Monday, December 21, 2015


So, I got to see Barbara and Francis on Friday. It was really, really nice. It feels so good to just be able to talk and not feel judged. I can be honest and I'm not going to meet horrified, shocked eyes.

Francis leveled with me about how I was actually unnecessarily mean to that language table person I told off. It is better, or at least not cruel, to tell people "nope," rather than "not only no, but fuck no, and I hope you choke on a bag of dicks." But I think Francis was proud that I could connect that my reaction was tied to how I felt abused by the native community and how being asked to provide language teaching made my brain jump into survival mode. I snapped because part of me felt I was in danger.

It makes me feel heartbroken.

Like I'm broken, and I thought I was more whole. It's painful. I really am still scared. My anger is still defending me. I do hate myself, blame myself for the bad things people did to me as an adult.

Francis said I need to keep telling my story. It did help to talk with them. To have my feelings acknowledged, and have Francis tell me he recognized the feelings and thoughts. I dunno how to tell the story though, to others. It's's such an unhappy, secret story. It's long, and convoluted, and sick. I don't want it to be a part of me, much less a part I tell about. It's a story people don't want to hear. How do you tell a story like that?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

can't leave the apartment

Yesterday I went to Wintervale. Made cookies. Told stories. Shared Jokes. Listened. Ate food. Like a normal girl.

Yesterday, or this morning, I had another dream. This one was of my brother. You know, he gave me the best gifts. He knew me. Sometimes, I noticed how he watched my face. It really must have done a lot for him, to see me light up with delight. Wicked. Halo 3 the show Show. Monterey Bay Aquarium. Beetles cover band in a British pub. San Diego Zoo. WoW party with JP and Kevin. LotR. Universal Studios. Disney Land. Gran Torino. True Romance. Kill Bill. Music. Stand up. California. The internet. He really must have cared a lot, in his own way.

I was happy to see him in my dream. I wanted to show him a time, where I lived. Pay him back for the wonderful times he'd arranged for me.

I don't think I can do this. Even if I make it to Christmas, I think I'm gonna have to tell Jenny to stay away.

I couldn't leave today. To get food, a secret santa gift, to see old friends. It was hard to just get out of bed. All I want to do is disappear in an audiobook or a tv series.

You know, even food tastes like garbage now. Except chocolate. And cookies.

And scotch.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

golden thyme workshop

First version
Renga style poem (syllable counts for lines: 5, 7, 5 - 7, 7; repeat)
10 mins writing time

I remembered you.
Writing online until dawn.
Instant messenger.

We didn’t need anything.
Just the time to play online.

My kindred spirit.
Best friends before I knew it.
You had a crush first.

So glad I flew to meet you.
Vacation of a lifetime.


2nd version
freestyle: prose
5-10 mins writing time

Whenever I walked alone, I always thought of you
Writing together online til 2am
Bitching about our lives
swapping dark trance music and funny youtubes in aol im
and bad mouthing the other writers.
I had no idea how bad you’d been crushing on me.
I’d only dated boys and I was so messed up.
After I got married
I still masturbated to thoughts of you
of us
in Texas
The greatest winter vacation of my life.
The fire ants, stetsons, and freeways freaked me out,
but the food was fantastic.
And no one’s ever held me at night the way you did.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


It’s been a while since I had something for the mic.
It’s been a rough few weeks.
I do think of what I write as therapy
Help that no one else can give me
A little relief --
A release from the memories
One invisible funeral at a time.
But these past two months hurt so bad
my brain couldn’t string words together.

I was just left there
my self help turned to scrabble tiles
spilling across the floor in every direction
under dirty clothes
in moldy cereal bowls
litter boxes that overflowed.

At first I am convinced
the clattery scattery pieces are my teeth.
I have to pick them up
clean them up before someone sees
but my fingers are numb
and I am torn between
throwing up or crying
while all the letters slip away.

I sit on the floor
pretending I can’t see the mess.
I float, still, above it all
on a shot of whiskey
while all the letters and words and muck
sink, swallowed by the sea
and I smile about it all
-- especially my teeth --
because what do I have to worry

about talking anyway?

Friday, September 18, 2015

integrating opposites

I miss hearing you say that you love me.
Muma loves you.
I miss how you’d say flustrated and discomboobulated.
I miss how you’d drive me crazy, laying guilt trips when we’d fight.
I miss how you’d stir your tea, in that chipped mug from your bowling league.
I miss how you’d dance to the radio, and while I flushed with embarrassment you’d just smile and keep on.
I miss how you’d do anything for me, absolutely any labor of love.
Folding laundry. Cooking dinner. Working two jobs. Peeling apples for me when I asked while I ate the castoff skins right off the peeler. Rubbing my back while you watched Monday Night Football. Paying for Catholic school for 12 years. Driving me five hours to college and then turning right around to drive five hours back.
You’d do all things for me, except the one thing that ending up mattering most.

I wanted you there when I got my black belt.
I wanted to walk across that stupid stage for you when I got my Masters in Education.
I wanted to call you when I got the job offer from St. Paul Academy.
I wanted call you, when I didn’t know whether or not to marry Jason.
I wanted you there when I got married in the courthouse.
I wanted to call you and cry when I was scared, when I made the decision to get the divorce.
I wanted to hear you tell me that you loved me.
Muma loves you.
Muma loves you so much.

I miss you so much, muma.
I miss your smell, and the way your arms felt around me, even as I grew tall, and strong on my own.
I miss feeling like everything will be alright, because you can fix anything.
I miss knowing that I always have somewhere to go, and that someone will always love me.
I miss you so much I want to forget that you chose to bury the secrets of child molesters.
I miss you so much, but you chose them over me, over my sisters, and over your granddaughters.
I miss you so much, muma.
But I just can’t.
I can’t forgive you, because I know you’d make the same choices today that you did then.
I don’t think I can ever forgive you, and, I’m pretty sure I will always love you.

I miss you, muma.
I love you so much.

Muma? Amber loves you.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Marriage Fee

I can see your face.
Your eyes start off shiny, filling, and all those arrogant, hard lines crumble.
Bunched eyebrows, raw, red cheeks, and wet beard hair.
If geese could keen, everyone would know what your sobs sound like.
You can’t be right and know everything with loose, mucus-coated lips.
I am repulsed when you clutch at me.
A drunk stranger, hugging me so hard I have to concentrate to keep my balance.
A frat boy whose head I don’t want between my breasts.
A modern greek hero finding his mommy down my pants, humping and moaning away all his feelings of abandonment and inadequacy on a misdialed call to adventure.

When you blow your nose and hack, I feel sick to my stomach.
How did I ever sign the marriage contract?
You’d think an Ojibwe would know better than to make an agreement in writing with a white man
-- but that’s a whole other poem.

When you blow your nose and hack, I feel sick to my stomach.
All those days and nights of listening to you hawk and spit,
because you smoked your money, all that sticky icky, because life was too real for you.
Presses of too many bodies, rush hour traffic in Minnesota weather, and less-intelligent-than you humans in your workplace.
You weren’t willful - life was unfair.
It was coffee, hand ground and weighed in ounces, percolating,
or it was a slow-draw lunger, ziplocked and exchanged in a backseat, bubbling;
sober life was too real for you.
You in your jiu jitsu gi or your muay thai shorts, floppy hair, no glasses, panting around your mouthguard,
hot-shit, man’s-man, an aggro-attitude martial artist.
You can stand toe to toe and win when you lose, but only when the fight doesn’t matter.

You’re well-educated and well-trained,
in a university job, in an ambulance, in a mma ring,
but in a marriage, in a home, in an abused woman’s life?
You’re just one more tally mark,
one more natural disaster,
one more close call, near miss, mistake, misogynist.

Recalling your face hits me like rock thrown down a wishing well,
and I can’t wait for the tides of life to race in and wash out every trace of your life where it bisected mine,
every bong-water kiss, every daddy-I-never-wanted talking-to, every long, hard cry to four empty walls while you huffed and puffed at the foot of my bed and said I couldn’t ignore your argument.

I want you to know I missed myself more than I will ever miss you,
and now that our marriage is over, I can love myself more than anyone ever has.

Monday, June 15, 2015

a woman birthday

On my birthday,
I drew a line in the sand,
and the earth cracked.
I drew a line in the sand,
and told my sister that he crawled into bed with me and put his hand down my pajama pants when I was twelve.
I drew a line in the sand,
and told my sister about the care packages he sent me in college, with underwear and candy.
I drew a line in the sand,
and told my sister I saw warning signs in her daughter, my four-year-old niece.
I drew a line in the sand,
and the earth cracked.

I drew a line in the sand,
and my sister said, “He probably thought you were me.”
I drew a line in the sand,
and my sister said, “I don’t believe you. Goodbye.”
I drew a line in the sand,
and my sister never called me again.

My big sister who named me when I was born.
My big sister who nursed me through chicken pox when I was a kid.
My big sister who used my middle name when she was disappointed in me.
My big sister who let me hold the dog leashes on walks.
My big sister who always gave me the funny birthday cards I treasured most.
My big sister who played music from other countries.
My big sister who took me to city events for kids to show me someone cared.
My big sister never called me again.
Because on my birthday,
I drew a line in the sand,
and the earth cracked.