, because I’m betting I’m not the only girl who’s ever struggled with that kind of mental illness before.  It was the scariest thing that had ever happened to me. To know my own brain could betray me like that made me feel less safe than anything ever had.  (For reference, I’ve had psychotic men look into my eyes and say, “I love you so much, I’m going to cut your head off,” and mean it.  But psycho-boys, you got nothin’ on panic disorder.  Sorry.) And having come so close to my dream, and having sabotaged it myself, almost made me give up on my dream.  (I’ve wrestled the panic disorder into submission.  I no longer take medication, and I no longer have panic attacks.  But it took a long time to learn to control it.)
I thought it would take me another 20 years to get my foot back in the door.  And I wrote these words on Facebook, as a tiny glimpse into the despair I was feeling.  And I signed with the most wonderful agent in the world a few months later.  Even my wacky, mid-panic attack actions seemed to work for my good, because I still don’t know another writer who has an agent who cares so deeply and personally about her work as my agent, Andy Ross, does. At the darkest moment of my life, light was right around the corner.  I know that now.
I am in San Miguel de Allende as we speak, having just spoken on a panel, taught a workshop, read from my books, conducted signings, and performed in front of 1,000 people at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference.  I’m a real writer now.
If only the Tawni that made that hopeless post could know what I know now.  So I told her.  And I told you, because I bet tons of you writers out there are feeling the way I did that day, for different reasons.  Don’t give up.  You might be about to fly.



Mary Magdalene in the Cave, by Joseph Lefebvre

Mary Magdalene is one of my favorite mythical figures.  I write from her perspective often.  According to legend, after Christ was crucified, her life was danger, so she fled to a cave in France. Last year, I was invited to stay in a friend’s unoccupied home in a small village in France for a few months. I started dreaming Magdalene while I was there, so I ran a Google search and found out I was about an hour away from her cave.

I often find myself “accidentally” visiting the places associated with the mythological figures I write about.  For instance, I just finished teaching in Sicily, the place from which Persephone was said to have been kidnapped by Hades. (I write about Persephone often as well.)  I didn’t plan the trip there.  Rather, a college I often teach for invited me to teach for a study abroad trip.  I feel lucky that my life is riddled with such serendipities.

I’ve been invited to return to the French village this summer.  Maybe that’s why Magdalene has been on my mind.  This is written from her perspective, while she was hiding in that cave. It will be included in the book of prose poems I am working on, called So Speak the Stars.  (Both images used in this blog are by Joseph Lefebvre, a French artist who lived in the 19th century.  His images of the Magdalene are my favorites of all time.  If you ever want to know what to buy me for a Christmas, a print of either of these will do the trick.)


Tonight the moon is hollow, hanging as it does a million miles away, like you. It is an empty egg, speckled with dark holes, drained of its light, like me, staring at the vastness of a night blistered by boiling stars, shredded by the never-ending specter of no-you.

My love, I have been stronger than you know.  I have fallen under wave after wave of moonlessness, ripped myself up from wretched ground, found another ounce of hope lingering in my bones, thrown it against the face of the unflinching sky, watched it ricochet back to me, screaming:

Tonight, I will not die. 
Not without him. 
Not without his eyes. 

The lines on your hands were my maps to truth. I followed them here to this hallowed place, where I have been sacrificed, unfaced, my human mask replaced with newborn god flesh. Tender, unused to cold wind and lightlessness, it wails in the night.

Our crosses stand stark,
denting the horizon.

The wrecked land has given birth to monsters and madness.  In my dreams you whispered we would have to leave one another for a while, as if we hadn’t already been banished to separate sides of the world, our flesh torn apart by dogs, our meat swallowed by crows.

In visions, I see in you in the cave where they have caged you.  Your eyes call me.


And if I could, I would hobble to you on shattered legs, sink into the rocky soil at your feet, kiss your Jesus toes, wash them with my hair, stare unwavering into your eyes, as you did on that night that has saved me a million times, unrelenting, repenting the prison that kept you from me. Your eyes whispered.

I know.
I know.
I know.

In dreams, you promise it is almost over. “Leave me once more, for one minute, and next time, we will go together,” you say, and I grab onto your words, wrestle them to the ground, mount them, ride them to heaven, hound God to return you to me this second, or else.  But what can I threaten? All I have belongs to her already.

Your eyes.
Your eyes.
Your eyes.

haunt me, eat me alive. I was always going to die. What a glorious death, to be dissolved in the relentless rain of the love of you.

Every minute without you is a thousand years. I hear your voice in the thunder. It plunders my massacred mind.  “Find me,” it says.  “Where?” I ask. “Tell me, and I will go.” My ears do not yet know the language in which you whisper the directions.

Liber numquam.
Numquam ibi.

This is how the story of resurrection goes. First comes the death. My bones love you and shudder to rise from windswept soil.  When they do, my skeleton will walk the world, find you, and fall into your grave. We will save one another. Together, we will rise at dawn.

I know what the butcherers did to me, they did to you ten times. Their crimes were seen by the God who stands just beyond that sagging moon, her hands raised, ready to save, poised to flood the world with light.

Beloved son of the rising sun, I pray only this.


When the day-waves come, may they wash me back to you.

mary magdalene joseph lefebvre.jpg
El dolor de Maria Magdalena, by Joseph Lefebvre



This is me receiving the ILA Award for my first novel, Beauty of the Broken, which I sold almost immediately after deciding I was worthy of love. I want you to understand what is possible. I want you to see that you can be something more than an abuse victim. Don’t wait for someone else to love and protect you. Love and protect yourself. You were born to shine. Shine on, sacred woman. Shine.

Last night, I went to pray on my daddy’s grave, after which I drove back to Albuquerque. The canyon between Albuquerque and the East Mountains screws with radio reception, so I listened to the only station I could get—a channel that was featuring The Delilah Show.  I actually usually really like the things Delilah has to say.  She’s kind and funny and does a great deal to honor people’s most sacred relationships and bring light into the world. 

But last night, a woman had just called in.  I didn’t hear what the woman said.  I only heard Delilah’s response. She said something like this: “It sounds to me like your partner doesn’t love and respect you, that he cares nothing for your feelings and heart and is willing to hurt you and dismiss you and take you for granted.  If everything you’re telling me is true, this relationship is abusive.  You need to protect yourself.” 

I was going, “Yay, Delilah!  I’m with you!” But then, she proceeded to tell the woman that when her partner abused her, or made fun of her appearance, or humiliated her publicly, or called her vicious names, she was to protect herself by ignoring it and letting it roll off her like water off a duck’s back.  What??? I was dumbfounded. Her advice to this woman who was being abused was, “Ignore it”? At the very end of the show, she did say, “If you’re partner doesn’t change, you’re going to have to make some tough choices.”  Ok, she hinted the woman should leave. 

But as a former abuse victim, I would like to offer that woman some alternate, more pointed advice.

Dear abused woman,

You are precious. You are sacred. You are beautiful. You are treasure. Anyone who doesn’t actively honor those facts is not worthy to be in the same room with you. Anyone who seeks to control you, who disregards your needs and desires, who humiliates you, who actively endangers or refuses to protect your holy body and heart, is a monster.  Monsters become monsters because they are not loved, but by staying with this guy, you won’t unmonster him.  He has to do that himself.

What will happen if you stay with him, if you ignore this abuse, is you will become so enraged, you too will become a monster. You will either become violent toward him or violent toward yourself, but you will become violent. 

The rage you feel when this man abuses you is not wrong.  It is the most sacred, beautiful part of you telling you that you deserve to be loved, respected, cherished, and protected.  It is trying to drive you to action.  And that action is not staying in this horrible situation, trying to ignore it and be nice, and ultimately committing violence.  It is walking. 

Walk out the fucking door.  Never look back.  Leave that man stewing in his own monstrousness, and maybe, just maybe, a light will come on, and he will decide to do the hard work of changing. But that isn’t your problem. His wounds run too deep for you to ever fix them. He has to do that himself. Pray for him. Ask that he be blessed, and by blessed, I mean be given whatever it’s going to take to make him see how wounded he is, the monster he has become, and let him begin to heal himself.

Don’t go back to him.  He will promise to change. He won’t.  True change takes years and years and years. By going back to him, you will be committing an act of cruelty.  You will be enabling him to continue to indulge in the cowardice and abuse that are destroying his soul.  Aloneness is the thing that will make him see these things, and perhaps, give him the desire to change. You are giving him a great gift by walking away. You are taking the Band-Aid off the cancer so he can see it.

It is never your job to be invisible.  It is never your job to be humiliated. It is never your job to be abused. It is never your job to be disregarded, ignored, invalidated, terrorized. It is never your job to lie for anyone, to cover for abuse.  It is your job to shine.  It is your job to tell the truth.  It is your job to protect you so you can heal and become all of the glorious wonder you were born to be.

And may I offer another bit of advice? After you walk, in the future, the very first time someone disrespects you, walk out the door. The very first time someone verbally abuses you, walk out the door.  The very first time someone ignores and disregards your needs, walk out the door.  I’m not saying don’t ever let anyone fuck up. People fuck up.  All the time. Even the people who love you best. But abuse goes beyond fucking up. And you don’t deserve it. Ever. Never put yourself in any situation where you are not honored, cherished, loved, and protected again.  The people who truly love you will do those things for you.  And there are people who truly love you.  This man is not one of them. Go out and find your true loves.

I say all of this because I know.  I have been you.  I started removing abusers from my life about five years ago, when I came close to losing my life to abuse.  That was my wake up call.  I am still learning what healthy relationships look like.  I am still removing abusers from my life.  I am still learning to protect, honor, and love myself.

But since I started doing it, my life has become a miracle. I travel the world.  I sell books.  I teach at universities and colleges and conferences.  None of this was happening when I let myself be abused.  Because every time I let myself be abused, I sent the universe a message saying I was worthless and unloved.  And because the universe responds to our thoughts, that reality perpetuated itself again and again. 

Now I am careful to take only actions that send the universe the message that I am beautiful and precious and holy and worthy of love.  I refuse to walk through a door unless I know I will be protected, cherished, loved, and honored on the other side of that door.  You should do the same.  Because you ARE worthy of love.  You are a miracle. Do the world a favor and protect the treasure you are. You have something wonderful to give us, and by giving your sacred soul to this abuser, you are stealing from all of us.

So much love and light,

Tawni Waters