What has the coward accomplished since birthing a blog on Valentine’s Day, eight years ago? The crayon cornucopia of glib lines on her “About Me” page wax-on-purple. Over the last few years, this writing & art site has often been left fending for itself. So, what is it she’s trying to get at?
And, how the coward impressed herself in 2016, pairing beastly illustrations with ‘romantic poetry.’ Today, those shiny published business cards prop up crooked things. I also heard from a reliable source, “Boxes of her ‘auspicious’ books retain squatters’ rights in some basement storage area.” Why not ask what she’s achieved while she’s chest-strapped to a lie detector from her father’s generation? Let’s give this creative coward no room for fictionalizing excuses.
The coward excels at dog-paddling through quicksand while ignoring swinging vines. Ah, how malaise sparks the creative fires! In truth, misery is the pissing trope that replaces tenacity; an unavailable quality on any coward’s spectrum. The coward uses all unauthorized life changes in her orbit to self-justify any lack of progress beginning with the demise of a dear German shepherd who flat-lined across the coward’s feet the night before her mother-in-law moved in. Afterward, the gentle mother-in-law succumbed to a blinding fear of death making all six feet of her inextricably wired with depression. It must be noted that before her dark metamorphosis, the generous mother-in-law had gifted a large sum toward the coward’s self-publishing aspirations. As for repayment, the mother-in-law asked for one signed copy.
The mother-in-law lived on for three years before the rug beneath the coward’s family feet was hijacked. It was November 2017. The coward’s father died, her mother suffered a massive stroke and her mother-in-law passed away all within the span of eleven weeks. The coward magicked into a ‘dutiful daughter’ and served as her mother’s primary caregiver. Despite hearing that the ‘dutiful daughter’ couldn’t take care of her beyond a year, despite her unrelenting pain and a deteriorating body, the mother’s joy never diminished. She powered past the end-of-life administered morphine to mutter, “I love you,” to the coward. The stroke-addled mouth with the fabulous pearl teeth brokered a final smile for the ‘dutiful daughter’ whose joy had left willingly long ago. ‘Dutiful?’ forever engraved upon the coward’s thin heart.
Months after the coward’s mother died, her husband and she decided it was time to downsize. They discarded some, sold some and packed up whatever massive inventory remained inside their big shiny colonial to press fast forward change. Their daughter and son would recover from the tragic loss of ample closet space. The family relocated to an old farm town. They purchased a home with a rich history built during the Great Depression. Their daughter and son have since moved onto earning their graduate-level degrees. The coward’s ‘old’ new home is officially barren of offspring.
After settling along the edge of the Hudson Valley, the coward entered more creative brinkmanship. She worked little and wallowed in memory blues and vineyard reds— strategizing wine selections by label imagery. The coward did not fight back like her pugilist-loving father. Nor did she emulate her joyful mother’s dignity and grace. Any words or images leaving the coward’s head were effortlessly dark.
Months after the coward set up her studio, a close family member called. They’d been diagnosed with cancer. The coward kicked into high-gear her martyr imposter. She accompanied her family member to the hospital. After the family member’s double-mastectomy, the dutiful imposter remained at the family member’s home several few weeks. (The news is positive — the family member is “cancer-free.”)
A few calendar pages have been torn off since the coward’s close family member’s close call. The coward has finally arrived at the banal conclusion; the answers, she’d always known. The test she’d always avoided. Her pity-party candle is no longer lit. The coward rucks (her children had suggested adding weights in a backpack for a more powerful walking experience). Every morning, the coward looking like an old fool, swings her arms while carrying ten pounds in a pack and boppin’ to Phantom of the Opera.
To push the coward into using her creative muscles, her ass was recently kicked. If Ms. Levy lived closer, the kick might’ve been literal. Not only an exceptional writer, DS Levy is a dedicated runner and a sprinter. This Midwestern author suffers no fools, yet, she occasionally humors the coward’s ‘artful’ woe-is-me bullshit till KA POW! In the coward’s head, she hears flyover country improv, ‘no flyin’ unless you’ soarin’ with them damn wings on!’
‘The Millie & Billy show,’ as the coward and her large Italian family affectionately once called the dynamic duo, doesn’t come around anymore. Today, two monumental Italians live on between the coward’s ears, in images and inside memories. Though the coward’s monstrous heart has fractured, she more wisely appreciates the brittle quickness of the days, the months and the years.
Back to those boxes of books stored in the coward’s basement, the books her mother and her were going to hawk at local festivals while continuing their search for the perfect anisette cookie, they’ll stay crated a while longer. The coward is no longer enthusiastic over the poems and the images. She notes off tempo-ness in several pieces, stanzas smacking loquacious and others waxing purple-handed. The style no longer represents her. Perhaps it never did.
Should the coward ever grow as courageous as Vito and Carmella, she might one day find herself at some little festival selling monster books cheap, ever grateful for her mother-in-law’s generosity, while seeking out the perfect anisette cookie.
The coward will always treasure creating creatures with redemption in their souls if she herself is willing to look beyond their mistrusting eyes.
Fun fact: When the coward self-published, Love of the Monster, in 2016, her supportive husband gifted books to his friends. Months afterward, one of his friends called him to share a laugh over confessing how his new girlfriend, after reading some monster poetry, ‘got real cozy, real quick.’
This coward wishes you all a warm, safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.❤️
was November 20, 1994, really so long ago
left to right: Vito/Billy, coward/dutiful daughter, Carmella/Millie