Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Lack of Something

"Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? Move outside the tangle of fear thinking." -Rumi
I spent decades of my life in prison and when the door was finally opened it took me years to walk out of my cell. (Today, I still sometimes gaze longingly outside from behind the bars on the window of my house, just to experience that reassuring feeling of confinement.)

Once I made it out of the prison I slowly expanded the spaces where I felt comfortable existing. From my bedroom to the kitchen to my car to the café where I sat for hours suspiciously eyeing strangers who didn't care to hurt me or even steal my food.

When I was locked down I grew to like being alone. the sounds of coughing and clanking and cursing assured me that someone was always nearby, and solitude was consistent and enforced; an opaque wall that kept me unnoticed and unscathed.  When I gained the choice to fraternize, loneliness crept in like a slow growing mold, filling my expanded space with stark, empty, uncomfortable silence.

This year, I tried to find one word to describe what I want to accomplish but there's no antonym for "loneliness." I've finally settled on the word "unlonely"because my desire is so intangible  it can only be expressed by the lack of something. Maybe I need to stop chasing it as if it were something I could tackle and lock up for safekeeping.

I think this is a good year to stop expanding. I think I will finally give up the handcuffs and even the prison bars in order to become the lack of all the things that have prevented me from letting people in.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Life repeats itself.

A visit to a poetry slam this evening inspired me to look through my old writing. I found this poem that I wrote in 2008 during an internship at a Rochester city high school. The amount of violence I witnessed was new to me and I wanted to find a reason for it and a way to stop it. 

Four years later I understand the reasons a little better but I still don't know how to stop it. Because the topic seems to fit with what's happening in the world lately I'll share this again, even though I want to fix it up in some places. I welcome your feedback and responses!

"Call to Action"

It was a normal day for the affected students;
Beginning with math and english and history
And ending with one fist to the teeth
And a head through a window
On the second floor; shattered glass
Spread at the feet of a crowd
Who scattered as the blood began
To flow from above someone's left eye.

To students and staff who know nothing else
The consequent spitting out of teeth and the
Bright red trail from the window to the ambulance
Was like a scene from a movie watched too many times:
A repetition, boring and meaningless,
Failing to disturb its desensitized viewers.

In such a way the realities of lasting hatred
And fear embedded in hot blooded veins
Are brought forth regularly and laid out
In drops of blood on high school stairways.
They scream to remind us that we are not doing enough;
That we are only scratching the surface of this monster called violence
And that we will never end the fights unless we reach deeper
Beneath its skin; beneath its bones and into its veins
To find the origins of the diseases that allow
This hatred to thrive and survive.
But these blatant exhibitions are conveniently
And consistently ignored.

If such young bodies can regularly
Burst through barriers and break open the skin
Why can't we?
What is stopping us from recognizing
Our own fingerprints in the blood left on the walls;
From admitting our role in generation after generation of failure?
Why do we shield our eyes when the injured are led away
In handcuffs, spitting out cries for help
In the form of angry words and empty threats?

Just as there are layers of veins and cells
And bones beneath the skin
There are years of pain
Abandonment, confusion and ignorance
Beneath these brawls.
In these stale scenes a solution waits to be found;
Begs for us to dig deeper and try harder;
Pleads for an end to apathy and a
Stronger commitment to healing the diseases
That make violence a chronic part of life.