Same, same. The flower begs for sun, the sun rises for the flower. Therapists listen to their patients - successful lunatics practice empathy. Relationships go round. Grey is every shade. That black is blacker than this black. Aqui esta la pina.
Alli es la pina. La pina es alta. In proximity oriented around me, crickets are nearby. Rhymes simmer under my first layer of thoughts. Sometimes they snag against me. Sometimes we meet minds like us. Sometimes we have a herd that walks beside us. Other times we stand solo. For a long time I had no close friends. Then there was Joy and learning a little about respect. What did Joy learn from a stunted porcupine? I grabbed onto some amazing caring concerned activists. I saw something beautiful in the fact that they wanted to make change. I wanted to make some of the same changes. I had some friends. I had a loose knit group to interact with sometimes. My activism was never constant so I was sometimes unsure about the friendships. I made friends with gray.
I didn't make friends with Dominion coal. I didn't make friends with George Dubya Bush. I didn't approve of the fact my land trust plastered the Dominion logo on a pamphlet. But the friends I made were homo sapiens. The were human. They were blended colors. And today I make a new friend I hope as other older friends grow wisdom hair. This all might sound random. But that's because that is what it is today.

If you don't like it, why did you read to the last line?

Posted Thu Aug 3 23:31:19 2017


My body in the rear view mirror strong as waves.

An eight year old kissing my nose.

Nothing mattering other than

I'd do anything for

I'd part the ocean, knead it as dough,

for this beautiful, smart person.

He knew the riddles written in the stars.

He played with me to add buoyancy I needed.

That was before the break.

That was before years of gaining so much weight

my knees could not carry my body

up the dunes.

That was before the sea knocked the breath out of me.

In my falling you were hurting too and I could not help you then.

The year the dolphins chose me

will always be with me.

The look in your eyes

left behind

a child whose mother feared sharks.

I would have taught you to drive then.

Aren't we glad I didn't?

Posted Thu Aug 3 23:56:49 2017


soothing jitters

quelling unwanted notions

that keep cropping up

like a garden

of nibbling


Posted Sun Aug 6 20:11:08 2017

The Cracked Nut: A Progression of Essays and Poems

  1. Childhood -
  2. High School -
  3. Mental Illness – a pit of challenges
  4. Monteverde – life's higher purpose
  5. Activism -
  6. Sisterhood – being able
  7. Berea College – sticking to it
  8. Abrams Creek – revisiting a spot
  9. Loss/grief -
  10. Swimming – the hydrostatic benefit of moving forward
  11. Art -
  12. Now -

ONE Childhood

When I was in high school, I stuck the old cassette in hoping for memories. Anna and Joey had graduated on to college and a career but I missed them. I was troubled by the thought of losing our childhood, so I put in that cassette tape to hear Mom's antique voice reading we children a story. The cassette stuck in that reel jerking way tapes do, the reoccurring glitch snagging her melodic voice.

I was heartbroken and felt lonesome for the days the tape conjured up for me. I felt so lonely. Daddy had moved to DC for a job and Mom was at work. My Calculus homework usually quelled my nerves, but I had run out of homework. I reached for my diary but reverted to thinking about family away. In 1999 email meant something different than what it does today. My friend Audrey was my only high school friend with whom I exchanged emails.

So I opened up a word processor. In the next few months, I wrote a fictional memoir about my childhood. I recorded nearly every memory I had, turning them into beautiful stones my mind can return to even now at age 32. Today, after that computer and hard drive ironically have gone the way of all flesh, those words now are gone.

Last night I dreamed of the calm voice my Mom used with us children and in my sleep she called me a griot. A griot, not the griot, and that article was mattered to me because Anna has always cast a long shadow with especially her recent writing. I even for a year lost sight of my core identity belief that I am a a writer too, like my sister, and a writer is a griot.

When the story gets deleted by time with nobody to read it, it is the griot's duty to tell it again somehow to a wider audience. My stepmother suggested I write it again and because of that suggestion and because Florence Nightengail would allow no excuses, I will begin my story with a sense of love and admiration.

The White Coats are Coming!! The White Coats are Coming!!

Mom would not let us forget. Instead she instilled that feeling into us, riding in the country quite illegally but slowly, carefully, the back of the station wagon high and proud, and our dirt shoes bouncing gently on the gravel ground. We liked watching the berry roads pass by us. I imagined flying. Anna was already deciphering the different names of twigs and branches. Joey said funny things, his face smudged with berries and if we weren't careful, his hand in the cut down milk jug. Jerry would stick out his torso out a window screaming “the white coats are coming!!” It was one of many inside jokes we had, jokes that we made funnier than they might really seem.

We were deep in the Country. We'd made it past several baffled farmers, past Silas and Oney's farm who were our neighbors in older days. We would stop in on the way home because in those days it was rude to pass such a close friend without a visit. Silas waved from the tobacco field and Oney swatted her broom at one of her husband's kittens and lifted her hand high.


I breathed through a stuffed Bambi held under my chin as if it was a tracheal chord and vital organ. The deer had been my totem before any other. Since neighbor Silas offered me raisins and when I ate them he said the raisins were tobacco. He farmed and loved to shoot deer; he hung their heads on his wall. Oney told me to come in, and I'd help myself to the toys of their grown children. I was 3 when Bambi came into my life. I was always absentmindedly misplacing the toy and because I felt a deep connection with it, I still feel an affinity with deer when I come across them on path or road.

Tin Roof

I do not have to look at the picture. I remember reaching out to feel the cold October raindrops fall on my hand. I remember picking out that red sweater thinking I'd look like a young teenage actress from a show I liked. Standing under that tin roofed porch on the old white house in the holler at the farm, the rain reminded me of music and now George Winston's piano recital reminds me of that cold October rain.


Daddy says his one talent is he can wiggle his ears. I add “you can do all sorts of things!” I'm eight and walking through the tobacco field beside Silas's house. “Name one.” He says. “You always stick out your tongue when I twist your ears.” He bends over and lets me. But he insists that is not a talent.

Mom is inside listening to Silas and Oney banter back and forth with each other. Mom never told me her talent but I might make a guess. She spends all her energy helping other people. She cares little for herself. Only a little less than the basic necessities. Mom offers Oney some homemade Daniel Boone Apple Pie. Mom's not a very good cook, so she comes up with names to perk our interest.

Silas is talking about a neighbor who hangs his tobacco before most people cut their tobacco. On the other end of the table, Oney is recanting a tale about the troubled marriage of one of her daughters.

Out in the pasture, near where Daddy and I walk, Anna and Joey are barefoot. Joey jumps the fence followed by rosy cheeked Anna. They grab sticks and poke the watering troughs where frogs have laid their eggs. I over hear their laughter but I am consumed with the exuberant feeling of nature and its effect on me. Mom comes out and hollers “children, it's time to go back home!” Anna abets Joey to hid behind the trough. Anna never wanted to leave our farm, which was next door to this one. I think she hatched from an egg herself, a puddle of slimy water, much like the tadpoles.

Joey was there to calmly convince Anna they could not live there forever hunkered up by the troughs. Joey came along to reassure me all was well. People notice his brain when they first see Joey because it's so great. But after a long time I realized it is his sensitivity that is his talent.

Posted Mon Aug 7 15:32:15 2017

Over 15 years ago, I spent hours every day for months, in the rainforest of Costa Rica, walking with my sister in the Busque Nubosa or cloud forest preserve, learning the important lesson of why environmentalists fight to preserve nature.
I lived with my sister, a botanical artist who was determined to add meaning to my life. She encouraged me to pick up fallen epiphyte flowers, scattered on the path from fifty feet above the canopy. I was her assistant. I ended up in her artwork, sometimes posing, other times unexpectedly, gazing over the edge of the continental divide. There were places where we could stand and visibly see the Pacific Ocean to our left and the Atlantic Ocean to our right. The beauty of places such as that harbor a home in the human soul. My identity is composed of scenes like those: reasons for fighting, for gripping onto nature, grappling with factors that make the environment unhealthy. Everyone who ever has spent a week in Monteverde seems to have seen the Howler Monkeys there. But Anna and I experienced a deeper wilderness. We spent all day wandering paths that Anna navigated like an expert. At one point hundreds of migrating white faced monkeys converged with our path. Anna told me to sit tight, knowing the wild animals could grow defensive if they felt threatened. I sat tight. They swung through the forest for almost an hour. They left me shaking, quaking quite literally, and trembling at their power. This trip changed my life, my world view, and my experience of nature. I walked so much, I spent every waking moment in the woods, spotting flocks of parrots and rare animals, I learned so many plant names, I became so familiar with the wilderness and these things are so distant for me today. One special day Anna and I walked down a different road from our rental house. We walked in silence. Anna, usual set on educating me about biology and rarely quiet, seemed somber. I trailed behind her observing trailers where people lived and farms of cows. We got to a point where the trail met a view. Because of the lay of the land in Costa Rica, views can be stunning beyond words. I remember making a promise to the land in the height of my consciousness. I said I would return to that mountainside overlooking San Luis and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. I promised to protect that view, to use my American privilege for good, to return for the land. The world is larger than me. It craves justice and liberty. The environment needs respect and attention. I am needed. The mountains from Costa Rica to Appalachia need a voice; they need someone who will sacrifice a lot for them. They need a person devoted and committed to their preservation. The environment needs a steward, a advocate who will fight for the beauty in it. It is important to remember why we give ourselves to stewardship.

Posted Tue Aug 8 13:28:44 2017

Mountain Meditations

I. Lunar Phases I had my period with the full moon, the light bleeding through my bedroom window waking my ovaries with a fever. You might have too, a woman in a dorm room above me. Nothing is deeper down than the sub-basement. Kaleigh, a new transfer and friend of a friend of a friend, stuck her head out the window to alert me earlier today. "Hey, Maggie! I can see you from the pot." Kaleigh reminds me of Lauren, a woman who I lived with and love. We lived like sisters on a Mountain, isolated and giggling. We drew out the line between friend and sister on the floor of Emerson House, then ripped the tape. Three of us opened up our shirts and felt the breasts of our sisters. Those same three sisters took off our clothes in a public building, after hours, and danced like wild hyenas to "Obsessed with You" Orion Experience. We three projected our bisexual feelings that we felt on our straight but not narrow boss. Tessa, the happily heterosexual sister, but not narrow, was a little annoyed with our explorations at time. But once when the entire nonprofit was off the top of the mountain, except for the boss in bed early, we all four went out to Meditation Rock, a holy, spiritually grounding place. It was a full moon, and we all stripped down to our scant layers, or beyond. We moon bathed on the highest location in hundreds of miles. We all were sure to let both sides of our body, all sides actually, be shined on by the holy light. Back in our house, there was this time when we all grew bitter towards one another. Moon to moon, we ran back to Emerson House. I do not remember the season or the feeling of the air. Part of me thinks it must have been cold out. I wish I was more of a mentor for us then. Of Dylan, Tessa, Lauren and I, I was the oldest. Why was I not stronger? That time was my time of coming out into the world. I took a risk then and moved from being in a condition of disability and identity in disability to pure empowerment. But it is constant work. I say this because if the world caves in, I am the one who needs to prop it up. I am my healer. I am my enabler. I am the one who must love me before you will. I am the one who must say "I can" when I go to climb a mountain and all I hear is "I can't". I said once and I repeat, "A girl climbed a mountain. “I can't” said the girl. “I can't, I can't,” said the girl. “Can't,” said the mountain and the valleys below. Later, a woman climbed a mountain. I can - said the girl. “I can,” said the woman. “Can,” said the mountain and the valleys below." I am following the waters up and down the mountains. Some day, I will sail away into the ocean. For now, I think I will skinny dip in memories. I will skip through the shallows. Float downstream, bumping the algae covered moss.

II. Run, My Blood

An outdoors walk at the mountain, though it exhausts the physical body, is the medicine needed for deepening the consciousness and soul. And because this forest has not been cut for hundreds of years, it makes me think of a human retirement home, of vibrant people, who have had years to work on their personal perfection.

It was one of those downhill walks to the point where I turned around and came back. I walked slowly down the hill, taking pictures, aware that my feet were walking on slippery soil. Walking back up the hill my knees and back began to hurt. I stopped to rest on a nice granite rock. Then resuming my walk, I noticed that my uphill struggle at least was firmer on my footing.

I can watch a million natural things looking out a window or sitting on a rocky cliff. But walking my blood is as fluid as my body is, navigating through the world.

Right now I feel I have been allowed to absorb the peace that is here in nature. It is so important that I feel this way now and then, for my mental and physical health. It is a feeling called exhilaration and a place of deep connection with space.

My window here faces the North and the sun hits my eyes. My whole body is warm as I write this, with an emphasis on my blood, which can become stagnant. I watched a squirrel and a bird out the window with a feeling that this is how wildlife always feels.

I often have sat in a city scene counting down the days before I can exit those cubicles and walk in the light with nature.

Now it seems less important that I am struggling for space or to feel content with the people I know on The Mountain. More important to me is that my blood is pumping. I am alive and excited for life. And I am living in an ecosystem of old growth trees, and wildlife that enjoys the benefits.

When I came here I looked at the view. When I was here for a while my camera zoomed in to capture the image of my feet. Finally I am looking at a bigger picture, and since the picture is so big, and to allow each creature a moment to blow in the wind in its own way, I finally realize that I don't have time on this earth for complaining about others, when I could use my time to feel my blood pump in the beauty of the day.

III. Feelings on the Mountain

I was not certain why I felt so wretched but I did. I have been on this mountain for four days now. My initial reaction was utter joy, exhilaration, and gratitude. Why would an organization have an opportunity like this for a place like me? What wonderful thing have I done to find myself here with the gods up on this mountain?

Last night I began to worry about things. My mood pendulum began to swing in the direction of sadness. By noon today I was fully aware of my concerns, my emotional vulnerability. It was rooted in my concern that my identity is not being properly represented here because it is a new environment. The first impression I make is always a bit off, or drastically different from my actual self.

Two of the other interns were bold and mature and lead enough to reach out to me and ask me if I needed support simply because they saw me withdrawing. They talked with me and it worked!

I am starting to believe now that just through their open listening and genuine understanding, maybe, just maybe, I can learn to be even more genuine here than I ever have been able.

IV. Mediation Rock

Here I sit on Meditation Rock. I write this in my head, an attempt to describe the view into the valley. My eyes fill with tears; I am thankful for this life this beauty, this peace that roles here with the hills. Instantly I feel an answer to my thanks, a feeling that gushes through me. Nature is not saying "you are welcome," but "con mucho gusto," a Spanish expression. "With much pleasure." This is the first time I have not needed a translator.

How can I paint a landscape with words?

My eyes, my gloved hands, my moist tongue, my damp nose, and my ears come together to find the beginnings of an image. It is the dee dee dee my mother and sister say is the song of the chickadee. It is the drip of the melting snow and the simultaneous soft drop of the falling snow.

Exterior to interior senses work backwards. We use sight more than any other sense unless we are blind. But our vision is the least connected to our core. Feeling, the neglected sense, the sense that is evolving out of us, rises up on an occasion like this, not wanting to be left behind.

And so it is not the long visual distance between me and the lake at the bottom, the tree, the winding road. Instead it is the sound of this distance, impossible for sound to carry between the mountain top and bottom. The sound and the feeling of stillness in the air ignite. Peace enters in to my body's home.

Suddenly now my tongue feels moist on arriving but soon is dry and parched with the mountain air. I am always prepared to consume water. My nose smells the damp crisp smell of snow on the ground, contrasting with the cold liquid snow that falls on my forehead crowning me, or making me a unicorn.

And finally my eyes are clear of the tears of gratefulness enough to notice the 400 year old to dwarf oak tree to my left, and the 500 year old oak on the slope. My eyes avail themselves to dart over the valley, to cross the hills of this Little Scaly Mountain.

I breathe it in for a long time the feeling of communion with nature. I feel her gracefulness, her with much pleasure. Dee dee dee. “Con mucho gusto”. Then I rise and step away.

Posted Thu Aug 10 12:33:48 2017

Eclipse II

We measure the distance between celestial objects in angles.

The clenched fist is ten degrees above the horizon.

The stars of Orion measure three degrees.

You need to breathe in a way that's good for you.

Maybe your breath is thick and fills the night as solid against the sky.

Or you're staring at the sun about the only time it's safe, wondering the at nebulous.

There are two words like sun and Earth, you and I.

There are so many other bodies.

Few moments can I feel so close to eternity in broad daylight.

Visions keep us firm, our balance holds.

Maybe you catch my breath for a moment.

A brush so close I can almost touch.

Posted Fri Aug 11 22:16:19 2017

I watched Democracy Now this morning, images of confederate statues being taken down and in North Carolina, anti-racist activists kicking the fallen statue. I hear people I know in Eastern Tennessee discussing Nazi punching on Facebook, and in person at the Peace Vigil I organize someone speaks openly that she is tired of the "peace" and that we need to show our "anger." Even Cornell West, one of the most incredible scholars of our time, admits he is not a pacifist.

In Charlottesville this weekend, the violence was stark and deadly. Heather Heyer, a 32 year old paralegal committed to social justice, was murdered as a white supremacist Nazi ran her over, and many too many other activists were beaten, struck, and run into by the same Nazis.

Now is the time to remember the pacifism of Martin Luther King. Activists who oppose white supremacy need to realize that to be violent against anyone (or even to kick a statue) is not the best constructive response to the fire of hatred and violence seen in racism. When one act of violence is returned with another act of violence then we are still in the cycle of violence, the violence will never end until leaders and activists start leading in purely peaceful ways. When people kick a symbol of oppression, the result is a symbol of violence as the model of behavior with which the behavior is replaced. We have to use symbols of peace when reacting to violence, hatred, and bigotry. We have to be the role models for how the behavior needs to be.

Posted Tue Aug 15 13:01:47 2017