Once, When the Tide Was Low. [Personal essay.]

Full disclosure:
I’ve been there.
on the serrated edge of the coin
one side stay
the other, go.

Several of you have,

Whatever Divinity changed our course
steadied us to remain,
I am, now, grateful for it
(though was angry and frustrated, then.)

On the bathroom floor (it’s almost always there, isn’t it? Those personal tar black come-to-Jesus low-points on tile or shag pale sky throw rug, in the dark regardless of time of day)
pills and booze
booze and more booze
(“recreational” my ass)
hollow hopelessness in
unimaginable quantities
unfamous uncelebrity (who’d miss me? who cared) unsure unspecial
unexcused unnoticeable unneeded unnecessary unattached un-everything

Until the Divine or fear of angering my Mother(s) or what if or _________ whatever reason people decide not to go…I cannot remember anything other than not being as fearless as when I came into the bathroom. In my 20s before marriage before child before God and everyone, it was just misery and me and something else that needed to come through.

I’m glad it did.

My decision to share this odd prosery is not for comment nor criticism nor praise. But if sharing my imperfections and humanity, my vulnerability, with someone who thinks we think they have their shit together (when they think they actually don’t), and that person needs someone to talk to or just somebody to sit next to. I’d like to be that lighthouse for them.

You’re not alone even when you believe with every cell that you are.

Thank you.

DJD 08 June 1018


Vow in Autumn. (Poem)

Nothing haunts me more than the things I never had the courage to say.

Partnered with longing to take back spears thrown in the heat of battle, or the enmeshment of insecurities weaving a relationship fabric so warped, it serves as a battle flag to avoid that same slope and ditch in the future.
Destiny.  Fate.  Karma. God.  Loneliness. Consequence.  No consequence.  Proximity. Repetition. Inebriation. Lust. Curiosity. Boredom. Challenge. The Hunt.  The Ease. Familiarity. Chemistry. The Lure of What We Cannot Readily Have.  The Urge to Fix.  Genuine attraction.  The Need to Disappear.  The Hope of Being Found.
Many and random are the ways we come to each other.  Complicated and baffling, passionately embroiled or dispassionately detached, waltzing in circles until one makes a move.  Then another.  And, still, another, until we are picking up speed and lowering eyes and taking down walls and dropping to our knees in gratitude that someone, finally, Loves us.
Flaws and all. 
Secrets and perversions and all.

Quirks and habits and rituals and all.

Agendas, addictions, disintegration and slang and dented armor.

It all falls away
Layer upon layer

As the larch and birch shed summer

Leaving us raw, naked

Unhinged and insane

And out in left field, limbs to the sky, 

one more time

Until you finally have the courage to come back inside 
And sit beside the empty chair, lay

In the empty bed, curse

The words and venom and

Shamed by fear, ask, and ask

And ask

Dar Dawson 2015

Neil.  09.08.2015

What a strange place to be

Sending intermittent thoughts

Small prayers to ‘wasband’
he who was my husband

On the untimely but not altogether unexpected death of his brother,

Cornelius “Neal”


Named for their father


late last week, diseased liver and rattled core

gave up and ghosted him to the other side

younger at heart than most of us and most of our offspring,


with a profound lack of grounded responsibilities or any sense of sobriety

textbook wild spirit

genuine freebird *ignited lighter into the air*

Galahad and gadfly of bar rails and car-lifts

Vodka & Vicodon

Skynrd, Allmann

less refined but just as earthy

mortared with talent and deep soul


lost cause

failure to launch

rugged, salt & peppered smug grin who

never failed to glean a bosomy date or black eye from her husband, mate

or (in a few cases) a wits-end father


Swinging fists and spittle swearing from

the womb to the pine box

helluva ride

all before 58 or 59, definitely before 60


I am glad I met the other, younger, brother first.

I am learn’ed from both men, in the hardscrabble ways of wheeling and dealing for affection and second chances

though the lessons go unpracticed by my hand


He would have sold snake oil just for the sake of making a sale, and been all the more happy to white-knight-drive you to the doctor when it made you ill. With remorse, with a large battered heart, with loud rasping voice as if shout-talking over a taproom crowd, even when it was dusk alone or a baby’s christening in church.


He, best man to my then groom, arriving early that damp October afternoon. Half past the hour, an hour earlier than printed. He made sure to have the groom early, too, as it was his reputation to be late everywhere and always.


He cried through the entire service. Blubbering huge mantears down the front of his tux. His unspoken yet precious wedding gift to me — no one else – he made that very clear — was his sobriety

(for the service)


I was moved to tears.


He was present and fine past the picture-taking but stalled hard before we cut the cake. He took up with one of the photographers (both women) and they enjoyed each other’s “company” (to be polite) several times, apparently at great auditory exhibition, in her car in the front parking lot of the Garden City Hotel. I admired both his libido and his lack of decorum as I slept in my own hotel bed alone that night, the newly minted Mrs. No-body staring into the future


He cried again the day my child arrived and came, timid gusto, to sit and hold her.  Bundled bean curled against the mechanic’s arms. He held her for almost an hour in near-silent awe, and softly cried and told her the world would be kind…to her.


His baby gift was to arrive sober — just to be able to hold her. I’d anticipated him not showing or showing up three-sheeted or with yet another nameless dingbat on his arm. But, he arrived smoke-free, smacking of nothing more than Old Spice and a leather jacket.


Rest in peace, my once-brother-outlaw.

They’ve saved a pick, a stool, and a fine bottle of something just for you.

The music will be incredible, as you knew.

With respect, always,


 djdawson Sept 8, 2015

Independence Hymn. (My thoughts on singing today.)

You know my father stands up and sings. And his mother, Melba Shorthill Bradshaw Dawson, she stood and sang.  Beautifully.  And I bet my newest U.S. passport your grandparents did, too. 

Stand up

men removed their hats (and still should)

and sang.

Singing our National Anthem is not about sounding good or “talent” or jazzy, pop, operatic vocalizations.  This type of singing is to commitment what voting or raising your hand or signing a petition or marching for a cause are: joining something greater than yourself because you believe in it. Because you cherish it. Because it is you, and you are it.

Any soloist can make a statement. But it is the humble choirs of countrymen and women made mighty by the cobbled singing ensembles on village greens and town hall steps, the shy lyric-whispering bowed-head ballpark players and the pained earnest chords of faithful servants in VA hospital common rooms where you will hear yourself and the well-known, loving hymn to our Nation – it’s past, present and future in every offered note.

Watch the children today as they struggle with intent and purpose to get the words right. They want to get it right so they, too, can join in the mighty choir. 

Sing loud, and clear, so they learn. Listen to the elders, many wishing the song continued on after one obligatory verse. They would sing that anthem to the end and then begin America the Beautiful a cappella to further lift their voices in praise to our country, their service and devotions the lifeblood of today’s holiday.  Sing when spoken word cannot deliver our message in any stronger dosage. 

It is a hymn, a prayer, an oath, a comittment. Today, when you hear our National Anthem, in full or in part, I raise my heart with pride and teary and sentimental song, for long lost familiar voices who taught me how to stand up and, fearlessly love my country in reverent hymn and high praise.



NaPoWriMo. On This Day. (Prosery. 8 April, 2014)

This life?
This blustery calm circus of vibrant color and
deepest freewheeling emotion?

This wild Bossa Nova in 3-6-5 tempos of
random kindness and distempered change
punctuated by groaner punchlines
whose menus never serve the same fare

This life
where invisible wisdoms and sweeping
awkward gestures of sweetest affection
hold our hearts in most tender esteem
and optimism.
This life

in which shards of the past become mosaics
rare ingredient prime
fashioning today, and possibly tomorrow
nestled in the mortar of Yes and Thank You.
Where threads of conversations button us long
into the dreams of our grandparents
and our beckoning
grandchildren seeds on the spring breeze.
This life

is really its own
sort of
perfect. We
will waltz
and wade
along the wanderer’s way
together, if we have
not all ready begun
…which, of course, on course,
we have.



Pre-Launch. (Journal entry. 8 April 2015)

Him: “Looove your wild, plaid poncho!”

He is shepherding his two wiggly small people into their way-too-big mini-van; one of whom, the smaller, has dashed out behind the car between our cars–the driver trying to back out of her space, thankfully aware of the dasher, who has been dragged back by his father to the van. The other small, a girl, about six, is not misbehaving, and seems to know how not to be naughty. She climbs in and buckles herself, competent and quick.

“Thank you!” I reply, waving a hand, sweeping behind the steering wheel as my two teens (mine and her guest) ready to nap on the rainy drive home. They are fed. Now they sleep. Big babies without the car seats.

The dasher is suddenly flinging about the lot in the light rain. His father lurches to haul him back.

“HORACE!!!” And the father — slim, 30s, brown collegiately-messy slightly professorial hair with side part, in jeans and European looking jacket, latches onto the boy’s arm. There is much squirming and squealing, reminding me of how our dog (also three-ish but with two less legs) thinks ‘come inside’ is an invitation to run away and leap all over the backyard. Father clicks the imp into his cushiony perch-with-belt and begins a light but dictatorial lecture.

“Now, Horace? …Holiday…?” This is when my teens quietly chime in about the significance of names and what possesses people to identify others so uniquely. I roll up my window and head west. One likes “Horace”, one likes “Holiday”. We think of other “H” names that would be rare and less-than-playground-common.

Our favorites were “Helium”, “Happenstance”, “Hummingbird”, “Hatch”, “Herse”, and “Halitosis”.

Horace and Holiday, finally tamed.