Monday, March 27, 2017

Grief and Poems

As I've alluded to in previous posts, this year has been one marked with a lot of personal grief, some accidentally imposed and some of my own making. The thing about grief is that it is not a respecter of circumstance. It cares little how you came to find yourself on its doorstep. It knows your mere presence means it is now in control. If you were not a victim before, grief bends you to its will and at least for a time, your life is no longer your own.

Sometimes grief shows up in paralysis and you only know you are alive because somehow you are still breathing. 

Sometimes it appears in panic and nights become prolonged stretches of terror. 

Sometimes grief feels insurmountable and you are physically dehydrated from the seemingly unending outpouring of tears. 

Sometimes it is a torrent of anger and you fear the rage rattling the hinges of your cage.

Sometimes grief is quiet and you find yourself the absence of everything. 

And sometimes, not often, it is gracious, allowing bits of hope in unexpected moments to share the doorstep with you. 

A few of these moments showed up for me this weekend. 'Showed up' is a nice term. It was more like 'jolted me out of bed in the middle of each night' but at least they didn't come empty handed. For someone beginning to wonder if I was ever going to write anything again, it was a welcome relief. These three poems are the humble gifts grief left on the doorstep.


Tortured souls do not sleep
They wander lonely hours through the darkened alleyways inside their heads
Twisting, turning, searching…never finding
My mind is a dangerous neighborhood

Rest escapes the weary traveler
Seeking refuge inside the panic rooms of two and three a.m.
Asking, calling, hoping…never hearing
My solitude is a deafening silence

Dreams haunt the darkness
Float like ghosts among the shadows of conscious thought
Stirring, frightening, watching…never ceasing
My fear is a constant companion


           He spoke in silences
Intentionally placed pauses
Everything he couldn’t say
or do
or be

                                               I heard every absence
Unreturned promises
Heaviness born out of

                                                I filled the empty spaces
The fog of unrelenting hope
Ears ringing with the
sounds of
my own voice

                                                His voice struck dumb
Muted by cowardice
The dissonance of warring
heart and

                                                I refuse to listen
Self-imposed deafness
Ignoring the reverberations
of his truth
and his lies


You have fifteen minutes to break down.
Use your seconds well
If tears shall etch new pathways
Dry them where they fell

You have twelve minutes to disappear
Where can you possibly go?
The walls are caving as we speak
Upon your crumpled mess below

You have nine minutes left to grieve
The clock is ticking down
The noises that are escaping now
Soon will make no sound

You have six minutes in which to sink
Before you come up for air
The pain will feel impossible
Though there is so still much to bear

You have three minutes left to feel
Final countdown has begun
Take a breath, wipe your face
And return yourself to numb

You have one minute to pull it together
Not a moment more
The unforgiving clock stops dead
When the children walk through the door

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