Monday, November 24, 2014

The Ferguson MO Grand Jury rules - Officer Wilson not guilty on all counts - Poem: Twenty Drops of Urine

Read the Times article here.

Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed in August, by police officer Darren Wilson, 28, who shot him six times.

He lay uncovered in the street for four hours, with the excuse that this was a crime scene and the body could not be moved. 

Brown, 18 years old, and a friend, had stolen Cigarillos in a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri. The shop manager called the police.

The jury deliberated for two days - 6 whites and 3 blacks - and were unanimous in acquitting Wilson on all counts.

The town is in an uproar now, late at night, with the mother of Michael Brown calling for calm, but also for further measures that police should take to prevent horrible police violence like this.

This is how change comes about.

We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.
While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.
Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.
Since I'm watching Blue Bloods on Netflix, I wonder how Tom Selleck would respond.  I know how he would respond. He's the conscience of the police brotherhood.

Police Commissioner Frank Reagan is outraged. He and his family are discussing it right now at the dinner table.

Please pass the spaghetti.

This morning I had an appt at Quest Diagnostics in Jenkintown for lab tests necessary bc of my kidney transplant in 2011.

I have been having symptoms of a UTI - urinary tract infection - but rathan all symptoms, I only have one:  pressure to pee.

No fever, no chills, nothing. I don't feel sick.

When the phlebotomist, Jane, used the term "20 drops of urine," I knew that was the title of my next poem.


The clear pee-cup awaits
we must check to see if my
UTI has come back
Monday is my test day at Quest
but I have called Nurse Sue to ask
if I could forge the doctor’s tests he
wants me to take, all because of that
‘pressure to pee,’ when only two drops
tinkle out on the upstairs pink toilet.

Yes, she says. Be sure to make the
checkmark like his – the balding man from
Lebanon, with the rolling stool and shiny
tasseled loafers.
After the check, you must circle
‘Routine Urinalysis,’ then “Culture”
no mistakes or they’ll know. 

The entire being of this aging freckled woman
goes into action. I must pee on demand at Quest.
Immediately I down two
huge cups of Peppermint tea
a glass of water to wash my thirst
from my two-omelet garlic eggs
then back into my parking spot
at Quest.

The place is empty. Like my
bladder soon will be.
Stiff-haired Jane does the
rudiments quickly
my Prograf level – which
keeps my kidney pulsing like
a little pocketbook within my
lower right belly – here
kidney kidney kidney –
she’s good and I don’t feel a
thing as I see her “God is Good”
sign by her desk.

I tell her my fear about peeing.
First, I must choose whether to use
the little kid’s word or the adult
multi-syllabic term that indicates
‘you are no longer young – the best years
of your life are over’ – pushing blond-haired
Sarah to the zoo in Austin where she’d lean
from her pram and wave at the chimps –
I don’t let on my fear, but say simply,
“Sure hope I can do it, Jane.”

It's like pleasing teacher.
Twenty drops is all I need, she says.
Twenty drops.
I sit in the waiting room. Read my book
for half an hour. ‘How are you doing down
there?’ I wonder about the clever elimination
system that is revving up for the splashes of
my mighty Niagara. 

Sure enough, my cup runneth over.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dr Suzanne Robison speaks about DBT

The very knowledgeable Suzanne Robison, PsyD - see her impressive website here - has a practice in Lansdale, PA. We learned about her since she spoke at one of the NAMI meetings.

Psychiatry/psychology loves acronyms she said. DBT stands for dialectical behavior therapy, invented by Marsha Linehan. It's an effective treatment for borderline personality disorder - BPD - a term invented by Freud.

First, she defined symptoms of BPD. You must have 5 out of 9 in order to earn this most stigmatized condition. 

Here are a couple off the top of my head:

-Fear of abandonment
-Unstable relationships
-Self-harm, such as cutting
-Identity problems

I hadn't known about 'inappropriate expression of anger.' Read about it here. 

We had a good turnout. Many came in late. One woman, who asked many questions, found out about us from the Intelligencer. They need three weeks' notice and I always forget to do it, but obviously remembered. is always useless, but I'm always in a panic and post it on there anyway.

We've had several people in New Directions with BPD. Just looked up one individual, who would tell me over the phone she was dying, but she is still living with her husband in Staten Island.

Reminded me of a case Suzanne mentioned. The woman had BPD and the man had dependency issues. He controlled her and she allowed it. Suzanne is working with him to loosen the bonds and for her to become more independent.

Suzanne teaches her adolescent clients the meaning of BPD, but that's not going to change their behavior.

They work both in groups or in solo sessions.

The person with borderline feels absolutely horrible inside. To them, the world is a scary place with little safety. They are acting out on others what they feel inside. Their behavior, they think, makes them feel good, but it only exacerbates the situation, which has been described as living a soap opera, with crises every single day.

Life is frustrating for the people who love a person with borderline. And they rarely know how to talk to their loved one, thus upsetting them more.

"I didn't want to upset her b/c I was afraid she'd cut herself more."

The goal is to live a life worth living.

Dialectical means 'opposite.' Dialetical statements have opposing view points such as "I think you're a kind person, but sometimes you push people too far."

A statement like this can provoke the client. They can end up in the hospital from cutting. But then they must pay the consequences with Suzanne.

She was first a drug and alcohol counselor, and then received training in DBT.

Suzanne describes herself as direct and confrontational.

25 percent of her clientele have borderline.

DBT makes use of cognitive behavior therapy - CBT - which is probly the only psychotherapy whose results have been studied and found effective.

Mindfulness meditation is one component of dialectical behavior therapy. Stay in the present moment.

B/c the client's emotions are so sensitive, she must be taught 'distress tolerance.' Whereas a regular person might get angry and feel it for a few minutes, not so the borderline person. She or he might not cool off for hours or even days.

Interpersonal skills are also worked on. How do we relate to other human beings?

It's believed that MM had BPD.

There are dialectical dilemmas suffered by the borderline person, which shows their black and white thinking - all or nothing - no shades of gray

Active vs. passive

Unrelenting crisis vs inhibited grieving

Idealism vs invalidation

Is the disorder learned or innate?

It's believed there's a genetic component that is brought out by the environment, the way the child is raised. Usually there has been serious trauma or invalidation by parental figures.

Suzanne teaches parents how to validate their children. You learn how to talk. Avoid phrases like "Your thinking is ridiculous!"

Say, instead, "I can understand how you feel that way.

Also avoid speaking in absolutes and using words such as - everyone, always, never - these imply that the world is an orderly predictable place. Be openminded to being wrong b/c we're not always right.

We can change things or we can accept them. We may not like them, but we can accept them. This is Eastern philosophy, Buddhist, Zen.

Acceptance. These concepts are also used by Alcoholics Anonymous.


Look the person in the eye.

Keep facial expressions neutral, no rolling of the eyes or huffing while the client/loved one talks.


Staying up all night with the loved one to help calm their nerves or make sure they don't cut. You might say, "How about if I give you a hug?"

These are enmeshed relationships. Controlling relationships. Defending the individual if they do wrong. Dependent on one another, thinking about each other more frequently than the average person would think of family members. Bad boundaries. (I'm thinking now of Lee Harvey Oswald and his mother Marguerite.)

Taking things personally.

Enabling by allowing use of drugs in the home.

Instead of cutting, do something pleasant for your body, such as Take a warm bath or light scented candles or talk to someone.


A slow process. Before DBT, no good treatments. Patients had chronic suicidality. They had gotten progressively worse. Wrong behavior was reinforced. Meds are not very helpful.

Suzanne tells her clients she is very bad with email, so don't email her.

Suzanne, dressed for the cold weather, left with our gifts

Further reading: 

I Hate You, Don't Leave Me by Kreisman and Straus

Stop Walking on Eggshells by Mason and Kreger.

Great Turnout at Coffeeshop Writers - My poem: December

Because we met late - 3:30 pm - after the New Directions' program on Dialectical Behavior Therapy - we were the proud recipients of a box of of goodies given to us by Cathy of the Beautiful Nails behind the counter. Likely, she loved our nails too and that's why she gave us

Each one of them a delicious sugary treat. Allan requested the Figure Eight. I would have chosen the one in the upper left. Or, no, gimme the one in the lower right. Wait a minute how about the ....

It was great seeing everyone since I was in NOLA last week. Really?

Today I debuted the painting of my Dr Scholl's shoes. Had to paint em cuz they remind me of my mother's orthopedic shoes

My granddaughter Grace, four, saw them at the Giant. She bent down and touched them.

"They're dry, Bubby," she said.

Beatriz's fascinating essay "Food Web in the Milkweed Patch" told how the plant protects itself by emitting several different poisons and playing 'cat and mouse' with those that would prey on it.

A particular kind of wasp spends its entire life cycle inside an oleander aphid, killing it and using it as food for its wasp babies. The aphid is turned into a "mummy."

Said Allan about the essay, "It imparts so much information w/o being pedantic." Yes, that's one of B's great gifts.

B/c she's from Argentina, I told her about an Argentine-made film I saw on Friday at the Huntingdon Valley Library:  The German Doctor - a true story about Josef Mengele who experimented on victims at Auschwitz. Read about this inhumane racist here. Born in 1911, he escaped from Nazi Germany before the end of the war and lived in South America until his death in 1979.

Allan presented an exciting flash fiction called "Silhouette" about homeless individuals in downtown Philadelphia. The narrator, an educated but not a very nice person, cannot stand these unfortunate individuals. "Get out of the way, you lousy panhandler!"

"Very entertaining," pronounced Floyd, "and I like the way you dropped hints" of who the narrator is. He is, of course, homeless himself, and kicked a man off a grate, so he could have it for himself.

Selfish man!

He wrote it a week ago.

Then, in a surprise, Allan read us his obituary and the epitaph on his tombstone. Also very enjoyable. People found it sad. I sure didn't. These are imaginary works of art.

Beatriz questioned the title "Silhouette." Allan said the homeless are shadows of their former selves, silhouettes.

We discussed the great oldies' song "Silhouettes." Carly was not familiar with it. I said I thought it was by The Diamonds. Let us see.

Here are The Rays - a doo-wop band - performing Silhouettes on the Shade.

But wait a minute! The Diamonds also performed it in a faster version, according to Wiki. Ach! I'm so proud of this ancient brain of mine.

Carly brought in "Do We Need More Automobiles?"

"At that magical age after blowing out the candles on the cake," the kid is ready to drive! From southern California, Carly learned to drive the freeways. Floyd added that people think nothing of driving 70 or 80 mph and tailgaiting. We'd all be terrified today!

Carly and Charlie's new SUV, the Chrysler Pacifica.

The two of them will spend Thanksgiving in NYC watching the Macy's Thanksgving Day Parade. In person and not on television.

Donna had a very emotional week and turned her feelings into a cathartic poem. Those of us who know her know who the source of her misery always is. And it is not her BF.

"The Mangled Mess," replete with assonance and alliteration - the former is vowels - the latter consonants (thanks for your help, Allan) tells of a woman

Matter that resembles seaweed is multiplying in my brain

She had great similes in the poem - a dumbwaiter cranking down. 

We can always expect something surprising from Martha.

GOD was the title of her short poem which traced the history of the word 'God.' In the Book of Genesis, the word was unknown. It was first used in the Germanic for "Good One."

When Moses asked The Burning Bush, it answered "I am what I am." The word for God was invented one to two thousand years ago. The Old Testament was written in the third century, BC.

The poem featured other names for gods such as Juno, Ares, Artemis, and my favorite Coyolxauhqui, a goddess, whose picture has been recorded 

This stele has been colorized - Ted Turner?

Martha ended the poem with Namaste, a Sanskrit word meaning, "I salute the god in you."

We noticed how dark it was outside. Carly, Donna and I stayed and chatted with one another for quite a while. Donna will be spending Thanksgiving with her son and his family, including grandkids John Dylan and Brittany. The baby-on-the-way will be called Brianna, also the name of Marf's granddaughter.

Donna usually reads a piece of hers at Thanksgiving. We laffed hysterically when she suggested she read "The Mangled Mess."

Oh, I read the start of my short story which I newly titled The House on Lincoln Avenue. I passed around the photo of the real house, which my sister Donna was interested in purchasing.

  Told the group that one of the seven books - egads! - I'm reading now is With Hemingway - about a young man who knocks on the door of EH's house in Key West and ends up being his best buddy.

EH, as Arnold Samuelson refers to him in the book, gave him a lot of advice about writing. They were all out on EH's yacht, for he had gotten rich from writing and having his books turned into films.

Poetry is easy, he said, referring to poet laureate Archie MacLeish, who was violently seasick on the boat and stayed inside his cabin. I can't remember a single MacLeish poem, so will look em up later. Maybe in ten years or so.

The best kind of fiction, he told Arnold Samuelson, who hailed from N Dakota - of Norwegian descent, is to not know what comes after the sentence you've just written.

Well, that's certainly me, with my new work. Since I'll probly stay home on Thanksgiving, weeping softly by the window, I can work on my story. I'm still coming off the 'high' of having "More Decaf Please" published.

Reason I wrote "December" is b/c I have a November I'm very pleased with. This, however, I am not pleased with. Que pense-tu?


Birth month
why must you be
so cruel?

Darkness come early
as when He lay
on the Cross

His rebellious
sobbing inside
the way all mankind
at that one clear moment
the truth

When will my time come?
Shall it be on a travel bus
toppling over, hearing screams,
smelling blood, as I pass from
here to there

The sun breaks through
the clouds and joy
reigns again
Gone are the nasty thoughts
I see my turquoise birthstone – huge -
on the ring of a man I admire

Did Jesus foresee the decimation
of his people of the buffalo
or those of The Rhineland?

Are we a despicable species?

Why they say God is good and just
is as opaque as a stone inside my shoe
Let me close my eyes to sleep
nearly certain I’ve got one more day
to celebrate the shimmer of life
and watch the red-headed woodpecker
who knows nothing of death
hammer on the bark of my
last remaining maple tree.