Doubt

Was I wrong to cut you off
So many months ago,
To leave it with a simple text
That said “I told you so”?
Was I wrong to drive away
Before you’d made your peace?
Although, when you had been found out,
You didn’t even try.
Sitting in this quiet place,
With buzzing in my ears,
Has given me much clarity;
It’s also raised some fears.
What if I stay all alone
With none to share my joy?
But you were not a man full grown,
Only just a boy.
I imagined things as better
Even when we were at war.
If I ever feel my doubt,
I’ll remember who you are.

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They Call

toss and turn. clammy sheets.
trembling hands and frigid feet.
creatures of the wildest kind
existing only in the mind,
hovering neither here nor there;
trudging through with weighty cares.
I know not if they’re bad or good
or simply the misunderstood.

they call, I come.
they chase, I run.
they seem as friends
but quickly lend
a mocking to my misery.
yet when they call each night, I’ll go,
afraid of where they’re leading me.
they speak of all that’s terrible
beyond the dusky shore of sleep.

*originally written on Aug 16, 2012 and recently published in the poetry anthology Ground Zero by Nicholas Gagnier of Retcon Poet

Ground Zero

Babble

“She did that!?
Well she said this!”
Mutters gossips sneaky hiss.
“I know what it’s all about
In case there was any doubt.
I’ll spill the secrets she told me.
I’ll tell you two
No, wait…all three.
Listen, listen to my tale.
With lurid details I’ll regale,
And leave you all without a doubt,
That I know what it’s all about.”

gossipimage credit

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.

A Farce

I think deep down you know you’re small,
Underneath it all.
The tailored suits, and shiny shoes,
Crisp white pants, and stiff starched shirts,
Manners so well manicured
Hiding all your rage,
That peeks and cracks through gritted teeth
And looks to others like a grin;
Buying friends and loyalty
To cover up your sins.
You told me once, you had more brains
Than all of us combined.
All that did was prove to me,
You don’t believe that lie.
I think deep down you know you’re small,
Underneath it all.

Hide Away

I’d like to wear a different face today
Since you won’t take the hint
And stay away,
But hound me with persistent cares:
“Do this!”
“Do that!”
“Go here…
No, there!”
You barely give me leave to breath,
And grant me no reprieve;
Your voice always inside my head,
Even when I’m in my bed,
Under covers pulled up tight,
Against the whining, biting night.
So for today I’m someone else,
Normal me left on the shelf.
The mask I wear is just for you.
You won’t see me.
But I’ll see you.

mask

Embers

God who is in heaven.
Bathe my smokey heart.
Anger once was justified, but it has played its part.
What first was cleansing fire
Has left me brittle bones.
The flames have burned straight through me, searing all my soul.
Rain your mercy down now.
Subdue the smoldering rage.
Snuff out these embers raising smoke. Unlock this seething cage.

fire

Thank You

I think you might have taught me something after all…

That first time was an open book.
But you cheated on the test.
Then when you came back,
I said I wasn’t ready yet.
You told me that was cool.
But again you tried so hard
To play me for the fool.

I said I didn’t trust you,
Been down that road before.
You said that it was only friend-
ship you were looking for.

You dropped out again as quick
As you had once come back.
Took some time to realize
I’d been looking at your back.
Reading through old emails,
I can see you make your play.
I’m glad I was oblivious
To all your schemes that day.

I can see you have a wife.
Explains now why you’re gone.
And now I know beyond all doubt
She had been there all along.
So thank you. Really…thank you
For being such a fool
And proving I was in the right
To put no trust in you.

Raging

Self control is a tedious thing,
When all I want is to yell and scream,
And ball up my fists until I shake,
Throw a tantrum right in your face.
For many years we’ve danced this dance
You’re always asking for one more chance.
You accuse me of lacking mercy or grace.
You like to get all up in my face
And twist what you do to be my crime.
I am done with it this time.
My grasp on constraint is weak at best.
Who is the greater fool you ask?
I finally see after all this time.
The foolishness is mine.
So let me be. I’ll forgive in time.
But I am not your’s and you are not mine.

Hungry

I am finally hungry.  After months of no appetite, nausea, unwelcome weight-loss, and anxiety, I am finally hungry again.  And not just for food, although that’s a big plus.

(This is me right now)

I am hungry for words, and music, and books, and friends.  My New Years resolution is somewhat belated this year.  But after some reflection it is time.  It is my goal to cut unnecessary drama and foolishness out of my life and hopefully out of my conversation.  It is my goal to foster the healthy relationships in my life, and to root out and allow to be pruned, the ones which only bear thorns.

Some might think I am wrong.  Indeed I have been told I am.  I have been told I am a coward, a punk, a quitter and a chicken.  That I am giving into a sinful desire.  I feel it’s the opposite.  It’s time to grow, not time to be sucked into someone else’s mud.  I cannot force anyone else to change.  To do so would resort to manipulation and frustration.  Sometimes seeking peace is actively choosing to not be drawn into the fray.  It is time to allow God to change me.  And I look forward to what that will be.

Romans 12:18
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.