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.

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.

NaPoWriMo Day 1: How to Honor the Visible and the Invisible

You may know her by her dazzling, infectious smile
Or breasts to die for, “the best money can buy”
(she’d quip)
In reality, this is only how you might recognize her
Her carefree brazenness masked depression inside.

Her kind, compassionate words; heartfelt, honest talks
A lifetime of experiences that made her hard, yet soft
Her volunteer work was far and above
Whether giving advice from a barstool or art from her loft.

Her imaginative paintings reflected her vibrant soul
Whimsical, off-kilter landscapes that seem exactly right
For those among us who’ve traveled a winding path
The colors of Puerto Vallarta are not as bright tonight.

Far too many brilliant stars are seen and not heard
Lest you think painting in the buff is obscene
(she often painted in the nude)
Know she’s in the heavens now, naked and unafraid
Paint the sky any color you want, my dear Francine!

~ Just L (NaPoWriMo, April 1, 2019)

Read Francine’s story here.

NaPoWriMo 2019, Day 1 Prompt: write a poem that provides the reader with instructions on how to do something.

Author’s Note: In loving memory of Francine Peters who lost her battle with depression on the eve of International Transgender Day of Visibility 2019.

A sunset celebration of Francine Peters life is scheduled for Thursday, April 4, 2019, 6:30pm at Langostinos on Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. All are welcome.

“Do not assume that [s]he who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. [Her] life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, [s]he would never have been able to find these words.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

You Wish

You were dishonest
By omission, as they say
When she is no longer the one
You want to walk slowly with
And she runs ahead…
You’ll ask, “Still friends?”
You wish.

~ Just L (February 16, 2019)

Author’s Note: When you are seeing multiple women, especially if you are intimate, and run in the same small circles, a heads up is just common courtesy, and when you have an interest in seriously pursuing another woman in particular, just say so. And, if you are serious, it might be a good idea to stop sending flirty texts or photos to others (read: me).

 

 

I Didn’t Even Suck In My Stomach

I saw you on the street
In passing, We embraced
“Hi Sweetheart”…
You introduced me to your “friend”
Beautiful like a tiny painting
With a limp dishrag handshake.

I greeted you full, squarely on
With my usual over-the-top energy
“So great to see you; and meet you”
I didn’t even suck in my stomach
I don’t need your approval,
Or heartache.

~ Just L (February 5, 2019)

When You See Someone You Used To Love And They Are A Stranger

On a pub / band crawl with friends in Vallarta, I enter the bar and have to squeeze by you as you were setting up your drums near the crowded entry door…

Wow, Kevin, You could not after two years, muster a simple, “Hello.”

Recall, I was ecstatic with my life in Oregon and having traveled/worked in 14 countries. You, Kevin, are the one who deliberately stopped the band – your band – two years ago to introduce yourself to me.

Two years later, I realize you are the dark one who requires another’s light to shine.

That makes me so sad. When I first met you, you were sparkly, with a wide smile and genuine heart. Between the two of us, we had the whole world. You broke my heart with the promise of your whole heart; all the while you deceived me.

I will never understand how one spends intimate moments, sharing deep love and vivid dreams, and yet can deny the spark that launched a thousand dreams ever happened. You must be really empty if you can spend two years loving a woman, accept every gift (not just ‘things’), and put on record that she is the angel you have been praying for, but cannot spare a second to acknowledge her. That is a sad commentary on your soul. I pray you find your way back to the musical magic that originally jumpstarted your heart.

The fact you could not acknowledge the woman you loved, the one who believed in you so much, she sacrificed her own work-life to help you realize your dreams. The positive-energy woman who led her life out loud with so much enthusiasm for living and love for you that her son and daughter-in-love carved out a special place for you at their wedding table. The faithful woman who regularly made her way across the miles to you and waited for you while you went through the Visa process. The understanding band widow. The one who kept the home fires burning hot so you could fall gently into the quiet retreat of solitude.

You greedily took it all, all the while knowing you would never be able to keep your promises. As there were others who were also this woman.

This is why I left you.

This is certainly why you have lost your manners, and your voice.

The rest will simply be the rest…

~ Just L (January 12, 2019)

Author’s Note: I write poems of love and loss. This is neither of those.

Did he deceive me from the beginning? I will never know. What I do know is the rest of my life will be as fabulous as before he entered it. As for him, all I know for sure is that lack of integrity has a way of making one miserable.

This Year Went Sideways

This year went sideways
Yet I’ve never felt straighter
Survived the mistake of my life
And outshined the haters

I put off worthy suitors
Accumulated abdominal fat
Ignoring my stress levels
For one who was not all that

A talented musician
But a mediocre lover
His ‘sweet’ disposition
An intricate cover

Thrilled I’m not entangled
For a lifetime with this mess
Or have to depend on him
For anything serious

Blinded by early sparks
Red flags I ignored
Committing for too long
To one to be deplored

I entrusted my soul
To an unworthy man
Killing me softly with his song
When I should’ve ran

As 2018 comes to an end
I am so happy it’s over
Not to be entangled for life
With this free loader

~ Just L (December 22, 2018)

Author’s Note: They say the love of your life often comes after the mistake of your life. Here’s to 2019!