Father Time in Dementia

Who will save us from
this shifting dance within his mind?
This rapid movement, changing beat,
confusing tempo . . .

Tell the garden fairies
to cease their screaming
halt all gyrations until we find
the answer: What is this now happening,
this rollicking-flow-movement within his mind?

Run fast, young lad, and tell the praying ladies
at the universal parsonage . . . increase your praying
and someone call the doctor –
we may need medication this time.

The gypsy ladies must come
dancing to tambourines and golden chimes.
Sing a song of ever ending, hurry,
let’s slay the ghost of Father Time!

Quick! Young lady, bring a silver dagger
and a gold pocket watch five minutes fast
along with a bottle of Ambers whine.
Quick! Sing the song of fast correction
Hurry, we all know he’s lost his mind!

That was close – Yes!
That was close Sir, the clock
has stopped at quarter to nine.
At last we’ve ended the wild devastation
of raging, aging Father Time.

~November 2011

(Just for the fun of it!)

 

Epitome Filial

When you are
gone, there will be
no one to fight,
struggle, rebel against.
Instead
only the blank space
where the wall of you
once stood – the line
drawn, marked,
painted red – the fight
a devouring effort
between us. But
when you are gone —
Death will let go
that loud cackle,
slap his thigh,
and crow our names —
There will be only
the blank space
hollow-cold
empty from your leaving
against which
I push
and when you
are gone
there will be
no one to stop me
from falling.

~November, 2011

 

winter morning memory

~for my grandfather

He is waiting, sitting

quietly beside the small wood stove —

today, burning coal,

turned roaring-orange red.

Two old and wrinkled hands

hold a little girls dress,;

being warmed by the fire

that he built – kindling, coal-

stoked for good measure.

He’s been up for hours

by the time I slide from bed,

go to stand by the stove —

slip on the warm clothes.

Every winter morning —

this act of quiet love,

repeated as ritual

Until spring comes again and

the stove grows cold.

~November 2011

Water I


This one whisper
of a soft morning sunrise
belongs to you. Dew on
the grass, a trembling essence,
suddenly gone.
Water rules the world
one drop at a time.

This one memory
of a cold winter sunset
belongs to you. Ice slides
across broken earth,
filling the cracks
with crystals clear.
Water rules the world
one drop at a time

Hush……..Hush! Listen,
this water belongs to you,
rules the world.
We are only salt, spirit, spark, water —
and we are
pouring our lives out
into everything and nothingness
one drop at a time.

 

~October 2011

Artwork: Rain Princess by Leonid Afremov. For more information about the artist and to see more artwork, please visit here.

Conversation


I don’t
think
it’s supposed
to feel
this good to
talk to you

* * *

It’s like Roses
in the morning
covered
in dew, too
important (beautiful)
for words.
Or, it’s like
the feel
of soft-warm
sun touching
your skin
on a cold
November
day — just
perfect and perfectly
amazing.

* * *

You
are a shadow
love haunting
my memory
like
a deep,
cool breeze
on a
blazing-Hot
day.

~July 2011, South Carolina

 
Sell Art Online

ARTWORK: Gentle Woman by Svetlana Nivikova. Read author Bio and see more work by this artitst here.

Remember You Sleeping

In this velvet
silence of night
almost turning into day –
I can hear your voice,
see us talking, laughing,
remember you sleeping —
me tenderly watching
you breathe
in soft rhythm —
as I waited
for those first rays of light –
the rooster crowing,
the birds singing —
I roll to hold you
warm with sleeping,
one last time,
before the morning comes
brightly shinning
burning the memory away.

~South Carolina, 2011


Sell Art Online

ARTWORK: Love’s Dream Fulfilled by Jindra Noewi. You can find this piece and others here. More information on the artist here. Or, visit her website at: http://noewisart.com/wordpress/

That One Peach

 
 

There is
that
one peach
over-ripe
battered and bruised
on one side
that I must have —
craving modest
imperfection
as the bite sinks deep
and the juice
rolls gently
down my chin.
The
imperfect things
often hold
the greatest pleasure,
a lingering sweetness
that outlasts time.
I am
a devourer
of imperfection —
leaving
all the perfect things
for someone else.

~July 2011

 

 

 Art Prints

Find out more about the artist at this website.

Freedom: 18 Years After a Suicide Attempt

We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started. ~Henry Ward Beecher

HOPE by Claudia Johns

The fourth of July holds a special significance other than it being the Birthday of  American Independence. It is a day that marks my freedom from inner oppression and celebrates my life. It’s the day I almost died.

I woke up on July 4th, eighteen years ago, excited about the day ahead. My mom was throwing an afternoon BBQ celebration and all my siblings and close friends were coming. After the cookout, we would all go to the town park and watch the fireworks. It was a perfect plan for a fun family day. But I never made it to the cookout. Instead, by mid-afternoon, I was in ICU fighting for my life.

I was only 25 years old at the time and suffering from severe depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). My romantic relationship was a violent one that had already put me in the hospital earlier that year – the beating to my face so severe that it caused hearing loss and minor brain damage. I left him for a while and sought medical help — antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and weekly therapy sessions became the norm. Seven weeks into the therapy and medication, working toward recovery and planning to leave the relationship when I could afford to move, I was feeling happy and hopeful. The therapy and medications were equally helpful. The fear, anxiety and depression  were easing. The harsh inner commentary and criticism became quieter, and the dark self-hatred and suicidal thoughts started dissipating. I wasn’t afraid of hurting myself anymore.

Ironically, just six hours after waking in that happy mood, I would hate myself enough to actively attempt suicide. The argument started over the cookout at Mom’s. He didn’t want to go and I did. I decided to go without him, expecting him to feel relieved, but he became livid instead.  He ranted about my idiocy, how I didn’t love him, and how selfish I was.  I listened to several hours of this as he continued to drink and scream at me. He became angrier and louder as the minutes ticked toward time for me to leave.

The time came  to take my medications. By then I was in deep depression, crying, and distraught. I made a flippant comment that I should just take the whole bottle – he agreed, grabbing me and slamming me to the couch. He forced half the bottle of pills down my throat, pouring wine behind it until I swallowed. I would take the remaining two bottles on my own an hour later – I had given up, believing life would never get better than this. I wanted peace and I wanted the pain of my life to stop. The only way I believed I could find peace was through death. It was my final phantasy of control, the only thing I could personally still do to stop the pain I was unable to bear. I remember making that choice consciously and taking the pills.

The memories after that are splotchy – distorted pieces and moments filled with erratic voices. Half-lucid minutes in the ambulance – asking if I would live, telling them I had children, begging them to help me. The paramedic, telling me she was trying, would do all she could to keep me alive.  A silent blackness, deeper and heavier than any I’ve ever known, closed in about me.

In the Dark Silence

I’m not a big believer in “near death experiences,” and I don’t categorize my experience in the dark silence as  one. It’s more like a window of internal – spiritual sight appeared and then opened into an epiphany.

My life was separate and apart from my emotions or perceptions. There was no confusion and no pain. In that dark silence appeared two metaphysical windows opening on two different lives – the life I was living and a life more true to my soul. The greatest part of the epiphany was a sudden flash of understanding that it was my choice. I felt empowered. I suddenly understood with perfect clarity that either path was open to me. All that seemed not to exist showed itself to me in such a way that I would never doubt it’s existence again.

The suicide arrives at the conclusion that what he is seeking does not exist;  the seeker concludes that he has not yet looked in the right place.
~Paul Watzlawick

I spent several weeks in ICU and then moved in with my sister for several months following my release. I started building a new life, with a focus, almost immediately. I turned to writing, something I had always been good at in school – even to the point of being published and winning competitions. I envisioned a path, the small steps as well as the big steps, and I started walking that path with pen and paper in hand.

Anyone desperate enough for suicide…should be desperate enough to go to creative extremes to solve problems: elope at midnight, stow away on the boat to New Zealand and start over, do what they always wanted to do but were afraid to try. ~Richard Bach

In the Bright Light

I took responsibility for my life in a way that was totally new to me. I focused on my children and my art, traveled across the country, and explored things that I’d always feared. The years rolled past and I become the woman in my vision, the woman on a happier and truer path. The ups and downs, the successes and failures, remain as a part of life. There are always the good days and the bad, but I’ve learned how to put victimization of myself (whether by me or others) behind me.

I have a healthy and happy life, a productive career in the automotive industry, a wonderful husband, two lovely children, and four adorable grandchildren. I’m blessed and lucky to be here this July 4th celebrating another year of Life and Freedom. From me to you – a joyous wish for a beautiful and Happy 4th of July!  

The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments. ~Gustave Flaubert

 


 

capricious moods

In the deep graying
before night moves
wholly into day
capricious moods develop
to string-along
the daylight, mock it
with humorless viewing
until dark blots out
light again, returns
to ancient myths and
misanthropic demons.

There —
some certain presence
takes hold, an apparition
in glowering eyes.

May 2011, South Carolina

Husband

I live you
breathe you
love you, but
seldom write
poems about you.

The sun shines
without being
written.

The air moves,
invisible life,
never seen.

You
are the flow
of these
necessities
through me.

You are soil
holding my roots
in place,
nourishment
written
in your name.

Your face –
my memory.
Your arms –
my home.

Otherwise, my
spirit filled with
gypsy blood –
too crazy, too unorthodox
for the masses –
burns.

You are
all the deep-true
things that carry
me. I thought
it was time to
write a poem
for you – So
this is yours,
husband.

terra di sienna

Two tiny droplets
a morsel of medicine

Crayola-colored sienna.
A color from the box
with the sharpener
in the back — implying
grand accomplishment.
A budding artist, would, of course,
use them down to the nub —
. . . peel – sharpen – draw

Two miniscule pellets
of prescription medicine

Where else did you ever
hear the word sienna?
(We live exclusively in
shades of black and gray.)
Thirty-days, taken at bed time.
A few well-worn hours before
you pick another color, draw
inside the lines again a
new-born day of maybe —
. . . peel – sharpen – draw

Grandfather

On some other lost plane
of time you are standing
watching the years roll
like clouds forecasting
rain on a spring day.

Gray-black eyes fold tears
into memory that forgets
you. As soon as dawn comes
you watch the children
grow like strong trees,
the grandchildren grow
like deep-rooted sycamores
in the ground you plowed.

On some other lost plane
of time you are hovering
as a bright-bold presence
with a smile eating tears
of snow on a winter day.

April 2011

Declaration

 

I dream of poets —
of their bright-broken bruised
bones.

Their plight of speaking tomes
to the dead, to the living trying
to find word-songs to sing.
These ghosts of witness, prophets
caged in a time where prophets are
un-believed, are mere myths residing
in the places of Jesus
and miracles, and antiquated belief
systems. Poets
don’t exist beside
technology, briefcases,
economic woes, and woe is
the would-be poet-prophet who
tries to sing songs, speak warnings and
create dirges in a world gone deaf to hearing
and too busy for reading
and, of course, wouldn’t read poems anyway, but
would be more inclined toward
something like an e-book on “How to
Make $10,000 a year from home,” or
”The True Story of Rock Star John,”
a serialized E-special in print. Poets
and their prophecies spoken
in silent voices of white paper and black
letters in books filled with screaming
voices that are silent
upon the unhearing ears
of the world.

I dream of poets —
of their bright-broken
bruised bones.

 

 

 

 

March 2011

 

This is How We Dance

 

In circles that flow
during dream-time,
a step to the side.
A whisper to the left.
Two-step toward possibility.
Your voice in my ear
hushed tones of my name
spoken a thousand miles away.
There you are – living normally
where you are – I live normally
too, except for that vast space
of empty, during dream-time.
A whisper to the left,
A step to the side, two-step
in circles that flow. This
is how we dance.

Clinical Despair: Science, Psychotherapy and Spirituality in the Treatment of Depression | Psychology Today

This is an interesting and insightful article about depression at Psychology Today: Clinical Despair: Science, Psychotherapy and Spirituality in the Treatment of Depression | Psychology Today.

Allegory

This is the page where we end.
No epilogue to the story, no clear
closure or tying-together the threads.
Only blank pages following last
sentences. Period. A dot
concealing everything.

Enough questions. Answers. Time
the great evening breath, a token
of hours and days ticking
us away. The plot fails —
creates a short fiction,
lacking the intricate depth
needed
to become a book.

March 2011

Perception

 

I am
a question mark written
on the pages of your life.

You are
a melodic song
I will hum on lonely days.

We are a question,
a melody forever playing ~
water to thirsting strangers,
food glorious to starving men.

I am a child dancing
too close to the fire.
You are a roaring flame
licking the edges of my soul.

February 2011

Whispering

Little girl singing soft
melodies of hatred, fueled
by conversations overheard
at the dinner table through
hiss and venom of mom and dad.

She’ll never know the wounding
burn of burning pain flowing
through her little red heart.
She doesn’t understand she is
damaged.

She is the mimic, the parrot
of parents filled with brokenness.
She is their voice speaking openly
in the next blatant generation
things grated-out in private
in the previous quieter age.

This is how we make monsters grow
in fertile fields of seeds sown
from the normalcy of lives lived
whispering the hatred of others.

October 2010

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Healing Silence

“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” ~William Shakespeare

 
 

It’s difficult to find the creative energy necessary for good writing during illness. Or, at least it is for me. So, during the past two weeks of stressful health issues, my mantra has been “no writing is better than bad writing” and I’ve stayed away from the keyboard for a bit.

I received good news from the surgeon this week that back surgery shouldn’t be necessary just yet. Instead, I’m having epidural nerve blocks done where the disc is torn and possibly minor outpatient surgery to clip another nerve that’s tangled in with the disc and arthritis. The first nerve block is scheduled for the end of this month. Overall, it’s been good news and I’m deeply happy that major surgery isn’t necessary!

I’m pleased with my orthopaedic doctor (he’s much nicer than the surgeon) and appreciate how open he was to working with me to develop a treatment plan I’d be happy with. Now, if I can just get the bronchitis to go away … another problematic area of late due to allergies to my pets (2 dogs, a cat, and a rabbit) and exposure to so many sick people at my job (dealing with 25 people a day and whatever germs they bring in the door)!

Patience, patience, patience. Yes, I know.

7 years later

 

File folders clothed them,
alphabetically arranged,
in soft manila suits.

Their stories, each record
of submission, publication
duly noted in colored caps.

They wore published clips
buttoned at the back
like jewelry.

A wardrobe of time,
collected life, whispered secrets,
screamed epiphanies. Gone

in a moment of unintentional
unraveling, a thread caught
on life’s edges —

weak seams pulled apart until
the cloth gave way, the threads
broke
turning into a thousand tears.

composed January 2011