The Power In Walking Away (audio 64)

Sometimes there is power in walking away from a fight. We rarely hear about this, of course, in our battle obsessed culture. Because we are taught to be strong and by strong they mean: fight back, stand up for yourself. They mean: be stronger than the thing you are fighting with. We are taught never to back down. We believe that in order to be powerful we must fight to the death. If we admit defeat we must be cowards or losers or just not trying hard enough.

Each day for many days during many years, I would hope to have a chill drinking experience. I didn’t want to fight, I just wanted to mess around a little. You know like the kind of good go-around with the drinking they advertise to you with the glass of crisp white wine and the smiling, sexy, sophisticated lady and her lover sharing dessert in an outside garden or the laughter and cheer as she frolics about with her girlfriends as they live their best lives in some Tuscan vineyard and all that shit. What a great time wine always is! How relaxed and cool it makes us all. Except that wasn’t it. It was, in fact, the opposite of that. Because after the fifteen minute happiness, it became more dull than chill. And then after the first two or three glasses, an almost imperceptible agitation would slither in and as the wine kept flowing that subtle irritation just keep blooming and blooming larger and larger like the flower of a nuclear explosion.

I poured wine on my anger and anxiety like gasoline. On a good number of occasions, I was completely out of my mind by the time the bomb went off. Didn’t care. Didn’t even know. I had to come-to the day after and feel the pain of realizing some of the destruction caused. Assessing the scene. Piecing together fragments of what I could remember. How often it was a hell of a fight before I inevitably got knocked out. Wine glass left half full on the coffee table. Me, face down on a mattress and the wine quite literally still standing. As long as I could pry my eyes open and peel myself off the floor, the wine was ready to go another round.

The power in the face of that scenario is not obvious. Or should I say, what seems like the one with the obvious power is the wine. The alcohol, when I crawled into the ring with it, “won” so to speak. I get that now. It shreds my heart to pieces to think about, but I get it.

But to say I was powerless to alcohol, while true and while very necessary to admit, I agree, is not a full enough statement for me to leave at face value. Women are relentlessly reminded of their powerlessness in this society. This culture reminds us incessantly that we should stand down, watch our mouths, bite our tongues. Our human rights are under constant threat. It is exhausting, being bludgeoned over the head again and again with our “powerlessness.”

But in a much broader sense, there are many kinds of power. The power to destroy is alcohol’s kind of power and the only one it inherently possesses. But there is power in walking away from a battle you have no business engaging in. This is true if the opponent is far stronger than you, but it is also true if the opponent is beneath you. If the opponent doesn’t deserve to engage with you in the first place. In my case, the power exists in my ability to lay down the fight entirely. I do not fuck with alcohol. I do not answer its calls to get in the ring just one more time to see if I can finally get the upper hand.

We are done here. This ends here and now. No more fighting.

There is power in the peace of that. To lay down that fight is to stand in a kind of power that is entirely my own. No shame. No guilt. No fuckery. There are many kinds of power: the power to destroy and the power to rebuild, recreate, resurrect, reorganize, reevaluate, regenerate. Alcohol only has one. But I have them all.


*All of my 60+ Sobriety Audios are collected for you here (or go to the top of this page and click “Sobriety Audios (Free Downloads).” You can listen as often as you want, anywhere, anytime, for free, forever.

**I originally posted this article on June 11, 2022. I have re-release it today as an audio. I do think it is worth the reminder, even if only for myself.

Just Like Heaven

You pour my drink and as I listen to you talk about some kind of argument you got into at the office, all I can think about is crawling to you on command. I know it’s tough out there in this ridiculous world where money is power and cruelty is king. Trying to make it in a place you know you don’t belong and maybe never did, probably never will. But you get your foot inside of a door and then you stumble all the way in and though your stomach may turn at the thought of another day doing the same old shit you did the day before, you learn to flash that dazzling white smile of yours at the absurdity and laugh in the face of the man who holds all the keys to your eventual failure or success. The men own it all anyway so what do I care if at the end of a long hard day I just want to spread myself before you and feel the way I make you happy drip like sweet nectar all the way down the length of my subservient feminine thighs. I’m sick to death of trying to say the right thing, trying to be the right kind of woman which is to say I am not interested in killing off my own desires just to prove something to a world which clearly wants nothing to do with proving itself. Thank you for the drink, Sir. May I have another, please. I want the way you touch me like the only heaven you believe in is the scent of flesh and blood pulsing hot and slow against your talented mouth. Use me up good and when we’re done I’ll let you light my cigarette as I lean against the garden wall out in the stinging cold. My hair a mess and my needy little heart aglow.


Behind the closed wooden door, he has the music playing as he soaks in the bath. Soft ambient sounds pulsing through the steamy air. I hear the water move when he moves and imagine his ocean blue eyes closed against the lavender heat.

I pour a second cup of dark roast coffee and read through some of my old poetry. Even though I recognize it, there are pieces that still manage to catch me off guard with their honesty. I understand why some actors never watch themselves on the big screen. It can be jarring to see yourself up so close. To observe the patterns and lines and curves of your own strange textures.

Sunday mornings are peaceful because we are lazy and cozy and naked. Make love for hours as the summery lilac breeze sifts in through the open bedroom windows and caresses our smooth bodies. It is all hazy glow and porcelain skin. Messy hair, wet open mouths. Seduction. Submission to desire, lust, pleasure. He sleeps heavy after. Always does.

Later we will swim. He will bring me chilled wine and I will thank him for it as if I owe him my life. Maybe, in truth, I do. Now R.E.M. is playing behind the closed door. The bath water moves again when he does. Losing my religion. I left religion behind a long time ago myself. I don’t make sacrifices anymore but I still remember a handful of the feast days. August 15th is the Assumption, for instance. The Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

I never had any issues with Mary only with the way they treated her. I don’t starve myself or hate myself the way I used to back when I was a girl learning about all the things girls were bad at and bad for. Now I’m grown. I live my life the way I want which is not to say it’s right but only that it’s what I want.

You can surprise yourself when you come face to face with what you want. You may find that you thought you wanted something else, something better for you, or worse. You find yourself doing a thing repeatedly and you realize that if you keep choosing it, good or bad, it must be what you want.

We still sabotage plenty of our own chances at happiness about a thousand times in any given week. But on Sundays… on Sundays, every single thing we do is just so goddamn sweet.

Cigarettes After Sex

Your fingers trailing along the tears in my cutoff shorts as we sit in our small garden on a Sunday evening. Sadness and sweetness hang suspended all around us like twinkle lights. Tanned knees and crisp white wine. Behind my dark sunglasses, I close my summer sky blue eyes, taste the grassy notes on my tongue and thank god for foolishness, fools in love, fools for thinking any of this was going to last forever.

The problem is you distract me. Like the constant buzzing of the rattling air conditioning in the stuffy room at the back of the house. My mind flashes. It hinders, hovers, blinks against glimpses of you and I on the beach at night, the wilderness collecting our bare feet into the soft beds of silken sand. Darkness falling behind cranberry clouds.

I remove my shirt and straddle you in your chair, the glare of afternoon light stinging my bare nipples, now exposed and hard despite the scorching heat. The trouble is I can’t stop myself and the truth is I like the trouble that you are. Hands in my hair, gripping my neck, sliding up my ass, sucking me into you like water rushing the gutters when a late June rainstorm slashes the heat from the streets.

I rise like steam. I take your mouth with my mouth and forget how to breathe.

They took bets, you know that, angel? They bet against us from the very start. Thought we were full of shit. Full of ourselves. Lost in a fantasy which could only culminate in disaster. But what they couldn’t see was that disaster was the least of our concern. Our skies had fallen ten thousand times already. We taught ourselves to raise them back up.

The other shoe was always about to drop – that’s how life is. They were pointing out on the blackened horizon while you and I were behind them alone and on fire. We were the emergency. We were the only responders to each other’s alarms.

And you can hold your breath and shut it all down or you can scream with everything that you have, with everything that you are, with your whole body and mind and spirit, and your heart racing in your chest, you can scream until the pain of the deafening silence stops. You can fuck until the tears come streaming down your burning face and you finally feel anything but numb.

You can let it all out and let it all in and crawl broken and mighty into the arms of a love which promises everything and guarantees nothing. And if you are very, very lucky, your wild desires will find you a cave in which you can duck out of the fears the world is trying to sell you for a while.

Just as the wine seeps warmly into my soft gray blue blood, you bend my body over the wooden table and make me ask for what I want.

Let me hear you say the words.

You, baby. Please. I just want you.

Fractures of Mind

I try reading erotica but nothing gets me there. It all just feels like body parts thrown against the wall to see if any of it will get you off by accident. I feel sad for the writers and sad for the characters and scenarios they halfheartedly create. I shut everything down, lay back upon the bed in my writing room, and stare out the window at a pink and blue striped sky. The lighting is breathtaking at this time of evening, a softness in the way its peachy fingers skim the leaves and pines.

On the street below, some exasperated mother screams at her kids to clean up god knows what. I never wanted kids, all I want is silence, so I slam shut the window to the outside world and bury myself in poetry. That, too, proves insufficient at getting me where I seem to want to go but now I think I can see that it isn’t the fault of the poorly written verse or the gratuitous speed with which the author of erotic porno fiction explodes her little pawns into orgasms completely unearned. I can’t get where I want to go because I am as lost as I ever have been and don’t know what it is I’m really after.

Maybe its the summertime that gets under my skin. There always seems a current of madness running through her empty tin can streets. What is it that makes us so restless, so disjointed when there’s too much light? Is it everybody or just me? Tonight the full moon will glow in all of her naked radiance. The reflecting pool face of a dead rock thing.

I read that the tricky thing about Oscar Wilde is he told stories in which the sins of the body redeemed the soul. If only that were true in this life. If only I could reach out of this cage and stroke the forbidden desires as they approach my trembling hands, my open eager mouth. Sin like the Eucharist. Passion all sustaining, a melancholic illusion, wafer thin.

There is a forest in my mind, with trees which grow so high that the sunlight barely penetrates. Cool dark earth beneath my feet. Streams flowing out from my body in all directions, rushing over rocks, cascading over cliffs as waterfalls, diving into mist. This mysterious place inside of me, the ache of my center I cannot touch.

The mother having somehow calmed her hysteria, I light up a cigarette and slide open the window once again to inhale the grassy yellow evening air. I lean my head outside to feel the last of the sunlight on my face. We are all of us lost and none of us quite at home in these body shells. Our blood is alien even to ourselves. A bunch of kids are playing some kind of old school cops and robbers bit as the mother sips something from an opaque thermos. She’s out of her mind. I feel for her, though.

Love You So Hard

We slept in later than usual. My body and mind are both still sweetly tingling with the whispered press of our love making which we rode out from dusk til dawn like we used to do when we first met. We have been through so much, traced our way through the darkness of a time we thought would break us, and still you can make me blush, make me open, make me cry for the sheer depth of the beauty of it.

Out the bedroom window the rain is pouring down, a steady thorough rain, and there is a cool wind moving through the blood red maple leaves on the trees across the street. The birds sing wild little songs as I run my fingers through your soft blond hair.

I know I don’t say love because it sounds like nothing to me when I do. But I love you as if that meant more than any word could ever mean or contain or imply. I love you hard like the wet pavement takes the lashes of the rain without relent or protest. I love you until that cruel ridiculous word finally takes root in my limbs, an expansion bright as the sun which exhausts itself sliding through miles and miles of my thin bending veins.

At the beginning we didn’t believe it could happen. And when it wouldn’t let us go we didn’t want to trust in any of it, in anything that could ever hurt like hell again. But here you are kissing me and here I am tangled all over you and here we go clutching again and again and again like the world could end and the walls could crumble and the sky could burn and we would not stop. I could say love and you could say love but I think it just means that we will not stop. Not for anything.


He’s talking to me about the cannabis, its strains, effects, origins, flavors, cost, the whole bit, as I flick my cigarette and watch the elegant curls of smoke glide past my face and lace up into the lush spring afternoon air.

The trees are full-on canopies of thick green now, and everything that can burst into silky bloom has all but done so. I watch as a little bird falls from its nest in a bush and lands, feeble and disoriented, into the smooth stones below. The wings spread but it cannot take flight. As I wonder if I should intervene, the baby bird curls up into a ball a third of its size and sleeps, just like that, breathing super fast. Panic? Trauma? Protection? Drama. Life kissing death, feathers and beak and sunlight bobbing beneath a wide blue sky it may or may never get to see.

I sip my coffee and let be what will be. Humans are always inserting themselves where we do not belong. I don’t need their expectations and I don’t need their delusions. I am not all sugar and soft pink folds. Life is shit sometimes and I can be hard as rock when I want to be. You can ball up and sleep and they will think its sweet. You can curl up and die and they will continue to dump on you all their reasons why you had it coming but couldn’t see it in time.

Everybody always knows, don’t they.

It’s too hot for spring, which pisses me right off because I don’t want summer. Not yet. I hate the heat especially at the peak of midday, it’s obnoxious the way it heaves you around, wrings you out with sweat and all that. All I ever wear is black, maybe that doesn’t help. I trace the outline of the angel wing tattoo on my left arm with the ring finger on my right and nearly burn myself by accident. I should really quit. I should really pay attention.

There are little insects all around on the concrete, little punky ants racing around carrying crumbs from some biscuit or cookie someone left on the ground. They are so tiny that the bits of crumb look like monster size boulders on top of their minuscule beady black heads. They are so tightly marching together they look like many bodies inside of one body. I can’t tell if they are jittery because they are starving or because they are just busy.

I fight the hunger in me most days, beat it back with caffeine or nicotine or whatever else. Until the shaking gets too much and my heart flutters against my chest. Have you ever read the confessional poets? No, I mean the great ones? The ones who do not give a fuck about spitting out the real shit that needs to be said? Or screamed or shrieked or moaned or bled onto paper?

It’s tough to do that kind of thing. There is an art to it. To spilling your guts and coming off mighty instead of pathetic.

I tell him I want to try the pink moon variety. I want to be sedated as I sniff the calming scents of citrus, clove, and lavender, and feel like I’m gliding into a nothingness which makes the pricking stop.


Yeah, you know. The way the pins and needles of the day take stabs at you non-stop like life is daring you to give it all up but you keep shoving back against it the best way you know how. It hurts and it’s exhausting. And pushing back against the quills of the thing only makes it worse.

Radiant One

He offers me water but I can’t get drunk on that so I ask for whiskey and he pours me wine. It will do and I will drink it but it isn’t what I wanted. Isn’t what I asked for, isn’t the way I hoped this would go.

Sometimes you need someone who will protect you from yourself which can be as much fun as dating a padded cell, but still. It can be good. Life-saving, even. Still…

To be a hazard just by living in your own skin is a kind of cosmic joke which takes too long to get old, if we are being honest. In all the years I have racked up I wonder how many more it will take before I understand it all. Does anyone ever understand it all? I cannot imagine so.

Still. I cannot help, it seems, but to try. I peel things from books, I pry open, I research, turn over stone over stone over stone, looking. Seeking. Sometimes I do get lucky. Sometimes I am frightened of myself. Not of my weaknesses, there are plenty and they are plenty sordid, trust me, but of the power one can sometimes summon with words.

There is power and there are benevolent ways to use it. There are cruel ways. There was that Midas guy, right, with the golden touch. It is not nice to hurt someone just because you can. It is not nice to impose. It is not nice to kill. Or to be-friend. Or to leave. Or to stay. Or to lie. Or to tell the tough truth. Be too big or too small or smart or stupid or silly or dumb or sexy or slutty or strong or clever. To take what you want or to leave it. You see what I mean? You cannot win, you can only lose. You can only ever, ultimately, fall short.

You cannot get any of this right. It is too complicated of a thing, this life and the ways you are supposed to live it. While he is messing around on his phone I pour the goddamn whiskey and light up a cigarette. I walk past the patio, lay down in the sweet grass and wait for the darkness, the purple sky, and the dead stars to show me the way, any way at all, to go home.

Body as Razor Blade

The trouble is she says too much but she can’t seem to help it. This is why when he looks at her with a mix of twisted lust and dare, she looks down at her feet and feels her insides shudder. A little hit of desire in her veins and a little bit of fear in the pit of her mouth makes her swallow the whiskey, makes her flick her long brown hair to the other side of her fragile face, so that her hands won’t reach out to touch what she is not supposed to touch.

It’s later and then it’s later still, she’s in her bed alone bundled in blankets but the shaking won’t stop when the night wind kicks up and rattles the window pane. As the first slashes of heavy rain cut across the glass, she can see the street lights blur, glowing pale yellow orbs hovering at the corner by the baseball fields where she met a man who couldn’t give her what she wanted because she couldn’t name it even if she tried, but the look in his eyes told her he might give up everything he had just for the chance to make her his own.

People can be addicts and people can be addictions. People can turn to chemicals and fuck up the signals in your brain which send messages to the heart: stop, don’t stop, open, close, sigh, kick, swallow, kneel, beg, disappear, run. But who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t want to build it all up just to rip it all down and start over once again. Maybe nobody does and that’s what scares her most when she is alone with her darkest thoughts. Maybe she’s fractured, somehow disturbed in a way no one else could ever understand. Her insides not like a flower to penetrate, more like a hand grenade dying to explode.

In the thick dark clouds which gather high above, she sees the face of someone she used to love but who left her faded as a shadow when he died. It can be a terrible feeling to place a piece of one’s heart into the finite hands of another when no one can promise that you will both make it out alive. He used to speak about her like she was divine, like she was a whisper on a breeze skimming soft across the burning sun. Untouchable. Ethereal. Impossible.

People can be lovers and lovers can be storms. Electric, sudden, and gone faster than lightning when it strikes a dry summer field. Piercing the heart, setting it on fire, and then raining, raining, raining for ages.

Mating Ritual

It happens like this: I am inspired but then I am bored as fuck and restless for something that gets my creative juices flowing and by that I mean whatever it is you think I do. He knots his long hair in a tight and perfect bun and uses all my fancy hair product to manage its flyaways and make it smell like the lightest, sweetest, most delicious summer afternoon even as we are only here trying to maneuver around each other in the small upstairs bathroom. They say the whole truth about a relationship is just two people sharing the same tiny space. I can promise you that’s not the whole truth of it. I am naked turning the shower to as hot as I can stand it and just as I catch him staring at me in the foggy mirror he slaps my ass and I scowl and smile at the same time. Unsure exactly what’s right or wrong about either of us, let alone us together, I step into the steaming spray of cascading water and swirl the coconut soap suds all around my soft smooth skin.

The sun is shining but it’s cold because of the wind. The wind is pushing the trees around something fierce, one by one like a million fingers pressing them back as far as they will go toward the ground. Spring has finally fully burst forth, all the plants and flowers a lush shade of enthusiastic greens or blushing pinks and purples. As I towel off, I see their sloped petals soaring past the window like little silken boats cast this way and that on a rip roaring gust of fresh morning air. The chimes in the garden next to the weathered angel statue are clattering their sporadic melody like church bells in a high hollow medieval tower.

Somewhere in a land far off, which comes alive only in my mind when it wanders on its own, the witches and warlocks of old worship the return of the light by performing the mating rituals of goddesses and gods frolicking freely in wide open fields and part of my aching ancient heart wishes with every bloody beat of itself to join them in ecstatic dance and revelry. Flesh and fruit, sacrifice and fertilization. As I stare off into an outer space I seem to occupy a bit too often lately, he reappears in the door frame with two mugs of coffee, passing one to me as he takes a sip of his own. When I kiss him on the lips in gratitude and awe, he tastes like the darkest French roasted beans and a thousand suns which blaze and burn and heat my quivering bones.

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