If Words Were Pictures

If words were pictures, I’d see them there,
A string of suspended steps
sunk into the sky.
Mine, a stairway—
I said goodbye and went on…
Climbing upward, upward.
Yours—a thousand steps, but ground-level, flat;
stretching forward in a solitary line.

You said, “I almost died,”
then put one foot in front of the other and continued to live,
one painful step at a time.
Those steps transported you away,
slowly moving forward like a train.
The rolling rumble carrying you along
as you survive, just barely.
Your words trail off in the distance
with the sorry, sad sound of worn out wheels,
and I’m left standing by the tracks
tasting smoke, listening to the faint, fading whistle
while you die.
A friend told me the other day it was finally official, the divorce papers had come.
"It's really no surprise, she said, "it was like watching something slowly die."

I thought about the last conversation I had with another friend, who ended his email with the words, "I'm still here, just hanging on."
He sounded like he was going to die--not give up the ghost and pass away--but a slow, soul death, made even more painful by his choices.
Choosing death instead of life is a series of daily decisions, slowly moving us towards God or away from Him.

There was nothing I could say that would revive him, breathe life into his grey, so I did what I normally do when I can't process life--I picked up a pencil and wrote this.
Sharing with LL for On, In & Around Mondays, and Michelle at Hear it on Sunday.

This poem is also linked to dVerse Pub for Open Link Night--more great poetry there.

slow burn

Jason S. over at Connecting to Impact had a powerful post the other day, provoking this thought......

What is it that deals us our greatest blows?
That is our undoing?
Is it our enemy, the devil?
Or blatant evil, so closely cloaked
----‘live’ spelled backwards?
Were he so out in the open and obvious
He’d be easily stopped or avoided.
Yet hidden behind the dailiness,
the benign and harmless,
It isn’t the devil,
but merely distraction and dissipation.

Distracted by the simply innocuous,
(“surely this couldn’t hurt”),
Dissipated by my attention to frivolity,
(“certainly I have energy for this as well…”)
We succumb to defeat.

dissipation—“to lessen one’s effect or impact, to deflate”
distraction—“to look away from, to lose one’s direction and goal, a mindless diversion.”
There is no actual destruction;

Either way—deflated or diverted,
eventually we fall,
over time,
and at last,


                                 A shell of protection, this choice I’ve made
To hide away indefinitely until
This fragile, silken wall peels
Off, revealing new life.
The barrier is temporary and thin—
Easily broken when the time is right.

But now I must collect myself
Be still awhile
Be safe.
Take pains with my words, listen more,
Defy the urgency of unnecessary things.
Spinning this private insulation about me
Preserves my heart and soul
In these jostling, jarring times.

But new life will come as I emerge
From this case of gray to see the world again.
Gold that remains
when death and destruction are burned away.
New life will come on quiet, fragile wings.

                                I will fly, I will land,
I will see the world in a new way.
I will remember.

Jody Lee Collins c. 2012
This poem is a response to a prompt over at dVerse Poets Open Link Night where we were encouraged to: "describe the psychological state you were in when you wrote your poem, the social events underlying it, or the thoughts that were alive in your mind and heart when the words formed themselves into a poem."  

In September of 2001 my daughter and I were going to celebrate her graduation from culinary school with a trip to New York City to meet Ruth Reichl, then Editor of Gourmet Magazine and author of 3 of our favorite books on cooking. We'd spent 5 glorious days in and around Brooklyn and on September 10th in the evening, met my nephew for drinks at the Windows on the World restaurant in Manhattan.  A tremendous summer thunderstorm came through that night, lightning strikes, rain in buckets, we were soaked but dried out and took the subway home (I wrote about the kindness of the people we met that night here.) 

The next morning was the day of our appointment.  I remember, 'see you at 11 on the 11th' , from Ruth's assistant.  It was a crystal clear, blue sky day. And then the earth moved, the sky filled with ashes and paper glitter and we were forever changed.

When we returned home to Washington, I was in shock for about 6 weeks, although I didn't know it at the time.
I couldn't talk on the phone and cook dinner at the same time.
I had to be still whenever possible.
Simultaneous input verbally and visually was overwhelming.
I walked through the days wrapped in cotton.
This is what I wrote.

Gabriel's Oboe


If Gabriel had an oboe,
as Morricone thought he might
he'd summon me low and soft as he did
wooing with ways and words
piercing my heart,
as he did.

sending arrows winged with declarations
announcing in my hearing
a salve-bringing message
healing the piercing,
releasing the flood
held back by brick-walled lies
and stone-cold pain,
untold ache I never knew
'til he announced the truth.

Angel--light bringer--
he'd hold my face
towards the sun,
as he did
speaking freedom over me,
affirming my release
pronouncing power, peace,
making me, this time,
the Messenger.

Glorious Moon

Sideways glancing, face atilt
she watches, a wondering
at our wandering,
solemnly sees our not-seeing.

How can they miss all this---
the faithful lumen bursting barren emptiness,
Sun's reflection, co-anchoring the sky?
They say there's a man in the moon
who's in love with the girl in the world...
but I think it's the reverse.
Nurturing nightlight,
with feminine traits
worrying at our forgetfulness to
Just Look Up.
She solemnly sits and waits,
as mothers are wont to do,
waits for us to wonder anew,
bear witness to her faithfulness
and find our way home
by that glorious light.
Photo Google Images, Nat'l Geographic

Linking with the folks at   dVerse Pub for Open Link Night--Join us!