Thursday, July 30, 2015

I Am Me



  photo 597411d4-5a93-4012-a5d0-b6b002b9b18d_zpsa4db5155.jpg
I often wonder how it would have been
if I hadn't reached this age and instead died like my mother at 44.
I kept dreading that 44th year of my life, and holding my breath
as it finally approached . . .  but then it passed, like the eye of a storm.

Ah! I was safe from the curse I'd fantasized, and my life would go on!
I could cut another thread from my mother's vest, resigned to the
fact that God had sent me a reprieve.

None of us realize how glued we are
and always will be, to the story of our lives
and the narrative we've memorized and regurgitated
time and time again thinking, like the Ten
Commandments, it was carved forever in stone.

But even stones change over time, as the rains pour
and ocean waves pound hard through the years,
smoothing and changing their surfaces once jagged and rough.
And so it goes with the superstitions of my Sicilian upbringing.
They've lost their hold on me; smoothed over and pounded
by my time-healed wounds. 

I am Me, and this life is my own. No one to blame for the roads
I chose to take. My past and its memories are mine alone
and so is my future. Like the marks and spots on my aging skin,
my surface has been altered much since that 44th year.

What's inside this heart and soul though, is a flame still burning,
never changing, since before I was born.  It's fueled by the love
of those I cherish, the Gifts of my life and the God who knows my name.

Joanne Cucinello   2015



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Me . . . No More

Photobucket

The earth is still tonight.
Not a leaf turns outside my window
no mouse scrambles in the hedges,
and the cricket castanets are silent now.
Even the Moon has turned her face
and will not hear my cries.

I am alone in my darkness, wondering
about the end of my days.
I want to sleep and let this wait
until the morning when I see the sun.
But no . . . the time is now
and this night has shaken my soul.

Ancestors whisper and I hold my ears.
“Are you ready?” they ask.
My mouth is shut.
They ask again, "Are you ready?”
"Never" I answer, and pull the sheets around my head.

I have never understood this joke called life.
I never will.
Must it be that this body I have come to know as Me
will turn to dust and ash, unrecognized?
All these thoughts and feelings,
this love that has grown inside me
the joy of my Darling, my children, my friends
all these . . . must I say goodbye to also?

Oh great shining Sun! Rise bright in the morning!
Cast away these ghostly fears of my demise.
Angels of Mercy, touch me with your wings
assure me now and always of God's love.
May I give back this gift, my life and body
gently on that day, without sadness or regret
and receive the eternal promised one.

Joanne Cucinello 2007

Soft All Over

Yours To Live photo IStatue.jpg

I'm obsessed with disappointment lately,
disturbed and angry at the way
time just happened to paint my face. 
I don't like it! "Who are you, damn it?"
I keep asking myself every time I pass a mirror.
My vanity's wearing thin and I can't find that
promise I made, to keep my skin from slipping
down the drain.

Let go! Let go! My bones keep crying!
This is what's supposed to happen,
maybe not today, maybe not this year,
but one day when you'll come around that sneaky bend
you're going to take a deep breath and exhale!
Even if your pants don't fall around your ankles
you'll finally feel a little lighter, less inclined to fret.

Smooth skin, bright eyes, lush lips . . .
there was a time they cost you nothing.
Firm breasts, tight buttocks . . . these were tokens
easily won when the race was just beginning.
Now you're soft all over.  Learn to love it!
After all, the young will never seek their comfort
from a stiff old crone.  Smile more, sing more,
dance your dance of softness and let yourself be Love.

Joanne Cucinello  2012

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Trees of My Life




I look out my window and see you standing there, bending to the wind, Great Wise Trees  . . . enduring all, protecting all.  They tell me, at my birth, my mother laid me in a cradle made of wood.  You gave your life for me.
I learned to crawl on wooden floors, my tiny hands and knees frolicking on your body.  I grew to sit on a chair and eat from a table, both made of wood.  My fingers touched the grooves in your flesh and from early on, I wanted you near me, comforting and connecting me to earth.  At that table I ate berries and fruit that grew on your branches.  I ate pancakes too, and poured your golden maple sap . . . learning that you could feed me too.  You gave your life for me.
I went to school and there you were . . . all over . . . everywhere.  The floors, the walls, and desk I sat at . . . the words I learned to read were printed on the thinnest slivers of your flesh, papers written on with wooden pencils.  All the words we humans think in our minds are written on your flesh . . . Dear Trees, you must know our every thought by now.

When winter comes and days are cold and dark, we burn you to warm our bodies and our food and you become an offering.  Your smoke fills the air and rises to the heavens, calling out to the Great Spirit who created us both.  You give your life for me. 
I live inside your walls.  You are my shelter from the storms you bear and must
endure; my shelter from the sun and its scorching rays.  Your leaves of green refresh
my heart in spring and cool my brow in summer and your brilliance thrills my soul in
autumn.

Now it is winter and your branches are barren..  Even the birds, who call you their
home, abandon you for lower bushes and warmer winds.  You stand stark and bare
and I can see now where you’ve been broken, your limbs that have fallen, and your
bark that is torn.  Some of you, Great Trees, have fallen; some have given your lives
and been chopped down to make once again, some comfort for me and my kind.
You give your life for me and I learn from all your changes and forms and seasons . . .
about my own life and my own seasons and how that calls for sacrifice too.

Man crossed the waters and the oceans in your body . . . boats and ships and oars.  We
have come to know our brothers on the other side because of you.  You gave your
life for us.I wonder as I look at your branches touching one another in the woods behind my home, do you feel each other, sending messages, vibrations, stories of the birds you love and the wind that tests you?  Do you talk about me and my children?  Have you seen the suffering of man and breathed it into your immense compassion, so much so that you agree to die for us, even to the point of being buried in the ground with us, cradling us, wrapping us in your arms when our days are over?  You are the cradle at our birth and the cradle in our death.  And you and I will decompose together in the womb of Mother Earth only to be born again in other forms, in other times, in other lives . . .


                                                            Joanne Cucinello



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Can This Be

 photo atonement.jpg
I am a wanderer
longing, searching
just like you

trying to find
the reason for
my being

here on earth
this planet floating
spinning

filled with light
and color
dreams and visions
music of the stars

How can this be
a grain of sand
a molecule . . .
stardust flitting
through the dark
night sky

I am all these things
and more
a particle of the
Infinite

a song that
only I can sing

How glorious
this gift of presence
this moment
my life!
                                   

Joanne Cucinello © 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Easter




In my Easter bonnet and brand new dress
I walked hand in hand with my Mom.
We were walking to church together
for the first time since Christmas Eve.

I often wondered in my little mind
why we only went to church
together on Christmas and Easter.
Every other Sunday
I went to the Children’s Mass and sat
with my classmates and Sister Mary Genuflect.

One day I asked Mom why she never came
except for those two days. 
I told her what Sister Mary Genuflect said
about Mom not going to be in heaven with me
because she didn’t go to Mass every week
and Mom just shook her head and kissed me.

One day, when I was just thirteen, my Mother left
and my parents got divorced.
When I tearfully told Sister Mary Genuflect what happened,
she gave me her words of wisdom and comfort:
“Well now . . . it’s up to you, dear, to get your parents
back together or they will spend eternity in hell . . .
apart from you forever.”

And then I knew why Mom only went to Church
on those two days and I marveled
that she even went at all.


Joanne Cucinello   2007

** That was many years ago.  
Words are very powerful when spoken down at children by authority figures,
especially those who claim to know the love and mercy of Christ,
but haven't got a clue.  They don't brush off the shoulders or fly away in the wind.
They etch their way into the heart and soul of a child and stain their innocence . . . so beware.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happiness Was a Picnic (A Memoir)



            When I was five, the world was green and anything was possible.  The spark of imagination ignited my dreams and life was magic.  She, who pumped the air into my balloon, was my very own mother and I embraced the wildness in her.  Marian was a pyromaniac of sorts, striking match to stone, calling wind through my brain to push the flames higher.  She loved my silliness and my laughter and I found that I had power to change her moods from grey to sunny, at least then, when I was a child.  Even though the day would come when I had to stand against her ~ that was not here on Linden Street where Marian’s magic bloomed.  That was not today, when I was five and the world was green. 

Concrete sidewalks do not fare well for children.  Scrapes and bruises and bits of old yellow glass find their way into tiny knees.  How I longed for soft green grass! My mother, who always knew my fragile heart, obliged my dreams with a plan to ease that longing, and gave me a gift that day.  Three young maple trees stood in a row, donning our city street in Brooklyn.  Each one in its own empty sidewalk square filled with soft earth, trees planted perhaps to watch over me . . . or so I thought back then.  They were the faithful signs of changing seasons I grew to understand. 

In the spring, I watched each day, as green grass grew around their roots and filled each patch of earth with life.  It was there that my dream of the country came alive and it was there that I took my little sister on our imaginary picnic.  Mom had packed a small wicker basket with peanut butter triangle sandwiches, bunches of grapes, chocolate milk and cookies.  Then she draped a checkered cloth across my arm and bade me “Go on now. Take your sister on a picnic . . . the grass is waiting for you.” 

The tree nearest our building was the safest.  There I could still look back and see our first floor windows, their striped awnings and my mother’s waving hand.  That day I claimed for my own and began a lifetime of loving trees.  Not a soul could tell me that this shady maple wasn’t mine and no one could convince me that the grass hadn't grown beneath it just for this, our perfect picnic.  I spread out the red and white cloth and there we sat silly, smiling from ear to ear, ready to feast on our basket of goodies. 

The bark of the tree felt alive and the new green grass a cool silky comfort to my knees. Tiny inchworms and furry caterpillars stumbled along its gnarly roots as we watched, so removed it seemed, from the concrete of our world.  Munching on cookies and sitting like little Indians, we looked up with bent necks, viewing the spring canopy of sunlit leaves that covered us that afternoon.  I was five and I was happy, safe without a care except to be a child pretending. 

Neighbors passed, coming and going, smiling and saying “Having fun, girls?” or whispering “They must be Marian’s kids.” But I paid no mind to their shuffling feet and their squeaky carts . . . or their whispers.   I just thought that nobody's Mom was as special as mine!  
The world stood still for us that long afternoon and it remains one of my fondest childhood memories, reminding me always that I was loved.


Joanne Cucinello   

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Because of You

In Memory of my Dad and his passing . . . December 1, 1994




Because of You

Time has passed, my Father,
since that day you left this earth,
but echoes of your life and memories
go on and on.  Your smile and your laughter
comes floating by in the wind sometimes, I could swear.
You were a tender man of many colors, hopes and dreams,
you were full of tomorrows, something better was
always on its way.  You taught me to look for rainbows
and silver linings and to keep expecting the sun at any moment
to poke its head through the clouds.

You filled your container as full as you could
with life, love, and laughter and gave it
to all your children . . . to make it our inheritance.
You lived your life in a hurry, always on the move,
gathering episodes, telling your funny tales, dreaming your dreams.
So I guess it was to be, that you had to leave before the chapter closed.

And yet, dear man, you always found the time to dry our tears,
comfort our fears, and chase the boogie man away
so that we too . . . could believe in tomorrow and smile.
You shared things, so simple, so good  . . . the real things,
the keepers, the ones that mattered.  Your love made us strong,
knowing we were wanted and cherished. You stayed through it all,
the good times and the bad, and because of you . . . we learned
the art of loving children . . . of our own.

Joanne Cucinello
.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

She Can Rest Now




I'd waited a hundred years it seemed
to find the grace of forgiveness.
Give it up . . .  Let it go! . . .
something whispered in my dreams at night.
Nothing is worth the price of your soul!

But I, knowing that there would be
nothing left to hold onto without that pain,
decided to fasten it, like a scapula, to my skin
taking it with me at every chance
so that I could feel that feeling pinned
to me and never forget.

One day, without warning,
like the sun parting the clouds
In my heart I saw her, my Mother,
a child lost and forgotten
a waif with sorrow so deep I could not bear
and it all passed before me, her life
her loneliness inconsolable and hopeless
her mind disheveled and searching
for someone, anyone
to wrap her and rock her to sleep
and never have to say goodbye.

I let it go that day, and looked beyond my own pain
to this woman gone, my mother, whose life
I would not trade, nor could I change, waiting for
forgiveness that she knew would set me free.


Joanne Cucinello    2014


Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Have Not Dreamed of You



 photo 8150ca44-a02d-4cbe-972f-5a987903a99e_zps52cf74d3.jpg



I have not dreamed of you, my Mother
long gone many years now
I am so much older than you were
when you finally left this world behind ~
almost twice your age
so it is hard for me to think of you
as my Mother, unless I return to those days
when you and I were split
like dry wood that the axe took down

I keep trying to remember love ~ yours ~ mine
and how it was . . . once
but it's hard recalling, even though I know it
must have been . . . once.

Darkness swallows our trail
it floats along linoleum floors
and a porcelain sink that stood in the corner
of that small kitchen where you painted your hair
so bright, so red and necessary
for that look that turned men's heads.

I was very young, no matter
still you taught me how to
paint the hairs you missed
in back of your head ~
the back of your head
where you always kept me
close at hand for secrets
hard to hold for one so young
but you needed me
and I kept your secrets
yes I did ~ for years.

I wish that I could dream of you
just once ~
and the days when your brown eyes
smiled at me and your soft hands
touched my face, and remember how
love must have been ~ once.

Joanne Cucinello

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Still We Love




















All the world is spinning, spinning
I can hardly breathe . . .

Like leaves in a tempest storm
flying past my face
every new creation, new idea
comes and goes and winds up
in the mortuary of humanity
a sticker on the wall of instant fame.

But there you are, my Love
reaching for my hand on the carousel
smiling with those eyes
that know me and can find me
anywhere

If I tried to enter the abyss
and forget I had a name
you would call it, call me
come to you . . . no questions asked
no reprimands

In this fading world that's grown
so unfamiliar and fragile
it amazes me that you and I
have kept the promise
and still can love . . . in spite of all.

Joanne Cucinello  2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Christ Tree Twists



 Christ Tree photo ChristTree.jpg


I love how the dogwood
bends~
following its own lead
turning to the whispers
of the laurel, oak and ivy
as they mingle in the woods.

Outside my window
a great white lady
readies herself to bloom
sap rising 
ripening her tight buds ~
the warm spring sun
seducing her to burst forth
in lacy splendor.

Christ's blossoms,
cross shaped petals
tinged as though with sacred blood
they say ~
and in each center
there his crown.

I do not think
sweet Jesus hung
upon a dogwood
yet we yearn for mystic symbols
connections ~
wherever they might be
organic matter
to fertilize our faith.

Even in a tree ~ poor tree ~
just wanting to twist and turn
and share its beauty
with the sun
while all it asks of us
is the deep breath ~
the aah!
and silent yes
acknowledging its gift
so simple ~ so magnificent.                              

 Joanne Cucinello     ©2008


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Did We Say Yes?


 photo e06464a6-f976-4593-8c99-b98f3a8e88ee_zps205fdfe6.jpg

I am the flesh that bore your soul
the smile you saw when first
your tiny eyes adjusted to the light
outside my womb.

Who are we, the two of us
so blessed to be given a chance to love
and this game of life to share together?

Was it a lottery of some kind the angels drew
above the clouds or a puzzle
that our two pieces made complete?

Did we each say yes, when asked the questions . . .
"Are you ready to suffer for someone else?
Do you know what it means to love until you die?"

We must have nodded or whispered
quite unsure, yet willing to smash through the cosmos
and land here in this tiny speck of earth together
mother and child.
.
I know, for me, it was by far
the brightest moment of my existence
and none since then could ever compare
to the moment I felt you alive inside
and knew that you were mine.

Joanne Cucinello    2013

Business Directory for Port Jefferson, NY

Business Directory for Port Jefferson, NY
created at TagCrowd.com