The SLOG of Joy

Grumble. Growl. Grunt.

.   Swear. Sweat. Stomp.

. Punch. Pound. Pant.

.  Breathe. Binge. Boss.

.  Shout. Scream, Smear.

.  Fall in a heap, exhausted. Then get up, clean up, and do it all over again.

.  There is joy in this. This “living” we do. No matter how sweaty, or dirty, or ugly, this “living” is a beautiful thing.

.   There is no ‘give up’ here, no ‘quit’ , no ‘over it, no ‘packing it in’.

This is where every. breath. matters.

.    DO YOU HEAR ME?

EVERY BREATH MATTERS.

Right now, in my little trailer in the middle of down, down, way down and out USA, I am deciding to care. I am deciding that my sufferings will amount to something, that all this silence and fear and worry  in my heart will be done away with, that with this breath of life my Creator blessed me with will be used to help someone else live, too.

.  I know I’m a rag-tag mess. I can’t think straight most of the time, and there are days I can’t leave my house. I am oppressed by an illness that tells me I don’t have it, and that feeling like I’m sick is a sin. I’m not exhausted, it tells me, I’m lazy. I’m not in excruciating pain, I’m a dope seeker. I was not abused, assaulted and raped, I was promiscuous.

.  I am here, I am now, and with my God’s help, I will reach out to someone else. And with my God’s help, I will not believe the lies. Instead I believe the Bible, God’s own letter to me, and to all his children. I want to live.

A Psalm of My Own

Written after Fighting With Myself All NightWIN_20200720_06_43_02_Pro_LI (3)

.           Jehovah knows my suffering, hears my pleas each day

.          He knows the pain this madness brings, knows I’m made of clay

.          I thought I’d be forsaken, and all my hope was lost

.          I struggled to awaken, eternal darkness was the cost

.          But my God cares for me, He hears my cries and screams

.          He pulls me out of raging seas, makes pleasant peaceful dreams

.          How can I show my thankfulness, show Him my endless love?

.          I’ll walk with Him in faithfulness, Praise God in Heights above!

.          I will love my God whole-souled, pray, meditate and preach

.          No matter how lame, tired, sick or old, new sheep I will love and teach!

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Big Sky.(not my photo)

3 Hours Sleep and I’m Feelin’ Good!

Righty O! How about that Picture, huh? Oh, my…

.   That’s my “I’m so tired I can fall down right in this spot and sleep for a month” face. And it’s none too pretty. It’s also the most unflattering view of my nose…I was never unhappy with my nose until my Ex broke it . We were pretty high, and the cops had a roadblock we were going to drive past, and in my nervousness I didn’t realize he was just waving us around a broken down car. So I was going to stop and roll down my window, but that psycho husband of mine hit me with a right hook that I knew had broken my nose the minute it landed. Now with my nose smashed and bleeding and my lover screaming, “Just Go! JUST GO YOU STUPID @#$!%&!!” I rolled right thru the zone just praying that the cop would see my pain and lock my old man up forever.

.    Unfortunately, I had a long way to go with him, not only in miles on that specific trip, but years in marriage as a hostage to this monster. I cried and whimpered while he continued to berate me all the way to our friend’s house, at which time I ran into the house to pry my broken contacts out of my eyes, and ask for an ice pack. And a stiff drink.

.  The woman who lived there with her common law husband was no stranger to domestic violence, I had seen Jim go at her plenty of times when he was drunk. They had a 2 year old little tow-head named Gregory who I loved dearly, he came over with his blue eyes big with compassion, and said, “Bwoke?”while pointing his tiny finger at my face.

.  Lori took me aside while I was lameenting, “He broke my nose. HE BROKE MY @#$!&%!! NOSE!” and told me I should be taking pictures of all the injuries my husband had been inflicting on my person almost daily, I was too mad to listen, but years later I now wish I had. I guess the scars, PTSD and crooked nose will have to do.

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The Way I See Sue©STMartin

.  Anyway, I was still ticked off and full of the kind of courage that comes from straight whiskey, so I sat on the couch loudly lamenting my poor nose. That’s when Lori’s husband Jim looked at me laughing and said, “What’s the difference? You already had a big shnoz !!!”  My husband thought this was a riot also.

.  That was the day I began to hate my nose.

.  About 5 years after this incident, Lori and Jim were fighting again, and she came to us (well,  to my husband ) asking for help to buy a gun.  She claimed she feared for her and her son’s life,  Jim was “wild”and “dead set” on killing her. In our cocaine induced insanity, we went to a guy my hubby knew , and purchased a gun for Lori. Later that night, we met up with Lori in a Grocery Store parking lot. My Ex showed it too her, she had many questions. She purchased it. (By this time , after years of this woman’s unusual interest in my husband, I had learned to hate her. It turned out I had good reason to do so.)WIN_20200710_02_11_35_Pro_LI (6)

Approximately six months after the “transaction” my husband was  working with a crew of guys subcontracting welding for the Charleston  Naval Shipyard , and the ATF and FBI threw down on them all in our van while they were at the Shipyard . Lo and behold, little Lori, our “best friend”, had been wearing a wire during, not only the gun transaction, but in ALL the “meetings” she had with my husband. He had been sleeping with her for years, as I learned at his trial.

.  Well, he got 15 to life as a habitual  offender, I sold my hot rod 71 Mach One and his Harley to hire his attorney. After that I eventually made it to my parents home in Florida, got clean and sober and divorced jerk face. That was in ’02. He got out in 2011, remarried another womedan he had been cheating on me with. He died on February 7th alone at their home of a major coronary. And so ends that chapter of my incredible life.

.                             Crazy, man. Just crazy…WIN_20200720_06_43_02_Pro_LI (3)

The CLEAN Effect!

      Yessssssss….Deep inhale….Yessssss….

.  There is often some bright speck, a teeny-weeny glint, in the midst of devastation. Often this tiny glimmer of good goes unseen for years, decades, even centuries. I’m sure there have been major disasters where no bright side was ever found, the loss being only that. A loss. Losses. Deaths. Dying.

.  We could only see that, if we got tunnel vision with this Covid Pandemic. Only the disease, the fear, the grief, the bodies stacked up like cord wood. It could just open it’s huge great-white-shark-sized mouth with it’s blood-covered-razor-sharp giant teeth and swallow us whole. Then our lives will have ended, with a dark shroud of sadness enveloping our memory. Is this how you are feeling? Are you frightened?

.         It certainly is a normal reaction to this situation. But there IS a silver lining… Have you heard about the animals? They are coming out of the woods, out of the forests, out of the bushes, out of the darkest recesses and back into the sunlight! With humans staying quiet, staying out of their cars, letting the Earth rest from it’s gasping, the animals are out!!! It thrills me, it brings joy to my weary heart to see images of river otters playing in a grassy median, rolling and romping, and laughing!(I’m sure they are laughing, they have to be!)

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My Izzy, 2005-2017

.  I see cardinals again , and osprey flying low. I hear owls, and see ‘coons and possum. Oh, I know, I’m talking about “less desirable”wildlife, but let me tell you, it fills my heart near to bursting. As a child I would read “Born Free”and Miss Anderson’s Cheetah stories, gobbling up the word images of animals running free across African Savannahs. I dreamed nightly about my wild Stallion that I would ride someday, and about Bambi becoming a Stag.WIN_20191128_03_49_42_Pro (2)

.  My Mom’s Bible Study books had images of happy people hugging lions and petting tigers, and I physically yearned for those images to come true. As I learned about God and thought about His love in creating puppies and kittens, I found Bible passages that promised a paradise one day. And as the years have past my faith has become brighter, and the day for me to hug a white tiger, or play with a wolf pup has gotten closer ,too.Picture 005

.  Yes, there is much sadness, sickness and death. There is injustice and corruption and pollution. And , sadly, there are worse things to come in the future, no matter where you live on this planet. But it all is bringing us closer each day to God’s fulfilled promises, such as the end of wickedness, pain, crime and hatred. To days of joyful work for humans, building houses, planting gardens. Many people think that God is causing this horrible pandemic, and that He is a God who throws people into Firey Hell.

.  I have studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years, and was baptized in 2003…but I had many things that I changed, only with God’s help. I was a  full blown drug addict and alcoholic for 23 years, beginning at age 13. I only knew abusive and violent relationships, having my nose broken twice, being tied to a tree, stabbed and shot at, being choked unconscious more than once, and more. All this by my own husband. By the time I was 33, I looked like a 50 year old, and I felt 100. I had so many health problems, pain was my constant companion and still is. I smoked Crack, Pot, snorted coke, meth and used drugs intravenously for years. I drank my first beer most days by 9am, and lit my first cigarette before my eyes were open in the morning. I now have PTSD, and COPD. I had Hep C . I was dying and wished I was dead. Finally, before my husband killed me, he was arrested by the ATF and was convicted as a habitual offender, 15 years to life.Picture 419

.  Oh, how I cried. I thought my world had ended. I really went wild. He wanted me to work with the law to get his sentence reduced, I thought ATF agents were behind every tree. I refused to work with the Feds, because I thought I was smarter than them. I hooked up with a member of a MC club, and planned to tell the FBI about it… After all the humiliation and abuse they told me they would never use any info I gave them…I wanted to die… But I didn’t.

.  I called my Mom, and begged to come home. She let me. I was the proverbial daughter. Near death and bankrupt in every way I moved back to my parent’s house.

Lots of things happened that I could go on about. Bad things. And worse things.

.  But there was a glimmer, a glint of good in all that mire I was in…

.  I got on my knees before I took the last step to suicide, and I begged, pleaded, beseeched, cried and screamed my anguish and remorse out to God.

.  He heard. And He helped.

. I was able to get clean and sober, 21 years ago this September. I quit smoking the next year. And then, after calling God my “Higher Power”in AA for another year I learned that God , Jehovah God, could and would and did forgive me.

.  Yesssssss….deep inhale…..Yessssss!!!

.    You can feel this forgiveness too. I hope you do. Then I can meet you, in paradise on earth when all this badness is finished, for good.

(if you want to learn like I did, JW.org is where to go… You’ll  be able to read and study the Bible, watch videos and learn precious truths…and you will learn how God sent His Son, Jesus to sacrifice his life for ALL humans…yep, me…and YOU TOO !!!)

We Are Going To Make It

Is anyone out there as old as I am? I grew up to the Mary Tyler Moore show, on every week as I recall. When I was 10 or so, she was beautiful to me, not just as a pretty woman (which she was and is, if she is still alive, is she?…)but as a woman in “the workplace”. I was too young to understand the dynamics of discrimination against women, I was buying into the whole “be a good girl, speak when you are spoken to” misogynist mantra.

That is where the slogan “We’re going to make it after all” first made me feel warm and fuzzy. My folks both worked long, hard hours to feed my brother and I. We saw them briefly each morning. Mom on her way to bed after all night at a local “old folks” hospital, and Dad on his way to the Speciality  Steel Mill. The only thing “special” about the steel mill that I could see was the fact that Dad was “‘specially”angry when he got home.

.  We didn’t want for anything that I ever knew, except that I never got designer jeans like my best friend, with the rich dad. No, my belly was full, and I was as happy as a chubby pre-teen with thick glasses and a mouth full of braces could be in the late 70’s. The only thing lacking was joy, any kind of joy, at home. Even “The Holidays”, when I still celebrated them, were joyless, because there was always disappointment lurking under the tree. Family gatherings were nice before I got old enough to feel the undercurrents of dislike and tension that flowed thru the affairs, like the lambrusco in the fancy glasses.

.  We are going to make it. After all.

.  I’m in the ” after all” phase of life now. And I have made it, thus far . All the family drama is distant history, now that my parents are dead they don’t fight as much.(chuckle). I have learned to live without them here, and I have gleefully learned to live without my abusive ex and now deceased husband. (No, I’m not gleeful at his being deceased.)

.  I have lived on my own for 4 years now, Dad died on 3/7/16, and Mom on 3/21/10. The grief did not stab me like a bayonet to the stomach this year, no, it was a dull, ongoing ache that I thought I didn’t feel, until this very moment. A heaviness inside my heart, a gray, damp blanket on my view. But I have made it, after all…

.  I want to share happy tidings, tho’, not the fear mongering that is flying all around the internet and all the airwaves. Yes, this Pandemic is a very, very bad thing. Many of our loved ones, friends and neighbors will get very sick, and many will die. More people will die than usually do in a “regular” time period. It will be very difficult to work, to shop, to meet with friends and family. However, we must endure these difficulties with a hopeful demeanor, and share our hope with  Everyone we can!!! We All need to support our fellow humans, and we CAN!!!!!

You may ask why, and I understand how hard it is not to have a pity party when one has no access to TP or Oreos. I am not immune to this situation, especially the Oreo thing. But as a person who has lived with chronic intractable pain all over my body for the last 20years, I do have experience with the power of positivity shared. This will be a HUGE HELP TO ALL OF US: BE UPBEAT AND POSITIVE WHEN SPEAKING TO OTHERS! DO NOT BOG OTHERS DOWN BY SHARING NEGATIVITY SUCH AS WHAT WE CAN’T DO, BUT FOCUS ON STEPS WE CAN TAKE. 

One thing we must do to help is STAY POSITIVE when we talk to others. Just as you would not talk to a Child about negative outcomes of a storm, we all, ALL need comfort from our fellow humans right now. Just as we would not want our Mom to be overly anxious about a situation, think of your friends and neighbors who are anxious also!

.   We want to help the people we love, and hopefully we want to help our fellow man who we don’t even know. I am going to work on this, and I already know it helps, because people who cared for me when I was incapacitated did it for me. And I made it thru to better days. Picture 346

. I hope you are doing well, that you can see the sky today, wherever you are. One thing that helps me so much is prayer because I know God is close to me when I pray to him in his Son, Jesus name. Reading the Bible books of Psalms and brings me peace, and talking on the phone to others about God’s promises soon to be fulfilled.  If I can just smile at someone, it lifts my mood and hopefully theirs as well. I send out my warm hugs and smiles to all of you.

.  We’re going to make it, after all!

Jehovah created a paradise...
frannie-pannie…

VERTIGO, INSOMNIA and PAIN (oh, my!)

Cant wake up. I feel like I am sick inside, hot and cold, sticky and uncomfortable one minute , all dry and freezing the next. I feel like I’m going thru withdrawals, and twitchy, jerky-but from what?!? I feel that it is the Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo that I have endured since a series of concussions in 2013…BPPV is a type of vertigo from crystals in your inner ear becoming dislodged from a blow or hit on the head, and generally rights itself after 1 Epley Maneuver, which a trained pt performs.

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This is Sooo frustrating, because I don’t have a pt here, and the condition makes me so discombobulated and groggy that I can hardly go anywhere!So I have attempted the maneuver 4 times on my own, with no success it seems, and keep falling asleep everywhere I sit down. The other wrinkle to Post Concussion and TBI cases like mine, is the head injury caused a short-circuit from brain to diaphragm, so when my shuts down for sleep mode, I quit breathing. “Sleep Apnea!”, you exclaim, brandishing a Bi-pap and  Mask… (oh, I just want to interject that I have had brief BPPV free days when my excelkent PT Tom helped me for 2 years… he would do the maneuver when needed and I balance trained and did exerciwes regularly)

So, going back to the CENTRAL Apnea, I have been sleep studied a second time since moving here, and had my poor septum done again, and the Nose Guy (ent) who performed the surgey said, “If you cant breath thru this nose then I dont know what else to do for ya!”

He checked out my sleep settings on my machine, said they were fine and sent me on my way with a script for little nasal pillows instead of the “Alien” mask I wear now.

Insurance doesnt pay, etc, etc So I go to bed, fight with the Mask until I’m finally exhausted and angry, then I drift for 20 minutes before ripping the parasitic thing off my face , flinging it wildly across the room, knocking my water off onto my med box…This causes me to rise up like a crazed Mama Kodiak, comforter flying like a war hero’s cape, kicking my medicine box across  imaginary goal posts, with different colored pastel tablets raining down, as if confetti!

After this nightly comedy of errors and arrows, I give up and decide to paint faux chintz wallpaper onto my bedroom walls. At 4AM.

Is it any wonder I am tired all day?

Oh, the truly funny part is that I went to bed at 7pm. so that I could be alert and well rested today!!

Okee Dokee Then…

It has been AGES since I have been here, it seems that when I am on fire with my visual art , my written art suffers. Time is a factor, when I have 5 projects going at once, the voices in my head are rather subdued, because all the poetry is oozing out of my fingertips onto canvas, paper, metal, wood and wall. As has been the way this past year, with some success…

I had hoped top be able to exist on my earnings from my visual art, and while I am not there yet, I am making a dent. I have had one of my paintings put in a permanent collection, I have been highlighted with my artwork in a video for the nearby Mental Health Facility! Woohoo! I find that very satisfying and amusing all at the same time! I should have demanded money, but they didn’t offer, so I used it as a photo op. I gifted them the painting you see here, although I still have it here at the house , because I wasn’t satisfied with it… (never am, you know). I will have to take it in soon, to keep my word… and I need to see my wonderful therapist because memories are pushing their nasty little heads into my reality…

It’s the “holidays”… The time of memories… poo poo, bluck, bluck…. memories have too much power over me, so I guess I just stuff them. Me, the one always saying that “you have to let it out!” I let it out too much, which gave too many people too much power over me, too many ways to rattle my chain. I have been solitary, and sequestered here, and while it may be a little too much solitude I am glad to have my space. True, my sleeping habits could use improvement, but then I am a work in progress…

Just for today I don’t have to mourn. I can just be ok.

Right Side Down/Wrong Side Up

20170703_091151I wish I looked like this right now, because it looks like I feel pretty good about myself in this photo! And I did! I think it lasted a couple weeks, it was after I was alost finished moving in, and I was enjoying exploring my new home town.

I had gone into ma cute little salon for a haircut, a new look for my new beginning, and the young man who did it was a true artist!

Then I saw the prices! Forty bucks, just for a wash and cut! Ahhhhh!!! I never paid more than 20 bucks for a cut, and most of the time that included a five dollar tip! As I paid my bill and thanked him, I still felt on top of the world! This was my new, fresh start!

I was full of hope about my financial situation, I still had money after buying my new (1970) mobile home and land. And I had also purchased a car, cash, so I would not have alot of expenses and bills! OOh , I was SO smart!

After all, in a month or so, I would be selling my art in a new gallery, and be in new shows, and my fame would spread like wildfire! I had a big opportunity to be in ” a really big show”, as Ed Sullivan used to say, and I worked so hard-sure that I was a shoo in.

Months passed, money dwindled, but my hopes were steadily pinned on my huge success in this upcoming event. I spent more money, remodeling, new furnishings, paint, welding class, tons of art supplies.

I worked round the clock, taking photos of my work, even going to a free class to learn to present my work just right. I bought black sheets as backdrops, spent hours setting things up, months agonizing over artist statements, resume, biographies.

I wanted to really knock ’em dead, so I got a little dramatic with my entry, really emphasizing my struggles with trauma and mental illness.

I sent my entry in at 11:30 pm on the last day they accepted entries, and the cut off was 12 midnight. I even thought this was brilliant, to make me shine even brighter.

Even thinking about it makes me feel a little queasy, I put so much worry and sweat into the process. I told friends about the show, and I said that I was not pinning all my hopes on it.

That was a BIG Fat Lie. I had pinned EVERYTHING on that show. I even planned how humble and gracious I would be.

Then the e-mail came. The same e-mail I got last year:

“We thank you for your entry, but……”

“…but…”

…but…but…but…but…but, but, but,but,but,butbutbutbutbut….BUTTHEAD!!!

so here is my inner rotten, little Susie-In-A-Red-Devil-Suit-On-My-Shoulder, whispering in my ear: ” You stupid, stupid girl, You should have known you aren’t good enough, they are all laughing at you, you LOSER!!” The little Susie-On-My-Shoulder even has the audacity to make an L with her hand and hold it to her (my) forehead.

She has not stopped this horrible dialogue yet, but she will. VERY SOON. VERY, VERY SOON!

“Ha, I DARE you, you loser, nya!nya! You don’t have the guuut, HEY!, What are you DOING! PUT ME DOWN! PUT ME DOWN! AHHHHHHHHH!….”

“bloop!” Oh, my, what did I do? She slipped out of my fingers and into the huge pot of scalding Turkey soup I have boiling on the stove! Oh, my!”

Her tiny little mouse-sized red suit boils to the surface, I scoop it out and toss it in the trash.  There is no trace of that rotten little monster!

I will brush the dust off of me, off of my canvasses, off of my paints, and do what I love best: Create Fresh and Relevant ART! YAY!!!

Burning Desire..Really burning….

I am fighting right now, and you already know what is after me…negativity. Depression. Self Pity. Pain. Sadness…boo, boo, bad, hiss, grrr, mumble, mumble…SIGH…

I have been feeling worse than usual in my physical self, heavy, cumbersome(love that word), out of breath, and oh! SO SLEEPY.

Mentally? Running With Scissors!!!! WHEEEEE!!! Paint, Paint, draw, sculpt, glue, spray…UH, WAIT.

Did you say SPRAY? As in SPRAY PAINT?!?

Yea, I did. What about it?

And you said GLUE? AS IN SUPER GLUE? AND CONSTRUCTION GLUE?

Uh, yea. What’s the big deal? I use my mask all the ti…oh. OH…OH, now I understand. I got up sicker today, and wheezing, and groggy, with a blazing headache… And I didn’t put my respirator on when I sprayed that wall hanging last night… it was just going to be a couple seconds…the mask was inside…just a couple steps away,, but I was LAZY. AND FOOLISH. AND NOW MY LUNGS ARE SCREAMING. only I can’t hear them cause I CANT BREATHE!!!!

I made it to my standing Doc Appointment 5 minutes after I got out of bed. I mean, my hair already sticks up, but I seriously looked like Einstein.

I told her I thought maybe I had Pneumonia, pressure in my head, chest, headache, weary etc… And being the Real Physician she is (i don’t know why I said “Real”, too much news) she listened to my lungs.

Wow. I did not need a stethescope…The Rice Krispie Trio was playing a tune in my lungs. Holy smoker, who quit 20 years ago! No, I thought, not me!

Which is a rediculous thought, I have known for a couple years now that my lungs are failing. How did I know this? Well, it seems that I used CONSTRUCTION ADHESIVES to build an assemblage a few years ago… The year I had a Pulmonary Embolism from laying around too much after the 3 surgeries I had, the year I fell 4 times due to vertigo..etc etc… Oh . here is te health litany.. STOP.

The point is that I ALREADY have the knowledge of what NOT TO DO if I want to stay healthy. I already have KNOWLEDGE that I damaged my lungs and body severely with my lifestyle in the past, and I KNOW what to do to help myself.

The REALLY SAD THING is that I lost my Burning Desire to be my best me, my healthy me, the BEST Version of myself that I can give to my Creator in Thanks.

I lost my FOCUS, and I let the bad ways back in for a minute, the way of shortcuts, laziness, seeking material weaBEAUTIFULlth, and I cheated myself of some breaths of life again. And I didn’t even light a match…

When the Doc said she would let me try to change some of my test numbers without meds, I really let myself down, because I opted for the meds. I told her I just DID NOT HAVE IT IN ME TO MAKE THAT MUCH OF AN EFFORT RIGHT NOW.

….. um…WHAAAAT!!!??????

I even felt sick as it was coming out of my head into my voice box…DONT HAVE IT IN ME…TOO MUCH EFFORT…why dont you just puke and fall over in it?

I felt shame, burning shame, not burning desire. That I did not feel I am worth the effort. That Jehovah created this wonderful human being of ME, and I “don’t have it in me to make that much effort right now? What an insult to my loving God, who sent His Beautiful, PERFECT and BELOVED SON, Jesus Christ to die for me. This same me that I couldn’t muster the will to TRY to save. Oh, for shame, susan.

I tried to backtrack as soon as it was uttered, claiming that I just feel so sick that everything is extra hard right now…I haven’t slept, you know…

NO! I WILL NOT LET MYSELF DOWN LIKE THIS.

Nor will I INSULT my GRAND CREATOR, SOVEREIGN of the UNIVERSE, JAH!!

I WILL BE ON FIRE WITH DESIRE starting THIS VERY MOMENT!!!

BREATHE, GIRL, BREATHE!!!

RUN WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT! WE MUST FINISH THIS RACE!!!! YEEHAW!

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“The Sentinel’s Prayer”, acrylic on canvas, Susan T. Martin2017

Words.

Not too many days feel good,

to this body.

Each and every day feels good,

to my heart.

The love I carry for all the world is a song

that no one has heard.

not a word.

I say it loudly, clearly,

in my art!