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A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: The Tragedy of Fool’s Gold

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel

(About an 8 minute read)

Jana was nearby,
For a decade, always nearby.
But I was not close to her.

She became my wife
And we shared a house.
We shared a bed.
We shared our bodies,
And we told each other
We shared our hearts and minds.

In truth, she was that spot on my back
That I never could see,
And that I never could reach
No matter how often,
And no matter how hard
I stared into the mirror,
And turning this way or that,
Tried to spot her.

Continue reading “A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: The Tragedy of Fool’s Gold”

Abuse, Alienation, Alienation From Self, Art, Life, Marysa, Outstanding Bloggers, People, Poetry, Writing

To a Young Artist — Take Care of Yourself

(About a 3 minute read)

The snow came today and the cold,
The cold came with it so hard
It cut through the walls of my cottage.

But nothing today came colder
Than the news someone once
Had laid you on a white table
And under harsh and glaring lights
Stole your insides with a scalpel
To leave you only with your skin.

I am not a stranger to such things.

I have seen in my life how a man,
A man who can walk into a fire
And live to walk out again,
Can someday be taken up by a tornado
And without reason spun so hard his very self —
Everything that he is — is flung from him,
Cast by the winds so far away
That the man must travel decades
To find a few pieces of who he is again.

And I have seen how a woman
Whose spirit is light and tender,
Whose smile is a warm sun,
And whose laughter is a light breeze across flowers,
Can without warning or reason or mercy
Have molten lead poured into her,
Poured down into her to settle and freeze in her heart
By the man who professes to love her.

By the man
Who professes
To love her.

I am not a stranger to such things.
I am not shocked by the news today.
I did not cry for you when I heard
Of the table or the lights or the scalpel.

I did not cry for you
When I heard once again of the monsters among us —
Of what they had worked upon someone —
And I do not yet know you well enough
To mourn true and honest
Your pain, and your suffering, and your alienation:
I’d be BSing you if I said I could.

But you told your story
With such power and grace,
You told it with such insight
And with such understanding,

That you grabbed my guts
You chilled my blood,
You made the thought of you being abused
Rush through my mind like the broken ice
That crashes down a mountain stream
In the winter.

You can turn words on a lathe, my friend,
Turn them with precision and grace.
You can craft them
Into real and solid things
That punch with images,
Meanings, truths, and insights —
That punch.

There’s something great in you,
A seed at least.
I see it.
Do you?

If not for yourself,
Then for the sake of others,
Take care of yourself:
The world is better
That you’re in it.
Take care of yourself.

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Does Someone Love You Now?

(About a 4 minute read)

Do you remember now those decades ago
On the porch of the Oak House?

The evening you wrapped us in a thin blanket
Elbow to elbow in solidarity
Against the October chill?

We listened to the coyotes calling to the late sun
And waited for the night
And waited for the comet
That hung above the San Luis Valley that year.

You were a girl then. Seventeen and sick with worry
The boys would never want you —
Want you enough to stick with you
Beyond the sex you gave them,
Want you enough that the love you felt
Would ever be returned.

I was forty-three — and twenty-six were the years between us,
The years you reached across to ask me in earnest:

“What must I become,
What must I turn myself into
To earn a boy’s love?”

That afternoon on a bed of moss and stone
You had fallen asleep next to me
In the shallow water of the Upper Pool.

Small bubbles formed on your pubic hair like silver jewels,
Sun and shadows raced and swirled across your satin skin,
Something older than the gods spoke
In your graceful curves, spoke in an ancient tongue
Of your youth and your fertility

And I could not believe
Anyone so beautiful

And I could not believe
Anyone

Could feel so alone.

Do you remember now those decades ago, Jackie,
When you bravely reached across the years between us,

When you broke open your heart,
When in the growing dusk
You called off your guards,
And in the gloom
Surrendered your proud walls,
In order to reveal to me naked and honest
Your desires and your fears?

Do you remember now your lips were trembling,
Trembling as you spoke,
And not from the cold?

You were seventeen years old
But a hundred years tired that night,

Tired and worn,

Chased down,
Cornered and numb

From how the boys would lie and use you cruel,
From how they had taken the least,
Ignored the rest,
And left the best of you behind.

You spoke of a hollow chest,
You spoke of an emptiness,
You spoke of a twilight
Through which winds of loneliness twisted and wailed
By night and by day.

And you spoke of a growing hatred,
An exhausting hatred for yourself,
A quicksand sucking you down.

You were so sure no boy could love you
Ever

Unless you could become an alchemist

And with estranging fires and poisons
Turn the lead you thought you were
Into the gold you thought you must become.

Tonight I wonder what you have become
In the cauldron of the two decades
That have passed since I told you,
Urged you, that night on the porch
Not to hide yourself beneath a mask,
Not even a mask of gold.

I all but begged you to be true to yourself —

True so someone could love you for who you are.
True so that someone
Could love you Jackie
For who you are.

I ached that night for you to make my words
Your path and your road, your light and your guiding star.
I ached that night for my words to nourish you.
I ached for my words to encourage and to heal.

Did you grasp my advice?
Did you discover the meanings
That ran like a subterranean river
Beneath my words?

Did you see the truth
That I tried to point you to?

Were you able to turn the words
I spoke into something real?

Have you had the guts
To be yourself?

Tonight I wonder, Jackie,

Does someone love you now for who you are?

Or do you wear tonight a mask of gold

And the winds still twist and howl
Through the emptiness of your heart?

Alienation From Self, Aristotle, Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Christianity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Ethics, Eudaimonia, Happiness, Human Nature, Ideas, Judaism, Life, Living, Memes, Morality, Morals, Pride, Purpose, Quality of Life, Religion, Religious Ideologies, Self Image, Self-Flourishing, Values, Well Being

Pride in Aristotle and Christianity

“The description of the proud or magnanimous man [in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics] is very interesting as showing the difference between pagan and Christian ethics…”.  — Bertrand Russell.

SUMMARY:  Pride to Aristotle was a virtue, and a means to happiness, but to Christians, it is a sin, and a means to unhappiness.

(About a 7 minute read)

In Judaism, pride is called the root of all evil, a valuation that seems in part to have been carried over into Christianity, for Christians regard pride as the first and foremost of the Seven Deadly Sins.

In Catholicism, the Seven Deadly Sins are not to be confused with “Mortal Sins” — they do not automatically damn you to hell if you fail to repent of them before death, but they are pretty much bad enough anyway.

In contrast to the Jewish and Christian views, pride was an actual virtue to Aristotle.  Which of course, raises the question, “Why did Aristotle think pride was a virtue?”

Continue reading “Pride in Aristotle and Christianity”

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The Passionate Life: Living in the Moment vs. Living for the Moment

(About an 8 minute read)

“Don’t cry over things that were or things that aren’t. Enjoy what you have now to the fullest.” — Barbara Bush

“Your passions cannot soar unless you release them from the hands of time — the left hand of the past, and the right hand of the future.”  — Some ditz or another of no importance.

 

She looked to be about 15 in her red shorts and white T-shirt.  She was sitting on a boulder at least four times her size, bouncing a tennis ball on a racket.  Her face said she was bored.

Her father had left her there, promising to be back in just a few minutes.  He wanted to “try a few casts in the lake”.  Then off he went down the shore, pausing only now and then to dip his line, before disappearing out of sight around a bend in the water.

Continue reading “The Passionate Life: Living in the Moment vs. Living for the Moment”

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The Cheating Wife

(About a 2 minute read)

Father, I have seen how the morals you demand of me
In the name of your God and his hell
Are like winds from two quarters
That carry the dust to my eyes
No matter which way I turn
So I can no longer see the path I’m on,
Nor which path to take from here.

Father, I have seen how the morals you demand of me
In the name of your God and his hell
Are like tungsten rods encasing me,
Confining me to inaction and encouraging resignation
To my hell, the hell my husband
Has created for me that may yet
Prove to be a death camp.

You tell me right and wrong never alter,
Never turn from one into the other,
That I must keep my vows and stay with him,
Merely praying that your God will change his heart.

I am weary now like a bison after wolves
Have chased her for miles to her last stand,
I am all but exhausted and ready to die.
Your words do not comfort me, nor encourage me,
But sound only like you want me to surrender
To the fangs of my enemy, that he might
Rip my throat and my life from me.

You say I must not cheat.
But I am ready to cheat.
I have met one who comes walking
In the grace of love for me.
One who does not merely speak of love, but loves.
One whose touching me has passed a spark
To the dry and brittle twigs of my self-esteem.

He wants me to live, and through him,
I want to live too.

Yes, I know that I’m weak,
Too weak to love myself without him.
But he ignites me, and my weakness
Will soon enough burn away in a bonfire.

Father, have you never been so beaten down
You could not stand up without someone’s help?
Have you never been so tired
You could not go on without first you slept?
Have you never been so defeated
You could not renew yourself?

Father, in your eyes I am no more than a whore,
I am no more than a law-breaker, an outlaw.
But have you considered this:
Even a whore has a right to life,
Even an outlaw has a right to live,
And how moral can your morals be
If your morals deny my life?


This poem was inspired by a poem on Sarah’s blog, “Fresh Hell”, which can be found here.

Alienation, Alienation From Self, Human Nature, Life, Love, People, Poetry, Quality of Life, Self, Spirituality, Tara Lynn, Vacilando

In the Stillness of the Mountains

Please Note: A couple weeks ago, Gina presented our WordPress community with a challenge: Compose a poem answering the question, “Who Am I?”. That I did.

Please remember to check out the works of the other poets here.

(About a 5 minute read)

I would sit at a sidewalk table each evening
To watch the descending sun become the night.
In those days, I would sit alone into the night.

But once a stranger shot from around the corner,
Almost bolting and desperate. It seemed desperate.

It’s head swung side to side,
Searching for something it didn’t find.
It held its tail almost between its legs,
And made a curious sound,
Half muffled whimpering, half something wild.

Its alienation was tangible, I felt it viscerally.

Two humans followed almost at a trot.
“That’s no dog”, I said to them.

“No, it’s a wolf.”

A wolf in the city. Fed, groomed,
Taken good care of, but homeless in the city,
It’s spirit attuned to a wilderness
It cannot find.

Years before, I had loved my secretary, Tara.
Her laughter rising and falling with mine
As the hours of work flew by.
Then she had spun — within 24 weeks she had spun —
Like a child’s top wobbling down to collapse
Into the arms of a man who belittled her and beat her.

And within those same 24 weeks, I had lost it all.
Nearly everything “my”, nearly everything “mine”.
All of it but a car, a few thousand dollars,
And some clothes.

When do you suppose, in the process of losing things,
Do you lose yourself?

The wife was almost the first to go. The home was next.
With it my pets, my books, my journals, my bed.
I became homeless, working by day, wandering at night
Until I would find some spot to park and to sleep.

When do you suppose, in the process of losing things,
Do you lose yourself?

Scott stumbled out one night, that he came to work
Because it was there he felt loved. Lisa had told me
Much the same thing earlier that Spring.

But the woman I loved whose laughter I thought
Was like a gentle breeze across blue flowers,
And whose smile seemed to be a warm sun in disguise,
Was turning inside herself in confusion and in pain.
Churning in confusion and pain.

When do you suppose, in the process of losing things,
Do you lose yourself?

Scott stayed until the end, but Lisa and the others
Had me on a pedestal. When I tumbled, they left
One by one, in disillusionment and disgust.

“Competent. Capable. Successful. Respectable.” left too.
Soon enough followed by, “Decent. Kind. And Good.”

When do you suppose, in the process of losing things,
Do you lose yourself?

In the evenings, I would sit beside the lake
Feeling the breeze lift across my arm like kisses
From someone who came close enough to care.

By that lake,
My troubled mind began to calm, even ran cold.
I left self-pity somewhere in the past,
And then I left the past
Where it could no longer be found —
Memories of the year before
Seemed like some other person’s life.
“Eighteen months”, I thought, “And I’ll be dead.”
It was a conclusion reached as dispassionately
As two and two is four.

When do you suppose, in the process of losing things,
Do you lose yourself?

Not wanting my family to witness the dying
I set out with all that was left,
And wandered my way to Colorado in the Fall.

Several years went by, years of the wolf.
Years of estrangement and alienation,
Until I was gradually reborn.

When do you suppose, in the process of gaining things,
Do you regain yourself?

I have learned that in life the most important doors
Are the doors you do not suspect are there,
The doors you might pass through not knowing
You’ve turned the key in their locks.

My brothers are returned to me now,
More brothers now than ever before.
My friends are truer now,
More truer friends than ever before.

Yes, I still can run my fingers
Along the lumpy scars that have healed
Without having been sewn up.
I still can feel the atrocity
Of Tara’s fate, and I even miss my books.

But my laughter echoes through-out me now,
My loves are many and passionate.
I can hold a flower between my teeth
Without being wounded by its thorns.
I feel the endless wilderness of my spirit,
And the coiled precision of my mind.
I revel in the beauty of men and women,
And in the stillness of the mountains
I am reborn.
In the stillness of the mountains
I am reborn.