Please tell me why
when I read books like The Middle Place
I think of you and want to scream,
to relive my childhood:
I want a do-over
I don’t want the rants and raves
the banging on doors
the sharks in your eyes
swimming at me with their
hatchets of hatred
I want a mother who could cuddle
with me on the couch,
read me stories while I curl up,
thumb in mouth,
and before the sun even sets
share a moment of joy with me
not one who’s so obsessed
with the food that has to
go on the table that she
trades her smiles for sour looks
before even closing the door at work
Please tell me why I can’t have
that imaginary childhood,
why I cannot gratify my memories
with some sort of happiness
that will last beyond
the closing of this book,
a place where I am comforted,
I am safe,
a place where I know my mother
a place where she has shed her tiger’s skin
and wrapped her arms
around my aching soul.
I know you think
that being a Girl Scout
troop leader means
I can be nothing less
than a perfect role model.
But underneath every
member of society
lie the cusses,
and brutal honesty
that you hate
for me to share.
Can I have a place
to fully expose
without worrying about
what you think
you never could take
the time away from your
(true love) work to be
Girl Scout troop leader,
were a cussing, raging,
behind closed doors?
P.S.: Thank you
for taking the time
to see me for who
I really am
relentlessly criticizing me.
Bitter, me? You’re forgetting that I went through this last year. YOU didn’t. Can’t I be a little bitter? Can’t I complain just a bit, please? Do YOU have your entire family dependent on YOUR salary? Can you afford to lose $300 in a month, times three? Because I can barely pay my bills with what money I make. And even if I do have my job again next year, I will have to go through all of this again. But if I get moved to another school, which I probably will, I will have to spend extra money on gas and car maintenance. It may not seem like a lot, but it is when the entire spending money my family has in a month is less than $100. What am I supposed to do when my daughters need new shoes or have to go to the dentist? How is our family supposed to sacrifice any more than what we have already sacrificed? Do YOU know what that’s like to go from two salaries to one, to live on $37,800, only slowly rising to $50,000, which has barely made it tolerable to support us all? Have YOU ever had to decide between paying exorbitant medical bills or going into debt over health insurance costs?
Can’t I be a little bitter? Can’t I come to the place I work and share camaraderie with people who are all frustrated, downtrodden, stressed, and where the morale is lower than it’s been in years, and say what I think? Say how I am feeling without you smiling to my face and going behind my back and complaining to my boss and making me cry for three days and feel that my entire character has been destroyed in front of the person who is responsible for me having a job???
Can’t I be a little bitter? At least you know who I am, know what I think, and never question the validity of what I say and the truth of my soul. I don’t hide who I am from anyone, and if you can’t handle it, tell me, leave the conversation, relate it to a friend who can approach me, fuck, send me an anonymous note. But don’t backstab me when our employers, the recession, the taxpayers, the state are already twisting a knife into each of our backs.
Oh, did you think I was bitter before? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
or, Recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake
8 cold-as-ice eggs
2 sticks of bitter butter
1 pound of BITTERsweet chocolate
2 cups wishy-washy water
1. Beat the crap out of the eggs for five minutes until they are filled with twice the rage that they began with.
2. Boil the water until it’s as hot as hell
3. Stick the sticks in the chocolate and melt into darkened mush that is the color of (bull)shit.
4. Fold the eggs into the chocolate and stir away until not a single bubble of rage remains.
5. Pour the bitter batter into the springform pan wrapped in foil that will hold off the bubbling hot-as-hell water that you will submerge it in.
6. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes, or until you insert a toothpick until it reemerges without any bitterness.
7. Serve 12 small pieces in order to wash away all bitterness with ten bites, twelve friends, and a few good laughs.
I have seen you before
you are the one who has hidden
in the darkness before the dawn
the black so thick it blocks
you out of my wide-open eyes
my yearning for your explicit expression of truth
overcome by a sun that won’t shine
the bitterness sits
on my tongue like a cat on a fence
unable to determine
which way to pounce
because I am hungry for the truth
that you are too afraid to give me.
Instead you creep
as stealthily as the prey you think you are
hiding behind the curtain of obscurity
because you can’t bring your face to the face of
what’s real, what’s right here,
what we can all see
with the first streaks of a sunrise
that shines the same on all of us.