Names

My name is hand-me-down re-purposed by my own hands

My maternal grandmother was born to a family of artists in 1931

Weaving yarn together with needles on the couch is how I remember her through my childhood

I started crocheting 2 years after her death because my hands didn’t know how to sit still

I have been told neither could hers

Painting was one of my first loves in life, always being the one in class to have paint on my face, my clothes, in my hair

Throughout the house her paintings hang like a warm reminder that I’ll carry her not just in my name but in 14 years of memories I try so hard to not let go of

The name I wear as a locket around my neck, paint dotting my clothes as the photograph inside

Some days I wonder if she would be proud of me now

But I am also very much my father’s daughter

Unapologetic in brute honesty, I am not a lady like she was raised to be

I talk with the rhythm of my ancestors, too fast, too loud, too uneducated

Maybe she beams proudly that I fight tooth and nail to get where I need to be and I can’t see through the stubborn eyes my father gave me

I still wear her name proudly, not giving anyone the satisfaction of claiming it doesn’t fit in their mouth, so I should find a new one easier for them to pronounce

It’s been five years since you left and all I can hope is that between books, you see my laughter returning, voice booming, and succeeding

 

For Ainslie Sr., from Lil’ Ainslie

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Daily Prompt: Bespoke

Fragments of things that once were but no longer are but in what they left behind:

1.) My bare hips are only known to a lover’s hand

Mangled by ghostly remnants of a hurting that only stings anymore, but some weeks burns to remind me it is still living here

2.) The person you loved is no longer living in this body

I was my own savior picking up the pieces of me you crushed in the gentle cupping of my face

I am still damaged goods to some but treasure to others who have the patience to handle me gently

I still can’t say your name

3.) It’s been nearly 5 years and you only live in photographs and memories

My name is a testament to your impact on 3 generations while you were still here

4.) I burned all the notes

Goodbye notes would do nothing to console a grieving family if I did walk away from this life

5.) Within the confine of the forest I am home, with the licking of the ocean on my bare feet I am home

I know that where I am from may change drastically and this is how I keep the memory of the peace the trees bring me, the console the freezing salt water still brings me

6.) Moody blue grey eyes, freckled skin, and stubborn passed along in folded notes so we wouldn’t forget where we came from

Diaspora has not been kind to the Irish like us but we are making it now

Accents still hide until we are comforatably together just in case

 

via Daily Prompt: Bespoke

Daily Prompt: Flee

Fleeing my problems runs in my veins

I come from a long line of runners

Five years ago the only way our I saw was letting go of my physical being and they would not let me go

Not long after my cousin found his son trying to leave the same way I was going to

The darkness swallowed us whole, there is no light in a world like that no matter how many times you try to turn it on yourself

My uncle fled to the wilderness of Northern Canada for a year because he could not bear the memories of war unless he faced them himself

At one point my father was more alcohol  than he was human, not sleeping for days on end The only way he could cope with that same war was pouring himself into his work and another drink

Two cousins both fled the real world by injecting until they would wake up dopesick aching for another hit

My grandfather kissed the bottle more than he kissed his wife

My father was the only of the 5 to forgive even if he was the one who trudged through hell longer than the rest for the sake of his own father

Fleeing reality is my greatest hobby and I will be lucky to not end up in a casket

My friends and I dance with the devil every time we reach the clouds but where we are from you are lucky if you make it out of that town without making a hobby of smoking enough pot to solve unemployment

You’re lucky if you make it out without dabbling in the most controversial drug of our time

And with my family history I am lucky it is just that

via Daily Prompt: Flee

Daily Prompt: Abide

I was born into a long line of artists – we create in many different means

You see years of hardship and worry worn into our frames

Our hands bear our love of colors and shapes that make this world

We document it in any means we can convey adequately

Many of us push it to the side because we have seen the lives of our flesh trying to live off what makes the world go round

Doing what we love in the free moments and publishing it to the world to consume in moments

Touching them in ways they could never be touched otherwise

We change lives but can only do so when no one is watching

Secrets held in pencil sketches and paint stained clothing

I paint, my mother photographs, her brother sculpts, my grandmother painted, her brother painted, they came from a long line of jewelers

My cousins set up a gallery in an art museum of their own work earning themselves a lifetime ban yet also earning spots on NYC’s most notable artists under 35

But we all have had to take day jobs to live by the standards of a society we shed light on

Our love is poured out not in what our daily pay defines but how we define everything else

We have to abide by rules set up by people who look down on creators like us

But we still find time for what our hands were designated to do

Being born into this family is being born into a line of the world’s movers and shakers doing it all unconventionally

I am honored to be one of them

via Daily Prompt: Abide

Ainslie

I wear my name as a locket around my neck

My name was a gift from my parents, honoring my maternal grandmother

She was a strong woman

Ask me to shorten my name and I will give you the first half of it

If you ask me to make it easier for you, you’re asking to betray the memories I have left of her

Her laughter left when she took her last breaths when I was a freshman in high school

I only noticed my family calling me the shortened version of our name, Ains, after she left us

Each day I keep living I am honoring her memory

She was never far from her knitting, she died with it in her hands

She was an artist – a painter

The paint stains littered on my clothing are the photograph kept in that locket

Don’t ask me to make my name easier for you to digest

There is more to it than a string of syllables

I am my parents

Which is to say I am all the broken people who came before them

My father and I act so alike sometimes you cannot tell the difference

Both too arrogant to admit so we keep it to one is copying the other

I inherited my mother’s face and the simple forgetful that follows her

Thus writing everything down, making arbitrary sound beautiful

The volume control in my lungs came broken just like my father’s and both of us refuse to fix them

Art came from my mother’s inheritance

She photographs

I do anything to stop my hands shaking even fore a little while

Capturing moments I am sure I will forget in the palms of my hand

Transferring them to any medium that will listen

I was given addiction I thought I was too smart to recieve

Neither parent is to blame but one knows firsthand better than the other

My father, his father, his siblings, my cousins all taste something sweet in the  bitter destruction of livers, lungs, and hearts

The distance I put between my mother and I for everything I saw, everything I felt

In hopes it would hurt her a little less

Will sting me after she’s left us

As I look in the mirror to see her reflection staring back at me

My Honest Poem

After Rudy Francisco

 

I was born July 21st

That makes me a cancer

Meaning my emotions are as controlled as the ocean my sign takes after

I’m 5 foot 6

I’m 14o lbs

And changing my hair transforms me into a person I wish I was

 

Also – I’m stubborn as the people I come from

The stubbornness hangs off me like a locket of all the family who no longer linger on this planet

Just like paint on clothes is a reminder of who came before me

People tell me they can find me by my laughter drifting down hallways

 

My mother’s water broke at 3 am

The power was out and my parents had to pack by the dim candlelight

What an indicator of how my life would be written

 

I like iced coffee

A lot

I have this odd fascination with clouds and sunsets

The way pinks and purples and oranges melt into each other

How no two clouds are the same

Mixing with the moods of the sky

I guess that’s why I tried to blend in when I was meant to stand out

Until I wanted to melt into the earth to no longer be

 

Hi –

My name is Ainslie

I’m still learning the curve of my own smile

I’m still learning the curve of my own smile

My voice doesn’t know the appropriate volume to create itself

Making people laugh with a certain clumsy is my specialty

Even days I can’t fish out my own smile

 

My hobbies include:

Collecting pens to scratch and mold words into a world you don’t care to visit

Creating myself into someone I wish I had become

And convincing myself there is something about me the dark couldn’t take

The Woods, An Origin Story

My father watched his father drink their money away throughout his childhood and adolescence

While his mother worked double shifts as a phone operator

And he spent 4am working milk trucks, bread trucks, anything to help make ends meet

His knuckles bled red and his nose contorted unrecognizably with punches

He had to protect

His father smoked his lungs to dust

They never had enough money to stay one place long

Tenement, apartments, homeless they went through it all

My father went home with bruised knuckles night after night until they had to send him to a Catholic high school to straighten him out

But they never spoke of the bruises that came within the walls of their living room

Because my grandfather was sure to leave them with more in a drunken haze

Some days I wonder if my father wishes his mother became a Catholic nun like she wanted to be before

Rather than marrying his father after being swept off her feet

A stubbornness has been passed down like a language

In place of one we once harbored

My father’s family came during the famine and it was never easy

Maybe that’s why we are filled with a fire that will never be put out

 

Before my grandmother lost it, after the divorce

My father took her out for drinks

She told him “I started out with a piece of Wood and got 5 splinters”

If only she could see what her grandkids are stirring up now

My Father’s Fight

Wood Richard L

Catholic

Oldest of 5 children, 3 boys 2 girls

Not in that order

Son of Arthur and Mary (neé Barnacle) of Wellesley

Drafted into a war that wasn’t

It was a conflict lost

My theater teacher said all the men who fought were monsters

But the only monster my father knew was the alcohol that made his father too friendly with a belt, his fists, anything to hurt everyone close to him

My father worked from below the poverty line as a child to middle class so his children didn’t have to see the ugly he did

He is the strongest man I know

If he fell they would have known how to bury him by the tag that he wore

The tag every man was issued

He saw active combat once in his two tours

His discharge came in 1973 signed by Nixon

We still have no idea all that he saw

Nor all of what he did

Radiomen like him had low survival rates and I am lucky to have him alive

To call him my father

His travel ban lasted 10 years and cost job offers

His work was, and still may be, classified

He’s a brilliant man who couldn’t attend the Ivy League college who accepted him

War takes impoverished young men like him

My theater teacher was lucky to be born into the privilege my father wasn’t

My father raised two stubborn, sassy, loving daughters like himself

Wood R L

Cath

One of five, the first

Born to Irish Catholic parents living in the suburbs of Boston

The only monster he knows is the memory of his father

Who he is the only of the five to forgive a sea of alcohol yelling, hitting

Breaking apart a home

He has taught me forgiveness, how to love, how to stand up for myself, how to laugh

He is not the stereotype my teacher thinks

 

Genetics of Addiction

I was born with addicts running reckless in my family

Addiction meandered up and down my veins

Planning the perfect time to strike

Hitting me like I’d imagine an 18-wheeler would

It’s said that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword

Tell that to my cousins

In and out of jails, rehabs, and halfway houses

Being kept alive by the same society that keeps them locked away

None of us were given a manual on

How to deal with the addiction within this bloodline

Cigarettes, alcohol, meth, blood down the drain, cocaine

Do you get the picture yet?

I watch one of my most beloved cousins

Bury herself in a grave we all dug for her

Now whenever she’s flying with the clouds via her choice of opioids

You can tell by what she posts on her Facebook

But I only see the destruction in person

Once every 2 years and this last time she looked like her skeleton was about ready to jump out of her skin

None of us asked for this

Yet America’s justice system treats addicts

Like we’re just high school kids who can be fixed with a stay in detention

Mental illness and genetics play a tango in this dangerous game

I thought that the darkness would leave through my lungs with every inhale of the poison I took

At least nicotine is legal

My cousin smokes cigarettes to ease himself off the science experiments he made of his own body

At least he didn’t blow up everything he loved

Every single one of us has that “at least” clause to excuse our addictions

Hoping our sons and daughters don’t get our tattered genes