38 : 83 / A Birthday Poem

38 : 83

I arise to a message
in emoji code. Mush brain
doesn’t feel like
deciphering the ways
of the millennial. I tried
dipping my toes in
some woke waters
& I hated myself. I gave up
on extremism at age 23.

It’s here again. Round tree
cake, matriarchs in my
dream realm taunting me
with insults
toward my un-motherhood,
it’s another birthday. It’s
another year to try to
quit loathing or at least
make plans for a secret
getaway. Nostalgia & smoke,
desert summer signs, & I
choke on it all every morning.

Not feeling myself. Never have I
felt myself
or felt
like a self.                Oh, that

                                    stupid game

                                    that always

                                    ended in trouble.


Speaking of which, I will be celebrating
from the moon lodge. I will be recharged
& it will be special medicine
because it’s my birthday. I don’t
know if we Ojibwe have a teaching
on this, but I’m going to believe in it
anyway. “It’s your way,” an elder
told me around a motherland fire.
“Spirit is in you.”

It’s time I reconnected. Put
a bare foot down on some
hot stones. Damp earth is better.
I’ll cry in the sand for a bit,
watch it sizzle & evaporate
before I can stand back up again.
In the desert, nothing works.
There is no escapism no matter
how much that AC pumps the same
air around & around. Here’s the
thing: it’s teaching me. I’ll say
it’s a gift in that regard.

I feel painful electricity
when I poke at a flat screen
in response. Thank you all
for your sentiments. There’s
buzzing disconnect &
it’s about to be remedied.

What year is it?    How old
ya gonna be?
I’m thirty-eight.
Some days I’m eighty-three.

It’s been a tradition for I don’t know how many years for me to write a poem for my birthday. I’m particularly fond of this one.

Some of you have emailed me about it so I figure I better go ahead & talk about it. During the summer, my illnesses are pretty brutal on me so I’ve gotta do all I can to preserve my limited energy or I’m never going to be able to write or do much of anything for the next few months. When it’s cold again, I come out of my hibernation, but for now, comments will mostly be off. Replying to comments (because I’ll feel rude if I don’t) takes up a lot of energy & my hands & fingers never work correctly or without pain when the neuropathy grips me & doesn’t let go. For some reason, heat gives it its power. I can’t do anything about it. My body & brain also have been known to do odd things when rain storms or what not are approaching. So, it’s nothing personal. I just gotta take care of me. I’ve also permanently disabled the “Like” button. I don’t care for Like buttons . If social media never had them I think we’d all be a lot better off. Again, nothing personal. It can’t ever matter to a writer how their “numbers look” & I’ve always believed this. No judgment toward those who like stats, want the numbers, etc. That’s just me, & we can agree to disagree. We all write for a multitude of reasons. Fame, attention, or money have never been part of my reasons. I don’t think that will change. You write what you want for the reasons you want to. I’ll be over here trying to do the same until my body & brain are things I can’t recognize or make function no matter how hard I try. We’re all still writers. Comrades in ink.

Enjoy your summer, or hold on for dear life until winter comes again if you’re like me & can’t stand this sweltering, sunny stuff. 🙂 As usual, thank you for your continuing support. I value you absorbing this mess or at least making an attempt to. Don’t feel like you can’t comment if they’re open. (I’m leaving them open on this one.) I’ll get to replying as I’m able. Say your summer goodbyes. Like…signing a yearbook or something. 😉 Peace & all the love. ❤

Published by Jennifer Patino


50 thoughts on “38 : 83 / A Birthday Poem

  1. Happy Birthday! I hope you enjoy your time in the moon lodge. And there’s no need to reply to this comment — I won’t consider you rude, I’ll just hope you’re conserving your energy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Relate to this in so many ways (in a week I’ll be 49/94) but especially want to focus on the theme of resting with the truly powerful medicine. Avoiding the tyrannies of social media that only seem necessary. The “like” may be nothing more than “I see you” but is ultimately toxic to the soul. And comments are hard to write and respond to; I don’t need either to know you got me! Much love from the Great Lakes quadrant of summer hell. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy birthday, Jennifer! Great idea to write a poem for your bday. Mine’s in July so maybe I’ll try this as well! Sorry to hear about the illnesses in the summertime. I hope you find some peace and comfort during it, maybe through your writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a powerful poem in which you convey pain so well! Your language is so original! Your other writing where you don’t have a reply button is also so good! I’m so happy to be reading your work Jennifer Patino! Anyway, happy belated birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

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