I Believe Her

One of the reasons Republicans can go ahead with Kavanaugh’s confirmation while a good many of them find Dr. Ford’s allegations credible is that they place such a low value on the sanctity of a woman’s right to her own body, her own space, her own time, her own mind. And, yet, at the same time, they place a premium on her ability to smooth ruffled feathers, look “pleasing”, be “pleasing”, and basically push all the buttons that mommy presumably failed to do so many years ago, or did so well they’ve never realized the world isn’t mommy.
We are, at once, compelled to nurse and coddle our men while simultaneously empowering them to be all they can be, as if the fact that they require our perpetual hand-holding isn’t enough to challenge the very idea that they are empowered, much less that it might present the credible question of whether or not the whole paradigm needs to be tossed.
This speaks to why a man can speak up after 40 years of silence and declare a priest his abuser and not be ridiculed. He is not a responsible party in that paradigm of the feminine burden; he is, instead, the one who receives the benefit of the doubt and the one whose sexuality – especially if it fits the hegemonic mold – precludes him from any doubt, for surely, as a man, to admit he was overpowered and violated (since his role, his duty is to be perpetually empowered and in control) is the greatest violation of the paradigm. Why would any man admit to something happening to him, something especially that challenges the myth of masculine domination and strength?
Women, on the other hand, are responsible for perpetuating the myth, for being the ones who, by their less than, second-class, weaker status affirm the superiority of the male. We are meant to be inspiring and inspired, independent and yet not to the point of challenging male superiority, accommodating, brilliant, child-bearing, gorgeous and never-failing in the face of unyielding criticism even when we are called out for abandoning the great paradigm or for merely stepping a toe out of those maddening realms – we must first be sure we held our faces just right. If we cannot make everyone around us at least comfortable, then we must not either try too hard to make folks happy in too obvious a way otherwise, we may make folks ill at ease. We must grin and bear it when the product of our efforts to fall in line do not always go according to plan. The great white God is truly, intentionally a motherfucker from where I’m sitting, for he is a creation of patriarchy.
I was told by my father when on the cusp of my 20’s that “anything that happens between you and a guy is your fault.” Anything. The great burden. You wore those clothes. You looked him in the eye. You didn’t look him in the eye. You smiled. You didn’t smile. You had an attitude. You spoke your mind. You rocked the boat. You left the house, the car, the building.
I believed him for many years. I believed him until I birthed a daughter. Then it all fell apart.
Besides the feminine burden of upholding it and a host of other common human frailties, the myth of male domination rests on the brute power of the male form and the ability of a man to hold a woman down, to take the time to put his hand over her mouth, or tower over her with his fists balled, or to quote scripture at her about her wifely duties or to yell and bluster in the face of accountability before a judiciary committee. Ad Infinitum.
The GOP and many who claim Christ as their great Saviour (as did my father at the time he declared me wholly responsible for all the actions of a male towards me) rely on the myth of the work of the Cross as one that requires nothing more than that you accept it. And from there? Well, much like the t and c club, you’re a member. You can do anything except challenge the paradigm. If you’re a woman, forget it. You can’t do anything. There are only certain things and only in certain ways especially if you have had a child. This slice of “Christianity” doesn’t actually possess a moral compass apart from the paradigm that upholds the myth. You must not challenge the paradigm. That is their great “morality” and they believe in it fully.
I watched Dr. Ford yesterday and was simultaneously grieved, devastated and beyond thrilled that someone would embody such power and courage in the face of that myth. And that Anita Hill did this very thing years ago enduring the violation and ridicule, that we are still right here enrages me.
We are not going to progress by pulling back and we aren’t going to be free of the paradigm if we don’t upend it fully.
I’m so very proud of Dr. Ford and of everyone who has rallied for investigations and, at the same time, I salute those men who stand with women outside the myth, who know their true power rests, not in domination, but in welcoming the dance.

Along The Shoreline

our pillars nest in tides suggesting endless plays of light
and long they sit in sight of eternity
resting hard against the sand – a story
posing fortitude and feasts along the shoreline,
our grief forgotten in the winds,
our hope perpetual, the slats on which we stand
and then the fall into sea,
our lines living
somewhere beyond the moon…

photo by j. ruth kelly, 2018, all rights reserved

Jonah-Like

“Jonah-like we all have to be spit out of the belly of family and cultural assumptions, a new person, freed and unqualified. But this is one of the purposes we have seen for dark nights of the soul: to prune, to cleanse, and sort out the essential from the illusory. We have to do something with our anger other than suppress it or vent it. There are a thousand possibilities, but each of them has to honor the emotion while giving it form and meaning. Ultimately, you transform your anger through a channeling of your life force, and this liberated vitality gives you your presence as a unique personality.” Thomas Moore [Dark Nights of The Soul]

It’s time to get back to the book I started, finish it and set it free. Onward.

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth…

Find your way, dear one, through the Texas crowd of bullshit dancing with Georgia delusion. They never cared ‘though they now happily circle ’round the corpse of our relationship with our parents who so eagerly extort. And lie. In Jesus name.

Welcome to Fundieville Family Fallout and the gruesome truth-avoidance trample posing your celebration.

We can’t see you unless we see you thus and so. And so, we can’t see you. This they call love. Forced reconciliation is their game, like the rape they supported many years ago by their silence and criticism of the victim, by their balking at “too much detail” and then declaring a shortage of detail as their excuse for not giving a damn sooner. They. Love. You. Goddess help us all.

And we have no rights. But we send you our love from here and we watch all the buzzards circling ’round the fallout. Who knew? Texas grows buzzards strong, thin and tall, gingery “sweet”! Sincerity not required to throw a party there. Just gloat over the wreckage and pose for the pictures as they betray sisters and sisters. And most of all, as they betray the one who can’t truly speak for herself.

Happy Birthday, Biz. I can’t want this terrible time of people killing preciousness in the name of love, love they’ve never known, shown or been. Be safe and know we miss you something awful…

j. ruth kelly, 2018, all rights reserved

The Night Sky Singing

we thought the falling stars had all gone
and their shimmer merely a memory,
a shock of brilliant fiery intrusions
when only black seemed the norm
with bits of sparkling shine calling
a strange hope we could not grasp.

but, we were wrong, weren’t we?
for seasons tell a story still
in wings and waiting
that somewhere in the darkest nights
their shine holds fast, collecting,
massing sparks in the silence.

their flames, ‘though gone, unquenched,
await shock of birth way up high
in the night sky singing.
all the stars fallen hold in pause
for a moment to arise our own
erupting…
the artistry of love enduring.

photo by j. ruth kelly, 2018, all rights reserved

 

 

The Way of Soul

what does water know but the go and rush of fluid being
wending ’round every season and within the tumult and pull
of moonful wooings’ wonder?
nothing tears or rips
asunder her skirt, her gown, for
she is nudity dressed in grace
she is everywhere flow
she is anywhere still, full, knowing
she is sound and silence all.
what will her wet reveal but the way of soul
the tides of love refusing carnage,
choosing resilience in the fallout
and wrecking prisons in a flood
of her endless feasting, blasting
down walls, ripping off the chains,
currents fiercely grasping, carrying
us to freedom?

photo by j. ruth kelly, 2018, all rights reserved

After

when the blooms fade and the song’s pause stops my heart
and my mind poses questions like, “why and what is the point anymore?”
and I hear “I feel so sorry for you…” echoing and kicking around
in the dark corners labelled “them” and “those”
their daggers finding flesh
when the smiles and sweetest laughter grow bitter haunting the halls
of doors and doors between passages and choices
when the known disappear and the wrinkles whisper mortal fear,
I crumble here and there
while the rivers release the second feast
and the utterances of grief and bankruptcy are dogged
by love
always love
but not necessarily gladness
or even gratitude
just this relentless eternal presence filling
(that same presence from when, way back when and then
a 4 year old singing fullness from within)
filling up all the holes, pockmarks smoothed, lines shining
and nothing undone that has already done the damage
no carnage reversed, no bodies resurrected,
no Lazarus release, no proof,
no Messiah, no keeper and no savior
but love keeps on, keeps the soul singing seeds
in the silence after

Play the audio that follows for my own reading of “After” to get a feel
for how it’s meant to flow…

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, 2018, All Rights Reserved