…and change


Before I even get to the party everyone there knows I’m getting divorced, so I don’t have to tell anyone or pretend to be happier or saner than I actually am. This is what gossip is good for, I think, drinking my third glass of wine. I don’t think I’ve ever had a third glass of wine in my life. Someone tells me, “All change is for the better.” Yes, yes, I think, sipping wine and eyeing the chocolate, tell it to the dinosaurs.

New Year’s bonfire
stories of what we lost
this year



Dear friends,

2011 was hard for me. 2012 may well be harder. I’m not sure how I would be surviving without poetry, or without all of you. I’m glad I don’t have to.

Things change. And I don’t like that. I cling to the driftwood of sameness until it’s carried me so far out to sea I’ve forgotten where I came from and where I wanted to go, until the wood disintegrates and I’m left holding only splinters. And then, forced to let go and swim, I flail the way an inexperienced swimmer flails in the cold waves of the sea, not knowing that letting the wave wash over you — carry you — expends less energy and is less likely to get you drowned.

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to let those variable waves carry me and see where I get. I suspect I’ll spend some time in the deep ocean, cold and frightened, not sure how to get back. Treading water might be the best I can do for a while. But inevitably, the tide turns; salt water is easy to float in; and it seems likely that I’ll make it back eventually to some kind of solid land. Maybe not the same land I started out from. Maybe a better land, maybe worse; almost certainly survivable. And there will be poetry there and there will be friends. Possibly there will even be extended, strained metaphors. You never know.

Happy New Year, friends. And thank you for everything.


so I start thinking
about the next thing I’ll be…
all day the scent
of pine sap I can’t scrub
from my fingers


46 thoughts on “…and change

  1. hey Melissa,

    It feels apocalyptic at first. Gets better, though. Different, yes. Stay open to possibilities. I think you will–you have a talent for keeping an open heart and mind.

    and your floating strategy is sound (face up is best, I’ve found).


  2. Thanks, Melissa, for sharing your feelings in such an open, and, as always, poetic way. I just read a column by a woman who lost her husband at an early age from a sudden and unexpected heart attack. She talks about carrying a small notebook with her and jotting down her thoughts in a relentless and obsessive way for days, weeks, months, years. It was, she says, the action of writing–rather than the potential outcome of the words–that helped her get through those long days of grief. (It was only much later that she was able to look back on her grief and cull from those journals with a more objective eye to shape her pain into poetry.) How sound, I thought, and how Zen-like, and how fortunate we are as writers to have such healing at our fingertips . . . regardless of when or where we choose to share part–or all–of those words with another living soul.

    2011 has been a difficult year for me as well . . . but also a magnificent year, as it’s opened me up to a world of possibilities I never knew existed through the power of words, and short bursts of creativity that have, amazlngly, found an audience that received me with kindness and generosity and open arms. And left me with a new identity, new friends, a new purpose. Without that, I fear I too would have felt shipwrecked . . . Thank you, especially, for “being there” in the world, this world, my world, your world, our world.

    All my best always,


  3. aloha Melissa, – I’m sure you know that you are among friends even in the deepest ocean. which isn’t always the farthest from land. . . …I suspect there are a lot of us all around you. all the time. …but then… you know that. right. and heck, when the waves get really big you’re most likely quite near land – that’s where the big wave riders are too. I hope the Eddie is a go this year, then you can see how it’s done. cheers and hard laughter on you all year long. again. with hugs. aloha. r.

  4. I can well relate; it was a pong/pong kind of year for me too.

    a new year
    that which lies beneath the surface
    begins to stir

  5. Wow!
    First ; i wish you many many blessings in 2012;
    its so very hard to be separeted from someone you love; but your words above resound in hope; and that’s as good as ever a sounding board to be stepping up to face this new challenge in your life

    much love

  6. Melissa, as hard as it is – the grief is there to experience. It is part of our “humanness”. Through your words you are well on the way to healing. It just takes time and knowing that through your openness and kindness we all share your sorrow and in the future delight in your newness. Peace and blessings. We are all going through a cleansing and strengthening for health and healing and transformation. thank you for sharing. Andrea

  7. Melissa,

    At the risk of sounding totally corny . . you are among friendly natives on haiku island. Always solid ground. Seems I could never repay you for being a kindred spirit in the wilds of this ever-changing world. Be well. And thanks for the words only you can write,


  8. Melissa, the past five years have thrown plenty of challenges my way, and while I don’t always feel I am necessarily a better person for it, I am certainly a stronger one. Along the way, I have discovered that change is not just a part of life, but is life’s very essence, and that one of the most powerful coping mechanisms I have is my writing. Here’s hoping that 2012 offers you new possibilities, that you continue to take solace from your writing and friends, and that you make a safe landing on welcoming shores, when you’re ready. My best wishes, Cara

  9. Dear Melissa, I too have felt the loss of so many things with the passing year and found that perhaps I was in an alley that had led me away from my path… so I let everything go … as you seem to be doing… and just let GOD (I like to think of the goodness that keeps this old world from splitting apart in spite of itself as GOD) right everything. I’ve been analyzing my time and trying to make a schedule I can live with… it’s the letting go that’s difficult because you feel like you are letting people down… but coming to terms with my own limits and boundaries I find what is truly mine…and what is truly the life I should be living. May you be blessed through the year with the insights you gain as you follow the path of peace. Dwelling there, there is healing. Dwelling there is love and joy. I wish you peace.

  10. Melissa, I saw a movie this afternoon and in the coming attractions a stressed poet says that all life is gathering information. He then smashes his head into a mirror. Not the most uplifting images, but I thought of you and your current travails. And while a I do not advocate just gathering information all your life, it might get one thru the day, thru the week, thru the month. A better image is that you are surrounded by friends. Peace.


    • Wow, you must tell me what this movie was with the stressed poet. Yeah, I think the idea of being surrounded by friends is definitely more comforting to me than the image of smashing my head into a mirror. 🙂 Peace to you, Sully.

  11. No advice, Melissa…just a hug.
    I really couldn’t bring myself to believe it and thought it just another great haibun from you till i read the comments above.I understand how difficult it must be, but i also know you have the strength and resources within you to get over this.Happy bonfire and Happy New Year!

  12. Hi Melissa,

    Just hugs here too. I know you are more than capable of not just surviving 2012, but actually thriving long before it’s Christmas again.

    As a gifted writer you’ll get through. Both my wife and myself are looking to new ways to earn money from our writing, which will also push our creative side too.

    My wife is only just now getting over M.E. which trapped her for over a decade, at one point housebound, and later only able to get out with a mobility scooter. Later, with a walking stick, I ended up being her close protection bodyguard, because people resented someone who looked young and healthy having a stick. The worst times were at train stations. I don’t know how I kept the patience and professionalism in order not to slap someone down who tried to kick her heels or trip her.

    But I’ve met other extraordinary people who have thrived, not merely survived, through adversity, and horrible circumstances and people.

    So I know you’ll end up loving 2012! 😉

    Lots of love and admiration,


    • Alan has helped and supported more than he knows over the years. The coming economics will make things difficult for us all and we will all find that the friends who keep us in their hearts mean a great deal. What you have done with this blog, and what Alan has done with his blogs, have given new life to many. During these times we’ll all come to know the goodness that keeps us alive in this old world. My gratitude to you both. Merrill

  13. my divorce was final in march. he left me out of nowhere after 25 years the september before for a someone he knew in high school; he’d been seeing her for nearly two years and I had no clue. it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to wade through — unexpected things can just crush you when you think you’ve gotten strong. the day that used to be my anniversary was new year’s eve; yesterday my mother hosted a bridal shower for a family friend. …and I smiled somehow, cried when I got home and move through it all until I get to the other side.

    but, melissa — there IS another side. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was in my marriage until I started living alone. (my girls both coincidentally moved out when their dad did). and it took a long time, but I am seeing a reason just up ahead. I can be happy; you can be, too. I think I may have said this to you before — but stand still. wait to see where things fall.

    and breathe.

  14. Melissa,
    Keep doing what you always do and make art out of life. You do it so well. You are one of the very best writers I know, and I am so happy to have met you last year. A big hug and many good wishes to you for peace and a fresh start in 2012.


  15. I was divorced around the holidays six years ago. It was the most difficult time of my life. I was in a subsidized housing apartment, working two part-time jobs, without family around, and-worst of all-my kids weren’t with me. I really didn’t think I would make it. Some good friendships, poetry, prayer and simply stepping one foot in front of the other (or one stroke if you’re swimming!) got me through. There is still some residual pain, I wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t, but all in all my life is now happier and more fulfilled that it has ever been. Hang in there girl, we got your back! Hugs

  16. Kia kaha, Melissa.

    I’m so glad to hear that poetry is helping with the processing and healing of this new experience – it did this for me also.

    Blessings to you, my haiku sister.

    Kirsten x

  17. Melissa,
    Sending you tons of support and encouragement, no advice other than to remember how much people care about you always. Many of us are out there in the waves with you treading water. But the island is in sight!
    Take care, and thanks for your beautiful words. They mean so much.
    Hugs from your birthday sister,

  18. I thought I was reading more than I should in your recent poetry.

    Suddenly, I, who always seem to burst with words can’t find them. I wish I could simply zip through air and slice through the hemisphere to be with you for a squeeze-tight hug. We could melt on each other’s shoulders and let go—let go that ball of pain rolling back and forth in that whooshing chamber which once bedded bliss. We could flood each other’s cupped palms with tears.

    I lost my husband to a heart attack from arrhythmia fifteen years ago. I was waiting to die after I buried him. Everyday I would die or so I wished. But I didn’t and I’m glad I couldn’t. Somehow, the universe wouldn’t allow me. Or I wouldn’t be sharing this moment with you. I know that it wouldn’t let you, too.

    Go ahead sink in the abyss if in it you could learn to breathe. Go ahead, pine away among snowflakes and slake the stones. Get drenched with the doves; they know something about losing someone and even mourn. You need to like I did. It’s the only way to find

    enclosing the ocean–
    in its womb
    night hatches

    I’ll be here. Always…

    Much love,

  19. {{{{Alegria}}}}… thanks so much for such wonderful words of wisdom and love. I am so sorry to hear about the painful loss of your husband you had to endure. Love to you too, and thanks for sharing your poetry and friendship with me over the last couple of years.

  20. Melissa, I will just add my few words’ worth to this collection of invisible supporting hands of friendship. Someone who knew what he was talking about once told me that the very best time of your life may wind up being just a millisecond away from the very worst time, or vice versa. And no one knows whether that will or won’t be true. It really is like setting off on an ocean, I think. Monday evening I thought I might lose Beth; and now here she is sleeping on the couch beside me. But those invisible hands are there for all of us, whether we know it at the moment or not. Here are mine.

  21. hey, dear Melissa, I took a look at this full page only now. love your sarcastic comment about the dinosaurs–black humor will always come in handy! wow, the life of writers–these stories & testimonies are certainly a raft of support! loved your clutch of duck eggs in the corner where things are buried–felicitous!
    love & hope!

    • Yes, I’ve decided that black humor is pretty much my only option now. 🙂 And yes, all these stories are amazing…

      Glad you liked the duck eggs, it’s one of the few successful 5-7-5s I’ve ever written.

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