Captive Listener

After leaving an abusive marriage, my mother updated family members on my recovery in this way, “Lucy no longer looks around the room for permission to laugh.” I wasn’t even aware I’d been doing this until it was pointed out to me. For this reason, I chose to write this poem in third person.

Captive Listener
By Lucy Furr

When others laugh…

She sits quietly

Dousing joy

Unsmiling

Until laughter is approved

Her ears prick outward
straining to hear his crackle of euphoria blend with others in happy, symphonic unison.

Musicians tell her she has “no ear”

“Just mouth the words, don’t sing,” they say.

But they are wrong
Her hearing is fine-tuned
She hears subtleties
She hears his silence amidst thunderous cachinnation and, on cue, mimics ill-at-ease

Or, plucks his laughter from raucous seas and yokes her laugh to his.

On these rare moments…
her heart sings.

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Squaw Make Silent Tears Thirty-Two Years

Disclaimer: This is based on a true story. Certain names and details have been changed.

July 23, 2012 – Ten days prior to Aaron’s suicide attempt, I wrote the following text to my friend J_:

Me: I may be a widow before I ever become a divorcee. Kids say they are bracing themselves for the phone call. Aaron sent a message this morning telling me he hasn’t wanted to live ever since I left. His demeanor is mirroring his brother’s demeanor just before he took his own life four years ago. I get texts from Aaron that vacillate from one extreme emotion to another. I don’t need to write a book. Aaron is writing one for me, text by text. I can start the book with his older brother’s suicide, move on to Aaron’s self-harm during our courtship, then his aunt’s suicide, then my nephew’s suicide, then our daughters suicide attempts, then his younger brother’s suicide, and then conclude it with Aaron’s suicide. There might be enough material for a trilogy. But in truth, J_, though I jest, Aaron’s demise is so painful to witness, the kids and I can hardly bare it. The nightmare continues in the outer fringes of my pretended happiness.

July 23, 2012

J_: Poor Aaron.  Earth life has been so difficult for him. You took good care of him for so many years but he was beyond repair. You can always feel good about your sacrifices.

July 24, 2012

Me: Aaron’s in good form today. Here is the message he cc’d to me:

“Use to be White Eyes (me) had Squaw…just needed TeePee…now Whites Eyes in Heap Big trouble and Big Fork in the Road…now White Eyes need new Squaw…and TeePee…what White Eyes to do?

Maybe White Eyes need to ride horse better…not get thrown off by squaw while napping!

Just a little levity

Dad”

I no longer respond to Aaron’s texts unless absolutely necessary. But I would’ve liked to have written this in return: Maybe if Whites Eyes do not nap so much he could have bought BIG teepee for 10 cow squaw wife. Now Whites Eyes, squaw and papoose’s all have red eyes from cry too much.

July 24, 2012

J_: I love your response. You have so much self control in not sending it to him.

July 24, 2012

Me: I learned about a month ago that one cannot fight the devil and expect to win no matter how witty one thinks one is. I gain nothing from responding.

July 25, 2012

Me: Squaw make many new friend at LDS Singles. Meet big chief Craig Terry of Craig’s List and now on special email list for much sand volleyball, raindance and parties. No more 10 cow squaw wife. Price gone up since squaw still have nice ass, silk skin, much brain, white teeths, happy smile and papooses grown and not in teepee. Squaw not have to hunt food, make big cook fires, clean, be like white slave girl while White Eyes sit on lazy ass in teepee, keep warm by fire, nap much, shop much much much. (Oops. Not all tomahawks buried yet.) Squaw work hard still. Squaw build better life. Squaw free prison now White Eyes gone.

July 25, 2012

J_: Man oh man I wish you could send that to White Eyes.

July 25, 2012

Me: White Eyes have evil orange eyes. No can send. Squaw laugh silent laugh just like silent tears thirty-two years.

Fuck You, Dickhead

Disclaimer: This is based on a true story. Certain names and details have been changed.

Are we back in kindergarten? Seriously, Richard—Dick…head—Franco, you don’t like poetry? Fuck you!

Those are the words I should’ve voiced last night when you said, “Stop with all the poetry on your blog.” But I can’t always get to the root of my real feelings until hours, sometimes days, later.

Not everyone likes poetry. I get that. You probably got turned off to poetry after reading Walt Whitman back in junior high. There’s no telling how many budding poets fucking Whitman will underrun. If I was his English teacher, I’d have taken a great big red marker to his papers…or just fucked flunked him.

Not all poetry is created equal. Some poetry gives me poemgasms and others make me want shoot the poet for raping his lexicon. Poetry is personal. What speaks to me, may not speak to you. But to take the whole genre of poetry and toss it in the trash is asinine, you smartass swine. (Ha! Proof that rhyme makes lines sublime!) It’s like eating liver as a child and then refusing to eat steak because you hate beef.

What you don’t understand, Dickhead, is that poetry saved my life. Yeah, I know that sounds melodramatic so I’ll explain. When I was married to a Fuckiopath, I adhered to a shitload of unwritten fuckcrazy rules. Here are just a few:

  • Keep Fuckiopath Happy.
  • Don’t say or do anything to upset Fuckiopath.
  • When Fuckiopath hurts me, don’t cry. Tears make him, “uncomfortable” e.g. unhappy.

So I screamed inside my head—a lot. But, after thirty years of holding in the tears, eventually, I sprung a leak and poems seeped out. Poetry gave pain a voice. And, just as a small trickle of water soon becomes a stream and the stream a torrent and the torrent a flood sweeping all before it, my words tore our so-called perfect pretty Mormon family-life asunder—setting me free from that suicidal monster.

In this year’s super bowl ads, this public service announcement demonstrates how dangerous it is for a victim to speak. Please take a moment to watch this 30 second ad. (http://youtu.be/tJaSj_qipic)

The take away is: “When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen.”

That’s right, Dickhead, even if my words come out in rhyme…or gibberish, listen up. They have deeper meaning than kindergarten small-minds comprehend. I’m grateful that you’re reading my blog. Truly, I’m honored. I’m merely asking you to take a moment, use your big boy brain—the brain you use to engineer architectural masterpieces, speak three languages fluently, and waltz with world-class grace—to hear me…savor my beauty—my work of art.

Yes, I write poems. I’d say I wrote this one just for you but I didn’t. It trickled out four years ago as I began to understand the complexities and value of poetry. But, don’t worry, I’m writing a poem just for you. It’s called, Fuck You, Dickhead.

Poems Right Me

by Lucy Furr

I write poems

sudoku poems

swapping words

back to front, front to back,

up, down

crisscross

NO

more like Rubik’s poems

multi-dimensional in purpose and meaning

a playground for my prisoned thoughts

respite for my battered soul

a sunny afternoon spent tête-à-tête with great minds

poets, dead and living

a melancholy waltz in God’s embrace

words lines rhymes

alliteration

buried secrets

twisted reality

knots unwinding

mysteries revealed

truth spins round and round

I am right

poems I write

poems right me

Oh, and by the way, Richard. Thanks for holding me last night in that awkward moment when I cried on the dancefloor—out in front of everyone. You knew it was cathartic and patiently let the tears flow uninhibited. That took nerves of steel, especially for an engineer, to not step in and fix the leak. Your gentle act was…well…poetic. And, thanks for encouraging me to write this scathing post for you. That took courage, too. You are, indeed, a dear friend. Thank you. (((Hugs)))

Blessed Silence

Twenty-six years ago…

Painful questions stab me

with harsh rapidity.

He off-loads priesthood burdens

for me, his wife, to solve.

What are we going to do?

How will we pay the bills?

Where will we live?

How will we feed the kids?

Oh, he suffers so!

But I have no answers now.

I’ve just given birth

less than a day ago.

He probes again,

“What are we going to do?

How will we pay the bills?

Where will we live?

How will we feed the kids?”

No money for motel,

he pulls to side of road.

We sleep in small, cramped car

beneath the chilly stars.

In the pitch-black cloak of night,

I nurse my newborn babe,

Hush our whimpering toddler,

change diapers,

yearn for dawning rays of day.

He wakes and probes again:

“What are we going to do?

How will we pay the bills?

Where will we live?

How will we feed the kids?”


I clean my bloody mess

in Chevron’s Women’s Room.

Find nourishment for breakfast

in chocolate doughnut holes.

Setting off we drive.

Again he probes:

“What are we going to do?

How will we pay the bills?

Where will we live?

How will we feed the kids?”

Heart pounding,

I scream inside my head

wishing I could cry,

but simply say instead,

“Stop.

Pull over.

I need to get out NOW.”


Without a word,

I close the door behind me,

stride across the dry cracked soil

past a lonely cactus,

beyond the rolling tumbleweeds

…away from him.

I stand hand in hand with desolation,

…my only friend.

And I don’t want to hear

a baby cry,

my husband’s voice,

a bird chirp,

worms crawl by,

clouds float through the sky.

Not even…

God’s sweet whisper nigh.

Just…Blessed Silence.

I gather in the desert hush,

inhale the sun-warmed wind.

Then turn and amble back,

descend into my bucket seat.

And he does not probe again

…well…at least for now…

“What are we going to do?

How will we pay the bills?

Where will we live?

How will we feed the kids?”

How the LDS Church Handled My Date Rape in the 80’s

While attending BYU years ago, I was date-raped. Most victims of rape blame themselves, so naturally, I did the same. I agonized over my feelings of shame, knowing I’d disappointed my Heavenly Father. Then one night, I woke to see an angel hovering next to my bed. It was likely the same angel that visited Joe Smith –the one who told him to marry and rape little girls. Even though my night visitor never spoke, I was pretty damn sure he was there to call me to repentance.

All night I lay frightened in my bed, tossing and turning with remorse. But when light streamed through my bedroom window the next morning, I realized my angel was actually a long white bathrobe draped over the closet door.

Mormon girls oftentimes seek for signs, answers to their prayers, to help them make decisions.  I told myself that even though it wasn’t a real angel, God was sending me a message. Yay, verily, he wanted me to confess my sin to the bishop of my BYU single’s ward.

Unlike the girl in this article, (http://utahvalley360.com/2015/02/17/utah-lawmakers-universities-aid-victims-sexual-violence/), I wasn’t whisked off to the police station to report a crime or offered treatment by BYU’s Social Services. Instead, my bishop held a disciplinary council, the Mormon’s so-called “Court of Love,” and was promptly disfellowshipped from the LDS church. Then I was booted from BYU. But not before being publicly disgraced.

In those days, they announced the fallen statuses of aberrant individuals to the men in the Elder’s Quorum and High Priest’s meetings—essentially, to every potential suitor in the ward I attended. The men weren’t supposed to discuss this with other ward members—the women—but, of course, a secret this scandalous was too fucking juicy to keep secret. Whisperings circled round me like ravenous vultures.

I was naive and didn’t clue in that I was wearing a huge fucking Scarlet Letter across my voluptuous breasts. Yep, that’s right, I was totally unaware that I was tainted goods, unfit to be the wife of any of the respectable LDS returned missionaries—the most prized bachelors in all of Mormondumb.

After my “Court of Love” was over, my bishop said, “You’re a brave young lady. I’m impressed with your courage.”

I wasn’t courageous. I fucking stupid!

Then along came Aaron–my future fuckopathic husband.

I was easy prey.

Nightmares and Wet Dreams

Disclaimer: This is based on a true story. Certain names and details have been changed.

I wake up in sobbing tears from nightmares. Memories that were pushed to the far reaches of my mind are being exhumed as I begin to write the experiences from the early years of my marriage. These were the years I lived isolated from family and friends, communal-style, in a filthy, windowless, concrete bunker with my fucked-up in-laws. They called their five acres of raw land, The Ranch, but it wasn’t a ranch. Well…not in the precise sense of the word, but, it could be considered a ranch if corralling broken down vehicles is taken into consideration.

Thirty paces from the bunker, sat a dilapidated twenty-five foot camping trailer. Unimaginably, this was my husband’s childhood home. I wasn’t allowed to go inside the trailer but, when I complained about our current living arrangements, Aaron shared stories from his past that made me feel fortunate to stretch my legs out in a full-length twin bed. Strewn across their land were several broken-down vehicles in various stages of decay. While other children played on swing sets and slippery slides, my children climbed atop an old army jeep and pretended to fight a war, jumped inside a Corvette and donned the role of race-car driver, or climbed aboard a rusty tractor and imaged they were farmers plowing the north forty.

The family called the bunker, The Shop, because living there was only supposed to be a short term solution to financial difficulties. Half of the rectangular cinderblock structure was used to sell silver, turquoise and supplies to the Indians; the other half was where we set up camp. It wasn’t a literal bunker to protect us from bombs or gun fire, but rather a small windowless bunker designed to protect us from theft. It had been built by the family without proper building plans or licenses. It didn’t have an occupancy certificate, but, somehow, we lived there unnoticed by inspectors. Had representatives from child services seen how we were living, they would’ve taken our children away. I didn’t know anything about building codes, child services, mental illnesses or personality disorders. I knew that my living conditions weren’t normal, but living isolated with just the family, kept me in a state of unquestioning compliance. We didn’t have access to television because we lived too far from town. Making long distance phone calls to family and friends was too expensive. My sole source of information and entertainment was an occasional good book, a weekly trip to a three-hour block of church, and conversations with Aaron and his family.

On the last Sunday of every month the relief society president pulled me aside and asked me how I was doing.

“Fine. Thanks for asking.”

“That’s great.” She said with her I-Really-Don’t-Give-A-Shit-About-You smile. “Do you have a few minutes to sit down and listen to a message from the Lord?”

“Sure.”

She gave me the lesson from the Ensign magazine. This is the same lesson that all devout Mormon women are required to read for themselves each month so I’m uber disappointed in Mr. Christ’s redundant lesson on, The Privilege of Ministering.

And then we’d drive home.

Once a year, I met with the bishop and stake president to renew my temple recommend. After answering their prying questions of worthiness, I’d tell them how unhappy I was living isolated so far from town.

“Can your husband make a living elsewhere?” my stake president asked.

“I don’t think so.”

“Then I suggest you learn to make the most of it.”

So that was that. An authority figure representing Mr. Christ had spoken. I wasn’t allowed to question my situation. I labeled my feelings as unimportant, threw them in a box, and placed them in the far corners of my naive brain.

Once a year, I’d pull out this box, reexamine its contents, add in additional concerns, discuss them with my bishop and stake president, and then be told the same thing: Be supportive. Serve with the full love of Christ. Obey the counsel of my husband. Forgive.

As a faithful church member, my husband, a priesthood holder and head of our household, had authority over me. But in reality, his mother—and to some extent, his sister—controlled me because they controlled Aaron. My father in-law—a kind, quiet man—obediently sucked hind tit. I quickly learned to never openly question our living conditions, or the fact that my status was lower than all other members of the group, including my nieces and nephews. I was completely unaware that I had fallen prey to living in a cult within a cult.

Before I became a member of my cult family, Aaron’s deceased brother, Randy, had a vision about the land. The Ranch wasn’t just any parcel of land. It was sacred.

“One day,” they said, “each family will have their own home. We’ll grow our own fruits and vegetables, and raise our own livestock. We’ll be completely self-sufficient…totally prepared for the Second Coming.”

Randy was Aaron’s oldest brother whom I’d never met because he committed suicide a year before I met my husband. Even though he was dead, he played a critical role in my life. I just didn’t know it at the time. Mind-control is super confusing when you’re in the middle of it. I willingly ate their bullshit because that’s what they fed me. But I digress. Let’s get back to the fucktards, how they think, and why my existence with them causes me nightmares twenty-five years later.

Maintaining a good image is vital to fucktards. They never could accept the truth about Randy. Instead of him being sent home from his Mormon mission with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, they claimed he was favored by God and had a special purpose here on earth. Randy wasn’t talking to the voices in his head, he was fighting off the evil spirits that were sent to destroy him. Satan knew Randy was important to the ushering in of Mr. Christ and that’s why he was constantly under attack.  Randy was so fucking special that when the family was informed of his early dismissal from his mission, essentially, a major disgrace to the family—worse than being a black lesbian—they demanded to meet with one of the high-ranking general authorities of the LDS church.

“Brother Scott didn’t hear a word we’d said.” Aaron complained. “He could’ve used his priesthood power to cast out the devil and his angels. But, instead, he turned his back on us. Randy wouldn’t be dead, if it wasn’t for the hardness of his heart.”

Now, to you and me, this fucktarded view of mentally illness doesn’t fare well when trying to portray a positive image to society; but to fucktards, it was a perfectly logical explanation to Randy’s death. Telling extended family and ward members that the devil picked up a shotgun and shot him in the chest was, somehow, better than admitting he was mentally ill. (Proof of this belief would become evident as additional family members took their lives in subsequent years—stories for another time.)

Aaron shared sacred experiences with me privately, and in a voice that resembled the same tone all faithful members of the church use to bear their heartfelt testimonies—a soft, loving tone that evokes powerful emotions. The tone he used was as familiar to my ear as when my parents, leaders, and peers testified of so-called truths while in my youth. So, even though my cult family’s stories were bizarre, little by little, I accepted them as true.

As I bought into their dreams, I found myself sacrificing personal comforts for the greater cause.  But, as I watched other family members march into the shop and pull cash out of the store register whenever they needed it, I grew unsure about my future. They didn’t just take tens and twenties from the till, they took handfuls of hundred dollar bills whenever they needed or wanted them. This always irritated Aaron, but he, too, kept the code of silence as required by his obese, domineering mother. I was the only in-law and wasn’t allowed to take any money without express permission. Aaron gave me just enough cash to buy a day’s worth of groceries and gas for my trip to town and back. Upon return, I was required to hand over the receipts and all the change, leaving me with no money of my own.

I was embarrassed and ashamed of how I was living and never told my parents how bad things really were. They lived hundreds of miles away and didn’t know that when the sun melted the snow or when it rained, my days and nights were spent mopping up the rain water that poured in through our leaky roof. Buckets and large bowls caught the steady flowing areas but we couldn’t catch every leak. Currents of water rushed down from the slopped driveway, through the back door, and wound its way through stacks of dusty boxes like a slow moving creek. Black mold crawled up the sides of the walls. Spiders dropped down from exposed insulation in a partially finished ceiling. Mice nested in the dark corners of the room by day but we all heard their scratchy tiny feet scurry in the night.

The kitchen was a remnant of a failed burger joint. Over-sized metal refrigerators and grills were too inconvenient for daily meal preparations but were ideal for storing old magazines, store receipts, and junk.  We cooked meals for the eleven of us on an old 1940’s three-burner stove. Cupboards were never installed and dishes were loaded onto planks of wood and covered by towels to keep them free from mice droppings. The oversized kitchen sink doubled as a place to wash dishes and a tub for small children. Eventually, a shower kit was purchased and installed on 2×4’s so the adults could bathe.

My parents didn’t know that when my children got sick, I feared my crying child would wake a bunker full of sleeping people. I took my child from the room and went into the area that was set up as a store. This room wasn’t insulated and had no heat source except an old pot-belly stove that turned cold in the night. Of course, there wasn’t a rocking chair for me to rock my child back to sleep. No chair at all to ease my tired feet. I donned a coat and moon boots for warmth, wrapped my child in heavy blankets and paced the concrete floor throughout the night.

These are just a few of the memories that ignite my nightmares. In each dream, my husband holds me hostage by threatening to keep the children with him in this environment. I always stay for the children and wake up sobbing as though I’m once again living at The Ranch.

I’m often asked how Aaron and I had sex in a crowded room—with my mother and father in-law’s bunk bed only three feet from mine. I tell them, “Quietly.” In the pitch-black cover of night, I listened for the slow, heavy breathing of children and the loud, annoying snoring of adults before sneaking over to the couch where my husband slept. As I begin to write those stories, maybe I’ll wake up screaming from wet dreams instead of sobbing tears.

Religion is Bullsh!t

Ya just can’t explain religion any better than George Carlin.

George worships the sun and I worship my vibe. It makes sense to worship something that’s real.

Sending you all good “vibes.” 😉