Bad Words

First of all, words are not bad. It takes emotional filters to make them seem bad. It takes intent on the part of the speaker, even of the listener, to make a word bad. Lenny Bruce said it well in his ‘Hard Words’ bit. It’s accessible in this article on the topic.

George Carlin is also mentioned in the article, as he also spoke of the power of words to hurt and manipulate–or not.

All that said by way of introduction and scene-setting, this is what I’m here to write about today:

The greater percentage of words used to insult, offend, provoke, sneer, belittle, and demean are words that refer to women, to the things of women, parts of women, behavior of women. I don’t need to list them here, you already know them, have heard them before, probably used some of them. Run through your own list of them, and get what I’m talking about. 

The ones consider rudest of all refer to what is most sacred in the feminine: the child-bearing aspect. Next comes women’s sexuality, as if that’s an evil, foul thing. 

It is cultural misogyny distilled into words most often spoken to hurt, to damage, to exert dominance. Whether spoken by men or women, it’s always just that: words of the feminine, weaponized. 

If you have to swear at someone or something that has frustrated or threatened you, okay, fine. But kindly take a moment to choose another word that does not re-impress on your own mind, a disdain for women and the things of women. Excise those words from your working vocabulary. While you’re at it, do the same for the ones that belittle men and maleness, for the same reason. And children, too. And dogs, cats, bulls, wolves… In fact, why project any curse on anyone into the world? 

Obscenity is in the heart and mind of the speaker and listener. In Euro-American culture, it is a nasty outgrowth of our joyless Puritan ancestry, which blossomed again in the pants on piano legs mindset of the Victorians. Let’s not be them.

Let us be mindful. And more imaginative.



My mom used to fall down a lot, and we told her we should wrap her in bubblewrap. Today, talking about bumping into things a lot due to my wonky eyesight, the topic came up again.

Bubblewrap hat… maybe a turban! Because it would be so elegant.

Then this:

*scene on a bus, train, or any mode of public transportation, maybe an elevator*


“Stop it.”

‘pop… pop pop…’

“Cut it out!”

“Just one more…”


‘pop pop pop’

“No! No more! I don’t even know you!”

‘pop pop pop pop…’



There’s only one way to prevent a killing here: Give the other guy a big piece of bubblewrap. Give everyone bubblewrap!

And clean up afterwards.



When the night goes dark,
all glowing wild eyes dimmed and dead;
When the forest goes silent
of song and cry and roar
and there is only the creaking
of trees moved by the empty rush of wind;
When flowers no longer hum
with the dancing bee;
When the sky is bleak of wings
that glitter and crackle
or suddenly rattle or
softly beat the air;
When water is wild and foul
and dry dust bakes unsheltered
from the sightless sun;
When the heart of humanity
is broken with loneliness and shame,
saying and knowing,
We had the warnings,
We had the time–
We could have done
so many things…

CL Redding July 2015

Birthday Card to 30s

A friend of mine turns 30 today. My elder kids are well into their own now, and my youngest is about to reach this mark. I remember my 30s, half a lifetime ago… From here, from now, they look quite different from how they did then. Here is my birthday card to everyone turning 30:

The 30s are a great decade, now I look back…

It’s a time of great energy, high hopes, ideals and notions that have grown more realistic after the 20s slapped the sillier ones out of you… And from here on, the balance of your life will be adulthood rather than childhood, as it has been up to now. It is a significant change in perspective, from which you will make different decisions and choices: those of an adult, more than those of a child. This can be a good thing.You will love like an adult, for one thing: this is love that is more giving than taking, and this will improve the quality of the love you offer, and the love that is offered to you.

You have learned and survived enough that you’ve got more of a handle on life, and know more what kind of standards you require of yourself and others, for happiness and smooth sailing. You know better how to cope with times when those standards aren’t met: how to forgive yourself and others for failures and flaws. As a parent of kids who all have made it to the 30s, that is a happy thing indeed!

Whatever comes between you and joy, between you and your best, happiest self, solve it now. Don’t wait. Don’t postpone. Don’t hope someone will save you. Get thee to a counselor if your habits of thinking and living don’t increase your delight in living.

Look at how you are creating yourself and your body, and start eating for how food works for you, or not, instead of just how it tastes. But drink for flavor instead of effect.

Learn how to give, and how to hold back from giving until you are asked.

These are all the first things that come to mind when I think of what I needed to hear when I turned 30. I might have laid a better foundation for my 40s, and further.

Love, 60s

PS: Strive more to be kind than to be clever.

Love, Nearly 70

Next Time…

Next time, I want a life
in more dimensions.
Not just for- and backwards,
Not bound so tight to time.
I want to live
not only walking on the earth
but soaring, eagle-high,
or flitting among leaves and boughs,
or swiftly coursing distances
between the trees,
the rooftops,
the ledges of great canyons,
coasting on warm rising airs…

Or I will live more slowly,
cruising with the waves
and diving deep and deeper
into the ever more pressing dark…
I’ll go leaping towards the sky
to crash back down again
with mighty, merry splashing!
I will slow-dance in spirals
with my kin
bubble-netting herring,
and scoop up tons of krill
with wide-mouth grin
and cascades of water
pouring down my chin…

Yes, I will live next time
in more of space,
the ups and downs,
betweens and throughs,
joy-quick as a bird above the quiet earth,
or as majestic-graceful
as a great sea-bound whale,
or playing all the days,
a dolphin spinning, splashing,
grinning, hunting, pretend-mating
with patient, ponderous sea-turtles,
and for real with my own kind
of shining, smiling grace.

Next time, next time…!

June 2021

It’s A Dry Heat

A dry heat crackles,
parches the pale and spiny desert.
In the red-rock lands
of colossal clouds
that stride the sky like gods–
lit with sunlight, shadows, sometimes
hearts aflash with lightning glows
and casting the colored laughter
of rainbows in curtains
that never touch the ground.

Warm, essence of sage and mesquite on the air…

Dry heat shatters:
The storm, relentless,
a vivid line between the wet and dry,
audibly advancing;
the potent male rains come on
hissing over sand and rock, enveloping,
drenching, pummeling the ground,
and flinging floods down canyon creeks,
clearing stony channels
of the casual detritus
of more desultory days…

Sharp, the spicy scent of rain on rock…

Dry-heat skies,
brilliant and blue,
Mares’ tails drifting high,
plumes promising
the coming of
a low grey-blanket sky
woven of misty female rains
quiet, slow, and patient,
the saturating grace of water
that quickens quietly and deeply
the baking soils.

Cool aromas breathing from the earth…

Dry heat glimmers
off freshly brightened greens,
darkened greys and reds;
Bright gems of blossoms, fragrant,
overnight a-bloom, 
across the land,quenching
the persistant,
deepest thirst
of eye and heart,
in the desert’s
quivering dry heat.

Savory, sweet and stony, the desert breath…

June 2021


Heavy as hot wet flannel, every breath…
I hate to sit or move against
this August afternoon.
Sticky-damp, clothes cling,
a drag against ambition.
Birds, lethargic, dull,
sing only if they must,
fly ghostlike if at all
through dusty drooping trees.
Cicadas ratchet on and on–
maddeningly constant;
mosquitoes whine
or strike unheard, the devils!
Roses overblown and bright,
relishing this tropic season,
exude aromas heavy and too sweet.

I languish, scowling, discontent
and longing for the night–
for sleeping cool and waking
to a morning softly lit, a little chill–
a tease dispelled by ten o’clock.
A distant rolling grumble…
Ah!The thick and heavy air is stirring–
Ozone sharply breaks the roses’ hold
upon the atmosphere–
the light is strange and green and darkening,
and thunder rolls and rolls and rolls again,
bolder, growling ever nearer now…!
A little wraith pops up
where a raindrop slaps the dust
and lightning cracks!
across the canopy of cloud–
and down the deluge comes
drowning wraiths and dust,
silencing cicadas in mid-song,
washing mosquitoes from the air…

I stir, I go down from the house
with gratitude
to greet the storm and lift my face
to the blessing rain.

In half an hour, it is done:
birds exulting, flicker through
the clean and gleaming trees,
they lose the dust that dulled them
drink on the wing
and refresh their song;
cicadas scrape out again their noise;
the roses, freshened, lift their heads and buds,
bejeweled in crystal beads;
A beam of sunlight shoots from west to east
and mists rising, catch the glow…
The heat retires before
the evening coming on…

August 2006, revised June 2020 by CLRedding

Reclaiming the Eternal Feminine


O maid, you once were lovely,
full of grace, and named
for Wisdom in eternal female form–
Metis, Maat, Medha the names you bore…

But the passing generations,
reshaping and restructuring your form,
made you over as a thing to fear,
no longer Maid, but Monster
with a deadly, stony gaze;

Men made you cruel and cold
and perilous to life in latter days,
forgetting that the peril in your eyes
is Truth too true for them to see, and live.

Grim-faced now, the Gorgon who is wise,
whose serpents in her hands once offered Life
now–writhe in ringlets on her brow
And Perseus pursues her with a knife…

2005 by CL Redding

The mythic Medusa illustrates one of humankind’s greatest dysfunctions.

Throughout all the cultures in which women have been put down and diminished, relegated to roles of subservience, charged with incapability of mind and frailness of body, Medusa is the perpetual feminine monster. In those regarding the Universe as perpetually polarized between the good and the bad, the feminine became associated with evil: with deceit and beguilement, with treachery and trickery, with insincerity and disloyalty… It’s a very long list, all the Evils of the world.

Out of these attitudes, naturally flows the reshaping of the feminine from being respected as an equal partner to the masculine, and possessed of particular female powers, to being chattel of the male: from a whole, inherently valuable person to an object having no value except as men define it. Humanity has been deformed and crippled by this dysfunction since the rise of patriarchal supremacy. When life became about conquest and physical domination, the values of insight, of healing, of the powers of gentleness were diminished.

It isn’t about how individual men are, or specific women: It is about foundational assumptions and beliefs throughout a culture in its defining of maleness and femaleness. It is about the essence of the masculine and of the feminine. It is about unexamined notions and forgotten roots. It is the belief in what we are, male or female, in our deepest, most inescapable selves.

How do we heal this dysfunctional family, humankind? It has to start with awareness, with questioning what has been accepted, even unwillingly, as normal, with looking back to beginnings, to the most ancient times before the beginnings, to seeing a world without this dysfunction. It requires realizing where beliefs come from, where these beliefs came from, at their very roots.

When we recognize that the original notion–that women are less than men, that female power is less significant than male power–we can consider what information our ancestors possessed, see how the mistaken or misunderstood or simply missing information led them to such a conclusion. Finally, we can admit that it has always been wrong, and assert what we, generations and ages later, now believe.

We know so much more now, we understand so many things better than our ancestors did, or could. Our philosophies have grown far more sophisticated. We have better psychological tools for making this descent into our most profound past. It is in our power to refute, to redefine the ‘truths’ of our ancestors, and knowing better, to do better, as Maya Angelou said, to make the necessary shift from benightedness to revelation.


I look for you
your sweet face gleaming
on the very edge of dreaming,
I seek you, yearning
to believe,
to know
that you are real…
that we are in a world
together loving,
touching, laughing,
on a harlequin ballroom floor,
chequered black and white,
smooth and perfect
in a forest glen,
beneath crystal skies
and lit by
dancing fireflies…


I walked a path today, 
a path I’ve passed
oh, many times before,
because it led up-hill,
and looked like work…
But today, I walked it anyway.

I was rewarded by
a twisting tree I’ve never seen,
and  colored textures in the trail
and a gated fence with signs:
“No Trespassing” and
“Private Property… No Entry”–
all on the far side of the fencing
facing outward to the busy world.
Wow, I thought
with more respect
For this park in which I walk
any time the urge is on me.