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Standing in Difficult Music

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Difficult Music by Melissa Tuckey 
We sleep with intention
We close our eyes and what enters the dark place that is the body begins repair
Like paper from lint we carry in pockets we open cautiously one to the other accordion of dust on the air
The violins of sleep play through us We tunnel through houses open doors looking for whatever it is we lost in daylight
River's flashing current Body's bright mill turning grain to dust ~From Tenuous Chapel, ABZ Press, 2013
Difficult Music. Could this be the title to the theme song for my life? That's melodramatic, I know, but nonetheless, this title pulled me in and the first stanza sucked me into its beautiful whirlpool. I'm already willing to drown in this "dark place" so I can be healed. That I can sleep with intention and trust what enters the dark place that is the body so it can begin to repair, well, that good news is a salve to my spirit. 
No, this isn't a proper book review, but I offer it all the same. I&…

What Can You Give Up Knowing?

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What Can You Give Up Knowing? 
A Writing Prompt from Natalie Goldberg's book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir 

I can give up knowing my childhood phone number: 532-6350. No local area codes used back then. I can give up knowing the birthdays of high school friends: Grace/September 18, Tricia/December 11, Margi/March 10, Kathi/March 19, Diana/May 12, Rosie/April 4. But these numbers continue to stay with me, covered underneath an old grey wool blanket at the back of my brain, resting there in case I need this information. I'm not sure why I easily memorize phone numbers and birthdates, yet can't seem to put numbers together in a mathematical way. The truth is that I've tried to give up this information, and it just won't vanish or vaporize.

And I don't know that this is possible, but I'd like to give up remembering the famous photo of children, including a naked girl, running down a muddy road away from napalm bombs in South Vietnam on…

Say Goodnight Gracie

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Sometimes when I lose something, it's not the pain of "I never appreciated what I had"---instead it's the pain of "I really valued this connection and now it's broken. Or at least it will never be the same." So it was with a tiny teaching job I had at an addiction clinic. Since September 2010, I've showed up there most every Wednesday, barring illness, travel for poetry readings and visiting family, and the holidays that fell on the Wednesdays when they were closed. Before the tiny teaching job, I worked there as a full-time addiction counselor from May 6, 2009 to July 30, 2010. Yes, I still remember the exact dates.

In my most recent capacity in the tiny teaching job, I went there to teach patients about trauma and its strong link to addiction for 1 hour per week. I used a curriculum I wrote, with the help of my wise and trauma-literate therapist husband, and went through the 8-part series numerous times, refining it and adjusting it for the patien…

La La La, Doo Doo Doo Doo

Music. It's music that sustains me. It's been this way since I was young, when starting at age 6, I would beg my parents to borrow their transistor AM radio so I could listen to Top 40 songs. Music poured into my ears. Music to drown out the yelling, the kitchen clatter of slamming cabinets. Music swam into my brain, passing through the caverns of stalagmites and stalagtites to quiet the elephant stampede that rocked from left to right.

Music rendered me helpless in the best possible way. Helpless as in lost in the sweet cacophony of melody, harmony, guitars, piano, drums and lyrics, all dancing in my head. Better than sugarplums, music was the salve for nerves frayed early on. Like a warm butternut squash soup in winter, music spooned itself into my anxious chest, soothed me and stimulated my creative dream world all at once.

Audre Lorde, I think, said that poetry saves lives, and many have testified to the truth of that statement. Besides books, music saved my life, seeing a…

Putting it Out There

Like you, perhaps, I tend to struggle wildly with putting my writing out into world. Putting it out into the world means submitting poems to journals, submitting essays or memoir writing to publications, and then the toughest part of the struggle: promoting my work. Of course I know the obvious: if people don't know where to find your work, they'll never read it. But somehow that obvious point doesn't occur to me when I get in my frozen place, the tundra of my brain that goes still and shuts down when I sit at the keyboard and think about submitting my work.

It's really a miracle that I have any poems published. One of the last big stretches I made to submit to multiple outlets was because I was in grad school for counseling, and we had to take on our own project about change. This required easy-to-measure goals and a behavior plan. The purpose of the assignment was to teach us soon-to-be counselors that change, the thing that we're asking our clients to do every d…