Monday, February 26, 2018

POEMS ON GRIEF: BY ROBIN, ERIC, LEE SAN, AND BJORN

Today we are featuring four from-the-heart poems written by Robin Kimber, our beloved Old Egg, who blogs at Robin's Nest, Eric of erbiage, Lee San, known to us as dsnake, who blogs at Urban Poems, and the inimitable Bjorn Rudberg, of Bjorn Rudberg's Writings. Each of these poems travels straight from the poet's heart to ours. I gathered them together so we can reflect on all that life comprises: love and joy, loss and pain. Because I know we wouldn’t trade our greatest joys and deepest heartaches for anything.







SINGING THIS SAD SONG

Late evening slowly darkens
I love our walks in summer
The day's air now cool and clear
Skies darken, the stars come out

Twinkling lights take charge up there
Croaking frogs still like to shout
Your soft warm hands safe in mine
Fireflies flash as we pass them by

Moon peeps from behind a tree
For nightlife and us to see
Now lighting up your beauty
You let me taste your soft lips

But I wake up having dreamed
Singing this sad song of you
Pretending you were still here
As you always used to be



Sherry: So beautiful the dream, and so sad the awakening! Beautifully done, Robin. 

Robin: My wife and I were great explorers of the countryside and forest in search of birds, as she was an enthusiastic birdwatcher. She was always hoping to add one more Australian bird to her life list. This found us is in some odd places, such as dark forests with the trees whispering to us but not letting on where the birds were, and clambering over rocks on beaches which others shunned, looking for migrating shore birds. And even wandering around rubbish dumps and tips, where other birds, not having a rotting odour problem, searched for food as we ticked them off our lists holding our noses. 

The forests, however, were our favorite with the unseen call of birds requiring our total silence, sitting still to see if they might approach, and the delight when they did. This was especially so if we moved not a muscle and came up really close.

So I have many happy memories doing all these things, with the forest the most beautiful and romantic of them all.


Sherry: So lovely, Robin. I can see the two of you sitting there, waiting for the birds to visit. Such lovely memories you have! How you must miss your beautiful wife.

Eric speaks of a grief I am familiar with: the grief we tap down, especially as children, when we are not assisted in our grieving. You will see why I resonate so strongly with this fine poem.








A garden of grief

She'll look in my eyes, bless her so
For my loss and my pain to show
But those corners are not dark enow
For my tears to flow

By the time grandma died
I'd learnt to shut that off
Shut down my heart
And silently laugh it off

But deep within me there was
A black fist, holding, squeezing.
Stashing it all in there.  The loss
Remorse, unworthiness.

So sweetheart if you want to know
Where my tears go
Watch me dig my garden
In my sweat my tears do show

the spade cuts into earth, mother
Sweat glistens in the dark heat
Ill turn the earth to inter my grief
This is why these tomatoes are so sweet


Eric: I grew up across the street from a zoo.  The lions would wake me in the summertime with their roaring.  Not common in New Jersey.  It didn't happen that often, for the noble beasts were quite lethargic. I think that this is what happens to grief.  We take the wild thing and lock it up in a cage.  We hide, deny, ignore.  By we I mean I, I'm just hiding behind that.  

Well I went all Casks of Amontillado on my grief, so when my grandma died I didn't feel a thing.  Which only compounded my grief, and that black fist got a little stronger.  What finally broke me was my cat.  She was around for my formative years, in the cellar or outside mostly, as mom was allergic.  The cat and I were sometimes in the same place, but mostly it was more like an orbit.  

So when she passed, we put her in a cardboard box, and I dug a hole in the back yard.  I put the box in, everything was fine.  But the first shovelful of dirt caved in the cardboard box, and I just crumbled.  Tears streaming, arms trembling with each shovelful...  It's a wordless thing, felt in the body.  So I'm afraid I can't say much more about grief, except a footnote:  I forgot about that incident with my cat for many many years.  And I'm weeping again now.

Sherry: I absolutely know that feeling, Eric. As a child, my coping mechanism was to numb my feelings. As a single mom, I had to stay strong through many losses. In 2011, my wolf-dog died, and I cried for seven years - all the tears of my life.

Thank you for sharing such a long-held grief, in such a beautiful way. Sigh.  And I can't believe you lived close enough to hear lions roaring! How amazing!

The following poem by Lee San, about the loss and grief of losing someone  beloved, really speaks to our hearts. When love is that deep, the grief lasts long. Let's tiptoe in to take a look, for this poem is very tender.








TEDDY BEAR

another year already?
your teddy bear sits
alone
on the dressing table
among the combs and cologne.

today i was at the temple
offering incense to you.
silent
i have not heard your voice
for the past two decades.

the man staring back
from the dark glass
has aged.
you may not know him
as the one you had loved.

a mynah lands on the
aircon unit outside.
looks at me
perhaps to ride the rain
perhaps to see me weep.





image from pixabay


Lee San: It is my honour to have my poem ‘Teddy Bear’ featured.

This poem is about grief, and perhaps how to cope with the memories of a loss. I wrote this in the memory of my late spouse. She was a brave and lovely soul, and to have lost her after only some short years together is something quite hard to take at first. The teddy bear in the poem is one of her possessions.

I wrote this poem a couple of years back, and it stays put in the Blogger drafts until recently when I took it out to check for grammar and punctuation for posting. Anyway, I was too busy to post anything last year.

This poem is what may be called confessional poetry. I think most of the poems in my blog are of this type. This poem is quite short too, which is how I usually like the length of my poems. And yes, there is a certain form in the structure of this poem.

Sherry: It is very beautiful, Lee San. How very sad to have lost your young wife so soon. A deep grief for certain. The lines in the poem that say, were she to see you now, she wouldn’t know you really struck me. Yet, looking through the eyes of love, I am certain that she would. 

Thank you for sharing this beauty of a poem with us, Lee San. 

When I read it, I recognized that Bjorn’s poem “Spoon-Feeding Mother” would be the perfect poem to feature alongside it, since there are so many ways to lose a loved one, and Bjorn is living one of the hardest. Let’s read:







Spoon-Feeding Mother


when parting came slowly
as words you forgot
or when you were lost
we thought we had time
to listen to music
to read or to dine
we never could tell
   you
      goodbye

now when you’re silent
and we still cannot tell
but we wait
we spoon-feed you soup
and wonder
if you’ve already left.

Sherry: This is such a heartbreaking way to lose your mother, Bjorn. I am so sorry.

Bjorn: The background to this poem comes from the experience with my mother who is the victim of dementia. A couple of years ago she was still living at home and we thought that she managed, though sometimes she was a bit confused, as she lives in another town I didn’t get to visit very often.

Things got worse and we were happy that she got place at a good nursing home. At first she improved and we could visit and go for walks with her, but after a period of illness she ceased to talk and cannot walk any longer. She is bound to wheelchair and has to be fed.

Sherry: Dementia is such a long goodbye.  Our hearts go out to you, my friend.

Thank you, gentlemen, for your stirring and beautiful poems and the sharing of your experiences. And for continuing to keep coming back to Poets United. We so appreciate you! 

I am sure we can all relate to these poems on memory, love, loss and grief. We hope you take away something in your hearts from the sharing. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


23 comments:

  1. Thank you, thank you for featuring these amazing poets Sherry, and these particular poems...they pull at the heart and bring healing tears.

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  2. Thank you so much for this feature, and what a great company to be in Sherry. So many sorrow you have to live through in life.

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    1. It was my privilege, my friend. Thank you for saying yes.

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  3. How very moving! I can relate all too well, having experienced my personal versions of everything that is written about here. These poets are all among my favourites in the blogosphere and I'm glad there are communities like Poets United where we can experience such writing. Yet each of these poems is new to me, so I am grateful to you, Sherry, for featuring them, and to each of the poets for sharing and discussing them here. Now I'm off to have a little weep into my morning coffee – but in a good way: gently cathartic.

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  4. I am happy that these poems tweaked your heartstrings, my friends, as how could they not? Thank you to our fabulous men poets for these beauties!

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  5. Such strong poetry and poets - thank you all for sharing

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  6. "Ill turn the earth to inter my grief
    This is why these tomatoes are so sweet"
    As are these poems--with the memory of love intensifying the sorrow. My father has just plunged into dementia--I say at least he had 92 years of strength, but it is heartbreaking to see him so not himself. And my own love ...ah...who died when we were both 46 ... but the losses pile up over the years. Such a marvelous collection, thank you friends, for the memories and tears in awesome poetry.

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    1. Not to mention Miracle Kitty.......it must be heartrending, Susan, to see your father declining and the quality of his life escaping him. Thinking of you and sending you strtength, as you will need it.

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    2. Thank you. I have a beautiful train ride up the Hudson later this morning to help out. Thank you for remembering my Miracle.

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  7. Thank you so much for featuring my poem 'Singing this sad song' and letting me join such a great group of poets for this piece Sherry. Writing about grief and loved ones now gone helps keeps them alive in this writers mind.

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    1. In mine, too, my friend. Thanks for sharing yours.

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  8. Thank you, once again, for another thoughtful and absorbing post, Sherry. All of us, at Poets United, are so lucky - and grateful - to have such dedicated staffers to keep us connected and inform our work.

    All of the pieces featured here (as well as the commentary), gave me pause ... all of them so tenderly sketched - the depth of the love and the loss: palpable. There are many kinds of grief, I believe, and - as I read this article - I've come to realize that grief plays out in our lives, in many diverse and muddled and mystifying ways. I don't think that I have actually articulated that consciously, until today. But, looking back, over emotions and choices and directions I have gone in, following the death of a loved one (occasionally, long after that death) I see, now, that this is so.

    My cousin died 10 years ago, last Christmas. We grew up together, came of age together and shared a lifetime of experiences. And still the smallest thing: a rock song, the fragrance of lake scent, the call of a loon ... brings a tear. I am sure that grief will follow me, all the days of my life.

    Great job on this, Poets!

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    1. I am sure that will be the case, lifelong, my friend. Losing someone who has known and loved you through all the years of your life is such a big loss.

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  9. Very nice selection of poems Sherry. It's wonderful too to have the poets' voice in the background of each poem. Grief is part of life that one has to accept, though it's so difficult. Sigh.

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  10. Thank you for these from-the-heart poems and for interviewing the poets, all of whom are familiar but you’ve teased out things I didn’t know about them.
    Robin’s poem brought a tear to my eye and Lee’s poem is a heartbreaker.
    I empathise with Eric’s ‘garden of grief’ and that ‘black fist, holding, squeezing’. We have a cat buried under the willow tree in our garden and I still keep my beloved Tosca’s ashes in a lovely little casket. I love the final lines. I also remember reading in one of Eric’s posts that he grew up near a zoo.
    Bjorn and I share the experience of mothers with dementia, something that is featured or crops up in our poems quite a lot.
    Once again, thank you, Sherry and thank you, gentlemen.

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  11. Thank you, Sherry, for this feature. It is my honour to be in such fine company. :)

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    1. You are most welcome, my friend. Thank you for sharing your most beautiful poem.

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  12. Such powerful and heart-wrenching poems!

    Robin, I feel the love you have for your wife in so many of the poems that you share here in PU. I know that she is so missed. The words 'pretending she is so here' are so strong. I am glad she appears still in your dreams.

    Eric, your poem expresses so well the depth of your loss - of your grandmother, of your cat, and how grief is all tied together. And the sweat...and the tears. Gut-wrenching poem.

    Lee San, yours is another moving poem. I had not realized that you had lost your wife at such a young age. We age, but the loved one who has passed on never does. And the question if whether that person would recognize the person one is today is a profound one. I am sure the teddy bear is one of your most meaningful possessions.

    Bjorn, your poem is one of today's generation of caretakers, I think. Taking care of a parent who is still there in body but who seems not to be there in spirit any more. So sad not being able to say good-bye to someone one wonders if they have ever read.

    Sherry, this is one of the most moving features you have shared. Grief is such a universal thing - hard to explore, but part of everyone's experience. You did it with such grace and caring. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Mary. I am happy you liked it.

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  13. Thank you Sherry and Old Egg, Bjorn, Lee San, and Erbiage, for sharing your loss and your poems. No life passes without a grief of his own, often many griefs. And perhaps we hold the grief of our ancestors. I wonder, why is it so hard to lose someone, when it happens in nature each day. It is an unanswerable mystery of life.

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  14. I think so much of life is about learning to let go. There are so many goodbyes. These poems touched me deeply. They brought back the sadness I have felt when loved ones go.
    Thank you to all these authors who shared their pain so honestly and tenderly. I read each poem with respect and an acknowledgment that the thread of grief connects us all.
    Thank you Sherry for highlighting these sensitive men who are willing to expose their hearts.

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  15. Yes, thank you, fine gentlemen, for sharing your hearts with us. You have touched our hearts with your words.

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  16. Such fabulous poems and reading them all together was incredible. Thanks to the poets- Bjorn, Lee, Eric and Robin- and Sherry for an awesome compilation.

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