Run!

Spent most life running –
obligations stepping stones
spanning the endless abyss –
desperately seeking bridges.

Inescapable is darkness –
pathways crumble, falter,
delusions disintegrate –
I have fallen, am falling

Alone. Starkness blinding,
rawness of soul exposed,
like an inverted negative,
surreal, unexpected truth.

Unanswerable questions arise,
I breathe, am not received,
no reflection to validate me,
matter suspended without

purpose, so fleeting, fickle
I am shadow, shelved,
inconsequential, nothing
silence painfully throbbing

riddled by abandonment –
victim or perpetrator – God’s
design or fantasy’s failings:
either way, I am cast aside

endlessly floating, undefined
losing grasp, untethered,
hopelessly longing for legs
that I might run again.

Chaos Rules

“You’re mother’s in the hospital.”               It’s cancer!              Be brave!              “Your cousins are dead; all perished.”              Don’t speak of it.              You’ll upset others.             “Dad is not what you think he is.”             We have secrets.            Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.            “Your sister is pregnant.”            It’s a disgrace!            They need my help.          “Mother’s back is broken.”           Go away!          I am not wanted.         “Mom is not coping.”         Keep the baby quiet.       It’s all on my shoulders.        Suicide attempts       drug use    more deaths    illness     divorce    sexual promiscuity    breakdowns     insanity     spiraling out of control   Hold it together   We count on you.  I am responsible.  I am strong.  They need me.  Chaos  collusion
runaway rape “I have to leave.” I’ll save you. It’s never-ending.  I’m losing control. STOP!                                                  WAIT!
I AM                                    WEAK
NOT                         ABLE
to
breathe
broken
need
space
I learn to be,
gain strength from
knowledge, baby steps
Let          go
and         let
God         heal
restore                 revival
The Earth beneath me my protector; the sky above salvation; I am safe.

“You’re Mother is in the hospital.”    She wants to die.   I must be strong.
The walls around me crumble…
I am losing ground…
… a child again.

Emotional Pain Dance

A singular activity
suffices not to distract
from underlying pain –
multi-task.

Robotic attentiveness
fails to allay
constant buzzing –
re-focus.

Sidestepping issues
elicits no solace,
unravelling inevitable –
shutdown.

I am trapped
in solitary confinement,
sensory deprivation –
unleashed

momentous force
raging within
boring outwards –
scream

silently, alone,
unheard, unseen,
unburdening –
repent.

Self-pity dead ends,
breathe in life,
suppress negativity –
re-align.

Multi-tasking
ignites purpose,
smacks of productivity –
conceals.

How Tables Turn

“All I want is to have my family around me.”

I was giving my father a therapeutic touch treatment to help ease his pain.  His suffering was relentless in his last years.

“I guess they’re all too busy for their old Dad.”

“You didn’t exactly teach us how to be around you, Dad.”  I didn’t want to be unkind, but he needed to hear the truth.  When I was too young to understand about his ‘needs’, I thought we were an inconvenience to him.  Mom would whisk us off to bed before he got home from work, so we’d be out of the way.  Later, when his secret was out, we would have to call ahead to make sure it was okay to come home.  When I moved out and became a parent, Dad would visit for ten or fifteen minutes before he had to leave.

“I suppose that’s true.”  Were those tears in his eyes?  “I lived a very selfish existence.”

“Yes, you did. You just have to be patient with us, and give us time to see that you have changed.”

He caught my hand in mid-motion and gave it a squeeze.  “I always loved you, though.”

“I know that now, Dad.  But there were many times when I didn’t.  I could never compete with sports.”  Sports were Dad’s excuse for everything:  I can’t come see your play, because the game’s on; or:  I’d love to spend time with my grandchildren, but this is the deciding match.  Trouble is, there was always some sporting event on.

“Silly, isn’t it?”

“You missed out on a lot.”

“I know.  I know.”

My father had changed.  We never could have had this conversation years ago.  He was too intimidating, and never open to criticism.  Something in him had softened.  Mom said he cried regularly over all the things he had done to us throughout the years.  Still, I wasn’t totally convinced.

“It’s ironic how the tables have turned.  It was always Mom who suffered with so much pain, and now it’s you.”

Isn’t that the truth, Dad’s face said.  “I wasn’t very sympathetic either,”  he confessed.  “Serves me right, I guess.”

I didn’t say anything.  Dad had never understood Mom’s suffering; he couldn’t tolerate weakness.  Now he depended on oxygen to breathe, and didn’t go out much because his immune system was so compromised.  His life was reduced to pain medication and ointments.  Mom seldom left his side.

“I messed up, didn’t I Squeegie?”  It was his nickname for me when I was little.

“You certainly had your trials, Dad.  No one can imagine what it was like to be you.  I guess you did the best you knew how.”

He squeezed my hand again.  “You’re a good kid.”

“I wish I could take your pain away, Dad,” I responded.

In the back of my mind, I was remembering something my father had always preached:

You get out of life what you put into it.