s’élevant en amour. [Original painting.]


s’élevant en amour / rising in love.

DJDawson 2015

acrylic on canvas

Perception is a funny thing.

What do you see?


Clemency + Dispensation {Poem / Poetry}

Up before the sun (with good intentions)
Back to sleep (with no intentions)
Rise, shine, quadruped shuffle
ground beans and hot water
sleepy-eyed talk of dance, and creativity
what it means to be good at something
to own what you put into the world
without guilt or fear of being singled out
she asks
when did I know I had something
how old was I
who got lost along the way
how do you know friends
–where is the line between supportive loyalty
and praise cloaking a blade
I tell her:
I thank the blade
here, run a finger over scars of insincerity gouging sarcasm
words that whittled away my arias to murmurs
but murmur I owned
10 years at a time
stumbling along small
until enough love filled my lungs
full and lofty
raising above the myopic fog
to the light of now
40 years, a long time to hum a lifesong and
not cry out infinite joys
17 years, a brief lesson in wearing confident skin and deflecting the subtle dismantling of peers
Leave them be, wish them well, love your song.
DJD 2015

On Not Coupling: An Essay on How Not to Fall in Love. Maybe.

If you asked me five years ago, on a regular Saturday morning such as this, anything having to do with dating or coupling (outside of business or creatively contributing to something) or, God forbid, Love and such, I would have quickly changed the subject to you, your life and goings–on; or my daughter or our home or my employment (or my employer) or a movie we should see at the Cinema Arts Center (because likely, I had already seen it, alone, and will always tell someone when something is really worth the price of the ticket.)

What we would *not* have talked about was
“r e l a t i o n s h i p.”

Strung out letter-by-letter because after divorce – those of us once-married (remove the ‘i’ and you’re “marred”, if you didn’t already notice) are somewhat loathe to jump back into the dating pool, let alone broach the subject at all. So, we literally d r a g it out (or avoid the word and idea altogether.)

Five years ago, single-mothering my then-14-and three-quarter-year old offspring, in a too-big (and cold) old house with indoor/outdoor cats and a puppy with the worst case of PTSD – ever – we would NOT have talked about Match.com or Plentyoffish or speed-dating or blind dates or group dinners or meetup.com or meeting someone in church or taking a class or doing another show or volunteering (I was already doing that) or how involving myself with yet another oddball-people-project adult male who needed more help and more ego-massage than anyone in their right mind would ever take on would be really stupid (but oh so familiar. And easy.) I would have to be NUTS to get involved with anyone again – be they near or hundreds of miles away. I was done and comfortable knowing I would be my nephew’s ‘crazy Ant Jaye’ until the title aged-out as he aged-up.

And, yet…here we are.

We do not use the word “r e l a t i o n s h i p”. We use “partnership”.

We do not talk about getting married, though people who don’t know us refer to the other partner as “your wife” and “your husband”. It’s funny.

We do not cling to each other the way we might have, earlier, younger, when one might believe the more time you have together the better things get and nothing could possibly go wrong if you lost yourself in another person losing themselves, too.

We do not lose any part of our Self from being part of something together. And that is the very biggest treasure: I get to be me, He gets to be He, and we get to be we, how ever we see fit.

Oh, hello, it’s you. It’s going to be you.

And how delighted I was to have that realization strike, just about five years ago, dead center in my chest, when meeting you for the first time, as adults, in the middle of Penn Station in the middle of New York City in the middle of our lives. It was very different than when we met, briefly, at 13 and 15; fish in the pond.

Hello, it’s you.
Happy Five, this Friday.

27 January 2018

NaPoWriMo. #2. (Poem)

You and I have grown past love

the way a child grows past a sweater 

or wears down the heels of rainy season rubber boots

You and I have fished for love 
the way a ‘coon paws murky ponds, half in/half out

in shameless hunkered stupor 

grasping at anything


to fill the void and ease

I and maybe you have beat the horses dead

yet cheered their ribboned finishes

then stood ‘lone at the gate awaiting the purse…

(were you, too, surprised it was empty?)

I and possibly you breathless crossed-fingered hoped

once would be ever and all ways. 

You twice

Me once

(I respect the believer in you and honor the fear in me)

into tidal waters
through summer tall grass

‘tween the forest treespace

to swim in quarry and inquiry 

you and I ne’er shall meet 

pumpkin and pine

for whilst you dream and forge
I unriddle ’round dead horses running

unwinable races

You and you
I and I

have co-mingled and exhaled

and poured and refilled

buttonhole songs of our own undoing.

more than unravel again
we mend


testing the ice

complete tentative ironclad tissue

to grow past now


June 1st, 2013.

Because the Middle of Week Five (is When Things Begin to Get Challenging). Part 2.

Yesterday’s eye opening mid-morning downdress did not keep me awake, thankfully.  I do feel warned and better prepared to navigate that territory, should I find myself there, again.

While I know, fundamentally, why I’m here – why I up and moved; why 97% of my belongings are in temperature controlled storage; why life is house/work/house and the occasional trip to Food Lion – I’m wrestling with “what”.

Like what contributions am I to make to the household?  (Women generally cook, clean and do laundry but there are other capable people here with me who have been doing these things long prior to my arrival.)  It might need a review or re-balancing, the distribution of tasks.  I’m happy to jump into any of it.  I’m just not sure how or if I should, and to what extent.

Since there is not -and I write this plain and not with the intention of antagonism whatsoever – space to bring my things (books, kitchen inventory, furniture, artwork) – nor am I feeling any urgency to ‘be’ with my things right now, they can keep waiting.  I suspect that once this really feels like home, my/ours rather than his/ours and “I’m new here and adjusting”, my familiar things will slowly find their way.  For now, it’s fine they’re elsewhere.

I miss my girl.  I miss being her mom.

The full force and weight of missing my DD has arrived and there is little I can do but sit with it, as one quietly present in prayer.  I have tried hard to stay busy, focus on positive things, be happy despite our rift but I wish it were her here instead of the months of awful sadness and longing for her.  The confusing and hurtful events of the last nine months have taken a toll and, at times, my capacity for joy has been limited or forced; maybe true for her, too.  I really do not know.  Parent Weekend at her college is in three weeks.  My hotel stay was booked in early July, but I am undecided about going.

Lastly, there is this.  It feels related to all the above in its own way.

A couple days after moving here, my mother was hospitalized for a series of age-related issues. She then entered a rehab facility for physical therapy and, equally important, care and maintenance of her diabetes.  Before this, she had been Type 2.  She is now fully insulin dependant.  After three weeks of medical care, she was released to our father and taken home for a day; they then spent a week away on holiday.  She did “less than satisfactorily,” according to our father, though he would say she’s “fine” in general.  She’s not fine, as far as her children are concerned.

So, how much do adult children interfere with their parent’s right to freedom and independent living?   How little do we say or do?  How much?

Later this week, my sibling, who resides out west, is going to New York to help our folks begin downsizing to, eventually, and hopefully soon, move.  They live in the same house they raised us.  It is too big, too needy, and inappropriate for them now.

Part of me feels a business-like obligation to attempt to help with the process of weeding their belongings to a manageable, meaningful quantity.

Part of me hopes to have the time off to do that.

And part of me is beginning a life I am enjoying (learning to, on some days).  That has not been the case in such a long time, I don’t want to put other things first.  Particularly, I am wary of extending myself to someone who never appreciates it or criticizes what I have to offer, in general.

How to Remain Authentic While Protecting Yourself.  That’s the thing.