Tuesday, March 30, 2010


When she comes, she is so fragile and pale,
Egg-shell thin, and the whites of her eyes so
Viscous you can see through her. Should you trust her?
Is she an angel or some tricky old ghost?

She kisses your face with the sweetest breath,
And so you dissolve into her and trust in dewdrops,
Tulips, and the crocuses that sit crouched between tracks
Like little bandits ready to jump your train and plunder your heart.

When the rain does come, the long cold days you feared so much,
You feel a wilting, a flagging of your hope. So it wasn't real.
Yes, she's a tricky ghost after all. But don't give her up.
It wasn't the last Spring your heart will ever feel. She'll be back again.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kate Brown Dies, Aged 45

At approximately 7:40 p.m. tomorrow evening
A strong feeling will come over Kate Brown
And choke her to death. It will be one of those
That sneak up on you even though its been
Lumping in your chest for over a month.

The sob will escape the thorax and hit her brain,
A heartbreak the shape of an aneurism.
It's not as if she didn't feel it coming,
While watering roses or setting the kettle to boil,
But she was drowning in a sea of domesticity
And not a single bystander saw the signs

After they set her afloat in a wooden box
In a sea of lilies to meet what dreams
May come, Michael will button up his blazer,
And return to the office and the solace of his assistant.
The children will set off to conquer the world,
And I will write this poem, to which my professor will reply:
"But where is the situational irony to give it context?"

Monday, March 8, 2010

The "Mycaa" Funding Mess

(WARNING: This is a rant. )

In January I registered for a class through UMUC on post here in Heidelberg. I had been lured by a flyer that said the federal government was granting $6,000.00 to any military spouse who applied for it. Undergraduate or graduate work in any field was fair game. My upstairs neighbor had already applied and been promised the money to complete a grad degree. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to finish up my Bachelor's in English which I have worked on sporadically for years now. The recruiter on post assured me I would be awarded the money, though the website where one enrolls was currently bogged down from so much traffic. This should have been my first clue. Lots of spouses wanted this money. And who wouldn't? Why does the federal government not realize how many people want educational grants? Anyway, about a month into my class, when it came time to pay the bill, and several attempts to enroll in the program had failed, I found out the ugly truth: there was no more money. The mycaa fund had virtually collapsed, and those who were already enrolled in the program were having trouble getting their share of the pie. I had enrolled in my class on false premises and now would have to eat the cost myself.

I'm pissed, people. Google this on the internet and you will find a lot of very angry military wives. I've read threads where wives vent thoughts I've had on many occasions...they go a little like this: Why the hell did I give up my life and my goals for the military? One woman advised other women not to marry into the military until they had accomplished their educational and career goals, because once in, there would be no more opportunities for those things. Another woman responded to her saying this was not fair, she also was disappointed at not being able to pursue her goals, but thankful for the opportunity to stay home and raise her kids while they were young. I see the merits of both these rants. The U.S. military has set up a system of PCS'ing every 2-3 years that allows very little flexibility for service members' families. So far, we have never been stationed in a location that had a university offering a Master's in English. This has been a major source of frustration for me, but I've worked around it by pursuing a Bachelor's as a stepping stone. The mycaa grant felt like a vindication, a pat on the back from the government, an "atta-girl, go for that degree." The disappearance of the grant felt like a slap in the face, like once again I am only a portable part of my military husband's household, and will have to fight an uphill battle to pursue my goals. This is, of course, an emotional response, and anger is one of the most impotent emotions we experience.

I was describing the situation to a wise friend and she said, "When we have a good plan, we expect the world to rally around us in support, but often it doesn't. So now what are you going to do about it?" Let's stop the mully-grubbing, Ladies (or "spouses" of whatever gender). Let's do something about it. Write your congressmen. Fill out the mycaa survey on Facebook. Petition for the grant to be renewed in the new fiscal year (beginning October 2010). Continue to pursue your goals, because nobody else gives a damn, but you do.

As for me, I haven't yet decided if I will take any more undergraduate courses. I've grown a bit tired of intellectual bullying, which is what I tend to do in my little pond. Maybe it's time to be the little fish in the Graduate school pond :) Maybe that won't happen for a couple more years, but at least my mind won't sit fallow. I will continue reading, writing, working and volunteering. Most of all, I won't "say Victim."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Whale "Tilikum," age 30

You jump through their hoops
and follow their cues,
You do whatever is asked of you.
Whatever else is a whale to do?

You take a different route through the pool
today, vary the tedium, vary the view.
Nobody asks if it's all the same to you.
Whatever else is a whale to do?

When the hunger struck you deep
to do a different thing, it was a scream
coming from the deepest part of your belly,
It thrashed inside you and you had to feed.

Now they will shake their heads
And wonder why, and if they should exterminate
so massive a beast, or if he should be led
to deep ocean waters and set free.

But you are not that whale,
the one who swims free. You are older now,
and the product of captivity. It has changed you,
You know it well. And yet,

The taste of her blood on your teeth
made you wonder,
Whatever else is a whale to do?

Copyright March 2010