Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Funhouse Mirrors"

Look into the eyes     
vacant sockets   
hollowed by decadence     
and despair   
distortions of reality   
rippled and waved by experiences   
your view, my view     
righteous and indignant   
warped by conspiracy   

Look at the smile   
deceitful daggers   
grotesque with innuendo   
and disbelief   
twists of faith   
buckled and bent by interpretations   
your view, my view   
dishonorable and corrupt   
perverted by unknowns   

Look for the Truth   
barren words   
spoken through slanders     
and mystique   
sleight of hand   
molded and modified by consequences   
your view, my view   
devout and extreme   
destroyed by secrecy   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

I never know where I'll find inspiration for a poem. My mother's rediscovered "The X-Files" and a recent cluster of episodes triggered the idea for this piece.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Chunks of experience   
          like cut glass   
          swirling and gathering   
sometimes clinking gently into place   
          jeweled piece by piece   
sometimes flowing with flood water force   
     flashes of light forming   
          Pricelessly unique   
Then changing yet again   
          Ooohs and aaahs   
          Motion and Splendor   
Suddenly the light’s gone   
          the flow stops   
          and the eyepiece gathers more of life   
               for another time   
                    another place
                    another vision   

copyrigth 1994 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, November 24, 2011

“Giving Thanks”

         This year, we celebrate Thanksgiving a few days late because my brother must work Thanksgiving Day. With so many people unemployed, I consider my brother’s job as one item on my “Giving Thanks” list. His job doesn’t pay much, but it offers medical insurance and paid vacations. It offers him security in an insecure world.

         This year, we celebrate Thanksgiving without a turkey. My mother’s Huntington’s Disease causes her to have difficulty eating many foods, and unless I run turkey through the puree cycle of the blender, it’s not something she can eat. Instead, I’ll bake chicken thighs since the dark meat’s texture is easier for her to swallow. I’ll make our family recipe of homemade noodles to ladle over mashed potatoes and bread dressing. I purchased five different pies and whipped cream for a topping. I will be “Giving Thanks” for celebrating another holiday with my mother’s wry humor and shy smile.

         This year, we celebrate Thanksgiving with a smaller group than last year, not because of death or hardship, but because our family members must visit other parts of their families. What a wonderful reason for a quieter holiday! When you love, honor, and respect someone, you encourage him or her to spend time with different branches within the family tree. I find myself “Giving Thanks” that we will enjoy other holidays together.

         This year, we celebrate Thanksgiving with visits from special friends throughout the long weekend. I like how the tradition of this holiday extends beyond Thursday! I look forward to Friday chats and Saturday brunch. I’ll be “Giving Thanks” for lifelong friends who open their hearts to us and spend their time with us.

         This year, we celebrate Thanksgiving with remembrances of those we’ve lost. For many of my friends, this Thursday marks the first empty place setting, and I know how difficult it is to summon smiles when there’s heartbreak. Eventually, the emptiness and numbness subsides. For me, I’m glad to be “Giving Thanks” to the memory of Dad’s football whoops and nonstop commentary of plays.

         This year, we celebrate Thanksgiving with joy. Each and every day that ends with our good health and sanity deserves recognition! I cannot forget to be “Giving Thanks” for all of the little details that make our world so beautifully grand.    

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

“A Pain in the--Mouth"

         About a month ago, I slightly chipped my front tooth. The sliver, noticeable only to me, drove me crazy. In an effort to stay on my budget, I hunted up a coupon with a dental office that offered a great deal:  X-rays and an examination for $29.99. When I set the appointment, I counted on everything going smoothly, and it did. Except for the fact that before I left, the young woman who did my X-rays handed me a list of additional work the hygienist suggested I have done. I think my eyes bulged when I saw the tally of the procedure recommended.
         “Excuse me?” I queried at the front desk, “Could you tell me exactly what this work is for?”
         The nurse glanced at the itemized list and carefully explained that the scaling and planning procedure would treat my gum disease. I stood in bewilderment as I have absolutely no sign of any gum problems—no bleeding when I brush or floss, no puffy gums, no redness around any tooth, no soreness at all. I told the woman I’d have to get a second opinion and would contact her office later.
         My mission once I arrived home became an in depth internet search of periodontal disease. I must have looked at hundreds of images. I went to several informative sites that had elaborate videos differentiating between healthy gums and infected ones. Quite frankly, my gums looked just like the healthiest ones shown as examples. So I began to suspect that this dental office lured patients in with a great coupon deal, and then once they have someone hooked, they outlined an expensive treatment program. My resolution to the problem seemed simple. After the holidays, I would schedule an appointment with the dentist that I used to use years ago. I’ll admit, I haven’t been in a dental chair for five years because I never have problems. One hygienist once told me that my teeth looked like they’d been cleaned six months before when it had been six years between cleanings.
         I decided, though, to step up my daily program a little. I’d make certain to floss every single day, brush my teeth twice a day, and even use one of the mouthwashes currently on the market, Crest Pro Health, twice a day (I usually only used it in the mornings). I figured my diligence couldn’t hurt.
         Boy was I wrong. Within two weeks, I noticed my teeth looked even yellower than before. My mouth, as well, felt strange and metallic. My gums, though, still looked nice and pink with no bleeding or puffiness; so I continued brushing, flossing, and rinsing. During the third week, pain descended. First, every tooth ached with subtle nuances that never quite let me pinpoint a specific spot. Then my jaw began to throb. Another round of research made me think I may have developed TMJ, so I started trying to make certain I wasn’t clenching my teeth during the day or at night. By the end of the third week, my entire face hurt. I began worrying that I had an infected tooth, or a sinus or ear infection. I added cold, massage, and heat to my daily routine. Eventually, I couldn’t run my tongue over my teeth without searing pain. I worried that my toothpaste, a product by another company, could be in conflict with the Crest Pro Health mouthwash. At the store, I decided to make everything “match” and purchased the Crest Pro Health sensitive toothpaste in an effort to alleviate my woes.
         I spent the next three days in horrendous pain. Loading up on Advil and Benadryl, I hunkered down for the possibility of a sinus or ear infection. In agony, I hit the internet one more time to try to solve my growing problem. In the way that searches tend to do, one trail led to another, and I stumbled upon a horrible realization. I was having a severe reaction to the Crest Pro Health products! In my attempt to make certain my gums and teeth improved, I’d purchased the very items that have caused problems to customers for several years.
After reading story after story, I threw out all of the Crest products. I shifted immediately to rinsing my mouth with salt water, and I found a tube of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste that my mother used when she had her teeth pulled for her dentures. Within hours, the searing pain became tolerable if I kept Advil in my system. The next day, I continued with the salt water rinsing and purchased a new tube of Tom’s. The dry mouth, the puffy feel to my lips, the shooting pain that throbbed from tooth to jaw to ear subsided. The third day found me off of Advil with barely a twinge in any of teeth.
I realize now that that first dental hygienist must have seen the yellow stains left by the Crest products and assumed the stains were tartar build-up. I don’t know what procedure I’ll have to undergo to get these stains removed. Some people report that their teeth returned to normal with changing toothpaste. Others say their dental hygienist removed the problem in one very long cleaning session. Still others say the stains remain even after professional cleanings.
         For now, I’m happy that the misery of the last few weeks diminishes more each day. Soon, if I’m lucky, I’ll wake up one morning and find that I have no pain at all!

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


         When my father died so unexpectedly from a massive heart attack, my world titled. Everything I did and said seemed unbalanced and skewed. A few weeks after his death, the school district wanted me to go to training in Sedona, Arizona with a group of wonderful women, and I cried nightly because I couldn’t make any decisions. A phone call from one friend who was also going on the trip convinced me to come along.
         Sedona began my healing. Notice, I use the word “began” because recovering from grief takes years. I took the first steps to life without my father by boarding the flight from San Antonio to Phoenix. The trip there remains a blur in my memory, but I distinctly recall standing at the car rental kiosk with five other women, and none of them wanted to drive the minivan from Phoenix to Sedona. Being fall, darkness would accompany us on the drive for more than half the trek. Now, I’ve never minded driving, even to places I’ve never visited, but my mind felt cotton swaddled and addled half of the time. Perhaps that’s why I ended up driving? At any rate, I soon positioned myself behind the wheel with one friend as navigator.
         Our exit from Phoenix went without obstacles, slowed only by the five o’clock traffic common to most cities. Having driven many times in Houston, Phoenix’s highways seemed fairly easy to navigate. Before long, we zipped onto a wide open stretch of highway. I remember conversation flowing around me filled with chuckles and “remember when” scenarios. A sunset exploded across the western sky, and darkness swathed our car as we sped along. For endless miles, our isolated van passed no other vehicle. The highway had few lights, with exits creeping up unexpectedly. My navigator, listening to the chat from the back seat, missed the exit we needed to take, and the next one didn’t appear for another five or six miles. We looped around, took a left turn instead of a right, and briefly pondered the possibility of driving aimlessly up and down desert highways like some Twilight Zone characters. Eventually, we rolled into Sedona’s warm lights and found our motel.

         Snow and ice descended during the night. Not much by Arizona standards, but as a Texan, I felt uneasy as I moved behind the wheel of the rental. Taking things slow and easy, we made our way from our motel to the hotel hosting the workshop. The presenters crammed activities and information into us at warp speed, and by the end of the first day we each longed for the escape that shopping in this wonderful little town offered. We hit the specialty shops with enthusiasm. I longed to do a little hiking on some of the trails, but as the designated driver, I didn’t get go that first day. By the end of the second day of training, I felt as though I’d explode if I didn’t get to walk to at least one of the famous vortexes of Sedona.
         When everyone else wanted to go see a movie, I opted to grab my camera case and head out on a trail that zigzagged beyond our motel. My spirit (numbed by so much grief and loss) found peace as I strolled along. I don’t know when I started crying. I don’t know when I stopped. I stayed out on the trail for over two hours, pausing when I needed to feel grounded. I took photographs of many of the views, yet I knew I couldn’t capture the healing energy that flooded through me.

         Grieving has taken on a new meaning over the last couple of years, for I’ve learned we can mourn for the living as they struggle through their final sorrows. Within the next few years, I will return to Sedona to walk, once again, the trails that eased my wounded soul.

 Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, November 21, 2011

"You're Not the Boss of Me!"

eyes flashing   
heart pounding   
little foot stamping firmly on the ground   
a whirlwind    
a furious tornado destroying her small world   
fingers gripping and yanking   
popping and catapulting the doll’s head   
clutching the decapitated body to her chest   
a ruined toy   
bottom lip quivering   
eyes brimming and overflowing   
words sobbing   
“You aren’t the boss of me!”   
a bundle of frustration against boundaries   
two-year-old temper tantrums   
expected and accepted   
at twenty-one   
a ruined life   
pouting lips twist with disdain   
defiant words ring with desperation   
a demand of attention and love   
from a soul contemptuous of compassion   
from a heart spoiled and rotting   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, November 20, 2011

“A Family’s Spin”

masks worn to hide empty souls   
embraces feigning loving devotion   
covers of shrill condemnation and lies   
disguises of endless discord   
prayers smugly offered for self-adulation   
actors preforming prescribed scripts   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman