Poetry · Writing

The Color of Freedom

“The Color of Freedom” by Michael J. O’Connell
A Soldier’s Perspective on the American Revolution

Over us did break the April sun, warmth penetrating the depths of our cold, miserable existence.

Months have seemed to drift, no rush by like the great Father Time tossing sand into the gale.

The ache in me is still, having rationed our morning meal of biscuits, and, for a fortunate few, dried legumes.

My coat, in disrepair for lack of thread,
my boots, endless miles have they tread
until neither mind nor body could comprehend.

Wasn’t it just last year, or before
when I felt this same shining orb upon my back while nesting the precious harvest
into the warm Spring earth?

Time has erased these as well, as the keeper of all things has seen that it is only forward, where the sands still cling to the
fragile glass that my mortality lay.

No matter, I keep my mind at ease.
For it is more than I, or the thousands with me, for whom I lay down my existence.

And if I grow weak for the cause, or slip it from my mind
as the lead surrounds me.

I turn towards that rising sun, and over its brightest hue, least I ever forget, shines the Red, the White, and the Blue.

Copyright 2022 Michael J. O’Connell

From the artist: “I wrote this original poem upon learning that my wife has ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary war. Having been a soldier, I wanted to express my thoughts and feelings on the sacrifices that they made to give us our own nation and homeland.”

Michael O’Connell is a Path with Art Ambassador and Veteran Participant Artist

Partners · Poetry · Writing

We Are All Here

Pallet is a social purpose company on a mission to build equal opportunity access to housing and employment. Elevating the voices of people with lived experience with homelessness, recovery, and incarceration is integral to Pallet’s mission. In addition to telling the personal stories of their team and people living in Pallet shelter villages, they aim to raise the voices of system-impacted and marginalized persons everywhere.

Pallet has teamed up with Path with Art to support and amplify the voices of some of our participant artists with lived experience of homelessness. Check out this beautiful poem from PWA Ambassador Pam Winter, below. You can read the full interview with Pam on Pallet’s blog, and also check out the poetry and interview of PWA Ambassador & Blog Editor Aaron Hill!

We are All Here

by Pam Winter

We live in tent cities behind nylon walls, huddled in wool blankets in doorways of neglect.
We live in secured high-rises casting shadows below, houses flooded with desire, homes gated in fear.
We live with slumlords and in public housing too.
We live alone in our minds, wandering along pathways edged by open chains.

We work for corporate greed,
We dumpster dive for food,
We work for non-profits to build a better world,
We ask for spare change, sometimes shoot-up to heal a gaping wound.
We are honest laborers, the shrunken middle class,
We do not ask for handouts, but will reach for a helping hand. 

We race upstairs chasing freedom and we lounge on city streets,
We stand in long lines at food banks, waiting for leftovers we can’t afford,
We walk in parks and shop behind gilded walls.
Sometimes we steal in the night, while white collars take in the light to line their coffers gold.

Sometimes life feels darker than the backside of the moon;
we watch her catch her breath 
as she rushes to soften the edges of what we call urban blight.
Sometimes we feel the ecstasy of unity, especially on nights like tonight. 

We are a city on shifting tectonic plates, frayed at the edges, 
clothed in attitudes of love and dismay.
We are a city of others, separate and near.
We are teachers and students alike, but webs twist around our minds, our lives,
isolating us from those who look and think more different than we’d like. 

We are all here, polarized by red and blue fear.
We must break down the walls,
Step out of the shadow of Them, Other, They.
We must hold our sister’s gaze, grasp our brother’s hand.
Link our minds to overcome judgments about what we think is right.

We are all here; the me in them.
The drum beat of our city, the heartbeat of Seattle, 
the energy that makes our diversity vibrate with rhythm that unites.

 We are All here and we’re not going anywhere.

Poetry

He Read My Lips Through My Eyes

He Read My Lips Through My Eyes
by Tyler Marcil

Summer heat in Denver, Colorado
sometimes unbearable.
Instead of cooking one evening
my sister, her son, his father, my sister’s friend and myself
decided to have dinner at a restaurant downtown.

My two year old nephew sat next to his dad, but across from
me, his mom and her friend. Conversations and laughter filled
the room until our dinner arrived.

After I placed my napkin on my lap, the waiter sat a plate of ribs
in front of my nephew. He swoop in right away. His left hand and his mouth
was messy with barbecue sauce. He took his clean right hand and he clutched
the center of his stark white T-shirt and he started to raise the shirt to
his mouth.

I happened to look up at him after he’d raised his T-shirt. His mom had her
eyes on him too. He stared only at me for the longest time despite what his
dad said to him, “Don’t pay Tyler no mine. Go ahead and wipe your mouth
with your T-shirt. I’ll buy you a new one.” Despite his dad’s comments and
laughter, he let go of his T-shirt, looked at his dad and insisted on a napkin.

I looked at him the way our mother use to look at me and my five siblings
when our manners weren’t in check accordingly.


Copyright© 2021 by Tyler A Marcil. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be used or reproduced without the written consent of the author.

Mixed Media · Poetry

Insomnia

I converted a section of the poem into a Photoshop brush and created a mandala. I then layered the mandala with a pattern and clipped out a section.I converted a section of the poem into a Photoshop brush and created a
mandala. I then layered the mandala with a pattern and clipped out a section.

A conversation with my psychiatrist inspired me to write the poem. He asked me why my feelings of hopelessness led to thoughts of suicide. I answered that I thought there was no point in living. He asked me, “What is the point of dying?”

Insomnia
by Tara

What is the point of living
With the struggle for sleep?
But what is the point of dying?

What is the point of living with a storm twisting inside me, turning itself inside out and leaving
The streets bleeding gold rivers of dirt that seep
Through the sheets with the sweat? A fallen rose, dying

Scatters its petals in the gutter. What is the point of living
With the waters that keep
Rising and flooding the banks of my eyelids, threatening

The lowland cottage that I built inside myself, seeping
Up through the floors, ruining the ribbons that I keep
Tucked away in drawers, ruining the snapshots of summer dying

Into fall and winter? What’s the point of living
In the deserted streets of my mind, where I weep
And wander searching

For torn packets of sugar, scattering
Themselves in the wind, searching for fragments that leap
From my fingertips, searching with the sound of lightning dying

In the distance? What is the point of living
With the cockroaches that creep
Down the walls of this tiny room inside my heart, crawling

Across my skin? It’s 3 a.m., time for housecleaning.
The pile of dishes inside the sink is deep.
I toss out the tulips dying

On the windowsill, and I struggle to keep
the conversation in mind about the urge to leap.
Perhaps the point of living
Is to struggle to the point of dying.

Poetry

Misophonia

Misophonia

by Pam Winter

Sound Sufferer, Sanity Sucker, Serenity Slapper, Soundless Sobbing.

Small sounds – Huge problems
Breathing, chewing, chomping, slurping, bowl banging
pen clicking, keyboard tapping, whistling, walking…

Eyes engorged with sound,
synapses tied in a jumble of knots
implode with another breath.

Trapped in a crater of insanity
noise echoes, brain howls.
emotions erupt
fragments bombard.

I cringe,
gut ravaged.

Revel in silence

Misophonia, a neurological condition, is real.
Many in the medical community don’t understand and dismiss it,
often believe it’s a mental health issue.
People suffer in silence,
withdraw from family, friends, society, feel alone in a sea of triggers.

I shut down at dinner tables, cringe when people type on key boards, breathing puts me over the edge, gum snapping sends me outside my limits.
I can’t get away from sound.
When I was a kid my dad smacked his lips, I tried to mimic him hoping he’d notice and stop eating like a pig, but he didn’t.
I was afraid of him, so I suffered in silence.
My brother had asthma and snorted, a cousin had inner ear problems and snored.
I was afraid of the rage I felt with each inhale and exhaling breath.
So I clenched and suffered in silence.
My motto became shut down and half smile, I didn’t know what else to do.
Tension crunched in my brain,
I’ve lived on the edge of sanity, my nerves shattered,
face scrunched, my body clenched with the assault of each sound.

Now, I understand, my brain is just a little different.
When I get triggered by people eating or breathing, I bristle and move away.
I still shut down and half smile, people sense my energy shift and think I’m a bitch.
Sensory overload is the way I live, misophonia, a brain thing, it’s real.
Researchers are studying it, are learning, but don’t have a fix.
So still, I suffer in silence.

In class when people eat or drink or breathe a little loud, I can think of nothing else; my focus is trapped in each crunch, each crinkle of wrapping, each sip, each breath.
One day a fellow classmate was writing vigorously, I could hear nothing else,
each scrawl was an assault to my senses, a punch to my brain.
People click, tap their pens in thought,
that’s all I can hear and can’t write another word.
How do I go through life like that?
I suffer in silence

The other day at a PwA meeting two people mentioned they have misophonia.
OMG, I thought; thank you for sharing. I exclaimed “I love you.”
I thought I was alone, so alone.
Now I have allies, now I can see the ‘me’ in the ‘them’ and know they suffer too.
If there were three of us in a meeting of ten, how many more of us are there?
How many more people suffer in silence?
We are not alone,
As I write this, tears are flowing down my cheeks, I am not alone.
Thank you Path with Art,
WE ARE NOT ALONE.

Pam Winter

Poetry

Lost Friends

Being a part of Path with Art for so long
People coming and going
Some staying, like me
Friends
Many, many friends
But what about those friends who drift away?
Remember Eric?
Where is Eric?
Blind
A nice guy
Young
A gentleman
Where is Owen?
A professional dumpster diver
I loved learning
about that underground culture from him
He narrated the first ever podcast
created by Path with Art students
I ask JJ
“I’ve reached out to him with no luck. I haven’t heard from him in more than a year.”
How is Adam?
Now married
Busy, busy, busy
I am sure
Where is Sol?
Canada?
How is Andrew doing?
San Francisco Giants fan
Bay Area aficionado
Where is Ruanda?
She is dead
For months I did not know
I ask Holly one day about her
Holly shares the sad, bad news
We never did go to the Seattle Aquarium
Made plans
Interrupted by life — and death
Cancer took her
I discover this poem by her

Worthless.
I know the feeling in worthlessness.
And find it hard to describe because
I’ve swum in the sea of worthlessness.

Thank God someone has been documenting this
The lives of ordinary people
Often forgotten and neglected

Poetry

Unfinished Objects

Title: Flower Center — This is an example of an unfinished object that I have in my collection. I experimented with fluorite beads and copper wire to make a flower center. I still need to create the petals. The numerous unfinished objects in my room inspired me to write a poem.
Flower Center

This is an example of an unfinished object that I have in my collection. I experimented with fluorite beads and copper wire to make a flower center. I still need to create the petals. The numerous unfinished objects in my room inspired me to write a poem.

The following poem captures a moment in my life when I felt a great deal of confusion. This confusion spilled over into my artwork. I created collages and doodles that lacked focus. I had trouble finishing my projects.

Unfinished Objects
by Tara

Royal blue scraps of felt, periwinkle blue Strips of ribbon,
Meandering trails of tiny triangular mirrors…
Alyssa loses the composition, trapped In tangled emotion.

She mourns the connection, tossed like a needle Into the ocean.
Her thought’s thread, thin like hair, snaps and disappears.
She loses her motivation, caught in tangled emotion.

Royal blue scraps of felt, periwinkle blue Strips of ribbon
Tumble to the ground as she tries to explain what Went wrong in tears,
While playing with the thread of an unfinished object,
From a collection vast as the ocean.

The boxes spill and flood over in slow motion.
The beads vibrate on the floor, their sound waves Are caught in the shattering of mirrors.
Alyssa loses some unformed objects, trapped in swirling emotion.

Royal blue scraps of felt, periwinkle blue Strips of ribbon
Swirl back together in piles, their ripples disappear.
She kneels and gathers them together In a wave of devotion

And picks them up one by one.
Then slowly, the clutter clears
And loses it’s currents of emotion.

She rethreads her needle, pulling through her fears
Then drops the needle again. The eye disappears
In royal blue scraps of felt, periwinkle blue Strips of ribbon.
She loses her composure again, trapped in tangles Of emotion.