Another Way

This is not working
I am not breathing, in and out like I should
I do not want to live here anymore
in this place where the most vulnerable are
repeatedly victimized
Where brokenness begets brokenness
where weapons are celebrated and defended
more than children
Where protocol or the lack of it
prevents change and assistance
I do not want to live here anymore
inside of this body that carries the weight of
tragedy like it was designed in the shape of a wheelbarrow
and my heart is the set of calloused hands that picks it up
fingernails scraping the dirt beneath it and I can feel every pain
Like the soil that gathers around my cuticles
the dysfunction is relentless
and everyone is telling me to breathe but they
Do not feel what my chest feels like
it is like a burning tightness,
it hurts to breathe in and when I exhale I feel
flooded with sorrow so instead I
hold my breath

Yesterday I said my mind feels like two forks
with the prongs grating together and I am trying
To shake these thoughts loose so that I can sleep at night
but it is all unrelenting
How does one regain control when there is not
a moment to do so?
Even my silence is tormented by memory of the past
and anxiety over the future
I thought that I would have one sacred space in this world
but nothing is immune,
Everything is permeable
and all of this requires an incessant working towards wholeness
or else it becomes fragmented
And I am exhausted
Like the bathroom sink that once was clean
all things require a periodic scrub
all things are seemingly bent towards destruction,
I remember when I first heard the word entropy:
gradual decline to disorder
You were fascinated by it, and I chose to deny it
but now I am not so sure

Tomorrow is the 26th and it would have been his 29th birthday
but he only had 27
I have carried my grief like it could fit in my pocket but it
turns out that it is instead every piece of clothing that I wear
I have convinced myself that it is acceptable but it is not in
any way, shape, or form
I understand the way of death and resurrection in nature, see it all around me
but that does not make my throat soften so that swallowing is not painful
That does not make my body forget what it felt like to tremble on the day that he was buried
I tend to keep myself from writing these words because I don’t
want anyone to feel hopeless
but if I don’t allow them to flow through me like a river
they will flood me until I drown
If I don’t make space for this pain I will soon sink into
a bitterness that cannot be shaken and God, I don’t want to be bitter
because I believe in the tension between all that is beautiful and all that is desperately wicked
so I offer up every racing thought within me
every angry argument and uncalled for reaction
every righteous frustration and selfish motivation
every moment of giving up and giving into the inertia that haunts me
every deep hurt that seems to find no permanent solace
All of the deceit that I did not expect to receive
all of the misunderstanding that I thought wouldn’t be
I offer up everything
Take it, please, just for a moment at least
and If I must carry it again, I will add it to my wheelbarrow of a body
but right now, I must set it all down and see what You might make of it

One Year

February 8th, 2022

It’s as if my thoughts are bound up by the fear of permanence
The idea that if I acknowledge the weight of today
It will sink me into a pool of brutal reality
Where the water turns to ink,
turns to sludge and before I know it
The air that I’m breathing will
morph into a textured sorrow
That resembles something like
quick sand, like a bad nightmare
I could be overcome,
overcome by every emotion that has
been woven through out each of these
365 days with out you on earth

Everyone experiences grief differently
but I believe there are some similarities
like how the phrase
“It comes in waves”
seems to ring true for anyone who
has lost someone that they love deeply

For me,
the waves are still here
Your sister said that
she lives with a lump in her throat
and that is truly what it is like
going on everyday in this place where
we can’t see you

I am torn between reflection and movement
I want to remember you,
to watch videos of you
to listen to your voice and
find photographs that I never knew existed
Want to bring up your name so often
because the truth is that the basis of my being was
built right beside you
My first encounters with joy, adventure, sadness, and concern
were experienced with you
All that which makes this life worth living
are seemingly wrapped up in stories where
you are the main character
the protagonist, the embodiment of vitality
and the ruler in which I measure nearly
every relationship

And then there is movement,
this constant need to keep on going because if
I remain in reflection or even visit it at all
there is the threat that I won’t be able
to continue on, I am working to reconcile
the presence of your spirit and the
absence of your body

The weight of today is like the
weight of the year
It is too much to hold
so I let it scatter,
diffuse into the pockets of time
where I can be still and know
that this Story is still good
It is just drastically different than the one that I wish to read,
It is desperately different than the one that I would’ve written

A year ago today,
I was looking at the ocean for the last time
that I would see it with the part of me that
you took with you in your death
Yesterday, I looked at that same ocean
eyes searching the waves with a hope of
reclaiming fullness
And a simultaneous desire to lose
the rest of myself
All that I know is that
all that is left is what has always been
The only thing worth anything
to love and to be loved
to find rest in the impossibility
The assurance that death leads to life
time and time again

The waves are still here
They are angry and crashing,
cyclical and comforting,
weeping and restoring,
Always seemingly surrendering
I will learn from them
I must learn from them

God With Us

If you were here,
I would’ve texted you a photo and said
“can you believe this??”
As I drove down grandma and pop’s old
street and observed the giant houses that
they’ve stuffed on the plots,
nearly spilling onto the sidewalks,
That used to be yards with small
homes built of bricks and
historic memories

When I turned onto North Nelson
I felt the energy within me shift
I’ve been alternating between
Dull nothingness,
An aching pain,
And a sharp panicking feeling
For a while now, but
Especially in light of the holidays
which were always nostalgic and kind
of sticky
But at least then
I knew what it looked like where you were
and I could check in to see what you were doing
Now I live in a city that
Is a stone’s throw from
The majority of our childhood
The best times together
with plates of salami, olives, and cheese
trays of cookies and jello cake
pop-pop pouring encouragements into silver rimmed glasses
our faces all warm and red from the radiator heat
and the whole family packed in the kitchen like sardines

It kind of feels like our family has
Always been aching, yet still hopeful
I’ve been a witness time and time again
To the way that sorrow and joy can mingle together
It’s like I already know this dance

In all honesty, I’ve been moving quickly through these past few months
Not entirely by choice, just due to the nature of my work
but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve clung to
The late nights and urgent needs like a life boat
some strange kind of life boat that’s filling up with water
and here I am, standing in it with a bucket

I’m surrounded by people that do not have homes,
People with broken relationships,
seemingly insurmountable barriers
single mom’s escaping abuse
confused children
father’s working three jobs
with out transportation
families seeking asylum
and although I am present
there’s often not much that I can do about it
I’m saturated in a broken system,
Failing policies,
And a community who seems to understand in one moment,
and perpetuate the very problems it’s trying to solve
in the next

Yet through all of this,
I’ve thought of you
Can’t stop thinking of you
And I’m trying to hold onto the light
of how precious it is to be in
A family that chooses hope
To remember that the sole
purpose of advent is to know
Immanuel, God with us
And to carry this concept deep
within my soul
I can move through these
Moments, take a breath in these moments
The gut wrenching moments,
The joyful moments
The numb moments
The disappointing moments
The angry moments
The breaking moments
In every moment
Immanuel

Nine Months One Week

nine months, one week
I can’t help but to mark my life by
the days that pass by without you here
tonight I cooked dinner
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve cooked dinner since you left
I used to love to cook,
I’d research recipes for hours
I’d cook new things every week
I’d listen to music and sing while I
chopped onions, listen to stories and
sermons while I sautéed
And when you left, I stopped really
not intentionally
It just kind of happened

In the months right after
I gave away nearly all of my stuff
sold my home
started out on what I tried to claim as
adventure, wanted to fully live in every
moment, yet for so many of those
moments, I didn’t want to live at all
After a slew of events both good
and very bad
I am here
in our new apartment
and I cooked dinner
on my own, while I listened to voices
that encouraged me
to both hold on and to let go
The skin on my hands grew tight from
the butternut squash,
my senses grew alive from the scent
of cayenne and turmeric
The vegetable broth splashed on my
striped shirt
and still, I cooked

The apartment is mostly empty
since I sold all of our shelving
and we don’t have a dresser yet
for our clothes
This all feels like a sort of
starting over, beginning again
yet I feel so old
exhausted and worn down but
alive somehow
I want to keep going
and I want to keep cooking
I want to be like these many
windows that let the November light in
There is such great sadness in
the people that I love and within myself
and it is in many of those I’ve
come to know
I want to believe that it is not
stealing life, that it is actually making
all things more meaningful
I have found that when I place it
in the hands of God I can see it
differently, it doesn’t make me feel it
any less but I can watch as it takes
shape into something
The days stack up and fall apart again
the work gets hard then wears thin
the seasons change then the weather stays the same
winter sun on bare branches
I am raw like them until I get leaves again
until I cook again
until I become full again

Eight Months One Week

10.18.21

there is a sweet spot
where I doze off during my
nightly reruns of seinfeld
where I can’t keep my eyes open any longer
and I shuffle to find the remote
and turn the screen off
and I fall asleep
still with thoughts of you
but not the kind that keep me up
and if I lose this opportunity
If something keeps me up,
a dog barking or a cold draft
thirst for water and none beside me
If I have to get out of bed and use my
five senses again,
Well, then I’ve missed it
and I’m back to where I usually am
exhausted but consumed by
the memory of you
sometimes it is our childhood
christmas at grandma’s or swimming in the creek,
other times it is of our teenage years
the feeling of laughing with you
hysterically, sometimes adulthood…
watching you get married or waiting
for you to show up at sunday dinner
on the worst nights they are of your funeral
flashing visions of your white and gold casket
of the way my throat hurt so bad from weeping
of the videos of you moving, dancing, singing,
plastered on the large screens
of your song, of your wife walking to the
microphone to bravely speak about you,
of our family, faces so long
grimacing in pain
and then I can’t shake it
my throat tightens yet again
and the permanency of your absence is
shocking all over again
and the tears slide from the corners
of my eyes again
eight months and one week
since you left and it is still
unbelievable yet this
insomnia has become a staple
my heart aches for the day where I am not
missing you, where I am not regretting
every possible moment that I could’ve been
with you but I wasn’t
could’ve told you a thousand more times
that you are my best friend
that I love you
that we need you here
we still need you here
I’m tired of my words
of my own voice in my head that
still talks to you
of my moving from one place to another just to find some sense of stability,
but always coming up short because the discontent is inescapable
the grief seems to be growing, changing but still growing,
so I lay here still in darkness
waiting for my eyes to grow heavy enough to slip into sleep and then
wake to begin another day with out you again, yet I am never with out you
because I carry you,
and the absence of you
everywhere I go

Three Months

Three months since the day that he left
and I am sitting in
the home that I bought
nearly eight months ago
and now this home is empty,
literally,
almost bare
It never really felt right to begin with
and when he left it was
like I formed a physical repulsion
towards stuff, any stuff that did
not have meaning or purpose
or bring joy
And this home just became a house
the walls too thick,
the weight too much

When he left, I could not
do anything about it
I could only sit in the
sorrow like hot glue
and begin to pick up my
limbs, felt like a fly
stuck on paper
felt like an imposter
felt like my smiles were
painted on and at night
I’d feel them wash off
as the sobbing overwhelmed
my body, as the grief
filled out every part of me
and then there were days
where I was light all of a sudden
and the laughter felt real again
but then it felt wrong
and I’d have to convince myself
it was right

It is right to feel joy
even when you know pain
It is right to find relief
even when it will hurt again
It is right to slow down
and it is right to speed up
It is a balance between all things
it is a convincing that we are enough

In the moments where I could not stand to
breathe, I began to let go
and this letting go brought relief
this tangible giving up of things
feels like inching towards new life

When he left, it was like all
the boundaries of time were
removed and emphasized simultaneously
I wanted out, yet I wanted in
In on a life of full intentionality
out of the prison of my own recycled thoughts
in on an existence that does not depend on conformity
yes out of the pain, but I know by now that
the only way to go
is through it
So I have decided to feel,
to be present
I am taking solace in the saying that
all we have is now
because now I can be
And although now is not
always good, or even bearable
It is here

So I breathe, I let go,
I dig deep, I sow,
I wander, I think, I laugh,
I dance, I weep, I eat,
I sleep, I love, I learn,
I watch, I listen, I observe,
I read, I sing, I work
I am, here now
Let me just be
here now
Let me know deeply
that You are also
here now
and that although
he is not here now,
he is full now

Noah

words, I use them for everything
they outline my silhouette
follow me wherever I
go, I breathe them out
and become them
I speak them
seek them, need them where are they now?
there are none
yet there are too many

the ache is indescribable and
shocking, horrifying, breaking us apart and holding us together
forced forgetfulness of this
irreversible reality finds me as
I fumble to go about existing
but the trees are laced with you,
the stars shine like they did on
the many nights that we lived
looking up at them in
wonder and awe
now you have become like them
a mystery,
distant yet illuminating

the only breath that I have in me
is caused by the knowledge that you are in peace
you are more free than you have ever been
you are more real now, more alive now,
more vibrant now

all of their words are about your brightness,
the contagious factor of your smile and existence you fought so hard to be with us
you gave us so much of yourself
your presence unlike any other
your love like a burning fire

so, my words will be of you,
shaped by you
for all of the days to come,
because you cannot be contained in a stanza
and no words could reflect the depth of this grief
the vacancy left inside of me
the complexity of this pain
my cousin, my best friend

written on 2.10.2021

Dissatisfied?

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Your longing cannot be satisfied by a certain acceptance,
it cannot be extinguished by a set of belongings, a state of security,
or a romanticized relationship
In your most perfect day,
your best travels, your most loving moment of intimacy,
you will still yearn and the inmost part of your being will not
settle into contentment like you’ve convinced yourself it should

You will be constantly wanting, reaching, striving,
you will not find an eternal joy on this earth
Even the most serene moment is laced with sorrow
this life ends with death, as do most of our elated emotions
After health comes sickness
after community comes desolation
after prosperity comes lacking
after relief, another burden appears
Aren’t you exhausted?
Aren’t you afraid?
Aren’t you wondering why your best efforts are inadequate,
why your greatest pursuit turns up void?

The depth of God’s character can be made known to you,
the vast measures of his love can be made real to you
To no longer live with a crushed spirit,
to no longer bask in the temptation of self-pity,
or base your existence off of self-sufficiency, self-indulgence,
to no longer measure your worth with an underlying taste of self-depreciation,
self-abuse, or self-hate
If it is freedom you are after, take hold of this redemptive offering
The blood of Jesus gushing out for you like an ocean wave crashing at the shore
your name on his lips as he breathed his last breath
and your name on his heart when he rose to life after a brutal death
do not let this act of ultimate love be a fake tale or some far off history
entertain the thought that this might be the only reality

Will you be hindered by modern culture and mistakes of organized faith?
Will you be convinced by hidden pride that you are in control of your soul, your life?
December has been slathered in consumerism and nostalgia,
the months to follow, set-up on goals and priorities, which you will fail to keep
and continually misalign
the spring will come with movement and growth,
and you might miss the symbolism of all of creation coming to life again and
summer will distract with events and some type of temporary hope kindled by the heat
autumn will come and the leaves will change
and then it will be winter again, and when yet another year has come and gone
what will you have to say of it?

The years will pass,
you will age
you will lose the people you love and the money that you have saved
you will feel glaring moments of sadness, fleeting moments of joy
you will accomplish things that will soon be forgotten,
and you will build things that will rust and eventually be destroyed
What will you have left,
when all good things come to an end?
What will you have left,
when your body fails and you give up your last breath?

This is a plea to those I love,
to those I have yet to meet
Don’t waste this life when you could live
in the most tender care of a King
One who will transform your weakest attempt
into a miracle of grace and redeem your bruised body
to be an eternal reflection of his glory

Through out these days of living in a state of groaning,
I rest assured knowing
that I was made to be known and to be loved by him
and I was made to know and to love him
and this simple declaration satisfies every longing
it settles my soul, gives life to my bones

This poem was inspired by a sermon titled “The Wounded Spirit” by Timothy Keller, probably one of my favorite sermons ever. Listen to it here. Read it here.

 

Twelve Years

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For twelve years the sun has risen
and the sun has set
there have been twelve hot green summers
turned into crisp and colorful autumns,
For twelve years we have gone forward
wanting to be where you have been

My fear, if left unattended
turns into a frigid tightness in my chest
I lay in bed pushing away thoughts of loss,
I can’t bring myself to believe in the false security
of his breath rising and falling next to me
I shut my eyes tight
but I can’t shake the feeling
that all good things are ending
that someday I might wake up
and later that day, have to fall asleep
with out him beside me

My dread, if not bolted down by hope
will come in the form of irritability
will settle in like a blanket of sorrow
an unwelcome uneasiness, lining the thought of tomorrow

My anxiety, turns from a raging ocean
into a steady bay
Sometimes the wind picks up,
but it won’t be long until I’m calm again

I have not been left in the casket of my fear, dread, or anxiety
Just like you have been given more life than I have ever known
the same God that has made you immortal,
removes the sting of death from me

I move through life with the thought of heaven
anchoring my heart and breathing peace into every part of me
If one believes that we don’t go on living,
then what would the purpose of these years, like mist, be?

My fear is not stamped out by worldly remedies,
it is healed by the design of a God who sent a savior to die for me
My dread and dissatisfaction only exist when I lose focus of His
grace and prominence
How humbled I become,
when I acknowledge my quickness to forget
that this world is only a shadow
and He has called me out of denial

I do not want to lose any more of the people that I love,
but how wonderful to rest in the assurance that those who have gone
are not actually lost
The world might label this faith as the loss of freedom
but I would argue to say that this is freedom at the core
to no longer be controlled by my fear of death,
to no longer rot in the depth of my selfishness,
to no longer allow sadness to consume my joy
to live in the liberty of a redeemed existence
followed by life eternal,
where there is no more death
or mourning, crying, or pain

There is no time to be wasted,
no time to hold onto bitterness or self-righteousness,
no time to ignore the way that rust eats and bodies age
There is beauty in everything if we submit,
but there is only pain if we reject
This life is just the in between
the race preparing us for the next

Twelve years are like a fleeting memory in comparison to eternity
twelve years, half of my lifetime at this moment
and I am not guaranteed one more day
Let the fragility of this life lead us to cling to the author of salvation,
let it guide us to love like there is no act of greater importance

The loss of you, revealed the greatest truth:
What is seen is temporary
What is unseen is eternal

 

The Things You Carried

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Inspired by John 19.28-37

When you go to the cross,
will you take my shame?
I’m living in leftover layers from my past,
consumed by oceans of regret,
caught up with what I should
and should not have said

When you go to the cross,
will you take my pain?
my flesh fails, my body aches
my hands are weak,
they often shake
my anxiety, it creeps up on me
makes a home in the back of my neck
snakes around my nerves
and strangles my dexterity
many days there is not much left of me

When you go to the cross,
will you take my loss?
flashing visions of the ones I’ve loved,
tremor through my mind in moments of panic
I see their mouths gasping for breath
I call out to them, don’t go
not yet

When you go to the cross,
will you take my pride?
I hate the way it controls my life
sneaking into every scenario,
claiming ownership over my disposition
calling attention to my selfish condition

When you go to the cross,
will you take my sorrow?
It’s rooted so deep in me,
pulling apart those moments of joy
like a frayed fabric, I want the whole
piece but it won’t let me have it

When you go to the cross,
will you take my sin?
I’m a wreck and I always have been
a part from you I’m left in the mire
covered in ashes, headed to a blazing fire

My separation from you is real in this moment
the darkness sets in the hour of your crucifixion
it was my mocking voice that put you on that cross
and then your skin was broken, you bled for us

After one last bitter sip,
you cried the words “It is finished”
your body hanging bare and beaten
your mercy for me made alive
in your death you have made me new
this sacrifice I cannot undo

When you rise from the dead,
will you remember my name?
I am your child,
you have made me that way.

Because of a Mustard Stain

I missed you the most
when I put on your plaid denim shirt
looked in the mirror and saw a mustard stain in the reflection
It made me think of hot summer days and eating hot dogs
Visions of you laughing and stirring potato salad flooded my mind
and I wanted you to be here again
I wanted to run to the freezer in the back room and grab
a popsicle to soothe the flushed feeling that fell on my face
at the thought that you cannot be here again

Your absence brings an ache larger than a missing person
When you left here you took an entire era,
my childhood was wrapped up in your existence
showered with boston cream pies and birthday cakes
I want to give to others the way you gave
I want my home to be like yours

The beginning days with out you were sticky
and frozen together by winter air and an odd adjustment
to a different kind of living where my worries of you would be
extinguished by melancholy peace
The days ahead will be riddled with thoughts of you,
the desire to talk with you

I’ve been dreaming of you nearly every night,
reminded that you are now more than alive
let the reality of heaven steal away the gloom
the empty moments where I miss you
The knowledge of your state produces a
joy greater than pain
a fragrant contentment like the scent of your
leftover laundry detergent

Our apartment is now home to your old
windowsill plants,
They traveled with you from arlington to amissville,
back to arlington with me and soon to amissville
again they will be
Irony is alive in this life,
we go from child to later become childlike,
with the weakening of bones and the
deterioration of strength
You had so much fear but you
held fast to your faith

I believe I learned how to truly pray because of
my prayers with you
kneeling down beside your bedroom chair,
holding your hands in mine
hearing the heaviness of your lungs pulling in
a breath, and the most holy name rolling off of your lips
you would whisper his name “Jesus, Jesus”
you said his name like a friend,
like the comforter he is
and I would pray as your whispers became the chorus,
God let us see beyond circumstance
let us trust beyond capacity
let us be near to You more than anything

I learned that prayers when you are sorrowful,
prayers when you are sick, can be uttered with
desperation and met with surpassing peace
Just say the name, “Jesus, Jesus”

When you were overwhelmed with suffering,
body fighting the pull of death
My mother said that just as entering the earth is painful,
so is leaving it

The difference here is that the life to come after
won’t be one of peaks, highs and lows
No, the life that is to come is incomparable
I think God uses contrasts
He shows us the darkest pit to reveal the truth
of the most glorious heaven

On the night that you left,
my terrified anger mellowed out into a deep trust,
my husband said that we could do one of two things;
question why a good god would allow suffering like this
or thank our good god that it doesn’t end like this

Thank you Lord that this is not the end
Thank you Lord that you said “Come to me
weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”
We are weary and burdened, you will give us rest
She was weary and burdened,
you took her from this life to the next,
The heavens are rejoicing and
every sweet memory declares your sovereignty

Still Intact

Let my words be large, let them overflow because my
Dreams are saturated and enlightened and I need to grab
on to something now

The man I love told me that my emotions are compulsive but my actions are methodical,
so let that be true, let me feel deeply but act in patience, in worthy commotion
I want to give, that’s the core of it
he said being selfish is exhausting and
everthing in me agrees

My heart is breaking and simultaneously being repaired,
each moment of realization that she is decaying
and too many things are toxic, and challenging
my heart sinks beneath the surface and succumbs to
hopelessness and then it rips its way back up to the
light again, strapping itself up with encouragement
My God is Greater, my eyes seek Heaven, my soul knows rest

So rolling forward with bandages on wounds, regaining strength with
Each new hope and possibility (solely found within the realm of
believing) I take my thoughts and I marinate them in truth and I speak
them back to myself as best as I can

I spent five days wandering hospital hallways,
I saw the brittleness of reality and the opposition of health,
And then I spent five days on the road, traveling with a dear soul and
I saw the world in ways I never have before
and even in new perspective I can get swallowed up in old trains of thought
and even in virginia mountains, tennessee alleys, and texas deserts
I can see that I am small but the desire to live greatly is embedded deep within me
I know that my sentience is only developed through experience

To live greatly does not mean largely,
no, I do not need more than I have
To live greatly means to live in empathy,
to live with kindness and a capacity to see differently,
to live with flexibility, I have my dreams but I’ll be alright if they
are taken from me
To live greatly is to live selflessly, to stop saying “God make something of me”
and to begin to live in the identity that He has already given me
Free, adored, consecrated, new

I am new each morning because of His redeeming glance towards me,
and how can I avoid speaking about this grace in my poetry?
It is the greatest thing, and with all of this ridding of the unnecessary I am left
with the bare bones of life and my God is the spine

My grandmother has called me her Rock, but I am a small stone
her life has been full and I try to absorb
every sound that echoes from her,
from the spoken memories of her Italian childhood,
to the movements that she makes
when the sun is first rising, and I can hear her slippers shuffling
through the crack of the door of our shared bathroom

Time is fleeting and my small revelations of existing cannot slow it down,
with an aching heart I’ve read love letters of past lives, I’ve watched new
uncertainties develop, I’ve seen injustice rise up like a plague,
I’ve gotten swept away in worry, doubt, and fear
and through all of these things, Time is fleeting

Let my heart break and be repaired, the days will follow as they always do
let my shaky voice settle in the confidence that this place is not our final home
let my prayers be consistent and ever reigning over the temptation to stay discouraged
To live greatly is to live overwhelmed and still intact

When the clouds roll

There are large black crows outside of my window every morning and every evening,
I catch a glimpse of them swooping past out of the corner of my eye
It is strange outside, humid and muggy
the clouds roll over the tree tops and down by their roots
the gravel and bricks have taken on a darker shade
Wet like the sky

My world has been changing lately,
weights lifted and others added on
the responsibility that comes with knowledge has the
ability to sink to the center of me and dwell

Nothing is very certain, not one thought is ever solidified..
and then, I think of you
In every new ideal you give me patience
in every new anxiety you hand over peace

Slow and steady, that’s how I’d rather live
yes quick to be quiet, quick to be kind
but I can do with out the immediacy of a strained life
The nervous tension of expectation will rise before
the contentment of a satisfied heart can settle

Leave me with words, and carefully brewed coffee
leave me with souls and the ease of conversation

Speaking of souls, my social anxiety had a better grip on me before
you, now I can almost approach each circumstance selflessly,
I’ve got everything I need and it seems that notion lightens
the impending judgement that I once felt accurate and overwhelming

My fear of misunderstanding is steadied by your
willingness to understand me, by your stubborn rejection
of allowing a night to end with out resolution
You investigate my mind with tact and endurance,
sifting through surface emotions and wrestling to the core
You give my inadequacy an undeserved second glance,
and come up with words that restore my identity in it’s most
strengthened and beautiful state

When I lift my fingertips to the curves of your face
It is to test if your silhouette is a reality
I’ve felt desperation so deep within me,
this fullness can feel foreign and leave me doubting
but joy in the morning has conquered over my weeping

When the clouds roll and the threat of mundanity
gravitates towards me, I will remember the
way that stillness makes a moment memorable
the way that intentional thinking can
tranquilize the anxiety stirring up within me,

And I will think of you,
and I will resign myself to an assured disposition
that allows these thoughts to be enough for one poem
that allows these thoughts to be enough for right now

In an Effort To Be Productive

The desire to make new things gnaws at my heart when I am not moving,
I try to eliminate the guilt that I feel with distractions, small batches of laundry, and random bouts of cleaning.. so, I stripped my bed of it’s sheets, got the washer running and proceeded to attempt to make some space on “my side” of the closet

The closet that I share with my grandmother, who has become particularly obsessed with her stuff since my pop-pop died. Obsessed, not in the way of clenching photographs or lamenting when she sees furniture from their old bedroom, more so obsessed with unendingly vocalizing that through our moves and the process of building a new home she is missing all of her “Stuff”. This closet is a small representation of how many items are jammed into corners of our living spaces, wrapped up in newspaper, hidden in the dark, only to be found out when someone wrestles through the disorder to open up boxes and find sentimental items mixed with literal trash. I believe she’s formed this relationship with her belongings because it makes her feel she can hold on to the past, she falsely associates the goodness of a life well lived with the culmination of material things.

After throwing away three pairs of my worn out, too-small, or too-big shoes, folding clothes that had slipped from their hangers, and awkwardly setting aside a glass house cradling a frog figurine, a broken violin, and a giant plastic wrapped comforter, I found something different.

Something that did not irritate me, something that had a presence and eeriness to it –
My pop-pop’s toiletry bag sat there solemnly, a slightly oversized red-brown leather rectangle with curved edges and a zipper down the center

It was heavy, a weight that went beyond physicality and laid on my soul
I decided to move forward anyways in my new minimalist fashion – to look at this item with out overwhelm of emotion and solely for what it was – an old bag filled with various items… sticky cough-drop wrappers, expired Tums, an unopened package of floss…
but then there was an oiled shaving brush,
then there was a half used travel shampoo bottle from a beach house we visited many autumns ago,
then there was his cologne – and my sentiment returned in the form of a fiery blanket at the base of my throat and blurring tears behind my eyelids

This stiff leather bag was carried, stuffed, and used by someone I love dearly
and as unnecessary as many of these items were then, and are now
they smell of him, and they make me think of mortality and the fragility of time

My pop-pop was an entrepreneur, a fixer, a joker, a musician, he loved others and was loved by them,
he was stubborn, he was compassionate, he was thankful — always

I remind myself that these personal items, even with all their very real and human characteristics are not what makes my memory and love for him live on

I kept the floss (because I needed some) and a key (which I will eventually discard because I doubt I will be able to find what it unlocks) And for now, I’ll  keep the cologne, because it’s scent will inspire a sticky sadness that allows me to visit lost days then reorients my eyesight on heaven above.

The extent of my minimalism ends at photographs, I cannot bring myself to discard of them.
They are time – frozen, and not just the history of myself or my family but of the entire human existence
We make up the world, so this photograph of my grandparents in July of 1947 does not only exist for them, but also as a representation of that day in the past
which may have held a memory of happiness, or an event that disrupted the hope that we often place in this world when we wrongly identify glimpses of heaven on earth

This desire to rid my surroundings of clutter,
to let go of material things that don’t add value or serve a purpose,
is not solely for a clean area that settles the OCD in me but it’s more so a desire to simultaneously live in the very moment that is happening with respect of the past

To give space for my mind to see beyond things and stuff, and recognize a variety of more important matters –
the importance of being with each other,
the necessity to disconnect from irrelevant occurrences,
to let go of thoughts of past and future and solely be present
of making money not because of the fear of not having enough, but with the intent to use it as a tool to further what is truly deemed invaluable in this life
of spending money with the goal of investing into a larger, more pure notion, not just a temporary satisfier or filler of a hole dug by advertising and inadequacy

– Are you missing those around you because you are missing someone gone? Are you enveloped in comparison instead of creating authentic experiences? Do the things that you own serve a purpose? Is that purpose worthwhile? Or do the things that you own cause conflict, in your household or within yourself? Are the things that you own made well? Or was it at the expense of someone else, someone less fortunate than yourself? Are the things that you own stealing peace of mind and potential creative thoughts? Does the way you make money reflect what you value? Do you need all the money that you make? Are you forfeiting personal contentment for status or justification by those around you? –

We have decided that these questions should be less common then “how are you?” and “enjoying the weather?” for the sake of convenient conversation, but if we really want to know the state of our being and the wellness of those around us, we need to accept that our lifestyles cannot be compartmentalized, it all works together, each thing makes up who we are and the quality of our living

My pop-pop’s toiletry bag could’ve stayed in the closet, could’ve been found by someone else, but In An Effort to Be Productive, I discovered it and developed a train of thoughts that would not have been there before

As I move on in my attempt to rid my life of the unnecessary, I will
remind myself that things are not what make up the personalities of people,
that our accumulation of stuff is not the reason we maintain memory,

That which does not hold purpose, could still hold meaning, but I am meant to be alive now
to be awake now, to be real and true now

The past of my own and the history of my family has made me dimensional,
given me perspective and carried me through time
I desire the validity of my character to be made up by attributes, to escape the distractions and crowded closets, to eternalize memory with out the need for physical items

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moths and rust destroy”

The state of being subject

It’s rather interesting, the way
that the days go from high to low
to nothing really at all
And the weather changes,
and all of us people talk about it like
the temperature owes us some kind of consistency and when
it gets mixed up in february we find it a
conversation point and I’ve caught myself
saying more than once “can you believe this?”

Can you believe this? Can you believe that all the days
we’ve been living, have lived, and are yet to live
are just like the wind, coming and going
and how is it that we can go even one moment with out
asking ourselves some type of existential question?

I’m tired of seeing the people I love live like they do not have a choice,
Tired of saying over and over again, “it doesn’t have to be like this”
or being afraid to say those words aloud in the moments that matter

I’ve been spending my days getting rid of stuff,
all of this stuff that I don’t need and this stuff that’s been gathering
dust and taking up space and there’s not enough time to be weighed
by clothing, and half used bottles of nail polish, and baskets of literal stuff that I haven’t touched
for more than a moment – only to move it to another place

We’re constantly just moving our things around,
sliding an old letter from one side of the table to the other,
reorganizing our to-do lists so they look kind of more completed,
switching our anxieties from urgent to subdued,
hanging up our depression for the days that we can bare it

Oh it doesn’t have to be like this, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming
It doesn’t have to be disabling, it doesn’t have to be isolating
Life doesn’t have to be this great big burden that we bare with
no solution, no identified purpose and let me just be blunt –
If it takes a glass of clear liquid to get your nerves settled
you’ve got to admit that there are things to be fixed,
And you are not with out the choice to make a change

I’m talking about the moments that eyes sag like
a bag of wet clothes, and body aches and disposition takes on
the form of self-pity and imprisonment, you’re the one holding the key
and you are not serving the “greater good”, you are serving your pride,
and it needs to be met with reality that this life is shorter than anything
In the end no one will remember the great things you made
but they will remember the time that you gave
and the time that you took away

Let me just be blunt – we are running out of time
and I’m tired of seeing the people I love live like they have no choice

You can say over and over again that the next time will be different,
but your words will turn to poison with no action,
they will rot your good intentions and leave you feeling
less than before, do not believe the lie that we are inherently good
we are far from it, and we need to acknowledge that
saving ourselves is like trying to write a novel on damp paper
and saving ourselves will always be an eternal attempt

My words sound harsh but if you knew my intentions you would understand,
not everything is adjustable, not all things are in our hands
a lot of circumstances are invincible, and all consuming,
but we’re often wrongfully caught up in what we cannot do, if you could
understand what I mean when I say you have a choice
you’d feel a hopeful conviction to live with vitality,
to ignore the temptation of mortality.

something beautiful, something good

It’s moments before my twenty first birthday,
the humid august air runs through the open body of my
black 2002 cabrio convertible and I listen to the
CD player spinning sounds of heartbreaking hymns

I recently came into possession of recorded audio of
my pop-pop playing trumpet, converted from cassette,
once upon a time they nicknamed him harry james
because he played magically, igniting raw emotions
with every trembling note

tonight, the absence of his body on this earth
has taken the form of visions in my mind,
I can see him playing, using the same hands that
I used to hold in mine, the same hands that I would
lay thick layers of lotion on when they became old and cracked,
gold bond would gather around his wedding band

I can see his glasses wiggling on his nose
as he inhales, I can see his thick eyebrows
rising with the melody, sinking through the bridge

“Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my life

If there ever were dreams
That were lofty and noble
They were my dreams at the start
And the hopes for life’s best were the hopes
That I harbor down deep in my heart
But my dreams turned to ashes
And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss
So I wrapped it all in the rags of my life
And laid it at the cross”

I can speak of restoration in an all together honest way,
and how grateful I am for this ability.
I can promise you that the bitter sorrow I have known
has made this deep joy all the more wonderful

I have a multitude of words within me that I am desperate
to write down, I have a thousand thoughts of thankfulness
for the way that these years have revealed the tangibility
of a loving, sovereign creator

How strange my collection of days have proven to be,
but how beautiful it is to be made new over and over and over again
I have found myself in awe of the goodness that has overcome
the view of how I naturally perceive this life

It is something beautiful, something good
to admire the present and a nostalgic past
something beautiful, something good
to extinguish loneliness with the truth
something beautiful, something good
to settle upon surreal peace in the evening
and to awake hopeful in the morning

a content poem for all the discontent that came before,
a content poem for all the trials that might await
a grateful soul, for always

patient stanzas

I’m thinking it shouldn’t be this easy,
that you or I should say something wrong
that the morning should turn to afternoon,
and with the evening conflict will come

I’m feeling it shouldn’t be enough,
but I’m left wanting more in the most
satisfied way, like the end of a good song
with the rest of the album to spin, echo and play

I’m hurting and sad most of the time,
but a smile often interrupts my aching body
and breaks my habit of anxiety
when I see you, it’s like a light turns on

I can’t think about my grandfather too much,
I can’t believe he’s really gone
but when I pray to god I see him with her
and I’m overcome with the thought of eternity,
more real than all that’s in front of me

These are simple words for a reminder
that love does not stamp out imperfections
but seeks out goodness past first glance,
that love is patient and thoughtful
and patience is the lack of anxiety in
time of waiting

Patient stanzas for a string of days that
were once ridden with such intense fear of the future,
I’m not so afraid anymore,
not all the time like I used to be,
and it’s easier to daydream now
because I’m more content with this reality

If I start my morning with praises,
end my day with prayers
I can see the goodness that’s waiting
and an abundance that wasn’t meant for
someday but for every new day

Simple words to say I’m tired but I’m not weary,
to believe that nights of stillness can live
among times of agitation
to comprehend that rest is the most
glorious, and contentment comes in the
form of deep exhales and admiration of the clouds

So, when my mind wanders to the familiar sorrows
to the leftover aches, to the visions of those I love weeping
when my nostalgia heats up like a hot glue gun
and my sentiment stumbles over my thoughts
I will try to remember the patient stanzas,
the eager hope and satisfied heart that rests on me now
the light that turns on, the peaces that melts like wax and
maybe then I will welcome the presence of repletion
in both times of drought and the
conclusion of a feast

A series of wants

wants-2

I want to be stronger,
to not feel aching and zinging nerves
stretching through my neck and hands
like sand scratching the bottom of the ocean

I want to see my parents
everyday, to make my father coffee
and read the clues of crosswords out loud
to my mom while she sits cross-legged on the couch,
With her glasses on

I want to be bigger than comparison
to not let my mind get wrapped up
in the disabling perception
of bright images and larger smiles

I want to have wealth
in the form of travels and adventure
in the shape of a rectangular kitchen
with floor to ceiling windows,
a small sunroom turned cafe on the end,
and a copper tin roof

I want to help others recognize
the capacity we each have to form
new thoughts and original ideas
the way our minds are vast and
programmed for dreaming

I want to never feel the
gaping hole in my heart where my grandfather once was,
or where he once was,
or where she once was

I once found a quote that my gram
wrote on a postcard labeled “With Deepest Sympathy”
it read “when you are sorrowful look again in your
heart for you shall see that in thought you are
weeping for that which has been your delight”

I’ve been sorrowful always at the sight of sentiment,
and I’m always trying to turn that sadness into
a thankfulness for what once was and what is
to come

I want to be in love effortlessly,
with life and the people in it
to never have to work for sweetness
to never have to scrape out the seeds
of bitter feelings and frustrations,
or old times and scarred memories,
rooting in my heart and mind

I want my own home,
with a bar cart and special glasses for
different cocktails
copper bowls and kitchen utensils
and a pantry always stocked with ingredients
to make bread from scratch

I want to fix all of it,
all of the unfixable things
from poverty and broken lives,
to the tension that rises up out of awkward situation
from the disbelief and anger,
to the lack of good music on the radio

I want to be talented,
to truly believe that I am good at something
and no longer seek validation from
heightened numbers or passing conversation

I want to see Japan and Argentina
and Greece, and Iceland, and I want to photograph
it all with a film camera and hang the prints over my bed

I want to feel free
from guilt and obligation
to only be uplifting
and be rid of my selfishness

I want to be a person
who never misses a birthday of a friend,
family member, or acquaintance
who sends post cards in happy times
and writes letters when life is stolen away

I want to always please
to never disappoint
to always give my best
even at my worst

I want to not want
for anything other than the
wholeness of god within me
the completeness of his character
overwhelming the inadequacy of mine
the contentedness that only
comes from his grace extending
over my flawed disposition

Lead me to contentment despite circumstance
lead me to satisfaction disregarding fullness
let me exist only as what I was built up to be
give me the wisdom to know what desires should
consume and which should die

sad stanzas

I was happy, and I just got sad again
hit me like a thunderstorm
Surprised by round, wet, rain drops
puddles rising up and flooding my feet

I’m slipping, or fearful of it
When I feel Joy I end up just waiting
for it to leave
It’s been a few weeks now, a long
month or so, and I’ve have this unshakable contentedness
but when will it loosen its grip?

Here it is, here’s one of those moments,
doom approaching but I’ve got no
voice left, exhaustion allows sadness to
seep in and I sometimes get sick of
my familiar sorrow – like an old friend,
one you no longer have anything in common with,
I’ve been trying for so long to shake this

I can only hope, that when I wake
the sun will greet me, the son will
get me out of bed

Anxiety is when all of the things
become too much, stacked up and pulled together tightly
Sadness is the unlacing of a sentimental
mind, the undressing of a daydreamer’s corpse
and the revealing of a realist heart

I’ve stuck with the phrase – “I won’t always be this way”,
since I was a child afraid of the dark
Thought that when I was big, I’d just somehow grow out
of it, but my darkness is in the form of daylight now
It’s the way the time keeps rolling onward and
the immensity of the past, present, future
becomes like a shadow cast on a wall or
a slight shake of the handle on a closet door

I’ve yet to grow out of it, but sometimes I can get a hold of it
It aches, but I can let gratitude root out the sting of sadness
I’ve been bitter before, but I’m not bitter anymore
let this all be sweetness that draws me closer
to the one that knows my heart before it weighed heavy
and after it was soaked

Stepped away from these words for a moment,
back again to say that this is not a denouncement of Joy
I know Joy to be true and real and alive
this is just an acknowledgement of what lives
naturally in me, what grows inside,
tangles up my head and soul all to be
found out by uncertainty and I’m certain I’ll continue to be

Sought Out

My voice rings back, as I say that I am for or against
I wonder if my opinion could weigh heavy enough to change another’s mind
It seems impossible, to trust that revelation could come with time

I told you that it feels like another life
With out you, I know joy for what it really is
A sorrowful understanding that the answer does not exist within

I want to stretch out my deepest feelings to reach you,
There is an abundant amount of hopelessness here
and I remember it in the quiet gaps of time that announce
their presence in the movement of air thrown from a ceiling fan

I’m taking these steps in front of me with a fearful
realization that I’m moving further away from you
but it’s true, this movement is long overdue and I am
now seeking out obedience for its redemption and necessity

There’s a newness here, I am believing it to be good
but with change comes a constant voice of uncertainty
Let my voice be small and far away, Let Your voice be
like the clouds that hover over rolling hills and relieve
hot skin from harsh sunlight

I’ve sought out a savior and in you I’ve found,
All that’s behind and ahead is alright somehow
In my moments of anxious thoughts and furrowed brow,
let your voice be clear, let your voice be loud

I’ve sought out a savior and in you I’ve seen,
All that’s above and below is greater than me
In my moments of discontent and guilt feeling,
let your presence be known, let your peace find me

Not a Draft

My own body had to stop me,
time has been moving too quickly
hours feel like minutes, and before I know it they are gone
You are gone now
And it’s odd now

Stepping through reality like a daydream,
there’s too much to be done to just stay here
Guilt keeps coming upon me,
wrapping its uncomfortable presence around me
like a blanket but I’m already too warm

Guilt for not being there, for every moment spent away
when you are mourning I want to lay with you
Hold your hand, hold your heart, hold your head up

I’ve kept myself from writing, because these words should be of you
They should be about loss, about your body when it was here and
lifeless and I saw it and it broke me up
they should be about legacy, and a life lived well
and these words are just letters strung together
they cannot weigh as heavy as my heart, they cannot
contain the tone of your trumpet playing off
of a scratchy cassette in the light of stained glass windows,
lingering throughout that cold church on a hill top in maryland

Now, I’ve come back to these words with more to say
How do I convey the speed of these days, all melting into each other
lines bent like heated clay, I think I am content
but then again, I am sinking beneath the face of
commitment and I’ve got to come up for some air

If it weren’t for you, O God
I would be nothing
Not in the sense that I am now something, or that I am a success at all,
I’m a mess of a human, but if it weren’t for you my soul would be
like a bag of wet sand, gritty and slumped into a
stagnant shape sopping with sorrow and anxiety, but God you have saved me
from myself

I reach out for something to hold on to,
loneliness has always encamped herself around me
forever in my line of sight,
I feel her when driving on the highway
and before falling asleep at night
I feel her when I talk to someone, and I really like
what they have to say, but I know their words will come
to an end, and silence will occupy what once was their space

My grandfather loved me, I saw it in his eyes
his love alone rests on the outer edges of my aching heart
when I awake in the morning,
the leftover feeling of his absence cracks into
a thin film of sentiment and manipulates my
day into a constant glance towards heaven

It’s true, this place isn’t my home
It’s not yours either
so even if I’m always overwhelmed, I know it cannot be forever.

Is this enough for me? Can I at least let go of these stanzas above?
they still do not yet feel quite good enough
I’ll have to allow myself to take more days
and I haven’t forgotten about you, and I won’t forget about you
and I haven’t said enough, but I’ve already said too much

A love poem

love and admiration are two very different things,
their coexistence is not rare but it is distinct.
I admire the way you allow your father to speak to you,
even when each word strikes a nerve and resembles
the early mornings, walking to school,
when you would toss a mold covered english
muffin into the trees behind his town home.

love and admiration are divided
when care taking becomes a heavy burden,
like a sack of flour on a slaves shoulders –
he bears it, but it’s ability to become something more
will never be his to take and enjoy

I love you when your hands are too heavy to lift,
and the nurses outside the door are aggravated because
you’ve fumbled over the help button on your
life line remote hanging on the plastic bars of your bedside
one too many times

I love you with each forkful of store bought chocolate cake
that I lift to your mouth, and I pray
that your tongue would bring you life
That your tastebuds would ignite
the memories of when I admired you,
and fed you every evening after work
and fed you dessert, when you could use your own hands with out help

I admire you when you walk me through crowded hallways
and bustling kitchens, through laundry rooms and
construction sites, and lead me to the elevator to send
me on my way

Love is not circumstantial
it does not ride on actions,
or hinge onto emotion
Love outlasts and outlives admiration

Although admiration means the world
It means lighting up because someone else is brighter
It is selfless in it’s wholeness and although often temporary,
it is sweet and seemingly taken for granted

I am living in a state of admiration – or at least attempting to be,
I’ve got this new kind of emptiness beginning to grow within me
distance has put into perspective the most important parts
of my existence, but I’m trying to admire it –
I’m trying not to ache for what used to be,
I’m trying not to be anxious for what has yet to come,
I’m trying not to let any days go to waste

but sometimes all of my trying leads to an organized chaos
my efforts will never be enough to keep
a steady distance from slight implosion

When you’re angry, I love you
when you are cooking in the kitchen with a towel slung over your shoulder
and humming along to duke ellington, I admire you

When you’re leaning forward on a wicker chair,
speaking to me of your greatest memory
in your most sad time, while you twirl your
golden hair glimmering in the fluorescent porch light
I love you, I admire you

You are here one day, and might be gone the next
but so am I, we’re like the wind and the mist, and
all things that come and go

You are here always, and when your body goes
your thought will stay
I don’t think I will ever wake up to remember,
that in each new day my heart will again break

A love poem for the empty days,
for the waiting, and for the many faces and
souls existing in another soul’s world
I love you, I admire you

lovepoem

the practicality of living during sadness, in the mundane

On the days that you can,
Do Not Lose Yourself In The Mundane
On the days that you can’t,
still wake up, fix your bed
make yourself breakfast, toast and eggs
open the windows even if it’s hot,
especially when it’s cold

On the days that you can
build something –
use words that build up each person around you
and if there is no one around you,
still speak aloud of the things that are good
Identify your heart and the ability it has to fold
beneath emotion and pressure
Recognize that you are existing and
that is enough some days

On the days that you can’t,
Don’t watch the television, read books
and if you’ve got to rest, watch a good film,
one made before 1970

Let yourself dream about the future,
but don’t get lost in it
Think about how you’ll someday have a home
With a kitchen that has windows from ceiling to ground
You’ll think about the places you will travel to,
the people you might meet
Dream about the future, but not with intent to forget the past
Dream about the future, but do not stop living now

Walk outside, crunch leaves under your feet
And breathe in
Stop feeling guilty for being sad
stop feeling guilty for feeling guilty

Let gratitude invade the parts of your mind
where there is no thankfulness left

When you have to go to work
Let your eyes see what they haven’t looked at before
When you are driving,
listen to The Beach Boys, or the soundtrack
to your favorite film

Drink Coffee, Eat Bread, Go Somewhere
Be alone

Don’t attempt to muffle your sadness with the company
of people who do not acknowledge that it is there,
or people who talk about other people

If you can be with friends, be with them
but know it is not worthwhile if when you come home
you feel more distant than when you left earlier that day
There are people who are for you, find them

When you are alone,
write down everything you’d like to do
(but it’s alright if you can’t do it all)
Don’t try to improve yourself for the sake of being better,
come to terms with defeat and the fragility of  yourself
and then look up
You’re made whole, if you want to be

If you begin to feel restless, or purposeless
Don’t try to move fast all of the sudden
Pick up one thing at a time
Take each day by itself

When you look at a calendar,
and it’s numbers are glaring back at you
and it’s weeks are overwhelming
Remember that there have been many days before this,
and you are not the one who has to call the sun to rise

Listen to good music,
the kind that makes you feel a part of it
become familiar with lyrics and tones
and learn about the people behind the noise

Take photographs and keep them to yourself,
get them printed and when you go to pick them up
look at them in a parked car before you drive to the next place,
Realize that you’re creating a world that no one else has seen before

Some times it will all be overwhelming,
Other times it will all be stagnant
sometimes the idea of “there’s nothing you can do about it”
will be relieving, other times it will be a defeat

The practicality of living during sadness, in the mundane
Hold onto the idea that vitality is a real thing

// written on November 6th, 2015

Lifestyle2-ELT_Photo

years later

let my heart rest,

although time runs through my fingers
like liquid, or grains of sand
although each moment gains momentum
and my whole soul weighs heavy at the sound
of silence, or the sound of her voice
(I am older now than you ever were)

let my heart rest,
because the night can come smooth
or it can steal, darkness can be the overcoming
abyss that it is
but my heart, it will rest,
because years later I am echoing the
hope that has been written across my
bones and the vision of eternity becomes
more real with each passing day

It’s easier to become numb, and to let
the ache form callouses and corruption
of feeling and it’s no longer freeing
But this time, I’ve been broken up
and aware again* of the ability of loss and
(AGAIN*, all the things of today arise and remind me of old:
Pink Lilies smell like Funeral Homes Pink Lilies smell like Funeral Homes 
That is NOT Her, she is NOT there, Her body was just a case for her soul
We Lost We Lost We Lost Gone Gone Gone)
The terror of grief and that
seemingly god-forsaken moment in the night
where gloom and desperation
charge at the idea of ever hoping again

The state of despondency is my greatest fear,
lurking at my bedside when I fight to get up in the morning..
and how my heart aches, so deeply and intensely
when I see that fear approaching the ones I love
and I can’t help but to cry out to God
to throw myself in between and pray that
my weary growl will scare it off from ever
grabbing a hold of someone else’s heart

There is a multitude of emotions
that trample over the people left after death
A range of detestable sentiments
and they will not leave you unscathed

But I will still say; hold onto hope,
destruction has no reign here
Do not let your heart
become hardened with worldly time
Let your heart rest,
for with every ounce of pain
there is new hope and wholeness multiplied.

years later, I am sitting by a fire,
listening to voicemails that are not hers,
and aching all the same
because I remember the longing that comes after loss

years later, I am seeing her absence
as more of a normality
and it breaks me up,
but this is no time to be broken

I am not a hopeless being,
and neither are you
lay down my doleful spirit
and pick up joy again
my heart is, and will always be at rest
so that yours can someday find fullness again

yearslater

Look Back

never thought it was a good idea to Look Back
I’ve always known not to do it,
I learned this when I was twelve and the outside
was getting soaked and I knew it then that this
place was not a good one to be, I can write of those
Times where the floor was always cold and I
was always afraid to see my family
because I knew how sad they were and would be,
and every word that people would say,
After she left, stuck in my head I used to repeat
them, and above everything there was doubt
in the reality, for this couldn’t truly be happening

Round, wet, tears swelled up from
our stomachs and set free from the eyes
I think sometimes, was this the start of
a never ending stretch for redemption?
I think, were our hearts so low,
buried underground with her body,
that this was the beginning of the attempt
to dig ourselves back up to air and living?
this is heavy but this is how we know loss,
and as the days went on I remembered not to
Look Back because there everything was laid
out and time moves forward for a reason

Years later and many incidents
good and terrible, and in between have taken
place, new things have shared space with
an original ache but I never thought that
Looking Back would bring weight
that I’d pick up and desire to carry again
Turn my head to move
these eyes through the situations that
have brought on newness, I will not let go
of the idea that every morning is new
that is the only thing that lets me sleep at
night, a chance for a beginning that
does not hinge on Looking Back

But I am made up of each ounce and second,
each measurement of time and space
builds the canals and caves in my mind
and in the Looking Back I am reminded
to move on and up again

the poem above was inspired by something that I wrote two years ago. “If I were sad again, sad like I used to be” is a reference to a time when I first began dealing with depression, years later I wrote this after gaining some clarity – to remind myself of the way that sadness is a detriment to living with vitality, and that, if at all possible, it is necessary to choose joy:

“…and if I were sad again, sad like I used to be, I’d tell myself to think of the days and how quick they go by and before you know it you are writing to end another day and before you know it you are waking again and I’d say, sadness is worth nothing, just be joyful in each moment because that is all we really have. joy springs up out of a heart who is set on god – joy nourishes and knows sorrow but does not let sadness remain heavy and bitter. I’d say be joyful always – joy makes a lifetime of quick days count for something. sadness takes away life and health and all things sweet.” June 22, 2013

LookBack

lament II

I began to stretch out my lungs in a capacity
to scream at God
I was to write down every insecurity I have in this faith
and then in those declarations He was to respond with gracious
wisdom and insight, in a soft peace He was to bring comfort and
say “My child, I am with you”

He did not.

I poured out my laments and rose up a banner of doubt, I pointed out the greatest questions of why and how;

I demanded immediate release of pressure that
is working up through my guts into my memory impressed
mind that has failed me time and time again
when loss is pinned up into the blue skies

I wrote down the way I felt when I would imagine her casket slithering into the ground
as they would project their well-intended sympathies declaring an ever good god

“how dare you belittle my wounds with band-aids,
how dare you glaze over my emotional destitution with clichés”

Those who have lost and lose feel they can relate to one another,
bitterness is predominant in these relations, but I would be lying
to say that God has failed me
To say that His hand has not saved, although at the time it very much did not,
His hand has rescued and continues to pull my heart out of the mire and muck
of my insolent sorrow

IF we believe there is a god who sees the beginning and the end
we are forced to accept that he is all knowing
IF this god is all knowing then why would he be absent
in our deepest pleas, why would he allow tragedy that speaks to no redemption, why
would he not answer

I cannot begin to describe why He allows immense suffering.
I have recognized that it is through hardship that Christ is most near,
I have experienced that in brokenness we are made full, but my mortal cries
rudely impose on my proclaimed hope:

What a selfish god..
That he would use my pain just so I would see Him better!
How egotistical, that he longs for me to be more like him so
because of this, I endure suffering

There is no existing being that could remedy my anxieties!
No, my soul cannot find rest in a deity or theology
My anger not satisfied by a man’s excuse for brokenness.

It is in this human truth where my voice is overwhelmed by an Almighty truth,
my doubts insignificant in the overarching grace of a true God,
who is not scheming, who is not manipulating my circumstances,
but who is RESCUING my already condemned heart from its current state

It is in this that every soul is asked to consider Christ as his redemption, and his portion.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3.19-24

I have established this:
With Christ I have everything | With out Christ I have nothing

this means that loss, in its immensity,
is actually quite small and powerless although it reigns
heavy and dominant over our souls.
loss does not take us further from God,
it brings us nearer.
In actuality, the more we have,
the more that separates us from Him.

but loss, if not handed over to Him, can begin to build
a home in our lives. It will gather up every situation, good and bad,
and hold it captive – becoming not a ‘loss’ at all but a
selfish burden gained within our souls that is living off of despondency

I intended to call out to God,
to state my poetic laments and in return
find a solution – comfort and peace – but it is all too soon
to be taken from desperation to joy so I will
say to myself:

the Lord is my portion, I will wait for him,
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion

So as my heart breaks with those who are experiencing their own loss,
and as it breaks at the reminder of loss itself,
I will lift my eyes to a God who is not proven to be distrait
but all knowing and sovereign still