Pain and Peace

There is no room left within me,
No more space to stuff the tragedy
No more spots to hide the things that terrify me
Or nooks to store the words that now pour out of me
I’ve found myself not eating until I am ravenous
Not resting until I am out of it
Not slowing down until the only remedy is to remove myself
From every responsibility entirely
I promise you I am trying
To build up boundaries and categories
To transition from concern to… stability?
I can’t seem to do it,
I am on a constant rollercoaster of
Anxiety, turning the curve to anger
Rolling down into depression,
Sliding over to lethargy
Rolling up to passion and
Stalling out at overwhelm
And then I’ll free fall to joy
Because somehow it is still present
I just wish I could stay with it
A little longer
Before I return to the ride

It is the sound of my neighbor’s voice screaming at his partner
That she is worthless
It is the silent tears of a new client who
Has had everything taken from her because of a broken man
It is the dragging of trash bags on the linoleum floors of the shelter
Containing the last remnants of home that the child in front of me has
It is the midday calls with news of another hospital visit
The tightness in my chest at any thought of losing
Another person that I love, God I don’t want to lose any more people that I love
And it is the literal war
That is happening simultaneously
While I peel meat from chicken bones from Monday’s dinner
With shaky hands, bracing myself for the feeling of nausea that
Happens when you forget to eat all day
I prepare my late lunch
While millions of people are being displaced

Tell me how to believe that evil is not triumphant
When it seems that even in the best scenarios the sin of pride and greed
Is still able to run rampant
For every good that happens,
There are layers of indecency
I’ve grown so expectant of despair that
The sound of children playing at the park
In my neighborhood frightens me
As their youthful screams echo down the street of
Brick buildings,
I envision the worst,
And glue my feet to the ground in an effort
To keep my body from moving towards the noise

I am not always like this
I am not always like this
I know peace,
I am hopeful
I believe in real, unrelenting, rooted goodness
Yet in the same willing heart
I hold a deep knowing that
This is not alright, this is not all right
And in my reality of helplessness
My inability to stop these various wars
both within and around me
I breathe
It is only my breath
It is only our breath that we
have left
Inhale, listen to the sound of the city birds
Exhale, watch the branches of the trees sway in the wind
It is not that I can do nothing,
It is that I cannot do everything
It is not that I should look away
It is that I must keep my eyes open
both to the pain and to the peace


  1. cc says:

    very moving and vivid poem. your imagery makes the poem so relateable and i feel like i feel what you’re feeling. thank you very much for sharing


    1. Thank you for reading, and for your kind words.


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