Fleeing Sanity’s Last Sonnet

The men worry me
they come in at night to take a shower
in my bathroom
they stand over my bed
but I pray to Jesus to protect me
and they go away
The food worries me
they are putting something in my food
I can see it when I look in the toilet
after I, you know
brown specks, about that big
they look like raisins
sometimes I see them in the cereal
and in the rice
I eat bananas and Activia
I like ice cream and potato chips
but I have to be careful

For her, darkling demons, dementia’s brood
Blacken her mind, shutter memory’s flare
Fearful paranoia her only mood
Terrible conjurings her steady fare.

God promises to take care of me
If I persevere through my trials
It’s here, in the Bible
I have to persevere
The Ensure doesn’t taste right anymore
I think they put something in it
I don’t think they like me
But I never complain
People come to see the apartment
I hear them talking outside
They are going to throw me out
Our Father, whose art is heaven
hollow being my name, your
kingdom be done with this
on heaven
On TV, those cooking shows
They cook dogs and cats now
I don’t mind the cats so much
Not that I would ever eat that
But I won’t watch them cook dogs
The words in the prayer books jumble
I went to Bible Study but they made fun of me
in the dining room they laugh at me
because my feet are funny
and my throat makes a noise when I swallow

Each day her mind flees down steep sickness stairs
Each night’s delusions twist without relief
She wakes to troubled attempted prayers
Jumbles once familiar words of belief.

I have to persevere.
God tells me
Andi has been pregnant a long time
a year or two now I’m
waiting for that baby
My great-grandson Ruth
Woody’s wife that other one
she does my laundry and says
she and Woody are wife but Ruth
is died
Did she
That doctor, she wanted to know when I was born
She my graduation picture
I was quite a looker
I tried to figure it out
but I can’t remember when my parents
were born we lived in Emmaus
My father grew
strawberries I think he

All meaning lost to Alzheimer’s sly thief
Robbed of truth, mem’ries comfort no more

God does laundry when Woody
comes I’ll tell God to
The couple comes out of
their hole to watch my TV
they don’t want to pay for their own
my dogs on the                                 chair
protect me                  from that
snake under that what call                           chair
the dogs              follow me
with eyes
that’s    how
I know they’re alive
though Andi said they                    stuffed
stuff of alive though
God Wood y
Andi came with                         ?baby?
picture who        is             that
Go way
Ipretty Joe

When she dies, deep relief buries our grief
We pack her room quickly, a final chore.

Why write, griefless, when death has set her free?
Just this, please God, send swifter death to me.


A Catholic Woman Speaks

Paraphrase of Ez 12:1-12

The word of God came to me:
Daughter of woman, you worship and labor in the midst of a rebellious church;
they have eyes to see but do not see,
and ears to hear but do not hear,
for they are a rebellious church.
Now, daughter of woman, in the harsh glare of revelations, while they are looking on,
prepare your spirit as though you were one of the abused,
and again while they are looking on,
migrate from where you worship and labor under them to another place;
perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house.
You shall bring out your spirit like one of the abused, in the harsh glare of revelations
while they are looking on;
in the quiet sanctuary, again while they are looking on,
you shall go out like one of those abused and driven into exile;
while they look on, dig a hole through their walled indifference and pass beyond it;
while they look on, shoulder the burden of the abused and set out in the darkness;
cover your face and weep, refuse their boundaries on your soul,
for I have made you a sign for the Catholic Church.

I did as I was told.
In the harsh glare of revelations I brought out my spirit
as though it were that of an abused one,
and in the quiet sanctuary I dug a hole through their walled indifference with my prayers and actions
and, while they looked on, I set out in the darkness as one abused,
shouldering their burden.

Then, in the morning, the word of the God came to me:
Daughter of woman, did not the Catholic Church, that rebellious house,
ask you what you were doing?
Tell them: Thus says God
This oracle concerns Rome
and the whole hierarchy within it.
I am a sign for you:
as I have done, so shall it be done to you;
as captives you shall go into exile.
The prince who is among you shall shoulder this burden
and set out in darkness,
going through a hole he has dug out in your walled indifference,
and covering his face in shame for all to see.


Blinded by the White

I peer
At the screen
As news and not news
Scrolls through my mind

The French Ambassador rebukes Trevor Noah
For congratulating Africa on France’s World Cup

Four Alabama policemen are suspended
For giving a down low OK sign in an official picture
Is it a childish game or a white supremacy code?

A young male blogger whitesplains that music is the cause
Of everything that is wrong for black Americans
Not the enduring legacy of slavery, not racism, not white privilege –
Their funky ass music

I think
How our eyes – my eyes
Are blinded
By our – my
White skin.

Talitha Koum

Rise up, little girl
I do try
To rise above the patriarchy of the church
To rise above the racism of my heritage
To rise above my envy of others
To float
To the top of the murky sea
Where I swim amongst my nightmare monsters
To bubble up and burst through
To continue up, without wings
Into the sky
Only to find troublesome winds
Blowing me every which way
So that I drown in the rarefied air
Of thoughts too deep for easy
Floating, drifting
How do I swim through air?
I do try
But I tire and sink
Knowing that I can’t
Until again I hear
Talitha koum

Psalm 148

Praise God! Praise God with my best and highest
Praise God with all Her angels and great cloud of witnesses
Praise God in my light and in my dark, in all my shining possibility
Praise God in my best times, my brightest thoughts
Praise God who created me
Praise God who keeps me forever and ever, secure in Her embrace
Even in the depths and monsters of my depression
Even in the frosts and fury of my doubts
From my high points and my low alleys
With my best gifts and my worst faults
With my wildness and my work
When I am flying high and when I am barely creeping
When I think I am ruling my own life
Now that I am old, as when I was young
Through it all, let me praise God
God of glory, God of wisdom, God above all
May God hold me close, may God keep me faithful. Amen

Psalm 146

Let me praise God
With every breath
As long as I live
Let me praise God all my life long
I want wisdom not more knowledge
I want sure help not false hope
I want healing not bandaids
All my knowledge, all my schemes
All my best efforts
Will die with me
My happiness, my help, my hope
Must be God
Immortal, almighty
Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
Lady Wisdom
Faithful to me, She lifts my spirit
Loving me, She feeds my hope
God frees me
God’s light banishes my darkness
God’s steadfast love makes me whole
She comforts me, protects me
She, only She, destroys my enemies, those terrible Ds
Let God reign in my heart forever
My God for all my life long
Praise God! Amen.

Psalm 134

Come, let me bless God
With that great cloud of witnesses
Let me make my life God’s house
Let me lift up my hands in worship
And bless God
And, please, may God,
God almighty, God omnipotent
God creator of time and the universe
Please, may God bless me. Amen