I believe that there are some souls
born into this existence tormented
A truth that will never falter.
Branded into their beings is the truth
that without love,
we are nothing.
We are meant to love and be loved.
Our sole purpose is to fall in love.
These troubled souls are faced with
the realization that once love has left you..
nothing else remains.
Life loses its color. Suddenly,
everything is dull
and the fire within you extinguished.
Life is filled with emptiness.
Empty words, empty promises,
empty lies, empty cycles,
empty sorrow that engulfs you and
we strive to fill the bottomless
pit of our souls. But,
it will perpetually amount to nothing.
We are nothing.
We are mindless creatures searching in all
the wrong places.
We are hopeless.
And the only way to live fully is
So, where do we go when love is lost?
We become sorrow at it’s best.
I think of him everyday, that passes
tears drown my green eyes
when I think of his last words
I remember getting closer and closer to god
as I was waiting for him to walk away okay
the necklace he picked out
is lost in a dark shadow land
I can remember the day that he passed away
and not a minute goes by that I don't think about him
but one day we will be reunited
and the family will be whole again
In between (a poem)
my mind struggles against its own illusion
nightmare tumbles out into still morning
light is heavy,
a fog of echoes...
and I am caught
day dreams the sunlight
dreams light the day
and I am caught in between
like a stillborn ghost
who can't take a breath in the present
I live on a tropical island and just want to go surfing with my husband, but the nausea in the early morning as I try to eat breakfast and drive with him to the beach is so uncomfortable. Day after day it makes even surfing a chore, and I consider not going anymore. Background anxiety and unreasonable irritation interferes with our marriage, frustrates him enough to want me out.
For me, a trip to the grocery store or meeting a group of people awakens the same dreadful fear as rockclimbing a cliff. Perspective has been lost in the extremes. I try to gain some control over this hindering nuisance, seeking situations that bring the same surges of adrenaline so I can learn to master it. If I can just push past the avoidance that would keep me inside doing nothing, if I can just ignore the feeling I want to throw up, if I can just get out there, I am rewarded with life’s potential beauty eventually. Many days I do enjoy the thrill of mountain biking or connection with nature when surfing, but there are too many days that reduce fun to a relentless chore of wrestling inner demons.
The VA offers a few sessions of marriage counseling, and the doctor begins to explain PTSD. WTF, I’ve learned to cope with an unreliable brain, but now there’s this? The website for the National center for PTSD says. “After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.”
“Common reactions to trauma are:
• Fear or anxiety: In moments of danger, our bodies prepare to fight our enemy, flee the situation, or freeze in the hope that the danger will move past us. But those feelings of alertness may stay even after the danger has passed. You may:feel tense or afraid, be agitated and jumpy, feel on alert.
• Sadness or depression: Sadness after a trauma may come from a sense of loss---of a loved one, of trust in the world, faith, or a previous way of life. You may:have crying spells, lose interest in things you used to enjoy, want to be alone all the time, feel tired, empty, and numb.
• Guilt and shame: You may feel guilty that you did not do more to prevent the trauma. You may feel ashamed because during the trauma you acted in ways that you would not otherwise have done. You may:feel responsible for what happened, feel guilty because others were injured or killed and you survived.
• Anger and irritability: Anger may result from feeling you have been unfairly treated. Anger can make you feel irritated and cause you to be easily set off. You may:lash out at your partner or spouse, have less patience with your children, overreact to small misunderstandings.
• Behavior changes: You may act in unhealthy ways. You may:drink, use drugs, or smoke too much, drive aggressively, neglect your health, avoid certain people or situations.” It lists four main symptoms: reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind of the event, feeling numb, and feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)”
Four words strung together: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. They’ve become a tired cliché, exhausted from the endless threat of random cruelty camouflaged in banality, weary of the weight shouldering back the wall that separates death and gore from the living. Living was a reflex beyond willpower and devoid of choice. Control was self-deception. The mind was so preoccupied with A: survival, B: sanity, in that order. Rest was a cruel illusion. The tank was drained, no room for emotions ditched. Empathy took too much effort, fear was greedy. Hopefully they can be remembered and found on the other side, if there is one. Sleep deprived cells were left hyper-alert from the imminent, shot up and addicted to adrenaline. Living was Fate and Chance, and meant leaving that time and place sealed in forgetfulness.
Now PTSD is a worn out acronym, a cold shadow of what it feels like. I try to think of something more personal that can describe the way it randomly visits me, now resigned to its familiar unwelcome influence. It steals through my brain, flying ahead of me with its own agenda of protecting sabotage. Its like the Guardian Trickster of Native American legend, an archetype but real enough to make mistakes: Chulyen, the black raven.
A decade after the ER, contentment is found in a garden of slow tranquility as a butterfly interrupts a sunbeam. My heart fills with bittersweet and just then Chulyen’s grasping black claws clamp it with painful arrhythmia. My heart fills to burst, tripping in panic trying to recover its pace. The sudden pain drops me to my knees, in the dirt between fragrant lavender and cherry tomatoes. Pain stops breath and time and makes me remember the ER, when my heart rebelled its ordained purpose for a week. I had tried to throw my bitter life back in God’s face but He didn’t take it. Now that I have peace and a life that I treasure, He’s taking it now. The price for my mistake is due. It was all just borrowed time and I’m still so young, my children just babies. God with a flick of cruelty reminds me not to put faith in the tangible, especially when its treasured. The sharp claws finally relent and I can breathe, looking up with a gasp and the Raven takes flight overhead leaving a shadow. Bright noon warmth, unusually heavy and foreboding, seems to say ‘there will come a time when you will not welcome the sun.’ Doctors run an EKG and diagnose ‘stress’.
The bird perches on my shoulder two more decades later, always seeing death just over there. So I sit on the porch just a little longer and check my list again, delaying the unavoidable racing heart and rush of tension when I fix the motorcycle helmet strap under my chin. I know all those stupid drivers have my life in their cell-phone distracted hands and hope my husband knows how much I love him, and my daughters too.
Chulyen wakes me at 3:00 am when autumn’s wind aggravates the trees. His rustle of black feathers outside unsettles the dark calm. An end-of-the-world portent hints that this peace is just temporary, borrowed. Tribulation will return.
The raven perches relaxed in the desert on the gatepost of a memory. A bullet-scarred paint-faded sign dangles by one corner from rusty barbed wire:
That Means You
A haunted idea what's behind the fence. Chulyen implies the memory with a simple sound:
a Harley in the distance is for a second the agitating echo of a helicopter...
or those were the very same words they said when...
or I hear a few jangling clinks of forks in our warm kitchen...
hinting a cold cafeteria at 5:00 am smelling of fake eggs and industrial maple flavored corn syrup,
and everything else that happened that day...
My cells recollect, brace with the addictive rush of adrenaline. But the raven denies access to the memory, distracting with nausea. I trip and I fall hard into the gritty dirt of irritation at the person who unknowingly reminded me. Anxiety floods in along with fatigue of the helplessness of it all, back then and still now. I can't go further. Chulyen’s tricking deception says Leave This Memory, you never wanted to come back.
But I already knew from just recognizing the bird patiently sitting there a sentinal,
recalling every other time he tricked me with nausea and depression.
I tried to tell myself again that behind that gate,
the past has dried up from neglect.
Disintegrated into dust,
After everything else, how to work through this? The VA gave me a manual, a crudely printed set of worksheets with a government-looking blue cover page: Cognitive Processing Therapy.
“In normal recovery from PTSD symptioms, intrusion, thoughts, and emotions decrease over time and no longer trigger each other. However, in those who don’t recover, the vivid images, negative thoughts, and strong emotions lead to escape and avoidance. Avoidance prevents the processing of the trauma that is needed for recovery and works only temporarily. The ultimate goal is acceptance.
There may be “stuck points”, conflicting beliefs or strong negative beliefs that create additional unpleasant emotions and unhealthy behavior. For example, a prior belief may have been “ I am able to protect myself in dangerous situations.” But after being harmed during military service, a conflicting belief surfaces, “I was harmed during service, and I am to blame.” If one is ‘stuck’ here, it may take some time until one is able to get feelings out about the trauma, because one is processing a number of rationales. “I deserved it because…” , or “I misinterpreted what happened, I acted inappropriately, I must be crazy…” The goal is to change the prior belief to one that does not hinder acceptance. For example, “I may not be able to protect myself in all situations.”
(chapter continues with recovery methods)
I want to write a poem.
No, like I really really really wanna write a poem.
Problem, stick it to me.
Poems have to be good.
Okay, so a poem doesn't have to be good
However, the point of the art is to have someone read
Those flippy little words that you pulled out
Of some intangible existence and pasted on
So you don't always put it online but,
Other people are "supposed" to read it.
To enjoy it, give you a pat on the back,
Maybe an "I see what you did there".
So poems are supposed to be presentable.
You've got to pay in sweat and ink but,
At least the words themselves are free.
What if I don't wanna have to make a "good" poem?
Okay so I really do want a pat on the back but
Sometimes I really like pasting things from
Fancy words right? Let me pat my own back.
Sometimes I just like putting my emotions on paper
While sounding like I read
More dictionaries than Webster.
Ha, ha, sigh.
There's a problem with having to be inspired to write shit down.
Do you think someone pays Taylor Swift's boyfriends
To break up with her
So she can write the
Next big hit?
I wouldn't doubt it.
My guardian angel should make the people around me
Say weird stuff such that I can write about
Walking on waves of shattered glass
Singing of birds in circled flight.
Maybe I'd be better off being hit by a car.
That'd be some pretty touching poetry.
Some people write happy poetry too,
I don't know how they do it.
Sorry but, my world isn't flowers and butterflies
Enough to warrant discussion of
Staying in the fairy meadow of light.
Sorry, I'm just jealous.
Maybe I just like writing stuff down?
What if I just don't want to be forgotten?
Leaving a legacy in my words more indellible
Than a pat on the back.
I just don't want to forget.
Brain, why don't you get it?
I'm sitting here getting all intimate with an idea and
The next morning Brain's got no clue what their name is.
Like really, even if we invite a friend over and get creative with
Our tongues and mouths,
Brain doesn't remember the moments shared between us.
Paper doesn't think very well but it's got a decent memory bank.
So I save up for a brand new poem.
I thought words were free.
Can you feel it when you synch up.
The words just come easy and things just make sense
Flow. Yeah it could be flow. Write this stuff for awhile and you may might just know.
Glide. Yeah a word coaster ride. Man just. Go up slow. And the whoop di doo comes rushing up at you almost like a high.
Stride. Sometimes I can do a forty or a 400 sprint. Then I just drop in to the runners high. Can't stop won't. Stop. Won't even try.
Gotta pull back and stop now. Or it's going to be shuffle and glide
Till I drop now.
Man is it me or am I really flying.
You the reader look up and see if you see me.
Passing slow overhead turning and burning.
Out of body.
dim car, orange shadows
the radio is fuzzy but we
still sing the words, and the
telephone wires are licorice
strings against the moon.
the 7-eleven is a lime in the
distance, a buzzing machine
over aisles of bugles and salted
pretzels basking beneath the
heated lamps. Occasionally
I can feel a road-trip in my
bones filled with endless
nights of my bare feet
on the cool dashboard
curling against the
pane, steady breath
steady breath, and
at least someone
There's a small vice on my heart
that you turned incrementally since the day we kissed
Always there was space to manoeuvre
a gap to shift around in and say, 'That's better'
to comfortably fool myself that I was not caught.
But now, my dear....
Now the grip leaves me gasping
and that metal feels cold
and I cannot ignore it.
The trouble is
I kissed your elegant, beautiful face
and I guided your hand to that vice in my chest
and enveloped your fingers with mine
We turned those keys together.
I was so enamoured
and I wanted your love.
I told myself I could get out at any time.
Too late, my love
It was always too late
For we're kindred souls across lifestyles
and my body knows yours like the taste of my tears.
I resign myself, then, to bleeding.
I resign thee to Fate and what she may decide
knowing only that never shall I be your jailor.
I refuse to allow
that wild tempest soul to be anything but free.
I am happy to be caught.
Though I writhe with this pain
and slumber eludes me in my misery.
For one thing I have realised
is the depth of my cowardice.
Although yours came out as tenored and trembling
you still had the bravery to speak the words emblazoned on your heart
the ones that threatened to fall from your lips
as my head lay perfectly in situ against your collarbone
and my heartbeat and breathing lined up with yours
in our quiet symbiosis at 3 a.m.
I danced around the words
flitted lightly, noncommittal
and said 'I think I'm falling in love with you',
which was a lie.
You are far braver than I
and to this day I've run
but you deserve far greater than that which I have meted out to you.
You deserve honesty.
You deserve the breadth and depth of what my heart aches to tell you
though I am frightened beyond words that the vice can go no tighter.
I love you.
These words fumble out of my mouth
like building blocks of a clumsy child.
They are innocent, unaware;
puerile, if I dare.
But frivolous as they seem,
they have been uprooted from the
dusty corners of my heart.
They are defenseless and exposed.
I cup my hands in a poor attempt to
collect these impulsions that stream
from my lips.
Too late, they delved themselves into you
like daggers from my hands;
and for that, I am sorry.
I aim with good intentions, these weapons at the tip of my tongue.
sometimes i think
the words left unsaid
are more powerful.
kind of like the time when
sadness seemed to
leak from our bones
and we both knew
it was an unspoken
"i'll miss you"
Since that day of tear wretched relief
fueled by simple words of release
My mind has been in a fog of self pity.
Pity flamed by the media and doubts hovering so near
That finally broke the surface of my outward self confidence.
Could I be loved again?
Did I deserve love again?
Do I want love again?
Who could love someone else's trash?
Who would want this used and abused body and mind?
The days and weeks and months flew and dragged
In ceaseless toil and endless motion
Despite my frequent protests
My frequent denials
My frequent mournings.
When do these burning doubts extinguish?
When will my mind stop this downward spiral through the rabbit hole?
When will the me I use to know be exhumed?