Writing

A Survivor’s Thanksgiving

Abusive father and brother…
Sister who threw me to the curb…
I went to Tent City 4 and hated it there.
Then I became an independent operator homeless man.
Dealing with people was too much of a headache.
Generally, I prefer being alone.
Now that I have lymphoma — round two — everyone wants to be nice.
They think I may die.
I do not.
I will just need treatment from time to time.
I do not plan on dying any time soon.

At first, it was just my younger brother, mother, and father.
My younger brother and I bonded as kids.
We had a lot of fun together.
Of course, I love my mother.
She was the core, the only one holding our family together.
And she, too, was a victim.
I may be able to handle my father in small doses.
It has been years since I have seen my parents in the flesh.
And for good reason.
My father was a brute.
While he has stopped the physical violence, he can still be a jerk.
His attitude and demeanor are often too much for me.
I do not like the way he treats people, especially my mother.

Of course, no one asked me.
It is just announced.
“We are coming up for Thanksgiving!”
Oh, boy.
I would rather be alone and watch football.
Check my email.
Write on my blog.
Then, I am told that my sister,
who threw me out like a piece of garbage,
wants to meet up for lunch.
No one asks me.
It is just decided on my behalf.
Then, I learn that my older, abusive, jerk-of-a-brother is coming.
I cannot stand his snarky attitude toward me.
Like father, like son.
Once again, no one asks me.
There is a pattern here.

I am willing to give it a shot.
I don’t know why.
BUT CHECK YOUR ATTITUDES AT THE DOOR
OR I WILL LEAVE.
I will retreat to my sanctuary,
the one place where I can shut out the world — my apartment.
I have a place to live and relax and rest, thankfully.

Am I bitching too much?
Writing, like brushstrokes on a canvas or digging my hands into clay, is therapy.
This blog is helping me.
And for that I am thankful.

I debated what to title this.
A ‘Special’ and Strange Thanksgiving…
An Awkward Thanksgiving…
There are many words — too many — to describe it.

Wish me luck. I am gonna need it.

Writing

Where is Daisy?

Where is Eric? So many come and go. Fast friends lost.

Where is Ruanda? I asked that a few years back. Has anyone heard from Ruanda?

“Oh, honey, she died.”

We were supposed to go to the aquarium together. She had invited me, with a big smile on her face. We had become friends just weeks before. I first met her when she visited the Path with Art choir one day.

At the big gala opening of the awesome new art space, which was attended by many and a lot of fun, by the way, I had a similar conversation.

“We should get her involved again. We should do something with her.” I was talking about a teaching artist that another teaching artist had mentioned.

“She died last year.”

Again with this!? I never seem to get the memos.

I easily lose track of time. I do not know why. It is a strange part of my makeup. I shutter myself away in my own little world.

She was a force. I could tell when first meeting her. I have read more about her life, including her work as an artist and a mother. She was definitely a force. I am sad that future collaborations are no longer possible, at least on this earthly realm.

I have a dream that a circle of us students, or participant artists as they now call us, come together to write cards to those who go missing for whatever reasons — moving, working, living. I want to keep in touch with those of my friends who go missing from our community.

By the way, where is Michael?

Poetry

“Autumn Longing”

I wrote a poem about fall. It was inspired by the theme of Falling Leaves and by Mary Oliver’s poem “Song for Autumn” and here it is:

“Autumn Longing”

It is time for bed,
It is time for rest.
Everything strives south,
goes down,
lets loose.
We all have gone to seed
Planting our hopes for next year into their prepared beds
No more roses only the ripe hips now
Now the feast from the harvest
Now the felling, the falling, the cutting
of expectation
as we curl in tighter
as we dig in deeper
we hold tightly to ourselves
in the wake of the coming winter
we long to close our eyes
as the sun sets ever lower in the sky

by Pauline Gates, PwA PA and AMB

Poetry

Falling Leaves

The leaves are so beautiful
in all their different
shades, shapes, and states
of growth, release, or decay.
Today I am thinking of the tree
That held that life in its existence,
nurtured it from before it was a small bud
carried nutrients to it so that it could survive
as it developed and grew
now the tree sends a signal
to each one
still connected
through that
nourishing network
to say, it is time, it is time to let go
the tree, feels, the moment
filled with fear or fascination as floating unfolds
It is time
It is time to let go

Neysa Peterson (she/her)
10-10-2022

Writing

Sleep

I cannot sleep.
Then, I become exhausted and sleep too much.
I cannot function well.
Day is night, and night is day.
I live in opposite world.
Thyroid, lymphoma, testosterone, diabetes.
Exhaustion.
What else can go wrong?
What else will go wrong?
So damn tired.
This is living?
I learn that someone I admire has died.
Suicide.
I seem to be the last to know.
I live in a different world.
Am I alone?
I feel like an alien on a strange planet.

Poetry · Writing

Winter Bone

Winter Bone

The long exhalation of winter descends on my bones.
Leeching the life from my blood until I’m left as barren as the land. 

The quiet hush of snow covered ground hides the impatient musings of my mind
as I seek a way beyond the bland limitations of this body. 

A fierce squall emerges from the darkness. 

It feeds upon itself as it builds into a formidable wall of ice 
and protects the fragile being lost in the abyss

Snowflakes drift by, oblivious.

by Michelle Murray


Artist Statement

This poem was inspired by an in-class activity for the writing class, From Mundane To Miraculous with Maisha Manson.
We were asked to write about a season that correlates to how we feel in the moment. At the time I was in a great deal of physical pain with the cooling weather. As a person living with chronic pain, winter is a difficult period. There are many parallels between winter and chronic pain and this poem is my way of merging the two in a way that expresses the difficulties and realities of both the season of winter and the seasons of pain. Yet despite the cold and barren starkness of winter, there is a certain beauty and strength hidden beneath the fallen snow. People who live with chronic pain also carry it with a quiet strength that is unseen by those passing in and out of our lives.

Writing

A brief lesson in writing

Do you see the mistake?

Perfectionist that I am, this headline from The Seattle Times caught my attention. The photograph grabbed me first and then I noticed the error. This is not meant to embarrass or shame anyone. We all make mistakes. Instead, I consider this a lesson in cooperation.

Snoqualmie Tunnel is the subject of an eerie reader’s photo
As this headline is written, the reader, whose name is Nick, is eerie, and he may very well be, but it is the photo in this instance that is eerie. So the headline needs to be rewritten, moving the word eerie. Snoqualmie Tunnel is the subject of a reader’s eerie photo. Nick is no longer eerie. His photo is.

Putting out a newspaper is a monumental task and it takes a group working together to pull it off. Writing is a key component of that effort. That is why there are proofreaders and copy editors and, for writers like you and me, friends willing to help and critique. One of my newest “friends” is an app I recently installed called Grammarly.

It is a terrific tool. It works very much like Microsoft Word, underlining in red words that need help. It helps me a lot in correcting mistakes, and I make plenty. It also has helped me in writing better and in learning the English language more completely. I am a bit better now at commas.

Anyway, for the writers out there, I want to encourage you. That is one of the reasons for this blog. Write something and post it! There are no worries here. There is no judgment. Mistakes are normal. Do not worry about making them. Even the best writers on the planet make mistakes. We want this to be your sandbox, to play and to create as you see fit. I want to read what you write!