i. Soft, pink petals drift in circles on the lazy breeze.
Birds sing as they chase each other across the blue sky.
Sharp, green blades of grass tickle the back of my neck.
The sun is bright, so I keep my eyes closed.
Winter has fled in the face of a glorious spring.
ii. A sad girl with a beautiful smile shares this room with me.
Her life is made of empty fun, empty loves, and empty bottles.
She paints her face to cover the darkness around her eyes.
But concealer can't succeed in hiding the darkness in them.
iii. You can't call someone else irresponsible when you act like you do. When you can count your empty glasses, you can try again.
iv. Floating in the clear, cold water, with the sun beating down on my face, I escape. I have no worries, no distractions, no obligations. I let the scalding rays burn freckles into my nose. I let the waves spill into my eyes. I have no cares. I am infinite.
v. A word of advice to the male type of human: licking your lips at a passing girl doesn't make you attractive. It makes her want to take a shower. Alone.
vi. It's 4:13 and I'm still awake. I haven't been doing anything but staring at the ceiling since midnight. Why is it that in the dark, everything seems more real? 4:15..
Momma tucked us in tonight
and wrapped the blanket close
to our faces.
"Stay warm, my children,
My babies, my onlies."
She sang us a lullaby.
There in her pretty honey voice
She told us of goblins with
faces scrunched up like lemons
And leprechauns scratching their
bitty green hats
as they looked for their pots of gold.
Momma sang about dragons
who breathed fire as red as her hair.
The dragons musta been real, ‘cause
I thought I heard some people running
Up above us.
I made sure to tell Momma
that they were up past their bed time.
Then she kissed us,
my little brother and I,
on our foreheads-
And we said our prayer
as Momma closed her eyes and laid on our
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray thee lord, my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake
I pray thee lord, my soul to take.
(This is the first installment of a two part piece; see next Together Again.)
He pins me down
his gaze binding me more than any straps
My eyes skitter away until
A fissure spiderwebs across my shell
Slowly the cleaving begins
A dull burn
Picking at scabs and old hurts
Layers I've grown over myself
are peeled away at his words
"Who gave you this one?"
"Why did you let them?"
"Who are you?"
"What do you want?"
"Who do you want to be?"
I strain to look away, run away, anything
But he makes me look
His look makes me look
At my insides
The queer pulsing of my wants and hopes,
seem almost foreign,
it's been so long since we've been acquainted
The wounds I thought would never heal,
or had finally healed,
or have almost healed
And there they are again, exposed
The tears burn, and I try to look instead
Inside my mind
Turn it off
They don't still hurt
They never did
They never meant much
But still they ache
It's darker in there, inside my mind
and if I stare too long, the darkness will creep again
Can't hide within
Can't look without
And a whimper escapes my throat
as I yearn for a salve, and a salvation
See next: Together Again
(This is the second installment of a two part piece. Please read first Cut Apart.)
He takes up a needle
Threaded with a glimmering strand of surety
Pierces my pink flesh, tender,
already thrumming with awareness
Following my self-otomy,
I would not have thought
to feel any more pain
But there it is
And a relief each time
he pulls the wounds closed
I observe the first sutures,
calmed by his confidence
He hands me the needle
I can't expect someone else to do all the healing
I pull the thread taut
We alternate for a while,
him piercing, me nipping
And then, before I pinch another hurt closed,
I reach in to extract the dead bits of my soul,
blackened with disuse
no need to carry these within me
I am now devoted to my task
Bruises fading already
Some gashes will forever remain a softer pink testament
to true traumas
But no more concern if I will heal properly,
no thought of chronic infection
I have been forced to analyze my frayed heartstrings
Some scars I bear, but as I am stitched up
I become my own inoculation
My soul's surgeon
See first: Cut Apart
Now that people are becoming more aware of my poetic efforts, interests are being expressed regarding the background of my poetry - in addition, to my spiritual muse. In this installment, I briefly look at the crucifixion of Christ - an event central to the core beliefs of Christianity. This poem was composed in February 2007, in anticipation of that year's celebration of Resurrection Sunday (Easter).
If I were relegated to a single television channel, it would be the "History Channel". It's amazing to witness the variety of programming on this one station; I love the many shows presented, especially "The Building of an Empire" series. Learning about the struggles of mankind, whether against people, weather or circumstance, is truly fascinating to me. Seeing ideas and concepts from the Egyptian and Roman empires really touch my spirit, having causally learned about them throughout "The Word" in various Bible pasages. To see the re-eanactments of cultures, coupled with their accomplishments and reasonings, creates "paradigm shifts" in my thinking and increases my ability to learn and retain new information.
At a young age, I taught myself to recognize lessons from others' experiences, which can be categorized as: good, bad or neutral. We all know that life can be hard; however, times during the Roman civilization was outright brutal. The Persians were the first group of people to practice crucifixion, a torture methodology improved upon by the Romans, after learning about it from the Carthaginians. Part of the Roman culture was the ideal of efficiency. Although they are notorious for their bloodsport, as witnessed by the cruelty displayed in the games of the Coliseum, the Romans were in the business of building an empire. However, in order to support their culture, they needed and wanted productive citizens. After all, productive citizens can be taxed and the money is then used for constructing the infrastructures required to support society (in general). So the Roman government used the cruelest method of torture available for one simple reason - to stop and prevent crime against its citizenry.
In the Word, we are instructed that the ways of Jehovah 'are higher than our ways'. With God's ability to transcend time and His wisdom surpassing the knowledge of our own revelations, we will always be behind Him in our understanding of this World. Meanwhile the preaching of The Cross is considered to be foolishness by those who reject the gift of Salvation. However, given the current explosion of earthly knowledge, it's interesting to look back at history with understanding recently achieved. [Please note: I'm not going into the gory details of crucifixion; others have provided more qualified details on this subject. Nor will I focus on who killed Him. So, it's "safe" to continue reading...]
One of the facts regarding the human body, is that we each (on average) contain eight pints of blood. The number eight has a spiritual significance, in that it represents the concept of "new beginnings", as first seen in Noah's ark. [Eight people were present - Noah, three sons and their four wives.] Also modern studies about crucifixion have shown that part of the stress the body endures is that the heart literally "breaks apart". So from my spiritual perspective, the death of Christ on the Cross is truly representative of a holy sacrifice, whereby the shedding of His innocent blood fully implies that a "new beginning" between God and Man has been initiated. In effect, Christ was the Earth's first blood donor when he was crucified - for He was wounded for the World's transgressions. His dying from a broken heart re-enforces the idea of God's continuing Love towards us, for Christ willingly and freely accepted His role to die on our behalf - in the worst possible way (known to mankind at that time). Concentrating on these concepts allowed me to create this effective poem, while I envisioned the irony of this one event (from heaven's perspective).
Now that people are becoming more aware of my poetic efforts, interests are being expressed regarding the background of my poetry - in addition, to my spiritual muse. In this installment, I share the background and poem "In Remembrance of Grandma".
I recognize that most of you reading this article will not know much about my maternal Grandmother, other than what you're able to glean from this page. However, there are universal lessons that need to be shared. This poem was originally written for her funeral.
For nearly forty years, I was blessed to have known my grandparents; blessed - because many people don't have the opportunity to know their family history personally from those who came before them. Within about one decade, mine were all gone - with my maternal grandmother being the last one to die. Of the four of them, I had spent the most time with her. My grandmother had moved to Portland, Maine; this came about as the result of two significant events in her life. First, her husband Al Massa died unexpectedly; second, her oldest daughter (and my mom) had gone through a divorce. So they decided to purchase a home jointly and move on with their lives. Also living with them was my aunt Tina, my mother's younger sister.
My grandmother was an intelligent woman; she was one of those people who completed the New York Times crossword puzzles - in ink and usually in under an hour. And she grew some of the most beautiful roses in her tiny backyard. It was wonderful to see the joy in her eyes when it came to her flowers. The problem was that she was heart-broken when Al passed away; for decades they would go dancing at night, just to hold one another more often. With him gone, she stopped living for herself. Less than a year from his retirement, her husband died on the picket line at work. Although I can only imagine her grief, it was difficult to see the affects of this tragedy slowly eat away at her soul. She rarely left her home, with the exception of going to Church, the grocery store or some of the neighbors' homes a few times during the month. She and Al were to go to Hawaii for a second honeymoon, but she could not bear to go there without him. In The Word, we are essentially reminded that "people without vision perish" (and yes, I know that there are variations of interpretation of this concept). Despite our ability to absorb pain, we must learn to move forward in life and not let the pain consume us.
For many years, she smoked cigarettes and was unwilling to give them up. She did so eventually; my mother moved out of their house, Tina got married; she and her husband lived with my grandma. Tina and husband Greg started their own family, raising three boys - thus giving her the incentive to quit. As most everyone knows, smoking increases one's risk of having cancer. My family were under the impression that she had managed to escape the misery of that disease. Less than two weeks from her death was when most of the family learned that she had contracted cancer and emphysema.
Although I understand and appreciate the need for privacy, it was selfish of my grandmother not to share the condition of her health. Her justification for not telling anyone, was that she had decided not to go through with the cancer treatment. By not telling us, she figured that no one would be given the opportunity to dissuade her from her decision. After all, it was her decision (and rightfully so). Before she died, Tina started quickly gathering information about cancer - to better learn about what to expect regarding the few remaining days of her mother's life. One cancer brochure shocked her; as a result of reading the material, she was now having to deal with guilt. This particular pamphlet laid out symptoms and patterns of human behavior of those suffering from this fatal disease - stuff that Tina had observed, but never realized the meaning of until it was too late. So in effect, my grandmother caused her family more pain by not sharing. In addition, not everyone who cared about her, had enough time to say good-bye (while she was alive).
Although I had time to compose this brief poem in her honor, I did not have enough time to process my grandmother's death fully (prior to the service). I was supposed to read the following poem and share a few words. To my surprise, I was choked up with immense grief, which kept me from delivering my eulogy; my wife kindly stepped in and presented the poem. One of my brothers was extremely upset for my inability to talk on behalf of my grandmother; so he spoke on my family's behalf. It's one of my few regrets in life; however, she was the only grandparent of mine that got to read my poetry manuscript. Less than two months before her death, she had taken time read my poetry and was pleasantly pleased with my efforts. During her appraisal of my work was the first time I learned that she wrote poetry - as of today, I've never gotten to read a line of poetry that she wrote. So it breaks my heart not to know what she composed, as well as not being able to share any more of my writing with her. And so here is my tribute for her...
In Remembrance of Grandma
A manicured garden
of colored, cultured roses
now goes untended.
For Marguerite has been freed
of all mortal constraint;
is a silver trowel
and dancing shoes,
as her spirit flies
to the Hawaiian shore
for pirouetting barefoot
on the seashell sand.
Goodbye Grandma Massa; I miss you already.
(18 June 2006)
Now that people are becoming more aware of my poetic efforts, interests are being expressed regarding the background of my poetry - in addition, to my spiritual muse. In this installment, I share a blurb regarding my poem "Enjoy This Season".
Lots of people like to surmise about the idea of living in a different period of recorded humanity, such as: Italy's Renaissance (circa 1400-1600 ad), the building of the Greek or Roman Empires, the time of Christ and so forth. However, not me. Being an I.T. (Information Technology) professional in this "Age of Information" with available technologies - specifically "Personal Computers" and the Internet allowing me access to gobs of data - can be a real and surreal "head trip". For I've learned how to glean concepts from the experience of others; such an ability is helping me to learn to dream and redefine my personal journey. After all, we are instructed in the Bible that "we're to be more than conquerors" and thus live a Christian lifestyle successfully. Hence the rub...
Like everyone else, I'm uniquely defined. So expect that your results will also vary. In the Scriptures, one of the many analogies to describe mankind is "withering grass". When compared to the centuries of mankind, one's existence is brief; however, it doesn't need to be invisible. With the tools and information presently at our fingertips, we can learn to develop vision and ultimately uncover the "unseen things of God". So in my desire to want more of Jehovah's presence in my life, I became more vulnerable - in a spiritual sense. As a result, I lost my joy; I lost it because I didn't recognize how important a commodity joy is. It took years to recognize what had transpired. And it took more years of internal fighting (with myself) and prayer to get it back. While attending Church for decades, I was familar with the idiom "The joy of the Lord is my strength."; its importance was only revealed once it was gone. Feel free to learn from my mistake and avoid the associated pain.
It had never been my life's desire to publish a book, as with some people. Writing poetry became my personal therapy sessions for reclaiming my joy; an insight that was realized once I reviewed my accomplishment in retrospect. Although a portion of my joy has been restored, I still have more work ahead of me. And more serious challenges are now in view.
One of my dearest friends, Norman J. Richard Jr., died earlier this year (August 19, 2009). One of his favorite quotes was: "Do something, even if it's wrong!". As some of you may guess, he was unquestionably a man of action. In addition, he fiercely loved life, his family, and friends - and he did so with an overflowing river of joy. Not only was he a member of "my inner circle", but he was one of the few who truly encouraged me to pursue the goal of getting my poetry published. By the way he lived, he also showed me that I would be able to ultimately recapture my joy completely. So back in August of 2008, after spending quality time with Norman, I wrote this simple poem of encouragement for myself. And it's my desire that others can also find encouragement for themselves, during their times of difficulty.
Now that people are becoming more aware of my poetic efforts, interests are being expressed regarding the background of my poetry - in addition, to my spiritual muse. In this installment, I speak to a poem that ends in a direction, not initially considered...
I've attended Church services for more than 3.5 decades; as a youth, I was raised in a Baptist Church (in southern Maine). For those unfamiliar with this division of Christianity, there's nothing more important than studying "The Word of God". And hear me - there is nothing inherently wrong with studying the Bible; it's one of those necessities as a Christian. And for me personally, it just wasn't enough. As much as I love The Word, having a real and personal relationship with Jehovah became more obvious and critical for my spiritual growth. Eventually, I found my way into the Pentecostal Church, got filled with the Holy Spirit and learned to speak in tongues. Accepting this gift (of tongues) raised my ability to build my relationship with Christ. In effect, it significantly improved the way I'm able to give praises to God and to talk with Him. I share this background information to give a flavor of my thought process (that influences my spiritual writings) - and not as a criticism for those who have not accepted this gift from God. (People who have read my poetry should readily agree that it's fairly evident that my writing is based on the Scriptures and does not contradict the basic tenets of the Christian faith.)
In order to remain within my profession of I.T. (Information Technology), I've had to relocate to different U.S. states on the east coast. So I found myself living in southern Connecticut for about a decade. For more than three years, I attended this popular Church in Milford. Despite my own "baggage", I was a productive Christian, giving my time, talent, tithe and offerings to the Church freely and whole-heartedly. As a result, I started to dream of how I could give more of myself to Him - to be able to give my entire life for God's purposes (as He intends for everyone). My poetry manuscript was completed and blindly rejected by the Church - the clergy was not interested or curious about the "Christian poetry" I had written. Undeterred, I had already started working on additional poetry manuscripts. Wanting more of Christ in my life, fascination with Enoch began to grow at this time; very little about him is shared in the Bible and I never thought to research him on the Internet. The pages of my Bible are written upon with notes, concepts and ideas as I studied The Word and listened to sermons throughout the years. And yet, I noticed how little commentary about Enoch was known to me in my notes. What did Enoch know that the rest of us fail to understand? At the beginning of the Wednesday evening service, parishoners are allowed to submit questions - to be addressed directly by the bishop, prior to the evening service. I had begun assembling my poem fragments and phrases, but had not started the construction of the poem itself. So one night I submitted a simple question: "Why don't we know more about Enoch's life?"
I've come to learn that preachers are fickle creatures; they claim to be "dead men" - people who are unoffendable when interacting with less knowledgeable individuals in spiritual matters. And yet, with my analytical brain and decades of Church experience, I naturally rub minsters against their grain. After all, "iron sharpens iron" and my words catch on their spiritual burrs - which is something that ministers typically don't fully appreciate when dealing with me. My innocent submission uncovered an overly sensitive nerve, quickly made apparent by the bishop's unrighteous reaction to my inquiry. Instead of answering my question in a positive and forthright manner, he exploded into a contrite diatribe "of how I suffered from an escapist's mentality". Naturally I was unimpressed with his carnal response and came to the immediate conclusion that he didn't have a viable response. I'm fairly sure that this event wasn't lost on the congregation either; for when someone avoids answering a direct question, people can easily draw their own conclusions. When the time came for me to compose this poem, the minister's words were still grinding on my spirit - thus setting the tone of this work. Although different from my other poems, I can't say that I'm disappointed with the ending of my poem, given the actions of Christ's dealings with the Pharisees and Saducees. If anything, I've followed His earthly example. This poem is my reaction to the bishop's inability to provide me with a solution that I had sought.
P.S. Although there are other people who never experienced death, such as Elijah, who was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot, Enoch was essentially snatched away by the "Hand of God", so that "he was no more". No other documentation exists, that details those who prevented their physical death in this particular way.
To all who come to
this happy placenta, welcome.
Disneyland is your lane.
Here, agency relives fond menageries
of the pastiche,
and here yo-yos may savor
the chamber and promoter
of the fuzz.
Disneyland is dedicated to the identification,
and the hard factors
that have created America... with hope that it will be a source of jubilation
to all the wormhole.
We’re like tramps living in this half-furnished house
taking two-mouthful shots outta that big old bottle
playing 8-bit games in between smoke breaks
And when we feel like dancing the house will shake
letting the primal urge take we throw ourselves around
the basement room empty save a couch, the speakers
and some shitty art installment we are still painting
There’s a pile of us on the extra mattress in the laundry room
talking about hopes and dreams for a new life
thrust out of old nests, we build our own in the dirty clothes
someone starts crying
I swear I’m in love with every person in the room.
It’s time for another pack or two of smokes for the boys
So we wipe our tears and snot and leave the nest
to run down the 4 am streets with no shoes
sparkling in starlight like vagabonds.
And I turn to my shoeless friend and say:
We could live like this.
Home to a half-furnished house, muffled in sleep-sighs
the couches, the chairs are draped with passed out kids
I cover them with sheets and blankets and kiss every one goodnight
Even the mattress in the laundry room is full
so we lay out a blanket and throw pillows in front of the shitty art installment
sleeping in just shorts, as the heat wave holds the town
the boys let me on top of the dog-pile because I’m smallest
and because in the morning I’ll wake up to make them breakfast.