A Line in the Sand

I began writing poetry after the end of a three year relationship. It wasn’t a healthy ending to a healthy relationship to say the least. It left me immobilized by depression and the first poems that I wrote were sort-of poems of survival if you will. I needed to get them outside of myself in order to do something with the issues I was facing. In this way I have always been different from my family. We’re Irish and Italian, and the Irish in us refuses to be direct about feelings. In fact, as a sort of pride, my family has honed the practice of withholding feelings and bottling them up until they become a cancer (literally) and kill us. It’s generally true that you’re either going to follow the example of those who mold and shape you as you grow up, or rebel against them and swing in the opposite direction. That is what poetry has been for me; a protest against the unwillingness for direct communication and telling others how you truly feel.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect practice, this breaking free from the patterns of behavior that are learned by experience and those around you. So, in my worst moments I have regressed back into the form of shutting down that I learned from those who shaped me growing up. Some of the poetry in The Golden Road reflects this period of my life. Some very hard years of being homeless and relying on friends and the kindness of even strangers to take me in and help me break free from the chains of immobilizing depression and self-abuse. They aren’t “fluffy.” These poems are honest and open and they’ve helped me to wrestle with the wolves as they say. One of the truly breakthrough poems in this area of poetry is the poem “Spleen.” I’ve included it below and also included a video of me performing the poem on the Media tab of the site. I pray that it helps others to break out of whatever it is that is keeping you back or causing you to be immobilized in your life.

Spleen

Dust settles on what was a polished
centerpiece; hired hands in my halls
of memory are reluctant to relocate
your face to some corner gallery
of past mistakes. My cobwebs of
self-righteousness, like a knight who
lost his trusty steed to ride him into
battle. To sit instead upon the river
Styx as distant war-drums prove me
traitorous, skipping stones to watch
the ripples fade and then return to
rest. The self-deception that refusing
to participate is security from failure

or that one can choose to live in death
alone; to give no more and yet still
hope to sow the future. It’s time to
wax the halls, prepare the dining room,
invite the neighbors in, relight the
candlesticks and pour the wine; rewrite
the manuscript, new cast of characters,
unmask these hidden fears
and fight for life—undying.

 

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