Dark as a Rose

A storm within a storm within a storm within a Rose

A lily without her pad…forever sinking

So, what is in a name Rosie?

With your whirlwind of violent voices…jading and shading your blood red petals

I hear your claim to be quite alright

But I see your thorns routinely sharpened…just out of spite

Requies-Cats

The great charm of cats is their rampant egotism, their devil-may-care attitude toward responsibility, their disinclination to earn an honest dollar. In a continent which screams neurotically about cooperation and the Golden Rule, cats are disdainful of everything but their immediate interests.

Bathsheba! to whom none ever said scat-No worthier a cat ever sat on a mat, or caught a rat! Requies-cat! John Whittier

Cemetery Vs. Graveyard

I love a good cemetery and/or graveyard.

I feel safe there.

Safer than with living beings.

FYI- The difference between a cemetery and a graveyard? A graveyard adjorns a church and a cemetery does not. Which means you can bury ashes in a cemetery…you cannot in a graveyard.

That Is Just the Way It Is?

‘that is just the way it is…’

I watch you say…through my native eyes

Just a private conversation with kindness and hate

How long before…

‘that is just the way it is…abates?’

A generous thief…this loathing

But when all is said and not done…

I say to hate, it does not pay to live like that…

With both feet in the past

Mother and Her Nature and Beauty

What beauty can be…

a lone mushroom

a barren tree

or some ragged weeds.

Mother and her nature do not judge my scars…

skinned lines that carried me so far.

Nor am I aware of discretions while I scamper towards her majesty.

….

I can stammer my words of poetry

often erratic

often loose like a noose.

Yet, Mother and her nature…decide my needs.

What It’s Like

Jethro: Claims to be a career criminal. Claims he’d rather freeze outside than to be back behind the wall. He is currently homeless.

We’ve all seen a man at the liquor store beggin’ for your change
The hair on his face is dirty, dreadlocked and full of mange
He asks a man for what he could spare with shame in his eyes
“Get a job, you fuckin’ slob” is all he replies

God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes
‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to sing the blues
Then you really might know what it’s like
Then you really might know what it’s like
Then you really might know what it’s like
Then you really might know what it’s like

Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom who said he was in love
He said, “Don’t worry about a thing, baby doll, I’m the man you’ve been dreamin’ of”
But three months later he say he won’t date her or return her calls
And she swear, “God damn if I find that man I’m cuttin’ off his balls”
And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin’ through the door
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore

We’ve all seen a man at the liquor store beggin’ for your change
The hair on his face is dirty, dreadlocked and full of mange
He asks a man for what he could spare with shame in his eyes
“Get a job, you fuckin’ slob” is all he replies

……………….

I’ve seen a rich man beg
I’ve seen a good man sin
I’ve seen a tough man cry

I’ve seen a loser win
And a sad man grin
I heard an honest man lie

I’ve seen the good side of bad
And the down side of up
And everything between

I licked the silver spoon
Drank from the golden cup
Smoked the finest green

I stroked the fattest dimes
At least a couple of times
Before I broke their heart

You know where it ends
Yo, it usually depends
On where you start

I knew this kid named Max
He used to get fat stacks
Out on the corner with drugs

He liked to hang out late
He liked to get shit faced
And keep the pace with thugs

Until late one night
There was a big gun fight
Max lost his head

He pulled out his Chrome .45
Talked some shit
And wound up dead

And now his wife and his kids
Are caught in the midst
Of all of this pain

You know it comes that way
At least that’s what they say
When you play the game

God forbid you ever had to wake up to hear the news
‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to lose
Then you really might know what it’s like

….. To have to lose… …..

If Only

Happiness– which is total and complete satisfaction with yourself. This means you realize that nothing and nobody else can make you happy. Happiness is something you get from yourself. If you’re completely satisfied with yourself, nobody can take it away from you. ##the RZA

My Flag

I took my flag to church…with chimes ringing at noon.

I took my flag to church for healing.

I placed my

red…for the color of my skin

blue…for my mother’s sadness

white…for cleansing my weak mind

upon a ancient altar.

I waited for condolense from a religion I did not choose.

I brought my own incense

my native tongue.

I placed, delicately, the love and duct tape I had been born with.

I laid out the only tools I knew how to use.

I found no tranquility among the brick and mortar confines.

I found my soul crying out for her own mind.

Wrapping my flag about me…I stammered out…wearing a rainbow of colors …I refused to become blind.

Helping Turtles Across the Road

So few are my misguided thoughts on religion…whilst in the arms of a golden, August day.

I could walk forever into the unknown…bathing in the silver lining of a sunflower’s intoxicating…glow.

I could even dare all tomorrow’s…in the deep, stare of a steer’s gaze.

Now and always, deep in the musky, wild…sorrow weakens.

Worry becomes less bold.

I understand all that is not mine….because the stillness of humid air tells me so.

Crab Apple perfumes my mind…

I live to let go.

All this and so much more…

helping snappers across Morrill road…

Is the only religion I need to know.

Queen for a Day

Such a trampoline of sandy, ill begotten, virtues, bounce up to greet my gritty feet.

And, it is a long road to greet…the others!

The others…like me.

So…I trade mountains for the buttery aroma of all the half shells along north beach.

Not trans.

Not bi.

Just scantily clad friends in need of retreat.

There is no need to beware of differences…between pride or right or wrong.

The Queens and bears and otters who came before me allow for no spite.

Within the dunes, no titles, labels or names.

As the sun also sets…we are all the same.

You Do Not Have to Be Good

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver

Yet Another Ultimatum from the Cat

As an older cat, Billie, had begun to wander outside. Not one to condemn freedom. I had gently allowed this behavior…with a watchful eye. However, after having been naked all her life, placing a breakaway collar on her…proved difficult.

And, that, that was the straw that broke the portly Billie’s… usually casual demeanor.

Polydactyl cats should not be allowed pens!
Good Luck with your love issues, Billie

Night Crawlers

Just a private conversation between the night crawlers…and, I.

As the sun wakes its weary head…mirrored reflections on mistakes made.

Holes bored into my soul.

Curled in upon itself…divots, to which I dare no enemy tread.

Modern day judgment comes often.

Frequently it is swift.

Always it is free.

I could tap love on her slender, shoulder.

But I appreciate that she not know such demons exist.

A Hymn to the Evening

Soon as the sun forsook the eastern main
The pealing thunder shook the heav’nly plain;
Majestic grandeur! From the zephyr’s wing,
Exhales the incense of the blooming spring.
Soft purl the streams, the birds renew their notes,
And through the air their mingled music floats.
Through all the heav’ns what beauteous dies are spread!
But the west glories in the deepest red:
So may our breasts with ev’ry virtue glow,
The living temples of our God below!
Fill’d with the praise of him who gives the light,
And draws the sable curtains of the night,
Let placid slumbers sooth each weary mind,
At morn to wake more heav’nly, more refin’d;
So shall the labours of the day begin
More pure, more guarded from the snares of sin.
Night’s leaden sceptre seals my drowsy eyes,
Then cease, my song, till fair Aurora rise.

#Phillis Wheatley, the first African American to write a book of poetry.

to the Earth

Eery with the waft and wiff of wildlife.

Sad and yet, joyous is their song.

I understand between the lyrics…this, this, is where I belong.

Never to run, a walk is where my curiosity fits.

Though nothing is delicate between the thorns and ivy. And, cagey hills are lonesome and long.

The untamed…a favorite song.

Sanguine and sandal-ed…to the earth is where I belong.

My silhouette of vanity ties me to the beauty.

My silhouette, minuscule, to all of mother’s scenery.

Hard Woods

What it means to stare

Would have been better to keep an existential eye…

while looking between green gray hues

and, peering at anemic disarray.

Languid disorders, sight unseen,

grappling with a colorful mind…

Well, in earnest, it is an ordeal best suited for the unrefined.

Dragnets flung over the road maps,.

collecting ‘speaking in third person’…

like passing the hat.

Well noted, a window’s pardoning glare,

and,

with a quick glimpse forward,

fleetingly witness…

to be or not to be…be aware.

Forthwith, we will beg,

pardon my stare.

Pardon my stare.

“There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.”
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Unique Kind of Normal

As soon as, I married madness and rebellion…

the tilted, chaotic, walls, fell in upon themselves.

A panting dog with only a muddied puddle to quench her thirst…I gave into acceptance of water from the sullied, still waters.

Every morning, as sanity mounts upon a cluttered and chipped floor.

Inching closer to the bedroom door.

Every morning, ordinary thoughts and scattered mind debris, grasp at my feet.

Must remain stringent and pull a unique kind of normal…around me…

As Time Grows Old

I have wept for some doors that have been shut.

For the remembrance of circling crows, the slightly ajar iron gates that house the long ago, dead.

For the remembrance of four legged siblings…true to themselves and unabashed. I relive their memory…everyday.

Oh, the wonder years, living among loose chickens and lazy llamas.

The dead end dirty and dusky roads that had lay before me.

Those lanes with promise of green, glistering, fields.

I have wept for the Shakers, the dance, the waves of neighbors passing, as time grows old.

Love Letters by Zelda

There’s nothing in all the world I want but you and your precious love. All the material things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence because you’d soon love me less and less and I’d do anything — anything — to keep your heart for my own. I don’t want to live—I want to love first, and live incidentally… Don’t—don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me. You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all—and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had. From Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald

Perhaps, Zelda could be best understood as…misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. When it is obvious she suffered from neglect and abuse. Even further than the lackadaisical diagnosis…is the belief that F.Scott Fitzgerald stole much of Zelda’s writings to further his own career! Both intrusions only hindered what the world could have benefited from her talents.

Zelda Fitzgerald was an icon of the Roaring Twenties. A socialite, painter, novelist, and the wife of American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald’s audacious spirit captivated those around her and she was a muse for much of her husband’s literary work. Their famously turbulent marriage was fraught with alcoholism, violence, financial ups and downs, and Zelda’s battle with mental health issues. Her own artistic endeavors include a semi-autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, a play entitled Scandalabra, as well as numerous magazine articles, short stories and paintings. She died tragically on March 10, 1948 in a fire at Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.

Wide Open Spaces

Wide open spaces, looking at the trace of distant faces.

I sit in wait for moments to awaken.

Lonely, as I confront myself to be…

on a warmed summer’s bench.

There is only mystery.

Counting numbers, enlisting letters…

listening more than I think…

in wide open spaces.

Say, no to paper tigers!

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

Amelia Earhart

8 Cool Facts About Amelia Earhart
JULY 24, 2019

Amelia Earhart, the first woman to travel across the Atlantic by plane
Amelia Earhart
July 24th is Amelia Earhart Day! An aviation pioneer who broke numerous records, Amelia Earhart is a beloved figure in American history and an inspiration to adventurous boys and girls everywhere. Celebrate her day with your kids this summer, and discover ten cool facts about Amelia Earhart.

  1. Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897.
    Her mother disagreed with society’s emphasis on raising quiet, prim little girls; she encouraged her daughters to engage in fun and activity.
  2. Amelia Earhart’s childhood nickname was Meelie.
    Meelie was an adventurous child and often had her little sister Grace (nicknamed Pidge) following her around as she climbed trees, hunted rats, and collected insects.
  3. Amelia Earhart built her own roller coaster.
    With her uncle’s help, Amelia built a wooden ramp, similar to a roller coaster she remembered from a St. Louis vacation. She zoomed off the homemade ramp in a wooden box, crashed, and got up bruised but excited, exclaiming to her little sister, “Oh, Pidge, it’s just like flying!
  4. Amelia Earhart was the sixteenth woman to get her pilot’s license.
    When she was just twenty-three, Amelia Earhart took her first airplane ride. It was just a few hundred feet, but from then on she was determined to learn to fly.
  5. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to travel across the Atlantic by plane.
    On June 17, 1928, she and a couple of male pilots flew from Newfoundland, Canada, all the way over to Wales, which took about 21 hours. Since Amelia had no experience in using plane instruments, she was simply a passenger on this flight. The pilots did give her the added task of keeping the flight log. This still proved historic and brought Amelia a hero’s welcome at home and a visit to the White House.
  6. Amelia Earhart was the second person and the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic.
    Charles Lindbergh was the only one who had flown across the Atlantic Ocean solo, but Amelia Earhart proved herself equal to the task. Powerful winds battered her little plane during this flight, which lasted fourteen hours and fifty-six minutes. She also contended with mechanical issues before finally making it to a pasture in Northern Ireland.
  7. Amelia Earhart flew solo halfway across the Pacific.
    Breaking yet another record, Amelia was the first pilot to fly alone from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California. Near the end of the uneventful flight, she listened to the radio broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera.
  8. Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.
    In 1937, Amelia attempted to fly around the globe with one crew member, Fred Noonan. She completed most of the global journey, a distance of twenty-two thousand miles, and had just seven thousand to go.

Strange Fruit by Abel Meeropol

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Strange Fruit is the first documentary exploring the history and legacy of the Billie Holiday classic. The song’s evolution tells a dramatic story of America’s radical past using one of the most influential protest songs ever written as its epicenter. The saga brings viewers face-to-face with the terror of lynching even as it spotlights the courage and heroism of those who fought for racial justice when to do so was to risk ostracism and livelihood if white – and death if Black. It examines the history of lynching, and the interplay of race, labor and the left, and popular culture as forces that would give rise to the Civil Rights Movement.

While many people assume Strange Fruit was written by Billie Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote the stark verse and brooding melody about the horror of lynching under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in 1938. It was first performed at a New York teachers’ union rally and was brought to the attention of the manager of Cafe Society, a popular Greenwich Village nightclub, who introduced Billy Holiday to the writer.

https://www.kanopy.com/wayf/product/strange-fruit-biography-song

The documentary includes a moving recitation of the lyric by Abbey Lincoln and a powerful musical performance by Cassandra Wilson. But it’s the footage of Lady Day herself performing her bitter and heart-wrenching signature song that stands at the center of the film. Holiday sang it until her death in 1959.

Malingering

The streets that I stray…

dusty with emerald mystery.

Still they call my name.

All thoughts and fears…

pebbled with blind trust.

To be a wild winged bird…

I would not know where to start.

To whisper into the wind…

I would not know where to begin.

Drifting has become a part of my woolen and woodsy need to be there.

With every nesting squirrel.

With all wild lingerers…

I roam just to be.

I am a liberal because…

This is how I feel.

I’m a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does. Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:

  1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.
  2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
  3. I believe education should be affordable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
  4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
  5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
  6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.
  7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; compulsory prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize my right to live according to my beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
  8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the same rights as you.
  9. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).
  10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
  11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
  12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
  13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is the enforcement of present laws and enacting new, common sense gun regulations. Got another opinion? Put it on your page, not mine.
  14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?
  15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
  16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?

I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.

Author Unknown

Down with the Dawg!

It’s taken me awhile to learn that if I’m gonna offer the gift of my being, it means offering the fullness of the moment we are in!

What’s changed now is that much more of the time, I mean I’m a long way from being cooked, but much more of the time, when I am ‘here,’ this is it, I am here, and when I’m not here, I’m not here. It’s interesting how when you give another human being, your family, or your business, the fullness of your being at any moment, a little is enough; while when you give them half of it, because you’re time binding with your mind, there’s never enough. You begin to hear the secret, that being fully in the present moment is the greatest gift you can give to each situation. #Ram Dass

Tomorrow from the Trees

Fast and current the muddied water

a flutter by,

a brown cardinal,

singing, heroically from a petrified tree.

Tomorrow will not be there for me.

Tomorrow will not be there for me.

In the dance of a well tuned song,

the grackle,

the squirrel,

in fury,

sing,

Tomorrow will not be here for me.

Tomorrow I will not sing to thee.

Chances Are

Chances are ’cause I wear a silly grin
The moment you come into view
Chances are you think that I’m in love with you

The male gator, nicknamed ‘Chance the Snapper,’ was first spotted in the Humboldt Park lagoon about a week ago. After local enthusiasts tried and failed to trap the reptile, Frank Robb arrived from St. Augustine on Sunday. By early Tuesday, he had caught the 5 foot 3 inch animal using something that even cartoon alligators know to avoid: a fishing pole.

Ivory is the Coast

How is to be different…more than just an accolade?

A prototype to the wants in needs of those willing to place us on bended knee.

Who, black, female, yellow, brown or in differential love….

Who among us fall for the cross on the wall…

all awaiting the perfect sign…on the perfect stall.

Alabaster is the night that shines on Iron clad…ivory coasts.

The look of the lookers seeking some sight all from beaches that offer wings with no kite.

I Struggle!

I found this article on depression that is absolutely…right on! I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder. I struggle with OCD. I struggle with severe arthritis. I struggle!

Plain and simple, we, 90 percent of us…struggle. And the more open and honest we are with our ‘recovery’ process…the better we are understood!

When I’m squinting because “my contacts are bothering me,” I’m truly holding back the tears that could burst out at any moment. If you’re going to invoke tears, please have your shoulder ready for me to cry on. I don’t cry in front of people – if I cry in front of you, I’m truly hurting and you are trusted beyond reason.

When I ask you to reassure me of the truth I already know, I am struggling to distinguish between the truth and the lies in my head – I just need another voice to interrupt the internal dialogue and confirm what is the truth. I’m not stupid or wanting reassurance out of attention-seeking motivations. Genuinely, I need another voice to confirm the rationales I typically hold as true. I struggle to maintain these during rough episodes.

When I say I’m always sad, that doesn’t mean I’m never happy – it just means there is always an underlying blanket of angst beneath everything. No matter what the circumstances. Life could be beautiful and I still struggle with that cloud of depression. There are happy moments. There are sad moments. There are exciting moments. But – at the end of the day, I have to fight the wave of hopelessness and turmoil that attempts to engulf me.

When I say “I’m trying,” I am saying I am doing all I can to get better. I am doing every single thing I can. It’s a painful process and chronic condition. It’s not perfect. I am working toward progress. Taking medicine is a scary step – side effects can be awful. Finding a medicine that works can be even scarier. Counseling can be awkward. Finding the right counselor can be even more awkward. Trying not to cause financial stress while seeking medical and psychological relief is near impossible. Trying to maintain relationships that last during all of this is difficult. I am wholeheartedly trying. Please don’t underestimate that.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I don’t want to be this way. I want to be healed. I want my mind to be cleared. This thorn in my flesh is too much to handle most days. This thorn has me unappealing to many for friendship or romance. And that’s OK – just know I am not even slightly OK with not being OK. I recognize this is the state I am in and I have been fighting against it every day. I struggle daily – and it is not because I haven’t attempted to shine a light on this darkness.

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

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Unsplash photo via María Victoria Heredia Reyes.

Adopt, Adopt, Adopt!

  • Adopting a pet saves a life. Not only four legged lives but your own life. Let’s face it having a furry friend in our lives makes us nicer, altruistic…persons.
  • Pets are great for photo bombs.
  • Pets allow for us to be less self absorbed. Never mind, with the love of a good pet…humans do well psychologically. Which in turn, should cut down on therapy sessions and less Xanax.
  • You are never alone with an adopted dog. You are always alone, minus brief moments, with an adopted cat. Still you take what you can get.
  • Adoption is not only the ‘in’ thing to do. You will be the envy of all your hip friends…and, they in turn will want to adopt.
  • There are inhumane breeders out there totting ‘pedigrees.’ Such places are commonly known as, puppy mills. Puppy mills stack crate upon crate with puppies. These crates typically are not cleaned and the animals fight for survival and food. Just think of the good karma and positive energy you will receive by giving back to your local community.

I grew up with my parent’s pedigrees, Airedales, from private breeders that wanted a boat load of money. And, though I appreciate having always had a four legged friend around…these dogs had many medical and psychological issues. I loved each and every childhood pet. Yet, when I became an adult and managed an animal shelter….I never looked back to ‘buying’ a pet. Their soulful, earnest look, can never be replaced with money.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. –Anatole France

A Question for Nature

I wonder what nature sees of me…when pretending not to be?

Does she see me as a threat to her luminosity?

Do the robins nest further up a shady pine?

Is my manner of awe and unsure footing a hindrance to her placating design?

As my oar settles into her complacently, mysterious, waters…does she sense that my intentions…are unkind?

One foot after another, I go back to her response.

The whistle through broken limbs and the frigteningly, gothic music that descends.

If there be admiration, it is one sided.

In nature’s woods…it is just pretend.

A Very Short Song Poem by Dorothy Parker

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad-
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

Lady, lady, never start
Conversation toward your heart

Skinny Dips

The road it took to get here,

had been some spare change on the ground.

An unlucky penny head side down.

A permanent ride behind a wheel.

The further back the seat?

The less I would feel.

A field of ragweed.

An all it sheds.

Fueling the dander in my head.

Visions of vivid lovers…telling me,

Learn differently then the others.

The road it took to get here.

Bohemian quips.

Family ties.

Sinking an already sunken ship.

The road it took to get here.

Began with sharp curves…skinny dips.

The road it took to get here.

Had been man-made…

No matter the seat in which I sit.

Therefore, it will never be a perfect fit.

Death and Dying

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Handles of Freedom

A fray, a strand, a clinging leaf, a handle.

What the cost of freedom?

Do I hang to all the is given to me, as though, it were my last breath?

Do I become everything expected of me?

Though it makes my movement less.

Years before my age, the distance of choice, further and further out of reach.

I am as free today…as I will ever be.

I dangle from fresh, baby pine.

I spin my web as I choose.

I do not need to enter the roads in which I have been led.

Abiding Grace

Grace, a dark horse.

A walk, purposeful, in the spilling rain.

A collection of wild ocean roses from a strangeland.

Eye candy for the laden soul.

Dignity singing nature’s song from the bottom of a deep well.

I cannot recall when I knew you…well.

The visions of ‘could be’ tarry with the stories I cannot tell.

Grace, a dark horse in which my song stands still.

My Dear Drew

I found Dear Drew in a book of Lovely Bones.

A little note from someone to someone else.

A small parched card about not wanting to be alone.

With the challenges of late…

getting old

being less bold

omitting love items that were once owned but now gone.

I found Dear Drew in a book of Lovely Bones.

It told me…

Every morning is a burst of sunshine on my heart to see you next to me.

Your beautiful eyes, the last thing I see at night-fills me with perfect peace.

The touch of your skin.

The smell of your neck.

The taste of your lips.

The feel of your hugs:

Make my throat catch, my breath stops for a moment of recognition.

And, pure happiness sets in.

Thank you for how wonderful you have been.

Homeless Country

Though my travels into the woods are sometimes limited. They are not limited to small country…no homelessness. Though I wander unto roads less traveled. Some have traveled there before me. Some are just seeking refuge from an uncaring world.

Homeless in the Woods

Poverty of thought? Believing we are more than just an arm’s length away from being homeless.


A somber reality in the second most forested state
Abraham Ames June 23, 2019
Land ConservationVolunteers
Homeless campsite in the woods in Concord
Conservation meets a harsh reality of modern society with the discovery of a homeless campsite in the woods in Concord. Abraham Ames/Forest Society Photo.
One thing I love about working for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) is the variety of situations that I encounter. As a conservation easement steward, I spend a lot of time in the woods or behind a computer screen, but I never know what to expect. It’s great when a problem comes along with a nice clear answer, but it often falls somewhere between black and white.

One issue I didn’t expect to engage with as a conservationist is homelessness. It might seem like a big city problem, but it’s right here in small-town New Hampshire. I’ve been surprised at what’s tucked away just out of sight.

My job as a steward takes me to many such places that the Forest Society conserves on behalf of private landowners who voluntarily give up certain rights to develop their land. In order to ensure their fields or forests remain protected as open space, landowners work with land trusts like the Forest Society who require stewards to monitor the lands and document any misuse.

One property in particular is closer to your backyard than you might think — in the middle of Concord, but tucked away just enough to be tempting to someone looking for a discreet place to camp. It might be one thing if someone stayed for one night and practiced Leave No Trace, but the volume of trash I observed being left behind decidedly pushed this situation out of the gray and into a problem that needed solving.

For this conserved land, camping and trash dumping are considered violations of the conservation agreement between the private landowner and the Forest Society. At the request of the landowner, my co-workers and I arranged a volunteer work day to clean this area up and resolve the violation.

It’s easy to be unsympathetic when all you see is the mess that’s left behind. But it was not lost on us that this space was filling a societal need—one which people don’t want to see, much less acknowledge its magnitude. Our clean-up day would get us up close and personal with problems which are all too often swept under the carpet.

Half of what we cleaned up were things often dumped in places off the beaten path: beer cans, soaking wet sleeping bags, torn-up tarps and tents. Yet, the fresher campsites told a different story.

The first truly somber moment was at a site I’d found already abandoned just a few weeks before. In the time since, the tents’ contents had been scattered about. But these weren’t the personal effects you might expect. These items once belonged to a respectable young person. They were things that any young adult might stuff into a backpack — Twilight novels, art supplies, coloring books of ornate animals, Celtic knots, professional looking clothes, paperwork for a driver’s license, makeup and Burt’s Bees lip balm — all strewn about the forest floor and slowly becoming one with the leaf litter.

Each item was a trapping of a responsible, ordinary person. I could tell this hit home for more of my colleagues that day than just me.

“This is kind of depressing isn’t it?” I said.

“This is definitely depressing,” replied a volunteer helping out for the day.

Who was this person? What happened? Where are they now?

The mood changed. We’d gone there to clean up a piece of nature, but there we were, bagging up someone’s life. Any pragmatic apathy we’d brought with us was gone. Unfortunately, as we learned one bag at a time, this person’s situation was not unique.

A homeless campsite in the woods in Concord
New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the United States (behind Maine). Forests occupy 81%, or 4.8 million acres, of the state. Source: NH Division of Forests and Lands
The last campsite was different. It was neat, thoughtfully constructed, and comprised high-quality camping gear. Its occupants did not have the landowner’s permission to camp, and were in an area marked “No Trespassing,” but they were going out of their way to be respectful. It was a nice, family-sized tent with a baby stroller tucked away in front. They had an expensive portable propane heater and cat food dish with fresh kibble. They’d taken the time to bring along their snowshoes. People had been there that morning. Here again, it looked like they had had to vacate an apartment with all they could carry to find a new place to sleep.

Our “get it done” attitude made us want to start tearing it down, but the kibble and outdoor recreation equipment gave us pause. We were looking at all that was left of someone’s stuff, and they were coming back. I didn’t want to be responsible for throwing away all the earthly possessions of someone down on their luck, much less leave them with nowhere to stay that night.

After talking it over, everyone agreed. For all we knew, they were at work and would be coming “home” cold and tired. We decided to leave a note, telling them that we’d cleaned the area, and would give them a week to vacate on their own terms.

We wrapped up the rest of the trash and headed out of the woods. The volunteer crew parted ways after a job well done, and I stayed behind to leave a note on our camper’s tent. Perhaps it was lucky that I had to walk back to my car for pen and paper.

As I turned back, composing the note in my head (“Which is friendlier: ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’?”), I saw what looked like two bedraggled Appalachian Trail hikers pass by. I held back a moment and tried not to be obvious that I was watching. They took the turn toward where we’d been working, and then disappeared down the trail we’d just cleaned out.

“OK, so this is good, right?” I thought as I considered my options. They had to be talked to, but it was too late for a nice anonymous note. What is the risk here? I didn’t think I’d be in danger, but I also wasn’t enthusiastic about giving these people an eviction notice—perhaps their second in a short time.

This was happening in the forest, but it was not my world. I called the police to see if there was anyone nearby and to get some advice. They strongly suggested that I hang tight and let them handle the confrontation. Officers arrived within a few minutes, and they apparently have the routine down. I was glad to see they were disinterested in hassling these people in any way. I didn’t want to feel responsible for any further misfortune in their lives.

They had a nice talk. They’d signed a lease and were moving into an apartment on Monday. They were very thankful that we hadn’t dismantled and bagged what was left of their lives. The police were glad that we were giving them time to relocate.

I breathed a sigh of relief. We’d made the right choice, to leave this violation be. I’ll have to go back and check on it soon. But I hope to find a nice, neat, empty space that people used for a short while to get their lives back on track.

.

A homeless campsite in the woods in Concord

Post Script: I visited the area a week later, glancing over my shoulder to see if anyone took notice. All evidence that they had been there was gone. Our campers clearly understood the tenets of Leave No Trace.

I’m grateful for the respect they showed for this land.

https://forestsociety.org/staff/abraham-ames

You Are My Shade

In the dancing shade of the morning pines
I go searching for her spirit.
Year upon years, this is my choice, by design.
Year upon years, full knowing her shine is something I will never find.

In the oddest of manner, her actions remind me of mother and her nature.
How an awkward summer breeze can bring the charm of relief.
With her hands flat against a wall,
cynically…always leery of the fall.

It is in her purposeful silence that she makes the greatest remark of all.
Arms wide open, her innocence so green.
Having sustained an ocean of gray…
Seemingly born to jump the waves.

These morning thoughts cannot be introduced to anyone but myself.
It is in her rare laugh that I, too, shine.
I am weathered with its glow.
Such as the unavoidable seasons.
In her earthy silent remarks…it is there I find reason.

Crash Into You

Of course, there are moments when you are missed.

Flickering, shuttering, moments…when I see you in the lines upon my face.

Had you held a more sturdy hand…I would have worn less leather…more lace.

I beg for you now, as I had many years before.

The offering of ‘us.’

The magic of father and daughter and the confines of a normal culture.

Morals and majority could never have lived in our home, sweet, home.

Knives and threats were the beliefs in which WE all felt sure…and unsure.

These heroic days that come to pass…feed on every ounce I own with a fervent sign telling all, do not trespass.

To the living and the not so…just another day in which I hope to not crash.

Whether the Weather

Whether not the willow

the fiddler

or,

the fall.

Whether within reach of…

the library

the cross in the hall

or

the papers

that paper the wall.

Either a big city under heaven’s hood.

Or,

a shack in the woods.

Either kind-hearted

or,

prone to damnation.

Whether it is unimportant to

you

or,

meaningful to

me.

Weather is not what it

used to

BE.

Kindness and Dignity

For what it is worth

I see you when I climb the stairs a midst stark twilight.

Your dauntless task given unto an endless flight.

A vision of tolerance and safety.

Kindness and dignity.

A shimmering arc focused on what is here.

A dark side to what is not there.

Can you fix me?

Whiling the while…

cradling ‘of unknown origins’…above the street?

Rest assured I’ve cleaned hell.

It left me in a

‘poor me’ spell.

Days, months, years…

stuck in the glare.

Rummaging in the attic…

drunk and blind…

looking for a purpose, a meaning, maybe a sign.

Now, feral moon, as time becomes,

a whimper and a whim…

As life goes bump in the night…

as it often will.

The dark shadows, the bolted attic door, the childish folk lore’s…

beg the question, once more.

What is IT out there?

One step down from the top of the stair?

IT used to be the monsters sight unseen.

Sometimes, I know, as I do now,

IT is only in a dream.

Organic Manicure

Earthbound melody.

Sifting thru the rust and the budding weeds.

This is the place to be when wonder begins to seed.

Rummaging, romping, romantics of the forest.

Decadent in their delivery.

Seeking clustered acorns

and

spurs of last year’s wood.

Never any thought to…rest assured.

Organic manner of giving the land a manicure.

Just Enjoy the Ride

With the moonlight to guide you. Feel the joy of being alive. The day that you stop running Is the day that you arrive
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