Sunday, March 15, 2009

Life Story, Winning The War

This poem stands alone. It is self explanatory.

Life Story

I cried, "Let me be
Normal!" I was then fifteen.
Tears streamed down my face.
I raged at myself
For being short, fat, odd, afraid.
I hid in my room.
I grew up from there,
Found drugs and booze, got real high.
Decided to be
Really, really strange.
That worked for me a long time.

Now I've backed up some.
I quit dope, dried out.
I'm only a bit quirky.


This one goes deep. I am sitting here with the end of Saving Private Ryan in the background and I know it is the right time for this poem to appear. All is not quiet. That is just what it is. I don't mean in my life right now, I mean in the larger life, the one where wars do happen, where alcoholism ravages families, where children starve and where cruelty masquerades as necessity. All of it, all of it begins and ends in the heart center, in the way the energy flows from the base of the spine to the top of the head, beyond, and then back again, just like air into lungs and out again. Every war is inside me. I have no escape. It is all me, mine to take responsibility, and to heal if I can. I vow we all go to heaven or we don't. I vow to stay until the least of us goes before me. I cannot possibly maintain that vow without permission and power. And yet, nevertheless, I so vow. This is Bodhisattva.

Winning The War

You spoke with me then
About the rising rebel
Army inside me,
Inside you and how
The Master said to behave,
To bow to anger

And then step aside,

How he said no one
Wins this war straight up ahead
But by deflection.
And more, there is more.
There is lack of the power
We need. We must call,

Truly call it forth.


  1. Christopher, maybe you're still a bit quirky, but you're cute for sure.
    On a more serious note, about
    what you're saying. All suffering even outside of us, we gotta go within. Right?

  2. yep- teen pain- i remember it well.......

  3. Yes, Jozien, just like 12-step programs say, just like the Christian injunction, forgive your enemies, just like the Buddhist ideals, either to be free as soon as possible, or as Bodhisattva, not until we all can be, either way one must forgive completely.

    Lisa, I nearly died of what you call teen pain. Many do.

  4. Teenage angst, it scars us for so long, doesn't it? Forever, maybe.

  5. And reading the comments, yes-- I think I nearly died of it, too. Here I am now, and here are you, and we are whole, more-or-less. Or are we?

    I will do what I can to spare my kids from experiencing what I went through, but I wonder how much of it (if any) is really under my command.

  6. Yes, Rachel, and it was why I chose not to have kids, because the disaster happens as easily to kids who are from good families, like me. That pointed out that I neither had the skills nor any confidence that I could gain them to do any better than my parents did. I could not see how I could bear the guilt that my child would suffer what I suffered and felt sure that any child of mine probably would.

    I was already sure by the age of nineteen that I would not have a child.

  7. I like Jozien's comment -- "Cute for sure" :)

    The teen stuff -- ouch -- never really leaves completely. I think I am still saying "Let me be normal!" half the time...

    And Rachel, I agree so much with you. It is so hard to protect. So hard and yet, all we can do is believe we can somehow. (My daughter is 14, son 11...)I have to believe I can offer some protetion even knowing so much is not in my control.

    The second poem, I like so well. The "step aside" -- I mentioned before that everyone in my family takes Aikido.(except me) This practice reminds us to "step aside" so much... Sometimes we forget (often) and have to remember... I am remembering now:)

  8. So you and I, Faith, we were unable to take it impersonally in some essential way. The teen thing appears to be more or less universal. It took serious illicit drugs to bang me free and the price for that was immense. I am still paying. But if I hadn't got free, I would be dead, and that is no lie. My parents for all their knowing kids (they were decent humans and high school teachers) and doing well with them in school, could not help, could not even guess how. My experience: I needed some answers that I didn't even know how to ask the questions, or even that there were questions. What there was: a poison in my soul that was killing me.

  9. Christopher. I really connected with the first poem. Almost 40 (well, 37 this year) and I’m still sorting out ‘ugly stuff’ rooted in the insecurities of my youth/teenage years... I agree with Faith - “ never leaves you completely”.

    ps quirky is good :)

  10. Both of these poems are excellent and work together thematically. I love "Life Story." Egad...teen years. I was a rotten, horrible kid. But there was one teacher who understood that there was more to me than the troublemaker I was on the surface. I wish I could find her today to thank her. Since I can't find her, I'm trying to pay her back by passing that understanding along to the teenagers I know.

    I also love "Winning the War." It hits home with me, as those opposing forces are always at work. Excellent line split and echo in those last two lines.

    Quirky is great! At least you're not goofy like I am...ha!

    Frankly, I'm glad you are who you are. Congratulations on your work in ouroboros review. It is outstanding. I can't wait to have a book of your work on my shelf.

  11. I have known many teens who wanted to die and some who did die of that pain. Sometimes I wonder what it would have taken to save those lost ones. Such a loss.

    I do like the pairing of the poems. Deflection and the power we need might save, but how do we teach that?

  12. Cath, I begin to wonder whether this blogland selects for people who survive the teenage holocausts. It may be that or it is poets, but I have some experience with other places on the blogs and I think I sense this same deal. Hardly scientific but still...

    Julie, they work together because they were written close together, out of the same mood, and both are true as best I know, I have staked my life on them. Thank you for the technical comment, and I won't disagree, for I thought so too. It is one of the blessings of this latest, last?, period of my work, that I can see where the poems work. This of course has not always been true, but then my music has never been better too. As for the book, I am gathering, but I have no idea. I am well over 600 poems now since August. I need an editor.

    God, Karen, if I knew how to teach that... As a member of AA, it is desperate knowledge. As in any real war zone, we watch them die, know the lack of power as a dilemma, and the trap of self-centeredness for the death it is. One thing we know, it must be attraction rather than promotion, thus it cannot really be didactic, at least not until there is a real commitment in the student. Another we know, in busting self-centeredness it must be suggestion rather than authoritative command. Thus it is more a matter of diplomacy than it is real instruction. The message is after all not so complex.

    But we lose so many. There is nothing better. But we LOSE so MANY! It breaks my heart. Here is the next twist. When trouble comes we must cheerfully capitalize on it as an attractive demonstration. For we all know the misery and disaster for living it, but we do not all know the presence and power of a genuine cheerfulness. And there is no faking here. When you have survived a war zone, there is no room for hypocrisy. It kills.

  13. God. Thanks people. I love you all.

  14. "And there is no faking here. When you have survived a war zone, there is no room for hypocrisy. It kills."


    As the mother of such a teen, having been one myself, I despair at times. All I can do is prove to her, by living it, that you can change and things do get better.

    It is a horrible journey.

  15. Michelle, I am sorry for your trouble. I spent a decade in Alanon, partly to get my own recovery past a block, and as well to survive a wife who was killing herself with booze, drugs and depression. She had bankrupted us and I scrambled and found ways to survive financially, and then we divorced so she could take her losses with her into bankruptcy so that I could actually survive. What I have lost is any sort of retirement. In a few more years she died of failed kidneys, having survived several suicide attempts.

    My story is just one more ordinary story of the war zone of alcoholism. You don't have to be drinking yourself to be taken down. One of the sad ones was my friend John who celebrated a year and was hit head on by a drunk, ended up paraplegic with all sorts of internal crap. How's that for a one year sobriety present? The other guy's alcoholism got him.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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