The Beautiful Medusa

Writing is a many-headed adventure. It surrounds us (and only occasionally a seductress turning her admirers into stone):

  • Idea pitching to drive product sales and brand growth
  • Novel plots twisting unforgettable characters on screens large and small
  • Voices for the voiceless
  • Hallmark manufactured moments
  • Soul stirring speeches celebrating the tenets of the most successful and free republic in the world as well as empty dogma amounting to nothing but noise
  • Angry, unrighteous indignation of the dispossessed
  • Gut-busting, soda-through-the-nose laughs
  • Words spotlighting the injustices mankind visits upon itself and the inequalities still alive in our modern day.

For a fortunate few, writing is both passion and occupation. I am just one of the passionate, but that’s ok. Most of us are which in no way diminishes its value.

Writing as Therapy

One of the many gifts writing provides its practitioners is peace of mind. An alternative to Dr. Feelgood or Dr. Phil, writing is cheap therapy.

Whether for an audience of one or one world, writing delivers thought clarity, and when needed, a psychological catharsis on the emotional seesaw where we can regain balance.

The words and phrases don’t need to be eloquent, they just need to be yours.

Words Matter:  What’s Your Matter?

How have you used writing? How often do you write? Do you keep separate notebooks or blogs for a personal journal vs. any professional activity? How has writing impacted your life?

While not always the case, below is an example of how I’ve used writing as a personal outlet.

This piece was written during the passing of my stepfather at the young age of 57 in 2004 due to Small Cell Lung Cancer resulting from exposure to Agent Orange laid down during his tours in Vietnam.

I’m hesitant to call it a poem because I’m not a poet. It’s simply a real-time recounting of the passing of a significant person, a family member and mentor…of shared struggles but in opposing facets.

Equal parts coping and catharsis, this honors a patriot who loved his family, his faith, and the smallest of moments where life happens.

Coda: An Elegy

As you lie dying, you said,
“Let the Lord lead” and
Showed no fear
In the face of the
Malignancy devouring
The breath within you.

As some prayed, I wrestled with God,
Searching for justice
In the sentence you’d been given.

Others talked of Jesus
And salvation
— A triumph over death.

To me, it seemed
A narcotic chased with sand
To numb the pain
Of the finality in which
All will cease to exist.

God’s faithful servant, is this fair?

I prayed and trusted once
With all a boy’s sincerity
And innocence,
Fearing that my plea would be
Met with silence,
Angered by the helplessness
That drove me to my knees,
Sickly knowing they’d not return.

What time and industry hid
Was only resurrected
With a vengeance as I saw
The pain racking your body,
Nothing slowing the contagion’s course,
The venom winding its way
To still the beating of your heart.

A rap on the door brought
A late night visit —
A white Rasta in dreads,
The dark shaman called
Who taught us the
Science of transition,
And allowed us to
Give you permission
To let go.

As we listened in long vigil,
There sat on the wall,
Painted by the Moon’s pale glow,
A picture of Jesus.

Why does He laugh?

Death’s rattle grew louder,
Dancing double-time
To the pendulum’s cadence,
Life measured in minutes.
On the bed, curled as the unborn,
You lie in weezing moan and
Vacant stare.

Did you hear the Lord’s Prayer
As we surrounded you
In semi-circle, holding hands,
Touching you in your last moments,
Embracing as the staccato
Of your breathing
Ceased?

Your granddaughter hugged her father
As he mourned for you
On the front porch steps, saying,
“I love you, Daddy,”
On the cool and beautiful
Morning of your passing.

Child becoming parent,
The parent, the child.
Pain begat pain,
Weeping as one abandoned,
Realizing too late the love I felt,
Regret at the lack
Of its full expression
And sadness in the uncertainty
Of you not knowing,
Understanding with clarity:
Death’s sting is preserved
Not for those who die
But for those who remain.

Returning home,
Silence’s knell reverberated
From room to room,
Sounding an alarm of your absence.
Your wallet and money laid
On the dresser,
Surrounded by
A tapestry of pictures
A kaleidoscope of captured moments
— Relics of a life interrupted.

Did you hear the somber bugle
Of your funeral song
Or the blasting of a final salute
As you returned home?

Honored in dying
By the Agent of your death.
Decorated infantryman
In war’s foreign fields
— Far braver soldier in the soul’s campaign.