Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shirley Ness, 1926-2012

People love telling you, it seems, how you will go on after a loved one passes.   Life will continue, they tell you it will just take time before you feel better.   But for those who loved my mother, life went on, during her torment from Alzheimer’s disease.   We watched as she went from a ball of energy, her will and energy never fleeting to someone quite different.   She was someone quite changed, not really who she was before being afflicted by the hellish disease.

She came from German stock, her parents were immigrants to the US, from Germany, through Canada.   Her parents were not wealthy, and during the Great Depression with four other siblings she was faced with lessons of living that only the traditional German work ethic  helped make less hungry.   Mom learned to deal with problems and stress by working,    Arbeit Macht Frei is a phrase in German that means Labor sets you free.    The expression comes from the title of a novel by German philologist Lorenz Diefenbach, Arbeit macht frei: Erzählung von Lorenz Diefenbach (1873), in which gamblers and cheats find the path to virtue through labor.

She lived Arbeit Macht Frei like no one else I know.   As a child I would wake up from not being able to sleep well, or having not been able to actually fall asleep, and would come down to find her ironing clothes, watching late night television, and she’d be up the next morning before dawn, to get the day ready for her family.   She did this all the time.    If labor sets you free, she was more free than anyone could be.

But it wasn’t simply her ethnic heritage, nor her growing up during the Great Depression that made her so able to focus her energies, and live upon little sleep.    She was driven to survive, first by dealing with achieving a life better than she’d grown up with.   Then to create a family, to be parents to children with her husband Donnie.   But while both my mom and father worked hard, and managed to make a life better than some, they were unable to conceive children, despite medical help.   They turned to adoption, and made a life for children who might not have had a life so good elsewhere.  And then, when my mother held my brother, then a baby, to her breast to comfort him, she noticed her nipple was sore.   Since the child was not birthed from her, she knew something was wrong.   She saw her doctor, and learned that she had breast cancer.   Immediately she feared not only the cancer, which in 1961 was still a mysterious disease, but she feared losing her precious gift, her newly adopted child.   It wasn’t an unfounded fear, she was facing the unknown.

She beat cancer.   And then it returned.   And when it returned she had adopted, with Donnie, her second child, me.   She worried that she’d die, but again that she would lose her adopted children.   She beat cancer again, this time losing not only her breast but her lymph nodes.

She beat cancer.   She beat poverty.   She did so through will.   She was a tough German facing a challenge, a sort of combat, and she beat it through superior will.

Whatever memories people have of my mother, they remember her for her energy, for her constant motion and her will.   She loved life, dancing, and coffee.   She was hard to deal with sometimes, she was stubborn, but her heart is why she was stubborn.  She refused to lose.  

So now in her memory, when all I want is to not exist without her, I am going to do what she taught me, refuse to lose, and go on.   It isn’t what I want.   It is what she’d want.   And that is enough for me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Into the gray we walk

Into the gray we walk
Without a touch of regret
Only souvenirs
For when we forget
Why bother to keep
What doesn't matter
The waking call it life
The sleeping seek peace
Into the gray the pace quickens
While thoughts scatter
Images fade
The living we lived for
Live another day
And we keep walking
The dreams unspoken
The choices untaken
No more tears
No more hearts breaking
Only the sounds
Of children laughing
The ocean tides rising
The wind through the trees
And the mourners walking
On the broken ground

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


The edge of light
The mist parts the veil
Of night
Pitch black
Crowds the sky
Of color
But for the stars
Life is fading
Memories are scars
Darkness reigned
And held me
In firm embrace
My hope was gone
But the day will come
A golden dawn
A promise
Because there is more
Than the darkness
That dwells
Surrounds and fills
I have no choice
But to live
To wait upon the day
For sorrow does not feed me
While my grieving
Is without relent
There is a promise
That redeems
The coming day will be good
The days that follow better
Because I cannot hope
Upon sorrow
I will hope upon life
And tomorrow

Monday, October 22, 2012

Burning tears

Hollow from the pain
Staring into the emptiness
The world heaves in sorrow
The fires of eternity burn
Until there is nothing left
My soul is afire
With the tears
That leave me silent
Watching the scavengers
Feed upon my flesh
My corpse barely cold
Before the fetid feast is begun
Nothing can tame
Their hunger
And my body is now bare
Bones to dry
In the sun

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I Can't

I've prayed for days
Upon my knees in solemn faith
Forgoing all that might sustain me
Trying to forestall what is to come
The inexorable march never ends
From dawn to dusk, day to night
Time passes
Only to stop by capricious whim of fate
I can't take your hand  and draw you away
From this place to a better place
No matter my tears, offerings and sacrifices
Because the inevitable cannot be stopped
The end will happen
The end is already begun
No matter my sorrow
No matter how I grieve
For things never said
Things never done
That all leave me

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Plague Take Us

Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down

Who are we to delay 
This end
Our final inevitable fall
Who are we to pray
End this suffering

Lord hear our call
The children dance in a ring

Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down

Lord in heaven
We are crying
We are dying
End this living torment

Every ounce of sorrow
Of each moment of time
Begs our forgiveness
From the Divine

Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down

We call
We call
As our plague takes us down
We sing
We sing
The children sing their song

Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down

Then we dance in circles
Hoping to survive
But the dance we do
Only wastes our time
As we pursue
All those things we don't need
Yes we will pursue them

Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down

We become lost indeed
We've surrendered
Our souls begin to bleed
We forget all we've learned
There is nothing to remember
We engage the curse
From the world we've earned
With our hearts of stone
The plague will harvest us
It runs through our veins
Without our ability to atone
We've eaten all the fruits
From our own planted bitter seeds
And we've been left to our own

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Like Silk Feels

She moves like silk feels
Against my skin
Her voice calls me
Awake from the dead
The scent of her hair
Of her being
Drives me mad
Not in lust
But for a person so
She appears before me
Riding an astral wind
The wind blows through me
I lose control
She is unique
Yes, beautiful
I fall to my knees and pray
That she never leaves
My thoughts
My soul

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shattered Empire

Once we rode before the highest king
Were the holders of the holy fire
We carried the Derafsh Kaviani
The banner of the emperor
And the royal house
Of the Sassanian Empire
Formerly we were the elite
Now we are remnants
Scattered across the land
Still loyal to the Emperor
Without an empire
We eat upon the run
Ride at night, hide during the day
The collapse of the empire
Separates us from our kin
Fleeing the invaders
While fighting to survive attacks
From the enemy outside
And from wounds within
We no longer fight for a country
For an empire or emperor
We fight for our lives
Against the innumerable tribes
Of the crescent star
We could never return
After al - Qadisiyyah
All that was left was taken
All that was home was gone
Never to rise again
So we ride

Monday, October 15, 2012

Life Alive

You move like air through the wind
You are fluid in dance
Before me
I can barely draw breath
You tempt me forward
Into your hands
And I am freed
You are beautiful
Like no one else
And I believe
First I  stare
Then I gaze into your eyes
You are unique
A spirit being
Captured in flesh
My heart beats
My soul sings
You are here and
This is not a dream
You dance before me
And I watch in awe
For you are stunning
For you are life

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I found a different treasure

In 637 Anno Domini
After the battle of al-Qādisiyyah
Destroyed the empire
There were few of us left
Leaderless but we survived
We lived off the land
Raided the enemy's supply lines
Attacked various units of their tribes
But although we were alive
The empire had died

We freed men taken slave
We killed countless enemies
We filled their bodies with arrows
We opposed the wave
Carrying the banner
Of Crescent and Star
We rode hidden trails
Became the ghosts that they feared
But the empire was dead
There was only the resistance
Given by the lost
For a cause that was gone

Coming upon an enormous tent
Of the enemy's
Heavily guarded
So we assumed it was a leader
And his treasures
Liberated from Sassanid hands
We surrounded it
Shot the guards full of arrows
We entered the tent when done
To find a different kind of treasure
Pleasure slaves of all races
The word in their language for it was Haraam
But it was forbidden only to some

I was disappointed not to find
Some fearful leader
With his guilty hands
But I saw someone there
And could not avert my eyes
She did not disguise her gaze
I was blind
For she looked through me
My armor made no defense
And she said take me from here please
I couldn't deny her

I've been her's ever since

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

So what?

It might be you I need
But so what?
So what if I love you
So what if I care
So what if my heart beats
Only for you
Yes it is unfair
But there is nothing I can do
To change you
I don't need you
To tell me you love me
I don't need you
To tell me you care
Because to love you
Is enough
To love someone is my cross to bear
Because you are the one I love
You are the one I need
You are the one I seek to dream of
And that is enough
That is all in fact
To sleep thinking of you
To dream, being with you
Whether you love me
Or not
I do
And that is enough
For me to breathe