Church is poetry. Poetry is life. A life well-lived.
(I think.) We all like to believe we are the be-all to end-all solution to the adverse we face. Complex problems are produced by simple acts gone awry. Well meaning people get tangled in their desires that eventually overtake all soundness of mind. We become corrupt in thought not out of kindness but selfishness. I think I stand in such a bubble.
My bubble bumps my neighbor’s bubble and on and on the bubbles bump. In time the bubbles burst and the earth is covered in a sticky film that does not wash away easily. It takes effort to see clearly.
The reflection that digs into my soul has both a hatchet and a pick. A hatchet to chop off major faults and a pick to clear the crevices. What is left of a person who undergoes such surgery?
Many find religion compensates for the faults of man. Those who object I ask, would you die for another? Most likely yes. Would you die for a stranger? Possibly. For evil of others? Probably not.
What drives a person to hang for wrong deeds that are not their own? Was Jesus a narcissist? A delusional lunatic? In the minds of some yes. So those who have faith, the affect of such love, to believe they are forgiven, not forsaken to their own hands, rest easy. You too may be ridiculed, beaten in the market of ideas but steadfastness is a peculiar trait.
“Well, then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded great empires; but on what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.”
— Napoleon Bonoparte
World leaders such as Bonoparte are frowned upon in the “modern” age. Jesus is too. Or anyone who subscribes to such a philosophy. So the world waits until every knee surrenders to what? If not Napoleon or Jesus, who?
Look around. Is this world any more peaceful. Do platitudes of “Be happy” make us so? Will we follow anyone who promises peace? Are we really still so gullible?
1 Thessalonians 5:3 “While people are saying, ‘Peace and security,’ destruction will come upon them suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
What of the little wars within ourselves? Are these not battles we should wage? I profess they are worthy! Inner battles given to circumspect.
Those who choose to end their inner battle we fight for their freedom to end life? Why is life not respected? Is pain only fought with the sword? Where are we in their hour of need?
“It is a higher glory still to stay war itself with a word, than to slay men with the sword,” –St Augustine
Where are the parents in this play?
Except it real, I may have walked on by
you sitting in shame
head held low and the tears held back,
they sting and hurt too bad.
You want to save yourself but don’t know how.
The guilt and blame -thick to pass around
from the basket you reach in
paint yourself blue
all for their satisfaction -they chant
“Go ahead. Do it. I will tell you how.”
I want to be your hero.
The relationship between the giants of earth and the soul awaits the echo.
It is the tension between creativity and skepticism that has produced the stunning and unexpected findings of science. –Carl Sagan
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. –Albert Einstein
The conversation began at the breakfast table, where so many of my rabbit trails begin. I shared a poem and Jeff chimed in, residing in the chemical structures floating in his mind, “Djerassi penned novels and poetry”. Oh? In his opinion, he rather thinks not much of his literary work and many chemists found him quite arrogant when it came to his scientific pursuits. The point of the conversation for me was not to write a chapter of a biography. Rather, I considered the relationship between imagination and the quest for truth.
Carl Djerassi, an organic chemist, is most notably known as the father of the birth control pill (Two Poems). He started an artists retreat in the mountains of California, inviting those in pursuit of blending life with the unseen. To create reality, images nonexistant, foreign forms. The retreat honors his daughter Pamela, who committed suicide July 5, 1978. You can read the story here Pamela Djerassi
Another connection resides which often becomes a source of creativity: death. Found this lovely video. Enjoy. Perhaps it well help you mentally and creatively deal with grief and trauma.
spoken at midnight
the people pine
shake the earth,
the path least understood.
The reed lies bruised
while the world is mute,
with fear time stands still.
The edges of the box
sharp and long
lowers, slowly into the ground.
We face the same questions. We answer with brutal answers.
as a person with suicidal thoughts, ideation of death better than life,
what saves her facing existential threats, turning towards the mourning faces
struggling in futuristic moving pictures, brings senses back to here and now
wrestling with the darkness, clouding the sunny skies
life, that is all death abhors.
**minds are curious things, with eyes that seem to see, our ears tell us otherwise, and then we speak with authority, telling lies. she cuts what is left of her, living dead they like to believe, even as she sings among the flowered trees. humanity realizes that even petals of fragrant hope remain to be sold to the devil of all souls.
everything locked up tight.
about every neighbor he gossiped.
Everything has been locked up tight. I wrote feverishly during high school years and burned the papers in 1998. The poems and letters from time I had rather forget. Moving home to Wisconsin, having lived in Michigan (UM-Ann Arbor), Connecticut (Yale) and NYC (Sloan-Kettering Cancer Hospital) I was happy to return to a rather unhappy place in my mind. I choose to move close to our children’s grandparents so my husband took a job at Abbott Labs in IL. Looking back I regret that decision. I should have chosen to live in NJ, my husband working at Merck. It is shame I reminiscent about mistakes, keeping me from loving my place in life in 2016. All the same, perhaps it will heal the pain, I hid for so long.
I regained my voice in 2008, the urging of my husband. It was taboo to speak of family matters of old, as it spread to my childhood years, with no stopping the gossip about neighbors. Denny, the farmer down the gravel road from my grandparents, could not live up to town standards, nor could grandpa’s children or grandchildren. His row of tobacco, so straight and proud, became the beginning of a tragic downfall.
Grandpa never realized nothing lasts forever, even in desirous wishes and prayers. When grandma became sick and unable to help with farm chores, grandpa was forced to sell the farm. My aunt bought it and grandpa moved into town with grandma, within walking distance to attend church, visit the post office and friend’s houses.
His mental health withered, days turned to weeks and nothing improved in his mind. The slow churn downward was speeding up and on a brisk October day, grandpa lay in bed. The doctors tried shock treatment to no avail. He wintered several months before the morning warmed. Grandma headed to the post office, most likely to pick up a letter written by me, her chance to escape the shackled cell. Upon returning, the house stood quiet and she decided to sit down for mid-day tea. Grandma sat to read my letter, politely folded and treasured it safely away, then rose to check on grandpa. He was gone. (Dad’s family comes from England, Maxwell my surname, and traditions of tea had been passed down since the American Revolution. This another story for another time.)
Scanning their five room bungalow, what appeared were empty chairs and a blank TV screen. She took to the garage, side door open, car in the parking stall, and there lay grandpa, shotgun by his side.
I was working when mom called and told me I needed to come home, fast. Why so rushed? Traveling to Viola WI, the car wheels spinned no faster than my head. Not a thing was said, a four hour drive west. The silence unbearable.
It was Memorial weekend, the end of May, a cheery Spring morning. I was planning my July wedding and quite happy. Upon entering the funeral parlor, seeing grandma stark white, a line of people greeting her, things began to fall in place. Or rather apart. Grandma and I, eyes averted, understood while I wailed in her arms. She was totally uncomfortable.
Grandma and grandpa were Methodist. The congregation sang How Great Though Art, a memorial to a man’s love of the land, the hills and valleys of Vernon County, and his prized Jersey cows. He treated his cows to classical music morning and evening, they long been scattered, so they would never know of his departure. Yet I was forced to sit in the pew, thumbing through the Bible, and came upon verses in the OT about sins of the father, generational curses and needing to be the change of the NT. A dawning of life in 1985 that would later be rattled by new news years later.
Today, October 2016, driving down the highway, my daughter videoed a burning car. I had never seen such a sight. I feel naive to think life is invincible while also anxiously awaiting my fate. Danger lurks at every bend. After two suicides in the family, I have become an anxious neurotic. I have been told I am a survivor, strong and courageous to face days, but no one ever feels that way unless armed with a weapon. Emotional resources are absent to me, with no way to construct love from the emptying hope seeping through my skin. I have found words again, though I wish it did not have to be this way. I write down the bricks built, from the outside looking in, to release the pain.
I have approached child-rearing differently from reading those Bible verses in 1985. My children and I talk about everything. Nothing is hidden beneath bushels of bull. My children know as they grow, I will share more, knowing they are mature to handle the unthinkable. I have warned my daughter about men who spike drinks, taught my son to treat women with respect and continually encourage my youngest daughter, who finds high school a mountain too tall to climb. She suffers from thoughts of wanting to die. There is no reason for those thoughts, she realizes, as she tells me thank you every day and apologizes for her agony. I understand her battle, battling those same suicidal thoughts. I believe mental sickness hereditary. A generational curse. Our thoughts take sparks from life to light the inner battle. Some people are strong enough to overcome setbacks and others are vulnerable to the tiniest pin drop. The reverberations strong enough to bring down the most beautiful and loving life.
“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” Ned Vizzini It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Warning, dark. Proceed with caution. Faint hearts retreat.
If you have never experienced depression or anxiety, I will try and explain it, but there is no description to adequately portray the devil it is. One reason it remains difficult to expound on, is if I had you muffle the surrounding sounds, you would realize that feat is impossible, cognizant of the fact you are trying to get lost, so you would never feel depressed. Perhaps a better way to describe depression is to have you imagine a happy person’s feeling of a wave as cleansing, welcoming and refreshing. Now experience those same waves as enemies, suddenly you are crippled with debilitating pain. Those once friendly waves exasperate the hidden hurt, exponentially.
Anxiety is another beast. To experience anxiety, try this. Look out the window and realize the monsters you once were told are fictive, suddenly come alive and whisper your name. Realizing they are coming for you, the house becomes a dungeon. A safe place to be but full of spooks. You are unable to enjoy the view or fear leaving the house.
The relief comes in sleep or plotting ways to stop the noise. Perhaps walk into the middle of the street and wait for a semi-truck to run you over or picture the rope in the basement sing your name, telling you “problem solved”. We all know the point of pills is to make you well and how much better you will feel swallowing the whole vial. The call of the ocean another plot, serene and swift, peaceful and private. All these thoughts enter a very sick person’s mind.
For me, these were ideations. For others they become lethal means of opportunity. Read the linked article, you well may save a life.
My point? I do not imagine negative,
Memories ingrained as etchings that can never be removed.
i absolutely abhor her thoughts,
my daughter trapped in the same hell.
what i welcome in me,
i tear in grief from her hands.
if i knew i would tell,
the idea or word that seeks my soul.
a whisper to the deep,
i wait to finally know.
My daughters depression and anxiety are biological. I am there for her daily, we struggle together. She has approached me on occasions wanting to die. That is my world. I understand her as I have walked this road for 40 years.
“I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.” –David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
I found David Foster Wallace on accident. Walked right into him, excused myself and there, I saw his mind, as if I were speaking his words. Tackling his book will be a feat, as climbing the highest mountain or perhaps exploring the deepest ocean floor. Either way, I imagine it will exist to be a long, hard look in a mirror. I am guessing, gleaning from quotes of his, referenced on the internet.
Seems funny I have only just heard of him and his words. I read he committed suicide. No surprise there as to why he may have ventured my way. Like a magnet, I find myself attracted to similarity.
“It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.”
“Every love story is a ghost story.”–David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
I apologize for my bleak pen. It is a healing pen for me. Talking out loud instead of harboring thoughts inward. This is a long climb out of myself. So far, I am still here.
this song jerks tears.
I remember the child at the homeless shelter
and my sister, her husband, he drank himself
to oblivion, dying alone, in an oven called home.
I remember the lady i counseled,
alone with no where to turn,
pregnant and scared,
42, the same age as me.
Her story no one would believe.
I sat amazed, wondering how she had survived
up to this point, nothing seemed right.
Then, i reflect,
“Who will love me for me?”
God stepped in at such a time
I could not believe such love existed.
Forgiveness saving me from hurts,
a roller-coaster of pain and hope.
My brother died at his own hands
my childhood friend,
moments romping in the forest
in awe of such beauty,
stark reminders of innocent times.
A piece of me stands unrecoverable
and the piercing pain still lodged in my heart.
My story continues as I fight
to breath. To find beauty where none exists.
To sing a new song every morning.