Broken Blind(ers)

Always broken blinds,
dirty window panes,
I listen for a message
in the language of The Rains.

Hours pass by as I lie
in honesty – open, transfixed,
determined to encourage
Revelation to visit.

On my island where I desire
the silence to shatter
the chaos swirling, chanting,
withholding the answers.

Sun returns
prematurely.
Cross-breeze through screens:
I listen for the whispers
to reveal what I plea, need,
to know

in my bones,
in my soul.

1/6/22

Fissures

Fissures shift,
the inner lifts,
though I wish
to keep it
enclosed.
Exposed
to the elements
becomes my soul.
The tears rise
and flow.

When the painquake subsides,
there are less toxins inside.
I suppose it is nature’s way
of eliminating the accumulating waste,
that which we bury in false deaths,
that which we hide beneath the surface,
a sort of protection and procrastination
of that which we cannot bear in the moment
to face.

Two-faced
are we all.
How are you?
Good, thanks.
Why do we ask
that question
in passing?
Too often fake.
How am I?
Probably actually
similar to how you are
especially in the way
that we guard
the answer.
Brief eye contact.
Continue walking.
If only we acknowledged
anything.
Hands on phones,
hands of clocks.
Bombs inside.
Tick. Tock.

Fissures by nature
are meant to be breaks.
Down is mine. Again.
No brakes.

Not a fall
but an opening.
An involuntary wound-seeping.
Weeping.

My inner, risen now.
What will you do
with what’s come out?

Red is the heart
and magma
at the core.

I’ve left a puddle
of lava
upon your floor.

To Where You Are

A poetic letter to me sent upon a wave and star
to reach through time, back to where you are… 

This “he” of your fantasies
receives your Little Red Balloon
and your whispers
to be delivered by Moon.

He will continuously clean
your mirrors until you see
as he does, all of your beauty
clearly.

You will weave wedding
wildflowers in your hair
and feel the wind whip
freeingly through the despair.

You will radiate in dresses
and feel feminine,
barefoot and free
upon grass and sand.

Your wavy locks
will be teased by the breeze.
Your hand outstretched
for a companion will receive.

Your heart reopened
will be filled to overflowing,
exceeding your dreams
with God-blessed reality.

Your voice in song
will again reach the heavens,
your loquaciousness endlessly
received with eager anticipation.

That voice in your head
and grip around your growth
will fall away as he convinces you
to love yourself.

Your faith will grow
as anticipated;
God will see you through
as He always has.
He knows always
what is ahead.
He will deliver love
if you cut the thread…

You will not give
your whole life
to this verbally-abusive “man.”
Soon you will be filled
with enough courage to act.
You will come to realize
those decades
of hurtful words
were lies all along;
you will come to know
your worth.

Who you once long ago
hoped instead you were
will appear as unwavering
truths in every mirror.

Overlapping Storms

Choking on saltwater waves
that relentlessly batter,
you smile and assure me
you don’t need the preserver. 

You insist I take it,
even though we both know
I am the better swimmer. 

I pass it back. 
I can tread
these waters
longer. 

We will alternate. 
Save your strength. 
You can give me
intermittent breaks. 

This is my
domain. 
Titan hears you
pleading
my name. 

Mermaid fins 
are reinstated.
I transfer them
to you instead. 

My faith and your support
will keep me afloat. 
Our love will make peace
with the tempests
and be our lifeboat. 

And when we 
feel the shore firmly
beneath our feet, 
I will let you again
carry me. 

Poem and images ©LauraDenise

I’m Guilty, Too.

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(On suicide prevention…)

I’m guilty, too.

Of letting my teen spend too much time online. Of not requiring her to spend enough time outdoors. Of letting it become too common practice to do our own things in separate rooms most of the time.

These are dangerous things. Especially in these times. Too many (more than zero) young people take their own lives because they are ill, and parents and teachers too often simply aren’t aware. And often, being aware still isn’t enough. Sometimes, being the best parent isn’t enough. Sometimes, love simply isn’t enough.

I think all we can do as parents and teachers is our part. But most of us can do better with our part.

As a high school senior teacher, I have mental health on my radar foremost. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Way before academics. No one flies under my radar. Sometimes, I need to slip a student my banana. Sometimes, a secret note. Sometimes, a hug. Sometimes, some one-on-words in the hall. Sometimes, I need to repeat the question, insisting they look at me this time: “Are you okay?” Sometimes, as an English teacher, I give them writing journal prompts so they can vent. I simply try to be aware. I go out of my way to know each and every student. Mental health illness is not selective in who it takes. The star athlete and the quiet kid in the corner are equally susceptible to becoming prey. I’ve witnessed it.

I went to a Catholic high school in the late 80s. A popular girl cut her wrist during school and was carried to the nurse by her boyfriend. Self-harm is not new. Yet, it seems too much like a common option these days. And then there are those young people telling each other to kill themselves: that seems new and especially twisted. Suicide by younger children especially baffles me: I don’t remember that ever.

Our youth need adequate (healthy) family time, community time, outdoor time, physical activity, healthy social activities, and a higher power. Mental health illness will still come. But these are the essential bare minimums we really need to make priority to fully develop our children and students, to arm them as much as possible.

They need to know they are loved and that they are (so much more than) good enough and that they matter and that their future is full of hope and potential.

We need to do more. We ALL need to unplug more. Have actual face time. Stay outside in nature longer. Pray together. Not make “God” or “Jesus” a controversial bad word. I can’t imagine going through what I’ve gone through myself in life so far without a higher power. I can’t imagine thinking about my personal potential, my self-esteem, my future without a higher power. You are NEVER alone with belief that you were created with loving purpose, that He always walks beside or carries you, that He alone has seen what is ahead and would never lead you into harm, that you are a precious child of God and must respect your own body and life.

I can’t share my faith with my students. But when I am hungry, I can sneak my breakfast to that one kid instead. I can let them know they are loved. I can openly believe in them. I can model care and respect for all.

I share my faith with my children. But I can simply spend more time with them. In this out-of-control digital age, I think we all can. And we must revert or start today. It may not be enough. But it could be.

whoeverfillstheseseats

(This morning, after viewing a friend’s posted FB video clip, another started automatically rolling, a moving one by a dad who recently lost his 12-yr-old son and was contemplating the effects of COVID isolation. 12 years old…)

The Steps

The heat was on! An advisory, in fact. The shade and clouds, sparse. The distance, minimal. But oh that terrain: deep sand. The kind where you feel you are simply sinking, barely advancing, despite all of the effort you are expending. Will I ever make it back to my car? Why didn’t I bring my water with? Those were my dramatic reactions to the very short hike I went on at the National Seashore. Those reactions felt severe and real enough, though, in those moments. I was also the only one out there, so to keep myself entertained, I was pretending I was on a deserted island and evaluating my resources. What would I use for shelter? Is that weird fruit-looking thing edible? (No, there is never a dull moment in my mind…)

I also can’t just see anything at face value, it seems. In nature especially, I see so many stories and lessons. The one I thought about in reflection to this day was how mental health battles are similar to that short hike.

I’ve had my share of struggles. I’ve been to places I wish not to return to ever.

When we are in the midst of those personal battles, to the outsider, it may not seem worthy of such mental and physical distress–the distance, the goal, seems short and simple–but to the one facing it, sometimes all of the mental and physical strength one can possibly even imagine summoning is needed to simply get up. To take steps beyond that can seem impossible. It is the deep sand. In the sweltering heat.

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We feel completely alone, like on my imaginary island, even though others are actually there. We see no end to the trail. We lose hope. And with lost hope, we lose the strength and determination to go on. I knew the distance to my car. I knew I would be completely fine, that my discomfort was but a brief nuisance. But in real-life mental-health scenarios, it is that end-sight that is crucial. We must believe, no matter how far we actually are, that we are almost to the car. We can’t give up, when around the next bend, everything may very well end

up all right.

We don’t think, like I did in my mock scenario, though; we don’t usually see those resources, think about how we could use them, need them. But we do. We shouldn’t do it alone. Most of time, we simply cannot.

All of us need someone to lean on, at the very least. Someone who has come from the direction we are headed to reassure us what is around the bend is the “all right” and beyond, that they know the way, that they will walk beside us. They have brought water, too, to give us a needed boost.

We all need hope. And we need to whole-heartedly believe in an achievable, better tomorrow. Sometimes that tomorrow takes time to arrive at. Sometimes, it is just a few more steps away. Leaning on a higher power seems essential to me to acquire this faith.

If you are on this deep-sandy path, keep going. Take the next step. Then the one after. Do the next right thing. And then the next.

And if you have arrived or were never lost in the first place, help another find the way.

 

Footprints in the Sand 

by Mary Fishback Powers

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

All images ©LauraDenise

The Bridge

Version 2

 

Sometimes a bridge is a portal

between states of mind,

but those trolls

keep you from crossing

to the other side.

 

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But happiness comes from within

and the colors to paint with ample,

so if fear keeps you trapped,

start making your own side beautiful.

 

And before you know it,

your side will blend

so smoothly

into the place

you used to dream of,

 

Version 2

 

and you will show others the way,

how to dissolve the illusions

of trolls and hopeless horizons…

 

Version 2

Poem and images ©LauraDenise