Whiskey Cowgirl

We were two whiskey cowgirls in the concrete desert

We had cowgirl hats, boots and southern drawls, but what I remember most is the whiskey

She introduced me to that now-familiar burn

I shot it back like I was born with a bottle in my hand, playing it cool as my esophagus was scalded

I later came to understand the influence of my genetics (coming from a long line of alcoholics) and my environment (growing up around drinkers- it was the norm)

We left our small towns for the big city when we were young and pretty. I was 18 and she was 19 when we met.

She put me on a first-name basis with the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Jim Beam, John Jameson, Johnnie Walker, and Jack Daniel

We were fresh as we poisoned our flesh on the brink of young adulthood

We were roommates in a poor neighborhood, clawing our way toward a better life through education as we strived to save the world along the way. We thought we were so clever.

She recognized in me what can only be known through personal experience; the effects of childhood abuse and neglect

She likely survived worse, although trauma is immeasurable

We never talked about it outright, but I reckon all that booze was our way of drowning out the pain, an ineffective anesthetic and amnesic.

I didn’t know that instead of filling the howling depths within us, we were only digging them deeper with each drink

Years passed. We used to share a bed, and now there is a continent between us.

When I speak with her, she is drinking still. She has transitioned from whiskey chased with cheap beer to fine wine, has her life in line with a successful career, loving husband and bright children, however I fear she is slowly drowning herself with the same toxic habit born of the same pain- the gaping wound of childhood

She will always be my older sister, though I walk my own path and see my own way

I wish healing for her and for all beings today

Death Certificate

Another day, another death by COVID.

My COVID patient who died today was relatively healthy and young.
While filling out his death certificate, I paused over the ’cause of death’ section:
 
My patient had multi-organ failure with a subsequent cardiac arrhythmia incompatible with life and viral pneumonia causing respiratory failure, however the failure that lead up to his COVID infection was systemic at a societal level.
 
My patient was a prisoner, infected by COVID-19 because he was denied the ability to socially distance, robbed of the right the protect himself.
 
I didn’t know him, but as I studied his body during his final hours I imagined what his life had been like, and wanted to include on his death certificate:
 
Cause of death:
Complications resulting from loss of human rights due to imprisonment
Secondary to the prison-industrial complex
Secondary to class warfare
Secondary to poverty
Secondary to racism
 
I didn’t know him, but I shared pieces of his struggle:
Adverse childhood experiences, trauma on trauma on trauma
 
His premature death is another stone in my pocket
My path is liberation
Wherever his soul is now, I hope he feels liberated too
Liberated from the brown skin which lead to his incarceration which inevitably did him in.

Rain Dance

I see gray sky outside my window
Heavy on my eyes and in my heart
I want to stay hidden away
Don’t want to get rained on today
Stubbornly, the world outside waits for me

I can’t stay inside forever
I can’t avoid the ever-changing weather
After futile resistance, I accept that I will get wet
As I have countless times before, even when I felt like I was drowning, I will have nothing else to do but breathe through it
Until I breathe myself dry

There are tears yet to cry
I will get wet again
And it is ok to get wet
It is ok to remind myself that it is ok to get wet
Water is life

Every day I am thrown into the river
Swirled and tumbled against rocks
Yet I survive
And come out of it better yet

Afraid as I am of getting wet, I’ve gotten wet many times before,
Downright drenched
Soaked to the bone and far from home
Yet I was all right
I’ve made it through even the stormiest of nights
Inside me burns an eternal light
I have nothing to fear
The rain of life only brings personal transformation near
I am grateful for inner growth, painful as it can be
I am grateful for the rich soil beneath me
Formed from the detritus of my life’s trauma
From which I burst forth, a green herb
Holding infinite potential
I am earth and rain and sunlight transformed
I am young and sweet and nourishing
I am life

I see the gray clouds outside my window
And know that beyond them, the sun is shining through the brilliant blue
I see the gray day
And rise to meet it
Welcoming all that comes my way
So go ahead, rain down on me
I can handle even hail, snow and sleet
I’m keeping the faith
For my mind is learning all the time
That I can dance anywhere
Today my dance beckons the heavy clouds
Let it rain