Tag Archives: poetry
This came in my work email:
This morning I gave the following assignment to my writing group: “What was the favorite gift you have ever either received or given for any occasion (Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary)? Write about it and answer these questions:
What was the occasion?
Who were the players—giver and recipient?
What emotions were felt or expressed?
J.N. from Bird 3 (Salem) answered:
“Liz, my group home manager in Grants Pass, when I spent Christmas there gave pajamas to me for a present. I laugh because I needed P.J.’s. They were navy blue. I could put them on before bedtime and unwind in writing on the computer. They were light and comfortable. I felt like a million bucks in them because it was decades [since] I had a bed, and P.J.’s to sleep in. You see, I had spent years on the streets and I slept anywhere out of the weather. My clothes stayed on me, but my shoes came off when I climbed into the sleeping bag.
When my care-provider gave P.J.’s to me I acted like a child of joy. The smell of new P.J.’s was pleasant. Crisp, fresh P.J.’s were like I was high class. I did thank Liz for the thoughtful gift. She is a wonderful person and considerate. Now, feeling human and high class I wrote better with a new mentality…..Liz [fed] us a balanced diet and shows love in working around the house.
Love for P.J.’s is the tender feeling while nights pass. And I sleep…”
When our patient read this aloud to the class, my eyes filled with tears. What a wonderful expression of thanks flowed from this patient’s pen! There are a lot of things to be sad and disappointed about in our world today, but as you reflect on this story I urge you to consider “Who can I bless with “P.J.’s” during this Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday season?”
Dr. **** ******, Clinical Psychologist
If you have followed this blog you are acquainted with JN and his powerful images, intensely emotional poetry. Of course, he is no longer in the 50 Building- which is now abandoned across the street. He lives in this giant new beast, shiny and deceptive. They rolled up the old hospital and brought it here into a new edifice. Here’s something else-
Understood into self as the clouds drift away
Sun rises to the word of reality with shinning focus
Wind whispers it while awake in the Desert
Mountains’ tree sings it out with a hoot
Rocks roll in the snowy water stream
The birds fly with uplifting wings
Chairs hold you in faithful promise
I absorb it like food for nourishment
Rain falls to the gravities law
Air gives way to breathe of life
Monks hum to it in meditation
Spirit listens in ah while thought is created
Soul will carry it to heaven
God rewards you for understanding
Flowers wilt by it after seeding
A Babies cry with it when born
Believe while doing all things and it will be
Stories are written with the thought of it
Companions make love for a child
Can’t touch it with your hands, but imagination flourishes
Wake- that sun will make it today
Why then doesn’t it happen when we speak?
Truth and lies are from this tongue of ours
A Shade of Brown
At the end of my rope, for convenience I rely on my phone.
You disconnected your number. I’ve never felt so alone.
Tonight my mood dropped even further. I miss you friend.
The operator told me I made an error, looks like it’s really the end.
Lady we used to talk for hours, about days- gone-by.
Labor Day weekend is gonna be scorching. Your humor is so dry.
You were the only person that believed I’d see success.
Fame and Fortune escaped my grasp. Bad luck has such finesse.
Maybe I could see up together accepting an academy award.
Fall is fast approaching. Feels like I swallowed a sword.
As the leaves fall from the trees, the gold is a Shade of Brown.
This single bed feels like forever. I can’t drag myself to town.
Anxiety explodes to depression. Is there a life lesson to learn?
We walked together in the meadow. It’s time to let it burn.
Even though the pain is fierce! Maybe it has nothing to do with me?
Without your enthusiasm I’ve been seduced by self-pity.
Don’t ever remember falling off a cliff at such an elevation.
Insecure territory is a tragic playground!!! I’m plagued by procrastination!!!
Rewind this fatal scene in slow-motion. I need to change lanes.
How can you measure misfortune? In the end I’ll take the blame.
The fast lane seems to have invited, confessions stained with tarnish.
You try to break-free, reflection mirages a
Everybody hears bad news. I’d knock, but there is no door.
Scorn is the opposite of forgiveness. I never thought you’d keep score.
As I go about living life.
Love is a dangerous proposition. Common sense has its purpose. Fools live by intuition.
When a thief robs a bank, a bag of cash is his goal.
I found your consolation at the bottom of this hole.
Reprinted from years ago when he lived in a dirty old concrete box full of overcrowded rooms [now he lives in a new, clean concrete box with only one roommate!]. One of the first poems he showed me. It was in the first year of my work as the last watercooler in hell. We spent months just talking and sharing poetry every week.
This one broke my heart.
written 2/21/09 6:25 p.m.
We watched a butterfly be born into the world
Held hands at a scary film
Thought silly jokes were funny
Smiled with our eyes
I love you was spoken a lot
Mingled with other couples
Broke up once or twice
People talked about our relationship
She wrote when I was gone in jail
This is where we failed
My time was longer than her love
Have a picture of her I can’t tear up
It looks like she is shaking her finger at me in the picture
Wish I wouldn’t have made my mistake
Stakes were too high for me
Alone again with 40 men
This next is mine, this morning.
Arrive by jail van
drive through a garage door that closes behind you
the world has turned upside down
everyone has latex gloves
“Take off your clothes and get in the shower to the right”
frightened, you look for a human face
you may not see those clothes again
people are watching you through a mirrored window
instructions come from the wall mounted speaker
high above reach
“If you can’t clean yourself properly we will send someone to help you”
you don’t want to be touched by those rubber hands
you do your best to obey but it is hard-
nothing makes sense, you suppress an urge to scream out loud
they are making sure you don’t have anything
anything at all
you are truly stripped by the time they let you into the next room
“Put on these clothes. We will help you if you can’t do it by yourself”
again you comply
“What is happening to me?
What happened to your face?”
“We will help you to get better”
time, ushered along, nothing is right
[correct, true, accurate, factual, fit, satisfactory]
go to your room
. . . .
Doctor: “My job is to diagnose your illness,
and take you to court if you refuse them”
“I’m not here to talk to you or listen-
in fact, if you see me coming that’s bad news for you”
and, you think, I still haven’t gotten my self back
(or my clothes and by the way
NPR never sent me the tote bag they promised during the fund drive)
. . . .
oh God, if I’m crazy what does that make
No longer in the 50 Building, since no one is there anymore. I wonder, can I change the categories? I’ve added the tag “spirit heart”. I should go back and find all Jim’s poems and re-tag.
In the cuckoo’s nest, songs drift down from Bird #3.
Re-printed from Journeys Newsletter, with permission by author:
A Formula for Life
The day begins, ready or not. Shower and shave as I, Spirit-Heart, gather pen and paper.
I try to write well as the twelfth year passes.
Creatures crawl, slither and Mother Earth spins like no tomorrow. Life flourishes in the warming and drying dew.
Jesus is listening to my morning prayer. He blesses me this morning with food I enjoy.
The gravity pulls me down, toward the land of meadows. I will listen to the snow-birds sing with twilight rays.
Clouds form from taking moisture back and I start singing the lyrics to “Amazing Grace”.
My personal feeling is to trim the fruit trees in the meadow. Life needs pruning to strengthen core belief, philosophy; theory if there is a will there is a way.
These moments of shaping me, trees, life to form honest behavior. I see creatures in this ecosystem on the mountain.
The trees are pruned and I head for the creek to wash and work muscles.
Aging gives me permission to have reverence. Mother Nature folds into death with a seed to unfold life again.
My soul will go to the living universe, as I am a cup of universe soul. Life gives, takes, gives in the ecosystem and I will remember that “Law”.
I retreat to the shore after my swim from working muscles gentle, and reflect the moments I cherish while in a fold, unfold style.
Chasing History Trauma
The child wailed, cried, scream with flood of tears
Jimmy, abuse and resentments buried the feelings to smoldering rage
Red, fire, anger, digested as food for the soul
Fighting this rage made him engage hostility
Settling in the void was this smoldering rage to rise by triggers
Thrashing out, acting out is all release shown
Learning Kung-Fu meditation, give the energy to an orbiting void
Souls and Spirit, chat to entities of the orbit surface and supress
Trauma of disguise comes when future triggers are alone
Jimmy sees the micro-world split from essence
A “Recovery Tree” planted as essence in the tiny orbit
Kung Fu meditation makes the tree bloom
No more pain for trauma- sane, as the tree bark absorbs negative soul, spirit
This tree in the void is essence that holds spirit & soul orbit
Now when triggered, pain hurts just a little
Roots and trunk grow to knowledge and wisdom as he begins to giggle
I kept it to myself this year. I had a sleepless night.
It snuck up on me- April 5th- I had actually managed to convince myself that it wasn’t even April, really. I saw no date on the calendar. I didn’t realize until about 5 pm on April 4th. Then it was like a bag of bricks. Or an ocean of tears.
Then, like smoke, it was over, gone. No harm no foul. It was something different than my usual coping/ denial. I really want her to move on. I’m concerned for her. She lives in my heart, no matter, but I want her to face ahead. I want this for me too.
“May all be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.”
Yesterday was Andrew’s birthday. I want to give him a Goopymart shirt. but I need to wait until I get my first disability check. I called, he was at work. I texted. Later he texted back, we had a conversation. I miss him- he is so far. Just down in the Bay Area, so I guess not so far. He has a Berkeley PO box. Not certain where he and Chris live right now.
Matt is close by. Just in Beaverton. I went to his house last Sunday night to watch Game of Thrones He made a casserole. It was delicious. He made enough that he can have it for several days. I bet it’s gone now though.
This is in the front yard of where the kids grew up. The house we had from when Matt was born until both he and Andrew were men. It is unfortunate that we lost this house- I lost this house- because after all my breakdowns, after all my years of grief beyond speaking, after all my lost jobs and the ruins of my career we went into foreclosure.
Moved into that rental on Flavel that burned down and took so much of our life with it. No, correct that- it didn’t take any life; it only took stuff. Everyone, including the pets, was safe.
This next is cropped from the huge picture taken at Falcon Crest in the summer of 1989. You can find the original big version around here somewhere.
I wrote a song. Well, I wrote lots of songs. This one was called “Erin’s Ghost”. It was written when I still had so much anger with God I almost couldn’t pray without spitting. I wonder how it works as a poem… Since I don’t have the right equipment to record it now and I’ve lost the earlier recordings. It’s actually a prayer. If you read between the lines you might hear the spitting. No more spitting for me. God has whispered into my heart, and here, near the end of my life, has opened me to love. Maybe I’ll call it-
Ashes of Your Love
All the labor of my days
All the sweetness of my nights
All the times that I have cursed or have ignored You
The times I’ve touched You
The greatest joy I have ever known
I will undertake to lay these down before You
Because life burns away
As a fire is consumed
Don’t look for me below or up above
Only one thing will remain
Of what is gone without a trace
There is nothing but the ashes of Your love
You brought to me a baby girl
She was tired, she was sore
And You gave me dreams that I could love or even heal her
But for the time that she was mine
We shared too many bitter tears
Lord there were even days I could not bear to feel her
She had more pain to bear than joy
More to teach than she could learn
God she was deeper than her vision could yet show her
Still as my heart counts the years
She is never growing old
I’m left to reflect upon the grace it was to know her
Well, they say, “God cuts the thread”
So it was in her 14th year
That You allowed that she should end
Her own becoming
I could not believe it true
When I saw her lying dead
Though I held until
The chill of her was numbing
And still life burns away
As a fire is consumed
Do not look for me below or up above
For only one thing will remain
Of what is gone without a trace
Lord there’s nothing but the ashes of Your love
It’s hard to believe that she was right
And everything has turned out wrong
There was so much more to life she’d never tasted
I just pray that it’s true
As Your saints have often said
That there is no love in this world that’s ever wasted
But life burns away
Just as a fire is consumed
You will not find me down below or up above
Only one thing will remain
Of that which is gone without a trace
There’s nothing but the ashes of Your love
I love you, my first baby, my only daughter, my life’s greatest teacher, the one I once thought would never abandon me. You are with the loving Friend, move to even greater light, find your heart’s desire. And in all the worlds, the infinite worlds beyond counting, in which you still live, show your fire. Shine so brightly no one can keep from seeing your wild, beautiful fire.
Pictures from my kids phone-photo blog (always click for full size- I do not skimp on size):
Pictures from the site that shall not be named:
These are animated- if they don’t work automatically, click them to nudge them along:
How I spent last weekend or….
Other more better stuff:
From Riding Effortlessly, another great post from leroywatson.