Write to Life

Heidi M. Bauer’s poetry, writing, and commentary

Chapbook: Puzzling Flesh

with 2 comments












Puzzling Flesh

                                         By Heidi M. Bauer
























Puzzling Flesh


























Puzzling Flesh ©


       By Heidi M. Bauer



       HMB Publishers



















Dedicated to Keagen


D’you call life a bad job? Never! We’ve had our ups and downs, we’ve had our struggles, we’ve always been poor, but it’s been worth it, ay, worth it a hundred times I say when I look round at my children.” W. Somerset Maugham, ‘Of Human Bondage’, 1915






























Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.

–Gloria Steinem






















About the Author:


Heidi M. Bauer began writing in elementary school as a hobby. At age 30, Heidi left her corporate business career and went back to college to pursue her English and writing degree. Her goals are to publish her writing and teach English at the college level. She currently attends Kent State University where she is a member of the Honors College, a 2005 GED Initiative Scholar’s scholarship recipient and also works for the University at the computer services helpdesk. She is a lover of history, politics, and reading. She lives in Kent, Ohio and is the single mom of her three-year old son, Keagen.





















Table of Contents


Section I


Somewhere North of Cincinnati                                        1

Living                                                                                                2

In this Flesh                                                                           3


Section II


Thirst                                                                                      4

Frustrated Inspiration                                                         5

Time                                                                                       6


Section III


Selected Memoirs                                                                7


Section IV


The Last Frontier                                                                  8

Taking Hold of the Reins                                                   9

Hateful Society                                                                     10


Section V


The E Word                                                                           11

At Main and Lincoln by Starbuck’s stands a Man          12

Corona                                                                                   13


Section VI


Attempting to Listen                                                           14

Teddy Bears and Strawberries                                           15































    Section I






















Somewhere North of Cincinnati


Near King’s Island

I feel the

rush of air as the truck door opens



in the countryside

where he took me


I remember most that he told me how pretty my dress was


FORCING my head into his lap and SHOVING his fingers up inside me

I see the gleam of his wedding ring

I hear the coldness of his voice like a shark’s eyes


He told me how he would hurt me; kill me

Go back home

Tell everyone we know what a great guy he is and how he had never hurt me


It is now over–harsh lights of the gas station greet me once again


HE is gone, blending into the night like the boogeyman

No one believes in the boogeyman anymore

Who would believe me?


Knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel hard

Tears and snot slide down my face, mingling together

Confusing my mind–My brain hurts from too many thoughts


My body feels eerily numb at the same time–I M O V E I N S L O W M O T I O N


My only companion

Ripped and torn




on the passenger side floor

beside me


A silent partner in solidarity












I am afraid of dying

I am more afraid of not living


I am coming up for air

I am taking a deep breath


I am being born

I am beginning to live


I am finding my childhood the second time around

I am challenging my fears and doubts


I am rekindling old friendships

I am building new friendships


I am feeling youth seep into my bones

I am feeling wisdom seep into my blood


I am smiling more often

I am thankful for this second chance


I am no longer waiting to die

I am now dying to live


I am locking old stereotypes in a box and throwing away the key

I am opening diversity like a pretty packaged present with a delicate bow on top


I am more aware how precious this thing we all have is

I am more aware that I can learn from elders but also from those younger than me


I am open to change

I am thriving on new experiences


I am feeling the sun on my face even on the coldest winter day

I am seeing the sky in a different light


I am nervous, anxious, and uncertain

I am confident, calm, and sure


I am alive

I am living


I am life






In This Flesh


I’ve earned

this flesh                                             

Every ounce

Every pound


I earned it

when my dad abandoned us        Happy Father’s Day

I earned more

When they teased me                       Kids will be kids


I earned even more

When puberty came                         only fourteen

Fat girls may be fat

But they’re a good easy fuck          I don’t want you but no one else can have you


I earned still more

With my first broken heart             you fat fucking whore!

I earned more than that

With my last broken heart              I asked her to marry me


I earned a multitude

When he forced me                           fear, humiliation, anger

I earned more yet

With my shame                                 it didn’t really happen


I earned some more

Sifting through remains                  of my charred home

I earned more still

As my child grew inside me          the only positive gain


I earned and earned

And earned                                         too much, too many

I survived all my earnings

I survive you                                       fresh scabs cover old wounds


Your ridicule

Your stares                                          You can’t catch it             

Your instantaneous judgments

Your friendly voice is no guise     your snickering eyes


But I survive still

Because of this flesh                         my protector

In spite of this flesh                          my enemy

I survive


In this flesh
















                                   Section II  


























A dog in the heat

a dish of water just beyond the reach of his chain

it’s shape, an over-sized milk bone        cracked on one side

drooling dry mouth


On the dusty ground


not liquid survival






































Frustrated Inspiration


Blank page

Staring back at me

I can feel his eyes move

Across the page searching

For words


Fingers gripping a pen

Incorrectly held

Calloused and hard

nubs of flesh

Lie next to chewed down nails


Looking for inspiration

I need no lofty hills

Or streaming rivers

Only a rickety desk, missing more screws

Than should keep it standing


My hands itch, my wrists ache

But like the mad scientist

I push onward

Just to write one more word

That will breathe life into my sentence


Trying to get it right

I scratch my head

And stare at the blank page

Frowning back at me

He reaches out to shake my hand





















At dawn in Autumn I would watch

the orange, yellow, and red leaves fall from the trees

on the back porch and gaze at Esteban


He told me about his past

His father

His deceased wife

(I only nodded my head)


He held an old antique gold pocket watch

Close to his heart


He sat on those steps with peeling white paint

and brown wooden splinters


He stopped time for me,

time for us










































Section III






















Selected Memoirs


Year 11


Issues between Linda and Heidi


After being raised by my mom since my parents divorced when I was two, my parents decided to let me have a “trial run” living with my dad when I was 11 years old in 1986. Mom and I had begun to have “issues”.


The best thing: He lived in Anchorage, Alaska so I had many adventures to tell about.

The worst thing: Dad just wasn’t Mom.


It lasted only 6 months and I returned to Ohio in June.


There’s no place like…Mom.


Year 9


Why Moms and Cardboard Fireplaces Don’t Mix


Christmas Eve was always an exciting time for my sister, Sherri and I. We would stay up as late as possible until Mom made us go to bed. Then we would lay there tossing and turning in anticipation of what Santa Claus would bring us. Eventually our over-worked brains would tire us out and we would fall asleep only to awaken a mere few hours later to mounds of presents under the tree and stockings full of treats.


That’s how it was until, “THUNK! CRASH!” I jumped out of my bed and rushed out to the living room. There was Mom buried underneath the fake cardboard fireplace we had because we were too poor for the real thing. She had been putting apples and oranges in our stockings and their weight was too much for that rickety old cardboard fireplace and it came crashing down on top of her. As I watched those oranges and apples roll across the run down hardwood floors that December of 1983, at nine years old, I realized for the first time that there wasn’t really a Santa Claus.


Year 2


As for Me and Sherri, We Believe!


It was 1976 and my parents had recently divorced. Mom, Sherri and I had just moved into our new house without Dad on Elmwood Street in Medina, Ohio. A few days before Christmas, it rained very heavily and the basement flooded. Mom was devastated as that was where she had been hiding our presents. They were completely ruined; every single thing.


She had no money to get her two and six year old daughters anything else. She broke down and cried.


A couple of days later: “KNOCK! KNOCK!” Mom opened the door and there was Santa Claus from his white fluffy beard down to his big black boots. “He” was bearing presents for all.


Tears of gratitude and joy filled Mom’s face as she realized her children would have a Christmas after all.


At the time, Sherri and I had no idea that Santa Claus was actually the mother of one of Mom’s co-workers who had heard about our unfortunate circumstances and decided to buy us presents and dress up as Santa so two little girls could have a Merry Christmas.


When I was nine, I found out that Santa Claus didn’t really exist but I learned something more important when I was two. I found out he actually does exist, if not in the real flesh, in his spirit that lives on in others with generous hearts who choose to carry on his mission.









Year 27


April 12th, 2002, When a Daughter Became a Mother


It was the day before my 28th birthday and I couldn’t get comfortable laying there strapped to machines and cords and needles. You name it. I begged them not to cut me open when Dr. Salerno said I needed to have a c-section. I cried as my mom tried to comfort me. It hurt. It hurt like hell.


I can still feel the tugging and pulling of my uterus and whatever other internal organs they had their hands all over. I filled five or six kidney shaped hospital bowls with vomit as they pulled and prodded. It hurt. It hurt like hell.


He was beautiful and perfect but I only got to hold Keagen for five minutes before they carted him off. “Hi, Miss Bauer. I’m the Dr. from the neonatal unit and Keagen is having some trouble breathing…” I didn’t get to see my son for over twenty four hours after I had given birth to him. It hurt. It hurt like hell.


Year 13


Jimmy Beam meets Welches White Grape Juice and We Lived to tell about it


It is 1987 and I am 13 years old. It is 2:00AM Saturday night. Dianne, my best friend, and I, sneak out to the kitchen and root around in the bottom cupboards for an old bottle of bourbon my mother had left from when she was married to my dad. She doesn’t even drink. Why she still had that bourbon, I don’t know.


We open the fridge and find the only thing to drink in there is my sister, Sherri’s white grape juice. We snatch it and a couple of cups and head back to my room.


We pour the amber liquid into a cup, then the white grape juice. We bring the cups to our mouths and tip them, swallowing deeply. The disgust shows all over our faces. We feel sick. We shudder. We take another drink.


Year 14


Teenagers, Garage Doors, and Automobiles, Oh My!


“What the hell are you doing, Heidi?” my sister, Sherri yelled from the back porch with my friend, Dianne looking on as well.


Oops. Who knew that when you play with the gear shift of a car when your driveway is on an incline and you’re in the passenger side seat and you can’t reach the brake pedals; that the car would start to roll even if you put the gear back into park? Sigh.


I don’t know what that tiny little, maybe only a few inches, metal pole was for anyway. It was there all the same, just slightly a few inches left of the right side of the garage doors.


The imprint it left reminded me of the Loony Toons cartoons where a character like Wiley Coyote blasts through a solid wall, leaving only an imprint of him behind. There sat a little imprint of that metal pole in my mom’s garage door.


I knew what I had to do. It was time. It was time to think of a good lie so Mom wouldn’t know what really happened.
















Year 7


I’m Looking in the Mirror All the Time, Wondering What He Don’t See in Me


It was 1982 and I was seven years old and more importantly, I was in love. My first and long-lasting crush got a jolt of electricity with the best present my father ever gave me: a ticket to see Rick Springfield at Richfield Coliseum. He and his girlfriend April took Sherri and me to the concert. It was my very first concert. I was in heaven. I was seeing Dr. Noah Drake in person! I sang along to “Love is Alright Tonight” and “I’ve Done Everything for You” among others. I knew all the songs and all the words.


I still do.


I’m a lot older now and so is Rick but sometimes, when I hear his voice come over the radio, I still revert back to being that little girl and vibrantly wish that I was “Jessie’s Girl” and that Rick wished he had me.


Year 12


Swimmer’s Ear and Heidi Ali


In August of 1986, Mom, Sherri, and I took a trip to Florida to visit Mom’s friends, Richard and Judy and go to Disney World.


I was a delightful pubescent twelve-year old and my sister was fifteen. Put them together and what does it spell? We were a disaster waiting to happen.


We were in line for a ride at the amusement park and someone pushed Sherri into me but I thought she had just pushed me herself so I turned and punched her in the jaw in response to the push.


Mom was pretty upset with me. She was even more upset when Sherri, complaining of intense pain, had to go to the ER while on our trip.


Thankfully for me, it wasn’t her jaw at all. She had developed a serious ear infection from swimming, something that would end up plaguing her for years.


Sherri didn’t go swimming for four years after that. As for me, I couldn’t wait that long. I punched her again two years later when I was fourteen.


Having a sister can be hazardous to your health.


Year 22


Broken Heart


Joseph broke my heart in 1995 and would continue to break it over the course of the next decade. He broke it like none before or none since. I guess it is because he is the only man I truly feel I had complete adult love with. Sure, I had crushes, infatuations, lust, just a good time, like, settled for, etc but he was my one and only love.


He is also the only man I have ever stayed friends with and in contact with since parting ways romantically other than the father of my son, only because I have to. I doubt that is a coincidence.


Joseph loved me like no other had but he hurt me worse than any other also.


He knew better.


But so did I.


Sometimes when I think of him, I get a shimmer of thought that I may still be in love with him after all these years. No one else could live up to him.


Then the moment passes and I realize that it is just the memory of my ideal of him that exists in my mind and while I will always love him in a sense, I live in the present and I need real, tangible love and when I find it, it will be better than even what I had with Joseph, who will be delegated to a ghost of a lover lost.

Year 17


Orange and Brown Resolve in a Yellow and Black World


I could feel their steely gazes as I made my way across the cold, hard concrete.


I was walking to and from the store from my downtown dormitory apartment building in Pittsburgh, PA. It was 1991 and I was seventeen. I was also a stranger in a strange land.


After high school, I had entered Wilma Boyd School of Business and Travel, now incorporated into the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.


I had to spend four months in the worst possible destination than any true born and bred Browns fan could end up in.


My sarcastic, brave, and sometimes foolish soul drove me to dress in my Browns sweats and jersey that day.


So here I was, walking down the streets of Pittsburgh, feeling the natives look upon me with contempt. I thought a few times, I might actually be accosted but no one did or said anything to me. They merely embraced me with their cold stares and mentally snapped me with their terrible towels.


Year 28


Staked Hard


I was twenty-eight and flipping the channels one day when a striking bleached blonde man with a scar on his eyebrow and a black eye caught my attention.


It turned out to be the character Spike, played by the incomparable, James Marsters from the T.V. series, “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer”. I had heard of Buffy before; had seen the original movie and even seen snippets from the show when channel surfing but had never stopped to watch it. I sure stopped when I saw Spike though.


My life hasn’t been the same. Now, I have had infatuations before, crushes, likes, hobbies, etc. but I’ve never had a…dare I say obsession such as this?


I came into the fandom when it was already in its last season and concurrently watched the last season on its regular night while watching the previous six seasons in reruns on another network. I video taped everything and then bought the DVD’s as they came out.


I joined online fan fiction writing groups and began writing what we fans call, “Spuffy” fan fiction which pairs our favorite vampire, Spike with our favorite vampire slayer, Buffy.


I have made some wonderful friendships through this hobby of mine as well as rekindled my love of writing after a long stagnant period.


If I ever publish and sell a book of my own, it all began with the inspiration of the genius that is Joss Whedon and the incredible talent of his writing team who brought gut busting comedy, heart breaking drama, and nail biting horror in splendid packages of metaphorically rich television to my little world.
















Year 10


Move Over, Norman Bates!


Our vacation consisted of Mom, Sherri and I driving down to Southern Ohio. We went to some Amish shops and an Amish restaurant. We drove all around the countryside and then looked for a motel to stay the night. We couldn’t find any vacancies and we ended up just a town or two over from where we lived.


We didn’t care though. Getting to stay in a motel was pretty cool to us. I was around ten years old.


Now, you have to understand something about my sister and I. Even though, I am the youngest, I was always the one picking on and playing practical jokes on Sherri.


This trip was no exception. Sherri went to take a shower and left the bathroom door cracked an inch or two.


While Mom watched T.V., I sauntered over to the sink area and grabbed the tube of toothpaste. I carefully crept into the bathroom and held the toothpaste up like a knife and then violently ripped back the shower curtain and pretended to stab Sherri like in the infamous shower scene in the film, “Psycho”. She screamed bloody murder!


Yeah, you guessed it. Mom sure was pissed at me AGAIN.


Year 8


Miss Cole and the Multiplication Table


I wanted it. I wanted it bad. Miss Cole, my third grade teacher had told the class that whoever was able to recite the multiplication tables from 1×1 all the way through 12×12, would get a reward. It was 1982 and I was eight years old. I wanted that prize. With sweaty palms and a nervous heart, I started. Numbers times numbers times numbers times numbers! Oh my god! I did it! I did it! 12×12 IS 144! A rush of relief washed over me to be replaced with a sense of pride.


I asked Miss Cole what my reward was and she gave me a hug. She told me that was my reward. To a third grader, my disappointment was evident all over my face. As I think of Miss Cole all these years later after having turned thirty, sometimes, I sure could use that hug.

































Section IV























The Last Frontier


Past Whitehorse, Yukon Territory in Canada,

just across the Alaska border

Beth couldn’t help but smile


She saw the sign, large and luminous


The last frontier


She didn’t really need gas

She wasn’t really thirsty

but the sign pulled her in


And who was going to tell her

she couldn’t get gas or a drink if she wanted to?

No one, not anymore


The bright lights overhead

were like a beacon in the night

She sought refuge from her long road


The smells

Gasoline, grease, oil

lay heavy in the air


Bugs could be heard

meeting their demise

at the hands of the fluorescent lights


She touched the gas pump’s handle

A couple of dollars

would put her back up to full


She could taste the chilly crispness of the evening air

No doubt, Jack would be looking for her by now

Calling her friends, the police, Mama


She pushed open the shop’s door

After filling the paper cup at the fountain station

She tasted the plastic of the straw at her lips


Beth’s blackened eye and swollen lip

reflected back in the cashier’s eyes

who said nothing as he passed back her change


A cherry red slurpee

a suitcase, a beaten up Chevrolet,

and her freedom with her as she drove away


She had discovered what’s beyond the border

What’s inside one’s own self

At the last frontier





Taking Hold of the Reins


I was lucid as I walked down that street

Perhaps a bit erratic

My current circumstance

Was prepensely malignant

I shut my eyes for the briefest moment

It was my craft

Sudden malaise filled my body

I felt my pocket being grabbed

I silently pledged allegiance to God

If only he would repudiate my assailant

I felt his strong arms hook under mine

I said my last vow

As I felt the harness of his control

It was a paradox

Think positive somehow didn’t cut it now


I brought up my left knee

Perhaps it was a bit thick of me

But I hit him with a sideways chop to the head

I began to exacerbate him

He ran away
























Hateful Society


I give you the stench

of decaying bodies rotting in an oil field under the hot summer sun.


I give you the cries

of agony of an orphaned African child watching her mother, ravaged with AIDS, take her last breath.


I give you the stark terror

of a six year old hiding in a darkened closet as he listens to footsteps coming up the stairs and passing outside the door, leaving a trace of alcohol in their wake.


I give you the humiliation

of a woman, blood running down her inner thighs as she clutches the phone and hears, “911 Operator, What is your emergency?”


I give you the denial

of a swollen black eye believing for the ninety-third time, “I’m sorry, baby. I love you. It won’t ever happen again.”










































Section V
























The E Word


I am a biologist

And I am scared

I cannot say the hateful “E” word

It matters not, how integral a part of biology it is

It matters not that I am denying my students

an education

that includes a basic understanding of biology

It matters not that it oppresses

academic freedom and diversity of thought


I cannot get my refuters to comprehend

that scientific “theory” is more

than just a simple opinion

A theory in science is

a systematic explanation of phenomena

Einstein’s Relativity is “just” a theory

Copernicus’ idea that Earth

orbits the sun

is “just” a theory.


Oh, some guy just made it all up,

 created it himself

It’s not like there is scientific evidence to prove that idea

What? You say we’ve found millions of pieces of data to support it?

No it can’t be, not this “theory”

A mere educated guess

“Let’s just pretend this happened.”

If you believe in the “E” word,

 you certainly don’t believe in God


I cannot teach your children for fear of losing my job

If I teach “creationism” also

I can still keep my job

I must provide equal time                                                                                 We are a democracy           

But isn’t this science class?

The entire universe has changed over time

But I have to teach that the universe came into existence

all at one time

and is exactly the same now as it was at its conception


“Let’s just pretend this is science”

Throw away empirical truth

By omitting this curriculum

school boards implicitly endorse “creationism”

I feel great pride

teaching curriculum

I know to have

No scientifically tested



Forget the facts

 you anti-God zealot

Accept the “E” word, reject God

Biology be damned

Do you believe in the “E” word or have you accepted


 as your personal savior?

You can’t have it

 both ways


In Georgia, they made us put the following on our textbooks:

“This textbook contains material on the “E” word. The “E” word is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”


In Dover, they made it mandatory to read the following statement:

“Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.”

Teaching intelligent design

as science

mocks all that has been accomplished

scientifically in our past

It also goes directly against

the First Amendment’s establishment clause,

which guarantees

the separation of church                    

and state


Don’t speak the “E” word

Don’t even whisper the “E” word                                                                         You hear me?

You secular humanist science loving liberal elitists

 are all out to get us

God-fearing people

I’m no monkey see, monkey do                              

I’m holding my hands over my ears                                                                       I can’t hear you

Why do you fight

 the believers of the Almighty?


Because science has struggled

for half a millennia against ignorance and fear

Robed religious fervor

They tortured Galileo                                                                                         He recanted

Copernicus was disparaged

Suffering and sacrifice to break the cycle used to keep people 

under its thumb

Opposable thumbs-human and chimpanzee genomes differ

by only 1.2 percent


Sigh…O.K., O.K.

I will try and teach it

but I really don’t know how to teach “Intelligent Design” in a science class

so I guess I’ll just have to…oh…wait,

you say you think physicists are wrong about the origin of the universe as well?

Yeah…go bother the physicists and geologists then.

The Big Bang theory? Yeah, right! Ha-ha

Gravity? Preposterous!

And you thought the “E” word was far-fetched!







At Main and Lincoln by Starbuck’s stands a Man


Head to toe in white

Leaning belligerently against the wall

One foot up

Flat against the brick


Staring as the cars drive by

One by one

Forgetting him



What is he thinking?

I wonder

as Tom sings, “and I’m free. Free fallin’”


Is he waiting for someone?

Or just passing time?

Coffee in one hand

Cigarette dangling from the other


He looks like a picture

from an old 50’s movie

Dark hair, slicked back

Coolness radiating off him


What is his name?

What is he looking at or for?

How long has he been standing there

staring into other people’s lives?

Staring into mine


Does he wish he was them

or they, he?


As I turn the corner with a turn signal that doesn’t work

at the corner by Starbuck’s

stands a man in white











Ball of fire

Blazing hot

Dangerous beauty

Threatening me from the sky


Wisps of gases

Molten heat

Non-subtle exposure

Do you blind me or am I blinding you?


My skin basks in your warmth

Red and yellow and orange

Magnified to see your center

The very essence of you

Of me                    of life


I need your light

I need you to stay

Stable    and constant

Let me spin around you

My oldest friend


Fatal star

Kiss me full on the lips

With your scorching rays

Make love to my skin

And still love me               when you rise again                         tomorrow
































Section VI
























Attempting to Listen-

                                    An evening with Stephen Kuusisto


Crowded room

People coming to see

A man

who cannot see

with his eyes

But sees everything

with his soul


We’re all curious

Its human nature

to contemplate how

He can describe

such rich textures

of life

from just his mind’s eye


He amazes me

with his poetry

But more so

with his kindness

His courage

His wisdom


He comes from

the “Planet of the Blind”

But he sees so much more

than me
















Teddy Bears and Strawberries-

An evening with William Heyen


Tears slip out my eyes

as he reads

about teddy bears and holocausts

Breast cancer and strawberries


Two grandmothers


Double mastectomy

Finally death


Best friend’s chemo

She suffered alone


German ancestors

haunt me still

even though long before Nazi’s

Irrational guilt


I cannot get the picture

of the child with the bear

Out of my mind

as I think the only thing

a mother can

What if that was my child?


I feel the softness

and taste the sweetness

of teddy bears and strawberries

Bloodied with disease and hate

turning to hard bitterness

on my tongue
































Written by hbauer

August 2, 2008 at 4:45 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Wow! These are wonderful, Heidi! I laughed and I cried. Thank you for such beautiful writing. I can’t wait to read your first published book!



    August 2, 2008 at 5:54 pm



    August 4, 2008 at 12:47 pm

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