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.

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

NAPOWRIMO Day 28: Postcard to My Love from the Train

NAPOWRIMO Day 28: Postcard to My Love from the Train 1EF31F79-32B7-422D-B336-092D15CD27F4

I am on the train now, my  Love. I already miss how your neck smells. The way you look at me and whisper, “You are mine.” Your laugh thrills. I forgot my book. I have only the memories of our time together to keep me. In my top ten, the picnic on the museum grounds will forever be. That, and the mountain with the clouds above. Hopefully, this photo will serve as a reminder. It was my favorite. Now, I am counting the hours until we see each other – 2,059. Hours since I last kissed you – 4. Hours before I arrive at my destination – 6. Hours I will love you – Forever more.

~Just L (April 28, 2018)

Author’s Note: NaPoWriMo Prompt – Draft a prose poem in the form/style of a postcard. If you need some inspiration, why not check out some images of vintage postcards?

NAPOWRIMO Day 27: Here Kitty Kitty

NAPOWRIMO Day 27: Here Kitty Kitty…

Oh how I love thee at my feet, Shadow

You are my faithful companion

Watchful, finicky, lovable

I love thee quiet self-assurance

Mysterious and fierce, yet playful

I love you freely, as the world is at war

I love thee purely when you purr

We, creatures with independent spirits

Our classic good looks attract admirers

You shall have a jeweled collar, yellow

To match my robe and sunflower

Care to share these sweet and nutty seeds?

I love thee a delicious healthful nibble

That ensures my locks and skin stay radiant

I love that thee call me lively, querent

Did you notice my wand is growing leafy?

My, this crown is a heavy responsibility

Lighter without two lions sitting on my skull

I shall but love thee better in my lap, dear fellow.

Just L (April 27, 2018)

Author’s Note: NaPoWriMo Prompt Pick a card (any card) from this online guide to the tarot, and then to write a poem inspired either by the card or by the images or ideas that are associated with it.

I selected the Queen of Wands.

Queen of Wands

NAPOWRIMO Day 26: Tile Park PV: A Celebration of Puerto Vallarta’s 100th Birthday

NAPOWRIMO Day 26: Tile Park PV: A Celebration of Puerto Vallarta’s 100th Birthday 

At first I feel a little nervous and sweaty
It’s 83 degrees in April and the morning air is perspiring, too
I take a gulp of latte with my pineapple pastry
Common props for this not morning girl
Wishing now I had asked for an iced coffee
Already much of the plaza has been transformed by color
Themed mosaics cover the once gray concrete pillars
I’m excited to be participating in this art installation – Tile Park PV
Today we are working on the four elements, fire, water, air…
Two friends and a stranger are assigned earth, our team of three
Sifting through the tiles and beads before me
Conchas Chinas Beach comes to mind
When I first visited  I thought of Yachats, Oregon, immediately!
Lava rocks encircle tide pools surrounded by soft sand
Small agates appear where the waves break
Enveloped by a great expanse of a cheese-cloth covered sky
The only difference here is the water is warm
It invites you to kick off your shoes and wade
The other teams are talking with their hands
As they plan how they’ll integrate their designs
I grasp my first tile; it feels cool to the touch
Dip my scraper in the mortar and begin to lose track of time

~Just L (April 26, 2018)

Author’s Note: NaPoWriMo Prompt – Write a poem that includes images that engage all five senses. Try to be as concrete and exact as possible with the “feel” of what the poem invites the reader to see, smell, touch, taste and hear.

I skipped the last three days of NaPoWriMo as I was in Lazaro Cardenas Park in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, making history. Find out more about the project here: https://www.parqueazulejospv.com/

NAPOWRIMO Day 23: The Romantic Zone: A Street Symphony 

NAPOWRIMO Day 23: The Romantic Zone: A Street Symphony 

In the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, working and mating sound the same —

Outside my terrace, construction workers are using jackhammers
The locals are lining up to grab a few tacos al pastor from a street food stall
The man selling el gas competes with the mattress salesman
While in my casa headboards of lovers bang against the wall
The funicular toting laundry to the rooftop hums off and on
And the Great-tailed Grackle who gathers at the pool is the loudest of them all!

~Just L (April 23, 2018, a rewrite of NAPOWRIMO Day 19)

Listen to the sounds of the gas truck here.

Listen to the sounds of the mattress truck here.

Author’s Note: NAPOWRIMO Prompt – We challenge you to honor this idea with a poem based in sound. The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”