Category Archives: mourning

I will not tend my garden anymore. 11/19/16

 

I will not tend my garden anymore.

Let it grow. Let it grow.

I cannot contain it anyway.

It will wilt or grow in God’s own way.

 

I remember when I came to this place.

Four stately pines, three in the back, leaning towards each other

Dependent but independent. I thought they were weak.

I thought they would fall, so I cut them.

I cut them down, not letting them live, their lives,

Without my consent.

 

One in the front, I cut down as well

Too close to the house.

Too close to my home.

Too close to me.

So I cut it down.

Four trees, three of the past, one for tomorrow.

 

And then I cut some more,

Pruning and weeding,

Uprooting and cutting

In order to make my garden perfect.

But I have tended too, too aggressively.

Plants like people need space to grow and air to breath.

They cannot blossom in trifled containers.

 

My Gypsy Sues have died, their thorny skeletons catching me when I pass.

My Lodden Blue has wilted but flourishes far away from my tending.

Professor Anton Kippenburg refused to sprout, never wanting to share their bloom.

The winds and the rains came and scattered what was left.

Broken limbs decaying, hiding in unmowed grass.

 

I will not tend my garden anymore.

Let the weeds grow,

The mushrooms appear then fade overnight.

Let the bugs and the beasts find sanctuary.

I will not run them off.

Let the neighbors complain,

As they battle to control their own small plots of earth.

 

I will let God have his way.

I cannot fight what isn’t there.

My opinion is not required.

My approval is not needed.

What will be will be.

What will be will be.

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Goodbyes 10/22/16

 

When I was four

They took off Bozo

For the funeral of JFK.

I remember a small boy

Saying goodbye to his father,

A salute, by his mother’s side.

 

When I was six,

I was left with my mother’s friend

As my parents attended the funeral

Of a small boy killed by a handgun.

Francis took me to the beach

And from a distance, I saw myself

Playing alone in the sparkling water.

 

Robert and Martin

Left me a few years later.

My mother crying softly

While watching the news.

The good die young

But so the bad,

Death doesn’t care

He welcomes all.

 

My best friend Solomon

Moved away

No reason was given

That a child could understand.

But watching Batman was no longer fun,

And Major Matt Mason

Was forgotten on the bookshelf.

 

In high school, my best friend

Was killed by a hit and run

On a lonely country road,

All by himself,

Lying on the cold asphalt,

Staring up at a beautiful night’s sky.

I rode to the funeral with his girlfriend,

My secret crush.

She rested her troubled head on my shoulder

But we never really talked again.

Two losses from one death.

I reminded her of him too much

To be around.

 

Death is always here,

Waiting to appear at some inconvenient time.

Faith is only a way to make life bearable,

A lie we force ourselves to believe

So we can get out of bed.

 

As I grew up

People left me in other ways.

Broken relationships and broken hearts

Scattered along life’s bumpy road.

Holding on to another

In a desperate effort to feel safe

To feel love

To feel forever.

 

The results are the same

Sitting alone hoping my broken heart will mend,

So that one day, I’ll find my happily ever after

One day my princess will come.

 

Then suddenly I just stopped,

Believing in forever.

No sudden deaths,

No abrupt departures,

Only the truth of life

That we are mortal

And there is only now.

 

So find someone to love

And accept that nothing is forever.

But moments can be filled with love, and hope, and joy,

As well as separation’s sorrow.


If Only

09/01/16

 

If only Love had left me

When I asked it to

Instead of lingering

Like a scar

From a past

Forgotten injury.

 

If only Love had left me

When I screamed

For her to go.

 

“I do not want you anymore,

Your companionship is painful to me,

When you are here

When you are gone.

So, go,

And maybe soon

I will forget

That time or this

That smile or kiss.”

 

But she, refused to leave me.

Standing sadly,

In the background

In the shadows,

In the hidden corners

Of my mind.

 

Whispering, whispering

Barely audible words

Above the cars in the street

Or the low hum of the office air vents.

 

“Remember, remember when…”

Replacing remember we

With remember you.

“Remember when you and I laughed over our sorrow?

Remember when I helped you through?

I will not help you anymore.

No not again, no not again.

But I will evermore remind you of days I did.

So down a lonely road, you go alone

Because I fill a space in you,

Which would be filled by another

If I would go.

But I will never go.

No, I will never go.”

 

If only Love had left me

When I asked it to.

I cannot ask again.

I cannot, no, not again.


Happy Excerpt #2

My book, Happy, was published in late July.  The subject matter is racism in America.  Two kids, a twelve year old African-American boy with Autism and a five year old white girl get lost in the riots after another unarmed black youth was shot by a policeman.  Deshawn Smith is a civil rights organizer who lost his way until he heard about the two lost children. These are the words he spoke to the crowd.

 

Deshawn Smith walked on the stage.  The crowd grew quiet.  He looked out over the people standing in front of him.  They were waiting for his words.  No one was on their cell phones.  No one was talking.  They wanted guidance.  They wanted a leader that spoke for all of them.  And he felt humbled.

“The statue behind me is of John Patrick.  A man who fought for freedom and equality all his life.  He did not spew hate or preach violence.  He led by example.  He showed that each of us, white or black, man, woman, and child has value.  That is what my movement is all about.

But somewhere along the way I was turned from that idea.  I forgot my original purpose because it is easy to see the hate of other people and give back nothing but hate in return.  Too many people have died because of racial inequality in this land founded on freedom.  Too many people are kept in poverty because we fear others, we fear the stranger.

But there are two children, one black and one white, who did not fear each other but trusted each other and cared for each other.  They know nothing about racism, or poverty, or injustice.  They know trust, and friendship, and love.  They are lost somewhere in this city.  They are hiding because they cannot abide the hatred that they see all around them.  They are frightened by the burned out buildings, the looted shops, and the body bags lying on the sidewalks.

And why shouldn’t they be?  None of us want this kind of world for our children. The question I ask you is why aren’t we afraid of that?  How did we come to accept hatred as a part of our society?  How can we live in a world where this kind of violence is accepted?

Let us join together today to fight the hatred, not by throwing rocks, not by screaming slogans, not by intimidation, but by looking for two kids who have shown us how to love.   Get with a group and take responsibility for a street or two.  Go through every building, every alley; let’s find these kids.  But I ask you one thing.  Welcome a stranger into your group.  If you’re black invite a white person in.  If you are white do the same for your black neighbor.  If you’re Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Jew, find a stranger to work with.  Because the way to fight hatred is to see the other not as a stranger to be feared, but as a person who has the same hopes and dreams as yourself.”

 

The book is available at:    https://www.createspace.com/6305829


Happy Excerpt #1

My book, Happy, was published in late July.  The subject matter is racism in America.  Here is an excerpt from the story.

 

Derrick Taylor was a punk, the kind of kid who felt entitled to everything and anything he wanted just because he was breathing.  He was going to be a truck driver and so he didn’t feel the need to do anything in school because, why does a truck driver need to know Social Studies?  Plus, why bother learning anything if you were just going to be passed to the next grade anyway?   So he pushed back against everything whether it was good for him or not.  This led to a life of crime. He had been arrested in a string of small time robberies and vandalism over the last few years.

We could look at the poor neighborhood in the small town of Brantley, where he grew up, and make all sorts of excuses for his behavior: the high crime rate, the high unemployment, the high drug use.  We could look at his family life and make excuses as well; his alcoholic father beat his mother to death one rainy night because she asked him to take off his shoes as he entered the house.  She had just been on her hands and knees cleaning the floor.  He took off his steel-tipped boot and beat her with it.  And when she was on the ground bleeding and begging for mercy he hit her with a dining room chair until it broke.  She was dead long before he stopped beating her.  Her bright red blood slowly oozed over the clean kitchen floor.

Derrick was home at the time.  He hid in the closet until he heard the front door slam before venturing out.  He was the one who found his broken mother.  He was the one who called the police.

Since that time, he was passed from one relative to the next.  Relatives who neither cared for him or gave him emotional support.  They offered him meaningless platitudes. “God loves you, if you love him,” or “Your life is a test and the bad events build character”, or “God only gives us what we are capable of handling.”  What twelve year old is capable of handling the death of his mother at the hands of his father?

Whatever the reasons that brought the sixteen year old to that confrontation with that police officer on that street in the suburb of that big city was immaterial.  He was there with a knife in his hand staring down the barrel of a gun.

 

The book is available at:    https://www.createspace.com/6305829


Happy – Just Published Today

 

Happy

And other writings on Racism and Prejudice in America.

By A.F. WinterHappy Book Cover

List Price: $8.99

6″ x 9″      98 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1533490704
ISBN-10: 1533490708
BISAC: Fiction / Cultural Heritage

This book of poetry, stories, and thoughts is my response to the murder of nine innocent, African American churchgoers in Charleston SC. It is an attempt to get people thinking and to start a dialogue before another tragedy takes place. Because it is only through dialogue and understanding that we will be able to find peace.

To purchase a copy, please go to:

https://www.createspace.com/6305829

Or visit my website:

http://www.afwinter.com


Monday Night Poetry and Music

Tonight I am going to Monday Night Poetry and Music to read some of my stuff.  It is at the East Bay Meeting House, 160 Meeting Street in Charleston.  It starts at 8.  Hope to see you there.