POETRY FOR OUR BELOVEDS

Poetry is an ancient art form that can express our observations, insights, and the world of feelings, often so hard to talk about. Poems help us reveal and bear our burdens, they can inspire us, and it can bring us to new understanding – all in just a few words. We at TLC dedicate the poems here to those we love who have passed.

Poems for Rob Weatherston 

by Julie Rogers

For Comfort  

 

Stop wanting.

Take your mouth off your mind,

the tasting has made you crazy.

Back off real smooth.

Back off without trying.

It's just the next moment now.

Notice your surroundings,

the weight of your hands,

the quiet sound 

of breathing, your chest rising     

regular as wind.

The body lets down windows

for the calm to come in,

the wafting silent bell

of your heart    

alive in there on its own.

It doesn't worry

and neither should you – 

sooner or later

everything comes into view.

 

 

Chrysalis  

 

I hear him crying

deep down from the bone

where muscle had been

flexing, young, smiling

among the men he was happy

to belong between because they saw

his beauty, because he was human there,

it was his street and the others

couldn't take it from him.

 

He fills the couch 

with bones and tears,

a raft in an ocean of salt water.

He lays on his back, forced

to swallow the sky.

It hangs everywhere around him.

He hopes it really is heaven.

 

When he sleeps he dreams

of waking, dreams of not feeling

pain. He knows

the body is man's best friend

and in the end his enemy.

He must bribe it with pills

and needles, and keeps it company

because without him

it is no one.     

 

Now he sees himself

part man, part spirit, someone

who is leaving. He is

wearing his skin like a shroud,

a placenta, a cocoon,

a room to pass through

to the next one.

 

Dedicated to those diagnosed with HIV

 

 

Past the Horizon          

 

You have come and gone

like wind, wrestling through

the last long breath 

that drifted up between us.

Now a window is open

beside the body

perfectly still, though 

a bristling beard 

continues to cling

to the cheekbone.

When we lifted 

your remains

to wrap them in linen 

we held up a shell, 

as if feeling

the sound of the ocean.

Poems For Laurel Hansen

by Julie Rogers

Open Room         

 

Your bed is cushioned 

by all who hold you

high through the rough streets

past doors shut tight,

the pillows are our mother’s warm bellies

leaned into, cups of water beside you

are deep quenching wells

straws the tongues of goddesses

vases of stars on the table

blankets of light sheeting out

from our eyes watching over

open for you

seeing you everywhere:

in the bare hands of the clock

in the dark stare of 4 a.m.

through our faces

in windows, in mirrors

edged with laughter and sighs

and countless silver moons

not just today

not just this room.

 

2-4-14

on your birthday

 

 

As a Beginner   for Laurel & Patrick

 

I don’t know how to be here

but see the white sheets

your knees like low hills

legs in the long stretch

your soft mouth parting

gentle waves around your face

those jewel eyes

“most beautiful woman in town”

he always says always beside you

beside myself watching

you live with everything

we’ve learned but not practiced yet.

 

Venerable disciple I bow down

to clean your urinal

with Handy Wipes from heaven– 

Tara has blessed them–

we know she’s promised!

Mantra sings into your heart

whispering love’s silent tune.

Dear one I am here 

chanting with you.

 

2-11-14

 

 

Recipe for Stars          

 

Brilliant moon and stars

with lightly shredded clouds

in deep universal blue/black space

topped with sprinkles of far suns

on a cool night spread with treetops

back dropped by Luna’s glazed face

upturned in a gauze of comets.

Oh my goddess! Your pearl 

throbs mid-air, suspended on velvet sky

completely perfect. Even the trees bow.

 

2-11-14

 

 

Sparks          

 

Caught in this long night

sobbing between the houses

softer than sirens

 

moon through winter trees

black twigs sharpen her cold stare

into closed windows

 

ears ring in the numb

of not knowing if it’s time

to turn out the light

 

fire streaks the sky

memory’s torch burning space

deep into your eyes.

 

2-11/18-14

 

 

Eyes for You         

 

Face pale

lips like petals

trembling in wind

two hair pins

faux diamonds

lit in graying waves

but those stars

are your eyes

far suns

love beams

in light blue space

your voice long quiet

breathing for us

as we watch your life

drift past

as we plump the pillows

and take turns 

holding your hand.

 

2-23-14

 

 

One or the Other          

 

Ah God, it’s death 

that makes life so close.

You are going beyond the usual–

it’s what comes to all of us 

but startled

I find you in the living room

on a metal bed

beside your piano,

sit on the bench

aware of your fingers 

playing quiet nocturnes

on my palm,

for a slow moment

you feel around

for a place to rest

as I hold on. 

 

2-24-14

Sentinels   for the Hansen family

 

The heavy eyes of the watch

day and night a grey mist

one sun one moon

and it’s tomorrow, like today

but not.

The family works a puzzle

in the living room, listening.

 

You in the bedroom

beneath the blanket

breathing flowers

candles lit

accepting friends again

or living the dream

between them. 

 

A stronghold

of four generations

hunched over the pieces

putting them together

finally connecting blue

as your eyes

wide open.

 

2-27/28-14

by Julie Rogers

Zen Retreat   

Mossy trees, lush, green.
I wish the same for my skull
When my time is spent.

 

by Jane Hawes

 

Poems for Mother

by Julie Rogers

House Call at a Motel

 

The TV light

is blue on her face

in the swell of blankets

as my niece twists

into sleep. Her mother

drifts beside her

in the leaping dark.

My daughter huddles close,

eyelids writhing 

with dreams. Near midnight

the bathroom light

is on so we can see

the telephone, a silent

bell tower on the table 

between us. We wait

for the call, have memorized

the 10-minute ride

to the hospital and know

the corridors to her room,

the tangle of plastic tubes 

like the veins in our hands.

Small in the metal bed frame

her face is an angel.

She is in between

the needle and Jesus

and the line is open.

 

12-22-00

                                    

                

Mourning

 

When I wake the world 

crowds in, a dark dream

recurring, measured in time

at the hospital. 
Every moment spent

taking it in, breathing 

the storm thrashing

up from the gut

to spin in my throat,

jumbling thoughts, pieces

scattering everywhere,

her face reflected 

as from a prism

in every one, the mind

so blinded by daggers

of light from her heart

into mine 

that I don’t know 

who is dying.

 

1-4-01
 

 

Proof of Life

 

There is only this moment

 

and memory.

Like a bird let go

in a cathedral

mind flies

every direction

searching for the nest,

a familiar

proof of life

to rest in.

 

Elusive home, the body,

the idea of it.

 

The next second

is empty

as the dream 

of the last one.

 

12-29-00

from 'Dreaming with Mama'

by Julie Rogers

                                    

Ashes   for Barbara at WinterSpring

 

People want

to forget death.

Let's watch another show,

call a friend,

go away for the weekend,

go away forever – 

cremation smoke drifts

far beyond the weather.  

Neither heaven nor hell 

has my father's ashes;

I keep them in my cabinet

with his picture and a clipping

from the paper. I am named

as his survivor. Am I wiser

holding death each day?

I bring close the hollow body

to know I am alone,

to slowly pry away from holding on

to life, my hopes and fears,

illusion, the years I need

to feed the children.

 

by Julie Rogers

 

 

Till Death   for Richard

 

We cannot know how long we have

together, our bodies miming love,

an echo in each other’s arms,

when words become the sigh beside a sigh

and we are no one merging

into one. This is how I understand

our suffering, hidden

in the bones of our hands,

in the delicate knots of our hearts

coming undone, how slowly

they loosen, how quickly

taken.

 

by Julie Rogers

 

 

Epitaph

 

When I die

my body, a mourning flower,

will weep the dew,

each bead a clear eye closing,

each thought left

a seed for the dark, 

a promise,

a kiss on the hand

in greeting, in parting.

I lay on the ground

and hold it with my bones,

flesh and dust between us.

I taste the breath of life

and death in my mouth,

the language of angels.

 

by Julie Rogers

A Blessing for Beauty   

                                                                                                     
May the beauty of your life become more visible to you, that you may glimpse your wild divinity.

May the wonders of the earth call you forth from all your small, secret prisons and set your feet free in the pastures of possibilities.

May the light of dawn anoint your eyes that you may behold what a miracle a day is.

May the liturgy of twilight shelter all your fears and darkness within the circle of ease.

May the angel of memory surprise you in bleak times with new gifts from the harvest of your vanished days.

May you allow no dark hand to quench the candle of hope in your heart.

May you discover a new generosity towards yourself, and encourage yourself to engage your life as a great adventure.

May the outside voices of fear and despair find no echo in you.

May you always trust the urgency and wisdom of your own spirit.

May the shelter and nourishment of all the good you have done, the love you have shown, the suffering you have carried, awaken around you to bless your life a thousand times.

And when love finds the path to your door may you open like the earth to the dawn, and trust your every hidden color towards its nourishment of light.

 

by John O’Donohue, from Beauty – The Invisible Embrace

© 2020 TLC Transitional Life Care