Mermaids Published With Remixt
(Oil Painting and Photo by Artist Elizabeth Punches)
Poetry is what I began with, my first published items being three poems by the age of thirteen in three separate books of the same series, three poems about the seasons. I only remember one more particularly than the others, being about fall, my favorite. After those poems my only next poem was my one and only ever written for a ‘boy’ before I had snapped out of my teen years and into life itself and all that it held for me.
Funny now to imagine the personality that I am now ever having been one to write about crush for a boy in poetic form. But the person I am now understands by far that it would be enough to take me away from writing…and even liking any reading of for the most part, poetry at all for a good long time. I don’t remember it being quite crushing, more a bit embarrassing of an episode.
I do not give it full credit for my turning away from poetry as much as that I turned toward far more different types of writings in that time…..in fact the Political and Police writing came only a few short years later, living in the hub of Los Angeles can do that to a person, as well as whole life times lived in only a few short years and turning on a television to see a tower burn down that you were, at that time, supposed to be in.
To learn of heartbreak for the first time, to lose a child, to know the face of death for me was to shut out poetry rather than as some writers do, embrace it, or drown in it. Rather than to reveal myself to the world, I closed off from it, dealing with only the logistics…at least as far as my writing went. In truth I lived life fully, thankfully I am grateful for this now more than anything else, in that time. I just could not write of it.
Or so I thought I was living fully, but now I know that not to write fully was not to live fully, for a writer, for me. Or perhaps all things in their time…. Decades later and the answers are simply never going to be back & white. So for a long time no fiction, fantasy or dream like writing. No love, no romance, no wishes as my motto was “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” for a good long time during then. Many things changed and molded about me in those years…good…and maybe even some could say bad.
But my poetic voice lay not lost, only dormant as years later in my womanhood of my thirties with many ’embarrassing’ love moments later, my writing having taken much shape and change in direction…again, and beginning to listen to the voice inside that I had shut behind a door for awhile was once again welcome in. Even before this particular poetic piece the writing started to lean once again into a direction where it remembered the magic and mysterious things and the small wonders that made life…happy, full, embraced.
And thus the poetry that had long lay quiet began to rustle and out of it has been not sing song voices of winter or fall but of a richly lived life who has never withered but often fallen. My writing took a turn for song lyrics, fiction stories and once again poetry began to touch my pages, though I carried with me now the politics and other…the harsh of life at times which combined with the romance of life formed another writer…another person.
Somewhere out of this was born, Mermaids . This one really holds a lot for me…my romance of life while writing it was looking at an oatmeal colored concrete wall of my cage while my mind was filled with what I knew to be out there. Wherever the changes at the moment, the scenery in front of me could not ruin the scenery of my mind…part of me at least, was not in a cage. I regretted everything…and I regretted nothing.
Mermaids, (below) is a piece that I wrote and recently published with Remixt , when actually spending seven months in a county jail , awaiting my day in court. I was surrounded by three hundred women at a time and in my term met, saw, knew the names of nearly a thousand who came and would go.
Jail aside, this moment was written when I would remember a particular evening a year prior when a friend and I created a photoshoot on the beach one evening of sunset on Galveston Island for an oil painting that she would the create. That evening was of friendship, womanhood unite. But also the sky was of brilliant colors and the water like pure glass. After the photo’s we enjoyed a calming swim, surrounded by dolphins, making our magical evening even more so.
A few paintings came out of that evening that then brought more magic…the women of the art world and friends and of our community became what everybody called during that magical island summer, Mermaids. Not one woman wasn’t a mermaid, no matter of color or creed or of size or mind. We united, we stood as one, we laughed, we lived.
Here I was remembering this while sitting, somehow, in my life then surrounded by cinder block the color of oatmeal and peptobismol. Not even the sky in site. What struck me was how the women united, cried with each other, held each other…strangers but in the same place and above all, fellow women. I often thought of my life prior to landing me in that particular moment of life. I had left a husband who, once my best friend and most gentle man, had become abusive and angry and from whom I had to run from….my mother, survivor of an eighteen year abusive marriage , sat and said “I just never thought you would be in those shoes .” I thought of her struggles with young little children in and out of womens shelters when she attempted to leave and her head down in defeat when she would go back. I thought of how, no matter what, I had not been able to bring myself to reporting my own husbands abuse and had some how landed exactly where my mother had taught me both to not end up in and exactly where to be. I saw a lot of people in that jail there from lives of abuse. Abuse during childhood that broke my heart, abuse from men because they didn’t ‘deserve better’ because ‘that was their life’, they knew no other. The women who fell into drugs to make the pain go away and then sex to feed the drugs, usually what had started their pain to begin with…and a cycle began. The clinging to any man even if he left her black and blue. My mind kept going back to one painting which I had owned and had not yet picked up from the artists studio, that memory of my own self on a beach at sunset. I was a Mermaid for a summer. Mistakes in life and all, I was a Mermaid for life. I clung to my strength rather than fall to my fears. And sitting on bunk 48 for over 200 days, I wrote this for all of the Mermaids in all the world whom I would meet and those whom I would not. Mermaids is meant for the empowered strong woman, because even in our weakest we are, and for empowering our fellow women. They each come from a very personal place which is hard and raw to share but I do believe my writing is my tool in the world and my experiences are best used rather than forgotten.
When an opportunity from Remixt came along learned through Writespace Houston, I knew it was where to send Mermaids, I had an amazing opportunity to not only reach people, but as a writer to learn and grow through the eye’s of nine editors, nine personalities, tastes and choice. I am honored that Mermaids was chosen and collected with several other really amazing poems, many of which I cried over, have shared since, and as a writer, feel connected. My start in poetry began with seasons of weather, I am at a place now of seasons of life, and I only look forward now to where and what may come.
In the light of the sunset casting it’s colors of like that of inside a shell;
pink, purple…heavenly blue’s.
Like a jewel of feminine beauty, strength and integrity.
But fragile our minds are not, rather made of many grains of sand,
strong, collected, persistent pearls we are.
As the mermaid inside us all, we carry scales of our own design and color.
We mermaids swim among sharks, and brave hurricane storms.
Let us not sink, our breaths be taken away.
But from the cold depths of our ocean floors reach up toward the light of the surface,
breaking the glass of the image of our past and breath in deep the fresh air of our futures.
Let there be, in our minds, a calmness, a stillness, of the mirror like waters after a storm.
Let our past be washed away, and our slate be left clean, such as where the water meets the sand.
Let our hopes reach high, where the water meets the sky.
Let the mirror image our truths.
Let us not settle only to reach for the stars of the sky but have the strength to push through the current and reach instead for the stars of the ocean.
Hear our sirens song, not for the loss of love, but for our love that we give.
Let us find tranquility in our souls, and a soft sand on which to lay our heads.
The rain that comes and drops upon our glass surface, the dark clouds we do not fear, for we welcome the silver linings of promise.
Also of note, Artist Elizabeth Punches and with thanks.