Never Mind

What do I tell my children?  What do I tell my aging parents, honest in that they
Do not envy me.


How can I convey to you the heaviness of my heart?

I’m sure you’ve felt it, experienced the physical weight of sadness.

That sudden drop which suspends inside.

Lead within the quasi-weightlessness of water.

Water, wrapped in flesh, encased in a mind that cannot lift the eyes to see the horizon.

Just take the moment of temporary lightness, the mire of reality is unfair.

No one can help me, so I look to the earth for inspiration

I look to words for hope

I look to art for some sign of sympathy.

Never mind.

The earth has become paved over with concrete without thought to next week.

The words are glossed over by Freudian overtones that mankind craves.

Art has become not the object but the person who renders nothing but style.

What do I tell my children?  What do I tell my aging parents, honest in that they do not envy me?

How do I keep from mourning the family given and then taken?

The lessons have stopped and I am now atop the tiny dynasty learning faith.

And even that the world insists gets in the way.

Never mind.


I look about, realizing suddenly that I am thinking of nothing.

As I wait for my coffee to come forth through the combination of stagnate hot water and the forced push of said water through the compact coffee grounds within the stylized plastic cup, (naturally decaffeinated for my overly taxed nerves which are affected by extra stimuli), this cup of coffee is,of course, from hand-picked beans, fairly traded, well packaged, and, no doubt, still sold with ample profit to the middle man.  I look about, realizing suddenly that I am thinking of nothing. In a rush I begin thinking of those nimble fingers picking the perfectly ripened coffee bean and keeping hearth and home together so that my brief reprieve at work could be enjoyed. To avoid consumerism guilt let me put a face to the nameless.

Oh the wonderful aroma of 21st century coffee!  The perfectly brewed one cupper coffee pots that have taken away the traditions of percolators and the drudgery of almost religious fervor in preparing that perfect pot of coffee, so that I am able to scurry back to the desk, the telephone, the computer and the mass of humanity who can’t understand why health insurance doesn’t pay for the world’s woes.  This keeps my “hearth and home” together, dodging such questions.  The coffee bean planter, cultivator, and picker meet clandestinely, within the tall, glass and steel buildings of the mid-American insurance industry via me.

The insurance industry and the business of coffee production demands my abject compliance.  The women and men, the day laborers whom the western world believes extinct, as well as the insurance industry pegs who, through constant, at-you-fingertips mopery, stiffen their joints and bow their back during their life’s labors at the front line of claims payment; are at the beck and call of those in charge and those who simply don’t believe in death.

I stand before the coffee pot waiting for the heap of brown to puddle into the well thought out coffee-mug-of-a-gift that my son had chosen for me two Christmases ago.

Glancing around to distract myself from my own depression, I notice on the shelf above the coffee machine that my conglomerate employer provides, a tubular jar of cinnamon.  Vietnamese cinnamon.

The vast cultures and the global economy are meeting here at my job.

Dress and trappings are everything, so I’m told – and so it seems that is true as I watch my fellow workers shake daintily and with fervor the cinnamon into their gratis coffee – gratis except for the cup.  The cups are carefully given by our children from the allowances we can afford to give them.

I too reach for the cinnamon and with a heavy shake cover the top of my coffee with the stuff to the wide-eyed amazement of my fellow employees; too much their expressions say but they turn from me and say nothing.

Before the mixture sinks, I sip the hot liquid from the cup my son thought worthy of me, the taste is surprisingly sweet in aroma but when it touches my mouth something like dirt, sandpapers my tongue and grits between my teeth.

Yes, yes, so brief we pause in our consumption and so long we work to take a sip.


We Lose and We Win

I was coming down off a serious high and the police brought me into the drunk tank, found out after I had been raped by the local female gorilla (yes women rape other women), that I was underage and with all abject apology tucked me into an upper scale dry-out clinic.

“Where you go, I shall go also.  Your God shall be my God.”  The book of Ruth.

That’s a paraphrase I’m afraid.  I know being a child of the 21st century this may sound either condescending or an out and out lie but I prefer the King James Version the best.  There is something about the King James version of the Bible that is more poetic, more believable.

She wasn’t my mother-in-law but she was widowed when I met her.  I was coming down off a serious high and the police brought me into the drunk tank, found out after I had been raped by the local female gorilla (yes women rape other women), that I was underage and with all abject apology tucked me into an upper scale dry-out clinic.

I met her there she was a volunteer mentor to under advantaged girls like me.  Now her idea of upper scale and my idea were two different things and at first I just didn’t like her.  She was an old widowed Jew who, I felt, was there just to see how the outer echelon lived outside her pampered world.

“What was your mother’s name?”

“Why was?  My Mom’s name is Kathy.  Some call her Kate.  She wanted to be called Kate but she decided that way too late in life, it never stuck.”

“Why isn’t Kate here?”

“Why should she be?”

“Because she is your mother,” she said quietly.  To her the fact that Kate was my mother obligated her to come and see about me.

“Kate never cared about me, she never will and that, is they say is that.  Where’s your mother?” I asked. She was old as dirt and I knew her mother was dead but decided to be cruel our first meeting so she wouldn’t come back.”

“With God,” she replied

“Does she like it better there?”

“I would think so,” she said evenly and looking me directly in the eye.  I got the feeling that the interrogation was all on my side but I was feel less and less in control.

“Right, like she has a choice.  God said that’s it and she had to go.”

“So you believe in God?”

“Sure, He’s a male, on the male side of everything and He created women so He and all his male buddies could be made to feel superior.”

She laughed out loud.  She laughed with real mirth and her eyes went from a slate gray to a brilliant blue and all the wrinkles in her face softened and crinkled to her forehead.  I was feeling like I had been kicked several times (I knew how that felt) and my mouth was dry and I knew my breath was rank from not eating but I had to laugh at her laughing at me.

It was the first time I felt as if I didn’t know it all and that fact was okay.  It was the first time I felt that I could put all my observed ideas before someone who wouldn’t tell me I was wrong but tell me how to see my observations from another view point.

I was incarcerated for three years in a juvenile detention center and for three years I had no choice but to dry out.  She came every Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening.

“What’s it like being a Jew?  Did you go through the Holocaust?”

“What’s it like being a Christian?  Did you go through the Inquisition?”

She was good with things like that.  She taught me that I couldn’t have the same feelings as her and she couldn’t have the same feelings as me – we could compare notes and meet on mutual ground, sometimes we couldn’t even do that.

“Do you think I’d make a good Jew?”


It was the first time I laughed out loud at her and she smiled and I could tell almost cried.  I don’t know what happened but at that moment, beyond the book recommends, the letters we wrote, the drug rehab and the mourning we shared, it was the first time we were miles apart culturally and never closer spiritually.

“Women need women,” she said.

I suddenly began to talk of my rape, why I ended up in a better place than all of my other drug induced cohorts.  She frowned slightly and leaned forward listening, intently – interrupting only to bring my language up when I felt the power of hopelessness overcome me.  “Genitles,” for “cunt.” “Penetration,” for “fucked,” and so on.  I was sweaty and chilled when I finished telling her of my night in lock up.

“My husband came from a long line of Jews – as you call me.  Some of his family wore the traditional garb.  He was more liberated and though he celebrated the holidays and the Sabbath, his diet wasn’t kosher, nor was his ideas strictly that of his more conservative family members.  Our marriage was arranged.  Yes, even in this country.  It was many, many years ago.  I came from a very wealthy family and my dowry was large.  I did not have to marry him; I could have refused but I wanted to feel a part of my ancient heritage.  I was young and thought doing rather than thinking was the way I should go.  He was brutal.  He could only come to a sexual climax by cruelty.  My children, I have three who lived, were begot in horrific ways.  It was not their fault.”

“What happened?  How did you survive?”

“I had him murdered.  I could not stand one more rape.  I had begged for a divorce and I had run away with the children but he would fine me.  You must understand that many men of all races and cultures are like this.”

“Is that why you laughed at me when I described God to you?”

“Perhaps.  I simply saw a young, hurt woman lashing out upon a Being you had no concept of; your anger was against your circumstance and you had placed God as a sort of surrogate of that circumstance.  Not surprising as you are a Christian and your Church teaches that Christ has paid the price for your sins.  Not a bad plan but it does have its repercussions on the human mind. I think Christians are the front runners for blaming God for everything.”

“But what happened?  How are you here?”

“I got away with it dear.  I paid for his demise and no one is the wiser, except now for you.”

I stared at this white haired old lady, her bright blue eyes shining.  I was dumbfounded.

“Dear girl, I only tell you because you have grown tremendously in the three years we have known each other.  Let this be our parting gift to each other – bad happens, we lose and we win but through it all God grants a chance at human connection that make the bad bearable and the good a humbling experience; not all take advantage or cherish that connection.”

– See more at:

Superior Sings

I watched Joe walk away. I had made him uncomfortable. I wanted to laugh out loud but I knew that people really wanted to burn me at the stake already – or put me away.

The land is not flat, only life is that — flat. So flat that the eye only sees ahead to the horizon and not the treacherous and bone splitting pits so artfully disguised as endlessness. The land, however, slopes and curves and early in the morning the mist in the low areas hides thick and white from the sun. The glorious morning sun illuminates the very heart of each and every tree and reflects upon every insect and particle in the air, while in the evening that same sun is not so intrusive; it elongates shadows and hides the doe and her yearling in the twilight shades of dying day. The land, unlike life, hides predictably but we stay ignorant and treat the land like life.

So at night I hear Lake Superior sing its shore sounds not far from my back door. I also hear the wolf pack howl in praise of another night alive under the stars.

Aside from that there is not much else to do around here but go to church and the bar, (not bars – there is only one bar where I live). My dad went to the same bar for years and he died getting off the bar stool that I make a point of sitting on when I go now, for my sip of sherry. Joe said he died in the parking lot but Mike said he died right there in the middle of the floor sorta kickin’ and turnin’ purple. I figured Dad would die pissed off. I sit on the same bar stool and order sherry. First time I ordered sherry Joe sorta smiled.

“Not the hard stuff like your old man huh?”


“What you doin’ here anyway?” Joe asked.

I shrugged. Dad left me everything – everything by accident. The acres of land that his Dad bequeathed him only because his Dad did the same; all came to me. Dad left me everything and the sound of Superior singing and the wolf pack that howls late at night. I think Dad figured he’d live a long time, just to be spiteful but he didn’t and all that money he was socking away, working for the state of Michigan, maintaining roads in the Upper Peninsula that only tourist use came to me also. And all the life insurance money that Mom thought she’d live to see, well that came to me too. I’m very careful with the money, nothing too opulent for me. That’s what Mom would say, “Nothing too opulent for me.”

Mom liked to read.

I remember my Mom younger than the day she died; younger with the sun shining on her brown hair, curly and soft against her neck. I see her in her best dress, pale yellow with a V-neck, simple and straight. She would sit in the old wooden chair next to my Dad, he asleep in a heap and she with a book in her lap, looking toward Superior. She could perhaps hear Superior in the daylight, I never could. I imagine her getting up with her pretty dress swaying about her thin form and walking toward Superior. In reality I don’t think she ever did such a thing.

The big lake I think always loved her, loved her with a soft, yet somehow hard passion toward the rest of us. There was a longing in my Mother’s face and a longing in the song I heard Superior sing. Perhaps that’s why she stayed in her seat and only listened. I think of her now walking the slopes and curves of the land, the morning mist parting for her and she at last walking to Superior. I wonder now if she didn’t stay for my sake.

Mom and I would dream about the little house we would have when Dad was gone. The floor to ceiling book cases, the little dormers in our bedrooms and plenty of windows to watch it snow during winter.

That was a bad day, me standing on the outside of her grave with Dad breathing heavy and stone cold sober beside me. That was a very bad day.

Two years later he was gone. I thought perhaps that would be the case, him dying because when Mom went he stayed longer at the bar and he was reprimanded at the job for being late. The union protected him; I heard others talking. The union men, they would talk in the bar that Joe and Mike owned. The only bar in a twenty-mile radius. It had a pool table shipped in from down below and it had mirrors behind the bar so people could watch people watch each other drink and play pool and dance slow and clumsy. There are no windows in the bar.

These men, these union men, seemed to understand my father’s suffering. The men, who with two days’ beard on them, would throw back a quick one, nod their sage heads and commiserate. Losin’ his wife that way – and his daughter not worth much. Only thing she could do was drive down and make sure he got home from the bar. But I didn’t care what they said or thought, I was worried he wouldn’t die with benefits, but he died in time.

After he died I took over his bar stool; I sip sherry and talk to Joe, sometimes Mike too. I walk the land to the shore of Superior, unlike Mom, I go when Superior sings.

Nobody else talks to me, they all pretend I’m not there. Some of the women would talk to me at first, they were a little older and wore too much makeup and were too thin but they would talk. Then they grew tired of me and started asking men to dance. I disappeared to them in time.

So I sip sherry on the same bar stool my dad fell off of while Joe tries to talk some sense into me; that I shouldn’t hang out in the bar while so much of life was goin’ on.

Joe has always been nice to me but never refused a whiskey and soda ordered up by my Dad. I think of that and study Joe’s face hard while he’s lecturing me in a kind way. I study the lines of his face and his pale blue eyes. I feel him grow uncomfortable under my gaze. So he talks more and faster.

Joe asked me if I have any plans to travel or maybe go away to school. He tells me about this time in the army and his trip to Vietnam. He asks how the construction of my new home is going – the home my Mother and I planned together for so many years. Joe tells me how lucky I am to have so much land and such a nice little brick house to live in, that Dad had really set me up, too bad my Mom died sort of young. I nod and sip my sherry.

Joe asked me one day, “why don’t you go home and get up in the morning and go to church, find some nice young man there and settle down?”

“Mom told me not to look for men in church,” I said sipping my sherry and maneuvering for a comfortable position, that I’ve yet to find, in my Dad’s old bar stool.

I could tell Joe was about to start laughing – and a part of me was sorry he didn’t. Perhaps at that time I might have started to fit in. If the regular crowd at last heart the bartender and I sharing a joke, maybe I wouldn’t be treated as an unwanted guest or like I was that cold shiver in everyone’s spine. But instead of laughing he paused and looked at me and his big blue eyes sorta got bigger and he said, “What?”

“Mom said that nice men at church have a funny notion about women and that I shouldn’t go there to look for men – I should go just to worship God.”

“So you do go to church?”


“And what do those men at church say about you coming to a bar?”

“They never ask.”

“What will you do when they do ask?”

I shrugged and looked away from Joe because no one would ask me. He didn’t understand that. Some people at church, they are very nice and call me and tell me if I need anything I should let them know. I try and get off the telephone with them as quickly as possible and I never hang around after church. They make me nervous when they are people and not a congregation singing or taking communion. They seem to me to treat God like a police officer. I don’t think they are sick but deep down lonely. They are like people in the bar, sort of; they talk to each other and not to God. They don’t notice how the sun in the morning shines and the sun in the evening hides those things living on the land.

I feel sorry for them because Jesus made things so hard for us and simple too. I like to think of Jesus talking to women; talking to His Mom and to the lady at the well and Jesus just staring at the prostitute at His feet. I think women made Jesus think of Superior singing; sort of sad, and wistful and sorry that things weren’t different or the way they should be.

“What are you thinking about?” Joe asked one night, a quiet, slow night.


“In a bar?”

And I smiled at Joe. The men at the bar really are no different than men in church. That was something I would have to tell Mom when I saw her again. There was Joe all gray and tired looking. He fought in the jungles and lived in Detroit for a while and he smoked pot when a kid. Did he think of God at all? Sure he did, he thought of God keeping score but not as someone to talk to.

“I was thinking about when Jesus told the crowds of men that they were all guilty of adultery when they thought of committing adultery.”

“He said that?”


“Tough guy.”

“He’s God.”

“Tough God.”

“He’s okay though really – God I mean, because He sacrificed His own Son to get us off the hook.”

“I don’t know anything about that.”

I watched Joe walk away. I had made him uncomfortable. I wanted to laugh out loud but I knew that people really wanted to burn me at the stake already – or put me away. There I was with all of my dead Dad’s money, staying in the middle of nowhere; dirt roads, tiny bar (not bars mind you – we have only one, one gas station and one paved road that the state of Michigan maintains) and thinking about Jesus in a bar and avoiding men at church and listening to Superior sing.

I imagine God’s own Son slapping His open palm up against His forehead and saying, “Are you kidding me? I made you. Talk to Me, discuss your desires with Me. I know you did your neighbor’s wife in your head while on top of your own wife.” I imagine men around Jesus looking about sort of sheepish and feeling sort of uncomfortable and then Jesus moving in with a zinger – “of course, your own wife was not mentally there because you’re all boring lovers. Yeah she told me.” Then they’d drag Him off and nail Him to a cross.

Joe’s wife left him several years ago and everyone knows why but nobody discusses it. To me it’s life as normal. Men push things aside and pretend they understand other men who outlive their wives or marry women who are never satisfied; women who think the landscape is romantic but can’t hear a song deep within Superior – that song that sings things aren’t what they ought to be.

My own Dad woke me up two days before he died. He woke me up rough and smelling of something awful. He told me to make him some coffee but I didn’t want to because after Mom would make him coffee, I would hear her crying in the bedroom. But he shook me again so I got up and made him coffee.

He sat at the old kitchen table and watched me. I felt like crying so I talked to God. I prayed using real words because I was very afraid. I went about mechanically putting the coffee together and felt my hands shaking and feeling really cold all over. Then I remembered sitting with my Mom the last time. She looked all swollen but she said she was in no real pain; she was smiling at me and started talking to me. “Debbie,” she said, “Debbie men of power do not want to save anyone. Men of power want dependency,” my Mom told me. “Jesus went through life so we could stand on rocks and part the Red Sea of loneliness, so we could raise our hands and win the battle of raising our children. He died on a cross and healed us of snake bites – even though the snakes bite us over and over again and never go away. We can live to run for our lives and meet God, that’ what Jesus did.”

I knew she was worried about me; I didn’t mind her talking about God. “Don’t worry about me Mom. Dad won’t live forever.”

“You build our little house, I’ll come and visit you.”

“I’ll build it.”

“If you want men to come, that’ll be okay – I suggest you don’t let them stay.”

“What will God say?”

“Find out when the two of you meet,” she said.

I only nodded at Mom. But when I stood there shivering in the kitchen, the very kitchen where Mom taught me of Jesus and God and I felt all the hate of a dying man grind into my back, I felt the thinnest of my entire life, paper thin and not so sure. I placed the coffee in front of Dad but didn’t look into his eyes. I went back to my bedroom.

I never stay until the bar closes; I just sit there until I really don’t want to anymore, maybe an hour or two. It’s funny because when I’m at the bar I think I just want to be in my nice quiet home where no one has lived except me and where I feel my Mom visit sometimes and hear the wolf pack and wait for Superior to sing.

He banged on my bedroom door, my Dad did and the door shook as if Satan himself was demanding entrance.

“Monday, I’m making sure you don’t get a dime missy – not a dime. You’ll finally work. The oldest work known to man – if you can get anyone stoned enough to pay for it. That’s three days away little Miss Debbie. It’s my way of making sure you won’t die a virgin – you’ll thank me later.”

Even in my terror I had to smile – I had already made sure I wouldn’t die a virgin and missed the sacred state immensely. In my terror I thought of that missed state and the young girl I was and the confusion I lived in. Now life was clear in the good and in the bad. My Dad shook the thin door of my room upon its hinges. “Your mother can’t protect you anymore. And her water stained shadows on the wall don’t frighten me.”

He said it in a high pitched shout and for the first and last time, I felt a pang of pity for my Dad and an almost certain knowing he wouldn’t last three days. I wished that I could see her shadow for I was certain it would be a comfort to me. I never did and I had that old shack of a house torn down soon after its purpose was spent.

I still pray in real words though the fear is gone and I think of things Jesus would say while sipping sherry on the bar stool my Dad used, among other things in his flat life.

Superior Sings / Lydia Ink by SK Woodiwiss

The Strength to Choose

“Jonathan, nothing is certain. You must believe me. I’ve seen hell and nothing is worse than that, please help me.”

I, of course, didn’t believe her.  I told her I did but I didn’t.  She smiled at me in a half-hearted or perhaps a whimsical sort of way and said ‘thank-you.’  She whispered the two words to me and looked away.  Her soft hair, straw colored and wavy, veiled the side of her face in a cascading shine of brilliance as she looked down at her hands.

I felt a surge of male adrenaline.  Was she that damsel in distress or that Victorian lady, even the mad Ophelia who was sitting across from me?

My friend, this is the 21st century and maybe my Baby-boomer father would have succumbed to her soft strength, I did not.  I pocketed my anxiety about her, along with my surge of Freudian awareness, paid the bill and walked away.

She was found dead the next day – her neck was broken.  I was questioned by the police and it was determined that I was the last to see her alive – outside of her murderer.

I did not kill her.

I did not.

I was at a party that night, celebrating my best friend’s engagement to a wonderful woman; strong, an attorney and not beyond child bearing years despite the time it took for them to fall in love between their accomplishments.

Does that sound cynical?

The cynicism is for me alone and anyone who might read this and ponder their long nights working not for the money necessarily but for the security of being the best.

She told me that nothing was secure.  She told me just before she died.

“Jonathan, nothing is certain.  You must believe me.  I’ve seen hell and nothing is worse than that, please help me.”

“I believe you.”  I think I even reached forward and squeezed her delicate hands.  They were warm to my touch but only, I think, because they had held the coffee I had bought for her.  She had looked almost anemic, frail, suffering.

No, perhaps now that she is in a pauper’s grave, by the grace of the state of New York, I see her differently.  My memory, no doubt, is romanticizing her last moments.

Don’t think me a total brute, please.  I would have taken her with me, fed her, introduced her back into the fold of our mutual friends but she said no.  She had to face her reality.  Odd now that I rethink our last meeting, odd that she said reality and not destiny.  Writing this all down, to whom or really why I don’t know, it strikes me that I didn’t pick up on that.  Perhaps I was too busy being pragmatic and telling myself it was for her sake.

For you see, I did believe she believed what she told me.  Now I believe her and it will no doubt be the death of me.

I won’t suffer as she did, the long nights, the endless pursuit of truth.  I’ll fight the monster as long as I can and hope I have the strength to choose death in the end.



Lydia Ink / The Strength to Choose by SK Woodiwiss