What It’s Like – a Poem

Yellow Leaves on Tree Dec 21 2012I’m a fatalist. I believe everything is as it is meant to be. That doesn’t mean I don’t make choices, of course I do. I live, so, inevitably, I must make decisions: do or don’t; this or that; here or there. I am, therefore, I think. I know: Descartes phrased it the other way around. I think, therefore, I am. He theorized his being able to think proved he existed. I’m assuming I exist. I’m terrified, therefore, I exist. I’m assuming I have free-will, because I can decide and make choices. But I can’t choose what choices are available to me. That is up to fate or circumstance.

I chose not to smoke. (I don’t care if anyone else smokes.. That’s their business.) I smoked a pack a day. No less. I tried to quit and couldn’t. For a long time. Years. Finally, I made up my mind to do it. I was determined.

It was hell. I paced. I hyperventilated. I wept. I had to keep busy, keep moving, keep my mind occupied. I drank water, took vitamins, took Valerian Root; I thought about the ducats I saved as a small reward for my efforts. The first week was the roughest. It got easier the further I got from day one. Nine years later, I still think about smoking; I miss it. It was great. I loved it. But I didn’t like that if I smoked my last one late at night, I scrounged my ashtrays and smoked butts down to the filter, and then finally had to go out, even if it was after midnight, to buy my pack of Marlboro reds. I didn’t like that sometimes I’d wake up and had to get up just to have a smoke. And I stunk of stale cigarette smoke: my breath, my hair, my skin, my clothes, my car, my home. But, man, I loved my smokes.

I’ve heard it said that way we think is the way we live. We are all mind, and the mind dreams. Every mind has it’s own dream. Everyone is a ghost, except to her or his own self. Everything is an illusion created by our dreaming minds. If we want to change the way we live, we have to change the way we think, change the dream. We change the dream by changing our focus.

This sounds like a contradiction to fatalism. But it isn’t. What is, is; what will be, will be. But I can change how I feel, change how I think, change how I perceive. That’s what makes life an incredible experience. Maybe one day I won’t feel so much fear. It takes time, energy, and patience to change the focus of the mind.

I had a dream the other night. In my dream, I went to bed. My granddaughter was there, and when I went to bed, she left the room, and walked down a hall. I didn’t want her to leave. Going down that hall was her exploring her life without me. I was afraid, because I couldn’t protect her if she left my side. I pulled the covers over my head, then suddenly I heard a cat purring. I could see it in my mind’s eye, and as it crept toward me, the purring grew louder. With my mind’s eye, I could see my daughter walking down the hall. The further she walked down the hall, the louder the purring. I screamed out her name, wanting her to return. I feared for her. Finally, she stopped and turned back. She came up to the bed and with a gentle smile on her face, she patted me, comforting me, like a mother comforts a child, or a grandmother comforts a grandchild. Without words, I understood her to say, “Don’t be afraid. Everything is all right. I’m safe. You’re safe. Don’t worry.” 

I want to close with one of my poems. One of the inspirations for my poetry is rock and roll. This poem was inspired by Marianne Faithfull. Backyard in San Francisco

What It’s Like

I know what it’s like
to get drunk and fall on my face.
It isn’t pretty.

I know what it’s like
to be so mad, I want to murder.
It’s ugly.

I know what it’s like
to wake up and discover
my lover is danger,

to look in the mirror
and wonder how the love of my life
is a stranger.
It’s a hell of a grief.

I know how to leave
when I’m not treated right.
I don’t plead, I don’t fight,
I just go.
That’s all you need to know.


About Poet Dressed In Black

Poet. Artist. Grammy of one, a granddaughter. Mom of three, son and two daughters, all grown. Individualist. Care-taker of Isabel, an agoraphobic, fear-aggressive, very nervous, delicate flower, Chihuahua mix.
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