A Love Letter for One Battling Cancer

I can shout at your T Cells like we’re cheering on the Ducks
I’ll let you choose your ideal setting on the thermostat
Ride or die, I get down like that.
I can sit quietly with you
Or read graphic novels to pass the time
Make finger puppets on the ceiling or pantomime.
You’ll be frocked in a cold stress inducing sweat
I’ll layer in style to cover my pot belly
Both so fashionably forward no one is jelly.
I’ll chew tinfoil and drink protein shakes to match our tastes
Flush twice after going number two
Because sharing experiences are what sweethearts do.
Your bodily fluids don’t scare me
I shat my pants emceeing an event just last week
Babies and kittens are not the only origin stories for bleach.
Your new odor signature won’t bother a bit
I’ll remember when you smelled like mine
Touching you gently and kissing you open mouth anytime.

~ Just L (October 6, 2019)

Could Have Been A Legend

What if we were meant to be forever after
In spite of the story to date
In separate bedrooms, down the street filled with laughter

Perhaps our match Doula knew us deeper
Watched you for a full year before our introduction
Knowing full well you were a keeper

What if we split too soon due to a breakdown in communication
Our egos and preconceived ideas erecting an insurmountable wall
Misreading what was between us really goin’ on

Recall my dearest love you were vetted for a year
You fit me in every way and in my family with ease
Everyone we knew found us sparkly, trustworthy and dear

Our paths crossed long before we were introduced across the bar
Given all of the R&D, no wonder we felt mutually drawn
Six weeks later I exclaimed my love under NYE stars

Never a fight or unkind word until I experienced my most abnormal
I lashed out, and was angry for something misinterpreted
And a medical emergency beyond my control

You vowed you would never leave a love in sickness
After all, the one who broke your heart did just that
Then you cut me off as you could not go the distance

I freaked the f* out as this was not how I imagined
We were, after all the love, over in an instant
One more conversation, we could have been a legend.

~Just L (re-post 3 years and 5 month after our breakup, July 10, 2019)

Exception Proves The Rule

What if I were to sit next to you
Would you want to kiss me?
Let it be easy
Instead of playing cool —

What if our togetherness was fated
From the beginning?
We didn’t fear leaning in
Finding our differences miniscule –-

What if everything since
Was a holding place?
To make us better face-to-face
A long distance relationship school –-

What if we (’ve) matured
Fully trusting each other?
Drop the ego cover
F* the few who are cruel —

What if you were assured
We would do the distance?
Could you drop your resistance
Dare to be the happiest fool —

What if you lived your words,
“Lasting relationships take work”?
Too many throw in the towel *smirk*
Newer (read: don’t know the real you) is not life’s jewel —

What if we embraced togetherness
Safe inside a fortress wall?
Imagine a love overhaul
True happiness, no one dare ridicule —

What if we retained our space
Two wings in the same castle?
Fully entwined without the hassle
Separated by miles, rooms or a pool —

What if we found the balance
‘tween intimacy and independence?
Questioning everything since
That other band from Liverpool —

What if you assume the worst
Put defeat before the horse?
And let it take its course
I’d challenge you to a duel —

What if the world applauded us
Dare to be true to our heart
Or embarrassed by the time apart?
When did you follow the rules?

If you were to sit next to me
I would need to kiss you
It’s nothing new
I don’t know how to be cool.

~ Just L (July 10, 2019)

Author’s Note: Listen to “Sit Next To Me” by Foster The People

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKLVpDTZOPQ

Love Signs

You are cool as a cucumber
Until Aries enters the house
Warming your starchy skin
in a pair of worn Levi Strauss

I love freedom and risk
You landlocked by protocol
Exhilarating, tender,
a contradictory coupling, we helplessly fall

First child’s flame singes virgin wings
Ever challenging your M.O.
Too easy when your taste for the exotic
is Jicama, aka the Mexican potato

Craving each other with every fiber
Our attraction feels so fated
Impossible to resist the razor’s edge
between being loved and hated

~ Just L (July 8, 2019)

We Made A Match

We made a match
Had a short chat
He’s smart, stylish
And has a cat.

Cool and confident
Know I’m a catch
I put myself online
Set to be attached.

“Meet up tonight?”
Finding myself in his hood
Shared backstories and kisses
This is too good.

My heart receptive
Spirit strong and light
Breathing in the moment
Aware of fight or flight.

Open and kind
Articulate, creative
And, I kinda like him
He, too, feel the weight of?

~Just L (May 19, 2019)

Author’s Note: Simply tracking the subtle opening and closing of my heart after initiating a connection. Is the Universe conspiring to accelerate gravity? Naaah, it won’t last.

NaPoWriMo Day 4: My Chanel Boots

Leather Chanel boots made in Italy
They are my most beloved pair ever
All black quilted lambskin up to my knees
Classic with all the signature details
The small silver bead circles at the heel
Cap toe with large Chanel logo stitching
I wear these boots September through April
Perfect with jeans, dresses, always sexy
Zip up shiny palladium hardware
Slip in lined black leather interior
Strut the high fashion runway if you dare
Couture shine outsoles need yearly repair
My cobbler a pro at restoration
Informed me this will be their last season.

~ Just L (NaPoWriMo, April 4, 2019)

NaPoWriMo 2019, Day 4 Prompt: write your own sad poem, but one that achieves sadness through simplicity.

Author’s Note: I wrote a sonnet about my boots. Really sad.

Gag Me

Valentine’s Day, a Thursday in 2008
The school of heart knocks I did graduate

Integrity questioned, advanced education dis
How could I be so blind going into this?

Driven home from the church office by an elder
“You’re a very smart girl”…

“Make better choices in the future”
I thought, like not trusting my pastor?

I sought the solace of church in 2003
In the front pew with my broken family

Two years’ prior I was all consumed
Raped by a national act post-honeymoon

Followed by my spouse’s spiral into meth
I cried, I screamed, I held my breath

Juggling a college career, a business, an aspiring author
Raising my own plus two bonus daughters

I threw myself into the growing congregation
My management talents and skills met with elation

“We need you on staff, I need you please”
In meetings, emails begging… Geez Louise!

Promising me work for ten years,
In 2006, I gave up a successful career

Convinced to help the pastor reach his mountain top
Enticed by “a calling” my dreams of VP I would swap

So, I raised $50K, 6-months wages to sustain me
Agreed to two years before coming on salary

Found pastoral staff with no education earned 40-50 grand
To work 18/hours/week as logged by their own hand

A church of 500+ with no line item budget or personnel policies
Pastors spending funds on personal items with no apologies

Tirelessly, I worked 60/hours/week to get them out of a jamb
Little did I know then I would become the sacrificial lamb

I was given “love offerings” and a loan to save my home
Believing your word is your oath, I had tunnel vision syndrome

Meanwhile my meth- and sex-addicted husband had run out
Still, “Praise the Lord,” I would shout!

With blood, sweat and tears, I kept my eye on the prize
Late 2007, cashed out my PERS Tier 1 for the promise of the finish line

January 2008, to Oahu for Doing Church as a Team Conference
While I was away an investigation on me had commenced

Church council claimed they had no idea I’d worked past December 2006
Each had seen me in the office, known me intimately, are they sick?

And, when the pastor was questioned about how he was involved
He denied, he lied, responsibility for his actions absolved

After all, his administrative team were three educated women
Who cares what they witnessed with their own eyes and ears, or when?

The council president – with a vote of no confidence – fired me
(14 days short of coming on salary) Happy two-year anniversary!

~ Just L (April 3, 2019)

Author’s Note: I mostly write bad romantic poetry about love and loss. I was first published in 1997, and sometimes my closest friends cringe as they recognize who I am writing about. This may be the most intimate story I have ever shared publicly. More so than my sexual assault by Lynch Mob’s band and manager, which occurred in 2001.

It’s been a decade since the church tried to, by court order, gag me in late spring 2009. In light of the stories (including my own) of the “Me, too” movement, and the HBO series, “Leaving Neverland,” which exposed how children and families were groomed for sexual abuse, it has struck me how I, too, had been groomed for a different kind of exploitation. My talents and skills were used for another’s gain and acclaim.

After I was fired as administrator of the church, and while being the object of gossip and ridicule, I continued to sit proudly on the front pew of the church each Sunday. More than one year later, the church sued me for over $200,000. The amount included money I had raised for my contract, love offerings, my retirement and other funds I had given to the church as donations and offerings. It also included the loan my husband and I had signed a promissory note for, but he was never named in the law suit.

I never went back. The very people who had given me emotional support through my separation, had been mentors to my children, and had sat at my kitchen table, had betrayed me.

I was advised by my attorney to settle the civil suit and sign an (untrue) affidavit hidden in the church lawyer’s vault to be used against me at a later date (if I did not cooperate) to avoid sensationalized headlines and ruin my public service career. In truth, I agreed to settle the case in order to allow my children and the children of the pastor to avoid suffering shame and embarrassment during their late teen years as they began lives and careers of their own in our small community. It wasn’t long after said pastor was “promoted” to a position in another state.

There is nothing private about a settlement. I can count the number of times this court record has been made public to humiliate or harass me over the past ten years. The story does not magically go away. It doesn’t matter if I was innocent, praised by the church’s corporate lawyers who were not a party to the case, or vindicated by some, it is forever on record for those who want to cause harm. Meanwhile, those directly involved never suffered the consequences of their actions, a hit to their professional reputation or financial losses, “forgave me” (HAH!!!), and never looked back.

I have remained quiet for too long, not to protect my users/abusers or to save myself. After sacrificing my coveted PERS Tier 1 retirement (which I had earned since 1993, and in all my years as a struggling single mother had never touched, and would have now, at the age of 55, sustained me in the amount of approximately $5,500/month), as well as being fired from two jobs (at half of my previous salary before attending church) as a direct result of settling said lawsuit, God knows that didn’t happen!

What are they going to do, sue me?

I am quite certain if I had been a man I would have never been sued. We would all be outraged. And, I would be raking in a book deal.

I am presently single, and living my best life as a nonprofit management consultant and grant writer in Oregon and Mexico. I have acquired over $230 million in grants and awards for nonprofit organizations in my community. I cannot say that God has made up for what the locusts have eaten; however, I have on occasion run into some of those involved… And I celebrate because I am free! That is indeed priceless.