Child to Parent Violence

Nine years ago I sat in a ob-gyn office looking at a pamphlet on domestic violence. I thought my partner is not the problem, but I am a domestic violence victim nonetheless.

During that pregnancy my adopted daughter kicked me in the stomach. During those years she subjected me to verbal abuse, kicked, punched, and hit me. We called doctors, the police, mental hospitals.  Her anger was explosive and violent, but nothing she has ever done is worse than the things her brother did in secrecy.

Back then I did research. There was no support or process for parents attempting to pursue legal avenues of protection against abusive children.

I persisted. I attempted to get her charged with assault. I asked the police to take pictures of the marks she left.

They told me she was too mentally ill to be incarcerated. They told me to tie her up.

Juvenile court dropped the charges.

When I look back to the long-ago beginnings of my relationship with these two very broken people I see that their violence defined the relationship throughout.  When young children with stories of neglect and abuse act out we may think there are solutions for caregivers in consistency, therapy, research, and time.


I never found those solutions.  I found that their problems were bigger than us all, that I was lucky to have survived at all.  Despite all our good intentions the advice I wish someone had given me twenty years ago—

Run fast, run far.


Winter Storm

Over my shoulder I hear the PBS lady tell my sons about blizzards, how they are just snow storms unless the wind is strong and fast. Here in Texas we have driving rain, not driven snow, and it is the percussive light which wakes the dogs in the night. Poised for a fight. Hurricanes have the eyes of Quint’s soulless sharks as they roll across the landscape of childhood and wakefulness I will momentarily regret the home I left in fear. Regret what I did not leave there. Regret what I did, but not the winds. The winds around the eye, the deceptively calm eye, of every storm that changes the landscape

Of who we once were.


This started as a break up but ended with old friend, Wakefulness here in the dark, in the storm

It was a dark and stormy night! But it was the dogs that kept me up

Dogs of the past

Dogs of war

That dog whose name* I can’t remember who re-enacted classics like The Prince and the Pauper.

When names and sleep elude you, there are sheep. They start out chalky, outlined, and two dimensional, but they elaborate

In depth, complexity, and general fluffiness, but also about the weather, dogs barking at night, and all the ways it was and wasn’t my fault this chance we took hurt so much.


She Storms

She storms in the kitchen finding bits of things to stop her mouth, wish it could stop the words spilling out. How could so many well-dressed people have their heads so firmly wedged up their

Freezing asses?

Fists should swing toward imaginary foes while the real ones all live among us, work at Walmart, never liked that effing little dog.

The Winter Swimmers

They are out there somewhere still, three, sometimes four, figures and a dog who has long gone, gone past the snake on the path, gone past all the wounds of time, leaving snapshots of a good dog all the while the children howl full wind

They knew no shelter from the start

Miles of lonely nothing

No stones, bread crumbs, or birds to

Guide them back



a word we take for granted, bridge between a and b, here and there, our history of words, words on paper, the belief that hereafter matters 

Because you were there

Even when I did not hear your voice I took for granted

You were out there somewhere

Waiting for, fighting for,

That elusive

Happily ever after