hole in my sidewalk

This week’s poem and writing prompt were well-known to the circle of 10 writers gathered.33_46_flatbushsinkhole04_z (2)

We opened our time with Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in Five Short Chapters. It’s the story of a woman who repeatedly falls into a “deep hole in the sidewalk” until she learns how to walk around it, and eventually travel in a new direction.

It’s a metaphor of sorts for refusing to be a victim, stopping the blame, and taking full responsibility for one’s own life.

In five short paragraphs, the author re-envisions her journey through life with “open eyes” now and re-writes her story.

Several of the incarcerated women writers had heard Nelson’s poem in the context of their addiction recoveries at various times.

And they LOVED the image of the woman swallowed up by a Brooklyn sidewalk, a symbolic representation of the entrapment they’ve felt in drug abuse, destructive intimate relationships, chronic mental illness, and lives of crime.

Several of the “inside” writers modeled their pieces on Portia Nelson’s poetic form, attempting to rewrite their own narratives. Read on…    

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

I.
I am lost..I am helpless
It isn’t my fault

I am only human
I am fallible and weak
I make mistakes

II.
I am lost..I am helpless
It isn’t my fault.
I am a woman of vision
I am still fallible, not weak
I try not to make mistakes repeatedly

III.
I am lost..I am helpless
It isn’t my fault…
or is it?
I have vision
I can see my imperfections
I can be better

IV.
I am lost..I am helpless
It isn’t my fault.
Horse puckey.  It’s all my fault
My eyes see clearly now
I will never be omnipotent, fine
I can still strive to be the best I can be

V.
I am FOUND…I am helpful and strong
My past was my fault
I am not my past.
I’m ever-changing, metamorphosing
I am what I wish to be…FREE
I am found

It knows the pain and sorrows
my heart refuses to let it kill my soul

I am a beautiful creation
I am humble and compassionate

I’m drowning
I fight for my life

numb to pain

I am present
I am here

I can see the faintest light in the distance
I am alive

partially clinging to denial
a hazard to yourself

whole other world
I am awestruck and amazed

You held my hand
eyes filled with love

I am a storm
hungry for echoes
sink into the black water  -ED

*     *     *     *

I.
My family is everything to me
They keep me going and strong
But I can’t handle my feelings,
so now I become numb
And when this happens I am always
gone…

II.
My family is everything to me
They keep me going and strong
I again can’t handle my feelings,
so I keep becoming numb
I continue to stay gone…

III.
My family is everything to me
They keep me going and strong
can handle my feelings
No more getting numb
I am here to stay…

IV.
I am present, I am here  -AB

. . . and you?

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