Organized by Dan Frey, Editor in Chief
Four poets are featured in the summer 2016 edition of Ward Stories: Richard A. Martinez Jr., Joel Simonds, Ijaaza EL, and someone who prefers to remain anonymous. Marvin Spieler, a pioneer in peer advocacy, died earlier this year. To those who knew Marvin, some of the poems below, though not intended as such, are a reminder of his struggles, our own, and how someone's death, especially the dearly departed, can force us to put our personal lives in perspective.
My Last Sad Cigarette
By Richard A. Martinez Jr.
I drown my sorrow
Into a lit cigarette
Waiting for this day to be
Better than the next
As the cigarette burns
Down to its final ashes
The things I did comes to me in flashes
Good times and bad
Things that made me happy and mad
Reminders in life
That can make a person so sad
But through the rough
And just when I know I had enough
Thoughts of ending these thoughts
Could be the devil's bluff
Crazy thoughts through a cloudy head
The past still hinders
And a living soul is half dead
But a new day is in sight
Hoping as I sleep in the night
Even when I dream
My cigarette gives me a light.
To Amy (1954-2015)
By Joel Simonds
Still waters run so very deep,
Or so it is that they say;
Now no one could rouse you from sleep,
Even just to see you one more day.
Amy, when it was that I first saw you here,
Not remembering our older day;
I asked you for a poem to share, and
You declined, shyly stepping away—
Then came days of valiant work,
The work you plied upon yourself;
From struggle your quiet soul couldn’t shirk,
While your art you had to leave upon the shelf…
But soon, in our groups, you began to tell
Of your love of writing in your book;
You ventured forth from your shell,
And gave fleeting Life a final, sweeping look.
You faced the battle so dignified, so brave,
Never giving in to despair;
All of your strength, your art, you gave
And inner feelings once again you shared.
Yes, Amy, you came alive,
Rising from old still waters;
Swimming through the tide, again to thrive,
Your good deeds like new sons and daughters.
Now Amy’s poetry is declared on High,
By G-d’s closest angelic Host;
I don’t know how to say goodbye,
For in this stillness, it’s your stillness we miss the most.
What Goes On Inside My Head (Makes Me Physically Dead)
By Ijaaza EL
What makes these cords, wires, nerves and synapses begin tripping & flipping
causing panic, anxiety and lapses of memory? Is post traumatic stress a part
of my chemistry? What causes this performance? Is it a test for endurance?
For the love of the Almighty, how much can my precious brain take?
These bugs in my brain are driving me insane; the repetition is so in sync it
may also drive me to drink. God! I am afraid to think. It is so devastating…
how I shut my body down and just go absolutely cold. Father, please have mercy
on my soul. From September 17th through September 25th,
life behind bars became as a gift. Though from the start it was a burden of terrors,
a multitude of errors in an assembly line—I couldn’t decipher this strange
dilemma of losing my mind. But hospital staff, doctors, and roommates
were exceptionally kind. I am back home in a corner in the recesses of my mind.
I am doing fine with baby steps, one at a time.
The Almighty has showered me with creations and innovation
whereas in a week I have learned to think things wisely. Through my tears
I will harness my fears and I am more than grateful that he is near.
Post trauma is my drama and I will not invoke negative passage to
disturb my positive karma. What goes on inside my head,
I am compelled to keeping in control. Although my personality and character are
still ever so bold. I am discipline, and I am listening to what makes me better.
I have made my bed with all I have said. What goes on inside my head
I won’t ever let it make me become physically dead…Again.
Death my savior, death my friend
The solace which awaits me, at life’s end
No longer livid, or depressed
No more guilt, or sins to confess
To no longer feel abandoned, or unloved
From mortals below, or G-d above
No short highs, which swiftly turn to lows
And to hear “Understand, this is the way life goes”
No more of life’s heat, and suffocating gloom
Or anguishing torture, on a hot afternoon
To me death is a soft breeze, on a cool Autumn night
‘Ah to bask in death’s rains, and dreary delights’
Its darkness is thick, soothing and warm
And shields me from harsh winds, and bitter storms
Death is a place, of never-ending pleasure
Its paradise cannot be measured
To bond, with the Everlasting Love
To be at one, with G-d above
Life is for saints, who do good
Not for sinners like me, who don’t do as they should
But I truly believe there is hope
If not, how in the world could I cope?
Ya see I got plans and schemes
Hopes and dreams
In this lousy life, for my peace of mind, I pray
But then again there is always death, that glorious day!