“Unveiled Secrets” dlmchale, 2019
I toss words upon a blank page,
not unlike a Voodoo priest who hurls
white-bleached bones upon
the terrene sacraficial altar;
thrown and cast, until at last,
I divine a poem.
“Unveiled Secrets” dlmchale, 2019
I toss words upon a blank page,
not unlike a Voodoo priest who hurls
white-bleached bones upon
the terrene sacraficial altar;
thrown and cast, until at last,
I divine a poem.
across deep blue ocean swells
lover’s passion-clenched eyelids
soon sleep descending
soon sleep descending
life demands its sacrifice
death a bitter toll
death a bitter toll
human souls ascend the scale
stars suddenly aglow
stars sudden aglow
midnight meadows bathed in light
winds begin to blow
winds begin to blow
softly swaying, children dance
to music unheard
to music unheard
new life from true love formed
the world rejoices
the world rejoices
eagles screech their summer songs
eyes glancing upward
eyes glancing upward
a silent voice offers prayer
clouds begin to weep
clouds begin to weep
lashing rains, the voice of God
“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Mead
Hold onto the faith that what you can do, and are willing to do, matters. Nothing matters more. You are not solely responsible for the solution. Bite off only as much as you can chew and trust that it will be enough to directly and indirectly feed a multitude of others.
When you do pray, pray for purpose. I promise you, the answers will come. They may not come in a way you were hoping, but they will come in a way that you need. And you may not see that your prayer was answered until you look back one day and see how all the answers fell into perfect place.
If you don’t do so already, make time to meditate. Oftentimes, we are so deafened by the noise of our own hectic lives and the demands pressed upon us that we drown out the quiet whisper within ourselves that reveals our inner compass, our hidden strengths, and our unique gifts.
Recognize that the person most in need of comfort and support may well, at times, be you. Allow others to do for you what you cannot in this moment do for yourself. In accepting love and care from another, you allow other individuals to fully actualize their humanity.
Empower yourself to change the world. Each of us, individually and magnificently, can do something by simply reaching out and offering the gift of comfort, assistance, and love for that one person who cries out in need.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves our paying attention “on purpose” and in “this moment.” Marathons are more easily won if the runner can simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly, and in equal measure. They are generally lost when all the runner can see is the 26 miles stretching ahead.
Accept the reality that you are not powerless. You are infinitely powerful. The answers you so desperately seek are within you. But do not confuse power with purpose. Power is simply the fuel necessary to propel your purpose.
Look to those closest to you in need. Discern what your “gift” is and extend it to others. Resist any temptation toward personal recognition or reward. Empowered individuals are in the business of sowing, not reaping.
Believe that what you do not only matters, it is essential. It may seem like a small gesture to you, but you just might inspire another who then inspires another who then inspires another.
It is 4 a.m. and once again I am planted before the keyboard attempting to craft words into clever sentences…and there you go, failure in the first keystrokes. The good news, based upon my dearth of hits on WordPress, is that no one will read this anyway.
I once envisioned myself a budding writer, but now I am thoroughly convinced that feeling was nothing more than insomnia in the early morning hours combined with a pot of cheap coffee flushing out last night’s indigestion (don’t worry, that’s as graphic as I am capable of writing!)
I know I could be a good writer, if it wasn’t for all that grammar and words and things. But who am I kidding? It’s all about the words…the fucking words! (Hey, I used “dearth” in my second sentence…doesn’t that count for anything?) Well, I don’t have words or ideas or pesky plots, but what I do have is way too much time on my hands, so here you go.
When I write, I don’t have a particular audience in mind. Well, sort of, I guess…I have the ghosts of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Hemingway, and Plath. Sweet Sylvia Plath. Lots of dead people who, while not necessarily helpful critics, at least show up in my head and watch the circus of confusion unfold. Sometimes I can hear the occasional clicking of the tongue, a sure sign to lay on the backspace and come at a line from a new direction. Or maybe the clicking is the melting cubes in Ernest’s posthumous cocktail. The revolver of his pistol being locked into place? Who knows? The point is, I’m often guided by the whispers of spirits.
It feels as though when I write it has less to do with me having something to say than something that has to be said having me to write it. (Wow, I just plagiarized myself..that last line was something I wrote a year ago!) But it’s true, nonetheless. I often find that it is sufficient for me to just press the keys, and somehow the story will tell itself. Don’t believe me? I just wrote everything above without a thought in my head.
The key to being a great writer, I’m convinced, is to be a great reader. There is nothing I can say now, or will ever write, that hasn’t been said or written before. But a studious reader understands that there are a million ways to say the same thing, and that’s the beauty, and salvation, of writing. You don’t have to be original. You just have to have a unique dialect. In my case, it also helps to have a really poor opinion of most of today’s writing. I continually lie to myself and say, “I can do better!” And sometimes…I do. Then I pull down a worn copy of Pushkin and think, “shit..fuck this!! I can’t write!” And again, I am right.
So I continue my early morning ritual and if it’s true what they say, that if you give 1,000 monkeys 1,000 typewriters, in a thousand years, one of them will bang out the complete works of William Shakespeare, then surely, if this continues for a thousand mornings, I can bang out something worth reading.
Should you desire to be hateful — to dissect an innocent heart from the inside, to bury a soul under its own weight, bind it in secrecy. Afflict it with a power it cannot share, knowledge it cannot teach, truth it cannot practice.
Secrets are dangerous not in being told, but in being kept.
What is locked in the heart is so vulnerable and precious; it is a force meant to be reflected upon, reconciled, and released. Perhaps some secrets are too burdensome to be unleashed in shameless entirety or in direct confidence, and those are scattered throughout time in legends, myths, in art and poetry; masterpieces littering each single experience with whispers and with shadows. The secrets and their fragments we may be blessed or cursed to encounter are not for us to harbor, but to share as we see fit:
When we share foolishly, they instruct us; when we share wisely, they enlighten others.
In life, we accumulate so many secrets — they settle under our skin. They imprison us in our own minds, trap us with our own wills. Sometimes such secrets efface our very desire to live, for being alive is no more than sharing secrets:
Taking them on and letting them go.
For those who are truly living, there is no such thing as a secret, for to hear a whisper is to be whispered oneself. Being alive is standing on an ocean shore listening to the tide or marking the centre of a gust of wind or smiling quietly at a stranger’s conversation or holding the unshed tears of a close friend, inhaling the hushed morsels of existence and inserting ourselves in their place.
When we do this, we take the wind and give to it our being, and thus the burden of being is lightened for all. We cannot hold secrets dear, we can only hold them in vain. We are merely vessels after all:
Filled so we may be emptied, emptied so we may be filled again.
The royal robes of winter’s night
tightly bind me in its blue-black grip
The shadow of majestic purple mountains
kneel upon the fields of frozen graves
ancient tombstones, like granite faces
hemming the barren valley floors
An amber moon spills its bitter glow
through naked branches like brittle
fingers clutching a button-less cloak
Icy winds whip swirls of fog across
lifeless lakes, and on broken wings
doves fall from a voiceless sky
In a distant village, old ladies warble lullabies
to their dying husbands; soft verse cutting
like jagged blades through thick cherry smoke
bleeding from pipes clenched in broken teeth.
The children, with bellies as round as their joyless
eyes feed upon fermented peaches and dance
on knitted bones, playing hide but please, don’t seek
for we are tired, for we are weak
I have walked a lifetime to return
to this is, my kingdom, stretching as far as the blind
eye can see. Built upon the shifting sands of hope lost
This, both kingdom and the shoveled grave
My head crowned in a spray of dying stars;
my spirit drowned in muted prayer;
my hobbled feet cut upon jagged stones.
This is my destiny, my hell, my home.
Hush old man, please just die. We wish to silence your cry.
Disconnect, remove the nodes from my chest.
Support this death, abort your love. Cancel that check.
Silence the beating of your body tired soul
We no longer hold you in this reality.
Depart this existence as a whole.
Scrape the eternal wound of our memory from your heart.
I’ll watch your glazed eyes stare into the void.
When you depart, please take the disease with you. So we may continue, for a time.
***TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains small mentions of self-harm and institutionalization.***
Today I want to talk about something that has been swimming around in my head for weeks. I guess you could say this post is an accumulation of high emotions, stress, and some really tactless things I have heard from people who meant well. There are a few in my life who actually understand where I’m coming from… thanks Jeri and Susan and Julie and my sweet Nikie. I’m not going to unleash 40+ years of preteen, wannabe rebellion drama on to you; please know that all of this is coming from the heart; an excerpt from my life.
Following this post, I share a poem I wrote that attempts to sum up my dysthemia (chronic depression) in an easier, entertaining format. Depression is hard to put into words for those who have never experienced it. Sometimes a poem helps. Maybe.
To start off, I have been struggling with depression for at least 45 years. In middle school I had some issues with my classmates. A lot of them thought I was strange because one day I wanted to talk to everyone, huge smile on my face – and then the next I would withdraw or lash out angrily at anyone who dared look at me the wrong way. It was a time when I was just starting to realize that I was different, that something akin to a sezure was going to assert itself at random moments in my brain and in my life.
There was never relief at home for there was horror in that house visted continuously upon myself and my five siblings. I avoided going home at all costs. For a while, I had no way of coping besides throwing ridiculous tantrums to push people away; I stopped talking. Nobody knew what to do with me, so my mother started making me read and write to bring my grades up. When I actually became interested in reading, and especially writing, it became a coping mechanism. To this day, writing is my one place I can retreat to be heard and to find peace..
In high school my depression quickly escalated, especially during my sophomore and junior years. I was still reading and writing to cope, but I had absolutely no motivation in my education. I didn’t skip to be rebellious, I skipped because the anxiety of walking in to class was too much to bear. I can remember seeing the doorway to any of my classrooms, knowing there was a teacher and other students on the other end feeling like my lungs collapsed.
It took little to no thought, almost as if on instinct, for me to turn my feet in the other direction and skip my afternoon classes until the day was over. I was not bullied, I wasn’t hurt in any way by any of my teachers or students, there was no substance abuse when I skipped, but my parent’s couldn’t comprehend what was wrong. All they knew was that I was very quiet and withdrawn and nothing seemed to be helping.
Around this time, I started exhibiting self-harm behaviors: climbing rooftops and jumping, running away for a week or two at a time, taking full bottles of whatever was in the medicine cabinet. Once, I even took all of my mother’s birth control pills. But perhaps the most alarming was locking myself in my bedroom and choking myself with a belt until I passed out. I practiced hanging myself. Anything to escape the fear, the anxiety…the darkness.
By junior year I was continually self-harmful and hiding it from my only friend and my family. When my best friend found out she told her mother and she contacted my parents. The result was several trips to a psychiatrist that I absolutely loathed, and a therapist who was so unbelievably optimistic she could have been in Legally Blonde, but wearing baby blue 24/7 instead of pink. I stopped hurting myself (for a few years) but I still skipped class daily, read books to the detriment of my social life. Naturally, I gravitated to dark writers…Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Sylvia Plath, etc….and continued to be either withdrawn or aggressive with my family. During this time I was on medication, under the guidance of my psychiatrist.
I stuck to this uncertain way of life for a while, finding two friends struggling with the same situation I was. They were my support system, one of which I still talk to today. By the time I finished high school and started college, I had stopped taking my medication. I didn’t think there was a need for it anymore.
My first year was academically successful, but my mental state was getting increasingly worse and more unpredictable than usual. I was suffering. I managed to walk to my classes without freaking out about being watched until I sat down, and the dark fog would envelope me, but I was learning to function even in that darkness. It was a huge step forward. My academic advisor, however, was not happy with the lack of motivation in my education and prompted me to take on more classes. I’m not shoving the full blame of my ensuing emotional breakdown on him, however I do feel that my need to please him and avoid conflict was to take on 19 credits, an internship and an on campus job….all of which led to more depression.
I barely made it through my first semester before I was so emotionally and physically exhausted I could barely get out of bed. I was forgetting to eat and getting 3 hours of sleep on a daily basis.
During this time I talked to several different people to get help. I talked to the free on campus counseling, to which some of my friends went with me for support. It was great to have that outlet, but it wasn’t helping enough. I was so malnourished I lost nearly 25 pounds in the span of a month. Finally my roommate took one good look at me and told me if I didn’t get out of bed the next day by 12pm he was going to send me home with his mother if he had to. I ended up dropping out of college my sophomore year and coming back home.
I took the rest of the semester off, just focusing on eating, sleeping , and most importantly, not killing myself. This later thought was new…and I thought about it a lot. I spent most of my waking time trying to gather my courage to end it all.
By next semester I was re-enrolled in a college and went back on medication.
Therapy appointments were twice a week until I was back at a healthy weight and attending school on a regular basis. But I discovered a way to participate in all the social mayhem that one encounters in college – alcohol.
I had no way of knowing then what a devastating role alcohol (coupled with depression) would eventually have on my life, and in time, my marraige. But for the moment it worked. I experienced the false happiness of being under the influence. I could talk to people. I felt happy. And I had sex. A lot of sex. It numbed me. But the consequences of drinking began to assert itself: I was placed on academic probation for missing classes or going to classes under the influence. Two weeks later, I dropped out of college altogether.
This began a vicious and arduous cycle of failures that, unbeknownst to me, fed my depression: get a job, lose a job because of my drinking. Date a girl who could not keep up with my drinking. Lose a girl. Over and over and over. My self-esteem was shredded. And all along, like shoveling coal in a hungry furnace, I was stoking the flames of my disease. But as long as I kept drinking, I escaped the onslaught of a full blown depression collapse. The alcohol was killing me and saving me at the same time. I was committing social suicide by drinking as I did so that I did not commit actual suicide locked in my dysthemia.
Because of the alcohol, I was now somewhat liberated from my withdrawn state. I started noticing the strange reactions I was getting from people when I talked to them about my situation. Some of my friends were getting exasperated with my emotional outbursts and my depressive withdrawls, wondering why I couldn’t just “get over” what was bothering me. I tried to describe to them what was going on in my head but “It’s a chemical thing more than an emotional thing” didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere.
I started noticing that people who have never experienced deep depression were rather tactless when talking to people who suffered from depression. There seems to be this really blasé attitude towards those who are struggling with living their lives as normal people. Having my struggle with depression spelled across my forehead was too much to ask from me in order to get a somewhat understanding reaction from someone else… sorry…it wasn’t worth the effort. I’ve been institutionalized once and ever since coming out and getting my life back together people have been expecting me to just “get over” everything that comes my way. I couldn’t comment on something that was a little frustrating to me without someone telling me I’m “making too much of a big deal” about it.
I could not understand why people felt the need to react this way to someone who has been more than blatantly open about his emotional problems: WHY on earth would they instigate MORE problems and demand answers because they don’t know what’s wrong with them? If I told someone I had cancer, no one in their right mind would even dream of saying “Oh, it’s just cancer, get over it”. They wouldn’t have to know anything about my past, my family, the struggles I’d faced or anything of the sort to act like a decent human being, so why is it okay to say something like that about depression?
Sometimes I’d really like to give people a piece of my mind. It’d go a little something like this:
Things I’ve heard: “Oh honey, we all get a little sad sometimes.”
My reaction: “I’m pretty sure wanting to kill myself on a daily basis isn’t a little sad. But sure, I feel so much better now that my suicidal thoughts have been completely downgraded, I’m gonna go find a 7 story window to jump out of. Have a nice day.”
Things I’ve heard: “Why can’t you just tell me what’s going on? I’d be so much easier to deal with, I don’t have time to do this with you every day.”
My reaction: “I totally love living in emotional turmoil so I just keep it to myself. The chemical calibrations going off in my brain make total sense to to me but I don’t feel like sharing. I’m sorry I forgot to tell you I had an emotional breakdown scheduled this month and it’s set to go until the middle of December. I’ll put it on the calendar next time.”
Things I’ve heard: “You didn’t look or sound depressed at all! How was I supposed to know?”
My reaction: “I wasn’t trying to tell you. And if I could, there are no words to describe the darkness that envelopes me. Next time I want the world to know exactly how I feel on a daily basis I’ll tattoo it on my face so it’s impossible to miss. I love knowing my personal business is so blatantly obvious to everyone in the world.”
Things I’ve heard: “Why can’t you just stop feeling that way? I mean thinking about it won’t help so just move on.”
My reaction: “Ooooooooooooooooh! You’re so incredibly smart! Let me find my automated ‘off’ switches for my mind, my brain, my heart, my depression and anxiety and I’ll get back to you. Thanks sooooooooooo much for the suggestion. I’ll just add that to the growing list of things I have failed at, and get right on that thank you note for such a thoughtful piece of advice.
-insert loud sigh here-
The point is, my tolerance for people’s complete lack of understanding is getting smaller by the hour. No person who has ever felt the pain that depression brings should ever have to feel guilty for it, especially when the people around them don’t understand anything about what they are going through. We don’t share the same language when it comes to depression. Words to describe what it’s like simply don’t exist. We need to start by having an open and thoughtful national conversation on the topic. And that is not going to happen.
I’m starting to realize I’m going to have to cut some really important people out of my life because of this. In one way, I cut the most important person in my life out forever, because of the behavioral side affects of my dysthemia and the attempts to quiet the nightmare through a series of alcohol relapses. I will never forgive myself for that. The repercussions of that will echo for years yet to come. I couldn’t save myself….how in hell was I evervgoing to save my marriage? And what in God’s name was I thinking ever letting someone get that close to me. It will never happen again.
Being alone with depression is going to hurt, but I’d rather go through a hurt alone that I can grow out in three days or a week than ever suffer again by havingin my love, my heart, and myself as a person discarded because of the fallout of this savage disease. I cannot long survive a life of having who I am as a person suffering from depression thrown back in my face every day by a world that is afraid to understand.
DYSTHYMIA (CHRONIC DEPRESSION)
by D..L. McHale
It does not speak English, Spanish, French, or Italian, or any intelligible utterance known to this world.
It is a darkness devoid of spoken words;
a tongue savagely ripped from the mouth of the village idiot.
There are no pressed pages in braille
to sensate dull fingertips, to tap out the iniquity and the pain.
No painting of fingered words in the still air whispering into deafened ears.
It is the molten ashes of Vesuvius, cascading behind clenched eyelids; a scorching of the inner self. It is the babbling madness of Babylon chanting chattering confusion.
It is the silent scream that pierces the morning sky, the shrieking wind that rips the sparrow’s wings from its tender breast.
It is the desperate gasp for air from collapsed lungs, the tortured artery that bleeds the brain.
Beneath the ocean’s swell, the riptide that pulls one asunder to the blue-black abyss, a dark star consuming itself, devouring light into the shadows of its belly.
A twisted comfort in the unfeeling, a slap in the face of the unsmiling. Distant and cold eyes – unfocused, unseeing.
A banquet of burning bone and marrow before demons dancing to noteless music.
Past the tick-tick-tocking of the midnight hour,
Wrapped in sweat-stained cotton sheets,
Robbed of sleep and feeling sour
Like a muffled drum sounding nothing beats –
In the dying petals of the poet’s flower.
This syrup sleep removes the pain,
While dreams remain beyond my reach.
A whiskey slumber subdues the brain
While my toss-n-turn reveals a breach,
As time grinds on just the same.
I rise to write the poet’s dribble
And gorge upon liters of stale red wine.
Behold, my words, a bastard’s scribble!
Writ upon the passage of borrowed time.
Each tick, each tock, from my life is nibbled
I cannot rest while my muse is clanging
Inside my head a poor man’s verse,
Nor can I stop the incessant banging
As my thirst for libations meets an empty purse!
These words are ripe for a morning hanging.
Upon the tick-tick-tocking of the morning hour,
Sweet sleep descends upon my brow.
Within my bed I hide and cower;
An ink-less pen is a horseless plough –
In the dying petals of the poet’s flower.
Be still my love.
There now, can you hear it?
within the shadows
of our mingled selves,
softly rising upon
the rhythms of our breath.
sweet angel of love.
Lie spent upon my breast
surrender to the
symphony of our souls.
Feel your senses
to the chords
of desire’s keyboard;
upon colored notes
within the crimson chambers
of our dream-soaked hearts.
Hear the song
muted passion sirens
lilting lightly across
the dim-lit chasms
of our melded minds;
See the trees
laughing willows of lust
sweeping low over
bending sensuously to us
in morning’s whispered light.
Taste the waters
washing over our
quenched, naked forms,
cascading into deep pools
Smell the fragrance
desires fully blossomed
with petals of relief
falling, simply drifting
from the branches
or our love.
Touch the ribbons
behind love-clenched eyelids;
blinding pastel visions,
stretching, softly binding
soul to soul in evening’s brief rapture.
Sleep deep, my love.
Carry this lullaby
into your hazy slumber,
In the cool, gray light of morning
we will write another.
Death in Syria and Libya, financial collapse in Greece, fires in California, ISIS atrocities in Chattanooga, famine in the Sudan, murder by cop everywhere!
The list is endless.
Where are the uplifting stories?
Where are the tales of human heroism
that lift us beyond our everyday blues ,
the stories that reveal the true range
of human experience?
Are we shackled prisoners of a media
obsessed with the belief that the only thing that sells is grief and despair?
To overcome evil, we must be vigilant
about the abuses we humans bestow upon one another, stalwart against the evil forces of our inner demons.
We cannot stick our head in a bucket of wilted flowers and hope that things get better.
We need inspiration.
We need stories of triumph and victory.
We need to imagine and create.
Our imagination is a book of inspiration;
On its pages are found the stories of shared love,creativity, hope, and universal promise.
Ours is the story of lives imperceptibly bound, threads weaving a rich and colorful tapestry of humankind, of hope.
Where can we find hope?
It is found in our children, our future,
a new generation moving out into
and experiencing their worlds.
It is found in the creative outpouring of strangers ever reminding us that the true nature of humanity is to seek higher ground and to share with one another the voice of our inner genius.
It is found in the artists, the dancers, the poets and writers…the storytellers, the musicians, the singer’s, the community activists, the revolutionaries, the preachers, the atheletes, the lovers, and the loved.
It is found in the spiritual and collective vision of each of us.
The stories that diminish us will one day
be supplanted by those that lift us up!
Ours is a story of the capacity to love,
to overcome, to perservere.
There is much power and beauty in her world, yet her soul is divided into two houses:
One is sparce and darkly decadent, surrounded by high windowless walls; there is very little color to break the monotony, and its gate is usually locked.
This house is full of decaying art – the crudely painted memories left by people who felt their life had been changed by divine intervention, offering eternal love for her with promises that were falsely laid.
The other house is rich in colour, its thick outside walls washed in strong blues and reds.
In this house, the gate is flung wide open, and on the patio outside there are clay pots and plates all decorated in a kaleidoscope of vibrant, living colours.
Inside is a tiny virginal bed with a mirror above it reflecting back the inconsistent themes of her life.
She wears her silken hair in ebony rivulets cascading in loose waterfalls down her gently curving back; she takes great pride in the delicate scar across her upper lip, a reminder of the evil that dwells in the angry guts of jealous men.
Her clothing echoes her hair – she dresses in embroidered shirts and wide floor-length flowing skirts, swirling in the warm summer winds of her womanhood.
All of this colour and dynamism reflect her conflicted character; the turbulent and contradictory life she lives. Her own story is both tragic and uplifting; the essence of her more provocative, daring and strange spirit.
Indeed, in some ways the dichotomy of her life are chapters in a long autobiography, paralleled and matched by her inner angels and demons.
This internal schism is refracted through the broken shards of a glass imagination, a constant yearning to fill the void within her. And in that complex yearning, another looming presence which was impossible to escape.
Her secret love, her one true love, is a huge man who looks even more enormous beside her diminutive body. He is a constant (but not faithful) companion. She both loves and loathes him, in constant and equal measure.
The relationship between the two is fraught with conflict and anger. So it might be strange to see the two lace cloths embroidered with their names lying across the pillows of her bed.
There is in her life a curious blend of love, betrayal, hope, and long-suffering sentimentality coupled with a harsh frankness about herself – a combination that seduces many people – not only him.
Each night, she gently and quietly untangles herself from his sleeping embrace and makes her way by moonlight to her gray, colorless house with the locked gate.
She indulges in intense relationships with faceless women and men, offering her backside to conventional morality. But in the cool grey light of morning, she folds herself once more into the warmth and safety of his arms.
This constant terrible pain is a permanent feature of her life, yet it does not restrain her. In some ways it makes her wilder and more uninhibited. For much of what compels her life is about pain, and the terrible fragility of her body compared with the resolution of her mind.
Each day she deals most explicitly with the paradox of excruciating joy and exquisite pain.
Her alter egos are attached by fragile vessels which are not easily cut – hence the bloodstained scissors resting on her white dress. The lush landscape of her dreams seem inaccessible because of the thorny brambles around her neck.
While she might appear, with her beautiful traditional dresses and her tiny broken body, like the ‘perfect doll’ that all men and certain women desire, she is nonetheless fulfilled in her own right, and pursues sexual fulfilment and monogamous peace with equal fervor.
A ribbon around a bombshell.
She is inexplicably wrapped in endless layers of the full spectrum of human experience and the unbidden possibilities in human understanding.
She senses affirmation in the enormous potentiality of both houses and the unique power of being a woman once freed from constraint.
She is fighting a revolution within herself.
Hers is a life of two-way narratives. Of unimaginable passions and failed restraint. An existence made all the worse by sadness, distress and a brutal sense of betrayal. Made all the better by the wanton surrender to the possibilities and potential of a woman’s body.
This is the permanent consequence of her life. Yet the often violent and disturbing intersection of her two houses within her soul provide ironic affirmations of life; there is beauty in both, not only in the qualities of conventionality, but in the power and strength of the life itself.
She is full of curses and imprecations interwoven with lyrical images and fragments of poetry. Her dualism defies fatalism with their colours, their endlessly surprising meetings of image and meaning, their powerful assertions of her womanhood.
She is both madonna and whore, and she is perfect in her imperfection.
Full of hurt and pain and yet equally bursting with life, defiance, and rebellion.
She is an ever-evolving act of defiance, a challenge, a continuing affirmation of life itself.
Spat from the angered mouth of heaven
falling, spiraling, through the mystic ages
thrust without grace into the mortal coil
within my Mother’s sacred womb
and spat once more again into Life
I am become.
On broken knees with a broken voice
whispering hallowed hallelujahs
I am now become
this incredible expression of motion;
motion within volume,
volume within silent prayers
I am become.
Crimson rivers of blood wash
my bleached bones, cleansed and holy,
creating my presentational self –
a life defined in patterns of sentience
expressed through transcendent forms
of human feelings, of human failings,
of growth and attenuation,
of flowing and stowing,
of conflict and resolution,
speed, arrest, terrific excitement,
I am become.
In suffering forged and forgotten
shackled in the biting chains
of free will and isolation;
the celestial curse of the living flesh
now belies my subtle activation
In Death I am but sweetly spent
and spat once more
into the bowels of Earth
my soul surpassing the expression
of human feeling, of human frailty
transcending the mortal sphere
the push of life itself
it’s relentless assertion of tension
not only in myself, nor in all mankind
but rather in the cosmos
dissolving and so evolving eternal
once more spat into the Heavens
I am become.
by Dennis McHale
The slaying of Cecil has galvanized thousands of individuals who have in dismay and agony expressed their collective outrage for this incomprehensible tragedy. The murderer (a word I chose carefully to express my own dismay) is now in hiding, fearful of retribution against his physical self, no doubt in fear for his life. The mob is assembling, the pitchforks are gathered, the torches lit.
I can not, and will not deny them their anger, nor will I offer any defense for the dentist who perpetrated this senseless and cruel crime against nature…but neither will I deny that he is not the only villain in this blood-fest. We are all culpable in the slaying of this majestic lion, for when was the last time any of us demanded an end to this business of savagely hunting down and killing the world’s precious and endangered species for sport and for profit?
When was the last time we raised our voices, as we do today, to cry out for protection for the lions and rhinos and elephants and whales and seals, and indeed, all defenseless creatures charged by nature and by God to our care? Ask yourself, as you hunt down the perpetrator of Cecil’s demise, what have you yourself actually done to prevent such craven and barbaric acts…not only against animals, but against ourselves?
It takes more than flooding social media with tear-soaked tweets and emotion charged re-posts. It takes sacrifice and commitment. It takes money and it takes action. Words are a cheap substitute, and even this, what I write, falls woefully short of what Cecil needed most in the awful hours as he slowly bled with an arrow sticking out of his majestic body. As he endured the hunt in his final hours.
Diane Fossey gave her life defending lowland gorillas. Jane Goodall devoted her entire earthly existence to the protection, understanding, and preservation of chimpanzees and other primates. And what do we do? We content ourselves with casting the first stone. We hunt for one depraved man who feeds his lust for massacre upon our very apathy and inaction. We text our outrage and then just as quickly check our “likes” on Facebook.
Shame on this man for his near psychopathic yearning for destroying Cecil. And shame on us for not beforehand putting in place protection against such acts of depravity in the first place.
Introducing a new book by noted Author and Illustrator, and dear friend, Malika Gandhi, “LOST SOUL”
When a Soul begins to ask questions, she expects answers.
Aanchal wanders the lonely haveli (Indian mansion) at night, navigating her way to each room and turning the lights on. The villagers become aware of a presence and fear a girl never seen in their midst.
Who is she and where did she come from? Who turns the lights on in the old ruin every night?
Aanchal is not afraid of the villagers who want her banished, but she is afraid of her mother’s yearly visit from the Other Side. Aanchal wants to be forgiven for something that happened by accident a hundred years ago, and she is willing to make things right.
When Kunaal arrives with Jennifer, Aanchal sees the chance to right what went wrong, but she will need help. Will her friends help her? Will her mother’s spirit forgive her? Will she finally be ready to cross over?
Lost Soul – a harrowing tale of expectations and long-awaited hope.
Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00THMNDW4
This poem is dedicated to Hastywords,
who taught me the value of true friendship
A bowman knows his craft and his art
The deer only knows its fluttering heart
When the arrow pierces its tender mark
The bowman knows he must give
The deer knows she must part
I never knew of you before we met
Though in my heart you lived
For Love is born in the beating heart
Which the bowman hears and hunts
What once was a sacred mystery
Now lives on the tip of his arrow
But she broke it and lives in the dark
Not daring to hope, so full of sorrow
Distrustful of the bowman’s mark
He knew he could never hold her
Though she cried of lustful hunger
Rather than accept his tender gifts
For of a debt she would never owe
He wanted to tell her, but she said no.
She was locked in battle with her insecurity
But her defiance was all too polished and real
Not wanting to stray, not wanting to feel
Not wanting to falter beneath his loving touch
Denying her heart, for the distance too much
He broke his bow and beheaded his arrows
and blew out candles and laid them to rest
He wanted no shadow to witness
Her struggle, her half-hearted protest
He wanted to protect her dreams and her fears
So she could stop hiding her sweetness
Embrace new love, and cease hiding her tears
She knew she had fallen in impossible love
The kind she would lose and later write of
One heart divided would not much long beat
His arrow lay broken, like his heart at her feet
So she gathered the pieces, her joy and her bliss;
and offered the bowman her sweet-scented kiss
Then she thrust the arrow deep into his heart
And whispered goodbye as he entered the dark
I awoke to a kiss, a whispered taste
softly pressed upon my face,
and in that moment, my soul, it wished
to know once more that soulful kiss!
Yet it was a vapor of a waking dream.
Nothing more; not what it seemed.
These wretched ghosts that find delight
in morning’s light, dancing and playing
betraying with the dust of sorrowed dreams
promises broken, and vows false spoken!
Violently shaken in the sudden waking
arms no more to hold me tight
through winter nights…I am awake. I am awake.
Where, gentle caress of morning rain?
that eases my pain; The merciful patter
that shatters my hold on false dreamt love
each drop above my window pane, slowly
washing in rivulets the memories set
under granite stone..I lie alone. I lie alone.
Enduring ink upon the page, how do I gauge
What’s real? What’s myst? What’s relevant?
Unlock the night, Release my dreams
silence the screams, and write for me
an ending poem, whereby I lie here not alone.
How sweet the dream that never ends?
Where love ascends and kisses dealt
are truly felt in dark of night.
She spent half of her life
wearing the same pair of shoes.
When she first saw them, they were dazzling…
full of promise (and promises!)
Tightly laced and polished,
glistening like diamonds upon her feet.
They were immediately comfortable, and comforting.
At first, she walked through dark night forests
and midnight-winding streets; breaking them in,
smiling at the melody of new leather creaking
in harmony with the violin-sawing of cricket wings,
with the ruffling of the night owls feathers.
She dared to share her dreams, and danced in her new shoes
with abandon and trust and hope.
The shoes spoke to her of wondrous things to come…
making promises shoes should not make
but new love demands –
of forever cradling her feet against sharpened stones;
of warming her toes through winter’s storms;
of lifting her heals in rapturous dance…
She fell in love with these shoes,
flooded with dreams of where they might carry her.
Each morning, she slipped them on with tenderness and love;
each night, un-laced, she fell asleep clutching them to her breast…
…whispering sweet hallelujahs
for all the miles they had shared,
and would in all their ahead days walk,
promising – until death do us part!
She loved her shoes with complete abandon
and imagined they would always be as comfortable
as the day she first placed them upon her trusting feet-
each day praying these shoes would always love her in return;
with tenderness, truth, and above all else, never hurting her.
But the years went by, and those beautiful shoes began to wear.
With time, they lost their gloss, and the leather cracked and hardened.
She noticed, one morning, a tiny droplet of blood upon her sock;
Later, a small cut upon her heel, a new pain within her heart.
Yet still, devoted, she continued to wear them
though at night she began setting them beside her bed.
In the final year, she wept looking at these shoes;
they were now ugly shoes, painful shoes.
“These shoes,” she tearfully whispered,
“will never carry me to where I need to go.”
She could tell in other’s eyes that they
were glad these were her shoes and not theirs.
They never talked about her shoes.
They looked away in embarrassed empathy.
To learn how awful her shoes were might make them
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
She began, for the first time, to hate her shoes;
with guilt at first, then with an increasing passion
until one day an awareness swept through her thoughts:
“I deserve a better pair of shoes.”
She looked around, and for the first time understood
that she was not the only one who wore those shoes.
“There are many pairs in this world,” she thought.
I can either learn how to walk in them, timidly,
so they don’t hurt quite as much…
“…or I can throw them away.”
And she began to plan.
“No woman deserves to wear these shoes,” she cried.
So for the final few months, she gathered her courage
…..to throw them away.
Ironically, it was these shoes
that had made her a stronger woman.
These shoes had given her the strength to face anything.
They helped make her who she now was.
One day, she slipped them on a final time
feeling the worn leather against her savaged foot;
then, flooded with the intensity of love one can only feel
knowing love is forever lost…she kissed the shoe goodbye.
When the time was right, she took her shoes to a secluded ravine
kissed them, and tossed them…like an old pair of shoes,
into an abyss.
The shoes lay there broken, tattered, worn and useless.
The shoes could not speak of the love they held for the woman
For its tongue was torn.
Left to decay with nothing but the scent of the woman’s
tender hands scenting its laces, slowly fading.
As soon as the shoes were disposed of
she went barefoot into tomorrow, pain-free
and dancing and singing:
“I will forever walk the bare feet
of a woman who has lost her shoes!”
But in exactly one year, she slipped on another pair,
happy and in love again, dancing and laughing once more...
hoping against hope, forgetting old shoes,
willing with all her heart for this shiny new pair to carry her home.
As you know, from time to time I’ll feature a new poet on The Winter Bites My Bones. I am pleased to spotlight an emerging poet and talent, Steven Cehula. Although I’ve only known Steve a short time, there are few young artists that back passion with street crede in both his writing and his personality. Steve is an intelligent, intuitive young poet with an obvious thirst for the art of expressing the mysteries of living through the written word. Please join me in welcoming Steve to our WordPress family!
Petrichor in the air tonight,
as rain falls to my delight;
tumbling off angel wings,
as it falls the wind does sing.
Sing of now and sing of night,
present turns to past as dusk
doth flourish at loss of light.
So tumble down and cleanse the soul,
feeding grass make this earth whole.
About Steve Cehula:
Life Enthusiast. Born in Alaskan; now living and loving in South Orange County. I love to travel the world embracing the new cultures and friends I meet. Besides writing I have a voracious appetite for reading, fine food, and stimulating conversation.
The sunrise is eternal.
Our measured days are not.
Yet still, somehow, in this moment now
I am lifted beyond mortality;
baptized by this burnished dawn
and set afire with daring possibility.
All too soon, the damp, cold earth
will grip us by the ankle
and pull us downward.
This morning is not that day.
Heaven ascends before my eyes
kissed by the reflection of amber rays;
my heartbeat echoing the foaming surf
while prayers dance among the murmuration
of winged clouds in dawn’s soft pastel light.
The world spins round.
This is my temple,
and my soul, shrouded in the rolling fog
of a new day, now lifted by salted winds.
I slip the bonds of my earthly servitude
and ascend upon the gilded rays of a new day –
lifted gently like a newborn in its mothers warm embrace.
Allahu Akbar! you shout to the weeping sky
While the children play and the children die.
Do you not see in this young one’s face
Allah’s eternal love and benevolent grace?
This very God you seek to appease
Weeps for the child who cries and bleeds!
Behold! Our children’s lost innocence
That your savage war now steals away
Without the slightest reverence or sympathy
For the joy to be found in child’s play.
Yet, still you kill and do not hesitate
To drop your bombs and spread your hate!
As you draw your swords to kill and slaughter
Our innocent sons, our precious daughters
You cry “Allahu Akbar!” Yes, God is great!
Yet with each heart pierced, you seal your fate;
For Allah is the love of the mother and child
Allah is found in their dreams and their smiles.
Allahu Akbar! you shout to the weeping skies
As you seek Allah’s blessings for your pitiful lies
You’ll not find your victory in our children’s blood
Nor the mercy and forgiveness of Allah above.
You kill Christians and Muslims and Hindu and Sikh
As we bury our loved ones and the Prophet weeps!
Our nation’s rivers now flow colored with red
Awash with the blood of our innocent dead
The laughter of our children falls eerily silent
As your war wages on increasingly violent
Allahu Akbar! Yes, God is great!
But pray as you will, it’s much too late.
You can’t win a victory through the ghost of a child;
You can’t claim God’s blessing through acts so vile!
Your prayers, Allahu Akbar! now dissolve in the air
For His justice and wrath you cannot bear.
It’s easy to say goodbye – to meet again is hard.
Love gone like rose petals fallen on flowing waters
My thoughts of her are like these flowing waters,
Meandering toward the open sea on their hopeless journey.
In time, washed away over a burnt orange horizon.
My hope, too!
The north wind blows; here on the ocean it’s cold.
My home is at the bend of a crumbling, salt-soaked pier.
I watch a lone white sail at heavens’ end;
Like a waking dream, quickly gone – who can I ask where?
Darkness falls beside the endless sea.
We had often walked upon warmer, infinite sands
Pressing our bare heels into the foaming wetness.
But one set of footprints are swept away too quickly
Swallowed by the receding tides of love.
This cold empty beach was never what I wished;
These scattered empty shells speak of inevitable ends.
The beauty of the ocean’s edge declines more year by year.
As the sun goes down, a chilling wind appears
Whipping the sands, stinging my face…a reminder
That with beauty comes inevitable pain –
To hear seagulls cry, or see pelicans on the fly
Makes me sorrow even more.
I lack the courage for this day.
Wrapping solitude around me like a mother’s arms
I turn for home – or what I now call home –
An empty room, a quiet room, an empty bed, a quiet bed;
My refuge from the darkness and the light.
Myself, I think I’ve found a place that suits me..
I have made my home amidst this mighty shore,
Yet I can no longer hear the crashing of the ocean swells.
Outside my window, all the butterflies are white,
A pair flitter over the dying garden’s grass.
They are damaging my heart!
Two tears trace two lines down my face,
I send them to the ocean’s beaten coast.
One full year now separates the loving and the unloving;
I have not often thought of her, but neither can I forget.
We would not recognize each other even if we met again,
My face is covered with sand, my temples glazed with ocean foam.
In deepest night, a sudden dream returns me to her arms,
We look at each other without a word, a thousand tears now flow.
I know that this must have some deeper meaning.
My muse lifts me from my sickly state,
And smiling, asks me to write a poem
I try to write the pain away, but cannot find the words.
Tonight, the ocean’s wind enters through the window,
The torn gauze curtain starts to flutter and fly.
I turn slowly in my bed, looking up at the bright moon,
And send my prayers a thousand miles in its light.
Letting go of regrets is not some passive undertaking.
Regret is a weight that anchors us in the past,
rendering the future as unobtainable.
Letting go takes courage and lots of sweat.
It takes a willingness to allow pain to run its course.
We are forever changed by the failures of yesterday.
Who we are today barely resembles who we were yesterday.
The heartaches and the pervasive sense of loss
can either pull us down into the morass of self-pity,
or it can catapult us from the depths of relentless sorrow
to the heights of new joy.
It all depends on upon a readiness to face the sun
as it rises upon a new day.
Upon how hungry we are to feed the possibility
that something more, something better
awaits us in the infinite possibilities of tomorrow.
Memories are like a cracked mirror;
they can only serve to offer us
a distorted reflection of our true selves.
Memories seduce us with useless thoughts and images
of what was, of what might have been.
But memories are a poor substitute
for imagination and hope.
If we are ever to break free from the shackles of our past,
we must first wean ourselves from our addiction to memories.
Our addictive behavior is the root of all suffering.
But much like the heroin addict
who struggles and writhes in agonizing pain
as he kicks his deadly habit,
we, too, must find within ourselves
the strength and courage
to kick our dependence on self-recrimination
and useless reflection.
The soul is a restless being;
it is constantly expanding
and demanding room to grow
and to breathe.
Let’s be honest –
the air has been sucked from yesterday,
and when we exist with our hearts and our feet
planted in the past,
we deny our souls the essential life force
needed to carry us further
toward our fullest potential.
In the very moment that we let go,
we invite a rapture that can feed and satisfy the soul.
Be brave. Face the emptiness.
Wrap yourself in self-love.
Live once more.
When the sun sets, when its dying rays
filters through my bedroom window
I get the full brunt of this powerful star.
It is beautiful and blinding.
I feel its warming fingers softly caressing
my cheek; it dries the last traces of my tears.
Today, as the sun came into its latitude
to be shining directly on me,
I closed my eyes beneath its warmth
remembering brighter days.
Was this the same sun that kissed us
on our first walks upon the beach?
Was this the same sun that cast
its light on our wedding day?
Many people have expressed their love
to both of us throughout this process,
and many people have let us know
that it may be God’s will this, or God’s will that.
And it may well be.
But I know one thing.
We were both born of this organic, living universe.
Star matter is within us. We are forever connected
beneath the arch of its healing light.
I have never felt more in the presence of the supernatural
than today, with this mighty being shining on us,
me here, in my thoughts, you, there, wherever you are.
I can almost see the last breaths of our togetherness
in the stardust that once showered the idea of “us”
being pulled back towards that Sun.
It is as if the Sun had decided to choose this moment,
to envelop the two of us in divergent beams of light,
and take us back, separately, back to the stars.
In a way, it is beautiful.
This Sun, our Sun, reminds me
to live more fully, more appreciatively, and more happily.
I won’t think of a marriage that has died.
I’ll think of those moments we had to dance in its light.
With much love and sadness.
All the dreams I dreamt
Will vanish like the morning fog
When at last I awaken,
And something tells me that day is come.
Still that final goodbye echoes fresh—
Oh, how we, both she and I
First kissed as the sun went down.
Will she ever return? I cannot say.
The door creaks.
A sudden whiff of the lost and familiar…
A day with her lost among the days without.
Once more the door creaks.
Who is it?
I have no voice left;
The last candle is almost out.
I am devastated about the loss of Robin Williams, as are the millions of his fans, and more so by the fact that he took his own life. Despite all of his money and all of his available resources, depression reached its bony fingers into his life and dragged him to an untimely death (as it certainly has for millions of others!) Drugs and alcohol are certainly a part of his story, but make no mistake…this is a story about the savage blow of depression. The pills and booze were only a symptom of Robin William’s sad demise. Depression was the death blow.
If you have never suffered from the savage effects of deep depression, you might find it hard to comprehend his decision to take his own life. Depressed people don’t kill themselves out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life isn’t worth living. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. Depression is an invisible agony that for many reaches a certain unendurable level where life and death are near equal terrors and death becomes a lesser terror than living.
For those who decide to take their life, they spend their final days and hours in much the same way a trapped person eventually chooses to jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. For the depressive suicidal, it’s not the desire of death, it’s the terror of living. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.
In this same way, a person who doesn’t suffer the agony of depression will never be able to understand the torments and terrors suffered by those afflicted. Never. Just as depression is an invisible agony, so, too is the understanding of true depression invisible to those who do not suffer it.
We can, and should, have a conversation about depression, but unless you’ve ever stood on a ledge with flames coming closer and closer, you will never truly understand the agonizing decision to jump.
Rest in peace, Robin Williams..Genie, you’re out!
The redwoods swayed softly;
their crowns in the planets,
toes tucked below soft earth
under carpets of wet needles
beneath our feet.
This is how we said our soft goodbyes.
Our love, our forever love,
lay smoldering in the fire.
I could see the flames flickering
in her dampened eyes.
I looked away, ashamed and afraid;
too much the coward to own her pain.
She said it was the smoke –
one final lie to comfort me.
We speak in the soft, cordial tones of defeat
the air hanging heavy and silent between us.
Neither of us could hear the babbling brook
gently washing away the last remnants of hope.
I will hold back my tears,
and the wrenching of my heart,
for the long, dark lonely nights ahead.
Tonight, my love, my forever lost love,
let us wrest some comfort and warmth
from the dying embers of this bitter fire.
Beneath these redwoods gently swaying
gather one last bouquet of memories
to set us on our separate ways.
We are imperceptibly bound
by the common chords of our humanity;
colored threads weaving a rich tapestry
of shared experience.
Our similitude outshines our differences,
ineradicable and glistening;
certain and enduring
beneath a billowing canopy of endless possibility.
Not me, or you; not him or her, but all as one.
The fabric frays when we close our eyes
to the wonder and intensity of our diversity;
divisiveness and uncertainty pulls at the threads
which embroider the story of our divinity.
Our uniqueness as individuals only adds
to the richness of the fabric of humankind,
where rivers of color intertwine to form
delicate and stunning lines and patterns
– intricate and beautiful in their relations.
No stars hung in heaven shine more brightly,
shimmer more vibrantly,
or radiate more light
than when we embrace one another
as one and not the “other”.
Solitude whispers a deep and silent story
From the shadowy depths of the heart’s abyss
Where the pitiful quest for either fame or glory
Withers upon the lips like a poisoned kiss
From the shadowy depths of the heart’s abyss
Poet and his quill spin their twisted verse
Words whose understanding and mark are missed
Whose meaning is lost, ne’er to be conversed
Poet and his quill spin their twisted verse
Word trail bleeds upon an empty page
The song of the muse like a dying star burst
Showering phrases full of grief and rage
Word trail bleeds upon an empty page
Passions quenched before a smoldering fire
Poem now dances upon an hollow stage
Then the poet tosses it upon the funeral pyre