I am in no position to judge anyone.
I am human, of course, just like the rest of us are.
I have pieces of me that are dark
and at the same time, I have other pieces of me
that have been embraced by the light.
I have secrets and lies and sins and mistakes;
therefore, I have no right to either accuse
or condemn nor do I have the correct position
to act as either judge or jury.
I do my best to remember that . . .
I understand the so-called “seven deadly’s”
I know them all too well
I know pride and greed,
and I certainly know lust and envy.
I know gluttony and wrath, and yes –
I know sloth very well too.
In fact, we have lunch sometimes
or we get together and scroll through social media feeds,
especially when we have other work to do.
I am in no position to judge . . .
I have a past and a present and pieces of me
(like you) which I’d be afraid to expose
because then you might see the real me
and then you might not like what you see.
I am thinking of this, today
but not for the typical reasons. No.
Today, I think about this with a different purpose –
I found myself in an emergency room
I was in front of a doctor with a white lab coat,
a clipboard in hand and, of course,
he had a stethoscope around his neck.
He had pens in the chest pocket of his coat.
And there he was,
talking to me about what it means to be alive.
He used the word “just’ a few times . . .
He was trying to ask, “Why’d you do it?”
without actually asking,
Why’d ya do it?
Sometimes, life doesn’t make sense
and neither do we.
Sometimes, our thoughts take a turn to the left;
in which case, we start to believe in our own math.
We add our frustrations and doubts.
We multiply our problems by an inaccurate sum
and then we struggle to subtract ourselves
or be away from the equation.
But that was about me.
This is not about me . . .
Somewhere, in the clean air of Tucson, Arizona or somewhere close to the Sonoran desert, down in the old west, or perhaps near the Sabino Canyon Foothills,
there is a young child who chose a similar turn.
All I can say is this: I understand
Whether we tell each other to “calm down” or say,
“don’t feel like that,” isn’t much to go on when, in fact,
we can’t calm down.
Whether we use the word “just”
as a simplification; as in “Just don’t do that anymore.”
That just doesn’t work.
I am writing this for you
because although I never knew you;
I know a certain thing
which I faced on more than one occasion.
(no differently than you)
I can say that there were times that nothing made sense.
I know that no one likes to talk about this.
I know that hey, let’s forget about it, right?
Let’s avoid the elephant in the room.
Let’s put this on the back burner
or we can talk about this later (if later ever comes)
but hey, this is the mind we’re talking about.
There are times when it all seems hopeless
and to speak to someone about this? Really?
Do you even know?
Like the doctor in the lab coat –
Or like the paramedic in the ambulance
(on my last ride)
Or what about the person
who had to ask me for my information
in the emergency room –
Or what about the face of shame
or the feeling of disgrace because I failed?
These are some of the reasons
why people never talk about this stuff –
the shame is incredible
Especially when someone comes around
and uses the word “just,” as if to say,
“just don’t feel that way!”
By the way, if it were that easy,
there’s be no such thing as depression or anxiety.
No one would be an alcoholic
and there’d be no overdoses
because people would ‘just’ stop what they’re doing.
I take my involvement with mental health seriously,
Because I want to become someone
I want to be in the fight against the war
which I see.
I don’t want to talk about this
or vote for a new senator
or see what the powers that be do about this
See me, I have my own history
I have my own travels and nightmares
and scars that never healed.
I have my own voices
that whisper louder than any scream.
And sure, I’m fortunate.
Am I lucky? Sure, why not . . .
But luck did not give me what I have.
Luck did not get me up, every morning.
Luck didn’t keep me out of the war zones
for more than 31 years.
Luck didn’t straighten me out.
And I own the right to say this
because whether someone’ll tell me that this is God’s will
or that fate had their hand in who I became –
to this I’ll say that fate and will can change in a second
just as the little girl who’s not around anymore
Or better yet, ask her family
I’m sure they’d have something to say
Last trip . . .
There I was
I sat down to feel a warm rush move through my body.
My mind collapsed in spirals,
Everything slowed down to a crawl.
They call this a nod
The outside of my small world was irrelevant,
—but inside, my so-called mental church
was infected by the wrong kind of redemption
A light swung,
dangling from a fixture in the center of the room.
The place was as sick as me
All I could smell was the sickness and vomit.
But that didn’t bother me.
No, I was unmoved and unable to care.
I was detached and dangling like a loose cobweb
swaying in the breeze
and felt just as vacant or better yet,
I loved the way my euphoria came on.
It pushed my reality to the side
and melted the hard sounds
it softened the sharp edges of life on life’s terms.
It euthanized my position between stress and boredom
and switched me over to a mindset
which was void of heavy gravity.
That’s when Vince came through the door
he was asking to set up.
He sat nearby me and I watched him prepare
as he warned, “Never let it get this bad, kid.”
And it went this way for some reason;
the elder warning the younger
though I never understood why.
“You’re on it too”
Why would you warn someone while meanwhile,
you’re setting up next to them
and sharing the same sickness?
He told me, “You should kick.”
He said, “You should find the book or something.”
And by the book, Vince meant the Bible.
Vince carried a Bible with him
He would recite verses.
He quoted scriptures and I would listen
because to me
the ones he chose always seemed to fit.
Sweat rolled down the bridge of my nose,
my attention lifted from a nod.
“How long have I been hear?“
I re-entered the room,
emerging from a soft haze
and Vince was preaching again.
About to shove, he said,
“He who follows me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life.”
His eyes were half closed and watery.
His posture bent and drifting downward
Vince continued, “I am the door.”
“I am the bread of life.”
“I am the good Shepherd.”
Needle in . . .
God the Father spoke in my dreams.
I saw my poison and sin materialize
I saw this in weeping angels
as they fell from grace, backwards and upside down,
and I could almost hear them
dying in soft explosions colliding to Earth
in softly tragic blasts
that burst through my mind
Then light came in, like Genesis.
I swallowed pieces of sunshine
wishing that I could take a better breath;
mixtures of powder answered riddles of reality
but in the end, they never explained themselves
to leave me in mystery.
As Vince preached,
“Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me in all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.”
I thought to myself,
I hope so Vince . . .
. . . . because this sickness is incredible.
In closing, I am not lucky by any means.
I am fortunate yes.
But luck didn’t keep me away from this