We’re all growing,
reaching for clouds,
dropping our leaves with the fall of our faith
and budding again with the spring of new hope;
trying so damn desperately to belong
that we haven’t yet learned how to stay evergreen.
But if the only place we ever belong is to ourselves,
and the only peace we ever make is with ourselves,
it is enough.
It is as it should be.

Rina Marie

30 Days of Poetry, Day 17

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I started this poem many years ago after losing a good friend, and have since adapted it several times to reflect on other relationships. Today I re-worked it once more with every person I’ve ever attempted to change for in mind, but one, especially: my own internal critic…

I’ve read the pages of your story.
I’ve examined the words,
the inflections,
the pauses,
the silences.
I’ve made my life a study of yours.
Poured myself into a mold I thought would please you.
I thought small meant safe
and limits were love
and confinement was commitment.
But now I swell and spill and surge over the edges.
I see the sun
and I am fascinated
by its warmth,
by its light,
by the way its rays dance across my skin.
I must learn to love this new illuminated, illimitable woman.
I will no longer be the one who reads you.
I will be the one who writes.
My own story.
I move,
one tentative step after another,
toward freedom.

Rina Marie

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(In an effort to avoid confusion, please know that the dad I speak of here is my dad Richard, not my dad Rick. I never called Richard my “step” dad, except on occasion to distinguish between the two, because he WAS my dad. He was just as much my dad as my dad by blood. Together, they raised me. Together, they walked me down the isle. Together, they helped make me who I am.)


For as long as I can remember, my dad has been reading every article I’ve ever published, and although I haven’t posted much publicly about his passing, I could not write anything new here without acknowledging him. I thought about him every single time I went to write something for this blog: “I wonder what he’ll think about this?” or “I hope this makes him proud” or, when I wrote on topics like sex or body image, “oh, geez, my dad is going to read this!” Ha!

And I know, some where, some how, he’s reading this right now with a smile on his face, laughing out loud at all the right parts.

I love you, Dad.


He taught me how to ride a bike
and and kick a soccer ball
and play checkers
and bake a sweet potato pie.
We jumped in leaves
and sled down hills
and roasted marshmallows
and played countless games of Atari Pole Position and Wheel of Fortune.
He climbed a tree to catch my bird when I left his cage open
and quizzed me on my spelling
and bought me flowers when I passed the test.
He took me riding
and hiking
and fishing
and trick-or-treating
and entertained me with endless games of Don’t Smile.
He promised he’d buy me a horse if I didn’t smile
but I never could resist smiling at him,
not even for a horse.
He was my biggest fan
A constant support in everything from writing to music to farming to gardening.
He bought me my first computer
my first five goats,
the fencing we needed for our cow,
the trees we planted in our garden,
my first pair of riding boots,
and a real suede winter coat during my first winter in New York,
because that’s what I wanted,
even though he was financially struggling at the time
(I didn’t know this until years later.)
He texted each week, just to check in.
He read every childhood story I ever wrote
and every article I ever published
and laughed at all the right parts of my stories.
He offered the best advice
and gave the biggest hugs
and told the corniest jokes
and ran the fastest races.
Even in his sixties.
Even against my teenage children.
He played guitar
and taught Kung fu
and worked with the homeless
and made me feel safe.
Always safe.
Even as an adult.
Because he was there.
Always there.
To help, to support, to lean on, to share his wisdom.
As a child, he was my world.
As an adult, he helped me shape it.
Thank you, Dad.
Thank you for your life.
Thank you for your love.
Thank you for making me better.
For the miracle of you in my life.
For the privilege of sharing it with you.
I love you.


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Anam Cara (Soul Friend)

Barriers down borders annulled
Life opened to each other
An invite to the secret place
We dare not show another
You come to me in hunger
I go to you in thirst
We share the fullness of our hearts
And fill ourselves with truths
We dare the risk of being known
Drop all raiment of pretense
And let ourselves be intimate
Beyond our layers of defense
Complete surrender soul to soul
Our secret selves unbound
Tender hearts lain bare, exposed
We stand on holy ground

Rina Marie

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I’m Not Sorry

I wrote this over the course of several days after the passing of a loved one. It speaks to the struggle of understanding my own process of grief when it sometimes seems so overpowering I can hardly breathe, and at others seems so distant I only feel the dullest ache. This is my attempt to step out of self-judgment and into acceptance for the full array of my emotions…


I won’t apologize for the way I process grief
For crying too much
Or not at all
For laughing
Or singing
Or dancing
Or never getting out of bed

I won’t apologize for hanging his pictures on every wall
Or the dashboard of my car
Or tattooing several on my chest
Or packing every single one away

I won’t apologize for keeping everything she ever touched
Or wearing all her clothes
Or sleeping where she breathed her last
Or giving everything away

I won’t apologize for bringing him up in every conversation
Or sharing all his best stories
Or posting all his favorite songs
Or never again speaking his name

I won’t apologize for the tattoo made from her ashes
Or sleeping with them each night
Or wearing them around my neck
Or letting the wind carry them all away

I won’t apologize for reading all his journals
Or burning every one
For moving to another city
Or staying in the home we shared

I won’t apologize for keeping her phone on
Or deleting everything that bore her name
For keeping her recording on the voicemail
Or erasing all her texts

I won’t apologize that I call each day
Or haven’t called in ten.
For asking you to stay with me
Or needing to be left alone

I won’t apologize for my glasses filled with wine
Or my netflix filled with comedies
Or my facebook filled with quotes on grief
Or my playlist filled with upbeat songs

I won’t apologize for sleeping too much
Or not at all
For eating too much
Or not at all
For working too much
Or not at all
For visiting the grave too often
Or not at all

Don’t tell me to let go
Don’t tell me to hold on
Don’t tell me I should smile
Don’t tell me not to laugh
I know you only want to help,
So this is what I ask:
Give me your presence and your time,
Your arms and not your judgments
Let me grieve in my own way.
I’ll make it through, I promise.

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Perfect Love

In the end, I find we must accept love exactly as it is,
Which is all it ever will be.
Fluid and changing,
flawed and insufficient,
risky and painful and raging with the need of forgiveness.

Rina Marie


…This is how we must also love ourselves.

30 Days of Poetry

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She is a waterfall
And I long to be the river
Ready and waiting to catch her.
I will never contain her
And she will never overwhelm me.
She will spill over my banks and run wild
But return again and again
To the space where I hold the fullness of her
The place where she fills me.

Rina Marie

30 Days of Poetry, Day 9

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