Tag Archives: poems

Dear Cupid

wordle

Yes, it’s that time of year again, and yes, I still have the same unfortunate attitude about it. I keep waiting for a year where this poem with not resonate with me, but this year is not the year, so enjoy!

a letter with footnotes….

Dear Cupid1

I wanted to personally2 thank you for all the joy3 you have brought into my life4 thus far. My high school years were especially full5 of your special touch with an arrow6. As I grew and matured7 I came to realize the unique role8 that you would playin my life9. Every step I took you were there10. I have certainly been blessed11 by your love12. It is at this wonderful13 time of the year that I really feel closest to you14. So for all15 you have done16 I want to express my gratitude17 properly18. With a kiss19.

Yours with Love20
R

1 you atrocious nude hooligan
2 meaning up close and quite personal
3 years personal gut-wrenching anguish
4 if you could call it that
5 of scatological moments
6 were you aiming for my forehead?!
7 tried desperately to out run you – you grotty little louse
8 of my private naked tormentor
9 of pain and turmoil
10 shooting barbed arrows in my back
11 I didn’t know Beelzebub did blessings
12 love of inflicting exquisite psychological and physical torture
13 commercially forced-fed sentimental pink drivel
14 hard to miss you with this sharp arrow in my throat – you vile bastard!
15 Every last agonizing…
16 each and every arrow through my head, my back…
17 I purchased a cross-bow
18 so I would watch your spiteful nude arse
19 would you like to know where?
20 here’s to snapping your “little bow”

solid rock

Alex Colville, 1954 Horse and Train

Alex Colville, Horse and Train,

Whatever I thought it would be like, it wasn’t this. And I did think about it, we all did. We thought about it a lot in our own ways. Of course there were, increasingly faint, bits of hope that we would cling to, even against all logic, we would hope. Just the same, we knew this day would come, and when it did it was all the things we feared it would be, but also nothing we expected.

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” – Pablo Neruda

It was a good service, as these things go, nice music, a moving slideshow of photos of you, appropriate and moving readings and memories, a traditional hymn, and a choir rendition of All You Need is Love, complete with kazoos. It was very John like, right down to the fabulous food we shared afterwards. Everyone seemed pleased. It was closure, it was a send off, it was people holding each other up, it was all you could hope for really.

scribble face 3It was all you could hope for, and yet, I still find myself walking through mud, through fog, through solid rock. I forget things. I lose hours doing nothing. I stare at nothing. I stare at your things that now are in my home, but are still your things. I sleep longer, and am still tired. I stay up too late.

It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,

and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Robert Bly)

This is the grief work they talk about. Pushing through solid rock, an apt enough description. I dream about you sometimes, not the comforting dream where you tell me all is well with you now and you are in a better place, just confusing dreams. Someone said that to me, a couple of people did actually, said that you ‘were in a better place’. I so wanted to punch them in the throat, to wipe the smug, sympathetic, head tilted ever so slightly to the side expression on their faces. I think that would be the anger stage of Loss.

According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross the 5 Stages of Loss are:

  1. Denial and Isolation – buffering
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining – the ‘if onlys’, the ‘what ifs’
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I honestly believe I did everything I could. Wait, that’s not true. What if I had shown up on your doorstep, dumped out all your alcohol and physically dragged you to the hospital? Would that have worked? I don’t think so, but I still take out these thoughts and hold them awhile, feel their weight in my hands, build a fantasy around them where, in the end, I save you. After a while I put them down, but I still feel their weight. More than anyone I should have been able to save you. It was everyone else’s first experience with this disease, I was a seasoned veteran. I had done this dance before, I knew all it’s steps. I saw you leaving well before anyone else.

buddha-grief-quoteI saw you leaving, and I let you go.

I let you go. I talked to you, wrote to you, I wrote about you. I wrote about our disease. The one that killed our father, has a hold of my son, the disease that I only get a daily reprieve from.

But I didn’t save you. I know, in my head, that I didn’t cause, couldn’t control or cure you. I know this in my head. Sometimes it helps, but not always. A year ago we almost lost you, but you came back. I thought you might stay. Maybe that was the time to save you that I missed. Maybe.

I still don’t know what to do with your clothes. I don’t know what to do with our stories, the ones only you and I understood. Where do I put the parts of myself that were yours too? I don’t know. I don’t know what to do with a lot of things, things I should be doing, raking the leaves, clearing out the house so it will sell, making appointments, the business of living.

So I sit, pen scratching across paper, drinking coffee, and staring at the still green willow leaves, who will only fall after all the other leaves have been dutifully raked. Mostly I sit staring and nothing. Four of my orchids are re-blooming, did I tell you? No, of course not, what was I thinking. They’ve spent a year deciding to bloom, a year of somewhat attractive foliage, but now, now they are spectacular.

There is a metaphor in that somewhere, but I can’t quite grasp it. Anyhow, you get my meaning.

 

 

this is what the living do

DSCF0082
Johnny,

I have become a person who people send sympathy cards to, someone people want to nurture with food, chocolate, flowers and kind messages. People hug me when they see me, and ask how I am. Most of the time I have no idea.

I’m wearing your pj bottoms as I write, and drinking tea from one of your cups. The pile of your newly washed, and neatly folded clothes sits on my bed and asks me what are you going to do with us now? I don’t know, that’s why I tried on the pj bottoms. I had to roll the waist because you were taller than I am. Were, I have to get used to speaking of you in the past tense.

We’ve been speaking of you in the past tense for two weeks, two weeks tomorrow, Saturday at 4pm. I’m still getting used to that.

I also wear your wedding ring, the one that dad left you after he died. It’s on my thumb. I play with it constantly, twisting it, rubbing it. I think about you and dad, and how I ended up older than either of you, and wonder if wearing this ring is a good idea or not.

I think you would like your service, it’s in two weeks, and I have spent a lot of time working on it. It has readings, poems, and we’re playing Leonard Cohen and The Beatles, actually the choir, the one you used to sing with, will be performing Hallelujah and All You Need is Love. They said they would be honoured to sing for you. Honoured, I wonder what you would think about that. We’re doing two of my favourite prayers. To be honest I don’t know what you would think of the whole thing. I finished the first draft of your eulogy, I’ve never written one of those, but I’d never written an obituary either, and I think your’s turned out alright.

When I went through your clothes that first week, the week we went through and cleaned and organized your apartment, I mainly thought of ones for Graham, so he could have something of yours. I thought about taking a box of your books for him too, but then didn’t. You two had so much in common, but he walked out of his treatment centre 3 days ago and we don’t know where he is now, so I’m back to looking at the pile of clothes, and I’m still don’t know what I will do with them.

I sit here, healthy, safe and warm, and you’re gone, you’re not even a body anymore, you’re ashes siting in a container somewhere, I don’t even know where. They gave mom your glasses and your watch. That’s what she has, your glasses and your watch. I can’t begin to know how that feels. Did they put them in a special box with gold lettering? A velvet bag? Or did they just shove them in a brown envelope? Does that help? I don’t think it would. I think it would equally excruciating to receive the items from your child’s body no matter how they were presented to you.

You broke my heart, Johnny, you broke all of our hearts, and I let you die. I let you die alone. I let my son become homeless, and I sit in my house and feel sorry. I feel sorry, and sad, and tired, really, really tired. Somehow that seems wholly inadequate. It seems there should be larger consequence for not saving you, or Graham, or even dad.

There is more, obviously. You can’t tell by looking at me, or by talking to me, most of the time anyhow. On the outside I look and sound pretty much the same. I’m not. I’m unmoored, I am no longer somebody’s sister, I no longer have a brother, and you were it, my only sibling. It’s just me now, and that feels unnatural. All our private jokes, our code words, things that only we talked about and knew, all those things are gone, and what’s left is just space.

This was not how all of this was suppose to turn out. We were going to be great. We had grand plans. Happy lives mapped out. Lives with spouses, and happy children, successful careers, and somehow bits of that got lost.

I have to stop now. I have to find a place to put your clothes, and I have to go back to the actions that make up my life now.

I found this poem for you. I think maybe you would have made fun of it, but you don’t get to speak for yourself anymore, so here it is.

What the Living Do
Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.

And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Goodnight Johnny. I love you.

“I just sit by and let you fight your secret war”

flawed, but indisputable

wpid-20150829_110911-01.jpega man

He tries to feel
for promises
he wants to,
but knows he’ll never keep

He goes alone
in clever words
and tells himself this
is enough,
even as his own words’ hollow ringings
must be drowned inside
his own false laughter.

His beating heart for frozen smiles,
long since traded in;
and if he’s fast enough,
he will not notice
the odd old beat
from within
his hidden chest.

His mirthful eyes, intelligent
and sadly beautiful to watch
see all that need compassion,
but who in turn
will show him none,
and will forsake those who would show him any.

and sometimes
very briefly,
in those eyes
there is the boy
who never did grow up
who, when he looks at you
the frozen mirth is gone,
and standing there
is just the man,
flawed,
but indisputable.

For less lofty poems click here or here or here. I also have a woman poem, but that’s for another day.

small stories

“Go to your bosom; Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know” Measure for Measure Act 2, Scene 2, lines 36-37 artwork by Jhenai Mootz

I came alone.

the first time, since.
I came alone. today,
the first time
since we were
we, and from my corner
I watched,
us, side by side,
legs touching, and ankles entwined
telling each the small stories,
telling the small stories that
made up our days.
opening,
and then offering
little bits of ourselves,
to each other.
opening,
sometimes slowly,
the little
bits of ourselves,
carefully
removing a brick,
maybe two, from the walls.
a brick, maybe two
from the walls we had built,
and for a time, putting them down,
entwining our stories,
the small stories that made up our days.

Sun fills the doorway, fills
the doorway,
and I see you,
I see you walk in, the sun
glinting
off of those sunglasses
you wore.
I look from your eyes
to your smile
and I tell you my small stories,
the small stories that make up
my day,
the ones left unfinished
and now,
you tell me your stories, your
small stories, once again
entwining our stories,
entwining,
our stories
once again.

Sun fills the doorway
the doorway that’s empty, and
a brick, maybe two, still
wait on the floor, the space
they once held in my life,
the space,
they once held,
still lies open.

Sun fills the doorway
the doorway that’s empty, and
a brick, maybe two, remain
on the floor
I hold my small stories
in one hand, lie the stories
one hand that lies open, a hand
that lies open as I
walk out the door.

dear me

wpid-20150911_164055.jpg

Dear me,

Get up.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Breath.
Stand. Walk. Wash your face.
Get up.
Rise and Shine.

Get up.
This is not over.
You are not over,
you are only just beginning.
There are no fat ladies singing,
the credits have not rolled
your movie has only just started.
You have words to write.
There are breezes lifting kites, blowing leaves
that need to be noticed;
there are songs
that need to be heard.

Get up.
Drag your pen across paper.
Write (dammit). Write despite of your broken hand,
in spite of the lifeless fingers.
Write (dammit)
with your teeth if you have to.
Get the words out.
Write about fire, stars, water,
Just write (dammit).

Stand.
Defy gravity.
Do not give them your power.
Do not give
One. More. Moment to those
who called your hopes and fears drama that they didn’t have time for.
Do not.
Do not make yourself small for other’s comfort.
Stand. Defy gravity, even as it pulls you to the earth.
Stand. Inhale. Exhale. Shine.
Be yourself,
your messy, dramatic, beautifully flawed, your lovable self.
Just be.

Stand.
You are who you love,
You are not who loves you.
Define yourself.
On a cool night walk to the beach and make a fire
burn the letters. Take
the card you have clung to and
burn it.
Give them to the fire.
Burn them all
Get up. Look up. Walk away.
Look at the stars, borrow as much light as you need.
Listen to the waves.
Walk into the arms of your friends.
Let go. Let go.
Let the rest go.

Shine.
Walk into your garden and
plant a new seed.
Stand. Shine. Watch it grow,
watch it defy gravity.
Pull the weeds.
Burn them. Burn every last weed
(like the card, like the words, let go, let go, let go)
every weed
that would choke your seed, steal its light,
hinder its growth.
The world will tell you to stop,
to dim your light.
Do not.
There are people that need more light.
Make extra.

Shine.
Feast
on chocolate, on love, on every moment of your life.
Breath.
Deeper than you’ve ever dared.
Stand.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Walk.
Walk into darkness, into nothing and
trust each step you take.
Save your own life. One breath,
one step, one word, one seed
at a time.

Dear me,
There is no other moment.
There is only right now.
Live.
Right now.
Get up. Stand. Walk. Shine.
Be that which is you, and only you.
You are enough.
You are what you love.
You are.
Start there.
Breath.

well adjusted

SAMSUNGIt’s been a challenging week. The details I’ll leave for another time. I can be, very occasionally, a ‘well adjusted and functioning adult’ but more often than not I’m a ‘flying by the seat of my pants making this stuff up as I go along’ kind of person. I have some healthy coping mechanisms, like yoga, art, wonderful friends, and music, and I have some not so healthy coping mechanisms, like not eating, not making the bed, talking to inanimate objects.

Here are my top 10(ish), or maybe 15 coping mechanisms for the last week, in no order what so ever:

  • took out a live wasp’s nest, with a bat, during the day when they were around, it was a Lieutenant Dan kinda moment
  • allowed myself to chew off exactly 1 fingernail, my left pinkie, it looks dreadful, I’m only allowed to chew another when my pinkie grows back
  • curled up on my couch with my daughter, ate pie and ice cream and watched animated movies (The Incredibles and Wreak It Ralph), cried in a somewhat dignified manner
  • curled up on a friend’s couch and watched movies (Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Sliding Doors), cried in a rather undignified manner (waterproof mascara that can hold it’s own through a hot yoga class crumbles and runs down your face if you cry long enough, especially the undignified type of crying)
  • reached out to friends, cried, and laughed and made horribly inappropriate jokes (inappropriate humour being a major coping mechanism)
  • made art, did not cry on the art (involved quick tissue reflexes)
  • talked to my steering wheel, cried on my steering wheel, sung to my steering wheel, drummed on my steering wheel; my steering wheel knows all my secrets
  • talked to my dog, talked to my cat, my fish, my garden, the lizard, but not the snake, the snake doesn’t listen
  • sang and hummed to myself, a lot, I mean for hours, I think the dog liked it, but it’s so hard to tell with him
  • didn’t make the bed for 3 whole days, also picked clothes out of the dryer instead of folding and putting them away
  • did yoga, got sweaty and breathed deeply, felt MUCH better afterwards
  • various forms of retail therapy –  expensive yoga pants that make my ass look fabulous, little balls to roll away the tension in my neck, dark chocolate with cherries, so far….
  • narrowed my diet to pie (now gone), toast, coffee, and the odd bowl of cereal (lost 5 pounds, I do not recommend this diet)
  • played sudoko on my phone for extended periods of time (which I justify as a exercise for my brain)
  • poetry, lots of poetry, because I’m a word nerd – a small sample of poems below

I will live, have lived through worse, so I’m pretty confident “this too shall pass”, but I keep wondering when will I finally become that elusive “adult” who has all this junk figured out. The one who can balance a cheque book (who knows where the damn check book is), plan a menu that doesn’t involve the microwave or popcorn, gracefully juggle work/family/life/the universe and everything, always have clothes on the right way out, has a happy well adjusted marriage, never puts their foot in their mouth for weeks at a time, or overreacts in dramatic and super embarrassing ways, and never ever has orphaned socks? You know that mythical creature known as the well adjusted, mature adult. I’ve heard of them, even think I’ve spotted a few, but ultimately those ones turn out to be just as flawed as the rest of us.

And so it goes.

Life, crammed full of messy, undignified, embarrassing, humbling, glorious and sacred moments, full of enough sorrow for us to appreciate joy, and enough ugliness for us to appreciate beauty, and gratitude, because in the end it’s a beautiful world, full of kindness and love.

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crappy picture, but I made this

swinging

Swung for love,
flung in-between
sound earth and sky’s embrace
green willows as my garland.

My sadness, in degrees does soar away,
and whispers back again.
My heart belonging
to faraway horizons.
Time so briefly spent in tumbling clouds
divides more wide than from tides to moon,
but still my flight will not wait
for breath
or sight
as I swing from sorrow
and back again.
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made this too

sound

do not think
that you can
know me
for I am only
one heart
beating
in a world
too full
with sound.

Enough
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now

– David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet

The Guest-House

This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Say I Am You: Poetry Interspersed with Stories of Rumi and Shams, Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, Maypop, 1994.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

– Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986.

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

  • Theodore Roethke