Chicken

Together we play a game of chicken
Russian roulette even—
eventually the bullet kills us
Moth to flame—you say it all the time—
eventually we burn
Bait-and-switch—what are we selling that we won't be giving

Game of Chicken
Your freedom or mine
Certainly not ours together

You go your way
I go mine
Now we collide
Toward death or to freedom
Or are they the same

What gives and when
We are at the edge
Which one of us will swerve
Or will we, at the end?

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Dad

My dad got into my bones
I didn't know he was there 
until he started to fade away 

The other night at Red Lobster he talked about bunnies eating lettuce—
the kind on his plate
He didn't just talk, he mimicked their bunny eating ways

I thought: what is he talking about....
and what does this have to do with anything....

You see, for me, the conversation has changed 
as my dad's brain gets chipped away by diabetes or 
alzheimer's— we don't know. He says it’s spiritual, he's going "higher" so maybe it's that

But gone is the comfort of bringing him anything 
and him always knowing the right thing to say
or when not to
Now I speak and he munches on his salad like a bunny and laughs

Later we sit on his driveway at dusk
There are the bunnies!
They munch on his grass and 
driveway crack microgreens
I see what he means

There are two chairs on his lawn—
two choices on where to sit and watch the bunnies munch
As we watch together the crows caw and he says
the crows crow, the squirrels squirrel and, yes dad, the bunnies bunny
This is his lesson now

He was once an athlete, 
top of his football and baseball game
Then handball
It's hard to see the cuts and bruises on his body from losing balance 
Once a strong, intimidating man—and still so damn stubborn—
he now laughs, smiles and attunes to my emotions, 
even the angry ones about what is happening to him

Lou, my dad's name, is Lou-ing, 
becoming more real
As he fades and goes higher the strength and wisdom of him 
is in my bones. 

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Evolution

Evolution moves slow and steady. 

I once believed I could clear wounds enough to transcend my upbringing—
To not be my mother. 

What cleared are protections that made me function and survive. 

My daughter said to me: I like seeing you struggle—
A once controlled and efficient mother now stumbles a bit. 

Bring on the staggering
And the unease of failing
And seeing the apple does not fall far from the tree. 

It is true some improvements were made
Maybe I'll see more as I age
But for now I acknowledge evolution is slow
And at least it is steady. 

For we are not efficient machines
We are human with hearts and needs
We store treasures from ancestors and thieves. 

Keep going. 


~Nikki, The Soul Reporter 

Devotion

What’s underneath this madness? Devotion?

I cant see a future without him now that I’m standing at our death door. It was fun to play with the idea of leaving when I was still in a familiar hallway.

Now I am numb again. Familiar only to my pain, and not ours.

But it will return.

Rumi says, keep digging your well, water is there somewhere.

Is it devotion?

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Coveted

I feel coveted and
sometimes admired, but nothing else, 
never held. 

I also don't hold, just space and frequencies, 
probably, also responsibilities
but not hands or faces or 
give hugs and kisses. 

I've a lot to learn 
A lot to give
A lot to receive. 


~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
Photo by Raphael Brasileiro on Pexels.com

Indestructible

I wake up wrapped in a hidden grief. A grief so big I’m grateful it’s hidden. The personal losses and changes, along with the national and global might take lifetimes to process and who even knows what is left over from other lives. It truly does seem to be too much and yet, here we are, here I am, here is Life- an undeniable and indestructible force.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Closing the Doors

Might as well find the joy while the world burns, right?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am shutting the doors, I have decided, to where the trauma lives.

I am not shutting the door because I want to avoid what is there.

I am shutting the door because for 30+ years all I have done is open these doors.

Within the rooms I have explored, processed, dug deep and long.

There has been healing and transformation. Incredible insights and connections made.

There has also been torment.

So today I messaged the therapists and the energy workers and said, thank you and goodbye.

I want to enjoy my life for a change, I said. I want to hear my inner voice again.

I have seen hell, so may as well turn around and see what else there is.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Tell Me Everything

A poem.

Tell me how much you love him

Tell me how much you want to leave him

Tell me how he hurts you

Tell me how he loves you

Tell me why you’re afraid to stay

Tell me why you’re afraid to leave

Tell me why you fear you’ve been replaced

Tell me what you still want with him

Tell me how hard this has been

Tell me how this love affair began

Tell me how he holds you back

Tell me how he lets you drown

Tell me how you hold yourself back

Tell me how you let yourself drown

Tell me how you suffer

Tell me everything until there’s nothing left to tell

Tell me everything so we both understand and can move on.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

*Heat.

Torn. Stolen from protection, the land, the forest tops. Seclusion, like winter but with A/C, not heat. Summer is here and it can feel like a burden, heavy to some, a comfort to others. A mismatch to balance, to life, to relief.

These are just words coming to me about the heat, and the imbalance maybe I, maybe others are encountering, putting us dangerously close to suffering.

Today’s word (Father’s Day) seemed to be suffering. I found myself using it a lot. I felt my usual suffering again, and I believe I can label it now. Before it was only a suffocating experience. I suffer when the (perceived or otherwise actual) burdens of my family fall upon me, brush up against me and cause me to burn and be swallowed. I lose myself in it— a pattern conditioned by the relationship I had with my mother.

I was conditioned to live and breathe, therefore be burdened by her drama, her life, her everything. Specifically, but not only, with her frequent hospitalizations. Each time, I feared and truly believed— this is it. She’s dying. I’m going to lose her. I was shredded by this each time it happened, along with the deep desire to fix her, console her, love her, train her to be more like me and give a goddam. None of this worked. Just the ripping occurred.

Recently, my mom, near 80 and in memory care, caught COVID. She had fallen and was rushed to the hospital with a 102 temp. The ER doc told me he was putting her on oxygen and would be admitted. This is it, I thought. She’s dying. I’m finally going to lose her.

Next day….

Nurse called, “We are discharging her. Oxygen levels are normal. She’s eating and looks great!” Of course, I thought. Of course she is okay. I was relieved, but I also remembered the days when I was angry by the nurse’s words. I was angry by what my mom put me through, and then she’d just be fine or it was just a drug run and meanwhile I was shredded into tiny bits.

My mom called me when she was out of the hospital. “Hi Mom! How are you?”

“I’m depressed.”

“Of course you are mom. You’ve been through a lot. You have COVID, you were hospitalized….”

“No,” she interrupted, “I’m depressed because they told me I can’t leave my fucking room. I have to quarantine.”

Of course….she’s fine.

The Rock

At the time of this call, I was at ‘The Rock.’ The rock is an actual large boulder that sits near the Mississippi backwaters. I go there and sit on it when I need some guidance, stability and security. When I hung up the phone with my mom, walking away from the rock, a flash of insight said: you are the rock. I took absolutely no pleasure in this. Being the rock was a past, sad story I no longer wanted or needed. I pushed back on the insight and said: I don’t want to be the rock. I want to be nurtured and cared for for once.

The next day, and for several days thereafter, I did not leave my bed. I was overcooked. Done. Depleted. Overburdened. Torn. Stolen from the protection of this need to be ripped to shreds by the experiences of my people, because of course it wasn’t just my mom’s experiences that ripped me apart. It was my family members, those I love most and also the humans on this overheated planet. I needed shade and the shade for me was the bedcovers. Under that shade, I shut down and released the heat through my salty tears that fell and fell and fell.

Once I cooled off and could move around again, I understood I no longer had it in me to keep putting my tiny burnt pieces back together again. I had to decide to stay together even when my people, and the world seemed to not. This kind of suffering was all that I knew to do. I did not learn another way. I was not shown another way or was my younger self told me these are not by burdens to bear.

My energy worker Ed, when I told him this story, said, “What if your mom had said to you, ‘I know you are scared, worried and concerned about me but I am not your responsibility. You don’t have to take care of me. I am going to take better care of me so I can take better care of you.’ “

I was so burnt out, so conditioned I didn’t even know those words could be said. But just hearing them from Ed felt like cool water, and calmed me down.

So when the heat of this life, of the people I love and this land I also love, brush up against me too close, I will know I am caring. I am attending. I am listening. And, I don’t have to be scorched to do so. I can find shade under the treetops. #savethetrees 🌳🧊☀️

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

*This is an excerpt from one of the memoirs I am currently working on.