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Poetry as Survival

Meaningful conversation is a long-sought holy grail activity for this writer. I seek understanding from many different friends and acquaintances; points of view on many subjects, passions expressed through words and body language. How these conversations occur has changed over the years. Today we meet on Zoom, Facebook messenger, FaceTime, text messaging, and phone. One of the heartbreaks of the pandemic has been a lack of face to face, person to person contact.

How to interpret conversations today when the full effect of body language and tone are missing? Can we see passion in the eyes of those whom we are communicating? Can we feel the importance through tone and wordage? Are intentions clear, or are we simply running vernacular circles around each other? This is of great importance to me these days, as I have spent my work and personal life in pursuit of understanding the workings of the world around me, and how people learn, cope, share, and live their joys and sorrows. I now spend the vast majority of my time alone. My dog is lovely company and seems genuinely interested in my rantings and one-way conversations; but it simply isn’t the same as interactions, face to face, touch to touch, with real humans not filtered through the robotic feel of technology.

When I began my first series of poems in Walking in Shadow, I was in full-range expression of the grief I had already been surviving and anticipating the grief that was yet to come. Much of what I wrote from January 2018 through April 2019 was an attempt to communicate the devastation of loss, whether that loss was the deaths of my core family or the loss of a twenty-year marriage. As I was traversing this rocky journey, it felt imperative that I find a way to express the pain that was ravaging my insides. Messages I received from well-intentioned folks were often “hang in there”, “stay strong”. I was often told that those I lost to the Otherworld were in a “better place” and somehow that statement was meant to bring me comfort. Sadly, for those unfortunates who received my wrath, it only brought me rage.

Intentions when we speak, when we share, are often lost in the verbiage. There came a time when verbally expressing my struggle felt like an act of futility. My community began to worry about my mental health, and unsure how to “deal” with mama. Do we speak? Stay silent? Pretend all is well or hold an intervention? It is a conundrum many of us have faced. How do we talk about loss and grief without making the mourner feel worse? In all honesty, I don’t have the answer to all these questions, but I will say that in my case, I had to retreat into my Dark Shadows for a while. I wrote, I vented with words to paper. I rhymed, I cried while I wrote. I allowed myself to be numb to the extending hands around me and I found myself wretched. I lived in the Dark Shadows and wrote.

One of those poems:

Another Shade of Blue

There is, I know, another side.

Through all of this pain, strife.

When I can see a photo and not cry.

Just lovely memories of another life.

My heart aches in many directions,

It has clouded my senses, my mind.

To be left here, to do what needs done.

Trying not to fell alone, left behind.

I remember that I have purpose.

This is my journey to walk or stand.

A path not notched by myself, necessarily.

A place, where in doubt, I seek a hand.

This is not a place in my youth I perceived,

As even possible, nor conceived of it.

My illusions shattered; dreams perplexed.

To be sent adrift in this well, this pit.

I thought I had already ascended,

From the deepest and darkest abyss.

Once, twice, three times now four,

Baby, to Sky, to Royal, and now Lapis.

And now I see what once I didn’t.

The many hues and pallet shades.

The colors others have seen as well.

All other colors depart and veil fades.

At the crossroad I will choose, I hope,

The right and best path for me.

One littered with their lights, mine.

And from there, every Blue I can see.

Walking in Shadow

April 2019

I wrote Walking in Shadow and began to emerge, step by step, word by word, and the dreams then came.

The dreams allowed this new unfolding, and led me to The Lost Harlots. I could feel again, connect again. And with Patricia, began the process of learning about myself from an entirely different perspective. The grief was a part of my new self-discovery. The connections woven through the course of creating The Lost Harlots seemed to pull me from those dark spaces; spaces I had become comfortable within, indeed.

Pandemic from the Covid 19 virus then happened, just as we were finishing the final touches of Harlots; and I felt thrust back into the dark to some degree. This time, however, I was not living within an abyss; I was dealing with a world most insane along with everyone else. I maintained the connections, learned new technologies, and found some of the most beautiful humans to share the journey with. The struggle to communicate continues, but in a very different way. We are ALL reaching…stretching tendrils of needed hopes, dreams, creativity and realizing our journey is a shared web.

An artistic venue can assist in coping with the various aspects of life; not just grief of the death (s) of loved ones, but change, fear, hope, anger, heartbreaks, failures, successes. Life is not easy, finding outlets that allow for creativity as well as expressing the emotions that well within all of us has been a much saving grace for me in these times. The Lost Harlots feels like a journey of thousands of miles and hundreds of years because we believe it is. It is not the beginning nor the ending; and we sincerely thank you for coming along for the ride!


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Janet Snyder
Janet Snyder
Aug 10, 2021

Tanja: Good luck with your book and your continuing Magickal Life 💜 ~ Janet

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