artwork by AG

At this time of year, there is so much waiting. Waiting for winter to end. Waiting for the first signs of spring. Waiting for spring to stay around long enough to enjoy. Waiting to shake off those winter blues. Waiting to feel better. Waiting to hear what the courts have to say. Waiting to go home.

Inside or out, waiting feels the same. It is mixed with memory, with apprehension, with love and despair. It comes in waves, sits like a boulder, dissipates vapor-like before us. Waiting holds all the weight of its negativity. Even joyful waiting can feel heavy because time slows down to such a painful, slow pace.

Although waiting was not the topic of any recent writing, the weight of time has seeped through many recent writings. Regret for past actions and waiting for time to set them right. Feeling that no matter how hard we try, things don’t change. Hoping against hope for love to buoy us up. Perhaps above all, the inside writing these days has a heaviness to it in contrast to the increasing light outside, the birdsong and sun and emerging color that lift spirits that live in them. Another reminder of the stark reality of ‘life’ behind concrete windowless walls.

make a parachute out of everything broken …

Down a long dark hallway
there’s a door.
To an average eye it’s just a door.
Behind the door lies a bedroom.
Punished, forced to stay.
Where to hide.
There isn’t enough hours in the day.
Her mother’s always distraught.
Her father’s at work.
There’s noone there to see the hurt.
In that very bedroom, dark shadows arise.
And curled up in her closet
the lonely girl cries.
She wants to run but it’s never worked before.
But if she stays, then
the pain will come so much more.
When she asks for help,
scolding is obtained.
For it’s only a lie and
the boy is being framed.
Sneak out your window, she’ll
give it one more try.
Too scared of the dark,
she can’t run, only cry.
Only 13, what can she do
when everything is broken.
Then the wind blew.
She climbs onto the roof from the woodpile first,
her heart beating so fact she swears it might burst.
If she was a bird, she’d just fly away.
But she couldn’t leave for five more years that May.
She dreamt of her pain and all she had felt
and wished she could charge her stars as she stared at Orion’s belt.
A parachute from her broken dreams, raised on a broken heart.
But one day she’d land and get a fresh start.


Now what do you want to do about it?
Well, my first reaction to my pent-up frustration is to argue and stand up for myself. But then I remind myself how close I am to leaving this place. And also I came here alone, and I’ll leave alone, even though I did end up with a couple people I think I can call my friends. I knew I was going to hate coming to jail and being confined. But I didn’t think about all the different personalities under one roof. That alone can drive someone crazy. But mixed together with all aspects of jail life is definitely not a place I want to keep coming back too. I feel as though I am being tested on a daily basis on skills I have learned while being here. I can proudly say “I’m winning, not getting a rise or reaction out of me” All I want is to live a happy life out in the real world. Surrounded by people that genuinely care about me and enjoy my company. At the end of the say, it’s just me I need to worry about, making the right decisions to get me out the doors to a better life.


My heart was once full,
I felt so complete.
I was filled with so much love,
I never skipped a beat.
Now my heart is broken,
and I feel so empty.
My insides are screaming,
someone please come and help me.
So much has happened in the past few years
from joy and happiness
to heartbreak and tears.
From working to not,
my kids here and then gone.
It seems like a lot,
and I’m not even done.
I’ve changed so much,
more than I ever thought I could.
I hate the direction I’m going –
it has done me no good.
So here’s where I stop
and turn my life around
before it’s too late
and I end up in the ground!

under appreciated

maya-angelouWomen are the one-half of humanity most likely to respond to beauty and to little children and young animals…We are the ones who bear the children and know of the effort it takes to raise a child into adulthood. We are the empathic gender … – Jean Shinoda Bolen, Urgent Message from Mother

When … [I] asked [my grandmother] of what in life/was she most proud,/ the older woman answered/each of my children lived to be/an adult. – Cinda Thompson, from ‘Homemaker’

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we turned to lesser celebrated women in our lives. Not the ones whose praises or political efforts are widely sung; not the ones whose names are on every tongue; not the ones anyone else may even have heard of. No, this week we turned to under appreciated women we have known, attempting to create a tribute of some kind. Whether responding to one of the epigraphs or the opening poem – the brief, tongue-in-cheek ‘Except for Laura Secord’ by Sylvia Maultash Warsh – or to a magazine image of a woman that resonated with us, each one in the circle had a lot to say. About invisibility.  Emotional pain.  Hard physical labor, psychic wounds, unfulfilled dreams, even the ordinary daily routine of life … so much unspoken and unsung.

But not in our circle! The writing abounds with depth of observation and feeling, a fitting way to bring Women’s History Month to a close. Except for next week, of course!


The light does not expose what has
been ripped apart within.
You see this shell and it remains intact,
a fortress if you will …
Every curve has been carved to the liking
of the rain.
Every nook has been chiseled from the lining
of a touch.
In one piece, the power is mine to keep.
No window or door opens on command.
            I do not take orders.
            I do not crumble
            I am here.
            I am built to last.

AG Continue reading

cold and empty place

Image courtesy of Deborah Koff-Chapin, Soul Cards II

Most of the writing we do inside is ultimately healing for the women involved – a process that extends across time. We do not see how or where the pain, the destructive cycles of behavior begin; and do not always see a resolution. Occasionally, however, an especially powerful writing session precipitates just that. As did yesterday’s. We were using Deborah Koff-Chapin’s soul card deck to deepen writing we had done earlier in the hour. This particular image fairly shouted across the table to RP, who snatched it up, started writing breathlessly, and then drew from her folder writing she had done just days earlier.

Turns out the two writings formed the ‘before-and-after’ of some intense healing work; the image being the fulcrum on which both balanced. Can you feel the writer’s shift in self-awareness and determination to live her life on her own terms?

Anger rising and seething around you.
I breathe in your bitterness and hate.
Left standing in the ashes of a life destroyed.

It is daylight, yet I walk in the dark.
I plead for you to stop your barrage.
Your face so contorted like a demon.
You try to twist my soul like yours,
on knees that are begging for you to leave.
I know you never ever will.
You have me trapped in a cell made of anger and resentment.

I have stopped fighting the ugliness you throw at me.
Stuck in your grasp like prey in a hawk’s talons.
The source of my sadness and emptiness.
Every word you say, meant to stab and maime me.
I have tried to run away but you find me again and again.

Staring down the devil is easier than looking in your eyes.
Were you born to be like this?
Did someone teach you how to be so toxic?
I can feel the coldness coming off the ice of your heart.
I have lost my love for you.
Hate isn’t what I feel for you, it is pity.

Chained to you for my whole life.
Your anger steeped into me 20 years ago.
I let you slowly kill me inside.
Let all my happiness and joy wither and die, like a rose once the cold comes.

I’ve stopped searching for answers.
Stopped looking for hiding places.
I will quietly bow out of this game; you won!

Will I rise like the phoenix from my ashes?
I ask for rebirth and flight everyday.
You are left to swirl around in the anger . . . all alone.

Just someone I used to know.

You wouldn’t like to see me this way.
You would rather I listen to what you say.

I’ve broken free from your chains.
I’ve begun to soothe my pain.

I am on my way to a certain peace,
where all the suffering you caused will cease.

I still have a piece of you locked inside,
yet it’s one I wish not to hide.

As I leave with a smile on my face,
I leave you in your cold and empty space.