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Old 12-31-2014, 09:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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"Cloudy Day"


Feeling romantic, reading some poetry. I came across this lovely poet, who was an addict from a family of addicts, then spent some time in prison, educated himself, and eventually became a published author and professor. I adore this poem, especially the last stanza. I thought some of us would appreciate the sentiment.

Sometimes we are hit with burdens so big and hard we can't understand them, but we make it through and even find a way to feel grateful for having experienced the hardship, and have recognized our incredible luck and humility in the face of all that hardship.

My terrible, demoralizing alcoholic marriage, my numb divorce, the lack of support from my family and some friends, realizing my biggest fear of becoming a single parent again, realizing I was culpable for my life's crappy trajectory, these were all incredible emotional hardships to me, and required a complete retooling of my belief system and a new understanding about me and how to live. Yet I'm so happy I experienced this because I feel complete and free today in ways I couldn't have appreciated or recognized before.

Anyway, happy new years, guys. It's the season for making big changes.



Cloudy Day
BY JIMMY SANTIAGO BACA
It is windy today. A wall of wind crashes against,
windows clunk against, iron frames
as wind swings past broken glass
and seethes, like a frightened cat
in empty spaces of the cellblock.

In the exercise yard
we sat huddled in our prison jackets,
on our haunches against the fence,
and the wind carried our words
over the fences,
while the vigilant guard on the tower
held his cap at the sudden gust.

I could see the main tower from where I sat,
and the wind in my face
gave me the feeling I could grasp
the tower like a cornstalk,
and snap it from its roots of rock.

The wind plays it like a flute,
this hollow shoot of rock.
The brim girded with barbwire
with a guard sitting there also,
listening intently to the sounds
as clouds cover the sun.

I thought of the day I was coming to prison,
in the back seat of a police car,
hands and ankles chained, the policeman pointed,
“See that big water tank? The big
silver one out there, sticking up?
That’s the prison.”

And here I am, I cannot believe it.
Sometimes it is such a dream, a dream,
where I stand up in the face of the wind,
like now, it blows at my jacket,
and my eyelids flick a little bit,
while I stare disbelieving. . . .

The third day of spring,
and four years later, I can tell you,
how a man can endure, how a man
can become so cruel, how he can die
or become so cold. I can tell you this,
I have seen it every day, every day,
and still I am strong enough to love you,
love myself and feel good;
even as the earth shakes and trembles,
and I have not a thing to my name,
I feel as if I have everything, everything.
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Old 12-31-2014, 10:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Terrific, powerful poem.
Going to get the book to read.

Thank you for sharing this Florence.
Poems are a shortcut to emotional awareness, aren't they?
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All the study in the world - and all the subjective hierarchies - won't get people sober. . .

Only action can do that."


--Dee
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Here is one I've been thinking of all week.
Sometimes I wonder if it is ever possible to heal from childhood pain.

Anyway, I'm feeling kind of sad and empty lately and this one hits that so well for me:

Tulips

The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage ----
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free ----
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I hve no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

--Sylvia Plath
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"There's almost as many terms and gradations for drinkers like us as there are stars in the sky.

All the study in the world - and all the subjective hierarchies - won't get people sober. . .

Only action can do that."


--Dee
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Oh man, I love Plath.

"I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address."

"And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health."

"Stupid pupil"

She had a serious way with words. I loved "Ariel" and the beekeeper series.
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