Friday, April 22, 2011

Hanging Pictures in the Sewer

Well, hail. I've had an overdose of harsh words running around in my head, and it got so noisy and poisonous in there that I took to my bed, that refuge of depression.

When I wasn't seeking the oblivion of sleep, I was outside in the yard, working among living, thriving beings, or finding respite from orneriness in AA meetings. I haven't been a happy camper inside my own soul. In that quiet place where I've found contentment through the years, a few words from a few unhappy people and a few sad situations wormed their way in and started putting down roots.

When I was newly sober 21 years ago in LA, I heard an AA speaker named Joe G from Venice Beach give his pitch one morning. I don't remember a thing he said except one: If you got a resentment against me, and you're thinking about me, you're giving me free rent in your head. Thank you!

Another man named Joe spoke in that same AA meeting hall one night. He said, "I'm an alcoholic. If I fall in a cesspool, I start hanging pictures." I married that man because of what he said.

While I've been lying in my bed, sleepless or sleeping, I've been licking my wounds and hanging pictures. A loved one with wounds of her own recently told me that I am a deeply troubled person. I immediately without passing Go became a deeply troubled person. Some of us give the most amazing amount to power to others.

There comes a time when you have made all the amends you can make, done your best to bring reconciliation and clean up your side of the street, prayed all the prayers you can pray, and things still are bad. Either you start hanging pictures and giving up that free rent, or you walk away. You have come to the end of the line where your power to change things is concerned.

I went to an enormously satisfying poetry reading last night, where I heard a lot of good work by some fine poets. Everyone was at the top of their game. I was glad to be part of the night, to be one among such people. There is no price for gifts like this. There’s no price for the soul-satisfying act of being who and what you are, and proud of it.

Today is Earth Day and Good Friday, a whole bunch of redemption packed into one little day. I won't notice the goodness of heaven and earth if I stay in the cesspool hanging pictures. So I'm out and about where there is plenty of love to share.

Here is a Flash Friday 55-word poem about a different sort of thing putting down roots in your mind. Go see the G-Man, the G-force behind this Friday madness. I call this piece “Obsession.”

When it should come to this,
that I should sit like stone,
not uttering a sound,
not twitching a thumb,
as the hours pass and think
only of your dark eyes,
I will know myself
a fool, unglued,
that it is time to don
the round red nose and play
for nickels on the corner.


Totalfeckineejit said...

You should write a weekly newspaper column in the national press. Excellent empirical advice and wisdom!
Love the free rent in the head thing!

Brian Miller said...

a fool, i feel i do already though it is not nickles i receive...

G-Man said...

This was a classic.
Loved the background story, Loved your 55!!
Your comment to me made me blush.
Thank You from the bottom of my heart.
Thanks for playing, and have a Kick Ass Week-End!

Elisabeth said...

It's painful to read about your pain here, but out of it all come such wonderful words and poetry fit for the soul. Thank you.

Yvonne Osborne said...

I love being around writerly types and there's nothing like a poetry reading to soothe the soul. I've fallen off the poetry bus and Mr. G's 55. Maybe I can get back up and on soon.

About your 55 poem, I LOVE it! Especially the last five lines. I sure hope I at least know when I've become the fool, unglued.

Happy Earth Day, Chris!

hope said...

Although I empathize with your pain, your poem's final lines made me smile.
And the next time I start letting someone get to me, I will think of your "free rent" line. THANK YOU!

YOU made me smile...which should bring a grin to your own face for making someone else happy. :)

Anonymous said...

There’s something in these dark places, too. Like bulbs wintering over in a cool cellar, devoid of sunlight, all we can see and smell is the desiccation, the decay, the frailty of our own wintering-over. It is a season of the soul, this dark place- and one that will feed the source of the green shoots that are soon to come.

Without the winter, the dark, the stink- there couldn’t be new growth. Sometimes we have to be cut back and cut down completely in order to return full of life. The green shoots are coming through the soil with these words of yours and soon the sunlight and gentle rain will coax flowers like you’ve never seen. You’re out of the cellar, Chris, and you’ve been missed.

In truth, if each one of us is NOT a troubled soul, we are not stirred in any way. Try to see ‘troubled’ as a transitive verb. See it as the transition that it is, the agitation of soul that stirs change and growth.

Sometimes even the unkind messengers are prophets unknown, harbingers of change that was already blowing in the wind. You are a beautiful soul, Chris. Keep writing, keep agitating, keep stirring, keep growing. It’s worth it and so are you.

Helen said...

I have to print this, save it, re-read it, give it to loved ones .. because it is so full of wisdom I am blown away!

Titus said...

Superb description of a time, a place in the telling, and thanks for an expression I haven't heard before.
The poem is intense: such brilliant bleakness in the rhythms.

The Bug said...

I've been drowning in some evil self-talk too - I'm SO DAMN ANNOYED with myself. But then I open my eyes & it's a new day & I'm excited about the possibilities again.

I love your poem. I think I've been wearing the red nose for years - I guess about 20 of them now :)

Monkey Man said...

Troubles are a lot like people - they grow bigger if you nurse them. ~Author Unknown

Magpie said...

I always gather so much insight and knowledge from visiting you. I'm sorry my insight and knowledge come at the cost of pain to you. You do make a difference in lives.

Shanae Branham said...

Great insight. I agree. We shouldn't allow other people to squat in our minds. Although, I would be the first to admit that sometimes they are harder to evict than we would want them to be. I finally made it over from flash 55 and I am glad I did.

Syd said...

I have given way too much power to others in my life. I no longer believe what I am told from every messenger. I can discern truth from BS by listening to what I feel within. Not every one is a prophet.