Monday, July 9, 2018

Juvenile Justice

They are kids
Just kids
Kidding around
Trying to figure out the world
Through all of their senses
Getting to know Mother Earth
Trusting that adults have their backs
And will inevitably catch them
When they inevitably get it wrong

They are kids,
These lovely beings
In chains
Forced to claw their way through life
A life that they didn’t have a say about
A life bequeathed them by lovers building
Sand castles
While making eternal promises
They have every intention of keeping
Until life
Gives them a naked tour
With stars not quite so perfectly

They are kids
Somebody else’s plans
Specially ordered
At her request
She who has
Beautiful eyes
All hopeful and naïve
With ecstacy at her fingertips

They are kids
His kids
With his beautiful confident stride
Knowing that his legacy
Will live on
In the person of his handsome son
Who is being arraigned at the moment
Chains clanking at his feet

They are kids
Somebody’s kids
Your kids
My kids
Society’s kids
They are the very embodiment
Of past, present, and future
They are here
Looking in the dust
Trying to get to the diamonds.
Won’t we please
Show them how
With infinite, firm, real, all encompassing


So, the other day I called my mother-in-law
I called her to let her know I was on the
Short list for a breastfeeding counselor job.
I called her to thank her for teaching me
How to breastfeed
How to not completely lose it as a mom
How to attempt to live and love as a mom.
Before I called her
I had a short list prepared
For I know how valuable her time is.

As soon as she answered I felt
myself unburdening
laying my all at her doorstep
knowing that she will sift through my
and let me know what are figments of my
ego, and what is real.

I talked so much that I had trouble
Catching my breath.
I talked so much because very seldom do I
Find a truly listening ear
A person there to help me swim through
The mighty tides of this earthly existence.

As I talked
And shared my woes
Only letting her get in a word or two
Quietly soaking my jumbled mind,
I felt more at ease
As though most of my woes were floating
Away in a peaceful, real, tide.

When I finished, and had reveled in her
And sifted through my mess, she said
“You know Susan, you are not the only
one with struggles. I too have my own.”
I knew then that I should strive to listen
More and speak way less
For my mother-in-law is also a person
A person with her own woes.

I realized something else as well,
My mother-in-law is the smartest,
Most consistent, loving woman I know.

Do I take her advice? Ummmm…I mean
I’d like to think I try.
But sometimes she is annoyingly right, like
When she assures me during labor, that
The pain too shall pass,
Which prompts me to be annoyingly stubborn.
Or is it that I am annoyingly stubborn
Which prompts her to be annoyingly right?
I leave that figuring for the great minds of
Our times

My mother-in-law is smart
And I thanks our creator for her everyday
For without her
I would
Most probably be wondering an insane
Asylum somewhere
Not knowing this from the other.

Don’t get me wrong
I am still wondering an insane asylum but
My case is not quite as sever
Largely because of my mother-in-law.

I would like to pay homage
To this great woman
Daughter of great Suzie and Don Zieglar

Please, keep being and doing
For in you
We women tilling this earth of muddled
And wondering this beautiful, confusing
Find some sanity
And always a welcome hug.


Gotta have some roots man,
Gotta plant it deep woman
For your mighty tree to grow
Big, gigantic, strong, brave
It’s small root hairs
Perpetually reaching out
And grabbing the endless supply of
Water, air, nourishment,
And luck

Gotta plant it deep, man,
Gott have some roots, woman
For you know not
Whereto you are headed if
You don’t plant correctly
With just the right dash
Of sweet, salty

Gotta have some faith man,
Gotta dive in, woman,
Though you might fall right into
Your sword
All bright eyed
And disbelieving

You gotta man
Yes, you too woman
Though your roots
Be emotinonally immature
Still busy searching for its own
Scarcely able to catch it’s own breath
Prompting you to doubt
Your own ability
To find nourishment

Times a wasting
Clocks a ticking
Sorry to rush you
Gotta make up your mind
To do or not to do
To get or not to get.
To pluck out your heart
And plant it in the rich black soil
With all possibilities running amok,
Or, to keep it safe and warm,
Without any heartbreak possibilities
Without any skipped heartbeats
All on its own.

Friday, July 6, 2018


Is failure really failure?
What do they say,
Fall, fall again, and then again fall,
And get right back up,
All creaky-knees and robot-like

I failed
In my own eyes I failed.
But I am still here
Not shying away.
What is it they say,
Once beaten, twice shy,
Or was it,
Twice beaten, once shy?
I don’t know

I failed
But then realized
The failure is not mine to have.
In the failure
I simply had to learn
And quit making excuses.

In failure
I learned that
There is such a thing as discipline
That whips us
Again, and again
As we attempt to master it
Until eventually
We don’t fail quite so badly.

In failure,
I knew I had to
Dance to the rhythm
Of humility
And by the way
Why does humility bend so low?
Lower than dust,
Allowing herself
To be trampled underfoot?


No one
Likes to be associated with failure.
No one person.
Not you, you, you or you.
Not even when the failed attempt
Came about after a genuine
Herculean effort.

She tried to carry that burden.
She really did.
She carried all her seven babies to term,
Nursed them,
Kissed their pains away,
Cuddled them,
Cared for them,
All the while
Carrying an unbearable burden of
Her own

He tried to carry that burden.
He really did.
He worked outside the home,
From the day he left high school
And brought home
Every single penny he made.

Cooked for his perpetually pregnant wife,
Doing for his kids.
All the while,
Carrying his own unbearable burden
Plus an extra tire around his waist
All the while
Quietly screaming for help.

Help did not come in time.
Help had taken a journey North.
Help was taking a break from
The perceived loser woman, and her perceived loser husband.
Help needed a time out to recharge.

When help got back,
Dressed in story and happy countenance,
The man had succumbed to chronic fatigue.
They had invited
Dressed in cocaine

And they were sadly happy
Happy to just be
Happy to go and take
A trip with

What could help do at that time?
She decided she couldn’t waste
Her recharged batteries
So she went to visit
Newly married Kate
And her husband Otieno.

When she knocked on the
A pale but happy, Kate answered
Help! Kate hailed at help,
So lovely to see you my darling!
I am newly pregnant dear help,
And would love for you to move
Won’t you, pretty please grace us with your presence?

Today, I Begin Again

I begin Again.
By begin, I don’t mean for the third,
Fourth, fifth, or sixth time.
By begin again,
I mean, for the 1000th time

I am willing myself to be successful
Even semi-success
Would be a welcome relief

I am willing myself
To not fail
As spectacularly
As I did last time

Kicking myself enough
To be worthy
Worthy of being my children’s mom,
My husband’s wife,
A productive inhabitant of planet earth.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Ultimate Deadline

The spring my grandpa passed
I traveled to Kenya

My once formidable grandfather
He who would command a room
By merely entering it
Was at a crossroad
A crossroad that was either
Going to claim his life
Or give him a license to live

Grandfather was quite soft spoken
He was a man of few words
Even though society demanded
That he be his family spokesperson
We all knew
Most of what he said
Were actually my grandmother’s words

I still remember once
After a long day working the fields
And having showered and cooked the evening meal,
Grandmother and I were busy eating when in the darkness of the night,
A woman’s piercing scream invaded the silence

As per custom,
Grandmother immediately stopped what she was doing,
Ran into the middle of the homestead 
And started screaming at the top of her lungs

“Our dear brother is gone
Gone too soon,” she cried
From his table where he was eating his supper, grandfather grumbled
“What is the mother of Akinyi interrupting my supper for?
I will come when I am good and ready. The dead are not in a hurry!”

That didn’t mean that he didn’t care
He cared more than he could say
But he was more a man of actions

My grandfather
Every moment of every day
I miss him