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Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
Janie pushes the metal book cart back into its parking space in the Document Delivery Department of the St. Louis Public Library and hangs the last sticky note for October 30, 2012 on the wall by the head of the department’s closed door. She retightens her brown scarf under her chin, tucking the wispy hairs above her ears back into hiding. Having your hair begin to prematurely gray as a teenager has dramatic effects on a person. Her mother wore scarves around her wrists when Janie was growing up and when Janie begin to wear scarves to conceal her salt-and-pepper hair, her mother just smiled. The clock hanging on the wall above the children’s section reads 11:28pm.
Two more minutes.
She reorganized the pens and books on her desk and set the box reading NOTES onto the right corner or her desk with three blue pens and a stack of note cards. Her coworkers learned fast that Janie does not like to talk. She does not like eye contact. She loves the silence, and never ever to ask her about her hair. Her manager gave her the NOTES box after about a month of horrible miscommunication and everyday it fills with requests for books or tasks that Janie has to complete. She completes the tasks one by one, alone, in her back office in the Reference Department and hangs the completed sticky notes on the wall by her manager’s door. She works the night shift and locks the library up every night. When she’s alone she can talk out loud to herself and those are the only voices she cares to hear.
“Goodnight, books. Good night, rooms.” Janie shut the heavy wooden door to the library, placed the color-coded keys in the front right pocket of her jacket, and began her walk to the bus stop one corner away. She avoids the main road, taking her first right onto a side street that she knows would spit her out right beside the bus stop.
“Goodnight Taco Bell Sign. Goodnight Rite-Aide. Goodnight Westside Apartments. Goodnight Jack-o-Lantern smile.” She stopped in the middle of the alley and peered up at the Jack-o-Lantern grinning down at her from the third story window above. “Mother wouldn’t’ve liked your smirk, Jack. She would’ve slapped that **** right off your face.” Janie, satisfied the pumpkin was put in its rightful place, smiled as she trotted on.
“Mother carved smiles into her arms and that’s why Daddy left, it is, it is.” She kicked at a crushed Mountain Dew can as she remembered that night from years ago.

“Mommy?” Janie pushed opened the door to her mother’s bedroom and saw the moving-boxes torn open and all their contents scattered across the floor. She tiptoed through piles of scarves and silverware and corkscrews until she reached the bathroom in her mom’s room.
“Come to us like rain, oh lord, come and stay and sting a while more, oh lord…” her mother’s voice was slipping off the tiled bathroom walls. Janie pushed open the door and saw the blood for the first time pouring from her mother’s wrist. Her mother was naked and perched on the bathroom sink, singing to a red razor blade.
“Mommy?”
“GET OUT!” Her mother jumped from the counter and perched on all fours on the floor. She began to growl and speak in a voice too deep to be coming from her own throat.
“Mommy! It’s Janie!” She began to cry as her mother, still naked and bleeding, twisted and writhed onto her back and began to crawl towards the door that Janie hid behind.


“Thirty-Three percent, dear. Just a thirty-three percent chance.” She shivered trying to clear the last memory of her mother with the words that all the shrinks had echoed to her over the years. “Schizophrenia is directly related to genetics, little is known about the type of Schizophrenia mother was diagnosed with except that it is definitely passed on genetically. But, there is only a thirty-three percent chance you could have it, dear. Thirty-three percent.” The sound of the bus stop ahead reminds her it is time to be silent again.
“Disorganized Schizophrenia.” She mouthed to herself as she stepped back out onto the busy street from her alleyway. She tightened her scarf and saw the bus pull into the pickup spot. She walked forward to the bus, again immersed in her self-imposed silence.
Stepping out of the February cold, Janie removes her wool scarf as the bus doors close behind her.
“Where to baby?” The driver smiles a sticky smile. Her nametag reads, “Shannon” and has a decaying Hello-Kitty sticker in the bottom left corner.
“The Clinton Street drop.” She hands the driver her $2.50 fare and avoids the woman’s questioning eyes. The night drivers are always more talkative, curious.
“Your ticket hon.” She tears Janie a ticket stub. “Everything is pretty dead this late, I’ll have you there in ten minutes top.”
Janie begins to shuffle towards the seats, ignoring the woman.
“You mind if I crank up the music?” The bus driver asks, purple fingernails scratching in her thick blonde hair. “I need to keep my eyes open and blood flowing and music is my fire of choice you know?”
“Sure.” Janie shrugs her bag onto her shoulder and walks on before the woman can say anything else.
“Route E-2, homebound.” Shannon’s voice crackles over the loudspeaker.
She shuffles down the bus towards her usual seat; second from the back right side.  Shannon starts the bus rolling before she reaches her seat and Janie can hear her singing along to “Summertime” by Janis Joplin. The bus floor, today, is sticky because of the morning rain. Two years of riding public transportation has taught Janie that staring at the floor as she walks to her seat is better than the risk of making eye contact. The bus is usually empty this late but if there ever happens to be anyone else on, it’s better not to converse. Safer that way.
She plops into her seat filling the indention that ghosts of past passengers left. The seat is still warm and Janie squirms around until the stranger heat is forgotten. She tightens her scarf and sighs. The brown pleather seatback in front of her is peeling towards the top. Janie leans forward and idly picks at the scab-like dangles of brown as she watches the sodden city canvas roll past her out the foggy window. As she picks, the hole grows. She twists and digs her unpainted nails into the seat until her hands feel wet, warm. Looking down, they are covered in blood and mud.
“What. The. Actual. ****.” she whispers, wiping her hands on her pants leg. She cautiously picks off another piece of pleather and a trickle of deep red begins to run from the seat back, clumps of mud now falling onto her knees. A puddle of blood and mire splatter down her legs and pool around her feet as she picks at the seat. Her white tights are definitely beyond saving now, so she digs faster until her thumbnail catches on something, bends back, and cracks. She gasps and withdraws her shaking hand, watching her own blood mix with the clotting muck in the seat, half of her thumbnail completely stripped off.
Looking around, all else seems normal. The driver is now muttering along to some banter by Kanye West, completely unaware of Janie’s predicament. She closes her eyes.
This is a dream, this is a dream, wake the **** up.
She opens her eyes to see the pool of filth around her feet trickling towards the front of the bus. Panic sets in with a whisper, They’re going to think it was you, your fault, you’ll be thrown in jail.
“But I didn’t do this.” She lashes out to herself. “I didn’t hurt anyone.”
Next stop, E-2. Shannon blares on the intercom.
“It’s just a dream, get your **** together, Janie.” She laughs at herself, manic.
Prove it! Her subconscious screams.
Convinced to end this moment she has to continue; Janie plunges her hand into the pleather grave one more time. Frantic and confused she laughs as she digs, spittle of muck splashing on her bus window.
Faster, faster, faster.
Deeper, deeper, deeper.
Realer, realer, real.
Wake up, now!
Then, as the bus slows, one last chuck of mud splatters to the floor and Janie sees a pink piece of her thumbnail stabbed into the white of a bone in the bottom of the seatback pit. Her white Ked’s were becoming so red they were almost black. She pulls her knees up to her chest and begins to rock back and forth. Clenching shut her eyes she begins to hum. Janie’s sweet soprano harmonizes with the buses deep droning purr, their wet melody interweaving with the driver’s alto and Lil Wayne’s screech made her feel dizzy as the bus turned right.
She take my money when I'm in need
Yeah she's a trifling friend indeed
Oh she's a gold digger way over town
That dig's on me
The bus slows to a stop and the bass is shaking. Janie is cold. She slowly peeks out of her right eye, expecting to be instantly immersed into the same dismal scene. The seatback is whole again. Releasing her knees, her feet fall back to the floor and her shaking fingers stroke the solid pleather.

“Ma’am? We’re at the Clinton Drop.”
Janie hurriedly picks up her bag and flees down the aisle to the bus doors.
“Everything alright, dear?” The bus driver asks, smiling.
“Fine, just fine.”
“You be safe out there tonight. The night is dark and only ghouls stroll the streets this late.”  Shannon laughed as Janie’s jaw dropped. “Happy Halloween, dear. It’s midnight, today is October 31st.”
The bus doors opened and a cold wind ****** the warm bot-air surrounding Janie into the streets. She begrudgingly followed, her mind spinning as she stepped onto the pavement. The doors slammed behind her and she turned to see Shannon pull out a tube of lipstick and smear it, red, across her cracked lips. Shannon made a duck-face in the mirror and reached down to crank up the music as loud as it would go. The bus exhaled and rolled forward, leaving Janie behind as it splashed through the potholes.
She surveys the surrounding midnight gloom and the street is quiet and dark. Even the stars are hidden behind swirling clouds. She begins to hum, hands in her pocket, and shuffle towards her apartment.
“Goodnight, stars. Goodnight, street.”
As she approaches her single-bedroom apartment, digging through her coat pocket for her keys, her thumb pulsates. She grasps the keys and pulls them out as she steps up to the apartment. Sticking the cold, silver key in the lock she looks down at her thumb and in the shadows of the porch sees half of the nail completely missing. She laughs as she pushes the door open to her bare apartment, light flooding out. Without any hesitation she closes the door behind her, sheds her clothes, and slips onto the mattress in the corner of the room gripping her thumb tight. She reaches out for the glass of milk on the floor beside her bed from the morning and it’s still cold. Nursing the milk, surrounded by blankets and solitude, she reminds herself,  “Only a thirty-three percent chance. A nice, small, round number. Small.”  
She sets down the empty glass and curls into the fetal position under the heavy blankets, pointer finger tracing circles on her thumb. Only when she has heated her blanket cocoon enough to feel safe does she remove her scarf and allow her thick white hair to fall around her face.
“Goodnight, room. Goodnight, mother,”
jimmy tee Feb 2013
revolutionaries under skull scarves
armed with  consistent ideals
held between their teeth
just add water and stir
tear it all down please
except for the jokes
best news available
forgiveness is free
but smiles extract a high cost
chrome replaced by plastic
well of course the effort is there
some poor decision making
is in the forecast
but that remains the best way
to extract revenge from fate itself
the ancients forged great argument
around purpose and substance
they would invent dialogue
to present their thoughts
on basic reality
I cannot get over the gap in context
samasati  Nov 2012
I believe
samasati Nov 2012
I believe in smiling at strangers. I believe in saying hello. I believe in shyness. I believe in fear of rejection. I believe in the need of affection. I believe in the need of reminders. I believe in candles, especially those that smell of vanilla or christmas. I believe in wearing small crystals around my neck. I believe in energetic vibrations. I believe in colours - I think each person has their own colour. I believe every feeling is valid. I believe in chapstick and I believe in mascara that doesn’t clump. I believe in nail polish - every colour of nail polish. I believe that the only reason we lie is because we fear something. I believe in poetry. I believe in bluntness. I believe in the intention behind words, but I don’t necessarily believe in words. I believe in travel. I believe in travelling solo. In fact, I believe in travelling so much that it is pretty much all I want to do. I believe in music. Boy, do I believe in music. I believe any kind of musical composition can change a person. I believe music can cure depression. I also believe music can feed depression. I believe a melody can say more than lyrics and I believe that lyrics can be what someone couldn’t put together themselves to explain exactly how they are feeling. I believe anyone can create a song, even though they believe they cannot. I believe a single note can sound like the most beautiful sound in the world. I believe if someone records a song when they’re in an ugly mood, the ugliness emits to its listeners and can drain them. I believe in art. Of course I do. I believe in acrylic paint. I believe in oil paint and watercolours, but not as much as I believe in acrylic. I believe in fingerprinting. I even believe in painting with your toes. And I believe in dancing; even if it looks weird. I believe in flailing your arms even, as long as it feels good and right. I believe in dancing ‘til you sweat, though I don’t like that icky feeling too much. I believe that a babe can be a very ugly person and a physically unattractive person can be a very beautiful person. I believe that people who smile are beautiful. I believe that people who frown are beautiful too, just in a different way. I believe that there are sincere smiles and there are manipulative smiles. I believe that some people just know how to use their eyes well. I believe in eye contact. I believe in engaging. I believe in listening and dropping everything else that is going on in your mind just to listen to what a person is trying to share with you. I believe in sharing - sharing cookies and sharing love. I believe in the frosty cold. I believe that it doesn’t have to feel as cold as it really is. I believe that people complain a lot. I believe that people often have too much pride to be happy. I believe that we should embrace our discomforts and shames, that we should welcome them wholeheartedly so that we can be happy. I believe in honesty. I believe in empathy. I believe in tea. I believe in jelly donuts but only on certain occasions. I believe in quirky bow ties. I believe in knit toques and mittens and scarves. I believe in dresses. I believe in flirting. I believe in coffee in the morning. I believe in big comfy beds. I believe in walking around your empty house in your underwear or birthday suit, singing loudly. I believe in singing in the shower. I believe in singing on the street. I believe in stage fright. I believe in meditation, though I don’t really strictly set times to do it anymore. I believe mundane activities can be done in a meditative state of mind. I believe in clarity. I believe in not judging people because everyone is human. I believe every human has something very interesting about them. I believe in boring people too. I believe in christmas music - not the radio kind, the choral kind. I believe in cheap sweet wine. I believe in Billy Joel and I believe in The Beatles. I believe in Regina and Sufjan too. I believe that the ukulele is a very overrated instrument. I believe in having healthy hair. I believe in moisturizer. I believe in getting to pick a coloured toothbrush at the dentist. I believe in thick wool socks. I believe in baggy sweaters. I believe in yoga gear but I do not believe in sweatpants. I believe that yoga is one of the healthiest things for a person - ever. I believe in buying a friend drinks or dinner once in awhile. I believe in collecting shoes and scarves and rings. I believe in chords but I don’t really believe in jeans. I believe in hot chocolate with whip cream but not with marshmallows. I believe in dorky Christmas sweaters. I believe in baking cookies instead of cake. I believe in eating disorders - I do not support them, but I do believe they are much more severe and various than most people think and I believe there should be better/proper help for those who suffer instead of the usual cruel inpatient/outpatient care. I believe in trichotillomania and I believe in dermatillomania and the severity and impact it can have on its sufferers. I believe in gardens. I believe in every single flower. I believe that everyone is always doing their best. I believe that most people love to struggle. I believe in hope. I believe in having faith in yourself. I believe in iPod playlists. I believe in gym memberships in the winter, not the summer unless it’s to swim. I believe in matching underwear every day. I believe in Value Village. I believe in singing in bus shelters when you’re waiting for the bus. I believe in dressing up according to holidays. I believe in Grey’s Anatomy and I believe in Community. I believe in skirts and dresses that twirl like the ‘ol days. I believe in longboards more than skateboards. I believe in plaid like most young people do. I believe in bows in my hair, but not as much as I used to. I believe in foot massages and hand massages. I believe in reflexology and reiki and essential oils and chakras and crystals and holistic nutrition. I believe in anxiety; even crippling anxiety. I believe in awkward romances. I do not believe in flip flops. I do not believe in Beatles covers unless they are really insanely good; then my mind is blown. I believe in having long enough nails to scratch someone’s back appropriately. I also believe in biting nails. I do not believe in telephone calls unless I am extremely comfortable with the person. I believe in blogs. I believe in journals. I believe in naming special inanimate objects like journals, instruments, technology and furniture. I believe in the idea of cats more than I believe in cats. I believe in sharpies or thin pointed permanent markers. I believe in temporary tattoos. I believe in streaming movies online. I believe in royal gala apples. I believe in avocados. I believe in rice cakes. I believe in popcorn. I believe in airports but I hate the LA airport. I believe in openly talking about *** but I don’t believe in making it seem shameful and gross. I believe there should be no shame regarding sexuality. I believe in reading some great books more than once. I believe in laying on the couch under cozy blankets, watching a great suspenseful tv show or movie. I only believe in having a couple bites of cheesecake. I don’t really believe in lulu lemon. I don’t believe many people can pull off the colour yellow. I believe in buttons over zippers even though zippers are easier, they just look kind of dumb and cheap. I believe in the sun and the moon equally. I believe in closets over dressers. I believe in staring out the window for a good hour or so.
Forty Days

A Season of Grief, a Season of Rejoicing

November 9-December 20, 2014

For Barbara Beach Alter 
It is Christmas morning in Saco, Maine, where today Bett, Aaron, Emily, Thomasin and our beloved cousin Marie find ourselves gathered to celebrate our first Christmas without dadima (our name for Barbara Beach Alter).  Brother Tom writes that already in India he and Carol with Jamie, Meha and Cayden (the only of her seven greatgrandchildren Barry never held) have celebrated.  Today Marty and Lincoln join us in Maine.

This gathering of documents—notes, drafts of memorial services, poems, homilies—is my christmas present to each of you.  It is a record, certainly subjective, of grief and rejoicing.

John Copley Alter
1:14 a.m.
Saco, Maine 
November 9

Loved ones,
Barbara Beach Alter died peacefully at 2:55 Sunday morning (today).  Bett and I had the good fortune to be there for the final beating of her good strong heart.  She murmured charcoal.  The nurse who was bathing her afterwards noted how few wrinkles there were, and it is true.
For those of you nearby you may if you want visit Mom in her room at hospice this morning (until noon).  Visit? Darshan? Paying respects?
Bett and I plan to be there around 11:00.
Much love to all. A blessed occasion.
John


November 10

Matthew 5:13-19
Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

yesterday in the early hours my mother died her saltiness
restored all that had through the months of her old
age and convalescence obscured the lens of her life cleaned
away so that for us now more and more clearly
as we hear about her through the memory and love
of so many people her good works shine forth in
their glory but it is to the days of her
convalescence the days of her dementia I would turn our
minds those of us who spent time with her at
Wingate long-term care facility remember that Barbara Beach Alter became
at times fierce in her commanding us that ‘not one
letter, not one stroke of a letter’ of the commandments
should be altered do you remember that those of you
and us who were given the work and gift of
spending time with Barry in those days in that condition

remember for instance how fussy she became about the sequence
of food on her tray how impatient with us for
our trespasses and violations how adamant that we look forward
for instance and not back at her how she would
say stop holding my hand and saying you love me
you have work to do o she was almost impossible
and certainly incoherent and demented in her obsession with law
and procedure fussy impatient imperious I do not forget being
scolded reamed out put in my place for having somehow
failed to do what the ‘law and the prophets’ demand

Barbara beach alter in the days before hospice in the
nursing home and hospital and even if we are honest
in the final years of her life found herself caught
up in the rigidity of her anxious desire to be
faithful to the laws and commandments of her life and
that made her at times extremely demanding to be with

amen and the epistemological confusion of course the clash between
her reality and ours it was all an ordeal for
her and for those of us who kept her company

and yet and yet through it all and now as
that ordeal for her is no longer paramount as she
dances in heaven all the wrinkles and discomfort of her
life removed and forgiven Barbara Beach Alter kept the faith
living in the midst such that those who cared for
her most intimately the strangers all professed your mother blessed
us


Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.



So, brother and sister, here are my thoughts about the memorial service(s).
Let’s find a time when we three can be present; that’s the most important thing.  My life is currently the least constrained by agenda and schedule.  And then the grandchildren, recognizing that Jamie may not be able to come.  So, our work is to find our when our kids are able to come. Bett and I are exploring that with our three, each of whom has some constraint: Emily, the cost; Thomasin, the piebaking demands, Aaron school.  But we are flexible.

Much love.

John



Walking in my mother’s wake today some trees
a gentle breeze some dogs a little boy
the neighborhood and I took joy from interaction

we are at best a fraction in love’s
calculation after all heaven I realize is not
above or below cannot be taught comes naturally

as death does walking in my mother’s wake
I found new allies learned yet again not
to take myself too seriously to be caught

off guard as a matter of principle and
not to insist that I understand but live
in the midst of forgiveness


in my mother’s wake I am reading these books for
some way to continue to knock on her door Wendell
Berry he can tell me some things and William Blake
he can take me closer and I remember she described
me once as an unused Jewish liberal so I am
reading about protestant liberalism but ham that I am also
reading Carl Hiassen’s Bad Monkey and Quo Vadimus that my
daughter left behind and mythologically Reflections from yale divinity school
no fooling Denise Levertov David Sobel Galway Kinnell’s translation of
Rilke some wake

November 11

Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus said, "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

this morning in the wee hours my mother died one
of the wise bridesmaids whose lamp to the end was
full she carried always the flask of oil that is
joy that is the love of the kingdom of heaven
and of the bridegroom a flask always replenished by prayer
by devotion by a humble courageous living in the midst

she expected every day the bridegroom to come in other
words and she was also one who would never refuse
to share even the last drop with somebody in need

and at the end it is so clear the door
into the banquet hall was not closed to her as
it is not closed to any one of us foolishness
is to believe otherwise to believe that the bridegroom will
not come today in the early morning in the wee
hours that is when he comes in the midst of
other plans is when he comes even when we are
doing what we assume to be good work when we
are doing what gives us pleasure our duty joy comes
then unsummoned unpredictable random even according to all our best
laid plans my mother loved so many things her pleasure
included dancing late in her life terminally unsteady she invented
what we loved to urge her to do namely the
sitting jig and we grew up with images of her
Isadora Duncan dancing with white scarves in an enchanted forest

Barbara Beach Alter aka Barry aka dadima bari nani aunt
and daughter wife missionary is now I know dancing a
rollicking boisterous jig on the shores of a lake that
is as her grandson once confided to her god in
liquid form spilly Beach of course also dyslexic executive function
compromised she was but one who loved to be always
in the midst surrounded by loved ones some of them
absolute strangers she shared her oil because for her it
came welling up from an inexhaustible source a deep eternal
well of such illumination and laughter such giddy divine chuckles

for her there was to be no exclusion she would
not find the awful idea of being one of the
foolish applicable to anybody but happily she welcomed into her
midst so many it is hard to imagine how many

so there she is now a bridesmaid dancing for joy
in such elegant clothing with such perpetual brightness

amen hallelujah rejoice


sometimes I think she pulled us all out of the
magic hat sometimes I think she knit us all into
one of her theologically impossible sweaters and then with a
wink she passes through the eye of the needle and
is gone and we are left to play in her
honor endless hands of solitaire sometimes I think we are
no more than the hermeneutics of her life the epistemology
artless she was not her heart like one of those
magical meals for her then a doxology praise then praise
she knows salvation

what is a life’s work it is like a landscape
dotted with oases and gardens for the thirsty and the
lost it is like scraping through dry barren ground and
finding there suddenly not only the theology of paradise but
such seeds your hands ache to begin the planting what
is a life’s work what has been shut for too
long opens what has been shut for too long opens

a life’s work renews itself then with death the kernel
of hope that dies in springtime sprouting is what a
life’s work becomes

November 12

John 21:15-17
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

I know my mother very much enjoyed having breakfast with
god and that the meals of her nursing home drove
her nearly crazy and that when at last she found
hospice o she again could imagine the feast of heaven
at which Jesus breaks bread with us and speaks with
such clarity do you love me more than these I
know it was questions as simple and overwhelming as this
that dominated her final days do you love me love
being  one of the last five words she attempted to
speak do you love me she wrestled in her last
months with epistemology and psychology and theology and all had
to do with whether she could answer unequivocally you know
that I love you and that she could say of
her life that she had broken bread with god we
all remember in her life those moments when there was
a great gladness an innocent acceptance of what lay immediately
in her presence now those months in the nursing home
tormented her in precisely this fashion that it was hard
to accept to be in the midst of such mediocrity
and woe to be innocent and accepting but now praise
god there she is a happy guest at the great
feast and we left behind bereft can acknowledge that she
loved god in her own fashion as best she possibly
could and do you remember being with her there in
hospital or nursing home and she commanding us to move
beyond holding her hand and saying we loved her and
to feed the sheep to do that work which will
make of this earth this here and now an outstation
of heaven Barbara Beach Alter loved god in her own
fashion as best she possibly could we remember that and
that memory is today like a great network a web
of love and inspiration o we would gladly one more
time hold her hand and say I love you but
we know also clearly I think today what the work
is to love our neighbor as ourselves to work for
peace and justice I think of my sister with her
colleagues in WEIGO and how her sisters have understood her
grief  let us break our fast together then glad for
the worldwide web that in these days is reading the
gospel of the life of Barbara Beach Alter praise god


feed
tend
feed
in exchange for his three denials Peter is given three imperative verbs
feed
tend
feed
this is the commission Jesus after breakfast on the shore of the sea of Galilee gives to Peter
twice he says feed
in the commonwealth of Massachusetts 700,000 people are hungry
1 in 6 americans are hungry
living in uncertainty about their daily bread
more than 18,000,000 in Africa
842,000,000 around the world go to bed hungry


Marty and Tom
The thinking about the memorial service is taking this slow and cautious turn, namely that we have three services (at least), one in Sudbury, one in New Haven (allowing Stan and Chuck and others to come) at First Presbyterian (with Blair Moffett we hope), and of course one in India.
The date frame appears to be somewhere between December 17 and 20, unless you have other thoughts.
The actual cremation happens tomorrow.  Lincoln, Bett, Alexis and I will attend, and then of course there is In the Midst on Friday.
Love you more than tongue can tell.
John


the thing with a life well lived is that many
people have partaken the way let’s say a river moves
down through any number of different lives all the time
sedulously seeking the shortest path to the sea to steal
a line from somebody or other meandering a watershed within
which so many of us find a way to live
our own lives nourished and for each of us the
river distinct and different white water the slow fertile meander
the delta and we say to each other this is
the composite river


sometimes I feel like a sleepwalker trying to run a
marathon sometimes I feel like a speedbump in a blizzard

an arrow in a wind tunnel sometimes I feel like

a hazard sign in an old age home sometimes I
feel like a tyrannosaurus rex trying to ride a tricycle

and sometimes those are the good days when identity is
strong like an icicle in a heat wave is strong

I try to read wisdom literature at happy hour scotch
and Solomon can’t go wrong I think and sometimes I

feel like crying

November 13

four days ago we were left alone there with your
body after your breathing ceased and the proud stubborn beating
of your heart and in those four days beloved mother
so much I would love to say to you and
share the antics of the squirrel late leaves on the
neighborhood trees music Orion the network the atlas of love
your life has left behind and all the words we
are the gospel of today and I would sit with
you there then in silence as I sit now four
days later vigilant insomniac aware that the kingdom of heaven
is not more complicated than singing than love than dancing

we are all dancing the dance lord siva teaches and
the s
nurul  Nov 2014
81750
nurul Nov 2014
She lived in that white mansion
Up up on the tar hill
All her life she was wrapped in it
Look closely to find her
Between Christmas trees and patio
Spinning under them wishing so hard
She was a fairy and prayed for a wing
Late evening, she creeped under
this tree she doesn't even know
the name of it
Molding foods out of sands
Driving in a plastic car with her feet
Accidentally her right foot was under the car tyre
But kept trying to drive past this root from this big tree
Crossing over drains so gracefully

She told me the good times
When people praised
That she could write her own name on a markerboard
Or when people said she was pretty
In scarves even though
She looked like hell
She told me it reminds her
Of Fleet Foxes 'White Winter Hymnal' lyrics
With scarves of red tied around their throats
To keep their little heads
From falling in the snow

Her scarves was all red too with ribbons pinned on it
That she regret losing it now

Right back when she could wear dresses
Without remarks from her mom
That it felt good when people don't talk
About her hair that is bad everyday
Chocolates were shared without even a thought that she did not want it
Turtles can be kept because there
Were still aquariums
But they went missing the next day
Just like her hamster named Michael
Also this cat she left at a fish market a few time
But got back home like there's a GPS, itinerary and atlas all in its head

When her dad had to work until daylight
She will have to sleep upstairs with mum
In that little space there are microphones of which
She sang songs that find ways until 3 lanes behind her house
She hated the smell of the sofas
She wasn't afraid of heights but
Everytime she looked outside the windows she just get the chills
At nights engines revving on roads
Passing by frightened her so much

Once a burglar got into the room
Where her aunt sleeps in
When dad was working she slept to the room next to her aunt
At 4:00 she heard a distant cry
Up to this day, she doesn't like
The holes on the bathroom walls
She said she could feel someone
Watching
And still there's this trail of size 7
On the white wall under the window
Images of a flower *** moved to the front door
To stop us from running away,
that *******

Now she is out of her own
Beautiful tragic cage
Now she can be found beside this road
Her last step out of the black gates was no tears
I can still feel the echoes from the pictures of her mansion
Like a phantom limb hanging
The air that surround the mansion now
Is straight out of hell
The fog like a poltergeist in her head
Making sounds and moving things
Oiling cogs in my head
And sow the longing deep underneath
To come back in summer and search for her red scarves
Suddenly I am reminded of where I came from.
Xander King Jan 2015
I was your crutches when your heart was breaking
I was your scarf and gloves to keep you warm in the winter.
But when the sun came
You didn't need me.
When your heart healed,
You tossed aside your crutches
And I waited for the cold to come
Leaving your heart broken
begging for warmth and support.
samasati Oct 2013
big sweaters, ghibli, acrylic paint, cafes, knit blankets and unplanned afternoon naps on the couch, gardens, bananas, vanilla almond milk, soft yarn to crochet into ****** scarves, candles after midnight, the big trees with bulky roots, patio furniture, pianos in random buildings, the internet, manatees, the boundless colours of nail polish, peanut butter & honey, rubber boots, pens that write well, fresh new notebooks, skylights, american netflix, mothers that understand, tête à têtes, one glass of sweet white wine, awkward eye contact that turns into comfortable kissing, airplanes, fresh air, baseball caps, the female collective, the really good dark chocolate, flowers, pumpkin spice lattes and ***** chai lattes, candid laughter, yoga, oceans, high waisted shorts, striped t-shirts, docile cats, playful pups, french presses, integrity, sunscreen, meerkats, penguins, chameleons, autumn leaves, fall fashion, ruby woo mac lipstick, osho, dynamic meditation, compassion, siblings, scrambled eggs, smart phones, garageband, metronomes, hot glue guns, quinoa, ferry boats, soft hands, bicycles, real people, fat snowflakes in ample, graceful *******, backpacks that don't hurt your shoulders, hair conditioner, multi-vitamins, soft sand under bare feet, people that own up to lies, clarity, samsara, satori, samasati, visions, echinacea, lavender oil and frankincense, ambrosia apples and ripe avocados, authenticity, Morgan Freeman's voice, good kissers, *******, iced tea on a hot day, curtains, the smell of beeswax, art galleries, hand massages and foot massages, reiki, plums, mild thunderstorms, soccer *****, good surprises, when birds don't **** on your head.
I wrote this with my momma one fine morning!
there is always so much more to add.
Corey Apr 2016
Minutes after - complete despair,shaking body and lack of functionality, decision making at its worst
The morning after - headache, weak muscles, and no tears left to shed after last night
Day 2 - more tears brought when telling people the news
Day 5 - regret, anxiety, and wondering if I've made the right choice
Day 10 - loneliness, after talking to someone day after day to no one
Day 15 - first contact and I've found out you moved on
Day 20 - “I have needs” ****** ones that you only just recently discovered with me?
Day 25- regret, and confiding in people I shouldn't be talking to
Day 35 - wanting to confide in you again, but giving you space
Day 40 - flirtatious with others
Day 50 - love at first sight, falling in love with nearly every attractive woman I see
Day 60 - it makes me smile when you think I am tweeting about you, don't try and start ****
Day 80 - regret and depression, worse depression than directly after the breakup

Day 100 - talking to others is tough, finding that I am quickly wanting to fall in love with them and leading them on. The sorrow aches at night, but is forgotten in the daylight
Day 110 - I cut ties with the people I've wrongly confided in, I am alone again
Day 125 - insecurity as I feel I should go out on dates as friends have told me to
Day 150 - skipping school, poor attitude, and hard hitting sarcasm
Day 175 - you are on your third or fourth new “boyfriend.” I've lost count

Day 200 - the connection with my friends are becoming weaker and weaker. My will to do anything is diminishing. My life is crumbling
Day 220 - I feel both distain and joy of your love life since we broke up. You can't seem to keep anyone around you
Day 240 - trying to rebuild my self esteem and a bond with my closest friends
Day 260 - once again confiding in the wrong people and leading others on
Day 270 - found my anthem, my song that will get me through this pain and will show me that I won't be tortured by this anymore, not today

Day 300 - slowly rebuilding my life, each day reminding myself that this too shall pass
Day 330 - the thought of you is one of distain and regret
Day 365 - a whole year, and still the nights torture me with regret, sorrow, and loneliness. I have only a song to get me through and it is becoming not enough.
Day 380 - happy birthday wishes were not sent
Day 390 - the cold nights make me miss you more than I should. December is a hard time for a break up

Day 400 - I thought I'd found love but it was too selfish and not selfless
Day 420 - feeling good, my friends are close and scarves are wrapped tightly around my neck for warmth
Day 430 - I finally feel free
Day 440 - my freedom has been revoked as the mind torments my soul with unrequited love for another
Day 460 - Most of my time is spent without you anywhere on my mind. I seem to have virtually forgotten you until I am reminded. Though when I am reminded, it is a flood.
Day 480 - the thought of you is one of nostalgia

Day 500 - today someone I went to high school with asked me if I was still dating 'that girl'. I said no, and they asked what her name was, as they seem to have forgotten.
I say, “Allison…..”
Silence for about fifteen seconds
They ask, “which one?”
“I… I'm… Drawing a blank,” stunned, I say, “I can't believe I can't think of her last name!”
When it finally comes to me, I feel embarrassed. I quickly end the conversation and leave.
I get in my car and then I realize what just happened.

Me forgetting her name, that was me getting over her. That was me finally being okay with my decision. Finally being secure with myself, and finally moving on.

Day 530 - even today, writing this I feel nothing more than nostalgia for our time together. It was wonderful but ended poorly, unfortunately.
I have no intentions of contacting you, and apparently neither you to me. Though, I hope you are well.
This has been one month of true freedom, the longest since we broke up. So I wrote this to celebrate. I hope you see how much you meant to me, and realize both how little, you make it seem, you cared about me and how much pain this has caused me over the past 500 days.
I apologize for the length, though if you did stick through it I both commend and thank you. Stay strong.
Fame Flame Feb 16
Scars, that I’ve been hiding all my life
With scarves
Bruises, witness of what the truth is
Red eyes, brimming pearls of lost truces
Yelling, Blaming and banners of ‘Deserved it’
Never saw the alarm signs
They were not bold enough, like me
Always told that I’m fine, when I couldn’t even breathe
Maybe it’s been hash on me lately and
I don’t wanna make you too feel low
Maybe just pull me closer and never let me go
Cause the scars are now aching
And the bruises, deep blue
The pearls are now sold for ground breaking news
The yelling has me shaken; I stand with heart that’s broken
Too many times like my body
But you’re innocent, oddly.
Scarves, that have been hiding scars for long
I put them free
Cause I again, wanna feel like me.
This work was inspired by the constant headlines of ****** assaultment and abuse, regardless of gender. As a teeneger myself, all these thoughts take over me,as I take out my pen and paper and ponder the pain.
To all the fighters out there who've gone through immense and unimaginable extents of mental trauma, I give you this work of poetry. More power to you!
Terry O'Leary May 2013
AWAKENING

Sleep and slumber, dreams of wonder... weaving,
morning’s vacuum broke the spell
Pitted pillow, note of parting... leaving,
“from your friend, a fond farewell”
Sunrise throbbing, twilight aching... grieving,
daydreams, flashbacks, nightmares knell
Pale phantasms, visions sneaking... thieving,
plot to fill the empty shell

12 DELIRIA

1st Delirium: COLLAPSES

Fractured sky bolts, billows bursting... rumbling,
heavens tighten, turn the vise
Horsemen saddle shafts of lightning... tumbling,
jagged highways must suffice
Ruptured skyways, hailstones crackling... crumbling,
naked pearls of paradise
Toxic tongues of laughter stinging... stumbling,
ocean buckets choked with ice
Droplets drumming, thunder muzzled... mumbling,
washed out whispers pay the price
Smothered blazes, cinders smoking... humbling,
ashes shaped in sacrifice

2nd Delirium: DESCENTS

Asphalt alleys, ashen faces... frowning,
blowing bubbles, chewing gum
Drinking ale from tavern tankards... downing,
moonlit beads of painted ***
Stony stars and sea misshapen... drowning,
humble rivers’ rhythms hum
Apparitions aspirating... clowning,
diamonds dying , minstrels strum
Incandescent candles conquered... crowning,
vacant vapours, cold and numb

3rd Delirium: FATES

Tempest turmoil, tapered turrets... holding,
dungeons, dragons, chains and racks
Wheels of fortune, Tarot temptress... molding,
Hangmen, Towers, One Eyed Jacks
Sand dune castles, cryptic candles... folding,
warping walls of liquid wax
Idols colder, combed and coddled... scolding,
hide in fissures, peek through cracks

4th Delirium: LOST SOULS

Sunken cities, pilgrims peering... gawking,
squinting eyeballs, blazing sun
Janus facing, shepherds chasing... stalking,
friends embrace before they shun
Tearooms steaming, tumult teeming... talking,
lovers listen, poets pun
Broken stones unanchored, quaking... rocking,
slipping, falling, one by one
Beaten pathways, footsteps marking... mocking,
wedged in webs which spiders spun
Circus shelters, big tops tumbling... locking,
people pacing, soon they’re none
Numbered exits, zeros numbing... knocking,
midnight daylight’s days undone
Moon blood shackles, shivers shaming... shocking,
starlight striders streaking, stun
Hushed but harried hermits waiting... walking,
restless rainbows on the run
Pixies, elves, and echoes bouncing... balking,
fading fast when dawn’s begun
Bantum butterflies are flitting... flocking
sometimes conquered, overrun
Hocus pokus, seers focus... squawking,
voodoo wavered, witchcraft won

5th Delirium: INTROSPECTION

Sundown furnace, fires fading... coughing,
dusky dew drops drain the air
Empty chalice, sipped in silence... quaffing,
thirsting shadows unaware
Looking glass and lattice scorning... scoffing,
local loser gapes and stares
Faces covered, dancing naked... doffing,
peering inside, hope despairs

6th Delirium: THE VOID

Tales of taboos, mystic mythos... missing,
windows shuttered, bolted door
Kindled candles, tongues and anvils... hissing,
heavy hammers, echoes roar
Dark deceivers, raven charmers... kissing,
draging demons from the shore
Hopeless hollows filled with doubters... dissing
standing empty - nevermore

7th Delirium: SEARCHING

Martyred monks haunt runic ruins ... waiting,
banging broken bells below
Vaulted hallways, voided voices... grating,
churning Chinese chimes aglow
Granite graveyards, spectres spooking... skating,
blackened bushes, roses grow
****** dwarfs seek mutant migrants... mating,
packing parcels, ice and snow

8th Delirium: NIGHTTIME

Throbbing drumheads, fingers blazing... steaming,
coins of copper, beggars plea
Rusty residues of resin... streaming,
opal amber filigree
Orphan shades in shallow shadows... teeming,
steeping twigs in twilight tea
Cloister doorsteps, Prophets gaming... scheming,
tracing tracks of destiny
Blacksmiths blanching, horseshoes glowing... gleaming,
partially sheathed in black debris
Phantoms feigning, nightmares scathing... screaming,
dusty dreamers drifting free

9th Delerium: EMPTYNESS

Water wheels in wastelands... turning,
drowning relics in the slum
Rumpled rags of fashioned burlap... burning,
lit by bandits blind and dumb
Pastured prisons, ponies bridled ... yearning,
forest fairies under thumb
Sounds inside of cauldrons coughing... churning,
blaring bugles, tattooed drum

10th Delirium: ALIENATION

Rain unravelling, wistfully weeping... falling,
treacle trickling, fickle sky
Mushrooms sprinkled, visions sprouting... sprawling,
seagulls drowning, dolphins die
Rabble gasping, spirits broken... crawling,
lonely lonesome swallows cry
Babbling brooks and breakers ebbing... bawling
puppies paddle, puppets sigh
People passing ripple past me... calling,
rainbow colours, collars high
Chaos seething, lepers looting... stalling,
stealing stallions on the sly
Pencils pausing, scholars scrambling... scrawling,
scratching scribbles, asking why

11th Delirium: JETSAM

Silver sails sway pallid pirates... prowling,
Jolly Rogers, wind and sound
Parrots perching, tattered feathers... fouling,
tethered talons, tied and bound
Shipwrecked foghorns, trumpets stranded... howling,
spiral springs of time unwound
Magic moonlight, shimmers shaking... scowling,
burnt out matchsticks washed aground
Prairie wolfs, coyotes calling... yowling,
witching hours, midnight hounds
Tightrope walkers, grizzlies grunting... growling,
seeking islands, lost and found

12th Delirium: RELIEF

Slumber shattered, vapours captive... haunting,
chained in mirrors, breaking free
Scarlet skylines, daylight dawning... daunting,
rivers rushing to the sea
Silence softens, sandmen whisper... wanting,
piercing rafters, turning keys
Shadows shudder, notions fluster... flaunting,
moonbeam bullets meant for me
Mind in migraine, meadows trembling... taunting,
sparrows speak in harmony

REAWAKENING

Pitter patter, teardrops paling... pearling,
salting scarves in secret drawers
Mist amongst us, smoke rings rising... curling,
climbing from the ocean floors
See-saw circles, senses swerving... swirling,
swept away with silver oars
Courtyard jesters, sceptres twisting... twirling,
push the past to foreign shores
Passing pangs of passions heaving... hurling,
burning bridges, closing doors
Roses wither, icons waning... whirling,
time decays and time restores
b e mccomb  Nov 2016
scarves
b e mccomb Nov 2016
i guess mark and linda
drive a range rover now
because i saw them through
the windshield turning the corner

i'm choking in the
heat blasting from
the vents of the van
and sleeves of the past

i used to wear scarves
to infiltrate them
but then i found we
were still sharing shirts

(i'm keeping the scarves i
never wear so that someday
i can tie them all together and
hang myself from an upstairs beam
but if homocide were more
my style i'm unsure if it
would be more a matter of
revenge or personal tastes)


"you don't have any
reason to seek revenge
on your old church
or any other."

odd
that you no longer
want recompense
for the past

and odd
that one should
need recompense
from those of the cloth

i want to scream
that i need help
I NEED HELP NOW
but don't want to sound ridiculous

don't want to say that
i'm having nightmares
flashbacks
panic attacks

over something like
sunday mornings
sleeplessly reversing
to saturday nights

but on the other hand
i don't want to die of
whatever's keeping me
scared and awake

i just know that
the medication
isn't putting me to
sleep anymore.
Copyright 11/27/16 by B. E. McComb

— The End —