Tag Archives: My Mother

The Bearable Lightness of Seeing; My Mother Never Died.

That smile is all I ever needed to inherit from you.
That smile is all I ever needed to inherit from you.


I’m proud of you for finding the eye of the human hurricane; I’m proud of you for putting an end to what hurts; most of us can’t even find a poultice let alone a release. I now know that if I were to look at your suicide vehemently; in sadness; remorse; lack; less than; pain; that I am only saying “you’re suicide made my reality more difficult to accept” and with that understanding I am proud that you took off; I’m proud that you made your reality something that you knew how to accept; mine is fine; I’m doing well; I’m a sign language interpreter now; you’re still my mother because how I knew you was in a way that no other could have which means…


Don’t tell anyone…

You’re still here in my heart and mind; no one can take you away from me; not even you…

I love you more than I love poetry; than I love to learn about the cosmos; than I love to build things; than I love to garden; than I love to interpret; don’t worry, your secret is safe with me; I won’t tell anyone that you were never capable of dying…


Canis Lupus Peripheres – A General Overview

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Mother” redirects here. For other uses of “mother,” see Mother

Image, “Dark Breath,” a project by Linda Caracciolo Borra

The peripheral wolf (Canis lupus peripheres) is a canid native to the seat and remote suburbs of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, Florida, and New Orleans. It is the smallest member of its family, with males averaging 92–113 kg (205–250 lb), and females 36–38.5 kg (79–85 lb). It is similar in general appearance and proportions to Canis lupus campestris, or Steppe Wolf, but has a smaller head, narrower chest, shorter legs, straighter tail, and human hands in place of paws. Its winter fur is long and bushy, and predominantly a freckled brunette in color, although nearly pure white, red, or brown to black also occur.

Within the genus CanisHomo, the peripheral wolf represents a more specialized and similarly non-progressive form as its smaller ancestors (the call-girl and the enabler), as demonstrated by its morphological adaptations to hunting itself, its more manic nature, and its episodic mixed-affective expressive behavior. It is a social animal, travelling in dysfunctional families consisting of an abusive pair, accompanied by the pair’s offspring. The peripheral wolf is typically an auto-predator throughout its range, with only itself[1][2][3] posing a serious threat to it. It feeds primarily on well whiskeys, cocaine, lithium, caffeine and nicotine though it also eats halušky, prepackaged microwaveable meals, and garbage.

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Image from The White Deers

The peripheral wolf is one of the world’s least known and poorly researched animals, with probably less compassion and empathy given to it than any other wildlife species. It has a selective history of association with humans, rarely having sensitive or serious attention paid to it and hunted in most self-reflective situations due to its bipolar and depression inducing deliberate self-harm behaviors, while paradoxically being respected by itself during moments of idiopathic lucidity. Although the fear of the peripheral wolf is prevalent in, primarily, her offspring during adolescence, the majority of recorded attacks on her young have been attributed to alcohol induced aggression, the intergenerational cycle of violence and/or borderline personality disorder induced externalized aggression.

Approximately 62% of peripheral wolves have attacked people, and this is not unusual due to the limited availability of Therapy Wolf International resources. Furthermore peripheral wolves are relatively few and, while they do live amongst a society, have learned to trust themselves and others utilizing the few available resources when they are accessible. Hunting and trapping has reduced the species’ range to only vestige memories of its region, though this relatively widespread range has left an increasingly positive legacy which means that the species is not threatened at a visceral or emotional level for those who maintain its existence. Due to the suicide of the peripheral wolf, however, its physical form is no longer verifiable and is therefore classified by the IUCN as Extinct.

The Gray Wolf Poems…

In the poem, “The Suzerain Speck,” I learned, and became obsessed with, how to write the poem through the perspective of some other thing and since then have been either blogging about some iteration of this idea or notebooking some variation of this poetry form.


I began to write several poems from the perspective of Hesse’s Siddhartha through the filter of my belief system. Many of the poems were, I felt, successful however when I found myself meditating on Siddhartha at the stream another creature began to sniff around at his crossed legs, illuminated brow and lily pads.


As if one Hesse novel bledScreen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.51.04 AM itself into another – if I’d dream of Siddhartha I would be interrupted by the Steppenwolf as some pup searching for his pack, freed from his cage, taunting Siddhartha the way he’d taunt Herr Haller as a boy.

I set the Siddhartha poems aside and decided, instead, to pay mind to my Steppenwolf pup instead. While every word Hesse ever wrote impacted me in such a way that from the onset of the first page of each book I shall forever remain changed – the Steppenwolf has always found his way to permeate my soul and body without reserve.


I began to read about the Gray Wolf and wrote scribbled ideas in the side of notebooks and poetry books I was reading. In addition to this studying I’ve recently finished a class with Burgh Bees on honeybee keeping, with this in mind I began to read Nick Flynn‘s book, “Blind Huber,” which is a series of poems about the art and history of beekeeping. Many of Flynn’s poems were reflecting the same connection to the bees that I was experiencing towards the Gray Wolf; the first of the wolf poems came out in the margin of a poem about the queen bee wanting to die in a specific way… The wolf pup began to sniff around, searching for his mother.


The pup sniffs at cold where
a killing of, simply, too much
to eat alone had left a scent
redolent of pack.

His breath – a slow drift
steam, shifting, a quick
fog as, in the stream,
he out-tricks his reflection –

and to an image of ether his
breath (as everyone stands
wrapped in arms, pose, held
smile – steam, resembling

the face moved, by aperture)
moved by interest
in anything else but this…
“Mother,” he sniffs, “alpha.”

He snarls, “Judy. Never mention Judy.
We. Never. Talk. About. Judy.”
Shaken loose by a wet memory
he whimpers… “Judy.”

His paw to bare snow, and slick
as a flashback hallucinating
an instant decades passed;
the sound of that bartender

pint glass-plunge into the ice
bucket – crunch… “I am sitting
below her bar stool, I am heeling,
mouth closed waiting

for the reinforcer, she loves
me as I do her.” The whiskey
stench of his mother tongue
against his neck fur…

Tracking the eidolon of perfume
in the hallways of some dark
night club; sunlight, bathing
through tree branches,

dancing the komorebi; her scent
on pine bark, paw prints in snow,
her icy reflection in the stream,
dancing the ignis fatuus.

His nostrils yawn at the memory
of canines bared in a snarl,
eyes distend in tears at the howl,
the teeth and gum glare..

the pup sniffs at cold where
a killing of, simply, too much
to handle alone has left a scent
redolent of her grief…

The Codependent Paradox part 1

You really don’t think suicide is a selfish act?

She asked…

I left work at 4:45pm that day. I stood at the bus stop outside of school waiting for the 14 down Ohio River Blvd.

It was 21 degrees out, and may as well have been inside as well when I spoke, pacing, from telephone pole to sewer grate waiting for the $2.25 ride home…

(Is anyone aware of an HTML code to indicate internal voice? Or is it simply the parenthetical aside indicative of a fourth wall break wherein this case the wall is egoic?)

(Suicide is a selfish act.) I, parenthetically, voiced inward…

I doth protest too much, methinks.

Methinks this makes me a hypocrite.

“Suicide is a selfish act.” Is an incomplete thought. It is an, at best, equivocal thought that provides us with a few paradoxes of choice, independence, codependence, definitions and projections or reality etc.


Huston… We have a mistake…

Suicide is a difficult subject to approach for all; first hand– I know this.

“Wherever you do not want to go is where you will find him, he is hiding behind your pain. Embrace your pain and you will win this game.” – Guy Ritchie, “Revolver.”

Suicide, as we’ve defined above, is the voluntary, independent, taking of ones own life. Or, if you prefer, etymologically it’s reduced to, “self killing.”

When I think, again, of the phrase; “suicide is a selfish act.” I am left, less, with the desire to define and understand suicide as a concept and more, rather, at understanding selfishness.

Now let’s complete the thought…

Suicide is a selfish act because the person committing suicide isn’t thinking about the feelings of those left behind.

What I’ve come to refer to as The Codependent Paradox. As Melody Beattie has been telling us for decades– we’re to be Codependent No More… And I agree with her.

But like an irresistible force paradox we are left with a conundrum.

A person who wishes to commit suicide is selfish because… Because it will hurt me and the loved ones they’ve surrounded themselves with. This sentence is inherently hypocritical and paradoxical and states a few conclusions…

  • 1.) If a person is to be codependent no more, then suicide, a free will, independent action, is an option.
  • 2.) Suicide is selfish because it makes my life more complicated is, quite possibly more selfish than suicide.

Katie is often quoted as saying some variation of, “I love you and, thus, why would I ever want for you what you do not want for yourself?

The Codependent Paradox is simply this… A person wishes to kill themselves but must think of how this will effect the living. What if suicide is the best option for the person? It is, however, their reality. Furthermore how can we love someone and respect their being without respecting their every choice?

I’m left with more thoughts than answers at the moment and will come back to the subject after I’ve spent more time with it.


How I Learned to Love Byron Katie (Or, “How Reality is a Feedback Loop.”)

A little over two years ago, Blake Ragghianti


…was sitting on my living room couch expounding on music, poetry, Jeff Buckley and, “oh,” he says to me, “get a piece of chalk and write this on your board… I’m not too certain about this yet,” he adds, “but I believe there is something there. So write down these four questions, we need to think about them…”

  • Is it true?
  • Is it absolutely true?
  • How do you feel about it?
  • Who would you be without it?
  • Turn it around.

That’s it?” I asked him.

Yes, well,” he stammered, “I believe so, I’m not sure that’s all of it though.

What Blake was referring to was his recent discovery of the methodology of Byron Katie; simply entitled, “The Work.” It was a methodology that he would soon perfect, a methodology that he would attempt to get certified in. As far as I am concerned, his mastery of the questions is certification enough for me.

Who is Byron Katie?

Besides someone who looks like she’s about to try and sell you an arthritis bracelet…


Many sources give her the label of a “spontaneously enlightened being.” This is something that I don’t agree with entirely; which is to say that it is something that I do not entirely disagree with. Recalling the story from memory now—Katie was in a massive state of depression for much of her life and as she lay on her bedroom floor (for she felt undeserving of a bed) she realized suddenly that nothing that she believed was true.

Is this true? That everything we believe isn’t true?


I know that what I believe is absolutely a product of my, and only my, what they call, connectome.

[For an interesting and poignant video on what a connectome is I refer you to a Ted.com lecture featuring Sebastian Seung called, “I am my connectome.”]

In other words I know that what I believe is a product of my subjective reality. My beliefs are a product of my story and mine alone.

I believe that the smell emanating from The Original French Market Restaurant at the corner of St. Philip and Decatur Street in New Orleans is in the top 3 most beautiful things I have ever smelled. My friend Kelly adamantly disagrees with me.

Does this make this a beautiful smell or not?

A person walks into a room and tells a joke. Simultaneously I laugh and Kelly does not. Is the joke teller a funny person?

I believe that a Sage and Gin Gimlet is a delicate and sensual libation that shakes me upside down with a single sip. Would Kelly think so? Does this make this drink a perfect drink?

I could listen to Al Bowlly for hours on end. Does this make him a good musician?

I believe that, again, my beliefs are a product of my history, my story.

This is the basic foundation of Byron Katie’s work. Because, if your beliefs really are only a product of your story then what you have are a myriad projections onto the world around you. And, accordingly, the world around you will reflect who you truly are. The world around you will reflect your story always, all ways.

In other words – everything is a cloud.

(What do you see?)

And if the world reflects who you truly are, if everything is truly a projection then we create our own reality.

Byron Katie’s questions are a means to accessing peace for the troubled times. For, as she states, when our beliefs are leading us on an exciting and beautiful path they don’t need the Work. Why? Because they are, “already working for us.”

Let’s try an example here then. A deliberate example. Something I have wanted to work on for a while now.

My mother should not have committed suicide…

Yes, that’ll do just fine for an example.

(Those questions that Blake had me write on my chalkboard weren’t exactly right. And though I will be working through an example of the questions right now, you can directly download instructions from Byron Katie’s website here or here.)

Is that true?

The only way something shouldn’t be happening is if it isn’t. The only way something should not have happened is if it didn’t. Otherwise I would be simply arguing with reality and I’m not that arrogant.

How do you think, feel and react when you believe the thought, “my mother should not have committed suicide,” and she still isn’t alive? She still did commit suicide?

I miss her, a lot and often. It’s one thing to have to mourn the loss of a person, it’s an entirely other thing to mourn the loss of a future with them. I feel a sense of anguish, shame, guilt, fear, anger, depression when I think about her committing suicide instead of getting help. I’m angry that she didn’t call me or call someone. I’m just fucking hurt.

And who would you be without this thought? Imagine your mother, she’s passed away and you are incapable of thinking the thought, “ she shouldn’t have committed suicide?” Who are you and what is your relationship to her now? Who is she now?

I am still me. I am living my life, existing. Still attempting to follow my excitements and joys. When I think of her without this thought… Without this thought I respect that she is passed. Without this thought I am ok with her being gone. Without this thought I am living in the present and excited for tomorrow. Without this thought, she is still very much alive in my heart.

At which point comes one of the self-contained epiphanies… It isn’t my mother’s suicide that is disturbing me, it is my thought concerning her suicide that is disturbing me.

Now, turn it around to the other…

My mother should have committed suicide…

Now provide at least 3 reasons why this is more true than the original statement.

  • She was wrestling with demons so much larger than her it was as if Cain and Abel were trapped inside of one body. A diagnosis of Manic Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, an extreme alcoholic, cocaine addict. Notwithstanding the 3 warrants out for her arrest.
  • She existed in a hell that only she could see and she was on a steady decline. She’d tried every therapist, every pill.
  • It was her life, and it is, as I believe, the ultimate act of free will to commit suicide.
  • She’s at peace. Even the Catholics changed their doctrine, “suicides” no longer go to hell. According to the Catholic church people no longer, “commit suicide,” but rather, “die from suicide,” as they would from any other disease because the suicide has had their mind taken by illness.
  • This list could extend much further I’m certain.

Now, turn it around to the self

I should not have committed suicide…

  • Because I am not my mother.
  • Because I believe in the 50% rule
  • Because I know the pain I have gone through, I know the pain that those living have gone through, I know what those people around me would feel if I did.
  • Because I know that life gets better all of the time. Regardless of depression or pain, I have seen many more happy days and exciting days that I have their opposites.

I certainly miss my mother, there is no question about this.

The point is, however, that Byron Katie’s method allows you to get to the core of the material that hurts you the most. You learn that your reality is a conglomeration of your projected beliefs and that when you are believing something negative– it isn’t true.

I’ve learned not to argue with reality, to “love what is,” to let go of that which is emotionally damaging. To keep what is emotionally healing and to learn from my past.

Every time I put something through, “The Work,” I’m given a unique perspective on myself and the world within which I project and live.

But then again…

Maybe none of that is true either…

“Hallowed be my Life, Part I.” (Or, what my mother wanted to title her book…)

She was born in 1953, a date I can’t remember.


What she talked about her early years involved the minimum. Stories of abuse from her father. A repudiating mother. A time, a story, she told me time and again, “he came in when I was in the bathtub, belted me, water went everywhere.” The grandparents I knew were kind, caring and contradictory to my mother’s idea of them.

They came from a generation of workers, steel mill workers, engineers and cold, emotionless. My grandfather worked for Westinghouse. He was an inventor. Always, all ways, making something viz. a cement mixer from a metal trash can on a rotating motor, a pressurized air container, a welding machine the size of a shoe box.

The list goes like a truck of oranges unloading on a steep hill. His workshop, schematics for any and all things scribbled in pencil everywhere; like Zampanò’s apartment.


A few year ago I found, in the blue crate, a child’s diary from when she was younger. It was everything typical. Which boy she was, or wanted to be, kissing. Which friend she’d lost to gossip. The thing is-


– she wasn’t special.


She was a teenage girl who wanted to fit in and fall in line with the popular crowd. She wanted to be noticed, noticeable, liked, entertained and full of laughs. The diary of hers stopped being written in in high school. And then the smiling stopped…


The smiling of hers became encased in the reliquary of a dust footprint on the moon.

She’d known who Shirley was her entire life and was never told who she was. She’d known Judy too, but never who she was.

Coughing through the cigarette smoke pouring from her fathers fingers, July 20th, 1969- everything changed. Everything began it’s 34 year long deterioration.

I wonder if they never told her, would the switch inside her have lain dormant and untouched? Would her sickness have stayed sleeping like a panther unbothered, patient and waiting for its own death? Would I have ever been born? How am I so different from her when I so often feel the same terrors coursing through nerves and memories as she felt?

The Panther.

The panther paces.

Waiting reminds him that clarity is painful
but his pain is unreadable,
obscure, chiaroscuro to their human senses.

In time they will misread his gait,
his moon mad eyes,
the almost gentle way his tail caresses the bars.

In time they will mistake him
for something else–
without history,
without the shadow of being,
a creature without the penance of living.

They will read only his name.

They will be unable to perceive
what strangeness
lies beneath his patience.

Patience is the darkest side of power.

He is dark.
He is black.
He is exquisitely powerful.

He has made pain his lover
and hidden her completely.

Now he will never forget.

She will give birth to memories
they believe he has been broken of.

He smells the new rain,
tastes its change.

His claw skates along
the cold floor.

Love curled up and died
on such a floor.

He blinks.
Clarity improves.

He hears other creatures scream and fade.
But silence is his.

He knows.

In time the gates will open.
In time his heart will open.

Then the shadows will bleed
and the locks will break.

The Four Children

Shirley Cavanaugh.


The Call Girl and the Cop.

The Call Girl…

And the brain tumor.

Shirley had a validated four children; Forest, Ruth, Jim, Judy.

Forest was an early death, age 8, scarlet fever or similar early death illness, and is buried in a cemetery in Florida.

I’m 13, my family is visiting his grave. I don’t feel anything, no one expects me to. My mother is crying, my father is supporting her, my sister and I waiting by the car. A family vacation to visit my mother’s side of the family. The side of the family that spilled the crazy in the deep end of the gene pool. There is a wedding for someone, we visit Disney World, we visit my dead uncle’s grave. My mother’s brother.

I’m 15 years old. Jim is a name I’ve never heard, a name my mother has never heard. They’d spent they’re whole lives searching for each other for Jim to show up at our house in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. I look out onto the lawn. It’s my mother. Her twin.


I am at least 4 different ages and Aunt Judy, I wish I could have been closer too as I grew. All contact information on my uncle Jim, my aunt Judy– lost.

The Call Girl and The Brain Tumor.

That second youngest child wailing in a dehydrating meow. Soiling in a soiled crib. The wooden bars, the pillow, the teddy bear, a baby; a diorama of neglect.

By the time my mother was found she was in poor health; in baby terms, that’s worse than poor. They found the name of her mother from the neighbors who found her in that crib…

Shirley Cavanaugh…


(My ten year ago self would, now, mutter beneath his abused breath; everybody leaves; attachment is meaningless.

But this isn’t true is it? In this journey, this pathway to understanding therapy and self-help as an adult one of the most important lessons I learned came from reading Deepak Chopra literature…

(I will often use the term, “esemplastic” throughout this blog to describe the cathedral of therapeutic intellect that I have devised; familiarize yourself with the term and concept. And also realize that everything is connected. All of what you have learned and value in literature, mind, heart, emotion, cognition &c. are all just houses you drive to, restaurants you eat in, bars you drink at, friends you laugh with- this is esemplasticity (if that is an actual word, I’m uncertain) at it’s finest. Nothing is separate. And everything influences everything else. See also: the Noosphere. See also: Limbic Resonance. See also: the Collective Consciousness. See also: I am, at heart, a skeptic and understand much of what I have faith in is pseudoscience. Useful ideas do not require scientific validation for me to utilize them.)

…from Deepak Chopra I learned the Law of Detachment which states that,

“in detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty… In the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilites, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”

/tangent )

Shirley was gone. And Ruth was given to the next, available, of kin– Arthur and Elsie Horensky; the people that I would grow to know as my grandparents, that my mother grew to know as her parents.

It is July 20th, 1969

Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin are stepping out of the lunar module Eagle, My mother and her parents are sat flat, anticipating with the rest of the world in front of a black and white TV set.

Ruth is sixteen.

Sixteen years old,” her father coughs through the smoke of a Doral Doral cigarette.

The thing about some adoptions is – if you keep it close and in the family – no one has to know about it. That old expression – How do you know who your real daddy is? Because your momma told you so – that’s this; just in reverse. Who do you know who your real mother is?

Because your father is about to tell you, “now’s as good a time as (cough) any.

My mother’s mother was Shirley Cavanaugh, my mother’s great aunt’s name was Elsie Horensky– Grandma.

You’ve been gone for years now, I still miss you. I’m glad that we had lunch before you passed away, that I had the chance to tell you that having you as a grandmother is something I wouldn’t have survived without. You are wonderful to me.

Elsie and Arthur played the role; The Parent Game.

The thing is,” he muttered…

The Call Girl and the Brain Tumor…

You know that woman? Shirley? Down the street some? The women in the hospice with the brain tumor now? That’s your real mother, and Judy? Your friend down at Winkey’s Diner? That’s your sister. (cough)

Eight months old and my mother lay emaciated and dehydrated in a forgotten crib in some abandoned room; the perfect recipe for a feral child – this, is how Ruthy Cavanaugh became Ruth Elza Horensky.

What did Shirley go through? What did her mother go through? And her mother? It’s so often the parents who create this sort of conflict and fistless life fight.

But when my mother turned 16 and the men landed on the moon – what was thought as a simple step for my grandparents was a forced and faithless leap for my mother –

My grandfather, he lit another Doral Doral cigarette, inhaled deep, scratched the arm of his favorite couch and pointed, as Neil and Edwin step out the Eagle, at the TV screen screen while muttering under his breath the only thing he could possibly say in this time to comfort my mother…

“This sure ought to piss off those Russians…”