Song for the Dead and the Living

All we can do is try.

Trite? Yes.




It is time.

C & B


It’s not always a walk in the park.

But when it is, those are the days to cherish.

I will leave you with this:

All we are is…

Rewind / Splitting Image

“?diputs os eb uoy nac woH”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT


“?diputs os eb uoy nac woH”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT

.onnud I

“?diputs os eb uoy nac woH”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT

.pool wen a ot dehctiws si epat ehT








ot eganam I efil ym otni semoc taht doog gnihtyrevE……wonk I

“.kaerb uoy chout ouy gnihtyrevE”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT

.wonk I

“.kaerb uoy chout ouy gnihtyrevE”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT

.wonk I

“.kaerb uoy chout ouy gnihtyrevE”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT

.pool wen a ot dehctiws si epat ehT

…wonk I…kO…haeY

“.pukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoy, pu kcuf a er’uoy, pu kcuf a er’uoY”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT


“.pukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoy, pu kcuf a er’uoy, pu kcuf a er’uoY”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT


“.pukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoy, pu kcuf a er’uoy, pu kcuf a er’uoY”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT


“.pukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoypukcufaer’uoy, pu kcuf a er’uoy, pu kcuf a er’uoY”

.niaga pool ehT .desserp si nottub yalP ehT


The only sound is the heavy tread of my boots across the asphalt of the playground and the rattle of the cassette in my hand as I pace back and forth. I admit, the place doesn’t look familiar to me even though I know I spent years of my life running around like a loon in it…but the statue of “The Three Bears” is still here, and I find that comforting. Its weathered bronze is worn away to a dull, shining gold in places by the hands and bodies of thousands of children who’ve touched it, clambered and climbed and fallen and gotten right back up to continue to clamber and climb it all over it. Me included.

I love this statue.

I’m glad it’s still here.

I continue to pace, looking down at the cassette in my hand, shaking it, watching the tiny reels inside unspool slightly, the tightly-wound magnetic tape becoming evermore undone with each jerk of my trembling hand. I take a breath, and pull a cigarette out of the pack in my left back pocket with my free hand. Crack the little blobule inside to make it “extra menthol”. Bring it to my lips. Take another breath. Pull the lighter out of the front left pocket of my jeans. Take another breath. Light the cancer stick…


Breathe deeply.

“C’mon, Ma.”



And suddenly, she’s there. Sitting at the base of the statue the same way she used to sit on the couch at home. Cigarette in hand, lightly hunched forward like she was reading the TV Guide on the coffee table in front of her to sort out her viewing options for later in the evening. She looks the way she did when I came home for good in December 2001, when I first walked into the apartment after a week going cross country on Amtrak. Wearing casually comfortable clothing, the Talbolt’s kind of sweats, leisure-wear for the stylish and classy.

Her hair was close-cropped Caesar style, pure white, and it looked absolutely fucking AMAZING on her.

But she needed the wig.

She looks up and over her glasses at me, eyeing me up and down, and takes a drag off her Chesterfield King.

“You’re still fat.”

I crick my eyebrow and smirk.

“And you’re still dead.”

There is a pause.

She lowers her head slightly and laughs quietly, same as she did when we first had that conversation that Friday in December, when she’d told me I’d gotten fat, and I stood there and responded “And you’ve gotten old.”


She said that too, back then.

“You didn’t have jowls though,” she says with a smirk, taking another drag.

Shoulda known. I shake my head, flicking my cigarette with my thumb like I’m typing on a telegraph. S.O.S.  S.O.S.  S.Ohfuck this.

“Number one – I’ve got Grandma’s build. No two ways about it. Big tits, broad body, like my meat and my whiskey. Number two – You’ve got jowls as well, wise-ass.” I finally take a puff off my smoke and let it curl in and down, then exhale it up and out through my nose like a sleepy dragon.

“What’s number three?”

I snort.

“There is no three.”


I smirk and bow my head slightly in acknowledgement of same.

Then hold up the tape.

“What the hell is that?” she asks, leaning back slightly, another whole and lit Chesterfield King appearing in her hand.

I toss it to her.

She catches it, sparks and ashes from her cigarette flying everywhere as suddenly a tape player appears in front of her, hovering lightly in the air like a hummingbird.

“Barbara? What is this?”

I recognize the Tone, and I look at her. Her greyish-green eyes are sparking behind the light tint of her glasses. This, I know on instinct. Her face has settled into the stone cold Kanyak Supreme face. The one with no emotion except lightly boiling anger. The one…the one…the one I’m terrified of. Because I’ve seen it in the mirror way too many times.

I smile the smile that scares me most and take another drag off my Camel Green, before I drop it and crush it with my boot. “I’m magic.”

“Barbara Ann…”

I take a breath.

The only sound is the heavy tread of my boots as I walk over to the base of the statue, and then the quiet grunt of my exhale as I sit down next to her, leaning back against the bronze. I let my head rest against the foreleg of the bear behind me, and close my eyes. “You wanna know so bad, listen to it.”

There is a very, very, very long silence.

All things considered, it’s oddly peaceful. I kinda want a smoke, but I don’t want to break the…I dunno…painful serenity of the moment. I’m torn, so I just keep my eyes closed, and be.

Finally…”I never called you a fuck up.”

I smile slightly, feeling the tears well up behind my eyelids. “No. You didn’t. But after a while, after everything….that’s what I came away with.” My voice has turned into the growly grumble that happens to me after a certain point, when I realize that I have to talk about heavy shit and don’t necessarily want to, but do anyway. “See, you get told something long enough, you begin to extrapolate. And so…and thus. I became The Fuck Up.”

I can smell the smoke from her Chesterfield King as she exhales slowly, heavily.

“I told you. I was always proud of you.”

I take a breath.

Open my eyes, and look at her.


I watch her face change, expressions and emotions flying across her features like an old time Zoetrope on a centrifuge.  Now I understand what my friends see sometimes. It finally settles into Righteously Angry Claire. “You didn’t listen!”

I don’t budge from my position. I don’t flinch. I don’t even yell back like I would normally. “You didn’t say it loud enough, Ma.”

It’s the growlygrumble, and I can’t do anything about it at this point. Same as I can’t do anything about what I say next.

“I love you. You did the best you could with what you had, and I know I wasn’t easy. None of it was easy. But that tape…?” I manage to point at the cassette still in her hand. “….it’s gotta go.”

I take a breath, never taking my eyes off hers.

“I get the anger. I get the fear. I get the loneliness and the heartache and the longing. I get all of it. More than maybe even you’ll understand at this point. Now. Now…?” I take a breath.

“I can’t listen to it anymore, Ma.”


The only sound is the wind through the trees above me. I open my eyes and am alone, standing in the same spot I was when I first saw her appear. The Three Bears are still there. She isn’t. I pick up my hand, open it, and dust trails from my palm, swirling and skirling and dervishing in the wind.

The cassette, at least the master one, is gone.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” I find myself saying. My voice is still growly.

I know there are others still out there. But…maybe…maybe…they’ll fade in time.

I look down, and there’s a crushed cigarette at my feet. I bend down and pick it up. Wouldn’t do to leave it here. This…this is…a sacred space. Least…for me. And for the kids who still come here.

And as I do so…I hear something new.

The sound of a child’s laughter…mine…and then…my mother’s.


I smile, and say to the wind “I love you, Ma.”