This is a guest post, a courtesy of a fellow blogger and poet Jon Freedman – another enlightening story on how we can enrich our lives through words.

Hi. I’m Jon Freedman. My blog, middaymidlife.com chronicles the midlife changes I’m going through after my 28 year marriage ended last April.

In addition to writing about my journey, I write about books and music important to me. Though I haven’t written on poetry, my very first blog post concludes with a poem I wrote, Wrecked in Rejkavik

While i rarely write poetry these days, my appreciation for the art form has not waned. Certain poems remain so poignant, so powerful that I am forever awed and and perhaps, even a tad jealous of their existence.

A good poem blends sound and meaning. A good poem is a song without music, meant not to just be read, but read aloud. A good poem has no shelf life.

I’d like to present two poems by Charles Bukowski. The first dark, the second not. Extremely different but connected by the power of the simple words.

I discovered Bukowski late in life. I knew of him but wasn’t at all familiar with his oeuvre. I was somewhat familiar with his fiction, but not his poems.

Bukowski’s personal story is a fascinating study of an artist who finally reaches recognition later in life, enabling him to focus on his art. There are a ton of biographies on the Interweb, if you’re interested.

Reading about Bukowski’s life raises the debate over art appreciation and how critical it is to understand the context of the artist’s life. As an English professor, and writer, Nabokov summarized it best, “does one need to know the spider to appreciate the web?”

In literature I find myself leaning towards “yes”. Though not in music or fine arts for the most part.

What say you? I’d love to hear your perspective on the question of the importance of knowing an artist’s “backstory” for lack of a better term, to appreciate the creation.

Until then,

Stay in touch. Share, comment, connect!

Jon Freeman

The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth

if I suffer at this typewriter think how I’d feel among the lettuce- pickers of Salinas? I think of the men I’ve known in factories with no way to get out- choking while living choking while laughing at Bob Hope or Lucille Ball while 2 or 3 children beat tennis balls against the wall. some suicides are never recorded.

From Love is a Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission. be on the watch. there are ways out. there is light somewhere. it may not be much light but it beats the darkness. be on the watch. the gods will offer you chances. know them. take them. you can’t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes. and the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be. your life is your life. know it while you have it. you are marvelous the gods wait to delight in you.

From Betting On The Muse by Charles Bukowski

Jon Freedman is a Washingtonian whose love for words was inspired while growing up in a household where reading was much more than fundamental. After college, he worked in advertising and marketing. Jon has worked for start-ups, Fortune 500’s as well as marketing in pro sports. Along the way, he married, and has three adult daughters, who are the lights of his life. When he’s not reading, Jon is busy chronicling his own midlife experiences in the latest chapter of his journey. In addition to writing, Jon is an avid cook and lover of music. You can find his writings at middaymidlife.com


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This is a guest post, a courtesy of a fellow blogger and poet Jason J. Michael. This essay is a bit longer than usual posts on this blog, but I encourage you to read it through – a touching story on how poetry, particularly haiku has changed his life, literally.

The Healing Power of Haiku

4641
Believe in yourself,
And your ability to
Make a difference.

   On September 3, 2000, when I was twenty-nine, my father died. He smoked himself to death acquiring, in order, blocked arteries, throat cancer, lung cancer, emphysema, and finally congestive heart failure, which in combination with the others claimed his life. His untimely death was fully expected by everyone around him, except for me. A jazz musician, he had quietly sold off his instruments to friends, had delusions of teaching sax quartets in our kitchen, gone to the drugstore in his briefs, and had visions of a mute, glowing boy and girl that accompanied him on errands. All of these I was aware of. None of them I took that seriously. I was living home with my parents temporarily, but consumed by my career goals. I was directing, acting, and composing for a local dinner theatre, I loved the job and it held my full focus. Besides, parents are immortal, right?

I was with him in the hospital, holding his hand, when he passed. In fact, I had been the one to give permission to take him off the machines that were keeping his heart and lungs operational when my mother, in an unexpected wave of grief, refused the honor and responsibility herself, stating “I just can’t do it.” The decision by default fell to me and, sensing no recourse, I ordered him removed from the machines and held his hand till his heartbeat faded. From my point of view, I had just killed my father.

The following year was a blur of work juxtaposed against a backdrop of depression and excessive sleep. One year to the day, on the anniversary of his death, September 3, 2001, I started working as a full-time music teacher at a Catholic boys’ school in Philadelphia. It was exactly the kind of job he would’ve wanted for me, and I felt pushed into it by his overshadowing presence. Everyone there was wonderful, but the pain of his loss coupled with the guilt I had felt over “pulling the plug” was consuming me, and combined with the isolation I felt from having moved away from my family for work, I sank further into depression and almost nightly contemplated suicide.

Then one night in late fall of 2001, while sitting alone in my apartment, I started flipping through channels and stopped on a bald man with a calming presence, wry wit, and warm, gravelly, voice. His name was Dr. Wayne Dyer, the PBS special was There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, and I found myself drawn to what he was saying. Dyer’s pithy, anecdotal, personal empowerment spirituality resonated and stuck with me long after the special ended, and by the next evening I was reading his book, The Power of intention. Within a few days signature quotes such as “You’ve got to believe it to see it” and “You are a spiritual being having a human experience” started to take up permanent residence in my brain and I was feeling a bit better. One quote, “Don’t die with your music still in you,” held special significance for me.

My degree had been in Music Composition, and my father and I had spent many hours composing together in our basement. When he died the music in my head had gone silent as if it died with him, but I knew instinctively, defiantly, that that wasn’t the case. In my grief I couldn’t access it; my guilt over “killing” him, and my need for his approval had turned my creative volume setting to mute. But I knew it was there, knew that Dr. Dyer’s warning mantra was applicable to my life, and knew that I would have to start slowly if I was to ever rekindle the creative flame inside myself. As a musician I had often been both composer and lyricist. I prided myself on my ability to put words cleverly together. But I would have to start again slowly, with small projects that allowed for a big sense of accomplishment. So, on November 18, a few weeks after watching the special, I sat at a desk over lunch in the center of a crowded school hallway – a reluctant and bored hall monitor – and wrote my first haiku in twenty years.

1
If I ruled the world…
But wait! Life is perception.
Where did I go wrong?

I struggled to write four haiku that day, but the next day I wrote more, and more after that. By January 20, 2002 I had written a hundred little poems, and realized I was starting to feel a bit better. I still wasn’t composing, but my creative juices were flowing, and I was amassing a large body of poetry that I could be proud of.
At the time I didn’t realize the full impact that writing haiku was having on my life, or how much I had almost obsessively fallen in love with distilling my daily thoughts down to a 5-7-5 syllabic format. I didn’t realize fully the therapeutic benefit, that by putting my thoughts simply and creatively on paper and “out there” I was releasing the pent up depression, guilt, and grief that had built up inside me over the last year and a half. I just knew I was being creative and felt better, and when something makes you feel good you keep doing it, don’t you?
Sixteen years after my father’s death, practically no week has gone by that I haven’t written at least one haiku. As of this writing, I’ve composed over 4,600 of the little buggers, self-published two books of poetry, plus a third children’s book. My music took years to return to me, but when it finally did it blew in with a vengeance, and I now compose fairly regularly, along with trying to maintain my blog, of course.
Everyone’s pathway to healing is unique, and for all I know had circumstances been different, perhaps something else would have come along to intervene, lift me up, and rehabilitate my spirit. Then again, perhaps nothing would have changed, and in my grief I may have commit suicide. But thankfully, THANKFULLY, that wasn’t to be my fate, and I ran across Dr. Dyer and his life philosophy when my spirit needed him the most. And that led me to fight for my life, a little bit at a time, with seventeen syllables in a crowded hallway, and with props to Frost, “that has made all the difference” for me. So, in case you ever had any doubts that poetry has magical properties or lasting value, I’m here to tell you that I’m living proof that poetry can change or even save a life. And that is the true healing power of haiku.
Namaste,
Jason

Jason J. Michael is a freelance actor, director, music director, and composer. He has self-published two books of poetry, True Haiku for You and A Haiku a Day; and one children’s book, Daddy Doesn’t Purr (But I Love Him Anyway), all available on Amazon. He won the Writer’s Journal National Poetry Contest with his poem “The Greatest Treasure” many years ago and has written some 4,600 haiku to date. He lives in King George, VA with his wife, son, and three cats. His blog, Reflections from Shangri-La, can be found at https://reflectionsfromshangrila.wordpress.com/


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This is a guest post, a courtesy of fellow poet and writer Pete Gardner where in this heartwarming story he shares how poetry influenced his life:

There is something about poetry that moves the human spirit. Whether it’s in song or prose, the words ten to bring the reader or listener into a place of higher awareness of their surroundings.

I would guess that a lot of people don’t even realize that they are listening to poems when they hear their favorite music. It really doesn’t matter what genre of music you choose, there is a poem in there more often than not. From our earliest childhood we are taught that poems soothe the soul.

Twinkle, Twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky

Every lullaby I can think of is a poem. We are shaped by them when we are young, and it doesn’t stop there. I grew up in the Beatle’s era. We listened to rock and roll all the time, and when I think back about those songs, I now see the poems in them.

Yesterday
All my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though there here to stay
Oh I believe in yesterday

In high school we studied poetry while doing English literature, taking in such poets as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe, my favorite.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

The ever increasing bombardment of poetry on our mind causes us to become familiar with it, almost a longing to hear more. The music, the books, even enticement to buy thing.

My bologna has a first name
It’s O-S-C-A-R
My bologna has a second name,
It’s M-A-Y-E-R.
Oh I love to eat it everyday
And if you ask me why say,
Cause’ Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A!!!!

In an article from the Atlantic magazine in 2014, Andrew Simmons best defined why teaching poetry in High School is so Important. This key section of that article sums up his ideas pretty well:

Yet poetry enables teachers to teach their students how to write, read, and understand any text. Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills that are often neglected in high school literature classes.”

Down through the ages, since David the Psalmist penned His words at least, poetry has been an essential part of the human fabric. A poem can relate emotions, dreams, visions and disappointments better than any other written form. The words enter into our minds easily because they have structure and the thoughts that are expressed are easily grasped. It touches the senses and can cause us to see, touch, taste and even smell its contents. It can move us to tears or laughter.

When I look back on the effect poetry has had on me and my family, I am amazed still at how much exposure we have to this simple form of writing. Hope you will take the time to realize how important poetry has been to you as well.

Pete Gardner is a worship leader and lay minster at a small country church in Iowa. He has been writing poetry for many years. In high school he wrote hundreds of poems about all sorts of subjects, from drunken brawls to funny limericks. He has always been a music lover, and listens for the wonderful way musicians bring rhyme into song. In 2010, Pete started writing Christian music, and has over 400 songs and choruses he has written. Then in 2014 he started a blog which would contain poems of praise. This blog is now his main outlet, and the poems are coming almost daily. They are filled with inspiring words of hope, love, and praise. You can find his work at http://www.psalmistpetegardner.wordpress.com.


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This is a guest post, a courtesy of a fellow poet Dimple Singh.

For many of us (like me) devotion to poetry started in high school a long with first teenage crushes – where poetry is seen as a vehicle for expressing and accepting those feelings. Here Dimple shares her story:

Poetry- The Dialect of Living Soul

Every human being faces a stage in his or her life when he or she fails to express his or her sentiments to the other person. Most of the times a person remains speechless to forbid giving irrelevant expressions. It is at that moment when a verse is used as a major tool to communicate with people. A poem is not only a collection of rhythmic words but it is also the dialect of a living soul. Where creatures fail to express themselves a poem reflects the depth of the authentic sentiments of an individual.

I’m one of those dedicated poets who attempts to bring out the profundity of any deliberation through my verses. I wrote my first masterpiece when I was ten years old child. Though I wrote it just casually, my work was applauded and well appreciated. It arose my self-assurance and I wrote more and more. Gradually it became one of my leisure pursuit. I used poetry not only as an instrument to convey myself but also to multiply the mirth of poetry in other people’s lives too. Instead of buying and gifting people expensive and branded presents I used to dedicate verses to my dear ones on their birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and many other special occasions. My rhymes were considered as the most precious offerings one would deliberately love to receive.

Many years passed by and as every year passed away my writing skills and curiosity and devotion towards poetry amplified.

The art of poetry made me a distinguishable person and today it’s not just a hobby but a major portion of my professional life. Poetry also assisted me to convey my amorous feelings to the person I love. When I was a sixteen years old teen I fell in love with one of my classmates. Most of the times I thought of letting him know what I felt for him but could not think of the best means to propose him. When all things appeared to fail I finally decided to express myself with a verse of mine. It was one of the most intricate but the best verse I think I ever wrote in my entire life since it was a direct link to my heart. I wrote the following verse for him:

Still and sinister hours of darkness,

With a faint flicker of optimism,

Walking by a forlorn lane,

Giddy slumber hauling me homewards.

 

Almost turned off from the sullen daylight,

I was about to leave when,

I was pulled by something imperceptible,

And within a fraction of second I lost my consciousness.

 

Further I went under hypnotism,

Shutting my eyes, to be lulled off to the charm,

Fantasy of the mesmerizing amour,

The perpetual lure of tenderness.

After tearing lots of writing I eventually wrote one and handed him over my writing the next day itself. I requested him to read it at home and reply as soon as possible. When I was at home I received a letter from a postman. When I opened it I was shaken by the words of the letter. He too replied with his self-written verse and this is how poetry played the role of cupid in my love life.

Hence, I consider poetry as the best device to disclose your inner-self and openly communicate to a huge mass of audience through your enchanting verses and spread awareness of those issues or happening that people fail to notice in their day to day lives.

Dimple Singh, is a student of Amity University, Noida. She is a second year undergraduate pursuing journalism. She is  keen and passionate writer and have a strong affinity towards creative writing, especially poetry. She believes in the strength of words and firmly want to make a difference in this world through her writings. You can find her at https://dimplebloomblog.wordpress.com


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This is a guest post, a courtesy of a fellow poet and writer Dalia Jayes where she shares her personal experience on writing poetry:

I love creating things and I use lots of different ways apart from poetry to accomplish this. There is an incredible feeling to taking threads of ideas and putting them together to form something new. For me the writing of poetry is minimalistic. By the right choice of words I can create a story in multiple layers. The added almost musical rhythm of the lines adds to the expression of the tale. I find writing poetry therapeutic. I work through things I experience, hear and see. I like that the writing is relatively fast and I relate to it as a quick fix. The poem is finished and I can move on.

My earliest memory of a well-known poem was the Pied Piper. It really captured my imagination. My favourite poets are Emily Dickinson and Dr. Seuss.

Some of my favourite poems:

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night  by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

And you, my father, there on that sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

The Healing Tree by Dalia Sophia Jayes

The many roots of this tree,

Twisted, exposed for all to see.

Its trunk thick and old, was,

Magnificent, perhaps because,

It held secrets, mystery, more,

This was but the central core,

For magic worlds hidden between,

The leaves, which could be seen,

And memories near and long ago,

Perched like blossom high and low,

But where was this tree firmly stood,

Not in a forest, or an enchanted wood,

It was there for the sick and the aged,

A remedy for feeling and being caged,

To where they could run and disappear,

Far, far away, but still quite near,

Escaping from the reality of the now,

Into golden moments beyond each bough.

 

Looking For The Sun by Dalia Sophia Jayes

The sun shone, beating down hot,

Sea, ice cream, summer whatnot,

Iced coffees, suntan cream smell,

Chat, quiet and laughter as well,

Jump into the bubble, feel real good,

Closed eyes, rose glasses understood,

Outside bubble sun is blotted black,

Cycle of murdering innocents back,

New orphans, transformed in a blink,

Witnesses of bloodshed, what to think,

Knives, stones, rocks and the gun,

Vengeance, martyrs, wars to be won,

Blood staining earth, spitting at peace,

Spurred on, encouraged, lost is cease,

And the heat, boiling does not stop,

Too hot, bursting bubble with a pop,

Outside tears, screams, horror, abound,

Replacing summer’s smile and sound,

And the sun refuses to shine just now,

One hopes it hasn’t forgotten how.

 

Weddings by Dalia Sophia Jayes

She sat there, her mother, sister, grandmothers by her side,

A vision in white, glowing and smiling, she sat there the bride,

And above and around her was a cloud of emotion, charged,

As the family seemingly both contracted and enlarged,

Only women framed her, singing songs in girly tones,

Whilst others tapped to the music into their phones,

And we waited and waited barely able to breathe for,

The moment she would go through an invisible door,

When she would pass from her parents to,

A family that she was now forming, brand new,

The men were coming, I could hear their male voice,

Headed by the groom, her man, her choice,

The clothed wedding players were naked now,

Their feelings etched on their faces and how,

Her father overcome, a silent sob in his eyes,

His little girl grown up taking him by surprise,

Her husband to be had a look of love, so pure,

Proving to her unquestionably this would endure,

It was such a private moment when their eyes met,

It felt wrong to look, to be a voyeur of this, yet,

We all gazed, watching as she walked over to him,

Even as she still sat there, veiled, pretty and slim,

The moment had passed, the transition done, a leap,

Tears gone, replaced with smiles etched so very deep,

And mother, father took hold of her hands and led,

She, forever their daughter, to her groom to be wed.

 

Conscription by Dalia Sophia Jayes

Today came as we knew it would,

When there was no longer control over the words,

And the poem lost its rhyme,

And the vowel was marched away,

Leaving an unfamiliar empty sound.

Dalia Jayes  grew up in London and after university went to Israel to study for a doctorate in medicinal chemistry. Many years later she is still in Israel with her husband and children. She lives in Modi’in, which although a relatively new city, is steeped in history, especially relating to Hanukah, which took place in this region. She consider herself lucky to be able to use writing in her profession, a patent attorney, although the language is limited. In spare time she writes poems as well as fiction. She has also written a fantasy book for teenagers, which is yet to be published. You can find her writings at https://whileiwalk.wordpress.com


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This is a guest post, a courtesy of fellow poet and writer Paul Vaughan, where he shares his personal experience on why he writes poetry and how that impacts his life:

Why do I write poetry?

Four years ago I had just gone through a second divorce, started a new job after several years of struggling with depression, was living in temporary lodged accommodation while practicalities were sorted out, and trying to be a dad at arm’s length. This, I thought, was not what I had in mind….

I’d like to say things turned around but they didn’t, not then. I spent three years scraping around being at something of a loss. I no longer knew where I fitted into the world around me. I was not even sure I knew who I was any more.

I had written the odd poem before then, but only on a whim. Friends encouraged me to perhaps do it more as some felt I had a talent for writing, so a year ago I started contributing to a social poetry website, then eventually started writing a blog, “Edge of the Bellcurve”. It’s a ramshackle mix of poems, personal perspectives/philosophy and general musings on poetry itself.

I wanted to write to get at what I feel, rather than what I think I should feel. To say what I mean, rather than what I think I should say. Poetry is an expression of authenticity, widely drawn. If you write poetry there is nowhere to hide, and I wanted that, to be reconciled to myself. My blog is not anonymous because I very much wanted to be visibly attached to what I wrote. I think often I write poems about simple things, about love, loss, sex, death, and the ways that people often get disconnected from themselves, from their truth, out of fear.

The jury is out as far as whether what I write is any good or not, but I would write it anyway. Having started, I can’t stop. I won’t stop. Not everyone “gets it”. I’m pretty sure some people are appalled by it, in fact, and one person accidentally sent me a text intended for someone else declaring that I was a “knob” for writing and publicly posting poetry. On the flip-side, I have also made new connections with other people, and started performing my poetry at open mic evenings, where I can both perform and listen to the poetry of others, which has been great. I see poetry as a “conversational” experience, an interplay with other poets.  I have even a couple of print magazines accept poems for publication and wangled a 10 minute slot on the fringe stage of a local poetry festival. This is all just icing on the cake though, compared to the actual exercise of creativity and the personal freedom that emerges from that.

I really enjoy the idea of sharing and promoting the work and events of others too, so have now set up an online poetry magazine. I am no longer quite sure what I used to do before!

The encouragement of others is fantastically important when you start out, as writing poetry can be an emotional, sometimes anxious process (or at least it sometimes is for me). I cannot really write a piece like this without mentioning my friend Steve “without whom this would not have been possible….”

As a sample poem I wrote this one about the experience of performing open mic poetry, and it’s more of a performance than a “page” poem. I used to do a lot of poetry recital as a youngster, but performing your own poems is a very different experience.
Is this thing working?
I’ve never done this thing before,
taken the mike, addressed the floor…
Hang on – that rhymed!– is this just spiel?
Or is this poetry for real?
Is this thing working?
Is it switched on?
Is there a knack?
Can you still hear me at the back?
You’ve let me come and stand up here,
while you sip your pints of beer,
you’ve got no clue what I might say,
if my words might go astray….
I may have a dark agenda,
here to spread my propaganda.
Or am I here to point the finger.
turn this into Jerry Springer….
my wife is sleeping with that man.
Why trust me?
Give me this space?
I could be crazed and madly pace….
Why?
Why trust anyone to speak,
why listen to a heart that beats,
why open minds to songs and prayers,
why dance the dance or wrestle bears,
why ever haunt that secret place,
why ever flaunt your human face.…
Is this thing working?
Is there a…crack?
Can you still hear me?
Can you still hear me at the back?
Paul lives in Yorkshire, England with his cat Rosie, where he works, writes, recites to anyone daft enough to listen, sometimes scrawls poems on pavements in chalk when he is drunk, and avoids eating custard at all costs. Unless it’s in a vanilla slice. He has recently started an online poetry magazine https://algebraofowls.com/

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This is a guest post, a courtesy of a fellow poet and writer Cherish Tiana where she shares her heartwarming story on how poetry gives voice when nobody listens:

The only way to explain why I write is to explore the time in my life when I did not and could not. The only way to explain my creativity, my inspiration is to return to the point where I was devoid of either.

I have discovered several things that are necessary for me to be able to produce creatively: self awareness, self acceptance, and self satisfaction.

These things had been lost to me a few months after the premature birth of my son. I would like to say they were violently stolen, but the correct phrase would really be freely given. At every stage of my pregnancy, of my birthing process, and of my early stages of motherhood, I was criticized, doubted, questioned, ridiculed, ostracized and ignored; I internalized it.

I was ignored when I told the doctor my son is large for a 31 weeker, she denied that possibility and proceeded to make an incision he would later become stuck and nearly die in. I was ridiculed when I did not want to vaccinate my son before taking him home from the NICU because I had read the drug insert for the hepatitis B vaccine, which (if I can let you in on a secret) doctors never do.

I was ostracized from the pediatric medical field because I did not want to add additional risk for my son who had not even reached his due date by the time he was released from the hospital (born at 31 weeks gestation, released at 34).

I was questioned when, two weeks after finally giving into the vaccine because we would go without a pediatrician otherwise, my sons vaccine injected leg was inexplicably broken. Horrified, fearful of this unknown source of attack and constant threat of misfortune, my fear was magnified by the blame that I had caused the break by abuse. Abuse that not only did not occur, but did not even reveal itself upon medical examination of my son.

I gave my voice away and I pimped my convictions for the sake of being accepted but when I searched out a deeper level of satisfaction, awareness, and acceptance of myself, I found that not only was I liberated, but I was free to flow creatively once again.

In my poetry, I express my liberty. My voice is no longer silenced and most importantly, I am unapologetic about it.

The Apology

I apologized for not fitting into the mold that society laid out for me.

The “Land of the Free”
but only if my thoughts and vision fall into alignment;
if not you place limits on my creativity, chains to maintain the course of my liberty.

I apologized when my opinions
offended your sensibilities and the fragility of your insecurities.

You gave me the label of opinionated, a scarlet letter in our society.
“Quiet your noise”, you said, “because opinions are unbecoming”.
“Just fall in line with the status quo”.
You would rather live what you know than expand your thinking and take the opportunity
to grow.

So I apologized.

I apologized for the truth
because the truth made you uncomfortable.

I apologized.
Many times, I apologized.
When it was a lie, even still,
I apologized.

So excuse me if I don’t offer you an apology.

Pardon me, I’m just no longer sorry.

Cherish is a writer, poetess, Greek/Hebrew enthusiast, and a follower of Christ. You can find her writings at reignoffaith.wordpress.com


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This is a guest post, a courtesy of a fellow poet and writer Dave Brooks and his insightful reflection on how poetry can benefit our lives. A must read 🙂

The use of creativity in business is a vast subject and has been covered in a number of dimensions in the past, with both positive and negative connotations. Creative accountancy is seen as bending the rules. Being overly creative can sometimes be taken as not being practical. But in reality, in the office disciplines such as general management, line management and business management, creativity has a role to play in the areas of engagement, communication and more importantly of late, compliance.

I want to talk about poetry as opposed to just generic creativity, but for this we need to understand what poetry is. It would appear to mean different things to different people. Many folks still remember the rote learning of classic lines during childhood. There is a general assumption that poetry must rhyme and often there is a distrust of anything more sophisticated than a birthday card ditty. Why not start with a definition or two, to get us on the same page.

1. Literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhyme.

2. Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound and rhyme.

There are so many bones to pick over in these two definitions, it is hard to know where to start, but let’s drop a few of the more obvious words as these can cloud the picture. “Literary” might make us think we are writing something not for business, but I would like to think that all good writing should be judged by this standard, whether for artistic purposes or for the annual accounts.

One might argue “Feelings” or “emotional response” are inappropriate as an aspect of business communication but I say oh contraire. The most common speech written for internal business use is that for a regular management update to the staff or stakeholders. These pieces are designed to engender passion and followership, sometimes in the case of our US colleagues on the edge of religious zeal or fervour.
We also know that rather like poetry that there are horses for courses. One rambling heroic poetic does not fit the space available for a Haiku. Where time and audience dictate the medium and the composition, we cut out cloth accordingly. So on this point, I think the use of “distinctive style and rhyme” is spot on.

But the part of these definitions I wish to focus on today is that of the transference of ideas and the concentrated imaginative awareness of experience. Yes, my friends, I wish to lead you on the road to compliance. Compliance is not a dirty word. We all agree to abide by some conditions when we start to work for a company. Even those of you out there who are like me, self-employed have to meet the rules set by the bank, the tax office and often business specific regulator. However, there are two big issues with regulation and compliance with it; initial awareness and change.

When first joining a company, a dozen or more documents will arrive at your door and you are deemed to have read them and understood them. This will be anything from the pension scheme to the use of a corporate dentist. They will also include the use of IT policy, security, ethical behavior and external communication with the press and third parties. We are overwhelmed by them and the best way to make sure nobody reads a policy document is to thump them over the head with it. Big paper documents which are measured by quantity not quality provide no value. Yes, you need a long form of the policy, but you also need a simpler way to get the message across.

Do you remember “Concentrated” from the definitions above? Well if we combine with this “Ideas”, “Experience” and “Imaginative” we come to only one conclusion, the use of analogy or imagery. By explaining through the use of metaphor or telling of war stories, a general level of awareness can be created, maintained and improved.
This is equally true with the second scenario, the ongoing maintenance of compliance.

The use of simile and imagery can open tired eyes and part of the role of poetry is the selection of language that engages. We should not be tied to the same old staid subset of English but rather make use of our fabulous language made rich by an array of poets from the Bard up to Carol Anne Duffy and beyond. Lowest common denominator thinking and writing belittles the intelligence of our audience. A fine example of this in practice is through an organisation I have been working with for two years called the analogies project (www.theanalogiesproject.org) that specialise in uses of analogy and story-telling to improve Information security compliance. But why stop there? The sky is literally the limit. Why not use story-telling to make pensioners more aware of the perils of life online? Why not use metaphor in schools to encourage road safety?
In all of this, the written word is at the heart of this work. Good words, strong words, creative and imaginative words. The use of vocabulary that sometimes calls for the use of a dictionary. My second-language speaking colleagues do this without any more of embarrassment. So why does the thesaurus seem to be a book that gathers dust when we leave school. My poetic heart underlies the work I do with my business brain. One feeds my stomach and one feeds my soul. I encourage every one of you to do the same.

Dave Brooks is a poet, novelist, contributor on the Analogies Project, freelance risk consultant and vocalist on the YouTube single Fiscal Cliff by the Academy of Rock. More about his work you can find at http://poetryonthemove.webs.com/


If you would like to contribute with your guest post visit this link for further information. And, if you are interested in getting more inspiration for your creativity, sign up for our free bimonthly newsletter.