Radical Healer
Poetry and Commentaries


I fall into your mouth like  a drowning sailor,
seeking deeper seas of love.
I abandon life on the surface willingly,
without  regret.
Its colors are pale memories
of some one I no longer  have to be.

Riding the waves of your body,
I relinquish the shore.
You are all I need to know
of comfort and of home.

Your probing wakens me,
and I stream out  from my own center
like a lamp beneath the waves.

My singing is  muffled,
but you feel it in the small, fine bones of your ear.

I have carved my words on your shoulder
with my teeth,
but the sensations of love
run through my fingers
like glass.


I could speak my mind with my eyes closed, and frequently do  -
it is so soothing , this rustling of ideas.
It eases me out of my body, transfiguring pain,
making my head thick with comparisons,
squeezing the breath so no wind of anxiety blows through.

But you come, tapping at my window,
rapping on the floorboards,
thumping in the attic
and my skin jumps,
catching me by suprise,
pulsing towards you
with my foolish blood in hot pursuit.

The journeys of the mind spin far out beyond the galaxies,
and the universe is frozen in a thought,
but the body weeps at the cowardice of these adventures,
longs for the comfort of love,
and opens itself in secret.

You challenge my wanderings with a certain knowledge of my inner                           
more profound than my dreamiest imaginings of desire.
“Here,” you say, “just here,” and I am with you, in myself, and all over             


Imagine needing the bee
so that for a thimbleful of honey
you endure a thousand stings.

Imagine needing the shark
so that for a moment’s embrace
of that powerful, shining body
you agree to bleed to death.

Imagine the desperate need for touch
so that lying in your crib,
drunk with the alcohol laden milk,
when he picks you up and puts the penis, not the bottle,
to your lips
you open your tiny mouth until your jaws ache.

Imagine the rest of your life
wrecked on the stony shores
of your need for love.




You devoured my life,

Cracked open the bones of my youth with your teeth

And sucked out the marrow of my beauty


You left me a shadow among shadows,

bruised  by the ones with sharper edges

who had turned their deadness into jagged spears of broken glass


I was a girl with no skeleton,

A woman without a spine.


My shadow gave a performance of living,

growing my nails and my hair,

pasting expressions on my face that copied emotions,

putting noises in my throat that sounded enough like speech

to keep anyone from hearing the death rattle inside.


And now, looking at the lines age has carved in my face

I see rivulets of sorrow where no tears flow

and I feel in my mouth the hot bitterness of a single question.


You and Mother struck a bargain to waste each other’s lives –

but who gave you permission to spill my blood upon the sand?




In the morning you go about with your abstracted, professorial air

As if trying to remember some important secret of the universe


You act as if nothing has happened –

As if you hadn’t drunk my soul dry the night before

In my child’s bed,

Leaving me feverish and parched,

Burned and scarred by the probing and the pounding

Of your penis and your hands.


I am the secret you can’t remember

As you look over my head

To the wall behind me.


I am the darkness with no stars,

The black paint on your lens,

The reason your telescope is always blind.


The invisible powder you feel on your fingers

Is crushed bone from my spine,

My hips and my pubis


Not pounded meteor,

Not inter-galactic dust

But the record of a life being ground away

Under the weight of your history.

Of your hysterical refusal to know yourself and your wounds.


It is an ancient sickness you carry, marry and willfully pass on

My mother, your wife, stumbles about

Imperiously giving orders through the fog of her sleeping drugs

That allow her to survive the nights in her own way

And seek her revenge when she wakes.


And my mornings now, decades later

Carry the sour flavor of your studied indifference,

Your useless,  buried shame,

Your hapless denial.


I marvel that anyone

Could chip away at the life of a child

So steadily, so relentlessly

Working the levers of evil,

Turning the gears of annihilation,

Opening the canisters of gas

And walking away.





The body remembers –


The ribs grasped beyond breath in the relentless hand,

Delicate cage of the lungs whose bones you later manage with horse and car to bruise and break,


The foot slapping frantically against the sheets

The desperate movement that cannot free,

Can merely distract from the pain,

Whose ligaments you twist and torment

Sliding off a curb

On your way to another crime scene.


The hip achingly wrenched into motions of reception

It does not want to make

That wakes you, throbbing night after morning after night.


The bottom of the spine closed like a fist

Because you cannot close what he chooses to force open,

Which you force open again

in the confused pursuit of “beauty” and “health,”

Fasting and enemas of coffee-tinted water,

Squirming in agony on the bathroom floor,

Driven beyond reason to continue the ritual.


(The craze for colonics becomes clear –

all those tiny backsides

lifted in submission

to parental battering rams,

and the longing so much later

to be “cleaned out,” made pure and simple again and again.)


The unwilling flesh whispers to you,

Screams to you when years of whispering have done nothing

To wake up your ears

And you crawl into position

Head in the pillow,

Rump in the air.


You last all of two seconds,

The foot flailing again,

Before you collapse in dry weeping

Unable to penetrate

The memory of penetration

Even an inch further.


As your bones vibrate with sorrow

The full weariness of half-done healing

Is upon you.


The self struggling to witness the self

Moves too slowly into the light.





I've been thinking with increasing frustration about all the misguided attempts to cure  insomnia - the sleep clinics, the sleeping pills, the "scientific" studies, etc. No one ever asks the sufferer, "What was going on in your family at night when you were lying in bed, trying to sleep?" Or, even more pointedly, "Who might have come into your room at night to disturb your sleep when you were a child?"

In my experience insomnia is very often a symptom of childhood sexual abuse. It is tension in the body that keeps people watchful and awake - the tension of tendons frozen in place trying to keep muscles from moving. The  movement would bring to consciousness memories of what really happened at night - and these memories are forbidden by the need to survive in the family which we carry with us long after we are grown.

My mother kept my father by keeping his secrets – superficially that he was a Communist but more profoundly  that he was molesting his children.

I now believe that many people who fight bitterly or are clearly unhappy with each other but stay together “for the sake of the children” are doing so because at least one of them is molesting the children and the other has tacitly agreed to keep the secret.


Competition begins in the womb at the moment of implantation when a mother is ambivalent about or hostile towards the pregnancy. Gestation is supposed to be a collaborative process with mother and child working together to create the placenta and to nourish the growing embryo and fetus. The mother's reward - if all goes according to Nature's plan - is a feeling of supreme well-being fostered by her own changed body chemistry and the energy and emotions flowing towards her from the developing child within her.

But if the mother - either consciously or unconsciously because of her own suppressed and forgotten womb trauma - is rejecting, uninterested or conflicted about the pregnancy she and the baby inside her feel as if they are competing for resources. If she smokes, drinks alcohol, coffee or tea, eats too much sugar or animal protein thus acidifying her blood, or produces cascades of stress hormones there is literally not enough oxygen in  her blood for both of them. Pregnancy becomes a zero-sum game (with the more the one gets the less there is for the other) instead of the win-win situation it is meant to be.

When you consider that all capitalism reflects this sad reality you begin the realize how difficult this will be to change. Women would have to deal with their anger about their own histories - which they'd also have to make a difficult and painful attempt to remember - before conceiving and giving birth. Moreover pregnancy, birth and neonatal care would have to be broadly supported by our society and promoted to the place of main events - not sideshows - in our lives.


Our first experience of collaboration is building the placenta with our mother. In utero fetus and mother must work together, each contributing cells, to build this vital supply line for fetal life. Building starts around the beginning of the second month in the womb and goes on until the end of the third month.

If the mother and her body are willing and prepared for this a child's first experience of collaboration is that it is a rewarding as well as necessary part of life and that people can be trusted to cooperate with you.

If the mother and her body do not participate fully and lovingly in this task the fetus must work overtime and give more than it can healthily afford to. The lesson is that collaborative tasks are dangerous and draining and that collaborators can't  be trusted.


Sometimes you'll witness a scene where a child has been told specifically not to do something and then goes ahead and does it - or initiates some other kind of behavior like hitting or biting  - seeimingly just to "provoke" a parent or other adult. What the child is actually trying to do in this apparently self-defeating act (self-defeating because of the wrath and punishment that inevitably follows) is to bring out into the open the hostility he feels from the adult which the adult has been more-or-less successfully hiding from others  but showing to the child through looks, tone of voice or patterns of neglect.

Although the child may get hurt by the adult's response there is also a relief from having the danger out in the open and manifest.


What troubles me in all the uproar about torture and the truly horrifying things done "in our name" is that no one asks the question, "Who are the torturers and why do they do it?" And by torturers I mean not just the people who humiliated, abused and in some cases murdered our helpless prisoners but the people who thought up the treatments and approved their use.

To me this is the essential question. I believe the answer is that these people - and I include our former president, vice president, attorney general and everyone down the line to the psychologists, CIA operatives and military personnel involved - were themselves tortured when they were helpless prisoners of their parents, i.e., in the womb and as  infants and small children. No one who has NOT suffered in this way would have any impulse to make another helpless being do so.

In typical, sadly human fashion their fear and rage at those who have threatened them is directed NOT at all-powerful Mommy and Daddy - the real terrorists of their lives - but at people weaker than themselves. Of course this is unconscious which makes it so very dangerous.

Their fear - that someone wants them dead, envies them for what they have, resents their freedom - is all very real but tragically misplaced in time and space. But since it never feels safe for them to bring it into consciousness no matter how many "terrorists" they kill or punish or from whom they extract information they will never feel safe. The information they really want is from their parents. It's "Why did you reject me and turn me into the terrified person I am today?" The "others -" the co-conspirators - are the  friends, grandparents and other relatives who kept quiet or participated in the torturing themselves.

Of course it's important for the BIG parent - the government - to make torture illegal and see that the laws against it are enforced. But it's also important for people to understand what makes a torturer and to see that these people are exposed in their disease and healed.


The overweening need to control both people and situations comes from the failure - first of the egg cell, then of the embryo, then the fetus and finally the baby - to get our mothers to behave in a way that promotes our own health and well being.

The first frustration of this need to get Mommy to act in a healthy way is felt by all the eggs inside her ovaries as she chooses the man who will be our father - and in many cases chooses badly both for herself and, more critically, for us. Hope and frustration continue once the egg that will become us is fertilized and starts the long journey towards birth. During the many critical steps of gestation we try to connect with and communicate with her chemically and energetically to tell her what we need. All too often she is lost in her own fantasy about her life, her relationship with our father and the pregnancy  - and her addiction to this fantasy keeps her from truly connecting to our life inside her and nurturing us.

The pattern  all too often continues after we are born. There is too much of her own life as an infant that she needs to block out for her to be fully and healthfully responsive to ours.

Since this early lack of control over our unconscious mothers literally threatened our lives we find ourselves trying to control every situation where there is even a whiff of something going wrong with an intensity that others just don't seem to understand - small wonder since we ourselves don't.

If you have been reading this thinking, "Well, this certainly doesn't apply to me. I don't have any need to control anyone or anything" you may have had two parents who both adored each other, were creatively fulfilled in their lives and unstintingly gave you  unconditional love from the moment you were conceived. Or you may have techniques for managing your anxiety in other ways - that is to say by manipulation instead of control.

Rather than frantically contacting your mother and telling her what to do your style would be to find some way of getting her to notice your distress - so you'd be sending out a different, less direct message although the goal would be the same - to get her to take better care of you. Similarly with other people you wouldn't be giving orders - you'd be asking leading questions, trying to get them to notice your desires and needs without ever making them explicit. But the sense of desperation if these tactics fail to get them to treat you in a certain way or peform the job you feel needs to be done is just as intense.


Greed  (and stinginess) is the result of the feeling that there is not enough oxygen in the womb to accomplish all the necessary tasks of embryonic and fetal development. This forces the growing baby to grab all the resources it can whenever it can and the pattern persists after birth - especially when an individual feels threatened in any way.

Economic recession (or depression) occurs when our collective memory of oxygen deprivation overcomes us and we are overwhelmed by anxiety, agitation, desperation and despair that there won't be enough. Some take more than they need from the collective pool of wealth and others are pushed - in reality or in their imaginations - to the edge of survival. Recovery usually comes when the Great Parent (the government, usually led by some charismatic figure) recognizes the distress and takes action. People start to feel cared about and hopeful again and are once more willing to take risks with resources.

The economic model of endless growth also comes from the feeling that the job of creating a viable infant from a single cell will never be completed. We need to feel collectively that we can grow forever because our early fears that we will never complete ourselves and the driving thought that health comes only from continual growth (which is true in the womb) continue to haunt us.

The pain you can hear in the voices of people who have lost their jobs is the pain of children who have been tossed out of the family. Until we collectively become clear about how angry we are at rejecting families we will continue to act this our periodically on a broad social scale.


My first thought about the "war on terror" was that we always seem to need some kind of enemy and when the "cold war" finally ended another just as apparently implacable and tireless one as the Soviet Union and "international Communism" had to be found

And why do we need this mighty enemy and endless war? Because we are internally locked in an endless war with our parents which we dare not fight in any open way - or even know that we are fighting. The energy of that war has to go somewhere. And what a relief it is when some politician (who is secretly angry at his parents as well) tells us that the real enemy is those guys over there.

But at last we have named it clearly. With "The War On Terror" we are acknowledging that we are fighting so that we no longer have to feel any fear - a desperate battle guaranteed to go on forever. We will never be free of "terror" and that free floating anxiety it brings that allows us to be so easily manipulated until we realize that our real terror is our fetal and infant fear of our parents - the fear that they will not meet our needs or do something even more overt to hurt us.

As usual we are torn between knowing the truth and hiding from it. If this were truly a war designed to wipe out terrorism we would call it "The War On Terrorism." By calling it instead "The War On Terror" we are trying to communicate the true nature of the conflict - and all our despair about ever winning it.
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