vulnerability and courage, take 2

Credit: tinybuddha

Credit: tinybuddha

As always, the poems created from lines shared by the women in the writing circle can knock the breath right out of you. It’s not enough that the writing is immediate, uncensored, raw; the found poem combines the immediate, uncensored, raw words of a dozen women in one place. Their words tumble over one another, weaving wisdom from the depths of herstory, from a higher power, from the most ordinary of circumstances — all converging within the confines of a state prison.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of fear;
I feel fear, I want to be numb
numb because I have to be
explained to death, justified.

I never had what it takes
to step into the unknown without knowing the outcome.
Numbness has become my disease;
empty and broken
the living of life, gone.
Her heart lies naked, dying proudly
from a waning of trust.
It’s better to feel hurt than pain;
easier not to feel anything than feel everything.

Weakness is her failure, the slayer.
I look at what’s wrong with you so I don’t need to look at me;
your weaknesses may be the same as mine.
The entire mouth droops
trying to hold onto lies,
truth overwhelming her
beating back the dark.

What do you have to hope for?
Courage – unapologetic courage –
a quality we all possess
to cover the gap
of what lies beneath.
Courage is acting against fear
to be in truth in the midst of lies.
I take courage like food
allow myself to try
regardless of the outcome.

 Change is a difficult concept.
Without hope I would not have gotten through.
Hope is the seed of intention
helps me think outside my constraints
to build something new on something old.
Hope is a beautiful field to a prisoner;
the places you find yourself can be exciting.
Hope is at the heart of every struggle;
struggling makes us appreciate it even more.
Struggle is the road sign.

Without challenge I have no way to know my own worth.
So try regardless of the outcome.
To be me is a sweet thing
no longer weak but a warrior.

a tribute to a departed daughter

Credit: soulvisionart

As much as I love creating poems ‘found’ from lines written each week by the women incarcerated at Vermont’s Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, sometimes others do, too. The short piece below was penned during last week’s circle after the writer heard the dozen women read their words around the circle. CB’s poem is built entirely from those lines she heard from the other women’s writings – dedicated to the memory of losing her own daughter.

(Tribute to a departed daughter from the readback lines of the other writers)

A very unique person loved and accepted by most
When you were born, I was able to put you in your father’s arms
If you were still here, I would have loved to hear you sing

How can they get past what happened?
How I wanted to swoop in and save you
I remember so much about you, I have so many wonderful memories of you

The days go by and I miss you very much
The truth hurts sometimes
I didn’t know what to think or how to feel

I wish I could turn back time
I light two cigarettes, one for me and one for him
I close my eyes and I am at peace

Oh my, I just set myself free


summer nights

Summer Solstice Sunset

Summer Solstice Sunset (Photo credit: erik9000)

June is rich with writing prompts, what with Father’s Day, the Summer Solstice, commencements and other celebrations. Although women inside Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility have limited opportunities to be outdoors during this or any season, they carry strong memories and associations within. Last week we wrote pieces about how summer’s proliferation of nature resonates with us. As is our custom in the week following a circle, I create a ‘found poem’ from lines shared at the previous meeting. This creates a kind of communal poem, woven from the words of each woman. Put together in this way, phrases change and merge their meanings in new and unexpected ways as women hear their words anew.

Rain moving in
spreads through the sky.
Watch it, watch it closely;

the world awakening
in this small piece of her earth
is alive! breathe it all in!

Stripped of all my identities
her story becomes my story –
she has arisen so quickly

she travels far, she climbs high
then she walks down, down, down
to what matters most
her only wish to live and be free.

Who can see day turn to night?
vines have climbed, the birds calling
a new perspective.

How complex I am!|
my heart wants
the bared truth
born with a will to live,
to dribble sand castles of longing
into the voice that was always my own