Humor Poem, NaPoMo, NaPoWriMo, Poetry

NaPoWriMo: Controlled Substances

My pharmacist’s assistant boyfriend
gained weight.
It brings us closer as our fingers
touch over the Hydrocodone
and our wrinkles show
and our noses shine
under the fluorescent lights.

I say in a low voice
“You know they’re for my mother.”

He leans forward and says
so gently
“I know. I remember you.”

I tell him they’re for my mother every time
to prompt his sweet nothing.
I am unashamed. I flounce
out of the pharmacy with my narcotics
swinging my hips.

-M. Ashley

Misc Poetry, NaPoMo, NaPoWriMo, Poetry

NaPoWriMo: I Am an Albino

Unrequited lover of the light
Longing for west and east facing
Curtain-less windows wide open

But built to be shy of the light
Take it all in unrestricted
Get sick from it

My skin cancers
I faint
My iris-less eyes
Twitch in pain

God comforted me once
He said, “Perhaps the light
Is maladapted—not you
Nor your love of it.”

-M. Ashley

Confessional Poetry, Memoir Poem, Poetry

Wet House in the Hungry Forest Where Girls and Boys Go to Die

There’s crying in the wallpaper that drips
July swelter. Little girls and little boys and
bigger girls and bigger boys go
here to die. I can feel them
everywhere. Their spirits
got loose but
they are as lost as I am in
this dripping house in
this heavy, hungry forest where no one would find
us, and
certainly no one would hear us and
they see this horror go down and
down and down and they want to take their
big eyes off if but they’re scared of the forest and
the wet in the forest and
all those millions of insects
ready to eat them alive and
pick their bones. I wish I could
tell them they don’t have meat and bones to
pick anymore and they can just go and
float up through the suffocating green and
god wants them
but I don’t know that.

-M. Ashley

God Poems, Poetry

After a Dream of God in War

Traveler in the city convulsion
Where singed clouds and
Sewers perpetually burst

Walk with me the mud wallow
Streets. Hold the starving pigs
Off. Drowned roaches
Burbling and fallen

Down buildings, all the All, this
Rain must be nuclear too.
My god
My legs are giving way and my

White hair is coming out in wet
Tumbles. Take me in a cab mysteriously
Still running to a dry room
A dry bed.

Count my shivering
Eyelashes as I dream of you.

-M. Ashley

Art, Body Acceptance, Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Mental Health, Prose

My Eternal Creative Space

I am working with an art therapy book geared toward body acceptance and the first art prompt was to depict our ideal creative space. I think the idea was to draw what houseplants and implements and draperies we would like in our art room, but this is what I came out with instead. It may not be a still life style depiction of what my ideal creativity space would look like–I would never be able to realistically draw a grand piano, an ancient viola, stacks and stacks of sheet music, an art table big enough to lie down on, cement floor to make messes easier to be messy, a photo studio, a recording studio, a big sink, every brush and paint and crayon and color and implement known to man, redwood tall shelves of books, red velvet chairs, open atlases mapping out all the adventures I’ve had and am yet to have, and above it all, the ceiling painted with the zodiac so I have a mapped out sky and eternally turning fate overhead always–I may not be able to realistically draw any of that, but what I did come up with accurately represents what would be going on in that space in the ether, among all that glorious stuff while the art was happening. There would be the spirit of Mercury, planet and god, and a Valentine from him charged electric positive and negative. There would be wild hair–my hair–probably red and black paint in my wild white hair. There would be me looking through my glasses, their dark frame the slightly warped symbol for infinity. My poodle, blue in this drawing for tranquility, would be there nosing my hands across the page in smarter directions than I would have ever thought of on my own. The numbers 12 and 21 would likely pop up everywhere, mysteriously as they do in every corner of my life already. The technological universe is coded on 0 and 1. My little universe is 1 and 2. There is eternity everywhere! The ouroboros, the dense spiral in Mercury’s head, the glasses… And yellow sunny swirls all over and underneath because this is Apollon and the Muses’ space as much as, if not more than mine. And finally, a treble clef because, in this space, everything sings.

-M. Ashley

Confession, Creative Nonfiction, Personal Essay, Photography, Prose, Writing Life

Self-Portrait: 2022 Is Also All About My Hair

“There is a lot of breakage.” Don’t we all feel that way?

I balked when she said it and immediately went to defend myself. It must be the scrunchie I had near permanently in my mop since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s because I hadn’t had it cut since then. It’s because the hair is in terrible condition because of pandemic neglect and not, dear gods, because it’s falling out. It’s just broken not heading for the hills. It’s just broken, not endangered. It’s just broken—more, healthy, unbroken hair is just behind it.

I got it cut in December 2021 and I feel like a human again. The broken hairs are still broken, but the unbroken ones are no longer frayed like D-grade straw, looking like a witch’s hair. Gods, was I ever embarrassed when I walked my straw haired witch’s self into the Great Clips and asked them to whack the mess off. The stylist was understanding, matter of fact as the hay hit the floor, and gave me a marvelous new start, jawline length, relief from all the burden of the last two years that had fallen well past my shoulders and almost all the way down to my waist.

So the broken ones are still broken, but they’re also still growing and now don’t have so far to go to catch up to their unbroken sisters. The mop isn’t so long that I have to keep it up in a scrunchie anymore. I don’t have to be bound all the time. No more mass breakage is imminent. 2022 is going to be a good year.

How much further can I carry this hairy pandemic metaphor? Let’s see:

The thing about the short curly hair is that there is no second chance. There is no second day hair so, if you’re going somewhere, if anyone else is meant to see you, you must must must take care of it day by day. It’s a hassle when we’ve all gotten so used to not caring much about ourselves as we huddle and hide away. But also a sign of health, this hassle, and anything, even if it’s vanity, that forces you to bathe and primp and proper yourself, is a good thing and a godsend in a time when it’s far too easy just to let go.

With the short curly do that gives no second chances, I wake up from tossing nights looking like Einstein. That’s why I was able to come up with such completely original, genius, and insightful observations about the pandemic vis-a-vis my hair.

Original, I tell you. Original.

I wish you all the best and healthiest in 2022. My goal is to be here more and make more super genius and purely original observations with both my words and my art, photographic and otherwise. My goal is to read more of your work as well. My hope is we will inspire each other. My hope is we will inspire each other enough so as to give each other the tingles. My hope is we will inspire each other enough that, tingling together, it makes our collective hair, broken and unbreakable, stand on end.

-M. Ashley

Photo: My submission for this week’s 52 Frames challenge, “Self-Portrait” I’m calling it “Gallows Humor.” Taken with an iPhone 10. Flash did not fire.