February 

April 7, 2017

I still haven’t  hung that picture

It’s sitting on the floor

You see, that’s usually the first thing

That I do when I move into a new place. I decorate the walls

With my photographs and art

And declare the place mine.

But I didn’t want this apartment

No, I wanted the other place

That I used to call

Home.

I wanted where we moved in together

Where I shared the same bed with you for 264 days until I finally realized

We were in trouble

The kitchen where we cooked

The couch where we binge watched all those episodes of californication and Home improvement.

The dining room where we hosted our friends and laughed and ate and laughed some more.

So no, I didnt want this apartment

Or to move in on the coldest day

In February. 

So those pictures   

Are still on the floor

The one I should hang above the dining room table that my coworker gave me, the coworker who I first cried in her presence while saying that I had lost my home

That you had been my home

My safe space, the safe space I dreamed about as a child

She gave me a table and chairs and hope she looked at my childhood self and told me that things would be okay.

And it is okay.

This little apartment. 

With its grey and white kitchen

And shower that always works

And laundry just down the stairs

But it’s not you.

And I miss you so much.

Real People

March 21, 2017

I miss being a kid sometimes, you know

those days when you have the stress of the world on your chest and you

kinda just want to lay around and watch cartoons.

I remember being little and getting mad when I would flip through the channels

and all that was on were shows with people, not cartoons, and I would be so

Upset and then I grew up and fell in love with some of those shows with the people on them.

then I started to fall in love with real people and life got

messy.

So messy that I somehow ended up in a three year relationship and then moved out because

I didn’t know what I was doing and he wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do.

So here I find myself at my mom’s house. Sitting around, flipping through the channels and getting mad

that there’s only cartoons on and not shows with people.

How ironic.

Growing Upwards– A Poem for the Inauguration of Donald Trump

January 20, 2017

I want to lay down quietly in the earth

Dig under the snow, under the top soil

Until I find the perfect black– the richness of quietness

I want to lay inside,  in between the earth worms and decaying

world from above with my arms folded, lips pursed together

My eyes sullen– as if sinking inward.

I want to remove myself from the message

From the history that is being written today

From the chair that has been pulled out from underneath us,

(even though I am coming to find that the safety was never really there all along.)

We have been fighting this shit all along and I just want

To rest my body.

Rest for so long because this work seems like centuries

Against the patriarchy and its injustices that occur

Because I was born with breasts and a vagina,

(and I hate that I have to whisper the word vagina when they can shout pussy,)

I want to return to the earth

To collapse into the ashes of the women who have gone before me

To bury my soul from the harshness of the sun in this present day

Just give me five minutes of uninterrupted rest from the press

The media, those fucking tweets.

Let me rest in the darkest of dirt.

Let me seep in the riches from Mother Earth

And then,

Let me re-bloom into flowers.

 

She

October 14, 2016

She. Only a little shhh! before he.

Stay in your box! Don’t you dare

dream of metamorphosis

Don’t you dare do anything other than

“bloom where you are planted.”

It’s been ingrained in you to pick the least challenging choice

To apologize, to say “sorry,” for your thoughts, your ideas

Your wardrobe. Your body.

To tailor your schedule, your life, yourself around the comforts of others.

To place your breasts in a bra and cover up that clevage because, don’t you know how men stare?

But, it’s amazing. When you stop paying attention to the demands of the world.

When you stop considering he before she and you before them and you start to define 

Yourself.

It’s amazing when you speak your mind without apologizing and when you pick clothes to keep your body cool or warm and when you finally, finally take off that bra

And burn it. 

Sunflowers 

September 4, 2015

The sunflowers are all bent down
Like they are praying before the Mother God of light and love
I drive by them in my little green car
Zooming down the road at 70 miles an hour
And I wonder what their secret is?
I yearn to be so humble before God like that
I turned in my head look out the window
As if they will converse back with my thoughts (And they do)
If you keep flying past us, they say
You will never find out
Slow down, they beckon
Soak up a little soil and sunshine on this big open prairie
And find out

Sunflowers near Redfield, by Laura Beth Gatzke

Sunflowers near Redfield, by Laura Beth Gatzke

Moving in on the Prairie

June 11, 2015

We pass all the little cemeteries and graves on our
way to prairie that will become our home.
The ghosts rise up from their grave and
encourage us on our way, clapping as we pass them by on the roadside.
Once, they were the future
of this prairie. And now, it’s own turn to
plow it,
shape it,
grow it,
mold it.
To fix up the little houses they once built–
To tear away some of what is no longer useful.
And to build new for future generations to
refurbish when it becomes their turn.
We continue down the road, past the graves
Past the rolling hills and onto the prairie we have
the privilege of calling home.

Goodnight, Boston 

May 15, 2015

Bare legged, I slip off my shoes and walk across the cold cobblestone
Tip-toeing my way
To the edge of the grass of the
Boston Common.

I shouldn’t be out walking this late at night,
But she is my city, and
I love her.

The tulips greet me by name and laugh at my legs that are so white they almost appear glowing
and the Swan boats that are resting for the night on the duck pond quack a little as I walk past, bidding me goodbye.
This is my last night in Boston.
Even the nail polish on my toes is making friends with stars, savoring this moment of exchange in the darkness.
And me, I smile and walk
Grateful to be in the company
Of such friends

I was taught, growing up, that
The darkness wasn’t my friend
That amidst the tulips and trees were scary things like people waiting to mug you, hurt you, or scare you.

But as I walk through this night, so close to midnight with the stars, moonlight, and city lights to guide me– I think about the things 30 has taught me.

I am more afraid of other women raping my reputation than I am of a male rapist. I am more fearful of the patriarch stealing my rights than I am of someone stealing my purse.

And that’s why I chose to walk with my city one last time, oh so close to midnight, in the darkness of the Boston Common.
Because what rises above
Rapists and thieves, people who set out intentionally to hurt others, and this whole systemic patriarchy
is a woman who knows herself and fears only the absence of her shadow amidst such things.

My toes greet the pavement and I slip on my shoes and slip into the subway and ride away from city,
Kissing it goodbye and goodnight through the stinky subway air.

  

Delilah Isn’t Coming Home

December 17, 2013

I have been inside this house before
Sitting on the kitchen counter, feet swinging to the floor
And I swear–
I’ve seen you around.
Maybe you just had a different name.
See how she moves– like smooth on the glass
She’s ice on the surface, you know it won’t last past a season or two
I can tell by your eyes, there isn’t much you can hide
From me.

Benjamin holds his cigars like he holds his cigarettes
He smokes like a chimney, drinks till he forgets
And Delilah isn’t coming home
And Delilah isn’t coming home.
You’re wasting your time.
Mary holds the guitar, but she doesn’t know how to play
She wants you to think that she does anyway
Because the strings and wood make her feel better
Without them, she’s just four letters.

See how she moves like smooth on the glass
She’s ice on the surface, you know it won’t last past a season or two
Where was I going before I met you?
I know I had somewhere to be.
I know I had someone to be.

Benjamin still smokes while Mary plays
And we haven’t seen Delilah in days

I should get out of this house, I should leave while the door’s still open
I should leave while you’re still broken.
This house is much too broken.

She Lives

November 25, 2013

I didn’t flinch.

I was born into a home that celebrates the divine feminine
in which even my dad, the most manly man I know
Who has worked his whole life with his hands
Would ride his riding lawn mower around the yard
With a fluffy pink steering-wheel cover and
When the school bus would pull up to drop me off everybody would peer
out the bus windows and he would yell over the noise to me,
“I’m just bringing out my feminine side!” with a hearty laugh that
showed me it was okay for gender to blur the lines– that it didn’t make
A man less of a man to proudly display pink in public

I was born into a home where your gender was not matched with your likes

And my parents didn’t think twice about buying my baby sister
a “Cool Tools Power Tool Set” so she could play when dad played tools each
Saturday, when he would dream up a new project to do around the house
Sally would follow in his footsteps, hammering the side of the wall with her plastic
hammer and carefully putting her tools together on her workbench while Dad cleaned up

I grew up in a home with two parents
Self-educated and self-made through hard work who
Raised their two daughters to not only speak their own voices–but to own them

To not whisper our desires but to shout and proclaim

And to boldly ask for the things we wanted– feminine or masculine
Our identities and our desires were not drawn out into a dichotomy of pink and blue

My mother.

My mother who has kept her hair short her entire adult life
Who wears flannel and rarely uses full make-up or a mirror
taught me that I am absolutely beautiful,
taught me that my beauty comes from my heart, and from a God who loves me
regardless of how often I wash my hair or fill in my eyebrows or lengthen my eyelashes

And at 28– I have come to love those things.

I love embracing my womanhood through over the top jewelry
Tall boots and dresses that designers did not make with my breasts in mind.

But I also understand that these outward appearances do not change my spirit

They do not confine me or bind me to stay within a certain expectation society has placed on me
That the media and magazines have reinforced
That the men of my generation have come to expect

I was not expecting you

Or your conversations about my lifestyle
I didn’t flinch. Not once did I

Reconsider myself,

It was in that moment that I was reminded the divine feminine had not left me
She was embodied in me and I embraced her

Long after you paid for your coffee and left.

May Peace Surround You

May 23, 2012

This was written in 2010 for the brave women of Wellcome Manor Family Services who were going through in-patient treatment for chemical dependency.

Weary woman—your eyes speak so much sorrow
Sink into your troubles and sleep
Soon you will wake and find
The journey to be simpler this time
And peace will surround you like water
Place your hand on your children’s’ hearts
And never let go
Let their blood-beat be a pathway to your home
Tell them your story with your eyes
And you’ll be surprised
How their strength can touch your soul
Weary woman— I’ve never met someone with so much sorrow
But it can’t last for long
The tears you cry will overflow your mind
And the demons will slowly drown out.