everyday….. Of Kitchens & Promises

everyday will be a random
posting of daily events or
memories of my daily life
that don’t translate
well into poetry


I should have known when she spent an entire summer weekend dutifully making notations in pencil on the back of every page of a very neat black clasped, inch thck manuscript. Curious, I inquired, thinking it was something she had written. As she slowly wrapped her left arm around the stack of paper, protective like any good editor and gathering it closer as she lay flat on the pull out futon, answering in a very quiet but deliberate voice,

‘It’s Anna’s autobiography, she asked me to read it and take notes.’

I sat there in my favorite writing chair in the room we shared when she sleeps over, mouth slightly ajar and more than a little dumbfounded. Cbear, my daughter was 12 last year.

I guess I should have known then.

Maybe it should have dawned on me a few months later when she had her choice of languages to study, after testing into one of the better high schools that includes a new advanced 7th and 8th grade college prep program.

‘I decided to continue Chinese. The United States and China wiil be doing a joint space venture someday and I want to be there.’

Spoken so matter of factly, I could only stammer,

‘Uh…sure, that makes a lot of sense Cbear.’

We had spoken about the possibility of her learning French and how it might inspire her writing, poetry and the blossoming creative side of her personality. She’s been learning Chinese for 5 years now, about as long as she’s expressed the burning desire to be an astro-physicist. Stephen Hawking is one of her favorite reads.

It should have dawned on me, right then and there.

I mean, how dense of a father can I be to not realize that my little girl is growing up in leaps and bounds so profound I am continually playing catchup, constantly trying to assimilate and absorb this not so sudden reality? Any comparison, any attempt to relate to how I was at her age has long ago become obsolete becaue there is none.

It feels as though I’m flying by the seat of my parental pants, trying to grasp a shooting star.

And it’s not that I’m attempting to hold her back, that would be as selfish and unfair as it would be impossible but….I just keep wondering where these 13 years went, I worry that her childhood is going by too quickly.

I wonder if she feels the same whooooosh! of time that I do.

Cbear lives with her mom and as a child of a divorce is about as well adjusted as you could expect a kid to be. There are the inevitable day to day details I really regret missing over the years with our every Wednesday, every other weekend sleepover arrangement, but when we’re together we talk about stuff, real stuff.

She and I have always talked, our conversations began when she was very young as my way to resolve conflict, when she occasionally misbehaved and needed some guidance and direction. It was very purposeful, a night and day difference in how conflict was so called ‘resolved’ when I was a kid, the back of the hand injustice I was given as guidance by my parents.

And if there ever was a conversation that
crystalized just how grown up this 13 year
old daughter of mine is now, it is the one
we had a few weeks ago standing in the
kitchen of our apartment after school.

Soon after moving into Scout’s apartment, we did an assesment of what we now owned together. With both of us being good cooks fond of our own special pots and utensils, the large but poorly designed kitchen that held promise, needed a complete redesign. I cooked professionally for 4 years, and being borderline OCD I designed it to resemble a restaurant kitchen, lots of stainless steel, almost everything exposed, organized and easily accesible.

Every utensil, pot, saute pan and dish had its own place.

I took the entire kitchen down to the studs on the walls and floors and started from scratch, doing most of the work myself. The project took about 6 months, and there were days we wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew.

But now all these years later, our kitchen like kitchens in most people’s homes is the hub of ours too, the place where the day to day life of our family begins and ends, where lists are made, food is shared and conversations had. Ours is not a sit down kitchen with a table, but it is very comfortable with a large counter where we sit and eat, work on laptops, and chatter about our day.

And if you’ve been to other people’s homes for a dinner or party, the kitchen is usually where all the adults eventually find themselves, the magnet of proximity to food and beverages is just too appealing. So in retrospect, it was fitting that Cbear and I had this converstaion in our kitchen that night.

I knew the minute she began talking this was no ordinary conversation, turning off the burners on the stove I turned around to face her eye to eye, heart to heart because what she was telling me needed every bit of my attention and careful consideration. We spoke for about an hour, I listened a lot, I asked questions and she was as direct and truthful and matter of fact as I’ve ever known her to be. After I took her head in my hands, kissed her forehead as I always do, we hugged for a long time before she returned to her bedroom to resume her homework.

I stood there for a long while letting the warmth and wonder of the moment wash over me, shaking my head some, tearing up a little too. I thought about the first time this person, this now young adult and I first met, in the delivery room after the horribly traumatic ordeal of the emergency C section had subsided, where it was very touch and go for both her and her mom, when the nurse finally handed me this tiny bundle of blankets with a baby inside, how tiny this new life felt in my large hands and the truly beautific smile the nurse had on her face as she told me my daughter and her mom were healthy.

I can recognize that tranquil, clear eyed matter of fact innocence now, it was there when I looked in her hazel eyes that night, as i kissed her forehead for the first time and just before the nurse came back to take her to her mom, the promise I whispered in her little ear, that the injustice I experienced as a kid by hand and from the mouths of my parents, would never be experienced by her. Ever. It would end with me.

And I stood there a while longer, eventually turning on the burners again to resume dinner for us both thinking about promises, that we don’t hear or read much about them these days, these days of instantly unfriending someone, where divorce is so commonplace that more than half of Cbear’s schoolmates are living in single parent households, where commitment and devotion seem like such an ancient concept.

I made two promises early in my life, one I broke staying five years longer than I should have in my frst marriage, a marriage that had become loveless, and in hindsight a promise made to fix what my parents broke, my childlike attempt to repair my own family.

I kept the promise I made to Cbear, easily the most important thing I’ve ever accomplished in this life and the woooosh! of time brought me such a profound and divine humility and gratitude that she wanted our living arangements to change,
that she wanted to spend more time with her dad.

We decided a week here and a week with her mom would be best for all of us, and during the first week we were talking about stuff again. I’ve been revealing a little about my life to her when I was sure she was ready. We were looking at old photos of her when she was a baby and I told her of the promise I made to her that night as I held her for the first time.

And I could see it was she who was listening quite intently this time, and when I finished she looked at me eye to eye, heart to heart and said,

‘Thank you dad’,

and we hugged for a long time, right there in the kitchen.
everyday….Bucket of Glads

Sunday Prose: The Walk Away

The Walk Away
Even a casual observer watching me on that last day of high school in 1972, might have easily surmised from my body language alone as I hid in the shadows on that bright sunny morning, awkwardly standing there feeling insecure and listening to classmates talk about their college plans, plans I didn’t have, that my journey from that day forward was going to be a difficult one.

I lingered well after most everyone else left, so I doubt anyone noticed my hippy hating English teacher grabbing my yearbook and flashing me an evil, little double eyed wink after she scribbled ‘good luck’ under the ‘least likely to succeed’ heading.

That was my final high school memory and as
little enthusiasm as I had walking into that
dreary building during those four years,
I wasn’t in much of a hurry to leave either.
Bushwick High School and The Public Library

That long, slow walk home was nothing more than a detour to somehow delay the inevitable, an aimless but purposeful distraction from the yawning unknown. I do remember tossing the cap and scratchy maroon gown in a corner trash can somewhere along the way but not much else, not the route or what time it was when I finally looked up and saw the familiar Roman font, the peeling, two thirty two handpainted in faux gold leaf and outlined in black on the inside of the thick leaded glass above the entry doors.

The graduation ceremony ended around 11am and it was dark when I finally, reluctantly put my key in the glitchy lock of the heavy oak door to our four story, walkup tenement building that breezeless summer night, standing there motionless, not really wanting to turn the key.

I was a 17 year old, long haired, half stoned hippy who wanted nothing more than to be an artist, trying to survive in a nowheresville neighborhood buried somewhere deep in the bowels of Brooklyn with no prospects, no plans, no money and not much of an education either.

Opening that door was the last thing I wanted to do.

I wasn’t given much to work with as a kid, on Welfare after a traumatic divorce when I was twelve and as hungry as we were the last week of every month, survival until the next check arrived was our sudden priority.

A decent student before my parents divorced, I never really recovered, not from the shocking move from our tidy, two cars in the driveway middle class life on Long Island and not from the shame that we were now on Public Assistance, which was polite talk for Welfare then. Trauma and hunger are a toxic burden for a kid, a terrible way to begin class in a brand new school in a neighborhood that bore absolutely no resemblance to anything I’d known.

Everything around me, the dirty, dilapidated neighborhood, the drugs, the alchohol and violence I and everyone else lived with, only confirmed a life most likely destined for failure. No one who knew me then at 17, my parents, classmates, friends or my English teacher would have been at all surprised if I joined most of my neighborhood friends who were either drug dealers, street addicts, in jail or dead by the end of that first summer following graduation.

Even Lola who was the valedictorian of our class and my loving soulsister during that last year, even Lola, the poet priestess who I wrote about in summer of sorrow, who recieved a full scholarship to Vassar took up with an alchoholic and never did attend Vassar or any college, breaking my heart twice by summer’s end.

There was not a single reason to,
but I had dreams of better days even then. Why?

I can’t explain why there was a spark, any spark at all in a soul that absorbed and witnessed as much I did or why I dared to believe my life might possibly be any different than anyone else I knew. Maybe it was the artist in me who dwelled in the imaginary, maybe it was the hallucenogins still in my system or maybe it was just plain fear seeding visions in my head after spending six years with a half empty belly, the fear of watching so many people with so much promise disappear into the muck.

People I knew daydreamed about becoming rich, I just wanted to escape my neighborhood alive.

Of course, this would have been a perfect time for a serious sitdown with a caring father, for a heart to heart talk between a dad and his son to pass on some wisdom, maybe some advice to put his rudderless kid on the right path. But I was already one year removed from deciding in court,not to ever see my father again.

He was happily, already long gone by graduation day.

The year prior, the Family Court judge mandated I spend a summer vacation with him in the house that still contained all our furniture he wouldn’t send us, the house he could somehow afford yet could never pay child support, the house we had to escape his death threats from, the house that reminded me of everything I never wanted to remember. I spent the entire summer walking as far away as possible from that house from the moment I woke up until late at night, when I would tiptoe back to my old bedroom.

He noticed my boots were completely worn out,
the soles had come loose so we went to a
local shoe store and he bought me a new pair,
and he complained about how expensive they
were as we drove home in his blue Cadillac
Coupe with them still in the box on my lap,
as I sank deeper into the white leather seat
with every word.

When I left quietly the next morning, the unopened box and my old boots were next to each other on the floor beside my bed. I walked barefoot that day, my first act of defiance in a life of submission and constant fear.

My father wasn’t educated but he was perceptive, perceptive enough to know when he turned on the flourescent light in the kitchen that night as I tried to slip into my bedroom unnoticed, as his veins began their slow bulge in his forehead. He knew when he looked at me with those raging eyes, as I held his gaze like I never did before unflinching as I stood my ground in my bare feet on the cool linoleum floor. He knew in that stare that seemed to last forever, that this encounter would alter the trajectory of our lives, that whatever was before was not to be again.

I was prepared to get pounded, he saw the determination in my eyes and that I was absolutely going to get back up and get back up again, if that’s what it took. How ever this was going to end, it was going to end that night with me being free from his tyranny, one way or another.

There was a tranquility that washed through me as l let go of the fear, I was there but not quite and I’m not sure if I would have felt pain in the state I was in, a lightness that I had never experienced before and it was evident, evident in my eyes and his that he knew I was already free.

He turned, flipped off the light and left me standing there in the dark as he walked away.

these old shoes……Haiku

to read by

these old shoes

these old shoes of mine…

walked the twisting, painful path

that has marked this life.


my innocence lost…

psyche and body so bruised,

i ran at fourteen.


and these old shoes stood

steadfast and true…. with me in

my loneliest hours.


i can’t let them die…

stitching them back together,

again… and… again.


i don’t yearn for much…

these days….. my miracles are

the moments i’m in.

my needs are simple,

f a m i l y…. is my fashion.

‘shoes, just get me…..h o m e’

images (35)
for my sister Melanie,
ty for your courage.


banner of innocence

‘There is a light inside you
To shine if you choose it to
There is a light inside you
To light up the world for you
Light up the world with you
As only you can do’
oh wounded heart, and how many years
have we walked this journey you and i
the dead ends and aborted beginnings
just how many understandings have
been set aside for yet another day?

only i know your tragedy and depth of despair
because i was there with you every painful day
deflecting the blows hoping i could protect you
covering these ears not to hear words slice so deep

oh wounded heart,

please hear the words i have found for you
forgiveness, love, acceptance and healing
hear them because the bruises they all faded
it’s the words you heard and the cuts remained

these clouds and shadows you live in
the dark and silence where you reside
there is a parting, an unmistakeable stirring
is it the light you’re drawn to or the words you hear?

because i swear

by everything holy in this world or the next
no hurt will ever again reach your gentle shore
and if the ferocity of my sword somehow misses its mark
this man will stand before you, accept the blows, every one

because the days of this silence and this fear are done

so let us swipe away those darkening shades
and open all the windows each and every one
this ambivalent world has missed your tender voice
it’s time to speak in steady words of love and light

my wounded child, this world is nothing to fear
because i have found ears that will listen
because i have found arms that will hold you
because i have found words spoken waiting to heal

here, take my hand and hold it tight
let’s take these first tentative steps
together, side by each other’s side
believing in each other along the way

sing your sweet lullaby’s of love and light
and i will unfurl this banner of innocence
because ours is only a righteous cause
a flourishing, protected and fearless child

my little boy, this world is nothing to fear
as long as we are always loving and caring
and always together, side by each other’s side
and always believing in ourselves along the way

There is love inside you
To love you if you choose to
There is a love inside you
To love the world and you
Love the world and you
As only you can do.

Light of You
Emer Kenny



my melancholy

a well so endlessly deep

i wore its pain on my sleeve,

blaming innocents

for sins they

never did



it wasn’t this

world hurling its every

fury in my direction after all.


i learned

to finally accept my

person i so often loathed.



just maybe…

the unconditional love

in your eyes opened mine to

deserving what i feared all my life.

and maybe i thanked the universe with all its

myriad moving parts for extending its gentle hand

touching a wounded heart in such a random act of kindness.

reblogged to 20 Lines A Day