SILENCE HAS A NAME - Poetry Chapbook and CD, with Music by Mark Hanley

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Some of my friends think that what I write about is sad. This is interesting news to me because I don't feel sad. In fact, I'm a very happy person, even though I sometimes choose to write about memory in a way that evokes a blend of emotions that can include sadness as well as fiction. But I don't feel sad, just creative most of the time. In fact, I am of a mind that you can't really write as well about sad events if you are in a state of sadness.

Although I am not sad, I do have a tendency toward guilt and so, as I may have made some people feel sad recently with something I wrote, this is in an attempt to make those of you who read this at least to smile.

Throughout most of my life, I have lived in houses with people but currently find myself in a situation where I am living on my own. This is mostly a wonderful experience. I love being by myself and doing what I like to do. The only problem I have with this is at night. The fact is I would much rather go to bed with a body than by myself because I really am afraid of the dark.

Please understand, the fact that I am afraid of the dark and would rather sleep with a body than without one does not mean that I long for a relationship. Just a body. Sometimes I think that's it's mostly been confusion and miscommunication that has resulted in couplings and marriages in the past--when really all I wanted was someone warm next to me as I sleep.

You may be thinking to yourself at this point, "Why don't you just get a dog?" Sure, dogs are cuddly, some of them, but they also cost money and have to be fed, and walked outdoors late at night, in the cold, when I for one would much prefer to be doing other things. Besides, these days caring for a decent dog costs about as much as it does sending a toddler to a good school. Too much. I don't want a dog, but a human--just for the night. Just for sleeping.

It's a funny thing about sleeping with another body. It's warmer sleeping with one naked, skin to skin. When I am in relationship with another body, I don't think twice about parading around the house in my birthday suit, even now. But if I am alone, there is virtually no item of clothing that escapes being pulled out of drawers and tested on my body--for comfort and security. Currently, my outfit is a little scary: a yellow neon Victoria Secret shift that was worn alone in very warm weather, but is now topped by a yellow green tee and a black yoga hoodie sweatshirt, black silk underwear from LL Bean and striped wool socks. This brings to mind Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat for obvious reasons.

When I am sleeping alone in a house, the realization that I am alone never leaves my mind once nightfall comes and the television is off and the phone put down. At which point, a list of all the scary films I have ever seen-- from Psycho to Wait Until Dark to Sleeping with the Enemy--runs like a filmstrip through my mind. No matter that the windows and doors are all shut, locked, bolted. No amount of reasoning allays the monsters of the mind.

How much of a scaredy pants am I? Before I get into bed, I must not only lock the door to my bedroom, I must check in the closet and under the bed too before I switch off the light and hop under the covers. Beyond my room is a long valley of darkness filled with cackling possibilities. And I know, even as I fall asleep, that eventually I will have to "go there," step into that well of night before morning to go to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, that time tends to happen at the most dreaded hour before dawn when it's still pitch black throughout the house and world, three or four in the morning. If I'd been born male, I've sometimes reasoned, I could pee into a cup beside my bed and leave it there until morning and not have to step outside my room at all at night. But no such luck. (And trust me, that's the only reason I would have enjoyed being born male). Whenever I have to get up, the night light in the hallway doesn't help at all, as it casts huge shadows, so as I am racing out of my room toward the bathroom, all I see is someone chasing after me in the dark. A quick pee and prayer later, I run back to my room, switch on the light and quickly check in the closet and under the bed before re-locking the door and hopping back under cover. God only knows what number of ghosts and goblins might have invaded my room during my minute's absence!

I always check in the closet and under the bed, even though the only thing that could possibly fit under the bed is an anorectic midget. Even though, bending over to check for anything when you are half asleep and more than 50 years of age, is clearly risky business.

If I am lucky, I go right back to sleep after this. But if it's a night when my imagination is running particularly rampant, the night's over for me no matter what I try to do to return to dreams.

Lately, I have taken to reading David Sedaris's books before going to sleep--Naked and When You Are Engulfed in Flames being two favorites--just to laugh off the dark. Besides, I take comfort in reading Sedaris, who is clearly at least as neurotic as I am and equally capable of making fun of everything, including death and fear. I find myself laughing until I cry when I read his essays and will sometimes find that I have read his work for more than two hours, in which case I am effed, as I may be happy as shit, but I will also be too stimulated to sleep. So, it's an act of balance reading Sedaris before bed, trying to laugh myself just enough into an easy rest.

I was not only scared of the dark as a kid, but always afraid I would be the first to get it and always conniving some way not to be first. Even when we went away to the house in the country in Colombia and my two sisters and I slept next to one another on a big bed, I would spend most of the night crawling over each of my sisters so I would be closest to the wall and therefore the last to get nailed by the bogeyman!

Some things never change is a cliche and truism. While I consider myself brave in a lot of ways, as regards being a brave girl going to sleep alone at night, I remain a child, afraid of monsters in the dark that may leap even out of the toilet when I sit on it at night. No matter what I tell myself about darkness, when it comes sleeping time, all I envision is party time for demons, goblins and the dead.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

JERRY JAZZ MUSICIAN Launches New Jazz Short Story Series

This is the first of my jazz short stories for JJM.
Please check out the Jerry Jazz Musician website. It's one of the best.


Friday, September 6, 2013


"There was something beyond all that, something beyond energy, beyond history, something I could not fix in my mind." - Joan Didion, The White Album

All night I hear them rumbling past my window, sometimes shaking the room in which I sleep, sometimes waking me up. They are that loud. They pass by very late at night or in the wee hours when they think the world is sleeping. When they think they can get away with murder.

I sleep with a fan on, for a fan helps ward off sound, keeps it at bay. Not this sound though, not this caravan of trucks, carting lethal weapons, contrivances of doom through the small city of McDonald toward the next town and the next.

Some trucks sound so heavy, onerous, like metal monsters keening from side to side, carting giant sets of shackles. For whom? For what? Other trucks fly by in the opposite direction toward I-80, their high pitched rattles a sign they have already deposited cargos and ride empty. How many trucks will it take to destroy Ohio? How many trucks to destroy the world?

Even sand is now a weapon, as it is injected along with water into shale in the process of horizontal fracking, the demon devastating Trumbull County, where I live, and aiming its nose now toward Mahoning County. The trucks bearing fracking sand seem so spanking new, so state of the art. Shiny blue cabs and red ones, their opulent silver bodies cloaked with little ladders, as if begging human beings, children even to climb aboard, ride the fun truck--to where? By the time I poke my head out the window to identify them as they pass by, they are gone.

One is tempted to deny their existence and the reality of where they go and what they do. The residents of Westwood Lake Park in Warren have no denial about the effects of fracking however as they have to endure unbreathable air and unbearable levels of noise pollution from a Halcon well burning hundreds of poisonous flares only yards from where they live. Some residents cannot sleep and have to cover their windows and eyes and wear ear muffs at night to sleep, to avoid exposure to the terrible toxic light and noise seeping in. Residents struggle to breathe; some have broken out in rashes; others suffer seizures and migraines. Illnesses vary and hit residents hard, as many are senior citizens who were hoping to enjoy a golden retirement in Trumbull County. One need only look at their faces to know something is dreadfully wrong, and yet their suffering goes unheeded; their complaints go ignored. Authorities tell residents to wear masks, not to fret. After all, there is the belief among those doing the fracking and supporting it that the process reaps rewards even though any sane person knows there can be no gain for those who attempt to get it by raping people and their land and taking resources at their expense. Everyone seems to be complicit in the greed. As if corporations were composed of people with metal hearts, like automatons, like trucks.

Not long ago at a fracking protest, Maria Montanez, a mother and social worker from Youngstown,  lay down in front of a line of fracking trucks, risking bodily harm to slow the caravan of death, and was arrested. People only want to protect themselves, their water, land and air.

More than 109 earthquakes linked to fracking have been documented in Ohio since fracking started. Horizontal fracking has only been in existence a few years, but its effects are already lethal. Because such fracking is close to the surface, gases are more likely to escape and water become poisoned. The toxins released from such fracking harm humans and the environment.

What will it take to stop the caravan of death destroying Ohio, slowly devastating the world?

"Although no complete list of the cocktail of chemicals used in this process exists, information obtained from environmental clean-up sites demonstrates that known toxins are routinely being used, including hydrochloric acid, diesel fuel (which contains benzene, tuolene, and xylene) as well as formaldehyde, polyacrylimides, arsenic, and chromates."