For You, Grieving Sister

May you find some comfort in these days of deep pain,
Of seeming disconnection.
May you find cool peace between moments of searing heat,
Moments of feeling a piece of your very soul has been taken.

Right now, it feels as if a weight-bearing wall
in the house of your soul has crumbled.
And you wait for the remaining waves of motion to stop.
You wait to see if your house will collapse completely,
As you have, again and again.

Breathing feels unfair, since he won’t, anymore. 
Since that one who shared your earliest stirring of awareness has returned
To the place where there is none.

Find comfort, Love, in the knowledge that, 
While a part of you went with him –
A part he needed for his journey, perhaps
He also left a part behind – 
A part you will need for your journey, for sure.
And you will carry that treasure close to your heart,
Pulling it out to examine in the light during your darkest times.

And his existence continues in your breath, 
In your stories, 
In the fact of your existence, 
The survival of this loss.

And you are not alone, Sister.

 

 

Richmond, VA

 Jennifer is a Richmond mother, wife, sister, writer, and frequent consumer of Life in 10. Jennifer has led numerous grief groups and trainings for parents on talking to children about death. She has assisted in grief classes at VCU and will lead a workshop for Life in 10 Minutes in August. More information about that workshop,
Penning a Legacy: Finding Words, Creating Meaning, Honoring Loss
can be found at: http://www.lifein10minutes.com/new-page

Please Do Not Feed The Children

Once
When I was in Mexico
I saw a mural painted on a thick brick wall that said
Please do not feed the children
What blasphemy
My anger singed my ear drums
"They are starving"
I thought
"We must nurture their bellies and feed their crying souls"
Our tour guide was a scrawny man
With a straw hat that drooped upon his forehead
"They will not go to school" he said
"They will circle the square and set tourist traps
And beg for sticks of gum or a Coca Cola"

I was 14
And did not know about things like consequences
I had never seen the ripple of fortitude
Circle inward again
I dropped my innocence where I was standing
Numbed by cause and effect
I understood the logic in all its inhumanity
And was dazed

I became a teacher
Sprawling my integrity like a kite within the minds of indiscretion
Folding student's pain like dirty laundry
I have begged for their forgiveness
I have launched morality at them like cannon balls
They dodge them
I have crafted their resistance into snow balls
They freeze
I have untied their demeanor with my teeth
I have drawn rings of fire around their test scores
I have scorched their earth
I have held their conscience bleeding as it died inside my arms

The world is not a mesmerizing place
It is a rocky field filled with guns and drugs and bombs and parentless boundaries
Mindless games envelop their bodies while their minds wander aimlessly around
They are branded
By their teachers, by their parents
By themselves
They're infected by temptation that's disguised as information
That is useless, faint, and damaging at best
I hear their music
I beat on their chests like they're dying
I sculpt their vulgar language with my own bare hands
I watch them wrestle with they're demons...
And lose
Every time
I watch them vomit their pride and leave it mangled in the doorway
I see their trauma
Dripping from the corners of their eyes
They have no tears left
I taste the abuse that they give
And they get
I watch their facts twist into a puzzle as they're bombarded by situations they cannot possibly understand

They are 14
And do not know about things like consequences
Or how the ripples of fortitude circle around again
And crush you
They only know that school is where you bargain
That pop tarts are free, reading is torture, 
And candy is the only thing worth learning for
They set tourist traps like it's an art-form
Circling squares and cutting holes in kindness
Their brevity of knowledge is ungodly
Their warped sense of right and wrong
Their insight jagged
They would sell their education for a stick of gum or a Coca Cola
And so we say to you, to hip hop, violence, t.v., video games, government, hypocrisy, racism, school boards, anyone and everyone who thinks that they are helping, 
We beg you
Please
Do not feed the children
They are hungry
And cannot be fed by things painted
On a thick brick wall.

 

Richmond, VA

Christy Garrison Guise is an artist, writer, and teacher in Richmond, Virginia.

Ode to My Organs

Oh, faithful Organs, parts of the whole,
How I love you so!

Spongy ribcage sacs, my Lungs!
Thank you for helping me to Accept my Life.
Surrendering attachments, 
Processing Grief, 
Making graceful transitions.
Surrender. Release. Repeat.

Maintain that fluid balance, Large Intestine!
Thank you for helping me let go of the past
And enter each day with an open mind. 
Contraction and Expansion. 

Thank you Heart, for Wisdom and Knowing. 
Your center, the bridge to Collective Consciousness.
You house my mind and perceptions. 
Thank you for generating the Joy and the Sadness. 
You make me aware of myself
And my nature
So that I can be present to each moment. 
Acceptance and Harmony.

Small Intestine, I love the way you discern!
You help to nourish and define me.
Because of you I can embrace separation. 
Intellect and Awareness.

Liver, you’re always guiding my soul!
Thank you for storing experiences in my fascia
- Helping me to find my path in life.
Internally and Externally -
Synthesize. Plan. Organize.

Gall Bladder; thank you for your endurance!
In finding motivation, 
Courage and Mobility. 
You help me to make decisions and be flexible. 
Assimilate the External.

Spleen, thank you for this Rhythm of Life!
You purify and cleanse –through all of the worrying and thinking! 
Subconscious mind. 

Acidic Pear-shaped, Stomach! 
Sea of Grain and Water, 
Thank you for digesting my food
As well as my life!
Assimilating and supporting my conscious mind. 

Kidneys, I haven’t forgotten you! 
Ocean of the human body and
Genetic blueprint holder.
You’re my energy production and blood filter.
Willpower. Sensuality. Coping.

Oh Bladder, how I respect your role within my nervous system!
You release for me, what I no longer need,
What can be toxic for me unexpressed – like Anger.
Control. Reproduction.

Oh, sepia Organs of mine…
I respect you! 
I thank you! 
I need you! 
I love you!

 

Richmond, VA

To Me

To Me:

Let's sit on the back deck in the south side
and remember times that made us remember
again and again. 

What about them is continuously inspiring.
Broken shells. Humming lyrics. The burning heat.
All things that tell me I have a past worth sharing. 

Stepping on a slug is only a reminder of southern hospitality,
shown in humidity and nature’s approach on a small town
stricken by the unfortunate touch of mother future- 
which does not have a place for the close minded and single love. 

Why not be in love with one thing?
Whether it's a mill or a person.
Multiple is too much to keep a hand on. 

Bumpy roads and discovered towns in a familiar landscape show me the scope of civilization just outside the one that I call my own. 

Be brave.
Discover you by discovering the things that even the closest places have to offer. 
You won't be disappointed
Not everything has to rhyme. 
Not everything has to be pretty.

 

Danville, VA

2-1

We drank gin from mismatched mugs,
In the evenings we shared laughter and wine,
And held hands as we stepped out cautiously into the world.
Others came and went in time,
But not you,
Never you.

Until you did.
Fake laughter fell on my desperate ears,
When our in-jokes were no longer in.
Everything I tried –
But you didn’t want to hear.

Now that I must,
I hold hands with others
But your mug still sits here
Gathering dust.

 

London, UK

Jessica lives in London and works as a flight attendant out of Heathrow airport. She enjoys writing emotional poetry in her spare time as a creative outlet to help keep her sane! She's keen to receive feedback and would love to hear from anyone interested in her work.

Tri

I see it too
This unearthed triangle
Love and self and lonely
Bidding for warmth
Safe arms
And a purpose
I have felt the rings of fire burn beneath me
But I froze

I am not what my eyes have made me
Overweight and old and unobtrusive
The fire in my core is screaming
Let me breathe
Let me spread
Let me heat
This life you've let cool down
Your laugh is like a tundra
Your eyes are hard
Your bed is petrified

I see it too
This unearthed triangle
Trying to fit into a square
The days are long
The seconds longer
Drawing lines through every word that's written
Searching for coal beneath the stardust
Around the shadows
And between the snows
Of love
And self
And lonely

 

Richmond, VA

Some Readjustments in Thinking

I used to mark my period every month on the calendar, now I write when the gas man has been here.
I used to curse my unruly, curly hair wishing it was more smooth and sensible, but now it seems to suit my mood.
I used to think being sensitive would leave me open to pain, but now, I think it just leaves me open.
I used to think silence was a place filled with fear, but now it never fails to fill me
I used to feel powerless in front of the powerful, but now, I know they are also naked and alone.

I used to think I would run out of ways to express the chaos in my head, but now, images and words fight for space, like a riotous crowd.
I used to think I would never have children, but now, the power and the glory of birth remains the jewel in my crown.
I used to think that my life would always be sad, as people often told me I looked, but now I understand that happiness isn’t measured by the disposition of your mouth.

I used to think my family life as a child lacked a certain joy, but now, the definitions (of family, life and joy) have changed.
I used to think my mother was distant and unfeeling, but now when I remember that her first child died, I realize she must have worked hard to stem the tide.
I used to think I was nothing like her, my mother, but when I look in the mirror now, she keeps reappearing.

I used to pretend I could put you out of my mind like a forgotten song, but now I see that you live there with impunity.
I used to wish for days and weeks and months on end with you, but now I wish I could see you once again across the room or relive that one moment at the airport.

 

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

Three Tourists Having a Good Time

Strutting through the Old Quarter,
wearing a Nón Lá,
Ho Chi Minh t-shirt, 
socks, and undies,
cigarette smoke.

Enchanting incense and chimes.
Vital heat and vigilance
on the streets of difference. 

Laughing, pushing.
Fight.

Three cups of Vietnamese Càphê
in a Café,
both hot and iced.
So black and thick, it tastes like oil;
[Contemplative]
[Addictive]
[Elusive]
[Intense]

A hundred days since we left Hanoi,
shoe shiners,
street vendors, and their Bok Choys.

No matter how –
crossing the streets was a jeopardy,
where we heeled, there abides felicity

of the three careless tourists,
of the three pampered tourists
with mild gaucherie,
and assorted memories

to reminisce.

 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thipwalee Srimaphan (known as ‘Kim’) is a freelance writer and translator from Chiang Mai, Thailand. As a non-native English speaker, Kim has been trying to introduce her work to international readers since 2015. 

If not traveling the world, Kim is most likely to be found around the village nearby Doisaked Hot Spring, Chiang Mai, or at her favorite “Coffee Corner”. Kim doesn’t understand Twitter. So the easiest way to track her is to visit http://kimthipwalee.wordpress.com