Tag Archive: Family

Second Home

Our second home is

this second-hand love,

our matching failures,

the lingering aroma

of struggle and divorce.

The costs are high,

in dollars and children

lost in the shuffle.

But it’s shelter, still,

for me, for him,

for the second-hand dogs

(because how could we

do anything but rescue?).

There’s no ocean view

or peeks of mountains,

only us, together,

feeding the birds

and unpacking our bags.


For John, on our 9th “gave him my number”-versary. <3

Sandpaper letters


Sandpaper letters


Do you remember learning the alphabet?

Tracing your tender fingers along the fine-grain sandpaper

carefully glued to the squares of black and white poster board that

I’d cut by hand the best I could, and good enough; I knew some tricks.


I copied the letters from a Montessori book because I wanted

to make them just like the school; the one we left behind

with our friends and your favorite Chuck E Cheese

for the hell-heat of Texas, just in time for everything to fall apart.


I gave them away, the letters, and yes there were numbers, too,

when you were reading well, when it was well past time.

But my fingers recall the dedication, and the knuckle skin lost in the quest

for no sharp edges, convinced your love of language was at stake.


Yes it was overkill; I often mourn my perfectionist’s lost time, but I’m

different now, and even with aching knuckles I can still trace the sharp edges

of my mistakes and the confidence I wore like skin that I would always

be there when you needed me to smooth your edges too.


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

Dear John,



There’s a line in this song I like, and I really do like the song, it’s gorgeous actually (Sooner Surrender by Matt Nathanson), but this one line, it just kept bugging me, just that niggling bit at first, then more. So I thought about it, because I’m into staring at stuff that makes me nervous. And it made me realize something really huge that I love about you. And that’s pretty cool considering I’m a little mad at you right now. (Only a little, and I’m sorry for being a little weird the last few days too.) So anyway the line is:

“You got someone new singing you your songs now.”

And I hear it and I think:

“Okay, I get that he’s a musician singing to a lost love, but still, wtf? Why isn’t she singing her *own* damn songs? I love a musician and he’d never say it like that.”

And it’s been slowly dawning on me that it’s because you never have sung me my songs. You always just gently stepped aside and let me sing if I felt like it. You’ve done a pretty amazing job of not being like most guys I’ve ever met (who needed to own me in some way). In fact it’s so revolutionary to me that I used to fight it. I was confused about the freedom I didn’t even understand that I had until you took it for granted. I was pretty mean. No, horrible. You weren’t peachy either. But damned if even through those fights (the ones I think I started just so I could yell out loud some of the crap we were going through), damned indeed if you didn’t treat me like my own person. And with so much more respect than I was showing you at those times.

I wish more people were like you. I mean, not in every single way, sorry love, but just giving each other space to be whoever the hell they’re trying to be. And you change and grow into something new a lot, and yes it makes things a little chaotic, but never boring, and I’m free to grow any way I need any time because you get it. And you have my back, and I hope you know just how very much I have yours. I just want you to know that I think you really are the best person I know. Thank you for five weird and amazing years of marriage, and for all the rest to come.



When you were a man


When you were two years old, or three

You told the most wonderful stories

About the times way back,

You always said,

When you were a man.

We laughed lightly

Somewhat bewildered by it all

But we listened carefully

For these stories

Your stories

Were clearly magic things.

You spoke with authority

And we knew completely

That in the times way back

When you were a man

You were a good man

And strong and wise.

Well looking at you today full grown

And listening to the things you said

I finally understood

That all of your stories

However strange they seemed

Way back then

Were indisputably true.


~ Liesl Dineen

Day 4.

Going under


The reflections are broken

But I can see you there

Glaring at the surface

As my hand breaks the water

Pleading for help.


And I see in your face

You are stuck on the shore

Angrily assuming

That I already blame you

For letting me drown.


~ Liesl Dineen

(5-day poetry chain challenge, day 1.)

We should stop hiding

There was once a time when I looked good, like really really good. Like this picture here.00000262

Kinda nice, right? Of course, if you’d have asked me, I’d have said oh yuck, I’m meh at best. And yes, those fake pearls were all the thing in the 80s, so get off my back.

Anyway, blah blah blah, weight happens, and it happened to me. I could tell you it was trauma-related. It was. But then it was just comfortable. And then it was impossible. Also, I had kids, that sure was an extreme thing to do to a body. And bedrests and surgeries, and you get the picture, right?

Oh, no you don’t, because I don’t show those pictures. Well, until now. Because I was going through old stuff today, and found them, and it’s the day after Mother’s Day, and I’m with my kids in these, and I’m just happy being mom.

I never felt good about how I looked, never had the right clothes, never took the time to do anything about it except avoid mirrors. I lost a lot of weight about 10 years ago, and suddenly “Sure I’ll pose for those pictures…” Well, a lot of the weight is back on now, and I hate pictures of myself again. But I’m still posing for them sometimes. I figure I should have *some* proof of a life after all. I’m so glad I have the pictures from the last 8 years with friends and family, so many adventures!

But in my 20s and 30s I spent most of my time hiding from the camera. Apparently my parents weren’t fooled, and took shots anyway. Thank goodness! Because today when I looked at these pictures, I thought, wow, I remember that day, I remember that moment, the things the kids were doing, the books I was reading to them, the clothes, haircuts, all that love love love. And it made me happy. And then I was like, what the hell was I hiding from? Well, I’m glad someone found me. Also, I look gorgeous.

Now please stop hiding your beautiful light from the world! And I’ll keep working on that too.

P.S. Damn, those kids are cute, right?

me nuzzling my son

Sometimes you just gotta nuzzle.

me and my daughter

Oh her eyes!

me and my son laughing big

This kid still cracks me up constantly. <3



me and my son

You could manage to exhaust him into posing…

me and my daughter

MerleFest, camping and music and this cool kid.

very pregnant with my son

Didn’t deliver him for another MONTH!!

me very pregnant and tired

Okay, it wasn’t all delight!

me and my baby girl

She was born intense.

me reading to my girl

We used to negotiate the number of books per bedtime.







I lie all the time. I tell people I’m fine. Dandy. I mean, sure, there are some hard times, but you just gotta breathe. Go with the flow. I seem so wise, right? I mean, even *I* believe that I’ve got it together sometimes.

Well, that is until my tooth hurts so much I can’t chew, or let any water flow to that entire side of my mouth, and the dentist, who I took two weeks to call, says well dear, you’re cracking your molar from clenching your jaw shut all the time, that’s very bad. And then I get fit for a night guard, and told to use it during the day too when I can, because this isn’t just a night thing, hasn’t been for a while now. And the dentist, who FINALLY pronounces my name right by the way(!), says wait, your kids are all out of the house, what do *you* have to be stressed about.

And so I lie again, and say absolutely nothing that I know of should be stressing me out, I can’t understand it myself (which wasn’t really a lie, because I’m just dumb sometimes). And I go home and my own guts start to try to kill me with (ahem) very unpredictable and unpleasant behaviors. So I wait another few days, miss a day of work, and finally get my butt to therapy, where truth happens in spite of my best damn efforts.

Headaches, jaw clenching, gut issues, messed up shoulders and neck. Hmm, what do we have here? Well, it might just be stress. Let’s look deeper, shall we?

Oh my, the stress isn’t just simply daily stuff getting to me, it’s me trying to hold back anything, no, everything unpleasant, which works fine for a little while until the stuff all builds up and I’m trying to dam the whole ocean, which is really a terrible idea as it turns out. Scratch the surface of the dam and I start to leak, and please pass the tissues and just hold on tight because this might take a while. And I’m drowning in sorrow which is NOT depression (phew, for now), but still sort of just, well, awful. And it’s all this close to Mother’s Day when strangers ask about your kids, and friends ask about your kids, and why is this stupid holiday a thing anyway?!

I miss my kids, all of them. But mostly, I miss my girl, because I can’t even say hi to her and get a hi back. And I miss the promises life made to me when I pushed and pulled her out into the world, the ones that said I’d have a hard time with this one, she’s stubborn, and I was excited to suffer the future because I could raise her in love, and it was an adventure and I was up to it. I was, and I am. I was ready for the work. I wasn’t ready to lose the chance, and I’m lying whenever I say I’m fine about it. I’m not fine. But I’m okay. Or I will be okay. Or I’m lying again.

Either way, doctor’s orders, I’m working on a self-care regimen. My go-to method of coping is to not cope. I don’t know how to focus on myself for very long, and it makes me all weird and self-conscious. I don’t know if I should be around people or alone. I don’t know if I should write, read, or just watch re-runs. I don’t want to get a pedicure and I don’t think it will help, but oh I really do need a decent haircut. And some clothes that fit this stress-fed body. But but but I don’t know how to start. Also, where the hell did I put my night guard?

That moment

Day 25: moment poem

That moment

I didn’t know that moment
when I lost all control
and called you a bitch out loud
would last longer
than any of the million moments
when I held you close
and listened with all I had.
I simply didn’t know
just how relative
time really is.

~ Liesl Dineen 2015


Day 23: For today’s prompt, write a historic poem. It could be a poem about a landmark event, specific battle, an era in time, or whatever you consider a historic happening.



On September twelfth, or maybe it was the thirteenth,

My son, who had turned five in May, drew his first two pictures

One was of the towers on fire, people jumping and running

The other was of his toddler sister, fresh forehead gash spouting blood

She had fallen just days before the towers, pushing backwards on a chair

Landing on the corner molding, the blood spreading impossibly fast

It was then I realized that he didn’t know how to dial 911

And that he needed reassurance as much as I needed the operator

To tell me how to use compression with a dishtowel to stop the flow

Something I’d been trained to do and yet couldn’t remember in the moment

She’d screamed through the stitches, lending him a lifelong distrust of hospitals

The memories of her fall repeated for us as much as the loops on CNN

The blood and the falling all mingling into one experience of disaster

And the first realization that as much as he’d always been able to count on me

I simply couldn’t put things back the way they were this time

And we would all have to learn to live with the scars


~ Liesl Dineen 2015


Day 21: Write about what you are, or what you are not.



I’m not sitting with the guitars waiting for you to pick

I’m not drooling for a treat while performing one more trick

I’m not warming in a sauté pan preparing for my cook

I’m not sure what I’m even doing in your picture book

I’m not overly prone to complaining about the weather

I’m not sure that all this matters as long as we’re together


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

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