From the Vault: Untitled

This poem was unearthed from the cache of Past Writing, and reader, though I had forgotten all about it, the familiar rhythm instantly summoned the night I feverishly wrote this. If you can indulge the teenage melodrama, you may enjoy the story.

Image by blackrabbitkdj from Pixabay


You destroyed my world, dear heart, dear soul,

and gave me a love so true,

Reality shattered, I’m hardly whole,

All I have left is you.

He took my hand, gazed into my eyes, and told me a secret more beautiful and sincere than any other in existence. What he is I’ll probably never know, nor do I need to know. I just know he loves me.

You entered my life, but I’d entered yours

back when the world was new-

Reality shattered, I’m hardly whole

All I have left is you.

He says he is as old as time and I believe him. There is something about his eyes, a knowledge in them so deep and age worn that it can’t be natural.

How do I know you will always be there,

loving as sweet as you do?

Reality shattered, I’m hardly whole,

All I have left is you. 

I’m afraid of him. His wisdom is so great there is no comparison, and his love for me runs even deeper. Oh, what he could do with my heart… my fragile heart that already lies as an offering before him.

You told me you’d watched me since time began

since before the first bird flew,

Reality shattered, I’m hardly whole

All I have left is you.

How can one deny the power of a love so old and pure? I feel it course through every vein- he’s in my blood. He haunts my mind. He is completely within me.

My soul is an old soul, said you of me,

and my eyes of an ancient blue,

Reality shattered, I’m hardly whole-

All I have left is you. 

How many guises has my person worn through the ages? Have I always appeared the same? It doesn’t matter, beauty isn’t necessary to him. It’s my inner flame, he says, that burns brighter than all the others. And he is, as a moth, drawn to me.

I’ve loved you before as I love you now,

this you swore to me too,

Reality shattered, I’m hardly whole-

All I have left is you. 

If I close my eyes I can see images of times before, in places I don’t recognize, with people I’ve never known. But he is always there, loving me, guiding me, protecting me. He is my constant. And I’ve found him again at last.

“You are not like me, and our time is short,

Let the world our passions view,

Reality shattered, I’m hardly whole-

All I have left is you. 

I’m mortal, my days will end too soon, despite my young age. A century is nothing compared to eternity. I know this. Will I find him again in my next life, if I have one? Could my soul stand to lose this love?

“I’ll take you away, my kingdom is yours,

I’ll show you things you never knew,”

Reality shattered, I’m hardly whole,

All I have left is you. 

I need him. He fills a gap in me, in my heart. And even through my love glazed eyes, I can see he needs me too. He is drawn to my light like a shadow fleeing the rest of the darkness, and in his love a bit of brightness can shine as well. He’s offering me the key to a doorway, a doorway into his soul, into his world. I need only reach out.

Yes, I’ll take your hand, dear heart, dear soul,

and let you lead me through,

Since reality shattered, I’m hardly whole

And all I have left is you. 

Heather Mackenzie (Senz) circa 1996-1997, probably 17 years old(ish)

Single Flashback: The Best Worst Story

In today’s snapshot unearthed in my excavation, I present you with a mortifying story that will remain untitled due to me not liking its original. It was published in my Single on the Seacoast column somewhere around 2009, 2010.

Also, I now have so much documentation of ADHD behavior my heart aches a little. A lot. But this is a fun story! A fine, normal, every day story! And, spoiler alert, I’m married to the guy in it, so happy endings for everyone.

As I’ve stated many times before, I am not a domestic goddess. At times, my apartment could be condemned as a biohazard and it’s only because I have a lot of clothing that I am not naked more often. Fortunately, there’s one thing I can do really well that saves me from being a complete write-off as a homemaker. I make a mean breakfast. Seriously; on some days, my bacon could win awards.

On Sunday, I was showing off my skill for the Boy.  I shooed him from the kitchen (a master should not be disturbed) and was cheerfully dodging dirty pots and pans as I created our morning feast. When the cinnamon French toast was done and the bacon was crisp, I summoned him back, and gave him the one bit of bad news I had.

I hadn’t refrigerated the real maple syrup and it developed a suspicious crust. He’d have to make due with the fake kind. But hey, I’d made a delicious breakfast and he’d just have to deal. I was still expecting compliments.

We went into the living room, and dug in. Like a good boy, he made appreciative “nom nom nom” noises as he quickly polished off the first piece of French toast.

And then. . . 

“Oh look, you gave me a little seasoning,” he said, having unearthed the shriveled body of an ant from beneath French toast slice number two of three.

“Ew! Sorry baby,” I replied, and we laughed it off.

Until he found another.

And another.

All in all, we scraped 14 dead ants off his plate.

That’s when I began to look distrustfully at my own food. That’s also when I noticed that what I previously thought was just a little piece of burnt bacon was actually a shriveled dead ant friend of my own.

And then I found another.

Worse, I found ant *parts*. “That’s an abdomen,” he told me, gesturing toward my bacon. Oh god, where was the head?

It was horrifying. Humiliating. It was also fascinating. How in the hell. . . ?

“It’s the syrup!” I realized. “They’re in the syrup!”

“Nah,” he said. “How would that even happen?” But he was already up and investigating. Sure enough, at the bottom of the syrup bottle were a bazillion more dead ants. They had sacrificed themselves, lemming-style, into the bosom of Aunt Jemima. 

Apparently, one side effect of being a non-domestic goddess is that the syrup isn’t  always immediately put away, like, say, last time (I hope it was just last time!). It also means that maybe I don’t close lids as fastidiously as I should.

He probably should have taken his chances with the crusty real stuff.

I consoled myself by searching for “eating bugs” on the Internet. I learned that eating insects is common in many other places in the world. Crickets are even fondly described as having a slightly “nutty” flavor. Edible insects, such as cicadas and, yes, even ants, are lauded for being high in protein and even better for the environment than traditional livestock. In New Orleans, the Audubon Society’s Insectarium has a restaurant called “Bug Appétit” where everything from salads to desserts has “bug” listed as a main ingredient. Surely, I reassured myself, this will catch on throughout the States in no time.

Really, I’m a gastronomic visionary.

And yet, without knowing any of this, it speaks volumes to me that the boy simply brushed the ant corpses and stray thoraxes aside and finished his lovingly prepared French toast and bacon without (much) further complaint.

Obviously, this shows how much he likes me.

Or how hungry he was.

….Either way, I’ll take it. 

Past Musings: Exploring A Metaphor

More from the hoard. This was also published in my college literary magazine Inscribed in 2000, and written my junior year. I’m not editing before I post, even if I’d do things differently now. In fact, that is likely to be an upcoming project. See the poems here first, in their original glory.

Image by Thomas Mühl from Pixabay
Exploring A Metaphor

He's a candle-- throwing shadows 
On the wall I can hide in,
And I want to kiss him--
Taste the flame, 
     But I'm afraid of burning.

I can run my fingers through the fire
If I'm nimble, quick-
Or I can move in close
Until I'm warm again--
     But I don't want to smother him
Or breathe in too much smoke.

If I say anything, my words
Might be wind enough that he'll sputter out
And I'll be left with wax
Burning my fingers for a moment only
Before cooling into indifference.

As of now, I'm too afraid
To warm my fingers, or my lips
And be tinder to his spark--
     Instead I'll wait in his uncertain light
     Mask myself in those flickering shadows
     And hope that I'll find my courage 
     Before the wick burns down
     And I get colder.

Me, 2000 

On Bullying and the Self

I don’t know why I want to write about the bullying, as though that were a pleasant part of my life to remember. Maybe I want to remind myself of the good stuff that did happen at that time. Maybe I want to further explore the conversations Brad and I had when I recounted instance after instance of cruelty that I endured, and the moments I in turn inflicted, the normalization of them both. How I learned to sharpen my wit with meanness, or speak like a sycophant, or disappear entirely. I grew up in the 80s, the age of Heathers and the beginning of malls, back in a time when 5-7-9 mattered and I didn’t fit. Popularity was everything. I was taunted with it in the sixth grade, when a pretty girl asked me if I wanted to be popular and even spent time with me on the phone one night, only to laugh the next day in front of a crowd. I’ll never forget the way I could feel her snear sear into my skin when she said, “You? You really think you could be popular?” This was the year I had no friends in my classroom and one of the boys thought it was funny to say my name aloud in class at random moments, until the teacher made him stop and so he nicknamed me Skeeter and kept it going anyway and a chorus of snickers always followed. That was how I learned to go inside myself, deep, deep inside where I couldn’t hear them and they couldn’t hurt me, and my self lay curled up in a ball, reminding me that I knew I was not who they said I was. But I had to be, right? Because I had secret friends in those crowds, people who connected with me but only in private, people I knew were nice and funny and smart and had fun with me, but somehow my social status mattered in public, and I had none. I had a whole group of new friends once when I was in high school or late junior high, from a different town. Someone actually asked me if I was popular at my school and I remember that I knew my answer mattered and so I lied. And I passed. Then a schoolmate turned up at a party and was like, “Her?” and her breath blew my candle out. I had friends at camps and I would feel liked, and it was a glowing feeling and I felt like myself sometimes, like this could be real, and then the summer would end and I would return to school and all that shining fun must have been an act, because this was my real life, day after day. I mean, in my estimation, once I hit junior high I evaporated just enough to have friends and avoid active ridicule. I would do anything, I think, to avoid that kind of spotlight again. Parts of me became a social chameleon, or more accurately, I became parts of me, and I could serve up any of my qualities that would best please my current audience. I think of myself like a pie chart. I knew who I was in pieces, my attributes and faults, and I could portion myself out as the best possible ratio for this particular scenario. I lost that cowering little self along the way, the one who knew who I am. Last year I found it again, and this has been journey to nurture it, to bellows the coal in the core of me into a warm, Heathery glow. It hadn’t occurred to me that the people who love me saw through the pie chart the whole time. My friends, I think I thought I’d fooled you all. Until very, very recently, when I gave myself permission to believe your voices instead of theirs, and at the heart of it all, to hear my own. I’m not very good at this yet, but I am getting better. And I guess I want to say that if you have lost your little coal of self in the midst of cacophony, the harmony of your friends might be a really great song to focus on.

Past Musings: Happily Ever After

I found a trove of my old stories and poems and I intend to share. This was published in my college literary magazine Inscribed in 2000, and written my junior year.

Image by Ksenia Sergeeva from Pixabay
Happily Ever After

Late last night I turned the page
And got caught in the wrong story.
"Well shit," I said and turned around
But the same path was waiting for me.

I knew I'd read this tale before,
Something about pumpkins and mice,
And everything would go my way,
'Cause I'd been so darn nice.

But when the prince asked for my hand,
I didn't know what to say,
So I just shrugged and to my feet
Muttered, "No, that's okay."

He glared at me, and swaggered off
And all at once I knew--
I had to go, the story'd ended
And I still had my shoe.

"Well that just stinks," said a castle guard,
"But I don't know what to tell ya,
I'd find a new story if I were you-
You're a lousy Cinderella."

Single Flashback: My Valentine to You

This is a blast from the past- an old Single on the Seacoast article (draft, at least) that I have saved. This one was written in 2010.

My Valentine to You

This week, I’ve decided that instead of giving you suggestions about how to spend your Valentine’s Day, or speculating what my own will be like, I’ll give you a little history lesson. I’m doing this for two reasons. One, everybody loves unasked for history lessons. And two, I’m a giver.

In order to answer my burning question, “What the heck is Valentine’s Day?” I turned to my trusted resource, the Internet. And the Internet, the wise entity that it is, basically answered my question with a great big shrug. There’s no good answer, readers. What there is, is speculation and theory.

Most likely, Valentine’s day was decreed in order to bring some Christianity to Ancient Rome. According to the History Channel’s Website,, the Ancient Roman’s had a festival called Lupercalia, which honored either the agriculture/ fertility god Faunus, the legendary Roman founders Romulus and Remus, or all three. Romulus and Remus were said to have been suckled by a she-wolf, or “lupa,” hence the name. So, in order to show their appreciation of having their very own city, and in order to persuade Faunus to be nice and give them babies, the Romans would sacrifice a goat, slice the skin into strips, and then run around, gently wapping women with the hides to make them fertile. (And the women LIKED this.) Then, apparently, the single ladies would throw their names into an urn and bachelors would reach in and select their mate for a year. Kind of like a 70’s key party, but not. These unions often ended in marriage.

Conveniently, all of this crazy stuff happened on the ides of February—AKA, February 13th.

Around 498 A.D, Pope Gelasius apparently decided that this whole “lottery” system was no longer acceptable, and had it outlawed. He also ordered February 14th to be called “Saint Valentine’s Day,” although the reason for this is also unclear.

There are several saints called Valentine, though only one has a little romance woven into his legend. The most popular version of this story claims that, sometime in the third Century, Roman Emperor Claudius II declared marriage illegal in order to have a more focused army (as if not having wives would make his men NOT think of sex every second seconds—Nice try, Claud.) A rebellious priest named Valentine, ever the romantic, thought this was crap and married people in secret. When Claudius found out, he was none to pleased and sentenced Valentine to death. Some say the couples he united would bring notes and flowers to his cell to thank him for giving up his life so they could have a little nookie.

Others say the story continues—apparently, Father Valentine fell in love with someone, possibly, scandalously, the jailer’s daughter, and slipped his beloved a note before his execution. The note was signed, “From Your Valentine.” Awwwww.

Fast forward 1500 years or so. Although exchanging valentines became popular in the 1800’s, the holiday became more and more secular. When the Roman Catholic church revised their calendar, they dropped St Valentine’s day and left it up to local or national calendars because, “Though the memorial of St. Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14th.” And honestly? From what I’ve read, I’m not convinced the church really even knows THAT for sure.

So there you go. From what I can gather, we celebrate Valentine’s Day because some people disagreed about the merits of orgies, marriage, and the purpose of goats, and because, in the end, we all really like the idea of love.

Next week, I’ll tell you the origins of Cupid (SO much more than a baby with wings) and detail my quest into discovering why the heart means love (although, in some places, it means “behind” and is used on restroom doors.) Then V-day will REALLY be over and we can get back to dissecting the love lives of me and those around me.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

You can write to Heather at Sending her chocolate is also recommended, but not required.


Last week, I started a story for my Afterfoam collection, a sequel to Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid”. It started as a character concept for the larp Cottington Woods, a little background story I originally called The Little Runaway , which I now think of as The Sea Witch’s Apprentice. Since then, it has blossomed into other stories like The Bride, The Knife, and now The Breeze, this one told from the Little Mermaid’s perspective as an air spirit:

There is a lot I did not know as a mermaid, child of the sea, and even less that I knew as a human, earthbound. But up here, the view is clearer, probably because there is little to do but think, once the meddling proves pointless or deadly.  I am my mind, my memories, and I cling to them. I have no image, no reflection. If I don’t remember, I’ll be lost.

Existence is different without a body taking up all my attention and focus (because what could kill me now but an Oblivion of my own making?) but I wouldn’t call it life. To live, you take up space, alter the world, leave a mark. I have free will but no direct impact; I am more voiceless than ever. I whisper mind to mind and I am told the siren song still purrs beneath my influence, sweetening my call, but I have no sound of my own, not even the thrum of the heartbeat that had always been with me, so familiar I didn’t hear it anymore. Only in its absence could I realize that it was the most beautiful sound in the world.

According to canon, she does not have a soul, she can only earn one. She no longer has a body. She believes she is heart and mind, only.

I’m pretty sure this is me writing to me.

Until recently, I hadn’t been paying much attention to my soul.  I need to work on nourishing and appreciating my body. I want to heal and grow in heart and mind, and yet I also need to remember that I am more than just those two aspects. 

The way I am using my Heart Mind Body Soul framework recently is to write down each category and place goals underneath. When I got to writing, I was stumped. Is it mind, because of creativity and intelligence and memory and imagination and processing? Is it heart, because I love it, because it reveals myself to me and inspires forgiveness and empathy? Is it soul, because I feel connected to something bigger and more cosmic, something like a muse or a genus or the universe? 

And then I realized it was each of them, at once, always, and that thought becomes writing only when I let my body get involved.

Essentially, writing is  at the center of my being.

It has been, all this time.

No wonder HMBS feels like purpose.

I found myself writing “write now” directly in the center of my little chart.

Sometimes personal growth comes in the form of an incomplete chart.

I stared at it and experienced epiphany, that beautiful reshaping- 

-and then I collapsed into a puddle of grief, as surely as the Little Mermaid did when she tossed her knife into the sea.

I said, “I’m so sorry, Daddy. I get it now. Thank you.”

Because one message that has been in my life since childhood is that my father supported my writing. He did this when I was in 6th grade and he submitted a poem I had written about the impending gulf-war, a scared 11-year old trying to comprehend what exactly that meant. He didn’t even tell me. I didn’t know until a receptionist at my school told me she’d seen it. 

Come to think of it, that was the first time I had been published.

My father’s constant refrain to me had been “Write now” (and by the way guys I just figured out my next tattoo)- it appeared like a motto any time he found or manufactured an excuse to say “right now.” I’d know what he meant but he’d repeat it anyway, the verb switch practically written in the air by the mischief in his eyes.

And yet I resisted.

I resisted nearly every day, full-on Rebellion Mode, scattered with little bits of writing and sharing that fed my soul a snack and made me think I wasn’t rebelling at all. But I was, because writing makes me feel, and it makes me sob sometimes, and I didn’t want to go through it.

But today, I sat with this grief because that is what the goddamn Facebook memes told me to do, and because I wrote this note to myself JUST LAST NIGHT-

Dear Self- You feel things instantly so even contemplating feeling a scary feeling means you feel it. So just feel it and move on.

Love, The Self that is tired of feeling shit 10000% more than necessary.

And then when I reread what I had written and 10000% didn’t seem to encompass the uselessness of feeling something unnecessarily at all, and I added an infinity sign above.

So there I was on the kitchen floor dealing instantaneously with crushing waves of sorrow and regret that I refused to hide from, when all of my tools came together for me and offered me strength. I remembered what I read about grief  being love with no place to go and I just started talking to my father, like Brad had recently suggested, and I told him I love you and I miss you and thank you and I hear you. I reminded myself that grief allows me this gift- this chance to remember him and there is no reason to resist because it is an honor to have been able to love him so much that I miss him endlessly. And that, with this understanding, with this new belief that I can honor my father best by following his advice, given by his clear view of the words in my heart, I give myself permission to recognize, again, how much I need write, and why.