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Of GoldieLocks and OldieLocks…

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As I pluck the stray hairs from my face
I try to ponder with some grace
This crazy thing called Aging

As I take my locks from gold to dark
With silver strands just for the lark
I smile for I have Lived

As I view the lines on this visage
Every day is vernissage
And mostly I care Not

As I judge this culture youth obsessed
No more cooth do I possess
Than (T)rump-a-dump himself

In this world where absurd is King
I wag and wonder at this thing
The phenomena of Stupid

We teach children to regurgitate
Are raising mindless reprobates
In bubble-wrapped Entitlement

I yell at them to read a book
Get your brain back off that fuckin hook
You call a life on-line

And as I sit with 56.5
I rejoice the years I am alive
Live(d) and Love(d) with frenzied fire’n Passion

A youthful spirit in its tweens
The wise chick in me hears’n gleans
That this body doth Protest

In recent words to my well-(b)read child
I spoke of this my big wild ride
And uttered this fair Warning:

If tomorrow I should die
Know that my life was not all pie,
But holy fuck me what a Ride!

Lose no tear for my time lost here
I sped through akin to Buzz Lightyear
Had no time to sweat the small Stuff

No such burden as regret
For NO dull moment did beget
A single breath I Took

And so I enter this next phase
In a blur of crazy-dayz
And electrifying Verve

I ought to warn you faint-of-hearts
My new grand plan will have no chart
To map out how this goes

So if you love me in all my glory
You will know that this next folly
Will be of proportions Epic!

BOOM.
FALLOUT.
AFTERSHOCK.
SPLASH.

SMILE’n WAVE,
like the Queen I am.

Quack-a-fucking-doodle-dizzy and with a brand new energy, 
for an old(er) chick! 
~Marcela.
October 21, 2017

Photos and Poetry: All Rights Reserved.

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Bereft…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfathomable surplus- (in)human cruelty, suffering, crisis…
…compassion fatigue settles deep- into my bones.

Even this- watery place, loved and trusted, denies me solace…
…betrays- this beleaguered soul.

New- this anguish, and frighteningly familiar…
…tables turn- this crisis, is mine.

Bereft- until the next incarnation… only…
…until then.

Exhaustedly yours:
~Marcela. July 25, 2017

All Rights Reserved (image and written content).

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The Untold Story of My (M)other Hero

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-Mama Marcella at 20-ish                  -Marcela Jr. at 20-ish

I want to tell you this story. I have told you the untold story of my original dad, the hero status I raised him to, because most of us do, when folks die young, tragically, dramatically. And because his heroism was brash, in your face, and because we as a culture have this bizarre tendency to idolize the dead, forget their misdeeds, while we ignore the living, breathing heroes who walk among us, every single day. My mother is one of those silent heroes.

She turned 81 today, and I need to tell you this story while my mama Marcella, yes, two L’s in her name  is still with us, because she deserves more than a eulogy, because she deserves more than me extolling her virtues, waxing poetic about her loving (mis?)deeds, when she can no longer hear me.

It is far less cumbersome to paint a balanced portrait of a dead hero than a live one. For a dead hero cannot take offense, be hurt by, feel misunderstood, when I shed light on the dark side of their humanity, or my experience of it. The telling of these truths as I know them, shining light on all of our human parts, is a significant piece of the indescribable thing which drives me to write anything, about anything, in the first place. It is about normalizing humanity again, in all of its glory and folly. It is about refusing to buy into culturally-boxed ideas of what is real, what is appropriate, what is worthwhile, who and sadly what, we ought to idolize.

My mama Marcella is a Warrior Woman. One of a much subtler ilk and variety than the outwardly visible, unfiltered rebel-rebel style I inherited from our mutual hero, my original dad. She has known more strife and hardship, worked harder in her life, waded through more shit than you and I combined have ever flushed. She has trudged up more hills, bled herself dry for my dad, for my step-dad, for my brother and I, our children, and so many others, more times than I have the mathematical skillset to count.

She grew up in war-torn Eastern Europe with a mal-adjusted, alcohol-loving, violence-inclined father. When my grandmother finally managed to get them the hell out of his reach, with nowhere to go and no-how to get there, she learned by the same quietly tenacious example of her mama, Žofie Ševčíková, that I have experienced and learned from her, my mama Marcella, with two L’s.

When my babi Ševčíková forbid her to date my über unruly, leather clad, motor bike riding, womanizing, Czech Casanova of a dad, she up and married that boy, with my big brother Tom already in her womb. Keep in mind that this was 1960 in Eastern Europe, and nothing about him or their love story, was ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable,’ but especially not in my very strict and proper grandmother’s world view, and the hopes and vision she had for her only child.

When my dad was up against an extended jail term (for various political and other rebellions) she lessened that term by several years, doing what a good, loyal wife would do and made sure the authorities did not find everything they were looking for; she shoveled coal in our basement for days, to ‘obscure’ the immediate visual existence of various artifacts of interest to them.

When the Soviets rolled their tanks into our lives on that notoriously famous day in 1968, she quietly went about the business of being my dad’s right hand, in the complex affair of ‘getting him out of jail,’ think about that, and all of us out of the country. She literally bled her hands dry when she went to work with him in a metal toy factory in Germany while we were in hiding, because they were looking for him. She did it again when we finally got to this country, working at night producing and repairing the massive anchor lines used in the Port of Vancouver.

When he died two years later in a mysterious mining ‘accident’ in Stewart BC, she found herself standing in a world completely unknown to her, with two kids under the age of 12, no language, no job, no money, and no family support to speak of. We had fled former Czechoslovakia ‘illegally’ and going back was not an option. So like the Warrior Woman she is, she chose to put down his rifle the day they came to tell us he was dead, she chose to stay alive, and make the life for me and my brother that he always dreamed of, for all of us. I don’t think she ever thought of it as making a life for herself and her children, it was always about making sure my brother and I had what we needed, and then some. She slaved at several jobs to give us what our two-parent Canadian friends had, and so much more, always. This has never changed.

When we first landed in Canada I felt completely alien and in an effort to fit in, decided to change the spelling of our shared first name, Marcela, to Marcella with two L’s. My 1st grade friend Michelle had two, and I thought if I did, I would be more like her. My mama agreed because she needed her daughter to be happy. When I started to figure out who I really was in my mid-thirties, I changed it back to Marcela with one L, announced it to her, and the woman who hates profanity said ‘fuck you,’ I’m not changing it again. I’m keeping two.’ Insert that accent we all love so much and boom, you know where my feisty comes from. She may be a silent hero, but she ain’t no pushover!

When a millionaire wanna-be-hobby-pimp turned me out and she heard what I was doing for a living, she combed the known strolls in Vancouver looking for me in the middle of the night, and when I started to pump my veins full of poison to kill the pain of inhuman judgement, she never did, judge. She just wanted me to stay alive. When my brother wanted to get married at 18 and needed her signature, she may not have liked it, but she signed, because she wanted to support her son.

When she finally made the decision to pursue a life of her own again and married my second dad Mickey, there was not a moment’s hesitation, when I asked to follow her to Switzerland less than a year after she had moved to be with him.  I needed to escape a life I was seriously unprepared for and she needed her daughter to be safe. Naturally she took me in, right into the middle of her new marriage and life. I was so happy for her. It was so short-lived.

You should know that we both cared deeply for him. He was lovely. That phrase is a standing joke between her and I, because in actuality he carried decades of anger and negativity that had nothing to do with my mother or our family, and she was where he directed it, more often than anywhere else, because he knew she would suffer in silence. In the beginning, for the first 20 years, she defended him almost as fiercely as she had defended the folly of her one true love, my original dad. Later, during moments of profound unhappiness and intense vulnerability, she talked about her sadness, but like so many of our species, was afraid of ending up alone in her old age.

So she stayed, stoically, in what I believe was a deeply unhappy union for both of them, for over 3 decades, until he died in 2012. She cared for him for months, brought a hospital bed into their living room. She slept on the couch so he wouldn’t be alone in his illness and fear and anger. We spent a week together sleeping on the floor of his hospice room, so he wouldn’t be alone and afraid and angry when he died. I learned something from her during his illness and ultimate passing, which almost defies description. I believe it is connected to human dignity, in profoundly undignified moments, and complete and utter un-conditionality and commitment.

This very generosity, loyalty and dedication to the well-being of her children and others, continues to be one of her greatest strengths and pitfalls, all in one. I recognize this characteristic well, because I, her youngest apple, have not fallen far from, am still clinging fiercely to parts of her tree. I share her tendency to stay loyal to individuals, organizations even, that by virtue of their less than stellar behaviour toward her or I, have rendered themselves undeserving of said loyalty.

Giving undeserved loyalty is my mother’s Achilles heel.  I have learned from her about getting out of really bad situations sooner than later, and I am beyond sad that I had to learn it by the heart-wrenching example of her prolonged suffering.

Máma, I know that my deep sense of empathy, compassion, and to some extent a sense of obligation to others, come from you. I love you so far beyond these few paragraphs, for they are but a mere snapshot into a life most folks would be challenged to imagine, never mind survive and thrive in. I feel that you cannot possibly comprehend the extent to which you have informed some of the best parts of who I am; they are not the outwardly intense and obvious bits I get from my rebel-rebel father, they are the stoic, silent inside that I so often feel is going to break me, but I know is part of the core, the very root system of that apple tree I come from. For you have always been the roots that keep our family tree healthy and strong, and bearing crazy-ass Ševčík-Mrnka-fruit that defies anything like normal, when it comes to categories.

This story is a work in progress. The task of attempting to portray your heroism is one of proportions most epic, and I am overwhelmed with anxiety about getting it right. There are so many more parts, so many more pages in the story of your life that I feel must be included, but it is important that I release this draft from the vault of my beloved writing lappy, before I am paralyzed with the enormity of painting an accurate word picture, of your beautiful soul. The figurative ‘stick people’ I have managed to draw on this page, will have to do, for your 81st birthday, my dearest máma.

I have faith that we will both continue to flex that never-give-up-muscle we have in common, and while another 81 for either of us is a bit of stretch, I choose to believe that we will enjoy many more years of life, love, learning and growing old(er) together.

More filtered than usual, for I know you hate it when I swear, and with all the love I have:

~Tvoje Marcelka.

PS: Thanks for the style, we do love our hats and clothes and shoes’n things!

July 17, 2017

All Rights Reserved

 

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The Evolving, Always Newly Told, Story of My Hero

Tomáš Mrnka, October 24, 1935 – July 07, 1971

Dear dad:
 
Father’s day has rolled around once more, and almost 5 decades, in this moment, feels more like 5 seconds, for I will always, and forever, miss you.
 
This apple never fell far from your tree, and for better or for worse, some bits are still hanging on. I get my rebel, my power, my wisdom, my intense and sometimes impulsive from you, as well as my ability to see the truth, and my stubborn-never-give-up. The fragility and dandelion fluff inside, the stuff that we both hid/e from the rest of the world, so that they cannot damage our oh-so-vulnerable human core(s), are also saplings of the gnarled old apple tree I see, the one that represents you in my visual mind, in my heart, in my very core.
 
It never changes for me, this Hallmark holiday, and that day in July, when we lost you. Time does not heal all wounds, it simply grows scar tissue over them which dulls the ache, allows me to think about you with some clarity, remember the entirety of your being, and how you still, almost 46 years after your untimely departure, teach me, guide me, help me keep my rebel on, with some measure of grace and dignity.
 
The evolving, newly told story of my hero
 
I want to tell you this story. It is the evolving, always newly told story of a hero. It changes as I do, through the process of growing up. He, my hero, had to be seen, by me, as human, before he could be my hero, for real for real. He was my first and biological father, Tomáš Mrnka. He was born in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia on October 24th 1935, and died, under extremely curious circumstances, in a mine shaft in Stewart BC, on July 7th, 1971.
 
It was 12 days before my 10th birthday. He was 36 years old, and when he died, everything I ever hoped for, and dreamed of, died with him. For a while… a very long while.
 
I held him on a pedestal of my own making for many, too many years after his death, and only ever thought about him in a haze of golden glory and undeserved persecution. I only ever told stories of his heroic actions: his undeserved imprisonment in the old country for a democratic cause, his valiant battle to get us, his children and wife, out of the clutches of communism following the Soviet invasion of our original home and native land, and into the country that he wanted more than anything to provide us a new life in. I knew this story so well I could recite it at the mere whisper of his name, and expound at length on his virtues and sacrifices; for his beloved country, for his beloved family.
 
The parts I left out of the story, the human bits, are as important a contributor to the true nature of his hero-status as his me-created perfection. He was the first man of many, to hit me and tell me he loves me in the same moment. He did not do this because he was evil, he did it because that is how children were disciplined; it is what he learned in the environment and culture he grew up in.
 
He was unfaithful to his beloved wife, my beloved mother, and considered somewhat of a Casanova. He was a catch: he had one of the few motorcycles in the country at the time, and a full set of leathers, a rebel with a chip on his shoulder, but he had a cause. He had attitude and the inimitable grin, wit and charm of Rhett Butler, and all the girls wanted him. My mother got him, and forgave him, over and over, to keep him.
 
She had endless discord and conflict with her beloved mother because of him. He was not only imprisoned for voicing his political beliefs against the status quo, he was imprisoned for shooting a law officer. I tell you all of this not to be-smudge his memory; I tell you this to illustrate the full context of his humanity, he was so imperfect, so human, but still a hero not despite it, but because of it. He worked very hard to redeem himself when he brought us here, to make it right, to atone, to take responsibility for the things he did not do well, the things that harmed.
 
I tell you this because we all have a dark side, a side that requires constant work and effort to keep in check, to make certain that it is not given more priority than the hero in all of us. The side that makes poor decisions based on fear rather than the belief that we will get what we need if we act accordingly; the side which is driven by the outside, all the world’s influences, rather than the inside, the core of our humanness, our hearts and souls. The side of us that ignores our innate intuition, even when the warning bells scream like the sirens in a big city. The hero in all of us, the piece that knows love and abuse cannot co-exist in one environment, the piece that informs every act of kindness and compassion we have ever given freely because that is what gives us the most true happiness. The piece that would die for the people we love, and sometimes for those we don’t even know, but feel true human compassion and empathy for. That piece, is the one we must nurture, nourish, and encourage to grow and empower.
 
I could not see my father, Tomaš Mrnka, as the authentic hero he was and is, until I could see the full extent of his humanity, without judgment, or the childish notions I carried about the perfection of a hero. I tell you this story because I have experience with imperfection and humanity, and because I miss my hero today.
 
Back to you dad:
 
Despite myself, my atheist and anti life after death beliefs and world view, I could not help but feel your presence, when my own off-shoot and I visited the places from which I have some of my strongest and fondest memories of you; Karlovy Vary, Boží Dar, Plzeň It was one of those trips, the journey of a lifetime with your widow, my mother Marcella (with two L’s ;) and my son, your grandson Thomas. We told him stories about you that he has likely heard a thousand times before, but it was different, for you had walked these streets that we were walking, you held my mother’s hand there, you held mine, my big brother Tom‘s. You came back to life for us in moments of memory so vivid that they caught our breath, and we all got to know you, and ourselves, a little better than we did in the days, the moments prior.
 
Rest in peace my beloved dad, and know that the lessons of your life, your imperfect self, and your true heroism, have followed me, taught me, led me, sometimes astray, but always back, to the true hero inside me. Almost 46 years ago, my life and world changed in a way that I spent too many years trying to numb, to feel, to figure out, to forget, to remember; and almost 46 years later I come full circle to face my own imperfection and humanity, yet again.
 
Thank you for the continuing lessons. You did well, and although my dark side comes out to play and wreak havoc in my heart and life periodically, I believe that my hero always triumphs in the end.
 
I miss your person every day, but I feel your presence, every second.
 
Always yours, and with all the flawed humanity I have,
~Marcela.
June 18, 2017

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Open Letter to my Child

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March 22, 2017

Dear Thomas,

This day last year I stood on your doorstep, and told you that Miller had died. Four days ago we stood with so many others and celebrated Matty’s life. They were both your age. Kids you knew, kids we both had significant connections to. And they both died the tragedy which your very existence provided me a most narrow escape from, so many years ago. I owe you Thomas. It has been a bizarre little year, and hard to believe how much changed, in only 365 days.  How much you have changed, in only 365 days. How much ‘we’ have changed.

We shared a roof again for the first time since you flew the mama-coop almost 7 years ago, and you got to experience my home world in a much different capacity, as an adult. During that precious, though most difficult cohabitation (we know why, but this isn’t about my ill-fated romantic escapades), I was gifted with many insights into who you have become, a view that I could not have glimpsed in the course of a less closely-quartered relationship, consisting only of weekly drive-by-huggings. I treasure that unexpected and challenging time we shared.

The kind, sweet, compassionate parts I have always known were readily visible, as always, to my ever-biased eye, and came as no surprise. They have been an integral part of you since the moment you took your first breath, and broke my heart so beautifully, on this day 26 years ago. At 1:29 p.m., Central European Time, to be precise.

Sharing space again was not the challenge, rather the battle we each waged with our respective demons-of-the-moment, which then manifested in our adult-child/childish(?)parent duo. A most welcome revelation during that brief roomie-relationship last spring and summer, was witnessing you put into practice, under highly inauspicious circumstances, some of my oft repeated, and most relentless teachings:

  • Stand up for yourself and above all, for others when they cannot!
  • Question everything, use critical thinking skills to analyze everything and everyone in the world!
  • Be willing to re-think and revise your own beliefs, always!
  • Question and challenge me, and mine!!!

That last one was/is hard for you, and I am tempted to apologize but I won’t. You did, you do good with it! I don’t make it easy. I know.

To my utter chagrin, I also watched you demonstrate some of my ‘best parenting,’ in a number of your habits, confounding, even provocative and head-strong ways of being! I can but express my remorse and regret for those bits, and forge ahead to lead by a different example than the one I obviously provided you at some point in time. Neither mama-flagellation nor Sunny-bashing is the purpose of including this piece, it is important though, to me, that I live with a more balanced view of my heroes. For not even you, my most beloved, all-time favourite human on this planet, in the galaxy, the universe, are perfect. And for me to live with that skewed perspective is a set-up for you, and for me. Because it damn well hurts when our heroes fall off the lofty pedestals, upon which we situate them. That in mind, I will only raise you to an altitude we can both withstand a fall from. Because we will, fall. Splat.

Watching you this last year, the softness you had for your babi during her painful struggle, and for me, having you close, through some of the hardest times you/we have experienced to date, and holy moly Bat-boy that says something (because have you met our life?), has yet again, been my ultimate saving grace. Once more, I owe you Thomas.

Twenty-six will be fabulous BabyCakes, and I look forward to more! More surprises, more challenges, more of everything we have always known together, more crazy, and more learning, about ourselves, each other, and how to evolve and function even better, individually and as ‘the set,’ we have always been. I can only beseech my atheist Ungods that we will always be, that set. ‘Always’ being so fully and inadequately impermanent and all, but you get my point!?

No words, no language (not even profanity), suffice to describe the gift of your presence in my world, for 26 years and counting. Who says I can’t do long-term relationships?! Our relationship has evolved, and not without serious growing pains, to something it has never been before, something I am loathe to label in any way, other than to say it is more grown up. On both ends. Which means you’re right on schedule, and me, well, sorry, bit of a late bloomer in some areas of life…

High five SunnyBoyManChildBabyCakesSnookemBooBabyCzechThommyCzechBatBoy (did I get them all?), we did well! No, we did fucking awesome! Yeah, that’s better, we did Fucking Awesome!

Happiest of happy birthdays to you child!

With the Maddest of Madd Love,

Mama.

 

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She, Valkyrie

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She, Valkyrie
cradles tattered remnants
a slaughtered spirit,
in her intrepid care.
Goddess vision
greets wounded gaze
and I beseech her,
to choose life,
for an oft wounded,
heart.

To Valhalla
for mead,
and her.
Salve
for the psyche,
soul and flesh,
of gods mythical,
and mortal,
and their concubines. 

~Marcela: beautifully lost, in a real-time myth, of my own creation.
February 18, 2017
Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie

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3 Poems, for a Salty-Sailor-Suitor

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Limerick

I have crushed on a sailor named Zeke
His ‘Salty’ some havoc did wreak
On pink oh-so-tender
Defenses useless he rendered
With nary a peek or a tweak
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Haiku

On a tranquil sea
A salt and pepper Sailor
Quells this raging squall

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Cinquain

Let’s sail
said the sailor
my vessel’s safely moored
in the haven of (y)our harbour
moon’n stars

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Yours, fairly unfettered: Myla

February 12, 2017

Poetry and Photographs: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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“Stop,” she said…

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20161225_133507“Stop,” she said to herself! “Do refrain from accusing the accusers, from negating the Nellies negative, from despising the Debbies downer! And focus, on the freedom that comes with designing, with owning, your feelings, your thoughts, your life and your choices”!

“Know,” she said to herself, “that as long as you are breathing, life will bitch slap you, over and over again! Feel the fury, agonize in the pain, and then stand up to her like the fucking Warrior Woman you are.”

“Love,” she said to herself, “self above all, for it is not an act of ego, rather the only real survival skill you will ever need.”

~Marcela: Moving, at the speed of a woman Too Much!
January 02, 2017

Photograph: My personal collection. All rights reserved.

As is – III (reNewed)

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 And as the New Year tolls its bell silently in this tiny Bay
So my spirit whispers to the never-ending purga(s)tory in this 24/7 brain:
“shhh, we are whole again.”

It is not that I was in need of repair because you broke me, for I was never broken
It is that my voice was lost in the roar of the tsunami that was your disdain for me

And as a new blanket of white refreshes the grime of salt and snowplows
So renewed faith in self cleanses my heart of the detritus you left behind

It is not that I was the dung you believed to simply wipe off your sullied soles
It is the vehemence with which you shoveled your manure onto my person

And as the streetlight on the far shore casts a long glowing ripple across the lake
So another crack opens in my heart to allow the light back in

It is not that you succeeded in extinguishing it with relentless revile
It is that I erected shelter for my very core

And as I turn the plans for this, my most recent incarnation into fruitful reality
So I recognize your singular, constructive contribution to my life:

I choose not to forgive you for the myth of forgiveness as salvation is not my creed
I will, however, put you behind me with nary a thought to our dalliance, beyond these words:

I win. Not despite your efforts to destroy me, but because of them.
And I feel nothing for you.

~Marcela: Newer than this year.
January 01, 2017
Photograph: My personal collection. All Rights Reserved.