prisoner

I have not sinned
against a god nor man
nor woman
harmed no beast
—cared for Mother

why do I suffer
these sins of others
the revenge of Man
sins against me
—why am I prisoner here

admit they say and
confess – to what
I did no wrong
I harmed no one
—and yet I’m here

yet I am punished
forced – I sit alone, told to
feel some shame and
remorse and
—guilt for my breath

my dignity
my humanity
they took all from me and
I suffer – I do – I am alone in
—my pain without sympathy

why am I punished
made less than
human – no son of god
son of man
—fuck it all – fuck them all

try harder they say
love this god they pray
why must I see their way
It’s their way I’ll suffer
—the goodness of Death

prisoner by bill reynolds. 5/31/17

Look around. Mind what you see.

From Pleasure, Pain

This is the first in a series of blog posts about what I see as the paradox of love. This essay is my answer to the prompt, what has brought you to your knees? I’m not sure where I’ll go with this. Maybe you can help. Ask me questions, or prompt me in some direction. Please keep in mind, this is merely my take. Feel free to provide yours.

Nothing begins, nothing ends,
that is not paid for with moan;
for we are born in other’s pain,
and perish in our own.
~ Francis Thompson

Twenty years ago, I started using the phrase it’s all about how we feel. Normally, I’d caveat such a mantra by claiming it only applied to people without mental health issues. In this case, I think the words apply universally. How do you feel?

Love is the highest standard we have for caring about others. In literature, movies, music, religion, and in our daily lives; our obsession with love is obvious. It’s poorly defined, extensively written about, and grammatically misused; but love is everywhere in the English language. We want to love and to be loved. It’s our ultimate pleasure. How sweet love is.

I embrace love, but I fear pain. Pain can take over my body. Excruciating physical pain has brought me to my knees. It’s absurd that such pain may be helpful as it travels my nervous system from its source to my brain. Pain is abnormal. Even though we all experience pain, it’s not supposed to be there unless something is wrong. Pain is a symptom more useful to doctors than to me.

As bad as physical pain is, emotional pain is more devastating. In extreme cases, mental grief often leads to thoughts of suicide. In physical pain I might say, I want to die; but, I never intended that. I only wanted the pain to stop. On the other hand, people in emotional agony can be dangerous.

Our vulnerability to emotional pain is greatest when we love someone. When we love another person, we grant that person more power over us than any god or demon. Still, we choose to love. Not just willingly, but aggressively with passion and desire. Why? It’s like we can’t live without it. If anyone does live without love, we consider that sad and dysfunctional.

Love has brought me to my knees in two ways. First, the wondrous and joyful pleasure of experiencing love has led me to my knees with happiness. Be it romantic love, love of parents, love of children, grandchildren, or friends; the wonderful state of love takes away the dark and gives light.

Second, love has dropped me in pain, in fear, in a depressingly dark, hateful passion. Love betrayed leaves behind lifelong scars too deep to ever completely heal. The end of a romance, the betrayal of a friendship, the dismissal of a parent we love, the suffering or death of a child; each of these may, and perhaps should, put me on my knees. Such pain and agony from the dark side of love makes me question the value of life.

There may be recovery or even pleasure at the end of the tunnel. Time may mend love betrayed. Still, our human nature forces us to look back into that dark tunnel, into that abyss of pain and suffering. We remember. Do we dare to ever again risk pain by making ourselves vulnerable? Do we face the agony of finding ourselves desperately miserable because we loved?

Why do we do it? Would you, could you, live without love?

That’s a paradox of love. We know the risks, the vulnerability, and the potential to suffer. And yet, we still seek out love and take the risk. How do you feel now?

Even when we look both ways and mind each gap, we will experience pain in life.

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you.
You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”
― Bob Marley (20 years after his death, which means he never said it. True, nonetheless.)

The youtube poem below is worth hearing/reading, and I think the Love Hurts song by Nazareth is worth a listen.

 

NaPoWriMo #16 (No AtoZ on Sunday)

This poem is about underground coal miners – people who did, or do, very dangerous work. My father and grandfathers were three. This is also about life in our home when Dad still worked in the mines.

During my early teens, the mining business shut down in northeastern Pennsylvania. This was due to the Knox Mine Disaster in the late 1950s and the easy, cheaper, and cleaner use of oil to heat homes. Today, most coal mined in the USA is exported, but the industry continues to decline. Only 30% of electrical power in America is produced by coal.

Old coal mine entrance. A dark abyss.

Nearer My Hell to Thee
By Bill Reynolds

Before leaving the daylight, and going into the pits,
They look deep into the ground, to the soul of the abyss.
The blackest of blacks, the darkest of darks, and danger,
The dank abyss peers back as men descend into nature.

Far below ground, the mine was there lurking, waiting;
That dangerous, disgusting damnation of sound,
For some small wages, they go into that hole far underground.

Deadly it was and deadly it is, they never know when…
Many wives cried at the loss of their men,
Who died in the gut of the deplorable depths.

It was frightening work miners chose, those jobs that killed.
Black hard hats on heads, mining lamps on to cut the dark,
But still never safe. In denial or not, it was dangerous work.

Blackjack and Brass Knuckles same as my father had.

Father was, and so were both grandfathers, miners all.
Walking home through muddy fields and dark alleys,
Dangerous on pay days; all cash in their pockets,
With blackjacks and knuckles, maybe a gun.

He’d push open the gate, then let it slam with a thud.
Dad would stomp up the stairs and in the back door,
It was always the back way after a day’s work.

Covered with coal dust,
The sweat of the labor, and the stink of the mines;
Smoking his Camels, always coughing and coughing.
But he was my Dad, and it was always like this.

I remember Dad much blacker.

Everything filthy, his clothing all rotting,
Black on his skin, and in his gray hair,
He didn’t know about the black in his lungs,
the deadly back dust was glued on hard, but not to his soul.

White at his eyes and over his lips,
he’d set down his lunch pail. No hugs, no kisses,
just “hiya,” and not much of a welcome.

His coat and his cap, and his boots all come off.
Trounced upstairs to the bath, footsteps pounding the way,
Transformation, about to take place.

In cold water each day, he washed coal dirt away,
From his face and his hair, his neck and his chest,
From his waist to his feet, but not from the rest.

Nothing could wash the coal miner away.

Not the water, the union, the beer, or smokes.
Not on the inside, from his throat nor deep in his lungs.
Black dust in his body and in with his blood.

In a coal mine.

It was always the same, until the disaster.
Miners to work, to suffer and die.
Returning to homes, dirty but to homes they came.

Then one day, the depression set in.
The mines all shut down, proud miners, no work.
One day it all ended and everything changed.

Miners laid off, the mines were all closed.
Oil was king, and nobody noticed.
No more abyss, just a new kind of dark.

If you not yet sufficiently depressed, watch this.

Mind the gaps and look both ways.

J – Juxtaposed Minds (NaPoWriMo #12)

Do you ever feel like you’re more than one person? Do we have inner duality — the light and dark? Is there another voice? Juxtaposed minds is as close as I can get. This invokes minor gender differences. My apologies to women if it is seen as stereotyping. It only applies to me. That’s how it seems in my mind(s). It’s how the light gets in.

 

Juxtaposed Minds
by Bill Reynolds

As always, you’re here with me,
As children, you survived my foolish resistance.
As we pondered our thoughts, I sensed yours in me,
As we bind together, into one two-sided existence.

 

While passing through this life,
We two spirits were always so real.
Through our eyes and ears, we see and hear;
Yet, with one heart we together feel.

 

You walk in my footsteps, always with me,
When you talk to me, I hear your voice,
And I feel your presence within my being.
We share one self, as we sense we are two.

Leonard Cohen. We have his music.

I know you, but not so well,
As you know me.
One and the same, we’re forever to be.
Your she melds to one, within my inner he.

 

You’re a guardian of two spirits, one soul.
One guides the other through all time.
You’re a muse to me, to my sum of being.
Your reality balances our one life,
As we console and debate, together we decide.

You’re the lady in me, who’s never been seen.
Kinder and softer, more willing to hear.
The knower of wisdom, the source of mine.
To the world you are silent, but you talk to me.

 

Your duality of truth overshadows all lies,
Your love overpowers this emotional being.
With a power and difference,
You have captured our two-sided soul.

 

 

 Look both ways and be true to yourself.
When you see gaps, mind them.

NoPoWriMo #9 – Mortality

I just checked the NoPoWriMo web page. Nothing there says it has to be good poetry. Apparently, like so many things in life, sometimes it just ain’t happenin’. So, with my apologies, here is more poetic driveling twaddle by this old flapdoodle. This is an a-z day off, but poetry never ends.

Mortality
by Bill Reynolds

Life gives us surprises – good news and bad.
William who wrote, and he basically said
Nothing is good, nor is it so bad, somewhere I read,
We judge it to be. It’s all in our head.

Not our thinking to make it, ‘tis just what we do.
In the mind’s eye, does yours see it too?
Let’s take on this life, with its up and its downs.
Bring it on now, I’ll return parts not used.

What has no beginning and nothing for end?
Every life, it seems, must continually mend.
Then, it concludes with a message to send,
Forever can deal with what’s left in the end.

Mortality saves me from losing more friends,
Our state of reality gives a second great worth,
Listen again to sounds long ago penned,
To be in a life, since the time of our birth.

While all this must end, it’s all that we have,
So live to the best, and into eternity send,
We played with the good along with the bad,
No one will ask, after we’re gone,
To return all happiness and fun that we had.

Let’s live it to the fullest, defiant to the end.
But, look both ways, no need to rush it.
Mind the gaps, too.

F – Freedom and Fairness (NaPoWriMo #7)

F – Freedom and Fairness (NaPoWriMo #7)

What do I want? What do you want? How do you want life to be? What will you do? Equality, fairness, and love should guide us. My friend, Karen, asked me to write a poem about freedom. I did. It has a dark shadow, but the shadow has a crack in it, so the light gets in.

We didn’t start the fire refers to the Billy Joel song, Timothy Frances refers to Leary, the beast is the oppressive government, Tom down is to be subservient. In terms of rhythm and rhyme, this thing is all over the place. 

The Freedom Dream is Dead
by Bill Reynolds

What do I want to do?
I wanna be happy.
I want you happy, too.
My dream is a happy world.

Imagine that.

How do we want things to be?
Let’s be fair, and hopefully free.
And just, and true, and honest, and imagine…
For all, equality and rights
With love we can see, for all brothers and sisters.
Life is not fair, but are we?

Imagine!

What is this happiness we pursue?
In all fairness, what can we do?
Freedom? Liberty? Is that all?
Equality? Justice, et al?

Can you imagine?

It’s just a damn dream for too many.
And our dream is dying the fastest of any.
One million paper cuts, delivered with slashes,
All hope is lost, the beast burns us to ashes.

As for my dream? It is dead.
We fought all for naught.
Now I feel a dread.
Selfishness won. It owns us now.

I can’t imagine.

Resistance is failing, the world is darkening.
Evil and greed are the name of the game.
Profit and loss the new moral code.
Money is god, ready for more of the same.
The worst from the beast is yet to be told.

Imagine died too.

We didn’t start the fire, we can’t put it out,
Feel the heat from the rich man’s ire
Burning a hole in my hopes and desire.

Timothy Frances, where are you now?
To destroy this beast, please tell us how.
Or do we Tom down, and let it go on?

My dream may be dead, but I will go on!
Resist, resist, resist, fight for rebirth.
Resist until we have new life on Earth.

Imagine a future, resist to the end.

Look both ways and mind the gaps.
Life has no guarantees, but we can work for fairness.

 

D – Dogs of War (NaPoWriMo #5)

This poem refers to crew members (called crew dogs) of B-52 bombers and to their war-time mission of dropping munitions to destroy things and kill people, thus the dogs of war. This is a dark and threatening piece, set in six stanzas of six lines each, with even and odd lines rhyming. Misery and woe are metaphors for the many types of weapons dropped. The shrill is the eerie sound bombs make as they fall. The dog, or beast, refers to the model D, or variant of B-52, which is painted black on the bottom of the airplane. Please question in comment.

We are coming for you.

Dogs of War
by Bill Reynolds

Let us slip from nature’s gravity hold
We war dogs of old, both willing and bold.
Into skies we shall go with misery and woe.
To maim and to kill, who we don’t even know.
Our airman’s life is to die if we will.
Into Death’s realm, we’ll send you the shrill.

We’re lashed to the beast, the marvelous dog,
Behind us we leave the stink and a fog.
The thunderous sound of flying around
We send you a hell, you on the ground.
Wonders of war are set at our feet
Our old friend death, soon you will meet.

A B-52H dropping high-drag bombs and flairs.

Destruction we’ll rain on your cities and towns,
You won’t know we’re there, we don’t make a sound.
Concussion will break you and all that is near,
Along with destruction, we’ll send you the fear.
The black-bottom dogs will come as you sleep
To rip and to tear, into hearts of your sheep.

The countdown will start, as our hearts will race,
But Death we’ll deliver at one horrible pace.
The flashes we’ll see and the fires will rise,
The dogs of war unleased, to your demise.
The horror will come as sure as the sun,
This nightmare relents when war is won.

The Beast

Safe home again with guilt, we shall not feel,
Because of the blow, we were vowed to deal.
To the bar we’ll retire and review the day’s mess,
In laughter and stories, we consider success.
The beast is now resting and finding a tune,
Ready again, the dogs shall return again soon.

The horrors of war are hidden away,
The death and the misery kept well at bay.
From dogs to humans we slowly turn,
To our homes and lives we always return.
Havoc returns with the dogs of war,
Until we can say, no war! No more.

Look both ways, mind the gaps, and fill the world with love and peace.
Lest we…

“…Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.”
~ Marcus Antonius in Julius Caesar,
Act 3, scene 1, 270–275