ate the whole thing

63bd9607d72451796a654ba9cbcf3cf0

We like to say that love  makes us crazy.
But thats a copout
Love is what keeps us alive while living. 
It’s the parachute we hope will open.
Love is the creamy frosting that makes us eat straight down to the cupcake wrapper
and then lick it clean.
Still, we have the nerve to blame love for our ravenous appetite.

Love is a beautiful, terrifying fucking adventure.
We smirk like champions claiming we are ready to bungie jump into its dark, echoing canyon.
We want it.  We run towards it, and then tell it to scale the walls around our heart.
Love doesn’t give a shit about all that.
Love will hang out, sipping whisky and shooting pool, until you open the gate.

We fling our fear to release the pain.
We blame our lovers.
We blame our mothers
Our fathers
and the various assholes who have tried to show us the path into light via the shadows.
We tighten up on our reigns for fear of runnin’ wild, runnin’ wild.
It’s true.

But what we need – need – need – is to lick the frosting that is love.
And know that the bruises on our heart are not caused by love, but actually, 
are healed by it.

~jrb

PRESS PLAY, LOVE:

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Fuck You Monday, I’m a Hater

katereece_1345673240_600

It’s been a long time since my hater self has greeted me in full force.  This side of me rarely makes a full-monologued appearance.  Fuckin’ Monday.

This day has been brewing.  Waiting for me to set myself up in just the perfect positioning to bring on the hate.  It’s the inevitable challenge tossed at me for consistently preaching my truth, that all things have beauty and value and inexorable meaning and blah blah blah.  Sure, I still have faith, somewhere inside.  But today I am a Hater.  And I’ve chosen to just let it be.

Feeling it deep in my chest like someone has bagged my heart in plastic and it is working too hard to breathe.  Sensing that the world around me shrunk. Everyone is in my way.  (Where the fuck am I trying to go anyway?)   Too many assholes driving on my streets and no, I dont want fucking fries with that.  All news is unbelievable bullshit which clearly means the world is out of control and destined to implode sooner than later.  And, by the way, all music  sucks.  There is no pleasing a hater. But if you don’t try, you suck too.

I want to be like one of those movie characters who goes out in the gloomy night, distraught, and just starts running breathlessly, going nowhere, until she is soaked by tears and rain and finds herself completely lost.  A not-so-subtle metaphor for the character herself.  But still, we love that scene, because in that moment, she is a hater and doing the only thing she can to hate with all her heart while still wanting to believe in something.

Being in full hater mode makes me dislike pretty much everything about myself.  So I hate even harder out in the world.  I throw out “fuck you”s and senseless grumbles to people who barely deserve it.  The people whom I know, will still love me tomorrow.  And because of that, I hate us both.

The fact that it’s a sunny, windy, beautiful, perfect day makes it difficult to hate outside.  So I imagine that I will stay in and close the curtains and pretend the world is worth hating.  But the world, I instinctively know, doesn’t hate.  And, I know that I still have some of my sense of humor, so all is not lost.  And tomorrow is Tuesday. And if I had a dog he would lick my face.  So, I will dig into my dark brooding hate today, and Fuck You Monday, I will wait to see what tomorrow brings.  Maybe it will rain.

~ jrb

PRESS PRESS PRESS TO PLAY 

E-Pro, Beck
See me comin to town with my soul
Straight down out of the world with my fingers
Holding onto the devil I know
All my troubles’ll hang on your trigger
Take your eyes and your mind from the road
Shoot your mouth if you know where you’re aiming
Don’t forget to pick up what you sow
Talking trash to the garbage around youNa na na na na na na
See me kickin the door with my boots
Broke down out in a ditch of old rubbish
Snakes and bones in the back of your room
Handing out a confection of venom
Heaven’s drunk from the poison you use
Charm the wolves with the eyes of a gambler
Now I see it’s a comfort to you
Hammer my bones on the anvil of daylight
Na na na na na na na

I won’t give up that ghost
It’s sick the way these tongues are twisted
The good in us is all we know
There’s too much left to taste that’s bitter
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On the wings of maybe

Going blind, with perfect vision.
The darkness, it’s all in your mind.
We will lose the sunset to avoid the night.
And I wonder if  the light  might burn right through us
or simply warm our toes.  

And though the course may change sometimes
Rivers always reach the sea.  

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Diving Deep

Deep-Dive-Webinar2

“The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.”
~ Tara Brach

What does it take for a person to dive into their center?  To really block out all the white noise voices we carry around inside our ears and enter our core?  The part of us that speaks the real truth about our desires, our passions, and all the things we are afraid we may miss out on in this world unless we dive deep.  Really deep.   How many of us can say that we have volunteered for this journey?  

My bet is that most of us think we know ourselves.  And we do to a certain extent.  We may know what we like.  We may know what we think we have to do or be in life.  But, I find myself now wondering, am I really content with floating on the relatively calm surface of my own deep ocean?

I was asked today if I have really ever dived into the center of my self.  Do I know what the quiet ache in my gut is asking for?  As someone who admires and strives for self-exploration I had to pause.  I got chills.  I suddenly felt nervous. Why is this a frightening prospect?  What would I gain in this journey?  What could I lose along the way?

The truth is an amorphous concept.  One that shape shifts and alters itself within our ever-changing realities.  People cry out for the truth when they think they are being lied to.  Sometimes we crave the lies.  “The truth will set you free,” we  believe.  But freedom can be a dominating force.  After leading the Israelite slaves to freedom, Moses took a lot of heat for what freedom brought.  Emancipation held no certainty, or security, or promise.  It required risk, faith,  lots of courage – and an appreciation for the lack of all they wanted.  

The majority of people, when pushed to the edge, reach for stability – even if we bitch and moan about it’s entanglements.  We all crave it.  Freedom, with all its glory, is not stable.  

To dive into our center, and risk finding the colorful whirlpool of authenticity within, is anything but safe.  Yet, I have to believe it is freedom. The journey does not demand fearlessness.  It requires us to be courageous.   So the questions sit boldly in view, What do I need – Who do I need to be – to risk being free?  And, am I willing to take that risk?

~jrb

Press Play, brave soul…  

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Feel it All

Unknown

See me standing still out in the open.
Arms wide.
Easy to pick off from a distance
If you’ve got me in your sights
go ahead, hunt me.

But shooters are cowards.
Bringing pain from a distance.
Afraid to be near the heat they create.
Afraid to see the damage up close.
Afraid to feel the fear.
Afraid.

Such a bad-ass hunter.
Aiming with precision.
Seeing how far you can get from me
and still have me.
Come closer.
I dare you.
Fucking pussy.

~jrb

Go ahead, Press play.  It wont bite.  

Feel it All – KT Tunstall:

I’m growing like a seed
Rains been falling on me
I’ve been covered in cold
I’ve been shrouded and downed
My heart is on a wire
Sailing pretty like a bird
But the hunter is out
And the eagle is hurt

The word that I
Feel, feel it all
Yes, I can feel
Feel it all

I’m looking to the sky
And I’ll be listening to the stars
And maybe thinking of you
And wondering where you are
Do you know what you’ve done for me
You made my branches grow
Now they can play with the wind
And they can carry the snow

And they can feel
Feel it all
Yes, they can feel,
Feel it all

So take what you want
Leave what you don’t need
And I’ll go looking for you
You keep your eye out for me
’cause our heart is on a wire
Sitting pretty like a bird
But the hunter is hunting
And the eagle is us

And we can feel
Feel it all
Yes, we can feel
Feel it all

Oh, we can feel
Feel it all
Oh, we can feel
Feel it all
Feel, feel
Feel it all
And we can
Feel, feel it all

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Calling all Angels

angels-chess-b

Sometimes I can almost see the angels that surround us.  

It has nothing to do with religion.  And I don’t mean cherubic little babies with detachable wings and burgundy-colored  lutes.  I’m talking about the protective energy that keeps us safe in situations where human judgement is curious and impish.  These angels.  The ones who offer us three strikes against ourselves.  

Without a doubt, I feel them.  I always have. And, at times in my life I have played the odds against them, hoping that I would lose my own bet. But, the angels are wiser then us all.  They know, better than any of us, when we need to feel loved and when we need to hurt.  They know when there is still hope for us to find our best selves.  And like supreme chess players, they set us up to capture the king.  The mystery lies in whether or not we catch on to their plan.

Sometimes I ignore my angels.  I lose sight of the big picture that is this life.  I lie to myself and try to believe that if I stay focused and keep walking, moving, crawling, I will find myself.  I forget that each encounter with life is precious and meaningful and perfect.  I refuse to cry when my heart is wounded.  I pretend to know peace when fueled with rage.  I have become skilled at detours and masked confusion.  I give up my queen.  

When I use the word faith in certain company it is met with calm. With other people however, the word incites lightning quick hostility.  Faith is simply belief without proof.  Knowing without needing to be shown.  Its a window into what might be and into what personal truth might look like.  For me it’s the angels.  They have always been around me, whispering, even when I refuse to listen.  

~jrb

Press Play, angel:

 

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be my bones

It is possible to melt like candle wax
hot and liquid
slipping down the incline
of blue fire

River reminds me that stars have already been ablaze
and have died
And here we are, necks aching
in awe of their beautiful, brilliant, guiding light

The silver forked sky

What if this storm ends
and leaves us nothing

I want pinned down
I want unsettled
Rattle cage after cage
Until my blood boils

and drips like
colorful

melted
heat

~ jrb

Lightning Strike
by Snow Patrol

What if this storm ends?
And I don’t see you
As you are now
Ever again

The perfect halo
Of gold hair and lightning
Sets you off against
The planet’s last dance

Just for a minute
The silver forked sky
Lit you up like a star
That I will follow

Now it’s found us
Like I have found you
I don’t want to run
Just overwhelm me

What if this storm ends?
And leaves us nothing
Except a memory
A distant echo

I want pinned down
I want unsettled
Rattle cage after cage
Until my blood boils

I want to see you
As you are now
Every single day
That I am living

Painted in flames
All peeling thunder
Be the lightning in me
That strikes relentless

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…and Dawn said “Let’s build a fire”

Words fail us too often.
Science betrays our need to know.
Knowing is not what we have learned
it is what we intimately, silently hold inside
and wrestle with within the confines of our world.
Faith is a relationship we must choose again and again.
I dont want to miss the sunset because I am afraid of the night.

…and Dawn said, let’s build a fire

~jrb

 

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acrobat

laybackstagrb250

Trapeze amateur.
Flying against the wind, into the fire.
Not everyone will make it.
But it’s good to feel alive.
When they say “don’t worry,”  they will catch you;
close your eyes.

Now it looks like this…

Through rose colored tears, music appears
and I can’t believe her beauty.
Her caresses bring life onto the edge of possibility.
But flying requires climbing the heights
and letting go.

~jrb

 

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eclipsed chaos

Ruby creates patterns when  chaos starts circling. Colorful beads.  Gold, peach, light pink dark pink, gold, peach, light pink dark pink, then again.  One by one she slips them onto a string, reminds me to tie a knot, and then wears order around her neck.  To remind me.  Calm is there for the making.

I breathe her in.  Though she came from me, I think its the other way around.  She made me.  They create me every day.  My heart still tries to hide from the love that will expose me to the eclipsed light.

~jrb

 

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Like black coffee. Like nicotine.

PRESS PLAY:

She asked me if I think she’s crazy.  If I think she’s a slut.
“Be honest, Jenny.”

“Oh, Sweetie,”  I whispered.
Holding her, I kissed her wet cheek.
“We’re all a little crazy.  I love you BECAUSE you’re crazy.
And Gd bless the sluts, for they give us a clue about life.”

So she looked at me and laughed, though I hadn’t made a joke.
“But what about love?  Do you think love and sex can coexist? Or do contentment and satisfaction need separate profiles?”
“Maybe,” I wondered.  “Maybe they do.”

Like the hot needs the sun
Like honey on her tongue
Like the muzzle of a gun
Like oxygen
I need your love

I closed my eyes.  
My mind reached out, longing to touch the visions that were suddenly whizzing through.
Blessings disguised as hugs.
Safety known through familiar locked eyes.
Spine tingling kisses
White knuckled sheets.
And music.  Always matched to music.

Like a rhythm unbroken
Like drums in the night
Like sweet soul music
Like sunlight
I need your love

She took my hand and looked right into my eyes.
My heart beat a little faster.
“It’s all meaningful, you know,” she told me.  “All of it.  All of it is purposeful, and potent, and full of grace.”
“I think I know that,” I managed, suddenly startled by her strength.  “I think you’re right.”
Her gaze stayed with me a long time.  Like an unexpected breeze of warmth deep within the sea.

Like coming home
And you don’t know where you’ve been
Like black coffee
Like nicotine
I need your love
Like thunder needs rain
Like a preacher needs pain
Like tongues of flame
Like a sheet stained
I need your love

~ In the heart of the heat of the love,  jrb

 

 

 

 

 

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Listen to the Wind

PRESS PLAY:

Dainty girl talking dirty.  
And every bit of her is true.

There is freedom in being a woman in her 40’s.
Holding up the world for the people who count on me to do so.
I am unafraid.
I have held life inside me.  And let it go.
I have known fear intimately enough to know
it can not own me.
I can embrace life.  I know what is meaningful.
And I know what lies are made of.

The wind blows through us.  
It’s grace goes undetected by simple-minded  observers who believe black and white can not mix into gray.
The grown up children who want to believe that they actually are the person who is reflected back from the eyes of strangers.

Ocean winds blow through my hair and whisper secrets about life,
and love,
and colorful shades of gray.  
The words are hard to make out.  But I can hear her clearly.  
We each have a wind of our soul.

~ with love, jrb

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And in the end, the love you take…

I have heard that there are two ways to explain how a person treats others.
Either they are acting from a place of love.
or they are acting from a need for love.

I’m not saying that this is always true.  It’s too simple an equation to explain all interactions.  But as I look around my own life I can see a lot of validity in this idea.  Even in myself.  Especially in myself.

At the very least, it’s a way to start thinking about the ways in which people may have treated you badly – or you, them.

We are told that forgiveness is actually  a gift you give to your own spirit.  But, sometimes that concept doesn’t fit into our jigsawed lives.

Still, knife-wielding words, thrown in your direction, do not have to draw blood.  Remember, your assailant can not locate the strength they need to drop their weapon.  

You dont have to love them, or the way they (mis)treat you.  But, their lack of love is your challenge.  Just because they act out of need does not mean you have to as well.  Hold on to what you know to be true.  Hold on to the love inside.  Know that this person in front of you is lacking what you have.  

Expressing your outrage is human.  It’s how you respond to their attack, once you see it for what it truly is,  that will determine your future.

~with sharpened love in Elul, jrb

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This Song is Bullshit

PRESS PLAY:

There are three kinds of Goodbyes.

1) The kind you don’t want to happen.
2) The kind you are glad to have happen.
3) The kind you don’t even know are happening.

Doing it is not it.  Goodbye is not in the happening.  It’s not the breath brushing past your lips as you say the words.  Or the buzzing that lingers in the last place they touched you.  

Lightning flashes across the sky
Like a thief in the night
See the world by candlelight

Goodbye is the way your heart can feel the look in their eyes.
It’s how you see it when its gone.  That shit hangs on.  

Push the button and pull the plug…  
Get on the bus Gus….
Don’t come around here no more…

Pop music revels in melancholy.  Don’t believe her disingenuous attempts at convincing you its easy.  It takes a second to say good bye, then the goodbye begins.

~jrb

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Heart of Clay

PRESS PLAY:

It starts out soft and warm
Mushy and malleable

in your hands.

Keep it safe
and it will stay young
and moist and fresh.

But you know it craves air
and light.
And once exposed, it will harden, forever,  in whatever mold is set.

Unless soft, wet, warm, patient hands eventually arrive
Determined to gently help you find it’s shape.

~jrb

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Frame A Mind

I admit it.  I have been that girl.  The one who turned out my porch lights when certain people came to me in their darkness.  But I have also been that woman.  The one who welcomed in junkies and misfits, because they were my friends.  Cooked for them and kissed their heads softly while they slept.  

Today, I am reflecting on the people who would welcome me if I showed up in darkness.  Who would turn on their porch light if they saw me coming.  Tearfully, I recognize my blessings.  The love, guided by angels, that surrounds me.  Somehow I hold the hand of gratitude while feeling the chill of  uncertainty.  Yet, just sensing that light is out there, waiting for me, may be enough to help me feel it’s warmth.

B’H,  jrb

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Jacob wrestled the angel…

Even if you don’t read the post below.  OH, PRESS PLAY:

Jacob wrestled the angel
…and the angel was overcome.

And yet, Jacob never wanted that fight.  He wanted to escape into the darkness.  In the end, he was forced to fight.  To confront the enemy.  But he would have preferred to run.  

Despite the outcome in his favor, I wonder, if given the chance to relive the moment, would he do it all again?

I don’t picture Jacob as a man terrorized by a challenge, but see him as a man afraid to engage with fear.  With himself.
Afraid to get close enough to the pain to climb on top and pin it down.

In the howling wind comes a stinging rain 
See it driving nails 
Into the souls on the tree of pain 

We all face moments of life-defining decisions that we must make while scared shitless.  Can we act with courage though we can’t recognize it in ourselves? 

To Bullet the Blue Sky destroys the pristine view.
And yet, we can not be brave unless we are afraid. 

 ~with (fearful) courageous love,  jrb

In the howling wind comes a stinging rain
See it driving nails
Into the souls on the tree of pain
From the firefly, a red orange glow
See the face of fear
Running scared in the valley belowBullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue
Bullet the blue

In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum
Jacob wrestled the angel
And the angel was overcome
You plant a demon seed
You raise a flower of fire
See them burning crosses
See the flames higher and higher

Bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue sky
Bullet the blue
Bullet the blue

This guy comes up to me
His face red like a rose on a thorn bush
Like all the colors of a royal flush
And he’s peeling off those dollar bills
Slapping them down
One hundred, two hundred
And I can see those fighter planes
And I can see those fighter planes
Across the mud huts where the children sleep
Through the alleys of a quiet city street
You take the staircase to the first floor
Turn the key and slowly unlock the door
As a man breathes into a saxophone
And through the walls you hear the city groan
Outside is America
Outside is America

Across the field you see the sky ripped open
See the rain through a gaping wound
Pounding on the women and children
Who run
Into the arms
Of America

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Prayer is where you find it

PRESS PLAY:

Sometimes my prayers show up in montage.  Visuals flicker against my closed lids like an old movie.  Frames cut from the reel, falling to the floor.  

Maybe it’s an LA thing.  Or maybe its a way to rush through what I instinctively feel should be deep and slow – But you know, whatever…

Or maybe its simply that prayers need no elucidation.  I am sure prayers are released in thoughtless silence, or scented candles, or in pure tonality.

One night in my 20’s, long before I was ready, I found myself in a candle-lit, cavernous room, smokey with Champa, and echoing with meditative Oms.  Instead of finding the warmth and purpose I was told would be mine, I felt drugged and an unexpected, terrifying sense of letting go.  

A few times in college, I was asked to pray with a super-friendly group of white folks who offered me a free vegetarian meal.  And once, I took them up on it.

I instinctively asked a friend to pray with me only once, and meant it.  I hoped that, like war buddies, sharing in desire and spirit could result in something pure.  Like gratitude.  Or forgiveness.  Or love.
More often than not,
You want whatever’s not in front of you

Deep down I know this includes me too.

I have felt the spent prayer of the homeless guy who blesses me for stopping to look him in the eye.  And then there is my silent prayer for him, all wrapped up in goodness and guilt.  

I thought that we’d be
Further along by now
I can’t remember how
We stumbled to this place

It might be truth or fear that taunts me now, insisting that prayer is keeping me sane.  And yet, it’s in those technicolor, spliced-up visions no one else can see, that is where my faith lies.

~with champa-scented love, jrb

 

Long Lost Brother, by Over The Rhine
I thought that we’d be
Further along by now
I can’t remember how
We stumbled to this place

I loved you like a long lost brother
On a bad day maybe I thought why bother
I’ve seldom seen so much anger
In a face

I wanna do better
I wanna try harder
I wanna believe
Down to the letter

Jesus and Mary
Can you carry us
Across this ocean
Into the arms of forgiveness

I don’t mean to laugh outloud
I’m trying to come clean
Trying to shed my doubt
Maybe I should just keep
My big mouth shut

More often than not
When it comes to you
You want whatever’s not in front of you
Deep down I know this includes me too

So tell me your troubles
Let your pain rain down
I know my job I’ve been around
I invest in the mess
I’m a low cost dumping ground

Trouble is I’m so exhausted
The plot, you see, I think I’ve lost it
I need the grace to find what can’t be found

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Hard to give. Hard to get.

PRESS PLAY:

Lucy wakes me up, stretched across my pillow.  
Whiskers tickling my face.  
I curse her loveliness and pull warm, heart-beating, softness into my chest and squeeze a little tighter than she’d like.  
But she lets me – for a moment.  
Eyes closed.  We both let it in.  
Knowing each other well enough to know what will be tolerated within sleepy love.

 All without words.

Maybe its the words used
between people
that make these moments of sleepy love
so rare.

xoxozzz ~ jrb 

“Forgiveness:, Patty Griffin
We are swimming with the snakes
At the bottom of the well
So silent and peaceful in the darkness where we fell
But we are not snakes and what’s more
We never will be
And if we stay swimming here forever we will
Never be free

I heard them ringing the bells
In heaven and hell
They got a secret
They’re getting ready to tell
It’s falling from the sky
Calling from the graves
Open your eyes, boy, I think we are saved
Open your eyes, boy, I think we are saved
Let’s take a walk on the bridge
Right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing, baby
We’ve already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air
And we were blessed
Everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

We are calling for him tonight on this
Thin phone line
As usual we’re having ourselves one
hell of a time
And the planes keep flying right over our heads
No matter how lond we shout
“Hey, hey, hey !”
And we keep waving and waving
Our arms in the air
But we’re all tired out

I heard somebody say
Today’s the day
A big old hurricaine
Is blowing our way
Knocking over the buildings
Killing all the light
Open your eyes, boy, we made it through the night
Open your eyes, boy, we made it through the night
Let’s take a walk on the bridge
Right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing, baby
We’ve already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air
And we were blessed
Everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

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i’mperfection

PRESS PLAY:

It is the inability to achieve perfection that is actually the most perfect thing of all.  It is the ways in which we falter and fail and are broken, actually broken, that makes us beautiful, and special, and loveable – and yes, unbearable, but loveable none the less.

And who are we but simply complicated people whom someone out there would call unworthy.  Its the judgement that fails us.

We can point fingers and call names.  Thats easy.  We can force people to pay restitution for bad behavior.  Yet their imperfections still pulsate in our temples.

And what about us?  Can we claim ownership of our imperfection, our frailties and faults and misjudgments and yetzer hara and our teenage inner-bitch?  Can we wade nakedly within the salt-water waves of self judgement that soak our sensitive souls and lead us to believe that our imperfection is born in our inability to be perfect.

She is a cruel lover; leaving us with desire, wishing, believing and yet, disbelieving. Her cruelty lies hidden within her disaffected, sultry beauty.  She does not long for us.  And still, we want to bring her home, to Mama.

~with imperfect love, jrb

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