28 · Feb · 2003


I have a friend in Georgia that likes to send me update lists of what’s going on in his life. Things like
1. The cat died last week of natural causes.
2. I bought a new cd player for my car.
3. The band will be touring until the end of August.

I like reading the lists because it’s an entertaining, to the point, glimpse into his life. But if I did a list like that I’m afraid it might make me appear more schizophrenic than entertaining. A lot of my poems are like that, though. They’re parts of conversations in my head and, possibly, only I know what they mean. This is a problem a lot of writers have. They know what they mean by "I was an old man, barely 20", but does anyone else?

To make matters worse, a lot of writers are shy. All over Nashville, musicians get together to “jam”, but how often do you catch a bunch of writers sitting in a café, reading excerpts of their personal stories? “And that is what the red apple said. The End”. How‚d you like that one, guys? Should I keep it in or delete it?”

Many writers, by nature, are private, thinking people. We usually have strong opinions, intense relationships, calculated plans, and a fondness for a drink, which allows us to actually voice what we normally are smart enough to save for our journal. The very things that make a writers work interesting, are often the things that other people pretend they never think about or don’t have the guts to confess.

I’m sure you like to read JK Rowling and pretend you are a ten-year-old wizard whose broom riding skills are unmatched, but will you admit this to your uncle at the Thanksgiving table? I think not. But the truth is some blonde woman from Scotland made up Harry Potter in her head. She actually sat and thought about this and then wrote it down.

I only know three other writers in Nashville. One of them has guarded his work like a Rottweiler, one tapes all his rejection letters from publishers to his wall and the other has a 2nd book of poetry coming out this fall that no one I know, aside from myself will be reading. For these three men and the other writers who sweetly read milk memos, I am providing the following piece that I am quite sure will be misunderstood completely. But let it be a challenge for you to come out of your shell and share a little too. The first step is admitting to yourself you are a writer. Then, if you’re really brave, you’ll call a few friends to get together and “jam”. You know where to find me.


you need a basket to carry those balls
cause the priest you lied to is standing in the hall
and your wife is on the line with a lawyer

you‚re gonna need a casket when you fall
never mind now, let‚s go to the mall
and play Huck to their Tom Sawyer

if it makes you feel better, say you don't remember
but i'll always be the girl who lived through that december
the plan looked good, but now became later
i always loved you, but ignoring it was safer

stun gun
i think you have a stun gun in your genes
with your doe eyed look that brings me to my knees
but nothing new is ever twice, right

this is my mayday call goin' out to the band
the pilot jumped and the plane won't land
yes, of course i picked this flight

oh if it makes you feel better, say you don't remember
but i'll always be the girl who lived through that december
the plan looked good, thanks to the neighbors
i always loved you, but ignoring it was safer

Penny René

Posted by Penny Rene at 03:27 PM | TrackBack

27 · Feb · 2003

My Life - My Message

Samuel Butler
All animals except man know that the ultimate point of life is to enjoy it.
Dear Friends,

It's been a long time since many of you have heard from me. Now that I've come up for oxygen in my never dull life, I wanted to give you an update.

Once I left Corporate America back in the beginning of 2002, I moved to Birmingham, Alabama and took on the challenge of raising funds for AIDS Alabama. This non-profit organization had been without a fundraiser for over a year and after four months of sleepless nights, my survival instinct drove me to the decision that I was not up to the challenge of restoring this million-dollar charity at that time in my life. In June I moved back to Nashville, head hung low, and allowed myself, for the first time, to think of myself as an artist, not so unlike all my musician friends who struggle hand to mouth while trying to satisfy a need to create.

Though I never did bring milk memo to the weekly, inspirational force I feel it should be, and I did not emerge as the great entertainment writer of Nashville, I did write far more in those seven months. I also made a conscious effort to be more compassionate of others and myself, to be true to the core of my heart, regardless of how my insecurities threatened to strangle me. Being true and compassionate takes time, I found out. So I took a job as a receptionist at a well known, laid back massage therapy spa and tried not to think about my bank account.

Even into the first weeks of 2003, I continued to irritate my rash of confusion. I think my memos at that time are an example of my experiment. I suppose I was wondering, “Who is this persona I’ve created? Which parts of me are worth holding onto and which parts are only bad habits that need to be smoked out?” A new approach I tried was asking for and honestly listening to the opinions other people have of me. (Let me stop here and tell you this isn’t something I recommend you do as often or as sensitively as I did in January. When you ask for honesty, make sure you‚re ready to handle it objectively.)

The reason I took survey of what people think of me is not because it is important for me to be liked by everyone. I did it because I want to be perceived correctly. See, if who you are and who everyone thinks you are don’t line up, it‚s not because no one cares about you. It‚s because you’ve been projecting a false image of yourself, maybe because you‚re not happy with your true self. At least, that’s how I see it.

By mid January I was more confused than ever. Had it all been a waste? After some pretty hard knocks to my already fragile ego, I needed a break. I needed fresh air and somebody who knew all my crap and liked my company.
My friend Candy, from Oklahoma rescued me by way of a road trip to South Carolina where her hubby was graduating from army basic training. Candy’s known me for almost 20 years and the best thing she does for me is participating in my grueling over analyzation of myself. We never tired of talking and after a few days it became clear to me that I had far too many options. What I needed was to determine what was most important to me. Then, laying in a hotel bed struggling for sleep, I discovered something that enabled me to do just that. In my right breast there was a distinct unnatural lump.

No one wants to hear the word “cancer”. Though I know some breast cancer survivors, cancer is largely synonymous with death, until there is a cure. Night after night leading up to my doctor visit, I reviewed the choices I’ve made and was forced to consider the strength of my friends and family in handling such a blow. I pictured who I would want by me during chemotherapy and who would love a woman with a large scar on her small breast. I thought about the possibility of death and where I wanted to spend last days. It’s gruesome, but it was something I needed to do. My biggest question I had for myself was “If this is it, are you happy with the results; are you done?”

There were a few answers that came to mind in that moment. First, what I’ve done with my life thus far isn’t the kind of legacy I want to leave with my family. I don't want to be the daughter / sister/ aunt who had talent for writing but didn’t try hard enough and left them with not even enough money to pay for a funeral. Second, I hadn’t yet made it to California like I’d been hoping since I was eight. Officially I have been land locked my whole life. And finally, I knew that no matter how many concerts, clubs or hysterical parties I went to; no matter how many countries I’d seen or exotic, interesting people I met; none of it would ever compare to the overwhelming thought of being part of a family of my own.

Then, somewhere in the middle of thinking I may not get to change any of those things before my life ended, it hit me. I said to God “I get it. It’s not a joke. This life gig; coming here and all the learning and the balancing the bad with the good, it’s not some job I was sent to do. It was a gift. A personal gift from You to me: life.

One week later, I was told I don't have cancer. In fact, I don't even need surgery.

It would be easy to toss all my worrying aside and scold myself for overreacting. Mark Twain said "There has been much tragedy in my life; at least half of it actually happened."
But I wasn't allowed off the rollercoaster yet.

The following day after “getting my life back” I was dressing and decided to wear a ring I inherited from my grandmother. I couldn’t find it in it’s usual place so I looked in my other jewelry box. Not there either. Then, I began opening al my individual jewelry cases and saw that everything was gone. Everything. Every piece of jewelry that I had been given to me from my mother as well as my own high school class ring, an old promise ring from an ex, a wedding band, watches, earrings, necklaces - anything that held significant sentiment and value had vanished.

I called the police, filed the report, investigated the situation, and the only results that matter is my realization that I would never get those precious things back and I also could no longer live in my apartment. I pictured God saying to me, "Here is your life back, but your dowry is gone".

It's the small moments that change a life forever. I now had fewer options and I knew what I would do.

This Sunday I leave Nashville. I‚m selling most of my belongings and putting the rest in storage. After a temporary stay in Georgia, I'll head back to Oklahoma for a while where I’ll stay with Candy, spend some quality time with my parents and brother, and raise money for a trip back to Romania. There, I plan to write that grant for Veritas that I keep talking about - the one that might enable them to pay for a full time fundraiser. When I return to the US, I will settle in California.

I want all of you to know that I love Nashville and my friends here. I will always keep the door open to return here because this has become my second home. It's not easy to walk away. But we are all aware that life is what you make it and I'm taking this opportunity to make mine different than it is now.

My life is my message. - Mahatma Gandhi

Penny Rene

Posted by Penny Rene at 02:32 PM | TrackBack

20 · Dec · 2002

Loving Judas

I’ve often thought that if I could go back in time I should go to meet King David. I thought of us as twin souls. I could relate to having royally (pardon the pun) screwing up one’s life because of personal untamed desires. And, of course, I consider myself to be truly “after God’s own heart”. But there was always something amiss. David was incredibly good-looking, we’re told; so charming everyone wanted to be near him. This does not actually fit with the kind of person I find myself drawn to in my present life. I figure those people are so distracted by their own popularity, they hardly have time to consider things that are truly beautiful.

Following this same vein, it occurs to me that the number of people I have trusted in my life is so few, there is no reason to count them. Smaller still is the number of people whom I am so tenderly connected to, the slightest shift of their eyes from heartache or joy can leave my wholly undone.
Do you know about what I am speaking?

It would be careless for me to try to explain why. Blame bumping atoms, chemical reaction, past lives or a familiar grin.

But if I go back in time, I will call on Judas.

for NY who is silent
and for Jake who cannot be.


I’m begging for silence
in this centre
where all hell has crept in.
Judas, my brother,
my lover,
my friend.

They fault us
for all humanity
yet we are not creators,
merely vessels
of destined calamity.

Let the crowd rage;
say what they will.
I have you
silent and still.

Let them praise the murderer,
the adulterer,
the vain house of David.
For you alone knew your heart,
and what history has made it.

Let them call on tall tales of Moses,
the bleeding heart of Paul.
In repetitive madness
we are fools one and all.

Penny René

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

-ee cummings

Posted by Penny Rene at 05:09 PM

27 · Nov · 2002

Why I Wear Black

I was President of my Baptist church youth group. I say this like it was a pin I earned and wore on a pooh-bah hat at secret meetings.

Well, okay, I was elected to the position, but I was the obvious choice at the time. Who else would have done it? And I did have enough guts to admit to my fellow youth that I had fallen prey to peer pressure that summer retreat by taking a puff off a joint before I threw it out the thirteenth story window. It was Us against Them, right? And all the Christians at DCHS had to unite.

But I was living a double life, making new friends. That was the year I started wearing a lot more black.

My new friend Mikayla, who I met in Play Production class, looked like the lead singer of Four Non Blondes. She fell out of a Pretty In Pink Movie, with her own style, her own opinions and her own way of scaring the hell out of high school boys. What made me like her though, was that she was so nice too – not an easy thing to come by with high school girls.

It was required for Play Production that each student attends one play a month and writes a review for our teacher, Mr. Payne. I had found a small local theater called Carpenter’s Square which was in the heart of downtown and produced the most controversial plays. But of course, I didn’t know it at time. One weekend Mikayla and I went to see Equus. The program said:
“EQUUS depicts the story of a deranged youth who blinds six horses with a spike. Through a psychiatrist's analysis of the events, Shaffer creates a chilling portrait of how materialism and convenience have killed our capacity for worship and passion and, consequently, our capacity for pain. The play explores questions about what is Normal and to what extent society will go to normalize people - or to lock them away somewhere if they can't be normalized.”

I took the opportunity away from my lockstep routine to dress a little less uniformed that night. Mikayla showed up in a long black skirt and her signature matching lipstick. I barely moved during the performance, and when it was over, I was sure I wouldn’t be telling my youth group about it. There was insanity, horses and finally, nudity. Looking back now, I remember the shock on Mr. Payne’s face when I told him we saw Equus. If there was an age requirement for that show, I suspect some scheming volunteers at the theater overlooked it. Mikayla and I were always the youngest patrons.

Another person who started going to plays with me was a tranfer student who ended up in Play Production only because he enrolled late. His name was Craig and he hardly uttered a word that wasn’t sarcastic or out of place. But he had true blonde hair and looked great in a pair of jeans, so I took him to the strangest performances I could find and hoped he’d eventually hold my hand. By the time we saw the Elephant Man, I was a seasoned pro and soaked up every scene. We were invited to the cast party where Mikayla lit up a cigarette on a long stem filter like she was Greta Garbo. I had a glass of champagne and eyed the lead actor through the smokey haze.

My secret world of theater was one pleasure in my life that went unchallenged by my conservative friends because they knew nothing at all about it. As long as the title was tame, I could have been watching live porn for all they knew. Of course, this wasn’t the case, but that fact alone was a learning experience. Even before radio stations started playing 2 Live Crew, I sat in Carpenter Square Theater and learned what art is.

Several years later I was in the audience of another Oklahoma City theater and watched Craig’s on stage performance in the most moving, disturbing play I have ever seen – The Metaphor. His character as tortured Man was so believable; I struggled not to jump onto the stage to rescue him. If the Metaphor were a movie that year, Craig earned an Oscar. Who knew that within that fair haired, shy boy was a genius actor with depth beyond words?

And that is precisely my point. If art, in whatever form, has a purpose, perhaps it is to draw out of us the people we really are. All the emotion, whether it be anger, contempt, delirium, tears or unbroken laughter, this is who we are. Nobody can paint a portrait, sing a song or dance in such a way that it MAKES you feel anything. Good art simply makes you see something about yourself you didn’t see before – even if that something is a dislike for the feelings inside you. A crazy photographer I once worked with said “I can’t make you feel anything. How you feel and react to a situation is your choice.”

Get to know yourself. Experience art.

Penny René
Suggestions for theater pleasure:
Art – by Yasmina Reza
How I Learned to Drive – by Paula Vogel
Equus – by Peter Shaffer
Why Hannah’s Skirt Won’t Stay Down - by Tom Eyen

Posted by Penny Rene at 02:53 PM | TrackBack

17 · Nov · 2002

Sex and Love

Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.—Jack Kerouac
I usually don't have that much of a problem getting the average man to want me. Though I assume I must be vain to even say that, the fact is, most men want any decent looking woman to have a physical relationship with them. A long time ago I accepted that men communicate on a more physical level than women do. They are SHOW men. I think she’s beautiful = I want to kiss her. Women tend to be the verbal ones, they want to SAY how they feel, exploring every angle. I read somewhere recently “How to please a woman? Love her, die for her, take her to dinner, miss the superbowl for her, buy her jewelry, listen to her... How to please a man? Show up naked, bring beer.”

My problem has been that I consider myself to be atypical. I write out how I feel, but once I know how I feel, I’m not afraid to show it. In my mind, this made for a well rounded, grounded me. What could be better than grasping the language of both sexes?

I read somewhere that the average American male has anywhere between 30-50 sexual partners in his life. I remind myself of this when I am with my female friends and they complain about their boyfriends or husbands who want sex “all the time”. I’m not ashamed of my sexuality. I enjoy being a sexual creature and wish I had a few female friends who felt the same. If I were a man, I could report that my number of partners is below average. As a woman, the world would have me believe I best not report at all about sex.

This part of who I am has always conflicted with what I was taught a woman should be, not only as a Christian, but just as a “good woman’ in today’s society. It has not been easy to sit through these years of church sermons about the sanctity of marriage anymore than it was to listen to the one night stand stories friends have told me. I had to create a happy medium – away from the guilt, while still recognizing that sex is important enough to only share it with someone that I love.

But that is easier said, isn’t it? Getting those two aspects of a relationship to line up is about as easy as getting a call back from the Pope. Because the twist is knowing what love is in the first place. And love, real love – even now I still question my ability to identify it. Factor in God and alcohol and I don’t know how anyone ends up having the nerve to proclaim their undying love in a legally binding ceremony.

I’ve been fumbling around lately, trying to figure out what all of this means to me. Could it be that because I have meshed love and sex together, that I am have trouble relating to both men and women? My women friends either don’t enjoy sex or feel guilty for enjoying it because they are no help trying to talk about it as a vital part of a relationship. And my male friends…. Well, today it feels like many of them want to have sex with me, but don’t see me as a viable person to have a committed relationship with because I’m not virginal enough.

There is nothing worse than feeling wanted for only part of who you are. As often as I have experienced the feeling that a man is only intoxicated by my sexual side, he must have felt the same emptiness for every woman who only wanted his emotional side and put his sexual needs on the back burner. I mean, if sex is not important, why does the entire entertainment industry revolve around it?

I used to be much more calculated in my relationships. Even before a first date, I knew how important a person would be to me, how much of my true self I’d reveal, how physically intimate I’d be. Of course, this was my way of protecting myself, to always be in control of the game. But this only resulted in me trying to be dictator of my emotions. I found that though I can control my will, I do not control my heart. I don’t know how many good men I confused with this control issue, but I imagine it was too many.

I now know a man who I suspect has a similar plan. He has very specific goals for his life and there is little, if any room for error. An error, if I understand him correctly, would be an emotional connection to a woman. I almost envy him for still believing he is in control of such a thing. While he is able to slice into me and allowing himself to love only parts of who I am, I look at him and wonder if he has ever been loved for all of who he is.

Someday I may come to you and say
that I’ve turned my love away and I’m finally letting go
Someday everything may change and I tried to wish it all away
But I’m still waiting, filled with such disdain
It seems I’ll always be waiting

- Bullets of Orange “Listen”

Posted by Penny Rene at 05:21 PM

14 · Nov · 2002

Blog Like Me

I have been sneezing and coughing for five days. After interrogating every person I’ve smooched in the prior week, I have narrowed down the virus carrier to the sanitation worker who stops by on Mondays or the gentleman I became addicted to two weeks ago. Have them arrested and tested! Just a little hokey-jokey for you parental types.

Alas, I have spent too much time alone with a box of Kleenex.

Finally back at work this morning I looked for a little writing inspiration via internet diaries/ journals. Most of you probably don’t realize that milk memo is not the only writing project in which I am a lazy participant.
No, there are several other places in this World Wide Web where I speak my mind freely on subjects ranging from the war in Afghanistan to those little nervy guys who suggested that a cell phone would give me “freedom” It doesn’t matter that maybe no one is reading my quips where I allow my
other 86 personalities wander about. That’s what I like about it. No pressure.

And if you have taken the time to surf that far into places like diary.com, you know what I mean. It is completely liberating to say what you feel, take ownership of it by attaching your pen name (or real name in some cases) and throw it out there to the public. Someone CAN read it, and that’s
what makes you feel brave. You take that chance. And honestly, someone like me IS reading it, though I will not likely write you a note to say so. I mean , I’m just checking to see that my flyaway wit is just as careless as the next girl or guy.

You should try it. You don’t even need the internet. You busy right now? No? OK. Now pull out a blank piece of paper and write this at the top:
“Five words for this day”

Now write down, in no particular order, the first five words that come into your mind. Done? Now, date it and sign your name. It doesn’t have to be your real name, just one that - if I hired an investigator, we could narrow it down to you as the author. (I used to use Rene’ only) Right. Pick up the piece of paper, fold it in half twice and do one of the following:
throw it out your office window (this works best if you work in a
tall building downtown)
- put it in a magazine or table book at the local coffee joint
- lodge it between the slats of the picnic table at the park
- leave it sitting on the shelf at the library or book store
- make it into an airplane and throw it down the hall of your
- put it into an envelope and mail it to a random address you pick
out of the phone book
- drop it in the trash of your house if you have housemates

Someone is bound to read it! Just knowing that is.... well it’s like therapy, with no negative feedback. Or talking to a stranger on a plane.
(Thank you to my new friend Tobias from Stockholm, by the way) Everyone is
always saying that we should talk about our feelings. That we should get it
out, let go. Maybe all the internet confessors are on to something. Well, at
least they serve for an interesting read on bland working days.

examples of infinite wisdom found on the net:

i had a dream last night wherein i was walking around manhattan with a
very bright and erudite Chihuahua. and at one point we were in a room and
when i opened the door there were 3 little spider monkeys standing outside
the door. so i invited them into my house and that's when i woke up. which
is kind of a shame. cos a dream that involves talking Chihuahuas and 3 fun
spider monkeys should go on for hours and hours.
in the dream it seemed like the most natural thing in the world that this
little Chihuahua would be able to speak. and, for the record, she was a very
bright and well-spoken little Chihuahua.
we're in Florence. which is a very beautiful city. but even the most
beautiful city in the world can't hold a candle to a talking Chihuahua and 3
spider monkeys. --moby

October 3, 2002
ˇYears ago, when I told a friend that I'd begun dating someone new, she
was hurt and jealous. She made a crack about me working on a screenplay with
the new girl; I˙d been writing one with her (never to be finished, of
course). Now, I think back and consider this curiosity: I like to work on
projects with the people I˙m involved with. That might be the key reason
why my marriage was doomed: She had no such drive, no obsessions and
passions. My friends and lovers must have more than a dayjob inside them.
They must be wanting.ˇ Jeff koyen

Monday, Nov. 04, 2002 - 6:03 p.m.
At the beach in santa monica I had written "I love you mom + daddyˇ in
the sand when a not too young, not old stranger came up and asked me the
time. That was his intro into showing me his hotel key. "I love coming to
the beach", he said. He was poor and wearing no underpants, his thin
trousers revealed. I was worried he'd steal my bag. I' just dialed
mum's work and when she answered he didn't leave. Finally I explained I
was a bit busy. "So you want me to move on." "I'm afraid I do."
- penny rene

Posted by Penny Rene at 04:52 PM | TrackBack

7 · Nov · 2002

Hell, If It's Over...

For the last seven days the same song was in my head. It didn’t matter that I saw a total of ten live performances in six days. The same lyric hung in my ears as if it were continually being broadcast over an elevator speaker. It was Matchbox 20’s “Rest Stop”

“While you were sleeping

I was listening to the radio and wonderin’ what you’re dreamin’

When it came to mind that I just didn’t care.

And I thought

hell, if it’s over, well I had better end it now before I lose my nerve

Are you listening? Can you hear me? “

I don’t know who I would sing this song about. No one in particular comes to mind. But there it was, falling softly from my lips at every pause, every lull in conversation.

Meanwhile, thanks to some stored up frequent flyer miles; I left Nashville last Friday to visit my friends Erin and Mike in Burbank. This trip was my opportunity to investigate California once again and reassure myself that Nashville is better for someone like me. (whatever that means) I went there with the expectation that I could enjoy a bit more sun, rejuvenate myself by taking in the ocean, and lay the “what about LA?” question to rest.

Instead of feeling griped with anxiety at the sight of the jammed freeways and surgically enhanced egos, I found myself wishing I had made the trip sooner.

So it really threw me that the above lines were stuck in my head during this trip instead of something more suitable like Sheryl Crow’s “Soak up the Sun.” Even when I saw her convince a mall crowd from a stage on Sunday I still ended the day with the nagging lines from Rest Stop lodged in my mind.

At the same time, something else peculiar was happening. My cell phone wasn’t ringing. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it as much if it weren’t for the fact that Erin’s phone was ringing every ten minutes. Bad reception, I guessed. But by Monday night I figured it out. No one was calling. And in a half joking, mostly deflated way I sang these words to myself.

“While you were sleeping
I was listening to the radio and wonderin’ what you’re dreamin’
When it came to mind that you just don’t care.
And I thought
hell, if it’s over, well I had better end it now before I lose my nerve
Are you listening? Can you hear me? “

It was about no one in particular. Just me.

I’m not very good about knowing when to walk away sometimes. I would have every relationship, every friendship last until the end of time. I would watch it suffocate in my hands before I would let it go, because I could never trust that something good would choose to leave and return to me. But at this moment, I’m thinking about a lot of my friends in Nashville and the dreams I had when I first arrived here in 1995 and I am seeing that I have pushed enough. The friendships have evolved and the dreams and plans have rearranged themselves. Both are starting to suffocate.

Right before I left for LA, someone reminded me that the words to a song don’t have to rhyme. I had just been quoting one of my songs to him and though he hadn’t meant to hurt me, this little tidbit was like a thorn in my side. I have said before that all of our relationships, however beautiful, are at the mercy of our ability to communicate. “Are you listening? Can you hear me?” What I have been trying to communicate to my friends and family the last six months has not been getting through. For whatever reason, I’m more misunderstood now than I ever was and some of you are even worried. The words don’t rhyme. They never did. Never will. And you have to trust me when I say it’s alright.

I put myself out here and I do it by choice. It’s not all narcissistic and angry. It’s about not giving up the search for the highest truth, even if it means exposing the ugliness of us, of me. I’m not a brilliant writer. I’m not even a brilliant person. But there’s no way I’m giving up, giving in or selling out. See, I’m okay with taking the fall, but I’m not okay with taking a fall for nothing.

Again, thank you for sticking with me. I hope you enjoy my latest poem below.


The beauty



Posted by Penny Rene at 02:45 PM | TrackBack

25 · Oct · 2002

Better Than This

A friend of mine told me the other night that he has been alone for the last four months. No girlfriend, no love interest, nada. And he said this is the happiest he’s ever been. I knew where he was coming from. I have spent long periods of time alone too, although it didn’t come without a price. Being alone, truly alone, forces a person to get to know themselves. And for most people, finding out who they really are is not as rewarding in the beginning as we wish it to be.

It’s easy to joke with our friends. “I am an unemployed writer!” I laugh. But wait. Sitting alone in my kitchen and saying this to only me feels quite different. And that was an easy confession about my identity compared to the other ones. I remember just over year ago, looking at my hands as they lay on a pillow in my room and saying out loud “These are the hands of a thirty year old woman who no one is in love with.” Ouch.

Luckily, if you can get past all your ugliness, you will actually start to uncover some good truth about who you are as well. Whatever I had done wrong, made me no worse than the next guy in Gods’ opinion. And anybody else who wanted to point a finger at me was probably just somebody who didn’t know themselves very well. We are all on equal ground whether we choose to accept it or not.

These are two things this week that I wish I and my friends could remember more often:

You have to face who you really are in order to make yourself into who you want to be.

No man’s past can dictate his future.

better than this

i have long been lying
though it was not by choice
long i have engaged your lives
and hoped to hear a voice
but we’re building community on music and drink
and if no one gets lucky, we never have to think

cause luxury peril sets in
into our bones through our skin
and we’d rather sleep that admit
it could get better than this

you can’t know by my eyes
and I’d rather not explain
but two years ago I died
and then woke up again
and if I had the sympathy of a label or a bass
the simple love i learned you wouldn’t dare waste

but luxury peril sets in
into our bones through our skin
and we’d rather sleep that admit
it could get better than this

if you want to cry your wedding ring to sleep
if you only want a body and a piercing clear drink
if you want a lover who cannot love you back
you’ll lay with your pity for a long winter’s nap

if I said it louder
and pretended not to care
would you speak some truth?
or simply stop right there
it’s such a flood here when it’s s not bone dry
blessed be the man unafraid to ask why

luxury peril sets in
into our bones through our skin
and you’d rather sleep that admit
it could get better than this

Penny René


Man wants to live, but it is useless to hope that this desire will dictate all his actions
. ~albert camus

Posted by Penny Rene at 05:28 PM

18 · Oct · 2002

Playing Writer

The Genius Of The Crowd
there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

--Charles Bukowski

The first time I wrote for the sole purpose of writing I was kind. When I woke the next morning to find the love poem “until” sitting on my nightstand in my handwriting I wasn’t sure I had actually written it. It felt like something had jumped out of me onto the paper and I didn’t know if it was a one time fluke or the beginning of a serious condition. I mean what does a writer do? -especially a writer who doesn’t make up stories, but pulls them right from her own experience. On career day at school, no writers visit. So I made myself up as I stumbled along.

I looked for a mentor, someone to tell me where people like me go and how they survive with this aching desire to serve reality raw like fresh cut steak. I looked in the books I ordered from the Weekly Reader. I looked in National Geographic and in the old New Yorker magazines. And every trip to the book store or library I looked in the poetry section. I would pick up random books with good titles and silently pray that I would find something refreshing that made me forget what time it was. And one day in Tower Records and Books I picked up Charles Bukowski.

Reading Bukowski is not likely to soothe many people’s souls – especially a 25 year old Christian woman. One biographer said “It may be difficult to describe Charles Bukowski as a nice man, as anyone who is familiar with his works will readily appreciate. His style of writing was sometimes brutally unforgiving, the kind that Kerouac would produce if he drank a bottle of whiskey a day and left off taking all the funny little pills he was so fond of.” I could rely on Bukowskis’ honesty and this mattered to me at a time when I was just starting to see that life is not fair.

I don’t think I ever consciously decided on a style of writing for myself. I certainly didn’t wake up one day and make a plan of action for the subjects I would address or just how far I’d go when writing how I felt. If I had done that perhaps I would be further along in the literary sense and surely I would not be found to be so offensive in the way I present myself in writing. I would have been more careful with other people’s feelings and more aware of the consequences of misinterpretation. More restraint and less… me.

I said some things in one of my last memos that offended some people and for that I am truly regretful. I offer my apologies to anyone who felt exposed or misrepresented by my words. When I send out a memo I don’t have malice or slander on my mind. I’m simply telling my story from my perspective and unfortunately the tone and intent of my words are often lost on the people closest to me while other readers far away reply with praise and encouragement for my honesty. I’ve accepted that I can’t please everyone, but I don’t want to hurt those I love either. To be myself and not be misunderstood is a goal more difficult to obtain than I ever imagined it would be.

Driving to work today Charles Bukowski was on my mind. Though I am a million miles away from being the artist he was, there is a similar something in his attitude that brings me comfort. At one time he was a nobody writer who succeeded only in composing masses of poems and commentary that entertained strangers and alarmed his friends. In an unpublished letter to Carl Weissner, dated "sometime nov. 1969," Bukowski explained "I have one of two choices--stay in the post office and go crazy...or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve." Soon thereafter he finished his first novel, Post Office.

As it turns out, before he died in 1994 Bukowski published over sixty books--poetry, short stories, novels and he has been translated into all the European languages, including Greek and Serbo-Croat. And in West Germany, where his audience has from the outset been the most enthusiastic, much more so than in the United States, his books have sold over four million copies. This reminds me of the time my former father in law told me I had a “German quality” about me.

I have joked before that I don’t even say half of what I am thinking. This is not really true. Someday when this life is through with me, my journals will be found and it will likely be surmised that I curb more than half of what I want to say. This, of course is of no reassurance to those of you who are a part of my daily life and never gave permission to be written about in a thing called the “milk memo”. There are certainly drawbacks to dating a writer in a similar vein that there are obstacles in dating a musician or a therapist or a minister. I will try to be more compassionate in the future. And I hold nothing against anyone who decides that “milk memo” is not for them.

I don’t know what made me so intent of being open about things. Bukowski, who grew up poor, disfigured and abused, had his theory about his own lack of restraint. He said “When they beat you long enough and hard enough you have the tendency to say what you really mean; in other words, they take all the pretenses out of you. If you can get out of it, whatever is still there is usually something genuine.”

How much I have been beaten, what right I have to speak out is a matter of opinion. I can only tell you that I admire Charles Bukowski, Dorothy Parker, Auden and Jesus Christ all for the same reason – artful, useful honesty. While I have never written for anyone’s approval, I have never consciously written to damage anyone either. And rest assured I TRY to be more like Jesus than any of the others I mentioned.

Even as I sit here now and look over the two Bukowski pieces I have decided to send with this memo, I know the hardest part about reading something personal is the knowledge that it is only personal when it holds some truth for the person reading it. I send my apology today because some of the criticism I received was true and it hurt. I also received intense praise last week for the same work. Thus the brilliant balance of it all that I am learning to appreciate.
Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives in this way.

Penny René

I sit here on the 2nd floor
hunched over in yellow
still pretending to be
a writer.
some damned gall,
at 71,
my brain cells eaten
away by
rows of books
behind me,
I scratch my thinning
and search for the
for decades now
I have infuriated the
the critics,
the university
they all will soon have
their time to
"terribly overrated..."
"an aberration..."
my hands sink into the
of my
it's the same old
that scraped me
off the streets and
park benches,
the same simple
I learned in those
cheap rooms,
I can't let
sitting here
on this 2nd floor
hunched over in yellow
still pretending to be
a writer.
the gods smile down,
the gods smile down,
the gods smile down.

Black Sparrow "New Year's Greeting" 1992
Charles Bukowski

Posted by Penny Rene at 08:25 PM | TrackBack

16 · Oct · 2002

Every Word You Said

In 2001, fresh off my divorce from The Only Man Who Ever Loved Me, my beloved, unemployed, though sweetly romantic, friend from Scotland came to live with me. We decided to spend some time together to determine if we really were soul mates and should make our union permanent. After two hair-raising months, he had nearly convinced me. Two days later he looked at me and said he missed his friends and had decided to go home.

My first instinct was to tear him apart, limb-by-limb, for having made a fool of me in front of my friends. (who all had expressed that this union could never work for various reasons I was acutely aware of in the beginning) Instead, I made him promise to get his life in order when he got back to the UK and then drove him to the airport while contemplating my upcoming 30th birthday. When I walked away from his departure gate, I did not look back.

That summer I had an affair with a music theory professor. I prefer to call him by that title rather than “my next door neighbor,” which is exactly what he was. He was an athletic, sensitive type who dove into our relationship sure it would be his last. He swore I was the One and I let myself imagine us attending University Christmas parties while securing our long summer vacations in Eastern Europe.

Then 9/11 happened, I went to Romania, and Mr. Sensitive cheated on me and broke up with me on the way home from that very same aforementioned airport.

My anger was intense. I had been fooled and I couldn’t believe it. I called him a liar to his face, holding little back and vowed never to let my guard down again.

A month or so later, I began seeing a carefree friend of mine who was a DJ at an FM Rock station in Birmingham Alabama. We talked about our concern for humanity and our quirky, granola- rock star children we’d have fun raising while we traveled the world. Needless to say, he was wonderful and the logistics of our relationship were completely unrealistic. I broke up with him to prevent us both from having a nervous breakdown or turning to alcoholism, or worse, having to spend one more night in the same house with his mother, which is where he still lives.

Then, upon returning to Nashville last spring, I did something I swore I’d never do. I began dating a former boyfriend. Eight years ago we dated briefly and broke up, only to have him tell me that he was sure I am the woman he is supposed to marry and that one day I‚d realize it. I had secretly doubted my decision off and on all these years, but I am not usually one to go back on my rejections. The reunion came as quite a surprise to both of us. I saw him as I never had before -clearly. And I loved him with a new kind of love for me: Love and hate mixed together to form an attraction and a compassion I’ve felt for no other. We would name our children Wyatt and Phoenix, live just outside Music City in a sturdy house with generous land. He would be the famous drummer, motorcycle racer and I would be the best-selling writer wife who spent as much time in Eastern Europe as he spent touring. This dream seemed not only fair; it actually made sense to me -and that was new too.

But as time had opened my heart, it was closing his. The love that took eight years for me to uncover and grow in me; it took exactly three minutes for him to throw away. I watched the digital clock on his jeep as he broke up with me, again disbelieving that I could’ve been so stupid.
As I walked the path up to my apartment after he finished talking, something inside me quit working, like I had lost a lung or a heart valve closed up.

I have twice been divorced and anyone who tells you that divorce doesn’t mean a thing in dating is lying. To a person who has been through such torture, it makes all the difference in the world in how we choose people to date, why we stop dating most people, and why we stay with others even when the relationship does not match our childhood fantasy. A divorced person, if they are lucky and get some therapy, has come out of one side of hell and been given a reward for their survival. That reward is called reality. What this bit of insight does for me is make me very sure of my decisions, not so willing to give up when faced with blatant opposition to my goals.

But they say even Jesus had his moment of breaking. “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” No one ever gives good reason why the Son of God would show such despair - and publicly. But I can think of a few.

Maybe that’s exactly how he felt. Maybe something inside Him just snapped. It might be the only proof that He was human.

My friend Susan says that we should listen to what the universe is trying to tell us. If the universe does not allow us to run a successful business, for example, we should not run that business. If that is true, then the universe is telling me a few very unflattering things. Number one, I should stop writing milk memos. I’ve spent four months of serious energy trying to get a computer to set up an office for writing and have been entirely unsuccessful. Number two, I should file for bankruptcy. The main reason for this being that I am bankrupt, not even able to pay for food and rent on my meager hourly salary. And number three, I should give up on finding someone to share my life with that I truly love and settle instead for someone who loves me.

I have finally reached a point in my life when I look to God and demand that He cough up some answers. I am more than tired of pep talks by people who are merely reciting back to me answers they have heard all their lives but have no proof actually work. I’m amazed at those who speak about God’s perfection then tell me He created the very angel who brought sin to man. And even more so, I am floored by the notion that God knows exactly how I feel. God was never a woman.

Love does not lie down and die just because it’s told it’s not wanted. With every fiber in me, I still love the old boyfriend who broke up with me in his Jeep. It’s illogical, embarrassing, and infuriating, but it is reality. At this moment reality is the only thing I’m interested in.

I believe that God does love me. But I am unashamedly pissed at Him for not taking one moment in eight years to speak to me in a way that I can understand. On the tips of many fingers right now is a list of excuses for God. You will say I have not been listening, that I have not been patient, that He is active and present in my life. But you will only be saying these things because you have not been hit so hard that you come to that place where you wonder why Jesus, Himself, felt forsaken.
I want God to speak for Himself. I believe He can. And maybe He has wanted to all along.

Every Word You Said...

This is for your bad excuse
This is me more than bruised
Hold it to the light; what do you see?
You are what you choose to be
Cause I believed in you
I heard every word you said
You want what‚s true
But lies are in your head

Each time you slept through breakfast
I knew what was on your mind
You said you like my company
And I had all that time
If ever I have loved a man,
I‚m sad you were the one
Cause I believed in your desire
And now look at what it‚s done

I believed in you
I saw every word you said
You want what‚s true
But lies are in your head

All the late night guilty pleasure
You had the balls to sulk
While I put to rest my demons
You saw not me, but my ghost
When all else was confusing
Tell me, how clear was my touch?
It was nothing that you‚d known before
And still was not enough

I believed in you
I saw every word you said
You want what‚s true
But lies are in your head

This is for your bad excuse
This is me more than bruised
Hold it to the light; what do you see?
You are what you choose to be
I believed in you
I saw every word you said
You want what‚s true
But lies are in your head
Lies are in your head

Penny René

Posted by Penny Rene at 03:17 AM | TrackBack

28 · Aug · 2002

Sylvie and Jack

I started writing this song about my own experience of meeting someone who was entirely wrong for me that I found immensely charming and attractive. I am probably equally split in my personality concerning matters of romance.

One side of me imagines a man proposing to me in front of the world because he wants everyone to know about our great love! He miraculously knows me, inside and out; and his kisses leave me feeling happily drugged. But the other half of me is highly skeptical.

I meet men that, as I said, I find attractive in appearance and wit, but I don't even bother to get to know them because I figure I've seen enough of what heartache love can bring. I've left too many parties without even having carried on a conversation with the one man in the room I was interested in.

Anyway, as I continued on with the song, it took on an odd Irish feel. I could picture my great grandmother and my grandfather going through the same things I have. What if we all never took a chance on love? The fear of failure has got to be the most used excuse for single persons who wish they weren't. The only way anyone ever finds romantic love, is if they put themselves out there.

Right. That is my flimsy excuse for this song. I like to think of it as new Irish folk music. Maybe someday, we'll all get together and sing it around an old piano while we smile rosy smiles and slap each other on the back. I can hope, can't I?


Sylvie & Jack

sylvie was pretty, the dark raven kind
'Twas said her love's more potent than wine
and jack, he was quick with his wit and a smile
though getting the girl, always took him a a while

a friend of a friend, a game and some drinks
enough time to admit what they really think
on the tip of her lips was the truth in a joke
but the hint can't be caught by any old bloke

she sang
i am cool water and you are calm
i could be with you but not for long
just a comfort to know you're not alone
i want to stay, but maybe i'll just go home

he lit a smoke he had tucked by his ear
she was feeling her drink, but what should she fear?
there's no logic sometimes, in desires we feel
and it's hard to say which ones are for real

there was something about the soft tone of his voice
how the cricket's outside were no longer noise
the space between them grew thin and alive
he tried to gain strength by closing his eyes

he prayed
i am cool water and you are calm
i could be with you but not for long
just a comfort to know you're not alone
i want to stay, but maybe i'll just go home

well you know the rest, or you think that you do
cause this little story's familiar to you
they loved and they lost and gave up the ghost
cause in love you think there's no reason to hope

yes, gave up- they did, on running away
dear jack and sylivie found reason to stay
fifty years on, they sing the songs of their youth
altered a bit, for what's now the truth

i am cool water and you are calm
i will be with you forever, for long
such a comfort to know we're not alone
i want to stay, now that i am home

there's no logic sometimes, in the things that we feel
and those who run can't know what's real

fa la la
fa la la la la la
fa la la
fa la la la la la

penny rene'

Posted by Penny Rene at 09:49 PM

14 · Aug · 2002

A Many Splintered Thing

A many splendored thing.
A many splintered thing.
Many cindered things.
My how it stings.

Today I got a full body massage, a perk of my new job at a Spa. I have never received such a personal service from a stranger, but I was so stressed and in such need of attention, I minded less than I might've otherwise. It so happened that the music playing at the time was of an exotic and somehow familiar nature and the combination of stimuli opened a vault of memory and imagination in my mind. For a while, I thought of my childhood. I imagined my body as a map and tried to think of each body part as a separate entity explaining itself. For example, if my shoulder could talk - where would it say it had been? This was amusing at first, knowing that if my shoulders could talk, there would be serious complaints. And you can guess other things my feet may have said and so on.

But when the therapist began to massage my hand, my eyes flew open in alarm. I can't explain why, but this was a little uncomfortable for me. My hands have rarely ever been touched, held or nudged, without automatically responding back. I had to concentrate to keep my fingers relaxed. The stories that even my eyes could tell, were nothing in comparison to my hands. Memories shot around my head like ricocheting bullets. There were scenes of childhood friends, my father's arms on his recliner, my mother's perfectly manicured nails, the memory of the feel of someone's closed eyes, my niece's hair when she was two, and indentions the cement made while I leaned on my palms in the driveway of a house I haven't occupied in 16 years. But the clincher memories were of other hands reaching to hold mine. Love made and love lost.

This is what my hands said. This is what they believe to be their greatest work: reaching across a table and resting softly with the hand of another. I have made this simple gesture to so few people. And yet, I can remember nearly every time someone has reached out to me. There is something in taking a hand over a table, knowing everyone will see. It reveals a brave vulnerability that clasping hands while walking or sitting side by side cannot.

Sometimes when a person I know is hurting and they sit across from me talking about their worries, they say it with a smile. To joke about our depression is one way we stay sane. And having a lot of young, single friends, a couple or eight drinks are also means of escape. Though I completely get that everybody handles their sadness in their own way, I have suppressed my urge to take their hand or touch their face so many times. Love is either taken too lightly or too romantically these days. I hope that changes so that one day I can sit across from you and say "But I love you, OK?" without even opening my mouth.
penny rene'
second summer skin

you are my second summer skin
and the one i need when winter begins
snowflake on my tongue, perspiration on my lip
salty and chilled, every part of this
so much better with you than without
just once i need to say it out loud
i love you

you are the ache in my hard heart
so lovingly, you can tear me apart
angel teaching me to give up being right
together alone through the night
you are my second summer skin

and the one i need when winter begins
snowflake on my tongue, perspiration on my lip
salty and chilled, every part of this
i should be with not without
this once i need to say it out loud
i love you

penny rené

Posted by Penny Rene at 03:20 PM | TrackBack

18 · Jul · 2002

One Leg Up

A poem/song I wrote...

One Leg Up

When I was 16, I was an angel
I was perfect, I was clean, I was right
But I knew I had to leave Oklahoma
I just needed a good reason to take flight

I tried my hand at love and being human
But I never took the time that it required
When I strayed, my excuses they were mighty
I was the honest man's pretty little liar

Well you never know what sister fate can do
How time eats up your strength to turn around
Going forward becomes your only option
When you've got one leg up and one foot on the ground

Seraphim, a doll with dirty wings
I was used; it was a show that fell apart
Looking in the mirror, no reflection
The toughest thing is knowing where to start

But you never know what sister fate can do
How deep within you is the strength to turn around
And going forward from that spot is the best option
When you've got one leg up and one foot on the ground

He was a cowboy with a heart lit like a beacon
And his eyes could make a statue stand and cry
Two arms that could hold a wild angel
And a love that is worth every fight

I can't claim that I hold the secret
To life or flight or arts of peace and war
But I believe in God and third chances
Cause when you think He's done, there's always more

Cause you never know what sister fate can do
How deep within you is the strength to stick around
And believing your own advice is the best option
With one leg up and one foot on the ground

Penny René

Posted by Penny Rene at 02:09 PM

6 · Jul · 2002

No Mistake

Sometime around 1976 an attractive woman named Virginia moved into Rolling Meadows Estates subdivision onto my street, Willowbrook Drive. Virginia was the first person I ever recognized as being divorced. As a five year old, the status of “divorced” translated into “hip, wealthy, busy and alone”.

As the years passed, lots of kids’ parents were getting divorced and none of them seemed to mind so much because there was a sort of compensation package kids got when their parents split up – toys. A new bike, weekends in exotic places like Texas and Missouri, extra clothes, more slumber parties and an endless array of liberal babysitters.

When my own parents’ relationship was clearly on the rocks, and my mother announced their divorce to us children at the kitchen table, I was relieved. I love my parents, but I was also sick of their fights and the thick tension that infected our home. However, by my thirteenth birthday, their divorce was final and I was beginning to realize that this is not a happy transition in a family; it’s a devastating blow for which there are long-term consequences. For my family, there was no extra cash, no weekends celebrating the parents’ new freedom, no attempts to purchase the love of us kids by either parent. Neither parent dated anyone else that I know of and we kids never felt the need to split ourselves in half to accommodate them.
My parents went on with life as before, only they now were alone.

At my high school graduation, I was one of the few students who did not have to separate my parents on opposite sides of the field house. Their relationship was no longer a battle and when I was 19 years old I had the privilege that most kids only dream of. I, along with my brother and sister, watched my parents marry each other again.

For the last twelve years my mom and dad have stood by their story about the reasons why they did what they did. Both of them say that they never stopped loving each other, but that they had a hard time getting along and over the years they were apart, they changed and came to recognize that they still belong together.

It never really occurred to me what their friends and my aunts and uncles must have said and thought when they decided to remarry. I imagine that my mom, who initiated the divorce, must have wondered how to return to a man she once said she couldn’t live with another second -and vice versa. And my father must’ve wondered if she would try to change him or if she really loved him as he is. And vice versa.

What a vulnerable position to be in; to admit that something that you thought was a mistake is no mistake at all.
A month or so ago I was with my parents, listening to them argue (they still do) and I found myself thinking about a man that I have loved for years but have a hard time getting along with. He – far more than anyone I’ve ever known, gets under my skin. I’ve hated him; I love him and everything in between. It’s been eight years and I think I may have done everything that can be done to ruin the bond we have. I find myself now at a place where my heart is torn open wide and I have every reason to run. But I think about my mom and dad – how love is never what we think it is. And I ask you: What is love if it is not worth fighting for?
Who Am I

I remember
How you loved me
And I remember how you pushed me away
Then you pleaded for reunion
And I chose another way
All these years I searched for you
One who’d have the guts to fight
A miracle convinced me
That you were right

So who am I
To ask you for a chance?
How would I
Hold your heart with a glance?
How dare I
Promise to be true?
I’m just the one
Who’s in love with you

Small devotion
And our anger
How it cut us into bits
A wavering friendship
We never asked for this
I can’t explain my revival
Or how I got from there to here
For the table to be turned
It’s everything I fear

Now who am I
To ask you for a chance?
How would I
Hold your heart with a glance?
How dare I
Promise to be true?
I’m just the one
Who’s in love with you

Who am I
To ask you for a chance?
How would I
Hold your heart with a glance?
How dare I
Promise to be true?
I’m just the one
I’m the one
Who’s still in love with you

For a past
That’s said forgiven
And love and hope that lie in wait
I offer up my reckless pride
No more can I run away

Still who am I
To ask for your forgiveness
And who am I
That you would take a chance
How dare I
Promise to be true
I’m just the girl
Who’s in love with you

Penny René

Posted by Penny Rene at 03:58 PM

27 · Jun · 2002

Free Bird

A few years ago on my last day of work at a law firm in Oklahoma City, I sent out a goodbye e-mail message to my friends on staff. Attached was a sound file; a clip of the song free bird. Somehow I had opened my cage and took flight. Today, on my last day at AIDS Alabama, I have that same feeling, but with an embarrassing new element: I am the silly bird who flew into this cage to begin with.

Have you ever heard of those animals that have been in captivity for so long that the keeper could open the gate and the animal would make to attempt to go beyond the threshold? Or worse, leave momentarily, get nervous and willingly return? Humans are much the same. We know full well we can go anywhere, do anything, and be "free". Yet we return to the same unsatisfying job, lifestyle or relationship day after day, as if someone else holds the key to the cage we create for ourselves.

Exiting the cage can be as simple as looking at the situation in a new way or embracing the situation as it is. Probably the worst cage I've created is the one lined with my inability to let myself enjoy a moment or a person without worrying about the next step I might take.

A lot of times when I'm talking with someone about their personal hopes and goals, they list for me all the reasons why they won't do these things. Here are a few I've heard:

o I have to pay off my ____(car, house, credit card) first.
o I'm too busy.
o I'm too old.
o I'm too young.
o Maybe someday.
o It's not the right time.
o I wouldn't know where to begin.
o I'm not used to it.
o People would think I'm crazy.
o People like me just don't do that.
o I don't know what would happen.

I've said all the above "reasons" myself. But today, as I imagine myself standing in a cage with the door wide open, every reason to remain on my perch sounds as ridiculous as they truly are.

Penny Rene'


Escape Artist

by ric masten

if freedom
is nothing more
than being able
to choose
your own cage
as I suggest it is
then perhaps
the fun comes
in being
an escape artist

in recognizing
the cage you are in
deciding how long
you will settle for it
and then
when you want out
seeing how clever
you are at slipping
through a space
in the wire

the good life
the full life
is nothing more
than every once
in a while
pulling yourself
through a hole
in the roof
standing triumphant
looking down
with a "hot Damn!"
and then around
with a frustrated
"oh shit!"

Posted by Penny Rene at 02:13 PM | TrackBack