The Very Inspiring Blogger Award Nomination!

This is WAYYY overdue. A good while back Melonie Ann from Melonie’s Poetic Life nominated me for this way awesome award that made me really happy until I promptly forgot about it. I was in Italy at the time and decided to post when I got home.

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And then I got home and did laundry and pretended to actually check my email and the happy warm fuzzy feeling of being appreciated by my fellow bloggers was temporarily lost! No need to fear–I got a second wind of it today when I was looking through some old posts and found the nomination! So Melonie, thank you very kindly. You’ve made me super happy twice with this nomination 🙂 Everyone check out this lady’s blog. Stellar stuff 🙂

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So, 7 things about me (this is always the toughest part…)

1. I don’t like ricotta cheese.

2. I think blueberries are wrong unless they are from Maine.

3. I’m very low maintenance with creature comforts, but I love my tempurpedic pillow. I sleep way worse without it.

4. I also love my iphone. Siri’s my girl.

5. Les Mis has NEVER floated my boat, on stage and in Russell Crowe’s incapable vocal chords (although he’s quite nice to look at…)

6. I am very distrustful of cats, in general. What are they plotting in those little heads? I don’t know, but it’s definitely sinister.

7. Dogs are man’s best friend. Period. I would take a dog over a person to snuggle with ANY night.

Now,  nominating bloggers!

1. The Ancient Eavesdropper (creative stuff!)

2. Busy Mind Thinking

3. John WD MacDonald

4. Melissa K Martin (awesomeeee poetry)

5. Spontaneous Creativity

6. Blog it or Lose it

7. Write it Here, Joel (inspiration stuff!)

8. Words of Birds

9. Word Wabbit

10. The Read Room

11. Poet Recreations

12. Deb Scarfo

13. Tin Can Traveler

14. Words of Birds

15. Ajaytao

Thanks to everyone for following/reading. Have a great week!

I wish my father were a drug junkie, pathological liar, conman criminal, violent psycho or at least a loser of some kind

Strange thing to wish for, eh?

But I do. I wish my father was reprehensible. Some kind of monster, big or small. The kind of guy you would expect to leave his family—to leave his wife for his pregnant mistress and ten years later, to tell his daughter she isn’t allowed to see her sisters again. That’s the kind of thing a drug junkie, pathological liar, conman criminal and/or violent psycho might be expected to do. I could understand that. I could wrap my brain around it. It would make sense, however much my childhood didn’t make sense. People would make sense.

My father is not a drug junkie, pathological liar, conman criminal, violent psycho. He’s a professional from Poughkeepsie who watches football on Sundays and pays his taxes on time. He likes The West Wing and a cold Budweiser. He makes the occasional joke and laughs when things are funny. He has pizza nights with my sisters and their mother and he genuinely enjoys his family time, although there is the normal amount of inter-family bickering, as to be expected. He’s boring. Dreadfully, terribly, monstrously dull.

I tell my mother I don’t understand what she saw in him. She’s a free spirit, eccentric with her head always in the clouds. Wickedly smart, in an unexpected way. Interesting and a great conversationalist, if you have an open mind and a healthy sense of curiosity  The kind of woman who quit her steady job to write a rock opera musical—for Jesus. And still thinks that wasn’t an outlandish decision.

She explains it to me. He was her rock. Her normalcy. Her calm. He was the guy who could sit with her cousins and have a beer while she was off chasing pipedreams and gambles. When she came home with a million thoughts interweaving through her brain, he would suggest take-out Chinese. He took her hiking and let her wander off to stare at some interesting rock formation while he dutifully followed behind. And he loved her. He was normal and he loved her. She found comfort from her own busy mind in that.

I was born ten years into their fairly happy, stable marriage. I know it’s not my fault they divorced, yadda yadda. I don’t blame myself or carry any deep seeded sentiments of self-loathing. But, I am aware that the existence of a child between them created some problems. Nothing to do with me—I was busy goo goo gaga-ing and figuring out diapers.

My mother tells me she wanted to be my caretaker. She wanted to nurse me to health when I was sick and rub my back when I was sad. She wanted that to be her role, only. He wanted to be my caretaker too. He would turn to her when she was comforting me and ask for a turn. And in my mother’s quiet but determined way, she would respond, “No.” His role was to comfort her, and hers to comfort me. That was the hierarchy in my mother’s world.

How do I reconcile that? The man who left my mother for a woman fifteen years younger; the man who raised me half my life and then dropped off the planet; the man who now wants to be friends again—that man is the kind of man who wanted to hold his child when she was sick. That man reminds me on our first phone call after ten years of the various nicknames he gave me when I was younger. The nicknames I loved.

What can I possibly think of men now? My mother taught me to stay away from drug junkies, pathological liars, conman criminals and violent psychos. Those are the ones that will hurt you.

My father isn’t a drug junkie, pathological liar, conman criminal or violent psycho. He’s an easy-going old Jewish man from New York who definitely stops for pedestrians in the crosswalk. He’s the kind of man your mom approves of, because he’s nice and he loves you. He’s the kind of man everyone thinks is safe. But he wasn’t and now what am I to think?

I wish to god my father were a drug junkie, pathological liar, conman criminal, violent psycho or at least a loser of some kind. That would make sense, at least.

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An Artist Lost: A Short Allegory of Sorts

ImageAnd when she closed her eyes, she liked to believe the world was cloudless and all the people were holding hands in lines around and through and under each other, atop the crust of the earth. And there was enough tension in their grasps that no one fell into the water, or off the vertical ledges, but all stood tall, feet grazing the skin of the planet, yet none so heavily that he or she was tied to it. And with the smallest of force, they would gingerly push in one direction, and the lines would move around and through and under each other, each person smiling as he or she passed another, remarking upon the weather, or the economy, or some such small talk. 

And in the middle of this perfect interwoven tapestry of people holding hands and making small talk, she was dancing around the world, between her sister and brother, feet just barely skimming the skin of the planet. And she was happy with this cloudless world, where everyone and everything fit into each other, constantly moving towards new climates and new economies. 

But in the midst of her euphoria, the image turned to nightmare and her mind wandered from where she wished it to go, and suddenly the clouds overtook the sky and all was lost in a deep descending fog and there were no places to run to. And the talk turned to debate about religion and war and the people clutched each others hands like vultures with their bounty, violently jerking the line this way and that, so that her feet was dragged through the tough terrain in a barren desert. And her brother and sister, no longer smiling, turned to her with ashen faces and squeezed her hand, demanding she pull her weight; demanding she choose a religion and support the war and push the line forward and backward and through and under. 

And she tried–God how she tried–but her hands hurt and she couldn’t stand herself up far enough to push properly, and the talk of God and death made her head hurt and she found herself pulling her hands away and raising them to her head and crawling into a ball in the crevices of a desert. And then the lines broke down and everyone went off to their own deserts and learned a new trade and forgot about the world that was, because life had moved in a new direction. And she was alone in a hostile climate, where the economy was always down.

And with the nightmare past, she opened her eyes and searched the faces of her brother and sister, father and mother, and found ash and clouds. And somewhere in the labyrinthian tumble of life, she grew up. And the story kept going, and growing, and never stopped or waited or even hesitated, but she learned to take up a new trade and left such fantasies behind. 

Another artist lost to reality.

Black and Blue You: Poem

Black and blue you

my black and blue you

my sugary buttery

burnt piece of cutlery

bent by the burden

of mild monotony

and black and blue moons

and high browed buffoons 

and the hot air balloons

you imagine popping 

among the clouds.

 

black and blue you

my black and blue you

troubled by hazy afternoons

a slimming concoction

coming to auction

Soon this June

when the fairies forget caution

in applauding the tune of the moon.

 

black and blue you

my black and blue you

who doesn’t know who gave you the bruise

who lives life with the snooze button brew

coffee and lattes and the light of living rooms

illuminated manuscripts that cover the truth

and a black and blue bloom

of what could have been you

in springtime

awake and do

awaken and be

awakenings await my burnt piece of cutlery.

A Man About A Dog: A Poem

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Hello WordPress Community!

About a week ago I chatted with a friend from the states who isn’t the brightest of kids. She said, “You live in Scotland, right?” I answered yes. “Did you, like, know that they’re thinking about getting independence from Britain?!” I work in politics. I was aware.

But it made me wonder how much the international community knows about Scotland’s bid for independence. So, here’s just a few basic facts followed by a poem: Scotland is not a colony. It joined the UK in the Act of Union some 300 years ago following some financial gambles that didn’t pay off. Since then, Scotland has always acted somewhat autonomously with representation in British politics. This has allowed the nation to retain a sense of unique culture.

In 1999 the Scottish Parliament came in effect with powers over devolved areas (eg education) while Westminster still controls reserved powers (eg Foreign Policy). Right now, the majority party in power in Holyrood (Scottish Parliament) is the Scottish National Party (SNP) that has aimed for independence since its creation. Alex Salmond, First Minister, has set the date for an Independence Referendum in September 2014, wherein the Scottish people will decide.

It’s a complicated situation with valid arguments for and again. The Guardian has a great article explaining a lot it here.

The following is a short little poem I wrote based on someone I’ve met through work. Enjoy and keep updated. It’s a really interesting situation and worth following.

“I’m to see a man about a dog.”

And then he died

To see the man with the dog in the sky.

We huddled round the table to cry

And agree

Alas, it was his time.

I think about him when I pee.

No one here know what that phrase means but me
and the children of the Isles who took to the sea

And came here to be

Part of the remains of the American Dream.

I’m a child of the Isles

And a child of my father

Who told me to nae bother

When I said I’d come home to hold

His hand while he died.

Fifteen years ago he asked

Why I was to go,

Why the nation that was my own

Was not where I felt I belonged.

And I told him it was for the

American Dream.

He asked what that was,

And I said freedom

to be who I want to

Be.

And now the year 2013.

I believed my father still had a distaste for me

Because I could not love women the ways I should.

And I left my nation, not because it didn’t understand,

But because he didn’t.

And he was Scotland to me.

But I came home to fulfill my duty

To hold his gaze as he melted into sleep

And weep at his bedside despite he and I

Being as we were.

And the day he died,

Right before he went to see

the man about a dog in the sky,

I saw the Yes sign

And it was my turn to ask,

Why.

“The Scottish Dream,

The American Dream,

There’s no such thing,”

He said.

“Every man’s dream is

the same—just The Dream,

Freedom

To be who we want to

Be.”

And that was enough of an

Apology.

For me to mourn his death

To cry for his empty eyes

And not feel a part of myself

To be false.

I’ve returned to the hills

Above the border where the rocks

Stand still

Keeping watch on the children

Like me.

And in 2014,

With my father’s memory,

I’ll vote yes for uncertainty.

I’ll vote yes for his dream.

I’ll vote yes for my dream.

I’ll vote yes for The Dream

For Scotland.

Letter I CAN’T Send to My Lost Younger Sister: Too Real Life

Well, I think it’s about that time again—that time when the wannabe writer steps away from fiction and says something personal. Not that all writing isn’t personal or true or real. Yes, yes—I know it is, calm yourself. But, there are moments when you write too honestly. When you don’t let yourself hide behind fiction because the words hit too close to home. I’ve been too honest twice on my blog so far in regards to my [relationship? with] my estranged father. See here and here to get some background. And now, just as confused as ever, I’m doing it again. Catharsis. Coping. Looking for answers in the blank spaces of a Word document. Etc. Thanks to all who have commented on past posts with advice and commiseration  It’s meant the world. Really.

But I don’t want to write him another letter. We’ve been emailing and he’s been nice enough about it all. I’m done pouring my heart out to him. He wants to be in my life—fine. Welcome to the party. It’s a pretty normal situation. Enjoy.

No, I don’t want to write him any more letters. I got it out of my system and I’m already bored with the results. Today, I write the first of two letters. One for each sister I haven’t seen in 10 years because of circumstances none of us understood or could control. Today, I write a letter to my sister, out there in the universe somewhere, whom we will call Lilly.

 

Dear Lilly,

 

            Let me begin by saying what I’ve wanted to say for ten very long years: I love you. I have always loved you. I will always love you. I remember you. I remember being your sister, and although you were very young, I will always remember being your sister.

But the only thing I can do is remember. I don’t know you. All I know is my memories of a smiley, vivacious little girl that danced around and laughed with her head thrown back. So, maybe I only love the memory of you. But believe me when I say that I love that memory. And that love is strong enough for me to want to know the woman you’ve become.

It’s possible you blame me for not being in your life. I could justify everything—tell you the story as I know it. But maybe the version I know isn’t right. It was complicated. Everyone made mistakes. I don’t want to put blame on anyone. I’ve grown up looking at everyone in my life with mistrust and I don’t want you to do that. They aren’t bad people. Some of them made mistakes, but your father and mother love you and are good to you. I don’t want you to think that what happened with me has any bearing on their relationship with you. I want you to love them. I didn’t get a relationship with our father for a lot of reasons, but I want you to have what I didn’t. All I will say is that I was twelve years old and I didn’t want to lose you. Not having you in my life has been the most difficult part of the last ten years.

But now, you are 16. Our father has contacted me, attempting to rebuild a relationship. I have accepted this proposal with some reservation. I’ve always said I would do anything to see you again, the innocent in this whole fuckup of a situation. But my feelings toward him have made me think about your feelings. I always assumed our reunion someday off in a sunrise of the future would be heartfelt and tearful and happy—we’d embrace with joy and lament the way life fucked us over. But maybe it can’t be that way. Maybe that vision was a dream I held onto to cope with the loss. It’s been ten years. That’s a damn long time. Maybe the possibility of that dream coming true has decreased with every year as we each grew older, apart.

The same obstacle that discourages me from feeling a strong residual connection to my father will factor into any possible relationship I build with you now: 10 years. Enough years for you, a 6 years old girl in my memories, to grow up and become a whole person with a whole world that I know nothing about. You have boyfriends, tv shows, ambitions, quirks that I’ve missed developing. And no, that doesn’t mean we can never be close. But the truth is that I wasn’t there for the informative years. I’ll never really be a sister, in so far as that one of the most defining aspects of a sister is a shared childhood. And while we have the first 6 years of your life, and we have pictures of me holding you as an infant, smiling in the hospital—we don’t have 10 big years. And that’s scary. In the same way I’m sure my father is terrified when he thinks about me.

I’ve clung to the idea that you were this innocent, hurt by the pettiness of those around you. But, I have to face the fact that I was twelve and you were six. I was old enough for it to change my entire life and maybe—just maybe—you were young enough to forget I ever existed. I’m torn here. I truly hope you don’t remember crying every time I left you. I hope you don’t remember crying the last time we spoke, because you hadn’t seen your sissy in so long. I hope it didn’t hurt you as much as it hurt me, because it really hurt me. But at the same time, I hope to god you do remember. I may be a terrible person for it, but I want you to love the memory of me even a fraction of the amount I love the memory of you.

I’m terrified to see you again. I’m not afraid you’ll be angry—I know I’ll convince you that I did all I could to be in your life. I’m not afraid you’ll be upset—I’ll be an emotional wreck myself. I’m afraid you’re going to look at me the same way I look at our father—uninterested. That terrifies me. That’s the scenario I never imagined, even in my worst nightmares. It just may well hurt more than losing you and dad and our other sister, and your mother, and our whole shared family and life ten long years ago. It just may well kill me.

            So, we’re at a crossroad. I want to be in your life, but I don’t know what your life is. I want to love you, to be able to say it and mean it, but I don’t know you anymore. I want for you to feel something toward me. You are 16 and the world still has so much for you. I want above all for you to have a great life. A life that isn’t touched by all this bullshit like mine has been. Maybe I’m only martyring myself because I’m afraid. The real reason I won’t send you this letter is because I’m afraid you won’t answer it.

 

Please write to me if you’re out there, still loving the memory of me.

 

Love,

Emily 

 

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Meta Metamorphosis: The War Against the High Brows Rages On

A little while back I wrote a poem raging against high browed buffoons (see here to read) and it felt DAMN good. But how do on earth do you burn an intellectual snob in a way that hurts, I wondered? I can’t just rant about them. They don’t speak spoken English… So I wrote a little poem in words they (may) understand–big words. If anyone’s ever taken a writing class with one of those post post modernist idiots, you’ll understand. I understand too well. This one day we walked into class and the professor said, “Today, my children, we’re going to get meta with metamorphosis.” Cue eye rolls. And the idea for this (poem? short story? unkilled darling?) was born. Ugh. Humanity may, in fact, be doomed.

Meta Metamorphosis

Meta metamorphosis, the words put forth this round to the young and impressionable ne’er-do-wells who rip holes in their clothes because being hungry is sexy.

“Cute, isn’t he?” The one with half a brain asks the dreads to her left, deft at eyes that flit and fly and land with intent. “The one with the sunglasses just a little bit bent.”

Meta metamorphosis, the guy who runs the course puts forth, letting the words linger in the ether, neither making any sense nor trying to. But everyone knows he thinks he does. And they think they understand, too.

“Totally cute.”

Change is the progress of the day, change from the way you dress and talk and act and walk and think most importantly, open your mind and shine a light on whatever killed darlings float down in the pit of your throat. Smoke them out and try not to choke.

We’re going to change as we change, and talk about change, and in the end we’ll be the same, but not the same.

Yeah, it’s bullshit. But they, like, get it.

“Still think he’s cute?”

“Naw. I’ve moved on.”

She hasn’t, but she doesn’t want to appear unaffected. A spectacle, peer pressure hasn’t progressed but is just a little less obvious to the flitting, flying eye. Down in the pit of her throat are plenty of true killed darlings worth half a damn that the shining light passes by in preference of monotonous lies.

Meta metamorphosis: think more about the Thinking  more than the Why.

Sympathise: A Poem

I was thinking a bit about scary cults the other day and I decided to try a poem from an insider’s perspective. Enjoy.

I had always sympathized with fanatics–addicts in alleyways, preachers and prayers. The types no else really cares for. I had this tendency to stop breathing. Reading pamphlets, I felt more amplified in print than in living.

Then I found it. It said, Living is a sin. Don’t be what you’ve been. Cast away those former days and join the reformation. We will redo that which undid you, rebuilding the temples’ steeples. People of the world–parents of the boys and girls–we face you open-hearted to propose a toast to progress started when martyred marksmen missed their true targets and left a generation wanting. Yes, we’re just dreamers. But our dreams, whispered in the right receivers, could revive the world’s true believersSee. Can’t you see?

He lifted up a book of leather binding, blinding us to other thoughts. We flocked to follow the man standing solid and never looked back on what we soon forgot.

Oh, what a magic thing, our backwards king

Oh, I learned to sing that summer in a commune by the sea, even in the fleeting moments when those whispers were on the wind of future summers and survivors in trash bins. He had us reading kool-aid romances and dancing to manic musical numbers. We stomped our feet furiously, a chorus of drunken drummers in a circular line around the spires of his blazing fire.

Somewhere in there, I was told the origin of sin: not god or government or gin, but my own being–betraying me to eternity. Hissing at the sky, I knew why I stopped breathing sometimes: Attempts to make all life right and rid it of me–of the disgrace that is humanity.

Had I been a braver girl I would have run into the sea and swam until I lost my feet and sunk into that cold, that wet whispering breeze. At least I would have had the responsibility, not the man standing solid with leather binding and ranting pamphlets. But I was and I am me, and alleyways led to that place that appealed to me more. A backdoor that lead to no more.

Thank You Boston

I grew up in and around Boston. The actions of the Boston PD and citizens over the last few days have reminded me how much I love that city. Living in Scotland and watching terrible events unfold like Newtown and now this bombing has been surreal, but this poem articulates everything so well. It should be shared. ❤ Boston

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This spoken word poetry video was made by a fellow Bostonian and friend of mine. I still can’t seem to find the words when it comes to the tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon, to people whom I love, on a street I’ve walked many times, in a city that is my home.

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God in Goodwater: A Short Story

So, this one’s a little on the darker side of the fiction genre spectrum. I think I’m a little too obsessed with the American southern gothic aesthetic lately. And I’ve probably watched too many bad movies. But here’s my attempt to imagine the unimaginable in a psychoanalytical fashion (if that makes any sense. at all). It’s short. Enjoy.

 

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Joe said, “Let’s talk about how you feel,” but I didn’t really feel anything, so he learned to let it go. Clinks the ice in his cup and grits his teeth a lot. Little gestures that aren’t grimaces, but mean the same thing. I never pay much attention to his condition. It’s his business, anyhow.

We spend Friday nights at the football field, watching Curtis dive and fumble. He’s too big to be quick and too dumb to be precise. Sweet kid. Bad brain. But I never criticize. It wouldn’t help. Besides, he’s Joe’s brother, and that means something to Joe.

Saturday is for sleeping in and getting burgers at Gilly’s with the old gang. The construction crew’s heavy lifters and their women. Townies who have no interest in the great wide yonder. We can’t stay gone from this place, anyhow. It isn’t the kind of ride you get to quit early. Reverend made that real clear, to me anyway. The others just kind of know it from the way he flicks his eyes during sermon, or grasps their shoulders. He has claws for hands, that one. 

I fell in love with Reverend when I was a little girl. I wore this yellow dress with white lace trim to his first service and when Jerry went to shake his hand, Reverend said I was lovely. I made Mama wash that dress every week, hoping he’d say it again. He never did and I learned not to love him, but I still liked the tone of his voice on Sundays and the way he tilted left when he meant something other than what he was saying. He’s small town that way.

When I told Jerry I was in trouble, he sent me to Reverend. Jerry always said that my father was the Lord, since I didn’t have a real one and all. This was a father’s chore, and Reverend was the closest thing. 

“What will he think of you?” Jerry asked, not really a question but more a gasp. 

“I dunno.” I’ve never known how to give men what they want, so I just handed Mama a tissue. She was sitting in her lilac chair wondering where we all went wrong and letting Jerry do the talking. Jerry always does the talking, even if he doesn’t want to be my father.

Joe said I was too clever to let a thing like this ruin me. “You could do anything at all, you know,” he said. He’s like that. Eyes on the highway. 

I never asked Joe to stay. I didn’t expect him to, either. He wanted to spread the gospels. He’s got a good path ahead of him here, but a part of me is still waiting for him to up and bolt one of these hot summer nights. Ride out into the sunrise or something. I wouldn’t resent him. It’d just be a little harder, that’s all.

I wouldn’t call my life evil, but sometimes I play with the word. Dance it around on the tip of my tongue. Reverend calls it holy, but I’ve read the Good Book enough to know the difference. I don’t say so, though. I let him think I follow his version of the scripture. He’s got claws for hands, that one, but I never let them sink too deep into my shoulders. Some folks got it in their heads he’s the second coming, and he likes it that way. Sure, I kiss his feet with the rest, but I cross my fingers when I do it. I have my reasons.

Monday nights Joe makes me dinner. We live in a little trailer on Rt One. A mile south of the Church and a half mile north of Mama and Jerry. It’s not much, but after three years we’ve made it our home. Joe does these watercolors and I hang them around the place. When we moved in, Reverend bought us a nice crucifix for the kitchen. 

“Next time you feel like cussing ‘cause you burned yourself on the stovetop, just look on up at the Savior and remember His pain,” he’d said. “That’ll put the Fear in ya.” Reverend likes talking about the Fear. 

Tuesday nights we go to Meeting at the church with everybody. We get dressed up really nice and hug the neighbors. Reverend stands at the door shaking hands and clawing, clawing, clawing. Joe’s as hooked as any of them.

Reverend brought the New Genesis to Goodwater the Sunday I wore my yellow dress. I suppose folks were looking for something to believe in after Pastor Daniel passed, or maybe even before. Something more than Adam and Eve. Folks wanted something to do, other than watch brothers play football and get burgers at Gilly’s. Reverend breathed in the stagnant air, heavy with restlessness, and stirred. Plunged his talons in easy enough. He was small town and people liked that, even if he was from away. 

Wednesday nights the construction crew works and I stay home. Joe likes the work. He’s a farmer, like his father, but he knows fire well enough. The men look up to him, and I think Reverend plans to make Joe his assistant pastor one of these days. A born leader, my man. A right disciple, even if he did get me in trouble. 

Reverend never blamed us. That night I knocked on his door I half expected him to send me to the Father. He didn’t. He just clawed, clawed, clawed. 

Thursday nights I spend with Reverend. Folks in town see it as right and Joe agrees. I am cleansed. But I never feel cleansed. I figure that’s why I don’t believe it the way the others do. They get to praise Jesus and feel pure, while I get dirty. And that’s what it all is, if it isn’t evil. Filthy. But I never say so, because I don’t say anything at all. 

It’s been this way since that first time. I screamed and cried and cursed, and Reverend said the devil had his hold on me. But I’d know the devil if I saw him, and Paxton wasn’t the devil. He had the face of the angels, and I like to think he’s among them now. I like to think he can’t see me from up there–can’t see Goodwater at all. There’s no God in Goodwater. Just the New Genesis and Reverend’s claws.

Friday nights we spend at the football field and Saturdays we go to Gilly’s. That’s life in a small backwater town where Reverend talks about the Fear and young girls get cleansed when they get in trouble. 

Sundays we dress in white and have ourselves a ceremony. It isn’t always exciting, but folks say they feel the Lord in the fire and taste him in the flesh. They sure drink a lot of him, but Reverend says that’s the way it should be. And what Reverend says is what the Lord commands. 

Jesus fed a mob with bread and fish. Reverend fed Goodwater with the Fear and Paxton. 

“Born in the blood of the innocent and struck down by the fire of the righteous,” he’d screamed over my wailing. “The devil shall be expelled and the children released from his charge,” and they clawed Paxton from my arms and roasted his body on the burning cross Joe built and Joe said, “Let’s talk about how you feel,” but how could I feel anything ever again?