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The only thing outweighing rage
Is the pity I feel for you.
No, wait…I take it back.
That part’s not really true.

Sorrow’s reserved for those who knelt
Before your lap, as you dealt
The slap that left a bruise unseen
Delivered by a two-faced fiend.

My concern for you is only this:
For those you robbed of innocence,
Who trembled under weighty kiss
Heavy with self-righteousness.

I’m done with you.
This part’s for them:
Far better things are at the end.
He might have used you as a toy,
But he cannot steal your joy.

War Paint

Where should I go?
What should I do?
The door is wide open.
I fear walking through.
I’ll sit in the shadows
With lights turned down low;
The door is wide open.
I’m too scared to go.
There are sparkling places
That I need to see,
Wandering rivers who sing,
Tallest oaks with stories to tell.
I shouldn’t be scared of a thing.
I’ll put on my war-paint
With trembling hands.
I’ll strap on the backpack of faith.
I’ll light up my torch
With courage and hope.
I’ve gotta get out of this place.

Hold Out

Hold out for hope when none is there.
I will not give in to despair
Or wet my hair with tears each night
And stay awake til mornings light.

I’ll walk in greener pastures soon
Beneath warm sun at midday noon.
And underneath the stars we’ll play
And share the secrets of our day.

I’ll eat again til I am full,
And rest beside you in that lull
That comes with twilight’s steely light.
You’ll read to me into the night.

I will dream of pleasant times;
And file away some lovely rhymes.
Sing me tunes I long to hear,
And hold me close til morning’s here.

*originally written on Dec. 16, 2011 and recently published in the poetry anthology Ground Zero by Nicholas Gagnier of Retcon Poet

Ground Zero

Strength Born of Weakness

I wish I felt stronger
As the day wears on longer,
But I’m weak in the knees,
So even the breeze
Feels like it’s knocking me over.

I’ll turn to the One
Who makes flowers hum,
Flooded with colors so bold,
Violet, green, blue and gold.

Love that is violent yet gentle,
His flowers adorning heart’s mantle.
In this weakness
I’ll learn His meekness;
And only then I’ll be stronger.

wpid-IMG_20130721_180257.jpg

 

Age

Age does bend her captives low
‘Tween here and there, and then to now,
And weighs their once green branches down
Under weight of many snows.
The crowns that once were lifted high
Towards promises writ in the sky,
Now hanging down with thousand cares,
No more looking to the air.
Youthful dreams have seeped away.
Each one dreamed in warmer days
When sun was hot and noon was long,
With ease of youthful songs.
Her sneaky tricks and wicked charms
Caused them to lay down their arms
And fritter time, which they contend
Will always be their friend.
Her spells are limited as such
And cannot curse them all that much.
For each step closer to the bones
Is one step closer home.

Freedom in Friendship

love

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet number 116 has long been a favorite of mine. But more recently I came across the above quote by Adam Clarke. At first I found it difficult to hold both of these statements to be true. On first look they seem to be mutually exclusive, such opposing ideas that I feel my brain being tied into a knot. For my purposes I don’t speak of romantic love but of friendship (but I love my friends, so forgive me my broad interpretation). Here is my quandary: when does faithfulness in a friendship cross the line into lack of self-respect, by staying when things are terribly dysfunctional? On deeper inspection, I find these quotes to be quite complimentary.

Shakespeare is indeed right when he says “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” Love is faithful and kind and patient and covers a multitude of sins.

Clarke is also right that “love requires love as its recompense,” for true friendship must be reciprocal in nature. Genuine friendship is not an exchange of goods, services, and presents; a “this for that” mentality does not make for a lasting friendship. The only thing required is the exchange of goodwill, kindness and truth spoken in love. A friendship without mutual respect and the permission to allow each other to grow and change creates shackles rather than freedom.

Maybe I should be reading these quotes the other way around. There can only be loyalty, love, and faithfulness in a friendship (love which does not alter) when friendship has been given freely (love begetting love) first. Love does not flee at the first sign of trouble; adversely, love does not require oneself to be bullied, manipulated and disrespected for the sake of loyalty.

As a Christian these quotes will only get me so far. Scripture is really my only compass to navigate the choppy waters of evaluating my relationships. I have found the following verses particularly helpful:

“friendships” to avoid

Proverbs 18:24
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 16:28
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Proverbs 22:24–25
Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

friendships to cherish and cultivate

Proverbs 27:9
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

Proverbs 18:24
A man [or woman] who has friends must show himself [or herself] friendly. And there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother [or sister].

Ecclesiastes 4:-12
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Busy – by Marya Mendelsohn

The wind blew freshness into my face
But it tangled my hair,
So I closed the window.

 The sunlight filled the room with gold
But it hurt my eyes,
So I closed the shade.

 The flowers turned my backyard into a rainbow
But they made me sneeze,
So I didn’t water them.

 The birds sang me love songs
But they distracted me from work,
So I shooed them away.

 Heaven came and knocked on my door
But I was busy
And didn’t answer.

many thanks to my dear friend Marya for allowing me to share her poem!

The Pictures in My Head

Many writers say they write because they have to. I always rolled my eyes and felt that it was a terribly clichéd thing to say.

I don’t roll my eyes anymore.

I write because I have to.

When I was little I had aspirations to be an artist. I loved to draw. I drew all the time and carried a sketch pad with me everywhere. But I was a terrible artist. I would get so frustrated, because I had a picture in my head about what I felt, and I wanted to show everyone else. I had no way to accomplish it. I had no way to put down on paper, or in clay, or on canvas the things I saw in my head. So the pictures stayed locked away for almost 20 years.

A few years ago I was having a terribly hard time. Things at my job had been going downhill for about a year and a half. It was a slow and steady boiling of the water, and much like the frog, I was being scalded. I had been in the soup for a while before I realized I was being cooked. The situation deteriorated quickly and after months of manipulation and dodging, the decision was made to close our branch. Within a one week period of time I turned 30, was downsized from my job, said goodbye to my grandpa (he made it to 92 God bless him) and was dumped twice by text message. By the same doofus.

I also have underlying issues of clinical depression and anxiety. And a host of things in my life that, at the time, I was refusing to acknowledge. I was hurting. I was sad. I was lost about what I should do and where I should go. It was a bad time, and I have no wish to relive it, but looking back over those terrible weeks which stretched into terrible months, I can honestly see God’s mercy. Sounds naive. Sounds mad. Sounds…cliched. But it’s true. I am a master procrastinator (some slam poetry right there…booyah) and I had decades worth of garbage that I was pushing deep, deep, deep down. I hoarded everything, although somehow it was only the bad, grimy pieces I kept and not the bright shiny ones.

I began to see a therapist who happened to be a Christian. I’d seen therapists before, so this wasn’t a new process for me. However, most of my experience was with therapists who were condescending or openly hostile towards my beliefs; and the few who were sympathetic where only interested in pushing medication (side-note, I am all for medication if it helps you, and I reject the stigma in some Christian circles that depression is simply an issue of sin…but that’s a post for another day). Bob was my first  therapist who wanted to know about me. He wanted to know about my heart. He asked me questions about my motivations and aspirations. And he was not afraid to hand me my own ass if the situation required it.

I was having a really difficult time even focusing on a coherent thought, let alone praying. It’s kind of hard to pray to God when you’re angry with Him. Bob suggested writing out my prayers. It would force me to acknowledge the bad feelings rather than pushing them down while putting on the brave Christian face. It would force me to take my time, to realize why I was mad, or sad, or even happy. His other suggestion was to model them after the Psalms. I had never noticed it before, but King David was pretty pissed in some of those Psalms. He’s mad and sad. But he usually ends happy, choosing to put his faith in his Maker.

You see, my brain is full of junk, piles of old newspapers stacked to the ceiling and garbage littering the floor. But it’s also full of treasures. I have pictures in my head. Words are the only medium I have found to get them out.

That’s why I write.

Sing Me a Song

Sing to me, sing to me, sing to me a song.
Strum your guitar and sing me a tune
That mirrors the constancy of the moon.

Inspiration’s running low.
I think I have tapped out the well.
I have no words of hope to speak
And feel there is no joy to seek.

Sing to me, sing to me, sing to me a song.
Play your flute and sing me a song,
That calls back friendships held so long.

I feel weary of my life.
Vicissitudes give birth to strife.
Change is what I’m anxious for
But fear to open up the door
Of new and shining things ahead
When I could just stay in my bed;
Slowly to become recluse,
But I am without excuse.

Sing to me, sing to me, sing to me a song.
Bang your drums to my own heartbeat.
Remind me of truth that burns like heat.

Encourage me to summon strength.  Whisper words for me to hear,
“Carry on and do not fear. Change is already here.”

originally written on 9/11/11