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?”
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.
My great-grandmother had a younger brother who volunteered for the Iowa National Guard just after the Pancho Villa expedition into Mexico. After America became embroiled in World War I, he was sent to Europe to fight in the trenches. He was injured in July of 1918 and died from his injuries in France, where he is buried.
Since learning about him, I have been researching his life and experiences. He wrote many letters home which have been saved for posterity.
Recently I watched a film, They Shall Not Grow Old, by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. It is an incredible movie. It is about the First World War, using film recorded more than a hundred years ago during the war. The soldiers come to life. It is amazing the technology and techniques used to make the documentary.
It inspires me to create similar projects of my own. I want to tell the story of great-great-uncle who died in France. I want the world to know.
In Flanders Fields
BY JOHN MCCRAE
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Neysa has been working on getting the video and audio right for quite awhile, and thankfully she has persevered and captured her poem in quality high definition for posterity. Please watch or give it a listen, or both. Bex, by the way, is a fan.
Endings and beginnings can be bittersweet times of reflection. In this moment I’m pondering both; I recently moved out of the intentional community house I’ve lived in for the past five years. One of my favorite parts of living in our community was house dinner. Every Tuesday, we would gather to share a meal with the housemates, ranging from 5-10 people (you’d be surprised how many people you can fit in a 5 bedroom house!). I wrote this poem a couple weeks ago, in honor of our last house dinner. It’s filled with sweet and delicious memories from my time living with beloved community.
The Last House Dinner
by Bex Lipps
Family is who gathers at your table
Breaking fresh baked bread
Filling each bowl to the brim before
Holding hands for the ritual
Many meals over many years
We weekly circled round this table
Sharing the pulp of our hearts,
The labor of our hands
Cooking for each other is a love language
And we are fluent
With raucous cackling
We laugh at ourselves and our own absurdity
Was it even house dinner if your abs don’t ache?
Laughter is our medicine,
The doses plentiful and strong
Oh, drench me in hollyhock
And feed me to the hungry queers
Devour me with a side of roasted vegetables
Drizzled with balsamic memories
I will feed you homemade cookies
Until your soul is fully satisfied
If you promise to remember
This feeling of home
Say it with me
One last time:
“As a writer, I look to expand my range. Poetry has always been challenging and I was excited to start the Spoken Word class through PWA. The teaching artist, Samuel, had a way to aid your writing that I haven’t experienced before. This was the result.”
— Michelle M.
In times good and bad,
In this life I’ve had
I’ve learned fast
The double edged sword of nothing lasts.
I’ve learned love is easy and trust is hard.
So I’m no longer looking for the one to love but to trust without guard.
I’ve learned too that some try to malign and destroy what they don’t understand,
They push and shove.
You made bad life choices,
Your violence and anger boisterous.
I made sacrifices,
Did the right thing.
Your anger intensifies.
All the lies, welts, and bruises constituted love from you.
Still, I rose. Stood tall and in time grew
Into my own.
Found the light far from home.
My existence justified.
Finally I look back.
I see your lack
And forgive you.
Let me say it again.
I forgive you.
And with those words the shackles of consequences fell, enlightening me.
With heartfelt forgiveness, I set us free.
Now I hear home calling to me.
Time for my life to begin.
Step inside my mind
That never unwinds.
Answers sought and
Who, what, where, when, how, and why, Truths and lies.
It’s not an interrogation
It’s a liberation, man.
Light enshrouded by darkness,
Truth and knowledge starkest
Under the naked light of justice.
It’s here I shine,
A life of substance.
In the silence of my minds ruminations,
Truths and lies just another confirmation
That here, in the light of truth I belong,
The true essence of the Devine.
Solid oak floors well worn
From footfalls pacing night to morn.
All you see
Is the exterior
Instead of me.
Plan and drab. Sturdy and strong. Won’t fall down.
And look, no crown.
But your blind if that’s all you see
You’re not the superior.
What truly matters lies within.
Deep oceans to swim.
Forests wild and untamed,
But a paradox living
among settled plains.
In the expanse of silence and light I stand,
In splendors grand.
My complexities rest upon hills unadorned
And Celtic lochs.
I started life with a weak foundation.
My solace found in education.
Love given like a glass half empty.
Had to rely on myself,
A lone entity.
So I wrapped myself in the comfort of words and learned their power.
I no longer cower.
I made strong what was weak and used my creativity to speak,
And freed myself.
Path with Art participant Jessica Peterson shared a felted bunny she created with supplies from an art kit. She also wrote a poem inspired by this project.
|Little Felt Bunny
How you make me smile
With your long droopy ears
And tiny bunny style
You sit upon my shelf
Keeping an eye on things
Acting as our herald
Ushering in the new spring
|“I got to make this cute little felted bunny with the art kit sent to me. I ended up not making it into a broach but just a cute little bunny to sit on a shelf. I wrote a cheesy little poem to go along with it.”|